Hops & Hikes: The Perfect Pairing

If you’re a beer-loving outdoor enthusiast, there’s no better way to cap off a beautiful autumn hike than with a cold glass of your favorite Vermont brew. Even better: a beer that hails from the same corner of the state where you laced up your hiking boots.

This fall we’re celebrating the perfect pairing: Hops & Hikes. Here’s our very own Steve P. to tell you all about it.

Read on for six trail recommendations from our friends at the Green Mountain Club, a nonprofit that maintains Vermont’s 273-mile Long Trail. Whether you prefer a mountaintop view or a meander through the woods, you’ll find the perfect outing for you. And when you’re done (and safely back at home), we suggest cracking open a can of one of our featured Hops & Hikes brews, preferably from the same part of Vermont.

In partnership with Farrell Distributing, this fall we’re donating 20% of all purchases of Hops + Hikes featured beers to the Green Mountain Club. Thanks to their dedication and hard work, we’re able to access some of the most scenic spots in Vermont. By foot, that is.

In addition to the six hikes listed below, you can find five more “pairings” in last year’s Hops & Hikes blog post.

Stowe/Central Vermont

Suggested hike #1:

Spruce Mountain, Plainfield, VT

Length: 2.2 miles each way, 1,180 ft elevation gain

Photo and trail description courtesy of Green Mountain Club

Spruce Mountain is in LR Jones State Forest, the oldest State Forest in Vermont. The 2.2-mile trail to the summit of Spruce Mountain, a 3,037-foot peak, climbs moderately as it passes through hardwood forests. As it approaches and goes through spruce and fir forest, it becomes rocker and steeper. At the top, there is a climbable fire tower that offers a 360° view of the surrounding area. Managed by FPR.

 Suggested hike #2:

Taylor Lodge via Lake Mansfield Trail in Stowe

Length: 4.6 mi round trip, approx. 750 ft elevation gain

Photo and trail description courtesy of Green Mountain Club

The Lake Mansfield Trail gradually rises near the edge of Lake Mansfield before turning away from the lake to ascend at a slightly steeper grade. The trail brings you through a gorge, past a piped water source (treat all water gathered in the backcountry with a filtration method), to a beaver pond and views of the north wall of Nebraska Notch. Continue until you reach Taylor Lodge, a four-sided shelter with room for 15. Return the way you came.

Pair with:

Upper Valley Area

Suggested hike:

Appalachian Trail: Joe Ranger Road to Pomfret Road Traverse, Pomfret, VT

Length: 5.6 mi one-way, approx. 1300 ft elevation gain

Appalachian Trail. Photo and trail description courtesy of Green Mountain Club.

Hiking from Joe Ranger Road trail south to Pomfret Road is a nice one-way hike on the Appalachian Trail. You’ll traverse rolling woods and pass through quite a few open meadows that provide excellent views and picnic opportunities. You’ll also walk along the “Old Kings Highway,” which is bordered by an impressive old stone wall. Drop a car at Pomfret Road to make it a one-way hike, or return the way you came to double the mileage.

Driving Directions to AT Parking on Joe Ranger Road From Woodstock: Heading North on Route 12, turn right onto Pomfret Rd. In 7.8 miles, take a sharp right onto Bunker Hill Rd. Turn left to stay on Bunker Hill then stay straight on Joe Ranger Rd. The trail crosses the road in about 0.2 miles with limited parking along the road. 

Pair with:

Killington Area

Suggested hike:

Shrewsbury Peak, Shrewsbury — Moderate

Length: 3.8 mi round trip, approx. 1,359 ft elevation gain

If you are in the Rutland or Killington area but want to avoid the crowds around Mt. Killington and Pico Peak, head just 20 minutes south to hike Shrewsbury Peak via the Shrewsbury Peak Trail. The trail climbs past Russell Hill Shelter and then ascends, first gradually and then steeply, to the summit — 1.8 miles from the trailhead. At the summit, there are several rocky outcrops that provide views to the south and east from the peak. If you want to continue your hike, the trail continues along the ridge before descending and then ascending to the Long Trail, 4 miles from the trailhead.

