So G Coffee Roasters

I’M SO GLAD IT’S THE WEEKEND. I have so much fun stuff planned. But that’s not unusual for a weekend in my life. Not trying to be a jerk, just saying – when you ¬†have time off work, MAKE THE MOST OF IT!! ūüėÄ You’ll be glad you did!

I’ve got another special place in CT to share with you all today…

Daybreak Coffee Roasters may be my favorite cafe, but Glastonbury has got another gem that is quite tasty and enjoyable to visit!

Another local cafe that has opened in my area fairly recently (when compared to how long Daybreak has been around) is So. G Coffee Roasters. I have to say they win the award for the most clever name. The cafe is located in South Glastonbury (hence So. G), but when you say the name it sounds like you’re saying “that place is SO Glastonbury” as in “SO G”. I get a kick out of that stuff!

Took this shot back around the holidays!

This quaint coffee shop roasts all their own coffees. They don’t have a lot of flavored varieties, but do have delicious bold and mild blends, as well as several types of loose leaf teas. My friend Kim‘s mom has a cousin located in California who ¬†has their coffee shipped to him there!

The shop has adorable decor and cozy window seating – perfect for me. Oh, and the Wi-fi is FREE!

Food options available cater to both those wanting to keep it light (bananas, fruit cups, wheat bagels) and those wanting to live it up (pastries and chocolate).

I’ve only been here a few times, but each time I walk in I don’t even need to look at the adorable chalk menu board¬†to know what I want. I always get the same thing – nonfat cafe au lait¬†made with the boldest coffee on tap!

In love with this mug.

So G is green too, with 100% recycled napkins and plenty of to-go tumblers and mugs for sale.

Oooh…how about that specialty beverage?! Another photo taken during the holidays.

 This is another local cafe with a welcoming, comforting environment. I adore how almost every person who walks in the door knows the owner. You can tell they are regulars who are really dedicated to this place!

So G Coffee Roasters gets two thumbs up in my book – everything about local cafes that I love!

What’s your favorite thing about local businesses?

CW’s Chops ‘n Catch: Lamb & Wine Dinner

Firstly, I know it’s not Wednesday anymore (thank God), but happy belated Wonky Wednesday – please head over to Heather’s blog to see what I mean, and see me making a fool of myself. You’re welcome.

Secondly, tonight is my last day of night school for the semester. Hallelujah! I am taking summer classes but that doesn’t start until mid-June, so I’m going to enjoy the upcoming 1.5 months of not having to go to class after work. It really, really sucks.

And thirdly, I attended yet another wine and food pairing dinner at CW’s Chops n Catch two Mondays ago (and one Monday ago, but that recap will have to wait). You can read about the last two I attended here and here.

A fellow Glastonbury blogger and foodie, Kevin, joined me for an evening of lamb paired with Cameron Hughes wines.¬†Being a Greek food lover, the over-abundance of lamb didn’t bother me one bit.

First fashion, then food.

Sweater: Forever 21

Earrings/Bracelet: Charlotte Russe

Jeggings: American Eagle

Watch: Fossil

Boots: some really cheap store in Buckland Hills Mall (across from Express, for locals)

Passed appetizer course on my favorite CW’s cutting board

Kevin was kind enough to put up with me being 15 minutes late because I had to shower after sneaking in 30 minutes of Spin!¬†Not bad post-workout-fuel, eh? Homemade tzatziki sauce with warm pita and beer-braised lamb sausage with a brown mustard! I don’t think this pita was homemade, it tasted very store-bought, but the tzatziki was unique and unlike any kind I’ve purchased in a grocery store. Sausage was cooked to perfection, you may see that phrase a lot in this review.

First course

Next up was a pulled lamb shank slider on a house-made Parker House roll with feta fondue, preserved lemon (on the left) and harissa aioli (on the right).  The small plate was paired with Cameron Hughes Lot 266 Los Carneros Pinot Noir (2009), which was quite good but a little lighter than what I was craving with such a hearty course.

The aioli was dynamite and the lemon was a unique accent but the real star of the show was of course the pulled lamb. We were served mint jelly with this course, to be used throughout the meal, and I tried it on a few bites. Quite interesting – not sure if it’s my thing, though I was glad to finally sample the epic lamb and mint pairing I’ve heard so much about. Despite the fact that the roll was freshly baked, crispy on the outside, and not too much bread that it overpowered the lamb, I didn’t finish it all because I wanted to save room for what I figured was coming next…

Between courses

Even with all this food, there is usually bread served at these Chops n Catch dinners to help space out the courses. What I like about the bread is that it and the butter often change with each visit, so you never know what you’ll get. The above crispy sourdough was new, but the butter was not – just plain, though served nice and warm for easy spreading. Kevin and I got into a very long discussion about our pet peeve, cold butter. This was probably fueled by the fact that earlier that day I had written about that very annoyance. Anyways, I had one piece.

