Vermont has good skiing and good libations.
There's a heavenly ski town in Vermont called Stowe. It reminds me of Aspen or Vail in Colorado, although I do have to admit that Stowe doesn't exhibit near the kitsch of Vail or Aspen, where rich, beautiful people go to see and be seen. Stowe has character: a high church steeple, covered bridges and an unaffected Main Street that looks like the Vermont version of Mayberry. I fully expected to see Opie walking along with his snowboard.
If you're lucky enough to get to Stowe, there are a few things you just have to do, a few places you just have to see. One place not to be missed is Cold Hollow Cider Mill (www.coldhollow.com), which, although it resembles a farmhouse, really is a store. Once inside, your olfactory senses are assailed by a wonderful odor ' the smell of an 11,000-gallon vat of cider that resides in the back of the store. Simply turn the spigot and help yourself to a mug of the nectar of the gods. It's nothing like you've ever tasted before. The stuff you get at the local grocery store tastes like old motor oil in comparison.
Cold Hollow Cider Mill is owned and operated by Paul and Gayle Brown, who make their cider the old-fashioned way, which is why it tastes so darn good. A hydraulic press, built in the 1920s, presses more than seven million apples per year. The way it works is like this: the apples are inspected, washed, and then travel via elevator to a whirling grinder where they are transformed into a mash called pomace. Pomace consists of the whole apple: stems, seeds, and skins.
The pomace is squeezed through a tube and spread over a thick cheese-cloth on the press cart. The cloth is folded over, like a bed sheet, and a plastic rack is dropped on top. The press cart is moved under the hydraulic press, which descends and applies 2,500 pounds per square inch of pressure. The result is a lot of juice. Lip-smacking good juice, as sweet as sin.
The cider is pasteurized, stored in glass bottles, and shipped to suppliers. Cold Hollow is to cider what Screaming Eagle is to Cabernet Sauvignon ' the cr?me de la cr?me. Except Cold Hollow Cider is a lot more affordable than Screaming Eagle, and a little easier to find and purchase. But not by much, as Cold Hollow Cider is only shipped for five months every year, from October 1st to March 1st.
Of course, if you get to Stowe for some skiing, you can always stop by and get some. And you've got the perfect excuse, for the snow in Vermont ranks with the best in the world. Nothing but powder and packed powder.
You can't ask for much more than that: perfect skiing conditions and perfect apple cider.