Seasoned talent: Chef Chris Bonnivier of the Hermitage Club
Jan13

Seasoned talent: Chef Chris Bonnivier of the Hermitage Club

By Nicole Colson Chef Chris Bonnivier serves fried chicken on the menu at the White House Inn in Wilmington. Before you go thinking this is just any fried chicken, you should know the recipe takes three days before it’s ready to serve. First, the heirloom variety birds, purchased from Ephraim Mountain Farm in Springfield, are broken down. The legs and thighs sit in a pale ale brine for 24 hours before going into a blend of high-fat buttermilk (procured from Jersey Girls Dairy in Chester) and sriracha sauce and pickle juice. Then they’re vacuum-sealed for four hours to retain moisture, and soaked in the buttermilk mixture for another night. Chef Bonnivier serves the bird atop sweet potato johnnycakes in a chipotle maple butter with a shot glass of horchata: a Mexican rice milk drink flavored with kettle popcorn and sea salt. “Our food is recognizable but interesting—and intriguing,” Bonnivier explains. “We put a play on everything.” Bonnivier carries his traditional concepts with an inventive spin through the menus he and his team have created for the kitchens of six restaurants he operates across West Dover and Wilmington in the Deerfield Valley. Together they are part of the Hermitage Club properties, established in 2011. Owner Jim Barnes acquired the Hermitage Inn nearly 10 years ago determined to connect it with the surrounding Haystack Mountain ski resort and provide luxury accommodations and fine dining. The crown jewel is the Hermitage Clubhouse at the base of Haystack Mountain, an 90,000-square-foot timber frame structure—the largest of its kind east of the Mississippi—with a giant fireplace that snacks on a cord of wood at a time. Bonnivier, who signed on as executive chef of the Hermitage Club properties a year ago, works with a staff of 100 to create menus that change twice a year and provide each of the half-dozen restaurants with a novel identity. There are two eateries at the Clubhouse: The Brasserie, which offers Vermont family-inspired dining and features a dry aged steak program, and Penstla Commons, which serves everything from artisanal sandwiches and pizza to ribs and sushi. For the Mid-Mountain Cabin, Bonnivier created a menu that features Hermitage alpine cuisine, featuring the delicious likes of duck poutine: shredded duck confit, french fries, gravy and cheese curds with an herbed chili sauce. Ristorante Piacenza, which opened in December 2016 at the Inn at Sawmill Farm, features Northern Italian rustic farmhouse cuisine and Bonnivier’s freshly made pasta. The French-inspired Vermont country dining menu at the Hermitage Inn and the farm-to-table cuisine served at the White House Inn are styles of cooking closest to Bonnivier’s roots. Originally from Dalton, Mass., he now...

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The piece and its soul: The art of Carolyn Enz Hack
Jan13

The piece and its soul: The art of Carolyn Enz Hack

By Meg Brazill Carolyn Enz Hack grew up on her family’s farm in New Jersey and first found inspiration in the natural world. Since 2001, she and her husband, Garrett Hack, have lived on a farm in Thetford Center (along with a Belgian horse, cows, chickens, and a cat.) Carolyn is a painter and sculptor, a thinker and a maker. Garrett is a furniture maker, teacher, designer, and writer. They each have a studio on their farm and talk every morning about what’s going on in their creative lives. “Garrett will often ask me about design issues he’s working on, and I may ask him about an engineering issue that I’m trying to solve,” Enz Hack says. Farms, she notes, are great places for inspiration and reflection, and Enz Hack continues to draw from that source as a genesis for much of her work. Enz Hack describes her vision as “optimistic with a sense of connectedness to the world.” In the past five years she has been exploring new artistic directions and investing new meaning into her work. It’s paying off. Enz Hack was the 2016 recipient of a Jury Award from the Arts Alive Festival of Fine Art Exhibition and has twice received a Vermont Arts Endowment Award from the Vermont Community Foundation, as well as a Vermont Arts Council grant. Reflecting change When Enz Hack has a new idea, it usually means months of working, sketching, questioning, and building before it takes shape as a work of art. “What interests me is taking ideas and giving them a physical form,” she explains. “I’m interested in poking and prodding ideas, giving shape to thought.” Her work is not intentionally ambiguous, but she doesn’t provide answers either. That she leaves up to the viewer. Recently she’s been exploring the idea of change in the greater sense. “It’s about changing your mind in terms of not staying static, always being in motion to evolve your thought processes, to become a better person,” she says. “You have a way of being set in your mind, but it’s not set in stone. You can always change it.” The end result will be “Change Your Mind,” a solo exhibition in the Mary Sommer Room at Brattleboro Museum of Art (BMAC), Jan. 14 to March 5. In conjunction with the exhibit, Enz Hack will give an artist talk there on Thursday, Feb. 23, at 7p. A dramatic background Since 2011, Enz Hack has had eight solo exhibitions and exhibited in more than 25 group shows. Her fine art career is relatively recent: For decades she worked in scenic design at professional theaters including the...

