Wordless Wednesday: Taste of New Haven’s Theater District Tour

In September I visited New Haven for my third Taste of New Haven tour, in the city’s Theater District. I owe you guys a recap but am low on time, hence a lovely Wordless Wednesday. Thank goodness for days of the week that start with “w”, right Meg? Sorry for no mention of Halloween, but I’m saving that til Friday (mua ha ha suspense).

Started out with a cocktail sampling at The Wine Thief with my pals Ripe!

Taste of New Haven owner/tour guide Colin Caplan, Jeff from Ripe, and moi!

Our first restaurant stop, Temple Grille, had something MADE for me…a build your own salad card!

Honestly one of the worst cocktails I’ve EVER tasted. I think it was a Cranberry Vodka but I tasted Cranberry Blah.

However the food was fantastic! Waffle & sweet potato fries, plus an ahi tuna sandwich on some delish wheat bread.

My favorite spot on the tour – Kitchen Zinc! No surprise since my fave food is pizza. The white bean salad on the left (with roasted tomatoes, basil pesto, roasted radicchio, pearl mozz) blew my mind.

The classic Margherita pizza! Adored this place’s thin crust.

My favorite pie – the Broccoli Rabe with roasted garlic, ricotta salata, mozzarella, and local Salemme hot pepper flakes. It had quite a kick!

My (first) plate.

Of course Jeff was my tour companion!

I actually enjoyed this fall beer enough to go back for a second glass!

The tour included a visit to Elm City Kettle Corn on the streets of Yale campus!

I don’t even really like kettle corn, but this was pretty yummy! We all got samples!

Stops at historical sites are scattered throughout the tour. Colin has written books on New Haven and knows so much!

We each got to try a gourmet Chocopologie chocolate. I chose the one with the dried rose petal!

Our last stop was Kelly’s, a gastropub that had pretty good food AND accommodated me with wine instead of beer! I had a mini salad, pulled pork sandwich, and fried brie.

Our last bite was mochi from The Mochi Store! I thought it was okay but this was Jeff’s fave part of the tour.

If you’re free tonight, head to the Taste of New Haven website to register for the Trick-Or-Eat Spooky Tour! It starts at 7PM and runs to the spooky hour of 11PM. Nosh on scary good eats and learn about the city’s haunted history!

Have you ever been on a food tour?

Which of these bites would you have wanted to try most?

Tuesday Tidbits

How are you all doing?! Thank you for the compliments on yesterday’s Blo West Hartford review! I wish I could tell you my hair looked like that every day, but alas, right now it is in a messy bun. And here’s some proof for you:

Blend run-in!

I am blogging from Daybreak right now because due to Sandy, my workplace has no power (thankfully I do have power at home and we only ended up losing it for an hour last night). As I was settling in here, someone approached me and introduced herself…the lovely lady pictured above, Rachel of Healthy ChicksI met her dad (a local) here awhile ago, and we got to talking and somehow my blog came up. He told me he had a daughter who blogged and lived in Boston, and put me in contact with her via Twitter. She came to stay with him during Sandy and recognized me blogging away – she was even expecting to possibly see me here since, as regular readers know, I am ALWAYS at Daybreak! I loved chatting with her and still can’t get over the coincidence. Never thought when I left this morning that I’d be meeting a blend today!

Tuesday Tidbits

Alliteration, come at me! I have a few pieces of cool information that I want to share with you all today:

The beautiful blogger (and fellow Vol, yes I consider myself one even though I didn’t go to UT) Sloane of Strength in Freedom is starting a campaign that is going to be an amazing support system for many girls – I just know it. The campaign is called Freedom From Perfection and is all about being able to share (anonymously if you wish) the thoughts you may have that put pressure on you to be perfect. Whether you suffer from disordered eating or are just sick of those occasional “should” statements that pop up in your mind, you can participate. Sloane is providing an outlet to be honest about those thoughts, get them out in the open, and push them away! She launched the campaign today, so make sure you check out her vlog that explains the campaigns message – and how to participate!

Next, I wanted to spread the word about something CT locals may be interested in. Yummy Hummy, a New London-based hummus, pesto, and salsa maker, has been mentioned on my blog a few times. I adore their products – so many unique flavors like Carrot & Dandelion Green Pesto, Curry Hummus, and Strawberry Salsa (all of which I’ve tried and love). This November and December, Yummy Hummy is offering a convenient way for local people to regularly receive tubs of their local products – a winter share with pickup at the Wethersfield Winter Farmers’ Market. For just $32, you can get access to four pickups (two in November, two in December). At each pickup, you will receive two containers of your choice. That’s a savings of $1 per container, and pickups are 11/1, 11/15, 12/6, and 12/20. So hurry and sign up! To do so, email Lexy at Lexy@yummyhummydips.com or call her at 860-334-2045.

Finally, I received a FB message from a high school friend letting me know about a product with a mission that I may be interested in. She was right about that, and I want to share it with you guys too. Her friends Alex and Mark previously worked for MANA Nutrition, a non-profit that (along with Unicef) provides ready-to-use-therapeutic food (RUTF) to children around the world with severe acute malnutrition. It’s basically a powerful dose of nutrients that these little bodies so desperately need to get them back to a level at which complete development can occur. Now Alex and Mark are starting “the TOMS for peanut butter” – Good Spread. They’ve developed a natural peanut butter (just peanuts, organic honey, organic sea salt) and will be donating to MANA funds for one RUTF packet for every one packet of Good Spread PB sold. In order to fund an initial production run that will result in enough PB to last six months, Alex and Mark need to raise $65,000 to fund ingredients, mixing, packaging, design, shipping, and stocking. That’s where WE come in! There are 7 days left in their Good Spread Fixed Funding Campaign. Even if you are only able to give a little, every donation counts, so click on that link if you are interested in reading more about and/or supporting the cause!

And that’s all I’ve got for you guys today. Or not “all”, because that was a lot! I hope that those affected by Sandy are safe and if you are without power, I hope it is not for long. I’m off to do some homework…maybe.

Have you ever run into a blend somewhere unexpectedly?

How are you faring after Sandy? Were you affected in any way?

Have you ever signed up for a local food share of any kind?

What do you think about Sloane’s campaign and/or Good Spread?

Getting Blown…At Blo West Hartford!

I’m glad that you all enjoyed the guest post from Amanda, founder of Grow Soul Beautiful. The winner of her giveaway for a set of Vision Quest Photo Assignment cards with exercises on self-love is Sarah!

Thank you to all who entered! I will be contacting Sarah for shipping information. And remember, you don’t need photo cards to practice self love!

I can’t thank you all enough for the supportive comments you left on Friday’s post about my GI stuff. After leaving about three messages and going by the GI doctor’s office in PERSON (and having to leave work due to more nausea…I hate all the work I’m missing), the doc called me on Friday night at about 6PM to tell me he was putting in an order for me to get an abdominal ultrasound. I went the very next morning (thank goodness for Saturday hours) hoping to make an appointment or walk-in right then…and I was able to do the latter! I got the ultrasound done and will get results back once the world comes out of Hurricane-Sandy-shut-down-mode.

