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Last week I was lucky enough to go on a blogging retreat for two nights right here in the Green Mountains of Vermont. It was called Camp Gathering VT and it was organized by Sweet and Simple Magazine‘s founder April Atwater. I have lots of pictures to show you!

DISCLOSURE: All activities and accommodations were paid for by the event sponsors, I was not compensated in any other way. All opinions expressed here are my own.

Camp Gathering VT | A food blogging retreat in Vermont | Healthy Seasonal Recipes

Sometimes it is really hard for me to sit back and relax, so going on this retreat was much needed. I planned ahead and got some work done ahead of time so that I could really enjoy myself. Luckily I only had to travel 40 minutes to get to my destination! The Topnotch Resort in Stowe was base camp for the gathering. Camp Gathering VT | A food blogging retreat in Vermont | Healthy Seasonal RecipesWe all met up on Tuesday evening in their swanky lounge, The Roost for a smattering of cocktails, Heady Topper and noshes. Everyone introduced themselves and we all settled into laughter and conversation. In attendance were:

April and her Daughter Shea

Brandy of Nutmeg Nanny

Gina of Running to the Kitchen

Liz of Floating Kitchen

Rachel of Baked by Rachel

Paul of Sweet Paul Magazine

James of Graham and Co and the Phoenicia Flea

Camp Gathering VT | A food blogging retreat in Vermont | Healthy Seasonal Recipes

After introductions we headed out for an informal meal of pizza at Piecasso. Then it was off to bed. Can I just say how nice it is to go to sleep and not worry about an alarm clock waking me up followed by making sure the girls are wearing socks, snarled hair wrangling, smoothie making, notes to teacher writing etc. etc. all  before the sun is up? Gahh, it was amazing! I rolled out of bed much later than I usually do, popped around on twitter a bit and then headed to the lobby to meet with the crew. We headed to The Stowe Mountain Lodge for brunch and a tour.

Camp Gathering VT | A food blogging retreat in Vermont | Healthy Seasonal Recipes

The Stowe Mountain Lodge had made quite a spread for us with juices and pastries and a sampling of all sorts of breakfast treats including a sous vide cooked egg with hollandaise!

Camp Gathering VT | A food blogging retreat in Vermont | Healthy Seasonal RecipesTouring the hotel made me just want to go back and hang out there with my family. They even allow dogs there so little miss Judy T would be able to come if she wasnt such a puppy terror. You guys, the spa was unlike anything I’ve seen before. It was giant and majorly delux. It was two floors, and pretty much I want to go back and chill there for-ev-er!!!

Then we zipped off to the other side of the mountain to Johnson Vermont and Butternut Mountain Farm‘s sugar house. They tap 17,000 trees at their operation which really puts our tiny little 50 bucket backyard sugaring hobby into perspective.

Butternut Mountain Farm's Sugar Wood | Healthy Seasonal Recipes

We got to see how they tap the trees with the tubing and vacuum pump system, and look through their sugar house and see the reverse osmosis equipment. It was cool listening to owner David Marvin describe how the RO system works. The taps had been pulled for the season since the trees had started to bud, and all of the sap turns buddy and yucky tasting so they weren’t boiling. But we did get to sample the different grades of syrup. Then they let us try for comparison sake, two off flavored syrups that they said we should hopefully never taste again. They had taken on “bad” flavor. The first was buddy and the second one was sour. I had never done that, and it was really interesting to taste buddy syrup and buddy sap. I think everyone’s favorite part was when we got to try sugar on snow with home-made pickled ramps. Emma Marvin, David’s daughter told us that it is a good rule of thumb that when ramps are in season, that means the sap will get buddy and it is time to pull taps for the year.

Camp Gathering VT | A food blogging retreat in Vermont | Healthy Seasonal Recipes

Because we had a crazy ambitious schedule we said good bye to the Marvins, and headed out of town. On our way we breezed into Johnson Woolen Mills. I haven’t been in there in years, and I was reminded how awesome it is. Check out those plaid backpacks!

