Enjoying The Generous Pour @CapitalGrille

Ah, the Generous Pour. When Jordanna approached me and asked if I would like to do a blog write up of this epic Capital Grille wine event – a sampling of seven fine wines hand selected by their Master Sommelier, George Miliotes – I was quite excited. As with the last time I went to the The Capital Grille for a blog write up, the entire check was comped – and I sent this post in for approval prior to publishing. Here is our experience:

 

all the pretty glasses

All photos courtesy of my Soul Sister in Wine and Daydrinking, Carolyn Paine

 

We did our wine tasting in the bar area, although typically it’s designed to pair with an entrée. However, Jordanna generously sent out several bar bites for us to nibble on/pair our food with – which was a fresh experience for me:

 

calamari

Pan-fried Calamari with Hot Cherry Peppers

 

 lobster and crab cakes

Miniature Lobster and Crab Burgers

 

Both the above beauties paired with our first flight: the whites

 

generous pour whites

Served from lightest to darkest, naturally

 

The first up: Carmel Road “Liberated,” Monterey, 2012 Riesling. A nice pairing for the crisp, buttery and light calamari, this Riesling was an elevated version of the overly sweet varietals I would normally avoid. It has a light, smooth mouthfeel and a nice fruity finish while not being overly sweet.

 

Next: the Atalon, Napa Valley, 2012 Sauvignon Blanc. This delicate bright blend was a perfect reminder of why I love Sauv Blancs. Grown in the Rutherford Valley of Napa Valley (coincidentally – Rutherford is my mother’s maiden name – hmmm, I wonder if we have distant relatives growing wine in Napa? But I digress), which is a region praised for its fine growing conditions.

 

The Byron, Santa Barbara, 2012 Chardonnay worked really well with the miniature lobster and crab burgers. The burgers were reminiscent of the Capitall Grille’s famously good lobster mac and cheese, with large, generous chunks of lobster and a seamlessly smooth and richly textured crab cake binding. The soft buttery texture was enhanced by the soft buttery chardonnay – with a lush flavor and notes of both fig and honey for a perfectly sweet finish.

 

taking le notes

I’m glad I took lots of notes, because this wine had a lot to say

 

Next up: the reds!

 

generous pour reds

A fine selection, staged by Carolyn in front of the wine cellar. Note the signature Generous Pour glasses!

 

We started the reds with La Crema, Willamette Valley, 2012 Pinot Noir – debuting in its inaugural release. I enjoyed its full bodied, creamy mouth feel and sophisticated palate, which had citrusy notes and the bright crispness of a good Pinot. It paired well with our last savory appetizer:

 

chicken prosicutto better pic

Prosciutto Wrapped Mozzerella with Vine Ripe Tomatoes

 

By this point, we were reaching a bit of sensory overload with the wines, so naturally Jordanna sent out dessert to really complete our experience (there is a dessert wine which will be coming up shortly – spoiler alert – but I love a sweet/red pairing, so I started in with the rest of the reds)

 

creme brulee

Carolyn’s favorite: The Classic Crème Brulée

 

 cocounut dessert

My favorite: Coconut Cream Pie

 

Allow me a brief moment to rhapsodize re: the coconut crème pie. It is a deeply textured journey of layers of fresh whipped crème, coconut crème, caramel accents, and the perfect graham crust. I could have eaten the whole thing, but thankfully I was able to eat a couple bites and put the spoon down (it wasn’t easy however, and I fully plan to go back and order just this plus a glass of wine so I can enjoy every last crumb). Both desserts were stars alongside the remaining three reds: the Freemark Abbey, Napa Valley 2011 Merlot, which was quite excellent, bold, almost like a cabernet, and with just a slight touch of spice at the end. The next red was quite exciting, as it was designed by Master Sommelier Miliotes and Heidi von der Mehden of Arrowood and is exclusive to the Capital Grille. A truly robust and classic Bordeaux, the deep, studied flavors were great with dessert but truly belong (quite fittingly) with a steak – so that may be another future trip to further explore the aforementioned pairing. Last of the reds – but certainly not least: a Kendall-Jackson “Winemaker Selection” Sonoma, 2012, Cabernet Sauvignon. A bold, punchy wine with notes of currant, this would have been a nice sendoff to the Generous Pour, if it weren’t for the final wine which was sent out to us: a delightful dessert wine, also by Kendall-Jackson:

dessert wine

Kendall-Jackson Late Harvest Chardonnay

I consider myself to be more of a ‘port after dinner’ than dessert wine girl. I may have to re-evaluate my life choices, because this tasted, as our server Maya noted, “exactly like sucking a honey stick from a farm.” A quick note on Maya- she was detail oriented, friendly, extremely knowledgeable about each and every wine and dish that we sampled. The Capital Grille prides itself on excellent customer service, which just enhances the entire dining experience. I can’t say enough about how enjoyable of a time we had, from start to finish. Thanks again for the invite – we will be back very soon!

