Tag Archives: food

Dolci – A Unique Middlebury Dining Experience


One of the best-kept secrets at Middlebury is Dolci dinner, a five-course restaurant-style culinary experience that brings upscale dining to Atwater on Friday evenings. A student head chef prepares a five-course meal around exciting themes such as breakfast for dinner, geometry, and bacon. With the guidance and support of the Atwater dining staff, student teams of sous-chefs prep each component part of these elaborate meals days in advance of the actual event, where lucky students who were the first to register online get to invite a date to a unique dining experience. Dolci is a real privilege to experience (at no cost to students I should add) and is just one of many great ways to kick off a weekend. After a long week of work and running around, relaxing over blood red orange soda while snacking on pita bread with baba ganoush reminds me that a whole world of culinary traditions has creatively found its way onto my doorstep in Middlebury, Vermont.

Below are some examples of the dishes offered at the two Dolci dinners I’ve had the luxury of attending. From tonight’s dinner (Mediterranean theme) there is a lamb with Israeli cous cous and falafel as well as a desert dish comprised of candied figs and pistachio cookies. The third picture is of a dessert from the geometry themed evening: a molten lava cake with home-made pistachio ice cream and two sauces, one raspberry and one mint.


For anyone looking for activities to add to their senior-year bucket lists, Dolci is a must!



Dining at Midd

Middlebury has the perfect campus meal plan…none at all.

The three dining halls at Middlebury operate on the honor system. Students walk in at any time they’re open (typically 7AM-2PM and 4PM-8PM) without swiping a meal card or being asked to show a Middlebury ID. There is no limit to the number of meals that students are allowed to go to in a day or a week, and it’s not uncommon to head to Proctor for a snack after lab gets out at 4:15 before going to dinner at Ross at 6:30. A lot of students use dining halls as a spot to study with a little bit of a different feel from the library. Easy access to coffee and an endless stream of homemade cookies and locally produced Wilcox ice cream provide the perfect motivation for finishing a problem set or working through a long paper.

While students love the open nature of the dining halls at Midd, the food is the real star of the cafeteria scene. The food services office buys a lot of food locally; the farms that produce milk and eggs to feed hungry MiddKids are just a quick bike ride away, and some of the fruits and vegetables served are grown by students at the college’s Organic Farm. The chefs at Ross, Proctor and Atwater prepare fresh meals to suit all tastes, and gluten-free or vegetarian options are always available. Deciding where to eat dinner is as simple as checking the menus for each dining hall by searching go/menu from anywhere on campus.

yum yum in my tum tum

One of the great delights of being a student at Middlebury is great food and leisurely food.  The food at Midd is great on a regular basis with student favorites including chicken parmigana, burger day, and our snazzy panini bar.  On the desert end magic cookie bars and creemies (soft-serve ice cream) or a scoop of Moose Tracks is always on the menu.  Lately the salad bar is featuring new protein options like spicy chicken salad and mongolian beef in addition to all the pasta options that have always been there.  Beyond what chefs whip up for us Middlebury students get creative in the dining halls.  One of my friends is determined to have chocoalte at every meal so she melts down chocolate chips and drizzles them on everything from orange slices to toast.  Another friend tops her waffles with applesauce and I recently ran into a neighbor making his special morning blend of seltzer water, lemon juice and fress-squeezed OJ.  The possibilities really are endless, especially with our open dining policy, which allows students to walk into the dining halls any number of times they want to throughout the day.  Our meals are prepaid as part of our comprehensive fee which means that we never have to worry about swiping into the dining hall or making sure that we get our money’s worth at each meal.  What that ends up meaning for students is that rather than having three neat meals each day many students will have breakfast before their first class, a snack between classes, lunch, first dinner, second dinner, and grab a piece of fruit to take back to their room for later.  And you can have every meal with a different group of friends. 

In addition to the dining halls, McCollough Social space boasts two fabulous on-campus eateries.  The Grille which features a varied menu offering food from Turkey Clubs to a Heart Attack , which is a stack of french fries slobbered with freshly-melted cheese, bacon bits, and chicken finger bites.  Yep, it’s sinful.  Downstairs teh new student-run Crossroads Cafe is quickly becoming a hot spot on campus with healthier offerings, waffles, smoothies, a create-your-own-bowl menu, cookies from a bakery called Cookie Love, and Stone Leaf Teachouse.  The library also has a cafe that’s great for late nights. 

