Tag Archives: moonshine

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?

Three Generations Dine at Max Fish

This post may have bad timing since I just recently published a post about how I don’t eat out EVERY night, but please forgive my contradiction because I have a home meal post coming up tomorrow. For now, you REALLY want to read this one. Like, really.

I don’t do a full recap of every dinner I have out (just photo dumps), especially if the restaurant has already been featured in its own post on the blog before. However, the meal I enjoyed last Thursday night at the Max Restaurant Group‘s seafood establishment, Max Fish, in Glastonbury, CT was so noteworthy that I had to do an entire post on it. Let the gushing commence!

Grannan and I!

My grandma (we call her Grannan) had arrived that afternoon from Florida, and my mom and I knew we wanted to take her somewhere special for dinner. Thankfully my family had plenty of points racked up from the Max restaurants’ free rewards program, Max Vantage. Ever since hearing about the Max Fish Tiki Dinner I attended, my mom has been dying to try their regular menu (she is already a fan of their award-winning happy hour), so we decided to use the rewards points there. Plus, they have an outdoor patio – I love dining al fresco! My grandma, mom, sister, and I decided it was the perfect spot to celebrate Grannan’s arrival.

Once seated we were immediately served the above sampling plate of seaweed and pickled cucumber salad. That certainly started the meal out on a high note! The combo was genius and the cucumbers were pickled just enough. Any more and they definitely wouldn’t have paired as well with the seaweed.

We also got a pretty great bread basket. The wheat rolls were just OK to me, but the other variety of roll contained raisins and caramelized onions. Those were so flavorful that they didn’t even need any butter – but that didn’t stop me from using a bit 😉 My favorite part of the bread basket actually wasn’t bread – it was the flatbread crackers with sesame and what I believe were caraway seeds. So satisfyingly crunchy and hearty.

Max Fish has one of those cocktail menus (pictured above) that I could study and debate for hours. They certainly proved themselves to be expert mixologists at the Tiki Dinner! I love wine, but felt like it’d be a cocktail appreciator’s sin to not order one (or two!) of these gems.

Happy with my choice.

It actually didn’t take me too long to decide on the Fish Hook, Max Fish’s take on the Manhattan, because of its main ingredient: Onyx Moonshine. I’ve spoken with the owners of this Manchester, CT-based company a few times at events, and they are a great group of people putting out an excellent, smooth liquor. As expected, the Fish Hook was amazingly refreshing and the orange peel in it looked pretty awesome as well. I savored every sip.

My sister was very surprised when she ordered a Diet Coke and it came out in an old-fashioned Coke bottle. Cute!

She may kill me for using this.

I was debating between ordering tuna and swordfish (the dinner menu is pretty epic…lots of menu indecision anxiety for me!…and cool sidebar – Max Fish has a gluten-free menu!), and that decision was made easier for me when my family and I had the chance to sample the rare yellowfin tuna.

Meg, are you dying?!

I was ecstatic that my mom, grandma, and sister were all willing to try it. And better yet, the madre and Grannan declared that they LOVED the rare tuna!

All gone!

I can totally understand why and I’m glad that their first taste was at Max Fish. The tuna was cooked to perfection, the exterior crusted in an adequate amount of sesame, and the sauce and slaw garnishes were the perfect compliments.

So proud of herself for trying – and enjoying – fish cooked rare!

Hannah was not the biggest fan – she is still in the stage in which the only seafood she likes is mahi mahi, what I like to call the “gateway fish” – but she tried!

She is not a seafood fan!

She much prefers the taste of Diet Coke!

When our food came out there was a bit of confusion with the food runner over whose plate was whose, and which fish was which, so my mom and Grannan’s dishes got sent back. But once we realized that everything had actually been correct in the first place, the kitchen was nice enough to warm the entrees back up before delivering them to the table.

