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PROFESSIONAL PHOTOGRAPHY for restaurants

CT Food and Farm Photographer specializes in beautiful photography for marketing‌ capturing mouthwatering photos that showcase your food and beverage menus to entice customers. Contact us today to begin building a digital library of delicious images for websites, social media, ads, and print materials. ctfoodandfarm.com


“

IT WAS A BEAUTIFUL

BRIGHT AUTUMN DAY, WITH AIR LIKE CIDER AND A SKY SO BLUE YOU COULD DROWN IN IT. DIANA GABALDON, OUTLANDER

WINTER CAPLANSON PHOTO.


in this issue

Lebanon: Leading the way in Farmland Preservation

Philip Chester

For a Chef, Hartford has It

Ben Dubow

Off the Ground Pioneer Hops of Connecticut

Gena Golas

Half Full Brewery and the Community Sources Ales Project Gena Golas

Elevate Your Game

Sarah Lefranรงois and Christopher Andrew

Beyond Pumpkin Pie and Butternut Squash Soup

Sherry Swanson

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Inspired Gathering with Chef Amanda Glover

Elinor Slomba

Stories in Sustainability: Oyster Farming for CT Restaurants Kelley Citroni

Kelley Citroni and James Wayman

Pro Tips and Mingonettes with The Oyster Club

Alex Fox

Oui Charcuterie

92 102 112 122

Caroline Finnegan

A Quick Guide to Autumn Perennial Planting

Hilary Adorno

CT Holiday Gift Guide

62 66

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Something magical happens in the weeks after the kids go back to school and summer tans fade. The crisp air and autumn’s new palette of marigold and butterscotch with hints of garnet make us long to wrap our hands around a warm cup of cocoa and don our favorite cozy socks.

Beyond

Pumpkin Pie & Butternut

Squash Soup

story by SHERRY SWANSON photos by WINTER CAPLANSON

The crimson landscape is reflected in our ponds and rivers and also in the spices in our food. The warmth and comfort that we seek is found in the richer, spicier dishes of the fall. Gone are the fresh, herbal flavors of basil, dill, and cilantro, replaced by those of autumn: cinnamon, nutmeg, and allspice. Suddenly the warmth of the oven is welcomed and baking is no longer a chore. Winter squash evokes all the elements of the season with its aroma, its beautiful amber color, and in the warmth of the spices we pair with it. Squash is so versatile; it’s a shame to make the same recipes over and over. Here are a few that might make you see winter squash in a different light.


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Butternut Squash & Hazelnut Galette MAKES 8 SERVINGS

This recipe is easy enough to make for the family but elegant enough to serve to guests. It works well on a buffet, as well, because it tastes great at room temperature. PASTRY: • 1 package puff pastry • Flour for rolling out puff pastry FILLING: • 1 small butternut squash (about 1 lb.) • 1 tsp. salt • 2 Tbsp. olive oil • 3 leeks, halved and thinly sliced in half-moons • 2 Tbsp. butter • 1 tsp. salt • ½ c. dry white wine • Juice of 2 oranges • ¾ c. fontina cheese, grated or cut into small bits • 2 tsp. fresh sage leaves, chopped CRUMBLE TOPPING: • 1 c. hazelnuts, toasted and chopped • 2 Tbsp. fresh sage, chopped, more for garnish • 1 Tbsp. melted butter • Zest of 2 oranges

squash Preheat oven to 375°F. Peel the squash and cut the bulbous part away from the neck. Cut the neck into ¼” thick rounds. Halve the bulbous part and scoop out seeds. Cut into a ¼” dice. Toss the diced squash and squash rounds separately with olive oil and ½ a tsp. of salt and roast on two sheet pans lined with parchment for 20 minutes or until pieces are tender. Set aside to cool.

leeks

Place the sliced leeks in a large bowl full of water. Use your hands to agitate the leeks in the water by pulling the pieces apart and letting the sand fall to the bottom of the bowl. There should be enough water that the leeks float. Lift the leeks out of the bowl leaving behind the sand-filled water. Melt butter in a heavy skillet and cook leeks over medium heat with ½ a tsp. of salt, stirring occasionally for 20 minutes or until soft and lightly translucent. Stir in white wine and orange juice; continue cooking until the liquid evaporates. Set aside to cool. Raise the oven temperature to 400°F. Mix the diced squash, leeks, cheese, and herbs together in a bowl.

galette

On a floured work surface, roll the dough out into a 12” round and transfer to a baking sheet. Spread diced squash, leeks, cheese, and herb mixture over the dough, leaving a 1 ½” border. Place the squash rounds on top of the leek mixture in a spiral pattern starting in the center of the galette. Fold the edge of the pastry over about ¾” creating a border around the vegetable mixture, pleating the edge to make it fit. The center will be open. In a bowl, combine the chopped, toasted hazelnuts; orange zest; chopped sage; and melted butter. Sprinkle the topping on the galette. Bake until golden brown – 30 to 40 minutes. Remove from the oven, let stand for five minutes, then slide the galette onto a serving plate. Cut into wedges and serve hot, warm, or at room temperature.

fried sage topping optional

If you want to impress your guests, add a garnish of fried sage. In a small sauce pan, heat ½ c. of olive oil over medium-high heat. Add a sage leaf as a test; if it sizzles, then the oil is hot enough. If not, take out the leaf and try again. Fry the sage leaves for about 90 seconds and drain on a paper towellined plate. The leaves crisp and curl and look windblown. CTFOODANDFARM.COM

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Butternut Squash Cacio e Pepe MAKES 6 SERVINGS

Cacio e Pepe, or cheese and pepper, is a traditional Roman pasta dish. This recipe uses squash in place of the pasta. It’s a quick, weeknight meal that is not only simple to make, but the color is striking and makes eating your vegetables a pleasure. CACIO E PEPE: • 1 c. Pecorino Romano cheese, grated • 1 c. Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese, grated • 1 Tbsp. freshly-grated black pepper SPIRALIZED BUTTERNUT: • 1 large butternut squash (about 1 ¾ lb.) • ¼ c. good olive oil • 1 tsp. salt Peel the squash. If using a julienne peel, hold the squash by the bulbous end and use the peeler on the neck of the squash making long julienne strips; set aside until you have about 4 c. of squash. If using a spiralizer, cut the bulbous part of the squash off and reserve for another use. You may have to cut the neck in half lengthwise depending on the size of your squash and your spiralizer. (Follow the directions for your spiralizer.) Place a large sauté pan over medium high heat. Add the olive oil and heat until the oil starts to shimmer. Add the squash, sprinkle with salt, and toss the squash in the olive oil until well coated. Add ¼ - ½ c. of water to the pan. Cook over high heat until the squash is tender – about three to four minutes. Cooking time will vary depending on the thickness of the squash. Turn the heat off and toss the squash with half of the cheeses; the natural starch in the squash will combine with the cheeses to create a sauce. Stir continuously and add the remaining cheese and the pepper. Serve in warm pasta bowls with extra cheese for garnish and extra freshly-cracked pepper.

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Pumpkin and Chocolate Swirled Bundt Cake MAKES 12 SERVINGS

Pumpkin and chocolate – why not? Can you think of two more comforting flavors? This cake tastes even better the next day. This fantastic makeahead recipe lets you entertain without spending the whole evening in the kitchen. • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • •

1 ½ c. (¾ lb.) butter, room temperature 3 c. sugar 6 large eggs 2 tsp. vanilla extract 1 tsp. orange extract 1 ¼ c. canned pumpkin 2 ¾ c all-purpose flour 2 tsp. baking powder 1 tsp. salt ½ tsp. ground cloves ½ tsp. ground cinnamon ¼ tsp. ground allspice ¼ tsp. ground ginger ¾ c. Dutch-processed, unsweetened cocoa ¾ c. buttermilk Powdered sugar for garnish

Preheat the oven to 350°F. Cream together the butter and sugar in a mixer at medium speed. Add eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition. Incorporate vanilla and orange extracts.

pumpkin batter

Scrape half the mixture into a separate bowl and mix in pumpkin until well-blended. In another bowl, whisk together 1 ¾ c. flour, 1 tsp. baking powder, ½ tsp. salt, cinnamon, nutmeg, allspice, and cloves. Add flour mixture to pumpkin batter and fold in with a spatula just until blended; do not overmix.

chocolate batter

Whisk remaining 1 c. flour, 1 tsp. baking powder, ½ tsp. salt, and the cocoa in a bowl. Add flour mixture alternately with the buttermilk to the other half of the butter mixture (starting and ending with dry ingredients), beating after each addition, just until blended. Spoon half the pumpkin batter into a buttered and floured 12-c. Bundt cake pan. Drop half the chocolate batter in spoonfuls over the pumpkin batter. Spoon remaining pumpkin and chocolate batters into pan. Gently swirl a skewer around the center of the pan several times. Bake for 55 to 60 minutes or until wooden skewer inserted into center of cake comes out with a few moist crumbs attached. Let cake cool 10 minutes in pan, then invert onto a rack, lift off pan, and cool cake completely. Dust with powdered sugar.

This cake can be baked in 12 1c. molds, as well! Adjust baking time to 35-40 minutes. CTFOODANDFARM.COM

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story & Photos by Sarah Lefranรงois & Christopher Andrew


Hunting and fine dining are not two phrases that are often uttered together. Game meat generally conjures up images of dry meat loaf and drab stews, but for the adventurous home chef, this high-quality, free-range meat can be elevated to new, flavorful heights. Wild game has not always been a staple in our diet. In fact, at one time, we believed that it was of lesser quality. In his late 20s, Christopher picked up a shotgun and began sport shooting. Naturally, this developed into teaching

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himself how to hunt. As his skill was honed, our freezers began to fill. After reading several books by Steve Rinella and Hank Shaw, our thoughts on local and ethicallyharvested meat evolved, as did our preparation of it. The process of cooking the whole animal became an honor to it and to Christopher’s hard work. I was already gardening, and we were beginning to learn about foraging. Adding wild game into our diet was a natural next step. Preparing and eating wild game has heightened our connection to the land; in order to be a successful hunter, you must pay attention to the changes in nature around you.

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Connecticut’s woods and fields are full of a delicious bounty: whitetail deer, rabbit, squirrel, Canadian goose, turkey, and a variety of ducks. They are the ultimate freeranging, grass- and wild-fed meat. It’s a certain satisfaction to look out the window and see a herd of deer in the spring grazing in the hay fields or looking for acorns in the autumn woods. We know that the animal is consuming what it naturally should. All of these wild protein sources can replace meat you would typically purchase in a grocery store, and more often than not, they are lower in fat and calories and higher in protein and vitamin B. Wild game meat is a healthier choice for the consumer and the landscape, as the act of

hunting and fishing helps preserve species and open spaces. License funds from hunters and anglers go towards conservation efforts to ensure healthy habitats. According to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, nearly $200 million in hunters’ federal excise taxes are distributed to State agencies to support wildlife management programs each year. Our family will go through two deer in a year as a replacement for beef. A fully-used deer can produce many different cuts: shanks, neck roasts, blade roasts, bone-in sirloin steaks (perfect to defrost for a quick meal), tenderloin, stew meat, and ground venison. We make most of our burger meat into what

I like to call “atypical sausages:” North African Merguez, Vietnamese Hmong, and fresh Mexican Chorizo-style sausages are among the most flavorful we have made. We also make maple-sage sausage patties for a breakfast treat. Venison roasts are slowly braised with chipotle, cloves, and cumin to create a barbacoa (a traditional Caribbean dish and the origin of the word “barbecue”). The offal cuts – organ meat and entrails – are Christopher’s favorite to experiment with and share with first-timers. Venison liver becomes a quick and tasty pâté that when frozen, thaws easily as an appetizer. While venison is a large part of our diet, we also eat duck, Canadian goose, and turkey. Goose breast

It’s a certain satisfaction to look out the window and see a herd or looking for acorns in the autumn woods. We know that the animal 20

CT FOOD & FARM / FALL 2017


can be turned into delicious pastrami; skin-on duck breast sautés quickly while remaining decadent; fowl giblets – hearts, livers, and gizzards – become confits for a quick appetizer. Goose liver crème caramel topped with home grown berries and our own smoked bacon is one of our favorite hearty desserts. On the weekends, we enjoy the slow process of cooking goose or duck legs and letting the aroma of lemon, garlic, and duck fat fill the air. Interestingly enough, wild duck and domesticated duck are totally different; wild duck is a deep dark red/purple meat, while domesticated duck looks more like white meat.

