West Hill House B&B

Category Archives: Food & Drink

Wine-ing? Yes, Keep on Wine-ing with Great Vermont Wine

May 15, 2017 by Susan

Wine is not something usually associated with Vermont. Maple syrup and craft beers top the list. Vermont is, however, becoming internationally known for its wine. Within an hour and a bit of West Hill House B&B there are numerous vineyards that welcome visitors and offer tasting opportunities. Two of our favorites are Lincoln Peak Vineyard and Boyden Valley Wine & Spirits.

Lincoln Peak Vineyard bottles on display in the tasting room.

Our West Hill House B&B mug made a visit to Lincoln Peak Vineyard. Photo: West Hill House B&B

Lincoln Peak Vineyard is on the route to Middlebury which is a great college town worth exploring. Evolving from an apple orchard to strawberry fields and ultimately to a vineyard, Lincoln Peak Vineyard is now one of the largest grape producers in Vermont. The vines came from a fellow vintner in Minnesota and are a winter-hardy grape variety that is happy in the Vermont climate.

Making a first batch of commercial wine in 2006, Lincoln Peak now produces over 25,000 bottles of wine a year all from grapes grown on their own vineyard. Entering the International Cold-Climate Wine Competitions for four years has garnered Lincoln Peak Vineyard three best-in-show awards along with several gold and double-gold medals.

Ripe grapes at Lincoln Peak Vineyard.

Mature wine grapes ready for picking at Lincoln Peak Vineyard. Photo: Sara Granstrom

Lincoln Peak Vineyard opens its 2017 season on May 20 offering visitors a chance to taste some of their 12 great wines with fun names like Starlight, Petite Pink and Ragtime. We stock two Lincoln Peak wines at West Hill House B&B, La Crescent and Marquette.

Like many Vermont enterprises, Boyden Valley Winery & Spirits evolved through a long family history. The Boyden family began farming 800 acres over 100 years ago. Purchased in 1914,  the Boyden family started with 28 head of dairy cows. Frederick and Phila Boyden along with their nine children planted the roots of what today is the thriving business.

Boyden Valley red wine ready for tasting

Boyden Valley red wine ready for tasting. Photo: Boyden Valley Winery

David, Mark and Stephanie are the 4th generation on the farm. David and his wife Linda, his siblings Mark and Stephanie and the rest of the team, oversee activities encompassing raising beef cattle and organic crops, tending 10,000 maple trees, raising cold climate grapes, making wine and more.

Boyden Valley Winery was one of the first licensed wineries in Vermont. Hardy cold climate vines were planted in 1996 and while waiting for them to mature, the Boydens began to craft fruit wines. Now they offer 20 award winning creative wines. They also took advantage of their other famous Vermont products, cream, apples and maple syrup and have created the most amazing cream liqueur, Vermont Ice Maple Cream Liqueur. The only thing they don’t produce on the property is the glass bottle the liqueur is in!

Boyden Valley Wine & Spirits tasting barn

Taste Boyden Valley Wine in their beautiful barn. Photo: Boyden Valley Wine & Spirits

Their tasting room is a beautiful barn and the family members and staff are not only very friendly but are knowledgeable about all aspects of wine production from the ground to bottle. The tasting room is open year round and special tasting events take place from time to time.

Vermont Ice Maple Cream Liqueur is a much loved constant in the bar at West Hill House B&B.

When you visit West Hill House B&B we will be happy to direct you to these and other near by vineyards. Remember to drink responsibly and have a designated driver.

Mud Squares for Mud Season

April 25, 2017 by Susan

Serving it up:

Mud season is a gray and rainy time here is the northeast. The snow has melted, the ground is thawing and the rain is coming down. Sometimes a sweet and gooey baked treat is the perfect pick-me-up on a gray and rainy day.  This baked treat fits the bill perfectly, a brownie-like cake base topped with nuts, marshmallows and chocolate icing. Due to its bumpy appearance it resembles a bumpy and muddy gravel road during mud season. But of course this tastes much better than mud!

