A New Hartford Station, Resolving High-Speed Rail Bypasses, Headline NEC Future Announcement

On Wednesday, the NEC Commission announced the launch of Phase 1 of the NEC Future vision for improving rail service along the Northeast Corridor between Washington, D.C. and Boston. Dubbed Connect NEC 2035, the plan calls for the completion of 150 significant projects over 15 years at an additional cost of $100 billion dollars. These plans include a new rail station for Hartford, the elimination of three at-grade crossings in Mystic, new rail stops along the Hartford Line for North Haven, Newington, West Hartford, and Enfield, and new rail platforms for Clinton and Madison. Service upgrades would include new direct

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Why Won’t Metro-North Release Their Numbers?

On May 21, CT Examiner’s Brendan Crowley made a simple Freedom of Information request, asking Metro-North to document the number of citations or tickets the railroad has issued for mask-wearing violations since January 1, 2020. It’s the sort of straight-forward request that a well-functioning public agency can usually fill in a week, maybe two, often less. So, I think it’s pretty safe to assume that we have our answer, and that Metro-North is not a well-functioning agency. How far that dysfunction extends is less clear — but I see no reason to believe that transit officials are doing a better

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You Can’t Have a One to One Mapping of American History

As some of you may know, my academic training is not in journalism, but Russian and Modern European history. I also have an academic interest in cultural theory and method, and have taught Adorno, Benjamin, and Habermas – theorists directly and indirectly attached to the Frankfurt School – at the college level. I’ve actually translated Benjamin from the German.  I know, as the columnist David Collins once wrote, some time before our launch, it’s a funny sort of pointy-headed profession for someone to start a newspaper. But I suppose every so often it comes in handy when the public debate

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CT Examiner Turns Two

How to sum up the past two years?..  Well over 1,800 stories, 1,500,000 words, the rough equivalent of 15 novels. Our coverage has expanded significantly to include Hartford, and our readership to include a loyal following in Washington, D.C. and New York City. In just the last week, writing in CT Examiner has been featured in Real Clear Policy, blogged in Fishery Nation and by the United Farm Workers, linked or referenced in USA Today, Connecticut Public broadcasting, and Stamford Advocate. We’ve had one threat of legal action (ignored), fielded an email from Koch Industries and personal calls for help

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What about Regulating Connecticut’s Internet Broadband

It was inevitable, given the lessons of the last year, the innovations of online learning and medicine, that state Democrats would add access to the internet to a small number of regulated public utilities – along with water and electricity – basically guaranteeing every person in Connecticut the right to a speedy connection. Already many Republicans, and some Democrats, would toss in the regulation of private companies – Twitter and Facebook — that provide social media. But given near universal dissatisfaction with the cost and service of Eversource and United Illuminating, it’s probably worth seriously considering what good will come

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Popular Hadlyme Spot Begins Serving Red and White Pizzas

Hadlyme Country Market co-owner Lisa Bakoledis was behind the counter on Tuesday serving up white and red pizzas for the first time to a lunchtime crowd at her popular shop at the turnoff to the Chester-Hadlyme Ferry. She will be making fresh pies from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. (to pickup by 6) leaning on a tomato sauce Bakoledis says was borrowed from her grandfather. The new two-deck ventless pizza ovens in the 1905-era country store are set against a striking new mural backdrop by Tom Rose, a well-known decorative painter and owner of Black Whale Antiques. No word on

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Janine Sacco Talks Spring Wines with CT Examiner

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The arrival of invites to picnics and early summer parties reminds me that in spite of the cool spring weather, and the lingering COVID, it is already early May, when I like to buy a case or two of wine to have on hand for company. Nothing rich or particularly pricey. I’m looking for wine that pairs well with food, but doesn’t require it, on the balance more fun than cerebral — mainly whites, a couple of rosés, a light red, a sparkler — because they are joyful and versatile — but I want one that I wouldn’t feel guilty

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A Great Talking Machine — Vaccine Exemptions, Police Accountability, Structural Racism

