Tag Archives: coventry farmers market

Farmers’ Market Sunday Funday

One of my first blog posts ever was about my finds from my first-ever trip to the Coventry Regional Farmers’ Market, the best farmers’ market I have ever been to (by far). I was lucky enough to go TWICE last summer with Heather and even participated in one of their events, as a judge for a cocktail competition. This past Sunday, I made my first (and hopefully not the last) trip of the 2013 season! I could not have asked for better company – my sister Hannah, my good friend Kat, and her daughter (the famous) Penelope.

Penelope visited with my mom before we left for the market!

Penelope visited with my mom before we left for the market!

Please notice Penelope’s fabulous foodie onesie, appropriately gifted to her by Emily, Community Manager for Yelp Hartford!

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Farm to Shaker: CT Bartender’s Challenge

You can check out parts one and two of my weekend with Heather visiting in case you missed them!

You may remember when I announced that I had been chosen to serve alongside the founders of Ripe (JD Altobello) and Onyx Moonshine (Adam von Gootkin) as a judge at the first Coventry Regional Farmers’ Market Farm-to-Shaker CT Bartender’s Challenge. There are really too many good things about this opportunity for me to gush about. The moment I was asked to take part in the event, I felt officially recognized as a knowledgeable source of information about my local area – and a source with good taste at that! It really validated all the hard work I’ve put into this blog, and also assured me that I am portraying an accurate version of myself each time I post. I am so enthusiastic and passionate about sampling interesting craft cocktails, and the fact that JD of Ripe knew this after only meeting me once (at Taste of the Nation) means my blog has been speaking the truth to its readers!

I’m also so happy that my parents and Heather were able to be present at an event that was so special to me! And every time I looked over at Heather chatting with my parents, I couldn’t help but smile. I just love seeing people I love getting along #sap. It particularly meant a lot to me that Heather came to the event and stuck it out the entire time, because while cocktails may be my thing and while she and I may get along famously, they certainly aren’t her thing as well and the food being served (by Morton’s!) was mostly not vegan-friendly!

Thanks BB!

Love ya, ‘rents!

I met up with my fellow judges before things got going, and was so happy to find that I’d ALSO be judging alongside a pretty amazing individual I met at the Mohegan Sun Wine FestSignature David, master mixologist! He frequently appears on FOX61 showing off his crazy concoctions.

David’s repping Onyx!

I’ve met Adam of Onyx at several events in the past! It was great to see him again and get to drink so many different cocktails with his wonderful, smooth moonshine.

He mixed up a very special blend for all the guests – Apple Cider Onyx Moonshine! Holy crap this was SO GOOD. And unlimited!

Heather and I were chatting with JD of Ripe and found out that he is a vegan! So when the watermelon, beet, and goat cheese salads over arugula came out, he was able to secure a cheeseless version for himself and Heather.

Vegan power – cheeseless salads! 😛

I also had the chance to work with the event’s emcee, Chion Wolf, of WNPR!I am a total NPR nerd – my addiction began after I graduated from college and started a job with a semi-lengthy commute. Now I listen even when I’m not in the car! In fact, playing NPR’s app on my iPhone and coloring in my bed are two activities that, combined, equal a number-one stress reliever for me. I was so happy to be able to share that with Chion at the event.

You can just tell from looking at her that she’s extremely cool.

And I’m so glad I did, because she was visibly touched to hear that fact and added that she doesn’t often get a chance to meet listeners and even sometimes forgets when in the studio that there are people out there listening. Well Chion, I know that I and many others are listening with great attention!

Sneaky shot – I love her style!

To hear her introducing me as a judge – and reading out loud my blog’s “sidebar” description, felt so epic!


Each competitor from an area CT restaurant would need to use in his/her cocktail the Onyx Moonshine, Ripe juice mix, and two of the many secret ingredients from the day’s farmers’ market that JD had picked out.

Everyone’s favorite ingredients!

The ingredients spread!

Some were pretty typical (strawberries), and some were downright weird(brown cucumbers? tomatoes that looked like plums?)

That orange/tan thing is a cucumber!

Local honey…bitter melon…hot peppers…oh, and apples.

The winner was to receive this shaker trophy!

The competition got rolling so that we could find out who that winner would be! The competitors were listed for the event attendees, who were to submit their favorite drink at the end on a ballot so that we judges could take the Peoples’ Choice vote into consideration.

Competitors from the following restaurants (in order of above list): Morton’s, Max’s Oyster Bar, Zula, Firebox, Pond House Grille. I’ve been to every one!

