Horseradish Cottage Cheese Relish The Dog Team Tavern
The Dog Team Inn was a delightful, world-famous old place located just north
of Middlebury, Vermont, USA. Sadly, the legendary restaurant burnt down in
2007 (the owner died in the fire). The place was listed on the United States'
Register of National Historic Places. Of all the celebrities who dined there, my
favorite to mention (and one the restaurant's staff would mention the most) was
Robert Frost. My parents saw him there once when I was a small child (I guess
I saw him, too, but was too small to remember).
The place is extremely difficult to describe in words. There is a web presence here, however. It's kind of spooky; the owner was trying to sell the place in order to retire — and the place wouldn't let him.
One of the charming things about the restaurant was the "relish wheel," an
old-fashioned device used to wind yarn on, from which hung copper pails filled
with various relishes. Relish wheel offerings included bread and butter pickles,
corn relish, apple butter, pickled beets, and this cottage cheese. The relish
wheel was on casters and stopped at every table shortly after diners were
This stuff was also available at the bar, with ridged potato chips for
dipping. It is the quintessential New England flavor. It took a bit of experimenting, but all this recipe lacks is the creamy
goodness of cottage cheese from Vermont dairy cows:
One pound small-curd whole milk cottage cheese (not low-fat)
1/4 cup good-quality bottled horseradish (or 1/8 cup freshly grated
1 tsp. dill weed, fresh if possible
1/2 tsp. sugar
Salt to taste
Freshly grated black pepper to taste
The morning you're going to serve this, combine all ingredients and
refrigerate. This gives the flavors time to blend and mellow. Check the
seasoning before serving. If you've used fresh dill, garnish with a few sprigs
before serving. This was served at the Inn with ridged potato chips. It also
goes well with crudité or any of your favorite things to dip.
* About horseradish: it's a good idea, if you're new to grating fresh
horseradish, to read Sneff's splendid writing about it here.
Consider yourself warned.
The Dog Team remembered: One last bit about this singular place —
in the parlor, where folks would wait to be seated, and where one would pass
through after eating, there was an enormous fish-bowl filled with
red-and-white "Starlight" mint candies. When I was young, I dreamt of having
a restaurant of my own. Now, many years and three restaurants later, each
place has featured a fishbowl filled with red and white starlight candies
placed on a low table, low enough for even a four-year-old's small hands to
reach for a bit of minty sweetness. I think of The Dog Team every time I
gaze upon that candy bowl.