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Twilight at Morningside

Welcome to  Twilight at Morningside. This blog is dedicated to all my weekend adventures, but…there’s an awful lot of food photographs on here. I’m still committed to more armchair travel posts, so look for more globetrotting in the near future.  Feel free to say hello in the comments, I’d love to hear from you.
cheers, liz

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Community Table, revisited

August 17th, 2015

We first met Marcell Davidsen at his ambitious Ny Haven pop-up dinner in 2014. I vividly remember arriving quite late thanks to a last-minute trip to the pediatrician. I was stressed out by our tardy arrival and frustrated at missing part of set menu for the evening.  Our on-time friends (and fellow diners) had mentioned our situation […]

 

Chef Marcell Davidsen at Community table

We first met Marcell Davidsen at his ambitious Ny Haven pop-up dinner in 2014. I vividly remember arriving quite late thanks to a last-minute trip to the pediatrician. I was stressed out by our tardy arrival and frustrated at missing part of set menu for the evening.  Our on-time friends (and fellow diners) had mentioned our situation to the chef and not long after we were seated, all our missed courses were whisked out to our table. It was a unexpected act of kindness and I have never forgotten it.

Back in May, Chef Davidsen succeed Joel Viehland as the new executive chef at Community table in Washington, CT and a few weeks ago we finally popped in with friends after a day touring farms in Litchfield County. We all claimed to only want an impromptu drink, but then predictably wound up sampling our way through several items off the menu. August is a wonderful time to experience the bounty from local area farms, but I still maintain if you live in Connecticut and are up for a drive, this restaurant is worth a visit – no matter what the season. Whenever we’re in the area, I find it difficult to consider dining anywhere else.

Oysters on the half shell at Community table

Oysters on the half shell

Heirloom Tomatoes on Toast at Community table

Heirloom Tomatoes on Toast

Cucumber and Corn Salad at Community table

Cucumber and Corn Salad

Venison Tenderloin at Community table

Venison Tenderloin

 

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Neon Museum in Las Vegas

July 15th, 2015

I’m always rattling on about how I’m not a fan of Las Vegas, but that’s not exactly true. Last summer, we had a great family vacation in Summerlin  and even on my 4th visit as a non-gambler, I was still fascinated by the people watching and the faux architecture of the Strip. On the flip-side, my recent conference at Caesars Palace confirmed all my […]

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neon-sign-museum-06
I’m always rattling on about how I’m not a fan of Las Vegas, but that’s not exactly true. Last summer, we had a great family vacation in Summerlin  and even on my 4th visit as a non-gambler, I was still fascinated by the people watching and the faux architecture of the Strip. On the flip-side, my recent conference at Caesars Palace confirmed all my suspicions about the Strip: the Vegas scene is just too amped up and nearly every restaurant is too overpriced to keep my happy. Thankfully, there are so many other possibilities once you get in a car and start exploring the rest of the city!

For years, the Neon Museum boneyard has been on the very top of my Las Vegas to-do list. Just north of the older downtown casinos, it’s where an eclectic collection of LV’s most prominent neon signs have found a new home, once their advertising days came to a close.

I’m in love with these salvaged signs. The broken bulbs, rust and visible wear represent the years spent enticing patrons into Sin City’s casinos, clubs and restaurants. To tour this boneyard is to stroll through the history of Las Vegas hospitality. I picked a lousy time to take a tour, but the Neon Museum boneyard was still a visual treasure trove for photographs!

Neon Sign Museum, Las Vegas

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Neon Sign Museum, Las Vegas

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The only way to see these retired signs is on an hour long tour at the Neon Museum. Tours often sell out well in advance, so be sure to book ahead!!

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My main reason for visiting Las Vegas was a conference, so I didn’t have much flexibility in my schedule to perfectly time an excursion off the Strip. What you can’t feel from these photos is the high noon sun and  90+ degree temp in early May! Hardly ideal conditions for someone who isn’t used to summer in the desert – and that would be me!

There is a canopy providing shade (see below) and an occasional bench, but if you go – you can plan on standing, exposed to the elements, for the entire tour. Kindly, the museum does offer up shade umbrellas.  Above, you can spot a red + white umbrella that snuck into the upper left corner of my shot. 

Neon Sign Museum, Las Vegas

Not used to the heat? I’ll be honest. It’s tough being out under the midday desert sun.
I wanted both hands free to use my dSLR camera, so I brought a wide-brimmed hat and skipped the umbrella. While we blissfully waited in the air conditioned visitors center, I applied my sunscreen and bought a bottle of cold water to bring on the tour. Large backpacks and camera bags are not allowed, so travel light and leave as much as you can back at the hotel or in the car.

