Tag Archives: hartford

Best Taco In CT? Food Network Says “Si” To Hartford Agave

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agavetacoWhen it comes to tacos in Connecticut, Hartford’s Agave is the place you must go, according to the new issue of Food Network Magazine.

Titled “50 States, fifty Tacos,” the May feature  lists the best tacos in each state. Agave Grill is not only named “best” in Connecticut but a picture of its spicy BBQ pork tacos is the spotlighted art in the centerpiece story.

“We got a call in January that we had been chosen and it’s been surreal,” said Al Ferranti, one of the partners in the Hartford Restaurant Group that includes the popular Allyn Street Mexican restaurant. “We were so surprised but it has been awesome that a place in Connecticut is being highlighted for its tacos,” he said. “So many people think of New Mexico or Arizona or Southern California,” he said. “We just got an email from someone in New Mexico who saw the article and is asking for our recipe.”

The win was twice as sweet (or spicy) because Agave is celebrating its 10th anniversary this month.

“We’ll be doing some double celebrating,” said Ferranti, about future anniversary party plans.

The magazine, calling its 50 picks “worth the trip” notes fans claim the Agave pork taco is “as close to Mexican street food as you can find in Connecticut.”

“The tacos started as street food from our taco truck,” said Ferranti about its seasonal “to go” food cart. “People kept asking for them in the restaurant so we just added them to the menu.”

Ferranti said he is not surprised that the tacos, which can also be filled with vegetables, chicken or carne asada, are such a hit.

“We use really good ingredients he said, noting that Mexican chihuahua cheese, not American cheddar, is melted onto the tortilla before it is filled with high quality meats, a choice of sauces, pico de gallo, and marinated cabbage.

“Most restaurants use lettuce in their tacos but we like the cabbage because it has more crunch,” he said. “And we marinate the cabbage in a cilantro vinaigrette to take some of the bite out of it.”

To see the entire article go to foodnetwork.com/magazine

Hartford Is One Of The Happiest Cities In The USA, Honest!

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Hartford-Most-Productive-Cities[2]In case that ‘Husky High’ and all that is basketball-related  is starting to wear off Hartford, there is more good news!

An online site called “CreditDonkey” has posted a story claiming Hartford is one of the 10 ‘Happiest Cities’ in the United States.

Drawing conclusions from a mix of data including unemployment rate, average wages and a “frustration index,” the report claims Hartford comes in at a qualified  # 3 “largely because the salaries and benefits are so high there – if you can find a job.”

The story also gives Hartford big props for amenities including  a more manageable commute and low-frustration offices.

Coming in at #2  is Buffalo, New York and at #1 Rochester, New York.

For the complete story go here.

Boys & Girls Club Celebrate Fun And Honorees

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boys12boys13boys10If you were looking to find a way to unwind at the near-end of the work week Thursday, heading over to the Connecticut Convention Center was a good option. You could get some of that energy worked out by playing a lively game of “Hungry, Hungry Hippo” or “Trivial Pursuit.” Or perhaps “Connect Four” is your poison.

The point was it was all about fun as the Boys & Girls Club of Hartford held its annual “Opening The Door Celebration,” a fundraiser that included loads of games for guests and a dinner that honored its 2014 Hall of Fame inductees.

“I haven’t played ‘Hungry, Hungry Hippo’ since I was eight,” smiled Jon Wells, an insurance underwriter who came with friends. “I was really good at it too,” he said as he approached a group of pint-sized Boys & Girls club members who invited him to play.

“I loved the Boys & Girls Club when I was growing up,” said Webster Bank’s Jay Brennan who recalled his days of playing ball at the Forestville club.  “I’ll never forget those days.”

And the honorees for the night would not forget theirs, either.

“I grew up in the Bowles Park area of Hartford with my grandmother and mother,” said Atty. Kevin Henry, one of four inductees. “Sonny Thomas, he would pick me up and bring me to the Northwest Club or camp and Joe LaPenta, he was great,” said Henry, referring to the longtime club supporters. “I am so stoked about being chosen for the Hall of Fame,” said Henry who is a partner in the Hartford law firm, Kevin Joiner LLC.

Thomas was being honored posthumously as a Hall of Fame inductee along with Darryl Thames, now the chief operations officer for the Urban League of Greater Hartford and Joe Horvath, a teacher and social worker, who loved playing basketball and football at the Southwest Club in Hartford.


