Cake by Franck, Foxwoods Resort Casino, CT

Cake by Franck, Foxwoods Resort Casino, CT

On March 1, Cake by Franck opened officially at Foxwoods Resort Casino in Mashantucket, CT. I was invited to an exclusive event where we had an opportunity to tour the shop and receive a cake-decorating tutorial by Chef Franck himself.

Cake by Franck opened officially at Foxwoods Resort Casino.

Cake by Franck opened officially at Foxwoods Resort Casino.

Cake by Franck is a boutique pastry shop offering a wide selection of sugary treats including vibrantly colored French macarons, custom-designed cakes, cookies, brownies, croissants, French donuts, miniature cheesecakes, Brussels-style waffles and much more.

Cake by Franck is a boutique pastry shop.

Cake by Franck is a boutique pastry shop.

I was amazed with the bright colors and whimsical themes of some of the sweet treats. They bring a smile to your face and had me in awe as to how they make some of these creations.

Some of the sweet treats bring a smile to your face and had me in awe as to how they make them.

Some of the sweet treats bring a smile to your face and had me in awe as to how they make them.

Frank Iglesias, a native of Argenteuil, France, created and designed the Cake by Franck shop. It’s a project that’s been in development since summer of 2015. Chef Franck also explained how he began studying culinary arts and pastry as a teenager. Before joining Foxwoods seven years ago, he worked with renowned pastry chef Francois Payard in New York City. You may recognize Chef Franck as he’s even made an appearance on Food Network’s “Sweet Genius” competition show.

Frank Iglesias created and designed the Cake by Franck shop.

Frank Iglesias created and designed the Cake by Franck shop.

After touring the entire store and indulging in breakfast-themed hors d’oevres, we received our cake-decorating tutorial by Chef Franck. Then, we were invited to partake in a cake-decorating contest. Mike and I teamed up to give the competition our best shot.

Mike and I teamed up for the cake decorating competition.

Mike and I teamed up for the cake decorating competition.

I was completely intimidated by the frosting piping bags – not wanting to mess up the cakes – but Mike dove right in. He drew upon his Carvel cake decorating skills from 30+ years ago. Together we created two beautiful cakes that even had Chef Franck wondering how Mike was so good at cake decorating. Even though we didn’t win first prize in the competition, I like to think we did a great job with our cakes.

Even though we didn’t win first prize in the competition, I like to think we did a great job with our cakes.

Even though we didn’t win first prize in the competition, I like to think we did a great job with our cakes.

Before we left our sweet morning, we were provided with some take home treats from the Cake by Franck shop. It was a great way to continue sampling their items. The giant cookie and “brownie in a jar” were as delicious as they look.

Take home treats from the Cake by Franck shop.

Take home treats from the Cake by Franck shop.

Cake by Franck officially opened on March 1. You can find it on the Concourse level of the Great Cedar Hotel, located across from the Great Cedar food court. It’s a great place to stop either after a concert or outlet shopping, or before losing all your scratch money at the casino, even if only for a slice of cake or a single macaron!

You can find the Cake by Franck shop on the Concourse level of the Great Cedar Hotel, located across from the Great Cedar food court.

You can find the Cake by Franck shop on the Concourse level of the Great Cedar Hotel, located across from the Great Cedar food court.

 

Have you ever been to Foxwoods Resort Casino? If so what’s your favorite place to visit?

What’s your favorite sweet treat at the bakery?

 

Disclaimer:  While I was provided with a complimentary preview to Cakes by Franck, the opinions and views expressed above are my own and describe my personal experiences.

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Mohegan Sun WineFest 2016

Mohegan Sun WineFest 2016

While the Mohegan Sun WineFest is billed as the state’s largest wine event, the three-day affair boasts more than just wine samplings.

The Mohegan Sun WineFest  boasts more than just wine samplings!

The Mohegan Sun WineFest boasts more than just wine samplings!

With more than 40 wineries and 30 breweries exhibiting, attendees could taste hundreds of brands of wines, beer and spirits during the 13th annual event.

Attendees could taste hundreds of brands of wines, beer and spirits.

Attendees could taste hundreds of brands of wines, beer and spirits.

We had some fun trying some new drinks…

Fun new drinks.

Fun new drinks.

And variations of traditional favorites.

The Bloody Maria

The Bloody Maria

On Saturday and Sunday, the centerpiece of the five-hour grand tastings begins at noon with cooking demonstrations by several renowned chefs. If you’re a foodie like me, that’s where you’ll be settled in for the afternoon.

The centerpiece of the five-hour grand tastings begins at noon with cooking demonstrations by several renowned chefs.

The centerpiece of the five-hour grand tastings begins at noon with cooking demonstrations by several renowned chefs.

Ryan Kristopher, host of CT Style weekday mornings on WTNH, and Laurie Forster, The Wine Coach – demystifying wine one glass at a time, were this year’s emcees.

