Foreword: this post is dedicated to the people of Vermont who are still wresting their incredible state out of the muck left by Irene. To find out how to volunteer, go to http://vtresponse.wordpress.com/. If you can't volunteer in person, you can donate to the relief efforts here.
There are many traditions at the Shakespeare camp I teach at in VT each summer; my favorite is that campers often invite the staff to their homes for dinner.
This gracious ritual has given me a window into the food lives of Vermonters, and it's a different perspective than the one you get from national press focusing on the state's upscale farm-to-table restaurants. Those places are great, I'm sure, but the impression I get is that tourists enjoy them far more often than locals.
Perhaps that's because of how good so many locals have it. Backyard salads, berries and even chickens were all on the menu this year, as was homemade ice cream, churned before our very eyes (and very thighs) and so forth. But only once did we have duck confit.
Mr. Kiely is a doctor, and thankfully the Hippocratic oath doesn't apply to poultry. Mr. and Mrs. Kiely slaughter a flock of their own ducks each year in order to make confit, and this summer I was finally the happy recipient of their carnage.
The Kiely clan is undeterred by the fact that their daughter isn't even a camper anymore. In fact, she's now on staff. Here she is eating berries at the home of current campers who led us into their prolific patch one night.
This year the Kielys made us dinner even though we weren't able to go to their house. And so, with the precision of caterers, they mobilized the confit along with gazpacho, their own roasted veggies, salad, the best quiche I've ever had, homemade peach ice cream (below), homemade ginger ice cream, and molasses-spice cookies, also homemade.
Everything was superb -- even better than the sushi feast, Greek extravaganza or shrimp risotto the Kielys have made us in the past, which is saying a lot -- but the confit was of course the star of the show. Because it was confit.