Burgers for a good cause at Plan B Springfield

Beer!  Burgers!!  Patio Season!! And it’s all for charity.  I was way blessed to receive an invite (and a dinner!) from my friends at Plan B Springfield this week and am honored to be their official brand ambassador for the Beer and Burger Community Combo-tition.  Basically – the b Restaurants going head to head, with burger + beer pairings designed by a local foodie celebrity (mine came courtesy of Nick O’Malley of I Ate It So You Don’t Have To… but yes, I ate it anyway, and yes, I’m not sorry)

I even took a VERY awkward selfie to commemorate the glorious occasion (The OMG Burger: Pimento Cheese Stuffed Beef Patty | Spicy Candied Bacon | pickled onion and pimento cheese honey aioli on a fresh pretzel roll)

How was the burger?  Well, I don’t eat pork so I ordered it without the bacon… but pimento cheese, pretzel roll, and the perfectly seasoned beef?  All in good company.  And well balanced by a New Belgium Fat Tire draft.

Plus, let’s not forget the sweet patio vibes, and my really darling dinner date, who said the french fries were, quote “the best ever.”  Future food critic in the making folks.

So please.  Stop by through Sunday at your local plan B and try the burger and beer special, and vote online for a charity here.  10% of all proceeds are going to the beer/burger/charity pairing with the most votes.

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But first, whiskey: a recap of the @wehawhiskey festival

There are things that I like, and then there are things that I love.  “LOVE” would be accurate for an event that is:

1/ Classy as hell

2/ Within walking distance from my house

3/ A benefit for Camp Courant and the Ct Children’s Medical Center

4/ Full to the brim of delicious whiskeys to try – all courtesy of Maximum Beverage!

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The lovely CEO of Camp Courant – McKinley Frey Albert, aka the @hautehistorian

I love whiskey.  Love it, love it, love it.  Complimenting the whiskeys were many small bites from Highland Park Market – cool little things like brie in pastry, beef wellingtons, and a friggin’ macaroni and cheese bar.  Hello, yes please, and thank you.  They also had Fischers Island Lemonade – another one of my go-tos for the summer.  Here are some notes from the whiskeys I sampled and thought were particularly noteworthy, and below that, please enjoy some lovely photos taken by my very talented photographer buddy, Kerri Provost.  Thank you to the Weha Whiskey Festival for inviting both myself and Kerri to attend.  We had a truly excellent time.

Glendalough Distillery – a delightful light, bright Irish brand rep – and a whiskey to match.  The taste is crisp with a tangy bite and just enough caramel to finish it off.  I sampled the single barrel and was impressed by how much of a punch this young whiskey packed.  Good for sipping and good for mixing too – I would love to try it in a very dry manhattan.

Rebel Yell Bourbon – now we are talking classic.  Classic Kentucky bourbon.  Malty, smooth, and deep and mysterious.  Dive into this nose first and surface just long enough to enjoy the Billy Idol song which, I am sure, you thought of when you read “Rebel Yell,” and if not you’re thinking about it now, and you’re welcome.

Woodford Reserve Double Barrel – ahhh, this is one of my personal go tos.  The Double Oaked version contains smoke, essence, a nice tangy heat and is perfect for sipping.  You could put this in a cocktail, but if you did, it would have to be one that enhanced versus masked the smokey notes and deep flavor profiles.  I would love to hear from my mixologist friends on what they would recommend for this particular blend.

Hudson Valley Whiskey Baby Bourbon – Hudson Valley is actually home to me in a ways – that’s where my Dad grew up and I still have family out there.  So, I am very excited to visit the distillery with my Uncle Gregory in early December, to further explore the flavor profiles they offer.  The ‘baby bourbon’ was, well, a baby.  It’s got a young feel about it, a freshness, a little sweet, a little bite.  Again, a great whiskey for a cocktail.

Bruichladdach Scotch Whiskey – Oh scotch.  Scotchy Scotch Scotch.  Good enough for Ron Burgundy, yet I still struggle with you.  I know I need to develop my palate to appreciate the honey, the malt, that rare singular bite of a very good scotch.  And I will.  And the Bruichladdach was an excellent starting off point.  I’ll keep at it, I promise Scotch.  Next year, when we meet again, I’ll be ready for you.

As mentioned before, all photo credits below to Kerri Provost.  And all hats off to the Weha Whiskey Festival for such a spectacular and nuanced tasting event!

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scotch

gold label

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A recap of Hartford Fashion Week + a look forward to the #WehaWhiskey Festival!