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Our tour of about 10 people was led by an enthusiastic guide. I was impressed by his knowledgeable insight into many of the signs and that he was completely undeterred by the heat! The 150 signs in the boneyard are grouped by time period or type of business.

Unfortunately, there’s no opportunity to explore the boneyard at your own pace. In terms of photography, this can make it difficult to get certain shots or to spend extra time when you find something special. On the plus side: without visitors wandering everywhere, it’s easy to get clear, people-less shots of the signs! Next time, I’ll definitely book the night tour for a different perspective. Six of the neon signs have been fully restored. Seeing them illuminated is an extra bonus on the night tour – along with a cooler temperature!

Neon Sign Museum, Las Vegas

Neon-sign-museum-Las-Vegas

Getting there:
The Neon Museum is not close to the Strip. It’s just north of the downtown casinos and was about a 20 min car ride from Caesars Palace on the Strip. There is a free parking lot adjacent to the museum. We rented a car on arrival at McCarran airport, but bus or cab rides are also an option, if you can spare the time (or money) to make it work.

Once you’re in the downtown area, I highly recommend lunch at eat. My favorite sandwich of recent memory was the shrimp po boy!  After melting in the midday sun, we headed south towards the Strip and rewarded ourselves with a frosty (and delightfully fluffy) treat at Kuma Snow Cream.

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Neon Museum Boneyard
Las Vegas, NV (downtown)
tours daily
http://www.neonmuseum.org

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Dinner at Eddy Farm in Newington

July 12th, 2015

Welcome to Eddy Farm – the only working farm in the town of Newington, Connecticut. This land has been with same family for multiple generations and that very connection brought me north for a Michael J. Fox Foundation event. This summer, endurance athlete Sam Fox (no relation to Michael J. Fox)  is out to bike and hike the lower 48 states – climbing each of […]

 

Welcome to Eddy Farm – the only working farm in the town of Newington, Connecticut. This land has been with same family for multiple generations and that very connection brought me north for a Michael J. Fox Foundation event. This summer, endurance athlete Sam Fox (no relation to Michael J. Fox)  is out to bike and hike the lower 48 states – climbing each of the state’s highest peaks, while uniting and inspiring his followers through meetups along the way. Sam’s mom was diagnosed with Parkinson’s 15 years ago. He channels her “tough,” no complaints mentality to find new ways to connect with the Parkinson’s community.  Sam’s goal is simple. Raise awareness and funds to find a cure for PD.

Why Eddy Farm? Sam’s family has been the stewards of this land for over a century. This farm dinner was a deeply personal stop at the beginning of the Tour de Fox. Before the first course, there were a few heartfelt speeches. We listened to Sam, his sister and father speak about their lives, this particular landscape and their strong family bond. I’ve been to quite a few farm dinners over the years, but this one was special. Small and intimate, the warm summer evening was constantly filled with comfortable laughter and inspiring words of hope and love.

Eddy Farm, Newington, CT

Dinner on the farm was provided by Chef Eric Stagl and the team from Barcelona Wine Bar West Hartford.
Barcelona has several other locations in Connecticut (Greenwich, Stamford, SoNo, Fairfield, New Haven), as well as Atlanta, Boston and Washington, DC.

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After sampling hors d’oeuvres and wine, we set off on a tour of the farm. Sam’s sister Haley now runs her grandparents’ farm, along with her husband Andy. Beyond the summer farm stand of local produce, she also nurtures a deep connection with her blooms, offering up a bouquet CSA, floral design classes and custom floral design for the occasional wedding on the farm.

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It’s not often that I can walk right up and watch a chef in action (with reasonable lighting and space to stay out of the way), so I kept returning to photograph the huge paella – served up al fresco – right next to the tent.

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Eddy Farm hosts several farm dinners throughout the warmer months.
Check their website to find a restaurant collaboration that strikes your fancy.