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You know what you want: Customers drive Windham Wines
Jan13

You know what you want: Customers drive Windham Wines

By Marty Ramsburg We live in a great area—it’s natural and untamed yet sophisticated and cultivated; rural, yet with so many cultural benefits that we can never get to all the events that we would like; breathtakingly beautiful, with light that rivals Provence or in contrast, days of low clouds that shroud the Green Mountains. This place has attracted what Frank and I have observed over our 10 years as the most rewarding element of our work: our interesting, engaged customers. As we head into what we hope for all is a joyous, prosperous, and safe New Year, here are a few of the local market trends and observations we’ve collected on the journey thus far. From predominantly New World to predominantly Old World Ten years ago, we opened our retail shop with a collection that was heavily New World. More than 60 percent of our wines were from the United States, Australia, and Argentina. Today, the United States constitutes 20 percent of our collection, with another 4 percent from Australia and Argentina. This shift is a response to customer preferences. Our customers are cosmopolitan. We have wonderful conversations revolving around places you have been and places to which you are headed. Italy emerged as a recurrent request—Tuscany, followed by Sicily, were the most popular requests, so wines from those regions, as well as from Piedmont and the Dolomites, swelled in representation. Corollary trend from massive, lush reds to lighter-bodied, more nimble reds. One of the wine characteristics we assess when trying wine is “mouthfeel,” which has to do both with the weight of the wine on the palate and its texture in the mouth. When we opened, not only was the preference strongly for red over white—regardless of season, but also for a full, creamy, lush red over a lighter, often noticeably acidic, red. Wines from regions with long, hot growing seasons—California’s Central Coast and Central Valley; Washington’s Yakima Valley and Walla Walla; most of Australia; and France’s Southern Rhone and parts of the Languedoc—produce super-ripe berries with high sugar content. It is the sugar that is converted to alcohol and the alcohol providing both the weight and lushness in the mouth. As the palate gets used to that full weight, we first saw rejection of lighter-bodied reds. These were just “unsatisfyingly thin.” Now we get requests for lower-alcohol reds. Reds from Burgundy and the Loire, from Alto Adige and Alto Piemonte in Northern Italy, and the New California and Oregon garagiste wines have gained considerable traction. Our discerning customers have discovered that these wines have much to offer: ripe fruit flavors that retain secondary savory flavors and...

