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Chef Leo and server Aja at the Birch Ridge tent at the Killington Chili Cook-Off

Chef Leo and server Aja at the Birch Ridge tent at the Killington Chili Cook-Off 

At 4:00 PM yesterday afternoon, in a driving rainstorm, Chef Leo and myself were unloading my car at the Sherburne Library of all of the support paraphernalia we would need to pull off the Birch Ridge Inn's entry in this years Killington Chili Cook-Off. It was the culmination of a full week of effort to pull off the logistics to support the event. Although the event has been held for several years, this was our first year participating. We had no idea what to expect, other than looking at each other and wondering what we had gotten ourselves into as we were getting drenched by the rain in an open field with temperatures hovering near 90.

By 4:40 we were pretty much totally soaked and done with set-up. We were booth 10 out of 15, set with a beautiful back drop of well manicured recreation fields and low mountains behind us. At 4:45, as if on queue, the clouds parted and bright sunshine bathed the area. While it was a welcomed relief from the driving rain storm, a large percentage of what had fallen was instantly transforming into a difuse fog. For those who were not drenched by the rain, the moisture coming out of the ground with the return of sunshine certainly finished the job.

By 5PM, the weather cognisanti of Killington, all equipped with mobile devices tracking the weather radar, knew that the rain was finished for the night. It was time to eat some chili!

Over the last week, Chef Leo has been working in the kitchen at the Birch Ridge Inn perfecting his chili creation. Chef Leo created a 3 bean chili with turkey, sweet potato, cilantro, and a lime sour cream. To compliment the chili, we also had a grill going with Shishito peppers that we tossed in some citrus salt before serving. The chili came together great. A large outporing of Killington residents were in attendance. All of them marveled at the flavors developed in the chili. Many were not bashfull; telling Leo how good his chili came together. Out of the 12 restaurant entries in the Chili Cook-Off we placed 2nd. Not bad... not bad at all for our first foray into this event. Congratulations Leo!!!

There are a few others we need to thank and acknowledge for helping us place in the Chili Cook Off. At the event, in addition to Chef Leo and myself (I worked the Shishito pepper grill), our server Aja was there to help with set up, tear down, and greet people during the event. Back at the Inn, my partner Mary and our bartender Merisa were keeping the business going tending to inn guests. Merisa also loaned us the small grill we used for the "Table Side" service grilling the Shishito peppers.

Vince and Carla Chiarella at Boss Office Works did a great job with a quick turn-around request to make a Birch Ridge Logo banner for us which formed the front of our table. (Vince and Carla were in the booth beside us at the Chili Cook-Off serving their own Vin-da-moo chili creation). Corey Taylor, our friend from Baker Distributing, also came thru and loaned us a 10 by 10 pop-up tent to provide us with shelter for the event. Without the effort of the team, the star of the evening, Chef Leo's Chili, would not have had a place to shine.

And of course, this was a Chili Cook-Off after all. We need to tip our hats to Chef "Sneaky Pete" Mittendorf of the Look Out Bar and Grill for this years winning Chili creation.

On to Jerkfest this weekend. Chef Leo has a special creation to present tomorrow night (Saturday August 1) to go with this Jamacan inspired event. I can't wait!

Wherever you may be... hit them straight... keep it in the fairway... and don't forget your sunscreen.

Killington Adventure Center at Snowshed Base.

Killington Adventure Center at Snowshed Base. 

Mary and I have considered Killington to be an "Adventure Center" for more years than we would like to admit. With hiking trails, mountain biking, gondola rides, golf courses, concerts, wine tastings, beer festivals, and the ever present apre adventure Killington Road, we have always been able to find something do do at Killington. Being self motivated baby boomers, the activites we have enjoyed at Killington are virtually endless.

In recent years, as the number of active outdoor oriented baby boomers declines, mountain venues have found that they have needed to take a more direct approach to organizing activites to attract summer visitors. This has been a constant source of discussion around the town of Killington for years, as the resort has shifted ownership from it's visionary creator Pres Smith through a succession of companies culminating in it's current owner Powdr Corp.

Powdr Corp across the country has been aware of the need to attract new summer visitors to all of its resorts. Their acquisition of Camp Woodward several years ago is a great example of that awareness put into acton. Now it is the Killington Resorts turn to move forward with the creation of the Killington Adventure Center at Snowshed.

The Adventure Center includes a variety of organized options for people to enjoy. Instead of a simple hike through the forest, there is a Skye Ropes Course in a 4 store open frame steel superstructure at the base of Snowshed. If you savor the prospect of getting lost on your hike at Killington, but want to be within close proximity to the base lodge, there is the Terra-Maze underneath the Skye Ropes Course to keep you entertained.

