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s g n i d d e on the farm

fall 2016

cider press Revival jam cocktails

Breakfast Eats ay Mond

The Story of



cover photo by Winter Caplanson at Devon Point Farm

Fall 2016 volume six Pg. 4.....................................................................Letter from the Editor Winter Caplanson Pg. 6.......For Starters: Sourdough at the Tiny Acre at Big Oak Farm Matt Skobrak Pg. 16....A New England Odyssey: Devon Point Farm Raw Cider Mill Erick Taylor Pg. 28..................................................Restore, Revive, and Rejuvenate Amy Benson Pg. 38...............................................Get Poppin' with Podunk Popcorn Dan Dzen Pg. 56..............................................Making Apple Jelly at Averill Farm Winter Caplanson Pg. 68................................Jam Session with Bear's Smokehouse BBQ Justin Morales Pg. 78..........................................................Head. Heart. Hands. Health. Amy Smith Pg. 86..........................Timing is Everything: Adventures in Foraging Gena Golas with Chef Jesse Powers Pg. 107.................................................................Kinship and Coriander Kelley Citroni Pg. 114.............................................................................Monday Brunch Rebecca Hansen Pg. 122...............The Stone Whisperers: The Art of the Stone Waller Laura Graham /Basics of Repairing a Dry Stone Wall

Pg. 150.................................................................................Contributors

Winter Caplanson

Pg. 138..............From New Orleans to New Milford: Getting to Know Hilary Adorno Chef Joel Vielhand

Letter From the Editor :

Welcome to Connecticut Food and Farm Magazine!

Although this is our sixth quarterly issue, many readers are just finding us! So where, exactly, have you landed? This is an insider's guide, sharing the stories of Connecticut's local food movement. created by a kitchen cabinet of farmers, chefs, and makers from around the State. Fall '16 is chock full of beautiful images and great articles. Who's writing? Of 10 articles, three this issue are written by farmers, three by chefs, and one by a chef - turned - farmer. Our cover model is also both a chef and a farmer! This is the real deal. Part Foxfire Book. Part Storey Country Wisdom Bulletin. Part Vermont Life transplanted to Connecticut. Sound good? Then you’re in the right place. We’re glad you’re here. Winter Caplanson Editor in Chief


CT Food & Farm / Fall 2016

Winter Caplanson Photo


e r c A y m n r i a T F e h TBig Oak at



CT Food & Farm / Fall 2016

own and operate The Tiny Acre at Big Oak Farm in Woodstock. Founded in the winter of 2015, The Tiny Acre lies on a small, leased plot and practices bio-intensive farming techniques committed to growing diverse, delicious, organic produce. The Farm focuses on growing petite varieties of their crops, enabling The Tiny Acre to maximize their space and turn out a higher yield. Matt and Callah – also Bentley Brewing Company employees, business partners, and life partners – shared their combined knowledge of farming and fermentation with CT Food and Farm Magazine by way of a versatile and user-friendly recipe for Sourbeer Flatbread.


Maintaining a sourdough starter is like having a pet – a gloopy, bubbling, high maintenance pet that you can't take for walks, snuggle with, or teach tricks. While sourdough breads may be, quite possibly, the best thing in the world, making them at home can prove to be intimidating and cumbersome. No two sourdoughs starters are the same; the particular bacteria and yeast on my farm may be different than that of your apartment, your 10

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family’s house, or the neighborhood bakery. Creating a product from a sourdough starter requires a great deal of skill, patience, intuition, and experience. It's like opening your door to the feral cat – you don't quite know how it’s going to turn out, but you will proud of yourself for at least trying. It's all about fermentation – naturally occurring process in which bacteria and/or yeast consume sugars and produce carbon dioxide, acids, volatile aromatic compounds, and alcohol. This process results in everything from beer and wine, pickles and cured meats, to kombucha and cider vinegar. Fermentation is everywhere, and most importantly, delicious. Traditional methods for making sourdough call for making a slurry of flour and water and exposing it to the open air. Bacteria and yeast in the air find their way into the mixture and begin feeding on the sugars in the flour, reproducing and eating. Over time, the slurry becomes a sour, yeasty mass that can then be used make leavened bread. This method can take weeks – even months – of constant upkeep. It is a labor of love. What if I told you that there is a simple method of making sourdough that does not necessarily require the commitment of time and skill as the traditional method - the results of which are incredibly flavorful? The trick is sour beer; it is soured by a process not unlike sour dough. The purposeful introduction of wild yeast and bacteria to the fermenting beer results in funky flavors that range from fruity, earthy,

sour, and tangy to even sweaty or barn like. The lactic and acetic acid produced as a by-product of the bacteria contribute an element of complexity to the final brew that is absent in most ales and lagers. Sour beer is becoming more readily available as brewers work tirelessly to meet the demands of craft beer drinkers. Several Connecticut breweries are producing killer sour beers; Black Hog Brewing Company’s Disco Pig Series, and OEC Brewing, both in Oxford, come to mind. For this recipe, I use Farmhand – a barrel-aged sour red ale from Bentley Brewing Company in Southbridge, MA. Callah and I split our time between Bentley and our farm, The Tiny Acre; she does the brewing and I do sales and distribution. (Seriously, I have no complaints – our lives revolve around beer and food.)

(cont'd on pg. 96)



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Combine the rye flour and sour beer in a mason jar; let it sit until you are ready to make your flatbread. You can use it right away or wait up to two weeks. Just as it is with traditional sourdough, the longer the starter sits, the more flavorful it becomes. When you finally get around to making your flatbread, all you have to do is mix in the bread flour, olive oil, salt, and yeast. If you have a stand mixer, slap the dough hook on and knead for five minutes. If you do not, you are going to have to kick it old school and knead the dough by hand. After kneading, toss the dough into a mixing bowl, drizzle with a bit of olive oil, and cover with a wet towel. When the dough doubles in size, punch it down and divide it in half. Pre-heat your oven to 450°. Roll the dough out into whatever shape you wish. Round, oval, rectangular, or triangular � it's your dinner and I'm not going to tell you what to do.

Professional pizza ovens run 800°-900°; but, you can replicate the roasty, toasty, smoky flavor of traditional pizza by taking some additional rye flour and toasting it in a sauté pan until it smells like popcorn. Use this toasted rye flour to dust your pizza stone, or in my case, an upside down baking sheet. Toss the rolled out flatbreads on the stone and par cook for five to six minutes. At this point, go crazy! We are talking pizza, here; top with whatever you want! Then, pop it back in the oven for five more minutes, until it's cooked through and crisped just the way you like it. Pop open a bottle of sour beer and enjoy.


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Devon Point Farm Raw Cider Mill By Erick Taylor Photos by Winter Caplanson


CT Food & Farm / Fall 2016

Like wine, not all cider is created equally; the land, the variety of apples, the recipe, and the milling have everything to do with the flavor. Cider-making is a craft, and like so many others, vintage equipment seems to add some intangible edge to the finished product. The apples must be from true cider apple trees, hand-picked, individually-evaluated, and washed with brushes and pressurized, fresh water before they can enter the mill. The process, setting, atmosphere, and ultimately, the taste of the finished product, all dictate the quality of your drinking experience. Devon Point Farm, located in a New England farmstead among the rolling hills of Woodstock, produces cider made in small batches from vintage apple varieties grown in a century-old orchard – which is never 18

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sprayed. Varieties include rare antique Rhode Island Greening, Baldwin, Rome, Sheep’s Nose, early and cultivars of Red and Golden Delicious. The apples are pressed on a massive piece of working history that’s just as old as the farm itself. This is the story of Patty and Erick Taylor and their quest for a fully-functioning original Boomer & Boschert apple press. It illustrates their collective dedication to maintain traditions older than our Constitution. Tracking down, transporting, restoring, and repairing 18th and 19th century machinery is a dreadfully slow and difficult task. But, for the Taylors – and countless farmers, makers, and artisans in Connecticut – a vintage tool is synonymous with a high-end ingredient. Without it, something in the final product is missing.


refurbished the building into a suite of offices. Too enormous to move, the press was left in the corner of the building’s newly-renovated, wood-paneled, carpeted boardroom, as a showpiece of American history gone by. In 2001, Erick and Patty Tay l o r visited an old cider mill; the owners were helpful and forthright in explaining what it would take to mirror their achievement. Now that apple cider can be purchased throughout the fall at supermarkets, Erick and Patty learned that a successful cider mill would have to be a place where guests could visit, watch the cider being made, enjoy a taste, and watch the ingenious, traditional equipment at work. In order to do that, they needed a press. The challenge was that vintage presses are long out of use. There are less than a handful left in the entire country; and, those that remain are continuously in use and usually owned by the same family for multiple generations – meaning, very few are willing to part with such a precious vintage machine. Undaunted, Erick began his search anyway. He scoured the internet and sought out historians and elderly farmers countrywide to pick their brains. For years, he tracked down leads only to find dead ends: the press had been sold, no one knew what happened to it, or it had been dismantled and not all of the parts could be found. Then, on a snowy day in January, 2015, Erick spotted what looked like the corner of an antique Boomer & Boschert in an online photo of a newly-renovated mill building in the Midwest. He knew instantly that it wasn’t one of the known presses in operation, and the search was on again. Months of research, phone calls, and digging through historical land and real estate records ensued. Finally, Erick was able to track down the owner of the mill building. Patty and Erick Taylor discovered that the 118-year old press operated continuously for more than a century. It was delivered to its original, Midwest home from Syracuse, NY by horse-drawn wagon. The mill itself was water-powered and the cider mill would produce thousands of gallons of cider for local family farmers, using the farms’ apples. Eventually, the mill went out of operation, and the property’s newest owner


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The owner shared that the building was about to be resold, and that in his opinion, the press was more of a piece of nostalgia, rather than a working piece of equipment. Still, he had saved most of the remaining parts. The giant flywheels and gears essential to the press’s operation were in a storage shed out back. Erick’s hopes soared. The owner agreed to sell the press, provided Erick could remove it from its location without doing any damage to the building. An elegant boardroom had been built around it by the owner, enclosing the space. The walls were paneled in cedar, the floors carpeted, a granite fireplace at one end, and a custom-made cherry conference table right next to the press. The only way to extract this giant was piece by piece, over the clean carpet, and out a narrow 32” doorway. On a cold, snowy day in late January, 2015, Erick and a team of friends set out with a truck, a large trailer, and tools to see if they could bring home the centerpiece of a business a decade in the making. The press, made of iron and wood, hadn’t been taken apart in more than 100 years, and serious questions remained about whether the colossal iron components could even be moved after sitting that long. Each piece had to be disassembled before it could be moved out of the building and through the slender door. The five-man team spent two days in single-digit temperatures carefully evaluating, numbering, and disassembling the press. They laid out tarps, padded the doorframe, and carefully moved the cherry board room table out of the way; managed to coax off bolts that had been tightened for generations; located missing parts from storage; and painstakingly labeled each part. They grunted and groaned as they struggled to lift and separate heavy components and carry them onto an overloaded truck and trailer for the wintery journey home.   Patty and a team of relatives and friends pitched in to help carefully strip off layers of thick green paint that had been layered on the press over the last 118 years.