(By the way, no work today due to Hurricane Sandy, and no class tomorrow night either…woo hoo!)

All day Friday and also Saturday morning I felt SO down. I literally have never felt that negative in my life, and it really scared me. I kept thinking about things I usually enjoy doing, and they didn’t seem pleasant to me. Nothing seemed appealing. But Saturday I awoke nausea-free. I went to the gym and did Group Power, because all I was in the mood to do was angrily lift heavy stuff. And it definitely helped. I walked out of the gym and had texts from four supportive friends and family members checking on me. I took a deep breath and told myself to shower, go home, and take advantage of a day of feeling well. So I did just that, and as I was putting on some makeup and packing up my homework for a Daybreak trip, I definitely felt like my mood was on the up-and-up. I kept remembering Tina’s post about her attitude when she first developed colitis and felt inspired to give myself “a kick in the ass”. Moping will not do anything. And stressing only makes me feel more sick – so what’s the point?!

Now, let’s get to the meat of today’s innuendo-titled post.

I was also lucky enough on Saturday afternoon to have my bad mood blown away thanks to Stacey Cohen, the owner of Blo West Hartford in Blueback SquareYou may recall that I hosted a giveaway for a free blow dry last month. Well, I also received a free blow dry myself! I was saving it for something special, and had an Old-Hollywood themed Halloween party to attend Saturday night. I thought that a the Holly-Would style out of Blo’s Hair Menu would be the perfect choice!

The hair menu’s depiction of the style. Source

I was psyched to finally get to meet Stacey, who introduced me to my stylist, Allison. She was such a sweetheart and I enjoyed chatting with her! She and all the other employees of Blo are licensed hair stylists and can do everything (cuts, colors, etc), but Blo only does blow drys and up-dos.

My “before” shot – and that’s Allison on the right!

The decor of Blo is so stylish and glam. I love the white and pink color scheme…and check out the refreshments!

Yes, those are mini cupcakes!

Allison was sure to take into consideration my preferences, like where I wanted my part and how “big” I wanted the hairdo to turn out. However, I left most of the decisions up to her. Just ask my sister, who is always getting frustrated with my hair laziness…I do not have the patience to do anything like part my hair when I comb it. I’ve got places to be! And I’m certainly no expert, so I let the expert present (Allison) call most of the shots. I certainly don’t regret that decision. Just LOOK at the finished product!

Um, can I PLEASE get a blow dry every day of my life?! Now I know why my blend Maria is obsessed! The style did not take any time at all for Allison to complete and it turned out just as I had hoped! I walked out of Blo with bounce in my hair AND my step.

Bathroom selfie, when home alone gotta do what ya gotta do.

Unfortunately my party plans did not work out, but I rallied and went out to dinner with my friends Geno and Casey (who also happen to be the parents of a couple of my other friends) to one of my favorite places everRooftop 120! I’d recently purchased their Groupon and also had to go somewhere fabulous to show off my glamorous look!

Wearing a pearl necklace my grandfather got me for high school graduation.

Myspace style.

I had an amazing drink (Knob Creek Manhattan) and meal (Moroccan-Glazed Chicken) and my stomach was well-behaved. I was so thankful for the great friends I was able to spend the evening with!

A trio made in heaven – meal, drink, me!

Moroccan-glazed chicken with green olive puree, Russian banana potatoes, and cherry bomb carrots.

Me, Casey, and Geno!

Andres, my favorite bartender ever, was working (thankfully) and dressed as a mad mixologist for Halloween! Perfect costume for a talented mixologist like himself.

Props and all!

Andres’s lab!

Even the next morning (Sunday) I tried to get as much out of my blow dry as possible. I carefully put my hair in a ponytail before going to the gym, and when I went to Daybreak after to do homework (and procrastinate), I just put on a Forever 21 beanie and rocked my loose waves that still remained!

My blow dry may be gone now, but my memory of my positive experience sure isn’t! I totally recommend heading over to Blo West Hartford to get blown, whether you’re experienced or a first-timer 😉 Call 860-231-0443 to make your appointment, and you can email them at blowesthartford@blomedry.com. Like Blo on FB and follow them on Twitter too!

I received my blow dry free courtesy of Blo West Hartford. However, all thoughts and opinions are my own.

Have you ever gotten a blow dry?

What was the best part of your weekend?

Being a Squeakier Wheel

Don’t forget to enter the giveaway from Amanda, founder of Grow, Soul, Beautiful, for a set of self-love photo cards! Because everyone can use some tools to remind yourself of why you’re amazing!

I’ve felt pretty lost the last few days due to the off-and-on GI issues I’m continuing to have. Turns out that bacteria they found in my tests rarely causes symptoms and often comes up in those kinds of small trace amounts – so it likely isn’t the cause of my symptoms. I went to a GI doctor Wednesday, and it happened to be one of those days during which I felt OK. This really bad nausea comes and goes and it was my luck that I visited the specialist on a day when I was experiencing no symptoms. He took a look at me, felt my stomach, the usual initial stuff…and declared I should come back in a few weeks because he was hesitant to do further tests at this point.

Of course later that night I was hit with another awful wave of nausea that essentially crippled me. It came on about 10 minutes after I finished dinner and I felt so pathetic. I didn’t even have the strength to floss/brush my teeth, or take a shower. I could barely take out my contacts. Changing into clean clothes took so much effort. I felt like I was going to vomit and I almost wanted to if that would make the feeling go away but instead I fell asleep (with a trash can by my bed)…when I woke up this morning, I still felt nauseous and it continued all day. I pushed it and went to work and class because I just can’t stand missing work (I get paranoid which  stresses me out) and it concerns me to miss a once-a-week class. One class is like three!

But I also know rest is important and while during my search for an answer to these symptoms, I have realized that stress does exacerbate the problem, though I don’t think it’s the sole cause. It just so happens the last two times during these three weeks that my nausea was crippling, I had just had an extremely stressful “breakdown” about an hour or two before. It’s probably not a coincidence.

I cannot find any correlation with food or drink that makes my symptoms come and go. Whenever I’m nauseous my stomach also makes quite angry noises and cramps, but the nausea is number one. I feel like since I’m not having more “blatant” symptoms (you know what I mean), the GI doc kinda brushed me off. But no matter what my symptoms, the bottom line is I’m uncomfortable. On certain days I’ve been feeling quite miserable and lost. I feel as if the things that I enjoy doing, I can no longer enjoy. I can’t make plans with friends because there’s no way of knowing whether or not I’ll feel sick for those plans. And on days I feel fine, I can’t even enjoy it because I wonder when the next bad day is going to be. Yesterday as I lay in bed unable to move, I became so afraid that I’d never find the answer. I know it’s an extreme way of thinking, but I have always had trouble thinking in extremes my entire life. I used to be quite the WebMD-obsessed hypochondriac as a young’n…for example, swollen lymph node? Must be lymphoma! At this point I cannot see an end to this though I know there must be one, there has to be. I sound SO dramatic right now but it’s honestly how I feel, how I am thinking, and at first it was hard to focus on the positive but it’s gotten more and more difficult the last few days.