Hartford Symphony Celebrates 70 With Platinum Gala

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Four hundred guests gathered at the downtown Marriott in Hartford to celebrate the Hartford Symphony Orchestra’s platinum gala, “A Celebration of 70 Seasons,” Saturday night. April 2014 198

“The things that Carolyn [Kuan] and the musicians have done over the last few months have been really perfect for a celebration of this magnitude,” said Jim Remis, HSO board chairman, who attended the event with wife Nancy Remis. “Seventy years in this town with great music. And 70 more coming.”

April 2014 187In true Hartford Symphony fashion guests were treated to music by several students (current and past winners of the HSO’s Young Artists Competition) during the cocktail hour, and then a special performance by the orchestra later in the evening in the grand ballroom, conducted by music director Carolyn Kuan.

Among the 400 in attendance were Jeff Brown, Bushnell Center for the Performing Arts board member and wife Virginia; Susan O’Brien, HSO’s assistant director of individual giving; Dr. Gary Rhule, who is currently working on his second novel; and Esther Pryor, HSO board member and mom Claire Pryor of West Hartford (Claire and her late husband were involved with the symphony since the 70s).

TV and radio personality Jim Masters was the evening’s emcee.April 2014 195

And proving that the symphony is truly for all ages, board member Mark Hayes tells Java that he’s been taking his daughter Raegan, 7, to the symphony since she was 2 years old.

“My father took me to the symphony,” said Hayes. “The most special thing about the symphony, for me, is being able to share that moment with my daughter.”April 2014 202

More photos from the event here



New Book, “Remarkable Women Of Hartford” Released

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PR_Cover_Hartford_WomenHer new book, “Remarkable Women of Hartford,” is not the first time author/editor/ professor/playwright Cynthia Wolfe Boynton has promoted the role of women in history. The freelance writer who lives in Connecticut wrote the play “Dear Prudence,” about Connecticut educator and activist Prudence Crandall. Her book brings to light the stories of 12 Connecticut women who played major roles in Connecticut politics, civil rights, the arts, education, and business in times when women were fighting for social and legal rights and respect.  Among the CT Women Hall of Famers who are featured are Courant publisher, Hannah Bunce Watson Hudson, children’s rights activist Virginia Thrall Smith, civil rights champion Mary Townsend Seymour ,  education pioneer Edythe Gaines and late Gov. Ella T. Grasso. Boynton admits she not only learned a lot about a handful of strong women in Connecticut’s history as the book unfolded but that she also learned more about herself,  as she Spilled the Beans with Java.

Q: Where did the idea for the book come from?

A: This is not impressive at all, believe me. I am a freelancer and I am always looking for ways to support myself. I was vacationing in Martha’s Vineyard and wherever I go, I like to go to author’s signings and readings. There was a book signing in Edgerton for a book called “Remarkable Women of Martha’s Vineyard.” I love stories of strong women and bringing back women’s voices of the past, so I went to the event and saw the book and talked to the author and asked if I could do a book like this. I basically looked up History Press that published the series and saw there were none about Connecticut. And it seemed like Hartford was the place to start.

Q: Do you like history?

A: Growing up in Milford, my parents were always into history and antiques and every vacation Cindy headshotwas to a historical place of some kind. As a kid I vowed I would never turn into an adult who loved history. I mean how many times can you go to historic Williamsburg? But I did grow into an adult who loves and is fascinated with history. One of the things that continues to amaze me is there are so many people and events from history that have been forgotten. An English major in college

Q: Why do you think no one ever wrote a book like this before? It’s not like we don’t know about these women or do we?

A: I think it is partially because it’s women and I think women are still dismissed. It’s Stowe House’s Katherine Kane’s quote that I use twice in the book, that as a society we tend to look forward all the time. I feel strongly that if we don’t take the time to look to our past, and look at the people before us, then how to we effectively look forward. Women are just dismissed too quickly so it was logical for me to look back at these women and find their amazing stories.

Q: Which story were you most surprised by?

A: Mary Townsend Seymour. I was just horrified that there was no information about her and her work as a civil rights advocate. In fact her grave is listed on the Connecticut Freedom Trail Old North Cemetery in Hartford but there is no specific location given. I visited the cemetery twice and there is no one there to help you out and I walked up and down every aisle because there was no way to find her grave. And this woman did so much. she helped establish the NAACP here, she helped organize the first union for women, she was the first woman to run for legislative office and yet there was barely any information on her. Her story took the longest to write because I had to do so much research and piece her story together.

Q: What story did not surprise you at all?

