What are the best Southern Vermont food experiences?

Answers from Our Experts (1)

Larry Olmsted

Given that much of Vermont is farmland and the state caters to visitors, it’s not surprising that food is taken very seriously here. According to our Forbes Travel Guide editors, the five best dining experiences in Southern Vermont are:
1. Maple syrup-filled breakfasts. Vermont and maple syrup are hopelessly intertwined, probably because Vermont has a well-earned reputation as the world’s best syrup producer. For this reason, any breakfast item on which maple syrup can be poured is revered, most notably pancakes (especially blueberry) and French toast.
2. Church suppers. You don’t have to be religious to attend these dinners and people come from neighboring states like Massachusetts (two hours each way) just to attend these traditional small town social affairs and fundraisers. They are frequent but hard-to-find — ask locals about any upcoming events. Those in the know tend to go early, so if it starts at 5 p.m., expect a line to form at 4 p.m.
3. Ice cream. Vermont famously has a lot of cows and all that milk seems to go into cheese and ice cream — or gelato, which is rapidly proliferating. And although Ben & Jerry’s is the most well known, it’s hardly the only one. Craft ice cream prevails, usually organic and hormone-free, such as Strafford Organic Creamery, Leonardo’s Gelateria or Island Homemade Ice Cream.
4. Farmer’s markets. There are farmer’s markets almost every day of the week, and many on weekends. In addition to fresh meats and produce, many feature ready-to-eat foods such as Vermont-made samosas, crepes and barbecue. Some of the best are found in Norwich, Woodstock, Ludlow, Manchester and Brattleboro.
5. Cheese. Vermont makes some of the best cheese in the world — its cheeses often beat the best of Europe in competition. Cheddar was once the gold standard, but today Vermont produces world-class cheeses of every style: raw, aged, hard, soft, goat, cow, sheep and bleu. There is an official cheese trail to visit, but a quick stop in any gourmet store will provide an instant cheese-centric picnic or meal.

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