I also have been feeling quite regretful about not speaking my mind while in the GI doc’s office. My primary doc tried to call him yesterday but he never called her back. She suggested I call him today and was really understanding when I hesitantly asked her, “What should I say?”, and gave me advice on how to speak with him and the receptionists  I’m such a people pleaser and it makes me so bad at being a squeaky wheel. But all I’ve been hearing from others is that you HAVE to speak up and be an advocate for your own health to get doctors to pay attention to you much of the time. So while that’s a shame, if I want to take charge and get this fixed, I have to be a squeakier wheel. I have to put my people-pleasing thoughts aside because the hopeless thoughts I’ve been having the last few days are far worse than those. I have to call back over and over, and be a pain in the ass. A polite pain, but a pain nonetheless. I believe in killing with kindness but I also know that sometimes, nice guys finish last. This might be a case where I need to find balance and speak (squeak?) up – just not yell or be rude!

Of course the blog world is an excellent place to get advice, so now that I’ve poured out way more than I’d planned to, I have to ask…

How do you stay positive when you feel really down?

Does anyone have any advice on dealing with doctors/medical stuff and being a squeaky wheel?

Have you ever had to advocate for your own health, in any situation?

Guest Post – Measure Success on the Inside – Giveaway!

I’m honored to have a very special guest posting for me today – Amanda, the founder of Grow Soul Beautiful. I’m sure you know all about this site from her hugely popular Instagram #YogaADay challenge. I guest posted for her in the past and love doing little post exchanges like this. She even has a giveaway for you! Enjoy and take it away Amanda!

Marathon Finisher Photos

Somewhere along the way over the past 32 years, I turned into one of those people. The fitness freak that runs 9 marathons in 14 months. Don’t ask me how it happened- I certainly didn’t set out with such a fanatical goal. It was probably the culmination and the peak of my need to over-achieve. I’d already proved I could graduate tops in my engineering class. I’d already proved I could land a fabulous job and a handsome husband. I’d already proved I could travel the world, own a fancy house, and run the Houston marathon each January. And yet, somehow, I was still out to prove something to somebody every time I crossed the finish line after 26.2 miles.

It was near the end of this madness that it really started sinking in that life is about more than things I can achieve and prove to others. Despite all the impressive accomplishments and even a satisfying new PR time in the hellacious Vegas Rock ‘n’ Roll marathon, it wasn’t enough. I’d finally swung to the extreme of success by the world’s standards, only to find out I’d been measuring it wrong all all long. It was time for me to re-define success on my own terms.

Grow Soul Beautiful - Yoga Photography Photos

I could whip out calculus formulas like nobody’s business, but couldn’t find an ounce of creativity inside. I could pound out all those miles of running, but I still hated my body and could barely touch my toes. I had the dream life on the outside, yet I was empty, scared, and hollow on the inside. Slowly, week by week, I started a journey of self-discovery and doing a lot of inside work instead of outside work. Journaling, coaching, vision boards, retreats and e-courses helped me find myself, re-define how I wanted success to look in my life, find ways to ignite my creativity, how to trust myself and my intuition, and most importantly, why self-love is the most important thing I could ever accomplish.

Self-Love Self-Care Creativity Inspiration Health

To say it’s been life-changing is an understatement. It’s not some giant shift I noticed one day, but it’s gradual slow, evolution of how I see myself and what healthy means to me. It’s more than fitting in my skinny jeans, running marathons, or even being successful by the world’s standard. Healthy is about body, soul, mind, and spirit. I now place as much importance on meditating as I do track workouts. I value stretching myself artistically as much as I do stretching my body during yoga. I avoid filling my heart and mind with bad thoughts and experiences as much as I avoid sticking toxic and unsavory things in my mouth. My health is now evaluated beyond the physical to include my emotional well-being, my spirituality, my sexuality, my relationships, my inner creative genius, and my thought life and connection to self.

Photography Creativity Inspiration Prompts

Over the last year, the idea of Grow Soul Beautiful was borne out of my passion to share with others that health is more than exercise and self-love is more important than achievements. I wanted to encourage and inspire readers to spend just as much effort making their inside beautiful as they do their outside. My passions are yoga & photography- both incredible outlets to connect the mind+body, nurture the soul, and encourage us to be playful and creative. I strongly believe that we can share stories about ourselves and capture valuable memories through simple photos, and the power of photography, especially self-portraits, can nourish our creative juices.


I’m so excited to give away a set of Vision Quest Photo Assignment Cards with 36 prompts for Personal, Spiritual, and Artistic Growth to one lucky reader. Entries close tomorrow (10/26/12, Friday) at 11:59PM EST. To enter, you can do the following and leave a comment for each:

  • Comment here with your favorite yoga pose (mandatory).
  • Follow @GrowSoulBeauty on Twitter and comment here saying you did.
  • Follow Grow, Soul, Beautiful on Pinterest and comment here saying you did.
  • Follow Grow, Soul, Beautiful on Google+ and comment here saying you did.
  • Follow @GrowSoulBeautiful on Instagram and comment here saying you did.

General Giveaway Rules: No Purchase Necessary. This giveaway is only open to residents of the continental United States. The email addresses that are collected for this giveaway will only be used for the purpose of contacting the winner and will never be given out to anyone nor sold. The winner will be randomly chosen and contacted via email. The winner will have 72 hours to respond. Please make sure you check your junk mail folder.

Thank you to Amanda for the beautiful post and inspiring message – and the lovely giveaway! Good luck to all who enter!

Tuesday Treasures: Foodie Edition

I’m so happy that you all enjoyed my recap of the CT NOW Love Your Body 5K! Not only am I proud to have run it in less than 30 minutes, but I am still feeling inspired by the message behind the event. Being surrounded by so many others who share my passion for self love is pretty powerful.

I went to visit Heather a couple of weeks ago (you can read about some of our shenanigans on her blog) and came home with some amazing new memories created with her, her boyfriend Matty, and her best friend Raquel. But I also came home with far less money (lose) and a crapload of foodie treasures (win). Obviously I decided to share said treasures with you today just so I could use alliteration in this post title.

Of course whenever visiting Heather, we make it a point to visit Wildflour, a vegan bakery, cafe, and juice bar, while blogging in bliss. The vegan eats at this place are incredible and if you are ever in the Providence, RI area, I highly recommend passing on any of the restaurants by the mall and making the short drive to Pawtucket, RI to visit Wildflour (and the vegan restaurant next door, Garden Grille). Whenever I go there I leave with $30-$50 worth of goodies to take home and devour (as slowly as I can because I want it to last). This trip was no different. Here’s my haul:

  • a slice of whole wheat cheese-less butternut squash & broccoli flatbread
  • pineapple coconut jerky (YES)
  • raw garlic tomato kale chips (so far I’ve tried this flavor, garlic, and pizza…must try salt & vinegar and nacho still)
  • soba noodles with slaw (bottom left)
  • tofu tuna-style salad topped with carrots, served over greens (bottom right)

I threw MANY of these goodies into my lunch salad beasts and am in fact still working through the soba noodles (my first time having them and they are very interesting but it’s taking me awhile to use them since I’m not a huge noodle person). Pictured above is the entire container of the tofu “tuna” salad, thrown into a bowl and amped up with more greens and veggies. It was incredible!

