Eat & Drink, Stay Local

Foraged Flavor: Fable Farm Fermentory

03/23/2017

Picture this: a live band serenades us as we peruse the goods of local makers and producers under a large, open tent. Little ones run about the vast field as the sun slowly sets behind them. Feast & Field Markets are a sign of warmer days and lazy evenings, outdoor play and leisurely picnics. We amble past abundant flowers, jugs of kombucha, made-to-order tacos, flavorful ice cream, and…of course, Fable Farm Fermentory wines and ciders! All are housed in this one space, creating an atmosphere we could easily describe as the perfect summer night. 

In part, Feast & Field is a celebration of Fable Farm, the collective of which it is a part, and the cider wine produced in its very own fermentory. The amount of activity and liveliness surrounding Fable Farm is utterly incredible. Farmers, artists, consumers…all are drawn to the Piana brothers and the world they’ve helped create in this little corner of Barnard VT. 

Christopher Piana pursued organic vegetable farming after college. Struck by the bounty of the land, its cyclical seasons, and the healthy diet earth’s rotation fosters, he felt inspired by the act of tending to a terrain that so naturally promotes a healthy lifestyle. Christopher, his brother, and their fellow partners openly share their food philosophy – rich in raw and fermented vegetables, as well as locally pasture-raised meats. With the help of other members in their farm collective (including Kiss the Cow Farm and Eastman Farm), Feast & Field is just one way in which Fable Farm celebrates the seasonal bounty by sharing with each other and the public.

Fable Farm Fermentory describes itself as a group of “farmers, growers, herbalists, chefs, winemakers, and artists” who initially utilized their land as a vegetable CSA venture. While in the midst of raising vegetables, the farm also became interested in the fermentation process of the foods they were growing. This goes hand-in-hand with the vivid apple and cider-making culture in and around Barnard VT. Quite fortuitously, Christopher and his team discovered ancestral fruit trees on the land – a rather rare find, as these trees evaded the mass cutting that occurred in our country during Prohibition. Fable Farm Fermentory currently makes their cider from these wild, abandoned, cultivated fruit trees. They’re found anywhere from on the farm to neighboring fields, forests, backyards, and orchards. Since their beginnings in 2008, Fable Farm has also been tending to their newly planted nursery trees, which continue to take root for future harvests. 

Christopher describes his libations as living wines made from local fruits, herbs, saps, and honey – a true reflection of the seasonal bounty. In addition to their commitment to local flora, Fable Farm Fermentory also prides itself in using native yeast fermentation in their process. This, Christopher believes, “allows the wine to better reflect the place from which it rose.” In keeping with the ingredients’ natural state, Fable Farm Fermentory does not filter or use sulfites. The result is a variation of dry ciders, cured and matured in the Fermentory’s very own aging cave. They use an array of fermenting mediums, including natural oak barrels, stainless steel, and glass. Fable Farm exercises both ancestral and traditional methods for making sparkling cider, and also experiment in fermenting with extended fruit skin contact and infusion. The infusion – that’s what we find to be one of the most fascinating parts of Fable Farm’s fermentation process. Christopher lists locally-foraged ingredients they may use, such as elderflower, currants, and dandelion. With the addition of maple and birch sap meads, Fable Farm’s repertoire seems to just keep growing. Today, old world recipes like honey-apple, honey-grape, and honey-maple wines age amongst the many barrels in the Fermentory’s cave.

The organic edibles grown and fermented by Fable Farm allow for some truly special events to be held at the Fermentory! Weddings are among the most memorable, we think. The Fermentory provides an idyllic venue – organic fields speckled with blossoming apple trees, fresh ingredients from the terroir itself, and plenty of barn space to celebrate new beginnings!

Fable Farm hosts tastings and tours several times a month, in addition to multi-course meals with cider and wine pairings. Christopher notes, “We delight in providing a fluid bridge onto the farm and into the Fermentory for guests to intimately immerse and engage all their senses.” Warmer months also welcome an opportunity for the Fermentory to host farm lunches. Take a midday break and munch on some farm-fresh goods with fellow farmers, interns, locals, and visitors. And of course, we highly recommend their Feast & Field Markets throughout the summer. Having gone many a time, we can’t praise these events enough. 

