October Roundup – from Wagyu and Wine to Hartford Fashion Week

It’s time for Fall in New England, with all the traditional bells and whistles.  Apple picking, events, haunted hayrides – you name it, it’s happening this month.  Here’s a round up of a couple upcoming things I’m really looking forward to, in addition to two fall traditions I’ve already celebrated that will be available all month long:

Hartford Fashion Week kicks off tonight at Union Station in Hartford.  Friday and Saturday’s shows are SOLD OUT, but you can still buy tickets for Sunday (act fast!)  I attended a preview last night at the Wadsworth’s monthly First Thursday and was also interviewed for Telemundo as the only Spanish speaking committee member.  The interview was, hmmm, interesting, but the First Thursday collection was terrific.  I particularly enjoyed Redfield Design – the romantic steampunk collection jived very well in the Wadsworth’s space.

kat and katrina

With Hartford Fashion Week founder, Katrina, post interview.  This lady rocks!

wadsworth

Redfield Designs models acting the part of living statues at the museum

For more info or to buy tickets for Sunday – visit here.  You can also purchase tickets at the door for $40 tonight or tomorrow, but those will most likely be standing room only and cannot be guaranteed for availability.

Signature Chef’s Auction for the March of Dimes The March of Dimes is committed to raising the standard of living for pregnant women and their babies, and they also are incredibly important in the care and wellbeing of preemie babies.  This signature fundraiser occurs annually in Hartford at the Riverview.  This year’s date will be October 15th, and you can purchase tickets here for the October 15th event. It’s for the babies.  And it’s also a terrific event with wonderful food sampling from some of the best chefs in the region.

Share Our Strength another collaboration from some of the finest and kindest Chefs in the Hartford area.  Share Our Strength benefits No Kid Hungry – a national charity which is committed to ending childhood hunger.  So again, it’s for the kids.  Chef Tyler Anderson of Millwrights is the chair of this year’s event.  The October 29th event will this year feature a full table seating by each participating restaurant, with a three course sit down meal: a truly great chance to enjoy an excellent meal with friends whilst giving back to the community.  Tickets are available here

Wagyu and Wine an annual offering from The Capital Grille – this special engagement will run through November 22nd, and allow you the opportunity to enjoy a delicious, fatty, crispy, flavorful waggly burger, paired with an excellent glass of red wine, for only $25.  I attended with my good friend Jon Aidukonis.  We took advantage of the free valet parking (so convenient, especially in Downtown Hartford!) and sat out on the lovely patio space on Front Street, as if was a beautiful evening to be outdoors

wagyu valet parking

Fancy

kat and jon wagyu

I have tiny little T Rex arms coz I’m excited for burgers

I chose the Gorgonzola and Black Truffle Wagyu Burger and paired it with the recommended Justin Isosceles Cabernet Sauvignon (Paso Robles, 2012)

wagyu glamour shot

Glamour shot

I’m an enormous fan of the following flavor combinations: gorgonzola, red meat, and red wine.  So naturally, the marriage off all three in this meal was right up my ally.  I also enjoy the technique that the Capital Grille lends to the wagyu burger – it’s a high quality product for sure, but in the wrong hands you can end up with a soggy, fatty burger with an overly rich finish.  The Capital Grille executes the wagyu burger with finesse and expertise, yielding a product which has a textural outer layer with a nice hint of salt and a creamy, meaty, flavorful center (which they will happily leave medium rare upon request).  Paired with a chocolatey, Bourdeaux style cabernet with an excellent balance and a big, strong presence and you have a symphony of textures and flavors for your palate to enjoy.  John also kindly allowed me to sample his paired wine: the Landmark Overrlook Pinot Noir (California 2013).  The spicy, fruity Pinot is an excellent fall wine, and I would like to go back and enjoy a full glass with the second pairing: the Wagyu Cheeseburger with fried egg and crisp onions. And I probably will.  Because for $25, why the heck not?  Thanks to the Capital Grille for inviting us in to enjoy this pairing and providing us with a lovely meal.

