Even though we are in the midst of winter up here, for some unknown reason, our children still wanted to go on an excursion to Ben & Jerry’s Factory in Waterbury, VT?! Huh, strange, eh? The factory is open year round (except for the three Holiday biggies: Christmas Day, New Year’s Day and Thanksgiving Day) and they also stay open longer during the summer and early fall.
The hour long drive took us through gorgeous mountain scenery – snow hung upon the mantel of countless pine trees, a shroud of white covered the voluptuous landscape – we just kept saying, “it’s so beautiful.”
Before we knew it we arrived at B&J’s with the same anticipation that you would expect to feel driving up to the Willy Wonka Factory. Our gold tickets were just $4.00 per adult and kids 12 and younger visit for free.
The company has factories around the world but the HQ in Waterbury produces 125,000 pints of supreme ice cream per day! The factory tour has become Vermont’s most popular tourist attraction, according to an article in Vermont Living – the outing includes a short film outlining the history of the company and then our guide, Mel, took us to an upper level where we were able to view the ice cream making process through giant vats. At the end of the tour, each participant gets a scoop of ice cream. Both of my girls were very into it, “I liked seeing how they make the best ice cream in the country – no offense Dairy Twirl,” Sophia said. Little person number 2, a.k.a Ava-Grace said it “was neat to learn the history of it, but the best part was the ice cream at the end.”
After consuming our tasty treat we headed into Waterbury to go to the Prohibition Pig for lunch. The restaurant’s reputation precedes itself as does its craft brewery. As I’ve mentioned, Vermont is a bastion of craft beers and I am currently working on a tour guide for our guests– Prohibition Pig will most definitely be a stop on the path of righteous beer making. My official taster, Drew, said that “The ProPig Multi Grain IPA was one of the best IPA’s I’ve tasted (and he has truly tasted a lot),” then added that it had a, “perfectly balanced bitterness.” I’m not a beer drinker, I know, sad, but I do like Vermont’s hard ciders. From what people tell me, Vermont started getting into the Hard Cider business in a big way in the last couple of years. Prohibition Pig had two Hard Ciders on the menu that I tried. The first was Citizen Cider American, a Vermont cider aged in a bourbon cask with orange notes. It was very good and also complex. The second, Boyden Vermont Ice was a dry cider that was reminiscent of an easy going sauvignon blanc – something you could drink all afternoon – simple. I definitely preferred the first drink but they both had merit.
Now, for the food, we started with pimento cheese balls rolled in planko and fried – sooo good – even my finicky children enjoyed them.
Drew ordered a GLT which is a BLT sandwich featuring bacon cut “Italian style,” called guanciale that means from the pigs cheeks – the pigs are butchered at the restaurant – fried green tomato, baby arugula and roasted garlic aioli. OMG! This sandwich was the bomb! I didn’t think bacon could be improved upon, but this bacon was the very best I have ever tasted.
Both kids enjoyed their meals ordered off the kids menu and they had root beer on draft-big hit. I, on the other hand should have gone with the GLT. I ordered the pulled pig with NC bar-b-cue sauce and having lived in NC well –it’s like ordering buffalo wings outside of Buffalo. The Vermont version didn’t work with me. It was not bad, it just wasn’t what I know and love.
There are plenty of other attractions to include in an excursion to Waterbury including the Alchemist microbrewery, Cabot Creamery, Cold Hollow Cider Mill, Green Mountain Coffee Roasters and Lake Champlain Chocolates. Well, there you have it, folks, another fun day in our winter wonderland.