Friday, December 28, 2012

Wine and Beer Selection Offers a Taste of Downton

The wine and beer selection for VPT's Experience inspired by Downton Abbey were chosen by Jason LeDuc, the State Dine Wine Manager at Farrell Distributing in South Burlington, VT.

While he started his career in the restaurant business, Leduc now carries two certifications: Certified Specialist of Wine, and a Level 3 Certification from WSET- Wine and Spirt Education Trust based out of London.

To prepare for VPT's Experience inspired by Downton Abbey, he prepared a menu of French wines, which were typically served In England at in the days of Downton.

For the six course dinner LeDuc paired the wine to compliment each dish. His favorite wine on the menu is the Perrier Jouet Grand Brut, served with the first course. He says that sparkling wines are great but not used enough with food, and that champagne and oysters is a classic pairing.

LeDuc and Farrell Distributing will feature products throughout the event as following:
Chateau Grimard Bordeaux

Perrier Jouet Grand Brut
La Fleur Renaissance Sauternes
Domaine de Bachellery Sauvignon Blanc
Old Peculier
British Tea Reception:
Pol Remy Brut
Domaine Touzot Macon-Village
Chateau Grimard Bordeaux

6 Course Dinner: 

1st - Perrier Jouet Grand Brut
2nd – Louis Jadot Pinot Noir
4th - Chateau Blaignon
5th - Domaine Houchart Rouge
6th - La Fleur Renaissance Sauternes

Downton-Essex Arcade & Sunday Brunch:
Pol Remy Brut
Domaine Touzot Macon-Village
Domaine de Bachellery Sauvignon Blanc
Chateau Grimard Bordeaux
Louis Jadot Beajolais-Village

Draft: Bass and Long Trail IPA
Package: Theakston: Old Peculier and Extra Bitter

Thursday, December 20, 2012

Charlotte Voisey Crafts Cocktails for VPT's Experience inspired by Downton Abbey

Charlotte Voisey
Charlotte Voisey is a celebrity in the world of cocktails. She holds the title of Company Mixologist and Portfolio Ambassador with William Grant & Sons USA. Her clever creations appear on menus around the world and won her the UK Bartender of the Year title in 2005, a silver medal at the World Female Bartender Championships in Italy in 2006, and her "Punch & Judy" was named cocktail of the year in 2008.

Originally from London, Charlotte is a fan of Downton Abbey and admires the elegance, characters and overall "Britishness" the show offers. She says that she loves anything that celebrates that era of British life. She embodied that spirit when crafting the cocktail menu for VPT's Experience inspired by Downton Abbey.

Charlotte explained that while the art of making cocktails changes over time, the drinks we see today are closer to the Downton Abbey era than cocktails have been for a long time. Much like any trend, what's old is new again, and anything classic, vintage, heirloom, or old is respected.

Her drinks will be featured in the Downton-Essex Pub and include:

Lady Mary
Hendrick's, Solerno Blood Orange Liqueur, fresh lemon juice, egg whites.
Shaken, served up with an orange twist

Charlotte shakes up
a cocktail
Glenfiddich 12, Lillet Rouge, Luxardo maresca cherries, Solerno Blood Orange Liqueur, pink grapefruit juice, fresh lemon and orange bitters.
Shaken, served up with an orange twist

Reyka Vodka, Solerno, pomegranate juice, Lavender bitters, fresh lime juice and sparkling water
Served tall and refreshing

Mr. Branson
Whistle Pig, Cognac, Lillet Rouge, stirred with dashes of Benedictine, Peychaud and Angostura bitters, served up

Sir Richard Carlisle 
Whistle Pig, Lillet Rose, Campari, stirred, served on the rocks with an orange twist

Pamuk's Affair
Hendrick's, Elderflower, blackberries, lemon and soda served tall and refreshing

Lord Gratham
Grant's Blended Scotch Whisky

In addition to serving up a cast of character drinks, Charlotte will participate in a seminar called "Botanical Bartending." Guests will join Charlotte Voisey, along with fellow Hendrick's Gin Ambassador, Jim Ryan, on a gentle morning saunter through a botanical garden. Enjoy a delightful peek into the complexities of what makes gin gin, as this seminar explains how gin has been distilled through the ages and shows the delicious flexibility with which it has been mixed around the world, for medicinal purposes or otherwise, since the dawn of the gin and tonic and the early days of the iconic Dry Martini. Cocktail samples will be served.

