BassamFellows Remodels the Future

RIDGEFIELD — “What’s so beautiful about the building is it’s about 7000 square feet and it feels, and is built, like a modern house and yet it’s a commercial building. It has more of a residential feel than a typical office building,” said Scott Fellows. “When people walk in, especially the way we’ve furnished it and adapted it for our use, it feels like a blurring between a beautiful, small executive office building and a modern house. People say, ‘I want to live here.’” The Schlumberger Research Center administration building, designed in 1951 and built in 1952, was architect Philip Johnson’s

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Ryan Chapman on Comic Fiction, Merrill House Residency

STONINGTON — “I think there’s something great about how humor and comic writing can short circuit us to some degree. I think it allows us to think about topics or ask questions that might not be raised in polite company. I think often what a culture finds funny says a lot more about it than what a culture idolizes,” explained Ryan Chapman, the writer in residence at the James Merrill House for the month of October. “With writing comic fiction, hopefully I can bring in some of the bigger questions about life and our society and do so in a

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Marino’s Re-opens, Offers a Taste of Middletown’s North End

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MIDDLETOWN — The first week Francesca Vitale re-opened Marino’s Pizzeria, all the old customers came back, clamoring for the hamburg pizza her mother made famous. “On the first day, we did like 100 pizzas,” Vitale said. Vitale’s grandfather, Sebastiano Marino immigrated from Sicily in 1898 and opened a bakery on Ferry Street in Middletown’s North End in 1920. Vitale’s mother, Constance Marino-Vitale, opened Marino’s Restaurant in 1941. Both were staples of the Italian-American community in Middletown until the restaurant closed in 1992. When Vitale and her friend Carla Marino opened back up Marino’s in a new location on William Street,

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Grammy Award Winners to Produce Beethoven Concerts in Old Lyme

It’s the second time that acclaimed classical violinist James Ehnes will be performing in Old Lyme, and he’s glad to be back.  He has played with orchestras and in venues around the world, including Carnegie Hall, Wigmore Hall in London and the Philharmonie in Berlin, but Ehnes said that smaller venues often stand out more in his mind. “Sometimes the most incredible experiences, these magical evenings, happen in places that are much more intimate,” said Ehnes, who will be playing in two concerts for Musical Masterworks, which has hosted classical music and chamber music concerts at the First Congregational Church

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Hartford Marathon and Fall Races Go Virtual

This Saturday Jennifer Zayas along with two friends will lace up for the 27th annual Hartford Marathon.  Unlike past years, she won’t be starting at 8 a.m. and she won’t finish under the Arch in Bushnell Park, steps away from the State Capitol. She expects to see just one fan on the course. Zayas will be heading out the door an hour early, running the entire 26.2 miles on the Farmington Canal Trail and relying on her husband for water, fuel and encouragement the entire way.  “Originally, I was signed up for the Chicago Marathon on the Autism Speaks team.

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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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Resident Poet at the Merrill House will Talk About House Poems

“One of the neat things about this apartment at 107 Water Street as you go into different rooms — and I find myself writing in a different room each day — you get different ideas of how a poet would begin writing a poem,” said Walt Hunter, the poet in residence at James Merrill House for the month of September.  The rooms in the house represent visions of how a poet might find inspiration, said Hunter. “In his study, there are bookshelves full of his peers and older poets or precursors, or influences and you get the sense that poems have

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Westbrook Debates Mural Design by Tony Falcone

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Westbrook is trying to liven up its downtown business district with an outdoor mural, a project that has drawn both support and criticism from residents.  The project is a three-and-a-half-year-old effort between the Town Center Revitalization Committee and the Economic Development Committee. They recently created an online survey, available on the town website, that allows residents to vote on their favorite of two potential paintings. The winner will be featured on the wall of the Turtle Cafe on Westbrook Place in Westbrook’s downtown.  Both murals include a rendering of David Bushnell’s submarine, the Turtle, known for being the first submarine