Driving Directions: From Killington, follow Route-100 south. Turn right onto Shrewsbury Road for 2.1 miles. Continue on the CCC road for 1.3 miles to the trailhead. Map it.

Pair with:

Northwestern Vermont/Burlington Area

Suggested hike #1:

Skylight Pond Trail, Ripton

Length: 2.6 miles each way, 1,460 ft elevation gain

Photo and trail description courtesy of Green Mountain Club

Follow the blue-blazed Skylight Pond Trail as it gradually rises and switchbacks to the Long Trail. Go straight onto the spur trail down to Skyline Lodge and Skylight Pond. The shelter is a lovely place to sit and watch the sunrise over the pond. The pond at dawn is also a great spot to see some wildlife!

Driving Directions: Follow VT-125 2.9 miles west of Middlebury Gap. Take USFS-59/Steam Mill Road north for 3.6 miles to the trailhead for Skylight Pond Trail. Map it.

Suggested hike #2:

Emily Proctor Trail, Lincoln, VT

Length: 3.5 miles each way, 1,940 elevation gain

Photo and trail description courtesy of Green Mountain Club

From the trailhead, the trail turns right, ascends on a logging road, crosses the edge of a clear-cut, follows an older woods road, and enters the Breadloaf Wildernerss. The trail leaves the old road (1.4 miles in), and stays on the left side of the New HAven River, before crossing it over some large rocks. After crossing two small streams, the trail continues a steady, rocky ascent to the clearing in front of the Emily Proctor Shelter on the Long Trail.

Pair with:

Check out last year’s Hops & Hikes blog post for five more “pairings” to enjoy this fall.

Happy hiking!

Three “Session” Style Sakes for Summer Sipping

From left to right: Tentaka Tokubetsu Jummai “Hawk in the Heavens”; Kikusui Junmai Ginj; and Suigei “Drunken Whale”

Looking for an alternative to white wine? Sake is crisp, fresh, and meant to be sipped and savored. Touted as a health tonic by some, sake is a Japanese rice wine made by fermenting rice that has been polished, or milled down, to remove the outer layer.

If you’ve given up gluten, sake is a nice alternative to beer, although at 13-17% alcohol it’s a wee bit boozier than your typical brew. Drink it like you would a glass of wine.

Below (and pictured above) are three of the “session” style sakes you’ll find on the shelf at the Market. Each of these bottles is about 10-12 ounces, which is two servings. Perfect to throw in a picnic basket or to enjoy on the porch.

Tentaka Tokubetsu Jummai “Hawk in the Heavens”: A medium-bodied, earthy sake with flavors of mixed nuts and green grass. Considered a more rustic version of sake, it’s recommended for heartier dishes like barbecue and grilled meats.

Kikusui Junmai Ginjo: Best enjoyed chilled, this light-bodied, dry sake has a fruity aroma with hints of Mandarin orange and persimmon. It goes well with light and flavorful, even spicy dishes, as well as creamy cheeses and fruits.

Suigei “Drunken Whale”: With an aroma of rose, wood, and grapes and flavors of fennel and hops, this dry sake is a great choice for die-hard sake lovers. A nice accompaniment to summer salads and lighter fare.

Kanpai! (Cheers in Japanese)

What Makes a Wine Organic?

When customers have questions about wine, we run around the store looking for Amelia. She’s been buying wine for the Market for years, and so she’s become our in-house wine guru. One of the questions she often gets is: What makes a wine organic?

Because she’s a naturally helpful person, Amelia put together this handy FAQ to help us all have a better understanding of what “organic” on a wine label actually means.

Q. Is organic wine sulfite-free?

A. No. All wine contains sulfites, which occur naturally. Sulfites act as a natural preservative, and help keep the wine from turning bad. However, many wines are made with additional sulfites in the wine-making process. Often (but not always), organic and “natural” wines are made with no added sulfites.