Charlotte pours a drink

If you haven't already, you can buy your ticket for VPT's Experience Inspired by Downton Abbey that we will host on January 5th and 6th at the Essex Resort and Spa at our website,

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

Tuesday, December 18, 2012

WhistlePig Whiskey Keeps a Tradition Alive

WhistlePig Whiskey has revived the tradition of premium Whiskey on one of the oldest farms in Shoreham, Vermont. In the town formerly known as Shaksboro, which all but vanished in the 1930's after the steam engine took hold of the village, the farm has gone through a restoration since 2006 to return to its former glory.

Thanks to the dedication and knowledge of founder Raj Peter Bhakta (a former contestant on The Apprentice), and Master Distiller, Dave Pickerell, Whistlepig Whiskey was awarded the highest ever rating for rye whiskey by Wine Enthusiast.

Today, WhistlePig makes 100 proof, 100 percent rye whiskey, aged for ten years in American oak barrels. It is then hand bottled on the farm distillery. You may be wondering about the 'e' in whiskey. You would be correct to think that it is different from whisky.

Whiskey is the general term covering liquors distilled from a mash of grain, including bourbon, rye, and scotch. However, confusing whiskey and scotch whisky is particularly offensive to people from Scotland, where the beverage originated.

To explain this variance, an algorithm was created. If the country of origin contains an 'e' so will the term (whiskey). So for us whiskey lovers in the United States, the 'e' remains.

For people from Canada, and Scotland, the 'e' is left out. As American whiskey is thought of as the cousin to Scotch whisky (the original version),  it is logical that a distinction should be made.

Whiskey, as well as other liquors, made its way to the young American colonies with farmers from Europe. It was a way to turn extra grain stock into a valuable commodity. The American version of the drink introduced corn, a native crop, as one of the key ingredients. When the British put a ban on importing sugar and molasses, rum production halted, and whiskey became a staple for the public as well as a provision for the Continental army. It was even used as currency during the American revolution.

In 1920s America, with prohibition in full swing, one of the best places to get your hands on whiskey was from a doctor, who prescribed it to aid anemia, tuberculosis, pneumonia, and high blood pressure. There were even precise dosage instructions, mandated by the government (1 ounce every few hours).

Official prescription card for medicinal alcohol- 1920s
Today, Whiskey remains a staple beverage across America, and we are pleased to announce that the tradition will live on at VPT's Experience inspired by Downton Abbey.

The award wining WhistlePig 100 proof rye whiskey will be featured on our drink menu as the drink of the footman we love to hate, Thomas.

If you haven't already, you can buy your ticket for VPT's Experience Inspired by Downton Abbey that we will host on January 5th and 6th at the Essex Resort and Spa at our website,

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

Sunday, December 16, 2012

The Cat in the Hat visits Fletcher Allen

Coming off its recent Kids Club Open House and screening of The Cat in the Hat Knows a Lot About Christmas, Vermont Public Television paid a visit to Vermont Children’s Hospital at Fletcher Allen Health Care in Burlington on Dec. 13.  In partnership with the hospital’s Child Life staff, The Cat in the Hat posed for pictures with kids and hosted a screening of his brand new PBS holiday special.  

Adding to the excitement, VPT gave all patients and their siblings goodie bags filled with PBS KIDS GO! treats and donated a few boxes of new books that children had contributed at VPT’s Open House to the hospital’s pediatric playrooms. VPT also provided a copy of The Cat in the Hat Knows a Lot About Christmas so other children could watch the show from the comfort of their own rooms.

Thanks to everyone for coming out and supporting this special event!