Thanks to my sister for this recipe and while she has never been here in mud season but I am pretty sure she has seen her fair share of mud in the places she has lived.

Mud Squares

Gooey and delicious Mud Squares.

Ingredients:

  • 1 c. butter or marg
  • 2 c. sugar
  • 4 eggs
  • 1 1/2 c. flour
  • 1/3 c. cocoa
  • 1 c. chopped nuts, walnuts or pecans are a good choice.

Method:

  • Set the oven for 350°F.
  • Cream the above and spoon the batter into a 9×13 greased pan and bake for 30 -35 minutes.
  • Remove from the oven and immediately sprinkle the top of the cake evenly with 3-4 cups of mini marshmallows, enough to completely cover the cake.
  • Return to the oven for 3-5 minutes until the marshmallows are slightly puffy.
  • Remove from the oven and sprinkle the chopped nuts on top of the melted marshmallows.
  • Cool for 30 minutes.

Icing:

  • 3 c. powdered sugar (icing sugar)
  • 2 T. cocoa powder
  • 1/3 c. butter or marg, softened
  • 2 t. vanilla
  • 3 T. milk – you may need to add more

Method:

  • Mix all the above together. If using an electric mixer or beater, be sure to start the machine at a low speed or you will have powdered sugar everywhere!
  • You may want to add some more milk so that your icing is rather thin and can be drizzled across the top of your marshmallow.
  • Cut into squares with a sharp knife dipped frequently in hot water. A cool knife will pull the marshmallow off the cake.

 

Dishing it out:
For me, mud season is greeted with mixed emotions.  I love winter. I’ve successfully skied Mad River Glen, do my fair share of shoveling and don’t mind driving in the snow. Although I hate to see the snow disappearing, there is excitement in knowing that the spring flowers will soon be appearing in our gardens. Meanwhile we all manage to get through mud season by knowing which gravel roads to avoid and which can be more easily traversed.

daffodils in the upper pond.

Spring daffodils grace the rock garden by one of our ponds.

It is the moisture in the soil from the melting, thawing and the rain that allows Vermont to be the ‘Green Mountain’ state. This past winter Sugarbush Resort, just  mile from us, recorded 363 inches of snow at the top of the mountain, just one inch short of the 1995-96 record snowfall. It was indeed a great 2016-17 winter.
Whether you visit West Hill House B&B in the winter, spring, summer or autumn, you will be guaranteed a warm welcome and a plate of home baked goodies will be waiting on the sideboard.

Sunny Day Road Trip: Discovering Vermont Artisans

April 16, 2017 by Susan

A beautiful, warm and sunny mid-April day just begs to be enjoyed so, having no overnight guest to attend to, we set out to enjoy the afternoon and view the works of area artisans.

Our afternoon outing started in Middlebury, about 45 minutes from the B&B, where we stopped at the Vermont Coffee Company for coffee and some lunch. The Vermont Coffee Company is a small company that began slow-roasting small batches of coffee in 1979. As they note, “All the coffees we buy are organic and fair trade. While on their own these aren’t ‘quality standards’ they are standards for a higher quality of living for the farmers who grow the coffee.” (Open weekdays only, until 2PM.)

Vermont coffee Company logo.

Coffee roasting artisans create”Coffee made for friends”.

Our guests love the dark roast that we use for our breakfast coffee. Buy Vermont Coffee Company coffee, save the brown paper wrappers and trade them in for some cool stuff – a travel mug? Perhaps, but saving up for a special Vermont Teddy Bear with a “Friends” t-shirt won’t take too much longer!

Next stop was Bristol nestled at the foot of the Green Mountains just over the Gap from Warren. The town dates back to 1762. While many of the buildings date from a later time period, the entire downtown is a National Historic District. The town green has been a central part of village life throughout the town’s history. The Bristol Band has presented outdoor summer band concerts in the gazebo on the town green every Wednesday from June through Labor Day since shortly after the Civil War.

