Epicurean Delights on Vermont's Route 100 in Waterbury:
Ice Cream, Cheese, Chocolates & Cider
By Fran Folson
Recently, on my way to Burlington Vermont, I decided to indulge myself with
ice cream, cheese, chocolates, cider and doughnuts. The prime spot for all that?
Route 100 in Waterbury.
My plan was this; first stop, Ben & Jerry’s, then the Cabot Cheese store,
Lake Champlain Chocolates and then top things off at Cold Hollow Cider
Mill. Now, this is not junk food, most of it has been recommended by some
very high-end magazines. Read on, you’ll see what I mean.
Exiting Interstate 89 I turned north on Route 100 and made straight for Ben &
Jerry’s. Before touring the factory I went to the Flavor Graveyard to pay
homage to a dearly departed friend, Chocolate Chocolate Chip. The cemetery,
situated on a shady hill, surrounded by a picket fence, was crowded with
people paying their respects to a departed favorite. Each grave has a wooden
tombstone with the flavor’s name, when it was produced and when it expired.
I paused a moment at Fresh Georgia Peach, Dastardly Mash and White Russian,
all great in their time. As I walked down the hill I thought, “I hope I never see
Cherry Garcia here.”
During the tour our guide told us that 350,000 people visit the factory each year.
In the Cow Over the Moon Theater we were shown a video telling how Ben
Cohen and Jerry Greenfield met in 7th grade. Yes, there really is a Ben and a
The video shows how they took a $5.00 business correspondence course then
decided that since ice cream was their favorite food, why not make their own
and started concocting recipes in the basements of their parents’ homes. In 1978
in a renovated gas station in Burlington Vermont, Ben & Jerry opened their first
ice cream shop. The rest is history.
After watching how the ice cream is packaged, and learning that the St. Albans
plant puts out 500,000 pints a day, we ended the tour enjoying samples of
Cherry Garcia. In my next life I want to work as a taste tester for Ben & Jerry’s.
From there it was on to another Vermont institution – the Cabot Cheese
store. In 1919 ninety-four dairy farmers pooled their life savings, totaling $3,700
dollars, to purchase a creamery building in the village of Cabot, in Vermont’s
Northeast Kingdom. Today that plant slices and packages over 2 million
pounds of butter and cheese a day. That doesn’t include the hundreds of
gallons of yogurt, cottage cheese and sour cream produced there. It goes to
show you what Yankee ingenuity can do.
Everywhere I turned there were mounds of fresh cheese; Pepperjack, Five
Peppercorn, Monterey Jack, Garlic Cheddar and Smoky Bacon Cheddar and
signature cheese, extra sharp Cheddar. People were buying them by the wheel.
Next, I needed chocolate, so my next stop was Lake Champlain Chocolates.
Jim Lampman, a restaurant entrepreneur, started the company in 1983.
Lampman used to give gifts of expensive chocolates to his restaurant staff. One
day his chef confessed that the chocolates were terrible, Lampman challenged
him to make better ones. What he came up with were truffles made with dark
Belgian chocolate, and Vermont butter and cream. From those few truffles a
chocolate factory came into being.
This shop, with its to-die-for-handcrafted chocolates, is a chocoholic’s dream
come true. The truffles come in many flavors; Cappuccino, Vanilla Malt,
Raspberry and Champagne, to name a few. There’s also Signature bars, a solid
piece of Belgian chocolate, and, Five Star Chocolate bars, named the ultimate
chocolate bar by Vogue magazine. While choosing some for the road I helped
myself generously to the samples.
My last stop was Cold Hollow Cider Mill to quench my thirst (from all the ice
cream, cheese and chocolate) with apple cider. The mill, housed in a red
clapboard converted dairy barn, has been family owned, on Route 100, since
1974. They are famous for their hand pressed cider, honey, and their cider
doughnuts – of which 400 dozen a day are made in peak season – foliage. As I
entered the store huge trays of doughnuts were being taken from the oven. The
aroma was delicious. The first thing I did was order a dozen to go and three to
eat while I shopped. Tasting one I could see why Gourmet magazine named
them one of the top four doughnuts in the country.
This place is pure kitsch, loaded with knick-knacks, pottery, woolen items,
magnets, Christmas ornaments, you name it. There are specialty foods such as
their own cider mustards, jellies, honey, apple and maple butter, homemade
cookies and pies and Vermont made maple syrup.
Near the honey display a glass beehive is suspended from the ceiling. The bees
fly out through a glass tube, retrieve pollen, come back and immediately start
The mill presses 75-million pounds of apples each year in making their apple
cider. During spring and summer the pressing is done three days a week. But,
come peak season – mid-September to December – it’s done everyday. You can
watch the process through a glass partition.
Now, let’s recap; I had ice cream and cheese made with Vermont cream and
milk, chocolates written up in Vogue and doughnuts voted fourth best in the
country by Gourmet magazine – is this junk food? Not in my book and, I didn’t
feel one ounce of guilt for indulging myself. Neither will you.
With my appetite sated and my car loaded with treats I headed to Burlington,
Vermont, a city with many epicurean delights. But, that’s another story.
PLACES TO STAY:
About the author: Fran Folsom is a Boston based travel, web and guidebook writer. She has
contributed to numerous travel guides, and is author of the CitySpot Palermo book. Fran has
written for magazines; Antiques and Fine Art, Relish, AAA Horizons and Reminisce, and
newspapers; Boston Herald, Christian Science Monitor, New York Post, Boston Globe and many
other publications. She is the editor/writer for Northeast US Travel at Suite101.com
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