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Side Dishes: Leftover Food News

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Kismet in Montpelier offers local food with big flavors — fresh pesto, raw-milk cheese, smoky tempeh — but its dining room is tiny. Now patrons have the option of eating on the patio in a miniature garden. “We have 12 extra seats out there,” explains co-owner Crystal Maderia. “We’ve been lucky, because it doesn’t start raining until the afternoon, when we close.”

With help from a new biz called East Hill Tree Farm, Maderia and her co-owner, Alanna Dorf, were able to fill the garden with edible plants, including 5-year-old blueberry and currant bushes that are ready to bear fruit. They’ve got gooseberries, too. The plot serves as the resto’s herb garden.

A few extra seats should help tide Kismet over until it can move into a larger space, a project currently in the works.

The al fresco tables aren’t the only recent change. Last Wednesday, Maderia and Dorf unveiled a new menu. The offerings include lots of old favorites — the Steamed Grain and Vegetable Bowl and the (I Am) Beautiful poached-chicken crêpe with lemon cream, for example — and a few new ones. Maderia’s wild about the Eggs En Cotte, in which the ova are baked in ramekins with wild-mushroom-and-herb cream and topped with cheddar, tomato and bacon.

Don’t know cilantro from coriander? Need help identifying an heirloom tomato? Kris Miceli, the new produce manager at Natural Provisions in Williston, is your gal.

According to GM Allison Lafferty, Miceli started shopping at Natural Provisions when her own store, Vermont Green Grocer in Richmond, closed its doors in March. “I think the bridge was a big factor in her store closing,” Lafferty suggests.

With 18 years of produce experience, including a stint at Shelburne Supermarket, Miceli began making suggestions that Lafferty took to heart: “We’d meet with her about different ideas, and she’d pass on words of wisdom to us,” Lafferty says.

When a position opened up, Miceli — who tends an extensive market garden at home — was the first person Lafferty called. Since she took the job, Miceli has made numerous updates. “She’s made lots of aesthetic changes. The produce department is full of beautiful baskets,” Lafferty enthuses. “She knows a lot of local farmers and has been able to bring in local products.”

The best part, in Lafferty’s view: “From owning her own business … She’s able to make suggestions not just about produce, but about the store in general.”

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