Tag Archives: onyx

Yelp Hartford Holiday Bazaar

This past Saturday I had the pleasure of attending my first holiday-themed event of the seasonYelp’s Holiday Bazaar at the New Britain Museum of American Art. Emily Cahill, Senior Community Manager for Yelp Hartford, did an amazing job coordinating so many vendors and even entertainment. What an awesome turnout!


Tote bags and name tags were provided.

Tote bags and name tags were provided.

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2013 A Taste in Simsbury

I received complimentary entry into this event to cover it for this blog. All opinions of my experience are my own!

I’d call this past Thursday’s A Taste in Simsbury the best value tasting event I have ever encountered! For just $50, attendees got to taste food, beer, wine, and cocktails from at least 25 restaurants and vendors. Sponsored by Simsbury Bank, the Simsbury Main Street Partnership fundraiser pulled in money to help them continue to support downtown Simsbury’s social environment.


I arrived right at 5:30PM, and already a line of people had formed.


I snagged a wine glass and embarked on a tasting adventure that would end up lasting almost three hours. Thankfully tables and high-tops were set up throughout The Riverview‘s ballroom so that attendees would have spots to stop, take a seat, and have a place to rest plates and glasses.

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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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Fashion Friday Is Back!

I really appreciate your insightful comments on Wednesday’s post about my relationship with the calories in alcohol. I’m still a work in progress but it helps to know I’m not the only one out there who struggles with feeling guilty about drinking. That night I enjoyed a fun Mexican dinner – with drinks – out (at Taqueria Tavern in West Hartford) and though I struggled with some anxiety the next morning, I pushed through and avoided temptation to skip my breakfast. I’m proud that I allowed myself to enjoy the beverages I craved. And of course, my body told me when I was done with my drinks, and I just simply didn’t want any more at that point; it was easy to stop.

My Onyx Moonshine Margarita (Onyx Moonshine, Agave, Lime Juice, Salt) was simple and amazing!

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La Boca Middletown’s New Menu

My giveaway for a free 30-minute massage by Kellie of Brilliant Options Wellness (Plantsville, CT) ends tonight at 11:59PM EST! Get those entries in!

Patrick of La Boca Mexican Restaurant & Cantina – located on Main Street in Downtown Middletown, CT – contacted me recently to find out if I’d be interested in coming in for dinner so that I could check out the new dinner menu, which was recently updated to include more unique dishes with a “Mexican fusion” vibe. I’ve actually been wanting to try La Boca for awhile – my interest in Middletown’s restaurant scene never dies – so I accepted Patrick’s invite and brought the perfect company…my parents and sister!

So happy my sister is home from college!

So happy my sister is home from college!

I’ve been to both “fancy” and “chill” Mexican restaurants, and I honestly prefer the latter because I feel like a laid-back vibe just fits best with the cuisine. Thankfully La Boca is a really chill place – anyone would feel welcome!

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Being OK With Marvelous

My giveaway for a $25 credit to healthy-living discount shopping site HealthyChic ends tomorrow night at 11:59 PM EST. Make sure to enter and if you don’t win, you can still sign up and use a discount code on your first order!

This weekend was really out of my box – like last weekend in Boston. I pshawed sleep, homework, and my usual kill-me Sunday morning spin class in favor of all sorts of marvelousAnd I enjoyed myself while doing so. And that SCARES me.

Let’s get the marvelous moving, thanks to Katie!

Some people who read this post may understand exactly where I’m coming from. On the other end of the spectrum, some may think I’m a spoiled brat who will always find something to complain about no matter how good my life gets. I can see both perspectives but what it all comes down to is what feels safe to me and realizing that the safe option is not always the option I WANT. And that does not make me an irresponsible, reckless person. It makes me a normal 24 year old!

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Judging Crazy Concoctions at CHS Cookoff

I can’t wait to attend Taste of the Nation Hartford tonight with my blends Kaitlin & Kelly! You can still get tickets at the door – general admission is $75, but I’ve been to this event before and it is WORTH IT. Best food tasting event I’ve ever experienced!

