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.

much superhero, so wow

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!

batgirl selfie

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).

fleet feet outside

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.

hooker

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.

nick caito hartford courant

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

josh camp courant

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

das superhero

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

hooker at buddy bash

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:

best valet

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

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A Taste @RealArtWays #playnice with mixology @NIXSHartford and five awesome events in September

Greetings friends!  I am writing this on Labor Day from the wonderful Lost Acres Vineyard, which is way better, quite frankly, than Starbucks:

lost acres working

Not pictured: my delicious pumpkin whoopie pie from Lost Acres Orchard, which is right up the road!  Time for fall, yes?

Speaking of autumn and local farms – I’ve rounded up some of my favorite, upcoming September events and they are listed below for your viewing pleasure.  But first, a recap of some of my favorite happenings from the last couple of weeks!  Not going to go into a crazy amount of detail, but I did have a lovely birthday (at Lost Acres, obviously), and my friend Emily hosted an equally lovely cocktail party called “Dazed and Infused” because she and her boyfriend Nick are really clever like that:

 

penelope and alex

Drawing at my party with her BFF Alex from next door, sporting a fetching Unicorn Horn courtesy of Auntie Cait

p on the balcony

Enjoying the balcony at Emily’s party

Penelope attended both parties of course, although she was regrettably absent from two fun events her Mama got to finally try out this week (alas, not everything is 18 month old approved – topping the list are probably French films on cooking and VIP cocktail mixers – which is what I did at Real Art Ways (for their Taste series) and at Nixs (for the cocktail party!)

Taryn invited me to the Taste featuring Chris Prosperi, and I rapturously accepted her invite as I’ve been following this event closely since it’s first season (details here if anyone’s interested!)

with taryn

Taryn and I.  Ain’t we cute?

Basically, the premise behind this concept is: a cozy, food themed movie in Real Art Way’s hipster cinema (wine encouraged!) followed by a q and a and “taste” of small plates with the chef in question.  Fabulous!  This Taste paired the work of Chris Prosperi – a gazpacho and panzanella to be exact – with movie from the Inventing Cuisine series featuring French Chef Michael Troisgros.   The whimsical film featured an in depth portrayal of the inner workings of one of the best kitchens in France (with some ‘heavily staged’ scenes according to Mr Prosperi) and elaborate, beautiful shots of some elevated haute cuisine.  Michael’s stage presence – he is a regular guest on WNPR’s Faith Middletown Show – was in full force post film:

chris prosperi

Preparing the panzanella!

metro bis panzanella

A group pairing of the gazpacho and panzanella, with a card from Chris’ home restaurant, Metro Bis in Simsbury

The next show is on September 29th will host Rachel Carr, of Six Main for a farm to chef, vegetarian/vegan/pescatarian evening.  Tickets are on sale here!  Highly recommended for the cerebral foodie who really appreciates the intellectual and visual aspects of cuisine.

Real Art Ways was one of the first Hartford venues I really experienced upon moving here through their Creative Cocktail Hour.  It was, therefore, from beloved old to shiny new to go in the course of a week from an event at RAW to a cocktail mixer at Hartford’s newest sexy newcomer – NIXs.  This Boston chain features a slick chandeliered, mirrored, pirated up interior (seriously, go check it out) creative, delicious mixology, and a nice offering of seafood entrees:

raw bar

Hello there, $1 happy hour raw bar!

I met my good friend, JC, at the bar, where she had discovered a $6 martini special which I promptly ordered too (in spite of the free cocktail samples circling the party – it was too good to pass up!)

cocktail with happy hour menu

Clementine vodka, grapefruit juice, triple sec, prosecco.  Heaven.

Next up: circling the cocktail party, playing nice with good friends, and trying every cocktail in sight!  Rich Clemens is the head Bar Manager at Nixs.  JC and I both know him from Tisane, and we did nerdly bonding over his Dr Who inspired “Bad Wolf” cocktail
nixs cocktails pouring

Fresh lemon juice, orange juice, Redemption Rye Whiskey, and honey simple syrup.  Plus this awesome quote: “I wanted to make a cocktail that is extraordinarily sexy like Billy Piper but badass like a pissed off Tardis.”  I can’t even.