 

carolyn and kat

Can I get a yaaas for excellent wine and company.

 

The Generous Pour is available for $25 with purchase of an entree from now until August 31

#21DayFix Beachbody challenge – halfway through and feeling great!

When Erica approached me to do this challenge (and blog about it) I had a healthy amount of skepticism.  Mainly because, well, it’s a very busy time of year for vacations, and day drinking, and other things that don’t always vibe well with a workout and diet plan.  BUT I agreed, knowing I’d go through this with some cheats, so let’s just get those out of the way right now, shall we?

orange martini yaaaas

Oh my

cheats

Confession is good for the soul

rose at trumbull kitchen

I REGRET NOTHING

So, yeah, it would be factually inaccurate to say I’ve been following the 21 Day Fix to the letter (and I’ll be in Florida for the last week, so there’s that).  However, even with all of the above, I’ve already lost four pounds!

halfway through

Woohoo!

oh sads

Ok, this is a more accurate (read, honest) workout face

This is possible because, as with most things, following something to the letter isn’t the only way to make it more effective.  Yes, I may have had a couple more cocktails than the program calls for – and the occasional truffle potato chip.  But overall, my eating habits cleaned up quite drastically from before the program:

not so green photos

Look at the food in this picture.  Ice cream, pasta, arroz con pollo.  And a three pack of wine.

green photos

Now here’s a snapshot from this week.  Lots of green, leafy, fresh, vegetable laden dishes, and a no sugar added watermelon cooler.

That’s the funny thing about working out and eating right.  It really doesn’t take much to get good results!  And much of getting good results is making healthy choices.  Our dinner at Carbone’s last week is a great example of this.  I was a bit nervous about it, as I associate Italian places with pasta and really didn’t want to go off the deep end, as far as sticking to the eating plan.  But not only was I able to find an entree that was very healthy, it was also, by far, the most satisfying and delicious menu option for me:

veal medallions

Truly a win win!

peppered sea scallops

Another meal I was worried about (and shouldn’t have been) Taste of Hartford at Trumbull KitchenI ate all the peppered sea scallops, the watercress, and a small bite of the sticky rice.  Perfectly satisfying and quite healthy.

It also helps if, like me, you happen to love working out.  I just really do (sorry).  So, although I am not physically strong enough to follow the seven workouts per week – I average five days – two of those days are heavier work outs than the program calls for- such as a half hour of running and then cardio.  Or a power yoga class.  Again, it’s a matter of fixing bad habits, not reinventing your entire fitness and eating routine.

Also very useful, along with the eating plan and exercise DVDs (which I am going to be so happy to have this winter when it gets dark outside early and it’s too nasty to drive to the gym) there are these really delicious and healthy nutrient dense shakes in the 21 day fix:

shakeology and blazer

Vanilla shake with ice and orange juice

chocolate shake

Chocolate with kale, blueberries, and coffee.  Weird combo I know but it tastes delicious.  Also, a nice photobomb from P!

I come from a family of health freaks, and unfortunately I don’t always follow the good habits I learned as a kid, such as taking in plenty of vitamins.  These shakes are laden with dense nutrition – I can tell from my energy levels and skin tone – so it’s not just a meal replacement, it’s also a very healthy helping of things your body wants and needs to function at peak proficiency!

In addition to the shakes, I’ve developed a healthy addiction to G Monkey fresh squeezed beet juice, which is available at the Billings Forge Farmers’ Market every Thursday in the summer!

beet juice

Yummo

One more big, helpful factor for me: my CSA with the Garlic Farm!  Having a guaranteed portion of delicious, fresh, organic and GMO free vegetables per week is just awesome, and P really enjoys picking up the veggies, so it’s been a great experience so far:

p getting her csa

Eat more kale.  No seriously, do it

my kale brings all the boys to the yard

Kale jokes, courtesy of Bagels to Broccoli!  Ok, I’ll stop now

One other healthy habit I’m really enjoying about the 21 day fix is the water bar:

water bar

aka, #smugwater

Infused water is delicious, healthy, and very easy to do.  My favorite combo is blueberries and basil.  I’ve found I can start an infusion at work and leave it at my desk for several days (covered), topping up as needed, and it is delightful.  It’s very important to stay hydrated when dieting, as well as in the hot summer months, and all of this is especially true for me, as I’m anemic (another reason I’m not overly focused on calorie control).  I’m finding throughout this program that I am gaining healthy habits which I will certainly keep once the fix is over – the shakes, the healthier options, the water bar, the cardio boosts – it’s all going to be part of my daily routine as well as a more intensive program for the next ten days or so.  And I think that’s the most important thing: when you learn to be healthy, it becomes a natural part of who you are, leading to confidence, energy, and a boosted self esteem.  Modifications are important based on lifestyle and also history – I used to have an eating disorder so you won’t see me weighing in more than twice during this process – but overall, each tiny win on the road to being healthy leads to a happier life – and just maybe – a hotter bod.  🙂

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!

