Butchers and Bakers

Butchers and Bakers, no candlestick makers.  But a cooper?  Oh yes, they have one of those.  And a wood fired pizza oven.  And Tito’s Vodka cocktails on tap.  And in house butchering.  I am speaking, of course, of the brand spanking new Butchers and Bakers – part of the Locals 8 Restaurant Group – at 270 Farmington Ave, Farmington, CT.

Before we get to the main business at hand – namely food and libations – let’s loop back to the cooper.  A cooper – or a barrel maker – is not something one encounters every day in modern America, but the type of dedication to craft detail which is necessary to create a wooden barrel by hand is indicative of the type of restaurant which breaks down its own cuts of premium meat.  It should come as no surprise that Kevin Watson – VP of Operations and Chef – is a cooper by choice and restaurateur by trade.  The bespoke interior was overseen by him, and the menu of small bites, pizza, and large portions of meat is also overseen by him.  Then again, it does take a village – and the Locals 8 restaurant team knows a thing or two about food.  Particularly, meat.  And its a large staff in a large space.  I was fortunate enough to be onsite for opening day, and watching the energy of pre shift was electric.  As was the subsequent sampling of many fine dishes.

Pictured below: house made bread (crusty and well proofed – as was the pizza crust), a lovely glass of Folie a Deux Cabernet (pairs well with pizza), Local Cheese Board (apricot compote + spicy almonds), Coal-roasted Peach Panzanella (for the patio season ahead – a must), Sizzling Garlic Shrimp (stop it, so good), Tito’s Moscow Maid (on draft, lemonade and rosemary), Mushroom Pizza (soubise + cremini + oyster + shitake + portobello + truffle oil).  High notes: the dangerous drinkable properties of that draft Tito’s cocktail – charred roasted peaches bursting with flavor and balanced by acidic dressing and light, soft cheese, shrimp bright with garlic, did I mention the cocktail?  oh right, yes, and of course, the aforementioned, not too doughy, well seasoned pizza crust.

Will return for many meats.  Will return for patio season.  Will return for many things.  Welcome to the CT restaurant scene, Butchers and Bakers, and thank you for having me.

opening day (7 of 1)opening day (8 of 1)opening day (14 of 1)opening day (9 of 1)opening day (10 of 1)opening day (11 of 1)opening day (12 of 1)opening day (13 of 1)opening day (14 of 1)opening day (16 of 1)

Advertisements

@marchofdimesct Signature Chefs Auction at the Riverview in Simsbury

Man oh man.  Black coffee and blogging at 6 am?  This is the LIFE.  In other news, I don’t recognize the productive morning person I am becoming.  But, faced with a super busy week (husband out of town traveling, our black tie 250th gala tonight, hair appointment at Blo for said gala during my lunch break) I am fitting things in where I can, as one does as a mommy, a blogger, and a working professional.  And that includes setting my alarm an hour and a half early in order to recap the amazing time Leeanne and I enjoyed at the Riverview in Simsbury last week, for the March of Dimes Signature Chefs Gala!  If you missed this one, there will be another in Fairfield on November 5th too – right around the corner.

a recipe for healthy babies

A recipe for healthy babies!  Awwww

Let’s back up for just a minute and look at what the March of Dimes accomplishes.  They are the premiere charity dedicated to eradicating, whenever possible, premature delivery (which leads, naturally to health complications for mamas and their babies) as well as for providing the best possible care for preemies?  What a good cause, is my point.  I was honored to get an email requesting I attend the event as a blogger, and I did receive a free ticket (plus a guest – ie/ the lovely Leeanne) from the charity.

selfies with leeanne ftw also rizuttos cocktail

A rare Leeanne selfie.  I’d like to thank Suzie Hunter for making this possible

The Signature Chef’s Auction takes place annually, with a bunch of big hearted chefs joining forces to offer gourmet bites of food and small samples of cocktails, while guests mingle and enjoy a silent and live auction:

mickey mouse

I didn’t bid, but if I had, it would have definitely been on this Disney experience package.  So fun.  P is excited to meet Mickey Mouse.  Someday (soon) it’s going to happen.

