Sunday, June 21, 2009

Do you always watch for the longest day of the year and then miss it?

Last year I wrote a blog about Kevin Doyle's Great Gatsby party. I am glad to report that this year Doyle held the second annual Great Gatsby Party and that the costumes and cocktails were even better. We were lacking Kevin Lester this year, but attempted to make up for his absence with lots of toasting and "Lester-posing" for photographs.

Here are some photographic highlights from the evening:

The early crowd sets up the tent in case of rain.
Luckily the weather held out.

First drink of the evening: the French 75. Recipe appears below.

Trifecta in costume complete with vintage cocktails


Depression-era Noe looks rather depressed.

Last year we really only made one vintage cocktail, the Monkey Gland. It was tasty, but it's the kind of drink you can really only have one of due to the sweetness factor (well, at least I only wanted one). This year, we all did some research on vintage drinks and had a tasting session at John and Katie's prior to the party. We found several - all involving gin - that we loved. Here are the recipes for our favorites:

The South Side (pictured):

1 1/3 cups fresh lemon juice
2/3 cup Simple Syrup
1/4 cup packed fresh mint leaves
6 ounces Gin
seltzer water


Muddle mint, lemon juice and simple syrup until mint flavor has been released. Divide ice and gin evenly between each glass, add lemon mint mix and top off with seltzer water. Garnish with a lemon twist, if desired. Serves: 4

The Aviation:


2 oz Gin
1/2 oz maraschino liqueur (we used maraschino syrup instead)
1/4 oz lemon juice


Combine ingredients in a cocktail shaker and shake well. Strain and serve. Garnish with a cherry. Serves: 1

*We topped this one off with club soda because the portion was extremely small.

Left to right: French 75, Blackberry Bramble, South Side

The Blackberry Bramble:


Club soda
1 ounce crème de mure (blackberry liqueur)
1/2 ounce Simple Syrup
1 1/2 ounces fresh lemon juice
1 1/2 ounces Gin


Combine the gin, lemon juice and simple syrup in a cocktail shaker. Shake and strain into a glass, top with soda and float the crème de mûre. Serves: 1

The French 75:
*This one was not truly 1920's but it involved gin and it was tasty, so it made the cut.


  • 1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
  • 1 tablespoon powdered sugar (we used simple syrup)
  • 2 ounces gin
  • 3 ounces plus 1 tablespoon chilled Champagne


In cocktail shaker, combine lemon juice, sugar, gin, and ice cubes and shake to chill. Strain cocktail into a glass and top off with Champagne.

Thursday, June 18, 2009

Thursdays with Inuk

This is what I do on Thursday mornings before I go to work. I play with three Beluga whales, including Inuk, the curious guy in the background there - and give them plenty of fish and tongue rubs (yes, belugas like their tongues rubbed). Sticking your hand in a whale's mouth may not be your idea of the right way to start the day, but it rates pretty high on my list.

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Working for the Weekend(s)

Because I am not quite busy enough (sarcasm), I decided to get a second job, at least for the summer but hopefully something I can keep a few occasional hours year-round. Luckily for me, Jonathan Edwards Winery happened to be looking for a couple people to work in their tasting room at the same time I was looking for a part-time job.

The winery - which produces both Napa Valley and estate Connecticut wines - is located on what is probably the most beautiful piece of property I have seen in southeastern CT. 20 acres planted with Gewurztraminer, Chardonnay, Cabernet Franc, and Pinot Gris - what's not to like? Plus, it's fun. Even when it gets busy - which it defnitely does during the summer - you still get to socialize, talk to people about wine, answer questions about wine, and drink wine. What's not to like? It's hard work, but I really enjoy it.

These are some pictures from a recent event, the Spring Festival, held on June 6. Noe actually worked this event with me - with over 1600 visitors, the winery needed a lot of volunteers (and nothing warmed my heart more than seeing him pour himself a glass of Sauvgnon Blanc on his own free will - usually when Noe drinks wine, it is one sip and it's because I have stuck a glass in his face and said "try this.")

These photos were taken by Susan Denice, who works in the tasting room and does outside sales - she's an awesome photographer.

You can also check out what's happening around the winery at - or just come see me if you're bored some weekend.

