Fun and Fancy with Max this weekend

Soo blessed and excited for TWO trips to Max Downtown in 24 hours, starting with tonight’s Champagne Gala!  The dinner is SOLD OUT, but you can and should join me for the champagne reception, kicking off at 5:30 pm.  Tickets available here or by clicking the image below!

FRIDAY, DECEMBER  2nd ~ 5:30PM

Featuring some of the world’s finest champagnes:

A. Margaine | Doyard | Taittinger | Delamotte | Louis Roederer |
Lanson | Billecart-Salmon | Pol Roger | Veuve Forny & Fils | Le Brun Severnay |
L. Aubry et Fils | Paul Clouet | Alexandre Filaine | Marguet | Grongnet | Chartogne-Taillet
…and a few surprise additions

CHAMPAGNE TASTING
PASSED HORS D’OEUVRES
LIVE MUSIC

Gala Reception from 5:30pm – 7:00pm in the atrium of CityPlace – Hartford, CT
$49 per person
(includes $25 to CCMC, tax & gratuity not included)

champagnegalaatdowntown3

So, yes, bubbles and cocktail dresses.  Perfection.  Then the next morning, Penelope and I will return for the annual Teddy Bear Tea!  We will be attending with Lady Diana’s Pearls (her little girl is in the picture below!  so precious).  A couple seats still remain but are filling fast, so click here to reserve!

teddy-bear-brunch

 

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Share Our Strength Hartford to benefit No Kid Hungry

The Riverview was the backdrop.  The crowd – charitable guests and big hearted Chefs, all coming together to support No Kid Hungry (one of my favorite charities – they are committed to ending childhood hunger in America).  I am so honored to be on this committee, chaired by Tyler Anderson of Millwrights and Angela Pitrone.  If you haven’t ever been – go next year.  You can find information on the event via: TOTN Hartford.

Thank you Connecticut Food and Farm for sharing your photos with me, and thank you chefs for such an amazing night and meal.  Please enjoy Winter’s photos below:

 

Taste of Hartford with Max + Midsummer Dreams at TheaterWorks

It’s Monday… it’s summer.  I know, I know.  You probably want to be at the beach, not reading this at your desk.  But never fear!  There are some GREAT things to do locally on a weekday (or weekend!) date in Hartford.

For you see – it’s Taste of Hartford all week, meaning affordable prix fixe menus showcasing seasonal goodness.  We have a reservation for Tuesday night at Max Downtown (yaaaas) so be on the lookout for all the food porn via my Instagram.  If you like the look of this check out their website for a full roster of upcoming events – or subscribe to the newsletter for updates.  Ok, without further ado, here are the menus:

DT_TasteOfHartford_Summer2016

TK_Taste of Hartford_Winter 2016-3

So many choices, so little time.  Book a reservation and get downtown!  And while you’re there, please do yourself a solid and see the quirky black (romantic) comedy and musical act which is Midsummer (a play with songs).  No, it’s not a musical.  No, no, no.  It’s more She & Him if instead of a group they were a madcap love encounter, set in Edinburgh.  Bold, modern, and paired down: with just two performers, two guitars, a ukulele, a stuffed elmo, and several other scant props, the play relies on brilliant acting and acoustic performances to create a past and present narrative.  The result is an unflinchingly honest look at two creative, soulful, magnificently flawed accidental lovers navigating their way through respective mid life crises, angry mob bosses, and a wedding scene which… well… I won’t give anything else away.  But I will highly recommend this highly acclaimed play, which is the summer nightcap to TheaterWork’s 30th year anniversary celebration.  Go get you some culture.

theaterworks midsummer

Photo by:  Lanny Nagler for TheaterWorks

So there you have it.  That’s what you do this week.  Go.  Enjoy.  Let me know what you think.

Taste of Hartford + a Recap of the @MaxsOysterBar Taittinger Champagne Dinner

It’s time to eat well.  OK, it’s always time to eat well.  But Taste of Hartford offers the chance to do so for $30.16 and try some amazing multi-course menus in Hartford.  Here’s the full list of participants, plus the menus for Trumbull Kitchen and Max Downtown!

taste of hartford max downtown

TK_Taste of Hartford_Winter 2016-3

So, yes, make a reservation, go “taste.”  It’s a good time for your mouth (and your wallet).

