Drewski’s On the River: Best choice for breakfast and lunch.

A waffle covered in syrup.Although, at the October Country Inn, our guests are always served a freshly cooked country breakfast, if Edie and I want to treat ourselves to breakfast out when we don’t have guests, or have a leisurely lunch, Drewski’s On the River is our first choice.  It was formerly known as Blanche and Bill’s Pancake House.  It was a long-standing local favorite breakfast and lunch spot when Blanche retired.  However, Blanche left it in the capable hands of Chef Andrew Geller and his wife Francine.  Chef Andrew is a Culinary Institute of America trained chef.  He brings his considerable training and skills to bear.  He treats this small, family owned and operated Vermont eatery as if it were a four-star Paris bistro.

Located near Killington Skyship Base Lodge.

Chef Andrew, Francine and Lucas posing in front ot their sign.

Chef Andrew, Francine and Lucas.

Drewski’s On the River is located at 586 U.S. Route 4, West Bridgewater, Vermont.  Just 1.5 mile east of Killington Ski Resort’s Skyeship Base Lodge.  Chef Andrew and Francine took over in May 2016 and continue to serve Blanche’s famous pancakes and waffles.  These recipies have been perfected for more than 40 years, and continue the tradition of serving fine, homemade, fresh, locally sourced food, in a warm and friendly atmosphere. Chef Andrew’s prepares, and serves, the Drewski's dining room.best food Vermont has to offer.

The best food around.

But it doesn’t stop with breakfast and lunch, Chef Andrew expanded his culinary service to include seasonal, bi-weekly Tuesday Night Dinner at Drewski’s On the River, as well as making his restaurant available for private events, dinners, or parties.  Whatever the need, Chef Andrew will cook for you.  Most of Drewski’s On the River menu items are made to order, guaranteeing the highest quality, and best tasting home-cooked meals possible.  Drewski’s On the Rive strives to uphold its long standing tradition of preparing fine food, and serving it with friendliness, and humor with the aim of enticing you to return with a smile and an appetite.

By |2021-01-07T14:56:57-05:00January 31st, 2019|Local Foods|

Cloudland Farm: Woodstock’s farm-to-table dining.

 

Meadows with iris at Cloundland Farm.You may have chosen to stay with us here at the October Country Inn because you’re looking for an authentic Vermont experience.  What could be more authentic than staying at a Vermont farmhouse converted into a family owned and operated country inn?  Well, you might want to dine at a Vermont, family owned and operated working farm as well.  Farm-to-table dining has become an marketing ploy that is often quite a distance from the farm to the table.  Not so at the Cloudland Farm.  Located four miles up a dirt road near Woodstock, with the Appalachian Trail running through the property, Cloudland Farm offers dinner service by reservation most Fridays and Saturdays.  This is true farm-to-table dining, the table is on the farm.

A diversified working family farm since 1908.

Sous chef Jake Webb finishing salad servings.

Jake Webb plates fresh local greens.

Cloudland Farm is a diversified working farm which has been in the Emmons family since 1908.  The spectacular views on the four-mile drive up scenic Cloudland Road are part of the whole experience.  At the farm, visitors are free to take photographs from the road of the farmland and any of the animals that may be in view.  This may include black Angus cattle and calves, horses, laying hens, Cornish-cross meat chickens, turkeys, the barn cats or pigs.

Farm raised beef is for sale.

Evening diners at Cloudland Farm.Coudland Farm also offers farm products for sale.  The on-site market features natural Angus beef steaks, ground beef, roasts, beef sausages, beef jerky, pastured pork, and pickles.  The Farm Market also offers local maple syrup, local cheeses, and other made in Vermont products.  The farm market is open on Thursdays from 10 to 3 and on Fridays and Saturdays 10 to 5.  Call (802) 457-2599 to make a reservation, inquire about the market, or ask for directions,

By |2021-01-07T15:06:08-05:00December 17th, 2018|Local Foods|

The Long Trail Brewery: Savor the taste of Vermont.

Long Trail BreweryIt’s an early spring this year at the October Country Inn.  Winter didn’t offer much opportunity for snow travelers to enjoy what Vermont winter typically offers.  But, despite disappointing conditions for snow related activities,  travelers to the area could always depend on sitting down to a frosty pint of a local Long Trail craft-brew, and  a hearty lunch at the nearby Long Trail Brew Pub.   October Country Inn is strategically located in this regard.  We are across the street from the Long Trail Brewery.  No need to drive.

Vermont’s top selling craft-brew.

