What to Wear: Late Winter Edition

It’s DEFINITELY still winter.  Snow is firmly on the ground.  Instead of slinking around in open toed sandals (or ‘cold shoulder’ tops – cute but they are called that for a reason you guys, ahem) I’m going to enjoy the last couple of days of sleek winter apparel while mixing in pieces that will transition in a flash to spring!

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First up: Elyse Ryan AWEARABLES wristWROCKS line.  These one of a kind stackable bracelets add a pop of color to any look, and this lovely blue and turquoise and silver stack will work equally well on a sandy beach as they do on a snowy day!

PLUS, these bracelets in particular are very near and dear to my heart, as $10 from each $50 sale goes to support all the good work of Camp Courant: bringing underprivileged kids to a full and joyous summer camp experience every summer.  The oldest of its kind of institutions in the US, Camp Courant is a truly magnificent cause, and their CEO, McKinley, is a dear friend of mine.  I was therefore both excited and honored to have the opportunity to make this collaboration happen through underwriting by my agency.  Send me an email if you’d like to purchase one (kat@alittlebirdtoldmect.com)  Giving back, being stylish – these are a few of my favorite things.

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Let’s discuss this Iris Setlakwe suede jacket from my good friends at Morneault’s Stackpole Moore Tryon Tuesday’s – and how I will be living in it – no really – for the forceable future?  Why?  Well, it’s incredibly stylish, black (YAS), and fits like a glove, but is also super comfortable and doesn’t irritate my skin the way many fitted jackets and blazers do.  Being in and out of meetings many days, all days, there is no feeling I hate worst than pinched elbows from a blazer – particularly if that blazer is layered under a winter jacket.  This jacket is so buttery soft I forget it’s there.  Here is it dressed down, but I wore it dressed up to Big Red last week.  It’s a true foundational wardrobe piece – something to buy once and keep forever, no matter what the style trends of the passing season may be.  And that’s why one of the owners and Head Stylish, Jody Morneault, says that people are such fans of this particular designer: “I love Iris for the fashion quality & fit.  It’s timeless .  Most customers think If they only wore Iris they would be happy.”

If you would like to check out the new line and also shop in a historic department store nestled on lovely Pratt St (with free parking!) then join me at the Iris Trunk Show this upcoming Thursday- Saturday.  It’s a great chance to preview the line and meet the owners, who form long lasting relationships with all their clients and are happy to talk personal style tailored to any look (or budget).  So come downtown.  Shop around.  And find yourself some pieces that won’t just transition from one season to the next, but for season after season after season.

 

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New and noteworthy: farm dinners with Treva + brunch at Little River Restoratives

Working in content marketing for my company, A Little Bird Told Me, and working (mostly) with restaurants exposes me to, well, all the food.  I’m spoiled.  I know it.  And I consider it my duty to share it with the world.  So without further ado, here are two excellent offerings from two of my very favorite clients:

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What is Hadley + Occum?  It’s the rich, glacier born soil that graces the Farmington River Valley.  And it’s the genesis of all that beautiful produce which burst from every farm stand during these glorious hot summer months in the West Hartford/Valley area.  And it’s also the name of the new farm dinner series from the DORO Restaurant Group, starting with perennial favorite Treva and the cuisine of Chef John Medonis:

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Seen here perusing the kale at Sub Edge Farm, which will host the dinner on July 27th.

Get tickets here and enjoy this first of a series of beautiful nights on the farm with what is guaranteed to be excellent, local driven cuisine.

Also tasty and new: brunch at Little River Restoratives – Hartford’s hippest cocktail bar and soon to be Ramen purveyor via a sister restaurant which will open next door on Capitol Avenue in the fall of 2016.  Catch a glimpse of the new menu with what Proprietor Chris Parrot refers to as “Japanese hangover food:” authentic Cabbage pancakes smothered in Japanese mayonnaise, cheese, and your choice of toppings.  Plus excellent cocktails with body soothing ingredients such as aloe vera water and Vitamin b12.  Plus a DJ.  Plus the aforementioned simple, umami saturated and oh so satisfying menu, with Executive Chef Tyler Anderson of Millwrights guest cooking during our visit today.  So yeah – basically as cool and cool can be, and very tasty to boot.  Below are some pictures of today’s brunchfest with Style Context:

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Local Foodie Goodness + A Food Fight with Hartford Symphony Orchestra!

