Thursday, October 16, 2008

Food Strollin'

Last night, Noe and I attended the New London Main Street Fall Food Stroll. This is the third Food Stroll that has happened since we have been here (one last fall and one in the spring) but the first one we were able to make it to.

New London Main Street is a non-profit organization dedicated to the "preservation, enhancement, and promotion of the Historic Waterfront District" here in New London. Basically, they want downtown to look nice and they want people to come here. New London has kind of a bad rep around CT and New London Main Street is trying to change that perception. (Ypsi - you could probably take some notes from NMLS.) One way they get people downtown is with events such as the Food Strolls, where most of the downtown restaurants and bars give out samples of their wares. Since New London's downtown is very walkable, everybody pretty much sets up shop in their own space and the attendees wander from one restaurant to the next. The cost of this adventure? $25 bucks for all the samples you could eat and a drink coupon.

After meeting up with the group at our favorite downtown watering hole, Hanafin's Irish Pub, we headed all the way down to the end of Bank Street to start the stroll at Jasmine Thai, the newest restaurant in town. Jasmine Thai put out the most diverse array of samples of any of the participating vendors. We were able to get fried rice, salad, tempura shrimp, cucumber rolls, and California rolls. Yum! (Noe and I actually ate at Jasmine Thai about a week ago and enjoyed the food - there will be a review forthcoming.)

Dr. Chattybox, me, Amanda, Kevin, John and Katie setting out

After Jasmine, we continued down Bank Street to some other familiar spots, Hot Rod Cafe and Dev's on Bank. Rod was serving up an Amy and Noe favorite, the garlic-pepper dry rub wings, along with a prime rib slider (both excellent). It is also worth noting that Rod was redeeming drink coupons at a two-for-one rate, which the boys were taking full advantage of. Dev's was handing out their painted grapes (grapes wrapped with Gorgonzola, rolled in spicy almonds, and drizzled with honey).

After gossiping with Bunny for awhile, we continued down the street, stopping at the firehouse (firemen handing out their homemade chili), Frontera's (Ecuadorian place we have never tried, but thanks to the excellent ceviche we will certainly be trying soon!), Lucca (albacore and liver pates on crostini), Brie & Bleu (hunks of Gouda cheese), Thames River Wine & Spirits, Muddy Waters (could not keep the boys away from those chocolate muffins!), Daniel's Downtown Dairy (mini ice cream cones!)

We negotiated the right turn onto Water Street to grab some tamales at Zavala and then turned left to head up State Street. There aren't as many restaurants on State as there are on Bank, but we'd read that some of the local catering companies had set up shop in the stores and venues. We were able to get a good look at City News, the new cigar shop/news stand owned by the Thames River Greenery/Wine & Spirits/Brie & Bleu group. We visited East Coast Catering in the Atrium building, and then headed over to the Crocker House.

The boys at Crocker House heading back for seconds.

Gourmet Galley Catering was displaying their wares in Crocker House's three outstanding event spaces - the modern art-inspired rainbow colored lobby; the gorgeous grand ballroom, and the elegant garden courtyard. We knew we'd like them before we even entered the lobby - we were handed some Captain Morgan spiked hot cider at the door and didn't even have to use a drink coupon. Once we got in, we gawked at the space and ate a sandwich that Steve the Pirate very aptly described as "Thanksgiving on a bun" along with little pieces of pie. Katie and I chose to redeem our drink tickets here for some (full-sized) gin and tonics to enjoy as we completed the stroll.

Katie and I love our G&Ts.

We stopped for curried rice at Northern Indian and squash/carrot soup and apple crisp at Mangetout, downtown's organic offering (the crisp was awesome but I thought the soup - while having a great velvety texture - was lacking in flavor). We finished the night with chocolate chip cookies and banana crepes at the Bean & Leaf - and were finally forced to admit that we were indeed finally full.

This was a fantastic event and I am really impressed with NLMS and all their volunteers for being able to pull it off so smoothly. I can see why these strolls continue to bring more and more people downtown. As long as I live in New London, I know I'll never miss another one.


Anonymous said...

Glad you enjoyed yourselves. I heard the rice dishes were a hit!

Alison said...

I know this is gonna sound weird, but I don't like food festivals. I hate eating standing up. It stresses me out!