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Contents Summer 2016 VOLUME Partnership in Pastry: 4 AMystic's new SIFT Bakery by laura graham

fair in the U.S.: 16 Oldest Brooklyn Fair Winter Caplanson by

Those who enjoy 40 To snug club rooms KellEy Citroni by

at Large 48 Love Jessica Giordani by


Jitter bus: calming 82 The nerves among new haven food trucks


eats and local 86 beach treats by REBECCA HANSEN

Benvenuti 90 community building 70 Arethusa through farming in paradiso Philip Griffin and Morgan Osborn by Hilary adorno


community 102 CLick: cooperative by Michelle Firestone

108 Contributors Photo Winter Caplanson


CT Food & Farm / Summer 2016


by Laura Graham photographs by Anna Sawin

exudes the kind of physical and personal energy that one would expect from a presidential candidate. Or rather, the kind it takes to embark on an entrepreneurial enterprise that requires working 130 hour weeks, one after another, after another. It is the effort required to make magic happen. At SIFT, Young's new bakery in downtown Mystic, magic happens. If you seek the mundane, look elsewhere. From savory to sweet, each offering takes not one, but two steps beyond expectation. Exquisite loaves of bread, sandwiches, brownies, cookies, cakes, macarons and chocolates are created with an inspired twist.You cannot leave this bakery without something truly special in your hands. SIFT's opening has been overwhelmingly successful. Chef Young and his team had hoped for one thousand customers the first week; instead, they got several thousand! Mother's Day found the bakery packed with an enormous line out the door. When I arrive the following week, the shop is bustling, yet spotless, and perfectly organized.  Chef Adam grew up on a dairy farm in Vermont where long hours and hard work were the norm. His parents were the first in a series of mentors; he speaks with respect about those who taught him, and about the importance of establishing credentials. Entering the workforce as a dishwasher at a local restaurant in his hometown, Young worked his way up though the kitchen and then enrolled in the New England Culinary Institute at age 17. From there, he cooked in a series of fine dining restaurants; Chef Adam first honed his pastry skills in New Orleans under the mentorship of French Master Chef René Bajeux at Rene Bistro, and Pastry Chef Joy Jessup at La Côte Brasserie. His next step – Head Pastry Chef at Quail Valley Golf and River Club in Vero Beach, Florida under the direction of Chef Jose Faria. In 2010, Chef Adam returned to New England to work as Executive Pastry Chef at Ocean House in Watch Hill, Rhode Island.



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When I arrive at SIFT, he is consulting with bride from New York on her wedding cake. Recently married himself (he met his wife Ebbie at Ocean House), he speaks with patience and understanding, assisting the bride in formulating her vision. Adam presents a selection of cakes and pastries for both the bride and her mother to sample. When they ask if he could create a cake for 150 people, he humbly replies that he handled weddings for 1,000 guests at Ocean House. With gleaming stainless steel, glossy, white-painted surfaces, and large plate glass windows, SIFT is a showcase of product and process. The interior is American in feel, yet the pastries, presented on white ceramic platters, are decidedly European. The confections are as much about innovative presentation as they are taste. As customers make their purchases, each item is lovingly packaged on its own. I chat with the four friendly women working behind the counter, and they tell me that in addition to Chef Young, there are seven bakers in the kitchen, and 18 front-of-house employees. SIFT is open seven days per week, 7:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m., but baking begins at 2:00 a.m. I get the impression that they never really close. Originally Chef Adam and Ebbie thought SIFT would be a primarily wholesale operation. The retail space is compact, adding to the European feel. With only a couple of places to actually sit, SIFT was not designed as a place to linger. Adam tells me that his vision was for customers to go out and enjoy the beautiful town of Mystic – to take his pastries to the park near the river, or eat while strolling through downtown or the nearby Mystic Seaport. SIFT's retail is so popular though, that it has now become a priority. Chef Adam and Ebbie plan to add awnings and outdoor seating right away. Ebbie and and Stella – the couple’s two-month old daughter – come to join us. Ebbie shares how things materialized between her and Adam – personally and professionally. "It was kind of hard at first, because we worked together at Ocean House, and it didn't seem professional to be in a relationship at work; but, Adam was persistent!" The idea of SIFT evolved as their relationship did.

With gleaming

stainless steel,

glossy, white-

painted surfaces,

and large plate

glass windows,


is a showcase of product

and process.

To say the least, it is a big step to go from a regular paycheck to your own bricks-and-mortar place and a team of employees (and the payroll that comes with it). Adam and Ebbie talk about the process: finding the right piece of real estate (with the help of local realtor Judi Caracausa); looking for investors; and finding a way to finance it themselves through local Chelsea Groton Bank. Adam used Business Plan Pro software to draft a business plan which he used to present to the Bank and potential investors. The process took several months; now, the business plan helps in the daily running of the business.



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Gorgeous Vegetable Quiches made with asparagus, spinach, shallots, garlic, and local chevre from Beltane Farm in Lebanon.


Traditional brioche dough - equal parts dough and butter - is used as the base for SIFT’s sinful Pecan Sticky Buns with Salted Toffee.

Milk Chocolate Hazelnut Orange Blossom Crème Brûlée Entremet with a Micro Hazelnut Macaron and Tempered Chocolate Garnish.


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Flaky Almond Croissants baked with slivered almonds, split in half, and piped with almond mousse.

Every bite of Pain d’Epi maintains its crunch and is ideal for dipping in soup.


Adam tells me

that his vision

was for customers to go out and

enjoy the beautiful town of Mystic – to take his pastries to the park near the river, or eat while strolling

through downtown or the nearby

Mystic Seaport.

Ebbie explains that Adam completed a lion’s share of the physical construction, from laying the tile floor to hanging sheet rock. He designed the interior himself, and she helped him select some of the colors, which reflect the cool nautical tones of a New England seaport. Adam’s goal was to make the baking process as accessible as possible to the consumer. From both the retail space and the exterior, customers can look through large plate glass windows, right into the kitchen, and watch the bakers at work. There are so many panes, you can peer through the entire building from front to back to see sun light glinting off the water of the Mystic River. A woman comes into the shop and greets Adam like a close friend. She is a former student of his from when he taught holiday baking classes at Ocean House. Adam tells me how much he enjoys teaching. “Once you master a skill, giving back to the community by passing that knowledge along is the right thing to do.” When he worked in Florida, Adam donated teaching time to Daisy's Bakery, an organization that works with kids from at-risk backgrounds. Now that he is the owner of his own business, he discusses the importance of mentoring employees so they have something to take away from their job, beside a paycheck. To keep things interesting, he and his team create at least one new product for the store each day. Given their current work load – with a brand new business and baby – it seems almost cruel to ask, but I can’t help it. "Future plans?" Adam gives me a huge grin. "A large wholesale business? A commissary kitchen? A cooking school?” Ebbie arches an eyebrow at him and then laughs. Personally, I have no doubt whatever their endeavors, these two will pull it off.

SIFT Bake Shop is located at 5 Water Street, Mystic, CT (860) 245-0541 /


CT Food & Farm / Summer 2016


Written and Photographed by Winter Caplanson


CT Food & Farm / Summer 2016


he Brooklyn Fair is the oldest agricultural fair in the country, and while that claim to fame might be a good bit of trivia, lead organizer Sandy Eggers couldn’t care less. “That doesn’t matter to me. If the farmers who started the Fair thought we were caught up in trying to portray what they were, they’d laugh. They’d want the Fair to be current. And that’s what we want: to show how agriculture remains a big part of our lives.” The event is run by the Windham County Agricultural Society, of which Eggers is president. Though fair-goers can ride the Ferris Wheel and eat a deepfat-fried Oreo, Brooklyn remains at its core an agricultural fair, not a carnival. The 1809 charter defined the Fair’s goal to be the promotion of agriculture and domestic manufacture. In the show rings, you’ll see working steers, sheep, and dairy cows being assessed, using standardized procedures, by judges who are experts in their niche of agriculture. The judges' feedback to handlers is instructive, designed to teach responsibility and prepare them for competitions at The Big E and at larger fairs throughout New England, New York, and Pennsylvania.