Second course

The most unique dish of the evening was the above leg of lamb satay with a green goddess dressing and tempura asparagus. Not exactly sure what was in that dressing (and hearing the name reminded me of Annie’s Goddess dressing, a blog world gem) but it was AMAZING! As you can probably see above, the lamb satay was drizzled with balsamic, which was an amazing flavor combo with every other component of the plate. I adored the crispy exterior of the lamb too – but it was still so nice, pink, and juicy inside. Finally, the asparagus impressed me the most because though it was fried, I could still TELL that I was eating asparagus. So often with fried food, the taste of the food itself is drowned out by oil and breading. Not here!

The course was paired with Cameron Hughes Lot 261 Alexander Valley Cabernet (2009). This vineyard’s bottle prices start at $35, but through Cameron Hughes one can purchase it for $13! I loved this cab far more than others I’ve tried because it had such a strong flavor and wasn’t too light.

Main course

Compared to the other dishes, the presentation of the main course of a simply grilled lamb loin and chop duo with Manchego and potato croquettes looks a bit sad, doesn’t it? But it tasted anything but. Firstly, you can see that the lamb was once again cooked very well – nice and juicy with a slightly charred exterior, just the way I like it. I honestly couldn’t taste a huge difference between the chop and the loin, but it was fun to have a couple of different “forms” of lamb on my plate in one dish anyway. The croquettes were so out of this world…think a gourmet tater-tot filled with fancy cheese. And crispier than a normal tater tot. Yeah, that’s heaven.

This course’s wine pairing, a Cameron Hughes Lot 245 North Coast Zinfandel (2009), had me weary. Typically I don’t like red zin because a) I can’t get white zin out of my head and I openly admit that negatively biases me and b) it’s usually too light. Again, the hearty lamb seemed destined to be paired with a full-bodied red. However, I was pleasantly surprised. It was actually my favorite wine of the evening, and it paired well with both the lamb and the croquettes.

Dessert course

Finally, we have dessert. I didn’t find out what kind of wine was served with it specifically, but there’s not much to talk about because it was a Cameron Hughes Moscato that I did not enjoy at ALL. Not their fault…moscato is far too sweet and far too carbonated for my taste. Bleh! I only took a couple sips, paired with a bite of each part of the above dessert plate, to see how the flavor combos were. Alas, the wine and my dislike for it crowded my judgement of the pairings.

I was wined out by that point anyway (the rep was VERY generous about topping off glasses between courses) and was fine with focusing on the food. And oh man, what a good batch of food it was! On the top is a Greek dessert galaktoboureko and home-made whipped cream. The latter was soo rich, like the Starbucks whipped cream. The Greek pastry was made with the classic phyllo dough of Greek desserts, filled with a tasty custard. Amazing! On the lower part of the plate is Easter bread with yogurt, sprinkled with powdered sugar. The yogurt was plain Greek, my favorite kind! The bread was not too sweet, which is good because the powdered sugar would have been too much.

And we capped off the whole meal with a shooter of ouzo. OPA!!!

Thanks to the always-magnificent Chef Corey Wry for designing and cooking up a fantastic menu!

Do you like lamb? Have you ever tried ouzo? Which of these courses would you want to try most?

CT Veg Fest 2012!

Can you believe Connecticut didn’t have a vegetarian and healthy living festival of some kind in the Hartford area until this year? Me neither! Although if you’d asked me a few years ago, I probably would have scoffed at the idea of attending such an event.

Luckily my eyes have been opened to the wonderful world of my adventurarian lifestyle ūüėČ and even though I am not vegetarian or vegan, I still enjoy reading about other eating “lifestyles” and trying vegetarian and vegan foods. They are just as delicious as the rest! No bias here. After all, that’s what being adventurarian is all about. And that’s why I was beyond excited to attend the 1st Annual CT Vegetarian and Healthy Living Festival this past Sunday!

Registration and donation area.

Entry was free, but monetary or non-perishable food donations were encouraged, and it looked like a great turnout for both. I think that ideas for healthy living should be accessible for all, so Veg Fest organizers hit the nail on the head by making the donations optional. I donated money because I am able to do so, but those who cannot should still be able to attend something like this and learn about the options they have!

Erika, Bethany, and I.

