Monday, July 21, 2014

kk eats Connecticut

I love food.

And much of what I do resolves around food: shopping for food, watching food on TV, talking about food, cooking food at home. 

And perhaps one of my favorite things to do is to eat food out.

While we love trying new restaurants, there are those places that we go to because we know they have some of our favorite dishes that we can count on to be fabulous every time.

From the Rhode Island Coast to north of Hartford, here are my favorite dishes across the state of Connecticut.

The Clam Chowder
Mystic, CT

This is the perfect chowdah. While it's a New England-style chowder, the broth is silky smooth and creamy, not the old stand-your-spoon-up-in-the-soup-thick. It's chock-full of clams and potatoes. But the best part, are salty, hand-cut bacon lardons that are the perfect mix of crispy and melt in your mouth.

The Tasting Menu
Simsbury, CT

While it may seem like cheating, EVERYTHING on Millwrights menu is fabulous. So much so that you have to get the Tasting Menu when you're there. You get 7 delicious courses of the chef's choice from the menu, from appetizers to dessert. And if at all possible, splurge the extra $45 for the cocktail pairings with each course. You will experience everything from sparkling wine, to seasonal beers, to robust wines and even hand-crafted cocktails from their resident mixologist that pair perfectly with the course at hand. Dinner here is an experience, and the rustic atmosphere and gorgeous views aren't too shabby either.

The Reuben
Eli Cannon's
Middletown, CT

This place is a Dive, with a capital "D". And sure, they boast a beer list that's to die for, with 30 rotating taps of craft beer goodness. But it's one particular sandwich – hidden in their menu – that has stolen my heart. So much so, that I've nicknamed it "The Best Reuben in America", and I stand by that claim. The corned beef brisket is made in house and cut into thick slices, covered in melted swiss, tangy sauerkraut and cool Russian dressing, and piled high on toasted rye. Uh-may-zing.

Deviled Eggs
The Whelk
Westport, CT
Deviled eggs have made a comeback. No longer a 1970's throwaway, these creamy little bites have resurfaced and they are fancier than ever. At The Whelk, they take deviled eggs to a whole new level, topping them with pickled red onions and a cornmeal-coated, friend oyster. Yep, there's a fried oyster on every half. This little snack-sized plate is made for sharing, but take it from me, order one just for yourself…you're not going to want to share.

Mussels & Fries
Mikro Craft Beer Bar
Hamden, CT

Mikro is our neighborhood bar, the place we go on Thursday nights where we know they'll save us seats at the bar and have an amazing selection of craft beers on tap. But the food! It's a gastropub in every sense of the word, and one of my favorite dishes is the mussels. You get a bowl of at least two pounds of mussels, in a beer, citrus and thyme broth, served up with crusty bread. You can opt to add the fries, and I suggest you do. Ok, I'm going to say it: these are hands-down my favorite french fries. Ever. Did I mention the garlic aioli they come with??

Warm Local Ricotta
New Haven, CT

You must.try.this. Local ricotta is served in an earthenware dish, drizzled with truffle oil and thyme, then baked until it's bubbly. Served on the side is toasted bread, charred from the grill, crispy on the outside and moist and warm on the inside. Creamy cheese and crunchy bread…is there anything better?

Steak Tartare
Bar Bouchee
Madison, CT

I'm picky about my tartares, but this one is out of this world. They start with filet mignon and chop it to order. It's mixed with capers and dijon and other amazingness, topped with a quail egg. It's served with crispy homemade potato crisps, perfect for scooping up this masterpiece.

Bread and Butter Pickles
Max Burger
West Hartford, CT

Yes, their burgers are delicious, but what I love most here are the housemade bread and butter pickles. I've never met a pickle I didn't like, and I will say, I LOVE these pickles. I order a burger just so I could get these pickles. They are crunchy and tangy, zesty and sweet, all at the same time. Order extras on the side, because you'll eat them all before you even take a bite of your burger.

Ok, now I'm hungry.

Happy eating!

Sunday, July 20, 2014

Before you all tar and feather me...

"Wait, weren't you drinking margaritas last weekend?"

Yes, yes I was. 

And last night I had a hoppy IPA.

But didn't you just announce (in a photo Mr. KK had to be persuaded to take) that you're having a baby???


What the???

So here's the scoop...

Q: Wow! A baby! So exciting! But why are you still drinking???

A: We're very excited! So much so, that we continue to celebrate by drinking every weekend! 


Actually, we have a surrogate who is carrying our baby. SHE'S due in October. So I'm drinking for both of us.

Q: So you're not pregnant?

A: No.

Q: Did you know your surrogate when you started?

A: Not when we started, but we know her now. She's an amazing woman. We've met her a few times and we're constantly in contact. We FaceTime for ultrasounds. She sends pics of her growing belly and keeps us updated on Baby M. 

Q: Would you recommend surrogacy to someone?

A: Short answer: yes. Long answer: it has to be the right choice for you, and what you're looking for. There's a lot that goes into surrogacy, and it can take a while to find the right surrogate. There's lots of paperwork, lawyers, doctors, coordinators…and that's before you even get started. 

