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Contents

WINTER CAPLANSON PHOTO

Summer

І

2017

І

Volume 10


In This Issue: 6

Elevated Street Food with INDIA Restaurant

Gena Golas

14

Growing for the Chefs: Sub Edge Farm

Rodger Phillips

16

Le Lait Magique at Thorncrest Farm

Hilary Adorno

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Family Meal: Building Restaurant Staff Culture

Carla Ten Eyck

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Farming on the River Plain with Fair Weather Acres

53

The Twenty-Year Plan

Hilary Adorno

60

Serenity Now with Grass Roots Creamery

Kelley Citroni

68

An Insider's Guide to The Block Island Ferry Dinner Run

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Kids Summer Cooking Class

86

Hosmer Mountain Soda Cocktails at Willimantic Brewing Company

Karen Gilbransen & Rhonda Twiss

94

Bottling Tradition for More Than a Century: Hosmer Mountain Soda

Amy S. White

102

Cydonia Oblonga: A Quest for Quince

Laura Graham

114

Contributors

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Recipe Index

Michele & Billy Collins

Anders & Lydia Vercelli

Rebecca Hansen


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Elevated Street Food with INDIA Restaurant by Gena Golas Maya Oren Photos

“G

rowing up, this was what we knew.”

Chef Prasad Chirnomula gestures to the produce on his line at INDIA Restaurant, some of which was delivered only an hour or two before dinner service. He tells of how, in his native Southern Hyderabad, farmers would travel from house to house peddling their wares. There was the fish monger, the fruit guy, and farmers with baskets on their heads yelling, “Vegetables! Vegetables!” down the street. Even the milk arrived with the same door-to-door service, as the farmer, with cow in tow, squeezed fresh milk for each customer. “There were no supermarkets; the only choice was farm-to-table.” Native product, right from the farm, is still being delivered directly to Chirnomula’s doorstep – this time, in the Connecticut suburbs at his West Hartford restaurant where he sources various fresh ingredients for INDIA’s menu from local farms and purveyors. Much of the rest, he and his staff make in-house. Chirnomula personally visits farmers’ markets and farms, such as nearby Sub Edge Farm in Farmington, seeking out ingredients. A few times each week, items such as ramps, potatoes, spicy salad mix, and mei quing choi (a microgreen) are used in dishes across INDIA’s menu during lunch and dinner services the same day. Take, for example, sham savera, a shining star on INDIA’s menu, which recently changed for the season mid-May. Sham savera (which translates loosely to “morning and evening,”) reflects its name: little green spheres – made of earthy spinach and ramps and filled with paneer, a house-made Indian cheese which softens but never melts under heat, then cut in half – are little moons orbiting the plate set against the “hot sun:” a bright red sauce made from tomatoes and honey.

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The samosas, which might be “simple to look at, but are a labor of love,” comprise dough pinched around potato and caraway seed filling. They are plated with a pair of traditional, from-scratch sauces: one made of tamarind, dates and raisins, and the other made from mint, cilantro, lime, and green chili. All doughs are made in-house; the naan and other breads are made-to-order. INDIA grinds its own spices and blends them to Chirnomula’s exact specifications; cumin, garam masala, coriander, turmeric, and a rainbow of other spices sit in recycled containers above the line ready to be added to each dish during service, among them crispy kale salad and prawns in piri piri sauce. Watching your meal being made is just as spectacular as it is to eat. The rack of lamb – marinated in ginger, garlic, black cumin, and malt vinegar, plus yogurt and raw papaya to act as natural tenderizers – is skewered onto a metal hook. The rack then descends into the 650°F, solid clay Tandoor oven for just a few minutes, where it is cooked to medium-rare perfection. The lamb emerges with Frenched bones ablaze from the oven’s powerful convection heat, putting on a show for diners who can view the pyrotechnics from their seats through the open kitchen. Still on the hook, the lamb is hung above the counter next to the hood fan glistening with juices rendered from such an intense cooking process. It is plated with sautéed potatoes and ramps, and tastes as smoky and tender as you hoped it would. True to Chirnomula’s roots, INDIA’s menu features dishes that would be considered street food back in Hyderabad; true to his classic culinary training, they are elevated by the innovative use of the farm-fresh ingredients and striking presentation and plating. For him, traditional street food lends a “more real, true, authentic taste” to fine dining. Bhel poori is one such dish. Chirnomula combines crispy chickpea noodles, rice puffs, ripe tomatoes, mango powder, red onion, and house-made tamarind and cilantro-mint chutneys, tossing all of the ingredients by hand. In Hyderabad, this street snack would be served atop a newspaper page for 25¢. At INDIA, Chirnomula spoons the bhel poori into a mold, presses it into shape, and unmolds the dish before topping it with

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...traditional street food lends a “more real, true, authentic taste� to fine dining. ctfoodandfarm.com

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a micro-mix of rainbow greens and cilantro. The result is a cylindrical tower, meant to break apart as it’s eaten – crunchy, spicy, vibrant, and light. For Chirnomula, the dining experience at INDIA is about the complexity of the gastronomy, the simplicity of a plate, and setting trends in Indian cuisine; it’s about putting his own spin on traditional dishes and using ingredients directly from the ground. As a boy in Hyderabad, Chirnomula grew up on the farm. His grandfathers, both farmers, were also his babysitters and, by helping raise him, instilled in him an appreciation for the ingredients they grew. Today, he is the one cultivating the enjoyment of indigenous, farm-to-table ingredients through his offerings at INDIA.

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Growing for Chefs: Sub Edge Farm

Maya Oren Photo

By Rodger Phillips Photos by Laura Craig Stone & Maya Oren

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A Holy Tradition of Working, British sculptor and typeface designer Eric Gill wrote, “Every man is called to give love to the work of his hands. Every man is called to be an artist.” Chefs and farmers, both craftsmen, hold joy and pride in the responsibility of their art. I have seen this connection from seed to field, to kitchen, to plate play out again and again in my 11 years selling produce to chefs, and it never gets old.

Laura Crfaig Stone Photo

Today, Sub Edge Farm, our 300-acre U.S.D.A.-certified organic family farm, continues working with chefs in our area, providing weekly deliveries of fresh flowers, vegetables, and culinary herbs. We send out a weekly e-mail listing all of the products that we have available, and we custom pick, pack, and deliver each order. Chefs are also welcome to come to the Farm to pick up; many of them prefer it. Author, farmer, and an originator of the Slow Food Movement Wendell Berry emphasized that “Today, the small family farm is one of the last places – and they are getting rarer every day – where men and women and boys and girls can answer that call to be an artist, to learn to give love to the work of their hands. It is one of the last places where the maker is responsible – from start to finish – for the thing made.” I agree, of course, but venture to add that this “making” doesn’t end on the farm. It continues in the kitchens of great chefs and home cooks who are sharing the goodness of fresh, clean, local food here in our community.

Laura Crfaig Stone Photo

My journey to starting my own farm began while working for a pair of farmers in Central Connecticut who loved to grow food, but also enthusiastically shared their passion and knowledge with others. I delivered to a score of wonderful restaurants every week all throughout Connecticut. My trip would take me to stops like Paul Newman’s Dressing Room in Westport, Bloodroot in Bridgeport, ON20 in Hartford, and River Tavern in Chester. Being in these wonderful kitchens was a thrill for the senses and if I was lucky enough, I would sometimes get a chance to sample what was on the menu that day.


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retailers, Kimberly and Clint Thorn put themselves at what should be a disadvantage. Five miles north of Litchfield center, atop the crest of Town Hill Road, rests Thorncrest Farm, its immaculate, family-built barn, their inviting chocolate shop named Milk House Chocolates, and a herd of Holstein and Jersey cows living a life better than Riley could have imagined. If the Thorns weren’t offering an extraordinary product, their location would be considered a tremendous obstacle. But, this is a story of how when you do something well, you can do what you want.

Circa 1984

The genesis of Thorncrest can be traced to the 1980s at Wamogo High School where Kimberly and Clint met as classmates. Clint grew up working on his family’s dairy farm in Goshen, and Bantam-native Kimberly was studying horse breeding. The two began dating and the relationship sustained through college. As part of a work-study program, Kimberly worked on a Thoroughbred farm in Ireland where, thanks to a local sweet shop, she enjoyed confections made on site with simple, locally-sourced ingredients – superior to anything she had stateside. During a summer break, Clint joined Kimberly in Ireland and they spent several months subsisting on a diet of artisan chocolate. After returning to Connecticut, they married and got to work making their own sweets with milk from Clint’s dairy cows. Kimberly quickly realized she needed a different flavor profile to recreate the chocolate they had fallen in love with while roaming Europe.

