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Gesine Bullock-Prado Shares Her Favorite Food Experiences In The Upper Valley, Vermont

Welcome to EAT THIS CITY, your tour of the best restaurants in one of our favorite cities, as chosen by a world-class chef, celebrity, or local hero.

This week, we’re headed to Vermont to meet with Gesine Bullock-Prado, teacher, pastry chef, and writer. As the author of SugarBaby, Let Them Eat Cake, Bake It Like You Mean It, Pie It Forward, and My Life From Scratch, it’s safe to say that Gesine knows her way around a mixing bowl, a cake pan, and candy thermometer. She’s a guest instructor at King Arthur Flour and has taught at Stonewall Kitchen and Southern Seasons. A regular guest on the Today Show and The Talk, Gesine’s work has appeared in Food & Wine, Runner’s World, and Better Homes & Gardens. Spend a little time reading her books and looking at her recipes and it’s clear that she not only loves working with sweets, she loves teaching others to love working with them too.

To that end, Gesine continues to conjure up new recipes, books, and blog posts (check out G Bakes! to see pictures and peruse recipes of dreamy cakes, fanciful tarts, and luscious mousses). Not one to rest on her laurels, she’s also starting a brand new venture. This month marks the opening of Sugar Glider Kitchen, a Hartford, Vermont baking school located in the converted carriage house of a historic tavern. At Sugar Glider Kitchen intimate classes of 8-12 bakers will learn to transform sweet inspiration into delicious reality.

With all of this on her plate, we’re thrilled to have Gesine as a guide to the Upper Valley area of Vermont. Not familiar with the Upper Valley? Our host is happy to elaborate:

The Upper Valley isn’t a city; cities are hard to come by in Vermont outside of Burlington and Rutland. Instead, we identify our place in the world in a more sweeping fashion. I live in the Upper Valley, a cluster of townships near the Connecticut river that include Quechee, White River Junction and Woodstock, Vermont (among many others) and parts of New Hampshire, including Hanover.

Now let’s check out Gesine’s fifteen favorite food experiences in her beloved home!

PIZZA

Hart Tavernetta

My friends Caleb and Deirdre have a restaurant, Pane e Salute, in Woodstock, Vermont that they are shuttering to start in on a new venture that’s tied to their farm/winery. Caleb is a fabulous chef and first class baker. My husband and I shared one of his pizzas the first time we dined with them. The crust was crisp, thin with just the right amount of chew and tenderness. He’d topped it with lardo, some house made sausage and thin strips of preserved orange. The interplay of succulent fat with the flavorful sausage and the slight sweet of the orange was otherworldly. He’s installed a wood burning oven for their new venture, Hart Tavernetta in Barnard, Vermont, so I’m planning on many more pizzas in my future, paired with Deirdre’s award-winning Vermont wines.


TACOS/MEXICAN

The Mad Taco

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Central American food is pretty thin on the ground in the Upper Valley (in Vermont in general), but a little farther north, in Waitsfield, Vermont (and now in Montpelier), there’s a joint called The Mad Taco that serves some damn good and inventive tacos. The pulled pork and kimchi tacos are a particular favorite, with the tender meat and spicy crunch of the cabbage. They also have a fantastic assortment of Vermont craft beers. I can’t think of a better apres ski moment than the time I had a platter of Mad tacos and a draft of Heady Topper all to myself.

ASIAN

Tuk Tuk

Nestled underground off the main drag in Hanover, New Hampshire, a stone’s throw from the Dartmouth College green, there’s an outstanding Thai place called Tuk Tuk. The second it opened, the place was packed. The green curry is spot on, bright and spicy, creamy and laced with crisp veggies. The staff is friendly and very efficient. As busy as they are, you never feel a lack of attention.

STREET FOOD

Phnom Penh Sandwich Station

It’s not banh mi, it’s the Phnom Penh but it’s ok if you confuse the two. The Phnom Penh Sandwich Station is a Cambodian sandwich extravaganza and if you can get your hands on their Phnom Penh sammy with lemongrass marinated beef, chilis, slightly sweet pickled carrots and crunchy peanuts, you’ll consider yourself one lucky nosher.

SWEET FOOD

Maple Creemee

You can’t come to Vermont during creemee season and not get a maple cone. You’ll take a look at it and say, “That’s just soft serve.” Well first, we call it a creemee. Second, a maple creemee is no kind of soft serve you’ve ever experienced. The color is warm, a far more soothing hue than the bright white vanilla swirl you usually get. And the taste is distinctly maple: slight caramel, slightly nutty. I have friends who spend whole summers on the hunt for the best maple creemee. Time well spent, I say.

FINE DINING

Simon Pearce

Everyone takes out of town guests to Simon Pearce in Quechee. The dining room overlooks a waterfall that powers a mill and the covered bridge that spans the water. You know you’re in for a treat when they bring out the bread basket with light, Irish scones and hearty dark bread tucked inside. The Vermont cheddar soup is comfort in a bowl but it’s no pushover, it has just enough of a sharp kick to remind you that this is true Vermont cheddar you’re sipping on. But while this might sound like hearty pub fare, Simon Pearce chefs manage to elevate every dish to a four star experience.