They used wire brushes to remove grease, rust, and


chips of paint from metal parts and machinery, oiled gears and cast parts, and repainted portions of the press with apple-red oil paint.   Then, the reassembly began. In the icy-cold barn, the same team of family and friends sorted out the carefully-refurbished pieces. One by one, the pieces were refitted, rejoined, and refastened. Patty recalls the day when Erick finished reassembling the gears and flywheel: a moment of truth. As they maddeningly turned the gears by hand, everyone laughed and whooped with joy and relief as the immense apparatuses easily turned and the heavy press beams rose into the air – with Patty and Erick’s two teenage nephews standing on top! After the victory of the main press’s assembly, Erick turned his attention to countless other challenges: making custom belts to turn the gears, refurbishing the apple grater, and, in accordance with current health 22

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regulations, commissioning a new stainless steel box to house the press. Realizing the apple elevator (conveyer belt) that came with the machine was far too short to make it the distance required in its new location, the generous and skillful team from DG Marshall Associates Inc. in Webster, MA manufactured a new one. When parts broke, belts flew off their gears, or missing pieces needed recreating, Ernie the machinist – now a close, family friend of Patty and Erick – came over for Sunday breakfast and helped solve the problem. After cracks were found, gears were carefully boxed and shipped to an Amish blacksmith in Pennsylvania to be recast. When the new sheet metal pieces didn’t line up right, Tim from DG Marshall patiently made extra visits to make sure everything was fit perfectly. Erick had to find and assemble a collection of used equipment – an apple brusher-washer, a roller inspection table, and a bulk tank – to complete the list of all the pieces necessary to make cider.


Just after the dissembled parts were unloaded from the ice-covered trailer into the Taylors’ garage in late January, Patty called the State to find out what was required to get a license to make cider. The Taylors invited Ellen, a state inspector, to come and see what they had intended for the cider press and to share their vision of making cider in their beautiful timber-framed barn. Ellen’s first visit generated a long list of items that would have to be completed in order to meet current regulations. Determined to meet all the inspector’s criteria, the Taylors turned their attention to readying the barn; at the same time, they continued rebuilding and refurbishing the press. In the barn, every crack in every beam and board had to be caulked and filled. Cracks in the floor and around the windows were filled, and the entire interior of the barn was sealed. The rear shed roof area of the barn was closed in by what Patty affectionately called the geriatric building team: her 74-year old father Pete and a family friend Bill (whose younger age will remain unpublished).  Erick’s best friend from boyhood, Stephen, not only helped disassemble, move, and reassemble the press, but he built a service counter and storage cabinet from wood Erick cut off the land, so the Taylors could make and serve apple cider donuts. He also constructed 24

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a clever door within the barn’s giant rolling doors to make the space impervious to insects, while maintaining customers’ ability to enter the structure and view the vintage machine at work. Ellen stopped by periodically to monitor the progress and guide the Taylors through the arduous process of ensuring everything would be up to the current health code standards. Nine months later, in mid-September 2015, this labor of love resulted in a completelyrestored, fully-operational, antique cider press. Ellen smiled as she conducted her final inspection, granting the Taylors the licenses to make and serve apple cider and cider donuts. This fall, visit and experience Devon Point Farm and Cider Mill. Gaze upon fields of brilliant orange pumpkins surrounded by cascading autumn foliage, inhale the intoxicating smell of cider donuts, sip a glass of ice-cold, raw cider – fresh off the old press. Savor the last the vestiges of summer with the setting sun on your cheeks. Each run is individually-blended, depending on the season and availability of choice cider apples. No batch is the same; it is a quality in which Erick and Patty Taylor take tremendous pride. 26

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REV I V E REJUVENATE Written and Photographed by

Amy Benson

In college, I worked for an antique shop in Brooklyn. One thing you could count on was someone coming in and asking, “Do you know a little old farmer who sells architectural salvage?” The answer would always be, “You must mean Rudy.” Rudy is Rudy Rzeznikiewicz, a former dairy farmer and owner of Brooklyn Restoration Supply. Brooklyn Restoration Supply specializes in 18th and 19th century architectural materials, or as Rudy says, “old house parts.” Across the street from his home and the farm he grew up on (and worked full-time until about 15 years ago), are three buildings housing more than 50 years of items Rudy has accumulated. Two are former coops – one housing beams and wide plank board, the other mantles and doors on the first floor, and shutters, paneling, and moldings on the second floor. Rudy says with a smile that when he first started out, he thought, “I’ve got two buildings. I’m set for life.” He’s since added a third building


CT Food & Farm / Fall 2016



CT Food & Farm / Fall 2016

and would like to add an addition to one coop to better display all the hardware he has. Rudy got into the business by accident. He was running the dairy farm and working as a substitute postal carrier; his postal route became too much, so he gave it up, leaving him with some free time that fall. At the same time, the Town of Brooklyn put a house up for demolition bid. “I said I’m going to bid on that because I could use some wood around the farm,” says Rudy. “A good winter project. Guess what? I got the bid. I didn’t know anything about old houses, and to tell the truth, I didn’t care. Well, it turned out there were some good things in there. One thing led to another. That’s how it happened. No plans.” He continued to bid on houses, but only when he was approached. “I never went looking. I knew nothing. I learned a little at a time.” Nowadays, Rudy gets most of his items through sellers. People stop by with pieces they think he might be of interest. The day I visited, a retired dealer came in with a truckload of items from his collection. Rudy gets a lot of items from dealers who are downsizing, family members of those who’ve passed away, and from those who take down old houses. “Once in a while, we may salvage a building, but not often. Don’t have the time. And there are plenty of good materials to buy – now, more than ever. The economy is not great; people are downsizing. Antique dealers aren’t getting rich. Prices are lower than they used to be. “I don’t buy something because I have a customer in mind. If I buy anything, it goes into inventory. After 50 plus years, you should have an idea of what to sell. You don’t learn anything overnight. You can read the books, but you need the experience to go with them. It’s a combination.”

In college, I worked for an antique shop in Brooklyn. One thing you could

count on was

someone coming in and asking, “Do you know a little old

farmer who sells architectural

salvage?” The answer would always be, “You must mean Rudy.”

Brooklyn Restoration Supply’s customers come from all over. The majority is from the East Coast, but on occasion, Rudy has sold to customers in California and Washington State. He describes his clientele, as “restoration contractors, homeowners, architects, designers, and once in a while, someone in the trade.” He’s also had some of his items used in photo shoots and theater productions.



CT Food & Farm / Fall 2016



CT Food & Farm / Fall 2016


In the last few years, Rudy has seen an increase in what he calls “craft people:” those who repurpose his items into either something new, or artists who incorporate his wares into their work. He’s also seen an increase in purchasing for wedding décor. Rudy seems amused by the whole idea of getting married in a barn. Different from his day, he says. He does no advertising per se, but Rudy has a good flow of people visiting him. I ask him how to find out about Brooklyn Restoration Supply; “It’s a small world and people communicate. That’s how it works,” Rudy says. With a smile he adds, “The bad communication comes first; the good comes second.” Those who recommend Brooklyn Restoration Supply will advise that if Rudy gives a price on something, take it. There is no haggling. “I do things the old-fashioned way. This is what it’s going to cost you. That’s it," he says. Some items sell right away; the more unusual items can take years. Rudy doesn’t mind waiting for the right person. A while back, he had a dome from a Russian Orthodox Church in Massachusetts. It sat for years outside with the mill stones and stone troughs. One day, a woman came and bought it to use in her garden. While he was holding it for her, another person came and wanted to buy it. “It always happens that way,” quips Rudy. Rudy is a strong believer in diversifying. “Things can be alright now, but sour tomorrow. You have to have something in the reserve.” He tells me about how farmers used to keep cash crops to supplement the farm. For him, the salvage business serves the same purpose. His inventory continues to evolve with his customers’ taste. “Years ago, I didn’t want anything to do with Victorian items – too new. But, you have to adjust with the times,” he says. Rudy’s youngest son Kevin – slated to take over the business when the time comes – certainly has his work cut out for him. Rudy is confident he’s leaving the Brooklyn Restoration Supply in good hands. “It’ll be his business and I’m not going to tell him how to run it.” Brooklyn Restoration Supply is located across the street from 12 Gorman Rd., Brooklyn, and is open every day from 6:30 a.m. to 4:00 p.m. (unless Rudy is farming).