It takes a Craftsman

While raising their sons, Garret and Lyndon , 23 and 27, respectively, Clint meticulously developed a first-class line of bovines concentrating on flavor over production – a complete contrast to the American dairy industry’s sole focus on quantity. Clint had to deconstruct to reconstruct the perfect herd of dairy cows for chocolate making, including tapping into a line of cattle DNA in cryogenics storage from the 1960s. Every cow in the Thorns' barn can be traced genetically to the first cow Clint painstakingly selected: The Hanoverhill Jethro Koral of Ontario, one of the last in a line of North American Holstein dairy cows paternally and maternally bred for flavor. Because the Thorns run a tight ship, they only have slots open for cows that make milk with the taste profile their owners prefer. So, in the 1990s, the Thorns formed a relationship with a Mennonite farmer named Omar from Lancaster County,

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Pennsylvania. Omar happily pays a premium for any of the Thorn’s “castoffs,” as he knows they are some of the finest dairy cows available. Omar puts them to work siring calves or producing milk used for Turkey Hill Ice Cream production. As if raising two kids and establishing a genetic dynasty wasn’t enough, Clint is also a self-taught woodworker, using 200-year-old techniques to create astonishinglydetailed furniture from tables, benches, and chairs to vanities and chests. Clint’s woodworking business, The Open Talon, is named for the ball and claw foot design made famous by 18th-century cabinet maker Thomas Chippendale. Clint’s woodworking is quite literally breathtaking, so if you’re in the market for high-design, custom-made furniture, call him immediately.

The Magic is in the Milk

Clint’s devotion to detail was met in lockstep by Kimberly. She worked diligently to developand refine recipes for cheese and chocolate while honing a palate so sophisticated that she can taste the slightest stress her cows may experience, as well as their dietary changes and anything that comes in contact with her cows’ skin – which is why little or nothing does. Kimberly will not compromise. If any milk tastes the slightest bit off, it’s not put into production. The majority of Milk House’s 72+ unique chocolates are created by a single cow in the Thorn’s herd; Kimberly has a deep understanding of how to capitalize on the milk’s flavor in her creations. Even the Thorncrest barn was intentionally constructed using an Amish design to create stress-free surroundings with nature-made climate control, whisking heat away and encouraging natural breezes. (Further bolstering the Thorns’ devotion to their cows’ comfort: my original interview was scheduled in March, but due to an unseasonably cold day, we had to reschedule. The Thorns were not willing to negotiate their cows’ environment forany reason.) Kimberly doesn’t attach her family name to a product that isn’t sourced, made, and sold on site; as such, Milk House Chocolates can only be found on her shelves. The Thorn’s cows are milked for ten months and have a two-month reprieve, commonly at the end of their pregnancies. Because certain milk is needed to produce specific chocolates at different times of the year, a complex breeding schedule is maintained. For example, Karissma is responsible for producing the milk needed forCabernet Sauvignon and Champagne Truffles. Her breeding schedule dictates that she must be ready to calf in time for the holiday favorites at the beginning of November. One autumn,


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Karissma tricked the Thorns into thinking she was pregnant, but an ultrasound revealed otherwise; there were no Karissma truffles for Thanksgiving and Christmas that year, devastating customers near and far. Another Thorncrest staple is a Jersey cow named Daydream. She is exclusively responsible for caramel. If she is on a break, her daughter Dream On steps up to the plate. Kimberly can tell the difference, but no one else can. All I know is that I stuffed so many Thorncrest caramels in my mouth that I should be able to tell! All of the cows at Thorncrest eat a specifically-curated diet crafted to enhance the taste of their milk. Their hay is sourced on the property, with no pesticides or herbicides, and is cut younger than usual. Similar to fresh baby spinach or arugula, it’s better tasting and less coarse, but has the same nutritional value as their aged counterparts. This also means more work for the Thorn family because harvests occur more frequently. The family also watches its cows graze to make sure they’re grouped with friends to reduce the risk of tension. If cows don’t care for one another, akin to bad neighbors, the result is stress-milk, and Kimberly can taste it in a Goshen minute.

Fresh Comes First

When the Thorns constructed their barn in 2011, Lyndon, aged 17, was already an accomplished sawyer. With the exception of a few huge, weight-bearing beams, Lyndon milled every board. Most of the wood was sourced from the property or from nearby locations. It stands at an impressive 61’ tall and is 25,000 sq. ft. Garret is no slouch either. He is he general manager of Thorncrest, shares in the production responsibilities, and oversees hay and compost sales. He also convinced his girlfriend, Keri McIntyre, to work in the chocolate shop for our visit; she was instrumental in hand-picking the chocolate featured in our photographs. Thorncrest Farm exists for no other reason than to produce the freshest and most wholesome products strengthened by the commitment of the Thorn family bond. Kimberly, Clint, Garret, and Lyndon don’t believe in slipshod work or caretaking. In fact, everything this family does is with precision, execution, and a smile. Fresh comes first at Thorncrest Farm.

Thorncrest Farm is located at 280 Town Hill Rd., Goshen, and is open Wednesday through Saturday, 10:00 a.m. – 5:00 p.m. and Sunday, 10:00 a.m. – 4:00 p.m. To learn more about Milk House Chocolates and Kimberly’s onsite cheese- and yogurt- making classes, visit their website, call 860.309.2545, or e-mail tcfarmllc@optimum.net. For compost and hay sales, call Garret at 860.605.7222. Reach Clint at 860.307.6244 for furniture and woodworking or Lyndon at 860.307.6644 for wood milling – both at The Open Talon.

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"Some people are so much sunshine to The square inch." -Walt Whitman

Winter Caplanson photo


Family


Meal:

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Pre-shift family meals: what are they all about ? Are they like our own family dinners, where everyone is on their phone, not talking to one another, scarfing down our food and disappearing for the night? Not necessarily, but it sure can be. If you have any experience working in a restaurant, you may have been a part of the tradition that is known as the family meal. Or, perhaps you’ve worked in the industry, but have never had the pleasure to actually enjoy this restaurant tradition and are more used to the “grab and go” approach before you start your shift. You hustle in, ravenously devour whatever they put in front of you, tie on your apron, and crank for the night. Executive Chef Xavier Santiago of Hartford has been at Barcelona Wine Bar in West Hartford for the past nine months and brings with him a wealth of fastpaced restaurant experience. Barcelona encourages its guests to take their time to savor their meals and enjoy every single bite of the spectrum of small plates it offers. This attitude extends to staff members, who are viewed as treasured family members – in every meaning of the phrase. They laugh, they share, they connect, they disagree; in the end, though, they remain united. The communication and bonding starts with each pre-shift meeting and family meal. Here, Chef and his kitchen team take turns preparing; they use fresh ingredients, not what’s left over from last night, and cater to what’s going on weather-wise. In the summer months, they make lighter fare; when it’s snowy and cold, they cook up a warm, hearty soup with meat and potatoes guaranteed to warm them up and cure any cold-weather maladies. Add in some warm, fresh-baked bread and the staff is

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"When you work together as many hours as we do, you spend more time with your co-workers more than you do with your own family. When I’m at the restaurant, these are the people who I need to make happy."

ready to face their shift with a full belly. “I try not to serve anything extremely heavy before a shift,” said Chef Santiago. Many of the wait staff come from school or other jobs, so Chef makes sure that they start their shift full and happy. Attendance depends on how busy the restaurant is. At times, it consists of batch of French fries and a variety of sandwiches so that everyone from front to back of house has the ability to quickly grab what they need in order to accommodate the guests. “It’s very important that everyone gets fed, no matter what. Everyone has to eat.” When business is slower, the team at Barcelona can enjoy family meal together. The process is twofold: after enjoying their meal, they conduct a pre-shift meeting, where they review news from the night before, what to expect that evening, and where everyone is personally, ensuring everyone has a clear head before starting their shift .

Chef Santiago presents the day’s tasting menu and new dishes so that the staff has the opportunity to sample and provide any feedback. Chef has everyone describe exactly what’s in each new dish and asks feedback. In my opinion, there is nothing better than a server who has a strong view about the food he or she is serving, as I often ask for recommendations when dining out. “The team effort from front to back is so different at Barcelona. We maintain a cohesive, tight-knit atmosphere” says Chef Santiago. “If we don’t operate with the highest respect for one other, we can’t give our guests the best possible experience.” Chef Santiago attributes the team-oriented atmosphere to General Manager Nevin Xavier, aka “the glue.” The two work very closely and communicate often about the front and back of the house; that closeness is nurtured by family meals.