I started out the event solo, but ended up meeting up with my blend Bethany and her sweet cousin Erica after they got out of the sessions they were attending when I arrived. Erica was awesome and even knows Jenn of She’s a Fit Chick, who was one of the first bloggers I ever discovered and is also an original founder of FitFluential! Small world.

I knew I was in the right place (the CT Convention Center in Hartford, to be precise) when I walked in, looked to my right, and saw this guy grinding out fresh wheatgrass shots!

I didn’t even know CT grew chickpeas!

I am not a huge beauty product hoarder (lucky for me, though I do hoard plenty of magazines about them) so I didn’t spend too many time at the all-natural beauty product booths, but there were plenty of them.

Soaps from CT Natural Soapworks.

Tower of yummy Fanciful Fox soap flavors.

The mother and daughter duo working this booth were handing out free soap “scraps”, so I got a piece of the green bar above, called Wise Guy.

Soap doubling as a centerpiece?! Gorgeous!

Loofahpalooza!

Just one variety of product offered by Hartford-based company Soul Purpose.

The small part of me that doesn’t have to be practical ALL the time paid $1 for one of the blue crystals below. The girl at the booth had so much faith in their ability to absorb only positive energy – I guess this specific kind is often used to clear negative energy from other crystals, that’s how many “good vibes” it carries. So I figured, why the heck not?! I tucked it into a pocket in my purse and have been carrying it with me since.

Erica, Bethany, and I also got to enjoy a free yoga class Рthey were running every hour on the hour! I had gone to Step that morning and my quads were sore from doing leg-heavy workouts the couple days before that, so the yoga felt good, and it was another great way to give free access to an activity that many may have been unfamiliar with, averse to trying, or doubtful of. Yay yoga!

Lots of speakers and cooking demos going on too, including a Smoothie Workshop for kiddos!

Whole Foods kids smoothie demo.

Now, let’s get to the products! I love that this event gave so many passionate vendors the chance to get the word out about the foods they have worked so hard to create. All that many of them want is shelf space at a grocery store – it seems like little to ask for, but shelf space is actually VERY scarce with all the big corporations out there (and their big wallets) – getting even a little bit of shelf space is a BIG deal. If you ever attend one of these kinds of events and try a product you love, suggest to your grocery store that they start carrying it – it often takes the voice of the people to convince a store that they should stock a product, because of course they exist to make money, and want to be positive it will sell.

I don’t use dressings on my salads at home (I find that I really don’t need it at all, since my beasts include about 10-15 ingredients on average, many liquid-based, and “marinate” in my fridge overnight) but if I did, I’d be all about purchasing one of the above bottles of Wholesome Creations salad dressings. The green tea and ginger dressing on a cup of greens blew me away.

Mama Micki’s was sold out of all three varieties of their vegan cookies¬†by noon – a good sign for this all-natural bakery that is trying to get into stores! I sampled all three varieties – molasses, chocolate orange walnut, and oatmeal raisin sunflower seed (pictured above). I’m a sucker for a good molasses cookie, but have to declare the chocolate orange walnut the winner for its unique, complex flavor.

Soya Foods of MA had a generous amount of flavors of their Creative Chef Tofettis for patrons to sample Рall of these are made with non-GMO soybeans!

I tried BBQ, Brazilian, Hot & Spicy, Lemon Garlic, Jamaican Jerk, Teriyaki, and a faux “chicken nugget” as well (not pictured).

Seitan is a meat substitute I’d never had and I loved how it perfectly mimicked the texture and taste of ground beef. Upton’s Naturals of Chicago offered traditional, chorizo, and Italian varieties. I tried all three and especially loved the chorizo – it would go great in tacos or atop a big pile of nachos.

Bethany and I totally adored these Kathy’s Kitchen SuperSeedz. Kathy and her partner had plenty of flavors of these pumpkin seeds on hand, as you can see from the sign above!

I sampled Original Curry, Coco Joe, and Cinnamon & Sugar. The Original Curry flavored seeds were awesome and the chocolate-y coffee flavor of the Coco Joe was perfectly balanced. The Cinnamon & Sugar were good (can’t go wrong with that combo) but not nearly as remarkable as the first two flavors.

Local chip-makers Pan de Oro of Hartford (I sent a bag to Diana for foodie pen pals this month) partnered up with Good Neighbors of NH (love that) and provided a carb-tastic vehicle for sampling of salsas, salads, and hummus.

I’ve bought Good Neighbors black bean spread before at Whole Foods and it was awesome. I didn’t know they sold falafel too – or as they call them, veggie burgers? Check out the cute snack pack offerings as well!

Love me some tabouli! I may be one of the few bloggers who can take or leave quinoa but it was still tasty. And LOTS of salsa choices, hand it over!