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Lisa Nichols Photo 38

CT Food & Farm / Fall 2016

By Dan Dzen Photos by Winter Caplanson & Lisa Nichols

Lisa Nichols Photo 40

CT Food & Farm / Fall 2016

I’m not your average 20 year-old. I don’t watch sports and I don’t play video games. There is one thing I am passionate about: popcorn. My family has been farming in South Windsor since the 1930s. We’ve raised dairy cattle and grown tobacco, potatoes, strawberries, blueberries, raspberries, and Christmas trees. Over the years, we’ve moved farther away from commodity crops and closer to specialty-branded farm products. Growing up, I loved being on our farm. I followed my father and grandfather around on a daily basis learning life skills such as the value of a reputation and how to give a firm handshake. I am the fourth generation of my family to continue to farm. I could have set my sights to take over my family’s business, Dzen Tree Farm, but instead, I wanted to have the experience of starting a new business from the ground up. In many ways, this was a rite of passage. Starting my own separate enterprise was a way to prove to the world that I wasn’t just “given” a farm, but that I could actually start one, much like my great-grandfather did during the Great Depression. After failing to grow a harvestable crop of sweet corn for three consecutive years in middle and high school, I was afraid that maybe I hadn’t received the green thumb of the Dzen patriarchs, after all. Sensing


Winter Caplanson Photo 42

CT Food & Farm / Fall 2016

"Growing up, I loved being on our farm. I followed my father and grandfather around on a daily basis learning life skills such as the value of a reputation and how to give a firm handshake."


my interest in growing corn, my dad suggested that I grow “a row or two” of popcorn like he had done as a kid. Before the day was over, I had located my Johnny’s Selected Seeds Catalog and ordered enough seed for one-half acre – far more than what he had recommended. As autumn arrived and the corn stalks dried to a golden brown, I realized that I was about to harvest a bumper crop. I decided on the name Podunk Popcorn out of respect for the Native American tribe that settled this area of Connecticut. With a 1920s corn sheller and a few high school buddies, we processed the cobs and packaged the kernels into glass mason jars. Within two months of selling it at the Ellington Winter Farmers Market, I sold out. Podunk Popcorn was about to become a real business. At the start, a lot of people thought this business idea was pretty crazy. Many said that I would never compete with the “big guys” like Orville Redenbacher. Others said that the popcorn was priced too high. Being underestimated made me want to try even harder. I quickly gained an underdog mindset, ready to take on the giants. Today, I grow popcorn across three rented farms in South and East Windsors. All of the popcorn is processed on our farm, a business model that sets me apart from most in the popcorn industry. This system may not be the most profitable up front, but the increased popping volume, rich “corny” taste, and nearly zero percent un-popped kernels turn occasional popcorn eaters into loyal Podunk fanatics. I’ve slowly upgraded my equipment to be more efficient, yet still produce exceptional-quality popcorn. The original hand-crank corn sheller has been replaced by an electric sheller and cleaner; the cobs are harvested with an ear picker instead of a combine to protect the kernels’ outer shell. The majority of Podunk Popcorn is still sold in glass mason jars. I’m blessed to have more than 32 retail stores (increasing monthly) that stock their shelves with Podunk Popcorn. I am currently a junior studying agricultural business at the State University of New York at Cobleskill. My dad likes to refer to me as a “commuter student,” although I go to school two and a half hours away. This comes from how I aggressively schedule my classes so that I have


CT Food & Farm / Fall 2016

Lisa Nichols Photos

Growing popcorn, however, is not all that I do.


Lisa Nichols Photo 46

CT Food & Farm / Fall 2016


Lisa Nichols Photo

" Being underestimated made me want to try even harder. I quickly gained an underdog mindset, ready to take on the giants." 48

CT Food & Farm / Fall 2016

Fridays and sometimes Mondays off. Scheduling this way allows me to study hard for a few days, then make it home before sunrise on Friday to run my business for another few. Part of the reason I love the college atmosphere is because I get the chance to mingle among experts. Yes, I am that guy who asks too many questions and stays after to talk to the professors. We’ve even done case studies on my business in some of my classes. Running Podunk Popcorn 150 miles away would be nearly impossible without my smartphone and laptop. Through them, I can run almost every aspect of my business – except for the field work. Despite my appreciation for technology, many know me as an old soul. For example, I carry a “Field Notes” notebook in my back pocket to record business ideas or to-do lists. I’m a major history buff and a sucker for any story that begins with “back in my day.” The majority of my farming equipment, including my 1965 Ford flatbed truck, is at least 30 years old.

Connecticut-grown specialty grains, in my opinion, are the most underdeveloped agricultural products in the State. I’m beginning to reach out to the brewing and baking industries in-state. Many are looking for a local grain supplier, and I believe I am well-positioned to fill that niche. This year, I grew a trial plot of oats for Karen Gauvain of Pure Love Granola in Simsbury. Karen has been giving me guidelines of what she’s looking for, and I’m doing my best to grow and mill the

Lisa Nichols Photo

When it comes to marketing and promotions, I follow the Golden Rule: I don’t market to anyone in a way that I wouldn’t appreciate myself. I refuse to send blast promotional e-mails because I know they are an annoyance for a lot of people. I send handwritten Christmas cards to all of my retail stores and each online popcorn order gets a personalized, longhand thank-you note in every box. My personal cell phone number is printed on each jar; I make my social media posts educational and behind-the-scenes in order to provide value for the customers who take the time to follow me. In this age of technology, patrons are starving for more human interaction and intimacy, and less clutter and noise. It’s much easier to sell more to existing customers than it is to find new ones.


Lisa Nichols Photos

Lisa Nichols Photo

Lisa Nichols Photo 52

CT Food & Farm / Fall 2016

" This year, I grew a trial plot of oats for Karen Gauvain of Pure Love Granola in Simsbury. Karen has been giving me guidelines of what she’s looking for, and I’m doing my best to grow and mill the crop to her standards."


crop to her standards. This is a multi-year venture that’s really exciting for us. I’m also experimenting with rye, buckwheat, and barley. Despite the excitement I get from all this, it’s still hard to balance it all. To avoid burning out before my 21st birthday, I’ve made some lifestyle changes that will ensure I can stay in this business for the long haul. Sleep, diet, and exercise are all things that young entrepreneurs struggle to maintain, but I’ve begun to put them on the top of my list of priorities. I’ve realigned my business goals from rapid growth to sustainable improvement and I block out time each day for reading and reflection. My girlfriend and I hold mini-meetings on Sunday nights to plan our week to ensure that we get time together, too.

Lisa Nichols Photo

Nonetheless, I love entrepreneurism and I would encourage anyone who is interested in it to give it a shot. My advice for entrepreneurs and farmers is to pace yourself, make time to read, and ask questions whenever you can. Actively seek out the industry leaders and become friends with them. Guard your image with your life. Social media will decide your image for better or worse, so stay focused on perfecting your product. Be cautious of shiny new opportunities that distract you from your core competencies. Don’t give a sales pitch; tell your story. Everyone loves an underdog.


CT Food & Farm / Fall 2016

Lisa Nichols Photo


Making Apple Jelly at Averill Farm Written and photographed by Winter Caplanson The first thing you’ll notice about a sparkling jar of Averill Farm Apple Jelly is that it, in contrast to its drab, tan supermarket cousin, is the color of pink grapefruit. The juice from reddest of their farm-grown apples bestows this charming blush-tone. Right now that’s Redfree, Paula Red, and Early Mac. Averill Farm preserves are made by hand, in small batches, the old-fashioned way. It is, in fact, a very old place. Eleven generations of Averills have called this Washington Depot farm home since the land was purchased in 1746 from Chief Waramaug. There is a family cemetery, a complex of weathered barns, and a stone farmhouse where the oldest apple trees mark a time when every farm kept a small orchard. For many years it was a dairy farm. Today, the 260-acre property is primarily a fruit orchard, producing more than 100 varieties of apples, pears, and quince sold both as picked fruit and pick-your-own. Early apples come around the



CT Food & Farm / Fall 2016



CT Food & Farm / Fall 2016


beginning of August and are sold at farmers’ markets.  The PYO season begins mid-August when the orchard stand opens. In the stand, Averill Farm sells their own unpasteurized cider, apple cider donuts, cookies, tea breads, hard cider, cider syrup, cider vinegar, cut flowers, honey from their hives, and their famous preserves. They also sell pies made with their fruit, and local pumpkins, gourds, Indian corn, mums, maple syrup, honey, cheddar cheese, garlic, potatoes, some tomatoes, and soap. The making of preserves happens throughout the season using their own raspberries and fruits from nearby farms. Averill Farm’s famous Apple Butter and Apple Jelly are last up, and fall visitors to the farm can’t get enough.

The first thing you'll notice about a sparkling jar of Averill Farm Apple Jelly is that it, in contrast to its drab, tan supermarket cousin, is the color of pink grapefruit. Effects of Connecticut’s drought mean that apples are sizing up smaller, but their flavor is more intense. This year’s apple jelly is exceptional. To make apple jelly that is clear and bright, the farm-pressed juice is strained repeatedly. Averill Farm’s recipe calls for twice as much fruit as sugar, imparting more fruit flavor and less overwhelming sugary sweetness than most commercial preserves. Pomona’s Universal Pectin is the key ingredient in their low-sugar method. This 100% pure citrus pectin is extracted from the dried peel of lemon,

lime, and orange. To thicken, it’s activated by calcium, naturally present or added, instead of sugar, as most pectin brands are. Pomona’s Pectin is able to jell fresh, frozen, or canned fruit or juice with low amounts of any sweetener, including granulated white sugar, honey, agave, concentrated fruit sweetener, maple syrup, frozen juice concentrate, stevia, or even artificial sweeteners. It can also be used to thicken fruit syrup or homemade yogurt, and to make jelled fruit candy. The PYO season at Averill Farm is underway now, and the farm stand, well-stocked with Apple Jelly, is open seven days a week, 9:30 a.m. to 5:30 p.m., or until dusk (after the time change) through Thanksgiving. Want to try your hand at making apple jelly? Averill Farm recommends the recipes found on the Pomona's Universal Pectin website. A  recipe sheet that comes with your purchase of Pomona’s Pectin includes basic recipes and directions for making preserves including strawberry, raspberry, blueberry, peach, orange marmalade, crabapple, Concord grape, hot pepper jelly, and more. After mastering the basics, you may want to step up your game. The Get Creative page of the Pomona Pectin site gives you guidelines for customizing a recipe. Alcohol can be added to a jam recipe at ¼ c. alcohol per 4 c. mashed fruit or juice, for example, if you reduce the amount of mashed fruit or juice by ¼ c. It’s also okay to add 1 tsp. of dried spice to a recipe. Their cookbook, Preserving with Pomona’s Pectin, is available on Amazon. Although there are recipes for refrigerator preserves, canning your jars of preserves in a water bath canner will make them shelf-stable. The good news is that this is not a difficult process to learn and the entire waterbath canning setup will cost you only about $40.



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Here's a recipe to get you started with your own autumn apple jelly making tradition:

Apple-Rosemary Jelly

Yield: 4 to 5 c.

Before You Begin :

Prepare calcium water: combine ½ tsp. calcium powder (in the small packet in your box of Pomona's Pectin) with ½ c. water in a small, clear jar witha lid. Shake well. Extra calcium water should be stored in the refrigerator for future use.