Guests can stroll through the many barns and outdoor animal buildings on the 22-acre fairgrounds to see cows, oxen, horses, sheep, poultry, and rabbits. Connecticut farmers are eager for the chance to compete, to showcase with pride what they do, and to forge a connection with the public to give a glimpse into the current state of farming here. Participants might win a ribbon for fruits and vegetables they’ve grown, for their light-as-air biscuits, handmade quilt, or flower arrangement. Adults and children as young as five years old can participate in competitions. There is no entry fee for contestants, but winners receive premiums. “We’re looking for them to showcase what they do. They are who the Fair is about,” says Eggers. Contests celebrating “agriculture and domestic manufacture” evolve. Harness racing, a Fair staple for more than 100 years, was discontinued in 2001. Brooklyn was the last Connecticut Fair to offer it, but, says Eggers, “Training of race horses wasn’t very active in this area any more. You hate to see anything go, but new events come along, like dog agility, in which people have an interest and can participate." Often now, fair-goers want information on having a few chickens themselves, and on baking, spinning wool, or brewing beer. Adding contests around such interests is a deliberate invitation to attendees to consider such pursuits for themselves. A priority for Fair organizers is keeping the event affordable, family-oriented, and kid-friendly. Parking will set you back only $5, and the gate fee is $10 per adult, with free admission for children younger than 12. The group prides itself on the array of things to do with no additional cost. On top of the agricultural displays, demonstrations and competitions, musicians perform on two stages. “We bring in old-time fiddlers and big-name entertainment who really put on a good show and add to the luster of the Fair,” says Eggers. Although concessions include indulgent “fair foods,” homier choices can be found such as bison burgers from Brooklyn’s own Creamery Brook Bison and the local Grange’s Corn Chowder. You're welcome to bring a picnic from home, as well. One of the components the event's planners are most proud of is Playland, a child-centered hub of free activities tucked in near the livestock and away from things that cost money. Hands-on games with a distinctly agricultural flavor include Milk Maker, Dress the Scarecrow, Tractors, and Help Farmers Harvest Your Food. Children can play in the bubble area, gather around a small stage where a drummer invites them to pick up an instrument, too, learn to make balloon animals with Bella the Clown, and join in on the Donut on a String contest or Veggie


CT Food & Farm / Summer 2016

Connecticut farmers are eager for the chance to compete, to showcase with pride what they do, and to forge a connection with the public to give it a glimpse into the current state of farming here.


Guests can stroll through the many barns and outdoor animal buildings on the 22-acre fairgrounds to see cows, oxen, horses, sheep, poultry, and rabbits.


CT Food & Farm / Summer 2016


Car Racing. Outside the Playland tent, children can explore an interactive village complete with a school, hospital, puppet theater, general store, ice cream shop, post office, and police station. Playland was created specifically to give a family a positive experience. The decision to dedicate so much space and volunteer effort to an aspect of the Fair that generates no revenue, but brings so much joy, is a point of pride for organizers. Exhibits at the Fair include a working blacksmith’s shop and grain mill; vintage tractor, carriage, and car displays; and demonstrations of antique farm and kitchen equipment. Patrons can take in the Dog Show, Ladies Skillet Toss, Woodsmen Show, Motorized Events, Arm Wrestling, or Boys Night Out. “We want so many things happening that no one in a family gets bored,” says Eggers. The work of Brooklyn Fair organizers happens year-round, and if all goes to plan, happens mostly unseen. Balance in programming is critical; profitable components of the Fair, such as carnival rides, help the event as a whole break even. As the the opening date approaches, organizer excitement builds. “I worry,” concedes Eggers, “but that’s my job and no one needs to know that.” The fairgrounds begin to come to life. Organizers come with packed bags, as many of them will be sleeping onsite for a week. The day before opening, vendors and exhibitors arrive, many camping at the fairgrounds for the duration. The Rockwell Amusements crew begins the set-up of the carnival and its own bunk houses and chow tent. Robinson’s Racing Pigs pulls through the gates in the trailer where both people and piglets live while on the road. The Mortlake Fire Company brings in vehicles to provide emergency service in case they are needed, and lays out the parking field which they will oversee. An entrepreneur brings up ATMs. The State Police set up a temporary station at the fairgrounds. This is a community effort, provided without cost to the Fair, whose only paid employees are those who handle trash removal and ticket sales. “There are only a few people who see the whole event from a bird’s eye view, but so many have such passion for their area. For a successful event, we all work together,” explains Eggers. In four days of operation, attendance at the Brooklyn Fair will reach 75,000-90,000. Perfect weather can push that to more than 100,000. Its large economic impact and draw are felt throughout the region as local businesses boom during Fair time. Participants love the Fair most for its social aspect. “Often, we’re busy on our farms and don’t get to see each other. We look


CT Food & Farm / Summer 2016



CT Food & Farm / Summer 2016


forward to hanging out,” says Eggers. In the livestock barns, isles are kept clean and inviting. “We take a lot of pride in showing people our animals.” And then, four days later, the Brooklyn Fair is over for another year. “There’s nothing lonelier in the world than a fairgrounds once everyone has packed up and gone. “But , I don’t sleep well until every body’s out of there in the wee hours of Monday morning. Only a fool rests comfortably if he or she is responsible for inviting that many people in.” For the record, this will be the 207th year of the Brooklyn Fair. Why has it continued to thrive while others like the Connecticut Agricultural Fair (run by the State Grange Association) have died out? “The Windham County Agricultural Society has had its ups and downs, but there has always been a core group of people that cared. There is still a pride and commitment to agriculture and community in this area and the Fair has been the bandwagon that people can jump onto and make their own.



CT Food & Farm / Summer 2016


“Believe it or not, the busiest time for Fair planning is the week after the Fair ends – while it’s all still fresh in our minds, we sit down together. We have a big board on the wall; we list out what went wrong, and customer feedback. It’s important. They’re telling us what they want. Sometimes we read customer comments and think, 'wait, we’re not already doing that? We should be.' “We have run this fair a lot of years; there’ve been a lot of failures. So you do it differently the next year, or you don’t do that event, or you do something else. It makes no difference. That’s how we evolve and stay current. “I have news for you, we’ve never done everything right in our lives and we’re not going to get it all right this year, either. But we’re going to try.” Regular meetings are augmented by “kitchen table” work going on all year. New ideas are gleaned when attending other fairs, and from meetings of the International Association of Fairs and Expositions, and suggested by Fair volunteers. “When people bring us an idea, it means they have a passion; that’s a chance for us to get them involved. Everyone needs an entrance point, a place where they are welcomed to join in. It might be only one of our events at first, but part of it has to really be theirs. These are the people who now sit on our board.” Once you’ve waded in that far, running the event might become a part of your life, as it has been for Sandy Eggers for more than 50 years and counting. “What I remember most is being a little kid showing my chickens at the Brooklyn Fair, and later showing sheep, and hanging out with the cow people. What fun; just a good, good time. I enjoyed showing and the competitions and the camaraderie. I don’t want any kid to miss that opportunity.”

The 2016 Brooklyn Fair runs Aug 25-28: Thursday, 4:00 p.m. – 11:00 p.m., Friday, 8:00 a.m. – 11:00 p.m., Saturday, 8:00 a.m. – 11:00 p.m., and Sunday, 8:00 a.m. – 6:00 p.m. at 15 Fairgrounds Rd., Brooklyn, CT. A complete list of Connecticut fairs can be found here.


CT Food & Farm / Summer 2016


Photo Winter Caplanson 40

CT Food & Farm / Summer 2016

To ThosE WHO ENJOY SNUG CLUB Rooms BY Kelley Citroni Photographs by Winter Caplanson & Rich ROCHLIN

hris Parrott is a polymath. He keeps books behind the bar and gives credit where credit is due. A Connecticut native and career barman, Chris is a self-professed “all-in” sort of guy. Good, bad, or otherwise, when he dines, he devours. And such is the case with Little River Restoratives, a Prohibition Era cocktail bar on Capitol Avenue in Hartford. A collaboration between Parrott and his business partner and co-owner Chef Patrick Micelli (of 50 West in Plainville), Little River Restoratives stays true to its mission to "elevate the low road." Upon entering, Little River Restoratives' aesthetic suggests a mélange of intelligence and irreverence. Do a 360 inside the place and you'll see what I mean. Bartenders are neatly focused on their craft – tincture bottles containing homemade syrups and infusions in front of them – all the while, “Prince of Punks” by the Kinks plays in the background and a stuffed fisher cat and female mannequin hold court from above. Photographer Rich Rochlin and I are greeted by Chris andfellow bartender Alexa Doyer. Alexa has one of those big, genuine laughs that can't be taught or faked, and it represents Little River's authenticity to a tee. She's helping another guest decide on a beverage asking questions about his taste without putting words in his mouth. Together, they elect a bourbon-based bevy and Alexa takes it from there. Meanwhile, Chris prods Rich and I in the same way. What are we in the mood for?


Photo Rich Rochlin

If newcomers aren't sure on Little River Restoratives' dedication to turn-of-the-century technique, it becomes very clear once the menu is opened. It's split into four major categories:


A simple mix of spirits, sweetener, bitters, and ice.


Alcohol, citrus, sugar, water, and spices; traditionally lower-proof due to its self-serve nature.


A thick, spirited beverage made with sugar, citrus, and eggs or cream.

GROGS A long drink or highball with a greater portion of mixer than spirit and larger volume per serving.


