Tag Archives: coventry

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?

Blending at the Coventry Farmer’s Market

Check out fellow FitFluential Ambassador Tara‘s recent link-up of body weight workouts! It includes my hotel room workout 🙂 perfect for your summer vacations!

Color Me Rad Giveaway WINNERS!

Thank you those who participated in the giveaway for two free race entries to a Color Me Rad 5K! I received 38 total comment “entries”, and used a random number generator to pick the two winners:

Congratulations to Valerie and Angela! Please email me at caitplusate@gmail.com so that I can send you your promo codes to use at checkout when you are registering for your race!

Now on to today’s post…

So you may read this post’s title and say…blending? Blending what?! Blending with my best blend, Heather! She came to visit me last weekend, and we had an amazing, fun-filled Sunday. It really turned out to be a fantastic time, and I don’t think it’s any coincidence that it started pouring the rain when it was time for Heather to drive back to MA. The weather knew how I was feeling!

Matching shorts/dress colors were a total coincidence!

I took my flower child (she pulls off that look!) to her favorite Glastonbury spot, and one of mine, Daybreak Coffee Roasters! Last time Heather visited she fell in love with the local cafe, so a trip to get their coffee and blog AKA what I do many weekends was at the top of her list.

She selected Southern Pecan, made in the French press!

My usual coffee with a splash of steamed skim and sprinkle of cinnamon in a big old mug! I had the Creme Brulee, mm.

After a few hours of tech time and caffeinating (that should be a real verb) ourselves, we set off to a destination I’ve been dying to show Heather, the Coventry Farmers’ Market. This is by far the best farmers’ market I’ve EVER attended – and it must have been everyone else’s best as well, because we ended up waiting in traffic for about 30 minutes on the windy one-lane road leading to the parking area! Finally we found a spot on the side of the road and walked the remaining 1/2 mile…fine with us, it was a gorgeous day. A tip to any CT residents who want to attend – it starts at 11AM, but aim to arrive by 10:45AM at the LATEST!

Matching Oakley bags from the TIU Meet-Up to carry our stuff – pure coincidence!

One of my very first blog entries was actually about the products I found during my first trip to the Coventry Farmer’s Market! How funny – last time I went I was a new blogger, and now I have all these amazing experiences and new friends under my belt as a result of starting Cait Plus Ate. Who knows where I’ll be next time I go?!

BB takes pics and the crowd lines up at the Agave cart.

We were in heaven! The market was hoppin’ – it was opening day of the season after all.

Loved the wooden signs decorating the RIPE natural drink mixers booth. Unfortunately those were the names of mixers, not actual drinks.

There were many food carts! This cart even served up a tofu roll.

Heather enjoyed a fresh fruit smoothie from Raw YouNiverse, and I enjoyed a sample of their kale chips ($10 a bag though…)

The Fish Market is there each year with the freshest of seafood.

These stuffed breads sounded to die for!

Freshly baked pastries and loafs.

Gourmet truffles and coffee.

These nice folks from Norm’s Best let me sample marinated mushrooms, jalapeno jams, and award-winning BBQ sauces.

Loved the way these jams and jellies were packaged.

Sampled some amazing maple garlic salt (yup) and maple peanut brittle here.

Beautiful bottles of oils and vinegars!

Adorable tea packaging.

I’m such a salt fan that I had to pick up a tiny jar of smoked sea salts. Any new kind of salt is a must-try in my book! Can’t wait to try this on a meat or seafood from the grill.

Beeswax candles – they smelled amazing!

I purchased one the above votive beeswax candles from Swift Farm. The man working there gave Heather and I some very interesting info on candles. I burn them every morning and evening, and usually buy them from Bath & Body Works. Those are parafin candles. Apparently they are not only the most common, but also the most HARMFUL to the air. According to the Swift Farm rep, the second-best form of candle to burn is soy, but most are NOT non-GMO. That leaves us with the best kind to burn – 100% beeswax, completely natural. And they really do smell fantastic! I’m going to “burn through” the rest of my B&BW candles, but what he had to say was interesting and I’ll have to reconsider whether or not I want to purchase any more from there in the future.

I also bought a natural lip balm from Swift Farm. The ingredient list is amazing: almond oil, beeswax, cocoa butter, comfrey oil, vitamin E oil, and rosemary & peppermint essential oils. It feels so soft on my lips, smells great, and gives a slight, satisfying peppermint tingle. Crazy though how those with nut allergies would need to avoid this lip balm. I could easily forget about the almond oil and am worried I’m going to give some to a nut-allergic friend who asks to borrow some!

Pita pizza and the fated last tabbouleh!

Last year I visited Iffat, a hilarious, friendly man who runs the Lazizah Bakery in Yantic, CT. They are famous in the state for their falafel, but don’t sell it at the farmers’ market because Iffat would have to make it in Yantic and bring it to Coventry since the fryer isn’t portable. He’d rather NOT sell a lower quality version of his most famous product than make the money he could probably make if he sold pre-made falafel. I admire that!

