October Roundup – from Wagyu and Wine to Hartford Fashion Week

It’s time for Fall in New England, with all the traditional bells and whistles.  Apple picking, events, haunted hayrides – you name it, it’s happening this month.  Here’s a round up of a couple upcoming things I’m really looking forward to, in addition to two fall traditions I’ve already celebrated that will be available all month long:

Hartford Fashion Week kicks off tonight at Union Station in Hartford.  Friday and Saturday’s shows are SOLD OUT, but you can still buy tickets for Sunday (act fast!)  I attended a preview last night at the Wadsworth’s monthly First Thursday and was also interviewed for Telemundo as the only Spanish speaking committee member.  The interview was, hmmm, interesting, but the First Thursday collection was terrific.  I particularly enjoyed Redfield Design – the romantic steampunk collection jived very well in the Wadsworth’s space.

kat and katrina

With Hartford Fashion Week founder, Katrina, post interview.  This lady rocks!


Redfield Designs models acting the part of living statues at the museum

For more info or to buy tickets for Sunday – visit here.  You can also purchase tickets at the door for $40 tonight or tomorrow, but those will most likely be standing room only and cannot be guaranteed for availability.

Signature Chef’s Auction for the March of Dimes The March of Dimes is committed to raising the standard of living for pregnant women and their babies, and they also are incredibly important in the care and wellbeing of preemie babies.  This signature fundraiser occurs annually in Hartford at the Riverview.  This year’s date will be October 15th, and you can purchase tickets here for the October 15th event. It’s for the babies.  And it’s also a terrific event with wonderful food sampling from some of the best chefs in the region.

Share Our Strength another collaboration from some of the finest and kindest Chefs in the Hartford area.  Share Our Strength benefits No Kid Hungry – a national charity which is committed to ending childhood hunger.  So again, it’s for the kids.  Chef Tyler Anderson of Millwrights is the chair of this year’s event.  The October 29th event will this year feature a full table seating by each participating restaurant, with a three course sit down meal: a truly great chance to enjoy an excellent meal with friends whilst giving back to the community.  Tickets are available here

Wagyu and Wine an annual offering from The Capital Grille – this special engagement will run through November 22nd, and allow you the opportunity to enjoy a delicious, fatty, crispy, flavorful waggly burger, paired with an excellent glass of red wine, for only $25.  I attended with my good friend Jon Aidukonis.  We took advantage of the free valet parking (so convenient, especially in Downtown Hartford!) and sat out on the lovely patio space on Front Street, as if was a beautiful evening to be outdoors

wagyu valet parking


kat and jon wagyu

I have tiny little T Rex arms coz I’m excited for burgers

I chose the Gorgonzola and Black Truffle Wagyu Burger and paired it with the recommended Justin Isosceles Cabernet Sauvignon (Paso Robles, 2012)

wagyu glamour shot

Glamour shot

I’m an enormous fan of the following flavor combinations: gorgonzola, red meat, and red wine.  So naturally, the marriage off all three in this meal was right up my ally.  I also enjoy the technique that the Capital Grille lends to the wagyu burger – it’s a high quality product for sure, but in the wrong hands you can end up with a soggy, fatty burger with an overly rich finish.  The Capital Grille executes the wagyu burger with finesse and expertise, yielding a product which has a textural outer layer with a nice hint of salt and a creamy, meaty, flavorful center (which they will happily leave medium rare upon request).  Paired with a chocolatey, Bourdeaux style cabernet with an excellent balance and a big, strong presence and you have a symphony of textures and flavors for your palate to enjoy.  John also kindly allowed me to sample his paired wine: the Landmark Overrlook Pinot Noir (California 2013).  The spicy, fruity Pinot is an excellent fall wine, and I would like to go back and enjoy a full glass with the second pairing: the Wagyu Cheeseburger with fried egg and crisp onions. And I probably will.  Because for $25, why the heck not?  Thanks to the Capital Grille for inviting us in to enjoy this pairing and providing us with a lovely meal.

Apple Picking I took the little Miss Penelope out to Clark Hill Farms at Bushy Hill and we both had such a great time.  We enjoyed apple cider donuts:

cider donut apple picking

So nice

minnie mouse apple picking

And ran through the fields and picked a whole bag of apples!  Like a big girl

It’s peak apple season and we New Englanders are very spoiled with our options statewide

apple picking


But I would recommend Clark Hill Farms in particular for their ridiculously good farm to table breakfast.  I’ve been three times now, and I’ll be writing a post JUST about their food at some point in the near future.  Granby is only a 30 minute drive from Hartford, and if you go out there, I recommend checking out Lost Acres Vineyard too!

horse apple picking

Visits with horsies for baby

wine apple picking

And delicious, crisp, fresh apple wine for Mommy.  I’m not a cider person, but the Apple Wine at Lost Acres is clean, well executed, and delightful without any of the vinegar aspects (pleasant to some I know) which characterize cider.  Highly recommended!

