Sunday, July 27, 2008

New Day Trip and Picnicking

I recently spent a pleasant Saturday afternoon in Colchester visiting both Cato Corner Farm and Priam Vineyards.

Cato Corner Farm is a small family farm with a mother-son team, who raise 40 free-range jersey cows without the use of hormones or subtherapeutic antibiotics. From the cows' raw milk, a dozen styles of aged farmhouse cheese is produced, such as: "Bridgid's Abbey," our most popular cheese...smooth, creamy, & medium mild with a rich finish; "Drunken Hooligan," rubbed in wine grapes from Priam Vineyard; and, "Fromage d'O'Cow," Hooligan's bigger brother, a wide flat wheel that is especially stinky & rich.

This was my first taste of fresh farm cheese, and it was a memorable treat. Of the several I tried, each was consistently outstanding in taste and texture.

The farm welcomes visitors for cheese tasting and purchase on Saturdays. For more information, plus directions and hours:

Close by, Priam Vineyards is a 40 acre farm with 24 acres of grapes grown free of insecticides. Their wines have won numerous International Wine Competition medals each year, including six in 2008. Tasting is on Friday, Saturday, Sunday and some holidays, from 11-5, with extended hours on select Fridays. Wine tasting, including a wine glass with logo cost $6.50.

What about picnicking? A wine patio adjacent to the barn is convenient and attractive, or consider a walk to the top of the vineyard. There, you will not only find a picnic table or spot of lawn, but a striking 35 mile view of the countryside.

It if isn't convenient or desirable to pack a picnic, no problem. Menus are available at the winery to order lunch or dinner delivered right to the wine patio. Or, on Sundays from 11-3, enjoy a Farmer's Market with fruits and vegetables grown by Priam Vineyards and local farmers, some of whom also bring baked goods.

Check it all out on their website ( by clicking on "Events & Tasting."

Sunday, July 13, 2008

A Potpourri of "stuff" to Share

--In my 2nd Edition of Cruising Connecticut with a Picnic Basket I added a note to the Downtown Cabaret Theatre chapter to the effect that musicals were expected to be offered only intermittently during the year.

So, I was particularly pleased to receive a mailing announcing that 42nd Street "Direct from the Tropicana in Atlantic City" will be playing from November 21st to January 4th. Personally, I am looking forward to this production and wanted to share the information with my readers.

Check their website for other scheduled shows during the coming months.

--There is a new website that showcases products grown in Connecticut. Check out for a list of fruits and vegetables, meat and dairy products, seafood and much more. They are all listed with easy access to the farms (including maps) where these items can be found.

I was curious about the season for broccoli, but it seemed to be the only vegetable not on the list. Although there is a "Chart of Seasonality" it wasn't coming up, so I simply telephoned the farm. I was told that broccoli should be available in a couple of weeks, which will be in time to make my Bleu Broccoli for an upcoming picnic. (If you do not have my book but would like a great new broccoli salad recipe, email me and I'll send it to you. (

The other information on this site wasn't as impressive. For example, when I clicked on Events, there was only one listed, for October 11, 2008. And the exciting Topics on this page, like Farmers' Markets, Farm Tour, Cooking Demonstrations and the like all brought up the same message, "No events. Sorry. Please choose another category." I guess because the site is new, they do not have all the information posted yet.

--Denison Pequotsepos Nature Center in Mystic ( always has a lot of special activities planned. One in particular, a July 22nd trip to Garden in the Woods, home of the New England Wildflower Society in Framingham, Mass. caused me to reflect on my six week Connecticut Spring Wildflower Hunt back in 1973. That adventure turned my day tripping into a passion, which in turn led to writing Cruising Connecticut. Isn't it fascinating that just one step out of our normal routine or comfort zone can lead us to the most wonderful places!

Sunday, July 6, 2008

Soup is a refreshing addition to a summer picnic

I used to think soup was something you served hot on a cold winter night. That is, until I wrote Cruising Connecticut with a Picnic Basket and asked my daughter to help me find some suitable picnic recipes to go with my day trips. Surprise, surprise, she concocted Melon Strawberry Soup and I quickly expanded my narrow concept about soup. Try it and let me know what you think.

Melon Strawberry Soup
(Courtesy of Holly McCarthy)

Soup course ~ side with salad or sandwich ~ dessert. Take your pick. This soup will remain chilled for hours so it is a practical yet delicious addition to a summer picnic menu.

1 package (12-ounce) frozen whole strawberries (will only use half)
1 large cantaloupe
1 cup orange juice
1/4 cup fresh lime juice
1 tablespoon honey
1 bottle (16-ounce) lemon-lime carbonated beverage

* If strawberries are a frozen block, partially thaw, break apart and refreeze.
* Remove rinds and seeds from cantaloupe and cut into chunks. Puree in a blender or food processor until smooth. Add orange juice, lime juice, and honey. Whirl until well blended.
* Pour into a pitcher and chill for 2 or more hours. Before leaving for your picnic, cut one-half of the frozen strawberries in half and add to soup mixture. Pour into a 2-quart wide mouth thermos to transport to picnic.
* To serve, measure 3/4 cup soup into bowl and add 1/4 cup of the carbonated beverage.
*Yield: 5-6 one cup servings.

** Fun Alternatives! **
For a festive occasion, replace the carbonated beverage with champagne.
For a little more color during blueberry season, add a few to each bowl.

For those of you who already have Cruising Connecticut, don't forget about the delicious Gazpacho contributed by Chris Prosperi of the Metro Bis Restaurant in Simsbury (Page 24.) You'll love this one.