Ryan Kristopher, host of CT Style weekday mornings on WTNH, and Laurie Forster, The Wine Coach – demystifying wine one glass at a time, were this year’s emcees.

Ryan Kristopher, host of CT Style weekday mornings on WTNH, and Laurie Forster, The Wine Coach – demystifying wine one glass at a time, were this year’s emcees.

They did a great job interacting with the chefs and audience. Laurie also offered many useful wine tips throughout the day.

On Saturday, the chef demos included Chefs Kevin Des Chenes, William Kovel, Rocco Dispirito, Michele Ragussis, Todd English, Betty Fraser and Manouschka Guerrier. I always learn some interesting cooking tips and techniques from these masters.

Will Kovel, chef and owner at Catalyst Restaurant in Cambridge, MA, prepared one of his restaurant’s specialties.

Will Kovel, chef and owner at Catalyst Restaurant in Cambridge, MA, prepared one of his restaurant’s specialties.

Will Kovel, chef and owner at Catalyst Restaurant in Cambridge, MA, prepared one of his restaurant’s specialties using duck.

Headlining this year’s demonstrations was Rocco Dispirito.

Headlining this year’s demonstrations was Rocco Dispirito.

Headlining this year’s demonstrations was Rocco Dispirito. A James Beard award winning chef, health advocate and cookbook author, he spent a bit of time talking to the audience about adopting healthy eating habits and how easy that can be.

He also cooked one of the recipes from his new cookbook, The Negative Calorie Diet.

He also cooked one of the recipes from his new cookbook, The Negative Calorie Diet.

He also cooked one of the recipes from his new cookbook, The Negative Calorie Diet. The recipe, avocado toast with spinach and tomatoes, was very simple to whip up and a great healthy breakfast or lunch choice.

I had the chance to chat with Rocco while he signed my copy of his new cookbook.

I had the chance to chat with Rocco while he signed my copy of his new cookbook.

I had the chance to chat with Rocco while he signed my copy of his new cookbook. Its premise is centered on eating wholesome foods that naturally support weight loss because they burn more calories than they contain. He calls these foods “negative calorie foods” – foods that help you burn body fat, lose weight and boost your metabolism. It’s an interesting concept and frankly, I was pleasantly surprised that most of those foods are ones I regularly include in my diet. Nonetheless, I am anxious to try several of his recipes.

The cookbook's premise is centered on eating wholesome foods that naturally support weight loss because they burn more calories than they contain.

The cookbook’s premise is centered on eating wholesome foods that naturally support weight loss because they burn more calories than they contain.

Before calling it a day, we took in one last chef demo by Todd English.

We took in one last chef demo by Todd English.

We took in one last chef demo by Todd English.

He has a robust personality and was great interacting with and including the audience.

He was great interacting with and including the audience.

He was great interacting with and including the audience.

I’ve eaten at Todd’s restaurant Ca Va Brassiere in NYC a few years back. It was a great dining experience – top notch. I haven’t had the chance to dine at his restaurant Tuscany, located at Mohegan Sun yet. I hope to next time I visit.

It’s always a busy day at the Mohegan Sun Wine Fest, filled with fun experiences. I look forward to returning next year. Put a hold on your calendar for the 2017 event – January 27 to 29, 2017!

It’s always a busy day at the Mohegan Sun Wine Fest, filled with fun experiences.

It’s always a busy day at the Mohegan Sun Wine Fest, filled with fun experiences.

Now off to venture around the casino for some extra fun!

IMG_3179

 

Have you ever been to the Mohegan Sun WineFest?

Have you ever been to a large-scale wine festival?

 

Disclaimer:  While I was provided with complimentary tickets to the Mohegan Sun Wine Fest, the opinions and views expressed above are my own and describe my personal experience at the event.

Newport Mansions Wine & Food Festival 2015

Newport Mansions Wine & Food Festival 2015

The Newport Mansions Wine & Food Festival took place on September 25-27, 2015 at several historic mansions in Newport, RI. In its tenth year, the two-day festival features the grand tasting, celebrity chef appearances and cooking demonstrations, seminars led by industry experts and several dinner party celebrations

The Newport Mansions Wine & Food Festival took place on September 25-27, 2015 at several historic mansions in Newport, RI.

The Newport Mansions Wine & Food Festival took place on September 25-27, 2015 at several historic mansions in Newport, RI.

The festival featured two sessions of the Grand Tasting, on Saturday and Sunday afternoons, on the back lawn of the Marble House mansion. I attended the Sunday Grand Tasting. While there were so many amazing aspects of the festival, I’ve highlighted below my four top favorite items from the event.

The festival featured two sessions of the Grand Tasting, on Saturday and Sunday afternoons, on the back lawn of the Marble House mansion.

The festival featured two sessions of the Grand Tasting, on Saturday and Sunday afternoons, on the back lawn of the Marble House mansion.

First, the festival features hundreds of wines from around the world.  Everyone grabs a glass before heading into the Grand Tasting Tent.

Everyone grabs a glass before heading into the Grand Tasting Tent.