I’m so excited to share my experience judging the Connecticut Historical Society‘s first Community Cookoff! Held last Friday from 5:30-7:30pm (nice and early!), the event attracted a good crowd and had the work day craaaaawling by as I anxiously waited for the clock to hit 5 so I could hit the road for Hartford.

I wore my latest splurge – a Lilly Pulitzer top that I got on sale in FL – for such an important event! Little did I know Lilly herself would pass away in a couple of days.

I walked into CHS and was greeted by the smiling, excited faces of Jenny Steadman and Ed Main. They are the ones who came up with this idea, included me, and even planned the event’s timing around my vacation schedule. I couldn’t have felt any more special thanks to them!

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Here Comes a Fighter

Have you entered my Mohegan Sun BrewFest giveaway yet? Don’t forget – you could win two passes to this weekend’s beer bonanza! Giveaway closes tomorrow (Wednesday 10/3) at 12PM EST.

Geez, so far fall has been extremely busy in terms of my full-time job!By the time I got home last night from my post-work gym session all I wanted to do was sit on the couch with my mom and watch the season premiere of Grey’s on the DVR with dinner. And wine. So that’s what I did – no blog post.

My setup at Art With a Twist in New Haven, CT!

But now I’m ready to blog about this past Saturday. As I mentioned in Sunday’s brief giveaway post, I have a lot to say! The day started out in typical Caitlin fashion – spin class and #plankaday, a few hours of much-needed study time at Daybreak. Then I hit the road for New Haven to have a date with Maria of Pappa Don’t Preach! We’ve never been able to do a good one-on-one hangout before, but we are two peas in a pod and I’m so grateful to have met her through blogging. She drove all the way from Stamford to meet me at Art With a Twist for a BYOB painting class! We used a Groupon🙂 of course.

Maria listening to our instructor, the fabulous Bella Zadore.

Maria did a great job sharing more photos of Art With a Twist’s lovely location, and info about the business itself, in her recap! We decided to go sweet on the booze and shared Riesling and champagne. Thanks Maria for introducing me to Asti! It was delicious.

Everyone painted the same illustration, but then everyone’s came out looking different. My water turned out a bit sickly looking, and Maria pointed out that I was just trying to paint the Long Island Sound. Truth.

Pondering the sounds of the Sound…champagne in hand.

I also must’ve still had BlogHer on the brain because my palm trees looked like Lorax mustaches.

Lorax #1

Lorax #2. He’s unimpressed. Source

I was doing a little too much hating on my painting, so Bella sprinkled me with confetti as “punishment”. Okay okay, I complained on purpose so that I could get showered in confetti. Who doesn’t love that?!

There’s a 30% chance it’s already raining.

I had a great time chatting with Maria about our gym sessions that morning (of course) and also taught her how to take silly photos. She deemed me a silly photo queen. I am honored!

Help me take silly photos, Caitlin!

Don’t mind if I do!

How amazing are the “men/women” signs for the bathrooms?! Bella is so creative! She decorated everything in Art With a Twist herself.

Blogger in action.

Despite the fact that my painting did not look like Bella’s, I’m gonna refrain from saying that it wasn’t as good as Bella’s. After all, she wasn’t painting the Long Island Sound!

It’s beauuuuutiful!

Stealing this from Maria’s post…BYO-Blend!

You are what you…paint?

After class we hit up 116 Crown for a pre-dinner cocktail. Because when you’ve been drinking since 2:30PM, why stop?

I ordered the Negroni!

Unfortunately before I could even get to the point of ordering, I had to wait outside with Maria for 15 minutes because we arrived at 4:45PM and they weren’t open yet. It’s fine, another opportunity to practice her silly photo taking!

Let me at the cocktails!

Why am I not drinking a cocktail right now?!

Once we were seated and with drinks in hand, our kind bartender (and very patient I might add, we had SO many drink ingredient questions) took some awesome above-view photos of us 😀

I love the modern “pod” seating!

It was my second time at 116 Crown in September (and ever). I’ll definitely be back! It’d take me eons to work through that drink menu.

Falafel, hummus, cucumber yogurt sauce, pita.

