A great way to see and explore any city is by tasting the food. It helps shape the identity of the city in your mind's eye. Depending on the outcome, it will either keep you coming back for more or head on down the road. After this tour, I would say New Haven passed with flying colors! Small in size but large in eclectic flavors, New Haven proves its salt against bigger cities like New York or Minneapolis.
Why am I reading a blog from an insurance agent I hear you ask? Um, because we are people too and we also enjoy tasty food! Seriously though, this is the fun part of our job when we actually get to visit our clients' restaurants and interact with our local community. It helps remind us first hand that what we do is important and that we know our clients are covered.
This past weekend our agency was lucky enough to be a part of a Holiday Culinary tour of New Haven, "Worth Tasting" hosted by Stephen Fries. For a very fair price we were able to try out 9 local venues with different treats. Not only did we get to taste their goods but learn about each local shop's own personal history and brand.
We started the day at 11am at the Omni Hotel at the sophisticated, John Davenport's. You will find the best views of town from atop the 19th floor. A simple yogurt parfait was served with honey that is taken straight from their own honey beehives on the roof and it proved to be a little flavor explosion in your mouth. I would recommend it for a classy cocktail in the evening or make a reservation for a romantic dinner.
The next stop was the Wine Thief also located downtown. Do you know what a wine thief is? Neither did we. It is a special glass tube used to suction out wine from a nearby barrel to taste it. The mimosas served, featured fresh orange juice and luxurious prosecco that made your throat sing with glee! Basta Trattoria offered a more savory treat (my mouth just started watering thinking about it). A nonna's meatballs are famous in Connecticut and listed as the #1 meatball. If you have been to the slew of Italian restaurants in CT, this is a huge honor. The venue is small in size but big in taste. You can usually find the owner, Nino Ribeiro, there who will be happy to recommend dishes and will woo you with his Brazilian accent and fine manners.
New Haven Pizza has been notorious for pizza for 93 years thanks to Frank Pepe's pizza. Thin crust, herbs and homemade sauce characterize this New England staple. You might be surprised to hear that a placed named simply "Bar" can compete with the big pizza boys. Bar was our 4th stop and we fell in love with their mashed potato and bacon pizza and smooth, toasted blonde ale that is brewed in house. Even Pam liked it and she is a hard sell! See pic below.
So this next place blew my socks off! Anaya Sushi & Ramen was heaven for my mouth. The Davenport sushi roll? To die for. The chicken bao? Get in my belly!! Vibrant colors on the plate were a dance to the eyes. If you haven't checked it out, just do it. See how happy we are? That could be you. Our agency principal, Jon, doesn't even eat sushi and he loved it.
After a few savory dishes it was time for some sweets. Four Flours offers an earthy vibe and homemade treats like cupcakes, cookies and multigrain bread and sandwiches. It is a happy place.
You may start to ask yourself how can these people keep eating? But oh, we did. This next restaurant was a hidden gem. Olea is a modern, upscale restaurant that offers Spanish Cuisine with a twist. The shrimp, clam, leek, potato and corn soup we were offered warmed our hearts and our tummies.
Union League Café—this restaurant has been on my list for a while but I was always too timid to look at the prices of the French inspired dishes. Turns out, it is very reasonable! Especially if you want to go for lunch. The Chef, Jean Pierre demonstrated how to artfully decorate a dessert plate. The soft French accent added magic to the experience. Isn't this gorgeous? The petit fours were delicate and delightful. The history of this building is also intriguing; it once housed the first New Haven mayor who just so happened to host our nation's first president - George Washington! If that doesn't impress you, I quit!
Just when we thought we couldn't possibly fit anything else into our gullets, Stephen presented us with local cheese made in East Haven and gave us a coupon to the final stop, Wave gifts. Wave has many unique and artistic gifts and products that would promote one to want to shop local. The gourmet chocolates on display each had their own story of origin and unique flavor.
Overall—I give this tour an A++. Incredible experience, great exposure to local shops, promotion of community and great value are only part of what made this tour so great. Stephen and Chris were such gracious and patient hosts and were quick to accommodate anyone's needs or questions. Whether you are a local or new to the area, this tour is a MUST!!
Until next time, your humble insurance agent,