Brunch so hard with Barcelona Wine Bar

barcelona (1 of 1)It’s not every day you take over a Facebook page.  Might as well make the most of it!

Submit a compelling argument to me as to why brunch is NOT the greatest meal of the week.  For one, it’s rare.  Usually occurring only on Sunday (but at Barcelona Wine Bar – you also get Saturday brunch – rejoice!), with all the carbs, all the meats, all the sugars, and of course, all the booze.  Barcelona was kind enough to invite myself and several guests (big and one small) to enjoy brunch with them – and pick up the tab – for which I sincerely thank them.  Also sincerest thanks and gratitude for a truly amazing meal.  This is truly one of my favorite spots in the Center.  Shout out to my friend Xavier, formally of Rooftop 120, for recently being named their new West Hartford Executive Chef also!  Ok, down to business.  Some highlights from our feast:

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Brunch without booze is a sad breakfast, they say (and they’re right).  So might as well booze like you mean it with the perfect Bloody Mary from the more than ample bloody mary bar.  It’s a little overwhelming perhaps, but Amanda is a pro and created this artistic and delicious creation:
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Pictured: nothing excessive

And then, of course, there’s the food.  Barcelona is known for tapas style dining, combining traditional Spanish cooking and eating styles with a little American flair and fusion.  Their Brunch Tapas menu is available alongside the (more traditional) tapas selection and delectable cheese boards and paellas to share… so that you can mix and match if you care to do so.  We were spoiled and overwhelmed with brunch items and stuck to those however:

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Exhibit A: Chicken and Churros

Of all the dishes, we sampled, my personal favorite was the “Breakfast Octopus:”

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Replete with a perfectly poached egg sprinkled with just the right amount of paprika.  Octopus, cooked correctly, is a texturally perfect meal.  This plate is also light and healthy, which was good because the chicken and churros were… probably not…

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Come to think of it… poutine (with Mangalica gravy), is also PROBABLY not particularly healthy.  But dang, is it tasty.  Also pictured: Mimosas made table side with my favorite Juve Y Camps Cava and fresh grapefruit or orange juice.

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Another crowd pleaser: Huevos a la Flamenca (Spinach, Manchengo, Baked Egg).

Penelope enjoyed Lemon Blueberry Pancakes for her own baby brunch:

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Sharing jokes with Auntie Amanda

And we adults enjoyed a very grown up rift on french toast with the Torrijas:

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That’s Coffee Vanilla Syrup and it’s amazing.

Thanks again to Barcelona for, well, killing it in every single way.  Our entire dining party, including the (not pictured/too busy eating to pose for pictures) Scott and Adam had a perfect dining experience.  I’ll be back very soon to see what sort of cool twists Chef Xavier has put on the dinner tapas menu – so stay tuned for more Spanish food porn in the very near future, and follow Barcelona on Facebook and Instagram for even more foodie goodness.

Taste of Hartford with Max + Midsummer Dreams at TheaterWorks

It’s Monday… it’s summer.  I know, I know.  You probably want to be at the beach, not reading this at your desk.  But never fear!  There are some GREAT things to do locally on a weekday (or weekend!) date in Hartford.

For you see – it’s Taste of Hartford all week, meaning affordable prix fixe menus showcasing seasonal goodness.  We have a reservation for Tuesday night at Max Downtown (yaaaas) so be on the lookout for all the food porn via my Instagram.  If you like the look of this check out their website for a full roster of upcoming events – or subscribe to the newsletter for updates.  Ok, without further ado, here are the menus:

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So many choices, so little time.  Book a reservation and get downtown!  And while you’re there, please do yourself a solid and see the quirky black (romantic) comedy and musical act which is Midsummer (a play with songs).  No, it’s not a musical.  No, no, no.  It’s more She & Him if instead of a group they were a madcap love encounter, set in Edinburgh.  Bold, modern, and paired down: with just two performers, two guitars, a ukulele, a stuffed elmo, and several other scant props, the play relies on brilliant acting and acoustic performances to create a past and present narrative.  The result is an unflinchingly honest look at two creative, soulful, magnificently flawed accidental lovers navigating their way through respective mid life crises, angry mob bosses, and a wedding scene which… well… I won’t give anything else away.  But I will highly recommend this highly acclaimed play, which is the summer nightcap to TheaterWork’s 30th year anniversary celebration.  Go get you some culture.

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Photo by:  Lanny Nagler for TheaterWorks

So there you have it.  That’s what you do this week.  Go.  Enjoy.  Let me know what you think.