By the time we got to the ultimate dinner destination, Red Lentil, I was staaarving! I’ve been pumped to try the place because it offers unique vegan/vegetarian dishes and had gotten a rave review from Heather. Maria and I started with the appetizer special, the above falafel platter. Be still my heart! It was excellent. I also had the beet-sweet potato-apple latkes. The picture looks totally ugly but they tasted the opposite of ugly.

They may or may not have been equated to “bad weed” in an Instagram comment.

After dinner, I hit the road…but I didn’t head back home like I thought I’d be doing when I woke up that morning. Instead, I responded to a spontaneous text I received during the paint class, inviting me to the Full Moon Onyx Moonshine Party at Taqueria Tavern in West Hartford.

Onyx is an awesome local CT company. I love local, I love booze, and I love unique marketing. Onyx Moonshine has all three of those on its side! You may remember that I worked with them at the Farm to Shaker Bartender Challenge as a cocktail competition judge!

The party included many delicious Onyx drink specials (I had a cinnamon infused Onyx on the rocks that was to die for) and a super-spicy wing eating contest. The photo above includes the two Onyx founders Pete and Adam, and between them is the winner of the wing-eating contest, Judson!

Judson and his winnings!

Judson is a champ. He decided to enter the contest THAT day! He also happens to be the boyfriend of my friend JenniferThey’re an adorable couple.

Jennifer and I!

I took a bite of one of the wings (DUMB) and my mouth was on fire for almost an hour afterward! I don’t know how these champs did it! JD of Ripe Bar Juice (also from the Cocktail Competition at the Coventry Farmer’s Market) ordered me up a Kahlua drink made with Onyx, and it certainly coated my mouth with some cooling dairy and helped stop the burn.

JD is fearing the wing!

I’m realizing right now that this post is really long and I am only just now getting to the part of it that I have been wanting to write for the last couple of days. This was a long day. I was drinking from 2:30PM to about 10:30PM. I definitely did some chip nomming at the Mexican restaurant. That Kahlua drink most definitely had whole milk in it. I didn’t get home until 11:30PM. The day may have started out Caitlin-style, but it didn’t end that way.

And as fate would have it, the beautiful Becki has started an October challenge that I decided today to join, because it fits with what I want to say today and what I want to DO for myself for the rest of the month and beyond. You can read the details here, but it entails 10 minutes a day of meditating on why you are AMAZING.

I woke up in the middle of the night on Saturday after having gone to that party in a panic. I was about to go get my mother out of bed and pour out my heart. I felt worthless. I felt guilty. I felt like I didn’t deserve to have the fun Saturday I’d just had.

But instead of going to get my mom, I took a deep breath. I lay in my bed in corpse pose and tried a calming tactic that has worked for me before. I breathed in and out, and after each breath I said out loud something from my #AmazingMe list. In, out. “I worked out yesterday.” In, out. “I had a wonderful time.” In, out. “I did something I knew would put me out of my comfort zone.” In, out, until I fell back asleep.

After all, only #AmazingMe could have made this painting!

I woke up on Sunday morning still feeling, to put it bluntly, like a piece of shit. I was proud of myself for having worked through my mid-night anxiety on my own, but was still being bombarded by the most hateful, mean thoughts. I went to the gym – yes, partially because I felt like I wanted to get in a workout to “make up” for the previous night. But also because I wanted to be powerful, feel strong, and do something that I enjoyed. I even putzed around the house for a bit before hitting the gym instead of dashing there like I usually do on weekend mornings, because I just wanted to wait it out and go to the Sunday morning spin class, which always leaves me feeling refreshed and has the BEST music. I did a lot of singing-and-spinning that morning.

I took a little social media vacation. I went on Instagram for a second, and realized the last thing I wanted to see was peoples’ food and workouts. Sometimes I’m okay with that stuff, but sometimes it triggers me like crazy. I tweeted that I was going to spend the day doing nothing except what makes me feel good. Then I stayed away from Twitter for most of the day.

