2006-09-02

Sticky Buns and Dog Team Dreams

Vermont lost a culinary and cultural icon yesterday, the Dog Team Tavern. It burned to the ground in the middle of the night. I have so many memories of dining there, that I could almost smell the food as drafted the following poem...

Dog Team Dreams
Creaky painted floorboards
Complain a warm welcome.
The parlor, smoky and warm,
Dripping with maple syrup and hooked rugs,
I order, from the chalkboard,
Do I want the fritter on the side?
Off to the Tavern, Horseradish cottage cheese dip
nesting on wide-wale potato chips,
The New Haven river racing past,
Begging to be heard, with each opening of the door.
Waiting among ancient hardware signs
and license plates and memorabilia of a Vermont
not so long ago, yet forever away.
Did I just hear a sled dog?
Our name is called, I can already taste
the dense, sweet ecstasy of warm sticky buns.
And I can hear it now, the relish wheel
being pulled to our table as if by sheer will:
Copper pots spinning with apple butter, beets, delights galore.
"Remember to take your pail from the top!"
Don't I know that waitress? How old is she now?
Candles dance, flatware clinks, wooden chairs grind the floor,
Laughter and chatter slowly drown the river's roar.
A little homemade bread, just for me, warm from the oven,
Do I devour it now - or add it to the inevitable "doggy" bag?
And for the record, I don't have a dog.
I ache for my meal, not for the entree...
For the piping hot "family" bowl of mashed potatoes.
I hope I am the first, to plunge my spoon
Into the billowy, creamy clouds, and leave little behind.
Mother's Day, Graduations, Thanksgiving, Anniversaries;
My life is marked over time by gatherings within these walls.
"Dessert?" She must be kidding.
"Oh, Maple Oatmeal Pie, you say?"
My feet can barely carry my satisfaction home...
Doggy bags in hand.

Here are some links to articles about the fire from the Rutland Herald and BTV Free Press.

Below is some historical data about the Tavern from the restaurant's website. I have not been able to obtain permission to reprint this information, since unfortunately the owner of the Dog Team is missing and feared lost to the fire (his truck - with his dogs inside - was parked nearby.) My regrets and best wishes go out to his family and the loyal employees of the establishment.

"Before becoming a restaurant in the Forties, The Dog Team Tavern was built and operated as a teahouse in the Nineteen Twenties and Thirties by Lady Anne Grenfell, the wife of the famous doctor and missionary, Sir Wilfred Grenfell. At the "Dog Team Tavern by the River," the Grenfells sold handicrafts from Labrador and Newfoundland to raise money for the poor and starving population of those craggy Canadian coastlines.

The advent of World War II brought many changes. In 1946 the Dog Team Tavern was bought by long time volunteers Eben & Catherine Joy. The Joy's transformed the mission into an internationally renowned country inn who has hosted the likes of Robert Frost, Charles Lawton, and First Lady Eleanor Roosevelt."

Also - don't forget to read about the ultimate Dog Team waitress, Arlene LaFave, who started working at the Tavern at age 15, and remained until the day she died 45 years later. She had quite a secret.

And lastly - check out these 2 recipes before their site comes down:
Sticky Buns and Maple Oatmeal Pie.

6 comments:

BernieRA said...

It's amazing how a reataurant can become a part of the fabric of a community. We had one of those here known as McDonalds Steak House (not affiliated) that was open from the 1940's. When it closed everyone had stories of the years they went with their families.

I hope everyone is safe, and I will remember stories of my favorite haunt today.

AM said...

Why is Vermont so cool and New York so lame? ::sigh::

KrisUnderwood said...

So glad you like the new site MM! Those poems were written right after my daughter was born(or shortly thereafter).

I can't believe I've never heard of the Dog Team Tavern! How long have I lived here?? Awhile....

Anonymous said...

Sir Wilfrend & Lady Anne Grenfell retired from Labrador & Newfoundland in 1931 to Charlotte VT where her mother had summered many years. They built the Dog Team Tavern By The River in 1935-36 and it opened in June 1936 (contrary to the DTT website). Prior to that they opened a Dog Team Tavern in Ferrisburg VT in 1934 for two years, plus two Dog Team Tea Houses in Oxford & Cheshire, Connecticut, supported by the New Haven CT International Grenfell Association. Ralph E. Brooks, Foxboro MA

Ralph E. Brooks said...

The Grenfells retired to Charlotte VT in 1931 and built the Dog Team in 1935/36 & it opened in June of 1936.

chou said...

I broke my boyfriends Dog Team Tavern Mug !!!! Does anyone have one or know where I can get one Please !!!