That time I went to Nolcha Fashion Week with a ballerina … and then we ate pizza in Times Square like a couple basic (tourist) b*tches

So, I have spent most of this weekend not hitting tennis balls as planned or attending tiara parties to snarkily mock a certain sartorial beauty pageant – which shall remain nameless – as similarly planned.  So good gracious, I had a sulky time of it (from the couch, with my cozy tea, my HP Lovecraft, and my adorable daughter quietly amusing herself with her wooden puzzles).  Waaah, whine.  Poor me, so busy I got sick from running around too much.  And yes, without a doubt, it was a week fueled with caffeine, carbs, zero workouts, and many mixed beverages, which is probably why I got sick.  But at the same time, should I be complaining about attending NY Fashion Week?  Should I whine if I put in a couple extra hours working on the Fall Arts Preview for an amazing client – The Greater Hartford Arts Council- because I was handed the amazing opportunity to select and edit the arts listings?  Heck no.  Nope.  So I’m settled in with The Wolf of Wall Street on the TV, a glass of 90 Plus Cellars Pinot Grigio – ice cold and delicious – and yes, it is later than I had planned to start working on this blog, and I do feel a bit under the weather still (shh, I know I should be drinking tea and not wine, but I just can’t do any more tea/water/I-want-wine-don’t-judge-me).

I will work on balance, I promise.  But for now, let’s focus on the awesome, sparkly, fun time that my good friend Carolyn and I enjoyed:

nolcha fashion week

At Nolcha Fashion Week!  Also, Carolyn blogged about our night for City Ella – check out her write up here!

Nolcha is the indie, emerging artists’ platform during Fashion Week.  Housed in the uber trendy Eyebeam Attelier in the lower west side of Manhattan, removed from the bustle of the Lincoln Center, and hosting some serious emerging talent in the Fashion Scene.  Like Kathy Xiomara, whose show we were fortunate enough to attend last Monday night (yes, I said Monday night.  Yes, I worked a full day Tuesday.  Yes, it was a late night, and heck yes! it was worth it).

But I’m jumping ahead of myself.  Before we left Connecticut, we were red carpet pampered by the lovely ladies of Blo West Hartford.  Thanks to my good friend and client, Stacey, for hooking us up with such amazing hair:

blo selfie

We’re so spoiled.  Note my Channel bag in the foreground.  And my Marshall’s dress in the background!

carolyn hair

Not pictured: Carolyn’s Disney Princess coffee mug full of prosecco.  Because we also classy.

kat hari

Stacey described my hair as ‘skyscraper straight’ and I think that’s pretty accurate.  Side note: new favorite hair style

Suitably glammed up, we headed down to the City, and towards the Eyebeam Attelier.  On the walk there, we discovered Champagne Charlie’sHow can you possibly not stop for dinner at a place called that?

champagne charlies

I use ‘dinner’ in a very loose sense of the word.  We had champagne and french fries.  It was one of the best meals of my life.

Upon arriving at the Attelier, we immediately took a very necessary selfie:
kat and carolyn hair

Such necessity, so importance

Dropped by the step and repeat:

step and repeat

A very wise choice, as it was absolutely mobbed later in the evening

And enjoyed some delicious (free!) drinks from some very generous sponsors:

dasani

Very delicious, Dasani, I’ll try these again.  They were good mixed with rum at the event AND also to go for the ride home!

My favorite, however, was the Bellaforma fruit wine:

bellaforma

Specifically, the Sorell (floral) variety.  The lady was kind enough to be amused and not disparaging by my multiple trips back.  If anyone would like to try at a discount, use the code: NOLCHAFW14

As mentioned previously, the show we were there to see was by Portuguese designer, Kathy Xiomara.  She is known for her geometric patterns, evidenced in intricate peter pan collars and stunning cut out details, combining cutting edge trend with a vintage store feel:

eggplant midi

I could and would and should wear this eggplant midi creation

Kathy Xiomara also collaborated with Otterbox to design a dress featuring their new shatter proof protective phone case in a gown:

nolcha kathy xiomara otterbox

Photo courtesy of the Nolcha Blog

The effect of the swinging phone cases on the runway was ethereal and effortless, appearing to be an avant garde take on the trend of high/low skirt transparencies which is so en vogue.  It was only after reading about the show after the event that I realized we had experienced, essentially, the “unconventional challenge” element from Project Runway.  Oh, and speaking of Project Runway?  Otterbox hooked up the show attendees with a brand new phone case, designed by none other than the legendary Nina Garcia:

otter box

It looks really fab on my phone.  I love it.