I dreamed of dipping the pineapple coconut jerky into plain Chobani from the moment I purchased it, and that’s just what I did for a nighttime snack. However I was foolish to think the four pieces of jerky above would be enough with all that Chobani. I ended up polishing off the whole bag on that fine evening 🙂

The flatbread was a great carby option for me this past Saturday when my stomach wasn’t feeling well, and I enjoyed half the kale chips on the way home from Heather’s (great road trip snack) and half at work one day while at my desk typing away.

I’ve tried the Dino Smoothie (almond butter, banana, almond milk, spinach, kale, blueberry) at Wildflour before and though I ADORE it, I wanted to go for something new and had a mean green craving! So this time while blogging there I snacked on the Sillyantro (spinach, kale, parsley, cucumber, OJ, ginger). The ginger was just what my sensitive stomach  needed and the OJ was the perfect hint of fruit to balance out those greens. I wish a juice bar like this existed near me!

I always get a large black slow-pour coffee and vegan scone to keep me company as I blog with Heather, but they didn’t have my usual (spinach and mushroom) that day. No worries, another savory beauty awaited me…the above broccoli cheddar (vegan of course) scone. Holy moly! I always dip my scone in that heavenly coffee and was happy to try a new flavor.

Wildflour was also bustin’ out the free samples that day. I’m not a huge raspberry fan but the above gluten-free razberry cheesecake brownie sample rocked my world. The real star though was a sample of this beauty…

That seems like a steep price but I’d say it’s worth every penny. The above pumpkin cheesecake is made with tofu and Heather promised it’d make me swoon. My BB never breaks a promise!

The two of us also made a fun little trip to Whole Foods, where I happened upon a gem I’ve been anxiously awaiting to try since I first heard about it a month ago…the limited edition Cedar’s PUMPKIN SPICE HUMMUS! I also purchased two squeeze packs of Justin’s Honey and Vanilla Almond Butters – perfect for sampling these new-to-me flavors. Heather also gifted me with a jar of garlic-stuffed olives she had at her house, because she knows olive garlic (haaaaa).

I have been dipping many-a-vegetable into the hummus. So incredible. I love dipping savory food into a slightly-sweet dip. Last night I was even dipping chicken into it.

I was pretty proud of the below epic snack combo that I came up with at work one day last week. I peeled the banana, put vanilla almond butter on each bite, and topped it off a pretzel stick. Legendary! I just finished the vanilla yesterday and next up will be the honey AB.

Finally, Heather, Matty, and I ventured to Trader Joe’s right before I went home so that she could do some grocery shopping and I could shop for things I didn’t need.

  • BBQ Popped Potato Chips – SO MANY CHIPS IN A SERVING #win
  • Nacho Kale Chips – Only $4…the Wildflour bag I got was about $8. Just to give you an idea of how crazy this deal is.
  • Savory Thin Mini Edamame Crackers – These kinda remind me of rice crackers. We’ll see how they are!
  • Balela Middle Eastern Salad – All things Caitlin. Chickpeas, cilantro, tomatoes, black beans, and fabulous flavor. This stuff has made it into all my salads and I’ll be sad when it goes bye-bye.
  • Olive Tapenade – WOW I love olives and this has been great in my salads, on bread, on meat, you name it. Another sad face when this guy goes.
  • Hot & Sweet Mustard – I’ve heard so much about this gem from many favorite bloggers like Katie! I am a mustard fiend and am gonna bust this open when I finish my current jar.

And okay, I was in Massachusetts in the company of TJ’s wine. So much CHEAP wine. In CT, our grocery stores can’t sell wine (we only just got Sunday sales, talk about behind on the times). So I picked up the above three bottles of Charles Shaw (Cabernet, Merlot, Shiraz) for $2.99 each and the Blue Fin 2011 Pinot Noir for $3.99. You may recall that I sampled the Cab recently and was super impressed. Can’t wait to give the Merlot and Shiraz a spin. Also had the Pinot Noir and wow, I sure can see why it was a whole dollar more expensive 😛 GREAT stuff and I don’t even usually like Pinot Noir (too light).

Mother-daughter wine glass sizes 🙂

FINALLY my last Tuesday treasure in foodie land is the below gem from my town’s farmers’ market. I spontaneously stopped by on Saturday after the 5K (notice my Team #AmazingMe tee!) since it’s right by my usual weekend study spot, Daybreak Coffee Roasters. Can you believe this guy was just $3?! He was in a bucket with a bunch of other smaller butternut squash that were the same price. NO brainer, I picked out the biggest squash in the pile! Just to make my girl Lisa proud of me. And apparently it was the last day of the market so good thing I stopped by! Hello fate.

Oh how I love a vegetable that’s bigger than my head.

My mom is away for the week but once she returns, we have big plans for this big squash. I hear that the skin tastes tres gross so does anyone have any tips on easy squash peeling-and-roasting? Who has some recipes I can try? I already know I want to do quesadillas but need more ideas because this is one big squash!

Which of my Wildflour goodies would you like to munch (or sip) on most?

What was your last gem of a find from Whole Foods and/or TJ’s?

Tell me about your most recent farmers’ market purchase!

CT NOW Love Your Body 5K

Hello, Monday readers! I hope your weekends were wonderful. Mine was pretty good! I’m going to start this post off with a tummy update. I have been experiencing nausea, stomach cramping, and other GI stuff off-and-on for almost three weeks now. After my first two frustrating doctor’s visits (during which I was told it was a virus), I finally had a third appointment with my regular doctor. It’s been a lot of waiting for test results, but I’m happy to report that I’m that much closer to an answer to this whole mess. I was just hoping to test positive for SOMETHING and I got a call on Friday afternoon reporting to me that, low and behold, I had. My tests revealed the presence of a bacteria that can cause the on-and-off symptoms I’ve been experiencing and there is an antibiotic that can treat it. I immediately felt flooded with relief. I honestly was going to be panicky if my tests had shown nothing wrong. Images of being a Dr. House impossible-to-diagnose case have been flashing through my mind.

Of course, if this fine man was treating me, maybe I could keep a positive mindset. Source.

The antibiotics that can treat this bacteria tend to have side effects of even worse nausea though, so my doctor does not want to put me on them until they get the last of my test results back (hopefully on Monday). Once it’s confirmed that I have tested negative for everything else except this one bacteria, I will be treated for it. They don’t want me on these antibiotics unless I have to be, especially since it is so important for me to feel the best I possibly can so that I can get in the calories I need. I understand that for sure, but am also anxious to start the medication so that I can be sure that this bacteria really is what is causing my symptoms. I was so excited to test positive for something that I didn’t catch the name of the bacteria or meds when I was on the phone with my doc – oops. I will try to get them from her today and report back to you guys.


