Taking in the Food Trucks and Fresh Air at Long Wharf

NEW HAVEN – I leave my car on a gray Saturday at Long Wharf and head to the water. It’s low tide, and a white egret presides over the sandbar — not a typical beach day, but a family I meet there has come for the fresh air. “Are the food trucks a draw?” I ask. They reply enthusiastically. They are hoping to check out the Caribbean Pizza truck. I make a note to do the same. I stop first at La Chalupa, where I ask María Corona what everyone who comes to her truck should try. “As we are

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Six Cones, Two Flavors: Taste-testing Ice Cream around South-central Connecticut

On one of the hottest June days in the state’s history, CT Examiner visited six of south-central Connecticut’s most celebrated homemade ice cream shops to beat the heat.  Walnut Beach Creamery, Milford  Steps from the sandy Walnut Beach in Milford, the single-batch Walnut Beach Creamery serves creative, refreshing flavors perfect for cooling down after a day relaxing by the sea. From baklava, ginger, and pistachio to honey vanilla and thai rice pudding, the shop thinks out of the box for savory, subtle flavors that somehow just work.  We ordered a waffle cone with two flavors: lavender and fig, and berry

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Cocotte at James Pharmacy to Offer Gelato, Sweets and French Cooking

OLD SAYBROOK — Lovers of gelato and pastry lined up for the soft opening of Cocotte French Cuisine and Desserts, which opened its doors at 2 p.m. on Friday in the James Pharmacy building at 323 Main Street. Co-owner Isabelle De Francesco said people have been knocking on the door for the last two months.  “They had two questions — when do you open, and, do you have gelato?” she said.  Besides a selection of 10 or more gelato flavors, De Francesco and her husband, chef Jeffrey De Francesco, are featuring a menu of pastries for summer — brioche, croissant,

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Consider the Shrimp Roll

One month after Gov. Ned Lamont eliminated nearly all pandemic-related restrictions on businesses, two thirds of Connecticut residents are at least partially vaccinated and COVID cases are lower than ever. Demand for dining out, restaurant owners say, is higher than ever. Warm weather and the beginning of a return to normalcy should mean that Connecticut’s restaurants are having an incredible summer. But restaurant owners are at a breaking point.  Margaret Colangelo, owner of the Po Cafe in Litchfield County, said she’s broken down in tears multiple times talking to customers, fielding their complaints about long wait times and missing menu

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Tacos al Pastor Stand Out at Middletown Food Truck Merengue

In the 1990s, Pedro Ramirez had a summer barbecue truck on Main Street in Hartford. When the building sold where he rented space, he ran a coffee shop in West Haven. And when Ramirez couldn’t find any of the food he liked to eat in Middletown, he and his family decided to open a food truck. “I just wanted to give something to the area. Middletown, Portland, Cromwell, Berlin, down to Old Saybrook, and there’s no Hispanic restaurants,” Ramirez said. “Sometimes I want a mofongo. You gotta go to Hartford, you gotta go to New Britain, Meriden. I just want

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Deep River Ice — Ice Cream and Italian Ice Opening in Early July

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Chelsea Fremut said she and her fiance David McDonald love Italian ice, and they wanted to share it with Deep River. And just in time for the summer heat, they are opening Deep River Ice – a new ice cream and Italian ice stand on Main Street. “There’s not really much else anywhere local, the closest italian ice is in Middletown or New Haven,” Fremut said. “We want to enjoy the community that I grew up in and see the kids enjoy it.” The italian ice is coming from Micalizzi’s in Bridgeport, where McDonald grew up and became friends with

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City Dock Opens at Custom House Pier in New London

NEW LONDON — Frank Maratta, owner of the new City Dock Restaurant/Oyster Bar, donned his sunglasses and sat down at a two-top not far from the enormous dark blue shipping containers where customers were ordering food and drinks. It was Wednesday afternoon after the restaurant’s soft opening on Saturday.  “I feel like an olympic hurdle jumper — there were so many hurdles. It’s been three years of going through the process,” he said.  Back in 2018, Maratta began to talk the city about leasing space on Custom House Pier for a restaurant made up of portable shipping containers that could

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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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Halls Road Project to Feature Local Produce, Lupo and Red Hen Chef