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Limitless adaptations: How Unity Homes leads next-gen home building
Jan13

Limitless adaptations: How Unity Homes leads next-gen home building

See intro: When a region roars back: Green building builds Southern Vermont’s economy By Katherine P. Cox Unity Homes in Walpole has been in business for just four years, but it’s already leading the next generation of home building. That’s not surprising, considering it’s an offshoot of Bensonwood, a pioneer in reviving timber frame building more than 40 years ago. Unity Homes has put Bensonwood’s vast experience, knowledge, and technological proficiency to work in building green, highly energy-efficient homes based on four flexible designs that shatter the traditional image of modular pre-fab construction. “We springboarded off all the knowledge and experience that came from Bensonwood,” says Andrew Dey, director of operations at Unity. “The way to understand Unity is you have to go back to the beginnings of Bensonwood and [founder] Tedd Benson’s desire to find a better way to build. Bensonwood became known for building beautiful timber frames, but over the years it became about building great buildings—not just great timber frames.” As Bensonwood and its reputation grew, the houses also grew, becoming, in many cases, luxury homes. “There was always this feeling that we’d like to make these beautiful, high-quality homes more accessible to a broader range of people,” Dey says, “homes that would have a broader impact on home building in the United States.” That was the genesis—and the challenge—of Unity Homes: developing high-performance homes that are comfortable, energy-efficient, and durable, with healthy indoor air and using sustainable materials while trying to keep the costs of building a home down. Unity’s innovative system is based on four design platforms—the Tradd, based on the classic two-story Cape; the Xyla, a one-story bungalow concept; the Varm, a two-story nod to both classic Scandinavian design and New England farmhouse; and the Zum, a one-story contemporary—that are flexible in terms of site, budget, size, number of bedrooms and bathrooms, room configuration and add-ons such as garages and porches. The base price, not including site work or add-ons, can run from $200,000 to $350,000 depending on the house and final design choices. Clients can personalize their homes using a library of design elements. According to Dey, the adaptations are limitless. Once the initial design process is settled and a construction plan established, a 3-D computer model of the home is created by Unity’s architects and engineers. A precise, detailed plan that includes all the elements of the home is sent to computer-controlled machines that cut all the parts and pieces, Dey says. From there, the wall panels, roof panels and floor panels are fabricated and insulated, and windows and doors are installed at the Unity facility in Walpole. Building the components off-site,...

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Ironwood’s Eli Gould builds houses that become ‘something more”
Jan13

Ironwood’s Eli Gould builds houses that become ‘something more”

See intro: When a region roars back: Green building builds Southern Vermont’s economy By Katherine P. Cox Eli Gould, a former Bensonwood associate, has become a local legend around Brattleboro. Gould is a child of the 1970s-era back-to-the-land movement. He was raised on a Vermont commune and built his first dwelling, a timber-frame cabin, when he was 19. He won a full scholarship to Yale University and excelled in Yale’s first dual major in architecture and forestry. “Both things I loved,” the entrepreneurial Gould says. “I grew up here, I knew all the trees, I love wood, and I love how in this area you get to see raw material turning into finished product. And I loved design.” He opened his own company, Ironwood Brand, the day after he graduated in 1994. He went on to spend four years as custom home-builder Tedd Benson’s right-hand man. Then he left to go back to his business to build highly efficient, prefabricated, premium homes with sophisticated insulation and technologically and up-to-the-minute service systems. (You can turn on the heating system from your car). He likes to wrap these buildings in New England siding so they look like farmhouses that were built centuries ago. “My clientele are the most discriminating, smart, savvy, committed people I’ve ever met,” Gould says. “I build really high-end homes, usually quiet, not overstated. What usually happens is the house becomes something more—it starts out as a second home and turns into their retirement home. Our homes are like the farm-to-table movement, but it’s a bigger decision than deciding what to eat.” Gould has managed to create an award-winning company that’s on track to top $1 million in sales in 2017. And he says he wants to spur more economic development in the region he loves. “Wouldn’t it be lovely if a large European manufacturer who makes a wood-based product that’s better than plywood opened a plant here?” he...

