A Romantic Luxury Inn for Couples in Stowe Vermont

Dog Sledding :: Stowe, VT

“Ready , hike.”

Football?

No.  Dog sledding.

Know much about dog sledding?  Neither did I.

Wanna go?  It sounds like fun but, if you are like me, you would first be concerned about the dogs.  You wonder about the discipline that must be applied to these creatures to get them to pull several hundred pounds in numbing cold for hours.  Perhaps you have seen pictures of dogs chained to their outside dog house when they aren’t running (very common), or you’re just concerned about the amount of time that they must remain outside – particularly in the winter!

Not at Eden Dog Sledding in Eden Mills, Vermont.  Jim Blair, in addition to being owner, musher and a national and international sled vermont dog sled tourdog racing champion, is recognized as a do-it-my-way innovator when it comes to the care and training of these Alaskan Huskies.  Jim calls them the Unchained Gang, because he has learned that letting teams of dogs live and play together (in enclosed areas) is good for their health, their disposition and makes them fun with the guests.  It takes time to learn which dogs like to be with which, but Jim thinks its well worth the effort.

Preparation for your ride.  Guests spend their first hour with Jim learning about the Alaskan Husky breed, the principles of the Unchained Gang, and why he believes in them.  Also during this hour you will meet each dog personally and then hitch them to your sled.

Barking dogs — they want to go!  They’re calling Jim to get on the trail.  Off you go!  You spend your next hour folded together under a thick blanket in one of Jim’s sleds.  Jim has over a 100 gorgeous acres and more than 10 miles of trails. (He grooms them every day; summer and winter.)  Snow is flying, dogs are barking, you can smell the freshness of unspoiled Vermont all around you!  If you love natural beauty and vistas, you’re having a stunning experience!

Once you have returned you help Jim feed the dogs and unhitch them.  Later you feed them treats.   Inside the large cabin Jim’s sister has a cup of hot chocolate and baked goods for you.  You note that there are several couches near the fireplace.   All the seats are taken by the parents of the dogs that just took you on your ride.  They don’t control the trails anymore; they control the couches!  Your team of dogs passes through on their way to one of the fenced areas where they can play.  Jim comments on the typical comments he hears from past guests:  “I’ll never forget this.”  “I love the dogs!”  “The dogs couldn’t have been more affectionate.”  “They seem never to tire and love the whole experience.”  We hear the same comments when they come back to Stone Hill!

Vermont Sled Dog toursThe dogs aren’t really tired.

This has just been a warm-up run for most Alaskan Huskies.  “When it comes down to sheer capacity for prolonged exercise,” says Ken Hinchcliff, an Australian veterinary physiologist who’s done more research on sled dogs than any other scientist, “there is no other animal, including humans, that comes close to competing.”  (Feb 15, 2010; Outside magazine).  Peak sled dogs have a VO2 max of 200 milliliters of oxygen per kilogram of body weight per minute.  (VO2 is a measure of oxygen consumption that reflects aerobic physical fitness and sustained endurance.)  Bicyclist Lance Armstrong (Tour de France winner) maxed at about 85.  Peak sled dogs when running as part of a team can run sub-four minute miles for 60 or 70 miles.  (Perhaps not every sled dog, but even the “ordinary” dogs have exceptional endurance by human standards!  When in peak condition the best of the sled dogs can increase the size of their heart by 50%)

Sled dogs are much more efficient than we are.  “On the level of genes and regulatory proteins, we’re surprisingly close [to sled dogs].”  Research competed by Hinchcliff and others reveals that – “sled dogs aren’t’ just extreme in their aerobic capacity; they possess a variety of souped-up systems.”  Sled dog muscle cells contain about 70 percent more energy-producing mitochondria than that of human cells.   Secondly, sled dogs don’t sweat; they dissipate heat through paws, noses, and tongues.  “Our human system of evaporative cooling may cool us off, but it costs us water, electrolytes, sugars and proteins.  Sled dogs conserve theirs by relying on a cool environment. “Lastly, human muscle relies on the burning of glucose (stored glycogen in muscles), but it burns HOT, so it is only good for short spurts.  Sled dogs burn fats which contain twice the caloric density vs carbohydrates and fats burn much “cooler,” so dogs can sustain muscle use for a much longer period of time.   Sled dogs, when training for big races, are often fed a diet that contains up to 60% fats.

“In other words, the human strategy for using energy becomes unsustainable much more quickly.  Even at slower paces, as in a marathon, we use up the muscles’ stores of glycogen in about three hours.  After a day’s rest, we’re still depleted.  Sled dogs just keep on going. “

Jim has been working with six different generations of dogs at his Eden Mills headquarters.  His concern for the dogs and the quality of the overall experience at Eden Dogsledding is why we like working with the Unchained Gang and why they are the number one event that we list among 15 different activities in guests can participate where Stone Hill Inn will pay the first $150 of the total fee!