It’s EVENTS SEASON.  All the things, all the time, all the food, all the sparkle, all the nights out, none of the chill.  Sometimes I have to take a step back and really appreciate the cool things I get to be involved in and collaborate with.  Tonight, for example, I was fortunate enough to attend the March of Dimes Signature Chef’s Auction at the gorgeous Riverview in Simsbury.  And in a couple short weeks, I’ll be back at the same location for Share Our Strength.  More to follow on both of those shortly.  But for now – let’s look forward to this Saturday and the upcoming Weha Whiskey Festival!

weha whiskey festival

Use promo code KAT for 15% off tickets at checkout!  Enjoy 200 whiskeys, courtesy of Maximum Beverage, food from the Highland Park Market, and the satisfaction of knowing you’re raising funds for Camp Courant and the Ct Children’s Medical Center

I stopped by Maximum Beverage today to sample some of the whiskeys they will be pouring at Saturday’s event, including one of my very favorites – Eagle Rare Bourbon

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Maximum has their own single barrel version.  If that doesn’t impress you, we may have nothing in common (sorry)

I hope all of my local whiskey and foodie friends will join me for this event – which I have never managed to attend before!  Very exciting and more, of course, to follow.

So, off of whiskey and on to Hartford Fashion Week.  Katrina did such a marvelous job, along with the rest of the committee (myself included) in bringing an a week’s worth of fashion and fashion related culture to Hartford.

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Here she is with the stylish and fabulous Debbie Alan Wright, owner of Project Closet, and the dashing and handsome Lorenzo Hall (of Fox CT).  A good looking crew!

For those who missed this year’s event, there were multiple nights of fashion themed fun leading up to the three runway shows at Union Station – from a cultural round table at the Hartford Public Library to a fashion themed First Thursday at the Wadsworth.  The star attraction, was, naturally, twelve local original and independent designers showcasing their very diverse looks – from streetwear to ballgowns – at Union Station.  I would strongly recommend visiting and liking the Hartford Fashion Week Facebook Page for some truly beautiful photo galleries and, of course, to stay on top of next year’s event.  But below are some of my favorite moments from the shows:

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Tribal elegance from the Hartford Denim Company

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Wearing an LBD from Therapy Boutique in New Haven and enjoying red carpet fun with my favorite, Jon Aidukonis…

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And my beautiful, tiny diva, Penelope (dressed to kill in a vintage from Venom Vintage)

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Who strutted the runway and, alas, became fashion roadkill at one point 

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Talented local artist Nina Salazar instructing the Femme God models backstage

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Another backstage moment with Saints by SJ

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De Muerte

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AER Collections

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Funkenomics (not pictured: breakdancing)

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Show finale: Saints by SJ

Plus!  Several cool afterparties.  Cuginos in Downtown Hartford provided a lovely buffet after Saturday’s show, and I failed miserably at photographing any of it because Fashion Week hanger is a real thing as either Katrina or Man Repeller will attest to.  However, Amanda, Kate and I had our own marvelous little afterparty at Treva:

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Two inky brunettes and one happy blondie

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And I enjoyed my very favorite local cocktail: the Giardino.  It’s a glorious aromatic gin libation, made special by the full rose ice cube which will slowly melt into your glass, releasing delicious botanicals.  Highly recommended!

However hectic and chaotic backstage may have been, however many flaws we may have noticed during the first go round, Hartford Fashion Week was a truly special event, and I am honored that I was able to participate in its inception – and of course, looking forward to contributing again next year.

 

 

 

 

 

 

@CampCourant Fundraiser @NIXSHartford and @Rooftop120 for Bubbles and Bites

Hello friends!  It’s a cloudy, dreary Friday morning, because apparently we can’t have nice things (like Spring).  Although we CAN have some nice things, such Savor at the Connecticut Convention Center tonight, and Penelope’s 2nd birthday this upcoming weekend at Nora Cupcake (tiaras and sugar, it’s really not a party for me I promise), this upcoming weekend!

And the last couple weeks haven’t been so bad either – at least for events.  Weather wise, *sigh.*  Enough on that – starting tomorrow it looks like we finally shall have Spring!.  So let’s focus on the positive shall we?

Such as:

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A fundraiser for Camp Courant!

Nixs approached me with the generous idea of hosting a fundraiser by donating all their door proceeds from the night to Camp Courant – which sends Hartford kids who are in need to a free, fun, awesome camp every summer!  Every little bit helps, and it was also a fun night out with good friends.  And delicious Brockman’s Gin cocktails!

