On the Road - Northeast Kingdom Tasting CenterMarch 5, 2014
The Northeast Kingdom Tasting Center in Newport, VT opened its doors in August of 2013 enticing both visitors and locals to come taste what the Kingdom has to offer. The Center is a local food emporium featuring a bakery, butcher counter, café, maple shop, and a top-shelf tasting bar with a tempting array of Kingdom spirits and cheeses from local farms. I was lucky to visit the center last week, and explore its culinary treasures with the Center co-founders and Eden Ice Cider owners, Eleanor and Albert Ledger.
Eleanor and Albert moved their cider making, aging, bottling and distribution operations from their farm in Orleans to the basement of the Tasting Center. Guests can see the process of making the ice cider which makes the experience especially unique. Eden Ice Cider manages to capture that off-the-branch taste of a ripe apple in golden liquid form. We settled in at the tasting bar, where Eleanor poured us samples of her Orleans Bitter and Herbal, Ice Cider, and other local spirits from Caledonia Spirits, Dunc's Mill and Artesano Mead. You can try a number of different wines and spirits, pair them with cheese, or have a Seasonal Tasting Plate featuring four “bites and sips” for just $9!
We headed for lunch across the room at the Brown Dog Bistro where local specials include items like a gorgeous beet salad, Vermont Bean Crafters Burgers, and Brisket sandwiches using Spring Hill Farm’s Beef that's processed in the onsite butcher shop. Owner Stephen Breault chatted nearby with farmer partner Ben Nottermann of Snug Valley Farm as we ate our tasty sandwiches. The beer list at Brown Dog is full of local brewers like Kingdom Brewing—who grow most all their own brewing ingredients on their Newport farm. We topped off lunch with salted caramel and mocha cupcakes from Jocelyn and Cinta’s Bakery, who have also found a happy home at the Tasting Center.
Sitting on the border of Canada, the shores of Lake Memphremegog and just 20 minutes from the awesome slopes of Jay Peak, hungry visitors surround Newport--and there is no better food than that produced by the farmers and producers of the Northeast Kingdom. “Bringing these businesses together in an attractive downtown location will create a destination for residents and visitors to learn more about locally-produced foods and beverages,” Eleanor said. “They will buy and eat more healthy local food, and area farmers and producers will benefit from a larger local market for their products.”
We urge you to go explore the Northeast Kingdom, and there's no better place to start than the Tasting Center! They can also now accommodate groups of 20-50 for tours of the center and cidery, followed by a tastings or meal in the barrel room of the Cidery. (Reservations required at least 2 weeks in advance, contact is Tracey@nektastingcenter.com)