Ingredients :

4 c. apple cider or apple juice

4 Tbsp. apple cider vinegar

4 tsp. dried rosemary

½ c. honey, room temperature,

4 c. strained cider/juice 2 tsp. calcium water

or 1 c. sugar 4 tsp. Pomona’s Pectin powder

Directions : 1. Bring the apple cider/juice and rosemary to a boil then turn off heat and steep for 30 minutes. 2. Strain out the rosemary. 3. Wash jars, lids, and bands. Place jars in canner, fill canner 2/3 full with water and bring to a boil. Turn off heat, cover, and keep jars in hot canner water until ready to use. Place lids in water in a small sauce pan; cover and heat to a low boil. Turn off heat and keep lids in hot water until ready to use. 4. Measure strained cider/juice into sauce pan. 5. Add calcium water and apple cider vinegar and stir well. 6. Measure sugar or room temperature honey into a bowl. Thoroughly mix pectin powder into sweetener. Set aside. 7. Bring fruit mixture to a full boil. Add pectin-sweetener mixture, stirring vigorously for one to two minutes to dissolve the pectin while the jelly comes back up to a boil. Once the jelly returns to a full boil, remove it from the heat. 8. Fill hot jars to ¼” of top. Wipe rims clean. Screw on two-piece lids. Place filled jars in boiling water up to their covers. Boil 10 minutes (add one minute more for every 1,000’ above sea level). Remove from water. Let jars cool. Check seals; lids should be sucked down. 9. Eat within one year. Once opened, the jelly should be consumed within three weeks. 66

CT Food & Farm / Fall 2016

Recipe reprinted with permission from Pomona's Universal Pectin, Workstead Industries, LLC.


Photos by Winter Caplanson


If you think jelly is just for toast, you're missing out!

CT Food and Farm Magazine sat down with Bear’s Smokehouse BBQ Bar Manager Justin Morales to learn more about how jelly can be showcased during happy hour, too. Enjoy these creative twists on some of our favorite fall bevies.

Fig Apple Fall Old Fashioned •1 fig, sliced in half •1 Tbsp. apple jam/jelly (We used Averill Farm Apple Jelly) •½ an orange, sliced •1 Maraschino cherry •1 oz. honey water (equal parts water and honey) •Ice •2 oz. of your favorite whiskey ( Justin recommends rye) •½ oz. Hartford Flavor Company Wild Moon Birch Liqueur

Combine fig, apple jam/jelly, orange, cherry, and honey water in a mixing glass and muddle. Add ice, whiskey, birch liqueur and stir. Pour into a rocks glass through a strainer and garnish with an orange twist.

Blueberry Lavender Pisco Sour •1oz. egg white •2 oz. pisco •1 oz. simple syrup (equal parts sugar and water) or 1 tsp. granulated sugar •1½ oz. lime juice •½ oz. Hartford Flavor Company Wild Moon Lavender Liqueur •1 ½ Tbsp. wild blueberry jelly/jam (We used Woodstock Hill Preserves Classic Blueberry made with wild blueberries.) •4 dashes Angostura bitters

Combine egg white, pisco, simple syrup, lime juice, lavender liqueur, and blueberry jelly/jam in a mixing glass. Dry shake until blue and frothy. Add ice and stir. Pour into coupe glass through a fine strainer and add bitters. Garnish with fresh blueberries.


CT Food & Farm / Fall 2016

Strawberry Citrus Rickey •1 ½ Tbsp. strawberry jam/jelly (We used Woodstock Hill Strawberry Preserve made with whole berries.) •1 ½ oz. gin •¾ oz. yuzu sake or lemonade •Ice •Club soda

Combine jelly/jam, gin, and sake/lemonade in a Collins glass and stir for 40-60 seconds. Fill the glass with ice, then club soda, and shake. Garnish with fresh basil and a slice of fresh rhubarb.



CT Food & Farm / Fall 2016

Lavender Dark ‘n’ Stormy • 4 lime wedges •Ginger beer •2 oz. rum •1 Tbsp. of lavender jam/jelly (We used Woodstock Hill Pure Lavender Preserv infused with handmade sachets of French lavender.)

Muddle lime wedges in a Collins glass. Add ice and fill with ginger beer until the glass is ¾ full. In a separate shaker, combine rum and lavender jam/ jelly and shake well. Pour into ginger beer through a strainer and garnish with candied ginger or a lime wheel.




. by Amy Smith

. Margit Fish Photos he four Hs of the 4-H pledge each stand for parts that, when working together, foster the will and ability to effectively contribute to the world. 4-H began in 1902 as an agricultural program designed to teach youth to accept new technologies and to become leaders in agriculture. Since then, the organization has grown to an international program in partnership with state extension programs and land grant universities, and has clubs in rural, suburban, and urban areas of every state. While 4-H may have started out as an agricultural movement, it now includes areas in nearly every topic imaginable. The Connecticut 4-H program facilitates more than 130 projects with only 24 focused on animals. Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math (STEM) projects are growing in popularity; 4-H recognizes the need for STEM in today's competitive agricultural industry and is preparing its members in those fields of study. The 4-H program model runs differently than other youth organizations, mainly because it places its members in charge of their own club and initiatives. Adults in the program serve only as guides. Projects are chosen based on personal preference with assistance from club leaders and parents. Participants create an annual goal for their project, and then determine steps to achieve it. Club leaders andparents assist by providing "learn by doing" experiences: mentoring, field trips, activities, and both competitive and non-competitive events. At the close of the year, members evaluate their project, determine if its goals have been met, and consider how the project can be changed or improved for the following year.


CT Food & Farm / Fall 2016


In addition to individual ventures, those in 4-H are encouraged to create, develop, and participate in projects that benefit their community. Examples of recent projects by Connecticut clubs include creating a garden around the flag pole on a town green, organizing a pajama collection drive to benefit a women’s shelter, making repairs and conducting spring clean-ups at local summer camps, sewing curtains for a community center, and visiting skilled nursing facilities to share a craft. 4-H is a family-oriented organization. Unlike others that divide clubs by age, 4-H clubs are multi-aged; its members range from seven to 19 years old. Older 4-H teens are urged to take on positions of leadership while experienced 4-H members assist newer members by one-on-one teaching, assisting with educational programs, and giving demonstrations during club meetings. Those older than 19 are encouraged to register as volunteers or leaders and and mentor within a 4-H club. Another exciting part of 4-H is public speaking, which is often overlooked in our current public education curriculum. Connecticut 4-H youth gain skills in public speaking at club meetings where members share the progress they have made with their projects, express their opinions, and make suggestions for activities. Clubs follow Parliamentary procedure which equips members to participate in local, state, and national government actions. On the county level – at fair board meetings – youth partake in developing and managing local 4-H fairs. There are also county- and state-wide public speaking competitions, and State 4-H Citizenship Days give youth the chance to share ideas with local legislators and politicians. Acknowledgement for achievements in 4-H come on every level; in clubs, youth are recognized for their achievements by their peers and leaders. At county 4-H fairs and both competitive and non-competitive events, participants are evaluated by independent judges or experts. Members can apply for state recognition at events that involve youth from all counties within the state. 4-H members are also celebrated for their accomplishments and leadership, and are awarded opportunities to participate in national 4-H trips. 4-H comprises a community of people who work hard to build children and teens into leaders who create an effective impact. By giving children and teens opportunities to manage their own goals, interact with people across all age groups and skill levels, and learn from their experiences, 4-H prepares true leaders.


CT Food & Farm / Fall 2016


While 4-H may have started out as an agricultural movement, it now includes areas in nearly every topic imaginable.


CT Food & Farm / Fall 2016



CT Food & Farm / Fall 2016

The 4-H year runs from October 1 through September 30, but individuals must be enrolled by May 1 to be eligible to participate in the county 4-H fairs. To find a club near you, contact your county’s extension office.


Timing Is EVERYTHING: Adventures in Foraging with Chef Jesse Powers

by Gena Golas Jennifer Marcuson photos


knives, clean hands, and an organized kitchen – all of these things tell us that a chef is educated and prepared. But if those attributes were all it took, we’d all have James Beard Awards. A chef’s talent and longevity is derived from his or her intuition. When something doesn’t go according to plan, a successful chef must be able to seamlessly pivot from one idea to the next – without the diner being aware of there ever having been a hiccup. Without the faculty to think on your feet, you’re dead in the water. Last month, CT Food and Farm Magazine’s Gena Golas and Jennifer Marcuson linked up with Chef Jesse Powers on a mission to forage local mushrooms and use them in a dish back at Millwright’s. What happened next demonstrates perfectly the kind of dexterity a career chef (and forager) should possess. Sometimes, you get skunked. What you do in that moment speaks louder than what you would have done. Without his chef whites on, hiking through the woods in a tee shirt, shorts, and boat shoes, Jesse Powers looks more like an average guy on a walk than the chef de cuisine of the James Beard Award-nominated Millwright’s Restaurant and Tavern in Simsbury – until he starts talking about his food; then, there is no doubting he’s a knowledgeable and passionate epicurean and forager. “I got into foraging because I started to think about, ‘What do we serve? Why do we serve it? Where can I find it around here?" It is day two of our attempt at foraging, and Powers is leading the way slowly up the trail at Talcott Mountain in Simsbury, a State park just up the road from Millwright’s. We set out for mushrooms, berries, or whatever else we might find on, or just off, the established path. When restaurants boast locally-sourced ingredients, as does Millwright’s, few are willing to go just this local. Fewer still are the chefs who are expert enough to forage for themselves. However, this approach fits into Powers’ own culinary philosophy, which in turn, is why he has thrived preparing Millwright’s local-minded “inspired New England cuisine.” In addition to the restaurant’s close relationship with numerous resident farms and purveyors, foraging is another way for Powers to gain a deeper understanding of his ingredients’ origins.



CT Food & Farm / Fall 2016

Powers began searching years ago, while hiking with his now six-year-old daughter Lucy. She, in a carrier on his back, both of them exploring their favorite local hiking trails. For Powers, foraging is not about unearthing every usable plant from the depths of the woods and figuring out how to use it in a dish, but rather, setting out on the trail with a clear idea of what he wants to bring back to the kitchen. “Do we use wild ingredients because they’re great, or because they’re wild?” For Powers, wild is great, but not at the expense of great taste. Quality is paramount, down to every last factor. He chooses to focus his foraging knowledge on the components with which he enjoys working, learning to identify them without question, so he is able to use what he finds both in the restaurant and at home.