Eddy Farm
Newington, CT
www.eddyfarmct.com

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‘Pick Your Own’ Strawberries at Jones Family Farm

June 24th, 2015

When Father’s Day approaches, it’s also my reminder that strawberry season is near. It’s been a few year since I’ve gone to pick berries, but last week we got lucky with an cool overcast day and returned to Jones Family Farm in Shelton. Admittedly, I got carried away and came home with WAY more berries than we could ever eat. We didn’t […]

 

Pick your own strawberries at Jones Farm in Shelton, CT
Pick your own strawberries at Jones Farm in Shelton, CT
When Father’s Day approaches, it’s also my reminder that strawberry season is near. It’s been a few year since I’ve gone to pick berries, but last week we got lucky with an cool overcast day and returned to Jones Family Farm in Shelton. Admittedly, I got carried away and came home with WAY more berries than we could ever eat. We didn’t stop picking until our “berry box” was filled close to the brim! And while $30 felt like a steal for so much locally grown fruit, I still had to figure out WHAT TO DO WITH 11 LBS of STRAWBERRIES!

Pick your own strawberries at Jones Farm in Shelton, CT

Want to head out on your own strawberry picking adventure?
Here are a few tips to consider before heading out to the Jones Family Farm:

  1. Call before you go!
    Always call ahead to the Farmer Jones Crop Line (203-929-8425)  to be sure the fields are open. We picked at Pumpkinseed Hill Farm, though Valley Farm was also open. Listen for the street address for your GPS. There are multiple locations for the fields, depending on the season. At other times of the year, you’ll find blueberries, pumpkins, Christmas trees and a winery!
  2. Consider the weather.
    If you have the option, I recommend going on an overcast day. There is no shade in the strawberry field and though picking goes relatively quickly, even an hour in the blazing June sun can be tough.  As an added bonus, outdoor photos are often much better when it’s overcast and there aren’t deep shadows caused by overhead sunlight!
  3. Dress appropriately.
    You’re visiting a farm. Sensible, closed-toed shoes are a good idea. There is hay in the aisles between the berries, but after a rain, there is a chance of mud. I also don’t recommend wearing anything white or that could be ruined by a red berry stain. No matter how hard I try, I always seem to leave the field with a red splotch somewhere on my clothes.
  4. What should I bring? 
    • A checkbook or cash. No credit cards accepted. Our filled box was about 11 lbs and just shy of $30. There is a discounted price per pound, if you pick over 8 lbs in one box.
    • A hat, sunscreen, bottle of water and anything else you might like to battle the full sun (if it’s a hot summer day). Leave as much as you can in the car. You’ll be picking low to the ground. Don’t saddle yourself with bags or other items to track while you’re in the field.
  5. What happens once I arrive?
    • Jones Farm supplies a long rectangular “berry box” with a handle or small quart baskets.
      • You’ll receive a credit if you re-use your box on a future visit.
      • If you’re going with kids, get them each a quart basket and have them consolidate their berries into the main large berry box before you leave the field.
    • Hop on the “berry ferry” which will give you a short ride out to the field. Once there, Jones Farm staff will direct you to your own row of berries to pick.
    • Before you start picking, take a minute and honestly consider how many berries you can use in the short term (or freeze).
    • Time to pick! Lift up the green leaves and you’ll see the ripe red berries beneath. Gently pinch the strawberry stem slightly above the berry. If you pick your entire row and still want more berries, you can ask to be assigned to another row.
    • When you’re done, you can walk back to the checkout building near the entrance or take another ride on the Berry Ferry. If you’re carrying more than a few pounds of berries, I recommend catching a ride, even though it’s not a long walk.
  6. Storing your berries.
    Get your berries into the fridge or freezer as quickly as you can. Once picked, strawberries are highly perishable and do not stand up well in extreme heat.
  7. How long does strawberry season last? 
    This varies from year to year, but typically strawberry season is winding down by the end of June. Blueberry season is up next, often starting around the 4th of July. Again, be sure to call the crop hotline to get the latest updates.

Pick your own strawberries at Jones Farm in Shelton, CT

What became of all these berries? Some were destined for the freezer. I also decided to bake a few strawberry-rhubarb pies. I sourced local rhubarb from Rose’s Berry – vendors at the Saturday Downtown Milford Farmers’ Market. For a recipe, I turned the ever reliable Smitten Kitchen and was pleased with the suggestion to use tapioca to firm up the fruit filling.

Happy picking! If you’ve got a favorite strawberry recipe or another PYO tip, I’d love to hear it in the comments section.

