Tag Archives: taste of new haven

Taste of New Haven: On 9 Tour

I just adore the Taste of New Haven food tours! So much so in fact, that I have now been on three of their currently offered tours, as well as one that is no longer offered. You can read my past recaps below:

Keep your eyes peeled on daily deal sites like Groupon or ChariDeal, because Taste of New Haven deals often pop up there – in fact, I have funded all four of the tours I’ve been on with a daily deal! Tickets are normally $55/person (plus tax) or one can become a member and get, among other perks, 20% off of an unlimited amount of tours. I may have used a daily deal for each tour I’ve been on, but I wholeheartedly believe and tell people often that the $55 price is MORE than worth it for the amount of food and drinks each person receives on a tour! The owner, head tour guide, and author Colin Caplan will even try to get substitutions for folks with dietary modifications (within reason).

Colin doin’ his tour guide thang.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

My (first) plate.

Of course Jeff was my tour companion!

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Have you ever been on a food tour?

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

Zafra Rum Bar – New Haven, CT

Remember nominations for Hartford Courant’s CT blog awards, the Websters, close this Wednesday 3/21!

Until I have time to blog about my visit with the amazing Heather of For the Love of Kale, check out her two posts on our endeavors 🙂 Today I bring you a fantastic restaurant review!

I have written about Zafra before, because I visited and discovered the restaurant while on a Taste of New Haven tour of the Canal Quarter area of New Haven, CT. This place is the first rum bar in Connecticut and also the largest rum bar in the United States, with choice of over 125 different rums!

Cocktails on the left, rums on the right, and the rum menu has a back too!

During my inaugural visit I was blown away by the hospitality of the staff, especially Ed Zynko, the bar manager. Last Saturday I took another trip to Zafra, and was treated just as well, if not better. Ed even reserved spots at the bar for my friends and I to ensure that he would be taking care of us and showing us a good time.

We certainly felt special!

I ordered us a round of Ed’s famous mojitos immediately – one cannot visit Zafra without trying a 10 Cane Mojito, honestly the best I have ever had.

Ain’t it pretty?

My companions for the evening were Joe and his brother, Chris, who I recently discovered is a fellow food, drink, and restaurant fanatic!

Joe and his mojito.

Me and Chris!

We perused the appetizers and decided to order a couple to share – the Cuban Dumplings and the Coconut Ceviche for 2.

When the menu said “beautifully arranged”, it was NOT kidding!

The Cuban Dumplings – inside of a coconut!

The dumplings were so yummy, especially with the inclusion of PICKLES, and the dipping sauce was tasty too. What a pretty arrangement!! These went VERY quickly between the three of us.

AAHHH! Look at that!

Yes, THAT is the Coconut Ceviche for 2. Oh goodness! You can’t tell from the photo, but it was even lit up from inside with a red light! The orange sauce on the wooden spoon was a chipotle sauce that was to DIE for, we had to ask for some more because Joe demolished it (he’s a condiment king). The seafood was amazing, just look at those HUGE shrimp, and the avocado paired with them was a nice touch. On the lower right you’ll see tostones, or green plantains, tucked into the white napkin. They were absolutely wonderful dipped in the chipotle sauce. I could have eaten a million more!

Chris was a big fan.

Time for another round of drinks – I learned about Ed’s famous and award-winning Caribbean Dream, made with egg whites, on the Taste of New Haven visit. It’s been called “vacation in a glass”, and though it is too sweet for my martini-loving taste buds, I knew Joe would be ALL about it.

He gets to work – this drink takes awhile to make.

Ed crafts a masterpiece.

The finished product, and a happy customer.

Just like I thought – Joe LOVED it! I did steal a sip or two 😉 and so did Chris, but his next drink was of the more dangerous variety.

Delicious, but indeed dangerous, the Jamaican Motherfucker (yup, that’s the name) has a bite to it that indicates that it’s one powerful beverage. Ed declared it to be the strongest drink on the menu. I helped Chris finish some of this. After all, didn’t want to leave him to handle it alone, right? 😀

Ed and his partner in crime working on drinks.

Doesn’t that sugar-rimmed martini look mighty tasty?

Ed prepares a Captain Jack Sparrow – notice the concentration.

Captain Jack (Pyrat Rum XO Reserve, pineapple, passion fruit, and lime juices, and blue curacao) is ready to be consumed, and Ed makes like a blur to go make the next drink.

