VPR Cafe

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The VPR Café is a weekly feature that's all about Vermont food and the people who grow it, prepare it and love it.

VPR's Ric Cengeri talks with freelance and Seven Days food writers. They share stories from the farms, kitchens and eateries of Vermont that connect our communities.

With the recent opening of Tres Amigos, Mark Frier (left) and Chad Fry now own a trio of resturants in the Waterbury-Stowe area.
Jeb Wallace-Brodeur / Seven Days

An interesting little chain of restaurants has been growing quietly in the Waterbury/Stowe area over the last decade. We'll call it the Fry and Frier Empire; three eateries owned by Chad Fry and Mark Frier. The most recent, Tres Amigos in Stowe, serves Mexican fare, but the common denominator of all three establishments is the huge selection of Vermont beer and cider they serve.  

Cured Perch with Romesco Sauce prepared by Executive Chef Doug Paine of Burlington's Bleu and Juniper restaurants (pictured).
Oliver Parini / Vermont Life

Most of us know what's going on in those little shacks and shanties we see on frozen lakes this time of year. Usually, it's an angler keeping warm, relaxing with friends or enjoying solitude while ice fishing. Around here, popular catches pulled from the water through perfectly-cut circles include Northern Pike, land-locked Salmon and Walleye. But the most abundant is Yellow Perch.  

Zenbarn co-owner, Ari Fishman, delivers Zero Gravity beer during the restaurant's recent Hemp + Hops Dinner.
Jeb Wallace-Brodeur / Seven Days

Move over peanut butter and jelly, eggs and bacon, and mac and cheese. There's a new food pairing in Vermont that was recently served at a first-of-its-kind dinner in Waterbury Center. Hemp and hops!

A bubbly libation from SILO Distillery is just one of the many food and drink options available at Artisans Park in Windsor, Vermont.
Suzanne Podhaizer / Seven Days

This is definitely not your father's industrial park. Although it may appear like one upon first glance, Artisans Park in Windsor, Vermont, is a collection of mostly food and beverage businesses with both manufacturing and retail space on the banks of the Connecticut River. The greenery surrounding it includes an actual park featuring a maze, open space, life-size chess set and more.

Residents of Johnson gather for the inaugural pizza-bake at the town's community oven in October, 2017.
Jim Deshler / Seven Days

Vermont is all about community and, in one Lamoille County town, that means something special and delicious. The Johnson Community Oven was fired up for its inaugural pizza-bake in October of last year, and locals have been loving it.

One dining highlight of 2017 for food writer, Sally Pollak, was the chile-lime chicken leg plate at Lucky Next Door in Burlington.
Sally Pollak / Seven Days

Yes, it's another year-in-review piece, but this one is bound to make your mouth water or cause you to pick up the phone to make a dinner reservation!

Holiday dinners don't always need to be dictated by tradition but, instead, can include other enjoyable customs chosen by the group you're celebrating with.
People Images / iStock

In addition to being with family and friends, the holidays also mean breaking out wonderful recipes and food traditions. Often, these traditions are rooted in religion or nationality, but they can also be established by simply determining what everyone with whom you celebrate likes best.

The Mad River Taste Place in Waitsfield is a shared space where food and beverage makers can sell their wares. "Vermont Edition" talks about food tourism in Vermont.
Daria Bishop / Vermont Life

At a renovated bank building in Waitsfield, you can still find some dough lying around. No, not money, but rather foods made with actual dough, along with cheese, beer, meats, spirits and more. The Mad River Taste Place is a shared space that serves as a mini Mecca for food and drink produced in The Mad River Valley.  

Pictured, one of the many dishes served at The von Trapp Brewing Bierhall that features Austrian sausages.
Jeb Wallace-Brodeur / Seven Days

The von Trapp family has brought the Vermont hills alive again! This time, in the form of a brewery and bierhall. Playing a major role in that bierhall is Chef Jack Pickett.

Making the distinction between a farm-driven restaurant and one that's consumer-driven, can often be made by simply looking at how the menu is presented.
Web Photographeer / iStock

Restaurants need to make many decisions, including which foods to source for their menus and where it comes from. These choices help determine whether they are customer-driven or farm-driven.

Peaslee's cubed, frozen, Vermont potatoes go from freezer to oven.
Melissa Pasanen, courtesy

The potato business has changed since 1928 when Karen Guile-Caron's grandparents started Peaslee's Vermont Potatoes in Guildhall. Now, Guile-Caron is trying to bring her 60-acre family business into the new local food economy.

Family and farmworkers gather to celebrate a birthday meal at Rockville Market Farm in Starksboro.
Keenann Rozendaal / Seven Days

Eggs and butternut squash are two of the items that Rockville Market Farm in Starksboro are best known for. But the bond between the family that runs the farm and it workers, is just as healthy as the organic foods they produce.

The flavor of pumpkin spice is everywhere this time of year, but not everyone is a fan.
Suzanne Podhaizer / Seven Days

Pumpkin and nutmeg and cinnamon, oh boy! Pumpkin spice season is exploding once again with all types of foods and drinks embracing the flavor, like pies, pasta dishes, lattes and more. But maybe your reaction to these seasonal seasonings is, oh no!

Chefs working on projects at the James Beard Foundation Chefs Boot Camp for Policy and Change held this fall at Shelburne Farms.
Melissa Pasanen, Courtesy

When you hear about a boot camp for chefs, you probably envision great cooks preparing fine meals while bedecked in an apron and carrying a rolling pin. That wasn't exactly what went down at The James Beard Foundation Chefs Boot Camp for Policy and Change. 

Spirulina is an edible type of blue-green algae being grown at a green house in Johnson.
Sally Pollak / Seven Days

Blue-green algae (cyanobacteria) is no friend to those who enjoy a swim in the lake but, in another form, is actually edible, high in protein and rich in certain vitamins. It's called spirulina and being grown right here in Vermont.   

When paired with the right spirits, ingredients like cinnamon, pear, vanilla and rosemary will add an abundance of flavor to fall cocktails.
Suzanne Podhaizer / Seven Days

If you've ever been intimidated by mixing cocktails for guests, don't sweat it. If you prepare ingredients, follow a few simple steps and pay attention to ratios, playing bartender doesn't need to be stressful.

Chef and cookbook author Sandi Earle's turkey chili made with Queen City Brewery's Gregarious Scottish Ale.
Michael Jacobs / Vermont Life

Everyone knows how to drink beer, but what about cooking with it? With the wide variety of craft beer and its many flavor profiles, cooking with it can be just as fun and tasty as using wine.

Douglas Sweets, a shortbread company, is just one of the many food and beverage makers taking up residence at Vermont Artisan Village in Shelburne.
Lee Krohn / Seven Days

If you drive along Route 7 just south of Shelburne Museum, you might have noticed some building activity during the last few years. This group of barn-like structures has grown into something called Vermont Artisan Village and there's an awful lot of food being produced there. 

Flag Hill Farm owners, Sabra Ewing and Sebastian Lousada, have been making hard ciders since long before the beverage's recent wave of popularity.
Melissa Pasanen, courtesy

Hard cider has become increasingly popular in Vermont with the advent of many new makers in recent years. But reach back a few decades and you'll find some of the state's earlier producers, including Flag Hill Farm in Vershire.

VPR Cafe: Pestopalooza

Sep 15, 2017
Hannah Palmer Egan's recipe for "Amazing Awesome August Pasta" includes kale, tomatoes, feta and pesto.
Hannah Palmer Egan / Seven Days

Get your food processor out. It's that time of year when you might have an abundance of basil and other greens which are perfect for making pesto.

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