Everyone loves taking chair lift rides in the summer. Killington is operating both the Snowshed Quad and the K1 Gondola for scenic rides this summer. Many people also like zip lines to cruise through the mountains freefalling suspended from a cable over the forest canopy. Killington has combined both of these activites into one ammusement called the Skyeride.

While hard core mountain bike enthusiasts dressed in full armour can still careen down the expert bike trails of Killington Peak, a more pleasant course for those to gain experience on has been set in the forest beside Snowshed. Underneath, over, and around the new mountain bike terrain, the Killington Resort has installed a new mountain coaster. The 4800 foot Killington Beast Coaster opened to the public this weekend to rave reviews.

The terminal for the new Beast Coaster at Killington.
The terminal for the new Beast Coaster at Killington.

For those who want the excitement of heading down the mountain, but not on a mountain bike, Killington has also introduced motorized mountain tours using all-terrain vehicles.

And not to be outdone, for those who want to "Strike it Rich", Killington has introduced Roaring Brook Mining where kids can pan for hidden gems in a sluice set up from the Roaring Brook.

From an unstructured hike in the mountains, to a day filled with organized activities; you will find it all at Killington this summer.

We look forward to seeing you soon at the inn. Wherever you may be... hit them straight... keep it in the fairway... and don't forget your sunscreen.

Birch Ridge will feature Kim Crawford Wines from New Zealand at the 14th annual Killington Wine Festival Wine Dinner

Birch Ridge will feature Kim Crawford Wines from New Zealand at the 14th annual Killington Wine Festival Wine Dinner 

The wines have been sampled.... the menu has been tweeked.. Should be a great night of food and wine.

Join us at the Birch Ridge Inn for our 14th annual Killington Wine Festival Wine Dinner on Saturday July 18th. 5 courses with 5 different wines featuring Kim Crawford Wines of New Zealand, starting at 6:30 PM in the Great Room at Birch Ridge.

Executive Chef Leonard Scotti has crafted an inspired menu for the evening. Each wine and food pairing is designed to showcase both in a delectable combination to satisfy the palate.

The menu for the Birch Ridge Inn Wine Dinner can be found at birchridge.com.

The cost is $89.00 per person, not including tax or gratuties. Seating is limited as we will only be doing one dedicated seating to this event on Saturday Kuly 18th. For reservations, please call the inn at 800.435.8566 or 802.422.4293.

Wherever you may be... hit them straight... keep it in the fairway... and don't forget your sunscreen.

Bucatini carbonara with pancetta, asiago crisp, cracked pepper, gremolata

Bucatini carbonara with pancetta, asiago crisp, cracked pepper, gremolata 

Hard to believe it is July 1st already.

Our restaurant opened for the summer season last week. This week we are holding our first "Small Plate Wednesday". It's "Small Plate Night" at the Birch Ridge Inn.

Those of you who are in Killington may be growing webbed feet with all the rain we have had. Certainly some of the residents may be feeling a little house bound. It is the summer after all. We should all be basking in the shadows of the Green Mountains. While we can't control the rain, we do have a cure for it being dreary outside.

During our spring hiatus, Chef Leo spent much of his time thinking about the summer menu. To go along with the new menu, he has created nice selection of small plates for people enjoy.

Mary and I think that they are a perfect addition to the Birch Ridge's restaurant menu. To make it easy for people to sample Chef Leo's menu, we are declaring Wednesday nights "Small Plate Night".

For "Small Plate Night" the marquee special is simple....order 3 small plates - pay for 2. It is the perfect way to dine sans entree. Small plates are also great to share with a friend. We also have paired our small plates with our wines by the glass selections to make your selections easier. Of course, if you are so inclined, our regular menu is also available.

"Small Plate Night" on Wednesdays at the Birch Ridge Inn starts at 6:00.

You can find tonights menu for the Birch Ridge Inn at birchridge.com.

Wherever you may be... hit them straight... keep it in the fairway... and don't forget your sunscreen.

Vegetable Pho ... a new dish on the Birch Ridge Inn menu

Vegetable Pho ... a new dish on the Birch Ridge Inn menu 

It was not the busiest night in the restaurant in the history of the Birch Ridge Inn, but it was quite successfull all the same. The first night jitters of re-opening the restaurant are now behind us. All of the hard work that we have put into the restaurant behind the scenes during our hiatus have come to fruition. It its own way, that is very satisfying.

Over the last few months we have been trying out a variety of new menu items. While we will continue with our approach of having a tight menu with items that change regularily, we have revamped the food concept to merge with the changing dining patterns of our guests. The traditional soups, salads, entrees and desserts will continue to be offered. In addition, we are introducing a new "Small Plate" menu. Little works of food art in their own right, our "Small Plates" are perfect to share with friends, or "feed a hungry soul" when something other than a full entree is desired.

