Time for Nolcha and the New England BBQ Championships

Fashion week is here.

The most wonderful time of the year.

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I’ll be very excited to attend Nolcha again this fall, which I did and recapped in the middle of the frozen winter and recapped here.   This year’s shows will be on September 12th, and it will be wonderful to attend them and just marinate in new and innovative creative from some truly talented up and coming designers, hurrah.

Speaking of innovation – let’s take a look at Bear’s Smokehouse first ever New England BBQ Championships shall we?  But before we do – let’s discuss that this event which took place last night, with the professional judging and awards ceremony happening today.

It was an opportunity to experience a true BBQ throw down from some of the best local pit masters in the area.  A fundraiser, with 100% of the profits from the event going to Riverfront Recapture.  Little baby cupcakes from Nora and craft beer samples from many great local spots.  All set against the serene backdrop of the Connecticut River.  Cool yes?  But they say a picture is worth a thousand words, so enjoy this photo recap of the event.

And a special shout out to Jamie, photographed in the first picture below, and his wife, Cheryl (not pictured), for their  continued efforts to bring not only great BBQ to the state, but to usher in cool events and do good while doing so.

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Last but not least – this is entirely unrelated to the post – but I took Penelope to Flamig Farm earlier in the day and snapped this picture, and I’m a proud mommy so I have to share it:

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A Grand Tour of Wines with the Generous Pour @TheCapitalGrille + Breakdancing Hamlet

I get really excited about wine.  I get really excited about Shakespeare.  This post examines both – be prepared, my friends

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Bonus: I’m writing this from Vinted – where they serve up half price bottles of wine on Sunday evenings.  Having the Blue Back Square as your back yard carries its advantages.

Why is there a Vogue magazine in the above shot?  Why, because I was entranced with a story on a new musical, Hamiltonwhich sets the story of one of Founding Father’s to a hip hop soundtrack.  This is pretty rad in and of itself, but it ties nicely to what would appear to be a new theatrical trend in the works – as our very own Hartford Stage has a very limited run Breakdancing Shakespeare: Hamlet tonight, and through August 11th at the University of St. Joseph!  The project has existed for several years through the Greater Hartford Arts Council Neighborhood Studios, and it inspires to bring classical works to people of all ages through an infusion of relevant coolness and creativity.  More info and tickets available here.  Can’t wait.

Now, on to the main course of this post (pun intended) the magnificent Generous Pour at the Capital Grille.  I was invited to attend for the second year in a row with Carolyn, who joined me last year also:

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This picture is from last year.  It’s magnificent and also a very accurate depiction of our friendship.  From here on out – photo credit for all pictures goes to Carolyn

The Generous Pour is an annual event at the Capital Grille.  It is running now through August 30th, and the concept is simple: sample eight exceptional wines (generous samples, as you can see from above) for $28 with the purchase of an entree.  We happened to time our visit with their Taste of Hartford menu, which unfortunately has come and gone for this year, but it’s still well, well worth the visit in order to dive, nose first, into some truly exceptional blends:

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Behold all the beauties.

The wines ranged from lightest (Sauvignon Blanc) to deepest (Syrah)… here are some highlights from each and every glass:

Galarie “Naissance,” Sauvignon Blanc, Napa Valley (Winemaker: Laura Diaz Munoz): A light and bright wine, with a very thin mouthfeel but a smooth and creamy finish.  Fruity and perfect for summer sipping.  I tend to gravitate more towards New Zealand Sauv Blancs, but it’s lovely to find the hand picked all stars from Napa, which featured very heavily on this list.

Barrymore, Montery, Pinot Grigiot (Proprietress: Drew Barrymore): Whoa.  I didn’t know Drew Barrymore had a vineyard.  Talk about a class act.  And her wine matches her reputation – summery, citrusy, tart, described as a “crowd pleaser,” – just like Drew! – and very able to live up to the name.  I have bad, bad associations with Pinot – think a warm oversized bottle, diluted by ice cubes to the point where it’s just not worth the effort drinking it.  But this wine reminded me why it’s important to keep an open mind – and palate – when it comes to blends.

Stonestreet “Bear Point,” Alexander Valley, Chardonnay (Winemaker: Lisa Valtenbergs): Again, another thin mouthfeel (makes me believe that the sommelier had an eye out for summery blends when creating this list), with lots of spice, and a very classic take on the ‘big Cali’ Chardonnay style – lots of personality and lots of oak.  Would and did pair quite nicely with food – but more on that in a minute.

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Let’s break here for a picture of me in my “happy place” 

On to the reds:

Cambria “Julia’s Vineyard,” Santa Maria Valley, Pinot Noir (Winemaker: Denise Shurtleff): I love, love a good Pinot.  It’s a rich, complex, moody complicated wine which is disastrous when executed poorly but oh so good when it’s done right.  And this particular blend’s grapes all come from the vineyard – a rarity, and every single one of them came together to create a truly delightful wine.  A mouth load of poppy and cherry, and a nice mineral quality to finish which made me want to close my eyes and picture myself at the vineyard (wouldn’t that be lovely).