Q. What’s the difference between organic and “natural” wine?

A. Natural wine is organic, but not all organic wines are “natural.” The Natural wine movement is all about low intervention in the winemaking process—using naturally occurring yeasts, not filtering the juice, and so on. Often, natural wines will have flavors that aren’t considered desirable in other wines, such as funkiness, sourness, or a little yeastiness.

Q. So what is organic wine, exactly?

A. Like organic apples or lettuce, organic wines are made from organic grapes. For thousands of years, all wines were organic, because pesticides hadn’t been invented yet! There’s nothing new about organic wine.

Q. Why are some wines classified as vegan?

A. When wine is filtered to make it clear, the filtering agents used are often egg whites, casein or gelatin. Vegan wines are filtered with bentonite or pea protein.

Q. Is organic the same as biodynamic?

A. No. Biodynamic wines are organic, but they are also made from grapes that have been planted according to lunar cycles, and the soil is treated using certain strict protocols. Biodynamic agriculture was started in the 1920s by Rudolf Steiner, who lectured on the topic in what is now Poland, in an effort to reverse soil depletion from the overuse of chemicals.

Q. How can I tell if a wine is organic?

A. That’s a tough question! Many have a symbol indicating organic certification, but those are different in different parts of the world. Some wineries also follow organic practices but don’t go through the expensive certification process, so can’t legally use an organic symbol. Biodynamic wines are better about indicating certification on their labels; if you see the word “Demeter,” that means it is certified biodynamic.

Q. Are organic wines better than non-organic wines?

A. Not necessarily! But the dedication to producing organic wines indicates a level of care that may not be present in the production of non-organic wines. As with all food choices, the best reason to choose organic wines over non-organic is to minimize the amount of chemicals we ingest from everything we eat and drink.

Check out our display of organic wine at the end of the cheese case in Woodstock and in the wine section in Waterbury.

Happy summer sipping!

Brandon’s Burger

We all love a good burger, especially during grilling season. But what about a GREAT burger? It only takes a few extra ingredients to Elevate Your Burger! Our WFM culinary team has created five original—and absolutely delicious—burger recipes to bring your go-to summer meal to the next level!

When it comes to good food, Brandon believes in simplicity. His burger recipe brings together a few simple ingredients to create the ultimate summer meal.

Ingredients

  • Local ground beef
  • Your favorite pesto 
  • Local tomato
  • Bibb lettuce
  • Chevre cheese 
  • Avocado 
  • Toasted bun

Instructions

  1. Form patties out of local ground beef, and grill or cook in pan.
  2. Spread pesto on toasted bun.
  3. Place cooked burger on bun and top with tomato, lettuce, chevre, and avocado.

Mike’s Chorizo Smash Burger

We all love a good burger, especially during grilling season. But what about a GREAT burger? It only takes a few extra ingredients to Elevate Your Burger! Our WFM culinary team has created five original—and absolutely delicious—burger recipes to bring your go-to summer meal to the next level!

This week’s flavorful Chorizo Smash Burger is brought to you by Mike, our prep foods leader.

Makes 4 double burgers

Ingredients

  • 1 lb. local ground beef (Vermont Family Farms, Black River Meats, or Vermont Alpine Farms)
  • ½ lb. Vermont Salumi Mexican Chorizo
  • 1 pint Queso Oaxaca, grated
  • ½ head iceberg lettuce, halved, cored and thinly shaved
  • ½ pint WFM pickled red onion, drained
  • ½ cup Honeycup Mustard
  • 4 ea. brioche buns, split
  • 3 Tbsp butter, room temperature
  • A scant 2-3 Tbsp of vegetable oil

