Lobsters to Lake-Jumping: Road Trip from New York to Vermont

Contributor
How to indulge in a quintessentially East Coast summer weekend
Grilled corn from The Place
Nicole Campoy-Leffler

Grilled corn from The Place

As recent New York transplants, doing things like road tripping to Vermont still seems romantically foreign to me and my better half. Before you go feeling bad, coming from Southern California afforded us gorgeous coastline road trips to wine country. Still, we excitedly packed up a rental car: one dog, two weekender bags, and a third empty bag for foodstuffs collected on the way. Off we were, taking the long way from the city to Bridport, Vermont, where our friends were renting a cabin.

Embarking early meant plenty of time for stops and all too much food along the way. Our friends were journeying from Canada so we reasoned that we should give them ample time to get there, as well. The first stop was not far from the city, in Bedford, N.Y., for coffee, pastries, and snacks for the road. Bedford Gourmet was the perfect place — two slices of coffee cake, two iced lattes, a packet of crackers, and a small wedge of (won’t-melt-in-the-car and not-too-pungent) Pecorino cheese (okay and a pack of cookies) later and we happily hit the road again.

To say that I had a place in mind for lunch would underestimate the situation. As soon as we’d decided to spend the weekend away, I read about a huge, outdoor clambake in Guilford, Connecticut and insisted for weeks that instead of taking a more direct route, we’d be stopping there. So we did, and blissfully so. The Place, ill-named for Googling purposes, has a huge gravel parking lot, where you pull in while setting your sights on their bright red benches and tables, guys working the fire pit, and an enormous menu lauding all the fixings you’re about to enjoy.

The grilled corn is fresh and succulent, the clams are grilled in a blackened metal cage and arrive with a bright, spicy tomato sauce, and the lobster, well… it comes grilled in its shell with oodles of melted butter. Needless to say, our poor dog sat beneath the table looking up longingly at our quintessential summer-in-New England feast.

As we abstained from licking our paper plates, we realized it was time to hit the road and drive like the wind. One gas station, a package of Tate’s chocolate chip cookies, and a quick stop in Middlebury to bring bottles of wine for our friends and we made our way to the house.

Our bellies still full from lunch and perpetual road trip snacking, we rallied and opened a few bottles of wine with our weekend roommates before scuttling off to bed.

Morning was spent catching up, making coffee, and gorging on (a personal favorite) avocado toast. We could have spent the day staring out at Lake Champlain, but we made our way to the Middlebury farmers’ market. Cheeses, fresh fruits, vegetables, and bread were procured before packing into the car again bound for Branbury State Park. The joy of lake swimming had been, until that very moment, lost on us native Southern Californians. As we swam and jumped and lay on the grass, we (amazingly) worked up our appetites.

There was little debate over dinner. American Flatbread was the only choice — and it was the right choice. One cheese and herb, one new Vermont sausage, and one Revolution later and the six of us sat back, realizing we may have eaten our body weights in food that day. So we topped it off with a slice of the homemade apple pie and called it a night.

Sleeping in on the weekend is joyful no matter where you are, but when you’re in a lakeside cabin in Vermont — it’s better. After some more lake-staring, we threw together some prosciutto and mozzarella sandwiches and headed for Otter Creek Bakery. Brass tax? This bakery alone was worth the drive from New York. Really, my maple Danish and iced coffee were worth the drive up here. But the coffee cake, pecan sticky buns, and oat bran muffins were delicious, added bonuses.