In fact, Fable Farm asks you to join them this Saturday, March 25th from 3-5PM for a tasting at the Fermentory’s barn! They’ll be pouring flights of newly released apple wines and late-winter tapas (meatballs, prosciutto, farm pickles, and cheeses – YUM!). Bottles and cases will also be available for purchase. If you’d like to stick around, Fable Farm Fermentory will be hosting a dinner after the tasting. RSVP for dinner, and preferably for the tasting as well, by emailing info@fablefarmfermentory.com.

At first glance, it appears that Fable Farm has their hands in many things – from markets, to farming, to fermentation, to events. However, taking a small step back, it’s easy to see the harmonious fluidity between food, farm, and community which Fable Farm Fermentory wholeheartedly supports. We love their markets, truly enjoy visiting the Fermentory, and like sharing their ciders and wines with friends. Their libations are unique, and most likely different from anything your friends have tasted before. Pick up a bottle at a local market or go visit the farm yourself – both are an experience you won’t want to miss.

Eat & Drink, Stay Local

Dinner with an Impact: Change the World Kids

03/16/2017

A recent visit from storm Stella has made it clear that winter is not quite done with us yet. Slow clap for the groundhog…he definitely called this one. Snow continues to cover our roofs and lawns, reminding us to be patient as we eagerly await spring in New England. For now, we embrace the outdoor beauty and seek refuge in our weekly gatherings at a local church, where the Change the World Kids host Anti-Cabin Fever Dinners every Wednesday throughout the winter! 

Local Anti-Cabin Fever Dinners are the perfect excuse for our neighbors to withdraw from their respective fireplaces and gather as a community. Attending such events has become a special Terwelp family tradition with friends throughout the years. These Anti-Cabin Fever Dinners provide those who attend with three-course meals prepared by CTWKids and a volunteer chef from the area. Each week, a new chef joins the kids in the kitchen to help raise money and spread the word of CTWKids. The dinners quickly become anticipated events in which we stop to relax and gather, mid-week, with friends or family. Now, as the anti-fever season comes to a close, we preciously await the final few dinners left on the calendar. We have undoubtedly come to consider these meals very special occasions, which cumulatively help support our local group of Change the World Kids.

Each Anti-Cabin Fever Dinner donation contributes to the Change the World Kids’ annual trip to re-forest Bosque para Siempre, a migratory rain forest in Costa Rica. Their re-foresting, in turn, helps support our local migratory songbirds, in addition to other native forest species. As such, each meal served is a step toward a worth-while environmental cause that has piqued the interest of our local Woodstock middle and high schoolers.

Our CTWKids also do a large amount of community work here in the Upper Valley. They are all true community leaders, who care about helping local individuals and organizations in need, as well as maintaining the natural world around them. Food justice is just another branch of CTWKids’ mission. The kids aim to create and strengthen local systems and resources, in addition to providing hands-on assistance to promote sustainable lifestyles. One example of this, which we find very cool, includes the CTWKids root cellar. The cellar utilizes earth’s insulation to keep produce at a constant humidity and temperature throughout the cooler months. We call this a long-term solution. Local farmers helped create this special cellar, which now keeps produce throughout the winter without using non-renewable energy or an extravagant cooling system. Pretty neat, right?

March 15th marked the Anti-Cabin Fever Dinner now annually orchestrated by our very own Rick Terwelp of The Jackson House Inn! With ample help from our Change the World Kids, Rick prepared a three-course meal consisting of wild arugula salad, Welsh rarebit, and savory apple tart.

Wild arugula and baby greens started the meal off with a bang. Rick tossed the salad with delicious parmesan, pickled onion, beet chips and candied pecans.  Then the kids added a little pile of cheese to top each bowl.  We had shaved the cheese from this giant wheel earlier that day – yum!

Considering the snow that had fallen the day before, nothing quite satisfied our bellies like a warm and luxurious bowl of Rick’s Welsh rarebit. The kids helped coat pieces of toasted sourdough with a warm emulsified cheese sauce and sprinkled slow-roasted tomatoes, sweet onion, and candied bacon on top. A quick sprinkle of organic microgreens and a drizzle of balsamic, and there it was, delivered to each guest – a true rendition of our Jackson House breakfast! Lucky for you, we’ve written our Welsh rarebit recipe here.