CT Food & Farm / Summer 2016

Little River maintains a strong sense of tradition but doesn't get stale within its confines. It's clear the individual making your drink understands the importance of the recipe at hand – and not just its components. Get Chris going, and you'll get more than ratios; you'll get lessons in history and sociology. Take our first beverage, for example: a Blackthorne Sour. (Rich and I opt to try a few punches which fit in seamlessly with the hot, sunny, early evening weather.) Chris smiles and does that thing that makes him stand out – he pulls a book from the shelf: The Ideal Bartender by Tom Bullock. A longtime bartender at the St. Louis Country Club and a legend in his own right, Bullock was the first African American to publish a cocktail manual – first printed in 1917. But he was known long before that. (President Theodore Roosevelt – after being accused of frequent inebriation in the years after his presidency – claimed that the only drink he had after leaving the White House was a mint julep at The St. Louis Country Club. In response, the local paper slated him a liar: "Who was ever known to drink just a part of one of Tom's juleps?") Chris has taken the book's inscription to heart: "To those who enjoy snug club rooms, that they may learn the art of preparing for themselves what is good." Comprising sloe (blackthorne) gin, London Dry gin, Green Chartreuse, house made pineapple syrup, and garnished with fresh lemon peel, the Blackthorne Sour takes on a pale, slightly opaque peach color

Bartenders are neatly focused on their craft – tincture bottles containing homemade syrups and infusions in front of them – all the while, “Prince of Punks” by the Kinks plays in the background and a stuffed fisher cat and female mannequin hold court from above.

Photo Winter Caplanson


with a light and fragrant head. It's served in a customary claret glass; the acidity of the gin, floral and herbal components of the Green Chartreuse, and sweetness of the pineapple syrup blend to create a bright, citrusy punch.

The Necromancer – LRR's inverted take on the classic Corpse Reviver – stays within the 1880-1920 wheelhouse while allowing anise-flavored absinthe to play a more prominent 44

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role (with St. Germain, Cocchi Americano, and lemon). "We love how it accents and seasons drinks; we're always on the lookout for an absinthe-viable drink." Chris is enthused when an outlier has a positive reception with guests. "Once someone likes it, we go there." The Necromancer is adorned with a frozen orchid to complete its cooling effect. It makes me sit up straight, immediately justifying its name – and the business's name, as well. Photo Rich Rochlin

Rich orders the Grilled Cheese and Tomato Soup – a good call, given the nature of our cocktail-sampling. It's wonderfully-textured – both scratchy and smooth. "Small. Focused. That's the thing," says Chris. As he prepares a Necromancer, he expounds upon what Little River Restoratives aims to do – and not do. "There's this concept – we call it 'cynical hospitality' – when a business presents a false model that lacks sincerity." I've never heard it put that way, but when he says it, I know exactly what Chris means. I imagine you do, too. "We're precise and passionate. We only do this, because this is what we like to do."

Photo Rich Rochlin

A Summer Punch Sampler: Blackthorne Sour, The Necromancer, and Cold Ruby Punch.

We take a break to nosh on a Charcuterie Board – summer sausage, cappicola, and Genoa salami – and their House Brined Pickles. On principal, Rich orders all pickled products, and he gets no argument from me. Chef Miceli's custom brine uses Old Bay, mustard, all-spice, coriander, cloves, red pepper, giardiniera, garlic, and fresh herbs. The salt, fat, and acid from these small plates are superb. We make short work of it and select our final beverage – Cold Ruby Punch. This one gets a huge smile from Rich, as his daughter Ruby was born just a few weeks prior. He asks Alexa if perhaps she could

The Necromancer: Absinthe, St. Germain, Cocchi Americano, and Lemon, garnished with a frozen orchid. Be romanced.

Photo Rich Rochlin


make it with less alcohol – it is a Tuesday night, after all – and to my surprise, she enthusiastically replies, "Of course! We can make low-proof drinks and mocktails." Made with Batavia Arrack, port, green tea, pineapple syrup, and oleo saccharum, Cold Ruby Punch (the hard version) is a deep, jewel-toned burgundy color. While it is the sweetest of the three we sample, it is not one-note. Batavia Arrack – a spirit made from sugarcane and fermented red rice – became popular in the 18th century through the Dutch East India Company and is used just as much in chocolate and citrus as it is in cocktails. It sets off the oleo saccharum creating a vibrant, lemon-scented kick. Literally “sugared oil,” oleo saccharum is a common punch sweetener made by macerating lemon (or any citrus) peel in raw sugar and muddling. The natural oils from the peel perfume the liquescent sugar and add luster to the drink’s appearance and tartness to its flavor. I take a few photos of the menu with my phone and say its for reference, but the truth is, I just want to pick out the cocktails I want to try next time I come in. Alexa recommends checking it out on a Friday to get a sense of the clientele’s diversity, ebb, and flow. “You never know what you’re going to get; happy hour fills up quickly, and the crowd turns over, but the measure doesn’t.” I ask Chris their average customer’s characteristics and I’m pleased to learn that Little River Restoratives doesn’t have a “type.” I see young singles, business diners, industry folks, and professionals and politicos “descended from the capitol,” as Chris puts it. “We’re attracting individuals who bring culture to our neighborhood; the community’s reception of LRR has been overwhelmingly positive.” “Bottom line,” Alexa summarizes, “we’re at our best when we’re introducing our guests to something new and encouraging them to try something they wouldn’t have discovered otherwise. Look – we don’t have TVs – we want you to relax and lose time.” She smiles. “Also, you have to be looking for the crazy.” I don’t say anything in the moment, because after a few beverages, (Full disclosure: I had a Grapefruit Daisy or two going in the background throughout this experience.) I fear it would seem insincere. But, I can’t get over how thoroughly impressed I am with this place and the core group of individuals whose focus and care made it a reality. Chris is both inspiring and inspired. “This is enjoyable for me – to be able to do this. It’s fun to research old cocktails and then talk about it. It’s not a labor to remember the finer points.”


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“Bottom line,” Alexa summarizes, “we’re at our best when we’re introducing our guests to something new and encouraging them to try something they wouldn’t have discovered otherwise. Photo Rich Rochlin

Look – we don’t have TVs – we want you to relax and lose time.” She smiles. “Also, you have to be looking for the crazy.”



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by Jessica Giordani Photographs by Margrit Fish


onnecticut has a rich farming community which encompasses idyllic fruit orchards, labyrinth fields of pumpkins and corn mazes, and neatly-tended rows of garlic and tomatoes. Our barnyards and pastures are home to herds of sheep, goats, cattle, bison, alpacas, horses, donkeys, and pigs (not to mention flocks of chickens, turkeys, geese, and pea fowl). Whether these animals provide fiber, food, or companionship, it’s of the utmost importance that they receive exceptional care. One of the most essential things a farmer can do to keep his or her animals happy and healthy is develop a strong relationship with a large animal veterinarian. As the local food movement continues to grow and more people dip their toes into homesteading, (Soap and cheese from backyard goats! Sheep and alpaca for homespun 50

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fiber!) more of us have the need to keep a large animal vet’s number programmed into our phones. Not only are vets invaluable support when it comes to preventative care and treatment of ill or injured animals, but they are generous with information when a quick call will remedy a situation. Veterinary medicine developed alongside the science of human medicine with some of the earliest evidence pointing to shepherding cultures in the Middle East some 9,000 years ago; archaeological studies have recorded evidence of ancient cultures practicing medical care of their herds and flocks, as well. In 1761, the first veterinary school was formed in Lyon, France (what would become the Royal Veterinary School) where doctors were trained in the anatomy and diseases of large farm animals – specifically

h o rses, cattle, and sheep. The training facility was founded in response to a cattle plague which was devastating French herds. The United States followed suit roughly 100 years later when the Veterinary College of Philadelphia began training students in 1852. Today, there are currently 30 Accredited Veterinary Colleges in the U.S.; more than 2,500 new students begin their training each year. When I met with Dr. Cara Kneser – whose practice is headquartered at her home in Bozrah – we spoke at her kitchen table, her adorably affectionate black Labrador retriever glued to my side. The majority of the care that large animal vets provide takes place on-location at a farm or a home; so many practices are on-call rather than maintaining a traditional office. That’s not to say that there aren’t days when Kneser’s family members come into the kitchen to find the occasional kid or lamb in for a quick check-up. She loves her job, even when calls for help come during harsh weather or in the dead of night (and sometimes both). “It just makes your heart sing – there’s nothing better than this!”

In her experience, farmers have tremendous affection for their cows (and their other animals), and when faced with making decisions that weigh cost effectiveness against compassion and love, most often, love wins.

Dr. Kneser grew up loving farm animals (despite being a city kid) and found ways to be around horses and cows at every opportunity. After earning a Bachelor's degree in Animal Science, she delayed going to veterinary school and worked at dairy farms. Kneser eventually went on to study at Cummings School of Veterinary Medicine at Tufts University while working full-time and raising a family of four with her husband. After receiving her D.V.M., she worked at the Brooklyn-Canterbury Large Animal Clinic until she opened her own practice in March 2016. Currently, she spends her time working with horses, dairy farms, and lots and lots of small goat farms. In the course of describing the care she provides for Connecticut working farms (versus backyard farmers who do not provide animal products to the public), there was a lot of talk about love. Kneser addressed the misperception that when a farmer thinks about a cow, the primary concern is profit. In her experience, farmers have tremendous affection for their cows (and their other animals), and when faced with making decisions that weigh cost effectiveness against compassion and love, most often, love wins. She shared that although there is definitely broad public concern about food safety, we live at a time when our food supply is carefully monitored and very safe. Kneser shared her own mother’s reminder to never buy the milk with the antibiotics in it. Large animal vets play a crucial role in


In talking to her about working with people and their animals, it’s unmistakable the amount of love she puts into it. Each farm, no matter how big or small, becomes an extended part of the family.