Vermont snowshoeingSTOWE WINTER FUN SPECIAL : $150 ACTIVITY CREDIT

Book 3+ nights at our Stowe bed and breakfast and enjoy a $150 activity credit towards any of our great winter packages, including:

The promotion lasts until March 15, and you must complete an event to take advantage of the $150 Activity Credit.  Please call (802) 253-6282 to book this special offer! 

 

Elopements. Hundreds of Years in the Making!

Today, elopements are the fastest growing segment of the marriage industry.  It is said that today for every 10 weddings today there is one Stowe VT Elopement Packageselopement.  Data from the Internet site WhereToElope.com reveals that internet searches for elopements doubled between 2011 and 2013, and that 2014 will represent three times the searches that took place in 2011.  Elopements, it seems, are simply coming into their own.

Today couples elope for many reasons, including avoiding the cost of a traditional wedding and the hassles of guest list negotiations that involve close family members who may be divorced and don’t like each other?  Ugh!  Then there’s choosing attendants without making anyone angry, or resolving the issue of whose wedding is this –even if the parents are paying for it!

Lastly, given today’s more tolerant lifestyles, many couples who have lived together out of marriage for years may think of eloping as more than just a cost savings or a simplification of the marriage process.  Unlike passionate sometimes frivolous trips to Vegas in the ‘60’s, these couples find strength in their years of love for each other.  For them elopement often is an expression of commitment — to each other and to a successful life together.

hands-toastingIt hasn’t always been this way.  One of the biggest hurdles was defining what constituted a legal marriage and history shows us that both the Church and the leaders of nations weighed in.  For example, Western Europe during the early Middle Ages was conflicted about what constituted a legal marriage.  While they increasingly gravitated away from pagan customs to embrace Christian marriage customs, the spread of Roman culture within Europe brought a new set of rules for a valid marriage:  the consent of the couple wanting to marry was the only requirement.  Germanic laws, however, differed. They had three demands:  (1) a required purchase of the bride; (2) parental consent; and (3) consummation.  In 596 in Northern Europe Childebert, the Merovingian King, issued a decree that stipulated the death penalty for marriage abduction by force, and even if the woman agreed to marriage after the fact, if there was NO approval by her parents, the couple was sentenced to exile or death!!  Not much momentum for elopement here!  (These facts and those below are from a paper by Kirsti S. Thomas – Medieval and Renaissance Marriage:  Theory and Customs.)

Perhaps to reduce the confusion, Hincmar, the Archbishop of Rheims (845 – 882) declared that legitimate marriage must meet four conditions:  (1) The woman must be given by her father and dowered; (2) the marriage must be honored publicly (probably at the church); (3) The union was completed by sexual consummation; and (4) The partners had to be of equal and free rank and must give their consent.

Unwilling to risk the wrath of the church and or the ruling government, elopement had yet to become a cultural force.  However, it appears that Fall-Wedding-Couplearound the 12th century the Roman concept of requiring only couples consent to represent a legal marriage was gaining some traction throughout Europe.  (Love those Italians!).  Some of the rules about marriage seemed to be softening.

The Genealogy Bank (Gena Philibert-Ortega) traces the word elope back to 1338 as the act of a wife leaving her husband to run off with her lover.  This meaning continued until 1800 when it evolved to simply running away to marry each other rather than escaping a spouse.  Elopement was taking shape.  England for a long time had a difficult set of marriage procedures that took weeks to implement in order to be legally married, thus putting a damper on the elopement idea.  However during this time Scotland became fertile ground for eloping.  Scotland, required only that couples consent in front of friends and then consummate the marriage.  Thus hundreds of couples began crossing the border to a small hamlet called Gretna Green near the border.

In time Gretna Green has become famous, garnering the same reputation in Europe for elopements as has Elkton, MD or Las Vegas!  Today one in six weddings in Scotland take place in Gretna Green, as they host over 5,000 weddings each year.  “Gretna Green” has become accepted as normal slang for a place where one elopes: “let’s find a Gretna Green and get married.” Additional evidence that it is embedded in the culture of both England and Scotland is from Jane Austen who referenced Gretna Green by name in both Pride and Prejudice and Love and Friendship.

While it has taken centuries, elopements today are an accepted marriage process for couples of all ages.  Freed from its former image as a secretive ceremony performed in haste, elopements today have become much more of a planned occasion.  It is not unusual for couples at Stone Hill to plan an elopement three to six months from the date of their service.