And now, let’s discuss bubbles.

max champs 9

Aha.  Yes.

The good folks at Max Oyster Bar were kind enough to invite me – and guest!  to a lovely, multi course tasting of the cuisine of Head Chef, Hunter Morton, paired with the the expertly produced champagnes from one of the oldest establishments of the region: the Taittinger Group.  Hunter’s food pairing ranged from oysters and caviar to prosciutto wrapped veal loin.  The bright, creamy and well balanced acids of the selected champagnes cut through the rich proteins like a well balanced piano wire through a stick of butter (an elaborate metaphor perhaps but try a glass of champagne and rich, well executed dish and tell me if I’m wrong).  Visually appealing vegetables helped the champagnes with their balancing act, and regional brand representative Christian Dalbavie of Taittinger was on hand to introduce each varietal and walk guests through its distinctive tasting notes.  Below is a visual tour of our incredible meal.  Please enjoy.  We certainly did.

max champs 4max champs 6max champs 7max champs 8max champs 3max champs 11max champs 12

 

 

 

@AbsoluteElyx Martinis @MaxDowntown + a Champagne Taittinger dinner @MaxsOysterBar

True confession.  I’m not much of a vodka girl.  I’m a whiskey girl.  Oh, and a champagne girl.  Definitely that.  So I cannot TELL you how excited I am for the Taittinger dinner tonight at Max Oyster:

taittinger

Nicolas Delione will be present for this event on behalf to Taittinger – a centuries old house of bubbly which is the third oldest producer of champagne.  The vines extend across a broad swath of the Champagne district of France, which allows for a massive terroir replete with different subtle characteristics.  Paired with the cuisine of Head Chef, Hunter Morton?  I.  Can’t.  Wait.  Full write up to follow.  Oh, and seats are – or should be – still remaining for this, depending on when you call, so please join me if you’re so inclined!

Ah, but back to my more questionable companion, vodka.  I’m just not – into it.  Typically.  However, Elyx Vodka is a higher proof, luxurious label which almost has subtle moonshine characteristics.  It has more body and flavor, is what I’m saying.  I sampled the ‘perfect’ martini at a sampling event held at Max Downtown several weeks back.  The copper pineapples are a lovely touch, and I now want some for my own bar (naturally):

elyx martini blog 1

So pretty!

elyx martini blog 2

Stirred, not shaken.  But of course.

Below, please find – and enjoy! Head Max Mixologist Brian Mitchell (also Beverage Director) recipe for “Pickle Me This” – a playful, sour, and spicy vodka martini.  Which has, quite honestly, swayed me to order a drink with clear liquor more than once following the Elyx mixer.  😉

Pickle Me This

2.5 oz Elyx Vodka

1 oz Dill pickle brine

Cholula Hot Sauce

Build in cocktail shaker, quick shake for not he rocks, or shake well for up.  garnish with a lemon peel and bread and butter pickle slice.

Artini, Halloween, and Some Cool Cats @RealArtWays … Oh My

I love Halloween.  It’s my second favorite holiday (because Christmas – and even that I go back and forth about).  And I love that this year I had the perfect excuse to dress up in a classy, fabulous way the night before for ARTini – the Greater Hartford Arts Council‘s signature martini fundraiser.  Not that there’s anything wrong, whatsoever with going out the night of in a cute little costume (I guess??) but for me, Halloween is all about Penelope and her trick or treating (more to follow on that).  So it truly was the best of both worlds that Carolyn, Emily, and I (plus friends) all congregated to drink cocktails and support the arts:

snarknado gang

“The gang” aka #snarknado

Photo courtesy of Alex Syphers for CTnow

The Greater Hartford Arts Council’s choice of venue for this year’s event was impeccable: the Gershon Fox Ballroom at Marquee Events is very art deco:

art deco interior

So sparkly

Also adding to the theme: a curated art show and Trashion Fashion models

trashion model

So cool

But the main focus of the event was, of course, the martini samples. A full list is as follows:

Capital Grille – The Stoli Doli

Cheesecake Factory – Strawberry Martini

City Steam – Maple Mudslide

Hooker Brewery – Beer & Stout

Hotel California Tequila – Pancha’s Last Stand

Max Downtown – The Mayflower

Onyx Moonshine – Thanksgiving in a Cup

Vito’s by the Park – Kettle Corn Pear and Salted Caramel

I only captured a few pictures of the drinks – as I was busy drinking them:

cheers ladies

So thanks again to Alex Sypher for this amazing picture of the Stoli Dolis.  If you haven’t tried this frothy pineapple delicacy – which is simply vodka marinated with pineapples – then get to the Capital Grille STAT.  It’s their signature cocktail.

A couple more highlights:

maple mudslide

Maple Mudslides from City Steam.  Only one of my very favorite cocktails – plus maple flavor.  Oh goodness.  And I must get these candles from the Hodgepodge

Hands down, my favorite cocktail of the evening was served up by Max Downtown:

mayflower

The Mayflower, served up by their Master Mixologist, Brian Mitchell.  In impeccable bar attire, naturally

Any night that ends with eating delicious Whitney Ave pizza of couple of flappers is a good night in my book:

late night pizza with flappers

Such win

I stayed the night at Carolyn’s so that we could get up bright and early the next day to attend the Metro Hartford Alliance Rising Stars breakfast:

hartford stage

 

At the iconic Hartford Stage Company, no less

And then of course, after work, it was onto the evening’s festivities and I would imagine the reason most of you are reading this: Penelope’s Halloween festivities!

bee and pumpkin

Is bumblebee.  Bzzzz bzzz bzz

Our next door neighbor has a little boy just a couple months older from P, so naturally they went out together in a wagon:

wagon rides

And naturally he was a crocodile

walking to the door

Cuteness level: 1000%

After the tiny trick or treating, a couple friends came over for dinner:

amanda and matt

Hello lovely friends!

We enjoyed a really nice bottle of pinot noir, which was a gift from one of our partners at the Courant (to each employee!) in honor of our 250th:

sparrow hawk pinot noir

yum

As well as a pitcher of delicious Onyx Moonshine and honeycrisp apple cider:
onyx and vogue

Hands down, one of the best fall libations you can make, and so simple too!  I mean, two ingredients simple

We had a full spread of food:

plate of food

On owl plates, naturally.  See, some people have to bust things like this out just for Halloween, but I use owl plates year round.  Perhaps THAT’S why I enjoy the holiday so much

table decor halloween

I also pretended to be Martha Stewart.  Badly.  Those are “pumpkin bags.”  Crafting is not really my “thing.” Ah well.

The rest of the weekend was equally lovely, topped off with a visit to the first ever cat installation over at Real Art Ways:

art installation cats raw

“Cats in Residence”

Penelope is a crazy cat lady in training – girl loves her some kitty cat.

with kitty

And the kitties were all very nice and gentle with her

As well as ‘cat art’ on the walls, all the cats in the installation are from the local cat rescue shelter CT Cat Connection and available for adoption.  The installation is in place through December, so you have plenty of time to go to Real Art Ways and bond with the kitties – perhaps take one home to a forever home?

kitty t

I wore my Big Bang Theory t shirt and made an elegant speech on Penelope’s behalf to her father as to why we should adopt a kitty.  I was overruled, alas.  By Penelope’s father.  At least we can visit the kitties often at the exhibit and with our many friends who have cats!

I hope everyone’s Halloween weekend was equally fantastic.  Now on to Thanksgiving, Christmas and the rest of the Holiday Season!  Fun times ahead!

