Monday, December 22, 2008

Tully and Marie's - local foods in Middlebury, VT

On a recent trip out East, my husband and I took advantage of the local foods movement in Vermont to taste some of the best that Vermont has to offer.

On an icy drive through Vermont on Highway 7 in December, we decided to stop in Middlebury, VT. The shire town of Addison County, Middlebury was chartered in 1761. It was settled just after the Revolutionary War. In Middlebury, you can visit a monument to John Deere and his invention of the "the plow that broke the plains." Word.

Charming is an adequate word for Middlebury - especially during the holiday season, when the historic buildings were capped with snow, the fireplaces were roaring, the snow-covered pines were twinkling with lights, and the hand-crafted wines and beers were pouring.

The Vermont Fresh Network helps Vermont farms and restaurants partner to provide the freshest local food at restaurants. We scoped the scene and discovered one such restaurant in Middlebury. We stopped for dinner at Tully and Marie's located on Bakery Lane (isn't that an adorable name for a lane?).

(photo from Mid Vermont Dining)

Tully and Marie's has a bonafied MISSION regarding sustainable foods, and by gosh, they want to share it! Their mission is printed on the backside of the menu, and takes up the entire page. Highlights from the mission include: "Processed foods are shunned....We do not support the Asian farmed (black tiger) shrimp industry which utilizes pesticides, fungicides, and herbicides and ruins good farm land with flooded salt water......We never serve standard commercial salmon because it is raised by unsound methods using overcrowded pens, antibiotics, pesticides, fungicides and even dyed food to make the salmon pink."

We all know sustainable seafood is next to impossible for many species, but Tully and Marie's goes out of their way to do the best they can with what's available, and that was appealing to me.

We selected a cozy diner-style table overlooking the river, and spent some time puzzling over the architecture and decor. Not surprisingly, we started our meal with a large plate of steamed Prince Edward Island Mussels served with scallions & cilantro in a red curry broth. They were perfectly tender, and the tangy red curry broth was tasty, but not overwhelming.

Taking advantage of the sustainable seafood available, I ordered the nightly grilled seafood risotto - Tully and Marie's offers a nightly selection of grilled seafood served over saffron-infused risotto, oven roasted tomatoes & spinach.

My dish consisted of scallops, Prince Edward island mussels, ocean-caught shrimp from Mexico, and organic salmon raised in Scotland using sound aquaculture methods. The roasted tomatoes & spinach nestled underneath the risotto was perfectly paired with the tender mussels and shrimp. The scallops neither added nor detracted from the dish. They were tender, but not particularly flavorful. I could have done without the salmon, as I'm simply not a fan of salmon - no matter how much I try. The salmon flavor was slightly overpowering in the dish, for me, but I believe a salmon lover would like this dish. A seafood craver would find this dish adequate enough to satiate that craving for several months. I paired it with a Raptor Ridge Pinot Gris, Willamette Valley, 2005.

gerg ordered the Laplatte Farm’s black angus, naturally raised, hormone & antibiotic free London broil (now that's a mouthful). It was plated with asiago and mushroom risotto and local roasted root vegetables. The beef was tenderized appropriately and prepared nicely. The risotto on gerg's plate was superior to the risotto on my plate. The sharpness of the asiago gave it a blast of flavor that my saffron infused risotto lacked.

We didn't get to try their house made chorizo, which sounded tasty. There was also a Vermont apple crumble pie that was calling our names, but I had a belly so full of seafood that I felt like a shark for the rest of the night.

Tully and Marie's: new American chow meets Art Deco on the river. Fresh, seasonal, sustainable, local food zealots.

7 Bakery Lane
Middlebury, VT 05753

[where: Sustainable Food, Middlebury, VY]

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