“A great talking machine whose grinding gears drowned out the insidious truth of administrative continuity” was how the historian Lynn Hunt described it — the paradoxical language of revolution and disruption and cataclysm, when nothing much of anything ever seems to happen. Yes, the state is proving that it can spend breathtaking amounts of money, but unlike say 60 years ago, I don’t think anyone has any expectation of more than incremental change on the dollar — perhaps because the currency of politics these days is not accomplishment, but instead the measure of just how much annoyance and outrage a

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Spot-On Cooking at The Shipwright’s Daughter in Mystic

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MYSTIC — The kitchen was in a groove on a recent Thursday night turning out dish after dish — small and large, across a tightly-woven menu — spot-on. Roast chicken, potatoes, salt, jus, baby lettuce. Roasted maitake mushroom, cashew cream, spicy oil, garlic and ginger chips. A crudo of Stonington scallops. Smoked clam dip and Old Bay chips. It’s the sort of spare, unassuming cooking that reflects confidence in quality ingredients and technique – “convivial cooking,” as the chef David Standridge explained it to me — not cold. The other night he brought his family to eat – and along

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Lyme-area Bakery Turns Out Superlative Focaccia, Sourdough Bread

For quick dinners, lazy weekends, and lunches, at $8 I’m not sure there is a better buy in the lower Connecticut River Valley than the focaccia turned out by Triangle House Bakery. I frankly have to reach back to memories of the bread from Arthur Ave. in the Bronx to recall the last time I’ve enjoyed focaccia this much. Delivered warm to Old Lyme and the immediate area, topped with parsley, shallot, and fontina, served with a simple salad, it’s what you should be having tonight. I expect Jamie Jackson, who opened Triangle House just weeks ago, to be entirely

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Irish Soda Bread… the Quickest of Quick Breads (and One of the Best)

Irish soda bread, like most recipes attributed by Americans to Ireland, has lean bones — in this case just flour, baking soda, salt, and buttermilk. It’s a quick bread of the sort that became popular in the mid-19th century in America with the commercial availability baking soda and when half of all immigrants to the United States came from Ireland, many fleeing the potato famines that cost the lives of perhaps a million people. And like most things American, this austerity is supplemented with modest luxury, here dried fruit and caraway. The dough comes together in a less than 10

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A Better Corned Beef for St. Patrick’s Day

About a dozen days ago I stood across the counter from owner Paul Kozey at Walt’s Food Market in Old Saybrook and asked for a whole flat-cut brisket — the relatively lean portion with the familiar boxy shape separated from the odd-shaped point. Walt’s is a mid-century throwback, a familiar sort of small grocery on the Main Street with the meat counter in the back and groceries up front. A steady traffic of locals buys sandwiches, maybe the best in the area, roasts and prepared food. Kozey stepped into the back and brought out a few choices — none of

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Angel Food Cake — Putting Flour to the Test

Angel food cake – a simple confection of whipped, sweetened, and stabilized egg whites – is one of the easiest sweets to make at home. Perfect served plain with tea, with a coulis or fresh fruit and whipped cream after supper. Happily, for the season it also a Lenten cake, one of few the cakes baked without the use of any fats — neither oil, or butter, or egg yolk. On Thursday, we baked two cakes to taste test a packet of cloth-bolted White Lammas cake flour that had been ground and mailed to us the prior Tuesday. The flour,

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A Consul General’s ‘Pop-Up Diplomacy’ with Connecticut

“Pop-up diplomacy” is what Peter Abbott calls it. A whirlwind week-long series of virtual meetings with Connecticut – the Department of Corrections, the Nature Conservancy, the insurance industry, UConn President Thomas Katsouleas, Deputy Secretary of the State Scott Bates, and Attorney General William Tong. Since Abbott arrived in Boston last September, travel and opportunities to engage in the kind of everyday diplomacy that’s part of his job as British Consul General to New England, have been few and far between. And in a 45-minute call with Geoff Pigman and Gregory Stroud for CT Examiner on Thursday morning, Abbott appeared especially

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