“I got into foraging because I started to think about, ‘What do we serve? Why do we serve it? Where can I find it around here?”

Ironically, this is not how we set out on our first day. Powers’ triedand-true foraging locales are nearer to where he lives; but, in an effort to stay closer to the restaurant, we instead adventure out to the unknown, untested trails of Stratton Brook State Park in Simsbury. Just as magicians never share their secrets, I don’t get the sense that Powers would be forthcoming with his favorite sites. As we walk, he tells the story of how, after much peer pressure, he took his friends to his secret chanterelle patch. He smiles slyly as he remembers how he led them through the woods, far off any trail, on a convoluted route that no one in the group could ever replicate. Eventually, they came upon the patch; unbeknownst to Powers’ friends, it was on the other side of the trees from where they had parked their cars. With dark clouds already rolling in and the threat of rain imminent, we know our time on the trails is limited. We quickly



CT Food & Farm / Fall 2016


choose a marked path and start out. It doesn’t take long to realize that we might not find what we hoped to in this location – we are surrounded by pines, and mushrooms grow better near oak trees. We continue on, however, because we are on a cleared path, which means potential damage to the surrounding area – ideal conditions for mushrooms (that thrive in the weak and injured spots of other plants). Eventually, the trail loops back around to our starting point and we opt to leave the pines for another location that might prove to be better. On the way back to the car, Powers points out our first foraging find – wild sorrel, a plant resembling clover, growing at the edge of the parking lot. Edible, but

With plants and fungi falling into such large genera, getting it right especially when serving the public is crucial. not ideal, given the fact that it is growing out of the shallow gravel that borders the pavement. Staying true to his foraging philosophy, Powers passes on gathering the sorrel for use in his dish back at the restaurant. While strategizing our next location from inside the car, the skies open up with the storm we knew was coming. Back at Millwright’s, we watch the lightening flicker over the river from the rear windows of the restaurant. Our foraging adventure will have to wait until the next morning. The next day, we regroup at Millwright’s. After gathering what we need from the restaurant, we head for Talcott Mountain State Park, where we hope for better luck. “It smells like a wet forest,” said Powers. “That’s a good sign.” Mushrooms like wet conditions, Powers explains – which really is a good sign, given the intense storm we got the day before. Hopeful, we start up the steep incline that begins the trek towards Heublein Tower at the summit of the mountain. As we climb, potential finds start catching Powers’ eye, drawing him off the path, and he picks what he finds so we can examine them – Boletus mushrooms, possible autumn olives, oyster 94

CT Food & Farm / Fall 2016


CT Food & Farm / Fall 2016


mushrooms. We uncover unidentifiable berries; examine what looks like mint; and marvel over a yellow mushroom which, when cut in half, bruises blue right before our eyes. Our basket remains empty; each of these finds deemed inedible or questionable for one reason or another. Powers is the first person to admit he is not a mycologist, but it is clear he is an informed and careful forager. With plants and fungi falling into such large genera, getting it right – especially when serving the public – is crucial. The similarities between an edible specimen and an inedible one can be subtle, so knowing exactly what qualities to look for is imperative. Powers educates us on the various traits of the

Foraging is not a try-this-at-home activity, unless you have been taught by a professional and have allowed yourself a lot of careful practice.

mushrooms we found – real gills versus false gills; how the color white is usually a quality to stay away from; how, for certain varieties, single-growing mushrooms are safer than similar-looking specimens growing in clusters. Powers has spent a tremendous amount of time educating himself through books, videos, and hiking with other chefs, in order to learn how to safely forage; yes, he reminds me that foraging is not a try-this-at-home activity, unless you have been taught by a professional and have allowed yourself a lot of careful practice. Even Lucy knows this lesson well; these days, she hikes beside him, no longer in a carrier on his back. She knows to ask Dad first before touching anything: advice we all should follow before attempting to forage. I imagine that, when we find what we were looking for, it will be a scene straight out of a movie. We’ll round a bend in the trail and there will be “The Spot,” just off the path – a lone, fallen tree in a grassy clearing, illuminated by a shaft of sunlight breaking through the cover of the trees, the fungi growing from the damaged bark glittering in the sunlight. When we do finally find edible oyster mushrooms toward 98

CT Food & Farm / Fall 2016


the end of our hike, it gives me a better feeling than the theatrical one I had envisioned: sweet satisfaction. At last, something we can bring back to the kitchen! And yet, upon closer inspection, we discover they are soaking wet from the rain, and speckled with bugs. Again, unusable. With our hiking time nearing an end, we turn around to head back down the trail, checking to see if we missed anything the first time around. “Timing is everything,” Powers said wisely. Perhaps if we had found the oyster mushrooms a day earlier before the rain, they would have made it to the kitchen. We leave the forest with empty baskets. Do we reschedule for another time? No way – we improvise – just as chefs do day in and day out. Back at the Millwright’s kitchen, Powers gathers ingredients for his dish out of the walk-in, including chanterelles sourced from his usual, local purveyor. Powers moves agilely around the kitchen, giving equal attention to this dish as to the chefs who begin to arrive to prep for dinner service. Bantering lightheartedly with his staff, he shucks and juices late summer corn, roasts pungent leeks and tender chicken, and cooks a ragout of the chanterelles, corn kernels, chopped leeks, diced shallots and herbaceous lovage cream. In a matter of minutes, the dish comes together, complete with a drizzle of chicken jus and the most enchanting, crispy chicken skin. As Powers’ dish is being photographed for this story, I am blindsided with the “Holy Grail” moment I expected in the woods. The dish, poised on a dining room table, is floodlit by a beam shining off the river just outside the window. The chanterelles are the star of the dish; they aren’t straight out of Talcott Mountain State Park as we had hoped, but out of a kitchen whose chef de cuisine is well-versed in flavors and in foraging. Just as it is in the forest, timing is everything in a professional kitchen – it’s putting product to plate à la minute, and using seasonal ingredients in a likewise menu. For Jesse Powers, cooking is the thrill of the hunt, whether that hunt takes place in the woods or in the walk-in. It’s working with what you find, or what you are given. We may not have found what we were looking for on our foraging adventure in the woods, but we found it on an artful plate from Powers’ kitchen.


CT Food & Farm / Fall 2016



CT Food & Farm / Fall 2016

Kinship& Coriander by Kelley Citroni Bet you didn’t know there was a lunch rush in Eastford. Better yet, if I put a map in front of you, could you even find it? Not to worry. By the time you finish digesting this issue of CT Food and Farm Magazine, you’ll know precisely where it is, and what you’ve been missing for six years. When tasked with checking out Coriander Café and Country Store, there’s no question as to who will join me. My older brother Tim is a shoein for any outing that involves a ride through Eastern Connecticut, people-watching, and a hearty, homemade meal. A chef-turned-machinist, Timmie is my culinary true north; at 190 lbs., he can eat more than anyone I know. After checking out Coriander Café’s menu, it’s clear this place has his name all over it. When I tell him that there’s a Porterhouse Pork Chop on the menu (a “Porkerhouse,” if you will), he even offers to drive. Heading east from Hartford, we get off the Interstate in Tolland and head down Route 74 from there. We find Coriander Café in a charming, red, wooden house with white trim and a small porch nestled in the sweet spot just past Natchaug State Forest, before you hit Pomfret Center. The road to Eastford is windy and circuitous, much like the route Chef and Owner Brett Laffert’s own life took to get there. Small-town New England is in Chef Brett’s blood. He describes his hometown of Granville, MA ( just north of Granby at the foothills of the

Winter Caplanson Photos Berkshire Mountains) as “even more country than Eastford.” He attended New England Culinary Institute in Montpelier, VT and applied his degree on both coasts from Denver, CO and Big Sur, CA to Nantucket and Boston. Previously operated under the name Red and White, the business has always comprised a restaurant and country store in varying proportions. When Chef Brett opened Coriander Café and Country Store in 2011 – his brothers Scott and Jason by his side – he initially pursued a country-store-only model. Realizing it wasn’t their niche, the Lafferts designed a space that offers a cozy dining room, a take-out counter, and outdoor patio seating in the shade, serving breakfast and lunch seven days a week, and dinner Wednesday through Saturday. We arrive with breakfast food in mind; however, one look at the lunch menu, and we decide to divide and conquer. Our server asks if we’re in the mood for breakfast or lunch. All we say is, “yes.” The breakfast menu hits all the classics including egg sandwiches and steel-cut oatmeal, buildyour-own omelets, sticky, decadent cinnamon buns, and dense, buttery coffee cake. I opt for Apple Cheddar Pancakes and a side of crispy bacon (because you can never have too many things to dip in maple syrup), served alongside the In-House Bottomless Mug of Red Barn Coffee. Tim goes for the Meatloaf Sandwich



CT Food & Farm / Fall 2016

“My parents have been my rock, and I’ve certainly leaned on them,” he says. His staff is like family, and his drive is powered by Coriander’s regular customers.There are reasons that it feels like home.


and we decide to split some Coriander Crab Cakes. The family members seated next to us are clearly regulars and are keeping an eye and an ear on our deliberation; we get smiles of approval after ordering. Now that the hard part is done, I pan across the restaurant and take in its warmth – not just in the hardwood floors and rustic farm tables, but in the pops of color that shine through Chef Brett’s handmade stained glass panels. “My personal interests lean towards the arts,” he says. “I also like to hike and fish to unwind, but there isn’t much time for it.” With a business open every day, I’d say that’s an understatement. I’m wearing flannel for the first time this autumn; Eastford matches that sentiment with its cool sleepiness. But, there’s nothing lethargic about The Café, its diners, or its menu. In fact, I’m struck by its youth. I see people in their 20s, 30s, and 40s: young men and women with old souls. Families are diving into stacks of thick-cut French toast and freshly-baked muffins and scones; a group of friends comes in for sandwiches to-go on their way to Natchaug for a hike; I overhear “Italian Combo,” “Turkey Club,” and “Jacqueline.” I learn later that the Jacqueline is a roasted chicken wrap with crispy bacon, tangy BBQ sauce, cheddar cheese, lettuce and tomato. I can see why Coriander was recently awarded “Best Sandwiches and Grinders” in Norwich Magazine. My pancakes are superb – light-as-a-feather, and full of fresh chunks of apple, some caramelized from hitting the griddle. The apples are likely from Buell’s Orchard in Eastford or Lapsley Orchard in Pomfret Center, two farms from which Chef Brett prefers to purchase his produce. Buell’s specializes in orchard fruit, selling prepicked and pick-your-own strawberries, blueberries, and peaches in the summer, apples, and pears in the autumn. Lapsley Orchard adds to the selection tender asparagus, corn, seasonal flowers, and pumpkins. In addition to my pancakes, I see those local apples and Vermont cheddar have made their way into the pastry selection. (My Pop used to say that “an apple pie without cheese is like a kiss without a squeeze.” He would have loved it here.)


