As the unfolding fall season triggers the annual transition of Vermont’s mountains and valleys from verdant green to impressionistic brushstrokes of orange, gold and red, a viewer’s thoughts turn to … pumpkin spice SPAM?!
The nation’s fixation with all things pumpkin spice-related reached a new low this year, with a fall-themed offering from a company whose product is most popular in Hawaii, which doesn’t experience autumn in any traditional sense.
Take heart, though — here in northern Vermont, visitors can avail themselves of an array of tasty fall-related treats that have nothing to do with pumpkin spice; however, we understand you might want to experience the taste that has become as closely associated with fall as hot dogs on Independence Day, so we’ll also offer a recommendation of a can’t-miss treat to satisfy that urge.
Red Hen Bakery, Middlesex
Located minutes off of I-89, the bakery’s café is open seven days a week and is offering a generous helping of drinks and dishes rooted in the recent apple harvest.
“Our apple danish is particularly delicious,” says café manager Hannah Conner.
The café also offers freshly pressed apple cider and an apple galette, a small, single-serving apple pie (although, in truth, all pies are single serving if you’re hungry enough).
If there’s a nip in the air, warm up with some hot soup and a fresh baguette, out of the oven daily between 1 and 2 p.m.
Cold Hollow Cider Mill, Waterbury Center
For visitors looking to imbibe some adult libations, Cold Hollow offers a tasting room that pours a variety of hard ciders, a popular stop for people who want to explore tasting beyond the many craft breweries in the region.
However, there is one thing that Cold Hollow is most famous for, says Gayle Brown, who co-owns the popular destination with her husband, Paul Brown.
“Without a doubt, we are known for our cider doughnuts,” Brown says.
Smaller than a traditional bakery doughnut, you’ll want more than one — cheaper by the dozen — and you’ll want them hot; luckily, they’re always fresh.
For something more substantial, they offer a broad selection of grilled sandwiches, filled with locally-sourced ingredients and between two slices of bread that had been baked that morning.
Pro tip: if you’re coming through early, try the cheddar cheese biscuits.
Elevated State VT, Stowe
Apples aren’t the only thing being harvested right now.
“Harvest is starting, and everyone is coming in with their hemp flower,” says Erik St. Croix, owner of Elevated State VT.
Use of CBD-infused products has exploded in Vermont in recent years, from edibles to topical creams. For the crafty or the curious, now is the time to pick up some hemp flower and give it a try.
“Some people just grind it up and put it into whatever their making. Other people smoke it or make their own infusions,” St. Croix says.
Of course, if you wish to leave the cooking to the professionals, Elevated State VT has you covered on the CBD-infusion front, from tea to dog treats.
Laughing Moon Chocolates, Stowe
If you want to experience pumpkin spice done right, Laughing Moon has you covered.
“We make a delicious pumpkin spice fudge,” says owner Leigh Williams. “It’s fudge with nutmeg, cinnamon and ginger. It tastes like the inside of a pumpkin pie.”
Laughing Moon utilizes local-sourced ingredients, ensuring that this slice of pumpkin spice goes above and beyond the industrial additive found in so many other seasonal products.
“We have people who wait all year for this fudge,” Williams said. “We have customers who love it and know to look for it.”
Also, it just might remind you of why everyone went crazy for pumpkin spice in the first place.