Finally, for small game, rabbit and squirrel are quick and easy meats to add into soups and stews both hearty and light. These meats are light enough in flavor that they do a great job of taking on whatever flavors you choose to add. Hunting your own wild game is a great way to take a step into sustainable consumption of meat. It may not be for everyone – and certainly, it would not continue to be sustainable if everyone began to hunt for the meat that they eat. So, what choices are you left with if you want to try wild game? By law, truly wild game meat is illegal to sell in the United States. This law stops market hunting and protects wild animals from being over-harvested. If you see “wild game” on a menu

or in a store, it has been raised on a ranch or farm. There are often issues with this; for instance, farmraised venison has been linked to the spread of Chronic Wasting Disease, a type of transmissible spongiform encephalopathy that affects the deer family and has a 100% mortality rate. Thankfully, this disease has not yet spread to Connecticut. If you’re interested in procuring authentic wild game meat, but you are unsure about hunting, consider opening up your property to a hunter. They will happily give a share of their meat to a property owner who shares access to his or her hunting grounds.

d of deer in the spring grazing in the hay fields is consuming what it naturally should. CTFOODANDFARM.COM

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One of our family favorites is a dish called Venison Steak Diane. This is quick enough to make on a weeknight and special enough to serve at a holiday meal.

Venison Steak Diane

Makes 2 servings

The Diane Sauce is named for the Roman goddess of the hunt, Diana, as told in Georges Auguste Escoffier’s 1903 book, Le Guide Culinaire. This dish can be made with beef, and was so in post-WWII recipes, however, the sauce was originally associated with game meat. We’ve introduced many people to venison with this recipe!

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Ingredients • ½ lb. piece of venison backstrap or tenderloin • Salt • 2 Tbsp. butter • 1 shallot, minced • 3 cloves garlic, minced • ¼ c. Irish whiskey • ½ c. venison stock or beef broth • 2 Tbsp. Worcestershire sauce • 1 Tbsp. wholegrain mustard • 1 Tbsp. tomato paste • ¼ c. heavy cream • Herbs for garnish, minced (basil, parsley, chives, etc.)

Instructions Bring the venison loin out of the fridge, salt it well, and let

sauce and stir to combine. Let this boil down until a wooden

it come to room temperature – at least 20 minutes. Heat the

spoon dragged across the pan leaves a trail behind it that

butter in a large sauté pan over medium-high heat for about

does not fill in for a second or two. This should take about

90 seconds. Pat the venison dry with a paper towel and cook

three minutes on high heat.

it on all sides. Turn the heat to medium so the butter doesn’t scorch, and take your time. It should take about eight to 10

Turn off the heat and let the boiling subside. Stir in cream

minutes to get a nice brown crust on the venison without

until the sauce is as light as you like. Don’t let the sauce

overcooking the center. If you are a cook who likes to look

boil again, or it could break. Slice the venison into thick

at temperature, look for between 125°-130°F. Remove the

medallions. If you find you have not cooked it enough, let

venison, tent loosely with foil, and set aside.

the meat swim in the sauce for a few moments to heat through. If the venison is to your liking, pour some sauce on

Add the shallots to the sauté pan and cook for one minute

a plate and top with the meat. Garnish with some freshly-

then add the garlic and cook for another 30 seconds or so;

minced herbs. Chives are traditional, but basil and parsley

don’t let the garlic burn. Deglaze the pan with the whiskey,

are also nice.

scraping off any stuck-on bits with a wooden spoon. Let the whiskey cook down almost to a glaze, then add the

AUTHOR: HANK SHAW

venison stock, tomato paste, mustard, and Worcestershire

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On the weekends, we enjoy the slow process of cooking goose or duck legs and letting the aroma of lemon, garlic, and duck fat

fill the air. 26

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of

STORY BY

GENA GOLAS

PHOTOS BY

JAKE SNYDER


“Terroir”

might be the next big thing in the CT craft beer scene that you may never hear about – at least if you’re asking Doug Weber. “I don’t speak French,” Weber jokes. “But really, it’s all about sun and soil.” What Weber – owner of Morris-based Pioneer Hops of Connecticut – is describing is terroir: a plant’s unique growing environment and the flavor it imparts. And, he really does want you to know about it; Pioneer

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Hops, the first commercial hop yard in Connecticut, is providing a distinctive product to brewers in the State. Usually reserved for discussing wine, the topic of terroir in hops – the cones of the hop plant – is new for CT growers and brewers. Then again, so is the accessibility of native hops. Prior to 2014, there had never been any in Connecticut, despite a growing craft brewing industry. Brewers in the State would source their hops from a number of producers, some

as close as Massachusetts or as far away as Oregon, depending on the variety they wanted. Weber, wanting to leave his career in media, decided to “take advantage of a pretty cool happening without opening a brewery. I wanted to leave the brewing to someone else and create the best hops I could.” Thus, the aptly-named Pioneer Hops was born. With the Connecticut craft beer scene booming, why is the idea of hops grown in-state so new? For one, there is significant


infrastructure needed to support the production of commerciallyavailable hops. Small, “backyard” growers have existed for years, but the investment in equipment is enough of a barrier to prevent farmers from adding hops as an additional money-making crop. After harvesting, the drying and pelleting process can be outsourced, but at great cost. With its focus on hops alone, Pioneer Hops proves that success can be found by doing one thing, and doing it well. Says Weber, “I would

rather put effort into growing these varieties as efficiently as we can.” This philosophy has served Pioneer Hops well as it enters its third harvest. On his five-acre plot of land leased from neighboring South Farms, Weber grows 6,300 plants of five varieties of hops: Chinook, Centennial, Sterling, Willamette, and Cascade. Last year, his plot produced 1,900 lbs. of hops with more expected this fall. When Weber began, he cleared the land from the corn and pumpkins

that were there prior and handpicked the rocks from the soil. What was left was fine, sandy loam: good, organic material that would drain well and support hop production. Connecticut’s climate makes a significant impact on each variety of hops. A certain type grown here will taste different than the same type grown in Vermont or New York – terroir. Hop plants are resilient and can propagate anywhere, including Connecticut, as Pioneer Hops has proven. They’re perennials,

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“While malt and other carbohydrates might be the backbone for a beer, hops can be considered the muscle, especially in IPAs.�


and grow by spreading rhizomes underground and sending up shoots from their nodes. The plant will cultivate itself, but the management of hops takes some manpower. Hops will climb anything, but a strategic system is best to train them up in the air to prevent the growth of mildew which could decimate a crop if not controlled. Fixed in rows, the hop plants climb 18’ in the air, their bines snaking clockwise around V-shaped trellises made out of coir, a coconut husk twine from Sri Lanka that Weber buys each year by the half-truckload. Weber plants his hops in the spring, and they can be harvested by the first of September. Hops plants produce cones which, when broken apart, yield lupulin: yellow specks that impart their flavor under a brewer’s skilled hands. After Weber and his team cut the plants and their coir trellises from the ground, the hops are brought into a barn where the harvester awaits – a German-made, silver behemoth of a machine. The plants are fed into the back, where belts draw the bines in and then up, running the plant under rotating plucking fingers which separate leaves and stick matter from the cones. The cones travel down and out of the machine so they can be dried, pelleted, and baled. At Pioneer Hops, a harvest on Thursday can be on a brewer’s doorstep on

Sunday. While malt and other carbohydrates might be the backbone for a beer, hops can be considered the muscle in most brews, especially India Pale Ales (IPAs). Once used mainly as a preservative in beer, hop varieties have since been sought out for their flavor. Hops came to the United States in the 19th century with Germans immigrating to Wisconsin, bringing varieties from their own country as well as from England and Europe. Commercial hop yards grew in locations as close as Massachusetts, New York, and Vermont, but it wasn’t until more than a century later that these varieties ended up in Connecticut soil. Currently, Washington, Oregon, and Idaho produce the most commerciallyavailable hops, with Michigan in a distant fourth place, and New York in an even more distant number five. With its five acres, Pioneer Hops contributes roughly one percent of the hops our State consumes in a year. So, as one of the small guys, why do it? Is it possible to compete, or even just hang with the big growers? This “why” can be answered in one word: flavor. A unique product equals survival. For some hop varieties, the most desirable are proprietary and obtainable to only a few of the most accomplished brewers. The challenge has become, “how do I

make this beer even if I can’t find this hop?” In Connecticut, because of terroir, this question can be answered in part by sourcing from Pioneer Hops – and the handful of others in the Association of Connecticut Hops Producers, formed by Weber and Smokedown Farm in Sharon. The Chinook variety has been particularly successful for Pioneer Hops; it’s less piney than its Pacific Northwest counterpart, making room for more floral flavors. This difference in taste is so significant, that it prompted Pioneer Hops to trademark its Chinook as “CONNook.” Similarly, Pioneer has recently trademarked their flavorful Cascade as “CONNcade.” Typically, Connecticut brewers have used local hops in some of their small-run, perhaps taproomonly brews, which use only small amounts and for a limited release. As local hops become more obtainable, breweries are starting to take notice. Half Full Brewery in Stamford used CONNook in the latest iteration of its Community Sourced Ales project, Transcend Hoppiness. Bad Sons Beer Company in Derby is the first brewery on record to use locally-grown hops for one of their flagship beers – Conn Ale East Coast Pale Ale featuring Pioneer Hops’ CONNcade. “I think some of the best brewers are brewing beer in Connecticut,” says Weber, “and I’m happy and proud

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to be a part of it.” Pioneer Hops has the capacity to fully supply Bad Sons with all the hops (of a single variety) that it would need to support production. And, Pioneer is poised for expansion. Weber plans to clear another 15 acres of neighboring land for planting, plus build a new barn on the property so Pioneer Hops can do its own drying and plantpropagation to support themselves and other growers. Call it terroir or simply “sun and soil;” either way, Connecticut hop growers such as Pioneer Hops have a uniquely-flavorful product to offer our breweries. “Local is important,”

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says Weber. “People who care about where their food comes from care about where their beer comes from. I think more and more people are choosing homegrown because they’re making smart choices, by and large.” As the craft beer market continues to grow in Connecticut, so does the support of local hops in Connecticut beer. Says Weber, “Our typical customer is a fan of the State. Brewers are proud to use Connecticut ingredients, and the Connecticut consumer is proud to drink Connecticut beer. I’m rooting for the home team.” 1


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C

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m

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STORY BY

GENA GOLAS PHOTOS BY

JAKE SNYDER

Pr

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BARLEY, HOPS, YEAST, AND WATER: the standard

ingredients for a typical brew. But, a standout flavor is necessary for breweries to differentiate themselves from the pack, and showcasing Connecticut-grown hops is just one way to do it. Stamford-based Half Full Brewery has created a series of beers with their Community Sourced Ales (CSA) Project, a series of collaborations with other Connecticut businesses that provide a unique ingredient to integrate into a Half Full brew. Their latest, Transcend Hoppiness made with Pioneer Hops’ CONNook, was released at an August 13 event at South Farms. It is the fourth on the list of Half Full CSA brews: Bee Enlightened with Red Bee Apiary in Fairfield, Rise & Shine with Rise Brewing Co. in New York City (and distributed in CT), and Grace & Darkness with Copps Island Oysters in Norwalk. “The Connecticut-grown and -made products we use have specific flavors deriving from where they are grown, and we try to use them in a careful way,” says Tom Price, director of Brewery Operations at Half Full. “These community partnerships are

a way to bring unique flavors to beer while learning something new. We did a honey demonstration with Red Bee Apiary where we tasted about two dozen different honeys, and we went out on the boat to dredge up the oysters we used to make Grace & Darkness,” says Price. “That was probably my favorite experience from this project – oyster farming is fascinating.” The choice to partner with Pioneer Hops for the CSA Project was one more way to showcase a distinctive flavor, this time simply using one of those standard beer ingredients instead of adding in an additional flavor. Pioneer Hops’ CONNook hops are different enough to do the job: “Those are usually grown in the Pacific Northwest, and there is a striking difference between them and the ones from Pioneer,” says Price. “The Connecticut ones are much more tropical and less sharp and piney, which really comes through in the finished beer.”

