Tag Archives: Hartford Public Library

Hartford Magazine Party Features The Best There Is

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besth2besth1If you were looking for the best there is as far as food, services, music, shopping and more in the Hartford area, all you had to do was head to the Hartford Public Library Friday to find it all.

Books became secondary as Hartford Magazine held its 11th annual “Best of” party featuring winners in dozens of categories who were more than happy to show off their awards and why they were chosen in the annual readers poll.

besth3“We’ve won a lot,” said Munson Chocolates employee Corinne Ferrante about the award the family-owned business in Bolton again snagged for its candy. And to prove the point, Ferrante and co-worker Harrison Poltorak, who work at the Blue Back Square store, were handing out samples of the well-known sweets to the crowd that packed the awards party featuring food, drinks, entertainment and a red carpet welcome.

Also celebrating a win were business partners and restaurateurs Dorjan Puka and David Borselle, whose A’vert Restaurant in West Hartford won “Best French Restaurant.”

“It’s always an honor,” said Borselle about the award as he piled picture-perfect French macarons onto a serving platter for guests to enjoy.

And while winning an award for the restaurant was a coup, Puka’s wife Mira said her hubby would deserve another award as well.

“Best Family Man,” is what he deserves as well,” she said. “He is a wonderful husband and father.”

hartbestAnd speaking of marriage and such, the Ververis Family was doing some celebrating at the party for a couple of reasons.

The family, which owns New Britain’s Capitol Lunch had once again been voted ”Best Hot Dog” in the magazine poll.

“We are honored,” said owner Gus Ververis, who, with his sons,  owns the historic Main Street eatery that has been known for decades for its signature dogs and special sauce.

Son Ignatios was not only celebrating the win and the celebrity that comes with it but something a bit more personal, his upcoming wedding to Ewa Kolodziejczyk.

“We met when I started working at Capitol Lunch,” explained Kolodziejczyk. “He asked me out and I was so embarrassed because I had just come from Poland and couldn’t speak English and didn’t know what to do,” she said smiling.

besth4But love prevailed and she now speaks impeccable English as she prepares for not one, but probably two weddings. The couple is traveling to Poland a few weeks before their wedding here in the United States and chances are there will be some nuptials there for the bride-to-be’s family, with a second ceremony in August in the United States.

“We want to keep everyone happy,” said Ververis. “It’s a challenge with families in two different countries but we want everyone to share.”

For more pictures go here.

Reichl Brings ‘Sizzle’ To Hartford Public Library

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“Gray rain. Hartford. Woke with sunny memories. Midnight ravioli: orange-tossed. Late supper atreichl4 Peppercorn Grill. Wonderful restaurant.”

reichl1 (2)That was famed author and foodie Ruth Reichl’s you-can-almost-taste-it tweet hours after she brought the sizzle to Hartford Public Library’s  “One Big Sizzling Summer Night” fundraiser Thursday.

Reichl, former editor-in-chief of the defunct Gourmet magazine, brought her food expertise, her philosophy on life  and her new book and first novel, “Delicious” to a crowd that was more than happy to celebrate almost-summer at a party that included games, food from a variety of Hartford’s best-known restaurants and a chance to meet the celebrity chef.

“Good food and good books are what you need to pay attention to in life,” said Reichl, who has nowreichl2 moved on to write yet another book. Admitting she was a little lost when she her job evaporated, Reichl said she bounced back with clever tweets that have made her a Twitter star and spending mega-time in the kitchen, with both turning into fodder for the yet-to-be-named new book.

“Cooking saved my life,” she said, explaining the new book will be a combination of how cooking every day after she lost her job helped her get through the transition. And her plan is to combine recipes, her tweets and her walk along a new path all into the new book.

reichl3 - CopyAmong those attending the fundraiser were Hartford Mayor Pedro Segarra, Gov. Dannel P. Malloy, and “I don’t cook” library board president Thea Montanez as library CEO Matt Poland acted as master of ceremonies for the dine-around which attracted a big crowd.

“Everything is great but I just like being able to pose with Ruth,” said Manchester resident Mindy Alvarez, a wanna-be professional chef who was thrilled when she was able to take a quick selfie with the famous author and chef.