Everyone grabs a glass before heading into the Grand Tasting Tent.

The glasses are printed with the festival logo and yours to keep filling as you move throughout the tent.

The glasses are printed with the festival logo and yours to keep filling as you move throughout the tent.

The glasses are printed with the festival logo and yours to keep filling as you move throughout the tent.

We were immediately greeted with a pour of Ruffino Prosecco sparkling wine. What better way to toast the start of festival than in front of one of the Porsche cars?!?

What better way to toast the start of festival than in front of one of the Porsche cars and with a glass of sparkling wine?!?

What better way to toast the start of festival than in front of one of the Porsche cars and with a glass of sparkling wine?!?

Second, there are amazing food samplings from a large variety of caterers, chefs representing “top shelf” restaurants from the northeast (e.g., Boston, Newport and Providence), and artisan food purveyors.  Here’s just a few of them that were featured:

Jamestown Fish restaurant

Jamestown Fish restaurant

Jamestown Fish restaurant featured Alaskan sockeye salmon with seaweed salad.

Vanderbilt Grace hotel showcased their slow cooked short rib over Asiago mashed potato.

Vanderbilt Grace hotel showcased their slow cooked short rib over Asiago mashed potato.

Vanderbilt Grace hotel showcased their slow cooked short rib over Asiago mashed potato. That was one of my favorites.

Puritan & company offered a sample of duck pastrami on rye gourges with mustard cream and pickled cabbage.

Puritan & company offered a sample of duck pastrami on rye gourges with mustard cream and pickled cabbage.

Puritan & company offered a sample of duck pastrami on rye gourges with mustard cream and pickled cabbage.

Earth @ Hidden Pond restaurant creatively displayed their food.

Earth @ Hidden Pond restaurant creatively displayed their food.

I just love the way Earth @ Hidden Pond restaurant creatively displayed their food!

In the artisanal candy category, Laurie’s chocolate was one of our favorites.

Laurie’s Hawaiian chocolate

Laurie’s Hawaiian chocolate

This is their Hawaiian chocolate – heavenly!

We also enjoyed McCrea’s caramels

McCrea’s caramels

McCrea’s caramels

I love all the extraordinary flavors!

Alexia Pate

Alexian Pate

One of the best parts of the food samplings is that you are able to try some things you may not normally try and see if you like them.

Fortuna's dried meats

Fortuna’s dried meats

And try some of your old heritage favorites made by local vendors offering many varieties.

 

My third favorite thing at the festival is all the amazing happenings in the cooking pavilion.

Kitchen Aid hosts free cooking demonstrations and book signings by celebrity chefs throughout the day!

Kitchen Aid hosts free cooking demonstrations and book signings by celebrity chefs throughout the day!

Kitchen Aid hosts free cooking demonstrations and book signings by celebrity chefs throughout the day. It was intentional that we attended the festival on Sunday. I had previewed the cooking demonstration schedule and knew Jacques and Claudine Pepin were the headliners.

Jacques and Claudine Pepin were the headliners at Sunday's Grand Tasting.

Jacques and Claudine Pepin were the headliners at Sunday’s Grand Tasting.

Jacques Pepin is a world-renowned French chef, television personality and best selling author.

Jacques Pepin is a world-renowned French chef, television personality and best selling author.

Jacques Pepin is a world-renowned French chef, television personality and best selling author.

Many of you have watched Claudine Pepin in partnership with her father preparing delicious meals and sharing cooking techniques on several public television shows. It was quite the treat to see the duo in person reenacting the same!

It was quite the treat to see the duo in person reenacting the same!

It was quite the treat to see the duo in person reenacting the same!

They were preparing a recipe from Jacques’ new cookbook, “Heart and Soul in the Kitchen.” He and Claudine have new cookbooks recently published.

Jacques and Claudine have new cookbooks recently published.

Jacques and Claudine have new cookbooks recently published.

Jacques’ techniques were amazing to watch. And I especially loved the chemistry between the two working together.

Jacques’ techniques were amazing to watch.

Jacques’ techniques were amazing to watch.

The final product was a beautiful plate of shrimp cake with sautéed zucchini. It looked and smelled amazing!

The final product was a beautiful plate of shrimp cake with sautéed zucchini.

The final product was a beautiful plate of shrimp cake with sautéed zucchini.

The icing on the cake for the Newport Mansions Food & Wine festival is the location.

The icing on the cake for the Newport Mansions Food & Wine festival is the location.

The icing on the cake for the Newport Mansions Food & Wine festival is the location.

You can’t beat Newport for the mansions, cliff walk, wharf area and stunning views! It’s one of my favorite places in the northeast and we try to visit here several times throughout the year.

Newport, RI is one of my favorite places in the northeast and we try to visit here several times throughout the year.

Newport, RI is one of my favorite places in the northeast and we try to visit here several times throughout the year.

