January 10, 2009

Going Local in Burlington, Vermont.

I went to high school in St. Johnsbury, Vermont…all rolling hills and amazing fall foliage and flannel-wearing earthy occasionally backward (as a little newbie I got some hell from big mean boys for being Buddhist, whatever that is) but fundamentally kind, tough, community-oriented people. Exactly what you’d expect. Whenever we wanted to have fun—and we were too lazy to go to Boston or Montreal, conveniently within roadtrip reach, we’d hit Burlington, a cute little city/big town that was like my old hometown of Boulder, only the mountains were replaced by Lake Champlain, and the outdoor downtown brick mall..well the mall, designed by the same architect, was wonderfully similar.

I haven’t been back for a decade, now…I hear lots of chain stores have popped up, and sprawl has come in…but, thanks to the below, I also am glad to hear that some very good things continue to happen in this, one of the most livable cities on our little planet. NY Times excerpt:

…it is no surprise that Burlington, a city whose biggest exports include the jam band Phish and Ben & Jerry’s, has a chill, socially conscious vibe. But for all its worldliness — antiglobalization rallies and fair-trade products abound — Burlington has lately turned an eye to the local. The Lake Champlain shoreline has undergone a renaissance in recent years, with gleaming new hotels, bike and sailboat rental shops and parks with sweeping views of the Adirondack Mountains. But perhaps the strongest emphasis on local can be found in the city’s developing restaurant scene, where menus are now filled with heirloom tomatoes and grass-fed beef from (where else?) Vermont. And you’re practically required to wash it all down with a local microbrew.


Friday 4:30 p.m.


With its eclectic mix of students, activists, artists, families and professors (the University of Vermont is based here), Burlington offers some interesting people-watching. Take in the sights at the Church Street Marketplace (2 Church Street), a wide, four-block concourse that is the city’s social center and home to more than 100 shops and restaurants. The pace is slow, leisurely and crowded, so be sure to leave plenty of time to explore. Pop into Sweet Lady Jane (40 Church Street; 802-862-5051;www.sweetladyjane.biz) for funky women’s clothes and accessories; Frog Hollow (85 Church Street; 802-863-6458; www.froghollow.org) to check out treasures created by Vermont artists; and Lake Champlain Chocolates (65 Church Street; 802-862-5185; www.lakechamplainchocolates.com), where a hot chocolate doubles as a meal, and we dare you to eat just one truffle.

7:30 p.m.

Long known as a town for gravy fries, pizza and other collegiate staples, Burlington has had a flurry of upscale restaurants in recent years. L’Amante(126 College Street; 802-863-5200; www.lamante.com) helped lead the charge. If one were to take Tuscany and add a splash of Vermont, the result would be this hearty yet crunchy menu. Try the bruschetta of local baby squash ($10) and New York strip with white beans, tomato and Swiss chard ($27). It’s sleek and low-lit, yet somehow informal, despite an expensive wine list that leans heavily on Italian reds.

10 p.m.

If there are three things that Burlington does well, they are live music, beer andcoffeeRadio Bean (8 North Winooski Avenue; 802-660-9346;www.radiobean.com),

…Click on photo above for slideshow. Click here for the rest of the article.

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