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:

drunk flamingo

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:

beach reads

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.

guava gin

street empanada

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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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:

champagne

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.

NOLCHA Fashion Week

This was my second season at Nolcha Fashion Week – an independent showcase for designers during New York Fashion Week.  It’s an amazing opportunity to preview indie designs from very talented up and coming fashion retailers – and the whole thing is housed in the very cool Chelsea Piers

pier 59 studio

I like anywhere that puts the hash tag right on the wall

I headed down with my very cool friend Kat, (two Kats!  go ahead and have fun with that.  we always do).  She is a very talented photographer and graphic designer, and all the fashion photos in the latter half of this article were taken by her.  You can check out her website here:

kat road trip

And of course, our road trip snap chat!  Taken by her because I was, you know, driving and stuff

Other good friends at Nolcha: Paula has been closely involved in this show for six years and was kind enough to get me passes to all three designer showcases.  Thanks Paula!  You looked fab as always

kat and paula

xoxo

In addition to the fashion, there are some cool product samplings from the Nolcha sponsors.  My favorites were:

j r ewing

J R Ewing Bourbon.  Oh hello.  Ever since beginning my 2014 quest to appreciate bourbon, I’ve been growing and growing as a connoisseur.  Best. Resolution.  Ever.  This particular on – named for the eponymous Dallas character yet produced in Kentucky (of course) is smooth and crisp with just a hint of a bite at the end.  Just like J R.  Hoping to find a local distributor in CT!

solo nails swag

Solo Gel Nails.  This one was a mixed bag for me.  As you can see by the snap chat caption – I was VERY excited to get it – more so than any of the other swag.  However, I found that several of the layers I put on bubbled a bit and one of them chipped off.  Now, it does state very clearly that this is a ONE coat system.  So I’ll have to try again and see if I have better luck.  I can be a messy child.  The color is very fab too, so I’m hoping it works better the second time around

gel mani photo

Pretty red

Last but certainly not least – Vegan Therapy hair products!

vegan therapy

Such nice ladies!  And the shampoo and conditioner were lightweight and left my hair shiny and silky smooth.  I’m not personally a vegan, but I do love that this product isn’t tested on animals and I think it’s very cool that there are good options out there for my vegan friends – and I would use this based on its quality alone.  Very nice.

Another highlight of the evening in terms of discovering new products – a serendipitous run in with a girl carrying a Leoht bag!  What’s a leoht you ask?  Well, it’s a concept bag which will be launching in the fall which sports LED lighting and two USB ports for bag charging purposes!  I need it, I will have it, that is all

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You probably need it too!  Right?  Right.

But enough with the preludes.  We were at Nolcha for one very important reason: fashion.  And fashion we had in spades.  There were three separate shows featuring a total of eight designers: Yvette Hass, Haute Athletics, Charles & Ron, Mitsou Ly, Katty Xiomara, Prieston, Ann Himsel, and Danny Nguyen Couture

 My personal highlights: dark plum and leather accents, lots of capes (hello 70s), seeing sportswear from HA on the cat walk, transparent white and fashion forward pieces from Yvette Hass, and a twist of urban cool from Ann Himsel.  But don’t take my word for it – a picture is worth a thousand words after all – so check out these pictures from Kat Mizla:

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Majorca, Taste of Hartford, the Ct Science Center and Mohegan #SunWineFest

Wooo!  A busy and foodie couple of weeks folks.  But first – two sneak preview of upcoming posts I’m very excited about…

coney island poster

Love Under the Boardwalk

In partnership with the Wadsworth’s new and very noteworthy Coney Island Exhibit, my good friend Carolyn Paine is producing an original choreographed production, produced by the Wadsworth Atheneum, in partnership with her company, CONNetic Dance.  Featuring classical ballet intermixed with circus theatricals, performances will be Saturday, February 7th, at 2 pm and 8 pm, and tickets are available at the Wadsworth’s website.