Now onto the subject of this post! Awhile back I announced that I’d signed up for the CT Chapter of the National Organization for Women‘s Love Your Body 5K  at the West Hartford Reservoir. I’m thankful that my good blend Maria was game to sign up with me; together we formed Team #AmazingMeI could hardly believe race day was already here when I woke up Saturday morning. Unfortunately my stomach was not 100% upon first waking but I rested at home for a couple of hours, drank up an apple cider vinegar and water “cocktail”, and popped an Imodium before I hit the road.

I’m one amazing, Fitfluential lady!

Since the race took place so close to Halloween, Maria and I immediately wanted to plan matching costumes. I decided that pink superheroes would be perfect for us. We love our pink and it fit perfectly with our team theme! I got a couple of fairly nice tech tees from Wal-Mart, and we decorated them with Sharpies before the race started. I represented the team name and Fitfluential on my tee, while Maria represented the team and Sweat Pink, for which she is an ambassador.

I loooove running skirts – and hot pink sneakers! Also wore my beloved Sweaty Band from the Fitness Mag Meet & Tweet swag bag!

I couldn’t believe Maria was able to find pink superhero capes, but she did! Actually, I think they were supposed to be pink vampire capes, given the classy collars. They still fit our purpose and everyone understood that we were supposed to be superheroes – with the exception of one little girl cheering for me at the finish line saying, “GO ballerina, GO!” OK, ballerina works too!

Maria testing out the cape after first putting it on. How much do you love her socks?

The cape passed the test!

After getting “dolled up”, we made a porta-potty pit stop (bleh) and picked up our numbers. The cherries on top of our costumes were these awesome signs that were available to fill out before participants proceeded to the starting line.

Not ours but I sure liked these ideas!

It was so inspiring throughout the race to see each participant wearing a sign that displayed how proud they were of themselves. Some even used their signs to display affection for the important people in their lives – and really, aren’t they truly better than any “perfect” body part? I especially loved the sign on one man running in front of me at a point that said “I Love My Love (Lori).”  Whether Lori is his wife, girlfriend, sister, best friend, it’s pretty clear that she lights up his life and he wanted to remember her while he ran. I myself am trying to get away from seeing my body parts individually. I am so used to honing in on one part of me (most often my stomach) and criticizing myself for imperfections, even when I rationally know that a perfect body is NOT the path to happiness and that many things “wrong” I see with myself aren’t even there. It has really been helpful to me to stop myself whenever I find myself concentrating on one body part, and focus on the entire amazing me. That’s why I filled out my sign as follows…

Maybe the vampire collar was going to my head.

Maria went a similar route!

Woooo bod pod!

We decided to start out running together, but if one of us picked up a faster pace, she was of course free to move forward. Immediately I started out feeling pretty good and surged a little bit ahead. I still carefully monitored my stomach – at the first feeling of nausea, I planned to scale it back.

Thanks for this great pic, Maria!

The race course was gorgeous. The West Hartford Reservoir is incredibly beautiful and I had only gone running there during the summertime. The sight pictured above truly took my breath away. As I ran by each lake-and-leaves scene I felt overwhelmed by the beauty before my eyes and I truly felt a wave of “zen” wash over me. It’s amazing what nature can do!

Throughout the race course there were NOW CT volunteers spread out with encouraging signs. It was a fantastic addition to the 5K! My favorite sign said “Si Se Puede!”…anyone else remember that Disney Channel original movie? I also was a big fan of this guy with his “You Are Wonderful!” sign. I pointed at him and said, “No, YOU are!”

Our costumes were a huge hit! A lot of people I ran by smiled and cheered for me, saying, “Nice cape!’ I think I need to just wear this costume every day of my life because those smiles certainly made me feel great. The cape stayed on well despite the fact that it was only secured around my neck by one piece of velcro!

Unfortunately as I was going down one of the last big hills of the course, I got a REALLY bad stitch in my side. Maria came up behind me and stopped to check on me, advising me to massage the cramp. I did so while breathing out for as long as I could (I heard that this helps side cramps) but did have to stop and walk. For a second I felt disappointed in myself, especially as the folks I’d previously passed were passing me. However the feeling quickly passed. I mean, I have not been feeling my best and here I was running a 5K! My body needed walking and I gave it just that. As I neared where I knew the finish line was I felt confident that the cramp had passed and picked up the pace to a jog, and then a run. Once I was close to the finish line I saw that the clock read 29:40. In the back of my mind I’d had a goal to finish this 5K in under 30 minutes, so I broke into a sprint and crossed at the (unofficial) time of 29:54. Amazing Me indeed!

Maria and I post-race!

My friend and former co-worker Brian was working at the finish line and handed me a water bottle. He is the one who told me about this event and I am so grateful that he did! It gave me a chance to donate to a cause I believe in, feel inspired, and hang out with a good friend in a beautiful setting.

Thanks Brian! He loves his quads!

The post-race swag was quite impressive! The shirts actually fit well and I am wearing mine today at work. I love representing a race or event in the workplace – yay for a casual dress code in my office!

Oops, mirror image. #selfieproblems

However the very best part of the swag was, to me, the fact that they offered bananas of varying ripeness. I have never seen that before…there were both plain yellow and brown-spotted bananas. Most people are very particular about their banana ripeness and I don’t know if it’s just me but I was seriously blown away that there was a choice for runners!

Plain yellow…

…and brown-spotted too! This was my choice.

Maria and I also snagged some natural lip balm, White Chocolate Macadamia Luna bars, oranges, and Chewy bars (you’re welcome, little brother).

Me with my swag bag!

Something else caught my eye at the swag table…local CT wine?! Turns out the top three male and female finishers each got a bottle. I joked that if I had known, maybe I would’ve picked up the pace a bit 😛 and suggested they gift the only costumed runners with wine as well. I got a “maybe next year!” in response to that. Nice try, Caitlin.

Unfortunately after we got to our cars, Maria and I had to part ways. She had errands to run and a best friend’s birthday to prep for, and I had (still have…) a paper to write. But I left happy that I’d seen her, proud of myself for walking when I needed to, and pleased that I was still feeling good in the tummy! Oh, and extremely grateful for such a WARM October day. Seriously, I don’t mind this part of global warming.

Thank you to the CT Chapter of the National Organization of Women for putting on a great event with an inspiring message!

Have you ever dressed up for an athletic event? What was your costume?

Have you ever participated in a love-your-body centered event? Did it inspire you?

What’s the best race swag/tee you’ve ever gotten?

Whole Foods 1-Day Shrimp Sale Means…Recipe!

I’m glad you guys enjoyed my posts from earlier this week on Manchester’s Market Grille and my town’s Apple Fest. I also can’t thank you enough for your support and feedback as I update you all on my stomach stuff. Latest news – I went yesterday for blood tests for parasites, bacterial intestinal infections, and a whole slew of other stuff. I’m currently awaiting the results. And if the results are “nothing is wrong”, I’ll be pretty upset. But I’m trying not to think that way because stress only exacerbates the discomfort. I WILL find an answer!