Instructions

  1. Add the ground beef and chorizo to a 2 qt stainless steel or glass bowl. Knead well until you have a mostly homogenous blend. You could do this step in a standing mixer fitted with a paddle attachment but be careful not to overmix.
  2. Form patties by pinching off a meatball sized (3 oz) bit and gently rolling it in your palms. (Alternatively, if you really want to be equitable and you don’t have a scale, you could turn the entirety of the mixture out on to a cutting board, cut in quarters, and halve each quarter.) You should have 8 meatballs. Gently smoosh these down into more of a puck shape and set on a parchment-lined baking sheet.
  3. On a clean cutting board, prep your remaining ingredients. Halve and shave the iceberg (you will have extra, make a salad), grate the queso (you will have extra, make a quesadilla) on the large blades of a box grater, and split your buns. Line up all of your ingredients neatly in bowls or on plates. You will want to take the time now so assembly, and not eating, is kept to a minimum.
  4. Get your largest sauté pan or skillet (or two if you have anything less than a 10-inch) onto the stove and let it heat over medium-high heat (I’d say a 6.5 out of 10). Butter the buns and toast cut side down; remove from the heat and spread a generous amount of the honeycup mustard on the top and bottom bun. Set these to the side and start cooking.
  5. Add a small amount of oil to the sauté pan and give it a swirl to coat evenly. Place the patties into the hot pan leaving 1-½ inches of space on all sides. Quickly begin to press down the patties using the back of a heat-proof spatula. Work around the pan giving each burger a loving smoosh. As the meat heats, the fat will begin to render, making this task easier and requiring less pressure. After 3-4 minutes the patties should have a nice sear. Flip the patties, give them a light squish with your spatula, and immediately top each with an even layer of queso. Count to 90, turn off the heat and move your burgers from the pan to a resting rack (or plate lined with paper towels).
  6. Stack the patties two high, place on the bun, and garnish with the pickled onions and a paw-full of shredded lettuce. Now go get it.

A 30th Anniversary Message from Patrick

Dear Farmers’ friends and family,

Like everything else in life, 30 years flies by.  I love that everyone says: When you have kids, enjoy the ride because it flies by. That really should be a saying for pretty much everything that you immerse yourself in. 

The expansions, the fires, the floods, and the long days and weeks of working silly hours have been replaced by a sense of pride and “elevating and delegating” to excitable younger staff. I am grateful for the 800 people who have touched our lives (yeah, we’ve hired over 800 community members in 30 years)—all of whom were real live teachers and mentors. We have learned so much.   

Personally, I am also grateful for my super support group: my college and high school buddies, my wife and incredible son—both who are way smarter than me; my local friend crew who keep me grounded; my mom and dad who instilled values like “do the right thing, be gritty and work hard—and don’t complain”; and to my two incredible business partners who are the most loyal and driven people I know.

WFM is molded by the people we touch everyday (except Mondays!)—we are just a reflection of the incredible communities of Woodstock and Waterbury. And our recipe is pretty simple: we love to serve great food to great people. We love to put on a show. And we love to do things right.  

Everything happens as it does because the universe is as it is. Happy 30th to us. Three cheers for more!

~Patrick 

Amelia’s Veggie Burger with Balsamic Grilled Red Onions

We all love a good burger, especially during grilling season. But what about a GREAT burger? It only takes a few extra ingredients to Elevate Your Burger! Our WFM culinary team has created five original—and absolutely delicious—burger recipes to bring your go-to summer meal to the next level! We’re excited to share these mouth-watering “Elevate Your Burger” recipes with you.

This week’s burger recipe, Veggie Burger with Balsamic Grilled Red Onions, is brought to you by our very own Amelia.

