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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Share Our Strength Hartford to benefit No Kid Hungry

The Riverview was the backdrop.  The crowd – charitable guests and big hearted Chefs, all coming together to support No Kid Hungry (one of my favorite charities – they are committed to ending childhood hunger in America).  I am so honored to be on this committee, chaired by Tyler Anderson of Millwrights and Angela Pitrone.  If you haven’t ever been – go next year.  You can find information on the event via: TOTN Hartford.

Thank you Connecticut Food and Farm for sharing your photos with me, and thank you chefs for such an amazing night and meal.  Please enjoy Winter’s photos below:

 

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!

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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.

 

 

 

 

 

 

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.

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

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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

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Fancy

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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)

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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:

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So nice

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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

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Gorgeous

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!

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Visits with horsies for baby

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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!

A Movement for Change with Kristin Taekman and Brunch for Babies with @MarchofDimesCT

Charity suffers long, and is kind (1st Corinthians 13:4)

In other words – “charity” is just another word for “love.”  People give because they love those who need help, they love to help others, or they love to be a part of something bigger than themselves.

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Take the March of Dimes CT “Mom of the Year,” Lisa Millerick for example.  She has four children, all of who were born prematurely, and is a NICU Nurse to boot.  If that wasn’t enough, she also specializing in children portraits for Now I Lay Me Down to Sleep – which helps to give portraits of children who pass away too soon to their grieving families.

That’s a whole lotta love right there.

The March of Dimes CT will host its annual Brunch for Babies on June 6th, at the Riverview in Simsbury.  I’ll be honored to attend and meet Lisa, as well as acclaimed author Elin Hildebrand.  If you would like to join and support a great cause, you can purchase tickets here.

I was fortunate enough to attend another great charity event several weeks ago the DeFilippo “Movement for Change,” raising funds to help families of those impacted by spinal chord injuries and celebrating their many achievements.

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Lot of beautiful families and equally beautiful stories.  All photos by Elisa E- you can find her website and more of her work here

The event featured a great host – Kristin Taekman of the Real Housewives of New York.  I’ll proudly admit that I’m a RHONY fan (ok, maybe “proud” is not the best word)… and Kristin is my favorite on the show.  It’s always nice to discover that someone is as nice and down to earth in person as they appear on television.  Plus – she has a very chic blog – check it out here!

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With Kristin and Carolyn Paine on the red carpet.  Not pictured but also present – my friend Diane Taha of Style Context

Carolyn also choreographed and performed and original piece symbolizing the strength and fragility of those impacted by spinal chord injuries

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Simply gorgeous

Just as gorgeous – the four tiered fashion show featuring the work of designer Karo Swim Wear

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Sexy and fierce

A sweet collection of Spring pieces curated from the vintage collections of my good friend Laree Salmon of Vintage Chic by Design

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Polka dots for days

The ethereal work of well known local designer, Nigel Ramsay

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Stunning and flowing

And to finalize the show, a final collection of vibrant floral hues, “Always Bloomin” – to celebrate the energy and vibrancy of those who thrive in the face of adversary

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A pretty way to finish the show

I’m blessed to be involved with so many local causes for good.  Please consider researching them more and supporting all the amazing local artists who give their time and talents to help them raise the funds they need to do good work.

@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

yummy seared tuna

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.