“I love the way she makes food down to earth, nothing pretentious or part of a fad,” Alvarez said. “She cooks from her heart, and that’s the best way to do it.”

A Weekend Full Of Everything Hartford!

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The city and the state got off to a good start this week what with Erin Brady, CT’s first Miss USAcalendar_clip_art-1_opt finishing her history making reign, Hartford Stage basking in that “Gentleman’s Guide” Tony Award glow, UConn teams visit to the White House and Quinnipiac University celebrating Barbara Walters in New York City.

The rest of the week is just as good people!

It all begins tonight with a sizzle when the Hartford Public Library hosts its annual “One Big Sizzling Summer Night” gala at the library featuring guest foodie, author and former Gourmet managing editor Ruth Reichl.

onebig4“This year’s event will be unlike any you’ve seen,” promises library CEO Matt Poland.

The evening includes food, meet-and-greet, an auction and a celebration of the library and its programs.

For more information go here.

Or you could head over to Charter Oak Landing on Thursday where Our Piece of the Pie, a non-profit supporting youths, will host its annual “Sip and Sail” cruise. The fundraiser includes a reception and sail along the Connecticut River on the Lady Katharine’s Mystique. For more information go here.

wineroses3It’s rose time at Elizabeth Park and that means “Wine & Roses” on June 13. Savor the smells and the sights at the park and its historic rose gardens  by attending the annual event sponsored by the park conservancy. It begins at 6:30 p.m. at the Pond House Café. For more information go here.

The University of Saint Joseph (USJ) will present its fourth black-tie gala on June 13 at 6p.m. at the Connecticut Convention Center June 13.

The “Imagine …the Sky’s the Limit” soiree will honor Dr. Edison Liu, the president and CEO of stjoeJackson Laboratory, as well as three USJ professors who will be recognized for their commitment and service to the humanities. They are: Dorothy Keller, professor of Fine Arts; Judith Perkins, professor emerita of Foreign Languages/Humanities and Shyamala Raman, professor of Economics and International Studies. For more information go here.

There will also be a party going on over at The Society Room on June 13 where  the Amistad Centerjunteenth2_opt for Art & Culture will kick off its Juneteenth Celebration “Jubilation”  .

This year author and speaker June Archer, singer and producer Jolie Rocke Broan and community leader John Motley will be honored at the event.

The gala is part of the two-day celebration that will also include a Junteenth Family Day on June 14 at the Wadsworth Atheneum from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Titled “Fresh Faces of Freedom”  the day includes a variety of family activities. For information go here.

cedarAlso on June 13, Cedar Hill Cemetery Foundation will host its annual “Sunset Among the Cedars,” a fundraising dinner celebrating its 150th anniversary. The evening includes dinner, entertainment and a sunset lantern release.

Proceeds benefit the Cedar Hill Cemetery Foundation’s mission of preserving, protecting and promoting the art, culture, history and natural beauty of the nationally recognized cemetery.

For more information go here.

On Saturday, celebrate Mark Twain by heading over to his house for “Tom Sawyer Day,” from 10MTH Exerior.28.25.04 a.m. to 4 p.m. The “Wild West” theme will feature activities including  pony rides, a rope-trick artist, magicians, music a mobile book shop and visits from Tom and Becky Thatcher as well. For more information  go here.

You can also head down to the Madison Beach Club June 14 for the Goodspeed’s “Razzle Dazzle” gala honoring Tony, Grammy and Pulitzer Prize winner Sheldon Harnick.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAHarnick, known for his work on “She Loves Me” “Fiorello!” and ” Fiddler on the Roof,” being presented as part of Goodspeed’s 50th anniversary celebration, will receive the Goodspeed Award for Outstanding Contribution to Musical Theater.

For more information go here.

Finally, don’t forget Sunday is Father’s Day. Celebratedad with dad or remember him well.  Have a good weekend.

Poland/Capelle Are Now A Married Power Pair

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polandwedHartford’s list of power couples just increased by one.

The new “couple” with clout is Hartford Public Library’s President/CEO and Hartford Board of Education chairman Matt Poland, and Cigna exec Jeff Capelle. They officially tied the knot on Saturday night.