Elopements continue to evolve.  In addition to sharing intimate moments, today’s elopement protagonists tell us that they also want to create memories—to celebrate life – together.  Thus we have created two different Vermont elopement packages that can be augmented by several exciting adventures!

vermont elopementSimple Elegance Elopement Package: $1,165

• 2 nights’ accommodations at our Vermont bed and breakfast
• Choice of ceremony venues on the property
• Officiant for your ceremony
• Bridal bouquet and boutonniere
• Signature candlelit turn-down service

Read More >> 

weddings in vermontRoses and Memories Elopement Package: $1,880

• 3 nights’ accommodations at our Stowe, VT bed and breakfast
• One dozen red roses and chocolate truffles on your arrival
• Choice of ceremony venues on the property
• Officiant for your ceremony
• One dozen red roses and chocolate truffles on your arrival
• Custom Bridal bouquet and boutonniere
• Personalized wedding cake and decorated table for “cutting the cake” ceremony
• Wedding celebration dinner at Michael’s on the Hill
• Signature candlelit turn-down service
• Two Stone Hill Inn commemorative wine glasses

Read More >> 

vermont hot air balloonUnforgettable Package Adventure Enhancements

This package begins with the Roses and Memories package but then is completely designed by you!  Simply find one or more of the memory-making Adventure Enhancements below to make your Vermont elopement Unforgettable!

Read More >>

Evenings! The Second Act

Six weeks ago The Stone Hill Inn inaugurated Evenings! a series of packages that combine the magic of the Spruce Peak Performing Arts Center with the Phoenix Table & Bar, a new restaurant in Stowe.  This pairing brings together two organizations committed, each in their own way, to performing arts excellence.  Evenings! blends Spruce with its excellent performance reputation and intimate mountain venue, with Phoenix Table & Bar with a fresh, hip, contemporary scene enhanced by the innovative offerings from chefs Jack and Josh.

Our first Evenings! – Itzhak Perlman — was wildly successful.  The theater was sold out and within a week from the time we launched our first Evenings! package three guests committed – one claimed the last two available seats!!  Swan Lake is already half sold out due to the reputation of The State Ballet Theatre of Russia and their last year’s, sold out performance of Sleeping Beauty.

January 31, 2015; 7:30pm: The State Ballet Theatre of Russia performs Tchaikovsky’s Swan Lake

Swan Lake BalletThe Evenings! Package includes:

  • A two night stay in any of our Luxury rooms (King bed with fireplace; bath with double Jacuzzi fireplace & shower).  Corner rooms, if available, are available at a premium of $20/night.
  • Linda’s three-course breakfast each morning
  • Two tickets to the January 31st Swan Lake Ballet performance at the Spruce Peak Performing Arts Center*.
  • A voucher for $50 towards dinner for two at the Phoenix Table and Bar restaurant before the performance.

Total Package cost is $875.  Please, you must call to make a reservation.  (802-253-6282)

*Tickets and seating based on availability, please hurry as this as selling out quickly. Once tickets are purchased they cannot be refunded. This package may not be combined with any other offer or promotion.

The State Ballet Theatre of Russia is composed of more than fifty dancers.  Among the new breed of Russian ballet academies and companies, theItzhak Perlman Concert principal dancers are competition winners and trained in St. Petersburg, The Bolshoi Ballet, Mariinsky Ballet, Grogorovich Ballet, Russian Ballet directed by V. Gordeyev, Cairo Ballet, and the Tchaikovsky Ballet Theatre.  This is their fourth US tour and hails from Ufa, famed dancer Rudolf Nureyev’s home town.  The company has performed in 13 countries outside of Russia since 1995.

Some consider Swan Lake the world’s most beloved Russian folk tale.   Here we find Siegfried, a young Prince, full of bright spirit and enthusiasm, but seems to have little interest in his royal role. He clearly cares more for socializing, merry events and sporting activities, as shown when he is celebrating his 21st birthday with his best friend, Benno and his tutor, Wolfgang. When his mother, the Queen tells him he must soon marry, he refuses because he has not yet found a woman of his preference. His favorite hobby is hunting, so to end his birthday celebrations, he and Benno head into the forest on a hunting expedition with their companions. However, everything takes an ironic twist on this expedition, for deep in the forest, Siegfried and his friends arrive at a lake, where Siegfried spots a beautiful swan wearing a crown. But before he can shoot it, the swan transforms into the most beautiful girl he has ever seen.  She tells him her story, explaining that she is under a spell of the evil sorcerer Von Rothbart.

Ahhhh, that is all we can reveal of the Swan Lake plot!  Some of you already know the ending, but it isn’t the ending as much as how a truly Stowe VT romantic getawayacclaimed company can bring it to life and capture minds and hearts – something at which the State Ballet of Russia excels!

The première of Swan Lake took place on Friday, 4 March 1877, as a benefit performance for the ballerina Pelageya Karpakova (also known as Polina Karpakova), who performed the role of Odette, with the Bolshoi Theatre’s Première danseur Victor Gillert as Prince Siegfried. Karpakova likely also danced the part Odile, although it is not known for certain.