Art on Main sign.

A bright and beautiful shop.

Two beautiful shops on the main street in Bristol that are not to be missed bring to light the incredible talent of Vermont artisans.

Art On Main is a charming community supported artist cooperative showcasing the talents of artisans from around the state. This small gallery exhibits and sells an abundance of delightful creations, the work of over 80 artists both well known and newly emerging talent.

A wide variety of media are represented including hand thrown pottery, exquisite jewelry, textiles in various styles, woodenware, fine art, glass, small furniture items and photography.

The creations are attractively displayed making each item a treat for the eye. Numerous community events are scheduled throughout the year at Art On Main: rotating exhibits, featured artist series, open studio weekend, artist demonstrations and an emerging artists exhibit.

Huge elm lumber dwarfs Vermont Tree Goods artisan and owner John.

Giant slices from the ancient elm dwarf John, Vermont Tree Goods artisan and owner. Photo: Jon Varricchio

Vermont Tree Goods is an absolute joy to visit. This local company mills lumber and creates the most incredibly beautiful furniture from recycled heirloom trees that have reached the end of their growing years. Through the transformation into furniture, these magnificent beings extend their legacy by living on in homes and businesses. Using trees that are too large to fit into the usual lumber mill saws, Vermont Tree Goods artisans take the large trees and using their vision create what the tree wants to be made into.

From bedsteads to bookcases and tables to trivets, each piece of wood has a story. Each piece is hand crafted, natural-edged, Vermont grown and Vermont made. The pieces have timeless design and so stunningly finished that the grain of the wood cries out to be caressed. Unfortunately, in 2016, the largest elm in the entire northeast succumbed to Dutch Elm Disease. Fortunately however, at the end of its life Vermont Tree Goods and the Nature Conservancy worked together to continue the legacy of that beautiful tree and may lovely pieces have been created from the wood of this historic tree.

All the tables, benches and home goods crafted from this magnificent red elm by the VTG artisans are branded with the unique VT Elm logo, a silhouette of the tree.

Vermont Tree Goods hand made table.

A magnificent table handcrafted by artisans at Vermont Tree Goods. Photo: Vermont Tree Goods

We are proud that our guests are able to be part of this legacy as we have four teapot trivets made from this stately elm.

Peter enjoying afternoon tea.

Enjoying a sunny afternoon tea and baked goods at the Bristol Café.

Before heading back to West Hill House B&B we stopped at a favorite, the Bristol Café, to sit outside in the warm sunshine and enjoy a mug of tea and some home baked goodies.

With explorations over for the day we headed back home and across the Gap to Warren.

If you are ready to escape from your usual routines for a while, your explorations can be just around the corner. We invite you to come stay with us at West Hill House B&B, adjacent to the Sugarbush Resort and Golf Club and just a few miles from the town of Bristol. Let us work with you to plan your road trip in the beautiful Green Mountains of Vermont.

Get Out And About On A Vermont Craft Beer Tour!

April 14, 2017 by Corey A. Edwards

Spring has sprung!
The time has come
To taste great beer
And have some fun

on a guided craft beer tour in Vermont’s Mad River Valley!

Vermont Craft Beer Tour Lodging Special
The fine month of May sees the return of the Vermont Bed & Brew package: May 6th & May 20th, 2017.

This deal, which should tantalize any craft beer fan, combines two nights lodging at a Vermont B&B with a full-day, guided craft beer tour of local breweries.

Perhaps best of all, the tours are conducted via Vermont Bed & Brew’s comfortable, 12-seat tour buses. This means no one has to sacrifice the day’s delicious craft beer experiences as a designated driver!

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Biscotti made with Espresso & Chocolate Chips: What a treat!

March 11, 2017 by Susan

Serving it up:

Biscotti, crunchy and crispy, nothing is a better pick-me-up with a hot beverage. From a google search we learn that though modern biscotti are associated with the Tuscan region of Italy, this popular Italian cookie traces its origins to Roman times. The word biscotto (biscotti is the plural) derives from “bis,” Latin for twice, and “coctum” or baked (which became “cotto,” or cooked). These Italian treats have become a favorite among North Americans. Easy to make and even easier to eat, this recipe takes no time to put together and after two, twenty minute bakings – buono appetito!