Jones Family Farm
Strawberry season (typically mid-late June)
Shelton, Connecticut
www.jonesfamilyfarm.com

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Postcard from Charleston

February 12th, 2015

Ahh the Ashley River, from the banks of Lowndes Plantation. I often find myself daydreaming about Charleston, South Carolina. Its historic homes, its Southern charm – plus I can never get enough of the Lowcountry landscape.  In mid-October we found ourselves in Charleston for a 3rd visit. Seven days of picture perfect, sunny, 70 degree weather! While it’s unusual […]

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Lowndes Grove Plantation

Ahh the Ashley River, from the banks of Lowndes Plantation.
I often find myself daydreaming about Charleston, South Carolina. Its historic homes, its Southern charm – plus I can never get enough of the Lowcountry landscape.  In mid-October we found ourselves in Charleston for a 3rd visit. Seven days of picture perfect, sunny, 70 degree weather! While it’s unusual for us to fly the same city so many times, we have happily witnessed the arrival of more and more great food & drink options over the past few years. I’m grateful we had an entire week to get to know Charleston a little better. Once my work obligations ended, we found ourselves eating well – visiting old favorites and finding several new ones.

Two oyster spots opened up since our last trip.
As big fans of FIG on our last visit, we wanted to try Mike Lata’s  The Ordinary. But it’s not open for lunch, and I wasn’t sure anyone wanted to to see a toddler at happy hour, so we went with Leon’s Oyster Shop instead.

Leon's Oyster Shop

Leon's Oyster Shop

Leon's Oyster Shop

Leon's Oyster Shop

Leon's Oyster Shop

Leon's Oyster Shop

Leon's Oyster Shop

Traveling with a toddler means you need a place to burn off some of that endless 1 yr old energy.
After scanning a map of the city, I quickly noticed the 60+ acre Hampton Park. It’s a beautiful spot to get outdoors for a picnic,  stroll or a run.

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Very close to Hampton Park, you’ll find The Park Cafe. It’s one of those unexpected gems – a comfortable neighborhood spot, serving up great food. I wish we had something like it here in my hometown in Connecticut. In concept, it reminds me a little of Sugar and Olives in Norwalk, CT. We liked it so much, we returned for a second breakfast later in the trip.

Park Cafe, Charleston

Park Cafe, Charleston

Park Cafe, Charleston

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Here we are, back at The Glass Onion, chasing down Southern staples like gumbo and okra. I love the Glass Onion. If I’m in Charleston, eating here is a priority. It’s a casual spot, but the food is fantastic. You’ll need a car, but the quick drive from downtown is well-worth it. It’s a small parking lot, so we like to visit on the early – or late – side of lunch or dinner.

Glass Onion, Charleston

Glass Onion, Charleston

Bowens Island Restaurant is even a little further afield (about a 30 min drive from Downtown Charleston), but I’ve always wanted to try this Lowcountry mecca for seafood. It’s truly a dive, but we loved the view, the oysters and even the somewhat surly oyster cook in the dungeon-like area below the restaurant. Like true rookies we sat out on the deck for sunset and got eaten alive by bugs the second the sun dropped below the horizon, but we still enjoyed every second of our experience.

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There’s still a little effort involved with getting to your oysters at Bowens Island, but certainly nothing as difficult as shucking a raw oyster. I usually don’t like “working” for my meal, but I found this to be just enough of a challenge to make the entire oyster experience even more fun.

Bowen's Island Restaurant

Wiser customers, eating inside the enclosed main dining area.

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And down in the basement, the oyster cook hard at work.

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If you enjoy eating at The Place in Guilford, CT and you like oysters, Bowens Island is for you.

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We visited a plantation on our last trip, so this time we decided to stop at Charles Towne Landing instead. There’s a lot of ground to cover at this historic site on the Ashley River and we didn’t grasp its size until after we set off on foot.  There are bikes available for rent and I’d definitely recommend it – looks like a great way to explore.

Charles Towne Landing

Charles Towne Landing

Taking a break from downtown Charleston, we drove over to Sullivan’s Island and headed for a playground across the street from the Obstinate Daughter. We had no luck calling for a last minute reservation, but instead got lucky, walking up right as it opened.

Obstinate Daughter

Obstinate Daughter

Obstinate Daughter

Obstinate Daughter

We started with pizza for the little one and tried a few other small plates.

Obstinate Daughter

Obstinate Daughter

During our comings and goings in the car, we kept noticing a little park not far from our Marion Square apartment. Our last night in Charleston, we made sure to walk through Wragg Square on our way to dinner.

