Burlington, home of the University of Vermont and the birthplace of Phish, Ben and Jerry’s and Seventh Generation, has long embodied the earthy progressivism and can-do independence that define the state’s spirit. Lately that ethos has taken on a sophisticated sheen, as chefs apply Vermont’s longtime obsession with local ingredients in exciting new directions. There are still plenty of Birkenstocks about; they’re just parked under tables spread with confit duck poutine, braised leek crepes and crisp, complex Vermont craft brews like Alchemist’s Heady Topper, a beer of near-mythic reputation among hops aficionados.
Burlington, Vermont’s largest city at just over 42,000 residents, comes alive in summer. The deep aquamarine Lake Champlain thaws and Waterfront Park, built on industrial land reclaimed in the 1980s during Senator Bernie Sanders’s tenure as the city’s mayor (he announced his bid for the Democratic presidential nomination there in May), teems with students and families. Kayaks and skiffs dot the water’s glassy surface while runners and bikers fill shoreline paths. Abundant recreational opportunities along with the city’s high walkability factor — you can stroll from the postcard-pretty downtown to the burgeoning arts scene in the South End — mean foodie tourists can burn off calories as quickly as they pack them on. (It’s a nice thought, at least.)
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