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

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

vinted vogue shot

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

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

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

carolyn with wine

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

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

row of wine glasses

 

Behold all the beauties.

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

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

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

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

kat with wine glasses

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

On to the reds:

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

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

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

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

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

wedge salad

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

burger and truffle fries

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

flourless chocolate cake capital grille

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

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

Advertisements

Majorca, Taste of Hartford, the Ct Science Center and Mohegan #SunWineFest

Wooo!  A busy and foodie couple of weeks folks.  But first – two sneak preview of upcoming posts I’m very excited about…

coney island poster

Love Under the Boardwalk

In partnership with the Wadsworth’s new and very noteworthy Coney Island Exhibit, my good friend Carolyn Paine is producing an original choreographed production, produced by the Wadsworth Atheneum, in partnership with her company, CONNetic Dance.  Featuring classical ballet intermixed with circus theatricals, performances will be Saturday, February 7th, at 2 pm and 8 pm, and tickets are available at the Wadsworth’s website.

Also – Penelope had a Very Special Photoshoot and she was the littlest Princess Elsa of all at Sassy Mouth Photo!

baby elsa

I can’t even.  Bet you can’t either.  So cute.

So, more to come on both these things.  But first – a look back at some amazing and fun times over the past couple of weeks!

First, Hartford picked up a new Tapas restaurant: Majorca

majorca friends

With some good friends, old and new at the Grand Opening, which benefited Family Life Education

Majorca specializes in tapas, small plates, and is a very welcome continuation of the space once occupied by O’Porto in the West End.

calamari

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

oyster with vinagrette

Oysters with a classic vinaigrette.  REALLY big oysters.

prosciutto wrapped date

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

There were also four cocktail samples to try:

cocktail samples

Pictured left to right: Pineapple Mule (pineapple vodka, ginger beer, fresh pineapple), Ginger Plum Martini (plum vodka, ginger liqueur, sour mix), the “Majorca” (citrus vodka, Hypnotic, and white cranberry juice) and Red Sangria (simple syrup, triple sec, fruit juice, and Sycamore Lane Cabernet)

As well as a fancy, necessary cheese plate:

cheese w wine

Paired with a nice rioja – always good to find a rioja present on the wine list. 

I am quite, quite happy to have this new little gem among my dining choices in Hartford, and I’m excited to go back for a full meal – hopefully soon!

Speaking of meals – Taste of Hartford is currently entering its second week.

taste of hartford logo

 

P and I have gone out twice to enjoy it – and I’m looking forward to going to Agave (sans P, alas) later on this week.  This last week’s experiences took us to Ted’s Montana Grill and Carbone’s, respectively.  But before Teds – we hit up the CT Science Center

science center lines

Which had a packed house due to special pricing for MLK Day

This wasn’t our frist trip to the Science Center, but it definitely was the best so far – P really enjoyed herself and is finally old enough to fully enjoy the exhibits geared towards younger kids – of which there are several!  Our favorites:

water experiments

Kinetic water experiments on the first floor

fossil experiments

Digging for fossils on the third floor

energy house

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

We followed this awesome playtime by lunch at Ted’s

teds montana burger

Bison burger for me, cookie for P, happiness for all

And went out again a couple days later to Carbone’s with the lovely Cathy and Rachel!

rachel and cathy

Ladies’ night

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

arancini

Yummm

Paired with a nice Aperol Sunset cocktail:

tequila cocktail

Like a margarita, but with way more bite

Followed by a lovely salad

citrus salad

P ate all my pomegranate seeds for me

And a perfectly sized portion of lemony shrimp risotto:

shrimp risotto

Which I paired with prosecco because of course I did.

For anyone who’s not familiar, Taste is a restaurant week – well weeks really – featuring prix fixe appetizer, entree, and dessert options for either $20.15 or $30.15.  It’s fun and affordable and I put quite a bit of time into organizing it, so I really appreciate that I can ‘eat’ it once it’s up and running -not all promotions offer such literal satisfaction.  In addition to several wonderful meals, I was thoroughly spoiled this weekend at Mohegan Sun and Wine Festival

I was able to stop by the Bourbon Tasting on Friday night, which was a new experience for me and also, a neat use of my 2014 resolution (which was to drink more bourbon).  I was extraordinarily negligent on the photos – however – I did enjoy several samplings: Maker’s 46 being my favorite.  It was elated to be able to drink it both neat and on the rocks and appreciate its nuances and woody palate – finally a bourbon girl!  Hurrah!  Also, who wouldn’t appreciate this dessert lineup:

bourbon tasting desserts

Wow yourself

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

bathroom selfie in silkworm dress

In a new fav dress from Silkworm and absolutely zero chill.  Oh well.

