- Matthew Thorsen
Ten years ago, we rolled out the very first 7 Nights with a festive cover and a nod to the “organic farmers, vintners, ar tisan bakers, cheese makers and specialty-food producers” who have made Vermont a food-lover’s mecca. 7 Nights was our way of recognizing and celebrating Vermont’s farm-to-fork ethos, an annotated guide to navigating the burgeoning scene.
My, how it’s grown. A decade on, our burgs are attracting more talented chefs than ever, and a healthy crop of farmers supply them with fresh veggies, cheeses and meats. An expanding immigrant population is giving Vermonters a taste of the world, from Middle Eastern shish taouk and shirin polo to Korean bibimbap and bulgogi.
Each year, we check in with hundreds of restaurant and bar owners across the state as we compile the most up-to-date, comprehensive guide to restaurants and bars in Vermont. A few trends always emerge. This year, one seems to be a proliferation of pizza — high-end pies, that is. In Burlington, we didn’t think it could get any better than American Flatbread. Then Pizzeria Verità came along with delicious Neapolitan pies. New wood-fired pizzerias — some featuring farm-fresh toppings — have also popped up in Waterbury, Woodstock and Bellows Falls.
Another trend? Vermont is saucier than ever. There are so many new craft breweries, cider makers, wineries and microdistilleries, we’ve doubled the size of that section — it begins on page 132 with a spotlight on Citizen Cider, the entrepreneurial Essex company that is helping revive New England’s long-dormant hard-cider tradition.
Hot spots come and go — and we’re not just talking restaurants. Af ter bouncing back from Tropical Storm Irene, Waterbury is getting national ink as a watering hole for hard-core craft-beer drinkers; hard-to-find Heady Topper and beers from Hill Farmstead Brewery can be found around town. Tucked up in the Northeast Kingdom, Newport is becoming a culinary destination thanks to Jay Peak Resort’s expansion. Seven Days readers get a steady diet of such food news, but they may not realize that a lot of the intel comes from users of 7 Nights online, a virtual space where diners post reviews of their eating experiences at any time of day or night. Check it out online at www.7nvt.com.
A decade ago, 500 establishments had annotated listings in 7 Nights; this edition offers more than 900 places to choose from. Now more than ever, Vermont is an unparalleled place to nibble, sip and explore. Dig in.