Now that the year is winding down and the weather is getting nicer opportunities to celebrate abound.  Smaller barbeques are popping up all over campus with Midd Mayhem, an annual all-campus cookout on the last day of classes is right around the corner.  It will be complete with a band and inflatable obstacle courses and other such games.  We’ve been finding more reasons to head into our favorite restaurants in town, including the Natural Foods Co-op and Two Brothers Tavern.  Further out there are some great plcaces that allow you to sit on the dock while you get food and Vermont breweries are amazing.  Otter Creek Brewery will even give you a free pint glass for being a 21+ MiddKid. 

Vermont is full of tiny gems.  Thank goodness VT Restaurant Week starts next week!

More than Breakfast

One of the things that I have been most blessed with during my time at Middlebury has been good conversation.  The pace of work and life here is surprisingly fast in such a quiet surrounding, but what continues to refresh me are my conversations here.

The most genuine conversation I’ve had lately came from the most unexpected source.  I walked into Ross dining hall, book in hand to read for a quiz in Education in America.  After doing a full circle around to see what was up for grabs for breakfast decided to start with coffee before anything else.  Let me point out that I am a firm believer that breakfast can and often needs to be a working meal.  It’s my time to wake up and to finish up whatever last bit of reading I just almost finished last night.   Depending on how much sleep I can sometimes go from standard politeness to even friendly, something my mother would tell you has taken me long to learn.  I suppose I was being particularly friendly Thursday morning as I said hello to a classmate because he decided to join me at my table.  Ignoring the reading material that I had brought with me, he sat with a full plate of French toast sticks and we began to talk about the Sociology of Tourism senior seminar that we are taking together.

We talked about the professor, the class dynamic and even a touch of the reading material – all standard small talk.  I continued to sip from my coffee cup, prepared with an out whenever the cup came to an end, but somehow by the time I hit the bottom of it we were talking about our paths into our chosen majors, what both rich and poor colleges have to offer students, our frustrations and our hopes for the future.  We talked about ways in which we’ve shaped our own educations and moments where maybe we should have done that more.  It almost doesn’t matter what we talked about, but the quality of our conversation convinced me to sit down with food as well and stay to continue it rather than just politely ducking out.

I’ve never been a morning person, but given that this was not my only great breakfast conversation of the week Middlebury just might inspire me to wake up with the sun.  Where else would I have the chance to sit with a fifth-generation Vermonter and talk about the distinct advantages of rich and poor colleges or talk to a Hong-Kong born Australian about the identity and future of ethnic enclaves?


Middlebury students may be in the library on Sundays, but Fridays and Saturdays are a bit of a different story.  One of the things about Middlebury that most surprised me as an incoming first-year was the fact that most students do not leave Middlebury on the weekends, with some exceptions such as in-season athletes travelling to compete.  I thought that I would be spending a decent amount of time in Burlington (45 mins) and Montreal (2.5 hours).  I’ve only been to Burlington a few times and Montreal probably the same amount.  Other than those few short trips, I’ve spent my weekends here.

What can a town of 8,000 (Middlebury) offer that an international metropolis of 2 million (Montreal) can’t?  A good place to study, you may joke.  That’s true.  However, Middlebury realizes that it doesn’t have 2 million residents and that it has to work harder to keep students entertained.  To this end, the College and students themselves take it upon themselves to offer a wide range of weekend activities for students with a variety of interests.

Take this past weekend, for example.  Friday night, Inception was screened three times in Dana Auditorium as part of the Free Friday Film series.  The Free Friday Film Series is a series of recently released films offered free to students by MCAB (Middlebury College Activities Board), the student-run activities board.

After Inception, my suite hosted the pirate party, an annual tradition of the Sailing Club.  The Sailing Club is a three-part program: it runs a PE class, offers a recreational sailing program that allows anyone to get out on the water, and competes in regattas as a member of the NEISA (New England Intercollegiate Sailing Association).  The team is incredibly tight, even when they’re mock fighting in pirate garb (witnessed Friday night).

Saturdays are usually fairly relaxed.  This past Saturday, you could’ve gone down to Alumni Stadium, gotten involved in a tailgate and watched the football team end their season with a win over Tufts.  On any given weekend, you could grab a few friends, hike Snake Mountain and spend a while admiring the beauty of the Champlain Valley.  You could also explore town, pick up some fresh cheese at the Farmers Market, grab a sandwich at Noonie’s and eat it overlooking the falls on Otter Creek.

This past Saturday night, MCAB brought us Yeasayer.  They gave a great show with the crowd going especially wild for one of the lead singer’s jumpsuit.  MCAB is able to bring a lot of great acts here for concerts.  In recent years, we’ve seen: The Roots, Girl Talk, Regina Spektor, and many more.