Look out for more unique flavor pairings from Half Full’s Community Sourced Ales Project’s quarterly releases. 1

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The leaves fall, th wind blows, and th farm country slow changes from the summer cottons in its winter wools. - HENRY BESTON


he he wly e nto .

WINTER CAPLANSON PHOTO.


FO

H EF C A R

BY BEN DUBOW PHOTOS BY CHEYNEY BARRIEAU, WINTER CAPLANSON, CHRISTOPHER FOX, LISA NICHOLS, AND LAURA STONE.

TEN YEARS AGO, my confidence in the Hartford food scene was waning; that is no longer the case. The culinary landscape is growing and becoming more interesting and exciting – literally by the week. Local coffee shops, micro-breweries, old-school Italian classics, farm-totable, fine dining, greasy spoons, and amazing global offerings – Hartford definitely has it.

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MONTE ALBAN RESTAURANT. LISA NICHOLS PHOTO.

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GOLDBURGERS ON CAPITOL. LAURA STONE PHOTO.

SEOUL BBQ & SUSHI. CHEYNEY BARRIEAU PHOTO.

“I want food that is bold, simple, tho As a chef, the restaurants I prefer share a passion for our craft. That usually means sourcing local and fresh: no shortcuts and scratch kitchens. It doesn’t have to be fancy, but it does need to be soul-satisfying. I want food that is bold, simple, thoughtprovoking, and unlike what I cook every day. Chefs often aren’t the healthiest people around, either – long hours, lots of stress, and our job requires us to eat far more than

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HAN RESTAURANT. CHISTOPHER FOX PHOTO.

ought-provoking, and unlike what I cook every day.” we should. For the past year and a half, I have been on a personal journey to lose weight and get healthy. I’ve learned on my low-carb, high-protein diet that I don’t need to eat at “health food” restaurants all the time, but I can make better choices in almost any restaurant setting. When compiling my Hartford restaurant recommendations, it was tempting to come up with a rousing list that covered all the City’s neighborhoods and trendy spots; Hartford has all of these and then some. But at the end of the day, I’ve chosen the restaurants I actually eat in – often.

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Monte Alban Restaurant 531 Farmington Ave.

Right down the street from where I live in the West End, Monte Alban is small, brightly-colored, and fun. Its food is as bold as the building’s vibrant, yellow exterior. Authentic Oaxacan Mexican, the menu covers all the bases from seafood to steak as well as great renditions of tacos, burritos, and chimichangas. Also, they offer one of the finest and most attention-grabbing brunches around on Saturdays and Sundays. Prices are more than reasonable and portions ample. The pollo al pipian verde (chicken with green pumpkin seed sauce) is my favorite dish on the menu so far.

Abyssinian Ethiopian Restaurant 535 Farmington Ave.

This gem – right next door to Monte Alban – is easy to miss if you’re not looking for it. I fell in love with Ethiopian and Eritrean cuisine when I was 13 years old on a trip to Washington, D.C.; since then, I am always on the lookout for it. Abyssinian can be deceptive: I’ve never seen it crowded, but the food is continuously fresh. The staff and owners could not be friendlier and happier to serve you. This is the kind of place that you want to go with a couple of friends, order a variety of items, and enjoy family-style. Ethiopian/Eritrean food is characterized by fermented sourdough flatbread that serves as your utensils as you eat a mixture of wellspiced vegetables, meat, and fish. The food can run from mild to very spicy, depending on your preference. The yebeg wot (lamb simmered in red pepper sauce with ginger root, garlic, green pepper, and cardamom) and yassa wot (salmon in a mild, red sauce with tomatoes, onions, garlic, and carrots, served with lentils and split peas) are both standouts.

Han Restaurant specializes in Szechuan hot pot, and is the sister restaurant to Shu (156 Shield St., West Hartford). For those unacquainted, hot pot is a style of food found throughout Asian traditions. A simmering pot of flavorful broth is set on the table 310 Prospect Ave. accompanied by an array of raw proteins (meats, poultry, fish, and tofu), vegetables, and noodles. (There’s also an opportunity to custom mix dipping sauces.) You then cook the raw ingredients in the simmering broth; when each component is cooked to your liking, enjoy! Eating this way is fun, communal, and delicious. The staff is very helpful to newbies and the options for proteins and ingredients are plentiful. On a recent visit, I had the Chengdu hot and spicy broth combo style which gave me chicken, beef, shrimp, and tons of veggies. The meal was filling, tasty, and cost-conscious.

HAN RESTAURANT. CHISTOPHER FOX PHOTO.

Han Restaurant

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GOLDBURGERS ON CAPITOL. LAURA STONE PHOTO.


GoldBurgers on Capitol 399 Capitol Ave. When I first heard that GoldBurgers was opening an outpost of their Newington flagship in Hartford on Capitol Ave. next to Little River Restoratives (a Prohibition-Era cocktail joint featured in CT Food and Farm Magazine’s Summer 2016 issue), I thought to myself, “do we really need another burger concept in the area?” The answer is yes. Their signature GoldBurger is topped with lettuce, onion, pickles, American cheese, potato chips, and GoldBurger sauce – served only on a Martini’s Potato Roll. It is flawless: juicy, delicious, balanced, and properly seasoned with an impeccable bun-to-meat ratio. You can venture out with hot dogs, chicken or veggie burgers, and creative daily specials, as well.

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Seoul BBQ & Sushi

593 Hartford Rd., New Britain This is kind of cheating since it’s not really in Hartford, but it’s less than a 10-minute drive from my house and it is so good that I can’t resist. I adore Korean food and this place is dead-on: salty, sweet, sour, spicy, and umami in textbook balance combined with Korean cuisine’s signature fermented flavor. (Think great pickling but funkier.) Whether you choose a traditional Korean BBQ dish such as beef bulgogi or a classic rice option like bibimbap, you really can’t go wrong. Seoul BBQ & Sushi has tons of authentic items on the menu including soups, stews, seafood, vegetarian selections, and outstanding meat. My favorites include the kimchi jeon appetizer (kimchi pancake), ojing-o bokum (wok-fried spicy calamari), and daegu maeuntang (spicy codfish soup). Traditional BBQ dishes are served with up to eight side dishes or appetizers – the ultimate tasting menu of amuse-bouches. From kimchi to crispy baby caramel shrimp and everything in between, no need to ask; just enjoy.

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SEOUL BBQ & SUSHI. CHEYNEY BARRIEAU PHOTO.


The Bears Trifecta

WINTER CAPLANSON PHOTOS.

Bear’s Smokehouse Barbecue: 25 Front St. The Blind Pig Pizza Co.: 89 Arch St. Chango Rosa: 1 Union Place BEAR’S BBQ SMOKEHOUSE (with outposts in Windsor, South Windsor, and Dunkin Donuts Park, among others) is the flagship featuring authentic Kansas City-style BBQ that simply rocks. While rightfully-famous for brisket and burnt ends, the pork, turkey, and half-chickens are not to be missed. When I need big flavor that still works with my diet, I opt for the smoked turkey breast or a half-chicken over a crisp, abundant salad or with a double-side of collard greens (flavored with turkey bacon) – no guilt and seriously satiating. (I leave the mac n cheese, bbq beans, cornbread, and peach cobbler for my friends). THE BLIND PIG PIZZA CO. on Arch Street is a hip, speak-easy-meets-your-local-pizza-joint Jamie and Cheryl MacDonald, co-owners kind of a place with a serious foodie chef of the Bear’s BBQ Restaurant Group, have calling the shots and using signature BBQ helped reshape and redefine the Hartford food smoked meats from Bear’s across the street. The Forge, the stunning, massive pizza scene. Through their restaurants, food trucks, oven that turns out textbook pies in about stadium vending, catering, and special 90 seconds and cooks at over 900°F, is events, they offer casual, craft, and truly something to behold. The crust-saucepassionate elements – and damn cheese ratio is spot-on in addition to their good food. well-curated line-up of toppings, ranging from the classics (pepperoni, sausage, peppers, onions, and mushrooms) to the divine (smoked tomato sauce, nduja, soppressata, and black garlic oil) to smoky Q (pulled pork, burnt ends, and “moink” balls – smoked meatballs wrapped in bacon) – and it all works. But here, it’s not just about pizza. The pork belly steam buns rock, their wings are my favorite in Greater Hartford, and I can’t stop dreaming about their arugula salad (warm mushrooms and onions, fresh mozzarella, and lemon chili vinaigrette). Ask for the special book (an encyclopedia, really) of cocktails, available only at the bar. This is one of the most comfortable and unpretentious, serious craft mixology bars I’ve had the pleasure of enjoying.

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The third and youngest addition to the Bear’s empire is CHANGO ROSA, a unique and fun take on Latin American street food using Bear’s Smokehouse BBQ-smoked meats as inspiration. Located in the former Hot Tomato’s at Union Place, this restaurant is big, bold, and seriously badass. Tacos, arepas, pupusas, pinchos, empanadas, and tamales – all scratch-made. While the flavors, concepts, and execution are all authentic, the chef is never held hostage by tradition and brings together flavors that sing: kimchi, smoky beets, and various fruit salsas and sauces. When eating lighter, my favorites are easy: the octopus carpaccio is perfection; the microgreens salad (watermelon and quinoa) is a refreshing winner and the skewered pinchos (Latin American

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tapas) deliver a high-protein, low-carb flavor punch of which I never tire. Among the tacos, the crispy calamari, fish of the day (especially when it is shark), and tri-tip steak are my top picks – and I can’t seem to get out of there without a smoked brisket pupusa. Note well: serious desserts, serious tequila, and serious cocktails abound here, as well. If you are there to indulge, don’t skip out. From farmers’ markets increasing in quality to serious farm-to-table fine dining and everything in between, our capital eateries keep getting better; I love living in a growing food scene. �

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COUNT ST


TRY TRONG Lebanon: Leading the way in Farmland Preservation by Philip S. Chester, AICP, Carla McElroy photos