Iffat was just as fun as he was last year, calling Heather and I “beautiful girls”, and answering my questions about the above herbed pita, which I purchased and made into a FAB shrimp pizza for dinner a few nights later with my mom.

 There was just one case of tabbouleh left, one of Heather and I’s favorite Mediterannean foods, so we decided it was fate that we split it!

It was impossible not to take the Strawberry Salsa and Dandelion Green & Carrot Top Pesto home with me!

I had told her all about Yummy Hummy, another booth that impressed me last year. We sadly arrived too late to get the carrot & ginger hummus we’d heard would be offered (of course, it was sold out!) but there were still some unique products left that I snatched immediately – strawberry salsa and dandelion green & carrot top pesto!

Heather called this the best hummus she’s ever had – says a lot coming from someone who considers it a food group.

Heather purchased some hummus and swooned over it. Yummy Hummy is a great, humble company and they make so many unique hummus flavors! Others that I hope to find at a farmers’ market to purchase someday: spicy sesame, lemon cilantro, summer squash & curry, beets & scallions, pumpkin spice, acorn squash & black pepper, and MOJITO!


Last season I purchased dill pickle chips from Christine’s Country Kitchen, so I knew I wanted to try to get different selections this time around. Plus I’ve only grown MORE adventurous with food in the last year, so it makes sense that I ended up expanding outside of my pickled horizons. Of course I selected a jar of garlic pickles first, but I followed it up with sugar-free pickled beets and sweet & spicy mustard! I’ve been rocking the pickles and beets in my salads…I still don’t think I enjoy eating beets alone, but am now at the point that I’m loving them in my salads. I’m a mustard fanatic and sampled many at this booth, but ended up choosing the sweet & spicy.

The most touching moment of the day came courtesy of Shayna B’s Gluten-Free Bakery. All their treats are also VEGAN, which was great news for Heather, who had not had the best of luck at the farmers’ market finding baked goods or any breads that fit the vegan bill.

Quinoa, bunt cakes, and strawberry tarts.

We started chatting with the owner and she was so kind and appreciative of our passion and desire for healthy, natural, wholesome food. We each received a sample of the Wendy Bites, in the bottom row of the picture below, made with fantastic vegan and gluten-free-friendly ingredients like garbanzo bean flour. A nut-free version without the almonds was even available, though I have to admit the bites I had with the almonds were the best ones 🙂 Heather decided to buy a package of Wendy Bites, and when we came up 50 cents short, they let us purchase the Wendies anyway! We couldn’t believe how kind the folks of Shayna B’s were and could tell that they really, really just wanted their treats to reach as many happy people as possible.

Fresh vegan and gluten-free granola and Wendy’s Bites.

After visiting Shayna’s we decided we’d spent enough of our life savings for one day. My bag sure was heavy!

SOOO much loot. Shoulder raisin’ it!

On our way back to the car we remembered that there were BABY ANIMALS at the market that day! We passed them at the entrance and stopped for some playtime.

Making the same face as this llama, inadvertently.

The kind of picture that could get me on a most wanted list.

Self-taken Caitlin and a llama photo fail.

I wanted to take him home with me!

Just a goat on a leash!

He kept trying to eat my shorts!

He really wanted to eat my Forever21 rose ring!

A little more success taking self-taken photos with the goat.

See, I’ve been known to rock the poses with farm animals before. Behold, my last trip to the Central Park Petting Zoo…

Come on alpaca, didn’t you get the kissy face memo?

Photo-bombing this sheep pic.

After I was done making a fool of myself, we walked back to the car and went to West Hartford’s quaint Blueback Square, another CT gem I wanted Heather to visit, to meet up with our girl Jenny. I met her through Heather and am so grateful – she rocks and we’ve already become fast friends.

We snagged iced tea from the Green Tea House and took it outside to enjoy the last rays of sunshine before the impending downpour.

The blend I selected – not as good as the Banana Split/Monkey’s Chocolate combo from last time!

So fabulous to chat and sip with these girls. Great end to the day – actually, the day ended with Heather and I literally jumping into my car and closing the sunroof right as the downpour began, but you know. Good friends, good timing.

Babes in Blueback.

After Heather (sadly) departed, I laid out my farmers’ market finds and immediately started planning how I’d incorporate some into that evening’s dinner.

I topped a leftover salmon burger with the strawberry salsa, and my mom roasted up the zucchini and squash (I got a ton for just $3.50). OMG! An amazing, amazing meal. I was in heaven the whole time.

Capped off with a glass of rioja. Also had a turkey burger and beans.

What’s the best find you’ve gotten at a farmers’ market?

Farm animals…love ’em or hate ’em?