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keeping things like antibiotics out of our dairy with precise record-keeping of every dose administered. It’s the first step in a careful process of testing and regulation which controls the end-product. The good doctor finds that she is spending more and more time with homesteaders and hobby farmers (which seems to mean tons of goats), and she has several suggestions if you’re considering adding farm animals to your family or growing your current herd. Goats in particular are lots of fun, she explains, because they’re so smart, curious, and social. (Goats need a friend and shouldn’t be solitary.) There is great information about farm animal care and breeding (commonly referred to as animal husbandry) both in print and online. Kneser strongly encourages you to learn about animals and prepare their shelter and fencing before bringing them home. It’s paramount to know where your animals come from, and Dr. Kneser cautions against buying from livestock auctions. With so many small farms all over Connecticut, it makes sense to purchase your animals from your own backyard. You’ll be able to see the other animals and establish a relationship with the farmer, and by doing so, increase your knowledge base. It’s especially important to develop a solid rapport with a local large animal vet. Not only will you have an on-call contact for emergencies and a care home for vaccinations and the general health of your animals, you can ask your vet to teach you husbandry skills, as well. That way, the next time you need to castrate your pig or support a lambing ewe, you’ll be able to do so with confidence. Kneser builds strong connections with all of her clients. In talking to her about working with people and their animals, it’s unmistakable the amount of love she puts into it. Each farm, no matter how big or small, becomes an extended part of the family. I'm inspired by her enthusiasm for her work and her belief that with the right information and resources, you can successfully raise farm animals. She teaches a variety of classes, including equine workshops and goat husbandry courses, through 4-H and the Rhode Island Dairy Goat Association. You can find a current list of available classes on her website.


CONNECTICUT Food Leaders BY Christy Colasurdo Photographs by Winter Caplanson, Carla Mcelroy, & Sarah Lehberger


CT Food & Farm / Summer 2016


More than 10,000 visitors a month visit The Fairfield Green Food Guide, an online resource, to find farmers’ markets, CSAs (Community Shared Agriculture programs), restaurants, Thanksgiving turkeys, and discover local food destinations and events. Since 2009, founder Analiese Paik has worked hard to ensure that the site’s content reaches a wide and diverse audience via weekly e-newsletters and social media applications. Her impact is immediate. She says, “One of the turkey farmers I featured last year said he’d have to raise more this year to satisfy the growing demand from my readers. That’s the best demonstration of ‘reach’ I know!”

Photo Winter Caplanson

We spoke with Paik about some of obstacles to getting more native and sustainable foods on our plates in Connecticut.

Food Source Maven: Analiese Paik “once we figure out how to scale up, i believe we can better meet average consumers where they are - whether it's the neighborhood restaurant, grocery store, or their company cafeteria.”

Paik explains some of the challenges. “Connecticut does not have some of the critical pieces in place to grow its systems to a level where eating locally-grown food becomes the new normal. We’re still struggling with the right model for ordering and transporting food from farms to wholesale buyers in a cost-effective manner.” She predicts that food hubs, food incubators, and shared-use commercial kitchens will be among the small-scale solutions launched in high-density markets. She adds, “Once we figure out how to scale up, I believe we can better meet average consumers where they are – whether it’s the neighborhood restaurant, grocery store, or their company cafeteria.” With a finger on the pulse of the green foods scene, Paik notes that, above all else, consumers want quality and transparency. They want to know what’s in their food; who grew it and how; who made it; =its quality ingredients; the working conditions under which the source is run; and in what country. She says, “This trend has driven the explosive growth in farmers’ markets and CSAs, along with restaurants serving some locally-sourced ingredients.” But that’s not all. She points out, “Authentic storytelling and labeling is paramount to reaching


CT Food & Farm / Summer 2016

consumers who purchase with a purpose — which is now the vast majority. And I’m not talking about slapping the word ‘artisan’ on industrial food products. We’re all smarter than that. We can thank millennials for propelling the real food movement into the mainstream. We needed their critical mass to force change.

Photo Winter Caplanson

Photo Winter Caplanson

“Big Food’ is scrambling to rebrand, reposition, and reformulate its broken models to conform to the changing food landscape. Many of the largest food manufacturers have ignored the growing trends and consequently suffered double-digit declines in sales and market share. Unfortunately, labeling products 'Non-GMO' and redevising to remove preservatives, additives, and dyes is akin to closing the barn door after the horses have galloped away. It’s not enough to recapture the trust of real food consumers. The pivot has to be much, much greater. Take Campbell’s Soup Company for instance. I’m not suddenly falling in love with their soup (even though I grew up eating it) simply because it voluntarily opted to nationally apply the recently passed Vermont mandatory GMO labeling law" (which comes into effect this July).


With so many Connecticut parents feeding their kids more fresh, local, and organic foods, why does changing the "pizza and nuggets" meal culture in the public schools feel like pushing a boulder uphill? No one grapples with that issue more often than John Turenne, president and founder of Sustainable Food Systems, LLC in Wallingford: an organization fighting to bring fresh and healthy native foods into schools and institutions for the past 11 years.

Photo Sarah Lehberger

Since 2015, Sustainable Food Systems has turned around the dining services at public schools in Fairfield, Litchfield, Monroe, and New Haven, as well as at Connecticut universities including Yale and UConn (plus other top universities and organizations nationally). At Fairfield’s Unquowa School, one of Turenne’s first clients, the kitchen now uses local products in every season. “Whether it’s the sorrel from the school’s own gardens in the spring, or the ground beef and Farmer’s Cow Milk year-round,” Turenne says, “the students have come to understand the stories behind their food.”

School Food Revolutionary John Turenne “Working together. if schools pool their purchasing power and commit to supporting farms (think a csa on steroids), there may be opportunity to increase farmland, employers, and production around the region”


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Instead of dishing up reheated frozen pizza, Unquowa has turned its "Gator Gravy" (Gator being the school mascot, and "gravy" being a twist on tomato sauce) into a highlight. Turenne explains: “Every year, just before the school starts, 'Chef David' purchases hundreds of pounds of organic tomato seconds from Sport Hill Farm in Easton, just up the road. Then, he processes and preserves hundreds of gallons of sauce to be used throughout the year in homemade soups, pizzas, enchiladas, braises, etc.; the tomatoes are a true summer gift which keeps on giving throughout the year.” We spoke with Turenne about what it will take before more Connecticut schools follow suit. First, the federal Healthy, Hunger-Free Kids Act of 2010, well-intentioned, is not all that it appears. Turenne explains, “Over time, large food companies and brands have been able to

adjust their prepared food to adhere to the Act’s specific standards, while depleting the quality of the other ingredients. Think Low Fat Whole Grain Pop Tarts! It is selling out to “Big Food,” taking the easy way out to adhere to the new standards, yet still serving crap.” Turenne lays out the challenges: “First, we have an issue with supply and demand. In Southern New England, there is greater demand for moderately-priced local food by K-12 institutions than currently is available. “Second, it is difficult to supply enough food seasonally. Our schools need produce from September through June when the most affordable local goods in our region are available July through September. That’s a lopsided calendar. “Third, there’s a problem with cost. Our K-12 public schools operate on a shoestring budget – often less than $1.00 per meal in food costs. Yet, at the same time, farmers need and deserve to be compensated fairly for their efforts.” Another major hurdle is endless red tape.Turenne says, “The level of time and administration required to execute and prove compliance with federal school nutrition regulations almost demands additional staff to facilitate. Now, a foodservice manager needs culinary skills and the intellect and patience of a Certified Public Accountant. “And, speaking of culinary skills, therein lies yet another challenge. Budget cuts over the years have left many school kitchens with a skeleton crew responsible for preparing meals for hundreds of kids. You do the math; more mouths to feed with fewer workers equals easy, ‘heat and serve’ menus. Ugh!” Turenne quips, “On the surface, you would take one look at these challenges and say to yourself, ‘No wonder schools rely on quick, easy, processed foods.’ But, all of the above can be addressed


Photo Sarah Lehberger


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with a collaborative effort by government and school officials to break the trap.” What will that require? “Working together. If schools pool their purchasing power and commit to supporting farms (think a CSA on steroids), there may be opportunity to increase farmland, employers, and production around the region. “Investing more in our children’s health. Currently, almost $2.90 is federally reimbursed if all requirements are met including meeting the criteria for free and reduced meals. $2.90! That needs to cover food, supplies, staff, marketing, and overhead. Not easy.” Just over the border, the New York State legislature is reviewing a novel proposal which would reward school districts for sourcing locally-grown ingredients for school lunches. The proposal, the first of its kind, would reimburse schools an extra five to 25 cents per meal for dedicating more of their purchasing budgets to indigenous food. It presents schools with a unique opportunity to increase the quality of kids’ lunches while also supporting the State’s farmers. Could this be replicated in Connecticut? Finally, “eating with the seasons. This is tricky. Foodservice professionals need to get creative in recipe and menu design. True, there are limited fresh fruits and vegetables available from late fall through late winter, but they are there. We (culinary professionals) need to adapt the way we prepare root vegetables, winter squashes, apples, and pears.” We salute Turenne and his team who are revamping the food culture in Connecticut schools and institutions one at a time, so that instead of cans, bags, and boxes, our cafeterias will be stocked with fresh fruit, vegetables, eggs, and milk from orchards and farms within the State.