Scene in Nelson on Saturday night

This past Sunday, a lot of people skipped the library (at least for a while) to watch the mens’ soccer team win the NCAA DIII regional championship.  The soccer team will advance to sectionals next weekend, hopefully moving onto nationals after that.  The team is no stranger to the NCAA DIII National Championship, having won it in 2007.

As you can see, Middlebury doesn’t give students much reason to want to leave campus.  That said, I will be going up to Burlington tomorrow to see the midnight showing of the latest Harry Potter.  Pumped.

Proctor Love

In response to Ben Weitz’s post about the food on campus, I want to talk about my affection for another spot to eat. Middlebury College has fantastic food options, and I eat almost every meal at Proctor Dining Hall, which is located near Mead Chapel.

My first year here, I fell in love with Proctor Dining Hall. At Proctor, we are blessed with panini machines, fantastic salad ingredients, homemade peanut butter, local maple syrup, Vermont apples, vegetarian stir-fries, wild salmon… the list goes on. It is hard to be bored by the food there. A large spice and dressing rack plays a major role in students’ creations of sandwiches and salads. And there are always great desserts and ice cream.

The spaces to sit in the dining hall are a big part of my love for Proctor. The dining hall has been renovated since my first year, but it has retained its cozy feel with the booths in the back, the outdoor tables, and the Woodstove Lounge (that some people refer to as the ski lodge) in the front. Depending on the time of day, these spaces can be very peaceful and quiet or full of energy and socializing.

Another factor in my affection for this dining hall is that so many of my friendships at Middlebury have developed over long meals at Proctor. From weekend brunches to weeknight dinners, meaningful relationships have grown out of our countless hours at booths and round tables. The atmosphere of Proctor fosters the shared understanding that work, obligations, and responsibilities can be put aside for some time while open conversations and bonding take precedent.

The Grille

One of the things that often goes over looked when students are looking at colleges is campus dining.  When many students start thinking about college they think about classes, professors, social life, roommates, etc., but lose track of how important food is to a college experience.  Think of it this way; you will take 36 classes while you are at Middlebury.  You will only live in four different dorms and have four different roommates (at most), but you will eat many, many meals.  Let’s do the math.  You will be at Middlebury for 30 weeks for four years.  Seven days in a week makes 210 weeks and three meals in a day makes 630 meals.  If you are like me and you prefer to eat four, five, or even six meals per day, you will be approaching if not exceeding, 1,000 meals during your years at Middlebury College.  Sure, the food at our dining halls, Ross and Proctor, is good, but my favorite eating option on campus is The Grille.

The Grille is located on the second floor of the McCullough Student Center in the middle of campus.  It is a retail dining option (which means that it does cost money, but believe me, it’s worth it.)  At The Grille you can order student favorites such as the Dr. Feel Good (Grilled cheese, fried chicken tenders, and barbeque sauce), the Love Me Tender (Chicken, ranch, tomatoes, and lettuce), or the infamous Heart Attack (I am not even going to attempt to describe the various fats and calories which go into this healthy and nutritious selection.)  If you are looking for more traditional options, you can also order subs (my go-to order is a turkey sub, wheat roll, lettuce, tomato, onion, mayo), burgers, pizza, etc.  The Grille also has vegetarian options and healthier choices if fried meat and cheese is not quite your style.

The Grille is also a hub of campus life.  There is a pool table, T.V.’s which are convenient for watching Monday night football, and student dance, singing, and instrumental performances.  There is Karaoke, Pub night (on Thursday’s for the 21+ crowd), and so much more.  Just last night, two Political Science professors held a special event for the elections.  They had a big screen T.V. and a projector set up and were giving running commentary and predictions on the elections for quite a few hours.  A couple hundred students showed up for this event (although many left disappointed after the GOP took back the House of Reps.)

The 2010-2011 academic year opened with disappointed over reduced Grille hours, but during the month of November hours will once again be returned to their former length and The Grille will be open until 2 AM most nights.  In other exciting Grille related news, the Juice Bar (which is located beneath the Grille and was shut down at the beginning of this year) will be reopening and will be STUDENT RUN.  A contest is currently taking place to determine which group of students can create the best financial plan to run the Juice Bar.

So if you are ever in the mood for a study break, some greasy food, a game of pool, singing some karaoke, watching Monday night football, or just hanging out with some good friends, I recommend The Grille (and maybe afterwards a quick trip to the gym to burn some of those Dr. Feel Good calories.)