I had every intention of posting last week, I swear. But somewhere between working full time (which I adore) little Penelope (who is the best thing in the world), and a three day holiday weekend (yaaaas), time just got away from me. So here’s a summary of the last two weekends’ festivities, starting with: dinner on the patio at Millwrights with my loves!
Oh, what’s better than dining outside on a glorious summer evening with the people you care about? Just about nothing. Well, the opening night of Talcott Mountain Music Festival would have been nice, but when our babysitter had to cancel, we went for a family evening – and it was fantastic. Millwrights, for being somewhat (ok, very) fancy and farm to chef, is still down home, hospitable, and oh-so-baby friendly. How friendly you ask? Friendly enough for the General Manager, AJ, to hunt down sunblock from me for little Penelope when she got a bit too much early evening sun on the deck:
Thanks to Chef Tyler‘s wife for lending us some and pretty much saving our dinner. P practiced her naice walking al fresco and threw a jelly sandal in the pond, and she did not get sunburned in the slightest. A very successful evening.
Dining with a 15 month old can be a bit chaotic, so we have a couple simple rules to manage the experience and make sure it’s pleasant for us and our fellow diners:
– Eat early. The ‘witching hour’ for P is around 7:00 pm, as that’s her bed time, so a 5:00 pm start time typically works well
– Seek out family friendly places. This tends to be less “Chuck E Cheese” and more “awesome, laid back staff – ” like Millwrights, as well as places with stimulation and some space to stretch the little legs and wander about. Outdoor dining in general is, of course, fabulous for this.
– When all else fails, grab some to-go boxes and exit stage left. To be honest yes, this has happened a couple times. But thankfully not on this particular evening!
So there you have it. I’m sure every parent has a trick or two up their sleeves – just happens that this works well for us. It also helps that I occasionally receive gift cards as bonuses through my work place – as budgets for new parents can be tight also (and ours certainly often is!)
Another parent staple – a delicious cocktail. Pictured: the Violet Femme (vodka, creme yvette, lemon, rosemary)
Chef Tyler sent out this delightful amuse bouche, which has an equally delightful French name which I remembered only as its translation: cheese puff (the Violet Femmes may have been to blame for this)
Anyone whose been to Millwrights and doesn’t have a gluten allergy will most likely attest to the flaky delectable qualities of the biscuit and house infused butter combo
We ordered a side of asparagus for P, but it was enjoyed by all
Mike’s entree: Tournedos of Beef Tenderloin. The pickled scape garnish was incredible. I’m canning scapes this week in an attempt to replicate at home.
My Duck Breast. The parmesan grits were a bit of a let down for me – I’m a purist when it comes to grits and the texture was a bit too rich, mealy, and not quite starchy enough for my taste. But the flavorful, fatty, rare plus duck more than compensated, and it paired quite nicely with my Violet Femme.
This was my first opportunity to actually dine on the deck at Millwrights. I can’t wait to go back, hopefully for drinks at sunset? Who knows. It’s awfully nice that its only fifteen minutes away from our house 🙂
So that was Friday evening – over and home before the sun had fully set – but that’s not a bad thing at all on a long summer night with a small child in tow. Saturday, we had another family excursion to the Pickin’ Patch in Avon! We arrived just in time for the last strawberries, which is why our berries are a bit small. We worked hard for them and they tasted extra juicy because of it!
Sun ripened, juicy beauties.
Someone got a special wagon ride from Daddy!
As well as berries, the Pickin Patch has a variety of ‘you pick’ vegetables. We grabbed some snow peas, and I would definitely like to go back for more of a veggie array at some point in the future. We plucked these particular berries for a very maple syrup infused brunch at our house the very next day and served them in maple syrup (naturally). The entire concept of the brunch was birthed from a single bottle of maple syrup infused wine from Arrigoni Winery in Portland. I did a tasting when I picked the bottle for the party up, and a write up of many of their wine blends is coming tomorrow! There were enough of them that they deserve their own post. The maple syrup wine didn’t last long, but thankfully we had back up:
Look at these fashionable ladies
Most of the cooking was done by a kindly guardian angel who arrived on a fluffy cloud from Billings Forge and professionally took over my kitchen, thus preventing a syrupy meltdown on my part. Cathy Amarante – I can’t thank you enough for applying your professional catering knowledge to my chaos, and the food you prepared was tasty and beautiful:
Pinterest worthy ham and egg cups
Bacon and apple pancakes. I also provided really ugly and not very good Vegan pancakes. Sorry vegetarians/vegans. I tried.
Other tasty food stuffs! Those giant muffins were so good and unfortunately can be purchased very close to my house. I’m in trouble.
Little people enjoying play time
…and necklace modeling. Yes, it looks good on you P
On Independence Day, we celebrated with my husband’s family and a giant array of Italian delicacies (hello, cutlets!) Unfortunately the weather was awful – fortunately – we got to attend Leeanne‘s barbeque the very next day!
I made this and, heck yes, I’m very proud of it. Blue cheese, Sweet Pea chevre, and prosciutto.
No lack of food or tasteful displays here!
The highlight of the barbeque for me were the Broad Brook Beef burgers. Ok, definitely the highlight for me were the Broad Brook burgers. I’ve never tried this local beef before, and the meat was intensely flavorful and juicy. Oh man. Definitely going to stock up at some point in the near future. There were also many delicious libations flowing:
Rose, because we classy
Yet more Strawberry Onyx Lemonade. Great minds think alike.
Also, Two Roads Brewing Company Road Jam beer. Hi Rob!
I managed to photograph both camera shy luddites, but not a single group shot of the ladies. DANG
…except for P killing it in her glasses
Lack of taggable Facebook photos notwithstanding (the horror! the humanity!) a terrific time was had by all, and it was an honor to be in attendance for Leeanne and Rob’s first BBQ. The next day was the end of our three day weekend, so we opted for a low key hike to Enders
Which I’ve blogged about before here and I’ll do so again because I absolutely love it
P and Daddy enjoying the waterfalls
And a picnic! Note how Mike is channeling Bill Murray from Caddyshack
Guess who just got mason cocktail jars and promptly filled them with sangria? And posted the recipe at the end of this blog? Awww yeah
Only seems right to end on a Mommy-Baby selfie
It’s the apex of summer – so many more long and sunshine filled weekends to come. Hope everyone else enjoyed the sun, the beach, the awesome weather, and the long holiday weekend with friends and family xoxo
Easy Summer Sangria
2 bottles unoaked red table wine
1/2 cup cointreau
1/2 cup brandy
1/2 cup sugar
San Pellegrino Aranciata
Cut the apple and orange and place in the bottom of a large pitcher. Juice the lemon over the other fruit and sugar. Macerate the fruit with a long handled spoon, and add the cointreau and brandy, plus 1/2 bottle of red wine. Place in fridge for several hours, stir, and add the remaining wine. Keeps in the fridge for up to a week. To finish and enjoy: strain out the fruit and serve over ice with a splash of San Pellegrino Aranaciata or other flavored Pelligrino (sprite or prosecco also work nicely)