Inn at Shelburne Farms
- 1611 Harbor Road, Shelburne, VT, 05482
(Published in 7 Nights 2008-09)
It's the closest thing to a palace that exists in Vermont: The crimson damask lining the walls matches the upholstery on the chairs. The floor is a checkerboard of black-and-white marble, and imposing portraits of former proprietors Lila Vanderbilt Webb and William Seward Webb grace the walls.
But this doesn't mean that the food is formal and austere at the Inn at Shelburne Farms: In fact, Executive Chef Rick Gencarelli dishes it up with a becoming playfulness from May to October. At a special dinner called the "Whole Beast," for which the kitchen used parts of a pig that are often discarded, soft slices of headcheese made an appearance alongside house-made bread 'n' butter pickles; a salad was topped with twisty shreds of crispy snout and ear; for dessert, Gencarelli served gingerbread with bacon ice cream.
The kitchen's mandate to eschew waste is part of the eco-friendly philosophy espoused by the nonprofit group that operates both the inn and the property's working farm. Its slogan: "cultivating a conservation ethic." Fittingly, some of the meat and much of the produce that makes its way to the eatery's tables was raised onsite or grown in the property's own "market garden."
On a typical evening, these ultra-local ingredients are prepared with simple elegance by the inn's cadre of kitchen staffers, including Gencarelli, co-author of the award-winning Cooking with Shelburne Farms: Food and Stories from Vermont.
Pastas such as chestnut ravioli and butternut squash agnolotti are always seasonal and "crafted by hand," and the colorful composed salads — made with the day's freshest offerings — are a wonder to behold. And taste.
The farm's 1400 acres also host the artisan O'Bread bakery and a creamery that churns out prize-winning Shelburne Farms Farmhouse Cheddar. There are lovely paths for strolling, before or after your meal.
Can't afford the royal treatment? Come for Sunday brunch or drinks on the lawn.