First up, we had Suzanne of Morton’s (Hartford, CT) mixing up a cocktail of raspberry, peaches, and sugar muddled into a combo of Onyx and Ripe’s Pure-Squeezed Agave Punch. She shook it all up and added a splash of club soda.

I could tell just from the ingredient list that the drink would likely be too sweet for my sugar-sensitive taste buds, and I was right. While my mom enjoyed it (she doesn’t like any kick in her cocktails), I craved something more unique and was disappointed that Suzanne chose two very “normal” secret ingredients – raspberries and peaches. However, I still love that she incorporated muddled fresh fruit into her beverage and the presentation of the full-size version was flawless!

While Suzanne’s away, her drink will stay! 🙂

I totally loved the next cocktail, and that’s not just because it was prepared by Chef Scott Miller, Exec Chef of Max’s Oyster Bar and the maestro that prepared a gorgeous meal for Jeff, me, and many others at the Max Chef to Farm Tomato, Tomato dinner a couple of weeks ago.

Scott mixing it up.

A mason jar was an appropriate choice in which to display the full-size version of Millers’ Muddle Maple Moonshine cocktail, which consisted of maple syrup, Onyx, Ripe’s Agave Lemon Sour, blueberries, lemon, club soda, and a splash of beet juice!

Scott and his creation.

I’ve gotta give Scott props for not sacrificing taste for convenience. He was muddling blueberries into EACH sampler cup for each audience member, instead of muddling them and the syrup together in a big batch and pouring the results into all the cups. That’s dedication!

Syrup waiting to be joined by blueberries in sampler cups.

The drink was pretty incredible. I was worried that the syrup would make the drink too sweet for me again, but the use of a sour Ripe mix balanced out the syrup’s sweetness perfectly. I also like the sour added by the fresh lemon. And of course, the unexpected choice of beet juice as an ingredient totally impressed me. It was meant to add color to the cocktail, but also added a special something in the flavor department.

 Next up we had Albana of Zula, whose current cold inspired her to choose the soothing ingredients honey and cinnamon cloves to her cocktail, as well as fresh lemon! Mixed with the Onyx and Ripe’s Agave Margarita mix, and combined with a very careful presentation, Albana’s cold certainly ended up leading to a great drink.

Another participant who wasn’t going to let hard work get in the way of presenting a pretty drink!

Mmm. Calming and the cinnamon added a hint of autumn! The other judges loved it too. This was gonna be tough…

Albana and her creation! You can’t tell she has a cold!

The judges before taking their first sips of a drink!

I was way excited to see what Samantha of Firebox would have up her sleeve because I once had one of the best Manhattans EVER there! It’s a farm-to-table restaurant and its chefs and bartenders are very used to working with only the most local, fresh ingredients.

Strikin’ a pose!

Though simply presented, Samantha’s beverage tasted great enough to stand out among the competitors! True to Firebox form, she didn’t need many ingredients to make something great – just Onyx, Ripe’s Mojito Mix, and fresh ginger-peach iced tea. I commend her for the way she used her chosen local ingredients!

Finally, Michael of Pond House Grille added a touch of science to his cocktail submission! Pond House uses liquid nitrogen in its restaurant as part of the presentation of some menu items. They view food and drink as works of art – hey, me too!

Michael and his smokin’ drink.

He muddled cilantro, Anaheim peppers, and fresh lemon into Onyx and Ripe’s San Marzano Bloody Mary Mix. Oh, and a splash of liquid nitrogen – NBD.

We judges were fearful of taking our first sips because we didn’t want to get “burned” by the liquid nitrogen’s extremely cold temperature!

Adam illustrates his fear.

Intense discussion.

I ended up enjoying the Bloody Mary and its pepper-y kick. I also appreciated the addition of the lemon juice. However other than the presentation, it wasn’t set apart from other Bloody Marys I’ve had in the past.

Whooooo will win?

The judges huddled outside to deliberate while the crowd submitted its votes for Peoples’ Choice.

A clearly intense conversation.

The crowd inside the beautiful new barn which served as the competition’s location.

Don’t worry, the judges and the members of the crowd were still coherent enough to accurately critique the cocktails, since they’d paired them with food from Morton’s!

The previously mentioned watermelon, beet, goat cheese salads. My mom’s favorite part!

Oh. Em. Gee. Melt-in-your-mouth filets read for assembly onto sliders.

Morton’s Executive Chef himself did the grilling!

My dad practically dive-bombed the filet slider platter!

Chocolate mousse cups – didn’t have a chance to grab one!

After hearing the Peoples’ Choice pick and considering our own opinions, the judges arrived at a decision on the winner. But he was MIA! JD and I knew where he was though, and nabbed a golf cart to go grab him.

