Kismet anew

“We’re hosting our own cocktail party – come buy a drink and we’ll give you some free food,” read the Facebook post yesterday. Who was I to say no? I’ve been jonesing, because

Kismet has been closed for almost a month, as chef-owner Crystal Maderia and her dedicated crew moved the business to its new location at 52 State Street. It was worth the wait, as

last night, Maderia treated opening night guests to nibbles off the “Bits and Pieces” menu. We c ouldn’t name our favorite between tiny morsels of succulent roasted lamb dunked in a tahini sauce; a creamy pâté, with apple cider jelly served alongside; “fish and chips,” housemade potato chips sprinkled liberally with sea salt and dipped in a pickled carp roe aioli; and mock “calamari” made of breaded oyster mushrooms, served with a fiddlehead remoulade. We sat underneath a

crystal chandelier, the glass prisms of which mirrored the crystal teardrops on Crystal Maderia’s necklace. Her face was aglow, the days (and nights) of preparation no match for the excitement and enthusiasm she displayed as she plated food and chatted with guests.

“I feel good to be open,” she said, reflecting on the weeks of cleaning and remodeling. “Once I start cooking, I feel better.” And that’s a good thing, since

Kismet is open again, for good! This weekend, Maderia will prepare breakfast-lunch-brunch from 9 a.m. – 2 p.m. Saturday and Sunday. Tonight (Saturday), a reservations-only dinner service is planned from 6-9. Call 223-8646 to see if there’s still a spot.

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Cranberries

The big day is almost here and I’m planning to spend the whole day cooking, which I’m quite looking forward to. On the task list, in approximate order: make bread crumbs for stuffing, prepare cranberry relish, bake pies, peel and slice vegetables for a gratin (recipe courtesy of Dan Green of Salt), and pick up the turkey at Tangletown Farm in Middlesex. I’m planning to brine the turkey overnight, with a bit of maple in the brining solution to infuse the bird with some sweetness.

I’m excited about the cranberry relish, a recipe that arrives in my kitchen courtesy of Kelly McCracken. Her recipe includes apples, pears, and pineapple, in addition to fresh, whole cranberries. This year I found cranberries from Vermont Cranberry Company in Fletcher, Vermont. Owner Bob Lesnikoski has been growing cranberries since 1995; this year he and his family tended two acres, which yielded about 20,000 pounds of berries.

Cranberries require a lot of water, and for the farmer, “the challenge is recreating their growing environment in an upland situation,” Lesnikoski explains, adding that the fields are heavily irrigated in order to meet the plants’ needs.

Vermont Cranberry Company has a wide wholesale distribution throughout Vermont. Northern climate cranberry production “probably wouldn’t happen anywhere else,” Lesnikoski says. “Vermont is such a cool food state.”

To fuel the day of cooking, I’ve pulled a bunch of CDs off the shelf, including Johnny Cash, Michael Stipe, and Nina Simone. Let the cooking marathon begin…

Birchgrove for Lunch!

Many Montpelierites swear by Birchgrove Baking on Elm Street for their morning coffee, or latte–if you’ve never see the art the baristas do in the foamed milk, you’re missing out–but today I was lucky enough to pick up lunch and folks, it’s worth it.

My sandwich was big enough for two but I ate it all…and I’m not totally sorry. Roast pork tenderloin, thickly sliced, mingled with melty-chunky bleu cheese, steamed spinach and sliced steamed squash on a toasty wheat roll.  It was still warm when I got home and I just couldn’t bear to put any of it in the fridge.

Don’t want to worry with pies this Thanksgiving? Order now, while owner-bakers John and Jenn can still see straight!