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Vermont in the Headlines

Side Dishes: Everybody's talking about our eats

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Vermont is on the national radar for food-focused tourists. Last week, the Travel section of USA Today gave the Green Mountain State a pat on the . . . belly? Just in time for the leaf-peeping season, author Jerry Shriver extols "the homespun artistry of boutique farmers, artisanal food producers and market-driven chefs" that drives the state's gastro-tourism.

In his introduction, Shriver credits Ben & Jerry's and NECI with helping lay the foundation for Vermont's food culture. He also lauds Laura and Michael Kloeti of Michael's on the Hill in Waterbury as "champion[s] of local ingredients" before it became hip.

Which eateries caught Shriver's attention this time around? Hen of the Wood, also in Waterbury, for one. There he enjoyed the "market-fresh" menu, including "silky" corn soup drizzled with truffle oil. Taste of Burlington gets plaudits for the chef's paintings, as well as the "New England Classics" on the menu.

Shriver was also impressed by the commitment Steve and Lara Atkins of Richmond's Kitchen Table Bistro make to local producers. They partner with "about 30 farmers, cheesemakers, bakers and brewers," he enthuses. Finally, Shriver mentions Butler's at the Inn at Essex. He particularly enjoyed Butler's simple dishes, such as cooling cucumber-tequila soup and strawberry-balsamic sorbet. Currently, those summery favorites are gone from the menu, replaced by cooler-weather fare such as creamy potato and celeriac soup and pumpkin crème caramel.

In case you missed it: When Bon Appétit announced the winners of its 10th annual awards celebrating movers and shakers in the world of food, a Vermonter was on the podium. Williston's Molly Stevens received the "Cooking Teacher" award. An accompanying bio touted her "knack for simplicity" and "hands-on approach to cooking."

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