In addition to the silent auction, guests enjoyed a live bidding, which Leeanne and I unfortunately missed as we were both tired and didn’t stay for more than an hour or two, although we thoroughly enjoyed circling the gorgeous Riverview space during the time that we were present, and saying hello to a bunch of our friends who were there working the event:

plan b

Starting with Plan B burgers.  Quite simply the best.  I snatched a ‘to go’ second burger on the way out because I’m obsessed and they were quite kind about my greed, ha.  Also, mini is the perfect size/shape for a burger, in my opinion, and I love that Plan B will make any of their regular burgers with toppings into minis upon request in their restaurants!  OK, end burger rant.

Having started with beef, we moved onto seafood:

bobby vs

Seared tuna FTW

The above delicate bite was from Bobby V’s, an upscale sports bar and lounge located in Windsor Locks:

sweet set up and bobby vs

Kudos for the signature table settings too!  Very cool.

Next up, we sampled a delectable and complex serving of short rib stuffed in pepper from Barcelona:

barcelona peppers

So very pretty

Side note: Leeanne seriously has a photographic memory when it comes to dishes/ingredients.  I was having difficulty taking notes and balancing the plates (plus I was distracted/excited by all the wonderful food and cute baby photos) and she repeated all the ingredients to me, which was seriously nice and also seriously impressive!

march of dimes leeanne photo

And she took this nice picture of the back of my dress/necklace detail!  She is the best

In addition to the food stuffs, there were plenty of libations being poured.  Our friends at Onyx are always nice to see out and about:

linley

The lovely Linley pouring several options for the Onyx (my favorite was the cider/apple Onyx combo – so very good)

Another high note for drinks came form Rizutto’s, who were present with a lovely bite of braised lamb and parsnip/potato mash:
risottos plate

Yum.

Paired with it was a really delightful cocktail called “The Orchard.”  I didn’t snap a picture of it and the event, but I may or may not have ordered a full sized version of the same drink at lunch today:

the orchard

The Orchard – house infused apple vodka, Lillet, sage garnish

So yes, very very nice.  We also enjoyed burnt ends sliders from Bear’s Smokehouse:

bears with burnt ends

Thanks Jamie – delicious as always

What goes well with BBQ?  Beer, naturally.  And Hooker Beer was conveniently located next to Bears (nice placement)

hooker beer selection

I sampled the Munich Style – even tho Watermelon Ale is my favorite – it just seemed like a better seasonal choice (it was the right call, especially to pair with the burnt ends)

There were many more plates to try, but I was filling up fast, so I went straight to dessert and enjoyed a really, really, really, really good cookiewich from Taste by Spellbound:

taste by spellbound

Choose your cookie, choose your filling.  I did red velvet with maple frosting and regretted nothing

But let’s not lose sight of what the event was all about – a fundraiser to help babies!  There were plenty of adorable baby photos everywhere to make sure that was top of mind during the evening:

ze babies awww

Sooo cute

Thanks again to the March of Dimes for the invite.  I’ve been connecting more with the coordinators, and I’m looking forward to walking in their March for Babies Greater Hartford in 2015!

October is a glorious month! Let’s do all the things

Greetings, friends, and welcome to a special events round up featuring my very favorite month of the year: October.  Without waxing too basic about pumpkins and the like, let me just say that I friggin’ love this time of year, especially in gorgeous Connecticut.  And today I am feeling particularly Octoberish – well – mostly orange – as you can see by my outfit:

selfie orange dress

This dress is from a Posh Sale several years back – and yes there is another Posh Sale in several weeks, and more details are below

and my lunch as I write this:

squash soup

Roasted butternut squash soup, served in an awesome C Wonder bowl from the lovely Cait, and with a gorgeous skyline view of Hartford from our cafeteria at work

In addition to Halloween, there is a plethora of fun events coming up this month.  For example: apple picking, which is super fun no matter what your age, but even better if you’re 18 months old

photo (53)

Just ask Penelope, who picked a whole basketful of drop apples (50 cents a pound at Lost Acres Orchard!  Can’t beat that) and then went on a tractor ride like a Very Big Girl

