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The smell of freshly baked pizza and the sound of avidly talking diners surrounds customers as they walk past Junior’s.

Located at 167 Main Street, the restaurant was constructed in an old Dunkin Donuts store, yet now, one could not imagine a donut store there instead of this little pizza joint.

There are a few tables in the restaurant that are covered in classic red and white checked tablecloths, as well as a dining counter looking out at busy Main Street, which is perfect for people watching.

While in line to order, a customer can easily see pizza dough being tossed in the back of the kitchen, and they can look at the different varieties of individual pizza slices in the case next to the register.

Although the menu is located somewhat awkwardly at the front of the restaurant, with only one other copy on the wall next to the door, the staff at Junior’s and the superb food completely remedies any difficulties looking at the menu.

The two members of the staff interacting with the customers were exceedingly accommodating, quick and helpful. They took orders accurately and were prompt to bring extra cheese and plates.

Even though there were only two people working the counter, every customer’s need was thoroughly met.

The pizza came out just as quickly as the staff helped. The restaurant was packed, adding to the classic pizzeria atmosphere, yet there was no significant delay in waiting for one’s order.

A fountain drink stand made drink refills speedy, and the pizza came out promptly at the perfect temperature. The crust was crispy, while simultaneously being quite soft on the inside.

Covered in onions, peppers, mushrooms, sausage and pepperoni, the original specialty pizza lacked nothing in the way of toppings and the vegetables were not over-cooked or soggy.

The menu was full of a wide variety of toppings, and the specialty pizzas were easily suited for many people’s individual tastes.

There were slices of pizza of any kind available for sale as well, enabling anyone to still enjoy the company of a group while eating exactly what one wants.

While there are other delicious-sounding options on the menu apart from pizza, such as Panini sandwiches, calzones and pasta, Junior’s seems to be a primarily pizza-oriented restaurant. However, this does not allow the presence of their marvelous baked goods to go unnoticed.

There are many different Italian and classic baked goods available, whether one desires an individual sized éclair or a large chocolate cake.

The pastries are kept in a glass-faced refrigerator easily seen from the dining area to draw in those customers with a sweet tooth.

Apart from the delectable options available for immediate consumption in the restaurant, there are custom birthday cakes, wedding cakes and assorted cookie platters that need to be ordered in advance, according to Junior’s website, http://www.juniorsvt.com.

Despite its size, this little restaurant has a lot to offer, providing one with a delicious meal and the perfect dose of classic Italian pizzeria atmosphere. It is definitely a restaurant to keep on the pizza-lover’s list of places to revisit.

Published by The Vermont Cynic on 04/29/2008. Read it here.

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After being noticed nationally by the Food Network in Throwdown with Bobby Flay, Bove’s has soared into new levels of attention, while still keeping its classic family charm.

“[The Throwdown] certainly has had an impact on our sales,” chef and president of Bove’s restaurant Mark Bove said.

“We have lasagna everyday now because of the Throwdown,” Bove said. “People just requested it so much.”

Stephanie Mann, a UVM sophomore and frequenter of Bove’s, is one customer satisfied with the change. “Lasagna night used to be Wednesdays, but now it’s every night which is great because their lasagna is really good,” Mann said.

When asked whether Bove’s had gone through significant changes after the Throwdown, Bove said, “We still carry on our routines every day. It is just on a larger scale now because we have customers who are traveling from all over the country to have our lasagna here at the restaurant.”

“We had one person who came last summer all the way from Tanzania,” Bove said.

After seeing the Throwdown, “several Food Network producers have come in just to see if the lasagna was real, if we were real,” Bove said.

Mark Bove’s publicist, Nicole Ravlin, hired soon after the Food Network episode, said, “Bove’s products are distributed up and down the East Coast [and] a huge mail order business is going out to the West Coast.”

As Bove’s publicist, “our main goal is to get him national exposure” and to “get food bloggers to take notice and write about Bove’s on their blogs,” Ravlin said.

