Saturday, November 5, 2011
Blue Benn, Bennington, VT
So I am out in North Adams, MA dogsitting, and for the first time I didn't just lay around watching Bridezillas for twelve hours. For one thing, our wedding is in the past now, and secondly, I usually happen to be out here during a blizzard of some kind (that is when my coworker usually goes on vacation to Florida or something). I kinda like it out here. It is on the top of a mountain next to the Appalachian Trail so sometimes they get stray hikers. They have a hot tub. There's random wild animals. It is not boring, and it is different enough from where I live to feel like a bit of an adventure or a vacation. My coworker always apologizes about the clutter. By this she means bridal shower invitations, the hope chest her son is refinishing for his girlfriend for her birthday, the issue of Cosmo her other son's girlfriend was reading, a snapshot of my coworker and her husband of 30 years kissing in front of the Grand Canyon this past summer (then another shot of them giggling about it a moment later), and the suit her husband wore to his sister-in-law's funeral a couple days ago still hanging on outside of the bedroom door. That's not clutter - that is the stuff that makes up a family, a marriage, and a life, and that's not something anyone should feel they have to apologize for.
Anyways, so first I went on a wild goose chase for the Bennington Farmer's Market. Everything I saw online said it is open year round, and that it was supposed to be at the corner of River and Depot streets at the Bennington Station. No luck there. Then I went to Second Hand Rose Thrift Store around the corner from there. They had some great argyle and tweed pieces (I love thrift stores ), and I got a very cool lambswool sweater for less than 10 bucks. I mentioned to the sales lady about the Farmer's Market and she was very nice and offered to phone the Chamber of Commerce for me. They said it is indeed on year round, and that sometimes when it is cold they relocate to some abandoned mill or factory building down the street. I went there and still no luck, so I don't know - I guess I advise calling someone before making the trip out to the Bennington Farmer's Market.
Then I went to the Blue Benn for breakfast. My family is obsessed with this place. That photo above is from January 2010, probably about the second day I started working at my current job. My sister used to go to school at Bennington College and work at Pangea, and frankly Vermont is a strange place without her. I hadn't even been to the state of Vermont since she graduated a year and a half ago. But since my farmer's market plans were foiled I decided to go on my own. What is good about it is that the ingredients taste fresh and not greasy. It is cash only, and I only had about six bucks left so I just got the two eggs over easy with toast and hash browns. The eggs were nice and fluffy, the bread was very good, and the potatoes were cut in large chucks. The potatoes were very flavorful - not greasy and not too crispy. They also have like five different kinds of hot sauces. In the past I have gotten the breakfast burrito (very good), and a lot of different things with the fresh and delicious Vermont cheeses on them. They also have a variety of vegetarian choices, like things that include tofu, spinach, and portobello mushrooms. They have things that sound a little weird (an omelette with marinara sauce on it?), and sometimes unappetizing (pumpkin dump cake?), but it all adds to the charm. The waitresses are middle aged and unimpressed. The cooks all have tattoos. The pink haired college kid talks to the lumber jack looking mountain man. They play Bob Dylan. The specials are all written in marker on computer paper and taped behind the counter in a huge mosaic of interesting sounding dishes. Of course my sister loved it. It is pretty close to what a fictional imagining of a small town Vermont diner would be - not to mention the sleek, narrow, train car building. If you want a booth you will probably have to wait a while. I just took a seat at the counter right away. I was by myself, but I also think sitting at the counter is part of the experience.
Anyways, then I stopped by the Salvation Army thrift store on the way out of town. I have previously said how much thrift stores reflect the tastes and budgets of the surrounding neighborhood. This one being a little more on the outskirts of town than the Second Rose seemed to reflect more of the Vermont mountain man persona. It was mostly L.L. Bean sweaters, religious paraphenelia, and tons of tweed hats which probably came from elderly men. In a different mood I may have gone for some of these sweaters. I think they were playing country music, and I was feeling very far away from Albany. In fact, I had also stopped in the Hawkins House Craftsmarket, and I heard some ladies talking about how difficult it is to drive in Albany and Troy. The kept referring to Albany as "the city", and I thought don't they know New York City is "the city"? Hilarious! I moved up here thinking I would relax and bake pies, but I guess it is all a matter of perspective.
On the way out of town I also saw the "Occupy Bennington Movement". There were about 5 of them, but they had a lot of enthusiasm.
I'll be out here again in January for a week when my coworker goes to Disney World. It will just be me, the dogs, the bears, the wayward hikers and probably a good amount of snow - so wish me luck.