Since I’d tried the tuna, I ordered the above grilled swordfish with pineapple-ginger chutney, local bok choy, and black sticky rice. I have been dreaming of that rice since the Tiki Dinner, and convinced my mom and Grannan to get it with their food too! I never eat rice – I find it to be extremely boring, and it makes me sleepy if I eat even a bit too much, like pasta does. This rice, though, is just the right hint of sweetness and its texture is so fun! I know that sounds strange to say about a food’s texture, but it’s really the first word that comes to mind. The pineapple-ginger chutney was so amazing paired with the sticky black rice. My only complaint is more like a regret – that I didn’t ask for EXTRA chutney! The bok choy was very well cooked, not too oily, and the swordfish was the thickest cut I’d ever received at a restaurant. The outside was nice and char-grilled while the inside was flaky. No knife was needed to slice off each bite – a fork was plenty.

Grannan’s entree

Mom and Grannan continued to make my everythingarian-self happy by taking my suggestion to get the sticky black rice with their entrees as well. They are very much like me when it comes to rice – just not that impressed. But also like me, they were over the moon about Max Fish’s rice! Being true seafoodies though, their favorite meal component was the grilled monkfish. The two of them could not say enough good things about how it was cooked. Grannan also swooned over her sauteed spinach (pictured above).

That right there is Hannah’s choice, the 10 oz filet mignon with creamy mashed potatoes. She also got a side of haricot verts to get her green on. She ordered the steak medium and it certainly came out cooked just as she’d asked.  I have to admit I’m glad she didn’t finish it all because this filet was beyond-words amazing. As in, it-rivaled-J. Gilbert’s amazing. Yeah, I said it. Hannah said those taters hit the spot as well – exactly what she craved.

Me and the sis!

I finished my Fish Hook right when my entree came out, so to go with my meal I ordered something refreshing, light, and citrusy – the French 75.  It was served in a fun, classy glass and contained gin, lemon juice, simple syrup, and Prosecco. Didn’t taste much like alcohol, and not a cocktail I’d usually order (a bit sweet), but it was still fun to step outside of my martini-shaped box.

The French 75, me, and a bunch of good bread.

We declined dessert because we were all quite satisfied, so our waitress brought the check, along with some nice warm towels topped with fresh lemons for cleaning our hands. My mom adored that fancy ending!

And Max Fish had one more surprise up its sleeve…after-dinner drinks! Again, though it was a sweeter beverage than I’d normally order, I enjoyed the below Strawberry Caipirinha, AKA Brazil’s national cocktail, made with strawberry, cachaca (sugar cane rum), raw sugar, and lime. Hence the lime and strawberry garnishes! This drink made me feel fabulous and was perfect for a warm summer evening like the one we were enjoying that evening.

Lighting doesn’t do it justice – it had gotten dark!

Thank you so very much to Max Fish for giving my grandma an amazing welcome-to-Connecticut dinner to kick off her visit from Florida. We promised her a great seafood dinner and the restaurant certainly delivered! I highly recommend Max Fish for any occasion – or even none at all. If you’re trying to save money, their happy hour is a great way to try a lot of their food options at a discounted price.

And don’t forget to read up on the Max Restaurant Group’s Chef to Farm Dinner Series, which already has generated buzz nationally. I’m planning to hit up one of the August dinners, but there is one coming up as soon as the end of July in Simsbury, CT! Click the link, take a look at the menu, and buy a ticket once you recover from passing out (since it’s so amazing).

Do you have a favorite seafood spot near you?

Which foodie photo is your fave in this post? I won’t judge you if you name a beverage 😉

CT Wine and Food Festival

The following post has been a long time coming, but finally I’ve had a chance to write up the recap and share with you all!

A couple Saturday nights ago I had the opportunity to attend a fabulous event at a discounted price! The Arthritis Foundation put on the first ever CT Wine & Food Festival at The Hartford Club. Attendees could choose to attend Grand Tasting Session I in the afternoon, or Session II in the evening (that’s the one my fellow foodie friend Jeff and I went with). The venue itself was very classy, complete with a coat check and grand wooden staircases.

I’ve always wanted to go to an event like this and was so pleasantly surprised to find one in my own backyard – at an affordable price! The Arthritis Foundation did a great job in their first year holding the Festival and I can only hope it becomes an annual tradition.

While waiting for Jeff to meet me, I perused the brochure provided to each guest describing the vendors that were present for the evening and the schedule of chef demos. I started feeling very excited and overwhelmed as I turned page after page and realized I was still reading the list of vendors. I was also excited to see some familiar names!