Matanzas Creek, Sonoma, Merlot (Winemaker: Marcia Monohan): I’m planning a visit to see my sister in November, and she is considerate enough to live in San Francisco, which means we’ll be paying a trip to Sonoma as well as eating the finest Mexican food outside of Mexico (hello, Mission District).  This vineyard may be worth a visit, with a nice chocolatey palate to the merlot, balancing out some dark fruit flavors nicely into a well rounded blend.  If you’re drinking this at the Capital Grille – and why wouldn’t you?  Do yourself a favor and pair it with a steak.  A very happy companionship that would be.

Arrowood Reserve Speciale, Sonoma, Cabernet Sauvignon (Winemaker: Kristina Werner): Not familiar with Cabernet Sauvignons?  I was not personally, but it’s a nice, relatively new combination of Cabernet Franc and Sauvignon Blanc grapes, and it’s easy to grow and a crowd pleaser.  This particular variety is, however, quite rare and also accordingly expensive.  The vineyard it resides in (another Sonoma – hurrah) has century old vines, and this particular blend only pops up occasionally on wine lists due to its limited quantities.  Flavor wise, it’s just a really nice, classically executed Big Cali red.  If you’re into that sort of thing like I am, it’s not one to miss.

Mt Brave, Mt. Veeder, Napa Valley, Cabernet Sauvignon (Winemaker Laura Diaz Munoz): The second wine from Ms. Munoz on the list as well as the second and only repetitious blend, this ruggedly beautiful red has deep crunchy notes, big red flavor, and an explosively smooth palate.  It packs quite a punch and will take you nicely into your flourless chocolate cake if you choose to partake in that – but more on dessert in a minute.

Kinton, Santa Barbara, Syrah (Wine visionary: Julia Jackson): With a list like this, it’s important to end on a high note.  This magnificent Syrah delivers a smooth, cherry, vanilla visionary taste with a very creamy palate and delicate balance of flavors.  A special vintage year, this Syrah finished off our tasting in excellent style.

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Oh yes – in addition to the wine, the Capital Grille spoiled us with food.  The “Taste of Hartford” pre fixe menu is available during two weeks in the summer and the winter, so watch out for January’s cycle at www.tastehartford.com.  My meal started with the above pictured Bleu Cheese and Applewood Smoked Bacon Wedge

burger and truffle fries

Closely followed by this magnificent burger the “Chef’s Signature” Cheeseburger and parmesan truffle fries.  I can’t say enough about the Capital Grille burgers.  When you’re somewhere that loves and pays such close attention to beef, the results are going to be superb, and this one was no exception.  My only complaint – a dried out bun, but considering we ordered off the lunch menu at 3 pm, when the kitchen was switching over to dinner, I think this small fault is justified.

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To end things: Flourless Chocolate Espresso Cake.  I’m not an expert so I won’t say that these flavors are a perfect accompaniment to the deep reds at the end of the Generous Pour, but the flavor notes in most reds were present on this dish, and I certainly enjoyed putting the two together.

All in all, we enjoyed a very magnificent meal and lovely patio seating al fresco, enjoying the downtown hustle and bustle of Front Street.  Thanks again to the Capital Grille for their hospitality and excellent service, as always.  So go, try this list, before it runs out at the end of the month.

Mini vacations to @SeaCrestCapeCod and all the mixology at the annual @faithwnpr Martini Competition!

Summer is in full swing – well not today – today it’s cool, cloudy, and spitting little rain drops (thanks New England).  But in general, the apex of the warm weather is upon us!  Today’s post recaps my recent trip with Carolyn to one of her family’s favorite seaside resorts – now one of my favorites too – as well as one of the best mixology events of the year – the annual Faith Middleton Food Schmooze Martini Competition. But first – a preview of fun things to come:

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I met this lovely lady – Caitlin – and her penguin friend – at the Travelers Championship mini-golf tourney for charity.  She and I will be connecting this summer to bring Penelope to the Mystic Aquarium for a behind the scenes tour of the fishies.  Very exciting.

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Penelope and I also enjoyed a lovely Farm to Table brunch over the weekend Clark Hill Farms in Granby!  We will be returning shortly to pick blueberries, and I’ll be recapping our experience – along with the the upcoming Scales, Shells & Steak dinner by renowned Chef Billy Grant at Rose’s Berry Farm on July 17th!  Tickets are available here.  

‘Tis truly the season to eat local.