Concerning Mark Bove’s own personal blog – which can be found at http://www.boves.com Ravlin said “it’s a great way for people to tell the personality behind the brand.”

“It’s great to keep everyone connected and make them feel a part of what is happening,” Bove said. “My blog is the 21st century of getting to know your customers.”

Bove recently shot an episode of the Today Show which will be aired soon, Ravlin said.

When asked about how the Today Show became interested in Bove’s, Ravlin said, “We (her public relations group) are well connected with the Today Show” and that the Today Show “loved the sample footage” of Bove.

“Mark is a dream client,” said Ravlin. “People like him and he has great presence on camera because he is incredibly enthusiastic about his brand.”

“The cameramen were watering over the lasagna,” Bove said.

Bove recently created a lasagna that uses his famous vodka sauce instead of the marinara, and for the show, “I did [both] the vodka and the marinara sauce lasagnas,” Bove said.

“Simon Pierce even made me a couple custom dishes for the Today Show,” Bove said. “My publicist is talking to Simon Pierce now, and they are going to market a pan called ‘The Bove’s Lasagna Dish.'”

While Bove’s has gained great popularity, “this is as commercial as I want to get,” Bove said. “People have approached us to franchise Bove’s, [but] that’s too bizarre for us.”

Glenn Xiques, a sophomore at UVM and a Milton, Vt. resident, said he has been going to Bove’s with his family “probably since I was about six.”

“I used to go with family, but now I just take friends there,” Xiques said. “When anyone comes from out of town, Bove’s is a really good place to take them.”

“The food is phenomenal!” David Dyke, a fellow UVM student and Essex Junction, Vt. resident said.

“Bove’s has always treated our customers as family,” Bove said, and he has no plans to change that aspect of the restaurant.

Yet Bove has one other mission.

“My mission is to have a rematch with Bobby Flay,” Bove said, and “I’m going to use my vodka sauce in the lasagna.”

“So Bobby Flay, if you read this article, I want a rematch.”

Published by The Vermont Cynic on 01/27/2009. Read it here.

While it does not include hot cocoa, Bikram yoga can keep UVM students toasty, challenged and healthy, all without going to Patrick Gym.

“If someone told me we were going to do the same thing every day for 90 minutes — the same 26 postures and two breathing exercises in a room heated to 105 degrees — I’d say ‘how boring,’” Bikram yoga instructor and UVM financial analyst Elisabeth Baker said.

But the repetition has not prevented Baker from continuing Bikram yoga and becoming an instructor.
Every day is really a different experience because you bring different things, like emotions, with you to class, Baker said.

“I used to be a runner. On New Years [sic] Day, 2002, I took my first Bikram Yoga class … I went home from that class thoroughly exhausted and simultaneously exhilarated and exclaimed: ‘that was harder than any marathon I’ve ever run!’ And I went back the next day,” she said.

However, becoming a Bikram instructor takes a significant time commitment.

“You have to do a 500 hours teacher training course with Choudhury Bikram in San Francisco” Bikram practitioner and owner of Bikram Yoga Burlington on Pine Street, Kelley Lyons, said.

Director of the Arts Initiative Ann Barlow said she would “recommend it to anybody.”

“I feel much more grounded emotionally and physically overall,” Barlow said. “Go there with an open mind, relax through the process, [and] don’t always judge it by the first class.”

“During the actual process of [the yoga], I felt kind of nauseous, like I was going to faint,” UVM sophomore Lora Brown said. “But once that passed, I got really into it.”

“At first I felt like I was going to fall over, but when I adjusted to the heat, it became really easy to do the poses and I felt so much more flexible,” Brown said.

“Everyone has taken their first class.  Everyone wants you to succeed. We all want you to come back,” Baker said.

According to Baker, many college students participate at the Bikram studio downtown. “Many satisfy their PE credit by doing independent studies, coordinated with Patsy McLaughlin,” she said.

Todd Porter, residence director for UHeights North and four-year Bikram participant, attests to Bikram’s time commitment — and to its worth as a workout.

