When you are about to begin a 4 hour journey with two toddlers it is good to be well fed. Stopping at Waterbury, Vermont on a return visit from Smugglers' Notch (or Stowe) to Boston can easily solve that problem. I admit, we passed on ice-cream fun at the Ben and Jerry's factory. However, we did get our fill of other tasty treats.
We started at the Cold Hollow Cider Mill. While it is clearly a tour bus destination it was a perfect activity with our little boys. Outside are antique cider presses, while inside you can watch them making both apple cider and cider donuts. And, as much as I had explained the process of getting cider from apples, my sons were entranced by the sight of mushed apples being shot out of a pipe and then S-Q-U-E-E-Z-E-D. Of course, as juice is a treat at our house, they were also thrilled to get cups of the freshly made product!
In that same vein, my boys who had never before eaten a donut, were more than happy to try the Cold Hollow version. And they were delicious. Made with a mix of flours (including whole wheat), and actual apple cider, the dough is made in the back, while fresh donuts are fried right by the register.
Beyond the bakery area is a general store of sorts filled with speciality products (many made of maple or cider), items for making your own donuts and books about Vermont.
Just a bit further down Route 100 is a trifecta of goodness: the Cabot Cheese Annex, the Lake Champlain Chocolate Outlet and the Muddy Paw coffeeshop, all located in the same plaza.
In terms of the Muddy Paw, they are worth a stop for their fantastic iced mochas. And, better still you can drive through! (Why don't we have more drive through independently owned coffeeplaces? These little side stands are so good!)
I could have spent a while at the Cabot Cheese Annex, and I would have been quite full as they have samples of their cheeses and products throughout the store. However, my 2 year old was so excited about said samples, that had we not left, he would have eaten the entire bowl of cheese-covered popcorn, all the cheddar cheese, and even the horseradish cheddar!
Cabot cheddar is sold in supermarkets, but at the outlet you can try (and purchase) a much wider range of items. I had enjoyed the clothbound cheddar as part of my cheese plate at the Hearth and Candle. You can buy that, as well as other aged cheddars. They also have speciality flavors like "Chipotle," "Chili-lime", "Tuscan" or "Tiki Masala." I also bought a container of their cheddar powder to use on my kids requisite mac and cheese. The kind staff people also have created an educational center of sorts, and my kids walked away with coloring books to inspire them to learn about cheese. Finally, I appreciate that Cabot is actually a cooperative and, thus, is supporting the increasingly rare Vermont dairy farmers.
The Lake Champlain store didn't impress me as much for their friendliness, but the range of chocolates did. And I think they make delicious chocolates. At this location you can buy any of their products, enjoy hot chocolate at their cafe, or get their factory seconds. My favorite was their new "Grace Under Fire" bar, that consisted of big pistachios, layered in a chili-enhanced dark chocolate.
Needless to say, we didn't need to have a picnic on the return drive home!
Cold Hollow Cider Mill, Route 100, Waterbury Vermont, 800-3-APPLES
Muddy Paw Coffee Drive Through, Route 100, Waterbury, Vermont, 802-244-8700
Cabot Cheese Annex, Route 100, Waterbury, Vermont, 802-244-6334
Lake Champlain Chocolatier and Cafe, Route 100, Waterbury, Vermont, 802-241-4150