Green Blaze labelOriginally called Mountain Brewers, what is now the Long Trail Brewing Company started-up in the basement of the Bridgewater Woolen Mill in 1989. It changed its name to Long Trail Brewing Company in 1995 and relocated to its present location on the banks of the Ottaquechee River in the heart of the Green Mountains.  Long Trail Ale, a German Altbier, is the company’s flagship beer. It is the largest selling craft-brew in Vermont.  The Brown Bag concept was developed as a way for Long Trail’s brewers to develop new recipes quickly. These small batch brews have produced Long Trail favorites like Double Bag, a Strong Ale; and Hit the Trail Ale, a limited release English Brown Ale; an American IPA; Belgian Smoked Porter; Milk Stout; and Maple Maibock that is fermented with maple syrup.

Visit the Brew Pub, relax by the river.

Pub fare alongside the Ottauquechee River.

Sipping a cold frosty pint alongside the river at Long Trail’s Brew Pub.

Now you know!  No area visit would be complete without a visit to the Long Trail Brew Pub to sample Long Trial’s most recent craft-brew. Today, that would be a frosty pint of Green Blaze IPA.  This newest addition to Long Trail’s craft-brews features big pine, tropical fruit and resin hop notes with a light, biscuit malt backbone.  Green Blaze IPA pairs well with: blue cheeses, sharp cheddar, colby, grilled meats, barbecue, hamburgers, spicy dishes, tacos, blackened chicken, pickled vegetables, shellfish and outdoor adventure.  Speaking of outdoor adventure, spring is here.  It’s time to “Take a Hike.”

By |2021-01-07T19:29:45-05:00March 18th, 2016|Local Foods|

Vermont Distillery: An agricultural innovation.

Vermont's first distillery.

Vermont’s first distillery.

Nothing in Vermont is more traditional than the family farm. And no local enterprise has suffered more than these small farmers. The direction of modern “progress” moved away from a self-sufficient lifestyle. It moved toward increasing reliance on corporate goods and services.  However, land-based entrepreneurs found it harder and harder to make ends meet.

Vermont distillery is part of the “slow food” revolution.

But, things have changed. A population once content to eat their food from cans and boxes has discovered the joy and satisfaction of acquiring, preparing and eating local fresh food. This “slow food” revolution has its roots in Vermont, and other rural areas of the country. Legions of small farmers are experimenting.

Vermont distillery product line-up.They are finding new ways to add value to traditional farm products. Former dairy farmers now produce world-class cheese. Single crop farmers have diversified into smaller plots of organic table vegetables sold fresh directly to consumers at local Farmer’s Markets. Maple syrup producers are making vodka. Seemingly all of a sudden, Vermont has become a hot bed for small batch distilleries. And local Quechee distiller Duncan Holaday started the ball rolling.

Spirits are distilled from milk, and maple syrup.

Duncan Holaday

Duncan Holaday

Firstly, Duncan Holaday opened the first official Vermont distillery, Dunc’s Mill Distillery, the original home of Vermont Spirits Distillery and began distilling maple sap into vodka.  Secondly, his Vermont Spirits Gold and Vermont Spirits White, distilled from milk sugars, gained national recognition and inspired him to expand his company.  His use of elder flowers and maple sap to distill rum captures what many distillers work hard to achieve–using only Vermont-grown agricultural ingredients.

If you’re thinking about visiting the Woodstock area, stay at the October Country Inn and visit the Vermont Spirits Distillery.

 

 

By |2021-01-11T15:28:30-05:00February 20th, 2014|Local Foods|

Favorite restaurants: In Woodstock, Mount Holly & Ludlow.

harrysmealWhen we want to leave our innkeeping duties at the October Country Inn behind, and treat ourselves to a night out, that outing invariably consists of dinner at one of our favorite local restaurants.  Life is of a rural nature in Bridgewater Corners, Vermont. And, it might lead one to believe there are few gourmet dining options readily available.  Happily, this is not the case.  In this little corner of Vermont, well placed between Killington, and Woodstock, Vermont we’re blessed with an abundance of chef-owned restaurants.  All of them are good, but these four are our favorites.

Prince and the Pauper.

princeandpauperIn Woodstock, it’s the Prince and the Pauper.  Housed in a turn of the century building down an alley off Elm St. in downtown Woodstock, this quaint, cozy dining room and attached bar features a prix fixe menu.  However, ala carte options are available most of the time.  Ask for the bistro menu.  The Prince and the Pauper is located at 24 Elm St. in the heart of Woodstock, Vermont.  Call (802) 457-1818 for reservations.  We always make reservations well ahead of time.  This place is no secret to the locals, and is often fully booked.