“Each class lasts about 90 minutes, so if you have a very very busy schedule sometimes it can take some maneuvering to work it into your schedule,” Porter said.

“If you have the time to do it, it is a phenomenal way to get in shape and get in touch with your inner core,” he said.

“Anything that grabs you and keeps you physically fit is great,” Baker said. “If I’m healthy, my whole life benefits — friends, family and my professional work at UVM. It is an incredible gift to be physically healthy and active.”

Published by The Vermont Cynic on 03/17/2009. Read it here.

A fusion of competition, mystery and travel, Competitours adds a new twist to touring Europe and, potentially, the rest of the world.

According to the Competitours’ Web site, National Geographic Traveler calls it “The Amazing Race for regular people.”

“This is basically your vacation as a travel contest,” president and creator of Competitours Steve Belkin said.

“You and your partner will join a group of teams, [but] you won’t know where you’re going ‘til you get there.”
According to the Competitours Web site, all “destinations [throughout the trip] will be a secret, revealed with just a suspenseful half-day’s notice. Teams will make snap decisions about customizing their own daily challenge itineraries.”

Each day, “you get a menu of different [competition] itineraries to choose from,” Belkin said.
Finally, the winning team gets “a travel spree to any of 115 Starwood™ hotels spanning 51 exotic and intriguing countries,” according to the Competitours Web site.

While it is compared to “The Amazing Race” by National Geographic Traveler, Belkin believes this experience to be quite different.
“Instead of eating worms [on The Amazing Race], we’ll ask you to convince a twentieth century family why they should take a cruise on an ancient Viking ship,” Belkin said.

“It is about how creative you can be and letting your personality shine through.”

Kent Wien, an American Airlines pilot and soon-to-be participant in the first trial of Competitours, said he and his wife are huge fans of “The Amazing Race” and that he liked the unknown portion of the vacation.
As a pilot, Wien is a frequent traveler. “I went to Paris 17 times last year,” he said.

When asked why he did not decide to tour Europe on his own, Wien said, “typically you get over there [Europe] and you don’t really know what to do.”

In addition to the luxury of guidance given by Competitours, Wien said that he is participating in the competition to write about it in his blog, Cockpit Chronicles, on http://www.gadling.com.

He found out about Competitours because “Steve Belkin offered [Competitours] to [www.gadling.com] to write about,” Wien said.

Caroline McCabe, an avid traveler and another soon-to-be participant, said that she also found out about Competitours through a different travel blog, http://www.flyertalk.com.

“The whole concept of being in and amongst the people is a much more rewarding way to travel,” McCabe said.

“I have been to more than 40 countries [and] I believe in travel as one of the most valuable educations that anybody can receive,” she said.

McCabe said that the prices are incredibly reasonable for all that is provided with the trip.

On the Competitours Web site, prices are listed as $2,950 for the two-week trip and $1,995 for the eight-day trip.

“If we had this conversation a year ago, I would say this is definitely geared toward college students because it is a totally new niche experience to travel to Europe,” Belkin said. “But with what’s gone on in the economy, we have tried to broaden the appeal to people other than college students.”

Concerning college student involvement, Belkin said “that the college market makes a lot of sense because kids like freedom, they like to compete, they like to travel.”

“That sounds like fun, but I just don’t have the money for something like that,” UVM sophomore David Swift said.

Concerning payment for Competitours, “three days after the trip is over, the credit card company will charge your card,” instead of before the trip, Belkin said.

Even in this economic climate, McCabe said she is excited for “the adventure and the competition.”

Published by The Vermont Cynic on 03/23/2009. Read it here.

In the new season of “The Next Food Network Star,” UVM alum Melissa Donovan d’Arabian reveals her cooking prowess and aims to past it on to women across the country.

From her sorority girlfriends at UVM to her French husband and four daughters, d’Arabian found ample support and mouths for her cooking, practice needed to potentially become a Food Network personality.