I hand wrote this recipe in the back of a cookbook so I’m not sure of its origin.

Homemade WHH Biscotti

Biscotti awaiting guests.

Ingredients:

  • 2T Hot water
  • 2T Instant Espresso coffee
  • 1 c White sugar
  • 3 Eggs
  • 1 t Vanilla
  • 1/3 c Vegetable oil
  • 2 3/4 c  Flour, all purpose (King Arthur is my favorite)
  • 1T Baking powder
  • 1 t Baking soda
  • 1/8 t Salt
  • 1/2 c Chocolate chips

Method:

  • Set oven to 350°F
  • Line a jelly roll pan with parchment paper. The sides help keep the dough and parchment from sliding off the pan.
  • Dissolve the espresso powder in the hot water and set aside to cool.
  • In a large bowl mix the sugar, eggs, vanilla and oil together.
  • Add the flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt.
  • Mix with a few strokes then add the chocolate chips and mix until the chips are incorporated.
  • Turn the dough out onto a well floured surface and divide the dough in two.
  • Adding more flour if needed, roll one half of the dough into a log about 2″ in diameter and shorter than the baking pan.
  • Repeat with the other half of the dough.
  • Lift each half onto the baking pan leaving space between then for the dough to spread while baking.
  • Slightly flatten down the roll.
  • Bake at 350°F for 20 minutes.
  • Remove from the oven and cool for 5 minutes.
  • Carefully lift one of the baked logs onto a cutting board and cut into slices diagonally or straight across.
  • Replace the cut pieces on the baking pan leaving a little bit of space between the slices.
  • Repeat the cutting process with the other log and replace it on the pan.
  • Bake for another 15 to 20 minutes at 350°F or until crunchy.  As ovens differ keep an eye on the baking process.
  • Cool on a rack and enjoy with your favorite hot beverage – dunking is encouraged!
Biscotti and coffee.

Looks good!

If they last long enough, store in an airtight container. They also freeze well so you can make a couple of batches to have on hand.

Dishing it out:

Years ago when I used to frequent chain coffee shops I loved to see the glass canisters filled with biscotti that were clustered around the cash register. All kinds of biscotti: chocolate, walnut, pumpkin, coconut, chocolate dipped, the varieties seem endless. I always though biscotti was a bit of an exotic baked treat perhaps it was because of the name or maybe because of the price.  And for some reason I felt a bit decadent enjoying a biscotti with my coffee. After making biscotti every couple of weeks for the past eleven years here at West Hill House B&B, I now know that that there is no trick to making this wonderfully crisp and crunchy treat. The only challenge is how to keep the cookie jar full!

I must say, I still feel a bit decadent enjoying a biscotti with my coffee.

Maple Syrup? Pancakes? Vermont’s Got It!

February 5, 2017 by Susan

Glenn at the door of his West Hill Sugar Orchard

Glenn at the door of his West Hill Sugar Orchard

Maple syrup and Vermont go together like, well, maple syrup and pancakes! Forty years are required to grow a sugar maple tree large enough to tap. A tree ten inches (25 cm) in diameter is considered minimum trappable size for one tap. A grove of sugar maples is called a sugar bush or sometimes a maple orchard. It takes 4-5 taps to produce enough maple sap (40 gallons – 150 liters) to produce one gallon of syrup. Would you like to see it in action?

The Vermont Maple Open House Weekend will be held the weekend of March 25th and 26th in 2017, and you can experience it right here around West Hill House B&B.

The West Hill Sugar Orchard is a short walk from the B&B and is a small scale, locally operated and community supported maple syrup producer. The orchard gathers its sap by bucket and boils it over a wood fire using traditional maple sugaring techniques. Owner Glenn and his associated will be ready to welcome you for a visit over the weekend!