Now, let’s get to the meat of today’s post. Or shall I say the seafood, if we are bring protein-type-specific.

I love me some Whole Foods – I have loved these grocery stores even before they put me in their North Atlantic region’s holiday magazine 😉 #brag #sorrynotsorry And my local Whole Foods are especially kind to me. Case in point: Whole Foods West Hartford (in Blueback Square) gave me the gift of four pounds of shrimp to sample in a dinner recipe in honor of tomorrow’s one-day sale!

Guess what’s inside?!

The above bag contained four pounds of farm-cooked white shrimp, raised in Thailand under responsible farming techniques and strict environmental condition standards. They contained no preservatives and were noticeably fresh. And they came already peeled and de-veined, so the only prep needed was to de-tail.

An inside-bag view.

Usually these little guys are $14.99/pound, but for tomorrow’s one-day sale (Friday 10/19 only!) you can get them for $6.99/pound! If I were you I’d make it a point to get over to Whole Foods West Hartford (Blueback or Bishop’s Corner) or Glastonbury tomorrow so you can start your weekend on a seafood frenzy.

Probably what Meg‘s fridge looks like.

My mom and I decided to use the shrimp in a Shrimp Creole recipe my mom got from one of her oldest friends. It was even written on a slip of paper from a Palm City Elementary notepad. As in, my elementary school. Holy 12-year-old notepad!

This recipe is satisfying, healthy, and packs quite the protein-punch!

Shrimp Creole


  • 1 cup of turkey bacon (chopped)
  • 1 cup of celery (chopped)
  • 1 cup of onion (chopped)
  • 1 cup of garlic (I used a jar of minced garlic)
  • 1 cup of bell pepper (chopped)
  • 1 can of tomato paste
  • 1 jar of tomatoes
  • 1 can of mushroom soup
  • 2 tablespoons of chili powder
  • 4 pounds of shrimp


  1. Saute bacon, celery, onion, and bell pepper until tender.
  2. Add tomato paste and tomatoes. Simmer for 10-15 minutes.
  3. Add chili powder and garlic.
  4. Add shrimp and cream of mushroom soup. Simmer for 20 minutes.
  5. Serve alone or over rice!

Before addition of shrimp and mushroom soup.

Beautiful shrimpies ready to go.

Final combo simmering away.

Ridiculously easy, right? Just get past that that ingredient prep (chopping) and it’s a matter of mixing ingredients together and hands-free simmering. Something that did require work, however, was our choice of side. My mom attempted to fix us some spaghetti squash. The problem is, she did so while drinking wine. When you mix this with cooking…

Waltzing with wine.

…sometimes you get burnt spaghetti squash.


Hey, you guys know I love carcinogen-filled food. It tasted pretty good…well, what was salvageable (aka the bowl above).

Wasting time showering between workouts and meals? Child’s play.

I can’t lie, my mom did most of the cooking. But I stirred! And I provided the wine. I got it from the Trader Joe’s at Patriot Place in Foxboro, MA when I went to visit Heather this past weekend. This Cabernet Sauvignon was $2.99. And you know what? It was quite good!

This does NOT taste like it cost $2.99!

My mom totally agreed. I was thankful to be having a good stomach day and enjoyed my wine, Shrimp Creole, and burnt spaghetti squash alongside half a baked potato with more Creole sauce. Oh, and the fireplace and REVENGE!

Cozy fireplace meal 🙂 And I spy my Big Bird plate

The recipe was a total success and my lucky father got to enjoy the leftovers last night. They tasted just as good as night one!

So remember, if this recipe tempted you and you are a Hartford, CT area local, I highly recommend hightailing it to Whole Foods West Hartford (Blueback or Bishop’s Corner) or Glastonbury to take advantage of the one-day sale (Friday 10/19 only) and pay only $6.99/pound for this delish shrimp, instead of $14.99/pound!

And if you aren’t a local, you can pick up some shrimp and make this yourself. Be sure to share with me on Twitter, Instagram, and/or Facebook if you do!

Thanks to Whole Foods West Hartford for providing me with the shrimp for this recipe! I received this shrimp free of charge, but all thoughts and opinions are my own.

Have you ever gotten to take advantage of a crazy-good Whole Foods (or any other grocery store) sale? What’d you buy?

Do you enjoy cooking with and/or eating shrimp? What’s your favorite recipe? (Meg, no need to answer the first question).

Glastonbury Apple Harvest Festival 2012

I really could use a heavy dose of positive thoughts today, and hope writing this post will be just the ticket. For those just tuning in I have been having on-and-off GI stuff going on for a couple of weeks. Yesterday I was feeling 99.99% back to the old me. I even went to Group Power and was able to lift weights almost as heavily as I usually do (I scaled them back slightly just in case). I came home and chowed down on a tasty dinner and a couple small glasses of Cab. About fifteen minutes later, I was hit with the worst wave of nausea I’ve experienced yet during these last two weeks. I didn’t sleep much and still feel just as shitty today. I went to work because a) there was stuff I needed to get done and b) I just hate missing work. I’m always paranoid that people will think I’m faking sick or “not sick enough” to stay home. It’s smartest to rest though, so that’s what I’m doing. Currently I am at home, blogging in my PJs, drinking Evening Comfort Tea from Daybreak.

Apparently several of you agree with my tweet.

I actually looked up Giardisis (parasitic infection) on WebMD per my co-worker’s suggestion and am definitely going to ask my doc about it tomorrow. The last two visits were each with a different doc, both of which are not my normal one, so I am hoping that my usual doctor tomorrow will be more open to a suggestion that THIS ISN’T A VIRUS. I really don’t think viruses last two weeks and leave you feeling fine one day and like shit the next. I am also hoping hoping HOPING that the test results I’m waiting on will contain an answer. Giardisis is characterized by symptoms that come and go and that’s DEFINITELY what I’ve been experiencing.

What better way to cheer myself up than reliving the amazing fall event I attended this past Saturday – the Glastonbury Chamber of Commerce‘s 38th annual Apple Harvest Festival!

Fall is my favorite time of year in my hometown!

I have attended the Apple Fest almost every year since I’ve lived in CT, and recapped it during the blog’s earlier days. The Chamber of Commerce enjoyed that post so much that they asked me to cover the event again this year. Don’t mind if I do – I never miss an Apple Fest!

Way to be social media savvy, Chamber of Commerce!

I attended with Jeff and we couldn’t have asked for a more beautiful fall day! Perfect light jacket weather, a crisp breeze, and bright, strong sun. We got cups of Pumpkin Spice coffee to go from Daybreak (of course) and set off to Glastonbury’s Riverfront Park.

I see rides!

I was happy to see that the great weather had already brought out a good crowd even just an hour after the Apple Fest’s 10am start time. Jeff and I started by perusing the field’s exterior to take a peek at the food vendors, as well as the Beer Garden. This was the first year ever that the Apple Fest had a Beer Garden and I snuck in before they opened to snap some photos.