As far as free swag goes, a brand new iPhone case is pretty far up the list of things that I’d ask for if I was inquired onto the subject.  But the point is, one should never look a free gift swag in the mouth anyway.  Although, some parties based solely around swag – and featuring $14 glasses of prosecco, may be best to avoided.  We may or may not have attending one which was somewhat questionable for a grand twenty minutes, which could have been unfortunate as it was all the way uptown in Times Square.  But if you look hard enough, there is a delicate silver lining to every cloud, and ours happened to be truly awful, greasy, tourist trap pizza at… wait for it… Sbarros

greasy pizza

I would feel shame, but it would be unAmerican to do so.

Dashing back to the safety of trendy Nolcha, we caught the standing room only end of an ethereal showing of evening gowns

final show dress

Side note: Carolyn has found her future wedding dress

And we also met the sparkling and talented Paula Mele - founder of the New York Fashion Meets Fitness Runway Show

carolyn and paula

Thanks so much for arranging our passes, Paula!  Also, you ladies sure do know how to pose.

Unfortunately, all good things must come to an end.  But man, for a first trip to Fashion Week, I don’t think I could have asked for anything better.  And hopefully I can go back next year!

red carpet 2

Yaaas to the beautiful people and the beautiful threads.

 

 

A Taste @RealArtWays #playnice with mixology @NIXSHartford and five awesome events in September

Greetings friends!  I am writing this on Labor Day from the wonderful Lost Acres Vineyard, which is way better, quite frankly, than Starbucks:

lost acres working

Not pictured: my delicious pumpkin whoopie pie from Lost Acres Orchard, which is right up the road!  Time for fall, yes?

Speaking of autumn and local farms – I’ve rounded up some of my favorite, upcoming September events and they are listed below for your viewing pleasure.  But first, a recap of some of my favorite happenings from the last couple of weeks!  Not going to go into a crazy amount of detail, but I did have a lovely birthday (at Lost Acres, obviously), and my friend Emily hosted an equally lovely cocktail party called “Dazed and Infused” because she and her boyfriend Nick are really clever like that:

 

penelope and alex

Drawing at my party with her BFF Alex from next door, sporting a fetching Unicorn Horn courtesy of Auntie Cait

p on the balcony

Enjoying the balcony at Emily’s party

Penelope attended both parties of course, although she was regrettably absent from two fun events her Mama got to finally try out this week (alas, not everything is 18 month old approved – topping the list are probably French films on cooking and VIP cocktail mixers – which is what I did at Real Art Ways (for their Taste series) and at Nixs (for the cocktail party!)

Taryn invited me to the Taste featuring Chris Prosperi, and I rapturously accepted her invite as I’ve been following this event closely since it’s first season (details here if anyone’s interested!)

with taryn

Taryn and I.  Ain’t we cute?

Basically, the premise behind this concept is: a cozy, food themed movie in Real Art Way’s hipster cinema (wine encouraged!) followed by a q and a and “taste” of small plates with the chef in question.  Fabulous!  This Taste paired the work of Chris Prosperi – a gazpacho and panzanella to be exact – with movie from the Inventing Cuisine series featuring French Chef Michael Troisgros.   The whimsical film featured an in depth portrayal of the inner workings of one of the best kitchens in France (with some ‘heavily staged’ scenes according to Mr Prosperi) and elaborate, beautiful shots of some elevated haute cuisine.  Michael’s stage presence – he is a regular guest on WNPR’s Faith Middletown Show – was in full force post film:

chris prosperi

Preparing the panzanella!

metro bis panzanella

A group pairing of the gazpacho and panzanella, with a card from Chris’ home restaurant, Metro Bis in Simsbury

The next show is on September 29th will host Rachel Carr, of Six Main for a farm to chef, vegetarian/vegan/pescatarian evening.  Tickets are on sale here!  Highly recommended for the cerebral foodie who really appreciates the intellectual and visual aspects of cuisine.

Real Art Ways was one of the first Hartford venues I really experienced upon moving here through their Creative Cocktail Hour.  It was, therefore, from beloved old to shiny new to go in the course of a week from an event at RAW to a cocktail mixer at Hartford’s newest sexy newcomer – NIXs.  This Boston chain features a slick chandeliered, mirrored, pirated up interior (seriously, go check it out) creative, delicious mixology, and a nice offering of seafood entrees:

raw bar

Hello there, $1 happy hour raw bar!

I met my good friend, JC, at the bar, where she had discovered a $6 martini special which I promptly ordered too (in spite of the free cocktail samples circling the party – it was too good to pass up!)

cocktail with happy hour menu

Clementine vodka, grapefruit juice, triple sec, prosecco.  Heaven.

