Friday, November 30, 2012

The Downton-Essex Arcade

Guests attending Vermont Public Television's event Inspired by Downton Abbey will be transported to the world of the wildly popular period drama. In the Essex Resort and Spa Atrium, guests will leave Vermont behind, and enter the village of Downton, surrounded by the sights and smells of a bustling food market. 

All tickets include food, drinks, and entertainment. The Downton-Essex Arcade will feature the following food shoppes:

Produce Shoppe
Mini Bubble & Squeak, Leek & Mushroom Tartlets, Endive with Pickled Vegetables, Baby Green Salad with Preserved Lemon Vinaigrette

Cheese and Bread Shoppe 
Assorted House-Made Breads (King Arthur Flour), Local Cheeses with Assorted Jams & Chutneys

Fish Shoppe
Salmon Coulibiac, Smoked Bluefish Pate, Shrimp Gougeres, Potato & Smoked Crab Croquettes, Clam Chowder

Butcher Shoppe 
Hand-Carved Steamship of Beef with Bordelaise, Country Pate, Assorted House-made Charcuterie

Roulade of Lamb Leg Stuffed with Blood Pudding, Cornish Pasties, Quail Pudding, Cranberry Chicken in Phyllo Cups

Pastry Shoppe
Charlotte Russe, Spotted Dick, Madeleine, Petits Fours, Steamed Pudding with Brandy Butter, Traditional Biscuits 

Guests will have the chance to enjoy the abundant culinary provisions as they mix and mingle in the Downton-Essex Arcade at The Essex Resort & Spa. 

The design for the grand food court is the vision of UVM Professor of Scenic Design, Jeffrey Modereger.

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Film on Burlington's Jewish History Premieres Dec. 6

In the late 19th century, many Eastern European Jews sought freedom from repression in North America.  Some came from neighboring rural villages in Lithuania to Burlington, Vt., a busy lumber port amid countryside that reminded them of home.

Little Jerusalem
, Vermont Public Television's newest documentary about the state's history, will premiere Thursday, Dec. 6, at 8 p.m.  The film combines archival images, and interviews with historians and descendants of the original settlers, to tell the little-known story of a traditional Jewish community that thrived in Burlington's Old North End from the 1880s to the 1940s.

Hebrew Free School Burlington Vermont Old North End
Procession to the opening of the Hebrew Free School, 1901. Courtesy UVM Special Collections.
There will be additional broadcasts Dec. 8 at 5:30 p.m. and Dec. 10 at 9 p.m.

Most of the first Jewish immigrants came to Burlington with next to nothing.  With few options for work open to them, many became peddlers, walking miles with back-breaking packs.  Determined to preserve their religious traditions, they came home weekly to observe the Sabbath.  A French-Canadian cabinet maker let them hold their first prayer congregation, or minyan, in his Old North End shop.

Ark of the original Ohavi Zedek synagogue in Burlington, Vermont
Ark of the original Ohavi Zedek synagogue in Burlington, Vt. Courtesy UVM Special Collections.
The founding families would go on to build three neighborhood synagogues that became the centers of community life.  In a scene from the film, Marshall London visits the original Ohavi Zedek synagogue (now Ahavath Gerim) with its homemade copper ark, recalling his grandfathers at prayer.

Many of the peddlers would eventually start their own businesses.  By the early 20th century, the bustling neighborhood was dotted with groceries, junk dealers, bottlers, and stores selling dry goods, candy, clothing and furniture.

People who grew up there recall the quiet beauty and good food of Sabbaths.  They speak nostalgically of a tough but simple way of life in the tight-knit community their forebears created.

Historian Jeff Potash explains in the film, "They reproduced old world Orthodox life." 

As time went on, some migrated to Montreal in search of spouses or jobs, but families maintained close cross-border ties.

VPT's Dorothy Dickie, producer of the film, said, "I hope viewers will learn that Burlington has a remarkable Jewish heritage that enriches the cultural mosaic of Vermont to this day."

Major production funding for "Little Jerusalem" is from Jim Wyant, The Schwartz Family Foundation Inc., The Carolyn and Leonard Miller Center for Holocaust Studies at UVM and the Jewish Community Foundation of Montreal.  Other donors from the U.S. and Canada have also contributed.

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

6 Course Dinner Preview

The Chefs at the Essex Resort and Spa recently introduced their finely researched, authentic Downton Abbey menu in anticipation of the season three premiere event, VPT's Experience inspired by Downton Abbey, to be held on January 5th and 6th.

Arnd Sievers and Shawn Calley, both of whom hold prestigious titles in the cooking world, put together the six courses to replicate the flavors of Downton Abbey, with a Vermont twist. 

Guests from around the Burlington area were welcomed to Amuse, The Essex's modern dining lounge, with samples of Whistlepig Straight Dry Whiskey, thanks to the generosity of WhistlePig creator and guest, Raj Bhakta.

With the chefs hard at work behind the table, guests watched as the final touches were put on the first course. It was very much like stealing a glimpse into the Downton kitchen, without Ms. Patmore's snide remarks. Although, by the end of the night it was decided that Arnd and Shawn should wear "Daisy" and "Ms. Patmore" costumes on the night of the event. 