Wragg Square

Wragg Square

Our final meal in Charleston was at Xiao Bao Biscuit and was pleasantly surprised to find myself ranking it among my favorite meals in the city. While I was planning our trip, I kept ruling out any kind of Asian food while we were down South, but this menu is full of surprises from Japan, China and Vietnam and I’d recommend this hip, relaxed spot to anyone. It’s situated in a former gas station (much like Fuel, which is just a block away). We were wowed by XBB’s beautiful cocktails  – both in appearance and taste. And for our early dinner, our small plates came out of the kitchen at lightning fast speed. This spot gets quite a bit of national press and I can easily understand why!

Xiao Bao Biscuit

Xiao Bao Biscuit

Xiao Bao Biscuit

 

Xiao Bao Biscuit

The okonomiyaki: Order it and don’t forget the add-ons.

Xiao Bao Biscuit

Xiao Bao Biscuit

 

Xiao Bao Biscuit

A few more stops.
sorry – no photos (aka: I didn’t want to carry my dSLR)

  • Outta my Huevos Food Truck
    Find them at the Saturday Farmers’ Market in Marion Square
  • Butcher & Bee
    If we had dined here earlier in the trip, I’m sure we would have been back again for lunch or the late night menu. The last time I ate a sandwich this good it was at Bunk in PDX.
  • Callie’s Hot Little Biscuit
    Get your hot little biscuit sandwiches served up in this sliver of a retail space. Do not leave without Callie’s awesome pimento cheese.
  • Glazed
    So you just got at biscuit at Callie’s. Glazed is right across the street, calling your name. I’m sure you’ll still have room for a doughnut, especially one with a maple glaze and bacon.
  • Minero
    When we arrived in Charleston, Chef Sean Brock was in town promoting his new cookbook, Heritage and had recently opened up a new casual Mexican eatery.  We stopped in at this spot off-hours and grabbed a cocktail and a few tacos. We would have been back for more, but we spent most of our time further north.
  • Fuel
     Like Xiao Bao Biscuit this fun eatery was once a gas station and has a great casual vibe. We loved the outdoor seating, what a perfect perch to hang out and watch Sunday football with friends. I repeat, why can’t we have more spots like this in Connecticut?!
  • Jeni’s Splendid Ice Cream
    I love splurging on Jeni’s when it’s in stock at Whole Foods, but this was my first opportunity to visit one of the retail shops for this charming brand. I found out it’s really difficult to make a decision when faced with so many sweet options.
  • Sweeteeth chocolate
    On a whim, I picked up a Sweeteeth bar at Caviar & Bananas. I held it in reserve until a few weeks after the trip and I deeply regret not stockpiling an ample supply of these chocolate bars. Moral of the story: don’t just buy one.(PS: While you’re at the George Street location, Charleston Bloody Mary mix is another local favorite)

If you’ve traveled with me, then you know I love my Google Maps. Click on the little square icon on the top left corner to see my Charleston picks in list format.

Finally, a few more recommendations if you’re considering a trip to Charleston:

One final shoutout to Janie of Life Writing Photography who shot a quick set of family photos for us. We did a 30 min session at Rainbow Row and couldn’t have been happier. This is just the ticket for anyone who’s always taking the vacation photos, but who never winds up in any of them (aka: me)

Life Writing Photography

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Lunch at Kawa Ni in Westport

January 29th, 2015

Have you been to Kawa Ni in Westport? It’s the latest sibling in the Westport le Farm and Whelk restaurant family. Kawa Ni appeared on the scene in August and I love that it’s open for lunch – even on Saturday!  If you’re thinking about dinner, know that they’re currently offering a “call before you leave and we’ll add you […]

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Kawa Ni in Westport
Have you been to Kawa Ni in Westport? It’s the latest sibling in the Westport le Farm and Whelk restaurant family. Kawa Ni appeared on the scene in August and I love that it’s open for lunch – even on Saturday!  If you’re thinking about dinner, know that they’re currently offering a “call before you leave and we’ll add you to a wait list” system. I’ll happily take that over a flat “no reservations” policy. Kawa Ni is small (40 seats), and it’s often hoppin’ in the evenings – especially the weekend. I know because we’ve tried stopping in for a drink after dinner at the Whelk, and found it impossibly crowded. Always double check the hours before you hop in the car, just to be on the safe side.

On to the food…

First up at lunch: a plate of karaage.  Really, you can’t go wrong with fried chicken.
If you’re eating with friends or family, it’s fun to share a few plates and explore the Yushoku section of the menu.

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If you’re unsure of what to try, ramen is easy place to start.
You’ll get a steaming hot bowl of noodles topped with locally-sourced ingredients.

