Vacation Days: West Hartford & Beyond

Tuesday, October 11, 2016
Hey there, stranger!

New England Brewing Co. - A brewery near New Haven, Connecticut

Yes, it's been almost a month since you've heard from me, and it's due to three things:

1) I'm planning a wedding. If you haven't gathered from this blog, I am a super Type A, organized planner of a person, and whenever people had previously told me how stressful and difficult and crazy it is to plan a wedding, I always thought, "I believe it, but how bad is it really?" Well the Wedding Planning Gods are now laughing their faces off at me, because y'all? It's seriously a lot of work. It's fun, don't get me wrong! But a massive time-suck. Bear with me through these next six months. (Because eek! I decided it'd be a good idea to only give myself SIX MONTHS to plan a wedding!)

2) I'm quietly cleansing. Well I guess it's not so quiet since I'm announcing it on my blog. I did a lot of traveling last month that entailed eating indulgent (albeit DELICIOUS) food, as well as *slightly* over-imbibing some of the alcohols. So I'm on day 10 of a modified vegetarian Whole30 (allowing myself tofu, beans, quinoa, and permission to not be a total spaz when I actually do go to restaurants) in order to clean myself out a bit. But only for 20 days because I value my sanity. (Also, my sister will be in town on Day 21, and we have champagne plans <~~~ Real reason). But this means I'm not really eating out at new restaurants a whole bunch, so there's a lack of content for the blog. Whomp whomp.

3) I traveled more than I was home last month. I'm still catching up on everything after a trip to Disney World, a work trip to New Orleans, a work trip to Vermont, and a trip to West Hartford, Connecticut.

What's that, you say? Can I share more about my trip to Connecticut? I thought you'd never ask.

Jon and I visited our close friends Lenny and Christy in West Hartford towards the end of September. This was tacked on to the tail end of our trip to Vermont. West Hartford is adorable and charming and filled with great food, restaurants, and bars. When Jon and I arrived, Christy took us to the laid back restaurant Max Burger for lunch.

veggie burger at Max Burger - a restaurant in West Hartford, Connecticut

I ordered The Grateful Veg with a fried egg on top and a side of baby broccoli. The restaurant's housemade quinoa-sunflower seed burger was topped with cheddar cheese, shaved red onion, roasted tomato, baby arugula, green goddess dressing, and avocado. This was one OUTSTANDING veggie burger, filled with unique textures and mouthwatering flavors! Lenny joined up with us after he finished work, and we headed over to happy hour at the open, airy, and pretty Max's Oyster Bar (same owners as the burger spot!). We enjoyed some bubbly champagne and oysters (I opted out of the oysters because, #shellfish).

After freshening up and hanging out for a bit at L and C's house, we headed out to dinner at the Italian restaurant Treva in West Hartford.

bread and wine at Treva - a restaurant in West Hartford, Connecticut

Our super engaging server was born and raised in Italy and full of fun, informative facts! We started off with a delicious bottle of red wine, and some of the restaurant's complimentary rustic bread with olive oil.

For our first round of food, we ordered the restaurant's burrata.

burrata at Treva - a restaurant in West Hartford, Connecticut

I adore burrata, and this one ranks high on my list. The inside of the cheese gave off a textured, almost cottage cheese-like consistency. The flavor was light and slightly tangy, and paired wonderfully with some roasted peppers and arugula salad. It was delicious!

For the next round of food, we split the arancini.

arancini at Treva - a restaurant in West Hartford, Connecticut

Another crowd-pleaser, these golden-fried rice balls were stuffed with luxardo cherries and more delicious burrata. The sweet/salty combo that resulted was lovely!

For my final round of food, I couldn't not order the restaurant's tonnarelli cacio e pepe.

cacio e pepe at Treva - a restaurant in West Hartford, Connecticut

(If you know of my love affair with Coltivare's version, you understand why).

Treva's version was a bit heartier, with thicker noodles and a more syrupy olive oil. It was smooth, simple, and really wonderful!

The next day was our day of hopping around (aka eating food around) the state of Connecticut AND Massachusetts! We started off with breakfast at Goldberg's in West Hartford (as recommended to me by my friend Lauren).

Goldberg's - a restaurant in West Hartford, Connecticut
bagels at Goldberg's - a restaurant in West Hartford, Connecticut
bagels at Goldberg's - a restaurant in West Hartford, Connecticut

I ordered a jalapeño cheddar everything bagel with scallion cream cheese (say that ten times fast), and it was EVERYTHING. Fluffy, oozy, melty, tangy, spicy, and absolutely GLORIOUS, eating it was essentially a religious experience.

After that, we headed to New England Brewing Co. near New Haven to taste some local beers!

New England Brewing Co. - a brewery near New Haven, Connecticut
New England Brewing Co. - a brewery near New Haven, Connecticut

I'm not even anywhere close to being any sort of beer expert, but these beers were REALLY good. And the tasting space was small, but super fun!

After that we decided we hadn't had enough bread, so we were off to the restaurant Frank Pepe for some authentic New Haven pizza!

Frank Pepe - a restaurant in New Haven, Connecticut
salad at Frank Pepe - a restaurant in New Haven, Connecticut

We ordered a tasty house salad, which meant the whole experience was healthy of course.

pizza at Frank Pepe - a restaurant in New Haven, Connecticut
pizza at Frank Pepe - a restaurant in New Haven, Connecticut

For our main course of food, we split two pies: One was half tomato pie/half mozzarella, while the other was half pepperoni/half mushroom, garlic, and onion. New Haven pizza really is in its own category of pizza. It's a thinner, crispier, slightly sweeter version of New York pizza, and I really really enjoyed it! The mozzarella pizza was a nice introduction to this style of pizza, but the tomato pie and the mushroom/garlic/onion versions were tied as my favorites. While other tomato pies I've had in the past had no cheese at all, Frank Pepe's version had a very small amount, which allowed the sweet tomato sauce to shine without being overpowering. And the veggie pizza was simply outstanding. The caramelized veggies were wonderful atop the crispy, almost-burnt crust! I even had some later that night (and maybe accidentally bit into a pepperoni that somehow ended up on my slice? Oops. I didn't freak out too much though).

After we had finished filling ourselves up on [more] bread and beer, we headed up (over? down? I'm terrible at geography) to Worcester, Massachusetts to see the band We & Mrs. Jones play at Nick's (fun fact, a scene from American Hustle was filmed there!). L and C's friend Madelyn is the lead singer of the band, and she is AWESOME.

We & Mrs. Jones playing at Nick's - a bar in Worcester, Massachusetts

Actually, we got to witness one of her final shows before going into retirement to have a baby! It was so seriously great.

martini at Nick's - a bar in Worcester, Massachusetts
pretzel at Nick's - a bar in Worcester, Massachusetts
cheese plate at Nick's - a bar in Worcester, Massachusetts

I sipped on a sturdy martini ('natch), and we also ordered some food to share - a giant pretzel, along with a no-frills cheese plate. The pretzel came with a side of - wait for it - CREAM CHEESE, which seriously completed my life. The cheese plate was massive, and really just what we needed (MORE CARBS).

The next day, Jon and I headed back home to Houston, but not before stopping at Total Wine, the rest of the country's response to Spec's. And it was glorious.

Total Wine in West Hartford, Connecticut

And that concludes our trip! It was a whirlwind of an awesome weekend with great friends, great food, and great fun in West Hartford and beyond!

Nick's - a bar in Worcester, Massachusetts

I should probably have some more bread now.


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