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You may not see your family all that much – and sometimes that’s on purpose – but bonding over a meal is paramount for Chef Santiago. “At Barcelona, we may only have a quick fifteen minutes to sit down, visit, and then hustle off to work. Yet, even when we get our butts kicked, we still know we are in this collectively. When you work together as many hours as we do, you spend more time with your co-workers more than you do with your own family. When I’m at the restaurant, these are the people who I need to make happy. Those who don't work in the service industry need to understand that this isn’t just a job for us. It’s called a family meal for a reason. Just as we treat our customers as personal guests, we treat our employees like family.”

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“Life itself is the proper binge.” 
 -Julia Child


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The beauty and awe of this ground never escapes our awareness;

we are in constant amazement at what she helps us to produce and what she can destroy in one fell swoop. The Collins family has been farming the fertile land along the Connecticut River in Wethersfield and Rocky Hill, commonly referred to as “The Meadows,� for more than 100 years, and I can honestly say that it is a part of us as much as any of our senses. The only way fit to describe The Meadows is to paint a picture of an area untouched by the growth of the towns among which it is nestled. Once an area used by farms in the dry season, this flood plain is now some of the last remaining tillable acreage in the area. No permanent structures can be built on a classified food plain – no homes or strip malls; no garage; or even sheds for tools. Standing in the middle of this vast expanse, you can barely see houses in the distance in any direction, making you feel like you have been transported back in time or as if you were in a different part of the country altogether. Closing your eyes, you can only hear the sounds of the surrounding nature, other than the occasional roar of a tractor. This land rarely comes up for sale, and when it does, it is usually between farmers. This is not a public area, although in recent years, it has become more well-known due to bird and nature enthusiasts and those seeking solitude and serenity. It is an integral part of a tightknit farming community where property lines are drawn and read by the distance to the trees or the direction of the nearest brook or bend of the Connecticut River, and where access to landlocked pieces comes from easements afforded to each other over handshakes ctfoodandfarm.com

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between friends long ago. The families of The Meadows are staunch advocates for the continuation of the vanishing art of farming and the protection of the land they hold in such high regard. The public awareness of this landscape has brought new challenges over the course of the last decade. Farmers are now charged with the task of protecting this area from trespassers, vandalism, and development issues unseen in previous eras: a new challenge for an already-overburdened minority. Property and crop destruction, vehicle damage, and trespassing have become daily battles. The Meadows encompass about 2,000 acres of mostly-tillable and some swamp and woodland areas. The topsoil runs 18’ to 20’ deep with not a stone in sight. The soil, some of the richest in the nation, has been moved and eroded, changed, and added to annually by the seasonal flooding of the River. This area floods every year to a varying amount., some more than others. (Generally every spring and late fall, you can expect the River to rise.) In 15 years, we have seen a varying amount. of flooding every month. After each flood, we are left with the effects, both positive and negative. We find additional, nutrient -rich silt or debris and environmetal hazards, depending on severity. The fields in The Meadows will produce incredible yields, larger-than-average fruits, and a tastier product on even the driest years, without irrigation, due to the moisture retention of this amazing, anomalous soil. Our Farm, Fair Weather Acres, and the Collins Family have grown crops here for more than a century – most notably green beans – producing enough to supply large supermarket chains throughout New England, including Big Y and Shaw’s, and in recent years, selling as far south as Florida. Sweet corn and mixed vegetables make their way into local IGA markets, farm stands, and direct-store deliveries to Whole Foods, as well as our own extensive Farm Market. Common and odd varieties are abundant, but all are annual crops due to the precarious nature of the land. Through the years, we have seen the pendulum swing in our favor with a better-than-average growing season because of consistent (but not overwhelming) moisture; sunny, warm days; and few, if any, major storms. Likewise, there have been swings in the opposite direction causing unprecedented losses. In 2011, we saw what was set to be our best year ever, with record-setting yields and increased market prices, but it came to a screeching halt when the River’s flooding caused extensive damage. Hurricane Irene brought a deluge of rain northward, swelling the River to unparalleled levels in August when all of our land had been tilled and planted, fertilized and weeded, and crops grown and nurtured, waiting to be picked. The total loss in the aftermath was devastating. Of the 225+ acres we own and the additional 225+ we lease in the meadow plain, we lost 100% .The water rose rapidly in a two-day period, barely giving us enough time to save our equipment. Nearly 35 acres of pumpkins, 20 acres of mixed vegetables, and 400 acres of green beans were washed down the River – a loss just shy of $1,000,000. Though this flood was not the worst we have seen, the timing in August caused maximum damage. With some areas under as much as 15’ of water, the anticipated record season came to an end in the span of just 48 hours.

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The families of The Meadows are staunch advocates for the continuation of the vanishing art of farming and the protection of the land they hold in such high regard. ctfoodandfarm.com

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This existence is not for the faint of heart, the easily defeated, or the indolent. Farming is not a job or even a career – it’s a way of life.

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This was also the year that the comradery and fellowship of farmers shone through the most. Farms that had crops on higher ground than ours shared their harvest with us in trade for crops we had on higher ground. Neighboring farms always help each other out – even when they are “competitors” – but that year, it seemed more evident than ever before. I think much of this comes from the shared struggles and toils of farming in our ever-changing society where 18-hour days, grueling abor, extensive laws, and bureaucratic regulations are the ordinary for farmers (who already struggle gambling on weather, market prices, and public demand). We are a dying breed across the U.S., and with about 10 active farms in The Meadows, we all recognize the importance of each individual; it keeps us unified, and this was never more evident than the year in which we all lost to Hurricane Irene. “The Slaughter of 2011,” as I refer to it, forced us to diversify into areas we may not have foreseen or were not ready to venture. This was the first year of our Fall Festival and Corn Maze. As of 2016, we have seen it balloon to 30,000 attendees a year including local schools, community groups, and the general public. The following year, we began a Community Shared Agriculture program (CSA) which now supplies more than 500 families with 16 weeks of fresh, homegrown produce, 95% of which is grown in The Meadows. We have expanded our greenhouse production, now growing in excess of 200 varieties of flowers, herbs, and vegetable starts, as well as 2,000+ hydroponic tomatoes for early-season fruiting.

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Though the challenges and losses on this ground can be catastrophic, The Meadows’ stewards do not see the negatives first in describing the land to others. We see the soil that has been worked by our hands as long as we can remember; we recall the memories of time spent here in our youth; we reminisce about hours devoted with loved ones who are no longer with us and lessons of perseverance and character we apply to all areas of life. We look at our children and we share our past with them and what can come of their future. This existence is not for the faint of heart, the easily defeated, or the indolent. Farming is not a job or even a career – it’s a way of life.

CROSSINGS Kindred Crossings is a local, family farm dedicated to the production of healthy, naturally raised livestock that you can place in your pastures or on your dinner table with trust.

Specializing in:

• Quality Pastured Grass Fed Beef • Lamb, Mutton & Pork- USDA Inspected • Belted Galloway Cattle • Shropshire & Texel Sheep • The Connecticut Blanket & Scarves -100% Wool Kindred Crossings LLC 868 Route 32, North Franklin, CT 860-642-4243 www.kindredcrossingsfarm.com


Winter Caplanson photo


“The first week of August hangs at the very top of summer, the top of the live-long year, like the highest seat of a Ferris wheel when it pauses in its turning. The weeks that come before are only a climb from balmy spring, and those that follow a drop to the chill of autumn, but the first week of August is motionless, and hot. It is curiously silent, too, with blank white dawns and glaring noons, and sunsets smeared with too much color."

