"Malaysia Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad and the Sultan of Johor are seen in a blue Proton Saga... "When asked whether there is any tension with the sultan, Dr Mahathir said: “No, I don’t see anything because I went to see him and he drove me to the airport. I don’t want to comment on the sultans because if I say anything that is not good then it’s not nice because he is the sultan”"

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Monday, June 13, 2005

My US Trip (2005)

Day 7 - Burlington, Vermont

Previously featured:
Flight to Newark, Day 1 - Newark-Princeton
Day 2 - Princeton-Philadelphia
Day 3 - Gettysburg-Lancaster-Ephrata-Alexandria
Day 4 - Alexandria-DC
Day 5 - Westpoint-Hyde Park
Day 6 - Hancock Shaker Village-Hanover

We started off the morning with a pilgrimage to the first Ben and Jerry's factory at Waterbury, Vermont. Their employees get to take home 3 pints of ice cream a day, 5 days a week, so that's a nice perk of working there. And they play music in the production room. There was also a display showing the flavours currently extant - I think in Singapore we probably have 5-6, barely a fraction of the wide variety they have available. If only we had a scoop shop - but then kiasu Singaporeans would bankrupt them on the free scoop days (though my sources inform me that they have a scoop stand at the Jurong Bird Park, and another at the Zoo - anyone has more detailed information?). Ah well, I can always make my own Vanilla Heath Bar Crunch by crumbling Heath Bar into their Vanilla ice cream.

[A source: the zoo scoop shop isn't very impressive
they don't have the nice flavors, or the obscure ones
the one at the zoo had sweet cream and cookies, peppermint, vanilla chocolate - basic stuff
that [sweet cream and cookies] IS in the shops and anyway cookies and cream is boring!
they don't have the NICE ones like phish food, or chubby hubby, or oatmeal something something

Me: I want my vanilla heath bar crunch :(

Source: YES

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Guilt-free mirror

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We want you to be our CEO

The store had some interesting merchandise - a lock for ice cream pints, for example, and I got a reasonably priced waterbottle ($3). However, their Men's hoody sweatshirts and women's zip hoody sweatshirts cost $55?!

My brother in law and I were contemplating trying the Vermonster, but we decided not to have a go at it, especially after seeing what else it had besides 20 (American) scoops of Ice Cream (you get to keep the tub, but still!): 20 scoops of ice cream, 10 scoops of chopped walnuts, 4 ladles of hot fudge, 4 bananas, 3 chocolate chip cookies. 2 scoops of 4 toppings, 1 giant fudge brownie and whipped cream.

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Stupid cutout

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Flavour Graveyard

After that, we went to the Cold Hollow Apple Cider factory/store (New England Apple Cider is not alcoholic [they term that 'Hard Cider'], but basically unfiltered, unsweetened apple juice made by pressing apples). The cider press was not in operation, but a video was running and free samples were to be had. Although it was unsweetened, it was still very sweet, and had a more robust flavour than normal apple juice, with a crispness reminiscent of Fuji Apple juice. The shop also had Apple Cider Doughnuts: moist on the inside, crispy on the outside and full of apple flavour, since where normal doughnuts used water these substituted cider. Gourmet magazine's March 2000 issue ranked them one of the four best doughnuts in the country (LaMar's, which I've never tried, apparently won, but I couldn't find out what the other 2 finalists were)!

On the I-89 2 miles from Burlington, we saw 2 [presumably plastic] whale tails stuck into the ground. Wth?!

From time to time, I got bored and rolled down the car window to let the cold air blow in my face. Twice, my hair got stuck in it when I wound it up, making me really pissed off.

For lunch we stopped at Friendly's - a fast food joint the concept of which was like Swensen's, but where the food was much better both in variety and quality.

After that we went on to the Vermont Wildflower farm, where I got another go at blowing dandelions. The pamphlet talked about mandrakes, but I didn't get to see any, and the staff said they bloomed during the first week of May and were "gone really fast". I also asked the staff the $6 million question: if they're wildflowers, how can they be farmed? Apparently wildflowers aren't grown in the wild, but are called so because you don't need to replant them for each new season.

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Another go at dandelion blowing

A short while after we arrived at the wildflower farm, a Singaporean student couple arrived, to noises of displeasure from my company, which just goes to show that those who condemn some forms of discrimination like racism often have similar prejudices of their own, which aren't really all that different, which is one of the reasons why my favourite misanthrope is so disgusted with the sanctimony of most of the human race.

There was a friendly pussy at the wildflower farm that my sister kept playing with.

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Friendly pussy

We then proceeded to Dakin farm, where they had a very wide variety of maple products - maple syrup, maple spread, maple candy, maple sugar, maple-smoked hams, maple and garlic barbeque sauce, maple baked beans - you name it, they had it. There was also Vermont Fancy, Grade A Medium Amber and Grade A Dark Amber syrup for sampling (presumably Grade B is considered too strong for consumers to drink unadulterated).

The last stop of the day was Kingsland Bay State Park, formerly a camp for French-speaking girls and then a convent. On the way out there was this friendly horse who came quite near to the car.

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Spotted opposite a Ben and Jerry's outlet: Shelburne Athletic Club. Seen along the road: 'Ho-hum motel'.

For dinner we stopped in a restaurant in Burlington called 'Shanty on the Shore' which my brother-in-law speculated was run by a buaya since almost all the waitresses were young, blonde and looked similar (though that probably describes most waitresses in towns with colleges, since waitressing is a de rigueur job for college girls). The toilets there were marked for 'mermaids' and 'sailors'.

We ordered a 'Captain's feast' - their ultimate dish for one person, and found that there was much more than a Seafood platter for two at Fish & Co. I ended off with Fried Dough - flattened and fried like you tiao but plate-shaped; crispy on the outside, but a little chewy and doughy on the inside, and served with a small jug of maple syrup (as opposed to maple-flavoured syrup), which left me with a warm glow inside for hours.

Sister's food diary: "Day 7 : Breakfast wrap of ham, eggs and cheese, Waterbury VT. Pilgrimage to Ben and Jerry's. Tasting portions of Chocolate Therapy and ?? [Ed: Sweet Cream and Cookies]. Two scoops of Dublin Mudslide and Fossil Fuel. Food tastings at Cabot Creamery, Cold Hollow Cider Mill (and also apple cider donuts and apple cider steamed hotdog), maple farm (maple smoked meats, 3 of the 4 grades of maple syrup available to sample). Dinner at seafood restaurant on Burlington waterfront. Crab soup, seafood platter, seafood linguini, fried dough with maple syrup."

Throughout our time in Vermont my brother in law (M1) and I found that we could not roam onto the USA 890 (or something) network.

The disadvantage of everything coming in American portions is that it's hard for one to sample things. For example, soft drink bottles are almost all 2 litres (especially in supermarkets) and it's hard to find 500ml ones (or more likely, 600ml ones). So there's a higher risk to trying new things - both financial and psychological (because you don't want to waste food/drink). Also, what happens if one is not hungry? And what do the SACSAL-equivalents (or even those higher up the scale, like college-age waitresses) eat?
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