It’d been forever since I’d taken a ride in a golf cart!

Our winner was actually across the way cooking up a dinner for over 100 people. Yup, it was Chef Scott Miller, and he was working on the Nathan Hale Homestead Chef to Farm dinner! Luckily we were able to “drag” him back over to the barn to accept his shaker trophy.

Scott and the event sponsors JD and Adam.

A well-deserved win for Chef Miller! And you can re-create his winning cocktail at home using the recipe below – or order it up yourself at Max’s Oyster Bar, because it’s going to be added to the cocktail menu! I hope it’s still served in the mason jar!

Miller’s Muddled Maple Moonshine (thanks Max Restaurant Group for the recipe!)


  • 1 Tbsp Connecticut Maple Syrup
  • 1 oz Native Blueberries
  • ½ Lemon, Squeezed
  • 1.5 oz Onyx Moonshine
  • .5 oz Ripe Agave Lemon Sour
  • .5  oz Club Soda
  • Splash of Beet Juice


  1. Muddle blueberries with maple syrup and freshly-squeezed lemon juice in a pint glass.
  2. Add Onyx Moonshine and Ripe Agave Lemon Sour mix.
  3. Add ice cubes and shake well.
  4. Pour into mason jar, splash with club soda and beet juice.
  5. Garnish with 4 blueberries on a pick and a lemon wedge. Drink up!

The 1st Coventry Farmers’ Market Farm-to-Shaker CT Bartender’s Challenge was a great success, and all in attendance seemed to have an enjoyable time. Adam was even joking that we should call this contest a summer edition so that the wait before the next edition wouldn’t be too long! I’m all in favor – especially if I can judge again!

Thank you to the Coventry Farmers’ Market, Ripe, and Onyx Spirits for involving me in such a unique event. It was right up the Cait Plus Ate alley!

Have you ever been to a cocktail competition?

Which cocktail would you most want to try?

Has your blog ever brought you any exciting local opportunities?

Weekend With My BB – Part Two

I’d like to take a moment to remember those who lost their lives and all those affected by 9/11. I cannot believe it’s been 11 years since that day in 7th grade when I came home from school to see the TV in my house displaying the day’s horrifying images. May we never forget!

Note: If you missed part one of my weekend with Heather visiting, you can check it out here!

I just love taking people places that are special to me. There’s nothing better. I’ve been wanting to bring Heather to Rooftop 120 for awhile now. It’s an all-seasons rooftop bar in my town (the all-seasons part is made possible by sliding glass doors that turn the rooftop from an outdoor bar to indoor in moments). They serve up unique food and drinks in a classy atmosphere. When I’m there, I don’t feel like I’m in Connecticut. I feel as if I’m in NYC or Vegas! I also have a favorite bartender there, Andres, who always treats me, any friends I bring in, and also my parents when they visit the bar (whether I’m there or not) SO well. I could go on forever – and hope to do a Rooftop 120 post one day that shares ALL the food and drink I’ve tried there. I did a post previously, but there’s so much MORE I’ve experienced since then that needs to be seen! For now I’ll just have to stick with sharing my night there with Heather. We had an incredible time!

Before we left.

My outfit was not very classy rooftop bar, but I was also super comfortable and it felt gross outside (humid, rain, etc). So I rocked the hippie shorts/tee, messy boho braid, and Birkenstocks on the rooftop. #sorrynotsorry

After being attacked with bobby pins by Heather 😛

I was thrilled to see Andres and we parked ourselves in seats at his side of the bar! I asked him if he had any interesting hard liquor to throw my way and boy did he ever.

Stoli Hot – ole!

I was a bit wary at first of the above Stoli Hot Jalapeno Vodka, especially since I am still getting accustomed to spicy food. Heather couldn’t even believe that I’d try it. But Andres fixed me a nice sample in a shot glass lined with sugar! The beverage itself had the vodka mixed with lime and white cran. I actually enjoyed it, and ordered up a full size – but asked for less white cran, more vodka, and extra salt!

Fill ‘er up!

And Andres already has dreamed up another concoction for me to try next time…jalapeno vodka mixed with CUCUMBER vodka, with an extra salty rim, and some other stuff I unfortunately can’t remember right now. Whatever, it’ll happen.

Heather ordered up her fave, Pinot Grigio, which was served in Rooftop’s standard wine glass size – As Big As Your Head.

You can see another example of this here.

One drink each is all it takes for these girls. We sipped and savored slowly. By the end of the evening, lots of giggles were coming from our general area.