‘Tis also the season to take mini trips to the Cape!  The beauty of Connecticut is that it’s really, really tiny – and easy to drive from one state to the other.  Carolyn and I took off for the Sea Crest Beach Hotel on a whim several weeks ago, when we realized that our only chances for a girls’ vacation lay in taking our trip ASAP, before the summer became any busier:

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Yes, we changed into vintage swimsuits just for cocktail hour.  We’re ridiculous like that.

The Sea Crest is not your typical Cape Cod resort, and that’s a good thing.  For starters, it’s not embedded in rustic woods – just straight up waterfront, powdery white sands, and of course, the glassy smooth perfection of Cape Cod oceanfront.  In addition, it’s located on an inlet, which means that you can watch the sunset over the water – a rare treat on the East coast. They also feature onsite dining:

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Sometimes I’ll order something other than raw oysters.  But – actually, no that never happens

As well as beach side drinks service:

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Drinks on the deck!

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Drinks to go with your dino mag!

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Drinks for everyone!  No movement required!  Side note: both of my swim suits are from Venom Vintage

I’m looking forward to returning to the Sea Crest this fall for my first ever half marathon – The Zooma Cape Cod -which I agreed to in a moment of manhattan infused madness at the Glastonbury Strawberry Moon Festival with Caitlin!  My training is under way – very slowly this week as I’m recovering from illness, but slowly but surely picking up.  At least the gorgeous ocean front setting is a good motivation to stick with it!

So, off the beach and on to the cocktail competition!  As aforementioned, the Faith Middleton Food Schmooze Martini Competition is one of my very favorite events of the year.  Faith’s cooking show  on WNPR is a must listen whilst zipping around the city on weekday afternoons – she combines thoughtful repartee on all things food related (often joined by the talented and funny Chris Prosperi) as well as a variety of eclectic topics.  But, if food is King of the Food Schmooze show, the martini is Queen – and the annual martini competition showcases some of the finest mixology from around the state:

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Let’s start with my personal favorite libation, from personal favorite mixologist David Brogan, aka @signaturedavid.  He combined Wild Moon Chai Spice Liqueur, Blanco Tequila, RIPE Agave Margarita Bar Mix, Strawberry rhubarb simple syrup and Cointreau for his “Summer Spice” cocktail.  It was a perfect balance of bitter, spicy, and saucy – truly refreshing and definitely worth recreating at home!

Other notable favorites included:

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“Sunshine and London” courtesy of On20 – a very berry blend of Strawberry Shrub, gin, watermelon, and basil.  Side note: shrubs are ridiculously easy to make at home and a great way to use up local, seasonal fruit.  

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I’m subbing the picture of the Plan B cocktail with this ridiculously cute image from their Marketing Manager, Rachel’s Instagram account – but they made a “Cherry Picker” Bench Mark Bourbon infused with cherries – naturally – egg white foam, and vinegar.  Like the shrub in On20, the vinegar adds a nice sour touch to what could otherwise be an overly sweet libation.  That’s how you know you’re dealing with cocktail experts

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Never failing to please, Max Burger‘s cocktail, the “BRB” was a summery mix of: agave nectar, fresh basil, muddled raspberries, sour mix, bourbon, and black walnut bitters

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A “Luscious Garden” courtesy of the Half Door:  Jameson, sage, and blackberry infused syrup, lemon juice, and bitters

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“Cucumber Honeyrita-tini” courtesy of Flipside: Cucumber, triple sec, tequila, honey, and lime juice

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A very beachy libation from the Doubletree by Hilton in Bristol, the “Slim Shady:” Grapefruit vodka, white lemon juice, grapefruit bitters, and St Germain

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My favorite presentation of the evening: a smoked blueberry infused moonshine with honey bacon spiced rim courtesy of Bear’s Smokehouse.  They currently only serve beer and wine, but if this is what we have to look forward to for future cocktails, well dang.  Just another reason to go there…. often

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A spicy cocktail and cookie combo from Firebox, the “High Cooler:” St George Green Chile Vodka, fresh pressed watermelon juice, lime juice, and lime zest, with a pistachio chipotle meringue

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Diner style presentation and flair (naturally) from Blue Plate Kitchen, who presented the “Honey Green Tea-ni:” Rime organic vodka, infused meyer lemon simple syrup, and green tea

Many, many thanks to WNPR for hooking myself and a guest up with two passes to this awesome event:

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Pictured here hand modeling a very yummy shrimp and frozen gazpacho amuse bouche from Tisane (who also killed the cocktail game with their Hendricks Gin (yum), yellow watermelon juice, cucumber, lime, and ginger simple syrup cocktail

One of the notable pitfalls with this type of an evening is that it’s virtually impossible (for me, at least) to sample everything.  So although I did vote for my favorite:

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And received my sticker, thank you very much

I ultimately did NOT try the winner cocktail (shucks) – but congrats to Infinity Hall and Bistro for their “Lime in the Coconut” cocktail which took first place!  And kudos to the DoubleTree and Max Burger for their respective second and their place wins.  I have so much inspiration for summer cocktails now – starting with making a local blueberry shrub, once Penelope and I go blueberry picking next week.

