Saturday, September 25, 2010

Foodie Weekend in Connecticut

I had a flight voucher that expired at the end of September, so last week I took my 10 month old daughter( the only one left in our family that flies for free) and flew out to visit my parent's in Connecticut for the weekend. They just moved out to the the area a few months ago and we wanted to visit them in their new place. We had a wonderful weekend exploring the area, visiting historical sites, farmers markets, cooking some great food and eating at some fantastic restaurants.

I've already posted some of the great recipes that we made but I also wanted to provide some reviews of the restaurants that we ate at.


Food Truck/Food Carts

Our first and last stops of the trip were at food trucks and food carts. Along the way from NYC to Connecticut on I-95 near New Haven, there is an area specifically designated for Food Trucks. These are your authentic food trucks from regions around the world. We sampled from one of the many Mexican varieties and I had one of the best chicken taco's I have ever had. Two soft taco's covered in a chunky chicken mixture and topped with cilantro and sour cream. There's just nothing like an authentic taco and I probably could have eaten 10 of them. We had plans for dinner though so only one for this time through.


Our last stop of the trip was to the Food Carts on the Yale campus. Just a few blocks from my Dad's office, we wanted to grab a quick bit before we headed down to the airport. The carts feature food from probably 10 ethnicity's and all of it looked very good. My Mom got two Bengali Burritos, a fantastic Indian version of a burrito and I had a sampling of some Thai food.  The Thai was decent but I really did like the burrito's using the traditional Naan.We talked to two guys that had gotten food from the Ethiopian cart and they highly recommended it. I wish we had more time to try it, but maybe on the next trip.

The Place

Yes, this place was called The Place and had to be the most interesting place I have ever eaten. Completely set up outside, wood stumps for chairs, fires roasting a variety of seafood, chicken, steak and corn on the cob, and that's it. No drinks, no appetizers, sliding tent ceiling in case of rain, paper plates and plastic silverware. This place has to have the lowest overhead ever and is a certainly different than most any other restaurant around, but they seem to be pulling it off. The grill is stoked with hard wood planks sourced from the local mill and the clams, shrimp and chicken we ordered  all had great flavor, cooked on wire grates over the fire. The roasted corn was definitely my favorite. The smoky flavor and sweet corn mixed perfectly together and was the highlight of the meal. I don't know if this would become a regular favorite for me if I was a local but it was worth the trip and the experience.

Caseus

Located in New Haven, just off Yale's campus is Caseus, recently featured in Bon Appetit, a wonderful cheese shop and restaurant featuring dishes with a variety of exotic cheeses from around the world. It was a nice day and we sat in the outdoor patio which was nice except for the construction traffic that was going by almost constantly. 


The Cheese Burger, made with all natural beef on a brioche bun and Fourme D'Ambert blue cheese was a great combination and cooked perfectly.  I loved the flavor but for me it was a little dry. I like some kind of sauce or condiment on my burgers and thought it probably should have had something on it. The grilled cheese sandwich that my Mom had was created on huge slices of rustic bread and layered with thick slices of tomato and ham.  Great food overall but my favorite part was walking downstairs after lunch to walk through the cheese shop. Located in the basement, they are able to pack quite the assortment of cheeses into such a small space. They have a wide variety of cheeses from around the world and although they were out when we walked through, they did say that they typically carry my new favorite cheese, La Tur! I told my Mom that she'd have to go back again when they had it in the store. 


River Tavern


Located on the quaint Main street of Chester, CT is the cozy, modern River Tavern Restaurant. Definitely my favorite stop of the trip, I don't think there was much I didn't like about this place. The atmosphere was inviting, the service fantastic and the food was to die for. I haven't had many meals where I've enjoyed every bite from first to last. This was certainly one of them. I had the fresh crepe with shrimp, corn and tomato, smothered in a creamy sauce. There was nothing exceptionally different about this and I truly can't explain what made it so good but the combination of flavors was so amazing, I was done before I knew it and wanting even more. I had a bite of the pulled pork sandwich and again, whatever they did to this sandwich it has to be the best pulled pork I have ever tasted. I'm even tempted to write back and ask for the recipe on that one. 


This is one place I would love to return to and make my way through the whole menu, although they say they change their menu almost daily based on many of the local farms they source from. I wish I could have also stayed for a few more weeks and participated in their Farm-to-Chef Harvest Celebration week, a celebration of local farms and food. Maybe I'll go back for next year's event. Either way, I'll be back to visit River Tavern next time I'm in town.

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