Vermont is a fun state filled with amazing ski resorts, country stores, great diners, hippies, awesome breweries, and a garlic festival.
I couldn't go last year for some reason, so I was thrilled to get the opportunity to go this past labor day weekend. Really, it's hard to be prepared for how much garlic is present in one place and at one time. And there are a huge number of garlic aficionados, judging by the turnout.
Considering that I can't stomach raw garlic, and just got a shiny new pair of braces put on, I wasn't up to sampling much, but Jeff was up for the task. The number of varieties of garlic was mind boggling. Like apples, each variety has a different flavor, level of tartness, acidity and is best suited for different applications.
We ultimately came home with 5 pounds of German White for pickling and roasting, and a pound each of Music, Zemo, Hnat and Carpathian. Considering how quickly Jeff and I tore through the garlic stash my mom bought for me at last year's garlic fest, I'm sure these won't be around for long.
Another fun part of the festival was all of the food and drinks available for tasting. It was really sad for me, actually, because I can't eat pretzels, chips or nuts for the next two years, and those are the vessels most vendors provide for sampling their various dips, salsas and sauces. I let Jeff do the tasting, and I scoped out one or two vendors that offered bread to sample with, including some delicious balsamic from pastamoré, who apparently are not local to Vermont in any way.
There were also plenty of wineries offering samples, as well as one distillery that sold some sort of delicious and hugely expensive brandy. The wines we are sampling in the adjacent photo are from Honora Winery, which makes a delicious Merlot that we bought. They do grow their own grapes which I thought was interesting. Many Vermont wines focus on local fruits, not necessarily grapes. They just purchased a tasting room in Wilmington that used to belong to my family's old favorite North River Winery that we were sad to see go out of business recently. I'm glad that the location will not be going to waste!
But the best bang for our buck was a tasting set in the back of the festival where we were able to taste a flight of at least a dozen local wines for free. I really wish I had kept some notes about the wines, as some were absolutely divine. Some expensive nearly 100$ ice wines were part of the tasting. (By the way, I am not double-fisting in the photo above, nearly offering my mom's glass for a refill as she took the photo.)
Finally, no trip to Vermont is complete without a trip to the Blue Benn Diner. Tucked away just off of routes 7 and 9 in Bennington, located in a quaint train car, the Blue Benn is certainly a delight for local vegetarians and vegans. Nearly a half page of their menu is dedicated to meat free dining, and Jeff and I were both excited to eat the veggie-loaf with gravy. It was soft enough for me to get through with my new braces, and savory and delicious as well. I would definitely recommend this place to any veg*n who finds their way to southern Vermont.
(Photo credit: my mom took all the photos in this post. I brought my camera and took exactly 0 shots the whole time.)