Known for both its flaming fall foliage and sweet maple syrup, the northern state of Vermont has both the landscapes and the locally made foodstuffs to feed a painter’s palette or the hungry traveler’s palate respectively. Since syrup is one of the state’s edible claims to fame, it should come as no surprise to find that maple sugaring time - which runs in these parts through March and into April - is particularly popular with visitors. Open House weekend offers a fine introduction to maple syrup making, or there’s also an annual Vermont Maple Festival at the end of April that’s a lively alternative, should you miss the open house.
But it’s not just syrup that should sweet-talk its way to your table. With orchards across the state, it’s easy enough to take your pick come apple season. Though Macintosh apples account for a lion’s share of the harvest in this northern state, look also for the occasional Cortland, Macoun, Red Delicious or Empire apple in a bushel near you. Also expect apples to make a noteworthy appearance in autumn as amber-hued cider, just pressed, or a steamy apple pie (the official state pie).
For that perfect picnic paring, look for a creamery close by offering farm fresh cheese. While there are plenty of tasty well-known cheeses from which to choose, it’s worth seeking out unique small batch specialties like Bi Partisan, a firm and moist goat/cow cheese made by Lazy Lady Farm, or Brother Laurent, a French Muenster-style cheese made by Green Mountain Blue Cheese. Internationally popular Cabot cheddar is made by the Cabot Creamery in Montpelier with a visitors center in Cabot, a family-friendly stop good for a glimpse of the cheese making process and a taste of the day’s samples. Cheese connoisseurs interested in a more in-depth peek into the pungent, aged or sharp side of the dairy industry in these parts should be delighted to learn that the Vermont Cheese Council even makes a Vermont Cheese Trail Map with more than 40 farms and creameries from Burlington to Bennington. Up Burlington way, leave time for a sweet tour of the Ben & Jerry’s factory, the place that made ice cream flavors like Cherry Garci, Phish Food and and Americone Dream freezer staples.