I have lived in Connecticut for over 25 years – Wow, kind of scary! I moved here right after graduate school and have raised all four of my boys in the Nutmeg State. Never in a million years would I have thought that Connecticut would be my home for so many years. My husband is from New York City and I am from a suburb in Maryland, so we are from very different surroundings. However, our values are very similar (fortunately!) and we decided to raise our four boys in Connecticut, where there are solid, high quality school systems, wonderful kids programs and sports activities, and easy access to kid-friendly activities, both in Connecticut as well as New York City.
My boys have benefited from all the incredible museums, aquariums, and nature centers in Connecticut, such as the Maritime Aquarium, Mystic Aquarium, Mashantucket Pequot Museum, Stamford Museum and Nature Center, The Nature Center of New Canaan, Stepping Stones Museum for Children, and more. In addition, there are the local farms where my boys have been on hayrides, run through corn mazes, and petted farm animals, and picked fresh apples and pumpkins.
The Memorial Day parades and 4th of July fireworks displays each year bring towns together in an old fashioned kind of way. It has been a wonderful environment for my kids to grow up in. The local sports programs are phenomenal as well as two of my boys have advanced to the World Series Cal Ripkin Baseball series several years.
As a foodie, I have watched and seen Connecticut grow over the past 25 years as well. When I first moved to Connecticut, I have to say that there really wasn’t anything all that exciting food-wise. However, today is a different world. Not only are there over 100 farmer’s markets throughout the state, but there are CSA’s (“Community Supported Agriculture”) that deliver to local communities and farm-to-table restaurants highlighting local produce popping up throughout Connecticut.
I am fortunate to live in an area that is surrounded by a number of farmer’s markets as well as a number of high quality farm-to table restaurants. I have had the distinct pleasure of dining at a number of these restaurants which feature local produce, including Farmer’s Table in New Canaan, The Dressing Room in Westport, Le Farm in Westport, and Harvest Supper in New Canaan. There are a few I haven’t had the chance to try yet, but have come highly recommended by some of my friends, including Schoolhouse at Cannondale in Wilton, and a new restaurant, Elm, in New Canaan. All of these restaurants source as much of their produce locally as possible and always use the freshest ingredients available.
I had the chance to pop into several of these restaurants recently to do a photo shoot, highlighting some of the chefs’ specialities. Farmer’s Table, in New Canaan, CT, is one of my favorite spots to dine. Chef Ubaldo actually has his own farm so many days you will find produce that he has picked that morning on the menu. He also bakes fresh artisan bread each day and sources his meat locally, including from his brother’s farm.
Chef Ubaldo from Farmer’s Table holding Spring Onions from his farm
On the day I came by, Chef Ubaldo prepared a Wild Arugula and Mango Salad (with wild arugula fresh picked that morning from his farm), Pan Seared Duck (West Haven, CT) with Pan Roasted Asparagus in Spring Onion Port Sauce (from his farm), Smoked Duck (from his brother’s farm) with Market Green Salad, and his famous Beet and Goat Cheese Salad. There are only two chefs in the kitchen, and the restaurant has limited seating, so it’s best to call ahead to make a reservation. You can find Farmer’s Table on Facebook.
Dressing Room in Westport, CT, opened by the late actor and philanthropist, Paul Newman, and chef, cookbook author and food policy activist, Michel Nischan, is located next to the legendary Westport Country Playhouse.
Executive Chef Jon Vaast prepared their popular Flaky Frenchman French toast with fresh strawberries and organic whipped cream, Smoked Trout Mousse, Warm Beets with Foraged Mushrooms, Seared Alaskan Sockeye Salmon with Roasted Eggplant, Peppers, Pickled Onions and Pea Puree, and Double Chocolate Bread Pudding with Fresh Whipped Cream and Caramel Sauce. When Chef Vaast asked what I’d like to try, I chose the Warm Beets with Foraged Mushrooms. The beets are oven braised which creates a silky smooth texture unlike any other roast beet salad I’ve had.
The Schoolhouse at Cannondale in Wilton, CT, is owned by Tim and Julie LaBant, both originally from Wilton, CT. Located in a quaint section of Wilton, you could easily be deceived by the exterior of this hidden gem. The food is sophisticated and beautifully presented. Chef Tim LaBant has a boyish look, but his talent speaks for itself.
On the day I stopped by The Schoolhouse at Cannondale, Chef LaBant had biked on a hot morning one hour from his home to the restaurant. But, that didn’t stop him from presenting sophisticated dishes such as Hudson Valley foie gras with corn fritters, black berries, black berry lavender gastrique, and nasturtium leaves; Posh n’ Beans (Favas and Peas), ricotta cheese, Wave Hill toast, peas tendrils and radishes; or Beef loin, spring onion, fava beans, morel mushrooms, marble potatoes and potato puree. Chef LaBant believes in serving the freshest food in every season.