Also – Penelope had a Very Special Photoshoot and she was the littlest Princess Elsa of all at Sassy Mouth Photo!

baby elsa

I can’t even.  Bet you can’t either.  So cute.

So, more to come on both these things.  But first – a look back at some amazing and fun times over the past couple of weeks!

First, Hartford picked up a new Tapas restaurant: Majorca

majorca friends

With some good friends, old and new at the Grand Opening, which benefited Family Life Education

Majorca specializes in tapas, small plates, and is a very welcome continuation of the space once occupied by O’Porto in the West End.

calamari

Grilled calamari.  Charred to perfection and ever so preferable to the more prevalent, fried variety

oyster with vinagrette

Oysters with a classic vinaigrette.  REALLY big oysters.

prosciutto wrapped date

A true Spanish classic: dates stuffed with manchego and wrapped in prosciutto.

There were also four cocktail samples to try:

cocktail samples

Pictured left to right: Pineapple Mule (pineapple vodka, ginger beer, fresh pineapple), Ginger Plum Martini (plum vodka, ginger liqueur, sour mix), the “Majorca” (citrus vodka, Hypnotic, and white cranberry juice) and Red Sangria (simple syrup, triple sec, fruit juice, and Sycamore Lane Cabernet)

As well as a fancy, necessary cheese plate:

cheese w wine

Paired with a nice rioja – always good to find a rioja present on the wine list. 

I am quite, quite happy to have this new little gem among my dining choices in Hartford, and I’m excited to go back for a full meal – hopefully soon!

Speaking of meals – Taste of Hartford is currently entering its second week.

taste of hartford logo

 

P and I have gone out twice to enjoy it – and I’m looking forward to going to Agave (sans P, alas) later on this week.  This last week’s experiences took us to Ted’s Montana Grill and Carbone’s, respectively.  But before Teds – we hit up the CT Science Center

science center lines

Which had a packed house due to special pricing for MLK Day

This wasn’t our frist trip to the Science Center, but it definitely was the best so far – P really enjoyed herself and is finally old enough to fully enjoy the exhibits geared towards younger kids – of which there are several!  Our favorites:

water experiments

Kinetic water experiments on the first floor

fossil experiments

Digging for fossils on the third floor

energy house

And a super fun ‘eco awareness’ playhouse (also on the 3rd floor)

We followed this awesome playtime by lunch at Ted’s

teds montana burger

Bison burger for me, cookie for P, happiness for all

And went out again a couple days later to Carbone’s with the lovely Cathy and Rachel!

rachel and cathy

Ladies’ night

In addition to the Taste menu, there was a very, very excellent Arancini starter

arancini

Yummm

Paired with a nice Aperol Sunset cocktail:

tequila cocktail

Like a margarita, but with way more bite

Followed by a lovely salad

citrus salad

P ate all my pomegranate seeds for me

And a perfectly sized portion of lemony shrimp risotto:

shrimp risotto

Which I paired with prosecco because of course I did.

For anyone who’s not familiar, Taste is a restaurant week – well weeks really – featuring prix fixe appetizer, entree, and dessert options for either $20.15 or $30.15.  It’s fun and affordable and I put quite a bit of time into organizing it, so I really appreciate that I can ‘eat’ it once it’s up and running -not all promotions offer such literal satisfaction.  In addition to several wonderful meals, I was thoroughly spoiled this weekend at Mohegan Sun and Wine Festival

I was able to stop by the Bourbon Tasting on Friday night, which was a new experience for me and also, a neat use of my 2014 resolution (which was to drink more bourbon).  I was extraordinarily negligent on the photos – however – I did enjoy several samplings: Maker’s 46 being my favorite.  It was elated to be able to drink it both neat and on the rocks and appreciate its nuances and woody palate – finally a bourbon girl!  Hurrah!  Also, who wouldn’t appreciate this dessert lineup:

bourbon tasting desserts

Wow yourself

And I did, at least, manage a bathroom selfie, because who doesn’t love one of those?

bathroom selfie in silkworm dress

In a new fav dress from Silkworm and absolutely zero chill.  Oh well.