What do you like to do for October in CT?  Leave me some recommendations to try if you please!

@SBShades #StevieBoi #NYFW2015 show plus @NolchaEvents told through a #Snapchat story

I have some really, really talented friends, whom I got to watch in action during New York Fashion Week.  Top of mind right now are two people:

nolcha blog glasses

Kelly Hart of “That Girl” – who was the lead make up artist for the Stevie Boi shades fashion show 


nolcha blog in line

Carolyn Paine, seen practicing resting bitch face with me as we lined up for the show, and who is currently deep in Nutcracker planning mode

Kelly was in charge of make up and styling for this show, which focused on blinged out glasses and a constructuralist aesthetic.  The venue was very Chelsea chic – the No. 8 Lounge, with the show itself happening quite casually with models strolling and and out of the crowd.

nolcha blog stevie boi

Whatever this chandelier is – I’m into it

nolcha blog runway

After the show, we popped  upstairs to congratulate Kelly and meet the models
nolcha blog backstage

Seen here being fierce

nolcha blog bonjour berlin

Also extraordinarily fierce – Carolyn’s friend Andrae, modeling a pair of the Stevie Boi shades

nolcha blog fierce shoes

With some very fine Jeffrey Campbells

After the show, we headed over to the Vanity Fair after party, at the Empire Hotel Rooftop

therapy outfit empire hotel after party

My entire outfit is from Therapy (minus the Alexis Bittar pendant) – a lovely slouchy black tee and a black leather skirt – casual but dressy, perfect for venue hopping in the city.  I like Therapy so much that I wore a SECOND outfit for the store for my follow up trip to the city for Nolcha on Sunday:


This is, quite possibly, my favorite little black dress.  The only reason I say ‘possibly’ is that I have an absurd amount of LBDs in my closet (but can you really ever have too many?  I think not)

Nolcha is a showcase of some independent and up and coming designers, with several high impact runway shows occurring back to back.  It takes place at Pier 59 Studios, another excellent venue with onsite valet parking and a really excellent lounge and rooftop space.


I missed the 6 pm shows this year, but was delighted to attend the 9 pm ones to see Danny Nguyen, Acid NYC, and Intrepid by AO’C


Selfies were taken with Danny


As well as solo with a photobomb from one of the lovely gents from BE Magazine (hurrah new friends!)


And last but not least, the lovely Paula Mele, who is also the current Mrs. Connecticut International

Alas and alack, last year my good friend Kat attended Nolcha with me and took some killer photos.  This year, my evil camera roll decided to become full within minutes of arriving at the venue and, of course, before the fashion shows commenced.  So I had to resort to good old fashioned Snap Chat to capture the runway shows.  You can find higher res images from the photographers at Nolcha at the following links:

For Danny Nguyen

For Acid NYC

For Intrepid by AOC

… of all the three shows, my favorite element were the textiles by Acid.  their use of colors, particularly on the swimwear, combined with trendy prints, was right in my wheelhouse, aesthetic wise.  Some of the highlights from my Snapchat “gallery” are below as well for your viewing pleasure – enjoy!










Cheers to New York Fashion Week and all the creativity which goes into each and every designer’s collection!  It’s an honor to attend and experience the new apparels first hand


Finishing with a glass of bubbly and a new glossy mag for reading at home

Why I run, in pictures

Hello friends,

I’m busy prepping for the Zooma Cape Cod at the end of September with my lovely friend Caitlin, her wonderful mother, Stephanie, and Cait’s close friend, Maria.  It’s approaching way too fast, and I’m still way too slow (at least from where I would like to be).  But I don’t run for competition.  I don’t run for weight control – although I guess that’s a happy side effect of all the miles in and calories burned.

I run for a simple reason – because it clears my head and provides me with moments of beauty that are translucently perfect when seen through the vail of several hours of endurance, and silence.

It’s basically a form of meditation and transcendentalism, rolled into one.

It’s where I go when the world is too much and I just need to appreciate stillness.

I realized this, quite fully, at Nolcha last night, when I happened to meet a videographer on the deck at Chelsea Piers.  She told me about a project she is working on – a documentary of NYC seen through moments of everyday experience.  And I told her about Virginia Woolfe’s “moments of being,” those fleeting seconds of perfect clarity and beauty which artists try so hard to capture, which burn like a “match burning in a crocus” – illuminated for a split second from within and then gone forever.