If you are looking for more of a round up of general events in Hartford, I recommend Real Hartford’s blog – she is the Queen of all things fun, and cool to do around town.  I’ve just hand picked a couple that I am personally attending and looking forward to this month, as there is so much going on, and it’s all very cool.  Without further ado, here goes:

We can with Mondo Guerra at New County Motor Cards on October 11th

Oookay.  I’m not sure if I am actually able to attend this.  I have both FOMO at missing the fashion AND sadness to miss an amazing charity event dedicated towards ending the course of AIDS.  And I want to see my favorite Titian, Carolyn, wow the crowd as an MC.  But – I know my limitations, and I know I need to have balance with my daughter and my social life (and my time on the couch in no pants watching baaaad Bravo TV, if we are being brutally honest).  So I might have to pass – but I still highly recommend that you go, and you can purchase tickets here as they aren’t available for sale at the door typically.  And there will be bubbles and food and amazing fashion and celebrity host, all for a great cause.  Gah.  So I might go.  But probably not.  But stay tuned!  Haha.

1st ever annual Hoptoberfest at Rosedale on Sunday, October 12th

OK, sorry folks – this event IS sold out.  But there are two more opportunities to partake in Max beer festivities – the first being a Hoptoberfest Dinner at Max Downtown on October 10, and the second is the Trumbull Kitchen Beerfest on November 2nd.  In addition to being stoked for all the rich local beers which will be poured and paired with Max appetizers, I’m excited to congratulate Scott Miller on his promotion to head of Max Catering (a new position).  So well deserved, as Scott has headed up the very successful Farm to Chef dinner series at Rosedale and other amazing farm locations statewide.

 

A Recipe for Healthy Babies: Signature Chefs Auctions for the March of Dimes on Thursday, October 16

Yet another wonderful, wonderful cause.  The March of Dimes makes its mission in helping  ensure that expectant mothers carry their babies to term whenever possible – ensure healthier babies.  How cool is that?  And their signature auction and chef round up (Cuginos, Bear’s Smokehouse, Barcelona Wine Bar, Salute, and more) will ensure an evening of wonder, wine and cuisine to raise funds for the charity.  It’s also at Simsbury’s The Riverview – one of my favorite venue spaces due to both the pretty layout and its proximity to my home.  Leeanne will be my partner in crime next Thursday at this event, and I can’t wait.  Tickets are currently on sale here.

“A Courant Affair:” 250 Years of Beats and Bylines from the Hartford Courant on October 24

Wow.  I work for the oldest continuously published newspaper in the United States.  The same paper that printed the Declaration of Independence for the public to read.  That’s a lot of history to explore, and the majority of this year has been spent exploring it, month by month, by delving into the rich history – visual and textual – in the Courant’s archives.  The gala, onsite at the Bushnell, will be a night to celebrate all of this.  The Trashion Fashion crew is busy assembling some really terrific newspaper dresses.  I don’t know what I’m wearing.  Probably at least some newspaper.  I’m awfully excited.  Tickets on sale here folks.

Blogger Preview of the Posh Sale (and brunch!) on October 25

The Posh Sale will be here from November 7-9.  That means that the most wonderful vintage clothing for men and women – from both the Wadsworth’s textile society and generous donations from the community.  I attended, as previously mentioned, two years ago, and I’ve been impatiently waiting for another Posh Sale since (it doesn’t happen every year so extra reason to be excited and to definitely, definitely go).  I will also be giving away a pair of tickets to the preview party on the evening of November 7th, after our blogger’s preview, with some sneak peek photos of what’s for sale, so stay tuned and check out all the event details here.  Oh yeah.  Vintage baby.

CRC Styles Fashion Gala to benefit Make a Wish Foundation on October 26

My goodness.  Another really great cause and wonderful charity.  What could be more wonderful than making the dreams of gravely ill children come through?  Rhetorical questions aside, this event is the 10th annual Fashion Gala, and it will be black tie fancy and full of fashion, food, and of course, raising funds for the Make a Wish Foundation (most important of all by far).  Tickets on sale hereYes, that is also two black tie galas in one weekend for me.  No, I’ve never been to a black tie gala before.  Yes I’m excited. No I don’t know what I’m wearing.  But: challenge accepted (style wise, that is).