The two may be the newest married couple, but could hold the record for longevity when it comes to courting. They met at a housewarming 18 years ago and have been a couple ever since.

But back to the wedding. The nuptials were held at the Wadsworth Atheneum with about 100 guests looking on. Officiating was Hartford Mayor Pedro Segarra, who attended with his spouse Charlie Ortiz, together another of the city’s “dynamic duos. “

And among the guests, yet another formidable pair, Gov. Dannel P. Malloy and his wife, Greater Hartford Arts Council president/CEO Cathy Malloy.

But it was all about the newlyweds and the party after the “I dos” were said.

The reception was held in the museum’s Avery Court, a black, white and red décor with a buffet dinner and more clinking champagne glasses than could be counted.

Among the gifts? Two commissioned seascapes of the Provincetown shoreline, courtesy of a group of friends who know how much the couple loves that Cape Cod town.

And among the toasts, a most heartfelt one from Poland’s daughter Maureen Lynch. She and her husband are scheduled to have their first baby, and Poland’s first grandbaby, in March.  

“Now I have two great dads,” she said, in one of several emotional toasts made to the couple. “And I can’t wait to two great grandpas.”  


New Cafe At Hartford Public Library

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kitch10There’s a new place in town when it comes to dining.

Billings Forge Community Works has opened its second “Kitchen” cafe, this one at Hartford Public Library.The two organizations teamed up for the cooperative venture aimed at bringing more good food to a downtown entity while at the same time providing farm-to-table training for those seeking employment.

“It is cross marketing,”  said Billings Forge executive director Cary Wheaton, who, with library CEO Matt Poland, presided over ribbon cutting ceremonies at the newest location Wednesday. “And at the same time, it promotes what Billings Forge has become known for in terms of increased access to job training and job placement.” A ribbon-cutting party with Billings Forge signature fresh fruit salad, blueberry muffins, and quiche welcome a roomful of invited guests including Hartford Mayor Pedro Segarra and Gov. Dannel P. Malloy.

 Ankitch6d while the new cafe was the reason for the a.m. party, a beaming Poland had other party  plans on his mind.

“We’re getting married Nov. 9,” said Poland about his upcoming nuptials to longtime partner Jeff Capelle.

The two are having their wedding and reception at the Wadsworth Atheneum. Officiating at the ceremony will be Segarra.

“About 100 people including friends and family from Paris and California will be coming ,” said Poland, who is also chairman of the Hartford Board of Education. “We’re excited.”


Restaurant Awards and New Restaurant in Hartford!

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Maryellen Fillo/Hartford Courant


Always so politically correct that Olympic coach Bela Karolyi.

The celeb coach was in town last week as part of the 2013 P & G Gymnastics Championships and as part of the event, participating in a “Capital City’s Taste of the Championships,” dine-around.

Karolyi, along with 1984 Olympic speed skating gold-medalist Johann Olav Koss, Hartford Mayor Pedro Segarra, 2004 Olympic all-around champion Carly Patterson, 1984 Olympic gold-medalist, USA Gymnastics Board Chairman Peter Vidmar and USA Gymnastics President Steve Penny dined at the restaurants over a three-day period, with the intent of handing out gold, silver and bronze awards.

But everything was so good that this year everyone was a winner. Presented the “Nutrition Award” was Max Downtown while the “Most Creative Dish” award winner was Agave Grill. The “Carly Patterson Award” went to City Steam Brewery Café and honored for “Best Comfort Food” was Salute. The prestigious “ Bela Karolyi Award” went to Feng Asian Bistro while the “Mayor’s Award” went to DISH Bar & Grill.

Abillings1 (2)nd speaking of restaurants, another one is opening in Hartford and not where you would expect.

On August 28 “The Kitchen at Hartford Public Library” will open its doors at the Main Street main branch of the library. The new farm-to-table café, collaboration between Billings Forge Community Works and Hartford Public Library, will offer job training and permanent job placement services (through the library’s CT Works program) for Hartford residents.

Billings Forge also has a café at its complex on Broad Street in Hartford.

Ribbon cutting for the second location is at 10:15 a.m.