- Natalie Babbitt, Tuck Everlasting

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The Twenty-Year Plan by Hilary Adorno John Bourdeau believes his inspiration to become a chef came to him in the form of a fictional character we (of a certain age) all remember: sitcom darling Jack Tripper, the klutzy odd-man-out with two female roommates in Three’s Company. John claims it was because Jack was a chef, but what woman-loving-man didn’t think Jack’s “situation” was clutch? Raised in Woodbury, as soon as he could reach the oven, John was experimenting in the kitchen. First it was cinderblock-like cakes from-scratch (no boxed mixes for this kid), but with time and persistence, John was soon turning out delicious baked goods for his family. John’s first gig was at the age of 15 through a cooperative work program at his high school, baking bread for a grocery store. It was the only job he ever quit, but the miserable 2:00 a.m. start time and lack of challenge became very unpleasant. While John enjoyed baking, Jack Tripper was not a baker. At the tender age of 16, John started working the line at Heminway's in Watertown, a massive restaurant with 200+ continental items on the menu and a weekend crush of patrons that could make a seasoned pro sweat. Under the tutelage of CIA grad Chef John Dominello, there was no time for baloney once hordes of tickets started hitting the kitchen. Chef Dominello instilled a simple mantra in his staff: “Just do things right.” John Bourdeau did things right for four years at Heminway's and gained a hands-on education more valuable than any culinary school could provide. With the goal of opening his own restaurant, but needing capital to do it, 20-year-old John created a 20-year plan to bring his vision to reality. His logic was conservative and hopefully-worst-casescenario. Twenty years later, he opened Main Street Grill in Watertown; talk about a prophecy realized on schedule. At the end of his tenure at Heminway's, John contemplated the most practical way to earn the most money in the shortest amount of time. He was offered a job as an apprentice for a construction company with a starting pay that doubled anything he could make in a restaurant. He learned carpentry from the ground up. After six years, he hung his own shingle, primarily servicing clients in Manhattan, commuting from Woodbury. During his spare time, he worked with caterers, tended bar, and read food industry periodicals to keep up with current trends. His reading

John Shyloski photos material of choice was Gourmet Magazine, a subscription he acquired at 12 years old. Eager to transition back into restauranteering, John partnered with his sister’s husband, Chef Antonio Caldareri of Montreal, to open Lucia Ristorante in New Milford in 2007. To further develop his knowledge base, John managed the front of the house, even though his heart was in the kitchen. He also he continued to operate his carpentry business in Manhattan until Lucia was successful enough to support the two families operating it. Being a chef-owner brings a litany of challenges not typically faced by a chef hired to work in someone else’s kitchen. Executive chef responsibilities traditionally entail developing menus, managing the kitchen personnel, ordering and stocking provisions, food preparation, and recipe creation. In addition to a chef’s responsibilities, a chef-owner gets into the nuts and bolts of operating a business and oversees details such as table settings; hiring, training, and managing all staff; furniture, fixtures, kitchen design; financial management; public relations; marketing… and the list goes on. It’s daunting, to say the least. In 2012, John opened Main Street Grill which I considered to be one of the finest restaurants in Litchfield County. An important component of this remarkable dining experience is entering the space – a complete departure from the bustling street on which it sits. When the door closes behind you, you are welcomed into a wonderful juxtaposition of exposed brick, wide-plank wood floors, and lofty ceilings illuminated by thoughtfully -placed, alluring light – all created by John’s skillful hands and creative mind. The menu consists of uniquely-conceived, but completely-accessible “New American” fare that ebbs and flows depending on what was in season. On my last visit, John ordered for our table. For starters, we shared a plate of premium chicken nachos, served in a way and portion that was easy to handle – a rare feat – complemented by a pile of mussels swimming in a coconut curry. We cleansed our palates with a fresh kale salad, thoughtfully garnished with pecorino and flaky croutons, and finished with pork tenderloin stuffed with chorizo, accompanied by exquisitely-cooked haricots verts and mashed potatoes, along with a halved, roasted red pepper stuffed

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IN ADDITION TO A CHEF’S RESPONSIBILITIES, A CHEF-OWNER GETS INTO THE NUTS AND BOLTS OF OPERATING A BUSINESS AND OVERSEES DETAILS SUCH AS TABLE SETTINGS; HIRING, TRAINING, AND MANAGING ALL STAFF; FURNITURE, FIXTURES, KITCHEN DESIGN; FINANCIAL MANAGEMENT; PUBLIC RELATIONS; MARKETING… AND THE LIST GOES ON. IT’S DAUNTING, TO SAY THE LEAST.

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with quinoa, black beans, corn, and spinach, covered with a generous helping of melted Monterey jack, resting in a delicious tomato purée. The last thing I order when dining out is a vegetarian meal, so knock me over with a feather – that stuffed pepper was mind-blowing! John opened The Owl in 2016 – a beautifully-located, ridiculously -cool wine bar, steps away from the southernmost point of Lake Waramaug, bordered by three Connecticut towns (Washington, Warren, and Kent). This was a gutsy move considering the area’s occupancy waxes and wanes by as much as 50% off-season. During colder months, the intimate space comfortably seats 25. Guests can enjoy their libations by firelight in seats draped in faux fur pelts. Come more temperate weather, patronage can increase to 65, thanks to a gorgeous al fresco patio and lawn area, which can be tented for special events for as many as 100. The Owl can be reserved for private parties and offers a full catering menu from small plates and passed hors d'oeuvres to four-course sit-down dinners. In early June 2017, John surprisingly closed the doors on the successful Main Street Grill due to an inability to reach a mutually-acceptable agreement with his landlord. The initial takeaway from this experience tastes bitter, but provides a valuable message for all chef-owners. A gentleman’s agreement will not protect a chef-owner like a professionally-drafted one in tandem with a detailed business plan. This brings to light just one more obstacle faced by chef-owners: there is a multitude of substantial considerations to deliberate in addition to the menu. While this is tragic news for patrons of Main Street Grill, I have no doubt this tenacious, talented, and good-hearted man will continue thrive both at The Owl and whatever amazing endeavor he cooks up in the future. On August 27, 2017, John joins chefs Dan Magill of Arethusa al tavolo (Bantam), Chris Eddy of Winvian (Morris), Joel Viehland (formerly of Community Table and his upcoming venture Swyft), Carol Byer-Alcorace of New Morning Market (Woodbury) and Dennis DeBellis, Jr. of John’s Café (Woodbury) to cater a benefit for Flanders Nature Center and Land Trust, to be hosted at Van Vleck Farm & Nature Sanctuary in Woodbury. If gastronomy was a competitive sport, this would be my Olympic team. Established in 1963, situated on 2,200 acres, Flanders Nature Center & Land Trust is a non-profit organization that focuses on environmental education and the acquisition, conservation, and stewardship of open space The land was bequeathed by Natalie Van Vleck (1901-1981), an artist, farmer, businesswoman, and environmentalist.


Serenity

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“Everything you’ve ever wanted is on the other side of fear.” This trending, somewhat corny, inspirational George Addair quote was the first thing that entered my mind – shortly before it went blank – when stepping into Grass Roots Creamery last Sunday. Formerly the Granby General Store and located at the highly-visible intersection of Routes 202, 189, and 20 in Granby Center across from the Town Green, Grass Roots has made its home – and its mark – in the demure, 18th century space. Warmly-hued hardwood floors and bright, handmade, chalked menu boards make the space feel homey and modest. It’s a best case scenario – you’ll need the surrounding calm once you step forward from the door and peer into the ice cream case. Your thoughts will race; your heart rate will spike. Lightly -nuanced Honey Lavender; crunchy and luscious Coconut Cashew Caramel; beautiful, blush, and fragrant Rose Chocolate Chip; Pancakes and Maple Syrup – in ice cream; and sinful Cinnamon Churro. Your eyes will dart back and forth between the menu board and the case – as if that’s actually going to help you decide. Your vision will blur as panic sets in, and you’ll wonder helplessly how other people cope with the pressure. Mercifully, owners Lee and Eliza Florian are seasoned health care professionals with an aptitude for crisis management. As a nurse and former social worker, respectively, they spotted the deer-in-headlights look on my face, greeted us (my brother and I, photographer Rich Rochlin, his wife Sarah, and their precocious toddlers Rex and Ruby) with amused, knowing smiles, and our collective anxiety faded. A bucket of sample spoons in hand, Eliza patiently walked us right down the double row of 36 two-and-a-half gallon containers of wildly-inventive, handmade, artisan ice cream. In 2013, Eliza made a decision. “I just wanted to work with my kids,” she explained. Having been a clinical social worker in skilled nursing and psychiatric care, a nurse’s wife, and a mother for 16 years at the time, her professional transition struck me as surprisingly natural; the hospitality industry draws upon the same skills. Eliza felt the same in spite of the whirlwind timeline. The Florians drove past the property, noticed the vacancy sign, and Grass Roots Creamery was open to the public five weeks later. “It was a true whim,” she confessed. “But, everything aligned at the right time, so I didn’t worry.” Eliza has stayed true to that sentiment since opening. She’s completely self-taught and credits text books and YouTube for teaching her the basics. Lee and Eliza knew going in to their new venture they wanted to make a creative, high-quality product that used no artificial dyes or flavors. A lion’s share of commercial ice cream recipes call for chemical stabilizers and mysterious color powder; while the tutorials taught Eliza the “science behind ice cream,” the recipes themselves came from some serious R&D – another component with which Eliza approached with zero apprehension.

