Maple Syrup and Cheese? Yes, Please!
A Trip to Woodstock, Vermont
Taste and place are intimately linked, and Woodstock, Vermont, is a delicious example of that. Located about 140 miles northwest of Boston, Woodstock is a food-lover’s dream, offering everything that draws us to Vermont and so much more. Its charming downtown is home to a picture-perfect village green, historical buildings and great restaurants. Stunning nature is just steps away: The Ottauquechee River flows through town, and Mount Tom rises above it. While Vermont is rightly known for its skiing and other winter activities, those who visit in summer and early fall are rewarded with an up-close look at and taste of the state’s culinary and agricultural bounty. Here are some ways to eat your way through Woodstock this summer.
An eater’s tour of town: Come hungry when you arrive in Woodstock. For breakfast or lunch, try Mon Vert Cafe, which serves up artisanal coffees and organic breakfast and lunch dishes made with ingredients from local sources such as Red Hen Bakery & Cafe and North Country Smokehouse, or Mountain Creamery, renowned for its from-scratch, locally sourced (they have their own farm) pancake stacks, sandwiches, house-made ice cream (try the maple walnut) and more. For dinner, the choices are many and the sky’s the limit. Beer lovers will swoon over Worthy Kitchen’s food and beer menu and farm-to-table devotees will love the exquisite food and cocktails at Mangalitsa. Grab dinner at The Prince & The Pauper or experience high-end Vermont comfort food and craft cocktails when you visit The Red Rooster at the Woodstock Inn & Resort.
Would you like some beer with your glassblowing? Head to The Mill at Simon Pearce in nearby Quechee to watch a glassblowing demonstration at Simon Pearce’s flagship workshop before enjoying dinner at its restaurant overlooking the Ottauquechee River waterfall and covered bridge.
Taste of Woodstock: This annual event brings together the town and region’s most beloved restaurants, food artisans, farmers and makers for a daylong celebration of all things Vermont food. Elm Street in the center of town is closed off to make room for a beer garden and dozens of vendors cooking up tasty treats throughout the day. Sample items like the crispy hot empanadas from Ana’s Empanadas; pasta and seafood from The Daily Catch; and small-batch spirits from SILO Distillery; not to mention a yummy array of Vermont classics, including cheeses and maple syrups.
Leave room in your suitcase: For foodie souvenirs, head into the old-fashioned (as in opened in 1886) F.H. Gillingham and Sons general store. Look for Vermont-made goodies such as maple cotton candy, pancake mix, jams and jellies, maple popcorn, craft beers and more. Also, don’t miss some of the best olive oil from The Olive Table, sourced from their family farm in Greece.
Get your farm on: It should come as no surprise that Woodstock’s bucolic landscape is home to some beloved and impressive farms. At Woodstock Inn & Resort’s Kelly Way Gardens, which is open to the public and helps supply the inn’s farm-to-table restaurants, you’ll find a variety of events, including tours, tastings and farm dinners. The farm’s seasonal Red Barn Dinner Series is the pinnacle of rustic elegance, where diners enjoy multicourse family-style dinners that highlight local growers, cheesemakers, chefs, beekeepers and other artisans. But you don’t have to be attending a special event to visit the gardens. They’re open for exploring and wandering. Especially gourd-geous? The Gourdwalk, a stunning, walk-through tunnel of vines, leaves and hanging gourds. At Billings Farm & Museum, visitors can learn about Vermont’s rural and farming heritage through educational exhibits, hands-on activities and a chance to visit the Jersey cows that provide the milk for their Billings Farm cheddar. If you visit in September, don’t miss the Sunflower House, where a maze of towering sunflowers form “rooms” and “hallways” for visitors to explore. And for some of the best cheeses and maple syrup around, don’t miss Sugarbush Farm, where everything is sourced and made on-site.
Now work it off! Right across the street from Billings Farm & Museum is Marsh-Billings-Rockefeller National Historical Park, where you can hike Mount Tom. Get views of Woodstock from its South Peak and even stroll around the Pogue, a 14-acre pond near the summit.
Market on the Green: Every Wednesday from mid-June to mid-October, dozens of vendors fill the village green with local eggs, fruits, veggies, cheese, syrup and prepared foods, not to mention the family activities and local makers offering handmade jewelry and local pottery, plus wine and spirits to sample and buy. Among the vendors: Wood’s Vermont Syrup Co., which distinguishes itself with its bourbon barrel-aged maple syrup.
Need more farmers market action? The Woodstock Farmers’ Market is so much more than a typical seasonal market. It’s a year-round destination for a huge selection of locally grown and produced foods, grocery items, baked goods, coffee, prepared foods, cut flowers and even Christmas trees during the holidays.
Learn more: WoodstockVT.com
[Editor’s note: The state of Vermont is slowly reopening. Taste of Woodstock is scheduled to reopen on August 8. Otherwise, make sure to call ahead or check the appropriate webpage before visiting the places mentioned by the author.]
A place to hang your hat: Woodstock Inn & Resort
Woodstock Inn & Resort has been dubbed “Vermont’s most beautiful address” for a reason, with its elegant architecture and lovely gardens, not to mention a luxurious spa, golf course, hiking trails and Woodstock Athletic Club. But this inn has some major foodie cred, too. In addition to Kelly Way Gardens, located a mile away, and its farm-to-table restaurants, The Red Rooster and Richardson’s Tavern, Woodstock Inn & Resort also offers afternoon tea and seasonal dining. Enjoy craft beer at Perley’s Pourhouse and bistro-style dishes at Fairway Grill, which overlooks the golf course greens at Woodstock Country Club. They’ve even offered wine yoga at Woodstock Athletic Club.
Spirits for a solution
The COVID-19 pandemic has upended life as we know it, but it’s been inspiring to watch people and communities rise to the occasion. Among them is SILO Distillery, which has shifted some of its operations away from crafting small-batch spirits in order to produce hand sanitizer. In addition to filling orders for the community, it’s also filling bulk orders for hospitals, first responders and commercial institutions. The shops and businesses of Woodstock will be among those institutions as they reopen. According to Beth Finlayson, executive director of the Woodstock Area Chamber of Commerce, SILO Distillery hand sanitizer will be available at Market on the Green and Taste of Woodstock, and through local merchants thanks to support from the chamber and the Woodstock Economic Development Commission. SILO Distillery offers craft cider, gins, vodkas and whiskeys, including maple whiskey steeped with maple syrup from Sugar Moon Hill Farm in Woodstock.