Rick and the kids concluded the meal on a high note – with a savory apple tart. They added a filling of currants, cranberries, and apples to a mixture of garlic, onion, and thyme (savory!). Before baking, the filling was wrapped in pastry dough and and topped with toasted pumpkin and sunflower seeds. Our fellow diners tried to put their finger on the “spice” that made this dish so savory. In fact, the secret was the apples playing off the sweet roasted garlic. A dollop of vanilla bean gelato atop each serving made this savory apple tart a home run.

We are honored to have contributed to a meal put on by our local Change the World Kids. Their contagious energy and enthusiastic buzz create an overall cheerful and joyous vibe throughout the dining room. Yesterday’s dinner was a complete success because of them! Community, passion, and food – all were abundant last night. Thank you to CTWKids and our community for another incredible Anti-Fever Dinner.  

Eat & Drink, Stay Local

Sweet Spring: Sugaring Season

03/07/2017

Things are beginning to thaw in Vermont! The maple trees feel it. Their sap is flowing and we’ve been taking advantage (can you say hoecakes?). A short jaunt around Woodstock is evidence enough that sugaring season is in full force. Sap buckets line the streets and sap lines zig-zag the forests. People often reach to the market shelves for a taste of Vermont’s famous syrup, but nothing compares to visiting a sugar shack and witnessing the process in person! We’re sharing a lineup of some favorite sugarhouses to visit this year in Vermont.

1Richardson Farm, Hartland VT. We at the Jackson House hear this is where the locals like to go. This family-owned farm has a deep rooted history. The Richardsons have been cultivating the same land since 1907! Richardson Farm operates 8,000 maple taps, from which they can produce 3,000 – 5,000 gallons of syrup in one year (pretty impressive, seeing as it takes about 40 gallons of sap to produce only 1 gallon of syrup!). You can also get their syrup (in convenient and fun squeeze bottles!) at the Woodstock Farmers’ Market. PS – they have the cutest cows we ever did see.

2. Elm Grove Farm, Pomfret VT. Located on one of our very favorite roads in Woodstock (Cloudland Road!), Elm Grove Farm is all about tradition. Not only do these farmers use old school sap buckets, but they’ve also built a boiling cauldron to recreate the sugaring process once used hundreds of years ago! Idyllic Vermont barns, a slow and winding road, and one really cool way to boil – this sugarhouse has won our hearts.

3. Sugarbush FarmWoodstock VT. Sugarbush Farm is a classic here in Woodstock. Recommended to many a visitor, this farm is open seven days a week and provides plenty of activities to entertain you and your family. Sample four grades of syrup and learn the major differences among them. Don’t forget to also taste this farm’s own cheese!

4. Bragg Farm, East Montpelier VT. We remember visiting this sugarhouse before moving to Vermont! Eight generations have been operating the sugarhouse on Bragg Farm. This maple farm offers a free guided tour of their sugaring process and grounds, which includes their traditional sap buckets and wood firing operation. They also invite visitors to explore the nearby woods where they’ve hung over 2,000 sap buckets! A beautiful way to enjoy a Vermont spring day, if we do say so ourselves!

5. Morse Farm, Montpelier VT. This farm’s story is pretty neat. The ancestors of Morse Farm learned the process of tapping maple trees from the Native Americans. They were taught that hot rocks could evaporate sap until only sugar or “sinzibukwud” remained. Sample some Sugar on Snow while on the farm, even supplying a dill pickle and donut to offset sweetness and to soak up the maple goodness.

Early spring is a time of celebration in the Northeast. The climbing temperatures and dripping sap are a sign of blossoms and green to come! We revel in this re-energization! Come join in our enthusiasm and enjoy something especially sweet this sugaring season!

Go Explore

Making Something Out of Nothing: Apotheca Flowers

02/28/2017

Spring seems to be just around the corner. While snow still blankets the majority of our backyard here in Vermont, the warmer temps are beginning to make an appearance in our forecast. With this, we eagerly await hints of green and blossoming buds. Boy, are we itching to feel spring’s warmth and see all the growth that comes with it. We miss cutting our own herbs for breakfast, watering the flower beds, and even mowing the lawn. Are you feeling the same winter blues? Well, we have the solution. A greenhouse or garden shop can serve as a tranquil retreat around this time of year, and the flora found in Apotheca Flowers makes for one of the best sanctuaries we can recommend. We walk in and immediate feel the thaw in our cold fingers and toes. It’s our own little oasis, complete with abundant greenery and coffee aroma.