All around, the Newport Mansions Food & Wine festival was a top-notch representation of New England’s best culinary all on display in an awesome setting. It was one of the best food and wine festivals I’ve visited thus far!

Already, the Newport Preservation Society has announced the dates for next year’s event. It will take place at the same location on September 23-25, 2016. Be sure to mark your calendars, as it’s an event you will not want to miss!

 

Have you ever been to the Newport food and wine festival?

Is Newport, RI one of your favorite places to visit in New England?

 

Disclaimer:  While I was provided with complimentary tickets to the Newport Mansions Food & Wine festival, the opinions and views expressed above are my own and describe my personal experience at the event.

Boscov’s Department Store, Meriden, CT

Boscov’s Department Store, Meriden, CT (and many other locations)

Pennsylvania-based department store chain, Boscov’s, made its Connecticut and New England debut this week! With the addition of this new store at the Westfield Meriden Mall, there are now 44 stores spread throughout Middle America, including the states of Pennsylvania, New Jersey, Maryland, New York, Delaware, Ohio and Connecticut.

Boscov’s made its Connecticut and New England debut this week!

Boscov’s made its Connecticut and New England debut this week!

Boscov’s is one of the last family-owned department store chains in the United States. A store representative recounted the history timeline and pointed out some of the key features that make this store different from its competitors. Top of that list is the emphasis on the connection to the community. They live this philosophy by setting aside space within the store for outside events and in hosting “special shopper days” with access through a donation to a local, non-profit organization.

A store representative recounted the history timeline and pointed out some of the key features that make this store different from its competitors.

A store representative recounted the history timeline and pointed out some of the key features that make this store different from its competitors.

Boscov’s is a full service department store that stocks a wide range of brand-name merchandise from fashion items for men, women and children to a complete line of home furnishings, small appliances, furniture and even toys.

Boscov’s is a full service department store that stocks a wide range of brand-name merchandise from fashion items for men, women and children to a complete line of home furnishings, small appliances, furniture and even toys.

Boscov’s is a full service department store that stocks a wide range of brand-name merchandise from fashion items for men, women and children to a complete line of home furnishings, small appliances, furniture and even toys.

Some other special features to the store include complimentary gift-wrapping throughout the year, and then also have an in-house candy store that makes homemade fudge every day!

Boscov's in-house candy store makes homemade fudge every day!

Boscov’s in-house candy store makes homemade fudge every day!

Boscovs IMG_2787

After taking a tour around the entire store, both floors, I honed in on the home furnishings area.

I love the displays in their home furnishings department, notice the recipes on the chalkboards!

I love the displays in their home furnishings department, notice the recipes on the chalkboards!

They carry all the top brands and have a wide selection of colors, sizes and models in inventory.

They carry all the top brands in kitchen appliances.

They carry all the top brands in kitchen appliances.

Even if you’re not a foodie like me, there are plenty of fun gadgets for any level of cook.

And plenty of fun gadgets for any level of cook.

And plenty of fun gadgets for any level of cook.

We enjoyed our time at the Boscov’s preview event and look forward to returning and shopping more. In the meantime, we have a nice momentum of our shopping trip to savor for days afterward!

Boscov's homemade fudge - yum!

Boscov’s homemade fudge – yum!

 

Have you ever been to a Boscov’s department store?

What’s your favorite flavor of homemade fudge?

 

Disclaimer:  While I was provided with a complimentary preview shopping certificate to Boscov’s, the opinions and views expressed above are my own and describe my personal experience.

Max’s Chef to Farm Dinner

Max’s Chef to Farm Dinner

In late June, I attended the Max’s Chef to Farm Berries & Blossoms dinner at Rosedale Farms & Vineyards in Simsbury, CT.

Max's Chef to Farm Berries & Blossoms dinner at Rosedale Farms & Vineyards in Simsbury, CT.

Max’s Chef to Farm Berries & Blossoms dinner at Rosedale Farms & Vineyards in Simsbury, CT.

Rosedale is a fifth-generation family farm that offers fresh vegetables, fruits, wines and flowers.   The four-acre vineyard is an official stop on the Connecticut Wine Trail. On Saturdays and Sundays in the summer and fall, you can drop by the wine bar for a sampling of the vintages.

Rosedale Farm is a fifth-generation family farm that offers fresh vegetables, fruits, wines and flowers.

Rosedale Farm is a fifth-generation family farm that offers fresh vegetables, fruits, wines and flowers.

In 2009, Scott Miller, Executive Chef & Managing Partner at Max Restaurants, started the Chef to Farm dinner series program. Now in it’s seventh year, the series provides guests with an opportunity to enjoy the freshest foods and produce in the awe-inspiring beauty of Connecticut’s Farms.

The Max's Chef to Farm dinner series program, now in it’s seventh year, provides guests with an opportunity to enjoy the freshest foods and produce in the awe-inspiring beauty of Connecticut’s Farms.

The Max’s Chef to Farm dinner series program, now in it’s seventh year, provides guests with an opportunity to enjoy the freshest foods and produce in the awe-inspiring beauty of Connecticut’s Farms.

