Spring Break is usually a week of reckless behavior and liver abuse at the beach/in a pool/atop a roof, wearing no more than a bikini and, maybe, a crop top. That is, unless you’re me.
I spent my break in tropical Burlington, VT. And yes, this was by choice. I figured that I might not be sticking around New England for much longer, so I took some time to check out a town that’s been on my to-do list for some time now.
I didn’t exactly return home with a sunburn or a damaged liver, but I did bring back some important life lessons:
1. Everything tastes better with maple, especially lattes.The Chubby Muffin is a cute little café serving up sweet and savory pastries and strong coffee. I tried mine with maple syrup instead of sugar and boy, was I impressed. Later, at Muddy Waters, a café that feels more like a forest bungalow, I indulged in the Maple Latte. Maple syrup is steamed with the milk and then added to bold espresso for a mug of sweet, sweet perfection.
2. The world’s smartest (and dumbest) people work at Ben & Jerry’s. It wouldn’t be a trip to Vermont without a visit to the Ben & Jerry’s factory. We took a tour with other likeminded sweet tooths (mostly under the age of ten) and saw behind the scenes. While looking down over the factory, we witnessed a huge spill that resulted in what looked like gallons of cream covering the entire factory floor. This was easily forgotten with the help of the banana & cinnamon ice cream with chocolate chunks and caramel swirl that we sampled at the tour’s end. I’d like to hug the genius who came up with this combo.
3. Beer is awesome. Okay, I already knew that, but Vermont beer is really awesome. I tried Switchback at Radio Bean, a funky venue/bar where I witnessed a 16-person band lie on the floor mid-performance. We also visited the Magic Hat brewery, where I sampled the Belgo Sutra, a dark Belgian Quad brewed with figs and dates. Yes, I said figs and dates.
4. Cheddar should only be consumed after two years of aging. Shelburne Farms is a popular Burlington destination during the warmer months. Though it’s not open to the public at the moment, I did get to chat with a Shelburne cheese maker, who was slicing samples inside Burlington’s food co-op. I took home a hunk of 2 year aged cheddar that has changed me forever.
5. Swiss chard needs to become a staple in my diet. I’ve always been on Team Kale, but I couldn’t pass up the local Swiss Chard on sale at the co-op. And, just like that, I’ve officially converted to the dark (and leafy green) side. I whipped up the below recipe with my Burlington souvenir. It was the perfect healthy meal after a weekend of beer and Lake Champlain Chocolate.
Ingredients (serves 2)
2 tablespoons olive oil
3 cups sliced/torn Swiss chard
1 thick cross section of a large yellow onion, cut into quarters
1 pre-cooked chicken sausage, sliced (Trader Joe’s does it best)
½ cup yellow quinoa
1. Place quinoa and one cup of water in a small pot over medium heat. Simmer until all the water has absorbed, about 15 minutes. 2. Boil some water in another pot. 3. Meanwhile, heat olive oil in a large skillet. Add onions and sauté until just beginning to brown. Add sausage and cook until crispy on the edges. Add chard and sauté for about two minutes, until greens are soft and wilted. 4. Turn heat off and add quinoa to skillet, folding to combine. 5. Add a bit of vinegar to the pot of boiling water and poach each egg individually. 6. Serve in a bowl, topped with poached egg and freshly ground black pepper.