Returning the next day for Sun Wine Fest, I managed to both: 1/ take many more pictures and 2/ really enjoy this event, which last year had been overwhelmed and under impressed.  It’s hard to do Wine Fest and not feel the immediate, pressing urge to sample all the wine.  Because there are so many to try, both high end and low, and going in with focus and direction helps:

mohegan wine map

And also a map

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

moet and strawberry caviar

Moet bubbles with strawberry caviar

rose yaaas

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

bubblies

Three nice varietals from Sonoma, from the Gloria Ferrer.  Where I’ll be hopefully headed at Thanksgiving.  Oh yaaas.

I also bumped into some good friends:

mumm napa

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

with ghost lisa

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

oliver english and suzy hunter

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

carrie with cupcakes

And last, but very certainly not least – the Cupcake Goddess herself, Carrie, of Nora Cupcake

To wrap up the afternoon, we headed upstairs to the beer tasting and I found a very nice new summer beverage which I’ll absolutely be stalking down locally, one way or another:
fishers island lemonade

It’s from the Long Island sound and it’s a glorious tart combination of whiskey, vodka, and lemonade.  I loved it.

So yes, quite a lovely afternoon, all in all!  Not to mention, a great couple of weeks.  Yay.

The Twelve Wines of Christmas, Courtesy of M & R Liquors

For the past ten years, M & R Liquors has celebrated the Holiday Season with a hand picked selection of 12 wines, chosen with festive celebrations in mind.  Ranging from deep red to bubbly, you’re guaranteed to find a wine to pair with your holiday party, dinner, or cocktail hour.  The ladies of M & R – Jessica and Patti – and I sat down to Burton’s take out (delicious!) and a sampling of all twelve last week, in order to get into the spirit of the season and bring you, dear reader, a recap of each and every delicious blend.

the ladies of m and r

Pictured left to right: Jessica Rounseville and Patti Paul of M & RPictured foreground: delicious salmon pasta from Burtons.

in my happy place

There are some things more festive than a holiday sweater and a wine tasting.  But I’m not sure what they are.  I’ll get back to you on that.

Without further ado, I bring you:

THE TWELVE WINES OF CHRISTMAS

charmersmagnol

“A Partridge in a Pear Tree:” Charmes D’Magnol Bordeaux Blanc 2012 ($14.99) Why start with a Bordeaux Blanc?  Well for starters, its high acid content makes it a wonderful wine to pair with appetizers.  French wines are almost always designed with a food pairing in mind.  This particular blend hails from Bordeaux: a region well noted for its excellent grapes. It also boasts an impressive 88 points, courtesy of the Wine Enthusiast.  Recommended food pairing: goat cheese and crostini.

maligny

“2 Turtle Doves:” Chateau Maligny 1st Cru Chablis Fourchaume 2011 ($34.99)  As with many wines on this list, the folks at M & R have selected some of their favorites which carry, quite frankly, obscure labels – you’re not going to see a whole lot of “Chardonnay” on the label here, for example – although there are 100% Chardonnay grapes in the wine! The concept is to challenge the palate with new and exciting  This particular light and creamy wine hails from the Chablis vineyards, on a small family owned and operated estate. The flavor would pair very well with pasta in cream sauce, lobster, or a nice light cheese plate and green grapes.

laperliere

“3 French Hens:” La Perliere Poilly Fuisse 2013 ($24.99) For those who might not know (I certainly did not – until the knowledgeable ladies of M & R clued me in) – “Pouilly Fuisse” refers to a white wine produced in four villages within the Mâconnais region of France.  This particular wine has 100% Chardonnay grapes, an excellent mouthfeel with mid crunchy characteristics, and a heavy load of spice and oak on the palate.  The spicy aspects in particular make this a great seasonal wine which will make you feel festive as you sip it.  Recommended food pairing: roast chicken or turkey.