Apotheca is nestled in the small town of Goffstown NH. Situated in the old Goffstown Train Station from the 1860’s, the charm of this cafe/garden store is evident from the get-go. Walking up the wooden steps, you can see the camaraderie inside from the front windows. Everyone is chatting away, greeting each entrant as an old friend. In fact, most of the people in the cafe are friends, or at least acquaintances. The sense of community here is strong, and certainly a comforting reception for newcomers. The warmth and calmness of the space is felt immediately upon entering.

This was owner Alyssa Van Guilder’s intention. Inspiration and kindness embody her daily ethos. She describes Apotheca as a manifestation of the phrase, “L’ARTE D’ARRANGIARSI” – making something out of nothing. You see, Alyssa grew up in rural Alaska with her siblings and parents. She watched as her parents ran a local cafe on the Denali Highway, a place in which the local community and visitors gathered and conversed. Alyssa remained keen on this astounding sense of community, as well as the hard work and rewarding nature involved in tending to a place such as this. Despite relocating from Alaska to Minnesota to New Hampshire, Alyssa maintained her love for gardening. She remembers the impressive underground greenhouse in her Alaskan neighbor’s yard and working on a family farm in Minnesota. It appears that so many influences from her childhood have led to this point in her life today.

In 2005, Alyssa and her two young children took a leap of faith to fulfill her dream of opening up a storefront. Alyssa, with the help of her family, built Apotheca into what it is today. Her mom worked with the books, while her father and brothers worked on various projects throughout the shop. Most importantly, Alyssa notes, the community of this quaint New England town showed acceptance toward her, her family, and this little dream-come-true project.

The name “Apotheca” was chosen for its Latin meaning, which is a storehouse or variety. This is so perfectly suited to Alyssa’s eclectic style. Canvases by local artists are accompanied by mounted staghorn ferns, macrame planters, antique frames, and brightly colored garlands. The atmosphere is intriguing – it pulls you in and evokes inspiration in every corner. In addition, Alyssa mentions, “fresh flowers and plants … remind us that life is fleeting and beautiful and must be nurtured.” The cafe complements the expressive greenery in the shop, as “a cup of something delicious [is] an invitation to sit down and BE … whether it is with yourself and your own thoughts, or together at a shared table … communities, fellowship, and growth are built around filled cups.”

For anyone looking for a warm latte or a little green in their life, Apotheca is without a doubt the place for you. Terrariums, big and small, are abundant amongst beautiful cards, home styling knick-knacks, and an incredibly impressive assortment of Annie Sloan Chalk Paint (Alyssa can’t praise this product enough! She uses it in her store constantly.). Velvet-clad chairs and vibrant leather seats adorn lounging areas throughout the shop. A guitar leans against the fireplace to inspire any musically-inclined visitor. Think: Terrain meets Paper Source meets your favorite local coffee shop. Apotheca is perfectly casual with the most stimulating ambiance.

Not in the Goffstown area? They have services outside the shop as well! Peruse Apotheca’s Instagram and website to get a glimpse of what Alyssa and her talented team have created for weddings and other special occasions. Their work is incredible. They also have a selection of their in-store products available online! Be sure to take a look at their upcoming in-store events as well – it may be worth the visit!

We visited just before Valentine’s Day, for which we must thank Alyssa! In what we can easily assume is Alyssa’s true nature, she showed no hesitation in taking a little break from the busy workshop to chat with us over a cup of delicious coffee. She knows her customers by name and interacts with the employees like family. Overall, we can see how Apotheca is an authentic indication of Alyssa’s personality – gentle, sweet, fun, and quirky…not to mention, she has incredible taste. Apotheca is Alyssa’s passion project, and it’s nothing short of extraordinary.

