Tag Archives: burlington

On Eloquent Liberalism and the Failure of Portland

On a recent trip to visit family in Burlington, Vermont something struck me.  There are a lot of refugees (my mom is active in supporting the refugee population).  According to conservative logic, that would equate to a lot of people living “off the system” and getting government checks for nothing. And a general downfall of ‘murica.

Fast forward a day or two and after a walk down Church Street I was amazed at the number of retail stores designed to sell the stuff the refugee population made.  Amazing textiles, baskets, artwork, and clothing.  It was refreshing to see an outlet for the cultural value this population brings to Vermont.

Another thing I noticed?  The abundance of community gardens.  These areas of open space are given by the city to people that want to raise their own produce.  The number of folks I saw walking these rows with baskets on their heads and vibrant clothing was a stark contrast to the old brick walls and green mountains in the distance.

It is no surprise that Burlington is a liberal anchor in a sea of liberal cities.  It has born the likes of Ben Cohen and Jerry Greenfield (Ben and Jerry’s co-founders) and other liberal monoliths. But what was a surprise is how Burlington has pulled off something amazing – an eloquent version of liberalism.

Not once was I asked for money from a junkie.  Not once was there an ANTIFA protest blocking the streets.  Not once did a Prius sit in the left lane on highway 89.  Not once was a tent city of homeless even seen. And, more importantly, the refugee population seemed happy and engaged.  Almost as if the entire system was done the right way.

In contrast, I look at Portland, my local city.  The city that made me disavow my liberal identity.  It is a city where anger is the new cool.  If you are white and not angry about how “underserved” or “underprivileged” other people are, well, you just don’t belong here.

It’s a city where every morning, I walk past tent cities full of homeless people that shoot up heroin in safe centers. I step over sidewalk chalk with angry scribblings of last nights protest-du-jour, the pending rain our only hopes to remove it from our collective memory.

It’s a city where ANTIFA literally calls the shots while the police sit idly by, their hands tied by an insane mayor. Oh, and the same police refused to assist federal agents during a protest at their local facility, too.

The contrast of these two cities could not be any sharper.  And, while they share similar DNA (I have often called Portland “Burlington on steroids.”), Burlington has proven that liberalism can be done well, and done right.  And I am proud to say the liberal side of my political foundation was built there. Back when Vermont passed one of – if not the – first civil union bills in the nation.  A political anger that is kept in check and leveraged only when truly needed, which avoids Portland’s issue of crying angry wolf.

Maybe the conservative base should examine the areas where liberalism actually does win, as an example of what is possible.  And how it can be so eloquent.


Restaurant Review: Pingala [Burlington]

I have been complaining about Burlington’s vegan scene for a while now, with only a few places (like Stone Soup) offering anything substantial.

So when I heard about Pingala in the Chace Mills at Winooski, I was really excited to check them out.

Their location is pretty awesome, right on the banks of the Winooski River at the falls.  While the idea of a nice outdoor spot sounded nice, the mercury was hovering around 15 degrees.  So we elected to sit inside.

Continue reading Restaurant Review: Pingala [Burlington]

Restaurant Review: Zabby & Elf’s Stone Soup [Burlington]

Oh good ol’ Burlington.

Portland is just like B-Town, except we have mass transit.  And more people.  And more bikes.  And, sadly, much more vegan stuff.

I have been so frustrated when visiting my old mother land, as the vegan options are so, so hard to find.

But there, on the horizon, Stone Soup shines for all the wayward vegans searching for something deelish to eat.

Looking out into Burlington’s snowy, frosty streets from the warmth of Stone Soup.

Stone Soup is my personal Mecca when it comes to chowing down in this small city, and on this visit I could not wait to get my grub on.

The ambiance is always warm and inviting.  While lunch seating can be a real challenge, later meals offer a lot more room to stretch out.  While their menu is not all vegan (they even serve meat), they are VERY accommodating and everything is well marked.  The staff is intelligent about veganism and always aims to please.

They have a series of pre-baked goodies from cookies and scones, to muffins and crisps.  Most everything has a vegan option, but the selection for us egg and milk free folks is much smaller.  Plus, I would LOVE a vegan blueberry muffin here, they always seem to have odd, complex vegan muffin choices.

A nice selection of vegan baked goods. I am still waiting for an amazing blueberry muffin!

You have two primary options when it comes to your meal – choose and build you own plate from the hot bar (which seems to always change based on seasonal offerings) or an old time standard from the chalkboard menu behind the counter.

Vegan and non-vegan options united!

Last time, I built my own plate but the price was pretty steep.  As it goes by weight ($10+ per pound) you may want to skip the rice and other staples, and focus on the new and exciting offerings.

Salad bar is fresh and clean.

When it comes to ordering off the board, I can never afford to deviate from one of the best vegan reubens I have ever had.  Their “Seitan Reuben” is made of thinly sliced (and ever so slightly crispy-on-the-edges) seitan that is perfectly seasoned.  The vegan cheese offeres a nice creaminess to the whole sammy, but it can get messy.  So grab a stack of napkins.

Quite possibly, one of the best vegan reubens. #notkidding

What good is an amazing vegan meal without some dessert?  I opted for the Strawberry-peach crisp on this cold 15 degree day.  It was warmed in the oven and tasted absolutely brilliant.  The oat topping really gives it some heft, as my sister wasn’t able to finish her helping (easy enough for me to lend assistance).

“I wonder how much for the whole bowl” I thought to myself. But only ate a cup.

We ended our meal with a cup of coffee and some great conversation.

If in Burlington, be sure to make Stone Soup a stop.  Leave yourself enough time to  try a bunch of their goodies, and take some for the road.  And just maybe they will have a vegan blueberry muffin waiting at the counter.

More hot bar goodness!