Next up: circling the cocktail party, playing nice with good friends, and trying every cocktail in sight!  Rich Clemens is the head Bar Manager at Nixs.  JC and I both know him from Tisane, and we did nerdly bonding over his Dr Who inspired “Bad Wolf” cocktail
nixs cocktails pouring

Fresh lemon juice, orange juice, Redemption Rye Whiskey, and honey simple syrup.  Plus this awesome quote: “I wanted to make a cocktail that is extraordinarily sexy like Billy Piper but badass like a pissed off Tardis.”  I can’t even.

Another personal favorite of mine was the Tequila Mockingbird (more clever names, yaaas):

pouring the watermelon one

“Alabama Slammer” style with silver tequila, slept gin, amaretto, lime juice, and orange juice

But the majority of people I talked to named the pretty Beach Please as their favorite:

nixs cucumber cooler

Pineapple vodka, cucumber juice, agave nectar, lime juice, and sparkling coconut water

I have pretty rampant ADHD and between the shiny chandeliers and the cocktails, I missed almost all of the food pairings

deviled egg

It was delicious.  But lonely.

So I most definitely need to go back to NIXs pronto to try more food offerings.  Fortunately, the new Bear’s Smokehouse is right around the corner, so JC, Rachael, and I headed over there for delicious BBQ.

rachael eating bbq

Rachael demonstrating great street eating skills with her Mac Attack.

Truly, a week full of Hartfordy goodness.  And there’s so much more coming up in September!  Below are five events I’m really looking forward to:

Open Farm Day in Granby: This is the epitomy of a family friendly event.  Grab the kids (or the dogs, or both) and head out to the farms in Granby for a day of expos, samples, and general wholesome earthy goodness.  From the goat cheese at Sweet Pea, to the fresh organic garlic at the Garlic Farm, to the peach cobbler at Lost Acres Orchard, to a free sample of wine at Lost Acres, you’ll have a good time and support local agriculture.  And bring the reusable tote you usually cart to the farmers’ market, because there will be plenty of fresh produce and other goodies for sale.

Taste of the Suburbs – our restaurant week featuring prixe fix menus of awesome deliciousness.  I’m currently in the throes of agony trying to decide between 50 West and El Pulpo.  Heavy stuff man.  Other strong, noteworthy contenders and favorites: Esca, Max’s Oyster Bar, Millwrights and Vinted.  Pick one – or two! and go enjoy between September 8 -21st.  Reservations strongly recommended.

Urban Challenge – West Hartford! You probably need to burn some calories after all the delicious feasting at restaurant week.   Why not do it the FUN way on September 19th – working in teams of two to decipher clues about local West Hartford stores and dashing from place to place ahead of some fierce competition!  And I mean ‘fierce’ in the most fashiony way, as dressing up is encouraged and Carolyn and I will be participating and BRINGING IT.  Early registration is strongly encouraged as the event will sell out. 

Harvest Party Dinner at Lost Acres  We attended this dinner last year and it was a blast.  Penelope and I picked grapes in the morning (which is totally free and a thing you can also do the day of if so inclined) and then headed back for a farm to chef dinner with Mike that evening, complete with many samplings of Lost Acres blends.  This event is also anticipated to sell out, so pre-registration is a good idea.

The Colin McEnroe Show’s Fifth Year Anniversary!  Attention, WNPR nerds.  The Colin McEnroe Show is turning 5 and YOU are invited as a fellow fan to celebarte at Infinity Hall in Hartford.  For the low price of $5 a person, come enjoy your favorite radio personalities and hobnob with hipsters (let’s just be realistic about that being a thing that will happen) at the gorgeous new Infinity Music Hall and Bistro in Downtown Hartford.

So that’s what I’ll be up to in September, and I hope many of you will join me!  Any cool events I missed?  Leave them in the comments please xo

 

 

 

A recap of the #21dayfix – plus a contest!

Hello all!  I’m writing this from the AMAZING new Popover Cafe in Simsbury.  What is a popover you ask?  Why it’s a sinfully delicious bundle of pastry which makes me really glad I ran three miles this morning.  Paired with a $6 mimosa – a ‘back to school’ special for Moms – isn’t that clever?  I think that’s pretty darn clever.  Plus, a beet salad for balance!

popover simsbury yaaas

So, perhaps it’s a bit odd to open a post about a fixed nutrition and exercise program with a rave review of mimosas and popovers (and, to be fair, salads), but the whole point of the fix is that it’s 21 days of discipline, followed by healthier eating habit that last – but aren’t as restrictive of course.  So here are some basic numbers: I followed the fix for 30 days instead of 21, to compensate for the vacation I took in the middle of the program.  And I lost six pounds.  But more important is what I gained – a realization of how to amp up my workouts:

after nine minute mile

Hallo, nine minute mile!