CT Food & Farm / Fall 2016



CT Food & Farm / Fall 2016



CT Food & Farm / Fall 2016

Timmie stops talking – a universal indication that his sandwich is on-point. It’s a generous, thick-cut piece of moist and perfectly-seasoned meatloaf topped with sweet, caramelized onions, melted cheddar, and spicy ketchup on a ciabatta roll. The loaf itself isn’t too solid, and is light on the fillers, leaving it juicy enough to season the bun. The crab cakes follow suit; they’re packed with lump crab meat, diced veggies, and herbs – none of this breadcrumb-laden nonsense – served on a crunchy Caesar Salad and topped with shaved Asiago cheese. Chef shares that his regulars “will simply not allow” him to take this Marlyand-style dish off the menu. Since our choices are on the traditional side, I look forward to coming back so that I can try some of the lunch and dinner specials like Grilled Flank Steak with wild mushroom barley pilaf and sautéed green beans and the Porterhouse Bone-in Pork Chop, cut thick and served with ham spoon bread, caramelized Brussels sprouts, and topped in apple butter. The Coriander Café and Country Store refreshes their specials menu weekly; Chef Brett stresses the importance of the systemic relationship between what’s seasonally available and his menu offerings – not just because it’s an industry best practice – but because it keeps him from getting bored. I find this especially evident in The Café’s gorgeous and creative list of vegetarian options. Recent specials have included Pomegranate and Avocado Salad – crisp, baby spinach tossed with ruby red grapefruit, avocado, and toasted hazelnuts in a citrus vinaigrette; Fried Chickpea, Tomato, and Dill Salad; and Eggplant “Steak” marinated in vine-ripe tomato chutney and served with grilled asparagus. Coriander’s doesn’t just boast items from local farms – the Country Store features a smattering of CT artisans, selling handmade jewelry, candles, soap, oil, vinegar, maple syrup, preserves, and honey. I see the makings of a killer holiday gift basket. The selection is eclectic and funky without being cluttered.


On our food-comatose drive back to Hartford, I peruse The Café’s Facebook page, and I smile in appreciation of the fact that every review, comment, and photo posted by a patron is responded to by Chef Brett or a member of his team. “Our customers are incredible,” he shares. “They’ve helped me validate my dream, and it fuels me everyday.” Knowing the brutal hours they pull, I have tremendous respect for the Coriander team members making the time to express thanks on an individual basis. It shows a personal touch that is all-too-often lost once a business experiences quick success. It’s obvious that customers are treated like family, that The Café’s dining room acts an extension of their own. It becomes clear to me that I’m not the only one who feels sentimental at Coriander. I brought my brother and was reminded of my grandfather. Chef Brett opened the restaurant with the unwavering support of his parents and his brothers. “My parents have been my rock, and I’ve certainly leaned on them,” he says. His staff is like family, and his drive is powered by Coriander’s regular customers. There are reasons that it feels like home. Coriander Café and Country Store is located at 192 Eastford Rd. in Eastford. Their hours are Sunday and Monday, 8:00 a.m. — 4:00 p.m., Tuesday, 7:00 a.m. — 7:00 p.m., and Wednesday through Saturday, 7:00 a.m. — 8:00 p.m. Breakfast and lunch are served daily, and dinner is served on Wednesday through Saturday, another reason Coriander stands out. Those who work on evenings and weekends can actually enjoy a relaxing breakfast when their "weekend" starts on Monday. Read on for an additional list of our favorite Monday breakfast joints.


CT Food & Farm / Fall 2016


By Rebecca Hansen

Photos by Winter Caplanson at Rise

It’s the stuff of magic fairy dreams. Big, pillowy pancakes dressed with shiny, sticky syrup and dotted with plump blueberries. Eggs Benedict so creamy that they melt upon contact with your tongue. Deep, dark pours of coffee that seem to go on endlessly... you know, brunch. While many enjoy this meal on a leisurely Saturday or Sunday with mimosas in hand, workers in the hospitality, creative, and self-employed industries don’t always

have the luxury of stopping in on a weekend. For us, the weekend doesn’t begin until Monday, which has the unfortunate tradition of also being the day that most restaurants close, leaving our bellies brunch-less. However, dotted throughout Connecticut is a selection of high-quality restaurants that understand our plight; they stay open on Mondays for the non-traditional crowd in search of a Belgian waffle (and bloody Mary or three).


CT Food & Farm / Fall 2016

Mamies Restaurant

162 Baker Rd., Roxbury Monday Hours: 9:00 a.m. – 3:00 p.m.

Set inside a rustic cabin nestled in Litchfield County, Mamie’s has the sort of charm that lets you imagine sitting in your grandmother’s kitchen. With generous helpings and a no-frills menu (if you call incredibly high-quality ingredients “no-frills”), expect a hearty breakfast that starts your “weekend” right. The Maple Cranberry Granola offers a twist on a healthy standard while the basic pancakes can’t be beat.

Sift Bake Shop

5 Water St., Mystic Monday Hours: 7:00 a.m. – Sell Out

The quality at SIFT is etched into every corner of its space. From the open exhibition kitchen to the airy and clean design of the dining room, you feel as though you’ve instantly walked onto a movie set (a very delicious movie set). The chef adheres to a philosophy of only using fresh, top-of-the-line ingredients and produces a rotating menu daily. Here, it’s all about the baked goods, so we recommend grabbing a few of their muffins, some coffee, the paper, and enjoy an hour sitting in a sunny spot.

Hidden Valley Eatery 88 Bee Brook Rd., Washington Monday Hours: 7:00 a.m. – 5:00 p.m.

While the Stars Hollow references abound this hamlet, Hidden Valley eatery truly does bring Luke’s Diner to mind. Homey, local, and incredibly fresh, they up the decor ante with a fabric-draped ceiling that makes you feel as though you’ve entered a secret bungalow, adding an element of mystery to your Monday.

SoNo Baking Company 101 Water St., Norwalk Monday Hours: 7:00 a.m. – 3:00 p.m.

Tucked behind South Norwalk’s main drag, this popular spot gets beyond busy on weekends. Fortunately, come Monday, the families and ladies who brunch have returned to their regularly-scheduled programming and you can settle down to a table with a hunk of crusty bread and a cup of coffee. Bonus: sidle up to the bar along the windows that look into the kitchen and watch as the pastry chefs prepare and bake the day’s fresh offerings.


The Corner Restaurant

105 River St., Milford Monday Hours: 7:30 a.m. – 2:30 p.m.

Behind such a simple name is a restaurant with a menu rife with complex and creative breakfast dishes. From a Spiced Indian Duck Tortilla, to African Hash, to Pecan-Crusted French Toast, this is a great place to get something a little unusual to start your Monday.

The Breakfast Nook

448 Washington Ave., North Haven Monday Hours: 7:00 a.m. – 2:00 p.m.

Not everyone needs (or wants) a brunch-ified menu. The Breakfast Nook keeps it simple and straightforward with a list of breakfast basics complemented by a smattering of creative specials.

Toast, Four Corners

625 Middle Tpke., Storrs Monday Hours: 6:00 a.m. – 2:-00 p.m.

Near UCONN Storrs, the weekends may see this breakfast spot overrun with college students in search of a hearty (and inexpensive) breakfast. Come Monday, however, the scene is decidedly more sedate. And, you won’t have to fight a co-ed for the last fresh-baked muffin.


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Cosmic Omelete

485 Hartford Rd., Manchester Monday Hours: 6:00 a.m. – 2:00 p.m.

There’s something a little trippy about this restaurant’s vibe, which has turned it into a cult-favorite. While plenty of traditional breakfast standards are available, the highlight – as the name suggests – is the omelet menu. Specials rotate weekly (sometimes daily), so you’re always sure you’re getting the freshest of the fresh.


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10 Water St., Mystic Monday Hours: 7:00 a.m. – 2:00 p.m.

With two spots on our list, it appears Mystic is becoming a Monday-brunch Mecca. RISE serves breakfast anytime, especially good for those of us who worked a late shift and need a bit more time to get out of bed. Beyond the staples, the chef offers surprises studded throughout the menu, like the PB&B (egg, peanut butter, and bacon on an English muffin).


by Laura Graham


CT Food & Farm / Fall 2016

Photos by Jake Snyder of Red Skies Photography



CT Food & Farm / Fall 2016

ry stone construction quietly holds our State's history. Crisscrossing Connecticut lies a cultural patrimony of landforms built in stone. Like the great cathedrals of Europe, the majority of this stone work was built in total anonymity. While the stone walls of Connecticut may not soar to the same heights and refinement as cathedrals, anyone who has ever embarked on building even the simplest wall understands the magnitude of the labor involved, and appreciates the beauty that labor creates. Maybe you have just bought a small farm or an historic home in Connecticut, or maybe you were even lucky enough to have inherited one. Chances are, there will be stone walls or some kind of historic stone construction on the property. Speaking with professional dry stone waller Karl Gifford from East Baldwin, Maine, he teaches me some of the history of the craft. The earliest stone walls in the United States were built by European colonists in the 1600s. With the immediate need for food and shelter, they quickly set to chopping down trees for wood and clearing small plots. Once the trees were removed, it only took a couple of frost-and-thaw cycles for great numbers of rocks to rise to the surface. The rocky soil – similar to settlers’ native England and Northern Europe – was cleared of stones to maintain areas of tillable soil. These original fields were small due to the intensive work needed to create them. The resulting walls are known as "thrown walls," "farmer's walls," or "rubble walls." There was no need to create any height, and the main goal was to clear the fields quickly. These walls were generally informal in construction. As colonial settlements increased in size, more livestock was introduced. At first, animals were kept in commons, or communal lands. Later, as land became more privatized and sheep farms were introduced, the construction of stone walls exploded in popularity. Construction became more advanced; the walls became bigger and were used to contain livestock away from the fields where the crops were grown. A new technique was introduced; the double-faced wall with "hearting," a Scottish term which describes filling the middle of the wall with smaller stones. Some wood fencing was used, but stone walls lasted longer and were more reliable. This intense proliferation of stone walls continued throughout the 1800s until Joseph Glidden invented and patented barbed wire in 1874 (an invention that incidentally made him one of the richest men in America). If your property has more structured walls, those probably appeared later with the arrival of estates and the factories of the Industrial Revolution. Dry stone – or mortar-free


construction – continued in mill foundations, dams, and culverts. Today, some of these historic dry stone constructions may have had mortar added for repair. A tremendous amount of research has been conducted on stone walls and their history. For a thorough analysis of their historical and social implications, Karl recommends Susan Allport's Sermons in Stone. University of Connecticut Geology Professor Robert Thorson and author of Stone by Stone: The Magnificent History of New England’s Stone Walls is an ardent defender against the dismantlement and removal of Connecticut's historic stone walls. His Stone Wall Initiative has been instrumental in raising awareness of the importance of historic stone walls to regional cultural identity. This awareness has led to new State laws and town ordinances for stone walls’ protection. Today, the art of the dry stone waller craftsman continues, and it is predominantly used in the realm of private homes, parks, and public buildings. It can be seen in retaining walls, raised beds, steps, and patios.

