ST. ALBANS CITY — More than just milk comes out of northwest Vermont.
Take David Howe, of Elm Brook Farm in East Fairfield, who distills his own spirits from maple sugar and gives them names inspired by his dogs’ names – Stephen King, John Irving, Annie Proulx and J.K. Rowling.
His first product, “Literary Dog” is a vodka made from maple sugar distilled 23 times. Second product, “Rail Dog,” is the first ever aged spirit made out of maple sugar, which Howe said took him years to perfect.
“It’s the first of its kind,” he said.
Howe’s specialty distilled spirits will be available for tasting along with other local products such as cheese, truffles, local beers, homemade pies and pasta, homegrown meat and fancy bakery confections at the second annual In Good Taste local food event at St. Albans City Hall Friday night.
Though they vary widely, all of these items are grown, processed and packaged in Franklin and Grand Isle Counties.
“It’s all stuff that’s unique to this area,” said Franklin County Regional Chamber of Commerce assistant to the director Lisamarie Charlesworth. “There’s really a big diversity.”
Yesterday, Anne Doe was bringing Camembert cheese while her daughter-in-law, Linnea DeRosia, arranged chevre truffles at Boston Post Dairy in Enosburg Falls. Doe said she has a new “Cownty Tails” cheese that will be up for tasting tomorrow night, one made completely of cow’s milk to satisfy local residents.
“I find that I have to develop cheese for Franklin County,” said Doe, adding that farmers in the area are not goat cheese fans.
All the local specialty products and the people behind their creation will be on display tomorrow, when the first tasting begins at city hall at 4 p.m. and nearby restaurants, such as Jeff’s, Twiggs, One Federal and 84 Main begin handing out locally-crafted appetizers. Local Fare – a year-round indoor market – also will serve items.
The Missisquoi River Band will play for the evening.
“It’s an event that includes everything local,” said Charlesworth.
“It’s part reach-your-farmer and part taste northwest Vermont,” said Northwest Healthy Roots Collaborative coordinator Kristen Hughes.
In Good Taste has been in the works since October and November, put together by a committee including Charlesworth, Hughes, Franklin County Industrial Development Corporation Director Tim Smith, St. Albans City Director of Operations and Business Development, and other local community partners.
“This is the second year we’ve done the event,” said Hughes, “and last year was a raging success.”
So successful that the committee had to create two tasting times and spread out to local businesses. There are also more vendors this year – 32 versus the 25 that came out last year – and there will be reusable grocery bags given out so people can both buy and taste simultaneously.
“We learned that people are definitely in support of diversified agriculture in northwestern Vermont,” said Hughes.
A total of 500 tickets are available for this year’s event, and according to Charlesworth, the tickets for the second tasting from 6:30 p.m. to 8:30 p.m. sold out on Wednesday.
“It’s going to be quite full again,” said Charlesworth.
Tickets are still on sale in the Franklin Regional Chamber of Commerce office and also will be sold at the door. All proceeds will go back to the vendors to support their local products.