When I run, it’s to savor those beautiful moments.  And though these pictures don’t do the actual experience much justice, please enjoy this visual journey from Elizabeth Park to the Riverfront in Hartford, which I completed yesterday.

bushnell running blog

Bushnell Park

tobacco shop running blog

The Tobacco Shop Lounge, where I refilled my water bottle and said hi to the fellas

statehouse square running blog

Statehouse Square: deserted on a Sunday

phoenix running blog

The Phoenix Building

riverfront running blog

East of the river

horse running blog

A metallic horse on the riverfront: part of the Lincoln Sculpture series

tree medallion running blog

Vignette detail deep in the woods on the Riverfront

bridge running blog

On the bridge, returning to the city (not pictured: a mother chasing her toddler with her camera)

asylum church running blog

A friendly face at the Asylum Hill Congregational Church

at the sign of the rose running blog

At the sign of the rose, returning to Elizabeth Park


Time for Nolcha and the New England BBQ Championships

Fashion week is here.

The most wonderful time of the year.


I’ll be very excited to attend Nolcha again this fall, which I did and recapped in the middle of the frozen winter and recapped here.   This year’s shows will be on September 12th, and it will be wonderful to attend them and just marinate in new and innovative creative from some truly talented up and coming designers, hurrah.

Speaking of innovation – let’s take a look at Bear’s Smokehouse first ever New England BBQ Championships shall we?  But before we do – let’s discuss that this event which took place last night, with the professional judging and awards ceremony happening today.

It was an opportunity to experience a true BBQ throw down from some of the best local pit masters in the area.  A fundraiser, with 100% of the profits from the event going to Riverfront Recapture.  Little baby cupcakes from Nora and craft beer samples from many great local spots.  All set against the serene backdrop of the Connecticut River.  Cool yes?  But they say a picture is worth a thousand words, so enjoy this photo recap of the event.

And a special shout out to Jamie, photographed in the first picture below, and his wife, Cheryl (not pictured), for their  continued efforts to bring not only great BBQ to the state, but to usher in cool events and do good while doing so.

riverfront 6

riverfront 5

riverfront 10

riverfront 12

riverfront 13

riverfront 9

riverfron 8

riverfront 2

riverfront 4

riverfront 3

Last but not least – this is entirely unrelated to the post – but I took Penelope to Flamig Farm earlier in the day and snapped this picture, and I’m a proud mommy so I have to share it:

riverfront 1


Welcome to Champs et Frites

Hi there.

It’s been a great ride as Penelope, Prosecco, and Pulitzer, but after much thought, I’ve decided to rename my blog after two of my favorite things to eat – champagne and french fries.  “Champs et Frites” will have the same content, but it will be just a little bit more streamlined and focused on style as well as the local foodie scene – especially with Fashion Week right around the corner.

Thanks as always for visiting.

Don’t look now, but there’s a Bear in your Tavern

Birthdays are often wonderful, especially when they are filled with delicious food.  And boy, did I have a foodie birthday this year!  Let’s start with my actual birthday eve, last night, at the Capital Grille.  With impeccable attention to detail and making special occasions as special as can be, they started with a card and confetti:

happy birthday

So festive!

They also brought out bubbly, which paired nicely with our (not pictured) oysters:


Making a girl feel special

And finished off with a dessert plate, which our server Michael customized for me upon overhearing me mention I hate cheesecake (which I do, don’t judge me):

happy birthday dessert

So instead, we were served my very favorite coconut creme pie.  Which is tart, salty, sweet, smothered in hand made whipped cream, and perfectly decadent

That’s just the level of consideration and attention to detail that can be expected at the Capital Grille.

IIn addition to the glorious celebration dinner listed above, I was fortunate enough to finally attend a Bears Smokehouse and Millwrights pop up dinner in the Millwrights Tavern on Monday night.  This will be a ‘thing’ every Monday night for the forseable future, and it involves taking Bear’s glorious BBQ and giving it a high end twist with Tyler Anderson’s signature cooking style.  Behold: “The Cook and the Bear”

rum cocktail millwrights

Behold also my Sloe Gin Fizz (sloe gin, lemon, and soda)- Chris Parrot never disappoints

The menu is divided into small plates (priced at $4) salads (priced at $8) proteins ‘from the smoker’ (at $6.50) sandwiches ($10.50), sides (also $4), and sweet stuff, aka dessert ($6).  It’s quite affordable and, well, let’s just look at some food porn shall we?

