Archive for the ‘Connecticut’ Category

In the Pumpkin Patch 2014

October 30th, 2014

As a relatively new parent, I cannot explain the seemingly universal urge to grab the family and go apple / pumpkin picking. Maybe it’s just a great way to get outside, enjoy the cooler temps and get some family photos.  Or is it a New England thing? Autumn always puts on a beautiful show here in [...]

 

As a relatively new parent, I cannot explain the seemingly universal urge to grab the family and go apple / pumpkin picking. Maybe it’s just a great way to get outside, enjoy the cooler temps and get some family photos.  Or is it a New England thing? Autumn always puts on a beautiful show here in Connecticut. Last year, we agreed to meet another family at Beardsley Cider Mill for some apple picking. Though pre-scheduled far in advance – it turned out to be a gorgeous sunny Saturday afternoon, but we found ourselves overheated in 80 degree weather (positively unAutumn-like). Coupled with a jammed parking lot and long lines (yep, two of them) to buy our apples and our cider & donuts, we swore off weekend picking… FOREVER.

Now we have 20 month old toddler who loves to exploring outdoors. A year older and wiser… I headed up north to Pumpkinseed Hill Farm at Jones Family Farm on a weekday! At 10 am on a Tuesday in early October, there was only 1 other family. It was amazing to have this huge hilltop pumpkin patch to ourselves! I subsequently took two other trips to this Shelton farm with friends and family.  It’s a great place for young children to play outside and when the little ones are finally petered out, there’s a hayride around the surrounding fields.  If you need snack, I recommend buying a pumpkin cookie while you’re purchasing hayride tickets.

Below are photos from all 3 of our trips this year, I hope it gives you a good sense of the beauty and the bounty of this farm.


Lily loved walking up and down this little bridge near the pens with chickens and pigs.
You can also see the corn maze in the background. I kept my distance, there was no way I was embarking on that adventure with a toddler!

Her other favorite spot was this Hansel and Gretel themed house.

Back on the lookout at  Billy Goats Gruff bridge. This time with a friend.

The farm provides small wagons to carry your pumpkins. Children are not allowed in the wagons, but that’s ok because all Lily wanted to do was push one around the pumpkin patch.

If you wander out beyond the corn maze entrance, you’ll come across a field of sunflowers.

And past the sunflowers, you’ll find other produce growing on the farm. Here you can see strawberries and broccoli in the front rows.

In the cabbage patch.

If you’ve been to Pumpkinseed Hill Farm on the weekend you might not recognize the farm in my photos. Typically it’s filled with hundreds of people and though there is a huge parking lot and ample space in the fields, I still  recommend a weekday visit. If you’re looking to have a quiet experience with no waiting and no lines – know that this the price of admission. The good news is no matter when you go, there is no entrance fee to visit the farm.

 

Jones Family Farm
Pumpkinseed Hill Farm
120 Beardsley Road,
Shelton, CT

10 am to 5:30 pm daily (call ahead to confirm)

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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 [...]


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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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Miya’s Farm Dinner

August 4th, 2014

It is a lovely summer evening in a backyard in Woodbridge. This is a farm dinner organized by the New Haven Arts + Ideas festival, but unlike a typical outdoor farm-to-table event, dinner guests don’t just follow along on the usual tour – we are asked help forage for the meal ahead. Chef Bun Lai shares a [...]

 

It is a lovely summer evening in a backyard in Woodbridge. This is a farm dinner organized by the New Haven Arts + Ideas festival, but unlike a typical outdoor farm-to-table event, dinner guests don’t just follow along on the usual tour – we are asked help forage for the meal ahead.

Chef Bun Lai shares a brief explanation of the plants he is seeking and releases the guests to help him gather ingredients.

The images of guests surrounding the chef to hand over harvested greens reminded me of two scenes. One is the line of Buddhists waiting to offer alms to the monks, an early morning ritual you can still see in parts of Southeast Asia. The other is of young schoolchildren, eager to share their discoveries with the teacher. This second image is an apt comparison. Bun Lai is as much an educator, as he is a chef – constantly reminding diners there are conscious and responsible decisions to be made with every bite of food you eat.

When the foraging is complete, we sit down to dinner at a long communal table in the Chef’s backyard. If you’re into food, you’ll know Bun Lai’s a big deal in Connecticut. This James Beard nominated chef and presides over Miya’s Sushi in New Haven. Miya’s seems to be a polarizing place, either you love the wildly inventive and environmentally-focused efforts of this sushi restaurant  - or you can’t seem to grasp what all the fuss is about.

