Taste of the Nation New Haven: Sweets and Drinks
So continues my recap of Taste of the Nation: New Haven – check out my first recap of the savory food, and an explanation of what the organization that threw the event, Share Our Strength, is all about.
The above delectable treats are from The SoNo Baking Company & Cafe, a South Norwalk small business that takes the time to visit farmer’s markets and sell their specialty cupcakes, biscotti, tarts, and other desserts.
I didn’t sample any of these because I passed by this table at the very beginning of the evening when I was searching for savory food for dinner, but aren’t they beautiful?
I was going to bypass these cupcakes from Sugar Bakery & Sweet Shop – until I learned that they were filled with cannoli filling. OK, had to have a couple bites of one after hearing that!
Passed on a sample from Karma Tequila since I mostly wanted to sample wines instead, and when I mix wine with liquor it often results in…unpleasant feelings. But I was pretty impressed with their table display.
Similar to Blue Bottle Coffee in Williamsburg, Willoughby’s Coffee & Tea was serving up individually brewed cups of joe. I didn’t have any (not a fan of coffee with dinner food!) but did grab one of those bags of chocolate covered coffee beans in the basket. I really want to try them stirred into plain Chobani for a healthy dessert – how amazing would that be?!
The Farmer’s Cow (I’m a big fan, and have visited them at a couple other events) was serving their freshly-made ice cream in between two delectable, fresh-baked cookies. I tried the coffee ice cream in between two oatmeal cookies (not the one pictured above). They are thinking about selling these ice cream cookie sandwiches – Marissa and I gave them VERY positive feedback in hopes that we would convince them to do so. If you think it’s a good idea, tell them!
I don’t usually drink champagne, but really enjoyed the Mionetto champagne, my first beverage of the evening. I had the Prosecco Brut – it was nice and dry. Marissa really liked the Moscato Dolce.
These gorgeous lemon desserts from La Cuisine Cafe didn’t taste as good as they looked. I think we hyped them up a bit too much – we passed the table in the beginning of the evening, and waited til the end to actually revisit and sample one. We were hoping for a more subtle lemon flavor among other flavors, but all we tasted was lemon. A bit of a bummer!
Gia Cellars poured me a red made with a grape I’d never tried before – Lagar do Castelo Albarino 2009. Very good!
The Henriot table was concentrating mostly on their champagnes, but I was way more interested in the wine! In particular, the Bouchard Bourgogne Pinot Noir 2009, pictured above left.
Cline Cellars had a lot of tasty wine options. I adored the Cashmere 2010, a silky red blend. Also sampled and enjoyed the Mourvedre Ancient Vines 2010.
Slocum & Sons didn’t have too much left by the time we made it to their table, but Marissa and I still tried one of our favorite wines of the entire evening, Johanesshof-Reinisch Pinot Noir vom Steinfeld 2008. One of the most unique Pinot Noirs I’ve ever tasted, from Germany!
This crispy rice pudding was really unique! I was impressed. The rice pudding itself wasn’t the most flavorful thing in the world, but kept my tastebuds interested. I mostly enjoyed how the crispy Triscuit-like shavings on top and how they contrasted so well with the texture of the pudding.
Don’t those look so cute?! They were being served up by a New Haven Public Schools “lunch lady” Cheryl Barbara, who actually was crowned champion on an episode of Food Network’s “Chopped”!
I don’t know what this is. I never found out. I never got to try it – when we came back to do so, these were gone. But I want them.
Hooker Brewery is located in Bloomfield, fairly close to my office, so a lot of my co-workers will get together on the first and third Fridays of each month to take a tour, because on these Fridays, they offer beer tasting. I tried the less hoppy beer on tap, Irish Red. Still too hoppy for me…carbonation isn’t my friend.
I’ve seen one of the reps (on the left in the photo below) from Ripe Cocktail Mixers doing a sampling at Sonoma, but I was in a hurry that day and ran right by him with a quick “no thanks” (he totally called me on it). I don’t like a lot of juice in my cocktails, and part of the reason is because so many juices used at bars and restaurants are pure added sugar and other artificial ingredients. I was curious to see if I could taste the difference between those juices and Ripe juices, made with ingredients like pure fruit and veggie juices, spices, and agave.
I opted for a gin cocktail. Still was too sweet for my tastes, but not in a fake-tasting way. Just too sweet because I like my drinks strong, like an old man (or a cougar?) But for someone who likes juicy drinks, Ripe’s mixers are a healthier mixing option that would surely leave the drinker less prone to the pounding headaches that mixers like added-sugar juices and diet sodas can cause. Trust me, I know. Since kicking my rum-and-diet go-to bar drink to the curb, I’ve been way less headache-y after a night out.
Aside from a really cool carved fruit display, Thali also sampled a unique-sounding Indian dessert, Gulab Jamun. Unfortunately, it tasted a lot like what it looked like – a doughnut ball. Don’t get me wrong, it was really yummy! But I was hoping for a bit of flair that would set it apart from other desserts I’ve tried.
Not a root beer fan, but aren’t these mini root beer floats from Box 63 insanely cute? They would be SO adorable at a summer party.
Westford Hill Distillers is a Connecticut distillery founded in 1997. The founders were inspired by the orchards of the region, and they produce tasty spirits like apple brandy. Marissa and I sampled one of their cocktail offerings.
This was a drink for me, not so much for Marissa. It was strong!!! But also very smooth. I can tell Westford Hill offers quality products.
No, the above photo is not here in error. It’s actually the display from Fig Cooking School, a place in Hamden for students of all skill levels to come and learn the culinary arts and sciences! The “solution” in the beakers and test tubes is actually a lemonade beverage. Way cooler than a pitcher!
It’s true, after all, that cooking IS all about science and chemical reactions!
The student responsible for creating, preparing, and serving the drink recipe did a great job and was nice enough to pose with her display for Marissa and I 🙂
Another student was sampling different kinds of dark chocolate bark – yum! I went straight for the potato chip and pretzel crusted variety. Obviously, right?
I was excited to speak with the rep from Jonathan Edwards, a Connecticut vineyard that has been mentioned on this blog before by contributor Richard, the Editor of CTFoodAndWine.com. I learned a lot about events the vineyard has coming up too, including a Culinary Showdown between CT and RI chefs in May that I hope to attend. I was not only impressed by the activities offered at Jonathan Edwards, but by their wine as well. I really enjoyed the Stone Table Red and am anxious to try the 2008 Napa Valley Dark, a port-style wine (I LOVE PORT).
Timothy Cipriano, Event Director (and man responsible for me being able to attend the event) told Marissa and I when we met him in person that we absolutely HAD to check out the Copper Beech Inn table. By the time we got there, the above tray was all that was left, but MAN was Tim right. Those PB & Jelly Bites blew us away. I popped one into my mouth and felt like I was eating a mom-made PB&J. The entire experience reminded me of the scene in Charlie & The Chocolate Factory (the older, amazing one) when Violet eats the gum that tastes like an entire meal. Anyone else remember that?
There used to be a Gelato Giuliana in my town. I only went once or twice, and have to admit that I prefer the TCBY that has since taken its place, especially since our Whole Foods offers a ton of delicious gelato flavors within walking distance of the old location. But I do love me some gelato, and even though I was just quite full at this point, I had to have some. This was the only line Marissa and I waited in all evening, but was very worth it! I had half PB chocolate and half coffee. I definitely finished more of it than I had initially intended to! Mmm.
Ha, finally you see me in a photo. This was the only one I was in all night!
Thanks again to Timothy for giving me the chance to attend this event. It was truly a dream come true!
Which of the desserts that I sampled would you want to try the most?