Dry stone construction quietly holds our State's history. Crisscrossing Connecticut lies a cultural patrimony of landforms built in stone.

Traditionalists prefer to use locally-sourced stone. New England field stone is preferred and is available in rounded, squared, or flat pieces. Veneer stone is cut to have a nice face, and is usually mortared onto a surface. Blue stone is common for patios, and Pennsylvania wall stone is the cheapest commercially available stone. Some of the excellent dry stone wallers working today are self-taught; they fell in love with the 128

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art and kept at it until they built enough of a reputation to create a career. Others have more formal training. Elliott Hayden of Hampton is a farmer, a mason, and a Masonry teacher at H.H. Ellis Technical High School in Danielson. A graduate of that program himself, Elliott learned all kinds of masonry – not just dry stone work. His uncle was a traditional mason, as is his cousin Ian McDonald, who lives and works in Killingly. In Southeastern Connecticut, there is a well-known dry stone waller named David Higginbotham. He is entirely self-taught, but has built a reputation that has garnered him work in some of the most beautiful local historic homes. Working alongside David, Edward Coombs is another young stone mason by trade. Together, Dave and Eddie have rebuilt numerous stone walls in the area, in addition to building and restoring stone patios, steps, walkways, and chimneys. Brian Cooper of Early New England Restoration Group has done work with local Native Americans to relocate and restore some of their historic buildings and stone walls. For relocation, he numbers each stone to remain true to the original design. Brian’s passion is restoring historic homes down to the tiniest detail of hand-wrought nails. He is dedicated to preserving historic homes and the prerequisite expertise. “I believe that restoration is not only about the preservation of historic buildings, but the preservation of the craftsmanship that is required to save these significant structures. Walking through the ashes of a burned down 1780s cape, I managed to salvage the only survivors of that intentional fire: hand wrought nails. This was just one of many buildings prior to and since, unable to escape such a fate, and it awakened a passion in me,” says Brian. “The possibility of breathing new life into homesteads that continue to exist in our landscape centuries after they were built became my calling, and in 1977, Early New England Restorations was conceived. Today, my focus remains the same: first, to preserve history, be architecturally



CT Food & Farm / Fall 2016

“ Today, my focus remains the same: first, to preserve history, be architecturally respectful, and build to last the test of time, and second, to preserve the craft by passing on those skills to the next generation.�


respectful, and build to last the test of time, and second, to preserve the craft by passing on those skills to the next generation.� While interviewing Karl Gifford (who is also my brother-in-law), I learned about a renowned English dry stone waller named Andrew Pighills who now lives in Connecticut. Originally from Yorkshire, Andrew first came to the United States in 2000 for a two-week vacation to visit a friend. This friend encouraged him to stay longer, and Andrew found dry stone work to help pay for the trip. During the stay, he was introduced to a woman who would later become his American wife, Michelle. The rest is history. Andrew and Michelle now own Stonewell Farm in Killingworth. The couple has built a career creating spectacular dry stone, Englishstyle gardens. Around age 10, Andrew, the son of a farmer, was helping his father repair stone boundary walls; at age 16, Andrew was repairing the walls by himself. He liked the work and decided to make it his career. By age 20, he was a professional with his own business. Andrew became a Dry Stone Walling Instructor, certified by the Dry Stone Walling Association of Great Britain and a Certified Advanced Craftsman with the same Association. This organization has a small but dedicated membership here in New England, as well. Once in his 40s, Andrew attended a 132

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two-year gardening program through the Royal Horticultural Society. Combining this new knowledge with his wife Michelle's good eye – developed through her fine arts background – allowed them to expand into advanced, English garden design work. Stonewell Farm is a bustling hive of activity. It is here that Andrew teaches dry stone walling classes which draw people from all over the country. Collaborating with local chef Paul Barron, Andrew and Michelle also hold pop-up dinners in their garden, showcasing their outdoor wood-fired stone oven which Andrew built. The sweeping beauty of their property has attracted the attention of people getting married and is often a site for wedding photographs. An hour before Karl Gifford and my sister were to be married, my sister dove into the nearby lake and swam a mile across and back to burn off her nervous energy. In the meantime, I watched Karl and a fellow dry stone waller rebuild the large steps leading out of our family's 1820 farmhouse. Armed with their craftsmen’s knowledge and simple crowbars, Karl and Jeremy lifted the large slabs of granite and whirled them into place. I watched in wonder. I quickly braided my sister's wet hair, helped her into her dress, and she stepped through the threshold, onto the new stone steps. She married a stone whisperer.



CT Food & Farm / Fall 2016

The Basics of Repairing a Dry Stone Wall ry stone walls come in many designs and sizes, but there are some basic tenets to adhere to as Dry Stone Walling Instructor Andrew Pighills has taught me.

First, some vocabulary: n

Foundation Stones: usually the largest stones, as they support

the wall n First Lift: the section of wall between the foundation stones and the through stones n Through Stones: long stones that reach all the way through the wall and tie the wall together n Second Lift: the section of wall between the through stones and the cap stones n Cap Stones: Large stones that reach across the top of the wall (like a through stone) and prevent large animals from dislodging the smaller stones of the second lift when scratching an itch To repair a fallen section of a dry stone wall, first sort the fallen rocks by type and remove any portion of the wall that seems unstable. Study the wall's design and determine if you have enough materials to rebuild the design or if you need to gather more. You may need to clear the section of the broken wall entirely and realign the foundation stones. Use your building lines and pins to keep your work level and straight as you build. If you are starting a new wall or adding a new section to an old wall, the site must first be cleared of any organic matter or black soil. Organic matter will decompose and settle, compromising the foundation. Dig a trench at least 6” wider than the width of the wall, and as deep as 1⁄3 of the finished wall’s height. A 3’ wall would require a 1’ trench. Fill the trench to within 3”-6” grade with 1.5” of clean crushed stone and compact. This creates a free draining base which greatly reduces the


chance of frost heave in the cold New England winters. When you build, remember that it is gravity and friction alone that hold together a dry stone wall. Ideally, each stone should have as much contact with its surrounding stones as possible. "Two over one, one over two" is the basic rule; every joint should be crossed, as with brickwork. Stones should be placed with their length into the center of the wall, and not along its face. The hearting stones should be placed as carefully as the face stones. Never use crushed stone or gravel to replace hearting, as it has no structural integrity. Always bring up the middle of the wall with the hearting stones at the same time that you build the two faces of the wall. Place the through stones at about knee height; they are large enough to span the wall from front to back. They add structural integrity to the wall and are usually spaced about one yard apart from one another. Add a second hearted layer and finish with the large cap stones. Corners and ends are a bit trickier. Select these stones with great care and again, follow the “two over one, one over two� technique and alternate crossing the wall and running parallel to the wall. Use your heaviest cap stones to hold the corners and ends stone in place. A well-designed wall should gradually narrow as it increases in height.

Dress for Success: n

Wear solid footwear – ideally with protective toecaps.

Gloves are a good idea. n Protective eyewear is a must when breaking stones with a hammer (even when they drop by mistake and break, sharp chips can fly a considerable distance). n Always avoid loose clothing. n

A Dry Waller's Tools:

A selection of hammers of various weight and size to break stones if needed, and also to tap them into place n Building lines with pins n Measuring tape to keep your work visually accurate and more structurally sound n


CT Food & Farm / Fall 2016


From New Orleans to New Milford:

Getting to Know Chef Joel Viehland By Hilary Adorno Photos by Winter Caplanson


CT Food & Farm / Fall 2016


Did you know we have a celebrity chef in our midst? Chef Joel Viehland has planted roots in Northwest Connecticut and by early 2017, will have two establishments for his patrons to enjoy. Here is a little about his history, experience, and what he is doing to promote local food and farms: Joel Viehland grew up in Milwaukee, the youngest of three children born to hardworking parents of modest means. By their example, Joel learned the valueof discipline, respect, and determination Joel’s mother loved to bake and cook for her family, and five nights a week, she did just that. Sunday was deemed “everyone fend for themselves” night. As far back as Joel can remember, he spent Sunday nights figuring out how to make a grilled cheese sandwich better. With no aspirations to work in the restaurant industry, Joel took the job he could get: bus boy at a local restaurant where his sister worked. After spilling several glasses of ice water on an elderly woman, Joel was sent to the back of the house where he was put in front of the dishwasher. Shortly thereafter, he started in the dish room at Café Knickerbocker; within six months, he was running the pantry station under the supervision of Chef Robert Wagner. Joel’s quick uptake in the kitchen was apparent, but a formal culinary education was financially out of reach. Knowing this, Chef Wagner urged Joel to enter a recipe contest – the winner to receive a partial scholarship to Johnson & Wales University College of Culinary Arts. With the help of Chef Wagner, Joel entered grilled scallops with infused chili oil and Japanese eggplant. Joel’s dish won for the State of Wisconsin and shortly thereafter, he was off to Providence, Rhode Island. In 1997, with his culinary education complete, Joel moved to the Big Apple. He worked at Gramercy Tavern, helmed by Tom Colicchio (five-time James Beard Award recipient and judge on Bravo’s “Top Chef”), then for Food & Wine Magazine’s “Best New Chef” Katy Sparks. Before there was an official farm-to-table movement, Katy was aligning with local farmers and artisans in order to produce seasonal dishes at her renowned NYC