A: None of them. I was surprised by some aspect of every woman in the book. I think that information about the women became more accessible when as a society, we became better documenters. But it was still hard. Hannah Bunce Watson Hudson, publisher of the Courant was a challenge because there were no bylines in the news then so you didn’t know what she wrote. Women’s lives then were recorded by their husband’s names. Linda Huntley Sigourney, a writer who is also in the book, led a very unconventional life and her husband didn’t want a wife who was a writer. So she compromised and did not use her name on her writings. So you had this dichotomy where she was independent and modern but living by the rules of the time. Hundreds of years have passed since many of these women lived and worked so hard for societal changes, but when we look at today, too much is the same. We are a society that still does not value diversity, gender and civil rights. We are still far behind.

Q: I love that you included the signatures of each of the featured women. What was your intent?

A: I was determined to do that because I feel a signature is such an intimate expression of who somebody is. It was the closest way to actually show their authentic voices.

Q: Did any family members object to your research or the women you chose for the book?

A: there was no push back. I was disappointed however because I could not track down any family of Elizabeth Colt and she was such a remarkable women. Actually there were families that were crazy excited over the stories being told.

Q: Besides the obvious of reading it, do you see the book as having some kind of academic value in the future?

A: I would love to see it used in schools and am in the process of writing a teacher’s guide to go with it. I think it’s a book that would have tremendous value to school because it really does bring our state history, and the women who affected change here, to life.

Q: Will there be a second book?

A: I absolutely would do a second book and there are more than enough remarkable Connecticut women to fill one. I am thinking of a Volume II for Hartford and looking at New Haven as well.

Q: What did you learn as you wrote this book?

A: Oh my God that is such a hard question. I learned, so much that it is impossible to sum up everything. I think the biggest take away for me was that all these women’s lives overlapped in some ways even if they didn’t live at the same time. Someone who died was someone else’s mentor or what one did in one century somehow helped another do what she did years later. They all had a strong sense of purpose and they knew what they wanted to accomplish and took the time to figure out what they wanted to use their lives for. We move so quickly now we don’t take the time to figure out what we want to be and what is important when it comes to what we want to accomplish. These women took the time to live the best life possible and made amazing impacts on their community. I find I want to be like them, it’s how I want to live my life.

For more information go to cindywolfeboynton.com.



Sold Out Greenhouse Party Benefits KNOX, Inc.

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You couldn’t help but notice the purple hue of the lights coming from the KNOX, Inc. greenhouse Friday evening as guests made their way past tiki torches to KNOX’s sold-out Urban Greenhouse Party in Hartford.

More than 300 gathered in the warmed (to 75 degrees) greenhouse for the carnival-themed party, a fundraiser and community building event for the environmental nonprofit on Laurel Street in Hartford.
Feb-March 2014 066
“I bring the people to the programs,” explained Charmaine Craig, director of Community Outreach for KNOX. “We have five core programs here at KNOX and I manage four of them.”

Craig jokes that folks may think she hibernates in the winter, but she’s far from hibernating. Once March comes, Craig says they run non-stop until October.

“For me it’s a spiritual journey,” said Craig. “This is what the Lord has directed me to do. I’ve always wanted to be a healer and I feel like I’m healing the city of Hartford by what I do.”

And kudos to Craig who was recently recognized for her environmental work and featured in Aetna’s African American History Calendar as one of 12 urban sustainability heroes.
Feb-March 2014 069
Among the 300 guests enjoying music, cuisine and beer and wine were Ron Pitz, KNOX executive director; board member Rita Decker-Parry; board president Camielle Griffiths; Cheryl and Hank Stephenson of East Hartford; and Mayor Pedro Segarra. Guests were even treated to a carnival dance performance during the party.
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“I’ve been with KNOX for close to three years, it’s a wonderful organization” said Griffiths. “I wanted an opportunity to help KNOX further it’s mission in the community.”

View more photos from the party

Looking For Fashionable Men? Hartford One Of The Best!

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welldressedLooking for GQ kind of guys?  Guess what? According to SeekingMillionaire.com, some of the best-dressed guys (and apparently those with some cash) are in Hartford.

According to the website, dubbed as the premiere millionaire dating site, guys are spending much more on their clothes these days.

Using those figures and a
survey of women from each U.S. city asking whether the men in their cities were
well-dressed, the website has come up with an “American cities for Fashionable Men” list that ranks Hartford comfortably in the middle at #5.
Interestingly enough, the #1 spot is not New York City (that’s for the fashionable women apparently) but rather Chicago when it comes to the “Top Ten” for men with style.

Here’s the list.