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OLD LYME —The little yellow house at 96 Halls Road — once a plant nursery, vacant for almost a decade — may soon become Long River Local, a retail food shop featuring local farm produce, prepared foods, sandwiches, salads and coffee.  “We want to connect chefs to farmers to consumers,” said Walker Potts, proprietor of Long River Farm in Old Lyme, who will supply produce to the new shop.  Local chef Shelley DeProto, of the former Red Hen in Old Saybrook and Lupo in Chester, has applied for a special exception change of use from retail to food service for

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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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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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Candied Violets from the Lawn

It’s Spring, it’s Jackie, it’s Venus in a rage, it’s Carême and croquembouche,Crème Violette. Flower-filled cravats of dissolute color, Huysman and Proust in Parma, in lust.It’s Napoleon and Josephine, violets in your hair, violets, violets everywhere. Grab your snips and head out to the lawn — Viola Sororia with freckles or without — as many as you like or have the ambition to dandify. They take far less time than you might imagine. Hang yourself a horizontal wire, and have on hand one beaten egg white, superfine sugar — you can blitz your caster in a cuisinart if you haven’t

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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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A New England Grain Renaissance

“There is a world of difference between fresh and commercial flour,” said Andy D’Appollonio, the owner of Still River Farm in Coventry. A difference that can best be described with one word, according to D’Appollonio, taste.  “It’s more robust,” D’Appollonio, who started growing wheat on his farm six years ago. “The bread is brown, crusty with large air holes, it’s a big difference.”  D’Appollonio is part of a grain renaissance in New England. Small, grain farms like his have popped up across the Northeast, especially in Maine.  “Bakers want it fresh,” D’Appollonio said. “When you buy local you can ensure

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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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New York-Style Cheesecake

We’ve been making versions of this New York-style cheesecake for about 20 years, sometimes substituting cream, or crème fraîche or sour cream for mascarpone, sometimes whole eggs and extra eggs, sometimes adding praline powder to batter, or substituting ginger snaps for graham crackers. All of which is to say that the batter-making is quite forgiving and open to invention — but the manner of baking is not. The magic of this recipe is in the burst of heat, followed by the long and slow cook, which gives the cake a uniform texture from center to edge that rarely cracks. The

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7 Sparkling Wines with Personality for the New Year

You know the feeling when you’ve happened upon a bottle of something momentarily extraordinary, and it seems like you’re the only one to even notice? All around you, laughter and conversation, which is really the point of most evenings after all, not the wine, and you wish you could stop everyone and everything so they would pay attention to what they are drinking. But you don’t, because they won’t. And besides what’s the fun in that? And then the moment (and the wine) is gone. That’s the loneliness of crowds — or at least a wine drinkers’ version of it

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Immersive Pop-Up Dining at Hartford’s Goodwin Hotel

HARTFORD — Theater and indoor restaurant dining have, for many, been casualties of the pandemic. With a long winter ahead, Chef Tyler Anderson of Hartford’s historic Goodwin Hotel is hoping to provide a respite. “We have a hotel that’s slow because of COVID and a restaurant that’s slow for the same reason,” Anderson said. “I’ve seen other hotel restaurants turn guest rooms into private dining rooms as a way for people to have a COVID-safe meal indoors. We just wanted to take it to the next level.”  Starting on January 8, guests can visit the Goodwin for an immersive mystery

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Christmas Candy Near and Far

Just 10 days and an entire box arrived, carefully wrapped, from Le Bonbon au Palais in Paris. The smell was impossibly good as I opened the package to reveal cellophane-wrapped Christmas candies, poppy-scented Coquelicot de Nemours, sugared Perles du midi, fairy-green coins of barley sugar and anise from Vichy, stripe-wrappered trifles from Valenciennes in violet, rose, lemon — it was magical. Aggies, alleys, oilies, commies and catseyes – every marble you might have played or pocketed at one time, however modest, had a secret history of sorts passed down imperfectly, child to child, a pecking order calculus of use, pleasure,

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Local Cider for the Holiday

MIDDLETOWN — The beauty of the tasting room at Spoke + Spy Ciderworks in Middletown is that customers can try a variety of ciders to see what they like, said owner Ron Sansone. “I think a lot of people have preconceived notions of what dry is, and it’s maybe the experience they’ve had with wine, but it’s different with apple,” Sansone said. “I do think the dry wines are generally favored by older people or people with more developed palates, and the sweeter ones are more younger people just getting into cider.” All the ciders are made with local fruit

