Butchers and Bakers

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

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

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

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

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‘Tis Noble to Drink at Noble & Co

Recently – quite recently – I had a posse of ballerinas and a desperate need for a locale  where we could spread out, take photos, and generally be merry and bright on behalf of a local client.  This engendered some gorgeous photos of CONNetic Dance doing their brilliant thing at the luxe, sophisticated, crushed velvet interior of Noble & Co.  A little speakeasy and a little upscale – and quite well appointed for your libation and lounge needs in West Hartford Center.  They do have a copper gun that will allow you to shoot a magnum of champagne directly into your mouth if that’s your thing (and it it’s not: I’m not sure we have enough in common to be friends – but you’re welcome to explain why in the comments I guess.  Ugh.)

Below are some photos from the photoshoot: plus my return visit with the lovely and vivacious McKinley to discuss important jewelry business to benefit Camp Courant.  Oh, what a time to be alive.  And  to drink interesting cocktails featuring Navy strength gin, egg whites, and jam.

So, by all means, go.  To Noble & Co.

And please, buy tickets for my good friend Carolyn’s (aka CONNetic Dance’s) AMAZING Nutcracker, which will be at the Wadsworth weekend after next.  It’s ‘not your Grandmother’s nutcracker-‘ and there are so many interesting and hip moments to delight your sense of wonder.

I promise.  And I hope to see you there.

(photos with gorgeous dancer type people via the very talented Alex Syphers and jewelry + styling by Lux Bond & Green and That Girl)

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48 Hours in Miami + the Greenwich Rose Cruise with @90pluscellars

SPOILER ALERT: this post contains rose.  Lots and lots of rose.  So much rose.  If you’re not thirsty now, you may be by the time you finish this post.

Let’s start with – the upcoming Greenwich Rose Cruise from my good friends at 90 Plus Cellars!  Save the date for this inaugural event (for CT!) on June 4th.  The Boston version is a blast:

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TBT to when I was a drunken flamingo

And I’m sure this one will be no exception.  Purchase tickets here and use code DRINKROSE33 at check out to receive $10 off per ticket!

From rose to – froze!  That would be frozen rose folks.  It’s a thing and it’s fantastic

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The very best slushie

I made friends with this libation while on a mini-vacation The Standard  in Miami while in town for my little sister’s graduation.  This ultra hip hotel features the very best in amenities, from spa to pool to hammocks

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Complete with astroturf

To (private) bathtubs outside of your room, to cool little ‘zines which are perfect for a beach excursion:

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We enjoyed 48 glorious hours of tropical bliss, starting with an intense rainstorm, which was perfect for tub soaking and hot stone relaxation, and culminating in a Vespa mini tour of Miami Beach and, of course, my beautiful little sister’s graduation day

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Which we toasted with – you guessed it – more rose

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So very proud of her!!

A photo tour of the hotel plus our scooter adventure is below – but first a small diversion to Little Havana, aka Calle Ocho, which no trip to Miami is complete without.  We visited the Ball and Chain and enjoyed gin and guava cocktails plus salsa dancing, plus street empanadas from a dodgy little stand, plus cigars. Standard Miami.

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street empanada

In other culinary adventures, there was a Panther Coffee within walking distance of our hotel, which is one of Scott’s favorite coffee shops and therefore quite amazing (I defer to him on all these coffee related as, well, he obviously really knows his stuff from years of research)

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Perfect little macchiato

Next time we visit Miami, we fully plan on returning to The Standard.  It’s cool in the most laid back and luxurious way.  Check it out if you need a place to stay in Miami, NYC, or LA.  Highly recommended:

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Flavor Packed Cuisine and Creative Cocktails @Rooftop120

Rooftop 120 is a magical place.  It feels like a slice of somewhere much further south, where tropical cocktails flow freely, people dine out doors, and the food is infused with Caribbean flavors.  I had the pleasure of being invited in, not once, but twice! (blessed) in the past couple weeks.

Visit the first: a Martini Lab with the always entertaining Tyler Devecchis and Top Liquor Queen, Nadine Gengras:

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Pssst.  there is another one coming up on April 6th!  Call the number above to reserve seats and do so quickly – it will most likely sell out quickly.

A big, friendly crowd gathered for this pink themed event to mix cocktails and eat delicious food created by head chef Xavier Santiago

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A big, rowdy crowd.  Not saying this was Girls Night Out because there were plenty of men present, but I sat at a table of all women – none of whom I knew – and was very entertained by the group (I was the quiet one – that’s a rare thing indeed).  Great night.

Pictured above: the starting cocktail Strawberry Martini with Ultimat Vodka

We mixed this ourselves (martini lab) I made a big mess.  My glass was not full.

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Looks easy right?  Well, I’m a klutz.

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Food pairing: strawberry and feta salad

Isn’t the color great?  The green dressing offset the sweet strawberries quite nicely.  Pink food and pink drink – quite clever.

Next up: a delicious, scratch margarita

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Behold the flowing agave

This drink was great as we were able to control our level of tartness, and I went VERY tart, naturally

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Yum.  Patron Tequila, Agave, citrus.  Simple perfection.

Knowing margaritas are simple to make at home, why don’t I do this more often?  I should, particularly in the summer months.  Top shelf tequila doesn’t take much to coax out the flavor.  This paired quite nicely with course number two:

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Chicken and risotto.  Texture was great, breadcrumbs were great, sauce was creamy, chicken well executed.  On point everything.

Last course, dessert: DONUTS

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Teeny eeny bitty donuts with barely any calories.  Or so I told myself!  And strawberry milk.

I finished the donuts.  I’m not proud, but I did.  I passed on the last cocktail however – two full drinks is enough for me!

I enthused to Xavier about his food (particularly the risotto) so he invited me back to sample a couple of his other dishes that he is very proud of (thanks Xavier)

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PLUS I got to hang with Tyler and drink a Pineapple Mojito (Cruzan White Rum/lime/mint/simple syrup/sour mix/soda/pineapple juice).  Oh what a time to be alive.

Xavier made three dishes for me.  One of them was kidnapped by my boyfriend (the salmon – I sampled it, before he ate it).  The other two I polished off myself, in one evening, without any real plans on finishing them.  They were just… so good you guys.  The appetizer in particular.  I will never return to Rooftop 120 without ordering it.

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Appetizer: Loaded “Potato” (House Mad Gnocchi/Pickeled Onions/Pickled Jalapeno/Sour Cream/Bacon/Scallions/Vermont Cheddar Bechamel)

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Squid Ink Spaghetti “Thai” style (Gulf jumpo shrimp/ confit tomato/shaved garlic/Thai bird chili/San Marzano Tomato sauce)

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“Everything” Salmon (Butternut Ginger Puree/lemon creme fraiche/grilled scallions/picked red onions)

So there you have it.  Now is the PERFECT time to visit Rooftop, as their patio space is one of the best around.  Soak up the warm weather, have a cocktail, enjoy a little nosh.  Highly recommended.

 

 

#GivingTuesday with @CONNeticDance plus a tour of @Bvssportsbar

Happy Giving Tuesday everyone!  It’s time to give back as well as to shop all those sweet deals at Target.  We recommend checking out CONNetic Dance’s #GivingTuesday deal: $100 for tickets the opening night of the Nutcracker Suite and Spicy (Wadsworth Atheneum, Downtown Hartford, December 12th), plus a piece of an original painting created through dance and expression in collaboration with Open Studios!

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Also created in collaboration with Penelope!  Check out the full Youtube video of the dance here plus a link to purchase the tickets and painting!

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A scene from the “ugly sweater party” for Carolyn’s Nutcracker – a signature dance of the performance

Penelope and I will both be attending the matinee on Sunday, December 14th, which includes a special appearance from SANTA and a dance party.  Very exciting stuff.

Other exciting stuff – allow me to introduce my new favorite sports bar in the entire world: Bobby V’s

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A terrific place to watch the Giants lose 14-20 to the Redskins.  Oy.

Head Chef Jordan Stein is an old friend, and he was kind enough to invite myself and Jenna Kijowski and Jessica Brigham Bishop (of CT Ain’t So Bad) in for a lovely sampling of cocktails and food last football Sunday!

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Squad!  Check out Jenna’s blog here!

We sampled multiple drinks, including:
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Caramel Apple Martini (Caramel Vodka, Sour Apple Pucker & a caramel swirl)

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Thin Mint Martini – ooh lala! (3 Olives Vanilla Vodka, Kahlua, Godiva White Chocolate Liqueur, White Creme de Cocoa, Cool Swan Irish Cream, Creme de Menthe)

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Pumpkin Spice Martini – for those of us, like myself, who can’t get enough pumpkin even after Thanksgiving (Pumpkin Spice Liqueur, Cool Swan Irish Cream, Jack Daniel’s Tennessee Whiskey, topped with nutmeg and cinnamon)

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The Leaf Peeper – my personal favorite! Spicy and refreshing (Pineapple & Mint Infused Tequila, St Germain, Apple Cider & a splash of OJ)
We didn’t finish these drinks, full disclosure guys.  Way too many and there were a couple more that we tried that aren’t pictured.  In the interests of it being 1:30 pm in the afternoon, small sips of the cocktails were enjoyed by all, and we switched to beer for the food ingestion (plus beer & football, what can I say?  I’m a sucker for a classic pairing)
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Broad Brook Porter Ale for me – a nice fresh, crisp, dark brew
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A super rare Lawson’s “Double or Nothing” for my pals – a delicious blend with notes of buckwheat and maple.  Yum!
 Ok, on to the foods.  Jordan’s philosophy is simple: make scratch bar foods and execute them very well, with people’s dietary restrictions in mind.  The Portabella Poutin is a hearty vegetarian dish which I would eat RIGHT NOW if it magically appeared in front of me, and the Nachos are made with rice chips and gluten fee!  Side note: get the wings.  Just do it.  Try a couple of the adventurous toppings – you won’t be sorry.
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Portabella Poutin – roasted portabella mushrooms over potato wedges, smothered in a porcini gravy and topped with havarti & muenster cheese
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Clams Casino Flatbread – surf & cockle clams, north country bacon, tomato, fresh herbs, mozerella & parmesan cheese blend
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Nachos (glamor filter intentional – nachos are glamorous business) Pulled pork, melted cheese, guacamole, pico de gallo, sour cream
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Calamari Sticks – rice flour dusted calamari served with sweet chili & snappy lime dipping sauces
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Wings – peach fire, sticky soy, chipotle BBQ, pastrami, chocolate & coffee

In addition to football, or the sport of your choice (I just watch football so you tell me) there is also horse and jai alai betting for those so inclined.  A fun way to spend an afternoon indeed!  Will be back often.  And next time, we can only pray, my G Men will WIN instead of – ugh.  Enough on that.  Thanks again to Chef Jordan for a delightful showcase of his cuisine.  A highly recommended spot!

 

 

 

A recap of Hartford Fashion Week + a look forward to the #WehaWhiskey Festival!

It’s EVENTS SEASON.  All the things, all the time, all the food, all the sparkle, all the nights out, none of the chill.  Sometimes I have to take a step back and really appreciate the cool things I get to be involved in and collaborate with.  Tonight, for example, I was fortunate enough to attend the March of Dimes Signature Chef’s Auction at the gorgeous Riverview in Simsbury.  And in a couple short weeks, I’ll be back at the same location for Share Our Strength.  More to follow on both of those shortly.  But for now – let’s look forward to this Saturday and the upcoming Weha Whiskey Festival!

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Use promo code KAT for 15% off tickets at checkout!  Enjoy 200 whiskeys, courtesy of Maximum Beverage, food from the Highland Park Market, and the satisfaction of knowing you’re raising funds for Camp Courant and the Ct Children’s Medical Center

I stopped by Maximum Beverage today to sample some of the whiskeys they will be pouring at Saturday’s event, including one of my very favorites – Eagle Rare Bourbon

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Maximum has their own single barrel version.  If that doesn’t impress you, we may have nothing in common (sorry)

I hope all of my local whiskey and foodie friends will join me for this event – which I have never managed to attend before!  Very exciting and more, of course, to follow.

So, off of whiskey and on to Hartford Fashion Week.  Katrina did such a marvelous job, along with the rest of the committee (myself included) in bringing an a week’s worth of fashion and fashion related culture to Hartford.

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Here she is with the stylish and fabulous Debbie Alan Wright, owner of Project Closet, and the dashing and handsome Lorenzo Hall (of Fox CT).  A good looking crew!

For those who missed this year’s event, there were multiple nights of fashion themed fun leading up to the three runway shows at Union Station – from a cultural round table at the Hartford Public Library to a fashion themed First Thursday at the Wadsworth.  The star attraction, was, naturally, twelve local original and independent designers showcasing their very diverse looks – from streetwear to ballgowns – at Union Station.  I would strongly recommend visiting and liking the Hartford Fashion Week Facebook Page for some truly beautiful photo galleries and, of course, to stay on top of next year’s event.  But below are some of my favorite moments from the shows:

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Tribal elegance from the Hartford Denim Company

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Wearing an LBD from Therapy Boutique in New Haven and enjoying red carpet fun with my favorite, Jon Aidukonis…

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And my beautiful, tiny diva, Penelope (dressed to kill in a vintage from Venom Vintage)

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Who strutted the runway and, alas, became fashion roadkill at one point 

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Talented local artist Nina Salazar instructing the Femme God models backstage

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Another backstage moment with Saints by SJ

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De Muerte

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AER Collections

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Funkenomics (not pictured: breakdancing)

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Show finale: Saints by SJ

Plus!  Several cool afterparties.  Cuginos in Downtown Hartford provided a lovely buffet after Saturday’s show, and I failed miserably at photographing any of it because Fashion Week hanger is a real thing as either Katrina or Man Repeller will attest to.  However, Amanda, Kate and I had our own marvelous little afterparty at Treva:

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Two inky brunettes and one happy blondie

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And I enjoyed my very favorite local cocktail: the Giardino.  It’s a glorious aromatic gin libation, made special by the full rose ice cube which will slowly melt into your glass, releasing delicious botanicals.  Highly recommended!

However hectic and chaotic backstage may have been, however many flaws we may have noticed during the first go round, Hartford Fashion Week was a truly special event, and I am honored that I was able to participate in its inception – and of course, looking forward to contributing again next year.