Photo Carla McElroy


CT Food & Farm / Summer 2016


There are more than 4,900 family farms in Connecticut today, and every year, more young farmers are joining the field (pun intended). Yet, for every farmer younger than 35 years old, there are six older than 65. In the next 20 years, more farmland will go up for sale than ever in Connecticut’s history. Therein lies the dilemma that Elisabeth Moore, executive director of Connecticut Farmland Trust, faces every morning. Her small, grassroots organization is the only land trust in the State dedicated to the protection of our family farms. With farmers aging out of their professions and costs of farmland in Connecticut among the highest in the nation, statewide farming is teetering on the edge, and more often than not, Moore’s team is the last hope between a farm’s survival or extinction.

Photo Carla McElroy

Moore’s job is to address these issues and get the word out to the mainstream that if we hope to have a vital regional food economy in the years to come, we need to make preserving local farmlands a bigger priority. For Moore, a longtime Connecticut resident and farm lover, the work is as personal as it is urgent.

FAMILY FARM PROTECTOR: elisabeth moore “I've Had the Pleasure of helping 34 farmers over the past 12 years protect their families' farm. Each of them is special: the land, the people, and the story.” 66

CT Food & Farm / Summer 2016

She says, “I’ve had the pleasure of helping 34 farmers over the past 12 years protect their families' farm. Each of them is special: the land, the people, and the story." Moore says that’s why stressing the importance of protecting farmland for current and future generations is first and foremost. She explains, “We have an important message and, with all that is going on locally and nationally, we have to cut through a lot of noise. I wish I could say we always succeed. But, what we do – and do well – is tell a compelling story and tell it over and over again through meetings, workshops, social media, and one-on-one ‘across the kitchen table’ meetings with farmers. “ Getting the message out is no longer as easy as sending monthly press releases. Moore notes, “We’re now investing a lot of time in social media – regular Facebook postings, e-newsletters,


Photo Carla McElroy

Photo Carla McElroy

Instagram, Twitter, as well as planning an upgraded website. Because many older farmers are not as wired into social media, we also continue to do our traditional outreach efforts like workshops for landowners.” Since its founding in 2002, the Connecticut Farmland Trust has protected more than 2,500 acres of farmland and has helped its partners protect nearly 1,000 additional acres. In spite of these wins, every year, Connecticut loses 20% more farmland than it saves, so Moore and her partners keep beating the drum to spare Connecticut’s historic family farmlands from development. Instead of preaching to the choir, Moore says, “We meet a lot of non-farmers in our work. Whether they are municipal officials or the general public, when we tell them what we do, they get it. They understand that to have access to local, safe, quality food, you need farmland. And sometimes you need to protect it from housing subdivisions and strip malls. You want to eat healthy food? First, you need to make sure you have farmland to grow it.” Once a farm is saved under the provisions of the Trust, it will remain farmland forever. That’s a pretty major score for Connecticut. We asked Moore about some projects that are dear to her, and she rattled off three with a huge grin. She smiled because she knows these ancient Connecticut farmlands will remain as such, in perpetuity, with no threat of development, ever. That's a long time. r Cato Corner Farm, Colchester “I loved working with Liz MacAlister at Cato Corner Farm in Colchester to protect her land. Her dairy is the only mother-son operation with which I have ever worked. I hope hers is the first of many more. Liz is great – a fantastic businesswoman with a wicked sense of humor, and very committed to conservation in her town. Her raw milk Jersey cheese, especially the Black Ledge Blue, is out of this world.” Beltane Farm, Lebanon “Last year, we partnered with Mark Pearsall and Paul Trubey to protect their farm in Lebanon. Beltane Farm goat cheese has won numerous awards; I buy it every weekend in the summer. Delicious. Mark and


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“You want to eat healthy food? First, you need to make sure you have farmland to grow it.”

Paul were such a pleasure to work with; they were passionate about protecting their farm to the point that they bought additional land so they would qualify to participate in the State’s Farmland Preservation Program. They had several hurdles to overcome throughout the process – not uncommon in any preservation deal – but they kept at it and with good humor. I still owe them a homemade pie, a CFT tradition, to celebrate the project's completion.” Stonewall Dairy, Cornwall Bridge "Another one of my favorites is Stonewall Dairy in Cornwall Bridge. Chris Hopkins bought the farm – his first – in his 50s; he's not who we typically think of when we hear ‘beginner'. The Farm offered him the opportunity to realize his dream of having a raw milk dairy, which has been successful, despite the ups and downs of the dairy market over the past 10 years. Chris is one of the most civic-minded farmers with whom I’ve had the pleasure of working. His farm is iconic in Litchfield County, and he was passionate about protecting it for his teenage daughter – but also, so it would always be a part of the Cornwall landscape. The sign on his farm store says, ‘Protected for the Community.’ Those few words sum up Chris.”

Photo Carla McElroy



CT Food & Farm / Summer 2016


Benvenuti in Paradiso by Hilary Adorno / Winter Caplanson Photos


A series of remarkable transformations have occurred in Litchfield over the lasT decade; the ones I’m celebrating all contain the name Arethusa.

South Plains Rd. in Litchfield hosts 350 acres of the most beautiful farmland I’ve ever seen. This expansive property is decorated with 15 Architectural Digestworthy barns, providing first-class accommodations to the prettiest, genetically superior, most pampered herd of Jersey, Holstein, and Brown Swiss cows on the planet. To encapsulate the whole story, we must journey back to 1868, when Charles Borden Webster and his wife Lucinda selected a parcel on which to establish their homestead. The Websters christened their farm "Arethusa," named for the rare and indigenous orchid growing on the grounds. The family produced milk, butter, ham, eggs, chickens, and two sons: A. Benjamin and Wilbur. By the turn of the 20th century, Wilbur took over and focused on breeding Guernsey cows. By the 1930s, Arethusa became one of the first dairies to offer door-to-door milk delivery; Wilbur’s son Arthur oversaw operations. All told, the Websters enjoyed a successful century-long, family-operated business. However, the changing economy, due in part to corporate dairying, caused Arethusa to cease operation in 1978, and the Websters sold the property in 1981. The farm was repurposed and tenanted by horses; it appeared as though the era of Arethusa was history. In 1988, Waterbury’s son Tony Yurgaitis (also vice president of Manolo Blahnik), and San Antonian George Malkemus decided to make Litchfield their second home. A peaceful respite from their residence in The City That Never Sleeps, they purchased an early 20th century farmhouse, complete with a panoramic view of the pastoral Webster Farm. Fast forward to 1999, and their cherished view went up for sale. As chatter grew about developers' sub-dividing plans, George and Tony made a big decision: they literally bought the farm.


CT Food & Farm / Summer 2016


When these two fashion executives became farmers overnight, curiosity swirled from Seventh Avenue to the Litchfield Green. Other than knowing they would use the property to produce (something), Tony and George were uncertain about exactly what. Considerations were many, but nothing grew roots, so to speak. Not long after, the gentlemen put five cows on their new farm, and a passion was ignited. What developed over the next 17 years is nothing short of astonishing. Considering neither Tony nor George had any previous livestock experience adds another level of incredulity. Within five short years, Messrs. Yurgaitis and Malkemus catapulted their herd’s bloodlines into the stratosphere; some of their girls now fetch more than six figures. Tony's and George’s five-cow foundation has morphed into a herd of 350. When deliberating over what to call their bovine dynasty, they decided to pay homage to the property’s past by retaining its original moniker – Arethusa. One by one, they meticulously retrofitted the original structures to create a state-of-the art dairy operation. As needed, Tony and George continue to build new barns and modify existing housing to accommodate staff throughout the property. As the owners' on-hand milk supply grew, they considered processing and distribution channels. Originally, Arethusa’s milk was sold in the commodity market, but the low return proved to be a losing proposition. George and Tony did what they do best: pivoted to create a better business plan. Ultimately, they decided take their milk on a five-mile journey from the Farm to their own production facility. Arethusa distributes locally (Whole Foods, LaBonnes, and New Morning Market to name a few), and have aligned with a partner to transport products as far as New York City (such as Murray’s Cheese Shop and Dean & Deluca). Guided by Tony, the first stop on my tour was the milking barn, where I met and touched the “Best Living Cow:” Huronia Centurion Veronica – happily retired at 17 years old. Boasting a Body Conditioning Scoring (BCS) of EX97, Veronica is a three-time Supreme Grand Champion. (BCS is a visual and tactile evaluation of a cow's conformation. At EX [Excellent] 97, Veronica represents the highest achievable BCS score.) The tender way Tony and Milking Barn Herdsman Tyler Patenaude spoke about her majesty nearly choked me up. She is the grande dame of Arethusa and the mother of several history-making daughters (EX95). 74

CT Food & Farm / Summer 2016


To encapsulate the whole story, we must journey back to 1868, when Charles Borden Webster and his wife Lucinda selected a parcel on which to establish their homestead. The Websters christened their farm "Arethusa," named for the rare and indigenous orchid growing on the grounds.