Melaza Bistro.

Outside patio dining at Melaza Bistro.Woodstock’s Melaza Bistro is another of our favorite local restaurants.  Depending on the weather, both inside and outside dining is available.  Advertised as a Caribbean Bistro, Melaza’s menu includes the tropical flavors one would expect from that region of the world, but it’s more of a fusion of flavors with more typical North American fare. Whatever your menu choice may be, the food is excellent. Portions are generous and the price is reasonable. Reservations are recommended. Melaza Bistro is located at 71 Central Street., Woodstock, Vermont. Call (802) 457-7110 for questions or reservations.

Harry’s Cafe.

HarryscafeHarry’s Cafe is another old favorite of ours that is wrapped in a new location.  His old place in Mount Holly was a little small so his recent relocation into a bigger space is a good move.  The menu at Harry’s is varied and voluminous.  There are a lot of great food choices ranging from midwestern soul food to far eastern delicacies.  Harry’s new digs are located across the street from the Jackson Gore entrance to Okemo Ski Resort at 68 Route 100 North, Ludlow, Vermont.  Call (802) 228-2996 for reservations.

Downtown Grocery.

downtowngroceryThe last of the four,  The Downtown Grocery is a great, husband and wife (Rogan and Abby) owned and operated, bistro type restaurant.  This intimate cafe offers a creative and delicious variety of entrees.  Chef Rogan, a local boy from Weston, Vermont, makes his own pastas, sources fresh, sustainable seafood and cures his own meats in the cellar beneath his inaugural casual fine-dining eatery.  The Downtown Grocery  is located at 41 South Depot St., a short distance up a side street in the heart of Ludlow, Vermont.  Call (802) 228-7566 for reservations.

By |2021-01-11T15:39:49-05:00January 20th, 2014|Local Foods|

Heirloom apples: America’s national fruit.

heirloom apple hanging on a tree.An heirloom apple is one that is grown from open pollination (pollinated by natural forces–bees, the wind) from a line of trees that have been in existence at least 100 years.  New England in general, and Vermont in particular, is home to a great many such varieties.  Now is the time of year when the harvest is in.  Many small apple farms encourage visitors to pick their own.  Others offer sampling an assortment of varities from their farmstand.

Pick you own in Vermont.

The association of apples with romance, beauty, temptation, immortality, and sensuality is a theme in cultures all over the globe.  In Norse, Icelandic, Babylonian, Celtic, and Roman myths, gods eat apples to preserve their immortality (an apple a day keeps the doctor away).  Suitors used apples to achieve a conquest.  Women conceive with the help of magical apples.  And heroes fall from grace because they couldn’t resist the temptation of a perfect fruit.

A local farmstand displays a selection of heirloom apples.

A local farmstand displays a selection of heirloom apples.

History of apples in America.

The British puritans of the 16th and 17th centuries held fast to the virtues of thrift and self-sufficiency, so when they left England for America, they took apples with them.  In 1629, Captain John Smith wrote that apples “prospered exceedingly” in Jamestown’s  coastal climate. Blaxton’s Yellow Sweeting was the first new American apple variety that emerged from a Boston orchard.  For early colonists, apples weren’t just a sweet table fruit.  They were the source of cider vinegar, which was used in preserving.  They provided hard apple cider to drink, and from cider came distilled ciderjack, which was used as a spirit, a preservative, and an anesthetic.

With American independence in 1776, the western migration began and apples traveled right along with the early settlers.  In the early 1800’s, a young missionary named John Chapman left Massachusetts and headed west by canoe into the nascent territories of Pennsylvania, Ohio, West Virginia, Illinois, and Indiana to preach the Good Word and spread the gospel of apples.  He planted trees everywhere he went, earning the nickname Johnny Appleseed.

American as apple pie.

One of October Country Inn's 100 year old apple trees.

One of OCI’s 100-year-old apple trees.

Here at the October Country Inn, heirloom apple trees dot the grounds. Two of our trees are at least 100 years old, and typically shower us with apples.  What we or our neighbors and guests don’t use, the local deer and other wildlife do.   About a month ago, a patch of fallen apples near the road had been sitting on the ground for a week or so when a young racoon showed up one afternoon to sample the freshly fermented fruit.  It must have gotten a bit of a buzz because it ran around in circles, and rolled on the ground for a while, and then curled up for a snooze down by the barn.  Heirloom apples seem to be a favorite with the local wildlife as well.

By |2021-01-12T10:58:53-05:00October 20th, 2013|Local Foods|

Family style dining: Everybody’s family at dinnertime.