CASUAL DINING

Worthy Burger

Worthy Burger. Worthy Burger. Worthy Burger. Ask anyone around, this is the place. The burgers, and the place is all about the burgers, are crafted from local beef. The cheese upon them is local. The veggies: local. The buns are soft brioche pillows. The fries are cooked in tallow, making them crisp and insanely flavorful. The burgers are so fabulous and juicy, you could start and stop there. But you’ll be happy to hear that worthy has a killer selection of craft beer on draft that will make you dizzy. The offerings are always Vermont heavy, so you’re in good hands.


VEGETARIAN

Hill Farmstead

Hill Farmstead has been named the best brewery in the world. Why? Because the beer is unbelievable. And because it’s craft beer nirvana, folks from all over the world flock to the Northeast Kingdom in Vermont to fill growlers and sample the award winning suds in their “beer hall.” To round out the experience, Hill Farmstead offers well-sourced cheese platters filled with Vermont made cheeses. Beer and cheese. The best vegetarian meal ever. It’s a little farther afield but it’s well worth the journey.

BRUNCH

Pine

Pine may be a hotel restaurant (it’s located inside the historic Hanover Inn in Hanover, NH) but it stands on its own, offering an on trend menu with New England charm. My particular brunch menu favorite is their fried chicken thighs (JUICY! BEAUTIFULLY SEASONED! CRISPY!), with cheesy chorizo grits with local maple and sriracha braised greens.

ICONIC FOOD OF THE CITY

Maple Creemee

See cremee.

ODD CULINARY EXPERIENCE

Maple Snow

During sugaring season, when we tap our sugar maples in the early spring and the sap starts running in earnest, we fire up the evaporators in the sugar shack (I just boil the sap down on a burner in my bakery), locals draw off some of the finished syrup and boil it down just a skosh more until the temperature reaches soft ball. You get a (clean) cup of snow and drizzle the syrup on top. When it hits the cold, it’s a chewy delight. Like caramel, just better. We’ve been known to eat the stuff with a donut, a pickle and a beer. Somehow it works.

GUILTY PLEASURE

King Arthur Flour

I’m a regular guest chef instructor at King Arthur Flour around the corner from me in Norwich, Vermont. The place is heaven. There’s the education center, where I teach, and then there’s the working bakery pumping out loaves and loaves of gorgeous bread and other fabulous baked treats. The breads are sold all over the area but there’s a cafe on site where you can indulge immediately. There’s also a store where you can just about every baking supply worth having. Whenever I stop in, I grab two fresh epis, a crock of Vermont Creamery sea salt butter, and a slab of 2-year aged cheddar. I start ripping at an epi the second I get into the car; that’s why I get two. My husband would sue me if he didn’t get his share.

HANGOVER FOOD

Worthy Kitchen

Worthy Kitchen, the sister restaurant to Worthy Burger, may very well have been the place you picked up the hangover in the first place but their Worthy Poutine goes a long way in curing it. Tallow crisp fries topped with squeaky Plymouth cheddar, confit duck, and topped with stomach coating duck fat gravy. Have it with a snifter full of Lawson’s Sip of Sunshine (hair of the dog).


DATE NIGHT

Twin Farms

To get a date night dinner at Twin Farms, you also have to get a room (or a cabin tucked in the woods) but if it’s a VERY special date night and you’ve saved up your ducats, good golly, what a meal. The menu changes constantly; in fact they don’t offer a menu at all. You tell the culinary geniuses your food preferences (hopefully you prefer everything) and they sculpt a dining experience just for you, one that’s either locally sourced or just insanely tasty (and included in the price of that room as are all the drinks and wine from the deep cellar). You’ll also get breakfast, lunch, late night snack, elevensies. You want food, they’ll bring it to you in bed, in the billiards room in front of the fireplace or pack it up in a picnic basket.

RESTAURANT RUN BY A FRIEND

Pizza Chef

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Happy Father's day

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Pizza Chef is a neighborhood pizza joint. The pizza is tasty, the beer on tap is fabulous, and Nick, the owner, is a tremendous host/owner. The place is family friendly but it manages to be incredibly relaxing all the same. Nick’s fitting out a vintage milk truck with beer taps so we’re all looking forward to him taking his jovial “Pizza Chef” atmosphere on the road (hopefully straight onto my farmyard).

Thank you Gesine, for taking us on a culinary tour of the Upper Valley, Vermont!

Stay tuned for more EAT THIS CITY — where each week we’ll feature a premier chef in a different city sharing their insider eating tips! Missed a week? Check out Manhattan, Oakland, Paris, Portland, Tampa, Durham, Toronto, Baltimore, Monterey, Vail, Lexington, Bentonville, San Antonio, Warsaw, Kansas City, NYC, Washington DC, New Orleans, Cleveland, Miami, Seattle, Las Vegas, San Francisco, Sydney, Portland, Chicago, Austin, Los Angeles, Brooklyn, New Orleans, Providence, Memphis, Orange County, Boston, and Detroit.

See you next week!

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