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Now that that Kawa Ni’s had a few months to settle in and serve up its take on Japanese cuisine, a few friends have mentioned to me that they are unsure of what to order. Kawa Ni is an izakaya-inspired restaurant. What does that mean, exactly? An izakaya is a Japanese drinking establishment that also serves up small plates of food.  So you’d expect a serious focus on drinks and we’re happy to find our friend, Jeff Marron behind the bar. He’s offering up a nice cocktail selection and several variations of the Kawa Ni signature drink, the sake bomb. These make a fine start when you arrive, but I’ve I found I prefer just sake with my meal. Cold sake, all the way. 

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Have no fear, I promise we’ll get back there to photograph more of the cocktail menu.

My family is Japanese, so many of the dishes and ingredients at Kawa Ni are familiar to me. Since there aren’t many Japanese restaurants serving up traditional flavors beyond just sushi/hibachi here in Connecticut, I can understand the uncertainty in navigating the menu. My first recommendation: talk to your server. If you need help, they can elaborate on any ingredient or preparation. Go to any of Chef Taibe’s restaurants, you’ll notice that all his servers are well-trained and extremely knowledgeable. As soon as I’ve made a first pass scanning menu, I like to ask what’s new and what we shouldn’t miss.

Check out a sample menu and you’ll have some idea what to expect.  Just don’t get too attached to any one dish. The menu changes frequently, as dictated by seasonal availability.  In case it helps, the current menu structure breaks down like this:

Kawa Ni menu sample

Yushoku: If you’re dining with someone else, start off by sharing a few of these plates to round out your meal.

Onigiri: I grew up calling them musubi, but whatever the name – they are really just rice balls with different toppings/fillings.

Sashimi: If you enjoying eating raw fish (hold the rice) at your favorite sushi bar or crudo at the Whelk, this section is for you.

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Donburi: Literally, a rice bowl. Another good place to start, if you like white rice. Japanese rice is a short grain, and a little on the sticky side compared to other varieties.

Men: Ramen is popping up everywhere these days. But at its core, it’s simply a noodle soup. If you like the other ingredients in the description- give it a try. The noodles have a different texture and thickness, so ask your server if you want to know more. And if you don’t like a lot of broth, consider the mazemen.

 

 

Enjoy your meal at Kawa Ni!
If you’ve got any favorites let me know so I can try them on my next visit!

Related:

More photos, please:
Kawa Ni preview

What’s the deal with ramen noodles?
Inside Sun Noodle, the Secret Weapon of America’s Best Ramen Shops

I want to try a traditional izakaya, but without getting on a flight to Japan:
Head to New York City. I like Sakagura (Midtown Manhattan, a short walk from Grand Central Terminal)

Where else can I get ramen in Fairfield County?
Mecha Noodle Bar  Brick Walk in Fairfield.
Kid-friendly. No reservations.

Any other recommendations for Japanese food in Connecticut?
Norimaki in Washingtown Depot
Get a dinner reservation, it’s long drive to Litchfield County

Miso 9th Square in New Haven
Sit at the sushi bar with Chef Jason Tay. Consider going omakase.
Or order the specials, they are expensive, but some of the finest sashimi I’ve eaten in Connecticut.

 

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Postcard from Portland, Maine

October 1st, 2014

We visit Portland in search of good food. While sorting through shots from our short visit to Maine, I found there isn’t much to share. Turns out, I haven’t quite learned how to wrangle a toddler and take photographs with a dSLR. Especially while dining out, I find either the camera or our food is […]


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We visit Portland in search of good food. While sorting through shots from our short visit to Maine, I found there isn’t much to share. Turns out, I haven’t quite learned how to wrangle a toddler and take photographs with a dSLR. Especially while dining out, I find either the camera or our food is one second away from being redirected into a dangerous or messy situation. Once I’m behind the lens, there’s no telling what mischief is now obscured.

So our activities were dictated by travel with a toddler… There are still a few glimpses into Portland to share. First stop, Pai Men Miyake, a spot brimming full of locals enjoying a bowl of ramen and other small bites. One of my favorites was the bowl of brussels sprouts.

We went in search of a bagel from Scratch Baking Co. Rookie mistake… Sunday at 10 am, the line was out the door. We gave up and took a drive around the quiet neighborhoods in South Portland. I could imagine living here!

Portland Head Light and a little rocky coastline. Scenic proof we were really in Maine! I know, we spend too much time in downtown Portland, chasing after our next meal.