cocktail and pickles at millwrights

Tyler always makes a good pickle.  It helps that he works with the Community Farm at Simsbury and always sources fresh and local.  Also pictured: a “Dirty Holiday” cocktail (tequila, coconut, pineapple, and lime)

corn on the cob at millwrights

Grilled corn with the flavors of Greek salad.  Like Mexican style corn, this is drizzled and drenched in decadent toppings.  It’s, quite obviously, corn season, so the best time of the year to be eating the stuff anyway.  Tyler’s preparation of it is very signature of his style – a simple vegetable dish elevated with masterful flavors and a twist on a traditional technique. 

beet salad

It might seem difficult to order a salad when there’s so much meaty BBQ to be had – but get your dang salad.  It’s good for you – pictured is the: “smoked beets, ricotta, and walnut pesto.”  The beets packed flavor and texture and the citrusy, earthy flavors balanced nicely against the creamy cheese sauce.

ribs and mac and cheese at millwrights

You should still get BBQ.  Obviously.  Pictured: baby back ribs, baked beans, and mac & cheese with chicken cracklings.  Of all the things on this plate, the mac and cheese really sang to my soul.  In the way that only creamy cheese and crunchy chicken cracklings do

brisket sandwich at millwrights

The burnt ends sandwich – with the flavors of french onion soup.  It was difficult for me not to order this one for myself.  Burnt ends – the fatty, juicy ends of the brisket – are my favorite item to order at Bears Smokehouse.  But I restrained myself and will get it next time, because I simply, absolutely needed this:

best chicken sandwich at millwrights

The nashville hot chicken sandwich, iceberg, pickles.  Also known as the chicken sandwich against which all others will now be judged and found wanting.  Sorry Chick Fil A.  I don’t need you or your bigot chicken anymore.  I’ll take this local, better version instead.  And pair it with a nice Maine “Baxter” IPA.

The cozy Millwright’s Tavern is a perfect back drop for a decadent BBQ dinner – moving into the fall, this will be epically good comfort food.  Please go, check it out, and enjoy.  It’s a unique local collaboration which we are very fortunate to have here.

A Grand Tour of Wines with the Generous Pour @TheCapitalGrille + Breakdancing Hamlet

I get really excited about wine.  I get really excited about Shakespeare.  This post examines both – be prepared, my friends

vinted vogue shot

Bonus: I’m writing this from Vinted – where they serve up half price bottles of wine on Sunday evenings.  Having the Blue Back Square as your back yard carries its advantages.

Why is there a Vogue magazine in the above shot?  Why, because I was entranced with a story on a new musical, Hamiltonwhich sets the story of one of Founding Father’s to a hip hop soundtrack.  This is pretty rad in and of itself, but it ties nicely to what would appear to be a new theatrical trend in the works – as our very own Hartford Stage has a very limited run Breakdancing Shakespeare: Hamlet tonight, and through August 11th at the University of St. Joseph!  The project has existed for several years through the Greater Hartford Arts Council Neighborhood Studios, and it inspires to bring classical works to people of all ages through an infusion of relevant coolness and creativity.  More info and tickets available here.  Can’t wait.

Now, on to the main course of this post (pun intended) the magnificent Generous Pour at the Capital Grille.  I was invited to attend for the second year in a row with Carolyn, who joined me last year also:

carolyn with wine

This picture is from last year.  It’s magnificent and also a very accurate depiction of our friendship.  From here on out – photo credit for all pictures goes to Carolyn

The Generous Pour is an annual event at the Capital Grille.  It is running now through August 30th, and the concept is simple: sample eight exceptional wines (generous samples, as you can see from above) for $28 with the purchase of an entree.  We happened to time our visit with their Taste of Hartford menu, which unfortunately has come and gone for this year, but it’s still well, well worth the visit in order to dive, nose first, into some truly exceptional blends:

row of wine glasses


Behold all the beauties.

The wines ranged from lightest (Sauvignon Blanc) to deepest (Syrah)… here are some highlights from each and every glass:

Galarie “Naissance,” Sauvignon Blanc, Napa Valley (Winemaker: Laura Diaz Munoz): A light and bright wine, with a very thin mouthfeel but a smooth and creamy finish.  Fruity and perfect for summer sipping.  I tend to gravitate more towards New Zealand Sauv Blancs, but it’s lovely to find the hand picked all stars from Napa, which featured very heavily on this list.