New and noteworthy: farm dinners with Treva + brunch at Little River Restoratives

Working in content marketing for my company, A Little Bird Told Me, and working (mostly) with restaurants exposes me to, well, all the food.  I’m spoiled.  I know it.  And I consider it my duty to share it with the world.  So without further ado, here are two excellent offerings from two of my very favorite clients:

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What is Hadley + Occum?  It’s the rich, glacier born soil that graces the Farmington River Valley.  And it’s the genesis of all that beautiful produce which burst from every farm stand during these glorious hot summer months in the West Hartford/Valley area.  And it’s also the name of the new farm dinner series from the DORO Restaurant Group, starting with perennial favorite Treva and the cuisine of Chef John Medonis:

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Seen here perusing the kale at Sub Edge Farm, which will host the dinner on July 27th.

Get tickets here and enjoy this first of a series of beautiful nights on the farm with what is guaranteed to be excellent, local driven cuisine.

Also tasty and new: brunch at Little River Restoratives – Hartford’s hippest cocktail bar and soon to be Ramen purveyor via a sister restaurant which will open next door on Capitol Avenue in the fall of 2016.  Catch a glimpse of the new menu with what Proprietor Chris Parrot refers to as “Japanese hangover food:” authentic Cabbage pancakes smothered in Japanese mayonnaise, cheese, and your choice of toppings.  Plus excellent cocktails with body soothing ingredients such as aloe vera water and Vitamin b12.  Plus a DJ.  Plus the aforementioned simple, umami saturated and oh so satisfying menu, with Executive Chef Tyler Anderson of Millwrights guest cooking during our visit today.  So yeah – basically as cool and cool can be, and very tasty to boot.  Below are some pictures of today’s brunchfest with Style Context:

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72 Hours in Montreal

Montreal.  A wonderful, artsy city, full of bicycles (at least in the summer months – I would imagine not so much in the winter), street art, amazing and authentic brasseries,  a sparkling clean subway (shocking to someone used to NYC, and apparently you can buy wine via a poster/barcode system although that was the subject of fierce debate between myself and Scott… so if anyone knows for sure, please chime in in the comments), outdoor street markets bursting with flowers, sidewalk cafes, Montreal bagels (life changing), chocolatiers, Syrian food, and really, really neat stationary stores.  Oh and so much more, I’m sure, but there is only so much you can soak in during 72 hours.  We just exhausted our store of meats and cheeses from trip one, with the last of the chorizo from the Jean Talon Market going into this weekend’s arroz con pollo.  Plus, there are so many more poutine variations to try:

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So a follow up trip will be a thing in the coming months.  In addition to the amazing outdoor/indoor market, we also purchased many small and necessary notebooks in the Nota Bene stationary store, strolled through the Ritz Carlton for a cocktail, shared an enormous portion of poutine (pictured above) at La Banquise, and noshed on small, dense, nutty, wood fired and utterly delicious bagels from Fairmont Bagel (noteworthy for having an entire separate flavor profile from its American counterparts.  and also!  the first bagel in space!  thats… adorable).  We also enjoyed the classic L’Express (not pictured as I didn’t bring my camera, but the steak frites and cornichons were superb), plus the unparalleled Syrian food at Damas.  So food, folks.  Lots and lots of food.  Pretty par for the course for a Kat/Scott excursion, although we are making a more conscious effort to experience more culture in addition to food culture (starting with Fiddler on the Roof next weekend in New York- hurrah!)  But regardless: no complaints.  No regrets.  Please enjoy the photos and do yourself a solid and visit Montreal if you have the chance to do so.

 

 

Rose alllllll day!

Last week was the first ever 90 Plus Cellars Connecticut Rose Cruise.  They invited me to join them, and I was lucky enough to bring a squad:

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(waves to squad)

We had a truly fantastic afternoon in the gorgeous Greenwich harbor, cruising for three hours, eating small but delicious sandwiches

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Practicing our fake laugh for Instagram

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And yes, that’s three people in Lilly Pulitzer and one in a pink gingham bow tie.  Because Greenwich.

And most importantly, sampling four different varieties of Rose!

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Including the new Lila Wine, which comes in a can.  Which is important.  Because cans can go to the beach.  Crisp and delicious and perfect for summer.

90 Plus’ Rose this season is pleasantly floral and, like most roses, oh so easy to drink swiftly when it’s hot outside.  Maybe that’s why rose is the new ‘it’ wine this season.  Well, this is a trend that I fully support, and you should too.  Rose is truly for everybody.  And it should be drunk on boats whenever possible.