Ingredients

  • Veggie burgers of choice (Amelia used Vermont Bean Crafters Black Bean + Sweet Potato, but she loves Beyond Meat burgers too!)
  • 1 red onion, sliced into rounds
  • Olive oil
  • Salt and fresh ground pepper
  • Balsamic vinegar
  • Arugula
  • Avocado
  • Large tomato, sliced
  • Rolls of your choice
  • Garlic oil (or any flavored oil)

Instructions

  1. Cook burgers to your liking, either on the grill or in a pan.
  2. Meanwhile, if using a grill, brush onion slices with olive oil, then sprinkle with salt and pepper. Grill on one side until lightly charred, then flip and grill on the other side until cooked through. Transfer to a bowl and drizzle with balsamic vinegar.
  3. If using a pan: Sauté onion slices in oil with salt and pepper. Don’t stir too much—you want them to brown a bit before turning them. When they have softened, add balsamic vinegar (a couple of tablespoons) and stir. Remove from heat.
  4. Brush cut side of rolls with garlic oil and toast over the grill or in a dry heavy pan over medium heat until lightly browned.
  5. Assemble: Top bottom of roll with a thick slice of tomato and some balsamic onion. Top that with your burger, arugula, and avocado slices. Add another slice of tomato and top of roll. Serve with French fries, of course!

Kyle’s Carmie Burger

We all love a good burger, especially during grilling season. But what about a GREAT burger? It only takes a few extra ingredients to Elevate Your Burger. Our WFM culinary team has created several original—and absolutely delicious—burger recipes to bring your go-to summer meal to the next level.

Over the next few weeks we look forward to sharing these mouth-watering “Elevate Your Burger” recipes with you.

This week’s burger recipe, Kyle’s Carmie Burger, is brought to you by our fearless meat & seafood manager.

Ingredients

  • Your favorite bun, toasted ( Kyle prefers Brioche or a Portuguese muffin)
  • 80/20 Northeast Raised Ground Beef Burger, seasoned with salt and pepper, grilled to your preferred temperature
  • Terrapin Ridge Farms Hot Pepper Bacon Jam
  • Jasper Hill Farm Bayley Hazen Blue Cheese
  • Local ripe tomato, sliced
  • Arugula

Ingredients for Kyle’s Carmies (recipe below)

  • 2 large Vidalia onions, julienned
  • 1 Tbsp high-temperature cooking oil
  • 1 Tbsp butter
  • 1 Tbsp salt
  • 1 shot balsamic vinegar

    Kyle’s Pro Tip: Try using other liquids to deglaze the onions for different flavors and for different dishes. My favorites are bourbon, beer, wine, hot sauce, or even mustard.

How to Make Kyle’s Carmies

  1. Place oil In medium-heat saute pan.
  2. Place onions in pan, and add salt.
  3. Stir constantly until onions are soft and turn a light brown color.
  4. Keep stirring.
  5. When onions are soft, deglaze pan with a shot of balsamic vinegar, add butter, turn off heat.
  6. Stir until butter is well mixed.

Putting Together the Burger

  1. Spread a layer of Terrapin Ridge Farms Hot Pepper Bacon Jam on bun.
  2. Top the burger with Jasper Hill Farm Bayley Hazen Blue Cheese, Kyle’s Carmies, a slice of tomato, and a handful of arugula.

Grillin’ and Chillin’ Weekend Specials, June 24-26

It’s our final Grillin’ and Chillin’ weekend! Now through Sunday we’re offering 15% off tri-tip. Steve recommends pairing it with Sassy Badger Kolsch, a crisp German-style beer from Drop In Brewing in Middlebury, Vermont. Click on the video link above for Kyle’s tips on how to grill up your steak!

Thanks for Grillin’ and Chillin’ with us this month! July is Elevate Your Burger month, so you can look forward to some mouth-watering recipes from our WFM culinary team!

Grillin’ and Chillin’ This Father’s Day Weekend

We’re grillin’ and chillin’ this Father’s Day weekend ! Take 15% off ribeye and filet mignon through Sunday! Steve suggests pairing it with a double IPA from Foam Brewers in Burlington, VT — either Built to Spill or Experimental Jet Set. Cheers!

Every weekend in June we will be taking 15% off a delicious meat for the grill and pairing it with Steve’s beer pick. To stay in the know, keep an eye here (and to our Facebook page) for highly entertaining and informative videos of our very own Steve P. and Kyle.