Elm Restaurant in New Canaan, CT, is a relative newcomer on the scene, but Chef Brian Lewis has already wowed patrons with his meticulous presentations. Elm features a sleek interior, including a Chef’s Table for anyone looking for a private dining experience, as well as a chef’s tasting counter.
Dishes from Elm (Photos Courtesy of CT Bites)
CT Bites reviewed Elm on Opening Night where appetizers such as slow braised octopus, a trio of hamachi, local lettuces and roots, and soft egg ravioli with three different fillings were served. Although I have not had the chance to try Elm yet, I hope to soon.
Harvest Supper in New Canaan, CT, opened four years ago by restaurateurs Jack and Grace Lamb (of Manhattan’s Jewel Bako and Jack’s Luxury Oyster Bar), features an ever-rotating menu of dishes offered in both “small plate” and entree-sized portions. Harvest Supper was featured by Gourmet when they first opened. (now closed)
Le Farm (now closed) and its sister restaurant, The Whelk, are both located in Westport, CT, and support local farmers and seafood specialists in Connecticut as much as possible. The Whelk features seafood as you might guess. I’ve eaten at Le Farm once and the food was excellent. This plate of Fresh Heirloom Tomatoes and Farro with Pickled Onions, and Shaved Squash with pine nuts and fresh mint represent some of the simply prepared, vibrant dishes that Le Farm has to offer.
For all things food about Connecticut, pick up a copy of Patricia Brooks’ Food Lovers’ Guide to Connecticut. You’ll find information on local food festivals, local producers of regional delicacies, farm stands, and more.
For more farm-to-table restaurants in Connecticut, check out these restaurants from the Connecticut Magazine’s Reader’s Choice Best Restaurants 2012: Union League Cafe in New Haven, CT, Good News Cafe in Woodbury, CT, Fresh Salt in Old Saybrook, CT, Still River Cafe in Eastford, CT, and Artisan (at Delamar Hotel) in Southport, CT.
Have you ever been to Connecticut? If so, tell us where you visited and what your favorite spot was. If not, where would you like to visit if you have the chance to come to Connecticut?
Wild Arugula Salad with Mango, Smoked Rogue Blue Cheese and Balsamic Vinegar
- 4 handfuls of fresh wild or baby arugula
- 1 mango cubed
- 4 tablespoons crumbed Smoked Rogue Blue Cheese or other blue cheese
- 1/4 cup balsamic vinegar
- 3/4 cup oil half olive oil, half canola oil
- 1 clove garlic minced
- 1 teaspoon mustard
Place salad ingredients in a large salad bowl.
Whisk together Balsamic Vinaigrette ingredients in a small bowl.
Toss salad with Balsamic Vinaigrette just before serving.
I’ve never been to CT, so I’d love to visit anywhere in the state! Being a foodie, I always love to explore new places and try different restaurants. Based on that and your pictures alone, I’d choose New Caanan because that Farmer’s Table place looks incredible! Thanks!
Danielle, if you’re ever in the area, I would encourage you to try any one of these restaurants. Farmer’s Table is one of my favorites. Chef Ublado is an extraordinary person and his restaurant is so welcoming.
The Schoolhouse of Cannondale looks so inviting! I love quaint little places that like!
Jill~a SaucyCook says
Having grown up just over the border from Connecticut, spent summers in Sherman and then having lived in Avon for 13 years, I have to say that Mystic Seaport is still one of my favorite places to visit. I also love the Old Saybrook area and I would love to have the pleasure of getting new glasses at 20/20 Optical in Old Greenwich!! So pick me for your winner…ha!!!
Jill, so funny to find out that you lived in CT. There are so many places for me to explore even though I’ve lived here for so long!
Heather @girlichef says
Wow! Such an amazingly jam-packed post full of delicious eats and wonderful destinations! I have never been to Connecticut, but I’d have to say I’d love to visit Dressing Room since I very much admire Paul Newman and everything his “branding” stands for. Plus, the food looks AMAZING. Thanks so much for this chance. =)
Heather, I was so impressed with Chef Jon Vaast – super guy and his warm beet salad was incredible – would love to recreate that in my kitchen!
Heather @girlichef says
I also tweeted it here: https://twitter.com/girlichef/status/213372494126661632 Thanks! =)
I would love to eat at the Farmer’s table and visit the stepping stones children’s museum.