Much more strongly defined abs:

before front

Before.  Note my “meh” face

during training

During – getting stronger and a bit more definition!

And of course, the glorious after:
working out after

That’s what I’m talking about

My awesome coach, Erica, owns Silkworm Boutique in West Hartford, and she suggested we use a Lilly Pulitzer dress (of course) as inspiration to keep on track and drop inches.

Here is the before, front and back:

befor lilly

before back lilly

And after:

after lilly

after back lilly

Big difference!

I’m a generally healthy person, but the 21 day fix was enormously beneficial in tweaking my lifestyle and helping me to tone my ‘problem areas’ – arms and abs – as well as improve my nutrition.

There are three core parts to the program:

21 day fix program guide

DVD workouts, shakeology nutrition, and meal plan!

The DVDs were fantastic for a busy mom like me, as they require virtually no equipment (just light weights and a mat!) and can be done at home – ie/ after Penelope goes to bed.  And a 30 minute, intense workout, definitely beats a 90 minute (with driving time) gym workout in terms of efficiency!  Again, I’m not a weights/gym girl – I’m a hiking/tennis/running out doors girl, so it’s great to have a “down and dirty workout that produces great results.  The nutrition plan was super simple to follow as well, with portion controlled tupperwares (I still use them all the time! they are great for prep) and lots of options and trade offs – including a wine budget!  I may have gone over my wine budget every single week (oops) but I made up for it with higher intensity workouts.

Last but not least, my favorite part of the program was definitely the shakeology shakes:

shakeology packet

Pictured: vegan chocolate

shakeology chocolate

Pictured: my favorite combo of coffee, blueberries, coconut milk, and organic “black magic” kale!  Absolutely delicious and packed with nutrition.

They are an excellent breakfast.  Dense nutrition, protein, and a nice energy kick.  I will be ordering more in early September in order to get an extra ‘kick into shape’ before we go to the Bahamas for our anniversary at the end of the month!  And I’m also offering a give away to anyone who would like to try a seven day supply of shakeology to see how they like it before committing to the program in entirety.  To enter, “like” Erica’s coach page Fit Mom by Erica (click here !) and comment 21 day fix to enter.  Erica will randomly select and contact a winner in the next few days.  Best of luck to all!  And enjoy!

 

The Cooper, the Keys, and the Baby Mermaid

Before we dive into my vacation recap, let me invite all of you to visit my new blog project for Share Our Strength: Taste of the NationLeeanne and I recently attended a fundraiser dinner at Millwrights for the charity, and my write up is here.

Gah.  It’s already been a week since our trip to Florida.  Good thing we have another one coming up at Christmas – I love autumn, but the shorter, cooler days have snuck up way too fast this year.  Not to mention – every time we go back to Palm Beach Gardens, I seem to find more to love about our former home.  And now that The Cooper has joined the vibrant PBG restaurant scene – there’s even more to love!

those dates

This was my brother, Lucas’ reaction to the Cooper chorizo and manchego stuffed medjool dates.  Seems an appropriate lead in.  Also, please note the excellent math pun on his t shirt (it’s a runner thinking about pi)

My BFF and compadre in arms always, aka my sister Helen, and I managed to go to the Cooper twice in the week I was in Florida (she’s since been back by herself, because of course she has).

sisters the cooper

Photo from our first night

me menu

Cheesy, happy menu shot

cooper cheese plate glamour shot

Cheese plate the second – we ordered cheese plates both trips.  This one featured, from left to right: Manchego, Hudson Valley Camembert, and Moliterno al Tartufo.

The first time we visited, we had to leave early to get back to baby Penelope – so we packaged up our food to go, including this excellent salad:

peach salad

Grilled Peaches & Point Reyes Blue Cheese

This tangy gazpacho:

gazpacho glamour shot

Heirloom Tomato and Watermelon Gazpacho

And, of course, the aforementioned dates.  We DID have time to sip and savor a couple cocktails however:

cooper cocktail 2

“Bees Knees” martini: Citadel Gin, honey syrup, lemon juice

cooper cocktail 1

Name Dropper “Modified Sour:” Plymouth Gin, St Germain, grapefruit and lemon juices

Our second visit also marked a happy, lively meeting with head bartender and CT native (as if the beard wasn’t a dead give away! ha!) David Bouchard

chartreuse bitches

He really likes chartreuse.  Don’t question it.  The man is a master

haha! cocktails

Seen here deep in his craft and also immersed in snarkology.  It’s always nice to meet a fellow snarkologist.