For breakfast we shall of course be serving maple syrup to accompany Susan’s delicious dishes, and maybe even as part of breakfast dessert. Newly produced 2017 will be available to purchase packaged in Glenn’s signature glass bottles decorated by his own wood prints. To help you enjoy this special weened we have created a special package just for you!

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Vermont Craft Beer Brewery Tour and Lodging Specials

August 20, 2016 by Corey A. Edwards

Vermont Craft Beer Brewery ToursDiscover the Mad River Valley’s Vermont craft beer scene and enjoy the benefit of a lodging special with the Vermont Bed & Brew Package!

The Vermont Bed & Brew Package has proven extremely popular and why not? Who wouldn’t enjoy an opportunity to sample the best beer and lodging that central Vermont has to offer?

The Vermont Bed & Brew package combines local craft brewery tours with two nights lodging at a Vermont B&B.

How does it work?

A typical tour collects you from your Vermont B&B between 9 and 10am for your tour. After that, you’ll stop at two stores in Warren to collect sandwiches and some rare, bottled beers. Then it is on to the tours and tastings!

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Along the Vermont Cheese Trail

March 14, 2016 by Corey A. Edwards

Vermont Cheese TrailThe Vermont Cheese Trail stretches from New York to New Hampshire, from Rhode Island to Quebec, and all points in between. Curd lovers visiting Vermont’s Mad River Valley can get in on the fun, too!

The farm-to-table movement may be one of the most exciting (and delicious) dining trends we’ve seen in a long time. The emphasis on fresh, locally harvested and crafted foods is a good thing, no matter how you serve it up.

Regional craft cheeses have long been a “thing” but public awareness of them is growing and with it, cheese tourism. We here at West Hill House B&B not only understand, we thoroughly agree! Part of what makes life so worth living is good food – and cheese is one of the most amazing and delightful foods there is!

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Lorne Sausage is a great breakfast accompaniment.

March 6, 2016 by Susan

Serving it up 

Lorne Sausage, also known as Square Sausage, Flat Sausage or Slice Sausage, is a traditional Scottish  food made with beef and pork. It is said to have originated in Lorne, Argyll in Scotland. If you are in Scotland and ask for a full Scottish Breakfast you will see Lorne Sausage on your plate.

The following recipe is my version using turkey. It has received “thumbs up” from our guests who prefer not to eat beef or pork.

Ingredients:

Lorne sausage in a lined pan

Lorne Sausage ready for the first freezing.

  • 2 lb. ground turkey
  • 1 1/2 c. Fine Bread Crumbs   (seasoned or not as you prefer)
  • 1 tsp. Pepper
  • 1 tsp. Nutmeg
  • 1 1/2 tsp. Coriander
  • 1 tsp. Salt
  • 3/4 c. of Water
  • 1 egg lightly beaten
  • 3 T. Maple syrup (optional)

Method:

Slicing Lorne sausage ready for second freezing.

Slicing Lorne sausage ready for second freezing.

  • Mix really well by hand then place in a wax paper or saran lined oblong pan about 10″ x 4″ x 3″.
  • Fold the wrap over top of the meat and place in the freezer until it’s just starting to set.
  • Remove it from the pan and peel the paper away, it might be a bit sticky.
  • Cut into slices to the thickness you like.
  • Separate the slices with wax paper, wrap the whole sliced loaf in waxed paper and put it into a freezer bag and put it back in the freezer.
  • When required, pop off a slice, defrost and fry it in a little fat or oil until crispy brown and cooked through.

If you make this using the traditional recipe, instead of using ground turkey, use 1 lb. of ground beef and 1 lb. of ground pork – neither being too lean or the sausage will be dry. You may wish to leave out the egg as these meats will have more moisture than turkey. Recipe can be doubled however use a very large bowl.

I serve this on half a lightly toasted English muffin or Kaiser roll or on toast and topped with mornay sauce. Next time I think I will make it with chicken instead of turkey and see how that turns out.