Apple Picking I took the little Miss Penelope out to Clark Hill Farms at Bushy Hill and we both had such a great time.  We enjoyed apple cider donuts:

cider donut apple picking

So nice

minnie mouse apple picking

And ran through the fields and picked a whole bag of apples!  Like a big girl

It’s peak apple season and we New Englanders are very spoiled with our options statewide

apple picking

Gorgeous

But I would recommend Clark Hill Farms in particular for their ridiculously good farm to table breakfast.  I’ve been three times now, and I’ll be writing a post JUST about their food at some point in the near future.  Granby is only a 30 minute drive from Hartford, and if you go out there, I recommend checking out Lost Acres Vineyard too!

horse apple picking

Visits with horsies for baby

wine apple picking

And delicious, crisp, fresh apple wine for Mommy.  I’m not a cider person, but the Apple Wine at Lost Acres is clean, well executed, and delightful without any of the vinegar aspects (pleasant to some I know) which characterize cider.  Highly recommended!

What do you like to do for October in CT?  Leave me some recommendations to try if you please!

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Don’t look now, but there’s a Bear in your Tavern

Birthdays are often wonderful, especially when they are filled with delicious food.  And boy, did I have a foodie birthday this year!  Let’s start with my actual birthday eve, last night, at the Capital Grille.  With impeccable attention to detail and making special occasions as special as can be, they started with a card and confetti:

happy birthday

So festive!

They also brought out bubbly, which paired nicely with our (not pictured) oysters:

champagne

Making a girl feel special

And finished off with a dessert plate, which our server Michael customized for me upon overhearing me mention I hate cheesecake (which I do, don’t judge me):

happy birthday dessert

So instead, we were served my very favorite coconut creme pie.  Which is tart, salty, sweet, smothered in hand made whipped cream, and perfectly decadent

That’s just the level of consideration and attention to detail that can be expected at the Capital Grille.

IIn addition to the glorious celebration dinner listed above, I was fortunate enough to finally attend a Bears Smokehouse and Millwrights pop up dinner in the Millwrights Tavern on Monday night.  This will be a ‘thing’ every Monday night for the forseable future, and it involves taking Bear’s glorious BBQ and giving it a high end twist with Tyler Anderson’s signature cooking style.  Behold: “The Cook and the Bear”

rum cocktail millwrights

Behold also my Sloe Gin Fizz (sloe gin, lemon, and soda)- Chris Parrot never disappoints

The menu is divided into small plates (priced at $4) salads (priced at $8) proteins ‘from the smoker’ (at $6.50) sandwiches ($10.50), sides (also $4), and sweet stuff, aka dessert ($6).  It’s quite affordable and, well, let’s just look at some food porn shall we?

cocktail and pickles at millwrights

Tyler always makes a good pickle.  It helps that he works with the Community Farm at Simsbury and always sources fresh and local.  Also pictured: a “Dirty Holiday” cocktail (tequila, coconut, pineapple, and lime)

corn on the cob at millwrights

Grilled corn with the flavors of Greek salad.  Like Mexican style corn, this is drizzled and drenched in decadent toppings.  It’s, quite obviously, corn season, so the best time of the year to be eating the stuff anyway.  Tyler’s preparation of it is very signature of his style – a simple vegetable dish elevated with masterful flavors and a twist on a traditional technique. 

beet salad

It might seem difficult to order a salad when there’s so much meaty BBQ to be had – but get your dang salad.  It’s good for you – pictured is the: “smoked beets, ricotta, and walnut pesto.”  The beets packed flavor and texture and the citrusy, earthy flavors balanced nicely against the creamy cheese sauce.

ribs and mac and cheese at millwrights

You should still get BBQ.  Obviously.  Pictured: baby back ribs, baked beans, and mac & cheese with chicken cracklings.  Of all the things on this plate, the mac and cheese really sang to my soul.  In the way that only creamy cheese and crunchy chicken cracklings do

brisket sandwich at millwrights

The burnt ends sandwich – with the flavors of french onion soup.  It was difficult for me not to order this one for myself.  Burnt ends – the fatty, juicy ends of the brisket – are my favorite item to order at Bears Smokehouse.  But I restrained myself and will get it next time, because I simply, absolutely needed this:

best chicken sandwich at millwrights

The nashville hot chicken sandwich, iceberg, pickles.  Also known as the chicken sandwich against which all others will now be judged and found wanting.  Sorry Chick Fil A.  I don’t need you or your bigot chicken anymore.  I’ll take this local, better version instead.  And pair it with a nice Maine “Baxter” IPA.

