A weekend in Vermont

About a year ago, I attended a gluten-free baking class with some friends. I was impressed with the instructor and signed up for her monthly newsletter. Flash forward a few months – I enter a contest sponsored by the instructor’s gluten-free baking company (Purely Elizabeth) and end up winning the grand prize. I don’t think I’ve ever won anything this big, so I was super pumped for the  romantical weekend for two at the Essex resort and spa in Vermont. Things that are free automatically seem about 10 x cooler, but throughout the course of the weekend I must have said at least a dozen times that I’d come back to this place as a paying guest. The buildings and grounds were beautiful! The property consisted of 120 guest rooms, a restaurant/cooking academy, and spa.

There were plenty of on-site activities for the guests. We explored the fly-fishing pond, ran on the trails, and there are free bike rentals and a Saturday evening bonfire every week.

We were upgraded to a suite with a gas stove/fireplace and whirlpool. And since this was a culinary resort, there were nice little touches like an in-room copy of Bon Appetit magazine and wine glasses.

Surprise!! The man-friend finally makes his blog debut…

Did I run all the miles I planned this weekend? Umm, no. Did I eat and drink super healthily? Again, if this photo is any indication, I’m gonna have to say no.

BUT, I always say that there are times in your life to focus on running and being healthy (like 2010 NYC marathon training) and times for enjoying and celebrating the good things in life (like this weekend!). I did get some runs in – 8 miles on Thursday morning before I left the city, 4 miles on Saturday afternoon in VT, and 10 miles when I returned to NYC on Monday – but I also took 2 complete rest days. I felt a tad guilty for straying from my training schedule, but then I had some mascarpone stuffed french toast with VT maple syrup and I was all like…”Running? What’s running?”

I also ate the occasional salad – but only if it came accompanied with homemade croutons and parmesan cheese 🙂

Grilled romaine salad with chicken, parmesan cheese, croutons, and lemon ceasar dressing:

The highlight of our stay was probably the cooking class we took on Saturday evening. It was a small group, about 12 people total, and over the course of 3 hours we sipped wine and made some cozy Italian dishes. The resort has a few different types of courses – hands on sessions like the class we took and the “chef’s table” series which is more like culinary theater. I’ve seen a few Groupon and Living Social deals for The Essex, so if I can get a good deal, I really want to come back.

We made a mushroom crostini appetizer that looked impressive, but was actually pretty easy to put together.

Mushroom Crostini with Truffle Cream (serves 4)


  • 1 lb mushrooms (portabella and cremini), washed and chopped
  • 1 large shallot, chopped
  • 1 Tbs olive oil, 1 Tbs butter for sauteeing
  • 1 sprig rosemary, 3 sprigs thyme, 1/2 bunch parsley, chopped
  • 1/3 cup creme fraiche
  • 1/2 Tbs truffle salt or truffle oil
  • 1/2 baguette, sliced thinly
  • additional parsley for garnish, optional


  • Heat the butter and oil over medium heat and saute the shallots until translucent
  • Add the mushrooms and cook for about 5-7 minutes, until softened
  • Remove the mushroom mixture from heat and stir in the herbs, transfer to a plate
  • Add a bit more butter to the same pan and toast the baguette slices – once golden brown on both sides, plate the bread and top with a heaping spoonful of the mushroom mixture
  • Mix together the creme fraiche and truffle salt and add a small dollop to each crostini

We also made chicken milanese (probably the most flavorful chicken I’ve ever cooked…seriously), a butternut squash risotto, and homemade honey fritters.

And of course, since this weekend was all about moderation (lolz, not really) we followed dinner up with some wine and peep s’mores.

Before saying goodbye to the Green Mountain state, we headed to American Flatbread for Easter Sunday lunch (1/2 roasted tomato salsa, corn, and black bean and 1/2 mushroom and VT sausage). We also split the restaurant’s signature evolution salad as a starter and a few locally brewed beers. When it comes to good pizza and beer, my stomach knows no limits.

A walk near Lake Champlain closed out the weekend trip to Vermont and eventhough I was a little sad to fly home, having Monday off of work helped me ease back into my routine. I ate something healthy-ish for breakfast (egg white, spinach, and feta omelet from the local diner) and hit the gym for my almost-forgotten long run.

Hooray for travelling! And wine. And peeps.

Have you ever taken a cooking class? I never realized it could be a fun vacation activity, but now I want to sign up for more!

  • I visited Vermont for the first time last May (ran the marathon there) and immediately planned a follow-up visit for last Labor Day weekend. Love it there! Looks like a fab trip, so jealous of your visit to American Flatbread.