Returning the next day for Sun Wine Fest, I managed to both: 1/ take many more pictures and 2/ really enjoy this event, which last year had been overwhelmed and under impressed.  It’s hard to do Wine Fest and not feel the immediate, pressing urge to sample all the wine.  Because there are so many to try, both high end and low, and going in with focus and direction helps:

mohegan wine map

And also a map

Amanda and I attended together and came up with a simple plan: stick to bubbles as much as possible:

moet and strawberry caviar

Moet bubbles with strawberry caviar

rose yaaas

Ok, cheating because not carbonated, but a really excellent French rose: Whispering Angel

bubblies

Three nice varietals from Sonoma, from the Gloria Ferrer.  Where I’ll be hopefully headed at Thanksgiving.  Oh yaaas.

I also bumped into some good friends:

mumm napa

Yes, I consider Mumm Napa Rose to be a good friend.  We are on BFF terms actually

with ghost lisa

Also, the gorgeous Betsy Foster and a ‘ghost Lisa’

oliver english and suzy hunter

Our amazing and beautiful Social Media maven, Suzie Hunter, with her new friend Oliver English

carrie with cupcakes

And last, but very certainly not least – the Cupcake Goddess herself, Carrie, of Nora Cupcake

To wrap up the afternoon, we headed upstairs to the beer tasting and I found a very nice new summer beverage which I’ll absolutely be stalking down locally, one way or another:
fishers island lemonade

It’s from the Long Island sound and it’s a glorious tart combination of whiskey, vodka, and lemonade.  I loved it.

So yes, quite a lovely afternoon, all in all!  Not to mention, a great couple of weeks.  Yay.

A weekend of merry and bright

As some of you may know, it’s been a rough and bumpy road for me for the last couple of months.  I haven’t been ignoring Christmas, per se, but I certainly haven’t been plunging into it with the gusto and fervor that I normally do.  So I feel awfully lucky that last weekend, Christmas found me, in two nights and one day of gloriously fun festivities with some of my closest and dearest friends.  Oh so good.

It all started with dinner with Caitlin at the Capital Grille on Friday night:

yaaas best champagne shot

More to follow on this soon!  There was Moet & Chandon Imperial involved however.  Lots and lots of it

hallo hallo

Love you lady

We followed this up with more drinks and dancing – ok – watching other people dance really – at Nixs for the official Nutcracker after party for CONNetic Dance’s Nutcracker: Suite and Spicy!

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With our favorite, @Johnnie_Divine

And with Caitlin’s lovely sister, Hannah:

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Twinning in our black dresses with sheer panels yaaas.  Mine is from Lux Boutique in West Hartford!

We enjoyed prosecco and, in my case, some reeeally good coquito featuring Tanduay rum (currently in a cocktail contest – vote for it here – I promise it’s worth it). And so the night passed in a blur of glitter and fun (where there are ballerinas, there will be glitter – it’s science)

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Photo of the very talented cast, courtesy of Alex Syphers for CTNow

Saturday was the much anticipated, never imitated annual Charcutapalooza and Nick and Emily‘s house.  We had charcuterie galore:

charcuterie yaaas

Oh hey there.  Check the chicken liver mousse on the far left.  At some point in the evening I was basically just speed dipping crackers straight into that pot.  No regrets.

