Burlington—or, the idea of Burlington—was our original draw to Vermont. We knew it was a medium-sized city that boasted Lake Champlain, a view of the Adirondack mountains, renewable energy, and pedestrian-friendly streets. We ended up two hours south of Burlington in the rural village of West Pawlet. A better situation, to be sure. The draw to see Burlington withstanding, we took a road trip north with our friends Pete (head farmer at Consider Bardwell, and our boss for all intents and purposes) and Abi (his partner, who is a Nurse Practitioner by day and a volunteer farmer by night). It seems important to mention that they are both entrenched in Vermont's food and beverage culture, rendering them our perfect travel companions.

This particular day trip was, in many ways, the antithesis of our daily existence. We switched from producer to consumer, retreating from the barn to delight in the offerings of charming diners, cafes, and shops. The earthy tones of Vermont's rural landscape were replaced by colorful murals and streetscapes. Our dirty work clothes (and their companion scents) were far, far away. It was wonderful. It was also exhausting. Make no mistake, we savored every bit of it: the world-class beers, the tacos (oh, the tacos...), the record shop, the outdoors stores, et cetera. Burlington offers as much for the day tripper to do and see as any place we have found, doing so on a manageable scale in a breathtaking setting. We are eager to visit again sometime, but not before enjoying some time back in the country. We've included a roundup of our favorite spots, very worth visiting if you are like us.

. . . a roundup of our favorite spots in Burlington

Burlington Records
Boasting a great selection of jazz and blues vinyl. If you are partial to a disheveled, semi-seedy record shop with mountains of $2 records that have gems if you are willing to look (as is our preference), this is probably not the place for you. If you want to find a mint condition Duke Ellington record (like us), stop in.

El Cortijo Taqueria y Cantina
The best "farm-to-taco" joint we never knew existed. With offerings like lengua (beef tongue) and carne (beef shoulder) topped with phenomenal chimmichurri, it's worth $5 per taco. Their draught list includes Hill Farmstead and The Alchemist, two of Vermont's best breweries (HF is the best).

City Market / Onion River Co-Op
A grocery lover's dream come true. With every sort of food, beverage, and apothecary provision you can imagine, it's a beautiful place to find everything rural areas would never have.

The Farmhouse Tap & Grill
Extensive local tap list and a relaxed, clean atmosphere conducive to an afternoon beer. We hear they have a speakeasy, though we did not have a chance to check it out.

. . . and the surrounding area

Fiddlehead Brewing Company (Shelburne, VT)
Second Fiddle Double IPA is, simply put, a damn fine beer.

The Vermont Flannel Company (Ferrisburgh, VT)
The name alone should be sufficient. Head here if you have dreamt of a store dedicated to flannel everything (including flannel fanny packs—flanny pack!?—and $3 flannel scrunchies that you know Sam is wearing right now).

. . . and a bit of a hike away

Three Squares Cafe (Vergennes, VT)
If you were driving south to north, stop here for breakfast. Great coffee (the light roasted, caffeine high inducing sort) and big plates of high-quality diner fare. Bonus: Vergennes is the smallest city in America!




Oh February, you fickle month, you. Being a resident lover of winter (best season forever and ever amen), even I have never met a person who really loves February. Funny, then, that the holiday representative of love falls smack in the middle of this gelid, forgettable month. As if the collective groan of Midwest society wasn't enough, Lent — a liturgical season of fasting — often lays claims to February. Enter me. For more than a decade I have hailed Valentine's Day as my second favorite holiday of the year, and I always mean it. My reasoning has nothing to do with random acts of kindness or saying 'I love you' an extra time; I'd wager I am already at maximum capacity with telling my husband I love him. Roses and heart-shaped boxes of chocolates are certainly of no interest to me (though I'm not in the business of turning those things down).

Valentine's Day is the day when I get to offer my affinity for winter and all things pale pink to those around me. Stews become romantic and cracking a bottle of mead is reasonable. The craft chest gets opened and I design Mark's annual valentine. In college we would hole up together and cook a time-intensive meal like traditional paella. Now we opt for cooking for others because we can. We spent all of February 14th preparing a four course meal for my parents and oldest sister. It was simple, Mediterranean, and in our wheelhouse.

I sliced each Blue Adirondack potato with wonder. Vibrant purple vegetables in winter: what a treasure. Our table settings included my mother-in-law's first dish set, now our first, gold cloth napkins handed down from my sister, and new flatware—the dearest wedding gift from our grandma (who spent months watching the 'specials' so as to pick up each piece when it went on sale). We had the aural delight of listening to the entirety of The Beatles discography on vinyl. A Valentine's Day not unlike other days of the year, but noteworthy in its own right. So while I'm not here to convert anyone to loving a holiday famous for being unloved, I would like to make the assertion that Valentine's Day can be non-commercial and worthy of celebration if we make it so.