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Residents of Eastern Connecticut Invited to Talk With US Poet Laureate Joy Harjo Tonight

U.S. Poet Laureate Joy Harjo is giving a virtual talk at Connecticut College on September 14 to discuss her memoir, Crazy Brave.  Connecticut College is hosting Harjo as part of a partnership with “One Book: One Region,” a program that was formed to bring together communities in eastern Connecticut to discuss literature.  Jefferson Singer, dean of the college, said the partnership was an effort to create ties between the college and the local community.  Laurie Wolfley, a professor of English at UConn, and a member of the committee responsible for choosing the book, said that Harjo’s memoir was a timely

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Symphony Kicks Off Fall Outdoor Program with Free Concert at Hygienic on Friday

The Eastern Connecticut Symphony Orchestra will kick off a program of outdoor musical performances with a free concert on Friday at Hygienic Art Park in New London. The orchestra is giving five outdoor musical performances as part of their fall “Soundscape” program. Rather than full orchestra performances, the organization is opting for a series of smaller performances — ensembles of two to five musicians on strings, woodwind and brass. Their repertoire will range from traditional classical movements to contemporary popular songs.  The first three events, performed at Hygienic Art Park, will feature violin and cello, a bass duet and clarinet

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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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Chester Gallery Opens First Friday of Local Artist Work

On Friday, from 5 to 8 p.m., Chester Gallery opens “Chester Artists: Past, Present and Up and Coming,” a revolving show of local artists over the next two months. “From the postcard show I realized there’s a lot of talent in Chester, people I never even knew of. It opened my eyes to more of the Chester artists,” explained Nancy Pinney, owner of the Chester Gallery, where postcard-sized work by local artists was featured in December. “Everyone has a tie to Chester, one way or the other… they lived here, they have a studio here,” Pinney said.  In the main

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Checking in with Wally Lamb

Wally Lamb was in New York City in mid-March to watch a rough cut of the screen adaption of his second novel,  “I Know This Much Is True,” which is streaming now on HBO as a six-episode tv drama.  “I had chosen Mark Ruffalo as the one and only person I wanted to take on the role of the twins and he was so genuine,” Lamb said, in a phone interview on Aug. 20. “My agent sent the book to him. Mark was in Europe filming. He was halfway through and said he already knew that he wanted to do

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Fragrant, Crackling Ribs a Standout at Taíno in Middletown

Ribs were the standout when we stopped into Taíno Smokehouse in Middletown, CT, regarded among the better places for barbecue in Connecticut, for takeout. If we had known earlier just how inviting the vine-draped patio would be, we probably would have stayed for lunch. We ordered their top-tier beef brisket, American Wagyu sourced from the suddenly faddish Snake River Farms, and house-made sausage, but the St. Louis pork ribs had ‘it’ — a backyard quality of the pit, fragrant, crackling, lost in many larger and commercial operations. My companions were especially taken by the cheesy corn — a creamed-corn-like side dish

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Shoreline Menus Finds Success Providing a Local Alternative For Food Deliveries

“During the height of the pandemic, I did 75 percent of my sales through delivery,” said Alex Foulkes, the co-owner of Penny Lane Pub in Old Saybrook. “Going into this fall, I think restaurants that have a good delivery presence will make it and those that don’t, won’t. You’re going to see a lot of die off, unfortunately.” As dining moves indoors with the cooler weather, Foulkes says he hopes that his other venture, Shoreline Menus, can help local restaurants and main streets survive. Launched less than two years ago as an alternative to GrubHub and DoorDash, Shoreline Menus offers

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An ‘Elevated Lobster Shack’ Opens on Essex Island