Occasionally my love of tradition can get in the way of accepting the new and unfamiliar. I used to struggle with Miya’s long, tome-like menu (so I exaggerate, but if you’ve seen it, you know what I mean) and its atypical ingredients, but this farm dinner really deepened my understanding of the unique sushi I’ve eaten in past visits – from the traditions that inspire it, to the local, sustainable, and affordable sourcing that drives its ingredients and flavors. I may never quite get used to the rice, which is a mix of more healthful brown rice and other grains, but I cannot help but truly admire the positive impact this restaurant and its food values have had on both other chefs and the food community at large. This is precisely the reason why Bun Lai’s efforts are so important. If you’d like to read more about this innovative chef, I recommend  The Invasivore’s Dilemma (with killer photos) in Outdoor Magazine: or go straight to the source and check out his blog:  Call Me Bun.

If you’re a Miya’s fan, keep an eye out for special events like this one. It was a unique and memorable experience, even after attending several other Connecticut farm dinners.

If you’ve never been, but  live in or near New Haven, this is a important restaurant to try.
My advice is to read the sample menu beforehand and keep an open mind when you sit down for your culinary adventure!

Miya’s Sushi
68 Howe Street
New Haven, CT
miyassushi.com 

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Millwrights in Simsbury, CT

July 15th, 2014

This year we spent our 8th wedding anniversary alongside Hop Brook falls, dining in a former grist mill. In other words, we finally made our way  up to Millwright’s in Simsbury. Tuesdays are not an easy night to find a special occasion restaurant in Connecticut, but unlike so many other fine dining spots, Millwrights was not [...]


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This year we spent our 8th wedding anniversary alongside Hop Brook falls, dining in a former grist mill. In other words, we finally made our way  up to Millwright’s in Simsbury. Tuesdays are not an easy night to find a special occasion restaurant in Connecticut, but unlike so many other fine dining spots, Millwrights was not only open, but quite busy!

Millwright’s first caught my attention last year when Chef Tyler Anderson swapped restaurants with fellow James Beard nominated Chef, Joel Viehland of Community table. It also came highly recommended by fellow blogger, Leeanne of  A La Carte.   Though we didn’t mind the 1.5 hr drive north to suburban Hartford (including some rush hour traffic), I wasn’t sure how soon we’d be able to return, so we opted for the 7 course tasting menu. Nearly every course was drawn from the nightly dinner menu, which makes the tasting menu a great way to get a handle on the kitchen’s “inspired New England” cuisine.  Once we settled into our quiet half-round booth set back along the wall, we were easily able to take in the leafy view and the hustle and bustle of a busy dining room in one glance. Service, food, decor – all beautifully executed. Fine dining is getting harder to come by in Connecticut, but this option is smartly tempered by a casual tavern downstairs. I would love to be a regular… if only Millwright’s was a little closer to home.

Wellfleet Oysters with Rhubarb and Black Pepper Mignonette

The Harajuku Negroni – easily one of the best cocktails I’ve had all year.

Maine Crab: buttermilk, lemon puree, shaved asparagus

House Made Ricotta: broccoli salad, pickled meyer lemon


Tapioca Custard: all the flavors of clam chowder

Foie Gras: strawberries, rhubarb consomme, brown bread crisps

Portuguese Fisherman’s Stew:
monkfish, mussels + clams, linguica, potatoes

Lamb:
grilled loin + sausage, white bean puree, fennel + sweet peppers

This dessert was inspired by a candy bar (Take 5?)   I wasn’t familiar with it, but you really can’t go wrong with chocolate, pretzel, and peanuts.

Despite dining on a Tuesday night, we were able to see the dining room in full swing. Parties both large and small arrived throughout the evening to celebrate school graduation.

After finishing our leisurely meal, we wandered downstairs to see the more casual dining space/bar that is paired with a tavern menu.

With twilight upon us, we finally took a walk along the water. This mixed-used development has a lovely feel to it, a balanced mix of old and new in a beautiful setting. On our way out, we met general manager AJ who took upstairs to see the space for private events. There, he confided he and Chef Anderson have their eye on New Haven County. These two seem a well-matched duo, paired up originally during their time at the Copper Beach Inn. Of course Millwright’s will remain their flagship spot for fine dining, but I look forward to seeing what they’ll be serving  up – especially in a location much closer to home!

 

 

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Saugatuck Craft Butchery- new location

November 3rd, 2013

Saugatuck Craft Butchery in Westport has a new home. Not far, just across the Riverside Ave in a more spacious location. The best part? Now there’s a cafe, serving up some breakfast and lunch options. D’s steak and eggs: Dry-aged steak, bacon brioche “Toad in the Hole” Those are our shoestring fries, but the photo on the [...]

 

Saugatuck Craft Butchery in Westport has a new home. Not far, just across the Riverside Ave in a more spacious location. The best part? Now there’s a cafe, serving up some breakfast and lunch options.