Wow, I really didn’t know there was so much wonderful foodie-ness in CT. I am not that far away, in Boston, I would definitely love to travel there!
Linda S. says
I went to college in Connecticut, and at the time, didn’t appreciate how much there was to do there, but I do remember loving how green the state is. My favorite place was the farm where my mother grew up. Now I really appreciate other places my mother loved, like Stonington and the shore. I remember visiting Mystic Seaport as a kid, and then again decades later. Connecticut has beautiful architecture, with the churches on the town greens.
Jaden and Carolyn – I hope you all have a chance to drive through CT. It has really come a long way since I first moved here!
Junia @ Mis Pensamientos says
i didn’t know you lived in CT! so close to me. i’m about 30 minutes from stamford. 🙂 i almost took a job there too at a private school. i wish NJ had more farmers markets. i used to go to them twice a week when i lived in michigan, but here, i haven’t gone much. i love fresh dining food, the dishes look so clean, i love!
Junia, so funny – I had no idea you were so close. We have to meet – let me know when you have time so we can meet in person!
Martha@ Simple Nourished Living says
What a fun read. I grew up in Connecticut but haven’t been back for years. Reading this made me a little homesick.
Alison @ Ingredients, Inc. says
what a fun exciting post! How cool! I never been to Connecticut! Cool!
I would love to see more of CT! I have been to Mystic Seaport, but it’s been an insanely long time! I’d love to go back there and venture out a bit.
I tweeted: https://twitter.com/liznelson21502/status/213712363872989184
Alyssa (Everyday Maven) says
Fun contest Jeanette! I miss East Coast food so much. I have been to CT a couple of times but mostly passing through on my way to New England. I have heard that New Haven has AMAZING pizza and would love to go there and try it.
McKinney Mommas says
Yes, I’ve been. Actually, I lived in CT for 6 yrs while my hub was in graduate school Our favorite place to visit was Mystic, CT – so much to see and do….and close to the casino! Woo Hoo!
[mckinneymommas at yahoo dot com]
I don’t know about the state of Connecticut. I’ve never been there but would love to visit.
Mireya @myhealthyeatinghabits says
I’ve never been there, but that food looks like its worth the trip!
I’d like to visit Litchfield, Conn.
Terra M says
Mystic would be amazing, but really it would be so hard to narrow it down to just one place. I would love to go and take my time to visit many places and tempt my palate with some amazing food.
alexa - cleveland's a plum says
what an absolutely awesome adventure this could turn into – pick me!
I want to take my son to Mystic Aquarium!
Becky Karatzas says
Since I’ve never been, I think anywhere would be beautiful!
Becky Karatzas says
Since I’ve never been there, anywhere would be beautiful!
Robin O says
I have visited the western Berkshire region of Connecticut…but I would love to return to the state! I would enjoy seeing Mystic, New London, and lots of other towns. Thank you for the opportunity to win the getaway!!
Kim M. says
I live in CT, but I love to “visit” the shore, especially the Mystic area. Would love a little getaway!!
Sandra Gamble says
Any where along the coast!
I would love to visit Connecticut! Mystic would be great for me and my sister to visit!
criss williams says
I have lived in Ct. for more than 30 years, I have never been to Mystic.
Ellen Matthews says
I would love to try the farmers table in new Canaan. I live in the Portland me area & my family lives in Ct. I would take my family to a different hot spot every evening! Thanks for the recommendations!
Rhonda Hardesty Scroggins says
23 years ago, I lived in Norwalk,CT for 1 yr with a lovely family with 4 children. I was their full-time nanny. I have so many wonderful memories of Ct…on my days off I would travel all around Ct and the other new england states. I loved everything about Ct and having been trying to get my husband to visit, maybe winning the trip would give me the perfect lead in. I still talk with the people I worked for and the children have all grown up and some have children of their own. I would love ot reconnect with these lovely people, however Mobile, AL is a long way from them all.
shabby eslami says
I grew up in CT and have not been back in 8 years. All of my family is out there as well as the friends I grew up with. I would love to take my mom back to Mystic, CT where she grew up because she is craving their pizza! When my siblings and I grew up, one thing that was always intriguing for me was to visit all historical spots. I also love hiking on Talcott Mountain and walking the grounds of Renbrook. But if I did return, some of my best memories were at the orchards in Glastonbury where we would pick our ginormous apples and pears fresh off the trees and enjoy some freshly made apple cider. I am missing CT soooo bad right now!
lucille mahady says
Many years ago went to Mystic. Would love to have an opportunity
to see more of Connecticut.
