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Having written about hundreds of dining venues, local farms, markets and products, general stores, breweries, pubs and kitchen stores, it’s time to pass the utensils.

For allowing us the privilege and honor of sharing our experiences with you, we would like to thank Noah Hoffenberg, executive editor and Gena Mangiaratti, arts and entertainment editor for Vermont News & Media, publisher of the Manchester Journal, Bennington Banner and Brattleboro Reformer. We have had their encouragement and support from day one. Taking their public responsibility seriously, their dedication and devotion serve to remind us of the importance and continuing relevance of local reporting. We need our community newspapers for us to stay informed and engaged.

In authoring this column, we have learned so much while having fun at the same time. Perhaps the best part of it all may have been the wonderful people we have met along the way. We were fortunate to have had the opportunity to talk with and observe chefs, kitchen staff and servers who perform their difficult jobs so well. More than ever, we now realize and appreciate how hard these folks work and how much they care. We apologize for not being able to mention all of the people who welcomed us with open arms, most without them knowing we were there to write a column. Vermonters, especially those in the hospitality field, deserve their reputation for being friendly, gracious and accommodating.

With sincere gratitude, we want to thank our readers for their positive energy and polite offering of knowledgeable comments and suggestions. We live in a small community and receiving feedback from neighbors, as well as people we didn’t know, was helpful and instructive. An extra big shoutout goes to our dear friends who enthusiastically joined us for many of our restaurant forays including Tom and Rita Dee, Judd and Peg Gregory, George and Jackie Keady, Jim and Cheryl O’Connor, Scott and Allison Rogge and Bob and Susan Shaw. We hope you all had as much fun as we did.

Our community is blessed to have the consistent elegance and enduring quality of Chanticleer, the luxury and ambiance of Silver Fork, the extraordinary wine list of Reluctant Panther, the thoughtful confluence of food and wine at stylish Crooked Ram and the culinary artistry in the beautiful setting of Copper Grouse. We recognize the talent and skillful mastery of our local chefs including, among others, Michel Baumann at Chanticleer, Mark French at Silver Fork, Nevin Taylor at Crooked Ram, Dustin Johnson at Copper Grouse, Zach Corbin at Peter Havens in Brattleboro and of course the iconic Michael Fuller at Buckley’s, also in Brattleboro. We do miss chef Ray Chen’s exceptional cooking at the Inn at West View Farm, which recently closed.

We value and respect the time and effort necessary to provide consistently outstanding quality product and service provided at our local stores such as by Cindy and Gretchen at the Dorset Union Store, by Robin and Patti at Al Ducci’s Italian Pantry, by Kerry at Vermont Kitchen Supply, by Juliette at JJ Hapgood in Peru, by Billy Brownlee at seventh-generation H.N. Williams General Store and by the many hard-working men and women at JK Adams. We thank Steve and Lauren Bryant for bringing numerous dining experiences to us, always professional and consistently contributing to the local economy. We are so glad to have the Dorset Inn, Curate and recently opened Pearl’s added to their lineup of fine establishments.

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In Bennington, we often enjoy Publyk House for its reliable food, friendly service and spectacular outdoor setting. Also in the Bennington area, we can recommend Allegro, Brown’s Tap House (in neighboring North Hoosick) and family owned and operated Market Wagon on Route 7A for a pleasant shopping experience. In Brattleboro, the Co-op offers just about everything you could need or want for the kitchen. We found it to be a combination of Whole Foods and Trader Joe’s. We also adore the Brattleboro Farmers Market, which along with the Dorset Farmers Market, are simply fabulous places to walk around and shop for fresh produce, breads and other local products in a friendly environment.

For barbecue, especially in weather that allows for outdoor seating, we liked Top of the Hill Grill on Route 5 in Bratt. We also had wonderful weekend sushi at Mulligans at Stratton, wings, burgers and beer at Mulligans in Manchester, and several first-rate dinners accompanied by excellent service at Fat Crow in Newfane. Most of our travels were well worth the ride. Burdicks in Walpole and Simon Pearce in Quechee are top-notch and polished, as are Morrissey’s and Mrs. London’s in Saratoga.

It would be impossible to mention all of our local farms which make the food experience in Southern Vermont so special. Those that we see on a regular basis include Earth and Sea in Manchester for fresh fish and seafood, King Arthur Flour, Vermont Creamery, Sidehill Farm in Brattleboro, Small Batch Organics in Manchester, Mighty Farms in Shaftsbury, Rupert Rising and Earth Sky Time for incredible breads, and Jasper Hill in Greensboro and Maplebrook in North Bennington for delicious cheese.

And, of course, we have our famous Vermont beers including Fiddlehead from Shelburne, Burlington’s Switchback, Windsor’s Harpoon, Lawson’s out of Waitsfield and many others. More locally, we have Whetstone Beer Co. in Brattleboro, as well as Madison Brewing in Bennington offering a terrific selection on draft.

Prominent 19th-century Chinese poet and philosopher Lin Yutang, famous for his counsel on the importance of living well, said “Food is the First Enjoyment of Life.” We thank you all for making this column such a wonderful and enjoyable experience for us and we hope it brought to you some places to go for a fun time. We wish you all well.

David Meiselman and Myra Packman were food and restaurant columnists for Vermont News & Media from 2021 to 2022. For a short time longer, they can be reached at davidandmyravt@gmail.com.


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