Now living in Keller, Texas, just outside Dallas/Fortworth, d’Arabian prepares for the first airing of the competition on June 7 and the nation’s response to her style of cooking.

If d’Arabian succeeds in the competition, she will win her own show on the Food Network, according to the Food Network Web site.

In an interview with The Vermont Cynic, d’Arabian discusses the competition, her inspiration and her goal to make cooking easy, fun and fruitful for women no matter where they are in life.

The Vermont Cynic: How did you get selected to be on “The Next Food Network Star?” Did you have to apply?

Melissa Donovan d’Arabian: You can either go through one of the casting calls or go through the Internet by uploading a video. I uploaded a video.

One of the things that I do is speak to women and moms around the Dallas area about making homemade baby food and yogurt.

I get many requests from people wanting to know how to make yogurt without a machine, so I made a video to e-mail out to people who wanted to know how to make my yogurt without any equipment.

That is the video I submitted to the Food Network, so I killed two birds with one stone.

VC: How was the application process?

MDD: The deadline for submissions was the last week of November and I was contacted pretty quickly after that telling me I had been accepted for the next round.

I submitted more applications with information about me, my family and my culinary interests. Soon after that, I was contacted to go the Semi-final contest.

I flew up to New York to do a live camera audition and found out that I was in the competition.

I applied a bit late, so the process only took about a month.

VC: What are you feeling going into this competition?

MDD: I’m feeling very excited because winning would be a fantastic extension of what my life is about — providing ideas and solutions to women not only all over Dallas but women all across America. And yea, I’m nervous.

[I] hope that things don’t go wrong, but I’m here to win it.

VC: What are you planning on making?

MDD: On June 7 when the show runs, I’m going to make one of my favorite recipes that my kids love: an apple tart.

I spent a semester abroad and spent a year over in France working for Euro Disney. That is were I met my husband who is French, and my French mother-in-law helped me perfect my apple tart.

On the June 7 airing, we are charged with catering the party for the 16th anniversary of the Food Network.

We [the contestants] have between 75 and 100 people to cook for.

You can imagine what it is going to be like. We are going to be cooking for all the big names: Bobby Flay, [Masaharu] Morimoto, Alton Brown, Giada and Alex Guarneschelli, the executive chef at Butter.

VC: Are you going to include some Texas-style cooking?

MDD: My mom was in the navy, so I grew up in a number of places.

I’ve actually only been in Texas for a couple of years because we moved up for my husband’s job, although I have learned a lot from cooks down there.
I know how to do a good barbeque.

VC: How has your family reacted to you involvement in this competition?

MDD: My husband is my number one fan.

He’s gotta be if he has to manage all four girls while I’m in New York.

My girls have started seeing the commercials. They get so excited when they see mommy on TV, but I don’t think they really know what it all means.

For now, they just see the commercial and know that’s why I’m in New York. That is enough of a reason for them.

VC: Did any of your experiences at UVM contribute to your entry on this show or your love of cooking?

MDD: UVM has played a role in my culinary development.
I was a big fan of my sorority, which is Alpha Chi.

When my mom died, I wound up moving back into my [sorority] house, and my girlfriends were my network and my rock. My mom taught me that cooking was the way of loving somebody.

UVM helped me in a sense that here I fell in love with having girlfriends and that is who I am as a human being and as a cook — I was raised by a woman, my mom, and since my mom’s death when I was 20, my family was my girlfriends.

That is where I learned as a cook: I cooked with my girlfriends and for my girlfriends.

I learned how to build my family with my girlfriends around me. We create our families, and that’s what I did.

They are a big part of who I am and a big part of me in loving and honoring the girlfriends in my life.

My connection to my girlfriends is also why I want to help women around Dallas.

Also, through UVM, I studied abroad and learned French which is why Disney sent me overseas where I met my husband and lived in France.

Living in France chanced the way I cooked all over again. They have such an emphasis on the best and freshest ingredients.

That is a big part of who I am as well.

VC: How much did you cook while you went to UVM? Did you ever live off campus?