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Destined for romance: A Southern Vermont wedding rings true
Jan13

Destined for romance: A Southern Vermont wedding rings true

Before the peal of the bells, there’s planning… Given the charm of our historic villages, the warmth and coziness of our country inns, and the breathtaking beauty of our area generally, couples travel from all over the world to celebrate their nuptials in Southern Vermont. The gentle, rolling hills of the Green Mountains; fields carpeted in wildflowers; babbling brooks; rustic old barns and covered bridges; and, of course, our signature fall foliage, make Vermont a place that naturally inspires romance. It’s no wonder that Vermont is one of the most popular spots for destination weddings. Southern Vermont has something for everyone, whether you’d prefer an intimate ceremony on a quiet mountaintop or a quaint country inn, or a lavish affair at a private estate or in a grand ballroom. A long weekend celebration in the spring, summer, or fall might include golfing, fly fishing, hiking, canoeing, horseback riding, biking, antiquing, or outlet shopping. A relaxing spa day offers a welcome respite from the flurry of wedding activities. Here, an expert facial or stress-relieving massage will do wonders for your “bridal glow.” Or, if you or your guests are feeling adventurous, a day at Bromley Mountain Thrill Zone (near Manchester), which includes Bromley’s Sun Mountain Flyer, New England’s longest ZipRider, might be right up your alley. Snowy Vermont winters bring the fun of downhill skiing at Bromley, Killington, Mount Snow, Okemo, and Stratton. Other popular winter sport activities include snowmobile tours, cross-country skiing, and showshoeing at Green Mountain State Forest. For the more leisurely, a romantic, horse-drawn sleigh ride beckons. Whatever activities you choose, be sure to end the day with a cozy fire and hot beverage at one of our many historic inns. While Southern Vermont is full of rustic charm and outdoor activities, it is also steeped in history and is rich in culture and the arts. You and your guests have a wealth of cultural options from which to choose, including walking tours of historic sites, theaters that feature local talent and celebrity visiting actors, art galleries, museums, artist studios, and concerts ranging from classical to jazz to...

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Taste of place: The terroirs of Vermont maple syrup
Jan13

Taste of place: The terroirs of Vermont maple syrup

So you think you know maple syrup? It’s possible you’ve just scratched the surface of what makes this state staple so deliciously unique. In a recent project backed by a $45,000 grant from the U.S. Agriculture Department, a team of researchers, sugarmakers, and sensory panelists worked to describe the terroir, or taste of place, of Vermont maple syrup. Just as the world of wine has long offered its aficionados readings in terroir, it is possible, the researchers found, to gently fold back layers of place to give maple its proper due. The end result is a unique “sensory map” that captures the sweet stuff’s subtle qualities in aroma and flavor, mouthfeel, and taste. See, it’s not just syrup; it’s Vermont maple syrup. It turns out the where informs a huge part of our enjoyment, as any proud vintner—or sugarmaker—will tell you. This handy tool was jointly developed by the Nutrition and Food Sciences Department at University of Vermont and the Vermont Agency of Agriculture Food and Markets, including Amy Trubek, author of 2008’s The Taste of Place, A Cultural Journey Into Terroir; Montserrat Almena, a sensory scientist; Henry Marckres, the state ag agency’s Consumer Protection section chief (newly elected to the North American Maple Hall of Fame by the North American Maple Syrup Council); and Allison Hamlin. Refer to this Taste of Place map when you head out March 25-26 for Vermont Maple Open House Weekend. Go slowly, savor the moment, and really, er, listen to what your senses report. Amy Trubek’s The Taste of Place, A Cultural Journey Into Terroir (2008) is available in many local bookstores and at...

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Spotlight: NECCA Circus Spectacular
Jan13

Spotlight: NECCA Circus Spectacular

March 4-5 Latchis Theater, downtown Brattleboro http://www.necenterforcircusarts.org New England Center for Circus Arts’ 7th Annual Dazzling Fundraiser, held live, is an amazing evening of circus acts presented by guest performers from all over the world. All proceeds from this event support outreach programming by the New England Center for Circus Arts. NECCA offers free and discounted programming with many collaborators for at-risk youth, children with autism, adults with physical disabilities, and cancer survivors. Approximately one in six NECCA students receive some form of tuition assistance to the many programs that range from physical literacy for youth to professional training for...