Hungry for lunch? Why not try the @CapitalGrille in Hartford?

Please note: due to their editorial policy, the Capital Grille required a preview of this draft before I published.  Two very minor stylistic changes were made – one of them my own typo on ‘pinot’ 🙂 All my opinions are my own and unaltered, however.

The Capital Grille is a (relative) newcomer to Hartford’s foodie scene. Yet in the short time they’ve had their location in Hartford, they have become an anchor for both superlatively fine dining and the new Front Street scene which is fast developing downtown. My delightful contact, Jordanna, invited myself and a friend in for lunch recently – and graciously picked up the tab for us too. Below is a recap of our dining experience.

steak medallions oh yes

Now this, ladies and gents, is lunch

The dining room is spacious, muted, and invited, as one would expect from a fine dining restaurant. There are other eating options available for those so inclined – a grand bar space, and a patio nook as well (also noteworthy: valet parking for those who don’t wish to navigate Front Street garage parking/street parking)

The lunch menu offers a variety of “plates” for those who might be in a bit of a hurry at lunch. They all take 45 minutes or less and come with a soup and salad option. My fellow diner opted for a lobster roll, after ascertaining from our friendly and knowledgeable server, David, that it could be served hot with butter, CT style, as opposed to the menu listing which was for “Maine style.” I also prefer my lobster rolls CT style and was impressed that they were so accommodating with her request.

lobster roll and pinot served hot ct style

Lobster roll, “CT Style” and truffled french fries

The pre-meal salad was delightful – and David also split it for us after seeing how badly I wanted it (and I didn’t order one of the ‘plates’ so alas, no salad for me). But it worked out perfectly with one small salad to share, on an uber cute little plate

watermelon arugula salad

Delightful

Taste wise, the arugula and well seasoned watermelon played off each other nicely. It was refreshing and would actually be nice as a light lunch option with protein all on its own! But I chose far more substantial fare for my own lunch (not sorry)

steak medallions close up

Pictured: Tenderloin medallions with house made port wine demi-glaze and gorgonzola cheese. Served with a side of green beans with onions and tomatoes

Oh man, I’m a sucker for anything with gorgonzola on it. And these petite medallions didn’t disappoint. I ordered them “rare plus” at the recommendation of David, which was a nice compromise between the cold center of a rare and the – in my opinion – slightly too well done texture of medium rare. The vegetables were my only (very slight) complaint with the meal – were a bit heavy on the butter – next time I would order with a lighter sauce. The steaks themselves had a buttery texture, and the demi-glaze on the plate worked well to balance the salty gorgonzola cheese.

For wine pairings, I chose a Flores Mendoza Malbec, and my dining partner selected a Mendoza Pinot Grigio.

malbec

Nice pairing

Both wines were sold by the glass, reasonably priced, and paired well with our respective entreés. Next time I visit, I’d love to try the “Plates” scallops and, perhaps, pair it with a nice Stoli Doli (the Capital Grille’s signature, delicious, pineapple vodka). What a pleasant addition to the Hartford foodie scene!

 

 

Let’s do everything outside – it’s summer – and let’s start with dinner at The Place

Full disclosure: I am writing this from the Garlic Farm in West Granby! I’ll be managing their newsletter this summer and keeping the locals up to date with breaking news on ramps and CSAs and such. Hurrah!  I can’t wait for ramp pesto in a couple of weeks – will most definitely share the recipe and I may end up with a surplus if anyone is interested in sampling – so stay tuned.  Also: look how bucolic it is out here – consider a day trip:

garlic farm

Sitting on a bench, under a shady tree, in the late afternoon in early June on a nice farm – it’s just delightful

My resolution this summer is going to be a simple one – spend as much time as possible outside. It’s fitting to start by writing al fresco about my al fresco dining experience this weekend at The Place in Guilford.

fire pit

Simple grilled goodness.  The entire menu is listed on the red board in the background.