MDD: My first year on campus in Hamilton Hall was the lost cost housing option. There was no janitorial service – the discounted housing. There was one kitchen down at the bottom of the dorm, and I did cook there for my girlfriends.

My second and third year, I lived in the sorority house, and in sororities there was a live in cook that had dinner on the table at a certain time every night, so I didn’t get a chance to cook as much during that time.

But my last year I lived off campus, and I would cook so many recipes. Then, I would drive around and deliver it to all my friends who lived off campus. I just wanted to cook.

Later, when I got my MBA at Georgetown, I leveraged my experience cooking [at UVM] to get a live-in position with a large family in Georgetown as their personal cook, since I had cooked for so many people before.

VC: If you win this competition and get your own show on the Food Network, what kind of cuisine will you focus on?

MDD: I absolutely represent home cooking at its finest.
Sometimes that is the quick meal on the table, food to feed my babies or the feast that every one sits down to, relaxing after a long day at work. But every day you still just have to get the meal on the table.

I only serve one meal in my house. I am not a short order chef and it would get too confusing making everyone a different meal.

In my show, certainly people could look to see meals that are healthy and tasty for the kids and yummy enough for the parents.

The definite thrust is to give people take home solutions so life in the kitchen can be for all different types of women.

I’ve been a career women working on how to get the dinner party on the table that you thought was good idea, I’ve been the mom with a bunch of kids trying to get food on the table, I’ve been the cook for the Thanksgiving meal.

All those events to me encompass home cooking.

VC: How would winning the show affect your life? Do you think it will affect the time you can spend with your family?

MDD: My kids and my family are always going to be the most important thing to me.
I’ve learned early on that family and relationships come before everything else. I wouldn’t be here if this didn’t make sense for my whole family.

Being able to share ideas and help families across America fits into my life.

Winning the show absolutely fits in with my family’s goals and mission, and if it didn’t fit with my family, I would not be here.

Will there be days were I don’t spend as much time with my kids as when I was a stay at home mom? Absolutely.

Will there be a span of four months were I don’t see my kids or know what is going on at their preschool? Never.

Published online by The Vermont Cynic on 05/03/2009. Read it here.

UVM clubs are getting naked to earn some extra cash for the second year in a row.

It is definitely not for an X-rated film, but for the 2010 edition of the UVM Prudent student calendar.

Born in a Boulder Society meeting, the idea for the calendar was brought to fruition by 2009 graduates and boulder society members Jamie Seiffer and Evan Walden.

“We had no idea what we were getting ourselves into,” Seiffer said. “We organized everything, [and] we learned about the printing and proofing process.”

In 2009, the calendar was printed by Fed-Ex and Kinkos, but “there were a few hiccups. They were kind of last minute about getting things to us,” Seiffer said. “It ended up working out in the end.”

For this next undressing session, Seiffer said Nittany Valley Offset, an eco-friendly printing company that frequently works with Campus Recreation, is compliing and printing the calendar.

Each club pays $500 dollars up front which gets the club 100 calendars to sell around campus. Each calendar cost $10, five of which go towards the club’s bank accounts.

With a temptation of extra funding and nakedness, “We had to turn away at least 8 clubs,” Seiffer said.

The fencing, mock trial and water polo clubs are among the many signed up for calendar pages in the 2010 edition, according to the UVM Prudent Student calendar facebook page.

Even BORED is on board. They will be mention briefly throughout the calendar, although they will probably not have a full calendar photo, Seiffer said. “It all depends on the layout.”

Stephen Hausman, a 2009 UVM graduate and past Cynic editor, modeled for the calendar last year.  He did not feel uncomfortable with the shoot, “but I have done nude modeling in past to pay my pub bills while I was abroad in England,”

Not everyone is so comfortable. “No, I would not have done it,” UVM junior Colin Francis said. “I am not going naked on that calendar for everybody to see.”

Despite the potential for discomfort, Hausman said “it was an absolute blast and if I could I would do it all over again, I would.”

