September 22nd, 2008 by Judy Hueber
Cheese is my favorite food! So, I was more than pleased to hear, earlier this year, that the Grafton Village Cheese Company had opened a cheese factory and retail shop across the river in Brattleboro, Vermont. The Grafton Cheese Company is situated at the old Retreat Farm, in the West River Valley, just up the road from the Brattleboro Retreat on Route 30. The buildings, some original and some new, retain the look of a dairy farm, fitting right in to the landscape.
I drove over to explore, in search of cheeses and snacks to take on a picnic on a bright September day. The retail shop features Grafton cheeses of many varieties, all available for tasting, as well as about 80 artisanal cheeses from New England and all over the world. I tasted several of the Grafton cheeses and settled on the Four Star Cheddar that had been aged for 4 years. It had a big flavor and was slightly crumbly in texture. I also picked up a piece of creamy Westfield Farm Blue Cheese to contrast with the cheddar, and some Vermont Common crackers.
Then I started looking for the rest of the picnic. In the cured meat section and I found some Ridgeway Venison Summer Sausage to go with the cheese. I grabbed a loaf of fresh bread from the Orchard Hill Bakery , and then went over to the wine section where I chose a bottle of Pine Ridge Sauvignon Blanc and a bottle of Freemark Abbey Cabernet that would be perfect with the bread and cheeses.
I browsed through the shop, looking at the maple syrup and maple products, the handmade cheese boards, Reidel wine glasses, Mocha Joe’s coffees, and even Ben and Jerry’s ice cream! I wandered over to the imported section and happened upon quince paste imported from Spain. A spread of that on the baguette with the cheese would be sublime!
I couldn’t resist stepping up to the section of the store that overlooks the cheese making area and watching the cheese makers hard at work for a few minutes. Cheese really is a miracle! It was a perfect day for a picnic and I couldn’t wait to spread the old quilt under a maple tree in the meadow and feast on all of the goodies that I had found at the Grafton Village Cheese shop!
September 4th, 2008 by Judy Hueber
Curtis Tuff owns Curtis’s Barbecue in Putney , Vermont. Curtis has been cooking ribs and chicken slathered with his famous barbecue sauce in Putney since 1965. He set up shop in an eye catching blue bus just off of Route 91, and is known all over New England for his barbecue.
Yesterday, I made the 10 minute trip to Putney with my teenage son for lunch at Curtis’s. We feasted on chicken and ribs and sat around at the picnic table enjoying the sunshine. As we were talking, I happened to glance over at Curtis who was cooking at a grill loaded with half chickens. A movement in the small pen behind him caught my eye. There was a pig in there!
I walked over to get a better look at the very round black and white pig. He came right over to the bars of the pen and stuck his nose through to smell my hand. I asked Curtis what his name was and he said ” C.J. : for Curtis Junior”. He handed me a handful of baby carrots to feed to C.J., who was waiting patiently for the snack. He delicately took the carrots one by one from my hand, never touching my fingers.
Curtis went on to tell me that the pig weighs 185 pounds, and is 85 pounds overweight, because he’s had too much junk food. He lives with Curtis at his house, about 400 yards behind the barbecue, and comes to work every day with Curtis. Just then, the pig was whimpering at the gate just behind Curtis. I asked Curtis what he wanted, thinking that he wanted more carrots. Curtis said the pig wanted to be let out of the pen so he could be near Curtis. He lifted the latch and C.J. opened the gate himself and walked over to stand directly behind Curtis. Curtis said he lets the pig out of the pen as long as he stays out of the way: imagine trying to push a 185 pound pig out of the way while turning 20 half chickens on the grill!
Curtis works at the barbecue from 10:00 in the morning until dusk every day and the pig walks over to work with him every morning. At 6:00, C.J. walks back home and waits for Curtis to come home. If Curtis stays late at work, the pig goes back to get him. C.J. is housebroken and has his own bed to sleep in at Curtis’ house.
Such is the life of the most famous pig in Putney Vermont!