This restaurant operates only in the summer (which makes sense if you’ve ever asked yourself “why don’t I eat outside today?” in Connecticut in January – which you haven’t, because no one ever wants to do that). The owners spend half the year in Florida, and the vibe of this restaurant is very reminiscent of, say, the Rum Bar in Palm Beach Gardens, FL (one of my favorite spots down south). Very casual, all outdoors, just show up, have a good time, and enjoy.

attack lobster

“Attack lobsters,” for example, are native to Florida

Due to the popularity of the concept, expect a long wait in summer and be warned: they do not take reservations!

“The Place” has a beautifully zen menu concept, all the way down to the order system (more on that in a minute). It’s BYOB

mason jar of cocktail

OR BYOMJFOSCM (bring your own mason jar full of spicy cucumber margarita)

And BYOG too (Bring Your Own Glasses)

byog

Mine are Lilly Pulitzer acrylics and I love them

the place cheese plate

Also, BYOCP (Bring Your Own Cheese Plate) – ours had blue cheese (foreground), honey, roasted brussel sprouts, parmigiano reggiano, Griffin farmstead chevre, and olives

My good friend Leeanne, her husband Rob, and my Uncle Stephen and Aunt Ramie joined us for dinner.  Not pictured but absolutely delicious was Leeanne’s garlicky  feta dip, accompanied with pita chips.  We also ordered two rounds of grilled clams to start our meal:

grilled clams

Seared to hot perfection on the open flame and topped with just a bit of tomato sauce. 

For our main, five out of the six people at the table ordered lobsters – with Rob opting for a steak instead (which he claimed to be absolutely delicious).  And we all, wisely, ordered corn on the cob:

corn

LOOK AT THAT CORN.  The fact that it was dipped in a giant vat of melted butter may have enhanced the charred flavor.

Corn was at the lowest end of the price spectrum on the menu, at $2.95, and lobster was the highest: venturing up to $29.95 for a 1 3/4 pound lobster (although we all ordered in the 1 1/4- 1 1/2 pound range for a slightly lower price).  In between, there were options for a native blue fish – which according to a friendly fellow diner who is related to the owners – has teeth and a ‘wicked’ bad temper – as well as non pescatarian options, such as the aforementioned steak and also grilled chicken.  Penelope stayed home with Grandma, as we dined a bit late -but The Place is very, very kid friendly, and next time she will join us for sure.

Oh, a quick note on the BYOB.  We saw plenty of wine circling the tables, but the only options to purchase onsite were Snapple, water, and other basic, non-alchoholic libations – so plan accordingly.

yaaas

If you’re smart you will invite my Uncle Stephen and he will make you spicy cucumber margaritas with a hot salt relish.  Note my uber fashionable whale sweatshirt.

chartreusian flip

Here is drink number two: a creamy and licorice minded Chartreusian Flip

better pic grilled lobster

Which paired awfully well with this little beauty – a perfectly roast lobster

We strolled up between courses to warm up by the fire pit and observe the double cooking method of the lobster – first boiled and then grilled for tender, sweet results.  For purists, there is also the option to order the lobster plain boiled.  We also checked out the uniquely simple firing method at The Place:

the place

Just a set of tiles and each order is tallied in pencil and then marked off when complete.  Plus the stack of paper plates which everything is served on.  I told you it was simple.

Not so simple was our dessert wine pairing: a bottle of Pontefract “port” which was kindly fetched for me by Leeanne from Sharpe Hill Vineyards when she visited this weekend!

pontefract

I had tried it back in April and loved the St. Croix grapes and complex palate, so she brought me a bottle and we enjoyed it with the dessert menu with The Place also offers to finish off your meal.

carrot cake

I chose carrot cake but preferred the Mississippi Mud Cake which my wiser friends ordered. 

Dry carrot cake notwithstanding, the vibe, food, and price point at The Place combined to make for a delightful dining experience which was well worth the drive.  Can’t wait to go back this summer and try the blue fish!

A very special #TGIF featuring #Ortizfoodiepride

Instead of the usual cocktail mixology video for Friday, I have instead for this week a special cocktail recipe from my Uncle Stephen Ackley: master mixologist.  I do have a brand new cocktail video for next week from Friday for next week however – and  it contains rhubarb!  And it’s from Firebox!

But this week, my sister, Amy, visited me from San Francisco/the Bay area – which prompted a family get together in upstate New York with many delicious foods and libations: so this is a special post to honor that visit.  And yes, there is a cocktail recipe  copied at the end of this post.

gangs all here

With my sister and Penelope the day before we went to NY.  Note that baby Orlando looks like Yoda here.  Which is so adorable.

apple wine

The Lost Acres Apple Wine that we enjoyed al fresco on Saturday and also on Sunday

epic cheese plate #2

More local goodies: organic strawberries from Granby Village Health, Sweet Pea chevre, and apple and walnut bread from Lost Acres Orchard!