“Approach love and cooking with reckless abandon.” – The Dalai Lama

It’s a glorious time of the year for local food.  Ramps are in season, fiddleheads are in season – the first radishes and micro greens are making an appearance!  And going into the summer, Farm to Table dinners will be popping up everywhere (including the Billy Grant’s Farm Dinner series at Rose’s Berry Farm which I cannot wait to attend).  I’ve been spoiled this week with local foods, starting with Let’s Start From Scratch preparing my first ever delivery meal for me:

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Beautiful organic poblano peppers stuffed with cauliflower and black beans over quinoa.  Healthy and delicious!  As a busy working momma, this freed up valuable time to blow bubbles with a mermaid:

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Molly is local and will create scratch meals based on your dietary preferences using the healthiest and most seasonal ingredients available.  Highly recommended!

In other seasonal fare:

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The good folks at Sweet Acre Farm are partnering up with the Hartford Baking Company to offer an organic, super convenient CSA this summer!  It will be available for pick up at the HBC Cafe every week from mid June to mid October.  Sign up for it here!

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And while you’re at the HBC, grab the VERY BEST cold brew, made fresh with Stumptown Coffee daily.  I’m mildly obsessed with it to be honest.

In other exciting foodie news, the Hartford Symphony Orchestra will perform their 4th annual “Playing with Food” night on Saturday, May 21st!  I’ve attended and had the pleasure of interviewing Carolyn Kuan – Head Conductor and mastermind behind the series – in the past years.  She is presented with a series of dishes from each participating chef.  She then pairs a piece of music with the dish based on what it would ‘sound’ like.  For instance, a tuba may play the role of a fatty piece of beef.  There is a visual representation of the dishes as well as a talk back with the chefs (from M & M Bistro, The Connecticut Convention Center, and Concorde Restaurant) – and this year – a twist!  The dishes will be judged by a celebrity panel emceed by the ever creative Jacques Lamarre!  As a classical pianist, it’s not hard to get me to attend the symphony under any circumstances, and I can say with absolute certainty from years passed that this performance will be a visual and sensory feast for all the senses.  And if you’re hungry – never fear- MAX Catering will provide small bites during intermission in the lobby.  Purchase your tickets here and join me Saturday night for a lovely evening of culture, food and fun.

(and an enormous thank you to my friends at the Symphony for providing me with my tickets)

Yardbirds! Yardbirds! Here come the Yardbirds! (Yardbird and Co)

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There’s a new food truck in town, the Yardbird Co.  Executive Chef Eric Stagle, a Barcelona Restaurant Alumn, has executed a quite killer menu based around simple fried chicken with an Asian twist plus some small bites ranging from healthy quinoa to unique deviled eggs.

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Catch them at Bushnell Park this upcoming Saturday from 11 am to 2 pm, and follow them on Twitter and Instagram @YardbirdandCo

What does the Chef think?  He is “so happy to be serving food that makes people happy. Excited to see what else we can put on the menu as the seasons change.”  They also work with several local farms, including Sub Edge and the Farmer’s Cow.  So catch them when you can, and support something that is both local and delicious!

(Current menu: Yardbird chicken sandwich : pickled cabbage : kimchi : pickles/ sriracha honey Chicken steam buns/ black garlic hoisin/ pickled ramps Chicken croquettes/ ramp aioli Smoked chicken deviled eggs Quinoa salad/ asparagus/ fiddleheads/ ramp vinaigrette Potato wedges : spring garlic aioli : smoked eggplant aioli : cherry pepper aioli)

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#GivingTuesday with @CONNeticDance plus a tour of @Bvssportsbar

Happy Giving Tuesday everyone!  It’s time to give back as well as to shop all those sweet deals at Target.  We recommend checking out CONNetic Dance’s #GivingTuesday deal: $100 for tickets the opening night of the Nutcracker Suite and Spicy (Wadsworth Atheneum, Downtown Hartford, December 12th), plus a piece of an original painting created through dance and expression in collaboration with Open Studios!

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Also created in collaboration with Penelope!  Check out the full Youtube video of the dance here plus a link to purchase the tickets and painting!

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A scene from the “ugly sweater party” for Carolyn’s Nutcracker – a signature dance of the performance

Penelope and I will both be attending the matinee on Sunday, December 14th, which includes a special appearance from SANTA and a dance party.  Very exciting stuff.

Other exciting stuff – allow me to introduce my new favorite sports bar in the entire world: Bobby V’s

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A terrific place to watch the Giants lose 14-20 to the Redskins.  Oy.

Head Chef Jordan Stein is an old friend, and he was kind enough to invite myself and Jenna Kijowski and Jessica Brigham Bishop (of CT Ain’t So Bad) in for a lovely sampling of cocktails and food last football Sunday!

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Squad!  Check out Jenna’s blog here!