After feeling right at home at Eventide Oyster Co, we went back for brunch the next day. In case you missed it, I wrote more about our experience here.


Traveling with Lily means I’m always on the lookout for a playground to burn off a little excess energy. Eastern Promenade is a great place for a walk on a sunny day, with or without kids.

We never miss a visit to Standard Baking Co.
Our breads and other sweets were made it a worthwhile stop, but the macaroons have a new recipe and I’m still morning the loss of its far superior predecessor.

Look up above Standard Baking and you’ll see the windows of Fore Street, a restaurant I’ve loved since our first visit to Portland. I’ve always wanted a seat a window table above the bakery and this time, my wish came true. It was all the more exciting because we were warmly welcomed by the restaurant, even with a 15 month old. There are no high chairs, but a noisy din – enough to mask any enthusiastic outbursts.  Lily sat on our lap and snacked on freeze dried fruit while we considered ourselves very lucky to dine at this wonderful restaurant again, this time as a family.

While walking off dinner with a stroll along the harbor, we chanced upon the brand new Nova Star ferry loading up for it’s overnight trip to Yarmouth. I’m anxious to see more of Canada and I had no idea this ferry service had just begun. Nova Scotia, I’ve got my eye on you!

As always – here are the ones that got away:

Miyake Diner (in transition)
Scratch Baking (bagels)
Vinland
Hunt & Alpine Club
Central Provisions

 

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Sport Hill Farm revisited

September 18th, 2014

Connecticut farm dinners have really grown in popularity and abundance the past 10 years, but a long-time favorite is my second Souterrain at Sport Hill Farm. It was an overcast afternoon, but I fondly remember a late Spring brunch in the greenhouse, surrounded by good friends. I had never been to this farm before, but to […]


Posted in: Connecticut, food, kids
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Connecticut farm dinners have really grown in popularity and abundance the past 10 years, but a long-time favorite is my second Souterrain at Sport Hill Farm. It was an overcast afternoon, but I fondly remember a late Spring brunch in the greenhouse, surrounded by good friends. I had never been to this farm before, but to me it has remained the most logical and beautiful backdrop for Bill Taibe’s movable feasts – more than any subsequent Souterrain location.  Living in Milford, I hardly find myself near Easton, CT, but frustrated that I’m always stuck at work and unable to attend the Westport Farmers’s Market, I decided to make a special trip back to Sport Hill Farm, while tomatoes and corn are enjoying an extended season.

If you’ve never met  farmer Patti Popp, she’s exhibits a knack for growing delicious food and a eye for the never-ending beauty in the cultivated world to which she tends. Just take a peek at Patti’s photos on instagram: @farmgal596. To top it off, she is a tireless educator and a gracious host. Thank you Patti for taking time out from your restaurant delivery prep to welcome Lily to the market.

Here, Patti’s offering up a lima bean for further inspection.
Lily is uncertain about touching these large beans!

The Sport Hill Farm market is a welcoming place for kids and has a toy farm + barnyard animals to keep little hands occupied while you browse the aisles!

Regardless of whether you have a little one in tow, the real reason to visit the farm is to stock up on flavorful, locally-grown produce and provisions. In season, the farm market is open daily (check the website or Facebook page for hours) and you’ll also find the farm gal’s smiling face at the Thursday Westport Farmers’ Market and the Saturday Black Rock Farmers’ Market.

Want to feed the chickens? Ask for a slice of bread at the market counter. After the bread was gone, Patti even brought out a hen for closer inspection!

Next we inquired about exploring the grounds surrounding the market. I was surprised when we went up the little embankment to see these plants that reminded me of mini palm/date trees. Upon closer inspection, I realized we had found a patch of dinosaur kale. Talk about know your farmer, know your food – it’s a little embarrassing I’ve never seen a lacinato kale plant before…

I couldn’t resist the cranberry beans. The pattern caught my eye, so I had to take a photo before the colors became muddled and murky on the stovetop. I’m not sure if this is odd, but I find it relaxing to shell beans (as long as they’re not favas). Without a recipe in mind, I bought a bagful and made a creamy bean dip.  If you find yourself with an eggplant and a bowl full of shelling beans (makes a great project to keep your little ones occupied) I noticed Patti featured this A Pinch of Salt recipe at the market.