The restaurant will be serving breakfast, lunch and “to go” food Monday through Friday from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. Catering will also be available.  


HPL Marks 69th Circus Fire Anniversary Today

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circusfireToday marks the 69th anniversary of the tragic Hartford Circus Fire, a sad anniversary being remembered at the Hartford Public Library. Besides its kickoff of the Adult Summer Reading Program, the library is also launching its circus fire  “scrapbook project” as well. 

The library is collecting memorabilia, personal recollections, drawings and other reflections on the fire and its aftermath. The community-wide project will not only be circulated at library branch locations through the city but will be archived in the Hartford History Center next year as part of the 70th anniversary of the fire, considered one of the most catastrophic civic tragedies in the city’s history.

Also, today at 2 p.m., the library will welcome well-known journalist/author  Michael Daly and author Bruce MacNab who will discuss their books, “Topsy” and  “The Metamorphosis, The Apprenticeship of Harry Houdini” at a special reading program event. The two will not only talk about their books (both of which have Connecticut connections)  but will take questions from the audience. There is a book-signing after the program as well.

I will be moderating the event and not only am I excited about meeting the two authors, but about getting out of my house, the only one on the street, I think, that does not have air conditioning!  The library does!

Please join us.


PS: For those who asked, the family who died in the circus fire and lived in my Plainville home at the time were Edwin and Olive Snelgrove.  He was an assistant secretary at the Atkins Printing Co. in New Britain. Another Plainville family also died in the fire. Mrs. Frank Brooks and her children Dorothy Brooks, James Brooks and George Brooks, who lived in Pershing Drive,  were among those who also lost their lives in the fire that day.  Other Plainville residents who died in the fire that day were Hortense and Walter “Brick” Murphy who lived on Crown Street. He was an assistant pharmacist at Liggett’s Drugstore in New  Britain  and was a correspondent for the Hartford Times.


Hartford Public Library Welcomes Henry Winkler

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Actor, producer, director, philanthropist, author (and proud grandpa!) Henry Winkler was the featured guest at Hartford Public Library’s “One ‘Happy’ Big Summer Night” fundraising event at the Connecticut Convention Center in Hartford Thursday night.

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The very gracious Winkler casually strolled into the VIP reception by himself (no entourage!), stopping in the corridor along the way to chat with guests and sign copies of his “Hank Zipzer” children’s book series (comedies about his life as a dyslexic).

“We read to our children. Since reading is so difficult for me, my wife did the reading and I acted them out as she read,” said Winkler. “Books are really important. It took me a long time to read. Not until I was in my 30s did I read my first novel.”

So what kinds of books does Winkler’s grandson like?

“He picks out the books, mostly about trucks,” said Winkler of his 16-month-old grandson Ace (he also has a 3-year-old granddaughter who loves to read).

Guests at the reception included Micah and Ally Murray of Enfield; Kevin Chick and Evan Johnson, both of Hartford; and David Ring, New England Region President and Managing Director, Enterprise Banking, First Niagra Bank.

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“Books give them a window on the world,” said Lisa McLure, Youth and Family Services Director at Hartford Public Library, on the importance of reading to children. “Through books they learn vocabulary, they learn what takes place in the world, they learn how to be literate and find their way.”

For more photos from the event, click here.

Winkler Starring At Hartford Public Library Summer Party

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fonz1Hartford Public Library has announced  that actor, director, producer, philanthropist, and New York Times best-selling author, Henry Winkler (better known as “The Fonz”  to most) will be the featured speaker at the Library’s annual fundraiser, One Big Summer Night, on June 20 at the Connecticut Convention Center in Hartford.

Past featured guests have included Dominick Dunne, Jacques Pépin, Wally Lamb, Francine du Plessix Gray, Colin McEnroe, Nora Pollard, Paul Weidner, Malachy McCourt, Julie Powell, the author of the New York Times bestseller Julie and Julia,  Joe Scarborough and Mika Brzezinski, stars of MSNBC’s Morning Joe, and columnist, president and editor-in-chief of the AOL Huffington Post Media Group,Arianna Huffington.

Proceeds from the event are used for library programs and services.