The cozy Millwright’s Tavern is a perfect back drop for a decadent BBQ dinner – moving into the fall, this will be epically good comfort food.  Please go, check it out, and enjoy.  It’s a unique local collaboration which we are very fortunate to have here.

Wagyu and wine for a mere $25 at the @CapitalGrille

Several weeks past, the Capital Grille launched its seasonal deal on a gourmet burger and a delectable glass of wine, hand selected by their master sommeliers.  I was invited in for the experience by their local management at the Front St, Hartford location – and they graciously comped the check and, as with previous entries, approved this post prior to publishing.  Just a bit of full disclosure here folks.  And oh my, was it a rich and mighty pairing.

front st view w wine

We dined on the patio.  This offer is available at the bar, the patio, and in the main dining room for lunch.  Behold our mighty wine line up!

This year, the choices for the wine and burger pairing are: a Wagyu Cheeseburger (havarti, fried egg, and crisp onions), a Kona Crusted Wagyu Burger (shallot mayo) or a Wild Mushroom Wagyu Cheeseburger (15 aged balsamic).  This is up from two burger choices last year.  The wine pairing options are: Jordan Cabernet Sauvignon (Alexander Valley, 2010), and J Vineyards Pinot Noir (Russian River Valley 2013).  Also noteworthy: these two wines are excellent, revered, and very rarely available by the glass.  So that’s all kinds of fancy.

It was with great difficulty that I settled upon the Wild Mushroom Wagyu.  My husband, Michael, selected the Kona Crusted Wagyu.  We were blessed with two glasses of wine thanks to our lovely server, who saw us hemming and hawing and graciously brought us both options to try.  I ended up drinking most of the cabernet and Michael took care of the pinot, based on personal preference.  Flavor wise, the Jordan Cab charmed me with its complex berry aromas and tart sweetness.  I love a good, full bodied red, and this one in particular sang with lots of high fruit notes which made it an excellent summer to fall transitional wine.  the J Vineyards Pinot was also excellent – lighter than the cab (of course) and silky smooth, also with plenty of notes of fresh berries.  My husband very rarely drinks reds and he was surprised by how much he enjoyed it.

And how did the wine pair with the burgers, you may ask?  Well, only as nicely as a luscious glass of red can blend with the tangy, rich flavors of a perfectly executed, high quality beef burger.  Seriously, check this little beauty out:

wagyu precut

In presentation at the table.  Pictured nestled lovingly next to the burger: delicious truffle fries.

burger side view

Sliced open for further investigation.  Note the perfectly pink center.

wagyu better picture

En route to my mouth #actionshot

I should really investigate the type of balsamic that Capital Grille uses.  It’s just marvelously complex, tart, and brings out these amazingly three dimensional flavor palates in the food.  I became acquainted with this fine balsamic during a previous post, on the plate with prosciutto wrapped chicken.

 

chicken prosicutto better pic

Hello, lover

The balsamic alone made me glad for my burger choice, and the creamy mushrooms complimented the flavorful, fatty wagyu beef quite nicely.  I DO want to go back to try, well, both other varieties actually, but most definitely the Kona Crusted Wagyu.  Sadly, I forgot to even ask for a bit of my husband’s Wagyu Cheeseburger, and by the time I thought to ask, it was gone!  There is plenty of opportunity to return, thankfully – as the event runs until November 23rd.  For the $25, you receive both the burger and the wine, and a second glass of wine may be purchased for $20.  I really can’t recommend this promo enough – go and enjoy it before it’s gone!