Share a Taste of Vermont
Today there is literally a cornucopia of “Made in Vermont” culinary souvenirs that are well crafted and mouthwatering. The artisans who produce these products regularly win prizes in national competitions.
Vermont maple syrup may be more famous than Vermont artisanal cheeses, but the latter have become the prized gift. And there are so many to choose from.
Sweets, particularly candies, are not far behind, with cookies, condiments and sauces coming up fast.
So many artisanal products are now available without setting foot in Vermont (though that’s a mistake), just by going to sophisticated websites or by making old-fashioned phone calls.
After sampling almost 100 products this spring and summer from across the state (still dieting), I found 14 companies that I can heartily recommend for holiday gifts this year; all their products are free of unpronounceable ingredients, sometimes organic and often GMO-free.
Unless otherwise noted, prices don’t include shipping. The latest shipping date for December 24 delivery is included. Most sites accept credit cards, but some of them are so small they ask that you use PayPal or send a check.
Note: V (Visa) MC (MasterCard) AE (American Express)
D (Discover). Out-of-area callers use VT area code 802.
JALAPEÑO & TOMATO MARMALADE with oranges, lemon, a nice bit of heat and sweet with cinnamon, from Purple Chef, is wonderful with lamb. A tart APPLE CHUTNEY is a perfect complement to chicken, pork or roast turkey. Both make cheddar even better. Each 12-ounce jar, $9.50; shipping: 1 jar, $5.95; 2 jars or more, $12.65. (PayPal; Dec 1); Brattleboro; 254-2480; PurpleChef.com
GARLIC SCAPE PESTO made with Environ cheese, walnuts and extra-virgin olive oil is one of the most delicious pestos I’ve ever spooned over pasta. From Woods Edge Farm, the BASIL PESTO with an intense basil flavor, redolent of rich cheese, is equally captivating. Refrigerated products in 6.4-ounce jars, enough for four, $8.99 each. (V, MC, AE, D; Dec 16); Greensboro; 533-7455;
CORNMEAL PANCAKE AND MUFFIN MIX from Nitty Gritty Grain Company of Vermont, produces some of the most satisfactory pancakes with the flick of a wrist, using organic corn and wheat. 1 pound, $5.95; 5 pounds, $26.50. (PayPal; Dec 18); Charlotte; 425-4544; NittyGrittyGrain.com
SUBLIME CRÈME FRAÎCHE, with an outstanding nutty flavor, is one of many award-winning treats from Vermont Creamery for $5. The best butter in America—European-style CULTURED BUTTER, unsalted or salted, in an 8-ounce roll or 6 ounces salted in a charming basket, $5 each. And 4 ounces of BONNE BOUCHE, a delightfully funky ash-covered aged goat cheese, is $11. (V, MC, AE, D; Dec 15); 800-884-6287; VermontCreamery.com
FLAKY TORTILLA CHIPS, made with whole wheat, are delightfully inventive, slightly puffy but still crisp coming from Gringo Jack’s. Think of a very thin, puffy pie crust. 7-ounce bag, $5. (PayPal or credit card after call to “Beth” in shop; Dec 20); Manchester; 362-3398; GringoJacks.com
SALTED ALMOND CRISPS, SESAME CITRUS CRISPS AND CRANBERRY PISTACHIO CRISPS from Jan’s Farmhouse Crisps are taking Vermont by storm. Eat these very thin, very crisp crackers unadorned for their delicate flavors or put them on your cheeseboard. Six 4-ounce boxes, $37.50; 12 boxes, $71.40. (V, MC; Dec 15); Stowe; 371-9712; JansFarmhouseCrisps.com
MUFFALETTA, an olive-based salad, with Sicilian—via New Orleans—roots, is an olive lover’s delight to put between two slices of bread with salami, ham, mortadella and provolone. From Karen’s Food Co., who also makes the classic Italian relish: lusty, spicy HOT GIARDINIERA, with olives, peppers and carrots. For either 12-ounce jar, $9. (V, MC, check; Dec 7); Londonderry; 548-8247; FoodtoLiveBy-vt.com
CABOT CLOTHBOUND CHEDDAR, HARBISON AND BAYLEY HAZEN BLUE, just three of Jasper Hill Farm’s superb cheeses, are now available with appropriate preserves from Blake Hill in Grafton. Together they make an exceptional gift for $73. For the cheese alone, one 10-ounce Harbison wheel, $21; ½ pound each of Bayley Hazen Blue or Clothbound Cheddar, $14. (V, MC, AE, D; Dec 23 at noon); Greensboro Bend; 533-2466; JasperHillFarm.com
CHOCOLATE CHIP COOKIES with a difference from Craftsbury General Store. The soft old standby has been perfected with the addition of peanut butter and banana that makes them stay moist for a very long time. 1 dozen, $30; 6 for $15. (V, MC, AE, D; Dec 14); Craftsbury; 586-2440; CraftsburyGeneralStore.com
CHOCOLATE-COVERED TOFFEE with whole salted pistachio nuts ranks up there with the world’s best toffees, $2.50 per ounce from Nutty Stephs. DARK CHOCOLATE–COVERED CANDIED GINGER, $1.50 per ounce; CHOCOLATE-COVERED CANDIED ORANGE PEEL, 7 peels for $6. You don’t have to choose, send them all. (V, MC, AE, D; Dec 12); Middlesex; 229-2090; NuttyStephs.com
LEMON BLUEBERRY LEMON CAKE from the Magic Spoon Bakery is a little gem, flecked with crystalized ginger and very moist. Each 11-ounce cake, $5.75. Satisfyingly chewy OATMEAL DATE COOKIES, 5 cookies (about 8 ounces), $6.25; TRIPLE CHOCOLATE COOKIES, rich, deeply chocolate made more intense with a hint of coffee, 5 cookies (about 8 ounces), $7.50. (PayPal or Check; Dec 10); Hardwick; 472-5143; MagicSpoonBakery.com
MAPLE SYRUP IN GLASS from Sweet Retreat Sugarworks never looked better. In custom-engraved glass bottles, it makes a handsome gift for the state’s best-known product in Grade A amber. 250 ml (8-plus ounces), $20 (with shipping anywhere in U.S., total $35). (V, MC; Dec 1); Northfield; 485-8525; SweetRetreat-Vermont.com
BIEN FAIT BRANDIED FRUITCAKE is the best of that old-fashioned treat—moist and chock-full of fruits and nuts. Also from Bien Fait, CHOCOLATE LOVERS BIENCAKE, its chocolatiness intensified by brandy. Each 1-pound cake, $17; LEMON CRANBERRY ALMOND BAR with tender crumb, 5 ounces, $3.75. (V, MC, D; Dec 18); Greensboro; 533-2253; BienFaitCakes.com
CRANBERRY ORANGE SHORTBREAD COOKIES are made by Vermont Moonlight Cookies, experts at old-fashioned cookies. Punctuated with sweet, tart dried cranberries and orange, they are hard to resist. “Buttery” best describes PECAN MELTAWAYS and MAPLE PECAN SHORTBREAD. Perfumed citrus and richly dark chocolate conjure up TANGERINE SHORTBREAD and DARK CHOCOLATE. CHEWY MOLASSES GINGER cookies with hints of cloves, cinnamon. Mix and match: each 4-ounce package, $4.60. (V, MC, AE; Dec 12); Shaftsbury; 375-9943; VermontMoonlightCookies.com