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Yummy yummy

I stayed up way past my bedtime… and enjoyed most of it.  But let’s face it, VIP nights and bottle service are nice and fancy, but I’m a little old for that lifestyle 😀

Also enjoyable last week – a Blogger’s Event at Rooftop 120,  hosted by the 203 Media Group

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Prosecco in the champagne lounge, followed by discussion of SEO tactics and best marketing practices.  Some of my very favorite things!

I’m a long time fan of Rooftop 120, having spent multiple happy hours at the gorgeous bar in the summer, as well as a very nice and special brunch with Penelope when she was a wee little baby:

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Good times with Caitlin and Hannah!  and baby P!

Head bartender Tyler DeVecchis always kills it with the cocktails, but it was very nice to sample the new menu from Head Chef Dan Fortin.  He is new to Rooftop and brings a nice Caribbean vibe to the menu, which makes my Cuban self very happy:

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Aji rubbed chili steak, grilled zucchini, peppadew peppers.  LOVED the chimichurri sauce on this one

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Jerked spice tuna, tropical fruit salsa, and fried plantains.  My favorite of all the dishes we tried.  I love, tuna, I love plaintains, and I love the two together.  

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Soy ginger marinated avocado halves, tempura fried oyster, yuzu harissa aioli.  I was highly skeptical of this one – seemed like a LOT of avocado, however, it was very tasty!  The fatty, creamy texture of the avocado balanced against the marinated crispy shrimp.  I went back for seconds.

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Red beet and goat cheese bon bons, shaved fennel orange salad, medjool date reduction.  My least favorite of all the dishes we tried – I love goat cheese and I love beets, however the combination of the two together wasn’t quite light or fluffy enough for a goat cheese ball.  Overall a fantastic sampling however.

For more delicious food porn, follow Rooftop 120’s instagram here.  And don’t wait for the warm weather to go – although that is fast approaching by the looks of it!  It’s a great year round venue!

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One bonus picture courtesy of John Estrada of 203 media – that’s me in a hat taking a picture of the food.  Not at all ridiculous.  And LOVE the fisheye iPad accessory he used to get the bubble effect in this picture!  We learned a lot and had great food to boot – thanks again for having us.

Old School Glamour for the @HartfordCourant #250Gala and Old School Vintage for the Posh Sale @TheWadsworth

Sometimes, a night comes along which is 250 years in the making.  Starting in 1776 with the first printing of the Connecticut Courant – a paper which supercedes the United States in age, and which printed the Declaration of Independence.  Today, October 29th, is actually the official anniversary – so Happy Birthday to this publication!  A paper which boasted its first female Publisher withing three lifecycles of ownership and continues that tradition with Nancy Meyer to this day.  I’m talking of my place of work, the Hartford Courant, and the black tie gala at the equally magical Bushnell which took place last Friday eve.

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Shining stars and a red carpet.  Such dreamy things

The event was the official celebration of 250 years of continuous operation for the Hartford Courant, which is admittedly a pretty big deal.

There were publishers old and new present:
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Including the lovely Nancy Meyer.  Pictured with a gorgeous set of coworkers!

Ballerinas dressed by the ladies of Trashion Fashion in newspaper gowns:

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Prepping with Amy in the dressing room!

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So pretty – and Nina Salazar’s tights are fab too

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And heck yeah, a newspaper bustier designed just for me!

Blo of West Hartford styled all the models’ hair – as well as my own:

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Just fab as always, thanks!

And the ladies were onsite to assist guests with newspaper accessories – also designed by the Trashion Team:

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Here is Penelope modeling her very own newspaper headband, because of course she needed one too

There was a cocktail hour featuring delicious Onyx Moonshine cocktails – a fitting libation for a historical event!

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Such a pretty bar set up!

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Sharing #onyxmoments with the lovely Rachael Forker

Cartoonist Bob Englehart was on hand sketching caricatures of guests:

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Cool guy

And at the seated dinner, some very fortunate guests dined on the stage

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Photo courtesy of Alex Syphers for CTNow

We ate in a nearby atrium, which features my favorite Chihuly glass sculpture:
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Love it – the fact that it’s red and just fit in with the decor was a happy coincidence.  And I didn’t capture a picture (the horror!) but the feast provided by the Max Catering Group was simply delightful – Head Chef Scott Miller pulled off a spectacular spread, and on his birthday no less!  Thanks Scott.

After dinner, there were speeches galore:
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Including remarks from Dannel Malloy, fetchingly dressed in a Vineyard Vines tie specifically designed for the Courant!