“We fell in love with the island, just the feeling that you get. We felt like when you cross the ferry, you’re actually on vacation as soon as you arrive on the little island,” said Christina Pahis. “You feel almost like you left Connecticut.” For eight years, Essex residents Avni Krasniqi and Pahis have owned and operated Haywire Burger Bar in Westbrook, CT, and on June 8, the couple opened Siren Kitchen & Bar on Essex Island at Safe Harbor Marina. “We saw that the space has become available, and we said, ‘Let’s just kind of satisfy our curiosity and

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George White on Theater on the Record

WHITE POINT — It was a blazingly hot day, but George White knew a breeze would find its way to the veranda of the big stone house that’s been in his family for generations.  “The farmers didn’t value this place at all because you couldn’t grow anything here,” said White, surveying the view of Long Island Sound. “But my grandfather started to paint this area and got to know it and this rocky point of land. He knew he wanted it.” White’s grandfather, the artist Henry C. White, was included among the painters of the Lyme Art Colony in Henry

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Deep River Horseshoe League At Play Every Thursday Evening

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It’s a tense moment as the teams head out to play. It may be the Yankees and the Red Sox, but this game there is no stadium, no bat and no ball. Instead, there’s a sandpit, a metal stake and some heavy horseshoes. And the Yankees and Red Sox are just two of the 16 teams currently playing in the Deep River Horseshoe League. The game of horseshoes has become synonymous with Deep River over the last 65 years. On Thursday evening in Deep River, the clank of metal against metal is heard far and wide as the league, the

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After a Family Tragedy, Cove Landing Marine Keeps Doing What They Have Been Doing

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LYME — The plan was always for Jennifer Ruhling or her brother to take over their father’s boat yard, but that time came sooner than expected. Ruhling said that it was her father’s dream to own a boat yard and he bought Cove Landing Marine on Hamburg Cove in Lyme in 1978. Either Ruhling or her brother at some point was supposed to come back to Lyme, work the yard with their father, and eventually take over. John Leonard, their father, died unexpectedly in a car crash on July 20, 2019, as he was driving to get more wire ties,

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Peter Anton Opens Show of Outsized ‘Confectionary Sculpture’ at Lyman Allyn

NEW LONDON — For sculptor Peter Anton, food is a portal to celebratory memories and a kind of “sensory snapshot” that connects us to emotions ranging from happiness to obsession.  “We use sweets to celebrate and we also use them for comfort when we’re depressed and we reward ourselves with sweets,” said Anton, who creates giant renditions of ice cream cones, cakes and confections. “As an artist, I love color and textures and you can’t top a colorful dessert.” In “Sweet Dreams: Confectionery Sculpture,” at the Lyman Allyn Art Museum, Anton will show 35 of his outsized, hyperrealistic works, including

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Niantic Farm-to-Table La Belle Aurore Emails Plea to Customers

Dawn Bruckner said that even when the pandemic first hit, she never considered closing. “With the food supply getting super hinky, I knew our farmers would always be there, and we would be able to get the best ingredients to [our customers].” And her customers responded graciously to her remaining open. “There was just a huge outpouring. People I hadn’t seen in years were coming in, asking ‘Are you guys okay? What do you need?’” Bruckner said. “They were buying things and were grateful we were open because they could get better produce, better food, better meat. It was amazing,

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When Life Gives You Red Currants

Good white bread, tart red fruit, a few tablespoons of sugar, a splash of water — in less than a half hour, with no particular skill and a little patience, you can make a splendid English summer pudding. I guarantee you, no sweet better conveys the pure fresh flavors of raspberries or red currants, is more refreshing after a light evening meal or luncheon. All the things you think you want — the butteriness of shortbread, the creaminess of ice cream, the rich, thickened fruitiness of cobbler and pie — summer pudding proves the addition of subtraction. Tempted to improve

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Wesleyan Professor Tackles Human Hierarchies with the Aid of Animals