The shot above pictures David mixing our agreed upon favorite cocktail:

cooper cucumber cocktail

Cucumber Southside “Classic Sour:” Hendrick’s Gin, simple syrup, citrus, muddled mint, cucumber

The cocktails at The Cooper are quite up to par with the other Max locations in CT – thanks to David’s creativity and a menu which is influenced by a Southern/Carribean vibe – much like the food menu – adding a unique, tangy Floridian twist to the Max flavors we know and love.  Quite nice!  Can’t wait to go back in December with Caitlin and Hannah.

There was more fun and delicious dining in the form of a brand new dining experience – Rosie’s Bar and Grill in Wilton Manors!  I was suitably excited upon being informed that: 1) this is a gay diner 2) valet parking only.  Seemed like an excellent start.  Plus, my good friend from college, Jana, does NOT recommend bad dining destinations.  Ever.

brunch 3

Meeting Baby P for the first time!  With a nice photobomb from Julie and her boyfriend, Rob.

Rosie’s boasted many, many strong points: sassy tags on each of the servers’ shirt (our servers read: “there’s a fine line between hotness and hot mess) cool “see and be scene” crowd (that’s their tag line by the way at Rosies’ – it’s definitely a ‘Florida thing’), and enormous, delicious portions

brunch 1

No I did not eat this (enormous banana stuffed french toast)

brunch 2

But yes! I did eat this, and it was so very good (asparagus eggs benedict on a delectable home made biscuit)

The trip to Rosie’s worked out perfectly as it was on the way to one of my Dad’s favorite vacation spots in Key Largo – Ocean Pointe Suites.  This glorious timeshare boasts a location with is much more central than Key West which – although fun – is also a good three hours further by car (possibly farther depending on traffic).  It also has a lovely pool whose only flaw is a radio which is constantly tuned to Jimmy Buffet’s Margaritaville channel (shudders), a nice little beach grotto, onsite bar, marina, tennis courts, and apartments complete with kitchenettes.

kayaking w baby

Kayaking with baby!

p on da beach

Exploring the beach!

sisters in the kayak

Sisterly bonding!

We also visited a cool Bird Sanctuary – ok – it would have been a bit cooler if it were not for the 6 million strong mosquito population – but P enjoyed herself nevertheless:

pelican and daddy

Penelope still enjoyed it!

And there were some more, notable foodie highlights in Key Largo:

fish and grits and mimosa

Fresh fish and grits at Mrs Mac’s Kitchen with $2 mimosas.  Now we’re talking

birfday cake

And the most amazing early birthday cake ever from my Grandmother!  Streudel on top, cheesecake in the middle, coffee cake on the bottom.  Oh my.

Thankfully, with all the delicious vacation foods, I also had a nice stash of Shakeology to keep me on track:

shakeology on the beach

Seen here in a glamour shot

There were also super healthy foods because my family is good like that too:

pineapple yogurt chobani

Grilled pineapple and chobani with granola.

Penelope spent as much of her vacation as possible in the water – indiscriminate between pool and ocean – she was fearless and oh so into it.  Few things are more enjoyable, as a parent, than watching your child really enjoy herself – so swimming with baby was definitely a highlight of the trip!

with swimmies

Let’s go!

The theme of “no let’s not leave the water, ever” continued up until our last night, at my Dad’s condo on Singer Island

swimming with grandpa

Swimming with Grandpa.  It’s the best

mommy babby

Someone did NOT want to pose for this picture but I got it anyway because I’m sneaky.  Plus P is wearing her beautiful Lilly dress from Silkworm!

So there you have it.  Our home away from home/second home – Florida.  Like many CT residents, we have deep roots in the state, and wonderful family and friends who we look forward to seeing again very soon!