Published online by The Vermont Cynic on 10/22/2009. Read it here.

After stopping by the Pearl Brewery Farmers Market, I took a morning stroll down the riverwalk extension with my organic coffee in tow. Sadly, most of this was spent sweating and hiding under a shady overpass alongside fellow San Antonians. While beads of sweat fell into my eyes, I looked out at the plants stuck on the scorching hillside and realized in horror that the plants could never join me in the shade. Drought resistance only takes you so far.

Thankfully seven years of tedious effort, planning, and design created the Museum Reach riverwalk extension. “The project itself stared as a vision as far back as 1998. The San Antonio River Authority, the City of San Antonio, and Bexar County created the San Antonio River Oversight Committee [the citizens’ stakeholder group],” Steven Schauer, manager of external communications for SARA, says. When the design and construction phases of the project began, Ford, Powell, and Carson (an architectural firm) designed the extension, and Zachry Construction Corporation implemented FPC’s design – a plan that took our rain-filled Texas weather (just kidding) into account.

“[The landscape] was always meant to be irrigated, but even with a lot of irrigation, you still have to have plants that can stand full sun. They tried to select a lot of plants that were colorful and drought resistance because that’s what you want to see,” says Mark Sorenson, SARA’s project manager for the San Antonio river museum reach urban segment.

Although right now drought resistance seems the only important feature, other important elements are the plant’s aesthetics and their ability to prevent erosion, according to Cullen Coltrane, the landscape architect employed by FPC. No one wants to see an ugly garden, especially one that cost 61.1 million dollars. “As you move further toward Pearl Brewery, you get less tropical and more hill country in style,” Coltrane says.

Yet keeping that lovely hill country garden alive is another story.

Now the extension is open to the public, and the ISS Grounds Control (employed by Zachry to maintain the landscape) works tirelessly to inch the landscape along during our painfully extended drought.

“They will actually be maintaining the whole system for a year. Zachry was required as a part of their bid to insure the entire project for a year,” says Sorenson. “At this point, ISS is taking care of plants for the year [because they were the subcontractors].”

“We have one full time gentleman that is down there every day,” says Chris Pais, ISS project manager for river extension project. “He is in charge of basically maintaining it to the owner’s standards.”

With a degree in landscaping and golf course management from Carleton State University, Timothy Devries is the on-site go-to guy. “We’ve had to pull weeds by hand because the chemicals dilute and are not effective with the way we’ve had to water,” he says. They water daily for shorter periods of time instead of four days a week for longer periods – this process lets the water sink into the ground more effectively says Devries.

For those of us who can only water our lawns once a week, don’t worry, you aren’t getting cheated. “Luckily the water that we are using is recycled water, so the water restriction doesn’t affect us until stage three,” Devries says.

“Our irrigation system has control boxes throughout the river walk . . . if it notices something is not functioning properly, and then it sends me an email,” he says. It’s something out of the Jetsons – plants that harass you when they are dehydrated.

Even with ISS’s unflagging vigilance, a few plants simply can’t take the heat. “Some things might look happy going in but they might not be as happy as they look,” says Coltrane. “You are going to have some [plant] decline from transplanting the material, and you are dealing with nature as well.”

“90 percent of it is drought tolerant,” says Pais. But drought tolerance doesn’t happen as soon as roots hit dirt. “Once it is established it needs less water, but we are still in the establishment phase.”

Around the time of the extension’s grand opening, a 50 foot stretch of Cardinal Flowers died, and Pais is uncertain of the cause. However, he wants to eliminate one possible cause for their death – Pais is waiting until the replacements are fully grown before he puts them in the ground. “We want to make sure the plants are at their proper growth period,” he says.

Overall, the plants are plucky and have stuck it out. Less than 8 percent of the plants struggled, according to Devries, and he takes heart in the irrigation, hard work, and the sky. “As long as things stay wet, we can limp it through the summer,” he says. “Let’s hope god blesses us with some water.”

Published online by the San Antonio Current on 08/05/2009. Read it here.