CT Food & Farm / Summer 2016

As we meandered through the property, a stunning barn revealed itself around every bend – each more impressive than the last. They led us to the Arethusa hen house, which accommodates more than 100 pretty girls who strut about and fly to perches fashioned to look like trees and fences. It is bigger than my house, and quite frankly, more charmingly-arranged. The three of us paused to take in the unbearable cuteness in the calf barn; all of the babies are kept there, warmed by lamps and blankets, and served gently-heated water. We drove to the back of the property, where we met Joe Knapp, official Maître d' of the Heifer Hotel. Joe's in charge for this group of two-year-olds. (Considered teenagers in cow years, a heifer is a female cow that has not borne a calf). A never-ending line of 800-lb. hay bales were set in perfect formation down the center isle of the Hotel. Joe told me it would take 11 days for them all to be consumed.

Arethusa Dairy Stores

Upon my visit to the dairy store, I noticed an Outstanding Quality Milk Award for Arethusa's rolling herd average somatic cell count, a method used by the dairy industry for calculating bacteria in milk. A cow’s health, diet, and cleanliness are all factors. In the United States, the somatic cell count in milk made for human consumption cannot be more than 750,000 per ml. Arethusa boasts a tidy cell count of 60,000 per ml. – 1,250% better than it has to be. I sense a trend. Thanks to their exceptional care and personally-crafted diets, an Arethusa cow produces an average of 87 lbs. of milk a day (124% more than the average cow). Both Arethusa Diary Stores carry the Farm's entire line of made-from-scratch products:

Ice cream

Vanilla, chocolate, strawberry, coffee, mint chocolate chip, sweet cream chocolate chip, butter pecan, almond coconut, and maple walnut are menu staples. Be on the lookout for pop-up flavors like pumpkin, peppermint, and pistachio, made with nuts which Executive Chef Dan Magill roasts and grinds himself. Arethusa makes their own ice cream from start to finish, never using purchased bases.


Whole, skim, 1%, 2%, and chocolate are available all year round. Eggnog and coffee milk - in traditional glass bottles - make their appearance seasonally.



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One can’t help but notice that the Arethusa properties, equipment, and animals are maintained with the utmost care and consideration. If you have the opportunity to visit any of the Arethusa locations, you might feel obliged to remove your shoes at the door. (The barns are no exception.)


Plain (in whole & 1%), vanilla, and maple. (My fridge always has Arethusa Maple Yogurt in it.)


Salted and cultured – it's how butter should taste. It took two years to perfect this recipe!


Arethusa makes an astonishing 10 varieties of cheese developed through a painstaking trial-and-error process. Arethusa Dairy’s General Manager, Chris Casiello, is fullyimmersed in the voluminous facets of cheese making: recipe development, brushing, turning, curing, and where appropriate, waxing. Recently, Arethusa built a large aging facility which holds in excess of 2,000 truckles (wheels). The cheese is monitored by a computerized system imported from France, which controls temperature and humidity for each cheese’s special needs. The cheese cures on hand-selected Canadian fir boards, essential for infusing or extracting moisture, as needed. Choose between Camembert, Rotondo, Tapping Reeve, Crybaby, Bella Bantam, Europa, Farmer’s Cheese, Karlie’s Gratitude, Arethusa Blue, and new to the herd: Arethusa Diva (inspired by Taleggio).

Arethusa al tavolo

In June 2013, Tony and George pulled in a ringer – CIA alumnus and 2016 James Beard Award semi-finalist Executive Chef Dan Magill – to open Arethusa al tavolo, an exceptional eatery which showcases all of the Farm's offerings. Within two years, it was voted among Open Table's Best 100 Restaurants in the Country. Arethusa al tavolo's ambiance is warm, luxurious, and unpretentious; the staff is knowledgeable and attentive. I found the wine selection to be comprehensive without being overwhelming. The menu comprises creative and concise recipes featuring lamb, seafood, duck, and the Farm's dairy products, bookended with a whimsical amuse-bouche in a miniature cone and a shot of Arethusa milk with warm cookies.


CT Food & Farm / Summer 2016

Arethusa a mano

Seeing a hole, George and Tony decided to fill it; coffee shop and bakery Arethusa a mano was born and opened in late April 2016. The bakery and café feature an open floor plan and, in keeping with Arethusa's theme, offer a clean and traditionally-appointed space. Breakfast selections include bagels, croissants, muffins, and pastries - paninis, soups, and salads for lunch, all made by hand. Pair one of their cookies, bars, and truffles with a glass of Arethusa Milk, or a steaming cup of Stumptown Coffee Roasters, sourced from artisans worldwide and supplied exclusively to Arethusa a mano. Among the traditional drip and espresso-based drinks, you can enjoy a cold brew draft. That's right – draft coffee. One can’t help but notice that the Arethusa properties, equipment, and animals are maintained with the utmost care and consideration. If you have the opportunity to visit any of the Arethusa locations, you might feel obliged to remove your shoes at the door. (The barns are no exception.) With that said, the spotlessness should not be confused with pomposity; rather, it demonstrates how much George and Tony care about details. Along with their growing staff of around 100, Tony and George have lovingly transformed their expansive Litchfield farm and revived Bantam Center into a new millennial Xanadu. Arethusa Farm 566 South Plains Rd., Litchfield 860.361.6600 Visiting hours, Saturdays only 12:30 p.m. - 2:30 p.m. Arethusa Farm Dairy: 828 Bantam Rd., Bantam, 860.361.6600 1020 Chapel St., New Haven 203.390.5114

Arethusa al tavolo 828 Bantam Rd., Bantam, 860.567.0043 Arethusa a mano 833 Bantam Rd., Bantam, 860.567.5722


Written and photographed by El Sherwood


CT Food & Farm / Summer 2016

A bus fueled by caffeine passion, dubbed The Jitter Bus, serves high-end, outstanding coffee, proudly and responsibly sourced from three Connecticut roasters: Giv Coffee, Saccuzzo Coffee Co., and A Happy Life. You will most likely find the owners of The Jitter Bus, Dan Barletta, Paul Crosby, and Andrew Mesiouris, grinding out espresso on the corner of Hillhouse Ave. and Grove St. amidst the hustle and bustle of Yale University and downtown New Haven. The coffee trio has received endless positive feedback and genuine interest from the greater New Haven community. Recently, The Jitter Bus, along with other food trucks and food carts, came across a few speed bumps. The food truck scene has exploded in New Haven creating a litany of controversial issues. Regulations which have never been enforced in the past are suddenly rules by which to abide. Without any warning, some food truck owners were kicked out of their typical spots due to being parked in an illegal area. This created tension between food truck owners and the City. In addition, City officials proposed to charge food truck operators $5,100 for licenses. Currently, the total cost to operate a food truck is $450 a year. When word of this drastic change leaked out to the vendors, they voiced their extreme concern that this change would definitely end their business. Since the initial proposal, a new and much more reasonable draft has been developed. While still controversial, more food truck and food cart owners


The food truck scene has exploded in New Haven creating a litany of controversial issues. Regulations which have never been enforced in the past are suddenly rules by which to abide.

seem to be on board. The new proposal crates four special vending districts: Long Wharf, Cedar Street (by Yale-New Haven Hospital), Prospect Street (in the Ingalls Rink Parking Lot,) and downtown.Vendors are not restricted to the proposed areas, rather, a vendor may choose to operate in any non-residential zone paying the current $450. To operate within the special districts, owners will need to bid for a space. For example, for food truck owners, like The Jitter Bus, to operate downtown, the bidding will start at $2,000 ($8 daily parking fee multiplied by 250 operating days). For an even more sought-after spot, such as Long Wharf, bidding will start at $4,250.


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It’s been a bumpy ride for all of the food trucks and food cart owners, but The Jitter Bus trio is remaining positive. They have no jitters about their business’s future. Mesiouris spoke about the process: “It has been nebulous and painful. Any proposal to make it less bureaucratic and confusing for people trying to start a business would be great. A law is a law. We get it. Things need to be updated, hopefully expedited, so we know what is actually expected of us. I think that’s what the draft will do. I’m looking forward to it.”