Another personal favorite of mine was the Tequila Mockingbird (more clever names, yaaas):

pouring the watermelon one

“Alabama Slammer” style with silver tequila, slept gin, amaretto, lime juice, and orange juice

But the majority of people I talked to named the pretty Beach Please as their favorite:

nixs cucumber cooler

Pineapple vodka, cucumber juice, agave nectar, lime juice, and sparkling coconut water

I have pretty rampant ADHD and between the shiny chandeliers and the cocktails, I missed almost all of the food pairings

deviled egg

It was delicious.  But lonely.

So I most definitely need to go back to NIXs pronto to try more food offerings.  Fortunately, the new Bear’s Smokehouse is right around the corner, so JC, Rachael, and I headed over there for delicious BBQ.

rachael eating bbq

Rachael demonstrating great street eating skills with her Mac Attack.

Truly, a week full of Hartfordy goodness.  And there’s so much more coming up in September!  Below are five events I’m really looking forward to:

Open Farm Day in Granby: This is the epitomy of a family friendly event.  Grab the kids (or the dogs, or both) and head out to the farms in Granby for a day of expos, samples, and general wholesome earthy goodness.  From the goat cheese at Sweet Pea, to the fresh organic garlic at the Garlic Farm, to the peach cobbler at Lost Acres Orchard, to a free sample of wine at Lost Acres, you’ll have a good time and support local agriculture.  And bring the reusable tote you usually cart to the farmers’ market, because there will be plenty of fresh produce and other goodies for sale.

Taste of the Suburbs – our restaurant week featuring prixe fix menus of awesome deliciousness.  I’m currently in the throes of agony trying to decide between 50 West and El Pulpo.  Heavy stuff man.  Other strong, noteworthy contenders and favorites: Esca, Max’s Oyster Bar, Millwrights and Vinted.  Pick one – or two! and go enjoy between September 8 -21st.  Reservations strongly recommended.

Urban Challenge – West Hartford! You probably need to burn some calories after all the delicious feasting at restaurant week.   Why not do it the FUN way on September 19th – working in teams of two to decipher clues about local West Hartford stores and dashing from place to place ahead of some fierce competition!  And I mean ‘fierce’ in the most fashiony way, as dressing up is encouraged and Carolyn and I will be participating and BRINGING IT.  Early registration is strongly encouraged as the event will sell out. 

Harvest Party Dinner at Lost Acres  We attended this dinner last year and it was a blast.  Penelope and I picked grapes in the morning (which is totally free and a thing you can also do the day of if so inclined) and then headed back for a farm to chef dinner with Mike that evening, complete with many samplings of Lost Acres blends.  This event is also anticipated to sell out, so pre-registration is a good idea.

The Colin McEnroe Show’s Fifth Year Anniversary!  Attention, WNPR nerds.  The Colin McEnroe Show is turning 5 and YOU are invited as a fellow fan to celebarte at Infinity Hall in Hartford.  For the low price of $5 a person, come enjoy your favorite radio personalities and hobnob with hipsters (let’s just be realistic about that being a thing that will happen) at the gorgeous new Infinity Music Hall and Bistro in Downtown Hartford.

So that’s what I’ll be up to in September, and I hope many of you will join me!  Any cool events I missed?  Leave them in the comments please xo

 

 

 

Five fun events to watch out for in July/August

While I’m writing this, I’m eating buffalo cheddar waffle potato chips and drinking a Grey Goose and Agave Ripe Sour cocktail.  It’s my last hurrah before starting my 21 Day Fix from Erica!  Upon editing and publishing my meal will be more like this:

shakeology pic stitch

Hallo, Vegan Smoothie and water bar

These nutrient dense beauties have a bevvy of natural superfood ingredients – including Goji Berries and Chia seeds –  plus it’s 100% Vegan – which is WAY more appealing than ‘mystery chemicals’ found in so many weight loss foods.  I also will have my butt kicked during a 30 minute high cardio workout tonight!  Now, I’ll be modifying this plan considerably, as I’m doing it during the apex of summer vacation season, and I’ll be in the Florida Keys for the last week – not to mention I’m not looking to lose a ton of weight and would rather just tone up and be healthy.  But quite frankly, I’m quite stoked to get on track with healthy eating and daily work outs and away from – well – buffalo potato chips for several weeks!  So far today, I’ve had a shake, a banana and an apple plus several water refills – and I feel good and ready for a nice healthy lunch time salad.  Expect more updates as the program rolls along 🙂