ARTini on October 30th

The Greater Hartford Art’s Council’s signature cocktail fundraiser features a curated art deco show this year – a first!  As well as a roaring 20’s flapper theme.  Which will suit me just fine, as I’m headed there with Carolyn and will just raid her enormous costume wardrobe (read: basement).  Ooooh.  I haven’t managed to attend this event yet either, but I love cocktails and I love the arts, so this will be a lovely pre-Halloween adult festivity (Halloween is, of course, reserved for squiring Penelope around in her baby shark costume).  Tickets on sale here if you care to join us for ARTini!

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

 

 

 

A Taste of the Good Life @CarbonesCT for #TasteofHartford #TGIF

Carbone’s. What can you say? They are basically the ‘godfather’ of Italian restaurants in Hartford – and they also have a bit of a personal connection to my husband’s family – as my husbands’ grandfather was friends with one of the original owners. Also, they have REALLY, really good food.

So when hey invited me in for Taste of Hartford, I was modestly thrilled. Ok, really thrilled. Ok, absolutely delighted – and so was my husband
date night x

Cheers!  Hopefully this pic gives you a feel of the old school, classy Carbone’s vibe

But let’s back up a bit.  This was actually  my second trip to Carbone’s this week.  The first was to film a cocktail segment with the delighful Paul:

Breaking down a Black Cherry Mojito – excellent for summer

Carbone’s was kind enough to provide us with an entire comped meal, and naturally we went for their Taste of Hartford menu – three courses for a fixed price of $25!

hartford has it

Seen here hanging out with my #Hartfordhasit notebook – thanks Erin!

I am, of course, still doing my 21 day fix (currently drinking a vegan breakfast smoothie and it’s yummy) so I was happy to see very healthy menu options – Italian places can be a little nerve wracking for eating clean, but there were plenty of vegetable and protein options to choose from!

orange martini yaaaas

I did cheat a bit though.  A wee bit.  A delicious wee bit.  With a Blood Orange Martini (House made Blood Orangecello with a splash of Clementine Vodka and fresh lime)

So… yeah – there were non approved cocktail.  How can you turn down house made orangello though?  I mean, really.  It would have been wrong not to drink it….  and also, to balance it out… my salad was delighful, healthy, and crunchy:

chickpea quinoa salad

Delicious, bright citrusy accents of chickpea and quinoa on the Summer Quinoa Salad (grilled seasonal vegatables, quinoa, barley, lemon vinaigrette, toasted garbanzo beans, feta)

Michael opted for a more traditional garden salad:

garden salad

Carbone’s Garden salad (crisp greens, garnishes, red wine vinaigrette dressing)

For his main, Mike ordered the shrimp scampi:

mike w his pasta

So Italian and so handsome!  Both the pasta and the fella that is, haha (Shrimp Scampi: fresh linguini, tomatoes, capers, white wine, lemon)

Again, the #21dayfix actually worked in my favor in selecting an entree, because I chose the Veal Medallions vs. the Chicken Picatta which was calling my name.  With a veggie hash, the veal appeared to be the ‘cleanest’ entree on the menu, ingredients wise, and it was also very, very delicous

omg veal medallions

Check the brussel sprouts! (Veal Medallions: summer vegetable hash, mushroom brandy cream)

The brussels were the highlight of this dish for me (go figure).  I typically over roast my brussels to caramelize and remove the cabbagy flavor, but the Carbone’s ones were all dente AND also not overly pungent.  Well done chefs.  The rosemary added a nice punch to the veal, which was also cooked to perfection:

close up veal medallions

Hallo beauties.

I may or may have not ordered a glass of merlot (Raymond R Collection, Napa Valley).  Part of the 21 day fix?  Probably not, on top of the martini.  A full bodied, balanced pairing for the veal?  Most definitely.  It’s also wonderful to find a glass of Napa wine priced at $10 – very reasonable (the martini was also in the $10 price range, for anyone whose looking for price points).