CT Food & Farm / Summer 2016

By Rebecca Hansen Photos by Ashley Caroline Photographer


in New England is reason #4,956 why — despite my prostrations during the depths of February — I could never move away from this fair state. There’s absolutely nothing better than sitting dockside on a Connecticut beach, cool drink in hand, breeze washing over your shoulders, skin glowing, gulls singing… sorry, where was I? Summertime in Connecticut is a true wonder; our shoreline hosts some of the East Coast’s most beautiful sandy stretches. No beach experience is complete, however, without a fully-stocked picnic basket. And when you’re looking for the perfect beach eats, Connecticut’s finest have a lot to offer. Below are five beaches paired with local favorites to kick-start your next epic al fresco meal by the water: Ocean Beach Park - New London Memorial Day - Labor Day Non-Resident Parking Fee (per car): $18/weekdays, $24/weekends, $8/nights Ocean Park Beach has been singled out by National Geographic as one of the best beaches in the country. With that kind of acclaim, it’s hard to miss. Pick up your lunch first at Fiddleheads (13 Broad St.), an organic food co-op specializing in fresh, native produce. While a nice tub of CT-grown strawberries are a lovely snack on the sand, Fiddleheads also offers prepared foods such as salads and sandwiches. Next, head over to Sweetie’s Bakery (191 Bank St.) for a classic whoopie pie or homemade granola bar to satiate your sweet tooth. Harvey’s Beach - Old Saybrook Memorial Day - Labor Day Non-Resident Parking Fee (per car): $10/weekdays, $20/weekends Old Saybrook is a quintessential New England hamlet. Its quaint town green offers just the right dose of nostalgia, and at its center is the James Gallery and Soda Fountain (3 Pennywise Lane), an authentic pharmacy and soda fountain boasting some of the finest floats and milkshakes in the region. Take one to-go or have a seat at the counter to take in the old-fashioned charm before you hit the waves. If you’re not sold on making a sundae your main meal, a quick stop at the Paperback Cafe (210 Main St.) to fill up your cooler is in order. Early risers can grab an egg sandwich and an


CT Food & Farm / Summer 2016

iced coffee before popping off to the sand, and those joining the lunch crowd can find any number of mouth-watering wraps. In the mood for a fish fry? Dinner at Johnny Ad’s (910 Boston Post Rd.) has all the fried marine life you can imagine. Hammonasset Beach State Park - Madison Memorial Day - Labor Day Non-Resident Parking Fee (per car): $15/weekdays, $22/weekends, $7/after 4:00 p.m. To begin, I would be remiss to recommend a visit to Madison without calling out my favorite place: RJ Julia Booksellers (768 Boston Post Rd.). Browse their staff recommendations to choose your next summer read, stop in the gift shop for a beach game, then head towards the back to the “hidden” RJ Cafe & Bistro. While its cupcakes receive high acclaim, the shop also offers delicious iced drinks, paninis (mozzarella + tomato + beach = paradise), and crispy flatbreads. Ashley’s Ice Cream (724 Boston Post Rd.) is just a few steps down the street from RJ; a local chain, their seasonal sweets hit the spot after a day in the sun. I still pine for the elusive Strawberry Oreo to return to the menu every time I step through those doors.

Calf Pasture Beach - Norwalk May to October Non-Resident Parking Fee (per car): $25/weekdays, $30/weekends, $10/after 5:00 p.m. If a buttery croissant sounds like music to your beach-loving ears, look no further than SoNo Baking Company (101 Water St.). Choose from a wide array of breads and pastries baked daily; there’s nothing quite like a fresh baguette with chilled butter and jam enjoyed while laying out on a an oversized towel. For classic fried clams with a waterfront view, Overton’s is an awesome seafood shack which revels in its simplicity. Just be sure to fit your wallet in that Speedo: this fare is cash only. For a post-beach drink, sidle up to the bar at Local Kitchen & Beer Bar for a refreshingly cold, local brew (including Stratford’s Two Roads, Hamden’s No Worries and the hard-to-find Kent Falls — all on draft).

Walnut Beach - Milford Memorial Day - Labor Day Non-Resident Parking Fee (per car): $15 The ground zero of the traditional Connecticut lobster roll ( just bun, lobster, and butter — hold the mayo), Milford is a beach Mecca. While everyone has their favorite, my vote goes to Seven Seas (16 New Haven Ave.). What looks like a New England-y dive bar is a resident favorite serving up one of the greatest rolls in the state. When the sand starts to bake in the late-afternoon sun, take a break inside the Walnut Beach Creamery (17 Broadway). Located in a former post office, this unique ice cream shop offers handcrafted flavors from the Salty Dog (homemade salted caramel in dark Belgian chocolate) to Tea Time (black tea flavored ice cream with shortbread pieces).


CommunitY Building Through Farming by Philip Griffin & Morgan Osborn


CT Food & Farm / Summer 2016

Photographs by Winter Caplanson



CT Food & Farm / Summer 2016

A Letter from a New Farmer : Farming is hard work. Almost anyone, when asked their thoughts on farming as an occupation, eventually utters that phrase. I’ve heard it from many people over the years when I told them how I wanted to make my living. It didn’t matter if I was speaking with friends at college in Southern California or neighbors on trips home to Connecticut; their general impression was the same. And they were right. The hours can be very long, and, if a job or chore must be done, it doesn’t matter the time or weather. There are inevitably more tasks to complete in a day than time ever allows and the list of projects that should have been accomplished yesterday is constantly growing. Yet, as I arrived at the realization that farming was the job I wanted, and Connecticut was the place I wanted to do it, the amount or difficulty of the workload was not my main concern. In fact, it was something to which I looked forward. The sheer volume of skill and information required is daunting, but it’s also an exciting and rewarding challenge. Learning is also relatively within my control. I can put in extra hours, read books, and reach out to more people in order to produce a better crop with less labor. So, when I left California and moved home to Connecticut to begin farming, I was (pretty) confident I would at least be able to grow something. The season is certainly not as long here, but the rampant green growth during the warmer months fueled by sun and plenty of rain held lots of promise. I was unsure, however, of the size or commitment of Connecticut communities to local food and farming. In Southern California, fresh and native food is taken for granted, and the farmers’ markets bustle with people, many of whom do the bulk of their shopping at one of the several markets each week. I had never gone to farmers’ markets while growing up in the Northeast, so the huge, vibrant ones in California opened a new and exciting world – one I worried about leaving. Each visit home, I noticed more and more markets appearing around Connecticut but could never stay long enough to really experience the food scene. I wondered if the community to which I wanted to return was committed enough to sustain farmers. If I did start a farm and put in all the work required to produce vegetables for sale, would enough



CT Food & Farm / Summer 2016

"Yet, as I arrived at the realization that farming was the job I wanted, and Connecticut was the place I wanted to do it, the amount or difficulty of the workload was not my main concern."


people and restaurants go out of their way to acquire them? Entering my third season farming in Connecticut, I can happily answer “yes” to those questions. Not only is the food and farm scene alive, it is rapidly growing. Farmers’ markets are filled with people who count on farms like mine to provide them with high quality food every week; restaurants are huge supporters, as well. Big, small, farm-to-table: many are seeking out fresh and seasonal ingredients for at least components of their menus. It is difficult to overstate how important this kind of community support is to a beginning farmer who is already overwhelmed by the workload needed to produce a crop – let alone sell it. So yes, it is hard. Seeds need to be started, weeds hoed, vegetables harvested, and a hundred other tasks completed. Thanks to our vibrant farming community, though, the challenge of turning that hard work into a living seems just a little easier. Philip Griffin is the owner of Apis Verdi Farm in Lebanon.


CT Food & Farm / Summer 2016


“Not only is the food and farm scene alive, it is rapidly growing. Farmers’ markets are filled with people who count on farms like mine to provide them with high quality food every week; restaurants huge supporters, as well.”


CT Food & Farm / Summer 2016

Are you a beginning farmer looking for local resources and peer support? Morgan Osborn of the New CT Farmer Alliance describes its community building efforts:

Farmers gather around a grill where they are greeted by the evening’s host who is crisping up some freshly-harvested leeks to be served al romesco. Other farmers arrive with a slow-roasted pastured ham and join a group to sit on a fallen tree and enjoy a communal meal. The warm air slightly cools, and the clouds start to reveal their evening colors of deep oranges and pinks interspersed with dramatic purples which bring with them the promise of evening showers. These are some of the scenes from one of the New CT Farmer Alliance’s get-togethers last summer and this is why they take place: to take pause at the end of a busy day, to enjoy and share the fruits of our labor, and to tacitly remind each other why we do this work and that we are not alone. We host casual potlucks like this at various farms during the summer after the transplanting and chicken-harvesting craze, but before peak harvest, to enjoy good food and company and uplift our spirits. We also host a gathering in the spring and fall, in addition to our Annual Meeting and Hootenanny every winter. The Alliance, established in 2010, is a statewide network of farmers guided by a mission to bring together new and emerging farmers from across Connecticut to connect, share resources, and identify opportunities and challenges as we work toward a more accessible, successful, and diverse agricultural community. To encourage connectivity throughout the year, we also offer an e-mail Listserv to all members who can use it to ask questions or provide support to other farmers within the State. The New Connecticut Farmer Alliance is an all-volunteer network and there are no fees or dues to become a member. We are fiscally sponsored by Connecticut Farmland Trust, which is dedicated to protecting farmland in the state, and we are also a chapter of the National Young Farmers Coalition, an organization that represents young farmers and supports policies to ensure their success. If you are looking for a farming community in Connecticut, we would love for you to join us.



