By Ellen Oltman Kellner
Julia and Paul VanDerWielen arrived in Dorset in March to take the reins of The Marble West Inn. An eight-bedroom, rambling country inn with a 16-seat dining room and catering kitchen at their disposal, this setting could not be more different from the corporate food services they ran for Restaurant Associates in Boston. When Paul and Julia planned for stewardship of The Marble West Inn, they embraced Vermont’s farm-to-plate initiatives, looking forward to becoming an integral part of it. They have since extended their use of local products beyond the kitchen to the rest of the inn – each of the guestrooms feature bath and body products from Dorset Daughters Fine Soaps.
The VanDerWielens’ philosophy is simple: provide the freshest seasonal ingredients, ethically sourced, from local purveyors. Diners are served beautiful meals that are traceable from start to finish, because local and fresh taste better and are better for the community and the environment. This husband-and-wife team have found local sources for almost all the foods they wish to serve, including their own organic garden, that at Marble House Project, and a few select wild-crafted ingredients, such as nearby-foraged herbs and flowers, and watercress and mustard from their backyard brook. A recent breakfast served to guests began with whole milk yogurt from Larson Farm, lightly sweetened with a touch of bourbon-barrel-finished maple from Dorset Maple Reserve. Paul mentioned that when berries are ripe, they are served atop the yogurt. He further explained, “This is where preserves come in,” to offer fruits that are not in season but are still local. On the table was a dish of jam that Julia had put up the previous summer. Breakfast continued with Pink Boot Farm’s eggs cooked with Consider Bardwell Farm’s Pawlet cheese, Berkshire bacon from western Massachusetts, and sweet potato hash sourced from Laughing Child Farm, with bright, fresh herbs. Paul poured coffee from Dorset’s Tall Cat Coffee Roasters to accompany the meal.
Along with seasonal produce, The Marble West Inn will serve meats as they are currently available – lamb is only on the menu in spring and early summer, turkey from Woodbury Farm in the fall, and rabbit from Oak Summit Farm may be served in any season.
At the heart of the inn near the dining room is a cozy den, aptly called the cookbook room – there are upward of 1,200 of Paul and Julia’s cookbooks shelved here.
A resource for themselves and for artist-in-residence guest chefs at Marble House Project, the vast and colorful collection is available for any guests to peruse. Paul and Julia have evidently made use of their collection, as they have boundless knowledge and creativity in food production and fine dining.
The Marble West Inn serves prix fixe dinner with paired wine flights on Fridays and Saturdays; reservations can be made on Open Table or by calling the inn, where Paul will tell you about other upcoming food and wine events. Look for their weekly Wine Over Marble small plates event and Afternoon Tea on Wednesdays.
1847 Dorset West Road, Dorset. 802-867-0400 or www.themarblewestinn.com