Oh geez, where do I begin?! I wish I hadn’t downed my hummus samples so quickly because I honestly didn’t taste a ¬†huge difference between the flavors I tried (cilantro jalapeno, spicy chipotle, a couple others I can’t recall). However, the flavor I tasted was certainly delightful.

CT Veg Fest = free lunch!

One of MANY courses.

Check out this nifty magnet Bethany snagged for me from a booth! I notice the Splenda I use at home isn’t on there, oops, haha…

One of my favorite products of the day came from The Olive Oil Factory of Waterbury. Gourmet olive oils and balsamic¬†vinegar¬†seem to be “all the rage” now, and I’m certainly glad because that means more and more unique varieties are coming out.

I opted to receive my samples on vegan brown rice bread in the spirit of Veg Fest, but a non-vegan bread was also available. I started with the below chocolate balsamic – it blew me away! Holy crap. I just wanted to drizzle it (or pour it…) over a mound of fresh strawberries.

I also tried blueberry, lime, and peach balsamic. All were so, so fantastic. The blueberry balsamic drizzled on a scone or muffin would seriously be the perfect weekend breakfast.

Another favorite of the day? Boston-based Biena Snacks Roasted Chickpeas! These have plain-Greek-yogurt-mix-in written ALL over them.

The Sea Salt flavor was good but compared to the other two, Lime & Chili and Cinnamon Maple, it was just blah. That’s because the other two flavors were so amazing! I’ve always wanted to try roasted chickpeas and am glad I finally was able to.

Pan de Oro had their own booth of course, but by the time I got there they had run out of all their new varieties of chips (I missed out on the GARLIC!!!). I still wasted no time in sampling the original flavor. Erica had stopped by earlier than me and purchased two bags of the garlic chips!

They were kind enough to sell their chips at a discounted price at the event (many vendors were doing this).

The Simply Bar is probably the most impressive bar I’ve ever seen, from a nutritional stats standpoint.¬†I tried the Cocoa Coffee, which contains real caffeine, and enjoyed its taste as well! These bars are VERY low in sugar and saturated fat, unlike most bars I’ve seen, which remind me of candy bars.

Being a long-time blog reader, I’ve seen Sun Warrior and Vega proteins all over the place. I’ve never been that interested in protein powder though, so have never bought any. Perfect opportunity to sample some – expertly prepared by VeganProteins.com!

I liked the vanilla Sun Warrior protein shake! The desire to drink any more than a few sips, though, was not there.

And I had no desire to drink another sip again of the chocolate Vega protein shake. Sorry – not for me! However, I know that protein powders are something that is enjoyed by many a blogger and blog reader, and it’s great that there are so many vegan options. My twin Heather is a huge Vega fan and uses their powder to make protein pudding oats almost every day!

The Taza chocolate above had an amazing flavor different from any chocolate I’ve ever tried, because it is made from stone-ground cacao nibs. Due to the manufacturing process, the cacao nibs are not completely ground up, which leaves a lot of the cacao flavor in the bars. It’s very complex and hearty.

And check out all the benefits of Chocholistic chocolate! Its creator is Kenzie Harrick, a Certified Health Counselor with a sweet tooth and a passion for healthy eats. Those two things drove her to create “the only chocolate that you can eat every day that will improve your health while you eat it”. Like the Taza, the complex, rich flavor left me feeling very satisfied. I’d take this stuff over a regular candy bar any day (even a Twix!)

Cedar’s is the hummus brand of choice in my house and they passed out a ton of these nifty snack packs! Can’t wait to munch on mine.

Coconut butter is another product that’s been very popular in the blog world, but I hadn’t been able to try it until now. Nature’s Approved had the great idea of serving it up with a dallop of chocolate atop a graham cracker – just as good as any s’more! Well OK, maybe not, because there’s nothing like a charred-to-a-crisp marshmallow. But this was darn close.

Of course Vitamix was there, because it’s not a food event without Vitamix!!

I sampled a handful of freeze-dried corn from Raw Foods Central. It was really good – nice and sweet. I wonder how the peas would taste!

Litchfield based Boxed Goodes Pantry served their herb dips with fresh-cut bread. Not only did they taste delicious, but the packaging was so gorgeous and colorful. A set of jars in a kitchen filled with these herbs would really brighten up the place.

What a FUN event! Bethany and I are heading to Wesleyan University this weekend to attend 2012 Foodstock next. Loving all these FOODIE conferences!

Clearly we were prepared to get our yoga on!

Have you ever been to a vegetarian and/or healthy living festival?

Have you ever tried any of the products I sampled?