Barrymore, Montery, Pinot Grigiot (Proprietress: Drew Barrymore): Whoa.  I didn’t know Drew Barrymore had a vineyard.  Talk about a class act.  And her wine matches her reputation – summery, citrusy, tart, described as a “crowd pleaser,” – just like Drew! – and very able to live up to the name.  I have bad, bad associations with Pinot – think a warm oversized bottle, diluted by ice cubes to the point where it’s just not worth the effort drinking it.  But this wine reminded me why it’s important to keep an open mind – and palate – when it comes to blends.

Stonestreet “Bear Point,” Alexander Valley, Chardonnay (Winemaker: Lisa Valtenbergs): Again, another thin mouthfeel (makes me believe that the sommelier had an eye out for summery blends when creating this list), with lots of spice, and a very classic take on the ‘big Cali’ Chardonnay style – lots of personality and lots of oak.  Would and did pair quite nicely with food – but more on that in a minute.

kat with wine glasses

Let’s break here for a picture of me in my “happy place” 

On to the reds:

Cambria “Julia’s Vineyard,” Santa Maria Valley, Pinot Noir (Winemaker: Denise Shurtleff): I love, love a good Pinot.  It’s a rich, complex, moody complicated wine which is disastrous when executed poorly but oh so good when it’s done right.  And this particular blend’s grapes all come from the vineyard – a rarity, and every single one of them came together to create a truly delightful wine.  A mouth load of poppy and cherry, and a nice mineral quality to finish which made me want to close my eyes and picture myself at the vineyard (wouldn’t that be lovely).

Matanzas Creek, Sonoma, Merlot (Winemaker: Marcia Monohan): I’m planning a visit to see my sister in November, and she is considerate enough to live in San Francisco, which means we’ll be paying a trip to Sonoma as well as eating the finest Mexican food outside of Mexico (hello, Mission District).  This vineyard may be worth a visit, with a nice chocolatey palate to the merlot, balancing out some dark fruit flavors nicely into a well rounded blend.  If you’re drinking this at the Capital Grille – and why wouldn’t you?  Do yourself a favor and pair it with a steak.  A very happy companionship that would be.

Arrowood Reserve Speciale, Sonoma, Cabernet Sauvignon (Winemaker: Kristina Werner): Not familiar with Cabernet Sauvignons?  I was not personally, but it’s a nice, relatively new combination of Cabernet Franc and Sauvignon Blanc grapes, and it’s easy to grow and a crowd pleaser.  This particular variety is, however, quite rare and also accordingly expensive.  The vineyard it resides in (another Sonoma – hurrah) has century old vines, and this particular blend only pops up occasionally on wine lists due to its limited quantities.  Flavor wise, it’s just a really nice, classically executed Big Cali red.  If you’re into that sort of thing like I am, it’s not one to miss.

Mt Brave, Mt. Veeder, Napa Valley, Cabernet Sauvignon (Winemaker Laura Diaz Munoz): The second wine from Ms. Munoz on the list as well as the second and only repetitious blend, this ruggedly beautiful red has deep crunchy notes, big red flavor, and an explosively smooth palate.  It packs quite a punch and will take you nicely into your flourless chocolate cake if you choose to partake in that – but more on dessert in a minute.

Kinton, Santa Barbara, Syrah (Wine visionary: Julia Jackson): With a list like this, it’s important to end on a high note.  This magnificent Syrah delivers a smooth, cherry, vanilla visionary taste with a very creamy palate and delicate balance of flavors.  A special vintage year, this Syrah finished off our tasting in excellent style.

wedge salad

Oh yes – in addition to the wine, the Capital Grille spoiled us with food.  The “Taste of Hartford” pre fixe menu is available during two weeks in the summer and the winter, so watch out for January’s cycle at www.tastehartford.com.  My meal started with the above pictured Bleu Cheese and Applewood Smoked Bacon Wedge

burger and truffle fries

Closely followed by this magnificent burger the “Chef’s Signature” Cheeseburger and parmesan truffle fries.  I can’t say enough about the Capital Grille burgers.  When you’re somewhere that loves and pays such close attention to beef, the results are going to be superb, and this one was no exception.  My only complaint – a dried out bun, but considering we ordered off the lunch menu at 3 pm, when the kitchen was switching over to dinner, I think this small fault is justified.

flourless chocolate cake capital grille

To end things: Flourless Chocolate Espresso Cake.  I’m not an expert so I won’t say that these flavors are a perfect accompaniment to the deep reds at the end of the Generous Pour, but the flavor notes in most reds were present on this dish, and I certainly enjoyed putting the two together.

All in all, we enjoyed a very magnificent meal and lovely patio seating al fresco, enjoying the downtown hustle and bustle of Front Street.  Thanks again to the Capital Grille for their hospitality and excellent service, as always.  So go, try this list, before it runs out at the end of the month.