Below are some pictures of the small plates we served last evening.

Lamb souvlaki on grilled flatbread
Lamb souvlaki on grilled flatbread.

Steamed PEI mussels in green curry coconut broth
Steamed PEI mussels in green curry coconut broth.

Vermont cheese plate with fig jam
Vermont cheese plate with fig jam.

The restaurant at the Birch Ridge Inn is now open for the summer season serving dinner Tuesdays through Saturday from 6:00 PM. To celebrate our "Small Plate" menu, Wendesday nights will be "Small Plate Night" at the inn. Stay tuned for a formal announcement on that in the next couple of days.

Over the July 4th holiday weekend, we will have a minor schedule change. The restaurant will be closed on Saturday evening, July 4th. We will be serving dinner on Sunday July 5th starting at 6:00 PM for guests enjoying a long weekend in the Green Mountains. On July 4th, the town of Killington has a great July 4th celebration and BBQ hosted by the volunteer fire department. If you are in Killington on July 4th, you should not miss this celebration.

We look forward to seeing you soon at the inn. Wherever you may be... hit them straight... keep it in the fairway... and don't forget your sunscreen.

Restaurant opens June 25th

As I write this, there are less than 24 hours before we reopen the restaurant at the Birch Ridge Inn for the 2015 summer season.

Last minute preparations are underway to complete all of the tasks we took upon ourselves to complete before re-opening. The kitchen crew are hard at work finishing all of their prep work to re-open. Mary and I are completing the last items on our lists. From the mundane tasks of finding flags and signs, to the complicated tasks of soundproofing rooms and installing a new AV system in the Great Room, it has been a very full month of work since we returned from our May holiday.

We are very excited about the restaurant re-opening. During the hiatus, Chef Leo has been working on a great new menu filled with all kinds of delicious items.

Less than 24 hours. We hope you come and join us when you visit Killington.

Wherever you may be... hit them straight... keep it in the fairway... and don't forget your sunscreen.

On vacation in Rome at St. Peter\'s Basilica

On vacation in Rome at St. Peter's Basilica 

Our spring hiatus is coming to a close. Our casual time as a straight bed and breakfast is just about over. Our restaurant re-opens for the summer season next Thursday. (You will be reading more about that over the next few days).

Over the hiatus we completed many renovations through out the inn. But we also had a chance to take a real vacation. Over the last several years, as the health of our fathers declined, we stayed in the area to be with family. This year. with elderly mothers in good health and relatively settled, we decided it was a good time to get away. So in May we embarked on a trip to get a city fix. Spinning the globe, our travels took us to Rome Italy. After research on TripAdvisor, some scanning of Expedia, some research on flights through Alitalia, and some emails to hotels, off we went on our first foriegn vacation in more than a few years.

After an uneventful 8-hour flight "across the pond" we landed in Rome and greeted by our hotel driver. Traffic in Rome beats anything we have seen before. Rome makes Boston look like it is a well organized city. But from talking to our driver, and some subsequent conversations, it became obvious fairly quickly as to the reason.. NEWSFLASH---- Rome is ancient! ----ENDNEWSFLASH. Rome is one of the oldest continiously inhabited cities in Europe. While each generation has made their mark on the city, the overall city structure is virtually unchanged in over 2000 years. Todays car choked boulevards were wide to allow Roman Legions to march shoulder to shoulder in victory parades through the city. Typical streets designed for donkey carts are barely wide enough to allow safe passage for todays tiny cars; and the myriad alley ways, while large enough for for a centurion on a horse, have been taken over in modern times by a nattily dressed 21st century Romans on a Vespas.

Our adventure was a learning process. On the first night, Mary had a sweet tooth (probably the jet-lag kicking in) so she decided to order something she felt comfortable about in Italian... the classic Tiramisu. Of course, Tiramisu in Italy does not resemble the lady finger pudding soaked creation we see in America.

Mary with her first real Tirimisu.
Mary with her first real Tirimisu.

Turns out classical Tirimisu is a pudding with a fruit compote on the bottom of the bowl. It can be toped with grated chocolate. It could be coffee flavored. We saw various fruit flavors of tirimisu all over Rome and virtually every restaurant we visited. Chalk this one up to interesting.

Rome is filled with majestic sites. Here are some pictures from our visit.

St Peters Square and St Peters Basilica
St Peters Square and St Peters Basilica.

A typical roman cobblestone street
The sites of Rome..
Click again to resume rotation.

We enjoyed our trip. Once we got back, renovation efforts began in earnest around the inn. I will detail some of that in the coming days.

Where ever you may be, hit the ball straight.... keep it in the fairway... and don't forget your sunscreen.

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