Camp Gathering VT | A food blogging retreat in Vermont | Healthy Seasonal Recipes

Then we took a circuitous route to Burlington and arrived unfortunately a bit late to our chocolate making class at Lake Champlain Chocolate’s South End Kitchen. Because we were so behind schedule at that point we didn’t get to make the chocolate bars they had planned on. This is a kind of class that they run there at their learning kitchen. I have been to the South End Kithchen a few times before including last May with the Cabot Fit Team. Nevertheless they showed us around and walked us through the chocolate bar making process.

Camp Gathering VT | A food blogging retreat in Vermont | Healthy Seasonal Recipes

They plied us with loads of awesome chocolate and we did a chocolate tasting. And we got to learn about their bean to bar line called Blue Banana.

Next we headed to the Mounted Cat for dinner at the Hilton Burlington.

Camp Gathering VT | A food blogging retreat in Vermont | Healthy Seasonal Recipes

After we ate we got to check out one of the rooms which overlook Lake Champlain. And we were just in time for the sunset! That was pretty spectacular and I am used to these sunsets on the lake. Being up high on the waterfront like that was really excellent and it was so nice of the folks at the Hilton to take us up for the view.

Sunset from a room at the Hilton Burlington VT | Camp Gathering VT | Healthyseasonalrecipes.com

Finally we headed back to Stowe to Trapp Family Lodge to have a fireside gathering with some cool local spirits companies and Vermont Creamery. They had a sumptuous spread of cheeses, fruits and crackers for us and lots of locally made spirits.

Camp Gathering VT | A food blogging retreat in Vermont | Healthy Seasonal RecipesI am not much of a brown liquor drinker, but the Whistle Pig Rye and Old World Rye were so delish. I had a half hour conversation with the folks from their farm in Shoreham VT about how they make their whiskey, what it takes to age it and all about charring barrels. One of the whiskeys they brought will not even be available on the market, but a similar one will be. The one we tried was aged in Sauternes barrels for a short time. The resulting flavor was more sweet like a scotch whiskey. It was simply smashing. Turns out this rye won the San Francisco International Spirits Competition gold medal. Even a non-brown-liquor girl like me could see why. In mid June, Whistle Pig will be releasing nationally Old World, which is a blend of that award winning rye plus two others (one is aged in Madeira barrels and another in Port.) Look for that in stores soon!

Also with us for the evening was a lovely wine maker from Lincoln Peak Vineyards and the friendly folks from Shacksbury Cider. Also the millennial hipster duo from Stonecutter Spirits with samples of their Single Barrel Gin were there. The gin has seven different aromatic botanicals and spices added in the distillation process including: juniper, orange peel, licorice root, coriander, rose petals, green tea and cardamom! I could really taste the cardamom, and it got me thinking about making some sort of Chai inspired cocktail. {Note to self: I’ll have to remember that when Salad Month is over for a recipe here.} The single barrel gin will be released in Vermont this summer.

After all that it was time to head back to the Topnotch to sleep. Phew!

The next day we went to Ayer’s Brook Creamery which is owned by Vermont Creamery. I’ll be back tomorrow to tell you all about that and I’ll have a recipe to share!

Happy Cooking!

~Katie

If all this talk of food and drink has made you thirsty and/or hungry, try some of these recipes from the archives:

Maple Meyer Lemon Whiskey Sour Recipemaple meyer lemon whiskey sour

Grilled Potato Salad with Ramps on healthyseasonalrecipes.com

Grilled Potato Salad with Ramps and Maple Mustard Dressing 

gluten-free maple white chocolate blondies

Gluten-free Maple White Chocolate Blondies

 Crumbled Goat Cheese with Apricots and Thyme and with Cranberry and Tarragon on Caramelized onion and beet bruschetta | Appetizer via Healthy Seasonal Recipes

Beet and Caramelized Onion Bruschetta

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