We sampled multiple drinks, including:
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Caramel Apple Martini (Caramel Vodka, Sour Apple Pucker & a caramel swirl)

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Thin Mint Martini – ooh lala! (3 Olives Vanilla Vodka, Kahlua, Godiva White Chocolate Liqueur, White Creme de Cocoa, Cool Swan Irish Cream, Creme de Menthe)

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Pumpkin Spice Martini – for those of us, like myself, who can’t get enough pumpkin even after Thanksgiving (Pumpkin Spice Liqueur, Cool Swan Irish Cream, Jack Daniel’s Tennessee Whiskey, topped with nutmeg and cinnamon)

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The Leaf Peeper – my personal favorite! Spicy and refreshing (Pineapple & Mint Infused Tequila, St Germain, Apple Cider & a splash of OJ)
We didn’t finish these drinks, full disclosure guys.  Way too many and there were a couple more that we tried that aren’t pictured.  In the interests of it being 1:30 pm in the afternoon, small sips of the cocktails were enjoyed by all, and we switched to beer for the food ingestion (plus beer & football, what can I say?  I’m a sucker for a classic pairing)
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Broad Brook Porter Ale for me – a nice fresh, crisp, dark brew
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A super rare Lawson’s “Double or Nothing” for my pals – a delicious blend with notes of buckwheat and maple.  Yum!
 Ok, on to the foods.  Jordan’s philosophy is simple: make scratch bar foods and execute them very well, with people’s dietary restrictions in mind.  The Portabella Poutin is a hearty vegetarian dish which I would eat RIGHT NOW if it magically appeared in front of me, and the Nachos are made with rice chips and gluten fee!  Side note: get the wings.  Just do it.  Try a couple of the adventurous toppings – you won’t be sorry.
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Portabella Poutin – roasted portabella mushrooms over potato wedges, smothered in a porcini gravy and topped with havarti & muenster cheese
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Clams Casino Flatbread – surf & cockle clams, north country bacon, tomato, fresh herbs, mozerella & parmesan cheese blend
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Nachos (glamor filter intentional – nachos are glamorous business) Pulled pork, melted cheese, guacamole, pico de gallo, sour cream
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Calamari Sticks – rice flour dusted calamari served with sweet chili & snappy lime dipping sauces
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Wings – peach fire, sticky soy, chipotle BBQ, pastrami, chocolate & coffee

In addition to football, or the sport of your choice (I just watch football so you tell me) there is also horse and jai alai betting for those so inclined.  A fun way to spend an afternoon indeed!  Will be back often.  And next time, we can only pray, my G Men will WIN instead of – ugh.  Enough on that.  Thanks again to Chef Jordan for a delightful showcase of his cuisine.  A highly recommended spot!

 

 

 

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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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!

Why I run, in pictures

Hello friends,

I’m busy prepping for the Zooma Cape Cod at the end of September with my lovely friend Caitlin, her wonderful mother, Stephanie, and Cait’s close friend, Maria.  It’s approaching way too fast, and I’m still way too slow (at least from where I would like to be).  But I don’t run for competition.  I don’t run for weight control – although I guess that’s a happy side effect of all the miles in and calories burned.

I run for a simple reason – because it clears my head and provides me with moments of beauty that are translucently perfect when seen through the vail of several hours of endurance, and silence.

It’s basically a form of meditation and transcendentalism, rolled into one.

It’s where I go when the world is too much and I just need to appreciate stillness.

I realized this, quite fully, at Nolcha last night, when I happened to meet a videographer on the deck at Chelsea Piers.  She told me about a project she is working on – a documentary of NYC seen through moments of everyday experience.  And I told her about Virginia Woolfe’s “moments of being,” those fleeting seconds of perfect clarity and beauty which artists try so hard to capture, which burn like a “match burning in a crocus” – illuminated for a split second from within and then gone forever.

When I run, it’s to savor those beautiful moments.  And though these pictures don’t do the actual experience much justice, please enjoy this visual journey from Elizabeth Park to the Riverfront in Hartford, which I completed yesterday.

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Bushnell Park

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The Tobacco Shop Lounge, where I refilled my water bottle and said hi to the fellas

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Statehouse Square: deserted on a Sunday

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The Phoenix Building

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East of the river

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A metallic horse on the riverfront: part of the Lincoln Sculpture series

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Vignette detail deep in the woods on the Riverfront

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On the bridge, returning to the city (not pictured: a mother chasing her toddler with her camera)

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A friendly face at the Asylum Hill Congregational Church

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At the sign of the rose, returning to Elizabeth Park