The Russian ballerina Anna Sobeshchanskaya — for whom the original (1877) role of Odette was intended — was pulled from the première performance when a governing official in Moscow complained about her, stating that she had accepted several pieces of expensive jewelry from him, only to then marry a fellow danseur and sell the pieces for cash. Sobeshchanskaya was replaced by Pelageya Karpakova who danced the rôle of the Swan Queen until the former was reinstated by Petipa.  (A story within the story!)

We are very excited about Evenings! because in addition to being a unique offering within Stowe, it also represents the beginning of a new dimension in guest experience for the Stone Hill Inn.  Yum!

As many of you know our mission at Stone Hill is:  “Provide unexpected opportunities to celebrate life…together.”  In this quest we pic_extras_4shall source, vet, and partner with a broad variety of local and regional vendors, artists, and suppliers so as to provide unique opportunities for couples to explore, learn, be challenged and make memories while here in multi-dimensional Stowe, Vermont.  Our goal?  Be the Best-in-Stowe at providing memory-making opportunities to celebrate life…together!

During the first five months of 2015, beginning with Swan Lake Evenings! in January, we shall introduce one new, life-celebration package each month, each tied to the appropriate season within Stowe.  Each package will, of course, be anchored by a stay at Stone Hill of at least two nights, and based upon what we have learned from a few thousand guests over our past 3+ years, we shall focus upon four categories of guest activity:

  1. Romance
  2. Food
  3. Arts and Culture
  4. Adventure

Doesn’t this sound tasty?  There will also be additional Evenings! packages throughout 2015.  Excellent.  We look forward to celebrating life with you!

The Inauguration of “Evenings!”

Itzhak Perlman ConcertFor about two years (we complete our third year at Stone Hill Inn next week – Halloween), we have been trying to find a way to bring the magic of the Spruce Peak Performing Arts Center to our guests.  This is a stunning facility built seven years ago that holds 420 people all of which have an excellent view and are relatively close to the stage.  Only a few years old it presents itself as a lovely, comfortable and highly functional environment for a broad selection of stage and screen performances.  While it is located adjacent to and built in the style of the large mountain lodge at the base of Mount Mansfield and Spruce Peak, it is independent from the Lodge financially, so they are on their own.  As a result they have learned to provide excellent, albeit usually not headlining, stage talent to travel to the top of a mountain so they can entertain a permanent Stowe population of less than 5,000.  They are doing a wonderful job.

Recently several paths have come together to make it possible for the Stone Hill Inn to finally bring this talent to our guests on a regular basis.  This has been a journey that the management of the SPPAC fully endorsed and many times cheered from the sidelines hoping that we would emerge with a plan.  So….

Welcome to “Evenings!”

The concept is simple – even cliché – dinner and a show, but we’ve wrapped it up with a two-night stay at our Stowe bed and breakfast – the 8th Stowe Lodging Packageshighest rated Inn or B&B among all 21,000 in the U.S. according to Trip Advisor.  We hope to have at least four of these packages each year.

Our first Evening is with Itzhak Perlman – who IS a headliner!  This is his fourth annual Stowe Fall Residency and his exceptional Perlman Music Program  (PMP) which offers unparalleled musical training to young string players of rare and special talent. With a world-class faculty led by Itzhak Perlman and vibrant programs in Shelter Island, New York City, Florida, Israel, and Vermont, PMP is developing the future leaders of classical music within a nurturing and supportive community.

The other key component of Evenings is dinner.   There is a new restaurant in Stowe: Phoenix Table & Bar.  Contemporary, fresh, hip, excellent food, and unlike most restaurants in Stowe, it serves until 10:00pm.   While the facility is new and opened less than a year ago, its owners and chefs are not.  Chefs Jack Pickett and Joshua Bard are names recognized by everyone in the Stowe hospitality business.  Their last restaurant – the very successful Frida’s Taqueria and Grill– benefitted from their ability to constantly innovate, create new tastes, and their dissatisfaction with anything ordinary.  Jack and Joshua, as you will find when you sample both their food and the restaurant’s environment, are as much in the performing arts business as the Spruce Peak Performing Arts Center!  A fabulous pairing.

The first Evenings Package: Itzhak Perlman, November 8, 2014 at 7:30pm

Perlman Music ProgramThis year’s Perlman program includes PMP alumni ensembles that perform chamber music masterworks, and, of course, Maestro Itzhak Perlman conducts the PMP String Orchestra, in a stunning Celebration Concert. Drawn from all over the world, PMP alumni are young professional artists with diverse a career, whose spirited music-making excites and inspires audiences around the globe.

Now in its fourth year, the Fall Residency in Stowe, Vermont has brought a new dimension to The Perlman Music Program. Students and faculty enjoy four days of orchestra and chamber music study in preparation for a Celebration Concert in the beautiful Spruce Peak Performing Arts Center.