limoux

“4 Calling Birds:” Limoux Terroir Les Garrigue – 4 Terroirs 2010 ($19.99) Another wine hailing from Burgundy, this particular blend has a higher acidity and less sugar content than ‘new world’ Chardonnays from Australia and California.  There is a high acid content with a beautiful color and clarity, and a smooth creamy mouthfeel in this wine.  The fruit characteristics would pair well with a seafood risotto.

perlieregevry

“5 Golden Rings:” La Perliere Gevrey Chamgertin 2010 ($43.99) Moving from whites to red, we venture into the marvelous world of Burgundy’s Cote de Nuits district.  This particular wine is very reasonable priced, hailing as it does from a region that is home to a whopping nine Grand Cru vineyards.  The pinot noir grape is harde to work with, and this particular wine is 100% Pinot Noir and executed brilliantly, with a nice smoky aroma and a smooth and full bodied finish with a bright hint of blackberry and oak.  It would pair brilliantly with a salmon dish, or a nice steak filet.

rubus

“6 Geese a Laying:” Rubus Barossa Shiraz 2012 ($18.99) Leaving France for a minute, we venture to Australia to sip one of my favorite wines on the list.  It’s a deep, dark, bold red with a rich fruit flavor and just a hint of spice.  Hailing from Australia’s top wine producing region, this wine garners a total of 90 points from Wine Spectator.  It’s a bold, smoky red which would fit nicely with a roast at Holiday dinner.

doubler

“7 Swans a Swimming:” Double R Ranch North Coast Red Blend 2011 ($18.99) As a member of the Wine and Spirits Guild Group, M & R Liquors has the opportunity to produce its own blends throght it’s “Double R” label – named for Roy Rounseville, one of the founders of the company.  This is a classic California “big red” – a blend of eight grapes expertly capturing a berry palate with a many spicy layered notes.  A very popular wine in store, the recommended pairing for this is roast turkey.

block478

“8 Maids a Milking:” Block 478 Napa Valley Cabernet 2012 ($19.99) Another big California red, this wine is new to M & R this year.  It’s a boutique blend with a great price point for its execution, with every grape coming from a small, intense 10 acre block to ensure a superb amount of attention to cultivation.  A very mature red with a liquorice and pepper palate, this wine is purely expressive of Napa Valley Cabernets.  Recommended pairing: flourless chocolate cake.

block627

“9 Ladies Dancing” Block 627 Yountville Cabernet Sauvignon 2010 ($28.99) Another block Napa Cabernet, this particular blend can retail for over $160 per bottle – so its another steal at the price point.  Its a dense and firm red with a nice crunchy palate and a crisp finish – a premium grape with a sophisticated taste and notes of cherry and chocolate.  Again, this red would pair well with chocolate, or a bold protein such as duck.

casarena

“10 Lords a Leaping” Casarena Reserve Malbec 2011 ($19.99) This is an intensely sophisticated and delightful Malbec, hailing from the Casarena Vineyards near Mendoza, Argentina.  It is suberbly balanced and has a wonderfully deep, buttery mouthfeel with just of acid finish and beautiful deep clarity.  Drinking this wine, it’s easy to see why Malbec is such a hugely popular and trending blend.  Enjoy this wine paired with an exquisite charcuterie board to bring out all the complex characteristics of the grapes.

papale

“11 Pipers Piping” Cuvee Papale Chateauneuf Du Pape 2010 ($39.99) Ah, a cuvee.  Known for its excellent, this one boasts a whopping 91 points from Wine Spectator.  The “chateauneuf” blend always has 13 different grapes in it, with one or two whites in the blend.  This is an excellently sophisticate wine with a notes of plum and graphite, and a nice subtle spice to finish its nose.  The grapes mesh perfectly into a buttery and concentrated red which will pair very well with a lamb dish.  Very highly recommended.

doublersparkling

“12 Drummers Drumming:” Double R Ranch Sparkling Brut ($24.99) we paired this Brut with dessert and enjoyed its bubbles and fresh palate, with hints of vanilla and brioche.  A traditional champagne blend from Sonoma, the grapes are crisp and selected in the traditional Methode Champenoise.  This would also be a terrific choice to toast in the new year!

@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!

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!

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

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!