Farm-to-Table Feast at Firebox Restaurant

Back in September, I attended a tasting event at Firebox Restaurant in Hartford and couldn’t wait to go back.

Firebox is a phenomenal addition to the Capitol area; I’ll even go so far as to say it’s one of the most unique restaurants in the state. Renowned as a gourmet farm-to-table restaurant, Firebox is committed to using locally grown products in their seasonally inspired recipes—proving their dedication to supporting Connecticut’s farmers while serving contemporary American cuisine. And what’s better than that?

Last week, my sister and I visited Firebox to brighten the dreary gloom of another rainy day. It was truly the perfect choice. From the moment you enter, the restaurant has a rustic, yet elegant ambiance with exposed bricks, dramatic vaulted ceiling, and wood beams in the front bar room—& a fireplace and handmade farm tables in the dining area.

So far so good- aesthetically speaking, at least.

Now, onto the food. Everything on the menu looked predictably incredible so we decided to sample several first course items instead of committing to an entrée apiece. Ashley and I began with a delightful mixed greens salad with blood orange and toasted pistachios complemented by pecorino romano cheese and a champagne vinaigrette. Light, flavorful, and the perfect blend of salt, sweet, and tart.

(note: the above image is only my half portion of the actual appetizer since we opted to share the salad. You’d get more)

Moving on…

Already a tough act to follow? Well, we tried…and followed with the charcuterie plate- a trio of house-made charcuterie comprised of duck pastrami, chicken liver mousse, and citrus coriander cured salmon. Welcome to my adventurous side. Each spread was delectable and served with crispy baguette pieces.

We next enjoyed Prince Edward Island mussels with a smoky local kielbasa, spinach, lager beer and whole grain mustard…pairing kielbasa with mussels is just genius, as far as I’m concerned.

(note: the above image is only half of the actual appetizer –we planned on sharing so the waitress kindly arrived with the app already portioned in 2)

Our meal concluded with the stuffed local calamari, truly the star of the show in my opinion. Crispy calamari stuffed with local kielbasa (again the kielbasa!), and piquillo pepper and onion stuffing—all surrounded by a bed of chickpea, arugula and carrot salad with smoked paprika vinaigrette. Definitely tasted the pepper in this one but loved the medley of flavor.

Unfortunately I was getting too full for dessert by this point…but I’m definitely returning soon to succumb to the lure of the vanilla bean crème brulee…Maybe during one of Firebox’s live music nights- Sunday Bluegrass or Wednesday night Jazz. Stay tuned.

What else:

Prices are a bit higher than average but the fresh, local food is worth every penny. Appetizers are $10-$15 and the entrees hover around $25-$30.

Clearly, my experience was tremendously enjoyable. Any Firebox feedback of your own? Chime in!

539 Broad Street, Hartford, CT

860.246.1222

Billings Forge Community Works

I started to write a post about Firebox Restaurant but couldn’t adequately do that without first writing about Billings Forge Community Works, since Firebox is under the umbrella of Billings Forge programs.

 What an awesome organization. The folks at Billings Forge utilize creative approaches to work to revitalize Hartford’s Frog Hollow neighborhood and encourage community building and local participation in development efforts…they support a climate that “values diversity, rewards independence, nourishes creativity and brings people together”…Aaamen.

I encourage you to check out their website. Here’s what they’ve got going on:

  • The Kitchen @ Billings Forge is a wholesale bakery (with bread served at Firebox) which also functions as teaching kitchen with farm-to-table cooking classes.
  • The Garden @ Billings Forge is the creation of a sustainable vegetable garden, which involves the local community in farming the garden and preparing, serving, and eating the food. The food is used in cooking classes at the Kitchen, for sale at the Farmers Market and at Firebox.
  • The Studio @ Billings Forge is a multi-purpose community space that offers classes in movement, music and art, and provides space for community meetings and educational workshops.  http://studio.billingsforgeworks.org/ They’ve also got a relatively new workshop program that provides studio space for 5 artists in a rotating residency program.

And of course, we can’t forget about the award winning Firebox Restaurant…to be raved about in my next post…

Easter Brunch at Black Eyed Sally’s

I’m not in the Hartford area this weekend but wanted to pass along a delicious option for Easter Brunch.

Black Eyed Sally’s is hosting an incredible Southern Buffet style Jazz Brunch on Sunday, April 4th with two available seatings: 10:30-11:00 and 1:30-2:00. Live music will be provided by the New England based Matt DeChamplain Quartet (http://www.mattdechamplain.com/)

Call ahead to reserve a table: 860.278.7427

If that doesn’t convince you…here’s the sample menu of items to be served during Sunday’s brunch:

  • Southern Eggs Benedict
  • Scrambled Eggs / Hash Browns
  • Sausage & Applewood Smoked Bacon
  • Waffles w/ Whipped Crème
  • Carving Station w/Ham & Smoked Rib Eye
  • Southern Fried Chicken
  • Blackened Catfish
  • Mac & Cheese / Collard Greens / Sweet Potatoes
  • Caesar Salad w/ Cornbread Croutons
  • Fresh Fruit / Danish / Dessert Station

Just wow.