Each dinner is cooked from scratch and showcases the day’s best produce, sourced from local farmers, ranchers and fisherman.

Chef Scott Miller and his team prepare the meal onsite.

Chef Scott Miller and his team prepare the meal onsite.

Our evening began with a wine and beer tasting reception featuring Rosedale wine and New Park brewery. This small-batch craft brewery is in the process of opening in West Hartford, CT. We enjoyed both the Rosedale wines (both red and white) and the beer.

Throughout the evening there were plenty of beverage selections, including Rosedale wines, New Park Brewery's beer and an organic coffee sampling from Shearwater Coffee.

Throughout the evening there were plenty of beverage selections, including Rosedale wines, New Park Brewery’s beer and an organic coffee sampling from Shearwater Coffee.

Throughout the evening there were plenty of beverage selections, including an organic coffee sampling from Shearwater Coffee.

While guests settled in, there was live music provided by Glenn Roth.

While guests settled in, there was live music provided by Glenn Roth.

While guests settled in, there was live music provided by Glenn Roth.

Some guests then opted to head out for a farm tour. We chose to skip it because there were several delicious appetizers that we couldn’t bare to break away from!

There was a beautiful self-service appetizer buffet, which showcased Connecticut oysters in the center,

There was a beautiful self-service appetizer buffet, which showcased Connecticut oysters in the center,

In addition to the self-service buffet, which showcased Connecticut oysters in the center, there were several delicious passed appetizers too. They included: squash blossoms fritto, chicken liver mouse, fava bean and English pea tartelettes and Berkshire pork meatballs.

There were several delicious passed appetizers too, including squash blossoms fritto, chicken liver mouse, fava bean and English pea tartelettes and Berkshire pork meatballs.

There were several delicious passed appetizers too, including squash blossoms fritto, chicken liver mouse, fava bean and English pea tartelettes and Berkshire pork meatballs.

Each appetizer was so distinct that it’s tough to pick a favorite, but if forced I would go with the meatball, which had a slight spiciness in the sauce and I loved that they were served in mini-crock style bowls.

Then, our hosts invited us to be seated in the tented area. While the tables were dressed in white linen and candlelight, they retained their rustic ambiance with burlap runners, milk bottle vases and wild flowers.

While the tables were dressed in white linen and candlelight, they retained their rustic ambiance with burlap runners, milk bottle vases and wild flowers.

While the tables were dressed in white linen and candlelight, they retained their rustic ambiance with burlap runners, milk bottle vases and wild flowers.

The dinner’s menu consisted of several courses of the “day’s harvest” food cooked fresh that day by Chef Scott Miller and his team.

The dinner’s menu consisted of several courses of the “day’s harvest” food cooked fresh that day by Chef Scott Miller and his team.

The dinner’s menu consisted of several courses of the “day’s harvest” food cooked fresh that day by Chef Scott Miller and his team.

We started the meal with Foosh Pa, a single, bite-sized hors d’oevre, that was accompanied by a complementary berry cocktail. This item was a fluke crudo with pickled green strawberries, chicharron, and basil flower. This mini bite is often served to prepare the guests for the meal and offer a glimpse into the chef’s approach to cooking.

We started the meal with Foosh Pa.

We started the meal with Foosh Pa.

Fresh berry cocktail

Fresh berry cocktail

As our first course, we were served burrata (a fresh Italian cheese made from mozzarella and cream) with fresh berries, juniper berry cured ham, fennel blossom and a dollop of whole-grain mustard. This plate was “every bite delicious.” They could have served me nothing else and I would have been satisfied. That’s how good it was!

Our first course was  burrata with fresh berries, juniper berry cured ham, fennel blossom and a dollop of whole-grain mustard.

Our first course was burrata with fresh berries, juniper berry cured ham, fennel blossom and a dollop of whole-grain mustard.

But I’m glad we moved forward as the meal’s entrees were also delicious. They included a land and sea course:

  • Black bass with wheat berries, mussles, wild garlic and allium blossoms; and
  • Coffee braised bison short rib with ancho-blackberry syrup and mashed parsnip

To accompany the entrees, there were two side dishes that were served family style:

  • Savannah green beans with anchovy and caper remoulade; and
  • Chilled cucumbers with Spring onion confit
Our main entrees had so many amazing components to it.

Our main entrees had so many amazing components to it.

While I enjoyed every aspect of the entrée portion, I would say that my favorite was the short rib. I loved every bite on that plate and so did all the guests we were seated with! All that was left were plates with bones remaining – ha!

Dessert was a summer berry trifle served in a deconstructed fashion. In addition to the fresh berries, it contained lemon yogurt and toasted sponge cake. I loved the combination of sweet, syrupy berries and the crunchiness of the crusted cake.

Dessert was summer berry trifle.

Dessert was summer berry trifle.