 

“We can” with @LoveMondoTrasho and the first #Hoptoberfest hosted by the @MaxRestGroup

Hello friends!  I’m drinking Malbec, watching The Matrix, and not feeling super inspired to write, to be honest.  BUT I had such an amazing weekend with two very cool events, so it’s totally worth it to get in the flow and get this post going.  That’s what I’m telling myself anyway 🙂

As I had mentioned in my last post, I was very on the fence about going to the Aids CT Fashion Show.  Simply because of the sheer volume of cool events in October – but I rallied and I attended, and it was so worth it.  I was also battling a head cold last Saturday night, so I didn’t get to see the whole fashion show and I’ve stolen some of Nick Caito’s gorgeous photos from CTNow to do justice to the main event.  First off: New Country Motor Cars is an absolutely fabulous event venue:

harvest people pouring

Also fabulous – the good folks of Harvest who donated their time and products to help fight Aids in CT!

saison beer very rare

They even poured a super rare saison for myself, Nick, and Emily.  It’s good to hang with Caito/Cahill, because these are the type of perks they get =)

I liked the New Country Motor Cars Mercedes dealership space because, well, all the pretty cars, but also because it was light, airy, and split into several sections which made for fun exploration and also separated the mixing, mingling, and shopping from the catwalk in a cool way.  The show itself was split into two sections: local designers and local retailers.  Hosting and judging was Mr. Mondo Guerra himself, of Project Runway fame:

pic w mondo

And also kindly posing for pictures at the step and repeat with us!  Featured left to right: Jon Aidukonis, (SP), Diane Taha, Mondo, Me, and Emily Cahill

We drank champagne and browsed local retailers during the VIP hour:

ctn-pictures-we-can-2014-fashion-show-20141011-004

We are experts at drinking champagne.  Photo by Nick Caito for CTNow

stackpole jewelry

Check out the cool neon bands – they are necklaces/bracelets/customizable/from Italy.  I’m going to investigate further the next time I’m on Pratt St, which luckily for me, is tomorrow

One of my coworkers, Betsy Foster, actually walked in the fashion show too for local boutique Lyn Evans!

betsy modeling

Werk, girl

And yes, unfortunately part of my head cold was a blinding headache with light sensitivity, which made watching the runway show near impossible.  But as promised previously, here’s a gorgeous photo by Nick, and you can check out the entire gallery here

nick caito photo

Sunday, October 12, I awoke blessedly head-cold free to a quintessentially gorgeous autumnal day.  Which made for a wonderful three mile run at the Farmington Rail Trail

trees man

I love to spend almost an entire day per weekend outside.  It’s harder to do this in winter, of course, although I do snow shoe which helps with getting my fix of the great outdoors (yes, I know, hippie) but days like last Sunday?  Those are the ones that are MEANT to be spent al fresco.  Gorgeous, sunny, perfect – if you like in CT you know what I’m talking about.  It was a perfect day.  Which, as I told Scott Miller of Max, was really quite awesome for their first ever, totally sold out, Hoptoberfest!

scott miller with p

I asked Scott for a picture and he in turn asked to pose with “the famous Penelope” which was just adorable

baby dance off

Equally adorable: tiny friends getting acquainted.  There was a dance off.  Then P went in for a kiss and the little boy ran to his Mommy.  Alas, young love.

As far as the beer?  Oh, excellent.  And the snacks were of equal quality.  The Max Restaurant Group doesn’t mess around – so that’s no surprise.  Rosedale is a beautiful location for al fresco events, and I love that it’s only 20 minutes from home

rosedale farms cow

Sooo charming

There were familiar faces as well as new friends in the beer selections:

hooker beer tent

A perennial favorite: Hooker Beer

pumpkin scotch and cannolli beer

New to me: Shebeen Brewing.  The Cannoli Beer was nutty and packed with flavor – sweet with hints of vanilla and chocolate

And oh yes!  The snacks.  Glorious, glorious snacks.  I was oh so glad I had gone for a run that morning, as there were nice little passed (free with ticket entry!) bites:

allagash and blue cheese

My favorite: the blue cheese and walnuts on an endive.  It balanced so nicely, flavor wise, with the beer.  Particularly the saison in my glass for this picture

And a very reasonable $5 token bought heartier fare:

pretzel and bacon

Pictured: candied bacon, which I have sampled before as a garnish on cocktails at Max Burger.  Candied. Bacon.  And, of course, pretzels with mustard and beer sauce.  Yaaaas

The aforementioned Scott Miller is now the head of the Max Catering Group and assured me that they will be rolling out more events in the future.  Which is great news.  We all had a terrific time, and it was hands down the best beer festival I’ve ever attended: