Three hotels, two glasses of rose, and one marvelous cocktail in Newport

Welcome back to hotel cocktails – Newport edition (the first and most certainly not the last – as this is one of our favorite places to be and it’s an easy drive, especially on a bright sunny spring day).

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(he’s the most fun and basically the best)

Historic and storied Newport is home to the Newport Wine Festival – of course – which we attended and I wrote about here – but there’s really no bad time to visit.  A day in April is especially fine, as it wasn’t nearly as crowded as it would be in the height of season.  We began with rose at the Castle Hill Inn.

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and watched the sunset, and culminated the evening with another seafront location – The Chanler

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Billecart-Salmon – creamy, dry, and almost more of a champagne than a rose.  We drank it outside by a fire pit overlooking the beginning of the Newport Cliff Walk, with the surf crashing below.  Absolute perfection.

chandler bathroom

Also, quality bathroom for a quality instagram story is always a huge plus.

Although we hotel hopped along the sea, we stayed at our usual spot: the Hotel Viking.  It’s historic

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and centrally located: gets top marks for hospitality and service.  I took advantage of Scott’s obsession with all things auto related, and off he went to peruse the Audrain Automobile Museum while I and enjoyed a cocktail on the patio:


Newport Lemonade | Thomas Tew Rum | House Strawberry Basil Simple Syrup | Dell’s

We will be back to the Viking and Newport as often as possible this summer – certainly at least once for the summer and of course, for the 2017 Newport Wine Fest (dates and info on that here).  


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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ALL about Cocktails – Hotel Libations with Hoi Polloi + Bloody Marys for a cause with Max Restaurant Group

WELCOME to another installment of Hotel Cocktails – in the Shoreditch district of London.  Before we venture across the pond, let’s looks at something a BIT closer to home (well… I guess it depends on where you’re reading this from, but for the purposes of this narrative, let’s assume you’re in Connecticut, or at very least, somewhere on the east coast of the USA.  OK?  OK).

Max Restaurant Group is well known for its charitable endeavors, and as soon as I finish typing this, I’ll be headed to Max Oyster to sample their new Bloody Mary Bar (clearly the best part of any Sunday): drinking for a cause as they raise funds all day for Autism Speaks.  Join them at any of their CT or MA locations, OR at the lovely Cooper in Palm Beach Gardens, FL.

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All good things.

And now, back to our review.  Scott and I were in London in February for a couple days, and being aficionados of the Ace Hotel in NYC, we naturally ventured to its London counterpart, and the very chic and on trend Hoi Polloi (an extra cheeky name if you consider the working class roots of the East End), which you, naturally, enter through a flower shop if you haven’t crossed in via the hotel lobby


Few things better than a big city eatery which knows you’ll find it.  No need for a sign.  Signs are for Applebee’s.  The cocktail list was, naturally, intriguing as hell.  After much deliberation, I selected a Zhoosy Sour:

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Woodford Reserve | Woodford Rye | Choya Yuzu umeshu | creme de banana | yuzu citrus | egg

A flip with whiskey?  I’ll take it.  Only (minor) complaint is that this is a missed opportunity to showcase a Japanese whiskey, given their immense caliber and all the other ingredients – but I’m going to stop insulting the mixologist now and assume that the Woodford was selected and blended in two varietals for its smoky sweetness to balance the other ingredients.  And balance it did.  Not a single one of the individual elements was identifiable in this cocktail.  Which is perhaps, one of the hallmarks of a well mixed libation.

Vibe of the Hoi Polloi?  Not surprisingly, intensely hip and open to whatever you want to make it.  Afternoon tea?  no problem.  DJ and dancing?  They have that too.  Want to work at the bar?  Wifi and lots of power outlets await you.  Full dinner service?  Well, naturally.  Would love to return for dinner the next time we are in London.  Cheers to a great experience with, naturally, the best company.

Best in Bridal this weekend with Lux Bond & Green

Love is in the air.  Spring is (attempting) to spring.  It takes a minute people.  We live in New England.  So, even if the snow falls today, hope springs eternal for warmer climes, and of course – wedding season.  Grab someone you know who is engaged, your bridal party (or, even better, grab your fiancé), and head to our friends at Lux Bond & Green today and tomorrow (3/31 and 4/1) for their Best in Bridal Wedding Band Extravaganza.  You can also shop online via the link above.

Why should you go?  Well first, because they are awesome people.  Locally owned and operated, customer service focused, and just SUPER nice to deal with.  Not to mention knowledgeable jewelers.  LBG has been in the game of pretty shiny things for many, many years.  And they will pass their buying expertise to you.  And the sales for this weekend can’t be beat.  And – did we mention shiny things?

There will be raffles and splendor and many, many diamonds.  Specifically: the largest regional selection of diamond, platinum, gold, and alternative metal wedding bands.  And during the extravaganza, enjoy an immediate 10% discount on wedding bands, free engraving, and 10% savings on most bridal gifts: plus an additional 5% coupon for your next purchase.  Plus champagne and beer.

Cheers to all the happy couples (and please note: LBG believes in love for ALL and is open to all relationships, and I think that’s pretty darn cool).  And enjoy these photos taken by yours truly – who enjoyed the opportunity to photograph flowers and diamonds together because that’s just awesome.

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What to Wear: Late Winter Edition

It’s DEFINITELY still winter.  Snow is firmly on the ground.  Instead of slinking around in open toed sandals (or ‘cold shoulder’ tops – cute but they are called that for a reason you guys, ahem) I’m going to enjoy the last couple of days of sleek winter apparel while mixing in pieces that will transition in a flash to spring!

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First up: Elyse Ryan AWEARABLES wristWROCKS line.  These one of a kind stackable bracelets add a pop of color to any look, and this lovely blue and turquoise and silver stack will work equally well on a sandy beach as they do on a snowy day!

PLUS, these bracelets in particular are very near and dear to my heart, as $10 from each $50 sale goes to support all the good work of Camp Courant: bringing underprivileged kids to a full and joyous summer camp experience every summer.  The oldest of its kind of institutions in the US, Camp Courant is a truly magnificent cause, and their CEO, McKinley, is a dear friend of mine.  I was therefore both excited and honored to have the opportunity to make this collaboration happen through underwriting by my agency.  Send me an email if you’d like to purchase one (  Giving back, being stylish – these are a few of my favorite things.

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Let’s discuss this Iris Setlakwe suede jacket from my good friends at Morneault’s Stackpole Moore Tryon Tuesday’s – and how I will be living in it – no really – for the forceable future?  Why?  Well, it’s incredibly stylish, black (YAS), and fits like a glove, but is also super comfortable and doesn’t irritate my skin the way many fitted jackets and blazers do.  Being in and out of meetings many days, all days, there is no feeling I hate worst than pinched elbows from a blazer – particularly if that blazer is layered under a winter jacket.  This jacket is so buttery soft I forget it’s there.  Here is it dressed down, but I wore it dressed up to Big Red last week.  It’s a true foundational wardrobe piece – something to buy once and keep forever, no matter what the style trends of the passing season may be.  And that’s why one of the owners and Head Stylish, Jody Morneault, says that people are such fans of this particular designer: “I love Iris for the fashion quality & fit.  It’s timeless .  Most customers think If they only wore Iris they would be happy.”

If you would like to check out the new line and also shop in a historic department store nestled on lovely Pratt St (with free parking!) then join me at the Iris Trunk Show this upcoming Thursday- Saturday.  It’s a great chance to preview the line and meet the owners, who form long lasting relationships with all their clients and are happy to talk personal style tailored to any look (or budget).  So come downtown.  Shop around.  And find yourself some pieces that won’t just transition from one season to the next, but for season after season after season.


Present Company Presents: a Cellar Wine Dinner

Present Company, with Executive Chef Jeff Lizotte, offers a warm, cozy atmosphere, exquisite food, and a fun, relaxed vibe.  So naturally, it’s one of our favorite places.  Like many farm driven restaurants, PC changes their menu seasonally, so join them (and us!) on Monday night for a special preview of their new menu plus wine pairings.

Menu is below plus photos from the talented Jason Welch, to give you a feel for the vibe.  I’m eating as little as possible between now and then in preparation.  It’s going to be good.

Make your reservations via OpenTable – or by calling – 860 658 7890.  Seating at the Chef’s  Counter is most definitely recommended, so you can watch Jeff do his thing.

Monday, March 13th
New Menu Tasting Dinner at Present Company

Join us and experience Chef Jeff’s new menu paired
with boutique wines from our cellar

5 courses | 5 wines | $75

citrus salad
french breakfast radish, endive, baby greens, toasted madeleines

crispy skate wing
duck fat potato, mirepoix, red wine reduction

oven roasted savoy cabbage
truffled butternut squash, coco bean-mushroom duxelles

short rib of beef
celery root beignets, caramel apple and shallot salad

carrot cake
madras curry cream cheese, luxardo cherry, praline ice cream

present company sign wine dinnerpresent company jeff lizotte wine dinnerwine dinner photo present company

72 Hours in London + an Evening with Faust

London – my second favorite city on the planet, and the spot of many a teenage ramble during high school, growing up in the UK.  A storied and historical place that somehow maintains the strongest, staunchest sense of core British identity and history, despite the city’s embrace of its many cultural influences.  Also, it’s just damn pretty.  New York City (always to be the favorite) is brash and yellow to London’s staunch, classic charm and ‘red all over’ vibe.  Also, NYC doesn’t have historical phone boxes.  Which match the buses.  Which is really nice.  Although it IS decidedly easier to navigate than the rambling, wandering roads and boroughs of London.

While 72 hours isn’t that long to explore a city proper, it is adequate time to visit old favorite haunts, which is something that Scott and I were able to do to the fullest (he also studied abroad and feels at home in the city).  A quick trip to Harrods, a long and leisurely stroll through the Borough Market, high afternoon tea, more (very necessary) tea shopping at Fortnum and Mason, and a long, emotional journey through the Imperial War Museum were all on the list.  As well as Scott’s favorite restaurant, St John, and out of the way and spectacular Watch House Cafe nestled inside a renovated church wing.  We rounded things off with a decidedly decadent feast at Amaya (not pictured due to the fact that my camera doesn’t come to dinner both due to my disdain for pictures in the dark and Scott’s equal disdain for an inattentive dinner companion).

So please, enjoy our visual journey.  And speaking of visuals – join me if you could this weekend at A Faust Symphony (Listening in Color) – a fusion of art and symphonic artistry from my friends at the Hartford Symphony Orchestra.  A dramatic musical adaptation of Wolfgang Van Goethe’s play of the same name, this performance will present Liszt’s adaptation of the material alongside a thoroughly modern treatment of narratives presented by actors through monologue.  In short, I dig it.  Thank you to the HSO, as always, for providing me with tickets to this performance.  Get your own tickets here!

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