    BTW if you return to Vermont, check out Shelburne Farms http://www.shelburnefarms.org/ — so pretty!

  • That French toast looks amazingggggg. Looks like a fun weekend overall! 🙂
    Are you currently training for a particular race?

  • Kelly

    Hello to the Man Friend…finally!!

    Looks like a great weekend! I am so glad you had fun and got to get a way for a little while. I think that getting out of normal rountine every so often is good for the soul! 🙂

  • Anonymous

    @Kelly- I agree! My soul feels very happy today 🙂

  • Anonymous

    @Emilia – my next race is the BK half 🙂

  • you just blew my guac party out of the water, lady. WHAT FUN!! i love that this was a foodie kind of place. and have i told you i love vermont? one day i will eat fresh, not frozen, american flatbread pizza. and truffle salt is my new obsession. i put it on everything basically. and i love the manfriend’s quasi-debut. this is the most random comment ever. mad love.

  • Your weekend trumps mine by like, 1,000. It looks so relaxing, romantical and fun. I would love to take a cooking class on a vacation like that! So glad you had a great time. Missed you this morning (and I kinda wish I would’ve slept in too, gah!) 🙂

  • i probably should take a cooking class. my cooking skillz leave something to be desired.

    hello man friend 🙂

  • Alex

    Oh wow, that pizza looks so amazing….
    Seems like you had a great weekend.

    Greetings from the Côte,

  • i had a more insightful comment, but then i saw the photo of that black bean, corn, and salsa pizza, and i was rendered speechless. that is a genius idea for a pie.

    ok, more coherently, i was so glad to hear you had such a good weekend away, and seeing it more fully described only makes me happier. i’ve got to get to vermont one of these days! and i fully support your current perspective re: exercise. life is for living, and sometimes that means hardcore training schedules, sometimes it means delicious getaways and happy hours over runs, sometimes it means something inbetween. it’s all about the give and take.

    ps: did rusky shave his head!?

  • Anonymous

    yes, the russian man-friend is now hair and beard free (at least for the
    time being…)

  • man-friend

    wow, looks like somebody had a good time.
    @leslie, yes my head was shaved

    to all else, greetings

  • Sarah

    I got a gift certificate for a cooking class at the Brooklyn Kitchen for my graduation last summer and I still haven’t used it because I’ve been away at school. Hopefully I’ll have time over break to finally go! I really want to learn how to make pastry (homemade croissants = yum) but now that I’ve seen what you made, cooking a fancy dinner seems like fun too.
    I’m glad you had fun in Vermont. Your pictures look beautiful!

  • looks like you had a blast!! Glad to see the man-friend on the blog 😉

  • Oh my goodness! That looks like an amazing weekend! I’ve done a greek cooking class and it was so much fun! I loved the food and getting to meet and cook with new people! I honestly think I need a trip to Vermont! Also I’m going to be keeping my eye out of those two types of Ben and Jerry’s!

  • What a great contest to win! Looks like a good weekend, and all the food looks delicious! I’ve never taken a cooking class before, but it’s on my “to do” list

  • Anonymous

    @Grace – the late night snack flavor is sooo good! vanilla bean ice cream w/
    chocolate covered potato chips and caramel swirl.

  • Hellooooo cute man friend! What a fun trip and I flipping LOVE Flatbread! We used to go to the one in Portland a lot when I lived in Maine!

  • Corey @ runners cookie

    Aww, hi man friend 🙂 Vermont is so gorgeous – love your pictures! Good food, cooking class, beautiful scenery, what a fun weekend. I’ve never taken a cooking class but would love to (especially an Italian one). So glad you had such a good time and took a couple rest days – soo good for the runner’s soul!

  • Eileen

    Wow, this is a great post. The pictures are beautiful, you sound so happy, AND we meet the man friend!

    I will be making those mushroom crostini for an upcoming dinner party. Thanks for sharing the recipe!

  • @Eileen – thanks! 🙂

  • @Madeline – omg, American Flatbread….I kind of wish I hadn’t gone because now I’m 6 hours away from the nearest location!

  • Katie

    Oh, what a perfect weekend! Cozy, romantic, outdoorsy. I’ve taken a few cooking classes, but Ari and I have been talking about taking one together. I think it would be fun, and would encourage us to have more meals together at home.

  • WOW–what an incredible weekend! This looks like so much fun. When we were students at Wes, my boyfriend and I took a cooking class at It’s Only Natural. It wasn’t as hands-on as we were expecting, but it was still awesome to learn about vegan cooking techniques, ingredients, and recipes. I look forward to many more cooking classes in the future!

  • Anonymous

    omg…It’s Only Natural…i would kill for some of those sweet potato fries
    right now!

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