Thursday, December 13, 2012

The Costume Contest: Dress-Up Downton Style

In just a few weeks - we'll be gathering at the Inn at Essex for the long awaited VPT's Experience Inspired by Downton Abbey. It's an unique opportunity to celebrate the style and grace of the Downton Abbey family or their household staff. You're invited to re-create the era with your own versions of period dress, evening gowns, riding attire, black tie, white tie, 'tea gowns', or if it's more your style, a footman's or house maid's uniform. Put your best foot forward and try to capture the mood and elegance of a proud English country house, its family, guests or its staff in Downton Abbey and the 1920's.

Costume categories will include:

Best General Embodiment of a Downton Abbey Character – Upstairs
Best General Embodiment of a Downton Abbey Character – Staff
Best Crawley Sister
Best Robert, Earl of Grantham
Best Cora, Countess of Grantham
Best Lord & Lady Crawley (couple)
Best Matthew Crawley
Best Dowager Countess Violet

The Judges:

Karen Augusta has purchased, sold and appraised antique clothing, laces, textiles and fashion accessories for almost four decades. She is the owner of Antique Lace & Fashion, a historic costume and textile business geared to museums and serious collectors. Karen has curated or acted as consultant for many costume and lace exhibits in the United States and has appraised collections for public institutions and private collectors throughout North America. She is a member of The Costume Society of America and The Textile Society of America and serves as a fashion and textile appraiser on the popular PBS series Antiques Roadshow. She is also the owner of Vermont-based Auction house Augusta Auctions. Her auctions draw crowds of up to 125 people, with an additional 200 phoning in from around the world. For more on Karen Augusta, click here.

What she's looking for:

Karen's advice for tackling the Downton-themed fashion competition is to embrace the spirit of the 1920s. She is less interested in what the outfits look like, and more excited to see how people embody the characteristics that marked the changing times. It is about the authenticity and representing the feeling of what women were going through socially.

Jen Karpin and her husband are the owners of Morning Glorious, an online vintage clothing business in Southern Vermont that sells men's and women's vintage and designer garments from the 18th century through the 1980s. Jennifer has been wearing and collecting vintage since she was about 14, and has been a professional vintage dealer for well over a decade; she has worked with museums, historical societies, theaters and television dramas, and is a proud juried member of The Vintage Fashion Guild. She has an affinity for the 1920's as an era when fashion changed so radically, especially for women: skirts rose, the ubiquitous corset disappeared and the whole profile of the body changed. Women donned trousers, bobbed their hair short, yet wore stunningly beautiful beaded silk and chiffon “flapper” dresses to go out dancing.

What she's looking for:

Jen is looking for the best embodiment of a Downton Abbey character, whether it’s male or female, young or old, upstairs nobility or downstairs staff.  She says that there is a lot of room for creativity and personality to shine through. People will want to keep in mind that they can create their look with authentic vintage clothing, with a smart mix of vintage, modern and second-hand; with things they make, sew or alter; and with great accessories such as their hats, gloves, boots, jewelry and so forth. She recommends to focus on the details as well as the overall look, and she will be on the lookout for guests who have clearly done some research, who carry themselves “in character,” and who embody the authentic spirit of that period in history. 

Edward Maeder is a historic dress and textile consultant from South Deerfield, MA who has been sewing since the age of three. He is the former curator of Costumes and Textiles at the L.A. County Museum of Art and later at historic Deerfield.His work with fashion and art spans from a restoration project in the Sistine Chapel, to lecturing at colleges around the United States and Canada, to writing numerous books on clothing through history, and most recently, creating a collection of intricate paper dresses  While he is technically retired, he is busier than ever, doing consulting work and lecturing at universities. He has been a fan of British costume dramas since studying the history of dress at the University of London in the 1970s.