So, enough about fitness goals and on to the ‘meat and potatoes’ of this article (sorry, the very IDEA of dieting has me fixated on food apparently – I can’t guarantee that will be the last metaphor to pop up).  Connecticut is bursting with fun things to do this summer.  I am highlighting five of them here, but I could have easily made this list 25 – and it may end up becoming a regular feature.

1. Taste of Hartford – starts today, July 21st and runs until August 3rd:

Taste is back for the summer, ahh.  Wow, nothing like writing about delicious food while on a cleanse!  I”m very VERY excited to ‘cheat’ a bit during Taste – Trumbull Kitchen on Wednesday,  and then dinner with my husband at Carbones – after the very lovely Linley invited us in – on Thursday!  For anyone who doesn’t know, Taste is Hartford’s premiere restaurant week, featuring prixe fixe menus at a $25 or $30 price point from all participating locations.  There will be a full write up of the Carbone’s dinner on Friday, but in the meantime, please feast your eyes on this wonderful picture from M & M Bistro:

toh M and m bistro

Thanks to Emily for this great picture!  Featuring one of the dished M & M is preparing for Taste, as well as a cocktail from our sponsor Onyx – a full gallery of the Onyx cocktails for Taste is available here

2. Om Street on LaSalle with West Hartford Yoga on July 26th!

This totally free event looks like a blast.  Unfortunately, I’ll be in Saratoga the day of (which is really too bad because combine this with the Wine Festival below and you have one heck of a lovely day).   But WHY Studios is where I go for yoga – their drop in class is so convenient for lunch.  And I can’t recommend them enough.  Cait attended last year and snapped this awesome pic – you can also check up her write up of last year’s Om here:

lasalle

Thanks for the awesome photo Cait!

3. CT Wine Festival – also on July 26th!

ecard wine fest

Yoga and wine outdoors.  Basically a perfect day.

LeeAnne tipped me off to this event – though admittedly it is also listed on my CT Wine Passport – which I appear to have lost.  Doh.  But it DOES count for a stamp for those who still have their passport and want to daytrip down to Goshen for the opportunity to sample over 11 of the state’s top vineyards in one convenience location!  Fun, fun, fun.

4. Fantapsy Football at Wood N Tap – dates to be announced soon in August – sign up starts now!

Wood N Tap partners with us every year at CTNow for advertising, and as part of that reciprocal support, we are a proud media sponsor for them.  It’s a really great cause.  100% of the proceeds go to the CT Children’s Medical Center – which will forever have a special place in my heart after they basically saved Penelope’s life last year:

Penelope and others 4361

One fat, adorable and healthy patient.  Thank God.

I am not into Fantasy Football personally (or, as one my ex roomates hilariously called it: “imaginary football”) but my husband plays in three different leagues – minimum.  So I’m pretty sure I’ll be able to talk him into attending this event, hurrah.

5. 2nd Annual Cigar-B-Q, hosted by the Tobacco Shop – at Horton’s Farm on Saturday, July 26th!

Wooo, July 26th is certainly a busy day this year 🙂  This is another event with a great cause behind it – with funds benefiting the Ct Migrant Farm Workers’ Clinic 

tobacco shop pig roast action shot

And also, the masterful pork roasting of Tobacco Shop owner, Gerry Grate!

Tickets must be purchased in advance by July 23rd, so don’t delay if you plan on attending this one – it will sell out!

So there you have it!  Get out there and enjoy it.  And please let me know of any upcoming events in  late August/September that I should highlight too!