Monday, July 27, 2009

Vacation Edition- Stowe, Vermont- Solstice

Unfortunately, due to our hectic work schedules it's nearly impossible for my boyfriend and I to get away for a summer vacation. Luckily though, after some fancy footwork, and some very stealthy planning, we were able to escape for a couple of days, and headed up to Stowe, Vermont to enjoy the quiet calm of the mountains.

Now, I could go on and on about the amazing quality of our accommodations at Stowe Mountain Lodge, because the hotel was truly fantastic, and I cannot say enough good things about it...But, instead, I'll concentrate on what I know you really want to hear about- the food :-)

Our first evening we dined at Solstice, within the hotel itself. Chef Sean Buchanan, executive Chef at Solstice, is well renowned for utilizing only local ingredients, and serving everything "farm to table". Knowing this, we opted to try his 5 course Chef's Tasting menu that evening. We were started with a smoked duck amuse bouche, which was both smokey and sweet, beautifully cooked, and perfectly pink. Just a bite, and it was the perfect start to the meal. Our first actual course was an arugula salad with citrus segments, walnuts and a strawberry vinaigrette. The beautiful pepper of the arugula was very nicely complimented by the sweet vinaigrette, which actually included sliced strawberries! So often you get a vinaigrette and you have to wonder if real fruit was used, or just some flavoring. This was really wonderful.

The following course was a beautiful piece of yellow fin tune, served with fresh slices of avocado and micro greens. The tuna was beautifully seared on the grill, still pink/red on the inside, and nicely seasoned so you could really taste the beautiful smoke flavors, as well as the excellent flavor of the fish. The avocado was the perfect off set to these flavors with its creamy buttery-ness.

The next course was the absolute highlight of the meal. Local Vermont steak grilled to perfection, topped with seared foie gras and plated aside roasted sweet cloves of garlic and a balsamic drizzle. Steak is completely ruined for me now as this was the best I've ever had. The meat itself was fresh beyond belief. The taste of it was clean and had a natural almost sweetness to it. Paired with a slice of rich and buttery foie gras, and a little of the roasted garlic...it was pure heaven. Honestly words escape me.

The fourth course was a cheese plate, chock full of eight different types of Vermont locally made cheeses from wonderful triple creams to blues to cheddar. Each was delicious, but we unfortunately could not enjoy it as much as we may have liked to as we were already pretty full, and because there had been a very nice cheese plate arranged for us on our arrival, that had been just waiting for us in our room. So though delicious, our cheese plate was left very full.

The final course was a lemon tart served with lots of fresh berries. Though tasty, the highlight of the meal had already passed, and this was purely outshone. I will say though that the pastry crust was really very nicely done, flaky where it should be, but didn't fall apart. The custard was thick without being too thick, though it could have used a bit more lemon to it.

Like the hotel itself, I cannot say enough good things about Solstice. Chef Buchanan has a fantastic eye when picking his produce and matching his dishes. It was a meal that I was very sad to see end, and one that I can only hope to indulge in again.

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