 

Local Foodie Goodness + A Food Fight with Hartford Symphony Orchestra!

“Approach love and cooking with reckless abandon.” – The Dalai Lama

It’s a glorious time of the year for local food.  Ramps are in season, fiddleheads are in season – the first radishes and micro greens are making an appearance!  And going into the summer, Farm to Table dinners will be popping up everywhere (including the Billy Grant’s Farm Dinner series at Rose’s Berry Farm which I cannot wait to attend).  I’ve been spoiled this week with local foods, starting with Let’s Start From Scratch preparing my first ever delivery meal for me:

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Beautiful organic poblano peppers stuffed with cauliflower and black beans over quinoa.  Healthy and delicious!  As a busy working momma, this freed up valuable time to blow bubbles with a mermaid:

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Molly is local and will create scratch meals based on your dietary preferences using the healthiest and most seasonal ingredients available.  Highly recommended!

In other seasonal fare:

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The good folks at Sweet Acre Farm are partnering up with the Hartford Baking Company to offer an organic, super convenient CSA this summer!  It will be available for pick up at the HBC Cafe every week from mid June to mid October.  Sign up for it here!

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And while you’re at the HBC, grab the VERY BEST cold brew, made fresh with Stumptown Coffee daily.  I’m mildly obsessed with it to be honest.

In other exciting foodie news, the Hartford Symphony Orchestra will perform their 4th annual “Playing with Food” night on Saturday, May 21st!  I’ve attended and had the pleasure of interviewing Carolyn Kuan – Head Conductor and mastermind behind the series – in the past years.  She is presented with a series of dishes from each participating chef.  She then pairs a piece of music with the dish based on what it would ‘sound’ like.  For instance, a tuba may play the role of a fatty piece of beef.  There is a visual representation of the dishes as well as a talk back with the chefs (from M & M Bistro, The Connecticut Convention Center, and Concorde Restaurant) – and this year – a twist!  The dishes will be judged by a celebrity panel emceed by the ever creative Jacques Lamarre!  As a classical pianist, it’s not hard to get me to attend the symphony under any circumstances, and I can say with absolute certainty from years passed that this performance will be a visual and sensory feast for all the senses.  And if you’re hungry – never fear- MAX Catering will provide small bites during intermission in the lobby.  Purchase your tickets here and join me Saturday night for a lovely evening of culture, food and fun.

(and an enormous thank you to my friends at the Symphony for providing me with my tickets)

48 Hours in Miami + the Greenwich Rose Cruise with @90pluscellars

SPOILER ALERT: this post contains rose.  Lots and lots of rose.  So much rose.  If you’re not thirsty now, you may be by the time you finish this post.

Let’s start with – the upcoming Greenwich Rose Cruise from my good friends at 90 Plus Cellars!  Save the date for this inaugural event (for CT!) on June 4th.  The Boston version is a blast:

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TBT to when I was a drunken flamingo

And I’m sure this one will be no exception.  Purchase tickets here and use code DRINKROSE33 at check out to receive $10 off per ticket!

From rose to – froze!  That would be frozen rose folks.  It’s a thing and it’s fantastic

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The very best slushie

I made friends with this libation while on a mini-vacation The Standard  in Miami while in town for my little sister’s graduation.  This ultra hip hotel features the very best in amenities, from spa to pool to hammocks

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Complete with astroturf

To (private) bathtubs outside of your room, to cool little ‘zines which are perfect for a beach excursion:

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We enjoyed 48 glorious hours of tropical bliss, starting with an intense rainstorm, which was perfect for tub soaking and hot stone relaxation, and culminating in a Vespa mini tour of Miami Beach and, of course, my beautiful little sister’s graduation day

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Which we toasted with – you guessed it – more rose

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So very proud of her!!

A photo tour of the hotel plus our scooter adventure is below – but first a small diversion to Little Havana, aka Calle Ocho, which no trip to Miami is complete without.  We visited the Ball and Chain and enjoyed gin and guava cocktails plus salsa dancing, plus street empanadas from a dodgy little stand, plus cigars. Standard Miami.

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In other culinary adventures, there was a Panther Coffee within walking distance of our hotel, which is one of Scott’s favorite coffee shops and therefore quite amazing (I defer to him on all these coffee related as, well, he obviously really knows his stuff from years of research)

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Perfect little macchiato

Next time we visit Miami, we fully plan on returning to The Standard.  It’s cool in the most laid back and luxurious way.  Check it out if you need a place to stay in Miami, NYC, or LA.  Highly recommended:

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