What he's looking for:

Edward will be looking for more than a pretty dress. In his own words, he is concerned with things like "scale, embellishment, silhouette, 'shine' or lack of it, and of course the two 'book-ends' the hat (or hairstyle) and the shoes.  Perhaps this latter is the most difficult, as shoes are the most personal item of our clothing.  And they are what is most often overlooked." His advice for a successful costume: "Underpinnings, underpinnings and underpinnings.  If a corset is required for the shape of the dress and the restriction of the movement, try to wear one.  Again it is the way a person walks, sits, dances, responds to others that are the attributes of a 'truly' period character."




  • Etsy - an enormous selection of vintage clothing and accessories from all over the world. Search in vintage categories. There are also excellent handmade reproductions on the general site.
  • 1920's Silk Dress from Morning Glorious Vintage on Etsy
  • Ruby Lane - a more selective, curated assortment of vintage and antiques. Search under Vintage Clothing and Accessories.
  • Morning Glorious Vintage on Ruby Lane
  • The Vintage Fashion Guild - a juried international group of reputable, knowledgeable sellers.
  • eBay 
  • Vintage Textile - High end vintage clothing curated by Linda Ames.
  • Blue Velvet Vintage offers period reproductions as well as authentic vintage
  • Re-Mix Shoes makes modern reproductions of Edwardian and 1920s shoes in wearable sizes.
  • Retail Vintage Shops in Vermont
    • Twice Upon A Time, 63 Main St., Brattleboro, VT, 802-254-2261
    • Who Is Sylvia, 26 Central St., Woodstock, VT, 802-457-1110
    • The GetUp, 27 Langdon St., Montpelier, VT, 802-279-5942
  • Costumes may be rented from the Costume Ladies, Walpole, NH
  • If you need an excellent seamstress for tailoring: Alice Fogel of Lyric Couture
Do you have any tips for dressing up Downton Abbey style? Please share with us below!

1920' Chiffon Dress from Past Perfect Vintage

Tickets are still available,
get them while they last! 

1920's Black Silk Dress from Dorothea's Closet Vintage

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Watch VPT Independent Lens Community Cinema: Solar Mamas

Solar Mamas, an incredible story of women's empowerment through technological job skills education, has been touring the state with Vermont Public Television's Independent Lens series and several of the Directors of Vermont's women centric organizations: Cary Brown, Executive Director of the Vermont Commission on Women; Laura Lind-Blum, Director of the Vermont Women's Business Center; and Rachel Jolly, Director of Women's Programs, Vermont Works for Women.

You can watch the entire documentary here.

Watch Solar Mamas on PBS. See more from Why Poverty?.

And see the most recent community discussion in Montpelier at the Kellogg-Hubbard Library.
Join the conversation, share your thoughts with us below.

"Solar Mamas," is directed by Mona Eldaif and Jehane Noujam. It centers on Rafea -- a 30-year-old Jordanian mother of four -- who travels outside her village for the first time to attend a solar engineering program at India's Barefoot College. Rafea joins other poor women from around the world to learn concrete job skills that she then brings back to her village.

Monday, December 10, 2012

Emily Post Etiquette Challenge

Emily Post penned her first etiquette book in 1922; today the Emily Post institute, based in Burlington, VT keeps her legacy alive through authoring books, and teaching etiquette courses to private companies.  We recently sat down with Emily's great-great-granddaughters Anna and Lizzie Post, as well as Dawn Stanyon, the Director of Sales and Relations at the Emily Post Institute.

Anna Post, Lizzie Post, Emily Post Institute
Anna and Lizzie Post

While the subject may seem intimidating, the Post women are anything but. "We do not take out a ruler and space our dishes when we are at home," said Anna Post. Like their great-great-grandmother, Anna and her sister Lizzie offer an image of class and composure, in a warm and inviting manner. They explained that the idea behind good etiquette is not a strict set of rules, but rather to treat people with consideration and honesty.

Emily herself once said, " I don't care which fork you use, I just care that you use a fork."

When Emily Post set out to offer a guide to proper etiquette, the world was a much more formal place. Today, the Post sisters aim to tackle a broader spectrum of appropriateness. While there are cases when fine dining manners will come in handy, they say that etiquette comes into play whenever two people come together. That could be at a work meeting, a funeral, a date, or even via social media. 