After Dr. Kari Weil earned tenure at Wake Forest University, she decided it was time to get herself a horse. Weil thought she might never get married, and saw this as another way of falling in love. She had fond memories of family trips to Michigan as a child, where she would ride, without a helmet, through the surrounding woods. She named her horse Cacahuète, the French word for “peanut,” because the horse was the color of peanut butter.  Weil eventually did marry, and she moved to California to be with her husband, bringing Cacahuète with her. She taught at

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House-bound, Dan Stevens Makes Music Online, Diddley Bows and Cigar Box Guitars

OLD LYME — “It’s the human spirit. People make music somehow, they figure out a way,” explained touring musician Ramblin’ Dan Stevens. “It’s like the little blades of grass between the cracks in the sidewalk, they’ll figure out some way to grow.” Sitting in Nightingale Acoustic Cafe on Lyme St., Stevens showed off instruments he’s had more time to make since his gigs stopped abruptly in early March. As he talks, he plucks a few licks on the one-string diddley bows and three-string cigar box guitars that he’s made out of found materials: cigar boxes, gum tins, sink drains, washers

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Arelt Brings ‘Consistent Vision’ to Nautilus Architects’ Contemporary Designs

WATERFORD & DEEP RIVER — Architect Chris Arelt stood barefoot on the polished concrete floors of his client’s house and pointed to the tiny square lights that were set flush with the living room ceiling.  “These tiny LED fixtures with no trim are hugely important,” he said. “They add up to a big expense, like $160,000. It’s always more than people bargained for, but it’s so important. If you start putting big six-inch diameter pot lights into these things, it just blows the whole design.”  Arelt, the principal and owner of Nautilus Architects in Lyme and Southport, stressed the importance

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Restoration of Historic Killingworth Congregational Church Marks 200-Year Church-State Divide

KILLINGWORTH — The dome ceiling of the Congregational church is 200-year-old plaster.  From inside the sanctuary, the only sign of concern is a water stain near the base of a wall where the plaster has started to crack.  It’s not a superficial issue.  After climbing a narrow staircase into the steeple, the keys – the plaster that oozes between cracks in the wooden structure, keeping the rest of the plaster in place – have broken off. That’s what needs to be secured, said Charlie Smith, co-chair of the Killingworth Congregational Church’s fundraising committee.  “If a piece of the plaster falls,

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Musical Masterworks Adds a Managing Director, Sketches Plan for Coming Season

OLD LYME — “I’ve been making budgets for 40 years,” said Lawrence Thelen, the new managing director for Musical Masterworks, who will oversee budgeting, budget management and long term strategic planning for the 30-year-old nonprofit.  “The organization is tremendously strong right now and so it’s my goal to maintain that,” he said by phone on Thursday. “When I produced [an] off-Broadway show, or even at Goodspeed, or when I was artistic director, you’re constantly making budgets. You’re always making sure that you don’t go over budget because that’s how theaters close. It’s the easiest way that theaters close.” Thelen has

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Director Sam Quigley Talks Lyman Allyn, Accreditation

NEW LONDON — The Lyman Allyn Art Museum will reopen at half capacity on June 30 and offer free admission to visitors until Labor Day.  “We thought people might need a little extra incentive to come into a public space. We all recognized that we’re all a little nervous and we wanted to let people know that we’re doing everything we can to make it safe and healthful,” said Sam Quigley, director of the museum, by telephone on Wednesday. “We wanted to eliminate any hurdles so that people could come in and really just take advantage of what we are,

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Action Amusements Readies for a “Very Different Year” at Ocean Beach Park in New London

NEW LONDON — With a brush in his hand, Jeff Mullen dabbed white paint onto the metal framework of his “new” ferris wheel at Ocean Beach Park last week. “It’s a nice wheel. We just put some new pins on it. It’s just a matter of touching it up here and there and it should be ready to go,” said Mullen, who owns Action Amusements at Ocean Beach Park. “The wheel itself is from the 1940s and the base is 1965. We found it up in New York. A friend said it might be available, so we bought it and

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