Friday, August 31, 2012

Kobe Beef Meatballs

Tried grass-fed Kobe beef for these meatballs the other day. Egg, basil, onion (fried), breadcrumbs, and the aforementioned Kobe.

Made a nice brown sauce with tomato paste, cumin, red wine, red miso, basil, and more.

And I must say, despite my skepticism, they were some of the best if not the best meatballs I've ever had. Absolutely delicious. My wife says that is due to my superior technique, but I am not going to take credit for this one. Hats off to the Kobe lived up to its reputation, even in ground up form.

Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Travel and Adventure

In the 56th episode of the Real Life Survival Guide we discussed travel primarily as it pertains to “vacations” and not “adventure travel.” It’s difficult to have physically active adventures as parents of small children, as many of our panelists are. Or rather, we could say that even the simplest vacations become “adventures” when small children are along!

...Read the rest of my article about adventure travel at the Real Life Survival Guide.

Monday, August 27, 2012

Episode 56 of the Real Life Survival Guide

Check out the latest Real Life Survival Guide episode here. They brought me in as an expert in travel and I think I gave them a few good stories and tips.

We recorded in the dining room at the lovely Madison Beach Hotel, which you can find in the Insiders' Guide to Connecticut.

Sunday, August 26, 2012

Oyster Club

Stopped by the fairly new Oyster Club in Mystic for dinner recently. A wedding rehearsal dinner was going on, but we managed to squeeze in out on the porch.

The oyster shooter with vodka and tabasco was surprising and wonderful. And the appetizer of roasted tomatoes with lardo, basil, and a whipped ricotta (I think) was refreshing and delicious.

The lobster roll was excellent, though of course I prefer them "pure."

The pasta with rabbit was a rare treat.

And the snickerdoodles with basil ice cream was another delightful surprise.

I can't guarantee that you'll get any of these dishes, though - their menu is seasonal and direct from the farm or sea whenever possible.

I have to say that this was one of the best "cold" stops I've made recently - just trying a new restaurant with no idea about its quality from the magical internets. And you can be sure they will be in the next edition of the Insiders' Guide.

Friday, August 24, 2012

The Crystal Mall

Stopped at the Crystal Mall in Waterford, Connecticut the other day. Why? To see America's largest crystal chandelier made from Waterford Crystal in its sister city in Ireland. All those mall walkers had no idea that this outrageously expensive chandelier loomed above their heads...

Thursday, August 23, 2012

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

Costello's Clam Shack

Stopped by Costello's Clam Shack in Niantic for lunch last week.

The hot lobster roll was in a hamburger bun...weird, but okay. The lobster meat was essentially the tail of the lobster...

And the clam fritters were delicious. A great summer stop!

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Mystic Aquarium

The Mystic Aquarium is a delight! I was impressed with their collection, and with the wonderful experience of feeding the parrots.

Find out more in, you guessed it, the Insiders' Guide to Connecticut.

Monday, August 20, 2012

Shoreline Diner and Vegetarian Enclave

We had the chance to stop by the Shoreline Diner and Vegetarian Enclave in Guilford last week, and tried a delicious banana french toast and tempeh reuben with chili. Delicious. Find out more in the Insiders' Guide to Connecticut!

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

Nutella Cookies

Don't have chocolate chips in the house? Just use the standard Nestle's Toll House recipe, but use a huge glob of Europe's most delectable treat - Nutella. They turned out like molasses cookies, as you might imagine. But better.

Monday, August 13, 2012

Circumnavigating West Rock

Epic bike ride around West Rock. We've wanted to do this for a while, and although some of the hills were brutal, the ride as a whole was easier than we thought it might be.

The front of the rock at Blake Street Center (the old Eli Whitney Blake factory in Westville).

We stopped for a quick bite at Katz's deli in Woodbridge. I had half a hot tongue sandwich and Amy had potato pancakes.

The ride along the lake on Downs Road was absolutely gorgeous - worth the entire ride.

Sunday, August 12, 2012

Dosas with Mango Pickles

I've been wanting to make these for years - Indian dosas. Essentially sourdough rice pancakes. I first had them in high school at my friend Subhash's house, with mango pickles. And that's exactly what I did with these. Delicious.

