Brattleboro is not near King Arthur Flour’s Baker’s Store.
Normally I’m really good with directions, timing, etc. When I hear “meet at location X, and we’ll travel to location Y together” I tend to think that location Y is fairly close to location X, and is just tricky to get to.
So I had something stuck in my head that when Albany John’s parents wanted to meet up, and then travel to the King Arthur Flour Baker’s Shop, it would be kind of close. It wasn’t, but that was okay. I have no clue why, but I like to organize my day in my head, even if I have nothing going on except for one event. Like if I’m traveling to see family, I expect the drive to take a certain amount of time, I will arrive at a certain time, then there will be X hours to do other things with. I like my scheduling.
This drives Albany John absolutely nuts. He is the exact opposite. For him, he’ll leave when he feels like it, stay somewhere until he wants to leave, maybe linger over coffee, stop at a gas station and get more coffee, check out a cool shop along the side… it took a while for me to get used to.
Right. So. I was kind of shocked last minute when I looked up the location of King Arthur Flour in Vermont, trying to see if we should just meet up there. Basically, it meant 6 hours in the car. 6 hours is a bit much for me, but knowing ahead of time, I could handle it. So I grabbed some peanuts, Albany John filled up an old soda bottle of water, and off we went.
The Baker’s Store was chock full of baking goods. Flour, of course. We got there a bit late, though, and there was a burnt looking French bread loaf, and a few desserts. Albany John’s mom bought some of the remaining (and wildly expensive) desserts, as well as coffee for all of us. Um. Happy Mother’s Day?
An amaretti cookie that I passed on – I always think they’ll taste like licorice or fennel.
The cheesecake was $4. Four. Dollars. It was okay, but rather eggy. Kind of like those Jell-o instant cheesecakes. I think it costs me about $6 to make a 9-12 inch cheesecake, so $4 for a cutesy little circle blob was really pushing it. Hell, I didn’t even pay for it, but I think for $4, it should have been spectacular for the teensy amount given.
A coconut-dried apricot-shortbread concoction, which was buttery and good. How could it not be good when butter is involved? However, prices were out of whack, which really lowered the enjoyment factor, and pushed them into “Good, but could have been tastier were they not $1-2 more expensive than these wee treats should have been” category.
I did like the round, circular inside, though.
King Arthur Flour reminds me kind of like Pampered Chef, if the Pampered Chef were a store. Prices are kind of high ($12 for two egg poachers?), and Albany John’s dad and I agreed we would take our not-so-perfectly square sandwich bread over the $40-50 sandwich bread tin with cover. Eesh.
But, they did bring their game when it came to baking goods, like powdered eggs (whole, whites, or yolks), sugars, powdered milk, malt, powdered bread enhancers (gluten, malts, things I’ve never heard of!), and of course, flour.
After lounging outside with our drinks and snacks Albany John’s mom had so kindly purchased, flipping through King Arthur’s product magazine had given us a craving for Irish Red flour, inspired by their description of ‘hearty Irish brown breads’.
Afterwards, we went traipsing around Vermont looking for some place to eat. We wandered upon The Seven Barrel Brewery. I’m not sure exactly where it was, nor do I really care to look it up. I thought it was in Vermont, but evidently it’s just across the border in New Hampshire. Damn, we did a lot of driving! It’s not worth going back, at least for someone like me who has finally learned to drink beer, but doesn’t really have a palate for it. I’m also like that with soda. Sure, Coke and Pepsi taste different, but I like them both just as much as RC Cola, or the store brand. Same goes for beer. Keystone Light, Dos Equis Lager, Smutty Nose IPA? They’re all about the same to me. STOP SHAKING YOUR HEAD LIKE THAT!
But, Albany John and his parents are beer-o-philes. They love the stuff. They ordered a 6 flight beer tasting, ranging from a cream ale to a very dark beer. They had me try a few of them, but I wasn’t crazy about any of them. I ordered a cider, but they were all out of them. Boo.
After a while, we ordered some food. The server said he was only there one day a week, as he normally teaches, and service was slower than we were all used to. The place had one other table when we went in, a large party. A few other people came in, but nothing crazy. He was nice and all, though.
We got some teriyaki ‘wings’ as an appetizer, and I got a salad with my meal. I did enjoy the salad dressing – honey chili vinaigrette, or something similar to that. It had a nice kick to it and didn’t taste very heavy at all – the dressing had a similar consistency to water.
Salad was fine, just generic bagged salad mix and some croutons. The ‘wings’ were boneless, which we weren’t expecting and wasn’t stated on the menu, and not very plentiful… about 5-6 salty strips of chicken. They were okay, but… kind of bland, but very salty. I would have preferred a dozen regular wings.
I got a 6 ounce steak, rare, with garlic mashed potatoes and a veggie on the side for $10.50. Not too shabby on the price. The steak was about medium, but it was a small steak, and this is why I always order rare. Rare would basically have been impossible since they grilled it too. The char was nice, and gave a smoky flavor. The potatoes tasted like they came out of a freezer bag. Not good. The broccoli was surprisingly fresh, though.
Albany John ordered a special on the menu for Mother’s Day – a Portobello mushroom stuffed with prosciutto and other… things. Stuffing. It came with fries, too, which were really good. The only thing is, the Portobello mushroom was uncooked. Raw. Which kind of made it hard to eat. Our teacher-waiter was nowhere to be found for a while. We had gotten about 1/3-1/2 way done with the rest of our meals before we saw him and flagged him down. Someone from the kitchen had dropped our food off, so we were kind of surprised he didn’t stop by sooner to check on us. He was very polite when he did come over, and whisked it away to the kitchen. In the mean while, I fed Albany John bits of my steak. Dude, I’m not that bad. If it were lobster, he would have been out of luck, but I’ll share anything else.
When we were nearly finished with our meals, the Portobello comes back cooked, and the teacher-waiter explained that they had 2 mushrooms cooking at once, and they pulled one too early and gave him that one. Good to know it was a fluke. He also said it was taken off of the bill, which was nice, but unexpected. Albany John enjoyed his now cooked sandwich, and I snagged a bite – I liked the filling. I didn’t taste any prosciutto, but it didn’t taste floury and bready like a lot of stuffings can.
Overall, Albany John’s parents liked the beer part of it, but not really the food. I think that Brown’s Brewery in Troy, NY is way better. The food is better!
Then we got home and I decided I needed to make bread out of my Irish-Style wholemeal flour ($5.50). IRISH BREAD! MUST MAKE CARBY HAPPINESS NOW!
Once I read over the directions, I noticed… there’s no yeast. Hmm… Well, okay, I thought, Okay, I’ll try it. Plus I wouldn’t be up until 3 am rising and punching dough.
The dough was pretty wet, and long story short – it seemed like a biscuit dough, and came out exactly like Irish soda bread, only less sweet. It’s okay, but I am going to have to doctor this recipe up a bit into a heartier bread.
I also dropped it off of the baking stone when sliding it into the oven. Don’t ask. I am a klutz and just happy I didn’t burn my forearm again. The drop didn’t seem to hurt it (this is probably a good thing it wasn’t a yeast based bread, now), and it cooked up just fine.