Emily Post Institute, Emily Post Book
A copy of Emily Post's early book on etiquette

While Emily might have never considered anything but a formal dining gown, the Post girls say today, the right pair of jeans can be appropriate at a dinner party. The recurring theme in the modern world of etiquette is that there is always an exception to the rule, and if you are a person who is concerned with having good manners, you probably already have them.

The sisters were instantly attracted to the show, Downton Abbey. Anna figured that Emily would have been around the same age as the Dowager Countess, and would have started writing her books around the time that the third season takes place. The girls are particularly interested in the way that the characters on the show interact with each other, and how they show self-containment in very emotional circumstances. They say that this is reflective of the time period, when it wasn't that people didn't care about each other, but rather that they were very reserved in their expressions.

Emily Post Institute

It is not a stretch to imagine that Emily Post would have run in the same circles with the Crawley family, and the sisters are confident, that had Downton Abbey hosted a dinner party, Emily would have been invited.

Anna and Lizzie speak affectionately of the woman whom they never met, but who has clearly been a source of great pride. They speak lovingly of her as they thumb through the pages of her books, and reflect on her sense of humor, her passion for gardening, and her love of youth culture. They believe that her story would make for an exceptional television show or movie, one that would find a place in the hearts of Downton Abbey fans.

Emily Post Institute
In the meantime, they are eagerly looking forward to the season three Downtown Abbey premiere. They have even offered to take part in Vermont Public Television's Experience inspired by Downton Abbey at the Essex Resort and Spa on January 5th and 6th.  Guests should not be intimidated by their presence; they won't be handing out etiquette report cards. They do however hope to hold etiquette challenges, including:

  • "Box-o'-China" Table Setting Competition
  • Dowager Countess Impersonation Challenge
  • Bow, Curtsey, and Hand-Kissing Demonstration

They will also present a tea demonstration showcase of some of Emily's china, and raffle off prizes for guest participation.
Anna Post, Camille Dodson, Emily Post Institute
Anna Post and social media intern Camille at the Emily Post Institute in Burlington, VT

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

Wednesday, December 5, 2012

Jim Douglas speaks with students at Johnson State College

Over the past year, we've had the privilege of interviewing Vermont's two most recent Governors: Democrat Howard Dean and Republican Jim Douglas. In the exclusive and candid interviews, both Governors provide behind the scene accounts of the issues and decisions that marked their tenure.

Former Governor Jim Douglas speaks with State Senator Bill Doyle's Johnson State College students at a private screening and question/answer session.

You can watch The Governors documentaries here:

Tuesday, December 4, 2012

VPT Cooks Holiday Recipes: Posted!

This past Saturday, our live VPT Cooks Holiday Special revealed a plethora of delicious locally inspired recipes. Now online, chopped up in bite size bits (aka. shorts) are eleven meals presented by talented chef's from some of Vermont's most iconic food producers:     

The Line Up:

Jimmy Kennedy – Turkey Pot Pie and Butternut Squash and Cheddar Risotto
Cabot – Cabot, VT

Jeffrey Hamelman – Dacquoise with Honey Chocolate Mousse
King Arthur Flour – Norwich, VT

Geneva Wrona – Salted Bourbon Caramel Pecan Pie
Fat Toad Farm – Brookfield, VT

Mark Bove – Nonna Victoria’s Lasagna
Bove’s – Burlington, VT

Elliot Morse – Sugar on Snow & Maple Cream
Morse Farm Maple Sugarworks – Montpelier, VT

Chris Bailey – Vermont Smoke & Cure Seasonal Frittata
Vermont Smoke & Cure – Hinesburg, VT

David Moyer – Quail with Cornbread Stuffing
Vermont Foodbank

stuffing muffins
Stuffing Muffins!
In addition New England Culinary Students present these holiday favorites:
Pecan Pie, Latkes, Deviled Eggs and Stuffing Muffins!

See them all on VPT Cooks Holiday Favorites Playlist

For more info and to download the recipes: VPT Cooks Holiday Favorites.