COVID Underscores Longer Trends, and a Longing to Come Together for the Faithful

On January 2, at the height of the second wave of COVID-19 cases in Connecticut, my daughter was baptized into the Catholic Church.  It was a strange ceremony, what with us all wearing masks and seated far apart, spread out across the pews, but in one way I’m grateful she was born and christened in the middle of the pandemic. It meant that my family members all across the country, who would never have been able to travel to New Haven even under normal circumstances, were able to watch and laugh right along with us as she shrieked for nearly

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Four Root and Walden Farms Win Grants to Expand their Farming Operations

Chelsey and Casey Greer put out a farm stand on the honor system about six years ago, and after a few years the business attracted enough traffic that they decided to turn it into a business – Walden Farm of Moodus. Now, the husband and wife pair sell their produce year-round at a stand at the end of their driveway, and at farmers markets in Higganum, Ivoryton and Chester. They’re part-time farmers with full-time day jobs – Chelsey a teacher in Windham and Casey an engineer at the Millstone Nuclear Power Plant – but they have their sights on reviving

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Tessa Lark to Lead Musical Masterworks as Arron Directs Final Season

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OLD LYME — Longtime Artistic Director Ed Arron, who will lead Musical Masterworks in its 31st season this fall, has announced that he will step down in 2022, passing the reins to violinist Tessa Lark, a musician well-known to Old Lyme audiences. Lark, 32, who has been performing with Musical Masterworks for eight years, will assume the role of artistic director designate this season and will become artistic director on July 1, 2022. She said she had dreamed of a directorship at Musical Masterworks and was thrilled when Arron called her.  “I remember the first time I played Musical Masterworks

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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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Lyme Academy of Fine Arts Gets Back to its Roots, Offers New Classes

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OLD LYME — With a $1.657 million budget for FY21-22, about 120 students enrolled in summer classes, and a small full-time core program that will start in the fall, Lyme Academy of Fine Arts is rebounding after two rough years.  “People are so enthusiastic to be able to finally come and receive classes in person and meet other peers, so it’s a really positive atmosphere,” said Amaya Gurpide, director of drawing, who was hired in February along with her husband, Jordan Sokol, who is artistic director for the school.  Sokol said a range of summer classes, landscape workshops and youth

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Stratford’s Alyssa Naeher Plays Two Matches at Rentschler Field, Next Stop Tokyo Olympics

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EAST HARTFORD — Gearing up for her second Olympic Games – and the first as the starting goalkeeper for the U.S. Women’s National Team – a pair of friendly tune-up matches against Mexico at Rentschler Field is the perfect send-off for Stratford native Alyssa Naeher. The team heads to the 2020 Tokyo Olympics looking to bring back a gold medal after its run of three straight Olympic gold medals ended with a disappointing quarterfinal loss to Sweden in the 2016 Rio Olympics and a fifth place finish. It was the team’s first Olympic loss since falling to Norway in the

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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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Lyme Photographer’s New Book Explores the Waterways of Connecticut

Lyme-based photographer Caryn B. Davis has released her second photography book, Connecticut Waters: Celebrating our Coastline and Waterways – part travel guide, part visual exploration of all the ways the people of Connecticut use our waterways for work and for fun. The book is out now from the Globe Pequot Press. Davis spoke with CT Examiner about what she’s learned on her journeys across the lakes, rivers and sound of Connecticut. Responses have been edited for clarity and length. What made you decide to document the waters of Connecticut? There’s a lot going on here for such a small state.

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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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Niantic Cinemas Will Roll Film Once Again on Friday

NIANTIC — The sounds and aroma of popcorn popping filled the lobby of Niantic Cinemas Wednesday morning, making ready for the theater’s reopening this Friday.  “We closed twice during the pandemic — first in April for about three weeks, then we reopened for about six weeks but we were only getting about eight people per day, so we closed in July,” said Peter Mitchell, concessions and box office manager, whose family bought the theatre in 1978.  In 1979 the Mitchell family’s first film as the new owners of Niantic Cinemas was Ingmar Bergman’s “Autumn Sonata,” starring Ingrid Bergman and Liv

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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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Hack, Corrigan Head to a Tokyo Olympics ‘More Focused on the Competition’

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By the end of the summer, Louis Zubek, the former rowing coach for Lyme-Old Lyme High School, will be able to say that he has coached not one, but two Olympic athletes.  That’s because Lyme-Old Lyme alumni Austin Hack, 29, and Liam Corrigan, 23, will be part of the U.S. men’s eight boat that races on the Sea Forest Waterway in Tokyo at this summer’s Olympic Games.  Although Hack and Corrigan are competing in the same boat, Zubek said it was a shame that he didn’t have the opportunity to coach both athletes together at Lyme-Old Lyme — Hack graduated

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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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RJ Julia Hosts Lamont and Boehner Chat

Gov. Ned Lamont spoke with former Speaker of the House John Boehner about his new memoir, “On the House,” in a Zoom conversation hosted by independent bookstore RJ Julia Booksellers of Madison on Friday.  The two politicians discussed political polarization, and Boehner shared thoughts and memories of working with President Barack Obama, President Joe Biden, Sen. Ted Cruz, and more. A member of the Republican Party, Boehner served in Congress from 1991 to 2015, and as Speaker for the last four years of his tenure. In a nod to Boehner’s book cover, and well-known love of Merlot, Lamont joined the

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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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Summer Fiction: Impostor Syndrome