Emily also demonstrated her amazing baking skills with perfect macaroons:

macaroons by emily

#Ican’teven

And Nick flexed his culinary muscles over some damn good Asian style buns, barbequed pork, and slaw

ban mi bun

Come on man

But the highlight of the party was, by far, the three smoked pig heads provided by Jamie of Bear’s Smokehouse.  I mean, come on.  Look at these things:

3 little pigs

Merry Lord of the Flies!  I mean, Christmas

I managed to procure a pigs head which I will be chopping up and cooking into Congri – that’s Cuban rice and bean for those who don’t know – throughout the winter.  So very good.  Nothing like a good pig head.  Oh, and here’s a bonus shot of Penelope enjoying the festivities on Saturday night, like a Big Girl:

p smiling w macaroon

That smile just melts my heart

P and I hit the town together on Sunday for the Nutcracker matinee and Ugly Sweater Party.  And yes, thanks to Venom Vintage, P had her own tiny ugly sweater to wear:

p in the snow wadsworth

Pictured here, post show, enjoying the show and dancing

I’ve not been in town for the Nutcracker before, and I thoroughly enjoyed Carolyn’s hip rendition of this holiday classic – and also enjoyed Penelope enjoying it too!  Plus – we met SANTA:

santa claus at the wadsworth

Hi Santa!  We would get a picture with Santa against a step and repeat.  Very typical.

The Wadsworth hosts Carolyn’s Suite and Spicy Nutcracker annually and was also home to the Festival of the Trees, featuring uniquely designed Christmas trees which are produced and sold for charity.  Simply gorgeous and quite perfect for persuading me to discard my inner grinch and enjoy the season.  I’m very fortunate to have such an amazing group of friends – thanks to you all for what you do, you know who you are and you are appreciated.

 

All of your Holiday Contests are in our base @Hartforddotcom

Hello Friends!  It’s the most wonderful, nutty, suite and spicy, bedazzled-with-reindeer-applique, time of the year!  So do yourself a solid and get out and enjoy some theater and cocktails and ugly sweater goodness.  And if you play your cards right – you can do so for FREE!

Hartford.com is hosting the annual (awesome) Ugly Sweater Christmas Stroll on December 13!  Enjoy Onyx cocktails at several Hartford hot spots, as well as a glorious Ugly Sweater.  Just post a picture of yourself in an ugly sweater on their Facebook or Twitter page to enter.  Here’s a glorious photoshop they did for me yesterday, as my sweater was too basic to really be considered ‘ugly’

yaaaas

THANKS LADIES

CONNetic Dance is bringing their Suite and Spicy, totally awesome, uber hipster, Nutcracker to the Wadsworth for the 5th year in a row.  And oh what fun – they are also giving a pair of tickets away!  Just post a picture of yourself with a Nutcracker to their Facebook page by the end of today (Thursday) with the hashtags: #spicynutcrackerselfie #conneticdance.  There will be a sweet (and spicy!  haha!  puns) afterparty on Friday night at Nixs also.  I’ll be attending… hope to see you all there!

nutcracker selfie contest

Good luck everyone!

Happy Halloween! Let’s drink #REDRUM @NIXSHartford

Happy Halloween friends!  As a huge Halloween and horror story fan, I recommend Nixs Hartford this holiday for all your festivity related needs (as long as they are alchohol and party related – that’s what they do best after all).

Rich Clemens has been featured here before, and is an amazing mixologist, came up with a #redrum cocktail which is both delicious and an amazing reference to The Shining –

brady twins

Cue creepy Brady Twins, hello ladies

It’s a delicious libation, and it involves hand carbonation:

ze carbonation process

Hey, thanks Anthony!

And then it’s served in a VERY crowd friendly glass bottle, oh yaaas

red rum oh yeah

Soo into it

The ingredients are as follows:

hallo my beauty

Pyrat Rum, Sloe Gin, Coconut Water, Amaretto, lime juice, pineapple juice

Oh yeah, and it’s only $6.  So there’s that.  Nixs has a whole slew of Halloween activities planned – a Pyrat (rum) party tonight, with $500 in prizes (for sexiest costume and best pirate costume).  Tomorrow, there will be a “Dia de los Muertos” party with an additional $500 in prizes (wow yourself)

And last, but certainly not least, Sunday will bring a “Day of the Drag,” hosted by the one and only Amanda Lepore and Maritat Bonita, music by International DJ Producer, Scotty Thompson, and an additonal $500 in prizes!