We encourage you to stop into Apotheca, especially if you are traveling to or from Woodstock and Boston. A great cup of coffee awaits, along with various tokens of a beautifully curated shop. We have nothing but wonderful things to say about Alyssa and the others working there, and we can’t think of a better place to sit, relax, chat with friends, or read a book. Stop into the town of Goffstown and this beautiful shop in the village. You won’t regret it.

Get Cookin'

Welsh Rarebit

02/21/2017

This last stretch of winter has us longing for warm spring days. We’d gladly frolic around a metaphorical maypole if it meant we could grill outdoors and tend our herb gardens again. Alas, Mother Nature has other plans for us. This lady won’t give us a break to thaw our winter bones! Have no fear. We’ve got a solution to make you feel all warm and toasty inside – a bit of comfort in these final days of February. We’re talking about our very own version of Welsh Rarebit.

This dish came about in the midst of preparing a few years ago for the Mac & Cheese Challenge organized by Vermont Farmstead Cheese at Artisans’ Park in nearby Windsor, VT. We pulled an all-nighter and cooked enough mac & cheese to serve over 4,000 people that day. Phew! In true Jackson House fashion, we wanted to introduce a velvety texture while dishing out a healthier version of a traditionally heavy recipe. The modern science of binding salt proteins did the trick! Quick note: we took 3rd place out of about 20 entrants. Not too shabby for our first time competing!

For our Welsh Rarebit, we coat pieces of sourdough with a luxurious, silky cheese sauce and sprinkle sugared bacon, sweet onion, and roasted tomatoes on top. Are you saying to yourself, too heavy? Think again. We’ve perfected this recipe to be a healthier version of your favorite cheesy indulgences. Think: the same ooey-gooey goodness of nachos or fondue, but without all the guilt of a cheesy smorgasbord. The added chicken stock prevents this dish from being too heavy in calories. Instead, we maintain luxurious mouthfeel without all the heaviness.

The smell of melted cheese and bacon fills the kitchen as we slice sourdough and roast tomatoes. This is the kind of dish that smells so delicious, you can’t wait to plate and eat it. Nevertheless, some time and effort go into the process of making our Welsh Rarebit. Cheese and tomatoes are key ingredients to this recipe, the quality and freshness of which can elevate the dish completely. The bacon is also a separate, yet easy process. We use the Pecan Sugared Bacon recipe previously featured on the blog for our Welsh Rarebit as well!

We here at the Jackson House Inn use locally sourced ingredients from Vermont. As such, the Welsh Rarebit you’re served here features Jasper Hill cheese and Long Wind Farm tomatoes. The recipe below reflects generalized ingredients to accommodate accessibility for our at-home chefs.

Welsh Rarebit

Servings: 6
Difficulty: Intermediate
Print recipe here.

Ingredients:
410 g chicken or roasted vegetable stock 16.4 g sodium citrate
335 g cheese, grated: 185 g gruyere, 50 g blue, 100 g havarti
1 loaf of peasant or sourdough bread
24 tomatoes*, 1/8 inch sliced off of stem & bottom, 4 per serving
Olive oil
Fresh thyme leaves
1 sweet onion, thinly sliced and separated
6 slices sugared bacon, chopped
Microgreens or fresh chives, chopped
Balsamic to drizzle

*We highly recommend sourcing Campari tomatoes which you should be able to find at any “Whole Foods”-type market. They are larger than cherries, smaller than vine-ripened.

Keys to Success
There are three keys to the success of this recipe. The first is to use a full-flavored natural chicken or roasted vegetable stock
that has not been seasoned with salt. If using a store bought stock, we suggest reducing by a third to amp up the flavor profile. The second is the quality and blend of the cheeses. A majority of cheeses, when melted, separate leaving an oily cap. The sodium citrate is used as an emulsifier to blend the proteins of the cheese with the liquid for the sauce creating a silky, luxurious mouthfeel. It is derived from citric acid (from citrus fruits). The third is weight in grams. Precision is necessary to determine the sodium citrate ratio and the appropriate blending of cheeses (air impacts measuring by volume with grated cheeses).