The Itzhak Perlman Evenings Package includes:

  • A two night stay in any of our Luxury rooms (King bed with fireplace; bath with double Jacuzzi fireplace & shower). Corner rooms are available at a premium of $25/night.
  • Linda’s three-course breakfast each morning
  • Two $45 tickets to the November 8th Itzhak Perlman performance at the Spruce Peak Performing Arts Center. (If $45 tickets are not available we shall substitute $38 seats.)  The concert begins at 7:30pm
  • A voucher for $50 towards dinner for two at the Phoenix Table and Bar restaurant either before or after the performance.

Total Package cost is $785 not including taxes; you must call us at Stone Hill to make a reservation. (802-253-6282)

Seating is very limited at this time; we recommend booking as soon as possible.  We shall endeavor to secure your seats while you are on the phone with us. Once seats are purchased they may not be refunded. This package may not be combined with any other offer or promotion.

Perhaps Itzhak is not your cup of tea?  But what do you think of the Evenings concept?  We would appreciate any thoughts you have about the Evenings concept and the pairing between the Spruce Peak Performing Arts Center and the Phoenix Table & Bar restaurant!  Just drop us a quick email!

Thanks ~ Linda and George

Stowe’s Top Five Things To Do During Your (Winter) Honeymoon

  1. Hot air balloon ride with champagne at Above Reality Ballooning.  Jeff is a wonderful and very responsible Captain.  He’s also a
    Justice of the Peace and does weddings in the balloon! Balloons go during winter and summer.
  2. Make a wish while standing next to Bingham Falls.  Winter transforms the series of five different falls into ice sculptures created by thick layers of ice that disguise the rocks that shape the falls.  Everything becomes white.  Thick Ice shapes form; mist is always rising.  Lovely, albeit slippery.  Watch where you walk!  Bring your camera.
  3. Dog sledding at Edens.   You get to know each dog, actually harness them, and with tails wagging and excited barks you’ll sense how anxious they are to get started! Two of you with blankets in a warm sled with your guide/musher to ferry you through the spectacular  snow country of northern Vermont!
  4. Take a sleigh ride over the hills and through the woods.  Just a few minutes from Stone Hill is a comfortable horse-drawn sleigh with
    thick blankets and an experienced driver.  While only  a 30 minute voyage, you will feel transported to a different time and certainly to a significantly different place in comparison with the eastern cities from which you likely hail.  Giddeup!
  5. Share Linda’s Crème Brule’ French toast made especially for you in the shape of a heart.  Crème Brule’ French toast is the most requested of the sweet breakfast items that we serve.  Using a porcelain, heart-shaped dish, we create this delight the night before; let cool in the refrigerator; heat it when you arrive for breakfast, and serve with warmed Vermont Maple syrup!
Vermont Honeymoon at Stone Hill Inn

Dara and Rich from Sommerville, MA, and Rhode Islanders Tina and Jeff completed the trio of Honeymooners. Such a treat for us to watch all three enjoy themselves while enjoying Stowe and the charming, natural beauty of Vermont. As is typical of early September in Stowe, the weather was wonderful and the restaurants and events were not crowded. Perfect!

So far this year we’ve celebrated 16 honeymoons at the Stone Hill Inn.  Josh and Ashley from Boothbay, ME (pictured left) were one of most recent couples.  Their Vermont honeymoon included massages, canoeing, hot air ballooning, and ziplining from the Plan Your Stay section of our website, and several hikes in the Mansfield forests.  They also worked  our Stowe Dining section pretty hard as well!

“Honeymoon”– where does the expression come from?  It appears that nobody is absolutely sure, however the Merriam-Webster dictionary reports the etymology is from “the idea that the first month of marriage is the sweetest” (1546).   Of course it is a very special when your focus is simply having fun together, and your days are filled with tenderness and pleasure for each other.  A celebration of life.

The Winter Honeymoon Package includes a three-night stay in a Luxury guest room, (king bed, sitting area, and fireplace. A large bath with double Jacuzzi tub, rubber duck, fireplace, and shower).  It also includes these opportunities to celebrate life together!  

  • A tandem relaxation massage in the comfort of your own guest room in front of the fireplace.
  • Dog sledding at Eden’s (given snow is available) – get introduced to and help hitch up the dogs.  Spend 45 minutes in a cozy two-person sled while you marvel at beautiful snow-covered VT.
  • Dinner at Michael’s on the Hill ( a $120 certificate – gratuities not included)
  • A horse-drawn, romantic sleigh ride — just the two of you.
  • Make chocolate together at Laughing Moon Chocolates.  With your fingers filled with warm chocolate, you will laugh and become intoxicated with the chocolate aromas as you prepare and dip your own chocolate.  Each of you will make about a pound of chocolate.
  • Share a specially made Crème Brule’ French toast in the shape of a heart for your first morning breakfast
  • Rose petal turn-down the first night you arrive.
  • Two engraved Stone Hill Inn wine glasses

Total price before taxes for the Winter Honeymoon Package is $2,145.00. Package prices change during peak seasons (2/13-2/21; 9/19-10/18; 12/18-1/2). Corner rooms (Fiddlehead and West Branch) are available at a premium of $50 over the three days.
 

