Burgers

We are going to talk about burgers! Yes, burgers, with or without cheese, broiled, grilled, stuffed however you like them. Why burgers? Recently, I played a gig in Tribeca, (lower Manhattan) NY. The Hors D’oeuvres served that evening included little mini burgers that were so tasty me and the boys in the band put on our best starving artist faces to keep the waiters bringing a fresh supply. Now you may be wondering why that is of any significance, I’ll tell you. The gig was in a very nice loft condo in, of all places, the old meat packing district! Since just about everyone loves a good burger I thought this could be interesting.

Yummy!

Okay before we bite into this endeavor it might be important to note that according to Theodora Fitzgibbon in her book The Food of the Western World – An Encyclopedia of food from North American and Europe: The Hamburg steak (chopped and seasoned meat some say is the predecessor of the modern day hamburger) originated on the German Hamburg-America line boats, which brought emigrants to America in the 1850s. There was at that time a famous Hamburg beef steak which was salted and sometimes slightly smoked, and therefore ideal for keeping on a long sea voyage. As it was hard, it was minced and sometimes stretched with soaked breadcrumbs and chopped onions. It was popular with the passengers, who continued to make Hamburg steaks with fresh meat when they settled in the U.S.

Now the question here is where can we find good burgers in CT and have some fun getting there? As for the fun part I thought keeping the activity vigorous so as to work up an appetite would serve us well. So, let’s start with somewhat of a new comer to this age old tradition of devouring burgers. They are Five Guys Famous Burgers located in Farmington, CT. Now before you jump in the car and run off remember the activities!

Maybe your interests involve an outside activity, check out The Farmington Valley Greenway for a list of outdoor fun activities. Or, if you prefer something a little more cultural, try the Hill-Stead Museum which features Art, History, Architecture, and Historic homes. So after some or all of that you know what you’re supposed to do…it’s time to reward yourself by grabbing one maybe even two of the Five Guys Burgers. According to the folks at Five Guys there are 250,000 ways to have one of their burgers, well here is one, straight no chaser!

Next up, let’s go to Colchester, CT. Yes, Colchester where you can sightsee, fish, bike, hike, go antique shopping do whatever to spend a wonderful day. Did you know that in colonial times a pond was created to provide water for a sawmill, where they turned chestnut, maple, and oak logs into lumber. By the 1870s horses were hauling wagons across a covered bridge over the nearby Salmon River. Today the beautiful area in Colchester is known as Day Pond State Park, and it offers lots of opportunity for exploring. Now once you have worked up that appetite you simply have to stop at Harry’s Place, a real roadside burger stand complete with wooden shutters, park benches, and good juicy two-fisted burgers.

Hungry Yet!

Last and certainly not least, one of my favorite towns New Haven. Maybe you’ve heard of Sleeping Giant State Park? Sleeping Giant State Park (not in New Haven but close enough) gets its name because the two-mile rocky ridge in Hamden, Connecticut looks like a giant man lying on his back. Sleeping Giant State Park is 1,439 acres and offers over 30 miles of hiking trails. So, after a nice walk or hike (whichever you prefer) make your way to this little gem called Louis’ Lunch. It is a very inauspicious little building on Crown Street in New Haven. It serves one of the most barren yet tastiest burgers you could want. By the way, Louis’ Lunch claims the first hamburgers in U.S. history were served right there at Louis’ Lunch sandwich shop in 1895.

But, don’t take my word for it check out this link http://prod.americaslibrary.gov/cgi-bin/page.cgi/es/ct/burger_1 its from the Library of congress.

So there we have it, a few places we can go and get our adventure on, so to speak, and have a great meal as a reward afterwards. If you know of a place serving great food or a fun or adventurous place worth visiting let me know.

Destinations:

Farmington, CT http://www.fvgreenway.org/ http://www.fiveguys.com/history.aspx

Hill-Stead Museum:

http://www.tripadvisor.com/Attraction_Review-g33782-d106104-Reviews-Hill_Stead_Museum

Colchester, CT http://www.trails.com/tcatalog_trail.aspx?trailid=XFA032-028

Harry’s Burgers http://roadfood.com/Reviews/Overview.aspx?RefID=672

New Haven, CT

Sleeping Giant: http://www.outdoorplaces.com/Destination/stateparks/connecticut/sleeping_giant/

Louis’ Lunch http://www.louislunch.com/lore.html

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The Apple and the Tree

Nick Fradiani Jr.

Yes, well it has to do with what you are thinking and the case here is at home in Connecticut.

 I recently had the opportunity to hear two gentlemen playing together in a band at a restaurant function. The music was a little pop, rock, and blues influenced. The band was very tight, the vocals reservedly tense, they say the secret to power… knowing when to show it, and that is exactly what these guys demonstrate. When the music seemed to relax they let a little more of that power show through, right up till the very end when they let the whole thing bubble over, exhilarating to everyone within earshot.

After the set I wanted to offer my appreciation for their efforts, and that’s when it hit me. I know one of these guys…none other than Nick Fradiani. Yes, that Nick Fradiani, keyboardist and founder of the well known Connecticut group Rhapsody and several others. What I didn’t know, on guitar with him, (wait for it), his son Nick Fradiani Jr. I immediately thought I have to sit with these guys and talk. What a cool thing father and son making great music together. But how did it all start?

