Side Dishes: Haute Cuisine, Literally
Last Saturday, the Vermont Fresh Network held its second Farmers' Dinner of the season atop Mt. Mansfield, but there was no gorp or Gatorade to be found. The four-hour, six-course dinner was held at the Cliff House  restaurant. Luckily for the women in heels, a gondola ride up the mountain, complete with hot cider and a fluffy blanket, was part of the package.
As with all the VFN dinners, there were a few featured farmers and producers among the guests. Willow Smart and David Phinney of Willow Hill Farm  in Milton were there, enjoying deep-fried portions of their soft-rind La Fleurie cheese, and a rhubarb-and-strawberry tart topped with frozen yogurt made from their creamy sheep's milk.
Other producer guests were Blair Marvin and Andrew Heyn of Elmore Mountain Bread  — their focaccia and pain levain were featured in the breadbasket — and Nick Augsberger of Pete's Greens . To Augsberger's delight, Pete himself couldn't make it. The greens from their farm — baby arugula in this case — came topped with Gore Dawn Zola Blue Cheese from Boucher Family Farm  and were lightly dressed in a verjus vinaigrette. Other standouts: the lamb shoulder entrée, accompanied by mashed Yukon Gold potatoes, fennel and a willowy garlic scape garnish.