Joe headed out for the evening, and Chris and I decided to order two entrees to share so that we could try as many things as possible. We did a bit of surf and a bit of turf. First up, the Lechon Asado: slow-roasted pork (marinated 24 hours), sauteed onions, white rice, black beans, a broiled yucca.

The pork was beyond excellent, Chris and I could not stop raving about it. The 24-hour marinading DEFINITELY makes a difference. I also adored the yucca. It was my first time having it! The black beans were very good (I’m a fanatic when it comes to those). I left the rice alone because I’m just not a rice person – so boring compared to the many other interesting, flavorful eats!

As for the surf, we went with Jumbo Diver Scallops: pan-seared scallops, black beans, and maduros (sweet plantains).

Again, I left the rice alone and the beans were yummy. The scallops were cooked very well, but I got a few crunchy bites – Chris guessed it was leftover sand? I’ve heard that it’s very difficult to get scallops completely cleaned of it. Not sure, but they were still nice and juicy and seasoned very well! I was all OVER the sweet plantains, I just love them.

If you’re a vegetarian and wish to visit Zafra, you’re in luck – there are plenty of options on the menu that you can still enjoy! Just check out the Latin Caprese below, made with fresh mozz, roasted red peppers, tomato, cilantro oil, and balsamic vinegar:

Zafra regular Colin, owner of Taste of New Haven, was kind enough to let me snap this photo of his meal.

Ed insisted that Chris and I try one of his favorite drinks to make, an espresso martini, AKA a java chip frap with alcohol! Well, we had to have dessert in some form, right?

He started by lining a martini glass with chocolate syrup – I already liked where this was going.

I could hardly wait to take the first sip!

Chris and I LOVED this. Four thumbs up total! Unfortunately we could not finish it because a) we were full and b) we both had to drive over 45 minutes to get to our respective homes.

We had an amazing time at Zafra and I couldn’t be happier about my new-found love for New Haven and its restaurant scene. Just goes to show you that you need to experience something before you can judge it – no longer do I think of this city as “shoot-em-up New Haven”. No, now I see it for the diverse, exciting hotspot that it is, with tons to offer in terms of food, drinks, sights, and history!

Thank you Ed, and all of Zafra’s staff, for a fun and delicious night!

Have you ever been to a rum bar or tried Cuban food and/or drinks?

Have you ever realized that you were judging something without experiencing it first? Once you experienced it, what was your take? Did your opinion change?

Taste of New Haven: Canal Quarter

Holy moly. This is going to be quite a post. You’re in for a little history mixed with a lot of food and drink deliciousness. I’m so excited to share with you guys my second Taste of New Haven experience (I previously took a tour in the Westville neighborhood) in the Canal Quarter area of the city. As soon as I saw the Groupon, I chose a date with my foodie friend and blog-namer Rachel, and bought one for us right away.

From the Groupon description: Experience a litany of other flavors on the Canal Quarter tour, which strolls through bucolic thoroughfares and visits locations nestled in an old iron foundry. After launching from the Audubon Street Bridge, the tour meanders through a loaded itinerary, sampling the globe at the Vietnamese Pot au Pho and the Cuban Zafra RumBar, cavorting with cheesemongers at Caseus, and landing in the beery Emerald Isle at Anna Liffey’s. 

That’s not even all the places we went to – more stops were added after the Groupon came out. The New Haven historian, owner of Taste of New Haven, and tour guide, Colin, is always looking for new foodie stops to add to his tours!

Colin gives the historical scoop on New Haven throughout the tour.

Rachel and I ran into a little hiccup when the Groupon itself directed us to an address about 10 minutes from the actual meeting place for our tour group, leading us to park in the incorrect parking garage, but the weather was perfect and we didn’t mind taking an extra little pre-tour stroll to work up our appetites! Plus, the hiccup turned out to be quite fortuitous when we went to leave later, and the garage was un-manned, so we never ended up having to pay for parking!

Colin gives the tour group the run-down.

The first stop on our tour was Koffee? (the use of K’s instead of C’s became quite the theme on the tour, as you’ll see), and I was beyond excited to check it out, seeing as I’m a bit of a cute-cafe-addict. This place certainly didn’t disappoint.

Excuse me while I pose cheesily with the signage.

Koffee is a favorite spot for Yale students to come get work done or just hang out. I’m a cafe-studier myself, and could totally see myself parking it in this place with a laptop and getting a ton of work done. If only it weren’t so far away, I’d come back to do blog and MBA work there!