Nick Fradiani Sr.

I found it all out chatting with father and son early one afternoon. Nick Sr. it turns out has always been a musician from way back in the day. Playing in the “rock” band much to his parents delight! Nonetheless, he was determined to play music and so he pursued his love of music. His career has taken him to clubs, restaurants, and cruise ships of all shapes and sizes and in as many different locales. Along the way he apparently found his soul mate and wife, who has shared or endured his love of music and all that goes with it. And, as life would have it they had kids, one of whom is Nick Jr. Yes, this is the apple part. However, it seemed despite an early display of musical talent (according to his dad) Jr. was after a career in sports which, fit dad’s ideals just fine. That is until a sports related injury in high school caused the younger Nick to reconsider his options. So it turned out that like his father this young man had a good head on his shoulders and finished college with a degree in history. His dad, after the kids arrived decided he needed something more that would allow him to be home with his family so he became a hair stylist and is now one of the more sought after instructors in his industry.

Now, father and son have their separate musical careers but can also be found together playing their version of original contemporary music and pop covers at many local establishments in the area. They both agree Nick Jr. has a nice edgier side to him. In all, I guess there is some truth to that old adage “the apple doesn’t fall far from the tree”, I know one dad who is just happy with that.

Now if you want to hear these two, and I think you should, you will also want to have a little nibble while you’re there. As always, included, herein some of the venues serving up good eats from the kitchen while these talented artists serve up tasty notes from the stage.

The Nick Fradiani Band Performs September 11th on the East Haven Green. He also appears at Waters Edge in Westbrook, Gusto’s in Milford, The Blue Cottage in Branford, and The Hawthorne Inn in Berlin. While his band Rhapsody performs every Friday at Testo’s in Bridgeport.

Nick Fradiani Jr. every Sunday is at Water’s Edge in Westbrook. He can be found at Eli’s on the Hill in Branford, Kelly’s on Crown Street in New Haven, Harbor Park in Middletown, and City Steam in Hartford.

http://www.watersedgenyc.com/

http://www.gustotrattoria.com/

http://thebluecottage.net/

http://www.hawthorne-inn.com/index.shtml

http://www.ctmenusonline.com/wine_list.htm

http://www.elisonthehill.com/

http://www.kellysnewhaven.com/

http://www.harbor-park.com/

http://www.citysteambrewerycafe.com/

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Spring Means Jazz In CT

This past Easter weekend I was at Killington, yes skiing! It was a bright sunny day and as Spring had arrived so had Spring skiing. On that Saturday it was 75 degrees, yes the snow was just like mashed potatoes but I was skiing and it was good, so good. The following day was much cooler (65 degrees) but it was still outstanding. As I packed up my skis at the end of the day, I lamented the end of ski season. Yes, it will be a long eight months before I can pack up again for parts north and enjoy this crazy sport which I love so much. Then, right on cue, the thought of warm weather and all that it brings came to mind.

As we all know, there are so many things to do over the next few months, trips to the beach, cookouts with friends and family, pool parties, lounging in the yard, soaking up the Sun and just being outside. That also means summer jazz concerts! It seems no matter where you are in Connecticut a concert will not be too far away for a picnic basket filled with your favorite goodies, a little nosh, a few beverages, you may also bring blanket, a few chairs, , and a few friends or maybe just one. That is a recipe for a great time! So what concerts should we attend? Well here are two.

Litchfield Jazz Fest

Now of course there is the Litchfield Jazz Festival, the undisputed centerpiece of the Litchfield Performing Arts, which usually runs for three days in Kent, CT. Litchfield Performing Arts celebrates twenty-nine seasons this year. Over many years the festival has had many jazz giants James Moody, Dave Brubeck, Sonny Rollins, Wayne Shorter just to name a few. As always they will have a very nice line up of talent which, more than likely will include local talent and may feature performances by students. Well, after all it is held at the Kent School. Now if you are heading off in that direction you simply have to stop into this little gem called Belgique Pâtisserie & Chocolatier, they have some of the best treats you ever want to sink your teeth into. Not to mention, hello, chocolate!

There is also the Hot Steamed Jazz Festival right at the Essex Steam Train and that also runs for three days. This festival started in 1992 and their stated mission is “to bring for a full weekend, the best of Greater New England’s traditional jazz, swing and blues to Connecticut”. Not only do they host a great festival but proceeds from the festival benefit The Hole in the Wall Gang Camp founded by Paul Newman, a camp for children with cancer or serious blood diseases. If you are going and you haven’t packed you basket, fear not because Olive Oyl’s has got you covered. Right there in Essex they feature a great selection of salads, sandwiches, box lunches everything you need to fill you up while you feast on great music!

Hot Steamed

I know, skiing waits later this year but it’s warm weather season out there people! Cast off those winter clothes, put that rock salt in the way back of the garage, it’s time to get out and get your groove on!

As always, if you know of a place or function serving good food or fun let us know!

Litchfield Jazz Festival http://www.litchfieldjazzfest.com

Belgique Pâtisserie & Chocolatier 1 Bridge St., Kent, CT 860-927-3681

Hot Steamed Jazz Festival http://www.hotsteamedjazz.com/index.shtml

Olive Oyl’s 77 Main Street Essex, Ct. 06426 860-767-4909 http://www.oliveoylscarryout.com/contact.htm

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