After the gym, I took a long, slow, hot shower. I had a date to study with Jenny at J. Rene Coffee Roasters in West Hartford, and was still going because seeing Jenny and drinking coffee in a unique cafe does NOTHING but make me feel good, but I decided to take it slow. I decided not to be go-go-go to the next appointment on my “agenda”. I closed my eyes and sang in the shower, because that felt great. And while I was getting ready to go, Avril Lavigne “With You” came on my playlist and I suddenly got the urge to just dance around my room like a half ballerina, half hip-hop queen. I felt like it’d make me feel good. So, that’s what I did.

Even right now as I write this I am overwhelmed with pride over how much self love I practiced this past Sunday. Almost every activity I did, every action I took, I stopped and asked myself, “Is this what I want to do?” If it wasn’t, I didn’t do it. I still felt the hateful thoughts coming at me from every direction. But I was on a mission to medicate and heal their damage with something other than restricting, than over-exercising. I didn’t want to lose another battle.

At the end of Sunday evening as I lay in bed listening to an inspiring NPR interview recommended to me by Jenny, coloring with my Sharpies, inhaling my Pumpkin Buttercream Yankee Candle, I felt at peace. Again, I still had mean thoughts popping up in my head. I still felt a bit miserable. But getting past this is going to come in increments, and any little peace I can give myself means the world to me and makes me feel proud.

An evening of serenity.

What this all comes down to (I felt a bit word vomit-y as I wrote this but I just kinda let it flow), is the following: Yes, I was beating myself up all Sunday for having a spontaneous Saturday night. BUT I did not curl up in a ball and hide. I did not obsess over how I’d “make up” for what I had “done wrong”. I did not try to punish myself by letting my mind just sit back and take the negative thoughts. Instead I tried to HEAL myself from their damage by practicing self love and doing things that soothed me and taking it easy. I took it easy on myself, and as a result, felt like a fighter. I still feel like one! I didn’t feel that way a couple weekends ago in Tennessee, but this time I feel like I have come out successful in this battle. You lose some, you win some. And hopefully this is the start of continuing to win some!

Have you ever been to a unique BYOB activity or partaken in a crazy food contest?

What do you think about Becki’s Leaf Your Negativity Behind challenge? Who’s with me?!

Tell me a way you recently practiced self love!

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?

BIG News and Knoshbox Giveaway!

Don’t forget to check out yesterday’s post if you’re a CT resident – it contains some special instructions about how to possibly get into the VIP portion of Cuvee‘s 3rd Anniversary Party in West Hartford next Thursday 8/30!

Before I get into today’s review and giveaway, I have big news for you guys that I’ve been holding off on sharing until after I  was done recapping the 2012 Healthy Living Summit. On Monday I was contacted by Ripe, a local company that makes 100% natural drink mixer juices. They, along with Onyx Moonshine (another favorite local company of mine) and Morton’s of Hartford, are sponsoring a Farm-to-Shaker Bartender Challenge at my favorite CT farmer’s market, the Coventry Regional Farmers’ Market, on Sunday 9/9 at 2:30PM. Area mixologists will be asked to use ingredients from the day’s farmers’ market offerings to make unique cocktail creations. Adding a local twist to fancy beverages?! This has ME written all over it!

And Ripe thought so too, because the reason I was approached on Monday was so they could ask me to be a JUDGE at this event! I enthusiastically, immediately accepted the “job”. I am not only excited to get a chance to sample all these cocktails, but beyond honored and pleased that my blog has accurately portrayed my passion for the most out-there, skillfully crafted, and simply tasty cocktails. The fact that I was thought of as a good person to judge this kind of event means that I am doing a good job of being ME when I publish posts! And after having just tuned into the “I Am the Blogger in Your Neighborhood” session at HLS and feeling encouraged and reassured about my involvement as a CT blogger, this is only further proof that I am on the right path!

My BB Heather just so HAPPENS to be visiting that weekend too (this keeps getting better) so she will be able to join my parents in watching me judge – and take photos/videos to show you all!!!

Knoshbox Review & Giveaway

Now let’s get into the goods. As in, good for you guys!

My friend Richard has utilized his local food expertise and started Knoshbox, a monthly subscription service that delivers local treasures to foodies nationwide. There are other food sample subscription services out there, but Knoshbox differs in a couple of ways.