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A 3 – 2 – 1 Pie Pastry

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So you want to make a pie for Thanksgiving… Here’s an exceptionally easy recipe that reaches back to French pastry technique, using just a fraction more butter than a typical American pie to achieve a more forgiving pastry and a classic tender-flaky result. The recipe itself is a simple proportion: 3 parts flour, 2 parts cold butter, 1 part cold water (by weight). And the idea is to sidestep a few basic problems of pastry that begin when you add water to flour by first ‘waterproofing’ the dough with a little bit of extra butter. A basic two crust 9-inch

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Thanksgiving Turkey Buyer’s Guide

For many, this Thanksgiving will be quieter and smaller than previous years because of COVID-19, but for most, roasting a turkey is still an essential part of the tradition and the holiday. Turkey farms around the area are seeing brisk sales, with the smaller birds selling out quickly. There is still time to pre-order a bird, but time is running short. Below are a few choices in the area, including one non-turkey alternative.  Gozzi’s Turkey Farms, 2443 Boston Post Rd, Guilford  (203) 453 2771 www.facebook.com/Gozzis-Turkey-Farms (this link doesn’t work well!) Order ASAP by phone Price: $3.09/pound Pick up: the week

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Indian Pudding Revisited

A pie or two for Thanksgiving is expected, so why not this year try something a little different, an Indian Pudding — a dessert with a whiff of old school New England, but still a novelty for most guests. In its most basic form, Indian Pudding is a type of English hasty pudding, a sweetened porridge, adapted to American staples, cornmeal and molasses. If that sounds strange, don’t be put off. Most recipes are a near dead-ringer for pumpkin pie, without the crust, and others are closer to a rich porridge custard, but our choice — adapted from Nick Maglieri

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Thanksgiving Wine Suggestions

Bright red fruits and lighter-bodied reds – Gamay from Burgundy and the Loire — an herbaceous cool-climate Cabernet Franc from Canada, a Pinot Noir from the Willamette Valley in Oregon, and two wines from the Italian Piedmont, a slightly frizzante Pelaverga and a modest red blend from a maker better known for Barolo, headline our wine picks for Thanksgiving. For whites, the suggestions were exceedingly diverse – lesser known white varietals including a Verdicchio from the boot of Italy and an Arneis from Italy’s Piedmont, both known to finish with a flavor of almonds, an Albariño from Galicia in Spain,

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Deviant Donuts Sponsors Fundraiser for Garde Arts

MYSTIC — Today through Sunday, Deviant Donuts will donate $1 of every donut purchase to support the Garde Arts Center in New London.  “If people want to come out, I always say the earlier the better,” said Kourtney Stoy, one of the shop’s three bakers. “Usually by 10 or 11 we start to run out of some of the options available on the menu.”  Stoy said the bakery sells about 4,000 donuts on the weekends and smaller quantities during the week.  The bakery, located in Olde Mistick Village, has created specialty donuts for the fundraiser featuring designs based on famous

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Start Your Christmas Cake Now!

Last week we unwrapped and cut open a Christmas cake, dark like mahogany, tall as a hat block, one we had tucked away on an upper shelf in a tin since last November, unsure whether a summer of neglect had made a hash of it. For the first six or eight months, each week, we had dutifully peeled back parchment paper, flipped and moistened the cake with a tablespoon or two of brandy – a recipe we adapted from Jane Grigson’s English Food – a chore we abandoned around mid-July. It was perfect. With three months until the end of

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Cato Corner Adds Mozzarella to its Range of Well-Regarded Aged Cheese

COLCHESTER — Clad in white rubber boots and a white hairnet and mask, cheesemaker Mark Gillman picked up a scrub brush from a bucket of sudsy water and scoured the front of his white apron.  “Cheesemaking has been called a glorified cleaning job. You spend a lot of time cleaning equipment and also cleaning yourself,” he laughed as he scanned rectangles of milk curds stacked on a nearby stainless steel table, ready to be transformed into mozzarella via a process of heating and stretching called “pasta filata,” sometimes called “spun paste” or stretched curd.  Gillman, who runs Cato Corner Farm

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Take-out from Bar Bouchée in Madison

When you think take-out, you typically think pizza or Chinese. It’s a simple meal, or at least quick. But for the last six months, many other sorts of restaurants have been trying to change that. Fine dining restaurants like Bar Bouchée in Madison adapted their menus and meals for taking home. I have to admit, I was skeptical about gourmet to-go, but in mid-August I decided to give it a try. Instead of calling close to the dinner hour, as you might with pizza, at Bar Bouchée you select your pick-up time hours – or even days – ahead to

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