 

Enjoying The Generous Pour @CapitalGrille

Ah, the Generous Pour. When Jordanna approached me and asked if I would like to do a blog write up of this epic Capital Grille wine event – a sampling of seven fine wines hand selected by their Master Sommelier, George Miliotes – I was quite excited. As with the last time I went to the The Capital Grille for a blog write up, the entire check was comped – and I sent this post in for approval prior to publishing. Here is our experience:

 

all the pretty glasses

All photos courtesy of my Soul Sister in Wine and Daydrinking, Carolyn Paine

 

We did our wine tasting in the bar area, although typically it’s designed to pair with an entrée. However, Jordanna generously sent out several bar bites for us to nibble on/pair our food with – which was a fresh experience for me:

 

calamari

Pan-fried Calamari with Hot Cherry Peppers

 

 lobster and crab cakes

Miniature Lobster and Crab Burgers

 

Both the above beauties paired with our first flight: the whites

 

generous pour whites

Served from lightest to darkest, naturally

 

The first up: Carmel Road “Liberated,” Monterey, 2012 Riesling. A nice pairing for the crisp, buttery and light calamari, this Riesling was an elevated version of the overly sweet varietals I would normally avoid. It has a light, smooth mouthfeel and a nice fruity finish while not being overly sweet.

 

Next: the Atalon, Napa Valley, 2012 Sauvignon Blanc. This delicate bright blend was a perfect reminder of why I love Sauv Blancs. Grown in the Rutherford Valley of Napa Valley (coincidentally – Rutherford is my mother’s maiden name – hmmm, I wonder if we have distant relatives growing wine in Napa? But I digress), which is a region praised for its fine growing conditions.

 

The Byron, Santa Barbara, 2012 Chardonnay worked really well with the miniature lobster and crab burgers. The burgers were reminiscent of the Capitall Grille’s famously good lobster mac and cheese, with large, generous chunks of lobster and a seamlessly smooth and richly textured crab cake binding. The soft buttery texture was enhanced by the soft buttery chardonnay – with a lush flavor and notes of both fig and honey for a perfectly sweet finish.

 

taking le notes

I’m glad I took lots of notes, because this wine had a lot to say

 

Next up: the reds!

 

generous pour reds

A fine selection, staged by Carolyn in front of the wine cellar. Note the signature Generous Pour glasses!

 

We started the reds with La Crema, Willamette Valley, 2012 Pinot Noir – debuting in its inaugural release. I enjoyed its full bodied, creamy mouth feel and sophisticated palate, which had citrusy notes and the bright crispness of a good Pinot. It paired well with our last savory appetizer:

 

chicken prosicutto better pic

Prosciutto Wrapped Mozzerella with Vine Ripe Tomatoes

 

By this point, we were reaching a bit of sensory overload with the wines, so naturally Jordanna sent out dessert to really complete our experience (there is a dessert wine which will be coming up shortly – spoiler alert – but I love a sweet/red pairing, so I started in with the rest of the reds)

 

creme brulee

Carolyn’s favorite: The Classic Crème Brulée

 

 cocounut dessert

My favorite: Coconut Cream Pie

 

Allow me a brief moment to rhapsodize re: the coconut crème pie. It is a deeply textured journey of layers of fresh whipped crème, coconut crème, caramel accents, and the perfect graham crust. I could have eaten the whole thing, but thankfully I was able to eat a couple bites and put the spoon down (it wasn’t easy however, and I fully plan to go back and order just this plus a glass of wine so I can enjoy every last crumb). Both desserts were stars alongside the remaining three reds: the Freemark Abbey, Napa Valley 2011 Merlot, which was quite excellent, bold, almost like a cabernet, and with just a slight touch of spice at the end. The next red was quite exciting, as it was designed by Master Sommelier Miliotes and Heidi von der Mehden of Arrowood and is exclusive to the Capital Grille. A truly robust and classic Bordeaux, the deep, studied flavors were great with dessert but truly belong (quite fittingly) with a steak – so that may be another future trip to further explore the aforementioned pairing. Last of the reds – but certainly not least: a Kendall-Jackson “Winemaker Selection” Sonoma, 2012, Cabernet Sauvignon. A bold, punchy wine with notes of currant, this would have been a nice sendoff to the Generous Pour, if it weren’t for the final wine which was sent out to us: a delightful dessert wine, also by Kendall-Jackson:

dessert wine

Kendall-Jackson Late Harvest Chardonnay

I consider myself to be more of a ‘port after dinner’ than dessert wine girl. I may have to re-evaluate my life choices, because this tasted, as our server Maya noted, “exactly like sucking a honey stick from a farm.” A quick note on Maya- she was detail oriented, friendly, extremely knowledgeable about each and every wine and dish that we sampled. The Capital Grille prides itself on excellent customer service, which just enhances the entire dining experience. I can’t say enough about how enjoyable of a time we had, from start to finish. Thanks again for the invite – we will be back very soon!

 

carolyn and kat

Can I get a yaaas for excellent wine and company.