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Two new books out this spring offer variations on the ideas of plagiarism and identity theft. I highly recommend both, along with a classic of this peculiar genre, published twenty years ago but still cruelly sharp-edged, deliciously mean-spirited, and delightful. Jean Hanff Korelitz’s The Plot features a down-at-heel writing professor named Jacob Finch Bonner — he added the Finch for some Americana cachet — whose MFA seminar student, a smug jock named Evan Parker, flouts the plot of his work-in-progress in an after-hours meeting. The kid knows the story will be a best-seller. He can’t write, but so what? With a

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Witness Stones Dedicated to 14 Enslaved in Old Lyme

OLD LYME — Cato, Lewis Lewia, Humphrey, Caeser, Jack Howard, Jenny Freeman, Luce, Crusa, Nancy Freeman, Temperance Still, Jane, Pompey Freeman, Samuel Freeman, and Arabella — 14 African Americans who were once enslaved along what is now Lyme St. Until recently, their history had been almost entirely unknown and untold, and few people knew the history of slavery in Connecticut. “Know their names. Repeat their names after I say them,” said poet Marilyn Nelson to a large crowd on the lawn of the Phoebe Griffin Noyes Library during a ceremony Friday morning to honor the installation of a Witness Stone for

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Cautious Steps to Re-Opening the Arts with Advice From Yale School of Public Health

How do you practice social distancing in a dance studio? Look at the way birds fly, always in tandem, but never colliding.  It’s one of many suggestions that Dr. Sten Vermund of the Yale School of Public Health has been giving to theaters, museums and other arts venues that want to find a balance between keeping visitors safe and getting back to business.  The Yale School of Public Health partnered with Shoreline Arts Alliance in March 2020 to advise businesses on the best ways to navigate the myriad and ever-changing public health regulations over the course of the pandemic. The

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Lyme Art Association Kicks off Capital Campaign for Phase Two Restoration

OLD LYME — The Lyme Art Association is kicking off phase two of a capital campaign to fund restoration work on its Lyme St. gallery. The original structure, designed by noted architect Charles A. Platt, was completed in 100 years ago — the same year as Platt’s commission for the Freer Gallery of Art on the Mall in Washington, D.C. Each year, the association hosts seven annual exhibitions of work by representational artists in the region, and is free and open to the public. “We’re calling this our ‘Second Century Capital Program,’ to continue Lyme Art into its second century,”

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Jones and Bonner Share the Floor as the Connecticut Sun Kicks off their Season on Friday

When DeWanna Bonner joined the Sun in February 2020, the team was a few months removed from the 2019 WNBA Championship after dropping a heartbreaking winner-take-all Game 5 against the Washington Mystics.  Jonquel Jones, the franchise’s cornerstone player, had been constantly telling Bonner throughout the offseason that she was the missing piece they needed to win it all. “Just buttering the bread,” Jones told media on Thursday. “And I buttered the bread correctly.” Almost a year and a half after Jones helped recruit Bonner to the Connecticut Sun, the two will share the floor as teammates for the first time

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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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Cultured Studios Opens Shades of Melanin in New London

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NEW LONDON — Artist Kern Bruce began painting a mural at the pop-up show, “Shades of Melanin,” at Cultured Studios Friday night.  “Over time the mural is going to grow and I’m going to be incorporating people that are in the gallery tonight writing different messages about what they’re grateful for and people that they’ve lost,” he said. “So, it’s a living, breathing testimony of life, purpose and perseverance despite the odds.  Bruce, 38, who was born in Trinidad and Tobago, said he wanted to make a piece in honor of Black history month and Women’s history month, which were

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Susan Lisbin at the Catherine Fosnot Art Gallery in New London

NEW LONDON — “I’m interested in relationships, how we relate to each other, whether it’s standoffish or tensioned,” said artist Susan Lisbin, whose solo exhibition,” The Human Side, opened Thursday at the Catherine Fosnot Art Gallery and Center.  Her pieces — oil paintings and clay sculpture — explore organic and anthropomorphic forms that reflect a sense of experimentation, tenderness and humor.  The show has been curated with “pairings” of her paintings and sculpture that relate visually — but her work as a painter particularly stands out.  Beginning with “Overload,” a painting depicting a figure on its side atop a pile

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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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Painter Richard McDonough in New London

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NEW LONDON — Grids, patterns and the color pink are a few of the themes that artist Richard McDonough explores in his solo show, “Two Turloughs,” at the Catherine Fosnot Gallery.  McDonough, who is 25 and lives in Brooklyn, N.Y., is a painter who likes to construct objects, whether as sculpture or as surfaces to paint on — and to him, they are on a continuum.   Near the window of the first gallery is his tall, skinny, house-like sculpture, “Choir House and Choir Singers,” with a prominent wooden grid visible on the back surface. Around a corner, “Boys Toys,” a

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Sculptor Robert Rohm in Providence

PROVIDENCE — Rebar was a delicate drawing tool in the hands of sculptor Robert Rohm, whose show “Down to Earth: Robert Rohm Sculpture, 1963-2013” is running through April 25 at the WaterFire Arts Center in Providence.  At the beginning of the show are Rohm’s large pieces based on the figure — oversized hands, a shoulder, a series of arms, a torso, a leg — all forms in mid-gesture, bending, moving, cradling, reaching.  Rohm gave each piece “skin” by covering the flexed and shaped rebar with steel mesh and then layering encaustic, a pigmented hot wax, over areas of the mesh.

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