Last year, food-related books by Vermont authors were hot: Think The Atlas of American Artisan Cheese by Jeff Roberts and Rowan Jacobsen's A Geography of Oysters, which garnered him a James Beard award nomination. Now a couple of local authors, whose books will appear in the next few weeks, are crossing their fingers for a similar reception.
In her first cookbook, Dishing Up Vermont: 145 Authentic Recipes from the Green Mountain State, Tracey Medeiros of Essex tried to create a volume "dedicated exclusively to Vermont products and recipes," she says. The transplant from Atlanta declares, "I think Vermont produces high-quality ingredients, and I wanted to get the word out there."
So she turned to the chefs and farmers involved with the Vermont Fresh Network for inspiration . . . and recipes. "I called farmers up and asked them to submit a recipe that best used their ingredients. When I contacted a chef, I asked them to utilize Vermont products they love and want to celebrate," Medeiros explains. Some of her entries came from the folks at Nola's Secret Garden, Pete's Greens, The Inn at Weathersfield and Hen of the Wood at the Grist Mill.
As Medeiros, 37, compiled the recipes, they were tested by Charlie Hays, formerly of Global Bites Catering. Medeiros, a Johnson & Wales grad who has worked as a freelance food writer, food stylist, and recipe developer and tester for publications such as Bon Appetit, Cooking Light and Eating Well, "made sure all the recipes were written in a fashion that was suitable for both amateur and expert cooks."
Medeiros plans to donate a portion of her book's proceeds to the Fresh Network. She'll have her first signing at Phoenix Books in Essex on April 26.
Amy Trubek's new volume, The Taste of Place: A Cultural Journey Into Terroir, is all about dirt. More precisely, the UVM assistant professor of Nutrition and Food Sciences, graduate of Le Cordon Bleu cooking school and former executive director of Vermont Fresh Network writes about how the soil and weather where a product is grown affect its flavor. The whole complex concept is referred to as "terroir" - which comes from terre, the French word for earth or soil.
Although the book roves from France to the U.S. and back to tell the story of how place and taste intersect, two of its six chapters have strong local relevance. One is about "the agrarian and culinary values of Vermont," as Trubek puts it. The other deals with the intricacies of maple syrup flavor.
How did Trubek dig up the topic? "When I was working at NECI, I shared an office with the person who taught all the wine classes. He was always talking about terroir, and I got really intrigued," she says. She hopes her book will "continue the conversation we're already having in Vermont about the relationship between what we eat, where it comes from, what it tastes like and the natural environment."