Method for the Sauce
Heat stock to a medium simmer and add sodium citrate until fully dissolved (1 minute) . While simmering, add the cheeses to stock liquid. Whisk occasionally until melted (approx. 5 minutes) . When melted, use an immersion blender** to fully emulsify the stock/cheese mixture (3 – 4 minutes). The texture will become smooth and silky and will appear lighter in color when fully emulsified. The taste of the sauce should be completely blended, with a smooth texture. Put back on heat for about a minute to make silky, if need be. Maintain on low heat and stir occasionally. If thinning is needed, use water or milk.

**A regular blender will work. Just be careful with the hot liquid! Blend on medium speed (approx. 1 – 1.5 minutes).

Method for the Tomatoes
Preheat oven to lowest setting possible. Line a sheet pan with aluminum foil and top with a cooling rack. Slice tomato stems & bottoms and arrange flat on rack. Lightly salt each tomato and let rest for 10-15 minutes. Lightly drizzle olive oil over each tomato segment. Sprinkle with fresh thyme leaves. Roast tomatoes for approx. 2- 3 hours, checking and rotating the sheet pan every 30 minutes. The size of tomatoes will dictate the length of roasting. You want a light char on the edges.

Serving
Choose a peasant or sourdough bread. Slice and toast both sides. Cut into desired-size cubes. Place 3/4 cup of toasted bread cubes in a shallow soup-like bowl. Ladle approx. 1/3 cup of cheese sauce evenly over cubes. Top with chopped bacon and onion slices. Add tomatoes. Ladle an additional 1/4 cup of cheese sauce. Garnish with fresh chopped chives or microgreens. Drizzle with balsamic. Serve immediately.

All photos c/o Kelby Zimmerman

Stay Local

Love is in the Air

02/14/2017

With Valentine’s Day upon us, we are proud to remind you all that the Jackson House Inn was voted Best Couples Retreat by Yankee Magazine in 2016! We’ve got you covered with a comfy room, top-notch amenities, and mouth watering breakfast. However, there are plenty of charming things to do with your love outside the inn as well. In the spirit of romantic getaways, we’re sifting through our very favorite date recommendations. Here are a few suggestions to experience with your loved one while vacationing in Woodstock VT!

Woodstock Movie Theater
Every weekend in the Woodstock Village, our little town hall transforms into the cutest movie theater you could imagine. Think small town, Gilmore Girls style. Velvet curtains and maple butter popcorn will set the tone for a romantic screening. The Pentangle Arts Council selects one movie to play each weekend. Showings begin at 7:30PM Friday through Monday (Sunday screenings are matinees throughout the winter). You can see their showtime selections here. Keep in mind that live performances occasionally replace movie screenings, and will be noted on their calendar.

Couples Clay Date
Our neighbors over at Farmhouse Pottery offer you a chance to throw your own pot with one of their master potters! Experience something new together or impress a beau with your mad ceramic skills. The potters are a truly fantastic bunch, and with wine and cheese included, we guarantee you’ll enjoy every minute of this unique date. Read more about Farmhouse Pottery’s wheel workshops here.

King Arthur Baking School
An alternative to simply eating out, why not make your meal together? Head on over to the famous King Arthur Flour in Norwich VT to sharpen your cooking skills and learn new techniques. Gnocchi, pretzels, flatbreads, and more – this is the perfect opportunity to learn from some of the best instructors in the area. We suggest reserving your spots early, as classes tend to fill up fast. Check out their class schedule here!

Northern Stage
Take in the outstanding drama community we have here in the area. The newly constructed Barrette Center for the Arts is impressive on its own. Moreover, every Northern Stage play we’ve attended has been outright fantastic. We highly recommend purchasing a ticket for yourself and a loved one. The intimate theater and top-notch staging add to the romantic feel of this playhouse. Shows generally run a few weeks before turning over. Check out their schedule, and head on over to White River Junction!

Mount Tom
There’s something special about ambling through the woods with someone special. Walk and chat along the carriage trail, around the picturesque Pogue, and up to the summit. Want to earn extra points? Prepare a picnic to enjoy at the top, overlooking our little town of Woodstock. Hot chocolate with a panoramic view sounds romantic, indeed. Read more about our resident mountain here!

Vermont is an exceptional place to enjoy with someone special. Stay cozy or venture outside – there is something to satisfy every couples’ interests. We hope you enjoy the arts and have some laughs. Happy Valentine’s Day from all of us here at the Jackson House Inn!

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