As a final touch to an already amazing meal, each couple was sent home with a take home treat that contained Max’s homemade granola with dried berries. What a great way to extend the memories of this wonderful meal.

Our take home treat contained Max’s homemade granola with dried berries.

Our take home treat contained Max’s homemade granola with dried berries.

Overall the entire event was an incredible dining experience with the most local, fresh and flavorful foods cooked by a local chef rock star and his remarkable team. The ambiance was charming. We were seated with several delightful couples that also share a passion for top-rated food and dining in the state so we had great conversation sharing experiences.

Kudos to the chef - Scott Miller on an all-around wonderful evening!

Kudos to the chef – Scott Miller on an all-around wonderful evening!

I look forward to attending another event lead by the Max Restaurants and Rosedale Farm!

 

Have you ever been to a Max Chef to Farm Dinner?

What’s your favorite Max restaurant?

Do you have a favorite “fresh from the farm” recipe/ dish?

 

Disclaimer:  While I was invited to the Max’s Chef to Farm Dinner at Rosedale Farm, the opinions and views expressed above are my own and describe my personal experience at the event.

Rhode Island Red Food Tours – Newport Neighborhood Tasting

Rhode Island Red Food Tours – Newport Neighborhood Tasting

Certain cities around the globe are known for their unique foods. One trend that is growing in popularity is culinary tourism. It offers travelers a way to explore their destination through food and food experiences, which can range from metropolitan food tasting tours to countryside visits to coffee plantations and vineyards. Tourists want to try the “off-the-beat” restaurants and places only known by the locals. This demand was realized and because of it more food tours have popped up around the globe. Food tours are becoming a more common item on the traveler’s agenda.

One of the newer food tours to pop-up in New England is Rhode Island Red Food Tours.

Rhode Island Red Food Tours

Rhode Island Red Food Tours

It’s owner, Paula Silva, has developed the “Newport Neighborhood – Tasting & Cultural Walking Tour.” It’s a three-hour cultural walking and tasting tour that takes you through little-known historic neighborhoods and to the best-kept secret eateries known to the locals of Newport, RI.

Recently, I had the opportunity to experience this food tour. We made six stops at food tasting locations. In between, we walked through several Newport neighborhoods, away from the popular waterfront Thames Street and Bellevue Avenue mansion districts, and learned about the corresponding history.

This tour combines culinary tastes with historic sites.

This tour combines culinary tastes with historic sites.

Newport historic Artillery Company

Newport historic Artillery Company

We met outside our first stop – Van Gogh Pizza at 12 Broadway.

Van Gogh Pizza was our first stop

Van Gogh Pizza was our first stop

Recently opened in March 2015, Van Gogh Pizza touts itself as specializing in “The art of pizza and the science of sandwichology.” It focuses on combining ingredients with artistic inspiration to create masterpieces. We had the opportunity to taste a slice of The Great White pizza.

We tasted a slice of The Great White pizza.

We tasted a slice of The Great White pizza.

This pizza has cheese, white sauce (which the owner won’t divulge the recipe), chicken, bacon, spinach and oregano. It was an amazing combination of flavors and the crust was nice and doughy.

Our next stop was Washington Square Café and Baking Company, located in the heart of historic Newport.

Washington Square Café and Baking Company is located in the heart of historic Newport.

Washington Square Café and Baking Company is located in the heart of historic Newport.

Operating for over a year, the local community café serves house made pastries, breakfast, lunch and brunch. We were treated to two of their specialties: New England clam chowder and a layered Key Lime and Strawberry pie.

New England clam chowder

New England clam chowder

All baked goods in their display case are baked on site by one of the owners.

Key Lime and Strawberry pie

Key Lime and Strawberry pie

Both the chowder and the pie were delicious. This seems like a great place to hang out and have a leisurely breakfast.

After a short walk, which we were thankful to have in between food tastings, we landed at Perro Salado, a modern Mexican restaurant located two blocks east of Thames Street.

Perro Salado, a modern Mexican restaurant, is located two blocks east of Thames Street.

Perro Salado, a modern Mexican restaurant, is located two blocks east of Thames Street.

Perro Salado means “salty dog” in Spanish. The restaurant is located in an 18th century naval officer’s home. As it is a house rather than typical restaurant space, the seating is broken up into several small rooms along with an outside patio area. This made the restaurant feel very quaint and cozy.

As it is a house rather than typical restaurant space, the seating is broken up into several small rooms along with an outside patio area.

As it is a house rather than typical restaurant space, the seating is broken up into several small rooms along with an outside patio area.

While we expected to taste some typical Mexican foods, instead we were treated to their special sticky pork ribs, which are marinated overnight in a mixture of brown sugar and Coke.

The sticky pork ribs were amazing!

The sticky pork ribs were amazing!

The ribs were amazing! The meat was perfectly seasoned with the right mix of spice and flavor. The meat fell off the bone.

Finishing the halfway mark on the tour, we couldn’t imagine what was next but a stop at Mudville Pub.