Artichoke and Goat Cheese Strata : Another Classic Stone Hill Inn Breakfast

Artichoke and Goat Cheese Strata

The strongest flavor in this distinctively tasty breakfast results from a vegetable that is related to variety of species of thistle (scolymus – commonly referred to as the golden thistle).  Now, right away, doesn’t that sound tasty?  (ugh!)  Yes, but studies have shown this vegetable to aid digestion, hepatic and gall bladder function, raise the ratio of HDL to LDL and strong in antioxidants.  (No it is not cod liver oil!)  It was also used as a food among the ancient Greeks and Romans in the 1500’s.  Native to the Mediterranean area, its initial processing includes removing all but 0.2–0.4” of the stem along with about a quarter of scales so as to delete its residual thorns.  (Fortunately when you purchase them in the store, this has already been done.)   With such a history, no wonder they have such a unique taste.  What is it?  An artichoke (Cynara scolymus)!   We love them and they have become a delicious addition to Stone Hill Inn Breakfasts!

 

Artichoke and Goat Cheese Strata

  • 10 ounces of artichoke hearts (or I 10 ounce package of frozen artichoke hearts thawed)
  • 1/3 cup (about 1 ½ ounces) grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese
  • ½ loaf country-style white bread (we like to use sourdough) cut into 1-inch cubes (about 5 cups)
  • ¾ cup (3 ounces) crumbled goat cheese, divided
  • 1 teaspoon olive oil
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • ½ teaspoon dried herbs de Provence
  • 1 ¾ cups 1% low-fat milk
  • ½ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • ¼ teaspoon salt
  • 4 large eggs
  • Cooking spray

Begin

Heat a large, nonstick skillet over medium heat.  Add olive oil; swirl to coat.  Add shallots and cook for two minutes, stirring frequently.  Stir in artichoke hearts and garlic; cook for eight minutes or until artichoke hearts begin to brown – stirring occasionally.  Remove from heat and stir in herbs de Province.  Cool 10 minutes.

Mix

Combine milk, black pepper, salt and eggs in a large bowl, stirring with a whisk.  Add the yummy Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese and bread; toss gently to combine.    Stir in artichoke mixture.  While you let this stand for 20 minutes, preheat oven to 375 degrees.

The Magic

Spoon half of bread mixture into an 8-inch square glass or ceramic baking dish coated with cooking spray.  Sprinkle with half of goat cheese, and top with remaining bread mixture.  Sprinkle remaining half of goat cheese over the top.  Bake at 375 degrees for 50 minutes or until browned and bubbly!!

To the Tables

Our breakfast service usually lasts for about two hours, and guests often arrive depending upon the activities in Stowe they have planned for the day.  Thus everyone is rarely available when the strata initially comes out of the oven.  So we remove the strata from the oven to avoid its drying out, and we warm a piece when requested by the guest.  We plate the strata with a small mixture of fresh lettuce and cherry tomatoes flavored with a light oil dressing – adding toast and meat accompaniment, as requested.

How we pitch it

Our breakfast this morning includes a wonderful combination of flavors – an artichoke/goat cheese strata.  We form a base of sourdough bread in a baking dish and add a mixture of artichoke hearts, goat cheese, and some additional herbs so as to enhance its naturally Mediterranean flavor.  We bake that in the oven until browned and serve warm with along with a small salad.

British Invasion Car Show : September 19th-21st

British Invasion Stowe VT

It was Christmas 15 years ago.  We had just purchased a new home within the past year, everyone was employed, and we were British Invasion Stowe VTlooking forward to its second Christmas.  Our current car was seriously old and becoming more expensive with each 1000 miles.  Somehow a picture of a new car that we had never seen slipped across Linda’s desk producing an immediate plea from Linda to swap old for new!  Of course the price was problematic.

The car was absolutely lovely. Even I liked it (all except the price.) Christmas was coming so I, like all males, continued to protest the price and the frivolousness of such a purchase while quietly considering the possibility and looking for a solution.   So, Christmas morning Linda’s brother – on cue – drove the new car down our driveway wrapped with a huge red ribbon and bow on top.  Linda vaulted out the front door in robe and slippers to view the car you see below – a 2000 Jaguar S Type – the first of its kind in the US.  Built in Birmingham, England and designed by Geoff Lawson, the key designer for Jaguar.  We still have this car and Linda still drives it to Shaw’s grocery store to get Yogurt, fresh fruit, and dozens of other ingredients for those fabulous breakfasts she designs at our charming Stowe bed and breakfast.

 

British Invasion Car Show So, this September 19-21 you are likely to find us attending and reviewing many of the entries into the 24th annual Stowe British Invasion car show.  This is North America’s largest British Classic Sports Car and Motorcycle Event!  Its mission is to provide a “Three Day Celebration and Salutation to the Great British Motorcar and all manner of other things British.”  It includes participants primarily from the US and Canada with over 600 cars on field, and approximately 1000 total.