After 5pm, Koffee After Dark begins! Wine, craft beers, cheese plates, and other sophisticated fare become available to patrons. I really love that! I’ve heard that some Starbucks have started trying to do craft beers or wine in select stores in the evening hours, and I’m not sure a massive chain like that can “pull it off”, but Koffee does so effortlessly because of its status as a local treasure. It’s a place where people who knows each other can meet and spend time together and build history!

Ethiopian coffee – the single origin brew of the day.

However the tour started at 3pm, so wine and beer wasn’t on the menu (yet), just coffee. No complaints here though – the flavor was excellent and it was good enough to sip on and drink black. That’s how you know it’s the good stuff!

Rachel's cup, with a bit of milk.

Koffee serves a different single origin blend daily, and the one we got to sample was from Ethiopia! All their coffees and teas are fair-trade, which is great since coffee shops can’t necessarily “go local” with their java since it isn’t grown around here. This is the next best thing!

The owner , Duncan Goodall, is a Yale grad and “corporate refugee”. A fun employee, Bobby Tan, talked with us about the coffee and brought out a beautiful thing – a tray of pastries, made by Koffee’s very own catering service.

Is that not the most beautiful thing you’ve ever seen?! I wanted to try everything!! I ended up trying several different pastries by having one or two bites of each.

Clockwise from top: a zebra bar, pumpkin bread with cream cheesy icing, peanut butter bar, and some kind of cinnamon/apple cake.

Rachel’s favorite was the zebra flavor, but I LOVED the pumpkin bread. The icing totally made it. The peanut butter bar was also to die for (Colin’s favorite) – so dense and made with so much pure-peanut butter that I could tell was all-natural. I’m kinda guessing on the last treat’s flavor but I tasted apple and cinnamon, and there was definitely some crumbled brown sugar on top. It was great – maybe there was gingerbread in there too?

You can see above a better view of the peanut butter bar and apple/cinnamon cake, before I took bites! Also pictured above is a chocolate cranberry cake with chopped nuts on top – it was OK but I am not a big cranberry fan so I’m biased there.

Quick pic before we headed out to the next stop.

By the way, I just checked out Koffee’s savory food menu and am bowled over by both the Odd, But Good and the Leala sandwich, made with clover honey and other unique ingredients. OK, it’s settled, I’ll be back.

Our next stop was right across the street, and may be of interest to plenty of readers right off the bat, considering its name…

Pure Health Lounge

Canadian franchise Pure Health Lounge just opened this New Haven location a week or two ago! The menu includes fresh breakfast and lunch food, frozen yogurt, smoothies, and veggie/fruit juices. That’s what we got to try!

The owner was kind enough to come out and give us a quick intro, and let us watch him make a juice drink while serving us samples of one that had already been prepared, called the Detox: parsley, celery, spinach, and carrots. Shots, shots, shots…

It was delicious! Not sure if I could ever order a whole cup of it, but the shot was really great and quite needed after the wining I had done the night before.

An employee prepares our Power Punch beverage.

The pulp from the machine! It's recycled and used as compost around New Haven.

Pouring the second juice for us.

Our second sample, the Power Punch, contained carrots, apples, and oranges. It was great, even better than the Detox! Again, don’t think I could drink a whole cup, but the little samples were perfect.

Pinkies up!

I’d also be curious as to how their coffee tastes. I loved the choice of displaying the beans in those cute jars. Pure Health Lounge only just opened last week in New Haven, on 90 Audubon Street, so stop by and give them some support!

Now that we’d been properly detox-ed, it was time to get more sweets in our system. Katalina’s Kupcakes is the first “cupcake shop” I’ve officially visited, believe it or not. We walked in and a display of samples was already set up for us!

Red velvet cupcakes, raspberry walnut tarts, raspberry scones.

I was psyched especially to see the raspberry scones, since I still had a little bit of leftover Koffee coffee in my cup. Scones and coffee are one of my most favorite combos. I dipped a piece of scone in the copy and couldn’t have been happier. I also adored these particular scones because they weren’t too sweet at all. Scones in general are one of my favorite pastries because they eat more like a breakfast cake than a breakfast sweet dessert, which usually leave me crashing after an hour.

It's not a Cait Plus Ate post without me being a cheeseball.

I didn’t try a raspberry walnut bar because I’m not a fan of jam-like raspberry,  but the red velvet cupcake was OUT OF THIS WORLD. The top portion was crispy, and the cream cheese icing was just so heavenly.

Winner of a Yale student baking contest.

