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Northern New England

Vermont: So you think your Grandma can cook...

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Vermont: So you think your Grandma can cook...

extramsg | Oct 8, 2009 02:24 AM

I'm a bit frustrated. I've been searching the boards for a week or so now, going through guidebooks and blogs, but not really finding what I'm looking for. So far, I'm finding these categories of restaurants in Vermont:

1) Restaurants serving market/chef-driven New American. It's generally difficult to discern any focus in the origin of the dishes and preparations, but there's usually a strong leaning towards Italian and French preps with local ingredients. I'll probably have one or two of these meals, eg, at Hen of the Wood, but they're easy to find.

2) Allegedly market-driven restaurants with every dish containing something like tuna, avocado, chipotle, or wasabi. In other words, NYC wannabes. Blech!

3) Restaurants serving old school hotel/steakhouse-style "Continental" dishes and generic New England dishes, like french onion soup, chowder, caesar salads, steak au poivre, etc. I even saw duck a l'orange on a menu. I don't mind something a little retro if it's good, but I can find this stuff ANYwhere.

4) Pubs that seem to be shooting for little more than offering an alternative to TGI Friday's and Applebee's by offering the same sort of annoying diverse menu of surprisingly ubiquitous dishes such as fettucine alfredo along side jack daniels wings along side jalapeno poppers and burgers with 40 ingredients. Ugh.

5) Diners that serve the same stuff as Denny's with prices that aim to compete with the national chains and even fast food joints, suggesting quality is a secondary concern. Though I imagine there are exceptions.

What I'm looking for is something different, and something I was a little surprised to discover is so difficult to find: traditional Vermont/New England foods. You know, the stuff that a New Englander's grandma grew up. The stuff that your great grandmother spent a lifetime perfecting. I'm looking for the original market-driven cuisine of Vermont. I want comfort foods and country cooking. I don't really want to go to a place bought by a Manhattan chef who wanted to semi-retire and be "creative".

I want a place where some 73 year old grandma has been cooking for 35 years, ever since she took over from her mother who cooked for the previous 50, using the same time-tested only-in-New England recipes. Does this exist?

PS: I'll be travelling through much of Vermont except too far into the NE, so any suggestions will be welcome. Will be going Brattleboro -> White River Junction Area -> Woodstock -> Waterbury -> Burlington -> Bennington. Am willing to go off the beaten path.

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