CT Food & Farm / Summer 2016



by Michelle Firestone photographs by Lisa Nichols


After meeting at Simply Fit Studios, a small, personal training facility in Lebanon owned by Shawn Guiney, he and Rachael LaPorte decided to form a business partnership. LaPorte, a chef, was on a quest to lose weight and Guiney, a Certified Nutrition Specialist and personal trainer, wanted to start a business making nutritious, pre-packaged meals by order. It was a match made in heaven. The pair’s company, Simply Fresh Solutions, is run out of the Commercially Licensed Cooperative Kitchen – aka CLiCK – at 41 Club Rd. in North Windham, a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization; CLiCK comprises several small businesses that share a commercial kitchen space. Some cooperative kitchens are strictly for processing, while others are for prepared meals. LaPorte says CLiCK is unique because it is set up for both. LaPorte's culinary background combines experience as an executive chef at a high-end catering company and as a teacher in the Culinary Arts Department at Windham Technical High School in Willimantic. CLiCK opened its doors in February 2015; LaPorte has been a member since November 2015 and general manager since March 2016. To date, there are roughly 20 members, seven of whom use the commercial kitchen. In the short time that it has been operational, CLiCK has already proven to be a valuable resource for small businesses; LaPorte estimates that it costs $250,000 to $500,000 for a start-up to establish a commercial kitchen. “CLiCK’s format allows you to run a business without having to put up all the capital,” she says. How it Works First up? Take a tour. The team at CLiCK provides walk-throughs to those interested in becoming members. Once a business makes the decision to join the cooperative, it pays a membership fee, which varies depending on the business's needs including space, hours of operation, and seasonal factors. Recently, CLiCK added a membership option for farmers' markets chefs who do the bulk of their business between May and October. In order to use the commercial kitchen, members must be certified in ServSafe, a nationally mandated course on safe food handling and preparation. LaPorte shares that the CLiCK facility is "top-of-the-line," and as long as members are licensed properly, the commercial kitchen is equipped to prepare all food products. The kitchen houses several pieces of equipment including pots, pans, utensils, a walk-in refrigerator, and two convection ovens. "A wide variety of professionals can use the kitchen," LaPorte says. At the moment, members include Dragon's Blood Elixir, Mara's Baked Goods, and Laporte and Guiney's own Simply Fresh Solutions. Recently, a farm in Lebanon expressed interest in becoming a member in order to use the kitchen to create "value-added" products like salsa and soup – a great example of how CLiCK helps their members keep business costs low. By offering small businesses the kitchen space they need to get started, CLiCK – and other cooperatives like it – improve the chances of commercial success by keeping expenses manageable. Run by a board of directors, CLiCK underwent a lengthy compliance process to become commercially-licensed. “You have to make sure you are building your kitchen within the specifications of the State and federal government as well as the Town's Planning and Zoning Committee,” says LaPorte.


CT Food & Farm / Summer 2016

“Eating well shouldn’t be a punishment. It should really be something that’s enjoyable and accessible.”



CT Food & Farm / Summer 2016

LaPorte is responsible for inspecting the kitchen as well as scheduling. Each kitchen user gets a key to the facility which is open 24 hours per day, seven days per week. There is also locked storage where members can keep their ingredients, utensils, and other pieces of equipment. Simply Fresh Solutions Some of members, like Simply Fresh, use locally-grown ingredients. “We have to be flexible because we’re at the mercy of nature,” says LaPorte. Simply Fresh meals are nutritionally balanced, as well as being gluten- and soy-free. “Eating well shouldn’t be a punishment. It should really be something that’s enjoyable and accessible.” She says she and Guiney try to base their meals' ingredients based on what's seasonally available and they do their best to avoid canned foods. Dishes on Simply Fresh's menu have included frittatas, vegetables, soups, and beef, fish and pork dishes. LaPorte and Guniey share that each Simply Fresh meal has a retail cost of $9.97 and is sensible and wholesome. “We both bring very different expertise to the table,” says Guiney. “I put a lot of faith in what Rachael does.” Soon, Simply Fresh is looking to start a delivery service, as well. The Big Picture “Our major goals for the commercial kitchen are to increase membership so that we can perform community outreach and to support small businesses so that they can make a realistic living off of their passion for cooking," says LaPorte. "We really hope to increase economic development in the area.” In addition to the commercial kitchen, CLiCK also has a teaching kitchen, where cooking and nutritional classes are taught to community members; this includes ServSafe certification classes which are taught at CLiCK once per month. The organization also holds several events throughout the year which are open to the community – some of them fundraising efforts. LaPorte hopes to complete a second-story build-out to increase commercial kitchen space and/or community learning space. “The possibilities are really endless because we have such a large facility,” she says. CLiCK isn't alone in their mission. Commercially-licensed kitchen Spark Makerspace just opened in New London, Westport hosts C&K Community Kitchen, and Hartford’s ThymeShare offers a pop-restaurant space in addition to their kitchen facilities. LaPorte and Guiney look forward to seeing more commercially-licensed kitchens in Connecticut and would love for their efforts to inspire others to do the same. CLiCK can be reached at 860.786.7907 or Donations can be made on their website.


C O N T R I B U T O R S Hilary Adorno

was born and raised in Litchfield County and is devoted

Margit Fish

is the type of girl who's always has her hair in a braid - ready

to promoting all the little amazing surprises that can be found in Northwest

for adventure. She opened up a photography and design business with

Connecticut. She spends her days working in the energy services industry

her best friend since high school, and is living her dream!

and her spare time designing hand-beaded jewelry, tending to her garden, and writing about her beloved corner of our great state.

Sarah Lefrancois

is a digital arts educator who spends her summer

days tending to her gardens, watching bees forage, and exploring trails

Winter Caplanson

is Editor in Chief and Lead Photographer at CT

around the Shetucket River on foot and by hoof.

Food and Farm Magazine, and is spending the summer making certain no golden hour goes unphotographed and subsisting on heirloom tomatoes

Sarah Lehberger

plucked from the vine and eaten while still warm from the sun.

on salty air, sun-kissed skin, family adventures, fish tacos, and Jalapeno-

is a Connecticut family photographer who thrives

infused tequila.

Ashley Caroline

has a slight obsession with baby farm animals and is

a puppy mama and wedding photographer based in Wilton.

Kelley Citroni

Editor of and contributing author to CT Food and

Farm Magazine. She is the largest sole consumer of sunscreen and dairy products in Hartford County.

Christy Colasurdo

the author of The Connecticut Farm Table Cookbook

and is the former special Sections Editor at New York Magazine. A writer for local magazines, Colasurdo loves to chronicle the people and places of the Connecticut farm and food scenes while ferreting out the best restaurants, dives, and roadside stands in the state. She’s awaiting the summertime arrival of Long Island Sound lobster rolls, Hamden burrata, as well as locally-grown tomatoes and sweet corn.

Michelle Firestone

would prefer be at the beach; in the summer, there

is no other place she would rather be. When she is not there, Michelle can probably be found exploring the Thread City as a reporter.

Carla McElroy

is a lover of family, dogs, and photographer of all

things beautiful.

Lisa Nichols

is a designer and photographer who loves to travel, drinks

ungodly amounts of coffee spiked with cinnamon and vanilla, and stays up late in the night getting to design the pages of this incredible magazine.

Morgan Osborn

is the Coordinator at The New CT Farmer Alliance: a

statewide network of farmers and growers which identifies and develops support systems to nurture a successful and diverse agricultural landscape in Connecticut.

Rita Rivera

is a graphic designer, writer, and illustrator with strong

opinions about the use of serial commas and Comic Sans. Loves cheese, cupcakes, and the Bee Gees.

Rich Rochlin

is a lawyer by day and a Superdad by night (and

occasionally a photographer). He makes his home in Farmington with his

Jessica Giordani

a baker, a maker, and lover of animals. She has a

wife, Sarah, and his two children: The Rex and The Ruby. He is a graduate

not-so-secret hope to someday fill her back yard with sheep and goats.

of American University and UConn School of Law.

Laura Graham

Anna Sawin

has come home to rediscover and love (once again)

her home state of Connecticut after 20 years in Rome

is a photographer and one of the leading cupcake

aficionados of our time. Best known for photographing families and weddings on the New England shoreline, Anna also enjoys the variety

Philip Griffin


is the owner and farmer at Apis Verdi Farm where his

of editorial photography assignments she takes on each year, which

favorite summer pastime is watching the sunset - while finishing all the

have included heart surgery, portraits of 400 elementary schoolers, and

tasks that weren't completed during the week.

lobster harvesting.

Rebecca Hansen

El Sherwood

spends the majority of her free time cataloging her

is a lifestyle photographer from the state of Maine and

book collection, taking walks when she should probably be writing, and

currently resides in New Haven. She loves to explore and capture stories

dragging her family to farmers' markets that are no less than 45 minutes

with her camera. She once lived with a couple off the grid in Maine, slept

away. She writes lists because it feeds into her deep-seated desire to bring

on a bear rug, and captured her way of life. El loves all things creative, all

order to this wild, wondrous world.

things active, positive vibes, and summer adventures in New England.

CT Food & Farm / Summer 2016


"Bees do have a smell, you know, and if they don't they should,for their feet are dusted with spices from a million flowers" -Ray Bradbury, Dandelion Wine

Photo Sarah Lefrancois

Connecticut Food & Farm, Summer 2016, Issue 5  

Connecticut comes alive in the summer time; in this issue of CT Food and Farm Magazine, we celebrate the iconic CT features that make this s...

Connecticut Food & Farm, Summer 2016, Issue 5  

Connecticut comes alive in the summer time; in this issue of CT Food and Farm Magazine, we celebrate the iconic CT features that make this s...