Friday, January 3, 2014

A taste of Vermont

When we were deciding which route to take through Vermont, I noticed that the Ben & Jerry's factory tour was in the direction we were headed.  Ben & Jerry's is only the best ice cream EVER, so that was a done deal.  Then, we were looking around at other things to see in the same area and found that there are several notable factories that give tours around there.  Free samples, I mean factory tours, here we come ;)!

For our first tour of the day, we paid a visit to the Cold Hollow Cider Mill.  First didn't look like a factory at all!  It looked like a pretty little country store...

It was a little country store!  There were shelves and shelves of different items to purchase.  We wandered around halfway browsing, but mainly trying to find the cider mill that was supposed to be in there somewhere. 

Way in the back corner of the store we found it.  It was just a small area to stand and watch the cider being pressed on the other side of a glass window.  I guess because the process takes a while, there just really isn't that much to see!  A hurry up and wait kinda thing.

those tan looking rows are full of the apples being squeezed...see the juice dripping out?

this was near the end of the process...almost all squeezed out

There wasn't anyone back there, but there didn't need to be.  It was all explained by a video that was playing and some murals painted on the walls...

The "tour" is totally free as is the cider (unlimited samples that you help yourself to from a huge stainless tank), so that was nice.

In the front of the store is a bakery area where you can sit and watch the ladies making different treats.  Since we were there for the cider, we decided to each buy an apple cider donut and a jug of fresh apple cider...yum!

Just as we were finishing up our breakfast, a lady and her two grandkids came over and started talking with us.  They were locals, there for the donuts and after spotting our kids hopefully a game or two of checkers.  Absolutely :)!  The kids enjoyed a fun checkers match on one of those big rug sized checker boards before we all left to go our separate ways...they were going to pick up a new puppy and we had more tours to take :).

Not too far up the road was our next tour...Ben & Jerry's!  This one looked a little more factory-like, but still pretty.  The fact that it is surrounded by the beautiful Green Mountains didn't hurt anything, either...

When you go inside, it's easy to find your way's just one big room!  The first thing you see is the tour ticket desk.  Tours are guided and $4 for ages 13 and over.  The tickets are for a certain time (tours go every 30 mins), so we bought ours and had a little time to kill til the next tour.  Oh look, over to the right is a gift shop in the same room, how convenient (haha).  Yes, we browsed.  Yes, we purchased (they knew exactly what they were doing with that set up, huh?).

this totally looks like a bowl of toes...tell me you see it, too???

Time for the tour.  We followed our guide into a room to watch a movie...

... and then it was cameras off for the tour of the production room.  I guess ice cream spies are a problem ;)? 

The last stop of the tour was the Flavor Lab.  This is where the samples were handed out...we were given Strawberry Cheesecake.  It was good, but not as good as New York Super Fudge Chunk (my all time favorite!).

After poking around outside a bit...

sugar high?  why do you ask ;)?

...we were on our way to the final tour of the day.

We had about an hour long drive, mostly through the countryside, to get to our next stop.  Along the way we saw a little covered bridge and just had to stop. 

Come to find out..."The Martin Bridge is the only covered bridge remaining in Marshfield and is the only original covered "farm" bridge left in Vermont. A "farm" bridge was a bridge built solely for agricultural use."

Just a little farther and we were in Cabot, Vermont, guessed it!...the Cabot Creamery!  This factory is in a small little town out in the country. 

We arrived just as a tour had started, so $2 per person ages 12 and up, and we joined up with the tour group.  First was a movie shown to us in a room full of awards and such that Cabot has won for their cheeses.  Then we were given a guided tour of the production area.  Cameras were allowed...cheese making apparently isn't as "top secret" as ice cream making ;).

wheels of cheese!

I have to admit...I really didn't get to hear much on this tour (and it was the most educational one of all!!!).  I had a few certain small people that just HAD to go to the restroom right NOW...oy. 

At the end of the tour, everyone is encouraged to sample the many (many!) varieties of cheeses.  So...many different flavors!  We tried them all (of course!) and settled on a handful of our favorites to purchase (top 2 were the Everything Bagel and Alpine Blend).

I can honestly say, we have never spent a day quite like that one before (haha!).

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