And lots of mooooaaaans over our amazing food! I wouldn’t have brought Heather to a restaurant that had no vegan options, and we feasted on roasted Brussels sprouts prepared with miso olive oil (instead of butter – Rooftop was very accommodating)  as well as a veggie platter with hummus and baba ganoush. 

Being the seafood lover that I am, I had to also order some tilapia ceviche. Complete with extra plantain chips on the side for us to share!


Our plan to get a good photo by Rooftop 120’s gorgeous multi-colored glass bottle wall didn’t quite pan out, but the effects were still pretty cool!

We headed home to do the obvious – watch more of “The Hills!” Then we both hit the hay at our nice bedtimes of 11PM-ish.

Love you!

I awoke on Sunday itching for a cardio and weight lifting lovefest! Heather was doing good to her bod pod (her trademark saying) and completed some stretching while I went to the gym and knocked out 35 minutes of spin and 25 minutes of abs and ARM DAY. I love lifting arms!

Wearing a matchy-matchy Reebok outfit. Obviously.

I got cleaned up after my sweaty workout and Heather and I went to – where else? – Daybreak to blog and try out more French pressed coffee flavors!

Mocha Butter Crunch for her.

Toasted Butternut for me!

Once we were caffeinated, blogged out, and fed our lunches, it was time to hit the road for the destination we experienced together on one of her last visits…the Coventry Farmers’ Market! I was ready to judge their Farm to Shaker Cocktail Competition after the market’s closing, but we were sure to get there before that so that we could spend lots of money. DUH.

Just a scarecrow in shades and a pumpkin bumpkin. That bushel of apples has a KNEE in it!

Heather and I made a beeline for one of our favorite CT vendors, Yummy Hummy! These folks were kind enough to not only set aside our desired unique hummus flavors for us to ensure that we would be able to purchase them before they sold out, but they also were offering $1 off Heather’s choice, Curry hummus, for their Facebook fans. It was our lucky day too since my frequency card with them filled up, so we got one hummus free!

LOVE the label 😀

I opted for Pretty Beet and Honey Garlic hummus varieties. I can’t wait to sample them! I also decided to get a tub of Peach Basil Salsa, made with all CT ingredients. At $7 for the tub it was pretty pricey, but I’ve purchased other fruit salsas from Yummy Hummy before (strawberry and blueberry) and have NEVER been disappointed. Pleased to report that the case still holds! I had some of this with my dinner last night and it rocked my world!

After hearing Heather hadn’t tried their plain Pico de Gallo yet, she was gifted with a free sample to bring home. So very kind of Lexy and Ian, Yummy Hummy’s founders, to take good care of their return customers!

And I even started a new frequency card when I bought my salsa, so obviously I’ll be back soon.

Thank you Yummy Hummy!

We also visited Shayna B’s and The Pickle, a local bakery of wheat/gluten-free vegan goodies! Last time Heather and I were both overwhelmed by the owner’s kindness when we met her at her booth. Heather was missing just a bit of cash to pay for a container of delectable Wendy Bites, and she was allowed to purchase them for what money she had on her!

Well, Shayna B’s astounded us again. First, they sold Heather the above coconut apple tart. The ingredient list was incredible, and just check out her reaction upon first bite.


That’s genuine, folks.

Just too good…

After seeing us admire the two pear ginger scones remaining, the staff of Shayna B’s offered to let us take them home for FREE! I just know it was because they could feel our enthusiasm and appreciation for the simple, pure baked goods they put out every single day. It’s great to share a passion with someone you’ve only just met, and know that they clearly acknowledge and are grateful for it! Can’t wait to tell you all how the scone is. I’m saving it for a special evening snack…or maybe two evening snacks to make it last longer. I have a feeling plain Chobani may be involved.

Dammit goat, stop eating.

And what’s a Coventry Farmers’ Market visit without photos of me being awkward with animals…and children?!

Thumbs up, it’s a goat!

Staring down this child. Back off my goat.

I also purchased three jarred items from Christine’s Country Kitchen, another favorite local vendor of mine, as they were finishing packing up. HUGE thanks to them for putting up with my annoying lateness and still selling me some full sour pickles, jalapeno mustard, and sugar-free (sweetened with STEVIA!) beets! Unfortunately half of the beets and their jar did not survive the car ride home, and I drove to work yesterday morning sniffing beet smell the whole time, but that’s the life of a local foodie!

The day was FAR from over, but my judging of the Farm to Shaker cocktail competition deserves a post all its own, and that’s what it’ll get. So I’ll leave you guys in suspense for now.

Do you have a special local restaurant where you are known and treated well by the staff as a “regular”?

What are your favorite items to pick up at the farmers’ market?

What’s the coolest hummus flavor you’ve ever encountered?