Last weekend Ascanio and I went on a mini road trip to explore more of the East Coast. Because it has been a beautiful warm Fall, we decided to take advantage and head to a small town neither of us had ventured before. Destination: Manchester, Vermont.
We chose Manchester not because the town lures outlet shoppers (I really promise!), but because it is home to the Orvis flagship store and fishing rod factory, and has a grand building dedicated to the Museum of Fly Fishing – Ascanio’s heaven. I had never been to Vermont, so I was simply animated to witness local farms making cheese and producing maple syrup.
While Ascanio was busy casting various seemingly identical fishing rods and perusing more hunting camo garb that he so desperately needs, I sat cozily (and surprisingly patiently) in an oak paneled dressing room.
What I loved most about the town was its embrace to all things natural and sustainable. The locals talked about the moist and perfectly dense the artisanal breads from Earth Sky Time Farm, the nutty and rich maple smoked gouda from Taylor Farm, and crisp apples from Saratoga Apple.
We visited a local farmers market at JK Adams, a woodshop known for their cutting boards.
Speaking to the owner of Two Dog Farms, I learned that there are several stages of aging for maple syrup – somewhat comparable to cheese and wine. The later sap is extracted from the trees, the darker it is, possessing a higher caramel content. Contrary to my hypothesis, the darker ambers do not contain higher concentrations of sugar, but rather more caramelization.
I tried three different types of syrup: light, medium and dark amber, and the darker the amber the more caramel tones. Although I thought I would find the light amber the most pleasant, I ended up bringing home the dark amber – I appreciated the richer, more complex flavor.
Vermont embraces their local farmers and places a large emphasis on sustainable farming. While at the farmers market we sampled some local smoked gouda which we had to bring home with us. It was so creamy and savory that it did not make it home – we snacked on apple slices and gouda the entire four hour car ride back to New York!
The Manchester Woodshop was equally as endearing– the building is an old barn that was converted into a workshop where local artisans create simple yet elegant home furnishings.