 

The Generous Pour is available for $25 with purchase of an entree from now until August 31

#21DayFix Beachbody challenge – halfway through and feeling great!

When Erica approached me to do this challenge (and blog about it) I had a healthy amount of skepticism.  Mainly because, well, it’s a very busy time of year for vacations, and day drinking, and other things that don’t always vibe well with a workout and diet plan.  BUT I agreed, knowing I’d go through this with some cheats, so let’s just get those out of the way right now, shall we?

orange martini yaaaas

Oh my

cheats

Confession is good for the soul

rose at trumbull kitchen

I REGRET NOTHING

So, yeah, it would be factually inaccurate to say I’ve been following the 21 Day Fix to the letter (and I’ll be in Florida for the last week, so there’s that).  However, even with all of the above, I’ve already lost four pounds!

halfway through

Woohoo!

oh sads

Ok, this is a more accurate (read, honest) workout face

This is possible because, as with most things, following something to the letter isn’t the only way to make it more effective.  Yes, I may have had a couple more cocktails than the program calls for – and the occasional truffle potato chip.  But overall, my eating habits cleaned up quite drastically from before the program:

not so green photos

Look at the food in this picture.  Ice cream, pasta, arroz con pollo.  And a three pack of wine.

green photos

Now here’s a snapshot from this week.  Lots of green, leafy, fresh, vegetable laden dishes, and a no sugar added watermelon cooler.

That’s the funny thing about working out and eating right.  It really doesn’t take much to get good results!  And much of getting good results is making healthy choices.  Our dinner at Carbone’s last week is a great example of this.  I was a bit nervous about it, as I associate Italian places with pasta and really didn’t want to go off the deep end, as far as sticking to the eating plan.  But not only was I able to find an entree that was very healthy, it was also, by far, the most satisfying and delicious menu option for me:

veal medallions

Truly a win win!

peppered sea scallops

Another meal I was worried about (and shouldn’t have been) Taste of Hartford at Trumbull KitchenI ate all the peppered sea scallops, the watercress, and a small bite of the sticky rice.  Perfectly satisfying and quite healthy.

It also helps if, like me, you happen to love working out.  I just really do (sorry).  So, although I am not physically strong enough to follow the seven workouts per week – I average five days – two of those days are heavier work outs than the program calls for- such as a half hour of running and then cardio.  Or a power yoga class.  Again, it’s a matter of fixing bad habits, not reinventing your entire fitness and eating routine.

Also very useful, along with the eating plan and exercise DVDs (which I am going to be so happy to have this winter when it gets dark outside early and it’s too nasty to drive to the gym) there are these really delicious and healthy nutrient dense shakes in the 21 day fix:

shakeology and blazer

Vanilla shake with ice and orange juice

chocolate shake

Chocolate with kale, blueberries, and coffee.  Weird combo I know but it tastes delicious.  Also, a nice photobomb from P!

I come from a family of health freaks, and unfortunately I don’t always follow the good habits I learned as a kid, such as taking in plenty of vitamins.  These shakes are laden with dense nutrition – I can tell from my energy levels and skin tone – so it’s not just a meal replacement, it’s also a very healthy helping of things your body wants and needs to function at peak proficiency!

In addition to the shakes, I’ve developed a healthy addiction to G Monkey fresh squeezed beet juice, which is available at the Billings Forge Farmers’ Market every Thursday in the summer!

beet juice

Yummo

One more big, helpful factor for me: my CSA with the Garlic Farm!  Having a guaranteed portion of delicious, fresh, organic and GMO free vegetables per week is just awesome, and P really enjoys picking up the veggies, so it’s been a great experience so far:

p getting her csa

Eat more kale.  No seriously, do it

my kale brings all the boys to the yard

Kale jokes, courtesy of Bagels to Broccoli!  Ok, I’ll stop now

One other healthy habit I’m really enjoying about the 21 day fix is the water bar:

water bar

aka, #smugwater

Infused water is delicious, healthy, and very easy to do.  My favorite combo is blueberries and basil.  I’ve found I can start an infusion at work and leave it at my desk for several days (covered), topping up as needed, and it is delightful.  It’s very important to stay hydrated when dieting, as well as in the hot summer months, and all of this is especially true for me, as I’m anemic (another reason I’m not overly focused on calorie control).  I’m finding throughout this program that I am gaining healthy habits which I will certainly keep once the fix is over – the shakes, the healthier options, the water bar, the cardio boosts – it’s all going to be part of my daily routine as well as a more intensive program for the next ten days or so.  And I think that’s the most important thing: when you learn to be healthy, it becomes a natural part of who you are, leading to confidence, energy, and a boosted self esteem.  Modifications are important based on lifestyle and also history – I used to have an eating disorder so you won’t see me weighing in more than twice during this process – but overall, each tiny win on the road to being healthy leads to a happier life – and just maybe – a hotter bod.  :)

A Taste of the Good Life @CarbonesCT for #TasteofHartford #TGIF

Carbone’s. What can you say? They are basically the ‘godfather’ of Italian restaurants in Hartford – and they also have a bit of a personal connection to my husband’s family – as my husbands’ grandfather was friends with one of the original owners. Also, they have REALLY, really good food.