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T

oo often communities tend to focus their limited resources on developing land versus preserving or promoting agriculture. Both have their pluses, but only agriculture provides sustainability in terms of municipal finance, food security, and preservation of open space and natural resources – which can be appreciated by all. Lebanon is farm country! Its historical and agricultural roots are inseparable. Lebanon farms continue to provide food and fiber necessary to support the masses, just as it did at the time of our Nation's founding. Farmland preservation and the Town of Lebanon are also entwined. It is New England's leader in farmland conservation with almost 50 farms (5,000 acres) preserved – and growing. Our Town has long recognized that farming is a business and that agricultural planning should be an integral part of its overall community-building effort that includes economic and sustainable development, open space and conservation planning, and fiscallyresponsible growth. As a result, Lebanon embraces New Ruralism concepts such as nurturing a healthy environment for farms; creating large, permanent agricultural easements; adopting zoning that promotes agriculture as a principle land use; identifying itself as an agricultural community; promoting local farm products; facilitating local farm sales at its farmers’ market; and, promoting public agrarian events such as its annual Country Fair. The Town formally established its local agricultural preservation program in 2006 – hiring staff to work with policy makers to develop and implement the program and work closely with the farming community, the Connecticut Department of Agriculture, the Natural Resources Conservation Service-United States Department of Agriculture (NRCS-USDA), Connecticut Farmland Trust, and other likeminded groups. Throughout the past decade, the Town has preserved 26 farms (2,300 acres), half of which in partnership with Connecticut Farmland Trust. Lebanon has conducted numerous studies, surveys, and outreach sessions that help demonstrate community interest in farming. It has adopted a rightto-farm ordinance; established and runs a successful farmers' market; passed optional tax reduction

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programs to promote agriculture; and, regularly sets aside funds for farmland safeguarding and promotion. The Town works closely with farmers and their families to assure that their longterm land protection wishes are realized. In addition, the Town amended the zoning regulations to include the “promotion and protection of existing agricultural uses and prime and important farmland soils” as the number one purpose of its zoning; defined “open space” to be synonymous with agriculture;” identified agriculture as a principle or primary land use in most zoning districts; mandated cluster development” to assure

open space is set aside to be used for agriculture; and, created agricultural (no-build) buffers” when subdivisions are proposed adjacent to active farmland. Our Town is always looking for new and innovative techniques to promote cultivation – understanding that farms require limited municipal services, provide employment and necessary goods, are stable for the environment, and help protect Lebanon's scenic landscape. Town entrance signs read “"preserving our history and agriculture" and you can find bumper stickers that say“"Lebanon, Farm Country."”

program, Lebanon received the 2015 Community of the Year Award from the Connecticut Chapter of the American Planning Association “in recognition of its on-going efforts to preserve its agricultural-based economy and Town character”. Lebanon looks forward to greeting new farm businesses that move into Town as well as assisting existing farms. Treating farm businesses with respect requires a positive government approach toward agriculture, and the farming community knows that Lebanon will always have a friendly Town Hall environment! 1

Due to its robust preservation

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A Quick Reference to

AUTUMN PERENNIAL PLANTING by Caroline Finnegan photos by Winter Caplanson

We spend the winter planning and pining for the joys of gardening; realistically though, spring gardening can be the pits. The ground is cold and wet, late frosts nip flower buds and stress plants – not to mention the joys of managing pests and diseases.

It can feel like there’s never enough time to get everything done. Garden centers often put plants on sale after they finish blooming – perfect for next year. So, why not take some of the pressure off and plant your perennials, trees, and shrubs in the fall?

• The soil is warm allowing for rapid root growth. • Temperatures are consistently mild to cool – optimal for gardeners and less stressful for newly-transplanted plants. • Any gaps or problem areas in the garden are evident and fresh in your mind. You can address them before an entire New England winter addles your brain and the excitement of spring leads to impulse buys. • Fall gardens are stunning; now is the best time to find grasses and other fall gardening superstars in your local gardening centers. • Disease and pest stresses are less of an issue once the temperatures cool.

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Y NOT TAKE SOME OF THE PRESSURE OFF & PLANT YOUR PERENNIALS, TREES, AND SHRUBS IN THE FALL? CTFOODANDFARM.COM

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TIPS • Remember to water your newlyplanted perennials – 1” a week until the ground freezes hard. • Do not mulch newly-planted vegetation right away; wait until the ground completely freezes, then add a few inches of mulch around the plants. This helps prevent heaving during any thaw/freeze cycles. 64

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• Do not fertilize. All fertilizing in the garden should stop mid-summer, and there is no need to spot-fertilize your freshly-planted perennials. Fertilizer will encourage new, tender, green growth – not what we are looking for in fall. • Gardeners in Zones 5a – 7b on the USDA Plant Hardiness Zone

Map should start planting in late September, allowing plants to settle in before going dormant. • Don’t worry about frost killing off the tops; the roots continue to grow until the ground freezes. • Before buying, carefully inspect the plant for pests and disease.


PERENNIAL SUGGESTIONS • GRASSES – the MVPs of fall gardens! Right now is the ideal time to find beautiful cultivars – short for “cultivated varieties” – of grasses in garden centers. Be sure to pay attention to the ultimate size of the plants and their sun/shade preferences. Some grasses can become huge, and once established, are a beast to move! • ECHINACEA – every sunny garden needs several Echinacea: easy-going, long-blooming, well-behaved, disease- and pest-resistant, and available in a range of sizes and colors. Try a white Echinacea in the garden instead of daisies – it experiences fewer instances of disease and has a much longer life. • COREOPSIS is a prolific bloomer and goes and goes all season long. Its feathery foliage brings lovely texture to the garden. • RUDBECKIA – these cheerful and easygoing plants are a staple of the summer/fall garden. Be sure to explore some the newer cultivars; the shorter ones are perfect for front-of-the-garden border interest. • SEDUM – look for the purple Sedum to bring a lovely contrast of color and character to the garden. • EUTROCHIUM (Joe Pye Weed) – if you love butterflies, you’ll want some of this in your garden! Be sure to pay attention to the size of the variety you buy; some Joe Pye Weeds are huge and need to be in the back of the border, while others are more compact and play well in the middle. • SYMPHYOTRICHUM (New England Aster) – brilliant fall blooms in a rich spectrum of jewel tones. • LAVANDULA (lavender) is not a fan of damp roots, so spring planting is not always best; early fall, however, is. Don’t wait too long, though. Lavender thrives in warm soil to grow and establish. In Connecticut, I would not plant lavender past early October. • PERENNIAL HERBS – sage, parsley, mint, oregano, tarragon, and thyme – are often on sale in autumn.

ADDITIONAL RECOMMENDED PERENNIALS • Alchemilla

• Hosta

• Heuchera

• Anemone

• Iris

• Nepeta

• Astilbe

• Ferns

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CONNECTICUT

Holiday SHOPPER’S

GUIDE

(L-R) THORNCREST MILK HOUSE CHOCOLATES; LYRIC HILL FARM; MEB’S KITCHENWARES; RIRI’S POTTERY HAUS. PHOTOS BY WINTER CAPLANSON.


When I was peddling my jewelry line, I traveled Connecticut’s event circuit. In retrospect, the highlight of these experiences was working alongside so many incredibly talented and gracious artists. Products made right here in Connecticut are consistently impressive. In advance of the holiday season, I offer what I consider the best-in-class Connecticut handmade products – perfect for a great gift giver. The objective is to give items that are functional, unique, and exceptionally made; my priorities are provenance, detail, and excellence. These Connecticut artists offer all of that in spades:

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BANTAM TILE WORKS I discovered Bantam Tile Works walking around town; its attentiongetting window displays showcase an insane collection of handmade tableware and tiles free of fuss and fanfare. Bantam’s color palette uses muted shades of vibrant hues inspired by the turn-of-thecentury Arts and Crafts movement. The price points are practical in spite of the fact that the shop sits on prime Litchfield County real estate, and each piece is entirely handmade. Bantam Tile Works is owned and operated by Darin Ronning and Travis Messinger who exchanged the dizzying pace of Lower Manhattan for the calm serenity of the Litchfield Hills in 2004. Motivated by the complexity of color in Louis Comfort Tiffany’s glass, Darin works tirelessly to recapture multifaceted dimensions on ceramic surfaces.

GIFT IDEA

WINTER CAPLANSON PHOTO

An animal tile repurposed as a trivet or an embossed platter makes a luxurious statement on any table ($40 - $90).

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DEFOREST LAKE DESIGNS. NORA MURPHY COUNTRY HOUSE PHOTO.


BH UPCYCLED DESIGNS BH UPCYCLED DESIGNS. WINTER CAPLANSON PHOTO.

Out of her Bristol home studio, MaryLynne Boisvert makes one-of-a-kind clothing with a sunny smile and a warm disposition. BH Upcycled Designs repurposes natural fibers to create sustainable fashion. MaryLynne “rescues” pre-loved cashmere, wool, cotton, silk, and linen clothing. She starts with felting the wool, launders and cuts, then reconstructs her new materials into dresses, skirts, sweaters, scarves, and gloves. MaryLynne’s true gift is her understanding of color composition and how to combine colors to create sophisticated, complementary, and fun patterns.

GIFT IDEAS: I can’t tell you how many times I’ve been stopped in my tracks and asked about where I got my scarves and cashmere fingerless gloves from BH Upcycled Designs; they are always well received ($40 - $80)!

DeFOREST LAKE DESIGNS DeForest Lake Designs is the home of the most darling, handwoven mittens made by Valerie Beeble in Bethel. Also constructed with recycled materials, Valerie’s Scotland-meets-New-England-inspired creativity can be found on each pair of fleece-lined beauties. Choose from tried-and-true Fair Isle patterns or amusing, felt animal appliques for men, women, and children; they are all one-of-a-kind and sure to be well-loved by you or the lucky recipient. In Valerie’s words, “the finished mittens tell me what their appliques and new names should be. I cut them from fleece to create images and hand-stitch them to give the mittens their story.”

GIFT IDEA: Keep a loved one warm with DeForest mittens accentuated by Valerie’s inventive designs ($30 - $150).

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ESSENTILES Through a series of trial and error, Hilory Wagner developed a brilliant technique she calls Essentiles: Scrabble-tile wine charms and gifts. Here’s the special sauce: Hilory’s sense of humor is present on every piece – and she is hysterical. Who wouldn’t love Scrabble-tile earrings that say “Sorry, not sorry?” Or a pair with “In one ear” and “Out the other?” She creates themed wine charms for your favorite TV shows, places, activities, and actors. For example, the “What you’re REALLY thinking at book club” wine charm set includes “Wait, there was an actual book?;” “I read between the wines;” “I love wine club, I mean book club;” and “I watched the movie.” Hilory will create any themed or private joke you want. Of her work, “Part of what makes my charms special is the excitement I get from creating custom, emotionally-charged products for my customers,” said Hilory. “Most clients looking for unique gifts have something targeted in mind, and I enjoy getting to know exactly what they envision.”

GIFT IDEA: Essentiles are a distinctive gift idea and reasonably priced ($15 - $30).


WINTER CAPLANSON PHOTO.


WINTER CAPLANSON PHOTO.


FIRECROW HANDWOVENS Kathy Litchfield’s hand-woven scarfs and textiles are beautiful – absolute heirloom quality. She lives in Massachusetts, but her work is so amazing that she is made it to the CT Holiday Shopping Guide. (Plus, she sells in Connecticut and grew up in Enfield.) Firecrow Handwovens are scarves, shawls, ponchos, and home textiles using traditional techniques: an eight-harness floor loom, a wooden shuttle, and a hand-crank bobbin winder. Kathy’s love of her craft came by way of an inspirational visit to Old Sturbridge Village as a child. Upon leaving, she promised herself that she would learn how to weave – and learn she has. Her talent is reinforced by her pursuit of continuing education. She has worked alongside master and production weavers and attended workshops, and she is working toward earning her master weaving certificate. With an obvious passion for “the way things were,” Kathy and her husband live on a 179-acre farm in Gill, Massachusetts, tending to pigs, cows, chickens, and an organic vegetable and herb farm where they source almost everything they need to sustain themselves. Kathy’s work is exquisite; you won’t be disappointed with anything she creates on her loom.