$28.95 per person / $9.95 for children 12 & under / 3 years & under – no charge. More details here

350 Asylum St Hartford, CT

The Best of Blog Research

Cupcake blog research was 100% necessary today. I figured I’d written about The Cupcake Brake already so I might as well try one of its creations! Love that yellow truck.

Around 1:30, Beth & I caught up with The Cupcake Brake on Weston Street and joined the (entirely female) line to gaze happily at the menu of daily offerings. 

Beth opted for the Charter Oak Chocolate cupcake with brown sugar buttercream frosting. I chose the Capital: moist vanilla cake with pecans, pineapple, & banana… I also selected the brown sugar buttercream & asked to have the cupcake filled with Boston Cream.

To. Die. For.

I will not even try to describe the cupcake I enjoyed today.

I will let the pictures speak for themselves.

Art After Hours @ The Wadsworth

Whatcha doing after work on Thursday?

The Wadsworth Atheneum, America’s oldest public art museum, is open until 8 pm the first Thursday of every month. Here’s what they have going on this time around (took this riiiight off the website):

Noche Caliente is April 1, 5:00-8:00 pm

Art After Hours provides a stimulating setting for mingling with friends after work. Sip a cocktail, enjoy music and other live performances, attend a gallery talk, and even see a classic movie or art film.

MÚSICA

Feel the rhythms of Rumba, Mambo, Samba, Bossa Nova and Tango with GOZA Latin Band

¡SALSA!

Put on your dancing shoes and take a lesson from Rey Bermudez

CERVEZA

(Free while supplies last from City Steam Brewery Cafe!)

Receive a taste of Acapulco Gold or the popular Naughty Nurse

COMEDIA

Sea Tea Improv amuses the crowd with spicy antics

MALDEAMORES 8 PM

An award-winning comedy that examines the ironies of love, with stories that involve a young boy, a hostage situation, and a divorced elderly couple caught in a love triangle. (2007)

Galleries & The Museum Shop open til 8

Convenient parking available at the Front Street Garage, off Prospect Street, behind the museum.

$7 max for the evening (includes the film) or $3 for the first hour, $2 for each hour after

600 Main Street
Hartford, CT 06103

Alchemy Juice Bar & Cafe: Transforming my Cravings from Wings to Wheatgrass

I’ll admit: on any given day, burgers and wings are more likely to pique my interest than cuisine that leans towards the raw, vegan, organic end of the spectrum. This is my natural state- call it my carnivorous instinct. This weekend may have changed all that.

Saturday afternoon shifted my taste buds to value the healthier side of dining. Jenn and I stopped at Alchemy Juice Bar & Café in Hartford for lunch before heading over to the Sugarloaf Crafts Festival at the Expo Center. Alchemy serves up an amazing organic menu with smoothies, squeezed juices, wraps, salads, soups, dessert items and more.  

I loved it immediately. It’s an extremely laid back place and service is snail-pace slow (the upbeat staff makes up for it) but I didn’t mind the wait. For a small eatery, Alchemy has a lot going on, so I poked around for a while: the cafe features an Eco-boutique section, an oxygen bar, and shelves of literature promoting a healthy, sustainable lifestyle. Very cool place- one of the few veg-friendly eating establishments that I know of in the area.

Wheat grass shot anyone? Organic smoothie made with Cacao, goji, strawberries, banana, coconut, dates, and berry tea? That’s just one option in a list of dozens of incredible juice/smoothie/tea choices in the Cafe.    

For lunch, I decided on the Alchemy Wrap, which combines warm, sweet yams with black olives, red peppers, ripe avocado and sesame seeds. I didn’t expect such full dimensions of flavor to come from a few simple ingredients- but I was blown away. The olives and yams provided the most delicious blend of salty and sweet, balanced with the smooth avocado– this was topped off by a refreshing order of cold ginger, honey & lemon tea.

My special guest Jenn enjoyed a hummus wrap with veggies, seeds & greens, as well as a very spicy Chakra Rock beverage (Apple, pear, carrot, celery, parsley, ginger, garlic…cayenne pepper optional. She sprung for the pepper).  

So, needless to say, we experienced quite the veggie feast.  Prices can be steep: up to $10 for a smoothie (my wrap was only $8!), so that can be a downside.

Otherwise, Alchemy is truly a gem among marbles when it comes to healthy & delicious dining. The Cafe is part of a Growing Green Co-op, which is a holistic health education and resource center in Hartford with a range of events, music, yoga, films, nutrition & “raw food” classes. Check it: http://growinggreenevents.com/

201 New Britain Avenue
Hartford, CT 06106-3124
(860) 246-5700

http://www.alchemyjuicebar.com/