So when hey invited me in for Taste of Hartford, I was modestly thrilled. Ok, really thrilled. Ok, absolutely delighted – and so was my husband
date night x

Cheers!  Hopefully this pic gives you a feel of the old school, classy Carbone’s vibe

But let’s back up a bit.  This was actually  my second trip to Carbone’s this week.  The first was to film a cocktail segment with the delighful Paul:

Breaking down a Black Cherry Mojito – excellent for summer

Carbone’s was kind enough to provide us with an entire comped meal, and naturally we went for their Taste of Hartford menu – three courses for a fixed price of $25!

hartford has it

Seen here hanging out with my #Hartfordhasit notebook – thanks Erin!

I am, of course, still doing my 21 day fix (currently drinking a vegan breakfast smoothie and it’s yummy) so I was happy to see very healthy menu options – Italian places can be a little nerve wracking for eating clean, but there were plenty of vegetable and protein options to choose from!

orange martini yaaaas

I did cheat a bit though.  A wee bit.  A delicious wee bit.  With a Blood Orange Martini (House made Blood Orangecello with a splash of Clementine Vodka and fresh lime)

So… yeah – there were non approved cocktail.  How can you turn down house made orangello though?  I mean, really.  It would have been wrong not to drink it….  and also, to balance it out… my salad was delighful, healthy, and crunchy:

chickpea quinoa salad

Delicious, bright citrusy accents of chickpea and quinoa on the Summer Quinoa Salad (grilled seasonal vegatables, quinoa, barley, lemon vinaigrette, toasted garbanzo beans, feta)

Michael opted for a more traditional garden salad:

garden salad

Carbone’s Garden salad (crisp greens, garnishes, red wine vinaigrette dressing)

For his main, Mike ordered the shrimp scampi:

mike w his pasta

So Italian and so handsome!  Both the pasta and the fella that is, haha (Shrimp Scampi: fresh linguini, tomatoes, capers, white wine, lemon)

Again, the #21dayfix actually worked in my favor in selecting an entree, because I chose the Veal Medallions vs. the Chicken Picatta which was calling my name.  With a veggie hash, the veal appeared to be the ‘cleanest’ entree on the menu, ingredients wise, and it was also very, very delicous

omg veal medallions

Check the brussel sprouts! (Veal Medallions: summer vegetable hash, mushroom brandy cream)

The brussels were the highlight of this dish for me (go figure).  I typically over roast my brussels to caramelize and remove the cabbagy flavor, but the Carbone’s ones were all dente AND also not overly pungent.  Well done chefs.  The rosemary added a nice punch to the veal, which was also cooked to perfection:

close up veal medallions

Hallo beauties.

I may or may have not ordered a glass of merlot (Raymond R Collection, Napa Valley).  Part of the 21 day fix?  Probably not, on top of the martini.  A full bodied, balanced pairing for the veal?  Most definitely.  It’s also wonderful to find a glass of Napa wine priced at $10 – very reasonable (the martini was also in the $10 price range, for anyone whose looking for price points).

Our server, Alex, was quite delightful, attentive, and kind enough to pose for a picture with our desserts:

smiling w desserts

Thanks Alex! Pictured left: Summer Berry Pound Cake (house made butter pound cake, mixed berries, whipped cream).  Pictured right: Cannoli Duo (traditional chocolate and vanilla filled miniature cannoli)

The cake portion of my berry pound cake was nicely soaked with fresh berry juice, and I would have loved to have eaten more then the small bite I enjoyed (again – le fix)  But Michael happily polished off his own dessert as well as the remainder of mine – so it worked out well for him I guess!  What a lovely meal.  Thanks again to the Carbone’s staff for inviting us in and comping the check – it was very much appreciated, and as any new parent knows, date nights without the little one are a precious commodity.  So it’s best to mangia buono when they do happen!

 

One more quick note – Carbones Kitchen is offering a prixe fixe also – and the special “taste” menus are available at both restaurants until August 3rd – so check them out too!