CT Food & Farm / Fall 2016



CT Food & Farm / Fall 2016

restaurant Quilty’s. Joel cites Katy as influential in his career; “Katy is extremely intelligent and her techniques are astute and well-thought. She taught me how to train my palate to gain a better understanding of the science behind seasoning,” he said. All told, Joel spent three -and-a-half years in the New York culinary scene, with a sequence of very impressive mentors. In 2001, Joel ventured south to New Orleans where he worked for Susan Spicer at Bayona, Donald Link at Herbsaint, Scott Boswell at Stella!, and Emeril Lagasse at Emeril’s. Joel fondly recalls his New Orleans experience, pointing to two important figures: Donald Link, who taught Joel how to make traditional Cajun food elegant by isolating the bold flavors in order to maximize their potential; and, Emeril Lagasse for being an amazingly competent communicator. “Emeril’s awareness was uncanny. He was able to quickly assess situations and explain exactly what he needed in an organized manner. He also was an excellent businessman and I learned a lot about the legal and financial side of the restaurant business,” said Joel. “Emeril was a gentleman who cared deeply about his staff. Never was this made clearer than in 2005 when Hurricane Katrina devastated most of New Orleans. Emeril donated money, found lodging for his staff, and redistributed all employees to his other restaurants.”

As far back as Joel can remember, he spent Sunday nights figuring out how to make a grilled cheese sandwich better.

Once the Emeril’s flagship location was back on the grid, Joel was dispatched to be tasting chef, responsible for writing, creating, ordering, and cooking the menu fully-dedicated to the VIPs who frequent the restaurant. The last eight years Joel spent in New Orleans was at Stella!, an innovative restaurant using relatively unique tools like Cryovacs and Pacojets – it was molecular gastronomy in its infancy and Joel was at the forefront. Joel explained to me that trends in restaurants tend to follow art, fashion, and music. When he was deciding his next move, he considered all three. It was 2007, and El Bulli and Mugaritz, both in Spain, were considered the best restaurants in the world. However, Joel sensed the trends were favoring another direction: Nordic. In order to confirm this hunch, Joel sent his sister-inlaw (who was attending college in Copenhagen) on a reconnaissance mission to check out Noma, as he believed it on track to be the next big thing. With her assurances, Joel applied for a position and was quickly brought on as an intern. Within two months, he was working as a stagier, plating and cooking at what would


The last eight years Joel spent in New Orleans was at Stella!, an innovative restaurant using relatively unique tools like Cryovacs and Pacojets – it was molecular gastronomy in its infancy and Joel was at the forefront.


Joel explained to me that trends in restaurants tend to follow art, fashion, and music. When he was deciding his next move, he considered all three.

become “the Most Influential Restaurant in the World” in 2010, 2011, 2012, and 2014 by Restaurant Magazine. In a 2015 documentary entitled Noma, My Perfect Storm, Executive Chef René Redzepi explained Noma’s simple core concept: “Time and place — every day, serve a meal that tells guests where they are in the world and what season it is.” These days, reservations at Noma must be made at least four months in advance and sell out faster than a Rolling Stones concert. Once Joel’s work visa ran out, he was forced to return to the States with the understanding he would return to Noma once he could secure an extension. Shortly thereafter, a financial crisis struck Denmark and a freeze was placed on work visas. As a result, Joel was not able to go back. Serendipitously, around this time, came an unexpected call. Katy Sparks had been brought in as the consulting chef for a new restaurant in rural Washington, Connecticut with “Nordic sensibilities:” Community Table. It was in search of an executive chef; Katy recommended Joel.


CT Food & Farm / Fall 2016

Within five years, Joel put Community Table on the culinary map, receiving a total of three James Beard Award nominations for Best Chef: Northeast and Best New Restaurant. Itching to ignite the flame of his own vision, Joel left Community Table in 2015; in March 2016, Joel opened The Pine Leaf Café in a charming white cottage on the banks of the Aspetuck River in New Milford. The Pine Leaf Café offers made-to-order seasonalbreakfast and lunch fare: soups, salads, sandwiches, and paninis. In keeping with his ethos, Joel works to incorporate organic and locally-sourced ingredients. For example, he uses Zero Prophet Coffee, a micro-roaster out of Washington, to supply roasted-fresh-to-order coffee beans. Joel is constantly hunting for native resources that provide humanely-raised, antibiotic-free proteins and non-GMO foods. The menu is simple, yet polished – all delicious and fresh. Open from April to December, you may enjoy indoor or outdoor seating, the latter offering a rippling river. (Side note: get the Cubano.)



CT Food & Farm / Fall 2016

The Pine Leaf Café is located at 354 Litchfield Rd., New Milford; it is open Monday through Saturday, 8:00 a.m. – 4:00 p.m. and Sundays, 9:00 a.m. – 3:00 p.m. (closed on Tuesdays). Joel’s next endeavor is currently unnamed, but under construction in one of the oldest buildings in Kent. It will be a 70-seat restaurant featuring al fresco dining, craft beer, wood-fired pizza, and shared plates; it’s scheduled to open in spring 2017. *Pine Leaf was a historically significant female Native American chief. She was captured and adopted by the Apsáalooke (Crow) Nation as a child. She would go on to become one of their fiercest warriors. My favorite excerpt about her explains how she was named, written by one of her suitors, James Beckwourth. Pine Leaf refused his proposals of marriage multiple times, conceding she would marry him only “when the pine leaves turn yellow.” Beckwourth eventually realized that pine leaves do not turn yellow.


Contributors Hilary Adorno

loves Reynolds Girdler, animals, learning (anything), clean sheets, and the worst that reality television has to offer. She loathes manmade fibers, disrespectful people, airplanes, and beets. Loving life in Litchfield County, Hilary designs beaded jewelry and contributes to several Connecticut magazines, including this beautiful publication.

Amy Benson

can usually be found poking around antique shops or wandering historic neighborhoods. When she is not looking for patina-laden treasures, she works as a freelance digital designer.

Winter Caplanson

is Editor in Chief and Lead Photographer for Connecticut Food and Farm Magazine. Her professional niche is gorgeous photography for marketing. She has a sixth sense for knowing which pictures will best tell the story of a farm, food, or handcraft business and forge a connection with customers.

Kelley Citroni

is Editor of and contributing author to Connecticut Food and Farm Magazine. She is a full-time grantwriter and is determined to eradicate bad grammar and syntax. Progress is slow, but she's in it for the long haul.

Dan Dzen

is a 21 year-old, fourth-generation farmer from South Windsor. Believing he was born 100 years too late, his hobbies include lecturing about the U.S. Constitution and preparing to become a career fireman.

Margit Fish

loves capturing the sweet, candid moments of life; she is the co-owner of Full of Whimsy Design and Photography.

Gena Golas

is the HR director for a local catering company who sometimes gets to sneak away into the pastry kitchen to make a wedding cake or two. As a lover of all things pie, gravy, and stuffing, she is happily eating for two again this Thanksgiving season.


CT Food & Farm / Fall 2016

Laura Graham

is a deacon at her church, and sells excellent craft bourbon.

Rebecca Hansen

gave up her first choice career as a ballerina princess to be a writer (much better on the joints, anyway). She spends her days coming up with clever tweets, explaining to a three-year old why it's not a good idea to eat straight butter, and attempting to perfect the chocolate chip cookie (a fool's mission).

Jennifer Marcuson

currently resides Québec City, but is a Connecticut native, and is always making plans for her big move back into New England. For now, she will settle for long weekend trips and summers spent with her camera and her family in their 1987 camper-van – camping in the White Mountains ore along the coastline – and at as many farms as she can find.

Justin Morales

is the executive bar director at Bear's Smokehouse BBQ and has traveled internationally to broaden his knowledge of brews, spirits, and social cocktailing. He is a two-time Winner of the Faith Middleton Food Snooze Martini Competition.

Lisa Nichols

does double duty as lead designer and freelance photographer for Connecticut Food and Farm Magazine. She is forever grateful to our fearless and inspiring editor for being given the opportunity to design this magazine's inner pages and go on assignment photographing intriguing subjects. In her free time she prowls the streets documenting life there with her project "The Route".

Maya Oren

is the cinematic-short-films-maker behind MOJALVO, a visually-driven agency that specializes in telling the stories behind the culinary, fashion, and travel worlds. When she is not making visual content (which is not often), she can be found doing yoga, cafe-hopping, or strumming guitar. She enjoys writing, especially when it’s in the form of a handwritten letter.

Rita Rivera

is a graphic designer and illustrator who is horrible to play board games with and is addicted to cheese.

Matt Skobra

left the chef life behind to farm with his partner, Callah, at The Tiny Acre in Woodstock. They use bio-intensive farming techniques to grow diverse, delicious, and nutritious produce, and specialize in adorable baby vegetables chefs love to use in their restaurant kitchens. That's called full circle.

Amy Smith

is a wife of one, mom of five, homeschooler, former dairy goat farmer, current maple syrup producer, and soon-tobe grandmother! A 4-H leader in New London County for more than 10 years, she loves to share her excitement for what 4-H can do for youth. She writes of her family's adventures in 4-H and life, while occasionally waxing philosophical on her blog.

Jake Snyder

is master’s student at UCONN Avery Point where he studies the synergistic effects of ocean acidification and increasing temperature on the growth and survival of nearshore fish. He’s also the owner and photographer behind Red Skies Photography, where he focuses his efforts on teaching others how to better their own craft.

Winter Caplanson

Winter Caplanson


“ Indian summer comes gently, folds over the hills and valleys as softly as the fall of a leaf on a windless day. It is always unexpected. After a sharp cold spell, we wake one morning and look out and the very air is golden. The sky has a delicate dreamy color, and the yet unfallen leaves on the bravest trees have a secure look, as if they would never, never fall.� -Gladys Taber, Stillmeadow Seasons

Winter Caplanson Photo

Connecticut Food & Farm, Fall 2016, Volume 6