Family-style frivolity at an OCI holiday dinner.

Family-style frivolity at an OCI holiday dinner.

If you sit down to breakfast or dinner at the October Country Inn, it’s a family style dining affair.  By family-style we mean that everybody sits together, and eats together.  Nobody sits alone unless they’re the only one here.  We have three large tables that seat at least eight persons each, in two dining rooms.  It isn’t unusual to have them all full.  Sitting down to a meal together, especially among strangers, is a fundamental family experience.  And it lifts the spirit.  It also sets the stage for some fascinating revelations.  You just may meet a long-lost cousin.  It happens.

Family style dining lifts the spirit.

Six degrees of separation.

Six degrees of separation.

There was the morning that two couples from Toronto, who didn’t know one another, sat down to breakfast.  After chatting a bit they discovered that they lived three houses apart from one another, on the same street, yet had never before met.  Closer to home, while chatting with a guest, Edie discovered that they were distant cousins. This “its-a-small-world” phenomenon happens all the time with family style dining.  And it’s really fun when it does.

This phenomenon is sometimes attributed to the 6 degrees of separation theory.  This theory, originally from Hungarian author Frigyes Karinthya’s 1929 collection of short stories titled Everything is Different, arises when a character in one of the stories believes that any two individuals could be connected through at most five acquaintances.  This theory has been much studied since then with the general result that, where the global population is concerned, any person is six or fewer steps away from any other person in the world.  When this theory is limited to the population of the U.S., any person is three or fewer steps away from any other person.

You are only three steps away from a common connection.

Part of our coffee mug collection.

Part of our coffee mug collection.

One tradition that has been a part of the October Country Inn experience for many years is to provide guests with a large collection of coffee mugs from which to choose.  Mugs are emblazoned with logos representing different cities, states, countries, schools, businesses, and so forth.  The choice of a particular mug reveals something.  That might be the spark that ignites a conversation which leads to the discovery of a connection to another person that you didn’t know existed.  So when you sit down to family style dining for either breakfast or dinner at the October Country Inn, chat up the other guests.  You are only three steps away from a common connection.  All you have to do is find it.

 

By |2021-01-12T15:31:15-05:00June 19th, 2013|Local Foods|

Chef Brad’s Crazy Side: More than a mere food truck.

crazysideYou don’t start you’re day hungry when you’re a guest at the October Country Inn.  Our breakfasts get you out the door satisfied and ready for your day’s activities.  But, you will be hungry later in the day.  You’re in luck.  Chef Brad’s “Crazy Side” is nearby and he is ready to fix you up and make you happy and satisfied once more.

Where else but in Quekchee, Vermont would you come around a curve on Route 4 as it snakes alongside a river valley and not be surprised to find a neon yellow, Caribbean beach-side style food truck parked next to the Fat Hat Clothing Company.  It all somehow fits.

Raised in Woodstock.

Chef Brad will cook for you.

Chef Brad will cook for you.

Chef Brad is a local boy.  Raised nearby, a Woodstock High School class of ’80 alumnus, he had earned a reputation for the outstanding meals he consistently cranked out over the many years he operated the nearby Corners Inn restaurant.  One day, other adventures called, and he packed up his spatula and knives and took to the road.

Chef Brad is back in town.

Last Summer, he came back.  With the independence and creativity one expects from Vermonters, chef Brad, living in his Volkswagen camper van, negotiated the purchase of a used food truck, and set up shop.  It didn’t take long for word to spread.  Chef Brad is back in town and ready to cook for you.

You won’t be disappointed!

csmenuWhen you’re out and about in this neck of the woods, and your stomach starts speaking to you, you know where to get that itch scratched.  It’s a short drive from Woodstock east a few miles on Route 4 to the “Crazy Side.” Put in your order and Chef Brad will cook for you.

 

 

By |2021-01-12T15:38:22-05:00May 20th, 2013|Local Foods|

Vermont maple syrup: Vermont’s springtime gold.

A Vermont sugar shack making maple syrup.

A typical Vermont sugar house busily boiling down maple sap (notice sap bucket hanging in the foreground) to produce maple syrup.

Spring at the October Country Inn is just around the corner.  Although night-time temperatures still drop to below freezing, the March sun has enough power to bring day-time temperatures into the 40s.  The warm days cause the sap to rise in thousands of local Maple trees and signals the start of the maple sugaring season.  The collection of maple sap and the production of maple syrup is a Vermont tradition that predates Vermont itself.

Maple sap’s like water.