@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.

Let’s Play with our Food with @HSOTweets (plus – Big Red and Aids CT Oscars Night)

Hello friends!  Such a long hiatus from blogging for me.  A body at rest tends to stay at rest, a body in motion tends to stay in motion, and a body going through drastic changes tends to… not get much blogging accomplished.  So – finally – back at it with three fantastic events: two past and one upcoming this Saturday!

So let’s start with Playing with Food, one of my favorite yearly shows from the Hartford Symphony.  The brainchild of Head Conductor, Carolyn Kuan, this is the third inception of Playing with Food – this year featuring the handsome and charming Fabio Viviani of Top Chef fame onstage with Carolyn to discuss the dishes of the Vivo, M & M Bistro, and the CT Convention Center!

I was fortunate enough to attend the press preview for Vivo to witness Carolyn’s creative process in action:

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Somedays my job is cooler than other days (the Marriott where Vivo resides, as well as the Hartford Symphony, are both advertising clients of mine)

Carolyn Kuan uses the opportunity of tasting the dishes to begin building connections to musical notes.  A french bouillabaisse might call up a light French horn, for example, or bone marrow might be reminiscent of a “big fat tuba” (direct quote)

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Also, delicious bone marrow.  Pictured: Chef Bill Reardon’s braised Veal Osso Bucco with chanterelles, Risotto Milanese, and Tomato Espuma.

After the tasting, Carolyn creates connections to classical pieces of music, and they are performed live at the concert, after a chat with the chefs, in order to complete the connection between the sight, smell, and taste of the food and the sound of the music!

The show will be this Saturday, March 21st, at 730 pm, at the Bushnell Mortenson Hall.  You can buy tickets here.

So, that will be pretty awesome.  Also noteworthy this past month: the Aids CT Oscars NightThis yearly event raises money for the Aids Foundation and is a great chance to get dolled up and experience some live red carpet action.  It’s nice to watch at home in your PJs sure, but who doesn’t like a little glamor in their life?

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All dolled up with some good friends

I wore an awesome, sequined criss cross dress from Venom Vintage, who can provide cutting edge period pieces for any red carpet event:

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The braids?  I’m not sure where the braids came from.  Lazy Girl hair day I guess

Spotlight Theaters on Front Street was the gracious host of the event for the second year in a row.  It works well as they have a full bar in the theater, plus all the movie seating to watch the Oscars live on a big screen!  Very fun idea.

Last, but certainly not least – Big Red celebrated its 10th anniversary in existence with the Greater Hartford Arts Council

Housed at the Society Room, Big Red features wine sampling and food pairings from local vinters and chefs, making for an excellent evening of food, wine, conversation, and most importantly – raising money to support arts and culture in Hartford!

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With our new Publisher, Rick Daniels, Mary Lou Stoneburner, our VP of Advertising and Michael Guinan, Ad Director for Hartford Magazine

One of the major, major highlights for the evening for me was the enormous paella brought by J Restaurant:

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Wow.  I could curl up and take a nap in that paella pan – it’s that big

The paella paired nicely with a Sottobosco Rosso blend, a deep Italian red with just a hint of sweetness (I personally prefer pairing paella with red wine vs white – I feel it has enough meaty characteristics to go both ways)

Also on hand for drinks – a pleasing Ginger & Thyme Prosecco cocktail from Vito’s

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Executive Chef, Rob Maffucci, was also onsite serving his signature truffled chocolate pasta dish

Also noteworthy on the food scapes – Bear’s Smokehouse,

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Literal bears yaaas

Nora Cupcakes, naturally

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The very best!

And a wonderful, local, Granby based ice cream store – Grass Roots Creamery

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I tried lemongrass, so good.  They have impressive, unique flavor combos inspired by Humphry Slocombe

Overall, a very good couple of weeks for food and culture in Hartford.  There’s definitely no shortage of cool things to choose from – so get out there and enjoy it!

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…

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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!

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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

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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.

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

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Oysters with a classic vinaigrette.  REALLY big oysters.

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

There were also four cocktail samples to try:

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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:

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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.

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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

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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:

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Kinetic water experiments on the first floor

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Digging for fossils on the third floor

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

We followed this awesome playtime by lunch at Ted’s

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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!

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Ladies’ night

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

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Yummm

Paired with a nice Aperol Sunset cocktail:

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Like a margarita, but with way more bite

Followed by a lovely salad

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P ate all my pomegranate seeds for me

And a perfectly sized portion of lemony shrimp risotto:

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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:

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Wow yourself

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

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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:

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And also a map

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

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Moet bubbles with strawberry caviar

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

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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:

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

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

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

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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:

twinning

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.