VerMexican Elk Tenderloin with Bell Pepper Mashed & Cilantro Lime Cream

Chef David Smith’s

VerMexican Elk Tenderloin with Bell Pepper Mashed & Cilantro Lime Cream


10 0z elk tenderloin( may substitute with venison or beef tenderloin)
1t fresh ground cumin
2oz duck fat(rendered)
Sea salt and white pepper
1 large red pepper (charred and peeled)
2 large tomatillas (roasted In olive oil)
1 large poblano pepper(charred and peeled)
3T  chopped cilantro
1 vidalia onion (fine chopped)
½ cup sour cream or crème fraiche
1 lime( juiced)
2 large russet potatoes( peeled and 1’’ diced)
2T butter
4 oz buttermilk
1 medium zucchini
1 medium summer squash

Preheat outdoor grill to medium, take peppers coated in oil and begin to char on grill.

Meanwhile start potatoes in medium saucepot with salted water, boil for about 15 minutes and drain, cover and set aside.

Rub tenderloin with duckfat, cumin, salt and pepper. Place on grill and cook on both sides for about four minutes until medium rare.

Puree red pepper and place in cooked potatoes, add butter, 2oz buttermilk and white pepper to taste, mash together.

Take poblano pepper and puree with sour cream, cilantro, lime, tomatilla, onion, s+p to taste, set aside.

Allow tenderloin to rest for at least five minutes. Slice it all the way down on the bias and put on plate with potatoes and sauce underneath. Serve with grilled zucchini, summer squash and grape tomatoes( marinated lightly in olive oil and cider vinegar, and a little siracha hot sauce).

Enjoy with an ice cold Tecate beer with lime!

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Roadtripping leads to VerMexican Flavors

So as we approach Memorial Day Weekend, it is hot out, humid and everything is growing everywhere! We are expecting a very busy weekend at the inn.

The weather says thunderstorms all week, but it seems pretty peaceful out right now, maybe by some miracle it will stay nice out.

After spending the last four days in Austin for a family wedding and eating tons of bbq and Mexican food you, will probably see some influence for the next few days around here, probably some cool tex-mex in the pub all weekend. I must say, I could eat Mexican food for a month or so and never get sick of it!

In the dining room I will see what else I can come up with, have some really good elk tenderloin in that will make an appearance for the next few days, just have to figure out what I want to do with it, but am thinking a sauce with cilantro, lime, tomatilla and chilis. I had some in Texas, and couldn’t get enough of it! Guess I will create a recipe starting with that sauce and go from there. Will surely pull up a bunch of spring onions out of garden and grill off to compliment this dish.  Now I am hungry! This Friday I am off to a big fundraiser at the Juniper Hill Inn in Windsor, VT where I will feature elk as well at a giant tasting party (New England Living Showhouse fundraiser -ed), should be a lot of fun, and am looking forward to it. So a few days of down time here in Grafton and then back on another road trip, always a favorite of mine!  So catch you all on the flipside.

See the new recipe I just did (after I wrote this blog, obviously): VerMexican Elk Tenderloin with Bell Pepper Mashed potato and Cilantro Lime Cream.

Salute and cheers


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Recipe: Wild Mushroom and Grafton Cheddar Soup

Wild Mushroom & Grafton Cheddar Soup
Chef David Smith, The Old Tavern inn at Grafton, Vermont

3 lbs of assorted mushrooms (button, cremini, oyster)
4 T butter
2 large Vidalia onions
8 cloves garlic (whole)
2 medium shallots, diced 1/2″ size
1/2 gallon vegetable stock
1 lb Grafton Village Four Star Cheddar, grated
2 C heavy cream
1 T thyme, fresh / chopped
1 T oregano, fresh / chopped
1 T tarragon, fresh / chopped
2 T Vermont maple syrup, dark preferred
2 oz sherry brandy
Sea salt
White pepper


Saute onions, garlic and shallot on medium-low heat in a heavy bottomed soup pot with 2 T butter for about 30 minutes until lightly caramelized. Add fresh herbs and saute for another 10 minutes. Add sherry to deglaze. Continue cooking for another five minutes, then add mushrooms, remaining butter (2 T) and saute together for another 20 minutes. Add vegetable stock and simmer for 1/2 hour.

Add cream, cheddar and blend smoothly. Add salt and white pepper to taste, along with the 2 T dark maple syrup.

A medium bodied red would be nice with this soup, between the contrasts of the mushrooms and the four-year aged Grafton cheddar.

Yield – 1 gallon


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Wedding season has arrived in Grafton, but what’s up with the weather??

We had our first wedding on Saturday night and seemed to go very smooth and was a good time had by all…the first of 14 this season. Congratulations to Tim and Erin. They were very nice people, as well as the rest of the wedding party.

On the garden front, the peas have been planted in the garden last week, but will have to hold off on everything else until this ugly weather starts (rain rain) to cooperate! Hopefully it will blow over in the next few days, as seeds will not survive this cold, rainy mess very long, they will either drown or rot, or both. So we are holding off rather than take that chance.

Pizza and pub did had a nice turn out as Friday was nearly perfect out! If only almost everyday was even close to that, I think we all would be much happier! Well, what can you do?

Can’t wait to start picking up very soon; right after Memorial Day it always starts to take off, as people tend to travel and are more frequent to explore.

This season, the price of gas is not on our side, but hope it steadily goes down!  It is truly ridiculous and makes everyone think twice about road-tripping or just even going out to eat. However, the nice thing about Grafton is it is close to the major cities. Boston is just 2 1/2 hours away and New York City is 4 hours. So you CAN get away for a tank of gas (less even) and it’s a true getaway here!

I still have a bunch of that great venison and will be creating more specials with it! Must come in and try some, especially if you have never had it, for it is quite a treat. I will include a recipe in here, and with this weather some nice soup seems pretty fitting. Enjoy this Wild Mushroom and Cheddar Soup recipe. Have a great week!

Salute and cheers,

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A kitchen garden grows in Grafton

We had a really good weekend with a few different groups in house. On Friday we hosted a surprise birthday party for Hunter Gallery owner Peter Jeziorski and 30 friends. It was a great time and somehow stayed a surprise, yet don’t know how in this little town!

Saturday night we had the Youth Services benefit in with over 100 people attending. That also went over very well and made the kitchen feel very much alive after some of these slow weeks. The kitchen garden is off to a very good start with all of my herbs coming up after a long winter nap, as well as a ton of spring onions which I use a lot in soups and for garnishes.

Cheryl (from the Grafton Nursery) is just about ready to start planting everything as soon as we know the threat of frost is gone; around here, you just never know! It’s 70 degrees one day and snowing the next! We are trying a few new things this year with a full bed of rhubarb to use in sauces, chutneys and many different kinds of desserts. We are also doing a ton of assorted greens for all kinds of salads and sauteed sides, they should be up pretty quick and on the menu soon.

I will be very happy around mid-July when almost everything is just about ready for harvesting. When it starts feeling like a sauna in here, there is nothing better than going out there and picking for an hour or so. I really want to put my desk and cutting board out in the middle for the summer, with a little thatch roof over the top!

As I write this, I have a big pot of potato-leek soup with a bunch of the spring onions in there simmering away for the next few hours. Shall be damn good when it’s ready, but with any soup, it will always tastes better the next day when all of those flavors can meld together. My first batch of LedgEnd Farm venison came in and is amazing!

I swear it is the most tender, delicious meat (next to the elk, of course) I have ever received, and is always consistent in quality. That will be showing up on specials for the night for the next few weeks for sure. We have our first wedding of the season this weekend which will be fun.  We still have the dining room, pizza and pub running this Friday night as well (May 13), so hope to have  some of you out here end enjoying yourselves. The weather looks great for the week, so come on out and eat, drink and relax.