Lorne sausage with a fried egg.

Lorne Sausage topped with a fried egg.

Dishing it out

When we travel in Scotland, if we aren’t staying with family, we usually stay at B&Bs as it is a real treat to have someone else make breakfast for us!

fry_up-e1418992494674

A typical Scottish Breakfast

If you have never had a typical Scottish Breakfast, aka ‘Fry Up’, at a B&B or hotel (if you must!) here is a sample of what you will find on your plate and traditionally it is the same breakfast which is served every day. Ready? Going clockwise: baked beans, parsley (just for show), fried mushrooms, tomatoes -again the basil is just so you can say you had something really healthy, pork sausages, bacon, Lorne sausage or haggis, and tattie (potato) scone. OK, push back from the table now and you’ll want to loosen your belt about now – or maybe reach for something to settle your tummy.

If you keep eating these breakfasts belt loosening won’t help, you’ll need new clothing. I certainly don’t recommend eating like this every day of your Scottish holiday but you need to do this a few times just for the experience! We get smart after a couple of days and ask for the full breakfast minus whatever we have had enough of previously and often end up with egg (not fried), scone and Lorne sausage or haggis.   Now the average family is not subjected to this high fat diet so oatmeal, breakfast roll with butter and marmalade, some fruit and tea are the main stays and greatly enjoyed.

 

Mad River Valley’s Best Restaurants

February 26, 2016 by Corey A. Edwards

Mad River Valley's Best RestaurantsOne thing we’re always excited to pass along to our guests is what we think of as some of the Mad River Valley’s best restaurants.

Vermont has no end of great dining options and the Mad River Valley is no exception. Finding fantastic dining here isn’t the problem – choosing from among the crowd of mouth-watering options is!

It is with this in mind that we offer up a short-list of what we would consider some of the Mad River Valley’s best restaurants.

Presented alphabetically, this small selection of some of the best dining in our area is provided as a friendly guide for the next time you find yourself in the Mad River Valley and ask the age old question: where to eat?

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Discover Vermont Craft Beer!

February 15, 2016 by Corey A. Edwards

Vermont Craft Beer tastingsAmerica’s craft beer movement has certainly taken off – did you know there are over 50 craft beer breweries in Vermont, alone? We’re first in the U.S. for breweries and brew pubs per capita.

Beer lovers can be equal parts thrilled and confounded by the volume and variety of the Vermont craft beer scene – where to start?

Luckily, along with all the craft beer pubs and breweries, there are now numerous tours and trails one can take to discover and taste the very best that Vermont’s craft beer industry has to offer.

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Mint – a continuing great restaurant experience

August 17, 2015 by Peter MacLaren

Chef Illyan at work

Chef Illyan at work

Mint Restaurant in the heart of Waitsfield’s Historic District offers the Mad River Valley a vegetarian alternative with a primary focus on natural, organic whole foods and ingredients. Mint also specializes in offering a wide variety of teas from around the world.

The restaurant opened in November 2009 and has continued to receive rave reviews from our many guests who have dined there over the years since then, both from vegetarians and others. We are refreshing this blog first published in 2010 to include a recent video testimonial from guests John & Rachel that we encourage you to watch.

Mint is an experience not to be missed. The menu choices prepared by chef and co-owner Illyan are varied and interesting, and have an international flair. While vegetarians will recognize some of the choices, many are original creations and can be thoroughly enjoyed by diners more used to meat based entrees. The flavors are often surprising and delightful. Co-owner Savitri has integrated the amazing and varied tea selection from her former tea room, and provides knowledgeable guidance to match teas with your meal. Also available are a small wine and beer list at reasonable prices. The ambience and atmosphere are delightful and relaxing.

Make it a point to visit Mint during your next stay at West Hill House B&B. Usually open Wednesday to Sundays year round for dinner. Price for a 3-course dinner for 2 including a glass of wine each will be about $80. We shall be pleased to make reservations for you, usually a good idea as there is limited seating,

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