Katalina herself was kind enough to bring out even more samples! Pictured above was the most unique creation I tasted, the Hot Chocolate: dark chocolate cake with cayenne pepper. The “bite” that came after the first few chews was definitely tasted, though not quite as much as I expected. I honestly could have used a little more cayenne!

Whoopie pies.

Definitely no comparison to the whoopie pies I am used to eating in the dining hall. Rachel used Wikipedia (oh thank you, iPhone) to find out that the name of these treats comes from when Amish women would pack them in their husbands’ lunches and they would cry “Whoopie!” when they opened their lunchboxes and found one!

It should also be known that Katalina’s has plenty of gluten-free and vegan treats. They also host fun baking events that even include cocktails! Finally, their latest Facebook update states that they are gonna be serving savory cupcakes. We are talking goat cheese with fig cream cheese frosting and apple cake with gorgonzola frosting. And they make homemade pop-tarts….this place is worth a visit!

At the beginning of the tour, Colin told us that our trip to a Vietnamese restaurant, Pot au Pho, was unfortunately cut from the tour because they were unexpectedly closed. But as we left our last stop, he told us that, SURPRISE, they were open and back on the tour! Time for the savory portion to begin! We learned upon our arrival that it’s possible that the name “pho” comes from the French word for “fire”. Historically, the soup would be made starting with a VERY hot broth (the temperature of fire). Onions would be thrown in, and the broth’s heat alone would caramelize them. However, it’s also possible that the name comes from the name of the Pantamese rice noodle that is sometimes used in the dish.

We actually started with lychee bubble tea, which I’m absolutely not a fan of. The tea itself is too sweetened and I am not a fan of the texture of those tapioca balls. I know some people love it though! I was however, a big fan of our meal, pictured above. Beef pho, a Vietnamese noodle dish (my friend Joe is obsessed with it so I’d tried it before with him), and Com Tay Cam, a chicken dish served on a bed of rice with ginger sauce and cilantro. The pho was pretty good – I’ve never been a huge fan – but the Com Tay Cam was out of this world! I didn’t have any rice because I just think white rice, and all rice in general, is the most boring food in the world. The chicken with all that cilantro though? PERFECT. I was starting to get full at this point…and we still had three more stops to go!

The exterior of Caseus, a cheese shop and bistro.

I loved the exterior of the next stop, Caseus Fromagerie and Bistro. I’ve actually had their cheese before at the CT Wine & Food Fest  and was impressed, but luckily, the kind owner Jason Sobocinski (the self-proclaimed “Big Cheese”) had some different cheeses for us to try.

Jason hanging out with his ADORABLE mohawked son.

Caseus comes from the Latin root word for “cheese”. Jason’s mission is for his patrons to fill both their stomachs and their minds, something I can get behind. They were voted CT’s most sustainable restaurant by the Edible Nutmeg magazine too!

Time for cheese sampling! The first cheese we tried (the more mild of the two) was Brigid’s Abbey from Cato Corner Farm of Colchester. The cheese’s name comes from Brigid Abbey, the patron milk maid of Ireland. It’s an excellent melting cheese and tasted delicious.

Eek! Sorry for the bad photo.

Cato Corner Farm will actually offer tours, something I’d love to look into. Their flagship cheese has a fun name – Hooligan, a signature “stinky cheese”. There’s even a drunken version of it, washed with wine! After looking at the whole cheese list, I’m dying to take a visit to Cato Corner Farm.

Next sample!

The next cheese, Cremont, was stronger and also made partially with goat’s milk. As soon as I heard that, I knew I’d like it more – and I did. Rachel is crazy and didn’t like, but I’ll forgive her. Its name comes from “cream of Vermont”.

Pre-cut cheeses and local beverage options are available for sale at the front of the store, as well as a station where cheese can be freshly chopped and purchased by the weight. Jason informed us that he has recently partnered up with Park Central Tavern of Hamden, CT, to help revitalize the menu. That place also uses bread from Whole G Bakery, which provided me with amazing bread at the farmer’s market during the Westville Taste of New Haven tour! Love seeing these local places pop up everywhere! Definitely want to visit Park Central Tavern sometime. Their martinis in particular look fabulous.

A quick walk through the front of Caseus (the fromagerie) brings you to the bistro portion, which reminded me of a wine cellar. LOVED the vibe! So Italian and cozy. The menu looked excellent and carries a humorous warning: “We use peanut oil…a lot.”

And much like fine wine is stored in a wine cellar with a specially-maintained temperature, fine cheese is stored in a special cooler! Behold the holy grail of cheese!