With introductions underway, the Essex staff began serving guests with beautifully prepared plates of Oysters. The trio included Rockefeller, Sauce Francaise, Champagne Mousseline, providing variety to suit the less adventures eaters and oyster loves alike. 

The second course, a Oxtail Consomme was a delightful balance of a light broth, vegetables, and flavorful oxtail meat. 

Throughout the meal, we glanced over to Anna Post, of the Emily Post Institute to be sure that we did not violate the fine dining manners that the Dowager Countess might have reprimanded us for. However, we couldn't help tipping the Consomme bowl to scoop up every last drop. 

The third course was a truly impressive marrying of Filet Wellington, Lobster meat, and fresh vegetables. The generous cut featured a flaky dough crust, and circled the lobster, which absorbed the rich flavor for a hearty and mouthwatering main course. The carrots were grown in the Essex's own garden and complimented the dish with their noticeably fresh flavor. The Pommes William, a pear shaped potato side dish, was hit among guests, both to the eyes and the taste buds. 


After a wholly satisfying main course, the palate cleansing sorbet was a welcome treat. The violet colored, homemade sorbet was almost too lovely to eat. It reminded us of the fragrant flowers from the village flower competition in season one, and surely struck a note with National Gardening Association's Elizabeth Metraux. The Dowager would have had no choice but to choose this dish as a winner, for its surprising of combination of clean floral and tart fruit flavor. It embodied the essence of spring time, no easy feat on a chilly November night. 

The delights were far from over, and the fifth course of local cheeses and jams arrived. The long plate alternated jams on fresh bread with cheese, and progressed from sweet to tangy. The homemade jam transitioned the diner between a flakey Cabot cheddar and strong Stilton. 

With just enough room left for dessert, the Charlotte Russe was a light but rich ending to the meal. The dainty cream colored filling rested on a lady finger and sponge cake crust, all draped with strawberries. 


The meal left guests pleasantly full and offered a glimpse into what promises to be an unforgettable event. On January 5th, the casual dining experience will turn into a luxurious experience, complete with costume clad footmen, serving in the French style that the Crawley family was accustomed to. The dinner is just one of many authentic Downton elements that guests will enjoy, and we can't wait to bring you more previews of what's in the works. 

If you haven't already, you can buy your ticket for VPT's Experience Inspired by Downton Abbey at the Essex Resort and Spa at our website,

To keep up to date with the food, fashion, and fun "like" our Facebook page and follow us on Twitter!
All photos courtesy of Molly Stone-Thomas of Heart of Stone Photography.

Monday, November 19, 2012

America's Test Kitchen - Chris Kimball's Favorite Thanksgiving Recipes

As you all know, Thanksgiving is just around the corner! Do you know what you will be serving your guests?

Well Chris Kimball from America's Test Kitchen wants to help you figure that out!

Click here to download a PDF of his favorite Thanksgiving recipes, including:

Crisp-Skin High-Roast Butterflied Turkey with Sausage Dressing
Braised Brussels Sprouts with Bacon and Pecans
Simple Cranberry Sauce
Deep-Dish Apple Pie
Foolproof All-Butter Pie Pastry
Pumpkin Pie
Mashed Sweet Potatoes
Mastering Turkey Gravy

Bon Appetit and Happy Thanksgiving!

Friday, November 9, 2012

Sneak Peak: British Tea Reception Menu

Our menu has been set for VPTs Experience inspired by Downton Abbey, and we are pleased to announce that your taste buds will not be disappointed!

The culinary experience will take place in three phases: a British tea reception, an array of food shoppes, designed to reflect an urban arcade in the Edwardian era by UVM's scenic design professor, Jeffrey Modereger, and finally a full service six-course dinner.

Arnd Sievers, one of a hundred certified European master chefs in the U.S. and multiple award winning chef, Shawn Calley, both from the Essex Resort and Spa, built the impressive menu. The combination of British classics as well as some new creations inspired by Downton Abbey will entice the most refined palates, and are worthy of being served to Lord and Lady Gratham. Alas, we fear that our American guests might need some translation, so we put together a detailed explanation and history of the lesser known menu items.
The chefs at the Essex Resort and Spa
We'll begin with the British tea reception, which will take place on Saturday, January 5 at the Essex Cinemas before the advance screening of Masterpiece's hit drama Downton Abbey.

Passed hors d'oeuvres at the British tea reception:

Assortment of classic English finger sandwiches
Deviled eggs
Miniature pork medallions on a crostini with apricot compote
Duck liver pate with plum drizzle
Smoked salmon pinwheels with cream cheese and dill
Endive leaf with beet scented goat cheese

English Finger Sandwiches:
Perhaps one of the most recognizable items on the menu, finger sandwiches are a staple of British tea time. The bite size snack can be filled with anything from cucumbers to salmon, and are typically cut into small triangles. The bread was traditionally white, but modern tastes have lead the way to a variety of bread offerings. Fillings usually include a spread, typically a mayonnaise mixture or cream cheese.
Classic British Tea Sandwiches
Miniature Pork Medallions on a Crostini with Apricot Compote:

A medallion refers to a small, circular, boneless cut of meat. Our version will be paired with a crostini. The crostini is an Italian appetizer of toasted bread with a variety of toppings. Ours will hold a sweet apricot compote. The compote originated as a French dessert made of fruit and sugar syrup with spices. Today, it can include any whole fruit cooked in water with sugar and spices like cinnamon, nuts, and dried fruits. 