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Spotlight: Harris Hill Ski Jump
Jan13

Spotlight: Harris Hill Ski Jump

Some of the world’s best up-and-coming ski jumpers are set to fly at New England’s only Olympic-size venue during the annual Harris Hill tournament in Brattleboro. The nearly century-old competition will feature athletes from North America and Europe leaping off a 90-meter hill that’s one of just six of its size in the country. Since its start in 1922, the event attracts several thousand spectators who watch jumpers shoot at speeds of 60 mph and soar more than 300 feet in the air. This year’s competition features the annual Pepsi Challenge on Saturday and Fred Harris Memorial Tournament on Sunday. Gates will open at 10a, with trial rounds at 11, opening ceremonies at noon, and competition at 12:45p. This family-friendly event offers food and beverage vendors, a bonfire, music, tailgating, and appearances by Jumper, the cow mascot. Buy tickets at the gate or at brownpapertickets.com. Harris Hill boasts a snowmaking system, so the program will run regardless of ground cover in surrounding areas. The event is presented by hundreds of community volunteers and paid for by ticket sales, donations, and sponsors such as Pepsi, Auto Mall, Brattleboro Savings & Loan, Mount Snow, and The Richards Group....

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Music & Theater
Jan13

Music & Theater

Vermont Arts Exchange Masonic Temple, 504 Main St., Bennington http://www.vtartxchange.org, 802 442-5549 Ongoing (dates TBD): Basement Music Series. From late fall through April each year, the Basement Music Series (BMS) brings in bands from as far away as Virginia, Cuba, and Tuva, and from the music hub of Brooklyn, N.Y. Offering a huge range of music, from Grammy Award-nominated Omar Sosa to BMS favorite Howard Fishman and the Tuvan throat singers ALASH, BMS grew to twice a month. Audiences flock to this intimate setting to take in good music, and this is what the bands say they love the most about presenting their art here. Brattleboro Music Center 38 Walnut St., Brattleboro http://www.bmcvt.org, 802 257-4523 Jan 14-15: Brattleboro Concert Choir: Johannes Brahms’ Ein Deutsches Requiem. Both shows at the Latchis Theater, Brattleboro, 7:30-9:30p. May 20: Brattleboro Concert Choir: On the Breath: New Currents. Time and place TBD. New England Youth Theater 100 Flat St., Brattleboro http://www.neyt.org, 802 246-6398 Jan 6-7: All’s Well That Ends Well, alumni fundraiser for Angels in the Wings. Jan 20-22: Grimleys, Brimleys, and the Great British Feud of 1826, presented by Town Schools Theatre Winter Play. Will anything ever bring together the two wealthiest families in all of England? Will the arrival of a powerful Baron Earl heal past wounds? Feb 10-19: Campalot: Knights of the Square Table. An imaginative retelling of the famous tales of King Arthur and the Knights of the Round Table. Learn how ancient Druid magic and the quests for the Secret of the Green Knight and the Holy Grail translate today into fun and laughter. April 7-15: The Hotel Baltimore. The Hotel Baltimore used to be the swankiest place in town—now it’s got a date with the wrecking ball. Eviction notices just went out to its residents, who live on the fringes of society and call the once elegant, now tarnished hotel home. May 5-14: Disney’s Alice in Wonderland Jr. Travel down the rabbit hole and join Alice, one of literature’s most beloved heroines, in her madcap adventures. Featuring updated songs from Disney’s thrilling new animated motion picture, this is a fast-paced retelling of a classic tale. Next Stage Arts 15 Kimball Hill Rd., Putney http://www.nextstagearts.org Jan 7: Christine Ohlman and Rebel Montez’s concert and dance party, 7:30p, promises to be an all-out rock ’n’ soul event. Ongoing: Check website for upcoming concerts throughout the winter. Next Stage Theater is a newly renovated performing arts facility. We celebrate the diversity of artistic expression by fostering a collaborative environment for audiences, performers, and community-based arts and educational organizations, and we are committed to enhancing the village of Putney as a cultural...