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Four years later, the Florian children (now 19, 17, and 13) and are active in creating new flavors and helping run the business with the eldest designing the store’s logo and tee-shirts. (They release a new one every year.) Cranking through 200 gallons each of milk and cream per week, Grass Roots has amassed a catalog of 250 varieties. Eliza trusts her staff to maintain a diverse selection, being sure to always have some standard-leaning options like Chocolate Peanut Butter Mousse, Double Dark Black Coffee, Mint Oreo, and Red Stone Peach Sorbet in the case. But that doesn’t mean those recipes will stay the same.

milk fat, the ice cream’s texture becomes more icy and gritty (more appropriate for sorbet); conversely, too much milkfat will create a greasy consistency. Eliza and her team allow little room for error due to their small batches. Five gallons at a time are mixed, and each one takes about 16 minutes in one of the two industrial ice cream machines in Grass Roots’ downstairs kitchen. Generally speaking, the finished product is roughly double the volume of the base. You’ll notice that commercial brands tend to be too airy – a sneaky and cost-effective way of using less milk fat to create more product. Not the case at Grass Roots.

“The Cookie Dough ice cream this week is a little different than the last batch. And you know what? I’m ok with that, and so are my customers.” Just in case there was any doubt about that, Eliza had to tactfully turn away six cars full of people during our 90-minute visit on the only day of the week that Grass Roots is closed. Her gracious, compassionate personality shone even brighter when one of the prospective customers mentioned that it was her birthday; Eliza caved and waived her in.

Having just woken up from their naps, Rex and Ruby wasted little time. “I didn’t know I’d get to hold a little boy, today!” exclaimed Eliza. Two-year-old Rex knew he was in good company as Eliza scooped (Get it? Scooped?) him up and took him behind the counter for a VIP tour. She leaned in close and asked him a very serious question: “Do you like chocolate or do you love chocolate?” Rex replied in a low, business-like tone: “I love chocolate.” Good man.

Grass Roots’ ice cream is best described as “classic New England -style” at 16% milk fat content. As a reference, all commercial American brands run between 10% and 20%. If there is too little

About five minutes later, after having done some impressive damage on a sugar cone topped with classic Chocolate ice cream, Rex was outdone by his little sister. One-year-old Ruby started off

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her visit all smiles and ladylike manners with darling, white Mary Janes – that is, until her mother got her a scoop of Chocolate Chip. Sarah stopped mid-bite and described the ice cream’s vanilla base as the “purest, most delicious” that she had ever had. Ruby concurred; the first scoop wasn’t enough. Don’t you wish it was socially acceptable to thrash and holler the way babies do when they’re hangry? By the time we packed up, Ruby got her second scoop – wearing a healthy amount of it – and managed to ditch one of her shoes, as well. A girl after my own heart.

the flavor – complete with a “Flavor Graveyard” burial service. Eliza gladly worked with the bride to recreate her preferred treat. Regular customers don’t just comprise those who live in the Farmington Valley (Farmington, Avon, Simsbury, Canton, and Granby). Grass Roots has faithful patrons all over New England, one of whom makes scheduled trips from Rhode Island just for the Goat Cheese Blackberry ice cream.

Eliza and Lee even have an ordering system that placates the nervous energy that the sight of their confections creates. On the counter sits a cone-holder indicating that sugar cones are “pointy,” and cake cones are “flat-bottomed.” As a sugar cone devotee, I appreciate the specificity. (Hearty waffle cones are available too, but their description isn’t as contentious a topic.)

It comes as no surprise, though. Lee, Eliza, and their 18 part-time employees stay true to the shop’s core values of quality, imagination, and family. They don’t cut corners – and even make their own extracts including rose, lavender, and jasmine. Employees and customers are encouraged to dream up new ideas, and if Eliza wouldn’t serve it at home to her own family, she won’t put it on the menu. Her philosophy embodies the concept that caring is an active verb.

Sampling Grass Roots’ innovative selection of sweet and savory flavors inspires your own creativity. I asked if customers have ever commissioned special requests – turns out that was a silly question. Eliza shared a story about a regular customer who was getting married and wanted to serve her favorite Ben & Jerry’s flavor at the reception: Mission to Marzipan. Sadly, Ben & Jerry’s had retired

Grass Roots Creamery is open Monday through Thursday, 11:00 a.m. – 9:00 p.m. and Fridays and Saturdays, 11:00 a.m. – 9:30 p.m. Don’t be surprised if you see a line out the door. It’ll give you a brief moment to take a selfie with the Grass Roots cow in the front window and revel in the universal, child-like anticipation that goes along with homemade ice cream. If you can’t catch your breath in time to order, they have paper bags, too.

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Block Island Dinner Ferry Run

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Block Island summer holiday up a half-day portion of this delicious and beautifu Night Dinner Run which departs New London at 3:10 p.m. on more than 3 hours on the Island before you board t ant to add a classic

discounts to some Block Island restaurants; but, Anders and L for a

prime Block Island experience.


to your vacation plans, but can't get away for long? We can dish

you

ul destination. The Block Island Express Ferry's Thursday n Thursdays (July 7 through September 1) gives you a little

Lydia Vercelli's

is half price! They’ll even give you

insider's guide provides on-point selections

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to return at 8:10 p.m. – and the fare

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■ For the fastest and most fun way to get around the Island, head over to one of the many bicycle rental places in Old Harbor (also where the ferry docks). ■ Be sure to ride up Spring St. to see the Southeast Lighthouse, and on your way back to town, visit the Spring Street Gallery to see local artwork. Continue down Water St., the main drag in town, and hang a right at the four-way intersection to head north on Corn Neck Rd. Follow it all the way to the end to see a sweeping view of the beach and the North Light. ■ On your way up Corn Neck Rd. toward the North Light, keep an eye out for the Pots and Kettles food truck located on Corn Neck Rd. in the Mosquito Beach parking lot on the left-hand side of the road as you bike north. Pots and Kettles offers "honestly good grub made from scratch" - tacos, chili con carne, fantastic sesame noodles, and delicious Vietnamese iced coffees, to boot.

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■ Stop on your bike ride back to town to walk along the shore and dip your toes in the ocean at Crescent Beach, named for the extended crescent of sand that stretches from Old Harbor along the eastern side of the Island. Enter the Beach at Scotch Beach Rd. (off of Corn Neck Rd.) or leave your bike in the State Beach Lot and walk down to the shore.


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■ If you’re in the mood for a frozen mudslide, be sure to get one from The Oar; they’re famous for it. Also known for their lobster rolls, is home to an octopus sashimi appetizer that is definitely worth the jaunt. ■ Stunning photographs of the Island can be found at the Greenaway Gallery on Water St., next to the Empire Theater, a short walk up the street from the ferry dock. A browse through these extraordinary photos that capture the true beauty of the island by Malcolm Greenway is an imperative.

■ Finn’s Seafood Restaurant in Old Harbor, which has its own fish market next door, serves up fresh fried and broiled seafood standbys (think fish and chips, fried whole belly clams, and boiled lobster dinners) in a no-frills setting that’s excellent for families. Their bluefish pâté appetizer is a must-try.

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Anders Vercelli photo

■ For a cool treat and a taste of childhood nostalgia, The Ice Cream Place on Weldon’s Way, the small street that runs directly behind Water St. The Ice Cream Place (cash only) has all of your favorite flavors in an authentically retro setting complete with waffle cones and ice cream sundaes with outdoor seating under a canopy of trees.


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■ For a meal in a romantic setting, perfect for popping the question or for marking that anniversary or special occasion, book a table in the garden at The Manisses on Spring St., just a short walk up from the statue of Rebecca. The outdoor setting is enchanting, reminiscent of The Secret Garden and evokes a place much lusher than the rest of the island, like Costa Rica. ■ Eli’s, located in town just behind Water St., is a true gem. Their menu changes seasonally, but tuna nachos are a must here. Other stalwart favorites are the calamari and the pan-roasted scallops. It's a small restaurant and they don't take reservations, so be sure to arrive early. ■ If you're in the mood for a slice of pizza, head over to Papa’s Pizza on Corn Neck Rd. and Ocean Ave. The combination of their pizza expertise and their brick oven produces a delicious slice, rivaling those of New York. Enjoy yours outside on the lawn before you continue to explore the Island. ■ The Spring House is a stunning Victorian hotel and restaurant perched atop Spring St. with a sprawling wraparound porch and Adirondack chairs on the lawn. Play a round of bocce and enjoy cocktails from the bar before settling in the dining room where you'll find a full menu of eclectic offerings including an extensive martini list. ■ For a more casual dining option, a bistro menu is available for dinner served in the adjacent bistro, Victoria's Parlor (no reservations), where you can dine inside or out on the front porch overlooking the lawn and the sea.