 

The 24th annual Stowe British Invasion Car Show:

Registrant’s Reception- Friday 5-7pm
The official kick-off reception for this year’s British Invasion is to be held under the tent at the STOWE EVENTS FIELD. This event is open to all Pre-Registered participants in the British Invasion Weekend, Car owners and Vendors alike.

Stowe Main Street Party- Friday 6:30-9:30pm
Come and join the celebration of things British as Main Street will be awash with people in a festive mood and, of course, lots of British Motorcars.  Enjoy live music, food, and beverage service.  The local shops and restaurants will also remain open.  Main Street will be closed to through traffic and reserved for British Motorcar parking on Friday evening.

Concours d’Elegance- Judging on Saturday
The Concours d’Elegance is a “Judged” competition that attracts exceptional show cars.  Requirements: must be British, over 15 years old, and may NOT be replicas. Judging of entrants in the Concours d’Elegance competition will be based on a 100-point system, similar to the Classic Car Club of America (CCCA) judging rules. Criteria for judging includes mechanical operation, paint, interior, woodworking, undercarriage, chrome, engine compartment, and authenticity. A minimum of 90 points is required for 1st place, 85 for 2nd place and 75 for 3rd place. In case of a tie score, multiple awards will be presented. All entrants will receive participation ribbons.The Concours d’Elegance is a pre-registered ONLY event.

 

British Pub Saturday & SundayBritish Invasion Car Show Vermont

Our British Pub will be open to present fine English ales, wine and perhaps a mixed drink or two.

Tailgate Picnic Competition- Sunday

A display of creativity, good food, and things British. This event has become a “Classic” and perhaps one of the best Tailgate Competitions on the East Coast! Awards will be given for “Most Elegant”, “Most Creative”, “Most British”, “Best Costume”, “Best Tasting”, and “Most Humorous”.

 

British Market Place & Auto Jumble- Friday noon to Sunday
A collection of British Companies and vendors selling British, and British like products and services. Hard to find car spares, motoring accessories, motoring teddy bears, British candy, Regalia, Barbour jackets, and more.

British Car Corral – Friday noon to Sunday
An opportunity to buy or sell a British Motor Car or Motorcycle.

Come join us at the show.  One of the judges of the Concours d’Elegance will be staying at the Stone Hill Inn with us!

Luxurious Gardens

Having survived Minnesota for 23 years, I promised myself when we moved back to PA that I would avoid residences with climates that dominate your life; i.e. a six-month winter.  Besides the emotional “stir-craziness,” they impose upon its denizens, they are especially hard on the golf game.  Not that golf needs to be the center of existence, but when you visit old friends that live in Florida or San Diego and try to compete with their year-round play, you often come out on the short end of the contest.

Today, I still enjoy golf, but two things have changed:  (1)Despite my promise, I have returned to a very NORTHERN climate, so I’m back on the six-month program; and (2) in my aging years I’ve found something I enjoy as much and often more than golf:  gardening.  Having passed the Penn State gardening course back in 2007, a little knowledge has encouraged me to literally ‘dig in,’ such that I often find myself losing track of time while getting my hands dirty!  I love it!  That’s what this note is about.  So, let’s talk gardening.

Stowe, Vermont –  Zone 4.  This is a definite contrast to PA — Zone 6 — where a mild climate allows you to grow darn near anything. After almost three years I’m still learning Vermont plants, and surprising to me, (given 20 below winters with six to ten feet of snow each year) many are striking.  As an example, this plant (pictured), is one that I find to be exquisite – one of the most spectacular that I’ve ever seen (short of some of the Longwood Garden orchids located just outside of Philly).

Zone 4 Gardening

This is currently blooming in our gardens.   Each of our guest rooms has a sliding glass door that allows them to walk directly into the back yard and explore the perennial gardens along with the man-made, 80’ path of streaming water lined by blooming flowers that ends with a three foot drop into a small pond.  

The objective of these gardens is to mirror the luxury found throughout the inn and its guest rooms.  Plus, the gardens provide locations where beauty overcomes everyday concerns, thus, naturally encouraging romance!  Yea!

 

Do you know this plant?  Isn’t it beautiful?  It is part of a small genus of flowering plants in the Iris family, Iridaceae. It is native to the grasslands of the Cape Floristic Region, South Africa. They can be evergreen or deciduous perennials that grow from basal underground corms.  Ours are deciduous.  Do you know its name?  Let me know if you think you can identify it.

We have many noteworthy plants in the gardens.  Gooseneck Loosestife (white) is very stunning but it is nearly invasive (the purple version of Loosestrife had been declared an outlaw in MN because it is so invasive and loves water — MN has 10,000 lakes!)  Because their blooms last a long time we will occasionally use the white Loosestrife among the daily flowers that adorn the dining room tables for breakfast.  However, because it’s so aggressive and has taken over too much territory, this Fall I will dig several hundred of these plants.  Hopefully some will find a home with other gardeners.

