ROAD TRIPPING IN NEW ENGLAND. Originally posted in October, 2018
Holidays in New England, USA: If you're fortunate, you might have the opportunity to witness the enchanting transformation of foliage in New England. As the leaves shift from vibrant green to hues of orange, red, and purple, local farmer's markets brim with their autumn harvest, and hiking the mountains adopts a whole new significance. Despite these posts being dated, we felt it was worth revisiting them, if only this once, as the leaves embark on their colourful journey once again.
Phyl is the food editor for #oldbagonaplane. With her posts, she recreates local specialities from the places we visit. Suppose you Google local food in Vermont, New England. Besides Ben and Jerry's ice cream, you will find bison burgers, venison, cheeses of all sorts and anything and everything made with maple syrup, including maple creamee ice creams and maple snow (literal snow). But the oddest thing on any menu would be fiddleheads, and we made it our cause de jour to find them.
Fiddleheads are ferns before they become ferns, specifically the Ostrich fern. They are common in New England and Canada, sprout naturally in damp, wet areas and can only be foraged by individuals. These conditions and an extremely short growing period are why they are considered a delicacy and can be pretty pricy.
We set off on the third day of our Vermont adventure with a hike in search of Sterling Falls Gorge and Emily's Covered Bridge. We had failed to find fiddleheads on any menu, so we decided to forage them ourselves. We accidentally trekked out of the mountains and into town, serendipitously coming across the Stowe Farmer's Market. What better place to find the elusive fiddlehead than already harvested for us in a farmer's market?
The Stowe Farmer's Market, located on the Mountain Road next to the Blue Donkey, is open every Sunday from May to October, rain or shine, from 10 am -3 pm. Vermont leads the USA in farmer's markets, organic producers, dollars spent on organic products and CSAs. You can find the vendors that trade at the market on www.stowefarmersmarket.com, and you can bet that many of those vendors sell maple food products.
Although the weather wasn't perfect, the market was well attended with families, dogs and a country music band. Highlights included maple vodka sampling, maple popcorn sampling, maple soda pop and maple chipotle sauce sampling. We also munched on maple chipotle nuts and maple pot stickers. We should have stopped at the vodka. Alas, there were no fiddleheads, not even maple-flavoured ones.
One of the greengrocers informed us that fiddleheads only appear in early spring, so we were way off trying to find them in the Autumn. Our search had concluded, back to the vodka booth.
Bolstered by intoxication from cheap samples, we tried tongue pickles, which are made from overgrown and yellow cucumbers and look like pieces of tongue. I can't recall their exact flavour, but it definitely wasn't maple.
As our fiddlehead adventure concluded dramatically and unsuccessfully, we needed something else to search for. There are over 100 covered bridges in Vermont, more than in any other state, so we set off to find as many as possible.
If covered bridges remind you of steamy car windows, prairie dresses and geriatric sexcapades, take heart in knowing that the Bridges of Madison County took place in Iowa, not Vermont. In New England, covered bridges are an entirely different affair.
A covered bridge is considered authentic due to its trussed construction. Most are elusive, some lead to nowhere, and all are stunning (if you dig bridges). Lamoille County, not far from Stowe, has 13 bridges; we located five.