Offer is valid on Thursdays, July 7 to September 1 (3:10 p.m. departure from New London and 8:10 p.m. return from Old Harbor). Ferry reservations are recommended; make yours by calling 860.444.4624. Crossing time is approximately 1 hr. 15 min., but may vary due to weather conditions.

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The Block Island Express Ferry's fare is 50% off the same day roundtrip fare: $22.50 for adults (normally $45) and $11.25 for children (normally $22.50). This rate is honored at the ticket booth in New London without a reservation, as well. To make dinner reservations, contact the restaurant directly. Please provide flyer and Block Island Express Ferry receipt to receive discounts at participating restaurants. ctfoodandfarm.com

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KIDS

by Rebecca Hansen Winter Caplanson & Paula Boisseau Deutz photos When those indulgent first days of summer begin to wax and wane, and you suddenly find yourself – and your children – in a mid-July slump, where will you turn? To help you kick your children’s imagination back into gear, we found eight kid-approved summer cooking courses and camps. Get their hands dirty, get their minds thinking, and maybe get a decent meal out of it (your right as a parent). But most importantly, share in the joy that is days in the kitchen and meals with the family, before summer sheds its dewy skin and the day-to-day ebb and flow of life returns to normal.

PLANTSVILLE

Foodology Cooking School and Bakery Café 991 South Main St.Ages 5 - 13 | $21 per class Tease that sweet tooth with fun, themed classes held in June and August. Learn how to perfect berry shortcake or join in the ice cream social. Emphasis at Foodology is on making cooking fun (and delicious).

WILTON AMG Catering & Events 196 Danbury Rd. Ages 10 -15 | $475 per week Experience four full days of intensive (and intensely fun) kitchen training at this popular summer camp. (Two out of the four weeks are already sold out!) While classes include a range of abilities, they’re really catered to budding young chefs who are looking to enhance their skills. From family dinners to knife skills, help your kids build confidence in the kitchen.

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Paula Boisseau Deutz photo

SIMSBURY

NEW MILFORD

Let’s Start From Scratch

Silo Hunt Hill Farm

1280 Hopmeadow St. Ages 4+ | Individuals: $30 per hour plus cost of food. Groups: $15 per hour.

44 Upland Rd. Ages 6 -15 | $50 per day session; $200 per week of camp.

If you want to make sure your kids get plenty of individual attention, consider a private cooking class. Let’s Start From Scratch is focused on customizing each class to fit your child’s needs, skilllevel, and taste buds. Start with the basics or expand their palette.

Ready your child for four days of chopping, mixing, baking, sautéing, pan-frying, and slicing with Chef Nancy. Classes are split by age group, making sure your kid gets age-appropriate instruction. Hosted in a beautifully renovated 1800s barn, classes will inspire all the senses.

WESTPORT

Manchester

Wakeman Town Farm

Manchester Community College

134 Cross Hwy. Ages 3 - 18 | $275-$375 per class

60 Bidwell St., Great Path Academy; Grades 5 - 8 | $375 per fourweek course

What’s cuter than a three-year-old in the kitchen? Not much. Wakeman Town Farm wants to inspire a love of farming and meal preparation in students of all ages. Throughout the summer, it offers a variety of week-long classes meant to engage everyone from the littlest farmers who learn how to make yummy snacks from fresh-picked veggies, to high school seniors interested in exploring the concepts of organic farming and sustainability.

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Under Chef Josh, students will learn to command the kitchen through fun, hands-on training. Set up over the course of four weeks, each week comes with its own theme and goal. From the basic principles of sautéing and baking to learning proper sanitation and menu development, this class is sure to set up your child for future culinary success.


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Stamford Aux Délices 23 Acosta St.Ages 8 -13 | $65 per session Local bakery chain Aux Délices has made a name for itself by offering some of the finest cakes and pastries around. Let your notso-little one try his or her hand at perfecting a buttercream rose of chocolate glaze. A two-hour evening course will prepare your kids for everything from cake baking to “lazy summer snacks."

Wethersfield Heirloom Market at Comstock Ferre 263 Main St. Everyone’s favorite purveyor of farm-fresh goods is gearing up for a summer filled with cookie decorating, cupcake decorating, and other food-related projects. The Market uses only organic and all-natural ingredients for their classes, and gluten-free options are available. While exact dates are still being figured out, check Heirloom’s website for announcements. (And, see some droolworthy shots of latte art and baked goods while you’re at it. #nom)

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by Karen Gilbransen & Rhonda Twiss

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LINK

opened the doors to our historic, former U.S. Post Office in 1997. We’ve always featured local ingredients when possible, and Hosmer Mountain Soda has been with us since the beginning. Before we were the Willimantic Brewing Company, we were the Main Street Café, a deli that opened in 1991. It was there that we first began serving Hosmer products. Twenty-six years later, Hosmer is still the only soda we serve – and we wouldn't have it any other way! Why Hosmer? It’s a family-owned and-operated business producing Connecticut-made sodas for more than 100 years right in our backyard; it was natural for us to team up with the Potvin family (the owners). The fact that their sodas make tasty mixers isn’t a bad thing, either. We admire what we see other restaurants and bars doing with craft cocktails. Our claim to fame is craft beer, but that doesn’t mean our bartending team – headed up by Rhonda Twiss – can’t make a mean bevy. Our bartenders enjoy aking a playful approach to creating fun and interesting beverages that highlight Hosmer Mountain Soda.

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The Delivery Route 1 oz. Skyy Vanilla Vodka 1 oz. Horchata rum 10 oz. Hosmer Mountain Root Beer

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Combine ingredients and shake; pour over ice and serve in a tulip glass.

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Skyy and Lightning 1 oz. Skyy Vodka 10 oz. Hosmer Mountain Red Lightning Energy Drink Pour vodka and Red Lightning over ice and serve in a highball glass garnished with a slice of fresh orange.

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Moscow Mule 2 oz. Skyy Vodka 10 oz. Hosmer Mountain Dangerous Ginger Beer Dash of fresh lime juice Pour all ingredients over ice in a copper mug and garnish with a slice of fresh lime.

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by Amy S. White Winter Caplanson & Paula Boisseau Deutz photos

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ince 1912, Hosmer Mountain Bottling Company has been providing the locals of Eastern Connecticut with superior-tasting craft soda in a wide variety of scintillating flavors. The story began at an active freshwater spring at the base of Hosmer Mountain in Willimantic. A budding entrepreneur thought to bottle the water and deliver it in horse-drawn wagons to the Town’s burgeoning textile mills. By the 1920s, the Company was making and delivering carbonated sodas in the same fashion from its location on Mountain St. which runs adjacent to the spring. Arthur J. Potvin purchased the bottling company in 1958. He practically raised his four sons – Bill, Chuck, Andy, and John – at the soda plant, and they took over the business after he retired in 1985. Bill Potvin, who often serves as spokesperson of the business, says family is one of the many things that make Hosmer unique: “Four brothers work at the company and have run it over the course of 40 years.” Also distinctive to Hosmer is the extent to which the Potvin brothers have strived to maintain the Company’s traditions; it is immediately noticeable in the soda’s packaging. Hosmer Soda comes only in 12- or 28-oz. glass bottles. Not only does glass protect the freshness of the soda better than plastic, it is much more environmentally-friendly. Where “going green” may seem a relatively new idea, it’s what Hosmer has been doing for more than 100 years. Since glass is made from common sand,

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producing it does not place added stress on the environment. Customers are rewarded with a deposit refund for each bottle they return incentivizing them to assist in the Company’s drive toward sustainability. To that end, Hosmer sterilizes and refills about 700,000 glass bottles every year using special machinery at their bottling plant, a former 1970s car wash in Columbia. As Potvin points out, “You can buy from us for 20 years and you won't increase the amount of trash in the world.” More important than the bottle, however, is what is inside. Perhaps the most unique thing about Hosmer is the array of flavors, many of which were popular at the time the Company was founded. Bill Potvin, whose nickname is “Soda Yoda,” creates the personalized formulas for which the Company is famous. His goal, is “to make every flavor equal to or better than” the competition’s. As such, he keeps notebooks that date back 35 years and are filled with his formulas. Every change is recorded in a scientific approach, and having one person carry on the practice at the bottling level is what gives Hosmer the taste advantage. Potvin puts it simply: “I’m looking for taste – that’s the goal, and I think we’ve done a good job.” That advantage became clear nationwide in 2004 when 89 root beers were taste-tested at the Great American Root Beer Showdown in Minnesota. Hosmer placed fourth, beating out Barq’s, Virgil’s, Stewart’s, and even A&W. It was then, Potvin says, that “we started realizing that we have an outstanding product.”