Jeff and I didn’t want to be chaotic in our approach, so we decided to make a circle around each room so we wouldn’t miss anything. I also was hoping to do drinks first, and then food, since I rarely ever want to drink while I’m eating or after the fact. The first stop was at Hazlitt 1852 Vineyards, a New York winery making sangria out of their sweet Red Cat wines. The recipe was simple: Red Cat wine over ice, with a lime wedge. So delicious and easy!

I also tried a fun little science experiment at their booth. Try putting a few Godiva dark chocolate chips in your mouth, letting them chill there for about 5 seconds, and taking a sip of Hazlitt’s Bramble Berry wine. As the guy at the booth put it, I experienced a “flavor explosion”. Dark chocolate + wine = heaven! The Bramble Berry is the third bottle from the left in the photo below.

The sangria was made with the wine on the right!

I had several other specialty cocktails throughout the evening. Onyx Spirits made a drink of real CT moonshine, apple cider, nutmeg, cinnamon, and whipped cream! It was fall-fabulous. I sipped on it slowly while Jeff tried some beers, and it stayed tasty til the end thanks to the whipped cream dissolving into the beverage. Yum!

Upstairs, Hotel California Tequila made a tequila cocktail that included Godiva chocolate liquer. It was delicious, but I also couldn’t taste any tequila whatsoever. It would have been nice to know what their liquor actually tasted like!

I sipped on the best gin I’ve ever had, Bluecoat American Dry Gin on the rocks. It was unbelievably smooth with no burn whatsoever. Instead of smelling like grass, like most gins I’ve tried straight, it smelled and tasted like citrus! I loved the bottles too.

Believe it or not, I actually found a beer that I can say I liked! I can’t see myself being able to stomach a glass of it, but it was an Olde Burnside Brewing Company ale called Stone of Destiny that was nice to sip on! Low carbonation + chocolate and coffee flavors were the selling points that got me to try it – and enjoy!

I’m not a Stella drinker (my parents are), but I took a shot of this very large bottle of it because I have never seen one before – and I used to promote it at liquor stores!

There were so many wines at this event that I didn’t have room/the tolerance to try them all, but I did sip on my fair share!

I tried the Quixote red wine at this particular booth and really liked it, but there were so many wines that they all seemed the same toward the end. I can also partially attribute that sentiment to my buzz, but I do think this was a situation in which I over-tasted on wine!

Buzzed and blurry?

And what goes best with wine (aside from the dark chocolate I already mentioned)? Cheese! That’s right, bring on the…


Caseus of New Haven was sampling two delectable cheeses that Jeff and I paired with red wine from another booth. The bottom cheese of the photo was chopped too finely for my taste (I could barely pick it up with the toothpick) but it was still delicious. I really liked the top cheese in the photo the most though.

We also tried the cheese in combination with some chewy sourdough bread. And speaking of bread, more was munched on in combination with olive oils and balsamic vinegar from O’Live a Little of Evergreen Walk in South Windsor. I’ve heard so much about their store but haven’t had a chance to check it out, so doing so at this event was very convenient.

Jeff and I were given several shots – of the olive oil and balsamic variety! I was done with the alcohol shots at that point. The center balsamic vinegar in the above photo is a fig balsamic, and the one on the right was filled with flavorful herbs and was our favorite. Like I said before, there was also bread for dipping. O’Live a Little was also selling quaint gift baskets and jarred olive varieties!

Hard to tell, but that’s lasagna!

DaCapo Ristorante Italiano of Avon/Litchfield gave me a HUGE piece of lasagna – the best I’ve ever had! It was so authentic. I love my mom’s whole wheat ground turkey ricotta-less lasagna, don’t get me wrong, but this was the real stuff and it was so good. I can’t believe I drive by this place a couple of times a week whenever I go to the gym near my office, and have never noticed it!

Peppercorn’s Grill of Hartford, which Rachel and I have been meaning to attend for happy hour for a couple of weeks now, provided the above bite-sized gourmet treats. I love little tastes like this! The table provided a nice preview of what I can expect whenever I get to their happy hour. The prosciutto “sushi” was topped with sweet balsamic vinegar, and the lobster tart shells were light, flaky, and had a pleasant crunch. The lobster also tasted beyond fresh, straight out of the ocean. Honestly, it was the freshest lobster I’ve ever tasted!

