I have a confession to make, and it's not one that I share with people that often - I'm a secret cook. While I never pursued a career in the culinary arts, I spent some time, years back, taking a variety of different cooking courses in an effort to upgrade my homemade meals from macaroni and cheese and deli sandwiches to finer cuisine. It was slow going at first, but after several months I was whipping up all manner of savory pork roasts, grilled salmon, spicy Cajun dishes and saucy pasta and meatball combinations. I wouldn't call myself an expert, but technically you could say that I'm a trained chef.
If you're wondering why I decided to keep this information something of a secret, I suppose it's because I'm a little shy about it. I've met plenty of people who think of cooking as a competition - always trying to outdo some old family recipe or show up their friends in the kitchen - and I just don't think of food in that way. For me, my time spent at the stove or chopping vegetables is a means of relaxing, expressing my creativity and sharing my love of food with close friends and family.
However, I'm not entirely humble about my skills - I do like to think I know a thing or two about fine dining and it’s also had the side effect of making me turn my nose a little at things of lower quality, be they meat or vegetables, wine or coffee. You learn the importance of each part of a meal and how they are supposed to compliment the rest. Because of this, I'm always on the lookout for the latest and greatest restaurants in Vermont.
A few weekends back, my girlfriend, Liz, and I took a mini-vacation and rented a hotel room in Burlington to take the opportunity to just break out of the regular routine. While we spent plenty of time shopping and wandering the waterfront, I also made a point of visiting some authentic Italian ristorantes, one of my favorite styless of food, to satisfy my slight obsession . Even the basic plate of pasta with Bolognese sauce and a good glass of red wine, followed by a cup of Italian Roast coffee is tough to beat.
While you might not think of Vermont as a hub of fine Mediterranean dining, the state is peppered with gorgeous trattorias that are small on space but big on taste. Two particular establishments caught my eye as Liz and I toured Burlington, and I'm pleased to say that both Trattoria Delia and L'Amante Ristorante represented the strength of Vermont's culinary tradition.
The wines at both restaurants were fantastic, and I'm sure to return to L'Amante for its risotto and gnocchi with braised rabbit. At Trattoria Delia, I was blown away by the Spaghetti alla Pescatora, and Liz couldn't get enough of her Bucatini all'Amatriciana. I wish I’d discovered both places earlier in life.
So, if anyone ever tells you that you can't get good Italian food in Vermont, kindly point them to either of these two fine establishments. Buon appetito!