GIFT IDEA E-mail Kathy at kathy@firecrowhandwovens.com to commission your own piece ($35 - $350)!

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KERRY SMITH PHOTO.

GOTHAM WOODWORKS Kerry Smith of Gotham Woodworks in Bridgeport creates exceptional, commissioned furniture and accessories as an aside to his media and marketing business; he’s an author, too. Kerry’s love of woodworking came out of necessity as he and his wife attempted to source reliable contractors for home renovation work. Frustrated and unable to find the quality of craftsmanship he sought, Kerry bought a few tools and books and learned how to complete the work himself. Over the course of the subsequent 20 years, a passion was ignited. Kerry started in basic carpentry and gradually transformed into a self-taught master woodworker with an aptitude for realizing his clients’ ideas. “I get satisfaction from being able to work with clients to come up with a design that meets their vision. Oftentimes, clients don’t know exactly what they want – they may want a dining room table with a certain look or feel (e.g. formal or rustic). But, maybe they don’t know what wood species they want, the kind of base, or if should expand.” Kerry delivers finished products in flawless form. He sources rare wood from a network of sawmills that specialize in lumber for furniture makers: cherry, walnut, and maple from Western Pennsylvania and reclaimed oak from barns in Kentucky and North Carolina. He has an extensive supply of exotic wood including the rare Carpathian elm burl. Kerry clearly pours his heart into every piece having admitted, “I can’t remember a commission where I didn’t feel a bit sad after delivering it to a client. It’s the same feeling I experienced when I dropped my son off at college.” All of Kerry’s work is custom-built; you can view his portfolio online or set up an appointment to visit his shop. He can be reached at 203.981.4268 and Kerry@gothamwoodworks.com.

GIFT IDEAS: a custom-made toy box for children or a wedding chest for recently-married loved ones ($1,500 to $10,000).

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WINTER CAPLANSON PHOTO.

HOLLY SHANNON Holly Shannon designs fine jewelry in a classic aesthetic – wearable by all generations – current, but not fraught with trend. She began her career in New York City where she worked with celebrity fashion designer Rachel Roy and collaborated with famous brands like Rocawear and L’Oreal. Holly’s love for jewelry design simply came from her love of wearing it. She explained, “The draw of the beautiful colored stone, the sparkle, the way a piece accentuates the neck or the wrist” as the inspiration for starting her own business. Principally self-taught, Holly has worked in techniques new and old including 3D printing, precious metal clay, wire-wrapping, casting and plating, semi-precious and precious gemstones, gold chain, and wire. Her beautiful work can be found on her website, at The Mayflower Grace Gift Shop in Washington, and the Warren Tricomi Salon at the Plaza Hotel in NYC.

GIFT IDEA: Spoil someone you love with an innovative Holly Shannon sparkler ($125 to $3,500).

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LYRIC HILL FARM I met Nancy Butler at the Coventry Regional Farmers’ Market and was immediately captivated by her sweet nature, beautiful display, and gorgeous packaging; but it wasn’t until I brought home her Lyric Hill Farm soap that I truly fell in love. Miss Nancy has a beautiful farm in Granby where she cultivates her own naturally-grown botanicals, and she is the proud mother of eight kids… as in goats. Nancy considers herself “a farmer first and soap maker second.” All Lyric Hill Farm products are 100% natural with no chemical colorants, dyes, additives, or preservatives. Somehow, Nancy also finds the time to hand-knit Belgian linen washcloths and make laundry detergent and body butters. Her business bloomed when her human kid traded show goats at 4H fairs for a guitar. Nancy loved having the goats, but needed to use them for more than just eating weeds. She decided to try her hand at soap making and the rest is history. The key ingredients in her soap are raw goat milk, botanicals, and locally-sourced honey. Additional products are obtained from suppliers with commitments to Fair Trade and sustainable growing practices. She is so committed to having environmentally-friendly products that her entire farm solar powered. I’m particularly fond of the Sweet Earth- and Earl Grey-scented soaps which smell like nature embodied – not overpowering. In all, there are 38!

GIFT IDEA: Stocking stuffers and hostess gifts. Four-oz. bars are $6.25, detergent is $18-$35 in beautiful refillable tins, (Refills are $7.50.) and washcloths are $10.95. In addition to her website, Nancy sells wholesale and has a store on her property at 134 Hungary Rd., Granby.

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MEB’S KITCHENWARES Meb Boden carries a diverse selection of highquality, handmade woodenware products that she and her husband Tom design at their South Woodstock studio. From cutting boards to utensils, salt cellars, spoon rests, and trivets – if it can be made from wood, Meb’s Kitchenwares has it. Working in locallysourced cherry, oak, and black walnut, this husbandand-wife team eventually left their day jobs and combined their art and engineering backgrounds to form Meb’s Kitchenwares. Of their process, Meb said, “We handpick each board and debate how best to use its grain and figure. We leave bits for each other to play with; we finish each other’s work. The result is a collaborative dance with surprises along the way.” They teach in their studio, too. Children (aged 12 and older) and adults can spend “A Day in the Workshop” and learn how to create their own wooden spoon or scooped bowl. Meb and Tom have also created their own line of food-safe linseed oil used to maintain the beauty of their woodwork. My personal favorites are the adorable salt cellars and spoons created with a touch of whimsy – they are delightful and can be used for holding more than salt (jewelry, spices, and anything small and easy to lose).

GIFT IDEA

WINTER CAPLANSON PHOTO.

a holiday party hostess gift for the foodie(s) in your life ($7 - $375). Meb and Tom happily accept custom orders.

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OLIVE MY SKIN Next, I want to introduce the effervescent Laura Luther. Laura has created her own line of small-batch olive oil skin care and wood wick soy candles called Olive My Skin. In need of products for her own sensitive skin, Laura’s lotions, lip balms, sugar scrub, and hand and bar soap are free of petroleum, parabens, and artificial colors, and they’re made from organic and Fair Trade butters and oils scented exclusively with essential oils. Olive My Skin’s sugar scrub is life-altering; it has eradicated skin issues I have struggled with for many years. Her wood wick soy candles are lovely, long lasting, and beautifully packaged. (My favorites are Coco Mango and Pomegranate Champagne.)

GIFT IDEA: Treat yourself this holiday season with a Coco Mango or Pomegranate Champagne candle. Shop online or at a retail location in Connecticut ($8 - $24). WINTER CAPLANSON PHOTO.

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WINTER CAPLANSON PHOTO.


RIRI’S POTTERY HAUS If you ever met Ria Lira Levine, she will make an impression that lasts a lifetime - a carefree spirit sporting blue and purple hair, always smiling, intelligent, and talented. A former student of the esteemed Wesleyan Potters in Middletown, Ria owns and operates Riri’s Pottery Haus. She developed her own distinctive style through trial and error, inspired specifically by the things she was told she couldn’t do yet or weren’t even possible. She saw those things as mere challenges. Her signature curvy forms are inspired by her obsession with the shape of the large, magic decanters in Zelda, a Super Nintendo game released just after she turned five years old. Ria said, “I was impossible to drag away from every curvy vase in every import shop growing up, all because of that simple, 8x16-pixel sprite.” I would describe Ria’s designs as a whimsical fusion of Medieval and Middle Eastern. Her patterns are intricate, unique, and captivating – a style derived from the doodles that, since childhood, appear whenever her pen is on paper and her mind is elsewhere. Every piece begins as a lump of clay, and using only her hands and a wheel, she creates the form and then allows different “zones” of the piece to selectively dry over the course of two days. She applies her designs using homemade, hand-sculpted stamps. Each pattern comprises a dozen different ones repeating and flowing over various contours. Ria makes mugs, tea sets, bowls, plates, platters, tagines, vases, and even fountains.

GIFT IDEA I have given a lot of Ria’s pottery as gifts because it is all one-of-a-kind, functional, and breathtaking ($28 - $345).

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WINTER CAPLANSON PHOTO.

RUNNING RABBIT PRESS Illustrator, printmaker, author, and artist together form Andrea Wisnewski of Running Rabbit Press in Storrs. Andrea incorporates old-and new-school techniques, refining her own method of wood-press printing. Upon completing a sketched image, she creates a transfer and scans it. The image is sent to a printing plate manufacturer and once pressed, Andrea watercolors the finished product. (Her husband Chris Butler made her printing press more effective and affordable than a purchased one.) She has also taken on the 20th century art of Linocut, where an image is carved on a sheet of linoleum to create a relief surface for printing. Andrea has illustrated and authored several books and is presently finishing work on Trio, the Tale of a 3-Legged Cat, to be published this fall.

GIFT IDEA: cards for special gift-giving. Her vibrant illustrations are reminiscent of the Arts & Crafts movement; custom work is available, as well ($4.50 – 60).

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WINTER CAPLANSON PHOTO.

THE BURNT SHOP Denise O’Reilly of The Burnt Shop in Glastonbury “etches glass and burns shit.” When she needed to make holiday gifts on a budget, she opted to make wood-burned spoons for her foodie friends and family; they were so well received, Denise kept burning and went full-time in 2015. She calls her technique “grandpa wood burning,” as she is self-taught and purposely avoids textbooks. Denise uses a state-of-the-art laser that helps to create her professional-quality, botanical designs faster. Her pieces are functional for home and kitchen use – just as Denise prefers in her own home.

GIFT IDEAS: embellished woodenware and glassware (all items: $8 to $380).

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THORNCREST FARM MILK HOUSE CHOCOLATES Thorncrest Farm Milk House Chocolates is a Mecca of the most carefully-made, delicious chocolate I’ve ever had. Kimberly and Clint Thorn and their sons Garret and Lyndon use centuries-old European techniques on a picturesque farm in Goshen. They’ve spent years breeding cows to produce each of their 72 painstakinglycrafted flavors. Their cows’ happiness and comfort is of primary concern at Thorncrest; you can only get their products off the shelf to ensure the finest, freshest product.

GIFT IDEA: This is a slam dunk opportunity for you to be the hero ($4.25 to $179).

WINTER CAPLANSON PHOTO.


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ZERO PROPHET COFFEE Do you have a coffee enthusiast in your life? Here is your chance to make a meaningful impression. Nick Benson is an educator and owner of micro-coffee roaster Zero Prophet Coffee in Washington. His history as the globe-trotting son of a US Foreign Service Officer exposed him to fresh-roasted coffee when he was nine years old – thanks to an Italian chef in the US Embassy in Moscow. Nick sources unroasted beans through purveyors worldwide that work with farms that are sensitive to causes such as Fair Trade, Rainforest Alliance, Bird-Friendly, and direct trade. He makes his own blends and roasts in small batches.

JAKE SNYDER PHOTO.

GIFT IDEA Blow the socks off the coffee lover(s) in your life with a one-lb. bag of Zero Prophet Coffee in their stocking. Order by e-mail at zeroprophetcoffee@ gmail.com ($16 - $18).

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Sustainability: Oyster Farming

ph ot o

for CT Restaurants

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SIXPENNY OYSTERS. ANNA SAWIN PHOTO.


WE GOT IT GOOD

If you and I have anything in common, we’ll agree that it doesn’t need to be a beautiful summer evening to warrant a craving for oysters. Turns out, though, that the summer is the best time to learn about the spectrum of variables that comprise the aquaculture behind oyster farming. Oyster fans in Connecticut are a fortunate bunch. Our proximity to the Atlantic coast allows us sit at one restaurant and enjoy our favorite mollusks from Canada to the Bayou and everywhere in between: Beau Soleils from New Brunswick; Moon Shoals from Barnstable, Massachusetts; Rappahannock Rivers from Topping, Virginia; and Point-aux-Pins from Bayou la Batre, Alabama. Here, we profile two local oyster farmers who supply directly to Connecticut restaurants; scandal – one of them is from (gasp) Rhode Island! Then, owner and Executive Chef James Wayman of The Oyster Club in Mystic and his master “mother shucker” John Bertino offer tips on cleaning, shucking, and serving these briny beauties.

