Tuesday, December 30, 2008

My take on the Rotary development, in Seven Days

I realized that I hadn't posted this link to an article I wrote earlier this month for our lively arts weekly, Seven Days, about a battle over a $1 million traffic-safety project.

Increasingly these traffic-safety issues are pitting pedestrian- and bike-safety advocates against those who want to keep cars, trucks and buses moving fast. At a time when we're more aware of cutting back on fuel usage, doesn't it make sense to redesign roads to make them safer for people who travel on a human scale -- with their feet or bike pedals?

This high-traffic site is also a cross-ways for students to reach several local schools and a local park.

Many residents want to see the single-lane roundabout go forward, because it addresses pedestrian and bicycle safety as well as auto safety. The second alternative, the hybrid, seems to be favored by the majority of city councilors weighing the decision, despite its more dangerous design.

Vermont food in the New York Times

Warm Cider Donuts
Originally uploaded by Choconancy1
Since we just got back from our holiday travels, I only just saw this article from the New York Times about fine Vermont restaurants that are developing a regional fare.

It's true that there are particular Vermont foods. In very particular, the cider doughnut is one. A cider doughnut with a cup of fresh pressed cider is one of the great glories of a Vermont fall.

But honestly, I'm not sure what is particularly Vermont about these restaurants since the food raised and grown here is basically the same as all over New England. One difference is the New England Culinary Institute is located nearby Burlington, so many of the graduates open their own places in the area.

As for Mark Bittman's description of Waterbury, Stowe and similar areas as "the middle of nowhere"? Hmm. Ben & Jerry's makes its ice cream in Waterbury, so how much in the middle of nowhere could it be?

Saturday, December 27, 2008

Fabulous & Frugal New Year's Eve

Check out my piece, published today in the Burlington Free Press, about throwing a fabulous and frugal New Year's Eve party. My friend Jess opened a catering business this month and she provided many of the great ideas for whipping up a fresh yet thrifty cocktail party. I want to try her recipe for a champagne cocktail . . .

Saturday, December 13, 2008

A Mustard-Pot Holiday

I'm working on my Christmas wish list (the one where you can buy anything you want, because you have a zillion dollars. It's surprisingly difficult -- give it a try) and remembered my dream of spending a holiday in a mustard pot.

Well, the mustard-pot cottage, one of the houses the U.K.'s National Trust rents out to regular folk. Check out how adorable it is. And with the stronger dollar, maybe you don't have to be a zillionaire to rent it for a vacation.

Monday, December 1, 2008

Why is there no Trader Joe's in Vermont?

church st flier
Originally uploaded by tbplante
I've pondered this question since moving to Vermont two years ago: Why no Trader Joe's? Not just in Burlington, but the entire state of Vermont is TJ-free. What gives? Don't the TJ people know that Vermont is the land of organic-eating, gourmet-sniffing ex-hippies who eke out a living as graduate students and do-gooders, and so (duh!) are exactly the kind of customers TJ's is looking for with their two-buck Chucks and 99-cent advent calendars (of which we purchased two when we visited TJ's in Massachusetts last weekend.)For god's sake, there's a Trader Joe's in Tennessee.


Outrage and sadness, longing and joy. Those are the emotions when a Vermonter visits a Trader Joe's in another state. Why? Why not us? And, oh, god, I can't believe the price on that ginormous bar of dark chocolate. Three of those babies are coming home with me.

Someone told me there are no Trader Joe's here because of the consortium of local hippie food co-ops fighting any inroads by TJ's. Another person told me it's because of tough development laws in Vermont.

Another thought crossed my mind: could it be that Trader Joe's hasn't opened a store here because, oh, there are only 600,000 residents in the state, ranking it 49th by U.S. population, just ahead of Wyoming? (Wyoming doesn't have a Trader Joe's either.)

Check out the photo. The flier was posted on Burlington's Church Street (the town's main street, blocked to cars and lined with cafes, shops and Ben & Jerry's) on Valentine's Day. Love, people. Are you listening, Mr. Trader Joe's? What's not to love about a town that gives away love on Valentine's Day?