The Beer Garden featured local beers AND wine! The price of $5 per glass of anything impressed me as well. I’d expected baseball-stadium $12 beers.

Four wines were featured from Colchester’s Priam Vineyards.

Shoutout to City Steam, Hooker, and Olde Burnside…and there was hard cider too!

I wasn’t feeling interested in imbibing at 11AM though. Though perhaps if I had I could have become a party animal like my friends…

BABY PYGMY GOAT. This guy was so small he kept escaping through the metal bars!

…it’s time for PHOTOS OF CAITLIN WITH FARM ANIMALS! Yes, this was not only the first year that the Apple Fest had the Beer Garden, but also a petting zoo!

Clearly wishing this child would back off my goat.

Llama rejection.


Llama mama.

Bye bye llama.

Lovin’ the lambs!

The only animal pic Jeff would be in, boo.

I probably spent the most time having fun in the petting zoo out of any adult at the event. I even came back for a second visit in hopes of getting a pic with the most exotic member of the zoo, Polly-Anna the camel.

During our first visit, she was chillin in this position and refused to move.

Later she was ready for pics!

Her head was surprisingly soft! The fur looked so matted.

End scene.

I came to the Apple Fest armed with cash to peruse and purchase goods from the local craft and food vendors. It’s the perfect place to find adorable, unique, delicious, insert-positive-adjective-here products!

Totally intrigued by my local TCBY‘s Coffee Liqueur froyo flavor!

Handmade finger puppets, some of which I have to say barely resembled their intended characters.


C is for CAITLIN!

That’s what he said? No wait, he never would.

Wicked Wicks combined two of my obsessions…mason jars and candles…to make non-GMO soy candles!

How cute are these wine bottle carrying cases by Sinful Spirit?!

I adore fall crafts! I know Lisa would love these 🙂 except that cat is kinda creepy.

Christmas meets Halloween.

Eons of cat salt and pepper shakers for all my #catsofinstagram peeps.

My family’s church’s baked potato booth is always a HUGE hit!

This Curry Nut Crunch Granola by Platte Clove Naturals of NY was one of the tastiest granolas I’ve ever had!

I brought home a bag of these delectable gems – Garlic Nut Crunch granola chunks!

I wish I knew of the vendor who made this beautiful bag – it was only $15.

Perfect for my school books!

After spending more money than I should have (and somehow Jeff walked away without spending a dime) we decided to do something I haven’t had a chance to do since the last Applefest – ride the rides!

“Family” ticket deal – 24 for $20.

A less-seen perspective of a ferris wheel!

I was a bit scared of the first ride we went on but I’d been on once before and (obviously) lived, so I agreed to ride whatever this thing below is called.

The random top 40 music coming from this ride was at least quite calming.

Of course I had an amazing time on the ride and wished it lasted longer. It was my favorite of the day for sure and I wish I’d taken my camera on there to get some cool aerial shots. I was sure to take my camera on another ride, the Scrambler, but instead of aerial shots we ended up with mucho selfies.

Jeff and I happened upon a fun Werther’s Original candies booth after we departed the rides area. Yes, that is a glass container where leaves blow around and you grab as many as you can to try to win free candy.

Obviously I volunteered.

Frantically stuffing leaves into the box to try to get 20 gold leaves.

I emerged triumphant and windswept.

I won the candy!!! Gifted it to Heather‘s dad 🙂

Then we enjoyed a 3-course snack with the Vitamix man!

We started with a green juice…

…proceeded to a hot tortilla soup…

…and finished with (unpictured) frozen cashew butter!


On our way out of the Apple Fest, we spotted CT Senate candidate Linda McMahon schmoozing with some teens. I myself am not a Linda fan (or really a fan of either candidate we have running for Senate) so I didn’t say hello, just snapped my creepy paparazzo pic.

A guy and his pie.

The cherry on top of Jeff’s day, or the apple, was likely the above apple crumb pie, a gift to us from the Chamber of Commerce! Many thanks 🙂 I left the Apple Fest with a bunch of stuff I’d bought, and Jeff left with a free homemade pie. I’ll try not to think about that one.

Writing this post has definitely helped put me in a bit of a cheerier mood – it was such a fun day! I don’t plan to live in CT for the rest of my life (or a lot longer for that matter) but whenever I leave, I will certainly miss the Apple Fest. It’s such a fun fall tradition that brings me back to old memories…

Apple Fest 2007 – been taking ride selfies for the last five years!

…and creates new ones!

Thank you the Glastonbury Chamber of Commerce for having Jeff, me, and a few of my other friends at the Apple Harvest Festival! I received the tickets and pie for free, but all opinions are my own.

Do you have any experience or know someone with experience with a stomach parasite?

Which of the Apple Fest activities I partook in looks the most fun to you?

What’s your favorite fall event or activity?

Market Grille – Worth the Wait!

Thank you to all who entered the Wild Harvest Organics giveaway – I’m so appreciative of the interest in the box of fabulous products! We had 215 entries (holy moly) and congrats to the lucky winner…

…Shea! Thanks for entering and I will be contacting you for shipping info!

I was not feeling well this past Friday morning as some of you know, but as the day went on I made a real effort to focus on the positive and smile. After all, I had the fortunate ability to make a doctor’s appointment for that very afternoon. Plenty of people would never be able to wake up in the morning feeling blah and be in a doctor’s office that very same day! I didn’t get any answers there, but felt well on Saturday, then back to a little bit off yesterday. And now I feel OK today. Hmmm. Gonna keep trying to get to the bottom of this while being grateful that it’s not a huge deal! I hope I get my test results back soon!

Full house in the Market Grille bar!

And I felt like myself Friday night, which was fabulous because I had plans to visit and review Manchester, CT’s newest restaurant Market Grille, located by the Buckland Hills Mall in the old Hops building (a restaurant property that had been vacant for YEARS until now). Market Grille is owned by Mill Restaurant Group, a Connecticut mainstay in our restaurant scene. I’ve dined at another MRG location, Abigail’s, for work several times and was very impressed.

Outdoor seating complete with fireplace and heaters!

Even though I spent the first five minutes of my time on the Market Grille property embarrassing myself in front of the folks pictured above as I tried to parallel park, I still had a chance to stop and admire the setup of the outdoor seating area. Look at that fireplace! Heaters were distributed throughout the patio too. I cannot think of anything more cozy than sitting by that fireplace on a crisp fall evening, bundled up (complete with scarf of course), and sipping a warming whiskey cocktail.

Double fistin’, Cait Plus Ate style.

And a whiskey cocktail I had…Maker’s Mark, to be specific. Obviously the most man-looking drink in the photo above (on the right) is mine – the All American (bacon-infused Maker’s Mark, Maple Syrup Bitters, and a squeeze of a fresh orange wedge). Before you start freaking out over the bacon-infused aspect of the Maker’s, don’t get too psyched. I honestly barely tasted any bacon at all. A bit disappointing, however the cocktail was RIGHT up my alley AKA too strong for the rest of my friends but delicious to me.

