The Troy General Store is easily one of my favorite post skiing stops. Sporting a map of Jay Peak on the front of the building, the store unabashedly looks for a connection with the mountain and its associated patrons. It is extremely convenient whether you need something to bring with you to Jay or for the drive home.
Unlike most of my other drive home haunts, the Troy General Store is rather close to the mountain. A stop here does not break up driving monotony. But it does provide a great recharge before the drive home and has everything I could possibly want.
The pizza is excellent and amongst the best of the country stores I have visited. Pizza is almost always available and usually in a variety of toppings. If pizza is not your thing, chicken wings and tenders are also available in addition to a deli for subs and sandwiches. The bakery section is well stocked and the chip selection is impressive. Most importantly, the store spots canned soda and a great craft beer selection. You really can’t beat the variety.
Troy General Store excels in accessibility with side of the road parking at the intersection of Routes 100 and 101. While cars can barely pull off Route 242 for overpriced gas at the tourist trap Jay Country Store, you can always pull up and pull out at Troy General Store without putting the car in reverse. You have to stop for the stop signs, any ways. It only makes sense to come to a complete stop for a bite to eat before the long drive home.
Mallard Mart in Bethel, Maine is yet another departure from my normal Country Store commuting habits. Typically I plan my Country Store stops around the half way point during my drive home. But Mallard Mart is only fifteen minutes away from Sunday River.
The method to my madness is that I normally only ski Sunday River early season. My MO for early season at Sunday River is to get there early and leave at noon when the crowds show up. This means I am ready for lunch when I stop skiing. So I skip the on mountain food and instead opt for Mallard Mart pizza.
Which is the other reason I stop at Mallard Mart despite the lack of distance: the pizza is just that good. Well seasoned with excellent spices, the pizza is top notch for gas station fare and priced right. Big boy cans of soda are available along with an acceptable chip selection (Ruffles Sour Cream & Onion always appreciated rather than the standard Lays options). And when pizza is not your desire (wah?!), the Mallard Mart also makes subs and has some bakery options as well.
Craft beer selection is respectable with several respectable options. I picked up a sixer of “new to me” Frye’s Leap India Pale Ale from Sebago Brewing Company. I am always delighted to have a new local offering to sample. Frye’s Leap IPA is a fairly standard IPA offering which is very drinkable but nothing special.
Mallard Mart is TheSnowWay.com approved with excellent pizza along with all the other essentials. It is a ritualistic part of any Sunday River outing and something I actively look forward to while riding the lifts. The pizza makes for a great lunch while sitting at road stops on Route 2 for the construction that has been on going for as long as I can remember.
The Quechee Jiffy Mart is the second to last service station prior to the I-89 Interstate junction with Route 4. This Shell gas station pushes the definition of Country Store but it has all the bases covered quite well and deserves attention for exceptional function despite the lack of true Country Store aesthetics or charm.
Pizza is franchised from Ramunto’s with a wide variety of reasonably priced large slices readily available. The pizza sports a thin crust and a sweet tasting sauce. Selection and availability are second to none in the gas station pizza business. If you would rather have a sandwich instead of a pizza (say it isn’t so!), Subway is also franchised in for your submarine needs. While these options do not offer a local flavor, they do provide reliable quality and availability.
Six packs of craft beer are available but in limited options including larger Vermont labels such as Long Trail, Otter Creek, and Magic Hat. This type of selection is bare minimum passing grade these days. Cans of soda are available (gotta have cans) but only in the new glutenous 16 ounce tall boy sizing. Rounding out the essentials is a really nice bakery section including muffins, donuts, and other such delights and of course your standard potato chip fair.
Clean, bright, and friendly, Quechee’s Jiffy Mart takes care of all the bases and excels in their pizza and bakery options despite lacking that true Country Store flair. Access is perfect right along Route 4 East and is a great last stop prior to jumping on the highway coming from Killington or Pico.
This is an essential near mid-point during my drives home via Route 4 as Enfield, Canaan, Grafton, and Danbury do not have Country Stores with pizza offerings. However, if you do decide to stop at a service station in Enfield to take a quick nap, you can expected to be woken up by all two of Enfield’s finest wondering if “you are okay” (and to ensure that you are not drunk). True story. From a small town.
I used to be a skiing cheapskate. Water and brown bagging was my modus operandi for sustenance. Then something changed. As my income increased, I began splurging. These occasional rash excesses led to more frequent indulgences which became bad habits.
For whatever physiological reason, driving home after a physically demanding day has always been difficult. The eyes flutter, the chin drops ever so slightly, and then you snap erect. If only for a moment to regain your bearings before this most dreadful process begins again. How many head poppers can you sustain before you take action? My resolution has been stopping at Country Stores and buying a slice of pizza.
Much of my driving is directionally east-west. Which is to say, I drive back roads more often than highway by a significant majority. So instead of fast food stops off interstate exits, I pass by a Country Store in almost every town I drive through. I have come to have my personal favorites, my regular stops.
So I bring you this series in which I write reviews of various Country Stores in Vermont, New Hampshire, and Maine. Each series entry will include details such as a photo, location, and reviews including pizza slice availability, variety, quality, and price, service, accessibility, and craft beer selection.
Pictured above is Gramps Country Store in West Topsham, Vermont (formerly the West Topsham Country Store) on Route 25, my favorite halfway point between my house and the Mad River Valley. Just one of the many Country Stores that do a great service in reducing head poppers, keeping me awake, and providing tasty indulgences.