D’s steak and eggs: Dry-aged steak, bacon brioche “Toad in the Hole”

Those are our shoestring fries, but the photo on the right had me wishing for a burger…

I can never resist chicken and waffles. This version features a chicken breast, sage waffle, sunny side up egg and Doc’s Maple Syrup.

Check the website, as the cafe menu changes weekly.
And save the date for Porktoberfest November 10, 2013, 12-4 PM at Saugatuck Craft Butchery > advance tickets

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Milford Restaurant Week 2013

October 7th, 2013

Milford is hosting its first Restaurant Week from Monday, October 7 to Sunday, October 13.  That gives you about 25 different options ($20.13/pp for dinner or $12.13/pp for lunch). My favorite restaurant on the list is Bridge House in Devon, but we eat there all the time! A few other spots I’m contemplating for a return [...]

 

Milford is hosting its first Restaurant Week from Monday, October 7 to Sunday, October 13.  That gives you about 25 different options ($20.13/pp for dinner or $12.13/pp for lunch). My favorite restaurant on the list is Bridge House in Devon, but we eat there all the time! A few other spots I’m contemplating for a return visit are Bin 100, Citrus and Beach House.

Visit www.milfordrestaurantweek.com to see all of the restaurant menus.

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“Fork It Over” No. 2 at Canon Grange

October 5th, 2013

Last weekend we got a seat at the Fork it Over table! Featuring a secret chef/location, it was the second in a series of benefit dinners for the Westport Farmers’ Market.  Sunday morning an email directed us to Canon Grange in Wilton, Connecticut. Turns out I’ve driven right past The Grange on my way to Schoolhouse at [...]

 

Last weekend we got a seat at the Fork it Over table! Featuring a secret chef/location, it was the second in a series of benefit dinners for the Westport Farmers’ Market.  Sunday morning an email directed us to Canon Grange in Wilton, Connecticut. Turns out I’ve driven right past The Grange on my way to Schoolhouse at Cannondale and never even noticed it. Despite its unassuming facade, this was a surprisingly charming spot to host an Autumn dinner for 75. The evening’s special twinkle came from the collaborative efforts of multiple local tastemakers. Chefs Johnny Vaast and Tim LaBant put a single Berkshire hog front & center, with each family-style course paired with wine by Saugatuck Grain + Grape. In addition to top-notch food and drink, there were wonderful extras: a welcoming cocktail (Maple Old Fashioned), a vintage tablescape (punctuated with cheerful dahlia bouquets), and the rocking tunes of the band House Dressing filling the night air.

Inside the Grange. I’ve never seen Something Borrowed’s tableware look so at home.

Chef Johnny Vaast of the Dressing Room. (left) Shallot custard with a parsnip foam served in an eggshell (right)


Inside the Cannon Grange.

Fried Head cheese with pickled onion and mustard sauce (left). The full menu in front of the Danbury branch of the New Haven train line (right).

Uncle Jessie  (what a great looking Ford) looks perfect next to the Grange!

Jeff Marron of Saugatuck Grain + Grape serving up the Maple Old Fashioned (left) and some ice cold Brooklyn brews (right). I completely neglected to take photos of Mimi’s wine pairings!


Market director and event planner extraordinaire, Lori Cochran Dougall (left). Ryan Ryan Fibiger of Saugatuck Craft Butchery and Farah Masani of Farah’s Farm (right).

On to dinner.

1 ) Pork Sausage with apple cabbage salad

2) Mac & cheese

3) Pork shoulder with kale, turnip, dandelion, mustard greens and a soft egg.

4)  Grilled leg meat with lacinato kale, butternut squash, cranberry beans, radish in a ham hock broth with crispy pork belly

5) Apple and leek cornbread with maple bacon ice cream and candied pecans

6 ) Apple raisin spice cake with bourbon caramel, cider poached apples with maple ice cream

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Chef and food policy advocate Michel Nichan (center) playing with House Dressing band, of the Dressing Room in Westport. I hope other event organizers take note: I want to attend more farm-to-table dinners with live music!

This evening was a labor of love, honoring the sustainable, local food community that is united by the Westport Farmers’ Market.  If you’ve ever visited on a Thursday or Saturday and marveled at its busy hum or considerable range of vendors & offerings, please know the Westport Farmers’ Market needs your support. To find out how you can help, contact the Market Director Lori Cochran-Dougall.