Here is the entire ‘gang’ who was at the party on Sunday – all from my father’s (Ortiz) side of the family – and all contributing delicious Cuban and Puerto Rican dishes from our heritage to dinner that day!

familia

I love you guys so much

Ok, back to the food.  It’s a bit of a family tradition to marathon eat, and as everyone is a foodie, the ingredients have to be top notch.  Therefore, we started with lobster tacos, with fresh soft shell lobster which my Uncle Greg, who was hosting the dinner, sourced from Maine the previous week

lobster tacos

Lobster with home made chipotle mayo, cilantro, radishes, and slaw on corn tortilla

uncle greg

My Uncle Greg rendering pork fat from the pulled pork (spoiler alert) to heat up the tortillas

lobster

Look at this beautiful, fresh lobster!

Following the tacos, Amy and I decided we needed a breather before course #2 (chowder) and we also, naturally, needed more cheese to go with the Sweet Pea chevre we had brought with us (naturally).  As it was a beautiful day, we walked to the local The Big Cheese in Rosendale.

boom baby boutique

I was too excited about the mix of cheese and vintage clothes (I bought a blazer!) to remember to take a picture of the cheese shop (dang).  But here’s another local shop that I put on my list for our next visit to Rosendale!

orlandito

Orlando being worn by his mommy and looking ridiculous hip in his baby sunglasses.  I can’t take it.

epic cheese plate

The finished cheese plate – featuring from left to right: manchengo, a marvelous ‘grilling cheese,’ jerk cheese, smoked gouda, a creme brie, and the aforementioned chevre.  Oh and olives.  Always olives.

The grilling cheese was a truly marvelous discovery which I will be repeating as soon as possible on our grill this summer.  It was so good and so easy to prepare!

cheese ungrilled

Before

cheese grilled

And after!

Naturally, it wouldn’t be a proper dinner without a soup course.  My Uncle Greg prepared a light and tasty seafood chowder, with, among other things, clams, bits of the lobster, and swordfish.

clam chowdah

Excellent

Don’t worry – we did take a bit of a breather before the main course.  There was pulled pork to heat up after its long sous vide bath

pulled pork

Ah yes.  This is what every Cuban wants, always

ropa vieja

Plus Ropa Vieja, brought by my Uncle Chris, to reheat

pastel de amarillo

Pastelon de amarillo to warm up (for the uninitiated: sweet plaintains mixed with a glorious medley of meats and olives, topped with cheese.  A riff on a traditional mofongo, if you will)  Courtesy of Uncle Stephen

rice

It wouldn’t be Cuban dinner without the rice…

blurry black beans

And the beans.  Blurry action shot because, again, I was excited

this is heaven

The combined plate of gloriousness with avocado garnish, paired with Lost Acres Apple Wine

After dinner, the focus switched to the adorable baby cousins

cousinssss

I mean, really, really adorable you guys

There were presents

smart phone 2

A smartphone for P!  of her very own!  How naice

orlandito macaras

Maracas and a tiny fedora for Orlando!  According to P, also hers

baby in fedora

Ah yes, P, it looks great on you too

maracas

There are giraffes on the maracas you guys.  I can’t even

And of course, there was chocolate (curry and toffee flavored) and many, many after dinner libations from my Uncle Stephen, who had also been mixing throughout dinner.  He showed up with about five boxes of liquor and at least ten types of bitters, so we were pretty spoiled.  My favorite cocktail of the evening was a replication of the ‘4th and Rye’ from 116 Crown in New Haven (rye, gin, St. Germaine, simple syrup, and heat).  The recipe shared below was from a close second favorite cocktail of the evening – one of my Uncle Stephen’s own creation

uncle stephen

Picture here immersed in his craft

Now that Amy and Orlando have continued their family tour (next stop for them – Florida!  lucky) I am a bit sad

sad_kitten2

Ok, really sad

But overall I feel extremely blessed to have such a wonderful and culinary focused family!  Would love to hear some of your family’s traditional dinners in the comments below, and please request any recipes you’d like to try out for yourselves!  Don’t forget to try out mixing Uncle Stephen’s cocktail too:

Earl of Plymouth Cocktail

2 oz Plymouth Gin

1.5 oz Earl Grey Infused Vodka

1 oz Lillet Blanc

.5 oz simple syrup

.5 oz lemon juice

Dash Lavender Bitter

Shake, strain, and pour into chilled cocktail glass; garnish with curled lemon zest