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Madison Farmers’ Market

August 30th, 2014

August is amazing time when it comes to buying local in Connecticut. Summer serendipity is finding a farmers’ market setting up right in front of your previously scheduled plans. Luckily I had my camera in hand while attending my cousin’s relaxed wedding at the First Congregatioaln Church in Madison, CT. When the ceremony was over, […]


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August is amazing time when it comes to buying local in Connecticut. Summer serendipity is finding a farmers’ market setting up right in front of your previously scheduled plans.

Luckily I had my camera in hand while attending my cousin’s relaxed wedding at the First Congregatioaln Church in Madison, CT. When the ceremony was over, the Friday afternoon farmers’ market had opened up at the foot of the church. What a beautiful selection – if you’re in the area, it’s worth stocking up before the weekend begins! We managed a quick walk-through before continuing on to the wedding reception. I apologize – I wasn’t familiar with the vendors with the exception of Barberry Hill Farm (from Dinners at the Farm), but I couldn’t resists sharing the rainbow of colors I found that day.

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Eventide in Portland, ME

August 24th, 2014

When I think of Maine, my thoughts first veer to lobster. But on our most recent trip to Portland, we spent more of our time eating oysters. That’s mainly because we discovered Eventide. So how much do I love Eventide Oyster Co? So much, that we went there twice on our short two night stay […]

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When I think of Maine, my thoughts first veer to lobster. But on our most recent trip to Portland, we spent more of our time eating oysters. That’s mainly because we discovered Eventide. So how much do I love Eventide Oyster Co? So much, that we went there twice on our short two night stay in downtown Portland.

Maine is always just a little too far from Connecticut. For as much as I love the beautiful rocky coastline, it’s consistently more time than we’re willing to spend for a long weekend. Sadly, because of this it’s been 4 years since we last set foot in Portland.

Eventide wasn’t officially on my agenda. I hate to get my hopes up, as it’s often hard to tell where you can safely bring a toddler along without feeling out of place.  On our way to check-in at the hotel, I spied Eventide on the same block as famed Hugo’s Restaurant and immediately lobbied for a quick mid-afternoon snack to fill up the lull between lunch at Pai Men Miyake and our takeout dinner from DuckFat.

The hostess and servers were quite accommodating and welcoming to our little one – offering us a seat at a table inside and hustling through our order so we could get in (and out) in an hour!

About half the oyster selection hails from Maine, the other 50% a mix of West Coast and New England/PEI options. These are perfectly shucked and feature your choice of accoutrements.

While we enjoyed the variety of “ice” options (kim chee, pickled red onion, Tabasco), I find good oysters like these don’t need much else beyond a basic mignonette.  Just sampling these ices brought back memories of the divinely smooth and frosty champagne mignonette we remember fondly from Elliott’s in Seattle.

We were quite taken with the other bites on the menu, not to mention the fantastic ceramic barware to match the “island style” libations on offer. Below is the Fried Winter Point Oyster Bun and a Mai Tai!

Yellowfin tuna crudo

It’s not every day we’re in the land of lobstah, so a lobster roll was an absolute requirement at some point on this trip. Hailing from Connecticut, I am a fan of the hot buttered variety. Don’t get me started about the mayo…  It’s only natural we opted for the signature brown butter option delivered on Eventide’s steamed bun. Delicate and light, not too spongy or chewy (as so many of the poorly executed varieties often are), this bun makes a perfect vehicle for Eventide’s handheld offerings.

We loved the food and bright sunny atmosphere and before we left, we were already planning to return the next morning for brunch!

I’m not a huge fan of  breakfast or brunch. Heck, I never thought I’d find much delight in a breakfast sandwich. But this variation took this breakfast staple to something I wish I could eat weekly.  On the Eventide signature bun, it features a crispy pork belly and hard boiled egg. It’s a rare day when I get excited about anything featuring a hard boiled egg, but this is a great combination. Give it a try if you see it on the menu.

I often can’t remember what at oysters we’ve ordered, especially when we’re trying unfamiliar varieties.
I love it when oyster bars helpfully offer up a slip of paper to jog your memory. I found the practice more common out West, but while they are plenty of places who do give you a little crib sheet, I’ve found there are just as many who just issue the verbal rundown when the oysters arrive.

Eventide’s got that perfect mix of a oysters, cocktails, small bites all in a sunny and welcoming space to hang out with friends.  So Portland, this trip we upgraded, but have no fear… we have not forgotten J’s Oyster – the salty little dive bar on the wharf where we’ve gotten our oysters in the past.

If you’re on the lookout for other great spots to find an oyster, check out my other favorites on Pinterest.