Salute and cheers

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Recipe: LedgEnd Farms Venison Wellington (Vermont)

LedgEnd Farms (Vermont) Venison Wellington
Chef David Smith, The Old Tavern inn at Grafton, Vermont

This dish takes about 45 minutes from start to finish and worth every minute.

Two 5 oz Vermont venison loin cuts, silver skin removed
One sheet puff pastry, 14’’by14’’
2 oz Vermont gorgonzola cheese
4 oz sauteed cremini mushrooms with shallots and fresh herbs to taste
1 oz grade A foie gras (available at fine food markets; locally in Southern Vermont, head to North End Butchers in Brattleboro)
2 oz butter
Sea salt
White pepper
One locally farmed egg (beaten with 1T water)

Preheat oven to 400 degrees.

Heat heavy bottom saute pan with butter, add seasoned (S&P) venison loin to pan and cook on each side about one minute. Allow venison to rest for at least 6 minutes.

Cut puff pastry sheet in half and roll out evenly into two squares. Place foie gras down first in middle of each square, followed by gorgonzola, then mushrooms. Place loins on top of pile on pastry sheet and wrap tightly by folding over each side and tucking under tightly until it forms a tight seal.  Flip over to top side and brush on egg wash to both Wellingtons.

Place the Wellingtons on an oiled baking sheet and place in oven for about 10 minutes for rare, 13 minutes for med-rare. Let rest for at least five minutes before serving.

I would recommend serving with grilled asparagus and mashed sweet potatoes with goat cheese, butter, sea salt and white pepper. You want a nice strong red with this such as a Cabernet or my all-time favorite, Sineann Old Vine Zinfandel. Enjoy over multiple glasses of fine wine, as each bite gets better. Serves two.

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Best wishes to John and Janet Bramley.

We had a great Saturday night as the dining room was pretty packed and the pub did quite well with Draa Hobbs playing away with his jazz trio, the whole inn felt very much alive after a pretty slow midweek.

As most restaurants and inns take the whole month of April off due to lack of tourists, we took a big gamble opening up almost a month early, yet are picking up steam quickly.

We have our outgoing Windham Foundation President John Bramley and wife Janet’s farewell and appreciation party (they are retiring) starting today at five in the barn, so that is sure to attract a lot of attention, and I have been prepping most of the day to gear up for that. We expect a lot of people to stop by and wish them the best on their next journey!

John & Janet Bramley (with me) as guest chefs

As the nasty weather has finally seemed to break, now is the time to deal with your cabin fever and come join us for good times and the best food and drinks around. I have just put in a big order for local venison loin which should be arriving any day. I think I will start with some nice Venison Wellingtons stuffed with foie gras, wild mushroom duxelle and “Gore-Dawn-Zola” (aka Gorgonzola) from Boucher Family Farm. I also have fiddleheads and ramps coming in this week from Tracy Lake which are being picked right outside of Grafton, so those will be sidekicks to most entrees and specials we do this week!

I am still waiting patiently for wild morel mushrooms which should be out anytime now, so if you’re reading this and find some, please contact me, as they are one of my spring favorites.

So all in all,  we know in a few weeks we will be buried with business and the summer will fly right by us.  Still hoping for that air conditioning in the kitchen I have been asking for the past six years, but somehow I think the Foundation will still tell me otherwise! Well maybe someday.

Make sure to stop by and give the “big boss” John Bramley a good roasting at his and Janet’s party. I will miss them both very much, they have both been very supportive with everything we have all tried to accomplish over the past three plus years. Also to welcome in Bob Allen as our new President and CEO at the Windham Foundation and wish him good luck on board.  Now I really need to remember that he is a vegetarian and not to keep sending him duck out as a starter at dinner! Next time I guess.

So we stand here in great shape, a damn good solid team ready for action and hopefully make you all happy in the weeks to come, with John and Kathy at the helm and my team ready to serve up the finest tastes around. don’t really think we’ll disappoint!

Salute and cheers,

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