Mudville Pub

Mudville Pub

Mudville Pub is an authentic sports bar with not your average pub grub.

Mudville Pub is an authentic sports bar with not your average pub grub.

Mudville Pub is an authentic sports bar with not your average pub grub.

We were told that this pub is the best baseball bar – and soon discovered why it can make this claim. We were led to the very back and amazed with a wonderful surprise.

The pub has counter seating with a view of Cardines Field, a baseball stadium located on America’s Cup Avenue.

The pub has counter seating with a view of Cardines Field, a baseball stadium located on America’s Cup Avenue.

The pub has counter seating with a view of Cardines Field, a baseball stadium located on America’s Cup Avenue. It is believed to be one of the oldest ballparks in the United States. In keeping with the baseball theme, we sampled one of Newport’s local beers.

We sampled one of Newport’s local beers

We sampled one of Newport’s local beers

How fun was this!

Have you beer while watching a game!

Have you beer while watching a game!

We know we will need to stop here again with the boys. They will love this place and want to sit and watch a game!

Cheers! to a fun filled day in Newport!

Cheers! to a fun filled day in Newport!

In keeping with the “grub” theme, we headed on to our fifth stop, Mission restaurant.

Our fifth stop was Mission restaurant.

Our fifth stop was Mission restaurant.

This place serves burgers, hot dogs, a falafel and fries – that’s it! The meat patties and hot dogs are ground in-house. There’s nothing frozen or artificial here. Mission’s handmade burgers and dogs also don’t come with a big price tag.

We sampled the slaw dog. It was one of the best I’ve ever had.

We sampled the slaw dog. It was one of the best I’ve ever had.

We sampled the slaw dog. It was one of the best I’ve ever had. I’m not a coleslaw person, but this was legit homemade without the goopy mayonnaise, and the bun was buttered and perfectly grilled on the flat top. According to food and travel website Thrillist.com, the Mission burger is the best in the state. I’ll definitely be back to try that in my next visit.

Located within feet from our previous stop was our final food-tasting destination, White Horse Tavern, America’s oldest tavern.

White Horse Tavern, America's oldest tavern.

White Horse Tavern, America’s oldest tavern.

Opened in 1670, The White Horse Tavern was a regular haunt for colonists, British soldiers, Hessian mercenaries, pirates, sailors, founding fathers and early Americans. It is known as the birthplace of the “businessman’s lunch” as in the early 1700’s city councilors dined here and charged their meals to the public treasury.

White Horse Tavern opened in 1670's and is the birthplace of the businessman's lunch.

White Horse Tavern opened in 1670’s and is the birthplace of the businessman’s lunch.

Wrapping up our food tasting, we had an amazing dessert called the NY cheesecake eggroll.

NY cheesecake eggroll

NY cheesecake eggroll dessert

Served with fresh berries, the eggroll is filled with NY cheesecake custard, dusted with cinnamon and deep-fried until lightly crispy. Despite being full from all the other treats we tasted along the way, we all managed to indulge – and it was worth the calories!

 

Paula has done a great job scouting out all the “best local” spots and eats. The Newport neighborhood tasting and cultural walking tour was fun and filled with delicious bites and bits of history. When planning your next trip to Newport and you’re looking for something different to do other than the mansions, cliff walk and the waterfront districts, I’d recommend including this delicious destination into your itinerary!

 

Have you ever been on a food walking tour?

What are your favorite places in Newport, RI?

 

Disclaimer:  While I was provided with complimentary tickets for the Rhode Island Red Food Tours, the opinions and views expressed above are my own and describe my personal experience.

Savor – CT Food & Wine show

Savor – CT Food & Wine show

The “Savor” celebration of wine, food and spirits took place on April 10-11, 2015 at the Connecticut Convention Center in Hartford. It was an amazing celebration spotlighting top talent across the culinary industry.

Savor - CT Food & Wine event

Savor – CT Food & Wine event

The two-day celebration featured two sessions of the Grand Tasting, both Friday night and Saturday afternoon. Also, the event included a “Savor in Style” Charity gala on Saturday evening.

As you entered the conference center for the Grand Tasting, there were hundreds of wine glasses ready for you to use in sampling the wines and spirits from CT distributors.

Hundreds of wine glasses were ready for you to use in sampling the wines and spirits from CT distributors.

Hundreds of wine glasses were ready for you to use in sampling the wines and spirits from CT distributors.

Many of the exhibitors focused on quality, bringing some of their “top-shelf” bottles for guests to try.

Top-shelf spirits for sampling!

Top-shelf spirits for sampling!

Did anyone say cocktails!?!

Did anyone say cocktails!?!

There was an array of wine, spirits, beers, craft beers and hard cider distributors. It was a great opportunity to expand your palate and try something you wouldn’t normally try (e.g., oxtail croquettes, cauliflower taco, foie gras bratwurst, calamari ceviche).

90 Cellars Wines

90 Cellars Wines

You were sure not to leave thirsty…or hungry!

