A Hot From The Kettle Vacation: Vermont Camping, Beer & Food

by Melody Kettle

Primer: Camping + Glamourous = "Glamping"

Last week, the Kettle family went "glamping." Mr. Hot, the Lil' Kettle's and myself packed up a 20 x 12 foot tent, three queen air mattresses with 600 t.c. sheets, and headed out for the Green Mountain State, Vermont.

Roughing it? Not exactly.  But I was fully prepped for cooking in the great outdoors. I picked up a Weber Smokey Joe, some  Match Light Charcoal, a few lighters, plenty of weenies and assorted tubular meat products, and I was ready to light it up.

The first leg of our junket took us to South Hero, Vermont, an island in Lake Champlain, just twenty minutes from Burlington. Outstanding panoramic views of New York's Adirondack Mountains and the Green Mountains of Vermont, all above the gorgeous, lapping Lake Champlain, South Hero is my fantasy final destination.

Our time in South Hero was marked in a gastronomic sense by brats, beans and Vermont beer. Specifically Otter Creek Black IPA, Wolaver's Oatmeal Stout (great stuff!), Magic Hat Howl - a black lager, and the heavily nuanced Rock Art Vermonster. (More on beer later...)

We left the lovely island one day and journeyed to Burlington, which may be the de facto coolest town in America. Church Street Marketplace  is lined with unique eateries, bars, galleries, coffee shops, and the streets absolutely vibrate with young, local, artistic, musical energy.

In Burlington, we started off with a cup of coffee at a local shop, appropriately named, Muddy Waters. Pick up on the music and food connection? Then, we stumbled into the Saratoga Olive Oil company and did a good bit of baguette dipping.  We tipped a kid playing guitar, and took pictures with decorative bears. Yes - the full tourist treatment!

With a heavy heart, we departed for the second half of our excursion which took us to beautiful Stowe, Vermont, where the "hills are alive."

Our trip was not about fine dining, but more about eating well where and when we could. In Stowe, that's an easy task.  There are plenty of reasons to give Smokey Joe a break, and I did!

Our first meal in Stowe was at  Pie in The Sky, which we visited earlier in May.  We sipped a Trout River Rainbow Red ale, and shared a delighfully comforting  wood fired specialty pizza known as the Blonde Vermonter - Vermont cheddar, Vermont apples and ham. Dellish! 

The next day,  we had lunch at Crop Bistro & Brewery. Renown chef, Tom Bivins, formerly of the Pitcher Inn which received the  prestigious Relais et Chateaux designation, and New England Culinary Institute, expresses his passion for seasonal cuisine with menus that are creative and inspired, yet honest and approachable.

We dined from the lunch menu (mind you: kids in tow) and enjoyed the big and juicy Ale Brined Chicken Wings (12 for $12). The saucing of the wings is split: 6 VT Hoppy Buffalo and 6 of the chefs daily selection. 

While at Crop, Mr. Hot enjoyed the freshly ground Crop Burger ($13) topped with Vermont Cheddar and smoked bacon.  The burger was requested rare, but was presented much closer to medium.  Nonetheless, it was still outstandingly juicy, and had a very clean bite, no doubt a testament to the quality of meat being served.

Trying to lay off the meat, I opted for the Crop Cobb (I know: Cobb? Really?).  Well, it was not the ordinary Cobb.  Comprised of local greens, seasonal vegetables, farm fresh egg, avocado, bacon, and Vermont Blue Cheese, it was what a Cobb salad should be.

While in Stowe, I indulged in more local beer, trying out Heady Topper by the Alchemist.  The tall, black and silver pint can, complete with directions emblazened along the brim, charmed me before I tasted it.  A hoppy, yet curiously easy drinking, high alcohol brew, crisp, refreshing and above all - effective!

We also stopped at the Harvest Market which is best described as Mecca for those on a food pilgrimage. From freshly baked baguette, foccacia, pizzas, local cheeses, cool candy, desserts, cured meats, wine and (you guessed it) beer, Harvest Market is a total must!

And for dessert? None other than I.C. Scoops! The quaint and colorful retail scoop shop for Stowe Ice Cream Company located on the Town Green on Main St., is owned and operated by NJ ex-pats, Bill and Lorraine Miller. 

Stowe Ice Cream Company has become something of a sensation in Stowe/Waterbury and the surrounding area since their 2009 opening, churning out divinely creamy, super premium ice cream, using only all natural and organic ingredients. After comparing the wildly popular (and exceedingly colorful) Ben & Jerry's product to Stowe Ice Cream Company, clearly, there is no contest on the textural, creamy front.  

Over the course of our visit, I sampled more than my fair share of flavors at I.C. Scoops.  Among my favorites: Natural Vanilla, Praline & Cream, and Bacon and Bourbon Ice Cream made for  Prohibition Pig in Waterbury.

Stowe Ice Cream is available at I.C. Scoop's located on the Village Green, Main St., Stowe, as well as at local Stowe/Waterbury locations like Harrison, Harvest Market, The Mount Cheese Harrisons, Harvest Market, The Mountain Cheese & Wine, Trapp Deli Charlie B's Pub at the Stoweflake, O'Grady's Bar & Grill  Stowe Seafood and Crop Bistro & Brewery. 

I'm ready for the Fall foliage and another pilgrimage back to Vermont!