Thursday, September 13, 2012

Coastal Living

The Husband and I took a trip back east this weekend for a family wedding. We spent three beautiful days on the Connecticut coastline.  We were able to visit with friends and family who lived in the area, a double bonus.

We arrived a little after midnight on Thursday and rented a car to make the hour and change drive to Groton, where The Brother-in-law (who will now be known as The Subdriver, as there are too many Brother-in-Laws) and The Sister-in-law (who will now be known as The Subdrivers Wife as there are too many Sister-in-Laws) currently reside (these are the same wonderful host and hostess from our trip to  Minneapolis ). After driving through what The Husband and I deemed “The middle of no-where” we arrived at their home and tucked ourselves into bed close to 3am, Friday was going to be a big day.

After an early morning hanging with a college friend I drove into New Haven for lunch to meet another college friend, who we shall name The Lady Doctor (as she is a lady who is also an OB/GYN). She suggested we meet up at Bru Room at Bar, a really fantastic brewery and pizza place. The Lady Doctor works at Yale and said that she comes here fairly often, as it’s only a few blocks away. When I asked what she suggested we eat, she said that the Mashed Potato, Garlic and Bacon pizza is amazing. I’m not a huge lover of bacon, but as she described it the bacon is necessary because it adds some saltiness and really elevates the pizza. So, because I trust The Lady Doctor, I went with it.

We ordered a really spot on salad to start. It’s called Bar salad and it’s made with mixed baby greens, candied pecans, gorgonzola cheese & red wine vinegar/olive oil dressing. It came out in a huge bowl, and could have been shared by 3 or 4 people as a starter. As the lunch went on The Lady Doctor and I kept picking at the candied pecans and the cheese.

The pizza came out sooner than I had anticipated. It’s a New Haven style pizza, so very thin crust, with a base of olive oil, and some cheese, and then covered with mashed potatoes, garlic and smaller, crispy pieces of bacon. What sets New Haven-style pizza apart from other styles is its thin crust.  New Haven style pizza is typically cooked in brick or occasionally high temperature gas oven that bakes the crust to a very crispy shell (often burnt black in spots, desirably known as "the char") but leaves the inside soft. This was no exception. The crust was a little burned in a few places (but I really like that) the toppings were salty (as The Lady Doctor promised) and garlicky and cheesy potato goodness. I had to stop myself from gorging on it.  I stepped away to go to the rest room and on my way back noticed that  of the eight or so other tables dining, six of them had the same pizza. So obviously THIS was the way to go. The Lady Doctor suggested we get a medium pizza so I could take leftovers back to The Husband and The Husband’s Family. I was the hit of the afternoon.  Seriously though, The Husband’s Family gobbled down the leftovers like there was no tomorrow.

After dropping The Lady Doctor off at the hospital, I met up with The Husband’s Family for a while and then The Husband, The Subdriver and The Subdrivers Wife and I all drove up to the beautiful and idyllic town of Mystic (for you 80’s movie buffs out there, this is in fact the same town that the Julia Roberts/ Ally Sheedy masterpiece Mystic Pizza took place) for  The Taste of Mystic .  We wandered in, paid $20 for a sheet of 20 tickets (our first of two sheets) and began scoping the place out.

As we were on the coast, The Husband and I believed that we should try to focus in on seafood. After walking up and down the booths, we decided to settle our first bite at The River Walk Restaurant, where they were shucking fresh oyster’s right in front of you. So we saddled up to the tent, asked for four oysters and were given some rather large, briny globes of happiness. I squeezed a lemon and put a dash of malt vinegar on top and the oyster slide right down. The Husband could have left me there all night long, I would have been happy. But we decided to move on from there.  On our way down the row of booths, we had lost The Subdriver and The Subdrivers Wife, after eating our oysters we found them munching on some garlicy chicken on a stick over noodles from Thai Jasmine. Both the chicken and the noodles were really good. Skewered chicken can end up being very dry, but this was super juicy.

From there we all walked down to the North End Deli, where The Husband and I (along with everyone else in the long line) ordered some clam fritters. These fritters were balls of fried corn meal with chopped pieces of clam inside. For my southern friends, they were just Hush Puppies with clam. Oh man, they were fresh out of the fryer, hot, salty, crispy on the outside and soft in the center.

From there we moved back up and decided to try some Seafood Stuffing and Lobster Mac and Cheese we had seen when we got in. We went over to The Portuguese Fisherman to grab these. The Lobster Mac and Cheese was really excellent; large visible chunks of lobster, creamy, but not enough to overpower the delicate lobster.  I think it needed a pinch more salt, but that’s me.

Next we had what I’d like to call HOLY MOLE HAPPINESS, the Seafood stuffing is probably the best bread-based stuffing I have ever had in my entire life; Oysters, clams, calamari, scallops, enough white wine to add flavor, but not over-power and of course bread. This wasn’t like typical bread-stuffings where it was too much bread and not enough seafood, or more breadcrumb based and not actual bread, these was large fluffy pieces of Italian bread, soaked in seafood broth and white wine.  I cannot say enough about how spectacular this cup of heaven was. 


We decided to move on from there and went to VooDoo Grill for some Crawfish and Crab Cakes. Seriously, I thought I would die after the stuffing, but these were amazing. Two decent sized cakes, covered in a spicy Remoulade. The cakes had a solid ratio of bread to fish and they were also seasoned with some really perfect spices. This chef was obviously a New Orleanian and I got super excited to go back down to New Orleans at the end of the month and try to find another one of these awesome cakes.

We walked back down the aisles again, grabbed some more oysters, because why not, and then ended the evening with what every red blooded American should eat for dessert-Fried Dough again from the North End Deli. Just as the fritters were hot off the fryer, the dough was soft, hot as hell and covered in mounds of confectioners’ sugar.  As you can see, we had a very delicious, very messy time.

So delicious

So Messy...well, only for him

And of course, I ended the evening with one final oyster. I mean, you need to end of a high note, right?

Before leaving Connecticut on Sunday, I ran over to Mystic again and went to Wide World of Bagels. I had grabbed a coffee there before The Taste and they told me that they hand rolled their bagels. As this isn’t a common occurrence and because they had my absolute favorite bagel (salt!) which isn’t generally found at many bagel places, I ran back and grabbed a half dozen :salt, cinnamon raisin, everything, jalapeno and a French toast bagel (which The Subdriver said was fantastically delicious) along with some house-made cream cheese and brought it back to The Subdriver and The Subdrivers Wife’s house. It’s a good thing I don’t live near there, or else I would be eating bagels every single morning. These were prefect and reminded me of the bagels my dad would bring home from New York weekly.

After dining all up and down the Connecticut coastline, I made my way back to Chicago. I'm back for only a short time before The Husband and I get to spend a lovely week together in New Orleans. I wonder what we’ll be eating there…..

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