From Caseus, we took a historical walk to our next location, past some old homes, a closed-down theater (that is going to be renovated, luckily!), a former carriage house (kinda like a garage in the middle of the city for horses!), and a Wells Fargo bank that is apparently the most haunted spot in New Haven! There have been MANY strange happenings there, especially in the basement, which is unfortunately where the only customer bathrooms are located. We did NOT go inside, thank goodness. I’m not up for that stuff…and by this time it was dark out!

Time for a place that isn’t scary at all, unless you want to be cheesy and say “it’s so good it’s scary”. CT’s first rum bar, Zafra, which also happens to house one of the best selections of rum in the country.

Mojitos in the making.

This place was easily my favorite stop of the entire tour. I already am planning to return! The term “zafra” describes the sugar cane harvest, which was Cuba’s principle crop and of extreme importance to its people.

Being a Cuban rum bar, Zafra makes a famous mojito. Above you can see individual ones being made. The ones our group tried came from a big batch, so we were told we had to come back and have an individually made one to get the full, wonderful experience. I wasted no time doing that – but more on that later.

Each glass is individually wiped down before being served!

I couldn’t believe it when the bartender, Ed, told Rachel and I that the mojito samples we were drinking were not as good as his other mojitos, because it was seriously an AMAZING drink. Best mojito we’d ever had! And best bartender!

Ed, the man himself.

Delicious beverage (and a shaky hand?)

This place isn’t just about drinks. The food was out of this world good. Like I said, I already plan to return and sample more of it.

Mojito and cuban sandwich – quite a pairing.

The above cuban sandwich was the best I’ve ever had, by far. The pulled pork was perfect, the bread was crunchy, the PICKLES made it. Next time I go, I want to try the cuban dumplings, filled with pork, ham, swiss, and pickles, with Malibu rum dipping sauce. Are you still alive after reading that? Because I may be only semi-conscious.

The above nachos were also the best I’d ever had, thanks to the addition of fresh, home-made black beans and mango salsa. I’ve never seen nachos served with mango salsa on top, but honestly, why didn’t someone think of it sooner?!

Colin and I at Zafra!

Like I said, Ed is a bit of a maestro. He’s had mojitos in seven countries, so he’s definitely an expert. According to Ed, there are two reasons why people say they don’t like mojitos: they are too sweet, or lime and mint beverages aren’t their favorites. If someone claims a mojito is too sweet, Ed insists that he or she let him make a real Cuban mojito, and the hater’s mind is almost always changed – because Ed makes them correctly! If someone doesn’t like mojitos because they don’t like lime or mint, then Ed lets them be, because they’re not gonna end up liking a mojito, no matter how well he can make it.

Yes, those are egg whites that he’s putting into the drink above! The Caribbean Dream is a beverage he created, and it was featured in the New Haven Advocate. I of course cannot reveal an exact recipe, but there’s plenty involved: three different rums (guava, pineapple, vanilla), bitters, many different fruit juices, and those crazy egg whites! The couple next to Rachel and I were so curious that they each ordered a Caribbean Dream, and Ed was kind enough to let Rachel and I sample some leftovers. De-lish, though I don’t know if I could finish a whole one because it was huge and I like my drinks less sweet!


Did you know that egg whites in drinks are actually not all that crazy? Sour mix gets its foamy-ness from egg whites, and you find that in tons of drinks – more common than ya think!

Ed also created a drink for Colin that I had a sip of, called La Diablita. I don’t remember what was in it but it was SPICY! I could only handle one sip. Colin, Rachel, and I also had a sampler of three rums: Hurricane, distilled in Nantucket, Plantation, from Jamaica, and the Lash, a heavily spiced rum (VERY heavily spiced). Note: The Caribbean Dream, rum sampler, and Diablita were not included on the tour, but are definitely worth checking out!

Ed also handed out $5 gift cards to all of us on our way out! What a perk!

Next stop: Irish pub Anna Liffey’s for classic bar food and more drinks!

The name “Anna Liffey” was used in Irish political songs as a code word for “Dublin”. The code words were necessary to hide the real messages of political music from the British, who ruled the Irish at the time. So, any old Irish songs about a woman named Anna Liffey were actually talking about Dublin!

Our table was set with really pretty stained glass candle holders, and really not-tasty (in my opinion, I’m a beer hater) Guinness.

Caitlin's beer face.

Everyone except me LOVED it, but I of course swapped mine out for my old dependable, a glass of house red (Malbec, to be specific). And by swapped, I mean I gave my beer to Rachel and she got to double-up, just like she did during the Westville tour’s beer portion. Thank you to Colin and Anna Liffey’s for being so accommodating to this beer hater!