The event also featured a tremendous assortment of culinary eats from top chefs and restaurants around the state! It was the best I’ve seen so far this year!

Chefs Tyler Anderson from Millwrights and Jaime McDonald from Bear’s Smokehouse

Chefs Tyler Anderson from Millwrights and Jaime McDonald from Bear’s Smokehouse

I was able to catch up with two of my favorite chefs – Tyler Anderson from Millwrights and Jaime McDonald from Bear’s Smokehouse, along with The Bear’s Smokehouse bear.

Millwrights featured their faro risotto - delicious!

Millwrights featured their faro risotto – delicious!

Bears featured their smoked brisket sliders and Millwrights featured their faro risotto.

A few of the other restaurants featured included: Barcelona

Barcelona's with several locations in CT.

Barcelona’s with several locations in CT.

Octagon Restaurant at the Mystic Marriott

Octagon restaurant at the Mystic Marriott

Octagon restaurant at the Mystic Marriott

Max Restaurants had a main booth with Chef Scott Miller. And many of the Max Restaurants also were present.

Max Restaurant's chef Scott Miller

Max Restaurant’s chef Scott Miller

NIXS restaurant was serving up their lobster and crab stuffed tater tots

NIXS restaurant chefs were serving lobster and crab stuffed tater tots - YUM!

NIXS restaurant chefs were serving lobster and crab stuffed tater tots – YUM!

And ON20’s chef Lizotte was offering samples of turducken pate – hence my opportunity to try something I wouldn’t normally try. It was interesting.

ON20’s chef Lizotte was offering samples of turducken pate

ON20’s chef Lizotte was offering samples of turducken pate

Plan B restaurants was showcasing their award-winning burger sliders and bourbons. I love their burger tower!

The Plan B burger tower!

The Plan B burger tower!

There were many other CT-based restaurants represented at the event – all showcasing their chefs and specialty dishes.

In addition, you could also find other food & beverage-related exhibitors like our friends from Shearwater Coffee

Ed from Shearwater Coffee

Ed from Shearwater Coffee

Whole Foods markets had a dessert sampling

Whole Foods markets had a dessert sampling

Whole Foods markets had a dessert sampling

And Carol’s Eggs were having folks guess how many eggs were in the glass cylinder. Carol’s offers pasture-raised organic eggs from small flocks on small family farms.

Carol’s Eggs were having folks guess how many eggs were in the glass cylinder.

Carol’s Eggs were having folks guess how many eggs were in the glass cylinder.

Another highlight to the grand tasting was the celebrity chef demonstrations. First on stage was Mary Ann Esposito. She’s the creator and host of the PBS series Ciao Italia.

Me posing with Mary Ann Esposito and talking about Italian food!

Me posing with Mary Ann Esposito and talking about Italian food!

Marking its 25th anniversary, it’s the longest cooking series in television history.

 

Next up was the headlining celebrity chef for the event, Robert Irvine. He is the host of Food Network’s Dinner Impossible and Restaurant Impossible.

Chef Robert Irvine is the host of Food Network’s Dinner Impossible and Restaurant Impossible...and one big guy!

Chef Robert Irvine is the host of Food Network’s Dinner Impossible and Restaurant Impossible…and one big guy!

Marc Summers, who’s a television producer, personality and host, joined him. Currently Summers is the executive producer of Restaurant Impossible.

Chef Irvine and Marc Summers

Chef Irvine and Marc Summers

Chef Irvine cooked with some audience members to create a simple and flavorful chicken thighs dish in minutes.

A simple and flavorful chicken thighs dish that Chef Irvine prepared with audience participants.

A simple and flavorful chicken thighs dish that Chef Irvine prepared with audience participants.

Chef Irvine did an exemplary job at recognizing the men and women in the armed forces. In addition, a portion of Savor’s proceeds was donated to the Robert Irvine Foundation, a not-for-profit that honors men and women defending our country.

 

Finally, Chef Ming Tsai took the stage. Ming hosts the public television show called Simply Ming, which is in its 12th season. He’s also chef and owner of Blue Ginger and Blue Dragon restaurants in the Boston area.

Chef Ming Tsai hosts the public television show called Simply Ming.

Chef Ming Tsai hosts the public television show called Simply Ming.

The chefs were wonderful at interacting with each other.

Chefs Mary Ann Esposito and Ming Tsai

Chefs Mary Ann Esposito and Ming Tsai

I loved the banter between Ming, Esposito and Irvine!

 

The entire Savor event was fabulous and extremely well planned. Already, Savor announced the dates for next year’s event. It will take place at the same location on April 8-9, 2016. Mark your calendars, as it’s an event you will not want to miss!

Savor announced the dates for next year’s event -- April 8-9, 2016.

Savor announced the dates for next year’s event — April 8-9, 2016.

 

Have you ever been to a food and wine festival?

 

Disclaimer:  While I was provided with complimentary tickets the SavorCT event, the opinions and views expressed above are my own and describe my personal experience at the event.