In February, we announced that chef Douglas Paine had commissioned a custom parrilla, or Argentine open-fire barbecue, built for asado nights at Hotel Vermont. Those special dinners will begin on Thursday, June 26, following this Thursday's "An American Girl in Bordeaux," a wine dinner hosted by winemaker Michele D'Aprix as part of the Burlington Wine & Food Festival. The asado nights will continue weekly, weather permitting.
In contrast to D'Aprix's light jaunt through French wines, each Asado Thursday will be a feast of local meats, vegetables and Argentine vino. The dinner's $65 price tag includes two glasses of the last — with white, red and rosé options — nonalcoholic beverages, tax and tip. A portion of proceeds from each event goes to the Fundación Rumbos, dedicated to improving wheelchair accessibility in Argentina.
Paine says each dinner will begin with family-style salad and bread served with provoleta, a classic Argentine dish of seasoned, grilled provolone cheese. From there, meats will arrive at the table as they're ready. Cas-Cad-Nac Farm provides alpaca, from which Paine will prepare both ribs and sirloins. "It's a really tasty meat — kind of a cross between pork and beef — not gamey at all," he says.
Other options will vary weekly, depending on what's fresh at local farms. Carne may include steak from Maple Wind Farm, sweetbreads, porchetta, chicken and fish. Always on the menu will be housemade sausages, as well as sauces inspired by Argentine cuisine and a Peruvian cook on staff, such as bright-yellow ocopa, chimichurri and onion-based salsa criolla.
Though the meals will be meat focused, Paine notes that he'll also fill the coal-heated grill with veggies. Desserts may include dulce de leche, crêpes or iron-seared crème brûlée, served with whatever berries are fresh that day. "That's kind of what an asado is," explains Paine. "Whatever is seasonally available for a family-style gathering."
Hotel Vermont isn't the only place in Chittenden County offering a new meat-heavy night. Pauline's Café; in South Burlington hosted its first weekly Smoke House BBQ night on Saturday, June 7. For the rest of the summer, chef David Hoene will set up his smoker outside the restaurant and slowly smoke LaPlatte River Angus Farm brisket and long-brined chicken. Accoutrements — and possibly proteins — will change each week, he says, but smoky local flesh is always on the menu.