Betty Ouellet says
I grew up in Ct,,have lived in Ca. for 39 years, would love to visit Norwich and Uncasville, lots of family there.
Sandy Lewis says
I love Montville, CT. There are 3 separate areas in Montville: Montville, Uncasville and Oakdale. It’s a beautiful area. Please stop at the Mohegan Sun casino – the chefs are fabulous. There are top quality restaurants and lovely shops. There are also wonderful small restaurants there. I hope you can all visit Montville. You will not be disappointed.
Michelle @The Adirondack Chick says
So funny that I found this today — I’m heading to Connecticut for a client meeting on Friday and I was looking for some place to visit. What I would *love* to do is spend a weekend doing the whole Connecticut wine trail. How fun would that be?!
Michelle – hope you enjoy your trip to CT. A weekend trip to CT would be so much fun. I’ve never actually done the CT wine trail, but would love to hear about it if you go.
Id like to visit Norwalk.
Adrienne gordon says
Gotta visit Mystic Harbor when you are there.
Margaret Smith says
I’d love to visit Mystic. There’s a number of attractions that I’d love to see there.
Thanks so much.
Margaret Smith says
I tweeted; https://twitter.com/peg42/status/228654881311965185
CATHY TRUMAN says
i WOULD LIKE TO VISIT MYSTIC CT.
Stephanie V. says
Woodbury – Carole Peck’s Good News Café – creatively prepared dishes using organic, locally farmed ingredients – yum!
carol gentry says
I have never been to Connecticut but have alwasy wanted to visit. We have friends that have gone during the fall time and also in the winter time and have shown us their beautiful pictures when they have returned. I would love to visit this beautiful state.
Cynthia C says
I’d love to visit Essex.
Cynthia C says
Chrystal D says
I’d like to visit the Mystic Aquarium!
I’ve always wanted to visit Mystic- maybe it was the movie, but it seems like such a great town and with the aquarium, i know my 5 yr old would be excited too!
Would like to revisit Mystic with my 8 year old, and I heard there are many forgotten mines in Connecticut where you could search for gemstones. My little one is a big rock collector. She would have a blast!
I just tweeted this giveaway! https://twitter.com/ADLF2000/status/229464263729766401
I grew up in CT and haven’t been back in a long time- I would love for my husband daughter to see where her Mom grew up..PROUD of my New England roots! I always rave how food in New England is the best!
Crystal F says
R.J. Julia sounds like a really interesting place to visit. I love to read so it would be fun to visit the bookstores there. thank you!
patricia skinner says
I have never been to CT but would love to visit Mystic Seaport.
Jacob LaFountaine says
I would spend the weekend out and about
Nadine L says
I would love to take the 5-hour tour with Captain John to see the lighthouses
Nadine L says
I tweeted https://twitter.com/eyzofblu63/status/230681439543361536
Janice Whitaker says
nothing better than fresh veggies!
They all sound so good it would be hard to decide where to start! I have never thought about visiting Conneticut but am know!
I have always wanted to visit Hartford!
Denise S says
My family would love to visit Dinosaur State Park.
I heard great things about Mystic Aquarium.
Erica C. says
I’d like to try the Outdoor Sports Center Rock Climbing in Wilton!
Debbie C says
I would like to visit Wilton, CT and see all the historic buildings there. I’d especially love to go in the Fall when the leaves turn color. Of course, I would have to dine at The Schoolhouse at Cannondale at least once. It sounds like a foodie’s dream.
Debbie C says
Shirley Hicks says
i have never been to Connecticut,,would love to visit….
Debra F says
I’ve always wanted to visit Mystic, Conn.
I lived in Hamden, so I’ve been all over CT.
Marie Howard says
i’d like to visit hartford. gorgeous food pics!!!
Sarah L says
Yum! I’d go to Harvest Supper in New Canaan, CT
Thanks for the contest.
Sarah L says
Melissa Shirley says
Connecticut Dinosaur Trail
tracey byram says
I’d like to visit the Dinosaur State Park.
susan smoaks says
I would love to visit Country Rambles and Ambles – #13 and forget my 21st-century troubles in eastern Connecticut.
susansmoaks at gmail dot com
I really want to visit the Mark Twain house/museum. I just moved to CT two weekends ago, so I cannot wait to see what this state has to offer!
I tweeted: https://twitter.com/PopFitLife/status/233204394643034112
I would love to go up to Westport. I would probably take in a play and definitely check out the Dressing Room.
JAMES LYNAM says
I would like to go to “OLD GREENWICH, CT.”
Melanie Montgomery says
I wanna visit Litchfield, CT