SNOTS FROM ROCKS

Essayist Jonathan Swift once said, “He was a bold man who first ate an oyster.” I prefer comedian Jim Gaffigan’s 21st century intimation of the same sentiment: “Hey, I found a rock with a snot in it. I was thinking of eating it.” It makes you wonder how or why we ever discovered the oceans’ finest offering, let alone learned that it’s an aphrodisiac. (High zinc content creates increased testosterone production.) Regardless, oysters have been part of a commoner’s diet for 2,000 years in Far East Asia, and in the United Kingdom, since at least as far back as the time of Ancient Rome. Like most peasant food – originally – oysters were easily found, cheap (if not free), required no “farming,” and had tremendous nutritional value with high levels of protein, iron, and calcium. Through the Age of Exploration and European Colonialism, New York Harbor and Chesapeake Bay would become the largest producers worldwide. This upsurge in popularity created an unrealistic demand, making oysters the delicacy we know them as today.

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SIXPENNY OYSTERS. ANNA SAWIN PHOTO.


NINIGRET NECTARS

Not everyone is lucky enough to fall in love with a trade in his or her teens – one that would transform into a small business, and then a career. Please don’t misconstrue the use of the word “luck,” however. It was by chance Matthew Behan of Behan Family Farms in Charlestown, Rhode Island found his calling at a young age, and New England oyster-lovers are all the better for it. But that’s where any potential cosmic influence ends. Matt started his first summer job working at Watch Hill Oyster Farm at 15 years old alongside a good friend and a cousin. Throughout his time at Chariho High School in Wood River Junction, he gradually became more and more serious about oyster farming. As a result, Matt earned his Bachelor’s in Aquaculture and Fisheries Technology from the University of Rhode Island and established Behan Family Farms before he was old enough to rent a car. Nestled in the brackish waters of Ninigret Pond between Route 1 and East Beach, Behan Family Farms tends to seven and a half acres of oyster beds. (Ninigret Pond is the largest and cleanest of the nine salt ponds in the area.) Photographer Rich Rochlin and I were fortunate enough to spend an afternoon with Matt in August and got a firsthand tutorial of his operations. Amiable, generous, and kind, Matt rocks a ginger beard, a number of industry-related scars, and what I’ll refer to as a mean scuba-boot “oyster farmer’s tan.” I had a mental image of jumping on the boat and heading straight to the beds across the Pond, when in fact, the most fascinating part of Behan Family Farms was literally beneath our feet. When I asked Matt to start at the beginning and take us through an oyster’s lifecycle, he smiled and asked Rich and I to take a few steps back. We were dumbfounded when he bent down and pulled up a portion of the dock – two well-camouflaged trap doors – revealing a nursery in shallow water. Two fiberglass silos run vertically just below the surface of the water; at the bottom of each silo is a mesh screen on top of which the baby oysters sit. Water is manually pumped from the bottom up through the mesh toward the water’s surface, force feeding the baby oysters phytoplankton – free-swimming algae in which Ninigret Pond is naturally rich. After flushing through the silo, the water is sucked through two one-way, symmetrical PVC pipes into a trough and shot directly back into the Pond. It’s efficient, multi-purpose, and

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ingenious. (To a right-brained listener, it was surprisingly simple to take in – I hope Matt considers teaching at some point in his career; he’s a natural.) Matt’s upweller churns the baby oysters, gently “beating them up” as they feed. This encourages the shell’s formation – a process that happens in fingernaillike rings that grow outward – to curl upward, as well, creating Ninigret Nectars’ consistent and signature deep cup. They’re on the smaller side – my personal preference; when you kick one back, you’re treated to a few tablespoons of liquor – fresh, salty sea water, which only enhances the experience. (Don’t ever pour it out – it’s left there for a reason!) After maturing in the upweller, the adolescent oysters are transferred to mesh bags and brought out into the Pond, suspended from buoys, then on to traditional open cages. Like people, oysters can grow at different rates, but in Matt’s experience, his grow to market size in 18 to 24 months.

BEHAN FAMILY FARMS. RICH ROCHLIN PHOTO.

Rich and I were giddy with anticipation when Matt stopped, jumped in, and hoisted an open cage up to the boat, all Brawny-man-style. Realizing he didn’t have his preferred shucker, he rolled with it, and managed to use a less-than-ideal blade to flawlessly pop open at least a dozen for us to enjoy. Matt showed tremendous restraint, not getting high on his own supply as Rich and I ungracefully horked our oysters. I suspect this isn’t his first time allowing his guests to pig out before enjoying a few, himself. The oyster scene in New England continues to grow at exponential rates, and it’s up to farmers like Matt to employ sustainable practices so that we can continue to enjoy his Nectars. His methods are ecologically sound and

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respectful to the Pond, those who live on or by it, and to the consumer. His approach keeps an eye on the big picture, ensuring that his desired volume is realistic and maintainable. It seems naïve to even say, but we came to realize that if you sucked the water out of the Pond, Matt’s a farmer in the true sense of the word. He applies his dense understanding of water chemistry to his craft in the same way that a beet farmer would his knowledge of soil chemistry. Behan Family Farms’ Ninigret Nectars are sold directly to 12 restaurants in Rhode Island and Connecticut, and are regularly found at Chef James Wayman’s The Oyster Club in Mystic and at weddings and special events throughout New England.

SIXPENNY SALLY

While Sixpenny Oysters’ owner Sally McGee’s foray into oyster farming came about more circuitously than Matt’s, there are striking similarities in their philosophies. A Mystic resident, Sally has worked

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in fisheries for more than 25 years. Currently the Northeast Program Director for The Nature Conservancy, Sally oversees operations from Maine to Long Island. Prior to her time at the Conservancy, she worked for the New England Fishery Management Council as a fisheries regulator, setting catch and geographical limits. Sally describes the experience as, “a lot of saying no, but for the right reasons.” In 2012, she got the itch to get back out on the water. With more boatyards than churches, Noank – a village within the Town of Groton – is a maritime community through and through. In 2000, a group of oyster farmers formed the Noank Aquaculture Cooperative on Main St. by leasing a former State lobster hatchery from the Town. Sally often spent time on the beach with her family next to the Co-op and started asking questions. Steve Plant, one of the Co-op’s farmers, asked Sally if she had any interest in oyster farming – something she admittedly didn’t


RICH ROCHLIN PHOTO.

think was even a possibility. But, given the opportunity, she realized she wanted to. Kindly referred to as “Pay it Forward Steve,” Sally credits him and the Co-op with teaching her how to run her business from top to bottom, and for its support system in running it. As a member of the Co-op, Sally has access to the waterfront (which many farmers wouldn’t have otherwise), a food-handling facility (absolutely clutch), and she even uses a boat owned by another farmer who wasn’t using it. She transferred her engine and was on her way to building a one-woman oyster operation. In preparation for her new venture, Sally took an Applied Shellfish Farming course at Roger Williams University Center for Economic and Environmental Development led by Professor and aquaculture extension specialist Dale Leavitt. Sally can’t say

enough about how valuable that experience was and strongly recommends it to aspiring oyster farmers. Dale is offering his course this winter online, as well – a time when fishery folks have time to do the bulk of their paperwork. “He gave me a new appreciation of what the ocean can produce” – and that’s coming from someone who’s already spent more than two decades in the fishing and conservation industries. Sixpenny Oysters – named after Sixpenny Island located at the juncture of the Mystic River and Fishers Island Sound – leases three small plots that total four acres: two in Beebe Cove and one closer to Ram Island. Sally uses the plots in Beebe Cove as her hatchery and grow-out locations and the Ram Island spot for depuration. The State of Connecticut has different zoning rules and regulations depending

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BEHAN FAMILY FARMS. RICH ROCHLIN PHOTO.

SIXPENNY OYSTERS. ANNA SAWIN PHOTO.

on the level of risk of pollution from run-off during storms. At Ram Island, there is a constant exchange from the tidal effect. If Sally were to farm solely in that spot, she could harvest her oysters at any time, but they wouldn’t grow nearly as fast. Since she raises them in Beebe Cove, the oysters must spend two weeks of “clean living” in the Ram Island plot before going to market. Sally farms in a bag-and-cage system – her oysters float in mesh bags just below the surface of the water which maximizes the oysters’ exposure to food, allowing them to grow faster – a method different than Matt’s, but using the same sustainable ingenuity for a similar outcome. Beebe Cove’s marshy land encourages more micro-algal growth in the summer – a perfect environment for rapid development. Like Matt, Sally’s operation stays within its means. She works by herself and never takes on more than she can handle. A few mornings a week, Sally hits the water before work to collect market-ready oysters; 45 minutes later, they’re ready to be served at the only restaurant to which she sells: Red 36 in Mystic. “There’s room to grow in the market, but I can’t add more hours to the day. I keep a good balance.” If sustainability is the theme, then balance is the motif. Sally’s proximity to Red 36 is win-win. Her carbon footprint is virtually nil, and short of eating Sixpennies on the boat, diners get the freshest oysters they possibly can. Matt and Sally never overdo it, keeping their farms viable for generations to come – which is good, because Rich and I plan to keep eating them at a proportional rate.

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SIXPENNY OYSTERS. ANNA SAWIN PHOTO.


s p i T rP o

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s e t t e b u n l o C n r e t g i s y M O e h & with t BY KELLEY CITRONI PHOTOS BY RICH ROCHLIN


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C

hef/Owner of The Oyster Club James Wayman and resident oysterman and self-proclaimed “lucky shucker” John Bertino share some basics of enjoying oysters including proper cleaning, shucking, and serving, plus a classic and a seasonal mignonette recipe.

CHOOSE YOUR WEAPON

Oyster knives range in length, thickness, and sharpness, and their handles vary just as much. When learning how to shuck an oyster, do your homework. Depending on the size of your hand and your dexterity and strength, your needs will vary. In a perfect world, you could request a tutorial from your local fishmonger or fellow foodies or take a culinary class. The next best approach is to brush up on product reviews. Cockles and Mussels is a straightforward, valuable resource and a nice place to start. Also, don’t be shy about asking the staff at your favorite oyster joint about their preferences. One principle applies to all, though: don’t try and use a regular knife – they’re too flexible and too sharp. You can break the blade off into the oyster, slice your hand open, or both. It doesn’t matter if you can pop the cap of a beer bottle with a lighter – use the proper tools, please.

SAFETY FIRST

Always wear thick rubber gloves when shucking. Oyster shells are razor sharp and without protection, a trip to the ER is a foregone conclusion. • Using a stiff-bristled brush and cold water, scrub the grit from your oysters and rinse. • While washing, confirm that they are

an oyster’s liquor is worth its weight in gold.

alive and well. Discard any that have shell damage or breaks. If it’s slightly open, that doesn’t automatically mean it’s dead. Tap the top of the oyster; if it doesn’t close tightly (with no gaps), discard. Oftentimes, if you’ve got a bad one, your nose will tell you long before your eyes will. The smell is unmistakable. • Work on a surface that will keep the oysters from sliding around – a towel works beautifully. • Grip the oyster with its cup against the palm of your hand and its hinge pointing toward you. • Pointing the tip of the knife downward, •

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• Pointing the tip of the knife downward, insert it into the hinge, apply pressure on the knife, then the oyster in an outward twisting motion to pop the hinge. This takes practice. If you get it on the first try, more power to you! Most of us have to work up the muscle memory. Once you do, you’ll instantly feel that you’re in the sweet spot of the hinge. • Once the hinge is popped, gently lift up the top shell and cut the muscle attached to the oyster. • Run the knife along the top of the shell – as close as you can get – from the hinge around to the other side. Work slowly if you need to – this is where you run the risk of breaking a piece of the shell off into the oyster or mistakenly introducing sand and grit. • Run the knife under the oyster, as well, cutting the muscle attaching it to the bottom shell. • Don’t tip it over! An oyster’s liquor is worth its weight in gold. It complements the oyster’s meat, it’s indicative of where the oyster was raised, and it serves as a useful tool to gauge how long it has been out of the water. • Serve on the half shell atop crushed ice with a wedge of fresh lemon and your choice of condiments. Oysters are traditionally served with a simple and unctuous vinegarbased mignonette, which is fabulous on its own or as a base for seasonal variants. • Remind yourself that less is more when it comes to condiments and dressings. Oysters are sold at a premium because of the meticulous and painstaking work that goes into farming them. If you like horseradish and cocktail sauce – great! Me, too. Just remember that it’s about enhancing the ocean-scented brine, not straightup making it taste like something else.

