Thursday, December 30, 2010

Adventures in Stowe, Vermont

I'm experiencing severe Stowe withdrawal symptoms as I write this—too much fun, good food and gorgeous settings! We started off our trip at the beautiful Topnotch Resort & Spa. It's the type of intimate place where the staffers at the front desk know your name when you stop by. I've realized what's missing from my life: a concierge. Hi, Matt!

The hotel had story time in the lobby our first afternoon there. Max was enchanted, Sabrina was mostly fascinated by the cookies. The food at the hotel is scrumptious; we dined at The Buttertub, a kid-friendly place where they bring in the food from Norma's, the hotel's organic-centric bistro. One night, we had a meal mostly consisting of cheese (cheese fondue for us, mac and cheese for the kids), the sort of dinner you and your arteries can only handle on vacation.

Dave and Sabrina went skiing the next morning, while Max and I roamed around and tried to stay out of trouble.

He loved the game room and Amelia, the super-nice babysitter who was there for a couple of hours in the afternoon and the evening. At one point, Max tried to pilfer all of the purple ornaments from the tree in the lobby, but I stopped him as it would have put a serious crimp in our vacation if he got arrested.

The hotel has a large heated indoor pool. There's a heated outdoor one, too, for people brave enough to take a dip (i.e., people who aren't us). I also got one the best massages I've ever had, an aromatherapy one at the spa that left me in a happy daze, smelling like flowers. I think a personal masseuse is also missing from my life.

We spent at couple of days at Stowe Mountain Lodge, too, where Dave skiied the trails and Sabrina studied hard in ski school.

Stowe Mountain is ski nirvana. There are 116 trails (that's 40 miles' worth), with the longest run at 3.7 miles. Dave mostly did blue trails; even the green ones were more advanced than any others he'd skiied. Sabrina started off school at the lowest level, Snowflake, and within three days advanced to Chipmunk, Squirrel and then Raccoon.

She was very proud of herself.

We ran around Stowe a lot during our five days there. Memorable activities:

Breakfast at the Dutch Pancake Cafe. Yes, people, this is a plate filled with a gigantic pancake. I got #24, shredded potato, onion and cheese (there are 51 varieties). The kids got chocolate chip pancakes, and Max thought the powdered sugar on top looked like snow. I'll quote Dave on our breakfast: "This is worth the trip to Vermont."

A beautiful, snowy ride courtesy of Gentle Giants Sleigh Rides & Carriage Rides. Twenty minutes long and not cold, thanks to the heavy robes they put on your lap.

Yet another thing missing from my life: a horse-drawn carriage.

A chocolate-making demo at Laughing Moon Chocolates. Note Sabrina in the background stuffing her face. These sweets are decadently good, with creative varieties including Alchemist Vanilla Beer Truffle, Chipotle and Cinnamon Truffle and Tropical Turtles (that's Brittany dipping them above).

A walk around town.

Lunch at Pie In The Sky. The herbed crust is delicious enough to eat on its own. We couldn't decide what to get (there are 43 toppings to choose from and a bunch of specialty pies), so we ended up with half pepperoni and half Tuscano (chicken, roasted zucchini, summer squash, broccoli and red onions brushed with roasted garlic herb oil and topped with mozzarella and smoked gouda, and surely if you aren't yet hungry, you are now). We also had a decadent hummus and spinach dip, and a tomato bisque. The owners, Skip and Susan, could not be any nicer. We were there with Max while Sabrina was in ski school, and they let him go behind the scenes.

Here's Max, loading wood into the oven. I hope his pizza-making fascination continues at home, because it would be so nice if he could whip them up on the weekends for us, though we currently lack the wood-burning pizza oven.

Max paints a motorcycle purple at You-Paint-It Pottery.

Checking out apples being pressed into cider at Cold Hollow Cider Mill. Each batch is made with 2500 pounds of apples (Macintosh) and yields 250 gallons of cider.

We had a lovely babysitter, Liz, who I found through a Twitter friend (so if any of you ever need a babysitter in the Stowe area, let me know, because Liz rocks). One night, Dave and I went out to Michael's On The Hill and had one of our most memorable meals ever.

The restaurant is in an 1820s farmhouse. We sat on the porch (romantic!) and continuously sighed over how exquisite everything was. I had the watercress salad with cloth-bound cheddar, spiced walnuts and quince vinaigrette; the pasture-raised beef tenderloin with truffle butter...

...and the passion fruit tart with ginger crust and Tahitian vanilla meringue. Dave's dessert was even more insane—the El Rey chocolate gateau with molten peanut butter and concord grape sauce. (Are you nibbling on your computer screen by this point? I'm about to.) There was an anise sorbet palate cleanser before the main course, and itty bitty pickled vegetables that came with Dave's country pate that I hogged. I'm emailing one of the owners to find out how to make them. Or perhaps I can get Max to do it.

Amazingly enough, we all still managed to fit in the car on the way home. Max literally sobbed because he didn't want to leave.

I knew exactly how he felt.


  1. Your adventures look wonderful!! I didn't make a trip to New England this year and miss it terribly.

  2. He wasn't into it, AZ (see yesterday's post). But he otherwise generally had a blast.

  3. OMG you have made me soooo hungry!!!! Looks like u guys had a really GOOD trip!!! XXOO

  4. I want go right now!!! Sounds amazing :) Great post.

  5. We were in Vermont this summer and your pictures made me want to go back and really hungry. It looks like a great time was had by all.

  6. We make pizza all the time during the summer on the grill--no need for a wood burning oven. It is really good and fun if you have company to make two or three different kinds--with a glass of wine between each one, of course.

    I, too, need a concierge and a masseuse in my life.

  7. Okay, I am envious. I think that sounds a bit nicer than, "I'm jealous!" Now, I am hungry and jealous. It's wonderful that you and your kids get to experience wonderful times like these--what great memories you all make.

  8. Vermont just made it to my "bucket list". Glad that you had a great time, you deserved it!

  9. It looks like you had a brilliant time!

    Did you know Max has a double on a UK kid's show? He is even called Max as well. In "Dani's House" Max is an evil genius younger brother of Dani.Your Max and this one look so alike it's uncanny!

  10. I'd be lying if I didn't admit I was more than a little jealous after reading all that--sounds like pure HEAVEN!

    Next time you go check out tubing--anyone can do it--you sit in a big fat tube and fly down the hill, and then hook your tube to a pulltow and they pull you back up the hill!

  11. Thank you for the recommendations! We are taking our mom to Stowe for her 60th birthday, I know it's been a few years, but would you happen to have your sitter Liz's contact info? Thanks!

    1. Ah, I am sorry, I no longer have Liz's contact info. I remember some of the hotels there had lists of sitters, I hope yours does—and that you and your family have a wonderful time!


Thanks for sharing!

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