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Paula Boisseau Deutz Photos


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“You don’t have to be a giant company to have something More than 30 bold, retro, and fruit flavors are the hallmarks of Hosmer Soda; some are always available, and some are seasonal varieties. The most traditional flavors are found in their premium “Antique Line” which is marked with old-fashioned labels and is made with cane and brown sugars. This line includes their awardwinning Root Beer, Birch Beer (a clear, wintergreen flavor that Potvin says is their signature beverage), Cream Soda, Sarsaparilla, and Dangerous Ginger Beer (a delightfully-spicy soda that makes a great cocktail mixer). Counted among their fabulous fruit flavors are favorites such as Orange, Grape, Lemon-Lime, Black Cherry, and Strawberry – also made with cane sugar. Others that pack a punch are Peach, Pineapple, Grapefruit, and Potvin’s favorite, Orange Dry: a juicier, less-sweet, orange soda which, like many of Hosmer's citrus flavors, contains real juice. Taste-alikes are also part of the Hosmer product line. Cola-Blue is Hosmer’s answer to Pepsi, while Cola-Red is their version of CocaCola. Their latest trendy drink is Red Lightning Energy Drink – Hosmer’s play on Red Bull. It is filled with healthy antioxidants, has B vitamins and fruit sugar for energy, but contains a more moderate amount of caffeine and fewer calories than its counterpart. Potvin prides himself in beating the competition in taste, saying, “You don’t have to be a giant company to have something better.” Supplying customers with what they want is also Hosmer tradition. Recognizing that many customers have become more healthconscious, Hosmer created diet versions of 10 of their flavors; developed a line of unsweetened, flavored seltzers; and recently

better.” introduced two non-carbonated beverages: Iced Tea and Pink Lemonade. All but four of their flavors are caffeine-free, and all are gluten-free. True to its roots, Hosmer Mountain Spring Water is available for filling water coolers at home or at the office, and Hosmer has maintained delivery services. As the State’s hospitality industry continues the movement toward serving local products, many restaurants have begun serving Hosmer Soda. Some, such as the Vanilla Bean Café in Pomfret, offer the 12-oz. bottles; others, including Bear’s Smokehouse BBQ (in Hartford, Windsor, and South Windsor), have installed Hosmer fountains, which has been a boon to the business. What many local craft breweries have recently done with beer, Hosmer has been doing with soda for more than a century.

Customers can buy single bottles, six-packs, or cases of Hosmer Mountain Soda at their two retail locations. The main branch is located at 217 Mountain St., Willimantic, where the original company first started. Memorabilia from its 100-year history is on display at that location, as well, which is open Monday to Friday, 10:00 a.m. to 6:00 p.m. and Saturday, 9:00 a.m. to 6:00 p.m. A second location, nicknamed The Soda Shack, is at 15 Spencer St. in Manchester and is open Tuesday to Friday, 10:30 a.m. to 6:00 p.m. and Saturday, 10:00 a.m. to 6:00 p.m.

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One

Bright

Sunny

May morning, I was standing on the steps of our Congregational church waiting to go in. My father stood next to me. The full skirt of my white linen dress rustled in the breeze. My painting teacher, Lil Maxwell, stepped up to me and said: "Here, these are for you." She handed me a few plump pointy pinkish buds surrounded by fuzzy green leaves. "What are they?" I asked. She smiled: "Quince." I tucked them into my bouquet and they were stunning. She had cut them that morning from her fruit orchard and they added just the right element of wild quirkiness to my attractive but staid bouquet of cultivated peonies and roses.  Could we rewrite the traditional bridal adage as "something old, something new, something borrowed, something blue – and something gorgeous and unplanned?" Having moved to downtown Rome after my husband and I married, my next encounter with cydonia oblonga, or edible quince, was while I was reading Edward Lear's 1871 poem  The Owl and the Pussycat  to our toddler son. What is a runcible spoon that Lear conceived?  It is the half spoon, half fork utensil that Mr. Owl and Ms. Pussycat use to dine on mince and slices of quince while riding in their beautiful pea-green boat. Like runcible spoons, quince reside in a land of poetry and charmingly-impractical beauty. Quince trees are rare today as the fruit is unpleasant to eat raw and therefore has fallen out of commercial favor. If prepared correctly, however, it can produce the most delectable results.  In Colonial Connecticut, most gardens had a quince tree. Quince are self-pollinators, so one tree is enough to keep a kitchen stocked with fruit. Quince are very high in pectin so they were particularly useful when making desserts, jams, and jellies before commercial gelatin became available. Their tartness made them popular in cuisines around the world. Used in dishes both savory and sweet, there are culinary references to quince that date back to ancient Greece and Persia. Many of the golden apples referred to in Greek mythology are believed to be quince, as they originated from the  Caucasus Mountains between Persia and Turkmenistan, where they still grow wild today. Quince were brought into the Middle East and the Mediterranean through the trade routes and brought to China by the famous Silk Road.

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Three of my Favorite

quince recipes are marmellata di mela cotogna, quince jam that my Italian sister-in-law makes; classic French quince tarte tatin; and  membrillo,  Spanish quince paste that pairs beautifully with traditional queso manchego as well as other dense, buttery cheeses.

Zia Fiorella’s

Marmellata di Mela Cotogna – Quince Jam Delightfully tart, because she doesn’t add too much sugar, this is wonderful on toast or baked in a quince crostata. Fiorella recommends using smaller, rounder, and knobbier quince, as she prefers their flavor to their smoother or pearshaped conterparts.

Ingredients:

2 lbs. (about 8) quince, cleaned, peeled, cored, and cubed

2 c. sugar Juice of one lemon

Start preparation in the morning. Scrub fruit to clean and remove extra fuzz. In a stock pot, layer half the fruit, then half the sugar, then the other halves of both, respectively. Top with lemon juice, and leave to set for four to five hours. Once the fruit has released some of its liquid, cook covered over a very low flame for a maximum of three hours, checking to make sure the fruit doesn’t stick to the pan. If after three hours there are still large chunks of fruit, you can turn it through a food mill, but Zia prefers to leave some of the fruit’s texture in the jam.

To preserve the jam “bagno maria” – a traditional, boiling water bath – fill canning jars with jam, screw on covers firmly, and then wrap them in newspaper. Place them in a large, wide cooking pot with just enough water to reach the lids. You do not want them to be underwater as some may leak into the jars and dilute the jam. The newspaper wrap will prevent the jars from banging together, and possibly breaking, when the water heats up to a boil. Boil the jars for 20 minutes and the jar will be well preserved for as long as three years.

Directions:

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Quince

Tarte Tatin This is a classic French dessert that is often made with apples. When made with quince, it becomes a culinary extravagance. There are pans made specifically for this dessert, but I find my good-old, New England cast iron skillet works well. Pastry Ingredients:

1 ½ c. flour

1 ½ Tbsp. sugar

1 tsp. salt ½ c. chilled, European-style, cultured butter (Regular, unsalted butter can work, as well.)

3 Tbsp. ice water

1 ½ Tbsp. cider vinegar

Blend flour, sugar, and butter together with fingers until mixture resembles coarse meal. Mix ice water and vinegar together in a glass. Add liquid slowly to the dough until you can gather it into a thick, flattened disk. Refrigerate for a minimum of one hour. (It can be made a day ahead.)

Filling Ingredients:

6 quince, cleaned, peeled, cored, and halved

Juice of one lemon

1¾ c. sugar ¼ tsp. salt 2 Tbsp. European-style, cultured butter (Regular, unsalted butter can work, as well.) Directions:

Preheat oven to 375°F. Fill a large stockpot with water, one c. sugar, and half of the lemon juice. Poach the quince halves for about 10 minutes. They should be tender, but do not let them overcook. Drain and cool. Cut into thin slices.

