A few weeks ago, the once-pristine “new” car became sullied with a mixture of field equipment, bulky winter clothing, associated snacks, and a map or two. And two persons, of course – strubshank and myself. No cat; Beata got to sit this one out, much to the collective sigh of relief issued by all who have spent time in a moving vehicle with her. We were destined for a farm in Vermont, but decided to take the slow way. Snaking through wintry New Hampshire, I was able to get my first real taste of how to Live Free or Die while admiring gorgeous mountain passes. As I’m still around to write this, I clearly found the Living Free alternative preferable.
The Ever-Demanding Cat requested that any vacation not exceed more than a few days time; therefore, I was only able to Live Free for roughly 5 hours (while awake). I’m no downhill skiier, as anyone who knows me should know by now, but I like to snowshoe, and conditions were quite excellent for that. We found a small loop just off the Kancamagus Highway that suited our time constraints and any desires to Work Out.
Once in Vermont, time passed quickly as we inventoried a woodlot to provide its owners with some information on the lot’s potential as a sugar bush. As it turned out, the stand was much more diverse than we expected, providing an enjoyable day in the woods for us, but less-than-ideal long-term prospects for creating a maple syrup extravaganza.
Since it was Spring Break, I made plenty of time for napping and sleeping in late. Eating well was part of the protocol too. But my real goal involved a waiting game – I was eager to get a move on to a chocolate factory!
My original goal was simply to visit the Lake Champlain Chocolates factory location in Burlington. Not a huge fan of their products, I was nevertheless excited to see chocolate at work. Before making it over to Burlington, however, Farm Friends had recommended a stop at Snowflake Chocolates in nearby Jericho. Snowflake’s website advises that “no two [of their] chocolates are the same,” which could mean almost anything to a casual chocolate observer.
Named after a local legend who became the first person to photograph a single ice crystal (circa 1885!), Snowflake Chocolates offers plenty of chocolates, as well as all manner of candies, including fruit slices, fudge and brittle. We chose a bag of ‘beer brittle,’ which looked and tasted like regular peanut brittle to me, but was also made with local Vermont beer. I had my eye on their new sea salt caramels, and they turned out to be every bit as delicious as I hoped they would be. We threw a Grand Marnier truffle in for good measure, which although tasty couldn’t quite stack up to the complex taste of the sea salt caramel.
With enough sweets stashed in the overfilled car to last a week, it was time to head over to the Lake Champlain Chocolates factory, just outside of Burlington. Their ‘tour’ proved to be a few short videos, a few short samples, and some views through a window while our guide made sure we were comfortable in our seats. Still, it was free, and I’m always curious to learn more about chocolate. The most thrilling aspect of this visit was watching a woman hand-pour chocolate bars bound for a super-secret location, as LCC was making the bars for another company. Intrigue! She was pretty quick on the pour, and much more consistent than I could have been at distributing even amounts into shallow trays, for hours on end.
We left Lake Champlain Chocolates with very little. Only one tiny bar, their Organic Dark Spicy Aztec Bar, and a few ‘Chocolates of Vermont:’ Maple Crunch and Honey Caramel. These were wonderful. They were fantastic. I could easily eat two dozen more.
Something I didn’t see at their factory store that I do see on their website is a Grace Potter & the Nocturnals chocolate bar. Grace Potter is sure finding herself involved with foodstuffs lately. Between her Cabot cheese videos and this chocolate bar, she’s got it made in the food arena. And yet I find myself strangely interested in her chocolate bar… released last summer, it’s a delightful mix of roasted pistachios and red pepper, along with vanilla and cinnamon – it sounds great. Even better, there’s a video to go along with this product as well.
If you go:
Snowflake Chocolates Factory/Store Location
818 VT Route 15
P.O. Box 303
Jericho, VT 05465
Lake Champlain Chocolates Factory Store & Café
750 Pine St
Burlington, VT 05401
And finally, because I was so impressed by their farm-fresh eggs and jars of pickles – including pickled squash – and by their hospitality, I recommend that if you ever find yourself in Richmond, VT, with hunger and without the aforementioned items, stop in to the…
Freedom and Unity Farm
552 Bridge St
Richmond, VT 05477