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So preppy and awesome

And at the end of the evening, a dance floor arose on the Bushnell stage – which was probably the coolest part of the entire evening:
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Wow yourself

Seeing Michael was out of town, I lucked out on a very special dance partner – Amanda Reese (married to Josh Reese, CEO of Camp Courant)

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Girl can twirl

Speaking of Camp Courant – the entire gala was a fundraiser for Camp Courant, and over $90,000 was raised for the charity. Hurrah!  Here’s to history.

Speaking of history… the next morning Penelope and I headed over to the Design Source of CT together for a very special preview of the Posh Sale.   I attended a posh sale several years back and wrote about it here (actually – I wrote about it for http://www.ct.com before it rebranded and I have no idea why the article is on the Sun Sentinel now except that it’s our sister company – huh).  I thoroughly enjoyed the first one I attended and I am really looking forward to this upcoming incarnation, November 7-9th.  It’s also a charity event, to benefit the Wadsworth Atheneum’s Textile Society, and that means, well, vintage clothes galore:

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Also: vintage cabbage patch dolls

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Posing in an oversized hat for the “papparazzi” aka fellow bloggers Carolyn and Kerri (left to right)

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Shoes of every style and stripe imaginable – male and female!

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More shoes

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Don Draper hats, very hot

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Vintage Lilly Pulitzer.  No one else is allowed to buy this

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Teeny vintage baby coats (too small for P, alas)

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A whole rack of J Crew (glorious)

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Sturdy and classically tailored wool suits

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Soft, buttery houndstooth coats

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Cool throwback jumpsuits.  Not my size but if it was, I would definitely swap out the buttons and wear this. 

Truly something for every fashionista (or fashion guy) of any shape, size, or persuasion can be had at this sale.  Plus, you’re shopping for a good cause so it’s basically charity work.  Hurrah!  Mark your calendars – I hope to see you there xo

 

 

 

Dananaanaana! Batman! At the @FleetFeetWH #UrbanChallenge2014 and @Campcourant Buddy Bash

Last Friday involved much dashing through the West Hartford Center, much superhero costumes, and many, many Hooker beers.

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It’s as good a time as any for a doge meme

Not often does a Batman costume work for not, one, but two, events (outside of Halloween, obviously).  But there was a nice intersection between the awesome Urban Challengehosted by our friends at Fleet Feet West Hartford, and Camp Courant’s Buddy Bash! Fleet Feet was kind enough to give me 50% off my team price when I told them I would be blogging about this event.  Thanks you guys!  Carolyn and I had an awesome time as team DANANANANAA Batman!

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And now you have the song stuck in your head.  You’re welcome

The Urban Challenge is a national obstacle course, and it involves problem solving and dashing around to finish interactive clues and beat the clock and competitors to the completion of at least ten challanges (for instance: a clue on Homewreckers led us to Moe’s, where the challenge was chugging hot sauce).

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A great crowd turned out for the race!

Carolyn and I took the whole thing semi-seriously.  Meaning we ran, we sprinted, we parkoured the hell out of some benches (much to the amusement of patio diners at Grants), but at points where like “nah” and we strolled.  So not surprisingly, we finished in the middle of the pack (working so much in the West Hartford center was a definite advantage for solving the clues quickly – so that worked for us as much as our occasional laziness worked against us).  BUT we won first place for “Most Badass,” which I believe is the most important of all the accolades which can be bestowed:

WIP fitness card

Oh this will be very useful after the Hartford Marathon (I’m running a 5 mile relay) and before the epic calorie fest of Thanksgiving and Christmas!  Can’t wait to check out WIP

In addition to winning a glorious prize, we were fed delicious carbs – pizza from Luna Pizza and delicious beer from the aforementioned Hooker Beer Company.

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Beer tastes better after a race

And then we were off in the Batmobile -errr – I mean the Prius – to Buddy Bash!  Which is also super hero themed, in honor and recognition of all the generous sponsors who are super heroes to all the underprivileged kids they support, every summer, with a free camp in the beautiful Farmington countryside.

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The interior space at Buddy Bash.  Photo by Nick Caito, taken for CTNow

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CEO of Camp Courant, Josh Reese, on stage in this fabulously dark and underdeveloped picture (sorry)

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Josh’s wife Amanda and I.  A classic Batman/Superman combo!

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And yep!  More Hooker Beer.  What a wonderful night.

Sometimes the best part of going out is discovering a little surprise from the evening before the next day.  Such as this note from the valet on my key chain:

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We are the “girls with yellow capes (sic)”  Could anything be better?