1. Chicago, IL,  2. Boston, MA,  3.  Austin, TX, 4. San Francisco, CA, 5.Hartford, CT, 6. Savannah, GA, 7. Providence, RI, 8. New York City, 9. Columbus, OH, 10. Los Angeles, CA



Hartford Hospital Gala Benefits Institute of Living

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It was a sold out event Saturday evening at The Bushnell Center for the Performing Arts in Hartford as Hartford Hospital celebrated with their Black & Red Fundraising Gala. The evening’s theme was “Stop the Stigma” of Mental Illness.

Jan2014 924“For Hartford Hospital to recognize the importance of behavioral health, by recognizing the Institute of Living, reflects the enormous change in our consciousness in terms of mental health issues in American life,” said Dr. Harold (Hank) Schwartz, Hartford HealthCare regional vice president, psychiatrist-in-chief for Institute of Living at Hartford Hospital. “We’re really pushing this anti-stigma campaign to get everybody to recognize how important mental health issues are and to work against the stigma that keeps so many people from seeking the help and assistance that they need.”

Jan2014 929Among the 1,200 guests at the gala were Jonathan and Robyn Gengras, event co-chairs; Carol Garlick, VP Philanthropy, Hartford Hospital; Dr. Stuart Markowitz, M.D, president, Hartford Hospital and wife Deb; Elliot Joseph, president of Hartford HealthCare; and Henry Dominioni and Monica Georgeo of The Hartford. Java also spotted Gov. Dannel P. Malloy and UConn women’s basketball coach Geno Auriemma.

“We are raising funds, but we’re starting a campaign that will run essentially forever. It’s about stomping the stigma around mental illness” said Markowitz. “And really facilitating the ability for people that need help to get help. And so it takes money, it takes funds to do that and begin that project, but really the night is something so much bigger than that.”Jan2014 941

Jan2014 933During the event guests dined on butlered hors d’oeuvres and other cuisine, and the Barenaked Ladies provided the entertainment.

Additional photos here

Mozzicato’s Is Growing Again!

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mozzMozzicato DePasquale Bakery & Pastry Shop, that landmark Hartford South End bakery we all love,  is growing again.

The family owned business is slated to open its third location at 731 North Colony Road, Wallingford later this week.

“It’s a good location geographically,” said Rino Mozzicato, who is also spearheaded the bakery’s expansion into Plainville two years. “It’s a little weird because just like Hartford and Plainville, we have made it look exactly the same so you know you are in a Mozzicato’s,” he said. “It’s nice to be expanding, just one store at a time.”

Mozzicato said like the Plainville location, unbaked doughs for cookies, pastries, cakes and breads will be made in Hartford and then brought to Wallingford for baking and decorating.

The Wallingford space, formerly a fried chicken franchise,  but has been redone top to bottom and includes a coffee and bakery café.

Mozzicato said the finishing touches are being put on the new shop which is expected to open Thursday or Friday. Telephone is 203-294-1122

TheaterWorks Opening Night Includes A Party

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theaterworks1It was a sassy holiday crowd at TheaterWorks Saturday night due in part to it being the opening night of the theater’s new holiday show “Christmas on the Rocks” and its offbeat theme, whatever did happen to some of those beloved Christmas characters when they grew up?

“I’m a fan of the movie and I had first choice so I of course chose Cindy Lou Who,” grinned well-known playwright and Hartford fav Matthew Lombardo at the opening night that included a pre-show and post-show party.  Lombardo wrote a vignette on the sweet-turned-sour Cindy Lou years after her “How the Grinch Stole Christmas” fame.

Lombardo and fellow contributing playwrights, Jacques Lamarre, Theresa Rebeck, Edwin Sanchez, Jonathan Tolins and John Cariani were on all hand for opening night, with just one of the group of writers, Jeffrey Hatcher, unable to attend. Gov. Dannel P. and Mrs. Cathy Malloy were also in the opening night audience as well as a slew of regular theater supporters including best-shoes-of-the-night Jennifer DiBella and her husband Marc DiBella, best-Christmas-card-so-far Karen Wheat and her husband John  Wheat.

“It was fun,” said Tolis who provided the creative career choice, and holiday disenchantment of Miracle on 34th Street’s youngster-turned-adult, Susan Walker.theaterworks2

For some members of the audience, the evening provided some gentle reminders of their own childhood.

“I was that kid,” said TheaterWork’s board member Dennis Russo remarking on the piece featuring the Red Ryder, carbine action, two-hundred shot range model air rifle-infatuated “Ralphie” from “A Christmas Story.” “My parents wouldn’t buy me one for Christmas when I was a kid so I bought one for myself when I grew up!”