“There’s an idea of Vermont that far exceeds the borders. Vermont is ahead of the curve in the localized food movement,” says Tom Haushalter, publicity/marketing manager of the Countryman Press in Woodstock, Vt., a division of W.W. Norton & Co. He is convinced that Tracy Medeiros’s cookbook based on farm-to-table in the Green Mountain state, The Vermont Farm Table Cookbook (May), will have national appeal. It’s certainly well poised given Countryman’s Vermont connections and Norton’s national sales force. Medeiros’s 2008 cookbook, Dishing Up Vermont (Storey), sold 30,000 copies, and Countryman hopes to double that. The four-color cookbook’s accompanying photographs by Oliver Parini, which like the book’s 150 recipes like Cumin-Roasted Tri-colored Carrots with Chevre or Nettle Soup with Brioche Croutons aren’t necessarily typical cookbook fare could also help. The book includes shots of silos and farm stands, which accompany descriptions of each of the places that contributed recipes, as well as pictures of selected dishes like Celeriac, Fennel, and Leek Chowder Baked in Winter Squash.
Countryman launched the book with a hefty first printing of 10,000 copies and has begun an extensive publicity campaign that includes appearances at bookstores and farmers markets, primarily in Vermont, but also New York’s Union Square. Medeiros who writes a weekly food column for two Vermont newspapers and the Edible Farm column for the quarterly Edible Green Mountains magazine, is also doing events like the Strolling of the Heifers in Brattleboro, Vt., and she’s helping to maintain a Facebook page set up by Countryman.
Even though The Vermont Farm Table Cookbook has just pubbed, it’s starting to make an impact in Medeiros’s home state. Nontraditional stores are taking a strong position like Simon Pearce blown glass and pottery store with a restaurant attached in Quechee, Vt. “We’re selling a lot of her books in both stores,” says Mike DeSanto, co-owner of Phoenix Books in Essex and Burlington, Vt., who has already done two events with Medeiros. “Between the two stores we’re doing fabulous.” Historically Vermont books are his strongest category, and at Phoenix her earlier cookbook went “viral.”
Linda Ramsdell, owner of the Galaxy Bookshop in Hardwick, Vt., is also doing well with The Vermont Farm Table Cookbook, which is prominently displayed in the store. “Dishing Up Vermont is one of our perennial bestsellers,” says Ramsdell, who notes that many of the recipes in the new cookbook are from friends and neighbors of the Galaxy. She also likes the fact that the book contains the back story of the farms and chefs included in it. “For us,” she says, “it came out at a good time of year, just when things are starting to get green. It makes a perfect gift.”
Medeiros says that the book grew out of her desire “to help promote wellness for communities through food,” as did her choice of people to contact for recipes. She tried to select those who share her values about how food should be grown, prepared, and eaten. To write the cookbook, which she began in August 2011, Medeiros hired two recipe testers, who not only tested the recipes that she created but gave her samples to taste. Then Medeiros retested the recipes. Her favorites are: Moroccan-Style Chicken with Apricots and Almonds served on a bed of Mediterranean Couscous Pilaf from Ariel’s Restaurant (“superb balance of sweet and tart”); Honey Ice Cream with Fresh Strawberries from Darby Farm (“a delightful summer treat”; and Blueberry Goat Cheese Pizza with Caramelized Onions and Rosemary (“a nice sweet and savory combination”).
“Vermont has long been considered the epicenter of all foods good and wholesome,” Medeiros writes in the the introduction. “It is my hope that the variety of recipes and profiles. . . will capture your interest and whet your appetite.” She’s also hoping to raise money for the Vermont Foodbank, which will receive a portion of the proceeds from the sale of the book.