Lunch with Swift

Roaming southern New Hampshire's Monadnock Region and beyond — visiting unique places and tasting the local flavor..

The Last Lunch at the Moon Dog Cafe. CHESTER, Vt.

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We were on our 12th long run at Okemo in Ludlow, Vt.

The conditions were perfect for mid March. The snow was chalky. Every edge set bit into the snow so our skis were like rails. There was a promise of more snow but in our time there, it was just overcast sky. The temp was in the mid 20s and the winds were light. A perfect day for some hard charging cruising. And that was the way we skied.

About one p.m. our legs were screaming and someone mentioned lunch. The words barely wafted into the mountaintop air when David said “the Moon Dog Cafe!” He, being a knowledgeable patron, knew to call two days in advance and plead to the wonderful proprietress to make her legendary chicken pot pie.

It was a Pavlovian response when the lunch suggestion echoed out. Immediately, we raced down Chief, the best run at Okemo on the best snow of the winter to find the best pot pie in Vermont.

We stopped at the bottom by the lodge, lingered a minute to off (s.i.c.) our boots and extra coats and mittens, and loaded up the cars for a quick drive to the MDC.

The Moon Dog is one of those places that you wish was right around the corner. It has a great selection of sandwiches like a roast beef, apple and boursin sandwich on home made hearty bread, lightly toasted with a side of grilled sweet potato and some wild rice. That is one small example. What we were after was the secret special: Pot pie.

We walked up to the counter and didn’t see any mention of it on the menu board. David stepped forward. “Do you have any chicken pot pie?”

The chef said ” as a matter of fact, you called didn’t You? …Yes, I made some this morning … It was selling fast so I saved 4 pieces for you.”

We sighed, and ordered. Then we took our places in a table by a huge glass storefront facing the quaint village of Chester. As we waited, our legs still were burning from the skiing. We looked around to the eclectic arrangements of canned tomatoes, bananas, honey, and knitting. We chatted. And at one point Michael recited as poem he loved about “the work.” We shook our heas and wondered when he would have time to memorize that. But it was naturally appropriate to the moment.

It was not long before the good waitress brought out our plates

They were beautiful pot pies spilling out chicken and peas, caressed by a flakey butter crust. On the side was cranberry sauce baby lettuce and sweet potatoes.

We took a deep breath. We paused. We went silent. We slowly savored every forkfull.

Lisa had a rhubarb soda. We thought about beboparebop rhubarb pie. And wondered how Garrison Kiellor could have gone so astray. Who cares? The sun was pouring into the windows. We were feasting on these incredible pot pies

… And then we got the news.

The Moon Dog is closing here and moving to Bellows Falls. There are a few good things in this. It will soon be reopening with the same crew. And it will be a bit closer.

But, this was our last lunch at the Moon Dog in Chester with burning legs and the promise of more snow coming.

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