What, you may wonder, is Matt Damon doing in this post? Well, nothing except not being bid on during the Festival’s silent auction. Jeff and I just thought that this autographed photo was too hilarious and random. It didn’t fit in with the gift baskets and vacation packages being auctioned off at all. Poor, lonely Matt!

Look familiar?

I ran into my buddy Phyllis Haynes and her delicious product, Mariah’s Chow Chow Relish. I was so glad to see her, because last time we met she gave me a jar of her Hot & Spicy flavor, so I had a chance to tell her how much I have been enjoying having it on my baked potato skins! I also tried the next flavor up, Hot Hot Hot, and am happy to report that I have officially graduated to that flavor. The relish’s sweetness balances the hotness out perfectly, so that even someone like me who is sensitive to spicy foods can enjoy! Since Phyllis partners with Food Should Taste Good chips when she samples her relishes, I also finally was able to try their Sweet Potato flavor. However, the relish overpowered the chip and I didn’t get a good sense of how the it tasted. No issues with that – the relish is the star after all – but I hope to try the sweet potato chips again soon on their own!

How to-die-for does this dessert look? The Hartford Club Executive Chef Chris Kube‘s sweet, fall-inspired creations were my favorite part of the entire Wine & Food Fest! Jeff and I enjoyed chatting with Chris about his experiences exploring the restaurants of different cities he’s lived in (DC and NYC), and we pretty much lavished him with compliments as we moaned (in a good way) over his desserts.

The above item was my very, very favorite: pumpkin soup with cranberry and goat cheese biscotti. Pure pumpkin, sweet but subtle cranberries, crunchy biscotti, and savory goat cheese were an absolute match made in heaven. One of the best things I’ve ever eaten!


Throughout the evening, demos called Grand Tastings were scheduled in which various celebrity chefs whipped up some of their specialties, and then shared the results with some eager taste testers (AKA us). Jeff and I only caught a couple of these demos, but I enjoyed how they ran throughout the night so that whenever we stopped by the Grand Tasting area, there was almost always something happening or about to happen!

Chef Adam Greenberg of Barcelona – West Hartford!

The angled mirror above the demo cooking area provided every guest with a great view. Adam Greenberg of Barcelona in West Hartford whipped up some tasty scallops for us!

And for (another) dessert, Mike Elder (you may know him from TLC’s “Ultimate Cake-Off – he’s won three times!) demo-ed his cake decorating skills by showing us how he created some mice to put on top of his cheese-wedge cake!

Check out the barrel in the above photo – that’s a cake! The detail was so impressive. It’s hard to see, but in the photo, Mike is “spray-painting” one of the little mice he made to put on the other cake (pictured below).

It wouldn’t be a proper post without a photo of me awkwardly posing with food.

Check out the little mice! The cake itself, beyond the decor, was a “Wal-Mart cake” (Mike’s words, not mine). He jokingly kept telling us not to judge the taste of the cake itself for that reason! I am happy to report that Wal-Mart makes a good cake, and however sad it was to see the creation divvied up, I thoroughly enjoyed my slice.

I saved the most blog-related portion of this post for last, because it features something I’ve seen all over the place in the blog world: the Vita-Mix!

A rep in a headset whipped up several recipes for us, and I was definitely impressed by the Vitamix’s power! It’s way out of my price range, and I don’t really blend anything anyway, but I still enjoyed experiencing first-hand some food made in the blender that’s so loved by so many of my favorite bloggers!

Freshly-made peanut butter, with bananas and celery for dipping!

The PB pictured above was fab. I only got one bit of banana though, because I dropped the rest of my portion on the ground – dammit, wine! Celery was a subpar replacement for dipping, but the PB was wonderful enough that it wouldn’t matter what I was dipping into it. We also tried sorbet, a fruit smoothie, and tortilla soup! Out of everything though, my heart lay with the PB – it always wins in the end!

So there you have it: my trip to the first CT Wine & Food Festival was a great success, and I can only hope that it becomes an annual event. It looks like the Arthritis Foundation had a great turnout and raised money for their cause!

Have you ever been to a wine and food tasting? Which item that I wrote about would you most want to try?