Joe the photobomber with my friend from Long Island, Ravi, and I.

Good thing Market Grille has such an impressive drink menu! Its contents, along with my camera, kept my college friends and I PLENTY entertained. The place was PACKED when we arrived around 7:30PM…the wait was an hour! The bar didn’t have too much room available to wait either, but I don’t mind standing, especially since that makes it easier to take silly photos 😛 We should have made a reservation but there were none available on Open Table around the time we were coming in. If any CT locals are planning a visit to Market Grille, I HIGHLY suggest using Open Table.

College chums prom style!

For my friend Joe (above left) I ordered one of the bar’s signature infusions – blackberry-infused Onyx moonshine! Just my style. So smooth, so strong, so natural.


Unfortunately Joe is a drink wimp and he could not handle the straight Onyx. And fortunately the Market Grille bartenders are extremely accomodating and turned it into a Blackberry Moonshine Cosmo (by adding triple sec, lime juice, and white cran). No longer tasted like my kinda drink, but Joe was happy as a clam.

Joe’s Onyx cocktail goes well with that Onyx bottle!

I also sampled and loved (though it was quite sweet…I’ll forgive it for the fall vibe) Joe’s first cocktail, the Fall Spice (cinnamon/apple/peach-infused bourbon, apple cider, native honey, cinnamon).

Oh thanks Julia! This was an evening of photobombs.

We ended up having a sixth join us so that extended our table wait time. My avocado-lovin’ friend Colin swung by for dinner, and I was finally able to give him a gift I’d been toting around in my car since August’s BlogHer tripa Wholly Guacamole avocado stress ball!

Joe’s jealous.

We were seated at almost 9PM and in a state of small starvation. Our cool waiter Matt, who I’d been talking with a week before via FB and email about visiting the restaurant and reviewing it for the blog, delivered bread to us right away. And I was damn smug because he managed to find one asiago cheese roll and bring it for me 🙂 other rolls offered included white, wheat, and multi-grain.

That’s my smug face.

The roll was wonderful, though I wish the butter was served warmer! We happened to hit up Market Grille during CT Restaurant Week, so many members of our party opted for the app, entree, and dessert for just $20.12 option. Don’t blame them! I didn’t know if my stomach would be up for that much food so I stuck with ordering off the normal menu.

App attack!

I started with a dish (above) from the “Small Plates” section of the menu – the Trio of Native Tomato Crostinis (sweet basil & tomato, roasted pepper & tomato “pepperonata”, carrot & eggplant caponata with roasted tomato). The bread’s crust was nice and crispy, and I really like how Market Grille created a dish tied together by the fact that each bruschetta contains a tomato component but also a little touch that makes it different from the rest. However, I had hoped those little touches would taste a bit more distinct. To me the bruschetta trio was DELISH but all three tasted quite similar to each other.

Seafood and greens, two faves!

I also started with two Maryland crab cakes with fresh herb salad (and a nice, light drizzle of lemon dill vinaigrette) and a red pepper coulis. LOTS of crab in these crab cakes and I have been feeling veggie-deprived since my stomach started acting up so I was thankful to eat the greens and feel A-OK!

Kim the hand model.

I traded Kim some bruschetta for a slice of her $20.12 Restaurant Week menu app of choice – pumpkin feta quesadillas. I have been curious about them ever since I read the Market Grille menu for the first time. They were tasty but a little disappointing because I wish they’d had more filling! I do appreciate, though, that the chef did not SMOTHER the quesadillas in cheese like so many restaurants do. The feta was the perfect touch.

Good thing I ordered a salad as my entree because I was already feeling full when it arrived! I am not usually a fan of iceberg lettuce but this night light crunch and the many ingredients in the “Everything But the Kitchen Sink” Chopped Salad (apples, cukes, blueberries, onions, carrots, bell peppers, avocado, chickpeas, tomatoes, feta, mozz, green beans, lemon juice, EVOO) were perfect for me. Try reading all those ingredients without taking a breath! The avocado was my favorite part.

Kim picked a winner!

Next time I visit Market Grille I for SURE will be ordering a seafood entree like Kim’s Grilled Atlantic Salmon with dijon mustard crust, BLACK LENTILS, roasted grape tomatoes, escarole, and honey balsamic reduction. The salmon seriously melted in my mouth and the lentils? INCREDIBLE! It’s rare to find a restaurant that serves them as a side and I adore the extra protein punch.

Aren’t we an adorably color-coordinated trio?

Other notable entrees included Joe’s Pan-Seared Jumbo Day Boat Scallops (more melt-in-your-mouth seafood bliss) and Colin’s Bacon Brioche Burger (cooked perfectly at medium and the bacon was crispy perfection as well).

Definitely feeling silly.

Anyone who ordered off the Restaurant Week menu got a dessert, and Kim and Colin were both kind enough to share with me. By this point I was definitely full, but that secret-compartment that seems to emerge at restaurants when dessert is served suddenly opened up in my stomach, and I helped myself to some of Colin’s Fresh-Baked Cookie Plate (chocolate chip, oatmeal raisin, white chocolate macademia) and Kim’s PUMPKIN CHEESECAKE.


Oh boyyyy! That’s not ice cream pictured above, it’s a homemade whipped cream. The sprig of mint at the top and the pumpkin seeds both provided a bit of a savory punch that matched so well with the sweet cream and cheesecake. This dessert was pretty damn incredible.

Matt, our waiter, and I!

Matt did a great job waiting on us and was kind enough to introduce me to the owner, Amanda Rivers, on our way out. I love being able to compliment a restaurant owner on her/his establishment, because nothing is better than getting great feedback on your passion! Also, check out Matt’s tie clip…recognize it from anywhere? I think it was fate that he reached out to me and asked to be our server!

It’s my blog’s logo!

Matt also took this photo with his phone and remembered to send it to me! Thanks Matt!

Good friends, good food, good drinks, GOOD TIMES.

I’d be lying if I told you this evening went out without a guilty hitch. It didn’t. When I got home I was REALLY full. Definitely more full than I’m used to/comfortable with feeling. I talked to my mom for a bit and went to sleep OK, but kept waking up in the middle of the night with lots of anxiety. However I practiced what has worked for me in the past – laying in bed in corpse pose, doing deep breathing and positive self talk. It got me through the night but I still felt guilty the next morning over eating a lot. I again reached out to my mom and also another one of my rocks, Heather. Through talking to them I was able to work out my thoughts in a rational manner and see the TRUTH and focus on the POSITIVES of my evening. By late morning I felt like ME again, and that’s an amazing feeling. I’m pretty proud of how quickly I bounced back!

Yes, my evening at Market Grille was filled with laughter and lots of other warm fuzzies. We may have had to wait for awhile, but had a good time doing so and an even better time once we were seated. I highly recommend Market Grille if you’re ever in Manchester – I’ll be back for sure!

Thank you Matt, Amanda, and the rest of Market Grille for a great night!

Which of the drinks and/or dishes mentioned in this post would you want to try most?

What’s the last “new” restaurant you visited? Were you impressed?