Our server, Alex, was quite delightful, attentive, and kind enough to pose for a picture with our desserts:

smiling w desserts

Thanks Alex! Pictured left: Summer Berry Pound Cake (house made butter pound cake, mixed berries, whipped cream).  Pictured right: Cannoli Duo (traditional chocolate and vanilla filled miniature cannoli)

The cake portion of my berry pound cake was nicely soaked with fresh berry juice, and I would have loved to have eaten more then the small bite I enjoyed (again – le fix)  But Michael happily polished off his own dessert as well as the remainder of mine – so it worked out well for him I guess!  What a lovely meal.  Thanks again to the Carbone’s staff for inviting us in and comping the check – it was very much appreciated, and as any new parent knows, date nights without the little one are a precious commodity.  So it’s best to mangia buono when they do happen!

 

One more quick note – Carbones Kitchen is offering a prixe fixe also – and the special “taste” menus are available at both restaurants until August 3rd – so check them out too!

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!

@faithwnpr Food Schmooze, @HartfordMag Best of Party, and Watch Hill Rhode Island

 

Is it really Monday already?  And is June almost over?  The weekends in summer fly by like sparrows, especially at the peak of the season: the solstice.  It was quite a busy and eventful weekend for us – and I can’t complain about any of it, even though I’m thoroughly tired out and sun drenched today.  Below is a recap/roundup from Thursday night through Saturday.  But first!  A word from our sponsors!

BB_1029240_CIGAR_DINNER

Just kidding, I don’t have sponsors.  But Front Street Bistro is hosting this awesome cigar dinner tomorrow night, and you should go.

One of my favorite events of the year:

w faith middleton

The Faith Middleton Food Schmooze Martini Competition.  Pictured here with Kerry Burrows and the lady herself

Faith Middleton is a popular host on WNPR, and her show focuses on “the richness of life and everything in it.”  The topics vary, but overwhelmingly, the show is about food.  Glorious, delicious food.  And the Food Schmooze brings together top restaurants to compete for the accolade of best martini – which makes for some very good sampling:

Kerry food schmooze

And this year’s venue, the Riverview in Simsbury, is simply gorgeous!

smokin with James

The first drink we tried upon entering was ‘Smoking with James’ by Plan B – which also won the entire competition!

In addition to the smoked peach cocktail, Plan B provided burger sliders.  I would have photographed one, but I was too busy eating it.  Sorry.  I did manage to grab photos of a couple other food pairings:

tylers awesome bite

Thank you Chef Tyler – so very much – for saving me this decadent little crab bite.  It paired delectably well with Millwrights Kyokai #7 – a tequila based cocktail which I’ll soon go back for a full sized version of.

burger baby beet cocktail

Another favorite – a Beet Martini from Burger Baby!

sal e peppa

A refreshing basil concoction from Sal e Peppa

half door

A very unique and hoppy cocktail (that’s a hop ice cube!) courtesy of The Half Door

rizuttos cocktail

One of my favorites from Rizuttos – a Spicy Sriracha Lemonade Bourbon, which I sampled before in this post.  The cotton candy garnish was a nice touch!

infinity bistro strawberry rhubarb

Infinity Hall Bistro provided a summer strawberry rhubarb cocktail.  I’m stoked for their new location to open in Hartford.

floral cocktail

Barley Vine’s “The Richness of Life” cocktail, featuring aromatic gin and pretty flower garnish

on20 cocktail

On 20‘s cocktail was bold and classic

chili thai tini

Cavey‘s cocktail had an unexpected and welcome Thai twist, and was paired with a (not pictured) spring roll

I didn’t necessarily sample in this order precisely, but I tried to move from dinner to dessert cocktails – and there were many rich and sweet ones to choose from:

blackberry habanero goat cheese profiterole

First up: a savory dessert – goat cheese rasberry profiterole from the Riverview, which paired nicely with their “bridezilla” spicy and sweet rasberry jalapeno cocktail

bobby v sports bar cracker jack cocktail

A pretty, whimsical Crackerjack Cocktail from the new Bobby V’s Sports Bar!

doubletree by bristol signature cookie cocktail feat chocolate caviar

My personal favorite of the event: Doubletree by Hilston Bristol‘s Signature Cookie Cocktail, with crushed cookie rim and home made chocolate caviar at the bottom.  I went back for another.  Ok I had three.

j christians

A more ‘meh’ pairing – J Christian‘s banana fudge liqueur, paired with a chocolate covered pineapple ball from Edible Arrangements.  Pineapple and chocolate are just strange bedfellows.