No doubt you’re aware of Heliopsis helianthoides?  Me neither.  Stone Hill was the first time I had ever seen them.  Early bloomers, they light up the garden with a blanket of at least a hundred square feet with brilliant yellow flowers.  They last for about two weeks and when not blooming are comfortable taking over new territory in the garden via rhizomes.   They aren’t cutting flowers.

Rudbeckia looks like daisies; also called coneflowers or black-eyed-susans.  We’ve got a bunch of them – and in groups of several hundred they are impressive – a sea of joy and energy.  About 2-3 feet in height, yellow-gold and they last for weeks.  We often use them in the dining room.

There’s tons more, but you get the idea.  Try to imagine the luxury of enjoying Baptisa, Euporbia, Lysimachia,  Weigela  and a dozen other species that make the gardens at Stone Hill Inn a delightful romantic encounter!   Oh you can bring your gloves if you want!

57th Annual Antique and Classic Car Show

Stowe Car Show

August 8-10, 2014

As a young lad in college I had a small picture of a 1964 Corvette convertible hanging on my dorm room wall, just above the army barracks bed that I had fortified with a piece of ¾” plywood to prevent the cushy 4” mattress from sagging. classic car show in Stowe VT

Corvettes during those hormone-driven days, especially romantic convertibles, often held my attention longer than polysci or english lit.  The 1964 Corvette was both luxurious and beyond cool.  It came with a standard three-speed manual transmission, a 327 engine, which when fuel injected generated 360 HP – and fuel mileage probably less than 20?

However, as I look back on Corvettes, I like the 1967 version best – the one pictured above.  In mid-March of 1965, Chevrolet’s Mark IV big-block was first offered in the C2, displacing 396 cubic inches and rated at 425hp. For 1966, the thundering 427 was released in 390hp and 425hp varieties. In 1967, the 427 was offered with 390, 400 or 435hp.  (Feb 2010 Hemmings Motor News.)  You can only imagine the tasty fuel mileage from this rocket!

Alas, I never bought a corvette; only drove one once (1964 with the 327 engine).  Today I require much more practicality in my transportation (2008 used Honda Pilot), but if I can finish my Stone Hill Inn chores early, I might slip down to see what the corvettes look like in the Stowe, VT., 57th Annual Antique and Classic Car Show.  August 8-10.

After 56 years, this Stowe car show has gotten pretty good at capturing some of the most interesting Antique cars from all over the U.S. while making the show quite charming.  After a restorative night’s sleep and healthy breakfast at our Stowe inn, you are ready for a full day of Stowe and the Antique car show!  Here’s the line-up for the event (only cars 1989 and earlier may enter the judging):

 

Friday, August 8:

7 am to 6 pm – eats!  Food concessions.

8 am to 6 pm – vehicle registration

8 am to sunset – flea market open (non-automotive items not permitted – of course!!)

 

Saturday, August 9:

7 am to 6 pm – eats!  Food concessions.

8 am to 3:30 pm – vehicle registration

8 am to 5:00 pm – flea market open (non-automotive items not permitted – of course!!

10:30 Fashion show judging at Nichols field (costumes must be of the same era as the year of your vehicle – sort of!)

11:00 Hot Wheels racing.

1:00 pm – Senior class judging and youth judging

3:30 pm  Parade leaves the field on the parade route – past the review stand and down to Main street Stowe. 

7:00 pm  10 pm – Street dance in Stowe village. (We’ll show you the back way into Stowe if you’re dining at one of the local restaurants.)

 

Sunday, August 10:

7 am to 4 pm – eats!  Food concessions.

8 am to 4:00 pm – flea market and car corral

9:00 – technical judging begins

11:00 – valve cover racing

Early afternoon:  Awards ceremony; three awards per class

 

Well, I’m not sure if the 1967 Vette, pictured above, will be part of this year’s Stowe car show.  But if so, that’s where you will likely find me!!

Baked Crème Brulee French Toast

Another classic Stone Hill Inn breakfast

Crème Brulee French Toast

Perhaps you have noted among the recent reviews for the Stone Hill Inn, the mention of one breakfast dish that seems to claim particular favor.  While many guests have generally praised Linda’s breakfast creations, this devilishly tasty entre is often mentioned by name.  Such distinction requires, of course, exceptional taste, but one wonders if the name itself plays a role, for how could you say Baked Crème Brulee French Toast without causing a sly smile to adorn the face?   Now a favorite at our Stowe bed and breakfast, especially among returning guests who quickly intercept Linda to request this bewitching  meal  soon after they arrive!  As said in A Real American Breakfast Cookbook:  “A true luxury, this is worth every last calorie.” Read the rest of this entry »