Pork Medallions 
Apricot Compote
Duck Liver Pate with Plum Drizzle:

Otherwise known as Foie Gras, this dish is a delicacy from France famous for its rich, buttery texture. Ours will be served in a spreadable pate form with a sweet plum drizzle. 

Foie Gras on toast
Smoked Salmon Pinwheels with Cream Cheese and Dill

This meal was inspired by our fellow Downton Abbey lover, Pamela Foster who featured the recipe on her blog Downton Abbey Cooks. The pinwheels offer a lovely smoked salmon, layered with cream cheese, dill, and lemon juice, wrapped in a flour tortilla. 

Salmon Pinwheels
We think Ms. Patmore would have approved of our fine selection of hors d'oeuvres, and we can't wait to see what you think!

If you haven't already, you can buy your ticket for VPT's Experience Inspired by Downton Abbey at the Essex Resort and Spa at our website,

To keep up to date with the food, fashion, and fun "like" our Facebook page and follow us on Twitter!

Hooked in the Mountains at Shelburne Museum

Hooked in the Mountains XVI, a Hooked Rug and Fiber Art exhibit will be held this November at the beautiful Shelburne Museum round barn in Shelburne, Vermont.

Featuring 3 floors of exhibit space and over 450 works of art, this exhibit will delight visitors of all ages. These amazing textiles, hooked by members of the Green Mountain Rug Hooking guild from all over the world, range from the traditional antique and primitive patterns to ultra modern and original designs.

Visitors will also enjoy free daily demonstrations and guest speakers on all types of fiber art topics as well as an entire floor of vendors for gift shopping and stocking up on supplies. Refreshments are also available in our special cafe and education area.

This amazing display of fiber art also features the collected works of three featured artists, Catherine Henning of Ontario, CA, Ann Winterling of Concord, NH and Elizabeth Guth of Tunbridge ,Vt. These exceptional rug -hooking artists will be honored at an Artist's Reception on Saturday, November 10 from 5-7pm.

Three-day workshops are also taking place throughout the week. For more information about classes please visit

This event takes place Saturday, November 10 through Saturday November 17, 2012. The exhibit isoOpen daily from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. The cost is $8 for adults, $6 for seniors, and children under 12 are admitted free of charge. $10 for a week-long pass. Reception fee is $5 for all visitors.

For more information, please visit, call 802-434-4517or email Jen Lavoie at Thanks!

Thursday, November 8, 2012

Diversity in Vermont

by Jon Margolis
Vermont Newsguy

    In Vermont, when it comes to race, ethnicity, and similar matters that so often bedevil so much of the country, statistics would seem to tell a simple story: In this state, those matters don’t matter.

    Vermont is 95.5 percent white, according to the latest estimates (2011) from the Census Bureau, and 94.2 percent non-Hispanic white. Contrast that with the rest of the country:  only 63.4 percent non-Hispanic white. It’s in the rest of the country, one would think, with large minority populations, where problems with racial discrimination and unequal treatment would arise.

St. Johnsbury Man Elected to Community Council

Jerry Aldredge of St. Johnsbury has been elected to Vermont Public Television's Community Council, an advisory group that helps the statewide public television network respond to the needs and interests of Vermonters.

Aldredge is artistic director of Catamount Arts. With VPT, Catamount Arts presents screenings of PBS documentaries, including the free monthly Community Cinema that includes panel discussions and audience questions.

The next Community Cinema at Catamount Arts is “Solar Mamas” on Thursday, Nov. 15, at 7 p.m.

John King, president of Vermont Public Television, said, "We are delighted to have Jerry on VPT’s Community Council. Council members play a vital role in helping VPT serve the state."

Wednesday, November 7, 2012

VPT Looks at Ethnic Diversity in Schools Nov. 15

Although Vermont remains one of the least diverse states in the country, recent conflicts have arisen in Vermont schools regarding the treatment of new Americans.

On Thursday, Nov. 15, at 8 p.m., Vermont Public Television Diversity Report Card special discusses ethnic diversity in the state’s public schools in a live town hall-style forum.

This latest VPT “Public Square” special recalls the protests last spring at Burlington High School. Panelists will consider how schools can best achieve their diversity goals. They will look at such matters as the impact of testing requirements on students whose first language is not English.

Burlington High School VT Vermont
Burlington High School, Vt. via Flickr
Host Kristin Carlson will talk with panelists Patrick Brown, executive director, Greater Burlington Multicultural Resource Center; Jeanne Collins, superintendent, Burlington School District; and Charles Johnson, education consultant for the Vermont Department of Education Safe Schools program.

Students in the studio audience will ask questions, and viewers will be invited to call 1-866-424-LIVE or email with their comments and questions.