In cast-iron skillet, combine remaining ¾ c. sugar and salt. Place over medium heat on stove top, and cook until it begins to thicken and caramelize. Remove from heat, add butter, and stir until butter is incorporated into caramel. Arrange quince slices in the caramel in the pan in a decorative, overlapping, circular pattern. Keep in mind that the pattern of the quince slices will be the top of the dessert. Sprinkle on the remaining lemon juice.

Warm the dough slightly before rolling out. Use as little flour as possible, and make the circle just big enough to cover the quince (slightly bigger than the diameter of the cast iron skillet). Tuck pastry edges in snuggly around the fruit

Place cast iron skillet on top of a baking sheet in case it overflows. Bake for about 45 minutes or until pastry is a deep, golden color and fruit is bubbly. Remove from oven and using oven mitts, carefully invert the tarte tatin onto a serving platter, fruit side up. Serve warm.

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Dulce

de Membrillo-

Spanish Quince Paste Ingredients:

4 large quince, cleaned, peeled, and cored

Sugar

Juice of one lemon

Pinch of salt

Dash of natural vanilla extract

Directions:

Scrub quince well to remove extra white fuzz. Place fruit into a saucepan, cover with water, and add lemon juice. Bring to a soft boil and cook until the fruit becomes tender. Drain and let cool. Pass through a food mill, then measure the pulp; add the pulp’s equivalent in sugar (or a bit less, if you prefer a tarter taste). Add a pinch of salt and a splash of vanilla extract.

Heat up in a saucepan until the mixture begins to bubble, thicken, solidify, and turn a deep red. Pour and spread thickened quince paste into a well-oiled baking dish, or line the dish with parchment paper for easy removal. Let cool and then refrigerate. Slice once solid. Traditionally served in small squares with slices of manchego cheese, membrillo can also be put in small molds or cut out with cookie cutter forms for fun. It's also a great addition to desserts or brunch menus.

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If you do not have a quince tree in your personal orchard, here are some farms where you can pick quince fruit in the fall: Averill Farm, Washington Depot
 l 860.868.2777 Beardsley's Cider Mill & Orchard, Shelton l 203. 926.1098 Belltown Hill Orchards, South Glastonbury
 l 860.633.2789 Garden of Ideas, Ridgefield l 203.431.9914 The Hickories, Ridgefield
 l 203.894.1851
 Holmberg Orchards, Gales Ferry
 l 860.464.7305 Hurricane Farm, Scotland
 l 860.465.9934 Staehly Farm & Winery, East Haddam
 l 860.873.9774 White Silo Farm & Winery, Sherman
 l 860.355.0271 The edible quince, cydonia oblonga, is not to be confused with any of the more common ornamental varieties such as pseudochaenomeles, chaenomeles japonica, chaenomeles speciosa, or chaenomeles x superba. Ask for cydonia oblonga specifically at your local garden center and grow a quince tree of your own. They prefer full sun; loose, slightly-acidic, well-drained soil; and, if possible, shelter from wind. They can grow up to 16’ in height and spread, so give them plenty of space. One tree can yield more than 250 lbs. of fruit!

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Contributors Hilary Adorno

has a diverse range of interests, including, but not limited to: true crime, airline disasters, fine linen, and luxurious stationery. Thankfully, statistics reveal she has an infinitesimal chance of witnessing a violent crime or being in a plane crash. Conversely, she suffers tremendous exposure to 600+ thread count sheets and an incurable addiction to Crane & Co. paper.

Paula Deutz

as been into photography for more than 40 years, shooting for friends and corporate and non-profit clients. She is an accomplished artist, winning awards for her drawing, photography, and ice sculpture. Paula lives in the South Windsor area and is active in the PATH International equine therapy world. She is currently looking to start an equine therapy program in the Central CT area.

Winter Caplanson,

our editor in chief, camera in hand, is perpetually in seek-andshare mode of where the magic lies at break-your-heart-beautiful farms and hidden gem eateries, in kitchens where overachieving chefs create dishes that make flavor sparks fly, and wherever makers operate thrillingly beyond and in defiance of the box.

Kelley Citroni

lives on the third floor, and would rather carry 155 grocery bags at once than make more than one trip from the car.

Michele and Billy Collins

farm Fair Weather Acres in Rocky Hill with their two boys Andrew and Shaun. Billy spends his summers in the fields, avoiding people and conversation whenever possible. Meanwhile, Michele runs the farm market, engaging anyone and everyone in conversation, and speaking for Billy.

Diane Diederich

is a photographer from Union. She built a photo studio to look like a barn on the outside, which is why she is allowed to shoot for CT Food and Farm Magazine.

Gena Golas

spends most days in the kitchen, but on her time off this summer you can find her on a picnic blanket at a farmers' market, hopefully eating an apple cider donut

Laura Graham

after decades of urban European living, will be found blissing out this summer in her vegetable garden filled with heirloom vegetables - some from Select Seeds in Union, and some from Adam's Garden of Eden in Pawcatuck. The rhubarb is a transplant from her family's 1820 farm in East Baldwin, ME.

Winter Caplanson photo

Rebecca Hansen

likes to catch memes before they hatch as the copywriter for KAYAK.com. She is passionate about drinking strong coffee, shopping at used bookstores, and keeping her daughter hydrated.

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Lisa Nichols

is the owner of Right Click Photo & Design, a New Haven-area design and photography studio. She's had the pleasure of designing the pages of this beauty of a mag since issue numero uno! At 48, she got her first tattoo and shocked friends and family when it wasn't of a cat.

Maya Oren

is the visual content creator behind MOJALVO, telling the stories of the culinary and travel industries. When she is not making films (which is not often), she can be found driving on a highway contemplating life, doing yoga, eating, or drinking her fifth coffee of the day.

Rodger Phillips

is the owner and operator of Sub Edge Farm in Farmington and Avon. He, his wife Isabelle, and their children raise 10 acres of U.S.D.A.-certified organic fruits, vegetables, flowers, and herbs.

Rita Rivera

is a New London-based graphic designer and illustrator who should probably drink more water and eat less cupcakes. Her Myers-Briggs is INTJ.

Rich Rochlin,

while not wallowing in the sorrows of family court where he makes his living, finds solace in capturing images of food and his adorable kids, Rex and Ruby. He can often be found bothering chefs like a persistent, feral cat looking for morsels to sustain his endless hunger for all things delicious. Rich makes his home in Farmington, and his office is in West Hartford Center.

John Shyloski

Laura Stone

has had a passion for photography since grade school when she used to train with her Kodak Instamatic on family and friends for "candid photos." What she loves to photograph: weddings, food, and travel locations (especially on summer road trips). What she hates: hearing home improvement contractors say, "Wow, I've never seen anything like this before!" Therefore, she is on the go as much as possible.

Carla Ten Eyck

has been joyfully photographing weddings for the past 15 years all over the world, capturing people, moments, and emotions with style, beauty, and a sense of humor. Her photojournalism field work includes newspapers and the Associated Press. Carla runs her studio out of her renovated childhood home in Hartford’s Historic West End, and she is co-author of the inspirational coffee table book The White Dress: in Color, Wedding Inspiration for the Modern Bride.

Anders and Lydia Vercelli

live in New York City and in their spare time enjoy exploring the world through travel and food. Block Island is among their favorite places.

Amy White

is an educator and freelance writer. She plans to spend her summer writing, traveling, and hanging at her home in Manchester with her husband and their two cats.

is a photographer and Grammy-nominated recording engineer who loves to eat and take photos of everything culinary. Besides photographing for local magazines, restaurants, and chefs and producing a cooking/music show with the creative team at Factory Underground Studios, you'll find him exploring the restaurants and street food of NYC this summer.

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Recipes

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Savory

Dulce de Membrillo – Spanish Quince Paste.....................................pg.111

Sweet

Zia Fiorella's Marmellata di Mela Cotogna – Quince Jam...............pg.105 Quince Tarte Tatin .....................................................................................pg.107

Drinks

The Delivery Route.......................................................................................pg.90 Skyy and Lightning........................................................................................pg.91 Moscow Mule.................................................................................................pg.92

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-William Carlos Williams

Winter Caplanson photo

In summer, the song sings itself.

Connecticut Food & Farm Magazine, Summer 2017, Volume 9  

This way to the elevated Indian street food we love and everything we’re sweet on this summer: Milk House chocolates, artisanal ice cream, a...

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