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CLASSIC MIGNONETTE

MAKES 1/2 C. (ENOUGH FOR FOUR DOZEN OYSTERS)

• 1/2 c. high-quality red wine vinegar • 1/3 c. shallot, finely minced • 2 Tbsp. black pepper, finely ground • Pinch salt Combine ingredients and refrigerate for an hour before serving.

EARLY AUTUMN MIGNONETTE MAKES 1/2 C. (ENOUGH FOR FOUR DOZEN OYSTERS)

• 1/2 c. high-quality Champagne vinegar • 1/4 c. shallot, finely minced • 1/4 c. peach, finely minced • 2 Tbsp. black pepper, finely ground • Pinch salt Combine ingredients and refrigerate for an hour before serving. If you have extra, both mignonettes will keep in the fridge for as long as one week.

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“I CANNOT ENDURE TO WAS AS

autumnal sunshine

-NATHANIEL HAWTHORNE, T


so precious

STE ANYTHING BY STAYING IN THE HOUSE.”

THE AMERICAN NOTEBOOKS

WINTER CAPLANSON PHOTO.


tCharc 112

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Oui,

cuterieu by Alex Fox photos by Diane Diederich

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Connecticut’s cheese, beer, and wine industries have seen a surge in popularity over the course of the last 10 years, as evidenced by numerous brew fests, farmers’ markets, the Connecticut Wine Trail, and even the beginnings of a cheese trail. But what of Connecticut charcuterie (shar-cute-uh-ree)? The art of charcuterie is varied and includes jerkies, prosciuttos, salami, and other smoked and cured meats including ham, bacon, and fermented sausages. Charcuterie has been practiced for centuries out of necessity prior to refrigeration, and for salty, meaty goodness. It can be found on platters as a lean entree or as an ingredient in hors d’oeuvres. There is only one place to go

in Connecticut when looking for charcuterie made the oldfashioned way: B4 and After Farms in Woodbridge, the home of Oui Charcuterie. “Oui Charcuterie salami is a versatile, wholesome ingredient that can be used cold, on cheese platters, or on salads. Use it warm as a spicy counterpoint in seafood, poultry, or with eggs, or tossed with pastas,” explains Founder Matthew Browning, a nurse-practitioner-turnedcharcutier and producer of the State’s only USDAcertified, nitrate free, allnatural heritage salami that would make the old world proud. As a “classically untrained” charcutier, Matthew relies on his knowledge of microbiology and fermentation from his

medical background and college days devoted to brewing beer and making wine “and a bunch of weird yogurt.” Although an ancient craft, the art of charcuterie is being kept alive through modern forums including YouTube videos and Facebook groups such as The Salt Cured Pig. Oui Charcuterie is a journey away from the status quo, allowing Matthew to gain market share with his time-honored methods that use salt for curing versus industry-standard chemicals. “We let the salami age as it dries; by reducing the water activity, we create a shelf-stable product without having to go through pasteurization – the way it was done for centuries.”

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By using traditional means, Matthew has created a product that is strikingly redder and richer in color than the commercial variant. Allowing his heritage hogs to roam free develops myoglobin - the deep claret color in the muscle. Myoglobin is noticeably absent in commercially-raised pork, “which sparked ‘the other white meat’ ad campaign; commercial pork was so pale, the industry had to condition consumers to think that was ‘cool’”. Matthew has also reintroduced the lost art of “barley-finishing” his hogs rather than the big agriculture standard of nuts and grain. “Barley produces the hard fat I need; when I open salami in a year, I don’t want it yellow and oxidized.” Despite an insatiable market for organic, all-natural foods, charcuterie seems to have been overlooked by consumers. But, why? With only two USDA-certified slaughterhouses, Connecticut is gravely underserved by facilities qualified to process meat. This has resulted in producers outsourcing their meats to Massachusetts or Rhode Island for curing and smoking. USDA inspections also cost money, and finding a butcher who can prepare the meat under USDA scrutiny requires transportation and inspection fees, adding further obstacles. Once the meat for Oui Charcuterie salami is cut, it ships to the only USDA-certified smoking facility in Connecticut, and Matthew has contracted 100% of the facility’s capacity. Therefore, in order to produce a USDA-approved, nitrate-free, dry-cured salami in State, aspiring charcutiers would have to build their own facility. This extraordinary initial investment cost and a venerable obstacle course of regulation has allowed Matthew to corner the Connecticut heritage salami market, but has also stifled Oui Charcuterie from growing in market share. Christine Chesanek, owner of Fromage Fine Foods & Coffees in Old Saybrook and retailer of Oui Charcuterie argues that USDA regulation is just one part of the equation. “Charcuterie has to be profitable for a farmer; if he or she is shipping the hogs out and paying the USDA for slaughter and curing, that all cuts revenue.” “Think of the time!” exclaims Matthew. “After a year

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with a 50 percent spoilage risk, what am I going to charge you for a piece of salami? We’re responsible for paying the USDA for inspections and shipping charges. My overhead is through the roof, but I can’t say ‘it’s a hundred bucks a pound; how many pounds would you like?’” Matthew explains that the high overhead and the need to recover time and energy results in a “value-added” product. The salami is hung for a month and loses about half of its weight, which amplifies and concentrates the flavor. But, it also creates the need to recoup expenses from curing time. Matthew admits there are no simple answers. “I haven’t figured it out, but I love eating it. My kids still go, ‘Hey Dad! Let’s cut open some salami!’ and I still go, ‘Hell yeah – let’s cut it!’” For Connecticut raw milk cheese, the process is less cumbersome. Liz Steeves of Cato Corner Farms in Colchester explains that raw milk cheese has a “closed loop” production, resulting in decreased overhead. “We have our milking station in the back of the corral area. The milk is put into a tank and is transferred to the cheese-making room. When the milk leaves the tank, it’s cleaned in about a four-step process; unclean milk doesn’t leave.” Unlike charcuterie, raw milk cheese enjoys a smaller amount of USDA oversight, and after years of legal battles, has become the apple of Connecticut’s eye. Producers like Cato Corner craft some charcuterie to be served with their cheeses but are required to outsource much of the production to Massachusetts and then import the product back into Connecticut. Christine of Fromage explains that this has helped raise awareness of charcuterie, but has also kept it as a sub-market of Connecticut cheese. Oui Charcuterie has made efforts to get away from the submarket trend, and while its products is retailed at butcheries and craft food markets such as Fleisher’s Craft Butchery in Westport and Veracious Brewing in Monroe, many of Oui Charcuterie’s retailers are attached to the wine and cheese industry including Fromage, Madison Cheese Shop & Café, Fairfield Cheese Company, Jones Farm Winery in Shelton, Lyman Orchard in Middlefield, Bishop’s Orchards in Guilford, and 109 Cheese and Wine in Ridgefield. “It is hard for me to set up an adversarial comparison between CT cheese and charcuterie,” says Matthew. “I find them complementary; I like my cheese a lot more when I have a good charcuterie, and I like my charcuterie a lot more when I have a good cheese. a lot more when I have a good cheese.” CTFOODANDFARM.COM

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Matthew found that Charcuterie has a ageold ally of its own - the outdoorsman. “Our biggest audience is composed of campers, bikers, and extreme athletes; they need no-BS, compact fuel. You have a stick of my salami, and you’ve got high-grade calories that won’t slow you down with fat.” It is this kind of natural synergy that Matthew is pursuing to expand Connecticut charcuterie’s market presence – a synergy with which he already has experience as an investor in Thomas Hooker Brewing Company in Bloomfield. Matthew explains that “there are a lot of tie-ins; we get our barley from places such as New England Brewing Company in Woodbridge for our hogs. That evolved into taking part in beer fests and brewery events.” The pairing of Connecticut beer and charcuterie is an enthusiastic one, and when asked to match his salami with local brews, Matthew has no hesitation. “Firefly Brewing Company Cone Flakes Imperial IPA with our Dulce, and of course, Thomas Hooker No Filter IPA goes well with our Vida. New England Brewing Coriolis is a fantastic counterpoint to our spicy Amour – just enough heat to balance the fruity, herbal characteristics of the beer.” Connecticut charcuterie’s growth is modest, but Matthew is positive for the future. “I believe charcuterie is one of the few gourmet food items that bridge different ethnic groups, cultural backgrounds, preferences, location, and traditions. Virtually every culture has charcuterie enjoyed when breaking bread. Some of our oldest common denominators come back to saltcured items.”

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Life

K IN G I S A B

A G Y COL

N

JE NN

” .


LISA NICHOLS PHOTO.


CLASSICALLYTRAINED-CHEFTURNED-PASTRYCHEF AMANDA GLOVER, author of the new cookbook Sweetie Bake Your Day: Sweet and Savory Baked Goods Anyone Can Make, offers up two bonus recipes for fall exclusively for readers of Connecticut Food and Farm Magazine. The recipes feature ingredients familiar to the season chestnuts, thyme, and olive oil - in unusual combinations with flavorful accents.

Inspired Gathering with Chef Amanda Glover by Elinor Slomba Lisa Nichols photographs

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Collecting food or raw materials is one way to gather; celebrations are another. Both are rituals of harvest for Connecticut’s farm families, homeowners, and apartment-dwellers alike, and they also serve as the two main sources of inspiration for Amanda Glover: chef, author, and owner of Sweetie, a mobile, Airstream bakery often spotted in the Litchfield Hills. Between the pages of her new book you’ll find entries sweet and savory enough to tempt anyone to gather up ingredients as well as loved ones.

EASY DOES IT

quantities of rhubarb turned her on to Stonedrift Farm in Goshen; a coworker raving about the best maple syrup she’s ever tasted (with whom I wholeheartedly agree) put Crow Hill Sugarhouse in Thomaston on Amanda’s radar. A regular customer from Morris opened up her backyard orchard to Amanda to pick a bounty of fresh pears last year. Following her creative inspirations expands the database built into her palate. She regularly calls upon this embodied knowledge when creating new recipes, believing that “a good chef can mentally taste flavors as a composer might hear the music he’s writing.”

FIRST THINGS FIRST

Amanda’s advice to the at-home cooks of Connecticut looking to gather up food finds? “We have a small State, so take routes off the highway. Keep your eyes open for little farms when driving here and there, and don’t be afraid to stop in (if they’re open to the public, of course) to see what’s going on. Frequent farmers’ markets, get to know the vendors, and talk to them! We are all one big family and they might just be able to turn you on to the farm that has the sweetest cherries or the tastiest goat cheese.”