Legend has it that a local Indian chief threw his tomahawk into a maple tree trunk.  The spring sun warmed the tree.  Then, from the tomahawk scar, the sap ran down the bark into a container accidentally left under the tree.  Thinking the crystal clear liquid in this container was water, the chief’s wife poured it in with some venison she was cooking.  As the liquid boiled away a sticky sweet glaze formed on the meat adding a sweet maple flavor.  This led to the discovery of Maple syrup.

Local indians used maple syrup before European settlers came.

Whether or not this is how local Indians discovered how to convert maple sap into maple sugar.  They did figure this out somehow because the first European settlers to this region documented this use as well as adopting it.  The settlers came with metal tools, drilled holes in the tree trunks, whittled wooden spouts and hung wooden buckets under the spouts to collect the sap.  Iron kettles suspended over a roaring fire held the sap.  Heat evaporates the water from the sap.  Pure maple syrup remains. This process has evolved some over the years.  But it is still essentially the same.  Sap is collected, placed in a metal container placed over a flame, and boiled until only maple syrup remains.

Vermont is the largest producer in the United States.

A maple syrup grading sampler.Vermont is the largest producer of maple syrup in the United States.  By Vermont law, maple sap producing maple syrup must be at least 66% sugar.  Maple syrup is divided into grade A or B.  A grades are further subdivided into Fancy, Medium Amber, and Dark Amber.  These grades refer to the color of the syrup, and the color is determined by when in the season the sap is harvested.  Grade A Fancy is syrup from early season sap, and has a subtler flavor.  Conversely, Grade B is syrup from late season sap, and has a more robust flavor.

Maple trees are tapped at 30 years old.

Maples are usually tapped beginning at about 30 years of age.  Each tree can support between one and four taps depending on its trunk diameter.  The average tree will produce 9 to 13 gallons of sap per season, up to about 3 gallons a day.  This is roughly equal to 7% of a tree’s total sap.  It takes about 40 gallons of sap to produce one gallon of maple syrup.  The sugaring season lasts from 4 to 8 weeks depending on the weather.  During the day, starch stored in the roots for the winter rises through the trunk as sugary sap, allowing it to be tapped.  Maples can continue to be tapped for sap until they are over 100 years old.

Maple syrup is the most nutritious sweetener.

Sweeteners nutritionl value chart.Of all the popular varieties of sweetener, maple syrup contains a wide array of various nutrients.  Scientists have also found that maple syrup’s natural phenols, potentially beneficial antioxidant compounds, inhibit two carbohydrate-hydrolyzing enzymes that are relevant to type-2 diabetes.  In the study, 34 new compounds were discovered in pure maple syrup, five of them have never before been seen in nature.

By |2021-01-12T19:01:23-05:00March 19th, 2013|Local Foods|

Moxie: Calvin Coolidge’s favorite soft drink.

Graphic art used in Moxie soda ads.

The “Moxie Man.”

Former U.S. President Calvin Coolidge was born and raised a mere six miles from Bridgewater Corners, and the October Country Inn.  A little known fact outside of northern New England is that “Moxie” was Calvin’s favorite soft drink.  It was also Boston Red Sox legend Ted William’s favorite soda, as well as the official soft drink for the state of Maine.  However, it is virtually unknown outside of New England.  It is made by Coca-Cola but for some reason is not widely distributed.  The unique taste of this soda may have something to do with its relative obscurity.  This is not to infer that the taste is unpleasant.  It has many fans, especially in the Northeast.  Try it why don’t you?  Decide for yourself.

Never heard of Moxie?

Never heard of “Moxie.”  This uniquely tasting soft drink was invented in 1876 by Maine native Dr. Augustin Thompson.  It originated as a patent medicine called “Moxie Nerve Food.”

Photo of a can of Moxie soda.Dr. Thompson named the drink after his friend, Lieutenant Moxie, who is reputed to have discovered that the properties of an extract from a rare South American plant were especially effective against “paralysis, softening of the brain, nervousness, and insomnia.”  Gentian root extractive is a listed ingredient.  This may contribute to the drink’s unique taste. After a few years, Dr. Thompson added soda water to the formula and changed the product’s name to “Beverage Moxie Nerve Food.”

Look for it in any Vermont country store.

You may not have known about this soft drink, but the word moxie, describing the qualities of courage, daring, and energy–as in “This gal’s got moxie,”–is an offshoot of advertising jingles developed to market the drink.

You might not find “Moxie” in your local grocery, but you can often find it at the October Country Inn, or the nearby Bridgewater Corners Country Store.

 

 

 

 

By |2021-01-12T19:49:34-05:00January 21st, 2013|Local Foods|
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