Lastly, a big round of applause for the folks who brought this great event to life:

FOOD + DRINK  Johnny Vaast :: Dressing Room.  Tim LaBant :: Schoolhouse at Cannondale. Ryan Fibiger :: Saugutuck Craft Butchery. Farah Masani :: Farah’s Farm. Mimi McLaughlin + Jeff Marron :: Saugatuck Grain + Grape.  PLUS: Riverbrook Farm, Wave Hill Breads, Rose’s Berry Farm, Sport Hill Farm, Fort Hill Farm, Beltane Farm, Doc’s Maple Syrup VENUE Canon Grange. BAND Michel Nischan ::  House Dressing. VINTAGE TABLEWARE Lauren Kreter :: Something Borrowed. UNDERWRITERS Judy + John Wetzel. MARKET DIRECTOR Lori Cochran-Dougall :: Westport Farmers’ Market.

Monday morning October 7, 2013 is your final chance to secure a spot at this Fork it Over series. Sign up for the Westport Farmers’ Market newsletter to receive the 8 am announcement.

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Caffeine and Carburetors – Sept 2013

September 20th, 2013

The designer in me simply loves photographing cars, so I’m a bit embarrassed at how long it took to attend a Sunday morning edition of Caffeine and Carburetors. A big thank you to Amy + Ryan for sending monthly nudges my way. I wouldn’t call myself a car enthusiast (in fact 14 years of commuting [...]


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The designer in me simply loves photographing cars, so I’m a bit embarrassed at how long it took to attend a Sunday morning edition of Caffeine and Carburetors. A big thank you to Amy + Ryan for sending monthly nudges my way. I wouldn’t call myself a car enthusiast (in fact 14 years of commuting has left me constantly trying to reduce my time on the road), but I don’t know how anyone could walk down Pine Street and not be wowed by the automobiles on display.

For Ryan, because there’s nothing like an old childhood favorite.

We’ve got bit of a British infatuation in our household.  My husband dreams about a Land Rover Defender and I’ve got a thing for E-type Jaguars.
D calls it my Morocco Mole-mobile, though I’m a bit too young for any Secret Squirrel references.

We of course bumped into Todd Brown, half the duo behind 109 Cheese and Wine and Will Drive 4 Food. For more from the September 8 gathering, check out his Garage and Cellar set on Flickr. If you’ve never been to Caffeine and Carburetors, put October 6 and November 3 on your calendar. While things kick off at 8 am on Sunday morning, it’s well worth getting out of bed and getting yourself to New Canaan. My favorite part was watching these cars motor out. Station yourself down by Zumbach’s starting around 9:30 and you can see all these beauties in motion.

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August at the Westport Farmers’ Market

September 12th, 2013

Every summer Thursday when I’m stuck at my desk, I daydream about how great it would be to hit up the Westport Farmers’ Market. This August I finally got my chance to visit this vibrant market. Ryan recommended picking up a Raus Coffee cold roman before browsing. I found my friend Judy getting a beautiful bouquet [...]

 

Every summer Thursday when I’m stuck at my desk, I daydream about how great it would be to hit up the Westport Farmers’ Market. This August I finally got my chance to visit this vibrant market.

Ryan recommended picking up a Raus Coffee cold roman before browsing.

I found my friend Judy getting a beautiful bouquet from Muddy Feet Farm.

The smell of pizza was in the air, but I didn’t get a chance to sample Skinny Pines. Next time, I’ll save plenty of room to eat lunch at the market.

On to the colorful August produce


For my first visit, I spent much of my time poking around and taking photographs. I bought lots of tomatoes, a cantaloupe and circled back for a small snack at Boxcar Cantina.

If you love the farmers, artisans and chefs who support this market, you may be interested in attending Fork it Over – 4 different events that benefit the Westport Farmers’ Market.  Sign up for the WFM newsletter to be notified when the next set of tickets are released!

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The Connecticut Tomato

September 5th, 2013

August is a glorious month for the tomato, especially because it’s such a sad, flavorless waste of time for most of the year. I’ve eaten so many Sun Golds I’m starting to tire of them, but I gathered up these photos as a cheerful post to visit in the dead of winter. There was this [...]

 

August is a glorious month for the tomato, especially because it’s such a sad, flavorless waste of time for most of the year.
I’ve eaten so many Sun Golds I’m starting to tire of them, but I gathered up these photos as a cheerful post to visit in the dead of winter.

There was this salad at the Whelk, topped with crispy artichokes and an anchovy dressing. That little bit of the sea made for an unexpected tomato pairing, but somehow they get along well.

I love their crazy shapes


and beautiful colors.

Two greats from the Connecticut food scene: Chef Geoff Lazlo of The Whelk and Farmer Patti Popp of Sport Hill Farm in in Easton.

And these are the Sport Hill beauties the Chef Lazlo was pouring over at the Westport Farmers’ Market.

This display of zebras reminded me of my first trip to Pike’s Place Market in Seattle. I’m not sure why, maybe it’s just the bountiful display.

Finally – my favorite lunch from August.
The heirloom tomato plate from leFarm in Westport