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Workshops
Jan13

Workshops

Extension Master Gardener Course http://www.uvm.edu/mastergardener, 802 656-3131 Feb. 7-May 16: Learn the keys to a healthy and sustainable home landscape from your home computer as University of Vermont faculty and other experts provide live, interactive webinars on gardening in Vermont. This 13-week, non-credit course covers a wide variety of horticultural topics: fruit and vegetable production, flower gardening, botany basics, plant pests, soil fertility, disease management, healthy lawns, invasive-plant control, and introduction to home landscaping. Registration accepted by credit card or by phone. Registration form is available on the website if paying by check. Contractors Workshop The Stone Trust, 707 Kipling Rd., Dummerston http://www.thestonetrust.org, 802 490-9607 March 31: Perfect for the landscape contractor interested in starting to build dry stone walls or in expanding that line of work. In addition to the hands-on building of a wall, there will be discussions of good work practices, pricing walls, and proper foundations. Workshop levels: 1 and 2. Up To 20 participants with two certified instructors. Indoors and open to all....

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At the museums
Jan13

At the museums

Bennington Center for the Arts 44 Gypsy Lane, Bennington 10a to 5p, Mon-Sun (Closed Mon) http://www.thebennington.org, 802 442-7158 Ongoing: Exhibitions by many of the country’s most prestigious groups, along with artists chosen to participate in shows that we annually curate, have given The Bennington a reputation for exhibiting only world-class art in an elegant, state-of-the-art facility. At the Covered Bridge Museum, discover the history and legends of covered bridges in the world’s sole museum dedicated to their preservation. Also with us: a variety of remarkable wind sculptures—some up to 27 feet tall. Bennington Museum 75 Main St., Route 9, Bennington 10a to 5p (Closed Wed) http://www.benningtonmuseum.org, 802 477-1571 Feb 4-May 21: Holding the Line: Ceramic Sculpture by Stanley Rosen. By the late 1950s, Stanley Rosen was in the vanguard of American ceramics. He was one of a small cohort—among them Peter Voulkos, John Mason, and Ken Price—who revolutionized ceramics, making of it a freely inventive and richly expressive art form liberated from the practical requirements of vessel making and the conventions of the craft tradition. April 1- June 18: Gatherum of Quiddities: Paintings by Pat Adams. Ongoing: Gilded Age Vermont, Bennington Modernism, Grandma Moses Schoolhouse, and more. Brattleboro Museum & Art Center 10 Vernon St., Brattleboro 11a to 5p (Closed Tue) http://www.brattleboromuseum.org, 802 257-0124 Thru Feb 6: A celebration of paint, Luscious investigates the myriad ways in which artists make conscious statements of painterly intent. In command of their medium, these artists believe in the beauty of paint itself and explore and exploit its materiality, pushing technique to the edge. Thru Feb 6: Rust Work. Artist Paul Bowen fashions found wood and metal into dynamic works of art. Neither representational nor figurative, his work is formal, additive, and abstract—but not without meaning. Each sculpture is rich with associations because the materials emanate their history and purpose. The works have a talismanic energy beyond their formal beauty. Thru Feb 6: Windows to Creative Expression. Young poets and artists from the Poetry Studio reflect the fresh nature of the young poet’s voice that also jolts adults awake from the sleep of their world-weariness. Thru Jan 8: Eyes Toward Heaven. Artist Chris Page creates an immersive installation that brings us back to the childhood act of cloud gazing. In this space time slows as we contemplate minute shifts in color and form. Page’s clouds possess their own internal, pictorial logic and materiality. While each component painting is a beautiful abstraction, together they offer a portrait of the sky in motion. Thru Jan 8: From Luminous Shade. A moving testament to the restorative power of art. Three artists mourn the untimely passing of...

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