Wine and beer can get along!

At this last stop I was really quite full and was going to stick to just my wine. But then I decided I was being crazy – this is Taste of New Haven after all! Among the items to sample: french fries, beer-battered stuffed mushrooms, coconut shrimp, wings, mozz/tomato, and spring rolls!

Tomato and mozz paired well with my red wine!

Some of the food at Anna Liffey’s was unique, but most of it was pretty typical pub fare. Definitely delicious and definitely worth a visit, but probably the least unique stop on the tour. It’s tough competition out there with Colin always choosing such great places!

The most unique dish I tried.

The above photo is NOT pretty, but I really wanted to mention this Guinness soup because I could really taste the beer in the soup, and that was so cool. Since the carbonation from the beer was of course not there in the soup, I enjoyed the taste. I’d definitely recommend it for someone visiting Anna Liffey’s who wants a unique dish!

Getting a bit silly.

As someone who is always cold, I definitely appreciated the fact that there was a little wood-burning stove right by the table we were seated at. And after my several libations, I was feeling up for posing for a photo of me “warming myself” by the fire.

Colin's published works.

So concluded our Taste of New Haven: Canal Quarter tour! Colin was kind enough to bring copies of the four books he’s authored about the history of New Haven, and offered to sign copies too for anyone who wanted to purchase some.

Hanging at Koffee After Dark

After the tour, Colin, Rachel, and I made one last trip to Zafra, and that’s where I got to try a real Ed-made mojito. Um, amazing. Simply amazing. You have not tasted a mojito until you’ve tasted Ed’s. That’s all I can say – just go to Zafra NOW!

A great way to go to Zafra is to sign up for your own Taste of New Haven: Canal Quarter tour. Better yet, sign up for that, AND the Westville tour. Despite the fact that I used a Groupon, I can say for sure that next time a new tour comes out (there are six more in the works), I will pay full price. It’s beyond worth it and also makes a perfect present for that foodie snob friend that you can never satisfy with your restaurant choices – AKA your friends like me 😉 Colin will also do customized private group tours – another amazing birthday idea! Food party!

Thank you to Colin for bringing the tastes and history of New Haven to those who have so much to learn about this amazing city!

Which stop would you be most excited to try?

Mondo Monday!

You really have no idea how long I’ve been waiting to use that title. Basically since before I even visited Mondo in Middletown, CT a week ago today (last Monday) for some tasty Groupon-funded pizza! Colin of Taste of New Haven and I hit up that particular spot because he is an avid pizza lover (New Haven, pizza, obvious connection), and nothing is more fun than dining with a fellow foodie! Middletown was also a nice central location between the Hartford and New Haven areas.

View from our seats (we sat by the bar). Image courtesy of mondomiddletown.com.

We started with a small tapas-style Misto Plate, which I forgot to take a photo of (d’oh), but it did contain some tasty things. So, you can’t blame me when I was so excited that I dove right in and forgot my blogging duties. I love sampler plates, and this one contained a perfectly-portioned mix of dressed greens, polenta croutons, prosciutto, fresh cheese, marinated red peppers, and olives. I had a little of everything, but I have to say the polenta croutons were my favorite items on the plate. So crispy and satisfying!

For our pizza, we went with something I’ve been dying to try for so long: Oozy Egg Pizza!

Mozz and romano cheeses, egg, truffle oil, and half prosciutto (my half).

This pizza was beyond beyond incredible. The crust was at the perfect crispness: a satisfying crunch, and strong enough to eat one-handed (you know what I mean…nothing is more annoying than a weak crust that leaves toppings falling off a slice, no matter how delicious). The lack of sauce didn’t take away from the pizza at all – in fact, it added to it. White pizza was the only way to go on this one. The prosciutto and egg on my half combined to give me the taste of a breakfast sandwich on a pizza – but I’m not talking about an Egg McMuffin here. It tasted completely gourmet!

No bite was left standing – obviously. Mondo has so many other pies that I want to try and I hope to get back for another visit sometime. It’s a bit far from my house but I really think my mom would enjoy their veggie pie – and they even offer wheat and gluten-free crust options!

I cannot believe that Thanksgiving is in just a few days…this year has absolutely flown by. I’m hoping winter flies by just as fast so I can get to spring already!

Have you ever tried runny egg on a pizza? Do you like prosciutto on any other types of pizza?