There were over thirty restaurants participating and competing.  There was no way I was trying thirty cocktails.  I’m happy with the selection I did sample, but I would have loved to try more!  A photo gallery including some of the lovely looking ones I missed (alas!) is available here.

Friday morning, I had the pleasure of attending the Traveler’s Championship.  I took a couple lovely photos from our corporate greenside box, before reading the literature that clearly stated NO PHOTOS.  Whoops.  So in lieue of sharing any putting shots, here’s a little picture of my sunblock swag, which was much needed on a hot sunny day:

travelers sunblock

It’s very cute and it’s currently in my purse

Friday evening, I had the pleasure of visiting Blo West Hartford, where Stacey hooked me up with, quite possibly, no scratch that – definitely – my best blow out yet

blo hair

I asked for beachy waves and the stylist nailed it.

What was the special occasion, you ask?  Why none other than the Hartford Magazine Best of Hartford Party – which took place at the Hartford Public Library

hplct

All glass everything

cuvee cheers

And we pregamed at Cuvee with rose and champagne cocktails.  It was a fancy evening

kat and erica

Lilly Pulitzer and Tracy Negoshian fancy.  Pictured with the lovely Erica from Silkworm in West Hartford!

vary studious

Big books and cocktail gowns fancy.  Pictured: me, Yurah, Caitlin, Carolyn, and Emily!

cait and kat

“Someone won Best Runner Up for Best Blogger” fancy (hint: it wasn’t me! congrats Cait!)

a vert macaroons

Macaroons from a’Vert and cabernet fancy

ripe cocktail hartford mag

Ripe mini-cocktails (always fancy)

ze ladies

Aerial view of the ladies and their NoRa mini cupcakes (fancy fancy)

nancy and such

Aeriel view of: Erika Arias, Michael Guinan of Hartford Magazine, Brad Hoffman of Hoffman Auto and Nancy Meyer – Courant Publisher (yeah, kinda fancy)

hoffman crew

More goofy than fancy – but always delightful – the Hoffman Auto crew!

cupcake trio and candy cigarettes

Trio of mini NoRa cupcakes, prosecco, and candy cigarettes from the Food Schmooze (all vary fancy)

smoked salmon pastrami

And Billings Forge fancy salmon pastrami with cream cheese on toast and green beans for dessert.  Because I’m a weirdo.

I’m just going to leave this here:

Sorry

All this and it was only Friday night!  Whew!  Like I mentioned before, quite the weekend.

Saturday, we headed down to Watch Hill, Rhode Island with the family.

chocolate donut yaaas

Happiness is a chocolate donut and a day at the beach!

watch hill ri

And such a pretty beach it is!

westerly beach

This is why we always come to Watch Hill.  Before Taylor Swift made it… cool?

ooh sand so naice

And this year, P was really old enough to enjoy playing in the sand!

throwback beach

A big improvement from last year, where we had matching Lilly swimsuits but only stayed at the beach for – wait for it – 5 minutes

such twins many lillys

This year, Katlin and I wore the matching Lilly’s.  This just happened.  I dig it.

The above picture was snapped at the Kitchen at Pleasant View Inn in Westerly.  The view was magnificent – the food – adequate?  I loved the spicy bloody mary which I ordered, and the bacon wrapped scallops were quite nice:

bacon wrapped scallops

Plus!  Lovely presentation

However, my scallops were advertised to contain fried onions and instead came topped with onion rings, which threw me and also threw off the salt balance of the dish:

pan seared scallops

Pretty, but not necessary

From speaking with my fellow diners, I believe I just ordered a dish that I didn’t quite care for – I should have stuck with my instincts and ordered the enormous lobster roll!  Oh well, there’s always next time.  P spent most of the meal asleep:

asleep with turtle

Which is how I felt for most of the following Sunday!

So there you have it – a tremendous weekend indeed.  Even tho I feel like I’m too busy at times, I probably shouldn’t lose sight of how blessed I am to get to attend and experience so many terrific local events, not to mention to have such a wonderful family.  Hope everyone else is enjoying the summer and long weekends full of fun as well.