Petite Sirah, waiting to be opened

The crowd outside

Noe working the tasting bar under the tent

Me working the cash bar inside

Jon giving a tour of the vineyard

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Pizza Pizza

How to make a simple and delicious homemade pizza. This dinner tastes like true comfort food but takes very little work or preparation, depending on what you're using ingredients-wise (a hint: just a little extra effort - like grating some smoked gouda or using thick-cut applewood smoked bacon) goes a LONG way.

Spread a Boboli crust with decent-quality BBQ sauce (not TOO much - a little goes a long way).

Grill and chop a chicken breast. Throw the pieces in a bowl with about a tablespoon of BBQ sauce and toss to coat.

Chop up about half of a red onion and two strips of uncooked bacon. (Tip: I cut my uncooked bacon with kitchen scissors instead of with a knife.) Sprinkle chicken, bacon, and onion on the pizza crust.

Top with cheese. I personally like smoked gouda on this pizza but mozz or provolone work just as well.

Bake at 450 degrees until the cheese starts to brown and you can tell the bacon is cooked through (maybe about 12 minutes). Sprinkle with fresh cilantro if you have any. I promise, this is the most delicious of homemade pizzas and super-easy.

Other great homemade pizza combinations:
  • Pesto sauce, chicken sausage, and crumbled goat cheese
  • Pesto, fresh tomato slices, basil leaves, fresh mozzerella

Monday, June 15, 2009

Green Acres

The garden is well on its way! So far, we've got (from right to left): basil, red bell peppers, cucumbers, orange bell peppers, green bell peppers, and squash. I also have herbs in containers along the side of the house as well as a tomato plant in a pot (I learned my lesson with tomatoes last year - this year it's staying contained).

I try really hard during the summer to limit my vegetable and herb consumption to what I can grow (supplemented by stuff from farmer's markets, which is way easier in the summer). I wish I was better at this year round, but summer is at least a start, right?

I can honestly say that last summer I did not buy a single bell pepper, cucumber, or tomato (although I couldn't give away all those damn tomatoes). The squash is really the only new addition, replacing the beans I ripped out because we never ate them.

Hopefully all goes well. I'll keep you updated on the progress.

Saturday, June 13, 2009

For your consideration

Things that were awesome about today:
  • I got a ton of work done
  • I bought Bruce Springsteen tickets that are NOT in some horrendous sports arena with terrible sound
  • I bought plane tickets to go to Ladies Weekend and Indianapolis on our summer vacation
  • I found out my company will pay for me to go to grad school
  • Noe cooked me a fab steak on the grill

Things that were NOT awesome about today:
  • I didn't get ALL my work done
  • I spent a gazillion dollars
  • I figured out there are at least three weddings I can't go to this summer
  • In order for the company to pay for me to go to grad school, I actually have to go to grad school
  • The Red Wings totally blew the Stanley Cup finals

Friday, June 5, 2009

Five Things I Love This Week:
The Beginning of Summer Edition

5) Walking to work

Last summer, I rode my bike. This summer - at least until it gets boiling hot - I'm trying something new: walking. My new job (which is also something I love this week - I've loved it since I accepted it, actually) is even closer to my house than my old job. 1.5 miles is very walkable in under half an hour. It's a great walk down one street with tree-lined sidewalks the whole way. Of course, if I leave for home much later than 4:00 PM I run the risk of encountering some of the characters lining up at the soup kitchen across the street from my work building, but the morning walks are downright tranquil.

4) Large cats in small baskets

Buns likes to put her big kitty body into little tiny spaces. I like to point and laugh.

3) Local Dinners at the River Tavern

The River Tavern has to be the most delicious restaurant in Southeastern CT. The chefs know when simplicity is key but also know when to go for the exotic. The local dinners they do showcasing meat, produce, and wines from local farms are out of this world. Check this blog later in the weekend for a post about last week's dinner (above - Jonathan Rapp, owner of the River Tavern, and me).

2) Oberon

The best - or at least among the best - beer in the world. You can't get it in Connecticut...unless your new friend at your second job who is also from Michigan gets you a mini-keg!

1) Sunday Kickball

A birthday, an empty field, and fantastic weather = impromptu kickball game. No one is really great at it; no one is really bad at situation.