But what I will tell you is this: when you find the right person, it's an amazing experience. It truly restores your faith in humanity, that someone would be so selfless to help someone else. To give up your body (and in reality, your life) for at least a year (between the pre-testing and the actual pregnancy) is a huge sacrifice. If you've had a baby, think of how your life changed while you were pregnant. Now imagine doing that for someone else. Truly, truly amazing.

Q: Is your whole blog going to be about babies now?

A: No. Honestly, no one wants to hear about someone else's baby experience, right? (Unless you do, then I could blog for days and days…I've got TONS of material!)

Q: How does Vito the Wonder Dog feel about all of this?

A: Vito knows something is up. I've read about dogs who can sense the hormonal change in women when they're pregnant and become protective, etc. Since I'm not pregnant, I know that's not going on. And Vito has always been protective of me. 

There are times, though, when he will walk into the nursery-to-be and we're organizing or doing something and he will look up at us with a look that says, "But I'M the baby!" 

So we'll see how that goes!

Thursday, July 17, 2014

Animal Hoarding*

Let me start this post by saying that if you know me, you know I love dogs (especially one 4-legged Wonder Dog in particular).

But there is a such thing as ‘too many animals’.

My neighbor, whom I will refer to as Dr. Doolittle, is on animal overload.

In the last two weeks she's tried to pawn off offer me a chihuahua, a miniature pinscher and a parakeet.

Here's the zoo next door by numbers:

Dogs: 10
Ducks (full-grown): 6
Ducks (adolescent): 1
Ducks (baby): 1
Birds: 4
Fish: 2 tankfuls

And with a house that’s close to the size of mine, you’d wonder how she keeps them all inside.

Well, she doesn’t.

Those dogs are outside ALL.THE.TIME.

And the dogs bark ALL.THE.TIME.

Public Service Announcement: if you have too many animals to fit in your house, you have too many animals. 

Pictured: 8 of the 10 doggies.
I was able to sneak this photo before their barking alerted my neighbor to come outside 
(where she proceeded to talk my ear off for a half hour).

The older ducks are penned at night, and spend the days wandering around outside. They LOVE our yard. They’re harmless, and they eat bugs so I’m cool with them spending as much time in the yard as they please. 
(In fact, can you guys do some clean-up near the patio? The mosquitoes have been horrible! Thanks!)

Lately there have been some scarring events going down. A few months ago, I came home to a DUCK GANG RAPE going down right in my driveway! The male ducks – who were rather aggressive, I might add – had pinned down the female and were having their way with her, biting at her neck. I doubt this lewd act was occurring after a romantic dinner date of bugs and grass. And they weren’t even gentlemen enough to take her on some soft hay.

Caught in the act! Pornography in my driveway!

The younger ducks can’t be with the older ducks yet because they will get eaten (her words, not mine), so they live in plastic tubs in the dining room. No need to clean your glasses, you read it correctly. Ducks. Plastic tubs. Dining room.

The baby ducks have attached themselves to her so much, that they think she’s their Mommy. They follow her everywhere.

Which led to this actual conversation with my neighbor:

DR. DOOLITTLE: “One night this little duck wouldn’t calm down so I held him against my neck and went to lie down in bed. My husband was like, ‘You aren’t bringing that duck to bed with us’. I guess he draws the line there.”

I take a look around the menagerie of dogs, ducks, fish and birds.

KK: “THAT’S where he draws the line???”

*Dear officials: she isn’t really an animal hoarder. She just has lots of animals, and I took some creative liberties.

Tuesday, July 8, 2014

Yard Tour!

There's always something going on in our yard.

And it's never quite finished.

The house we currently live in belonged to Mr. KK's grandmother. We bought the ranch in 2010 and gutted and renovated it for almost a year before moving in. During that time we concentrated on the inside of the house, tearing down walls, putting in my dream kitchen, and discovering about a zillion termites (good times).

The house was built in the 1960s on a double lot. This means the we have one house and twice the yard – all ours. When Mr. KK was growing up, his dad would use the second lot as his 'wood lot' for his small wood business. During that time that yard contained mostly a log splitter, enough wood to fill the Redwood Forest, and all of the junk stuff my father-in-law had collected over the years.

My father-in-law – God love him – is a collector. And not only does he collect his own stuff, but he collects stuff that other people are going to get rid of. Old windows? Put them in the wood lot! Doors with broken knobs? You never know when you might need them! Boards from a ripped up deck? Sure!

And all of this stuff accumulated in one spot: our soon-to-be yard.

When we were renovating the inside of the house – and even after we moved in – I would drive down the long driveway whistling the theme song to Sanford and Son. It was that bad.

But over the last few years, my father-in-law and my husband have turned our yard around. Gone are the 27 drain pipes that we might need one day. No longer will you find plastic containers in varying sizes, shapes and colors. All those windows? Gone!

We're by no means done, but we've come a long way baby.

Here's a photo tour of our yard(s):

the backyard

the "wood lot"

the bocce court
(regulation size, thank you very much)

the garden!
(see all those planters? built from wood scraps!)

See that fence? 
Built from the wood planks of someone's torn up deck.

The cucumber trellis?
That used to be a french door.

the hops arbor

Our antique tractor. 
I've been known to ride around on this bad boy once or twice.

the tractor pulls double duty:
1. easy yard travel 2. quick ride to the beer fridge

our wild raspberry bushes

the herb garden

The next post: All About My Crazy Neighbor