Relationship wisdom recommends against comparing a current lover to a previous one. The same rule applies to baked goods: It's not advisable to hold up a dairy- and egg-free vegan cookie against a traditional one. Otherwise, you might miss out on a simple delight chock-full of tasty ingredients.
Gesine Confectionary and Gourmet Market set a new standard for fancy desserts when it opened on Elm Street in 2005; look for butter and eggs in all their glory. The rugelach are a must try, as are the Montpelier maple macaroons. It's a little piece of Europe in central Vermont.
Claire Fitts is taking a different approach at the even-newer Butterfly Bakery, where she "makes things that are good on their own merits, things that everybody can eat." Most, but not all, of these things happen to be vegan, even if they're not labeled as such.
Refined sugar is taboo, too. Fitts is hypoglycemic, so she grew up disappointed in the "treats" that were available to her; that's why she learned to make her own. Try the toasty-tasting Raspberry Almond Cookies featuring whole spelt flour, organic oats and Vermont maple syrup; her naturally low-fat coconut maple lemon granola just happens to be addictive.
Besides cooking, Fitts loves to teach other people how to adjust recipes to meet their dietary needs, whether that means eliminating white flour in favor of whole grains or creating something that's dairy- or wheat-free. She just finished conducting her first series of hands-on workshops, and plans to offer more in the spring. Right now she's busy preparing specialty chocolate truffles for the holidays.
Barre Street's Butterfly is open Mondays and Tuesdays from 8 a.m. to 3 p.m. and any other time you see a sign proclaiming, "We're Baking." The sweet stuff is also available at City Market, Healthy Living and the Shelburne Supermarket. Find the bakery on the web at http://www.butterfly-bakery.com.