Adapting her favorites for baking at home, Amanda made sure that each recipe can be made without specialized equipment; each one mainly requires a bowl and a spoon. Her reasoning is simple and speaks to her purpose: “I want people to fall in love with baking, not get frustrated with complicated processes.” The only hard and fast requirement, according to Amanda, who honed her skills as a pastry chef at the famed pâtisserie Belgique in Kent, is a good attitude. “You can’t bake when you’re mad,” she jokes. “I’ve tried it, and it never comes out right.”

The best ingredients make the best food – this is Amanda’s mantra. “Fresh eggs from Pond’s Poultry in Morris beat commercial eggs, hands down. Fresh peaches from March Farm in Bethlehem in that peach pie will taste infinitely better than frozen, factoryprocessed peaches.” Amanda loves to assemble uncommon ingredients; they help build her lexicon of taste. “I once ordered birch syrup from Iceland to see if I could alter a recipe that usually calls for maple syrup. I’ve picked up rose hips and pulverized them to make rose hip scones. When traveling, my family has become accustomed to me randomly pulling over at an international market and returning with a bag of interesting ingredients. Or, sometimes I plan the whole trip around an unusual shop I’ve always wanted to visit.” Close to home, Amanda amasses needed items in all sorts of ways: a social media post looking for large

MOMENT OF TRUTH

“Like my grandmother said, ‘the first one’s always a doozy!’” Amanda quips while she cuts and lifts a beautiful, gluten-free chocolate chestnut brownie out of a pan and lowers it onto a brightly-colored plate before drizzling it with gooey homemade caramel. “Are you an inside brownie, or an edge person?” she thoughtfully asks before serving up my preferred style sprinkled with Icelandic birch-smoked salt from a company called Saltverk.

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Chestnut Brownies with Creamy Maple Caramel MAKES 12 SERVINGS

BROWNIE INGREDIENTS • 6 Tbsp. unsalted butter • 1 ½ c. bittersweet chocolate, chopped • 1 Tbsp. instant espresso powder • ½ c. chestnut flour • 2 Tbsp. arrowroot • 3 large eggs • ¾ c. cane sugar • ½ tsp. sea salt • 1 tsp. vanilla extract • 5 oz. peeled chestnuts, roughly chopped CARAMEL INGREDIENTS • 1 stick (½ c.) unsalted butter • 1 c. brown sugar • ½ c. heavy cream • ¼ tsp. sea salt

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BROWNIES

Preheat the oven to 350°F. Line an 8”x8” baking pan with parchment paper. Melt the butter in a small saucepan on low heat then add the chocolate and let them melt together, stirring frequently until the chocolate is completely melted. Remove from heat. Next, sift the chestnut flour and arrowroot powder together into a small bowl. Set aside. Place the eggs, sugar, espresso powder, and salt into a stand mixer, and using the paddle attachment, beat for about five minutes; the mixture should be light and fluffy. Stir in the vanilla extract and add the warm, melted chocolate mixture. Add the chestnut/arrowroot mixture and continue to mix on low until just combined. Using a rubber spatula, scrape around the bottom and sides of the bowl, making sure your batter is well combined. Stir in chopped chestnut pieces. Scrape batter into prepared pan and spread it evenly. Bake brownies for 20-25 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted onto the center comes out with moist crumbs. Let cool completely and drizzle with cooled maple caramel.

CARAMEL

Melt the butter in a medium saucepan over medium heat. Add the heavy cream and brown sugar and stir until combined. Boil the cream mixture until it’s thick enough to coat the back of a spoon and starts to pull from the bottom of the pan when stirred – about five minutes. Remove the pan from the stove and whisk in the maple syrup and salt. Stir until well combined. Cool the caramel to room temperature before drizzling over brownies. Refrigerate any leftover caramel; it’ll last for as long as two weeks. We spend Sunday morning in a Litchfield farmhouse chatting and sampling the decadent brownies as well as the following recipe: thinskinned, juicy lemons; thyme with purple flowers hand-picked from Amanda’s garden; and a green-gold glass bottle imported from nearby Nutmeg Olive Oil Company in New Milford all come together. This savory treat is just a touch sweet. Looking around for something with which to strain the thyme-infused, warmed oil, Amanda finds that a paper towel works handsomely. “See?”” she asks with a shrug and a smile, pointing out with her rhetorical question that baking need not involve fuss or bother. 128

CT FOOD & FARM / FALL 2017


Made-From-Scratch VANILLA EXTRACT

Feeling inspired to embrace Amanda’s culinary doctrine? Make your own vanilla extract! It’s incredibly simple. 1. Purchase real vanilla beans - the best ones are imported from Madagascar or Tahiti and are widely available online and in specialty shops.

Amanda’s book, Sweetie Bake Your Day: Sweet and Savory Baked Goods Anyone Can Make, is full of equally luxurious yet simple-to-make treats. Regarding clichés of the season, the author wisely states, “I like pumpkin spice as much as the next person, but there are other things.”

2. Place several bean pods in a glass jar. 3. Pour spirits over them - Amanda Glover recommends Litchfield Distillery Batcher’s Bourbon for pairing with strong flavors such as chocolate, coffee, or pecans; rum as a compatible base in most recipes; or unflavored vodka when you don’t want to compete with lighter aromas.

4. Seal jar with lid and place in a cool, dark place. 5. Wait six weeks and your homemade vanilla extract is ready for use! 6. If you embody New England thrift, go ahead and reuse the beans which cost around $25 per lb. - up to three times! When they’re finally spent, steep them into custard.

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Meyer Lemon & Olive Oil Cake with Fresh Thyme MAKES 10-12 SERVINGS

CRÈME FRAÎCHE INGREDIENTS • 3 c. heavy cream • 1 c. buttermilk

CAKE BATTER INGREDIENTS • ¾ c. olive oil • 1 large bunch of fresh thyme, roughly chopped • 2 large eggs • 1 Meyer lemon, zested • ¼ c. lemon juice (about 2 lemons) • 1 tsp. vanilla extract • 1 c. crème fraîche • 1 ¾ c. cane sugar • 2 c. all-purpose flour • 1 ½ tsp. baking powder • ¼ tsp. sea salt

CAKE

Preheat the oven to 325°F. Grease and flour a 9” Bundt pan. Place the thyme oil, eggs, lemon zest, vanilla extract, lemon juice, crème fraîche, and sugar in a large bowl. Whisk until combined. Sift in the flour, baking powder, and salt. Whisk into the batter until smooth. Pour the batter into the prepared pan and bake for 50-55 minutes until the edges look lightly browned and a skewer comes out clean. Cool the cake for five minutes and invert onto a rack to finish cooling. Slice and serve with a dollop of plain crème fraîche.

Do ahead:

HOMEMADE CRÈME FRAÎCHE

Mix the heavy cream and buttermilk in a mason jar and cover the top with cheesecloth. Allow to sit at room temperature for two to three days without disturbing it. Once it is the thickness of sour cream, replace the lid on the jar and store in the fridge for as long as one week. Store-bought crème fraîche can also be used.

THYME-INFUSED OLIVE OIL

In a small sauce pan, heat the olive oil and chopped thyme just until the oil bubbles. Cool for as long as eight hours. The longer it sits, the more fragrant the oil. Strain through a fine mesh strainer or a paper towel. CTFOODANDFARM.COM

131


r t i n b u o t s r o C

Hilary Adorno retains

an authentic smile and positive attitude even though she is a hu dictionary of crime and disaster statistics. In this issue, she share love of Connecticut artisans foun during her encampment in the m from-hand show circuit where sh gained exposure to hidden talen over the State.

Christopher Andrew

is the owner/operator of Hop Be Honey, LLC, is a self-trained “old school” woodsman, enjoys beer spirits of all kind, (you can keep wine) and is a slayer of geese, te of mushrooms (found by his wife on horseback), and is a famous f singer in the eyes of his seven-m old daughter.

Cheyney Barrieau is a

fashion, and event photographer West Hartford. She loves puppies cilantro - but not necessarily in that , edi chief and lead photographer, ca iconic photos used by farm, food handcraft businesses to attract m customers and build a professio and profitable brand. has been land use planner for 25 years an Lebanon Town Planner since 200

Winter Caplanson

Philip Chester

Kelley Citroni is the ed

of and contributing author to CT and Farm Magazine. Her favorite in the world is dinner.

Diane Diederich loves

shooting portraits at her studio i Union, but is always super stoke get out and see this beautiful sta shoot for CT Food and Farm Mag Sometimes she gets to combine two – win-win!

Ben Dubow is a partner at

Blue Plate Kitchen in West Hartfo as well as the executive chef for MACC Charities in Manchester. is currently working on opening new restaurant in Manchester th

132

CT FOOD & FARM / FALL 2017


uman r es her nd madehe nts all

w

ee dand p the ester e folk month-

a food, r from s and t order.

itor-inaptures d, and more onal

na nd 06.

ditor T Food e thing

in ed to ate and gazine. the

t ord

He ga hat

will provide transitional employment to people in the community facing significant barriers. He is a pastor at Riverfront Family Church in Hartford where he also lives.

Caroline Finnegan is an

organic landscape designer and florist. She has recently taken up pottery and is completely obsessed with clay.

Alexander Fox graduated

from the University of Minnesota with a Bachelor of the Arts Degree in English literature. He has contributed to Minnesota Business Magazine and currently manages Chalk Mercantile in Old Saybrook. is a chef who works in Hartford at a job she loves, and lives in Wethersfield with her family who she loves even more: husband Len and kids Lenny and Lucy. She has two goals this fall - go apple picking and get her Christmas shopping done early.

Gena Golas

Sarah Lefrançois is a high

school digital art teacher who loves to run through freshly-mown hayfields, ride her horse on trails while foraging for mushrooms (to make her husband try), and look closely at flowers for pollinating insects. She enjoys a good charcuterie platter.

Carla McElroy is a nerd, lover of her family, dogs, and pizza. She has no tolerance for crappy beer and loves boxed wine. She can be awkward on the phone and sarcastic in person, and she believes photos can tell a story just as well as words. is a photographer and graphic designer who lives the freelance life in the New Haven area. She loves to shoot and design all manners of subjects and is building a large collection of food styling props that threatens to take over her apartment. Check out Right Click Photo + Design to see some more of her work.

Lisa Nichols

Rita Rivera is a graphic

designer, illustrator and cheese addict who always turns in her bio for this section last. “Better late than never,” is her motto. is an attorney in West Hartford Center. He enjoys East Coast oysters and hand-cut French fries. He makes his home in Farmington with his wife and two children, Rex and Ruby.

Rich Rochlin

Anna Sawin sees fall as a time

for resisting the siren lure of picking apples until the Cameos are ripe at Holmberg’s Orchard—and then finding a free moment in the height of wedding season to go pick. Anna photographs weddings, families, and commercial clients on the shores of New England. helps organizations large and small meet their community engagement goals. Her company, Verge Arts Group, is nested with a branding, design, and strategy firm in New Haven, serving clients (and enjoying farms and food) from Connecticut to Switzerland.

Elinor Slomba

Jake Snyder of Red Skies

Photography is currently finishing his Masters in biological oceanography and is on track to defend his thesis this December. He’s an avid fisherman, diver, and loves all things oceanography. enjoys the beautiful colors of autumn in New England, but is always sorry to see the days get shorter. During this season, she is often busy with fall foliage portrait sessions and stalking the neon lights of a carnival midway.

Laura Stone

Sherry Swanson is a farm

chef striving to honor produce from hardworking farmers in Connecticut. She’s one part nerd, one part gardenfresh food junkie, and two parts shameless promoter of “what grows together, goes together.”

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“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 Magazine, Fall 2017, Volume 10  

Autumn Perennial Planting, fall recipes "Beyond Pumpkin Pie and Butternut Squash Soup," our favorite Hartford restaurants, oyster farming, C...