Saturday, August 11, 2012

At R.J. Julia's Bookstore

Amy and I gave a talk about A History of Connecticut Food for about fifty people at R.J. Julia's Bookstore this week. It's always an honor to speak there, and the crowd is engaged and appreciative. One of the audience members was a chef, and she will be using some of the recipes from the book for a big dinner in September. I'm hoping that the book does just that - reawakens interest in local cuisine! 

Friday, August 10, 2012

Middleborough Historical Museum

We ventured outside the borders of Connecticut to Massachusetts' Middleborough Historical Museum this summer. Just your typical historical society museum...except that it has the second largest Tom Thumb exhibit in the world. Tons of fun stuff from Lavinia Warren Bump (Mrs. Tom Thumb) and my favorites...Charles Stratton's (Tom Thumb's) hunting outfit. Also - his tiny cane from the 1840s, a few wedding presents, and more...

Oh, and they also have a cool collection of other historical stuff. An old general store, et cetera. If you do go, don't be like the rude couple we saw that didn't pay the donation. These historical societies are always hanging on by a thread, because of our own citizens' apathy, usually. Of course, as soon as something happens to a historical home in town, everyone is up in arms. The other day I was asked why my own historical society "hadn't done anything" about a historical house we acquired fifty years ago. Uhm...because we don't have enough money to do anything about it? If you want to preserve history, get involved. If you don't have money, volunteer your time, and save America's precious artifacts, buildings, and documents.

Wednesday, August 8, 2012

Chicken Katsu Don

Can't say enough about my first try of this Japanese comfort food, Chicken Katsu Don, at the Murasaki Cafe of the Mark Twain House in Hartford. Essentially fried chicken and egg over rice, with some hot sauce to mix in as needed. Delicious.

Tuesday, August 7, 2012

Review at Books New Haven

Sandi Kahn Shelton has featured A History of Connecticut Food over at Books New Haven. I love this:

"They risked weight gain as well as endured the tedium of slaving over a hot stove, trying out new old recipes, all for us, the reading public. This kind of personal sacrifice is nothing new for them: they did just this same kind of research when they wrote A History of Connecticut Wine: Vineyard in Your Backyard.That time they had to visit and sample many types of wine..."

It's a tough life sometimes.

The Wadsworth Stable

The Wadsworth Stable now stands in Lebanon, Connecticut, next to the Jonathan Trumbull house. But once it stood in the center of Hartford, by the Wadsworth Atheneum. Notice the similarity in design? The facade was re-imagined to look more like that famous mansion (now museum). But the interior! It still looks like it did when George Washington's horse, Nelson, was billeted here during the American Revolution.

Sunday, August 5, 2012

Harry's Place in Colchester

Amy and I stopped in Colchester yesterday to stop at Harry's Place, one of the classic road food joints in Connecticut. Operating since 1920!

We had a lobster roll, a bacon cheese hot dog, and some jalapeno cream cheese bites. The cream cheese bites were my favorite - some of the best of their kind I've had. However, their baker (from Windsor, Connecticut) is the real marvel - the rolls they use are amazing. Really the best top-loading hot dog rolls I've encountered. Find out more in the Insiders' Guide to Connecticut!

Saturday, August 4, 2012

Trumbull Library Presentation

It was a great pleasure to once again appear at the Trumbull Public Library, this time for the Insiders' Guide to Connecticut. Our great public libraries are treasures...for America, and especially for our state.

Friday, August 3, 2012

Avon Old Farms Hotel

The Farm Restuarant at Avon Old Farms Hotel is a lovely place, with some delightful dishes.

This is a classic place for weddings, but don't ignore it just because it is in a hotel. Find out more in the Insiders' Guide to Connecticut!

Thursday, August 2, 2012

Connecticut Cabbage Rolls

Fry up a little ground pork with onions and sun-dried tomatoes. Add cumin, paprika, a tablespoon of red miso, rice wine vinegar, and whatever other spices you like.

Wrap the result in cabbage leaves and hold them together with toothpicks (note: use non-colored ones). Steam them about ten minutes in a Chinese steamer and enjoy!

Oh...why "Connecticut" cabbage rolls? Well, I could say because they used local ingredients. But really, I've noticed that many people simply add the name of their state (I'm looking at you, Texas)  to the beginning of a recipe. So, I'm adopting that method. Connecticut everything.

Wednesday, August 1, 2012

Barnum in Bethel

While giving a presentation for A History of Connecticut Food in Bethel, I visited my old friend P.T. Barnum at the center of town. "The noblest art is making others happy." Indeed.