Firstly, the products Richard selects to send out each month are not produced by “big business” by any means. Knoshbox recipients can rest assured that the food they’re receiving is coming from sources such as start-up ventures or farms.

So simple and classy!

Secondly, Richard is not sending subscribers sample items. Instead, he sends out full-size items so that foodies have plenty to enjoy. Also, farms or start-ups might not already be producing sample sizes, so I think it makes sense and is considerate of the producers to not restrict Knoshbox items to those that come in sample sizes only.

I was so excited when Richard sent me the company’s first box and even included a note explaining just how fresh the box’s contents were. The words “a few days ago”…”this past Friday”…”first bounty of the season”…totally stood out to me and made me all the more excited to see what was inside.

No, I’m just kidding, the box did NOT only include packing “potpourri”. But I thought it was way fun.

Like my do?

But seriously, my Knoshbox contained a variety of high-quality foodie treasures.

  • Ashlawn Farm Coffee: This bold blend contains fair trade and organic beans! I haven’t had a chance to use it yet since I typically don’t drink coffee I make at home, but my mom is excited to try it. The only reason she hasn’t yet is because the bag came with whole coffee beans instead of ground. This was a bit inconvenient, but I also understand it was necessary to preserve the freshness. I love that it came right from a farm in Lyme, CT. I’d love to visit their cafe sometime.
  • Zen Tara Tea: The Golden Meyer Lemon Black Tea is the perfect basic flavor, made with lemon peel and lemongrass. Zen Tara is a company based in Bethesda, MD.
  • Two Cousins Biscotti: You probably have seen me tweeting away about having this as a late-night snack with my beloved plain Chobani. An Italian couple in Clinton, CT makes this authentic, complexly flavored biscotti. It’s the perfect mix of sweet and savory and each bite was like a surprise because I didn’t know if I’d hit a cranberry, a pistachio, or an apricot. Any of the three was welcome! Love that satisfying crunch too.

  • Taza Chocolate: I raved about Taza when I tried their stone ground chocolate at CT Veg Fest and I’ll rave about it again here. Once again, plain Chobani provided an excellent place to mix in this salt and pepper dark chocolate. Such a rich flavor and the difference between Taza and other dark chocolate brands is totally noticeable. I was so excited to see it in the Knoshbox.
  • Full Bloom Apiaries: It doesn’t get more legit than honey straight from those that do it best, like this apiary in Franklin, CT. I have to admit I don’t use honey often but would love to find some baked good recipes to incorporate this into.

Me and ma honey 😉

All of these items and those that appear in any Knoshbox are available for purchase on the site’s Market. Your next question, I’m sure, is “How much will this cost me?” You can guess that with full-size local products, the price point of a Knoshbox is not as low as the $10/month I was paying for my Birchboxes. However for $30/month, you can get your own Knoshbox without having to pay shipping. And if you aren’t sure whether or not you want to commit, you can order just one box (with shipping) – that would even make a great gift, since Richard shares on the website ahead of time what kind of goods will be in the upcoming month’s box! For example, September will bring the Wine Trail Box with goodies like Vermont wheat crackers and Portland, Oregan chorizo – perfect for the wino on your gift list (*cough*)

My nighttime routine (for four nights since I had four biscotti) was having the biscotti crumbled in plain Chobani while I read my book!

One lucky Cait Plus Ate reader will WIN that September Wine Trail Box! Giveaway is open to US residents only (except Alaska and Hawaii) and will close Saturday night at 11:59PM ET. The winner will be announced Sunday. There are several ways to enter, and make sure you leave a comment for each:

  1. Head to the Knoshbox Market and comment telling me which local treasure you’d most want to try (mandatory).
  2. Follow me on Twitter and comment saying you did.
  3. Follow Knoshbox on Twitter and comment saying you did.
  4. Tweet “I entered to win a @Knoshbox full of local foods from @CaitPlusAte! http://wp.me/p1SfTW-1nX” and comment with the link to the tweet.
  5. Follow me on Pinterest and comment saying you did.
  6. Follow Knoshbox on Pinterest and repin something from there. Comment with the link to the repin.

Good luck to all!