Monday, January 28, 2013

Mohegan Sun Wine Fest 2013

It's only natural that the place that hosts the best "Wine Wednesdays" would also host the best Wine Festival!

This weekend, I was lucky enough to attend Mohegan Sun's 10th Annual Wine Fest.  That's right! The Sun Wine Fest 2013!


This is hands down the best wine festival held in New England!

From the moment you arrive you are treated to a great experience. Not only are there loads of wonderful wine exhibitors, but there are also sponsor, restaurant, and lifestyle exhibitors! There is truly something for everyone.

And it's a three-day weekend extravaganza!  Friday night began with a bourbon tasting, Saturday and Sunday the Sun WineFest Grand Tasting. And throughout the weekend there are fun events, like Grape Stomping, Celebrity Chef Dine Around, Cooking Demonstrations, and Oyster Shucking Contests!

It's busy. Very busy. And many events or days can sell out completely so it's best to buy your tickets early. Ticket package costs vary, from single day, weekend passes, and single events. Events and days can vary from $80.00 to $200.00.  While some may find this pricey, if you are a wine lover and appreciator - it's totally worth it! You'll be able to sample GREAT WINE from EVERYWHERE!  Local vineyards, and worldwide!
Wines That Rock. 

iGourmet.com cheeses

Wine Glass Charms By Dana

BELLINI!
Happy SunWineFest attendees enjoying the Restaurant Exhibitors and Wine Sampling!
And, if you're a foodie, it's worth it too!  Don't be surprised to see Chef and TV personalities like Todd English, Bobby Flay, Robert Irving, and Elizabeth Faulkner.  Did I mention the restaurant exhibitors?  Like Jaspar White's Summer Shack! And more, more, more! YUM!

Fellow Connecticut blogger Nicole of OberBargain and I attended on Sunday and had such a great time! We were able to stroll the grand ballroom and visit with many vendors, sample some favorite wines, watch some pretty neat cooking demonstrations, and some fun contests!

Some of the highlights were the beautiful stemware featured by Bottega Del Vino Crystal whose tag line is so true!
"If the wine matters, so does the glass" 

More importantly, these glasses are completely hand made. Can't wait to try one!


One of the most popular wine tables was Brix Chocolate for Wine - and why does that not surprise me? What could be better for all the ailments of the world than a little bit of chocolate accompanied with a hearty wine?  I mean, really!
Brix Chocolate for Wine
Another of our favorite stops was watching the cooking demonstrations! We were able to watch Connecticut native Chef William Kovel, of Catalyst Restaurant, prepare Braised Shortrib of Beef, Parsnip Puree, Hen of the Woods Mushrooms, Burgundy Snails, and Bordelaise Sauce.
I love how the mirrored canopy allowed everyone to see the food prep on the counter and cooktop!
And each audience member was given a copy of Chef Kovel's recipe and invited on stage to taste and sample the short ribs.  All I can tell you is they were fabulous!  In addition he gave lots of great tips, and the main theme was that the sign of a great cook/chef is their ability to handle, adjust, adapt, and control the heat of their stove.
Up close and personal with Chef Kovel and tweeting for the event! #sunwinefest
Look at those shortribs and weep! So good!
The highlight of my visit to Mohegan Sun's WineFest was the Oyster Shucking Contest!  Three heats, and approximately 30 contestants each competed for bragging rights to be the Mohegan Sun's Oyster Shucking Champion 2013!
Everyone had a strategy of their own but in the end there can be only one winner, and a 2nd and 3rd place!  Ladies and gentlemen, meet the 2013 Champions!


What a great day!  What a great time!

For additional pictures visit: Mohegan SunWineFest


Have you been to the Sun WineFest?  What was your favorite part?

I'd love to hear about it in the comments below!

Disclaimer: I received entry to the SunWineFest compliments of Mohegan Sun via Connecticut Bloggers.  However, all opinions expressed are my own.

Saturday, January 26, 2013

Cash Mob CT at Books & Company in Hamden, CT

Today we traveled to the Whitneyville area of Hamden CT to "Cash Mob" a locally owned business, Books & Company.   Cash mobbing is easy-peasy - all it takes is a twenty dollar bill and a desire to shop.  Now that I've got!
Collection of mini Dr. Seuss books.  My faves!
What's more, Cash Mobbing is a PUBLIC SERVICE! (And don't tell my husband otherwise) Each month the folks at REX Development, together with Cash Mob CT,  choose a town or city that is part of the 15 municipalities that make up the South Central Regional Council of Governments (SCRCOG) to descend on to be "Cash-Mobbed". 

So not only do you get a little retail therapy - but you also get to stimulate the economy.  And me, I'm just doing my part to save the world, folks.  Yup, one twenty dollar bill at a time! 

Past winners have been RJ Julia Booksellers in Madison, Flutterby in Guilford, the Bethany Farm Market in Bethany, Sweet Cioccolata in Wallingford, the Sweet Shoppe in East Haven, CT, and Something of Bev's in Milford, CT.


If you've never been to Books & Company it is definitely worth the trip!  This little store sells high quality used books, with children's books, fiction and non-fiction, great literature, and everything in-between!  

What's more, they even support other local artists in the form of jewelry, photography and prints, and MORE!

Here's some pictures of today's visit!


Row after row of books! And fun items for the wee ones!





There's something for everyone at Books & Company to browse through!


Suggested readings - and lots of them!

There's even a little gourmet coffee shop on premise...where your friendly waitstaff will serve up some delicious concoctions...and then, if you're nice, she'll even share them with you!

To add some extra special pizazz to today's Cash Mob CT - there was even live entertainment!


The cowboy purchased a new cookbook!


And then he made me look through it before we left in hopes that I'd cook something up for tonight's dinner!


He must be dreaming or something. Wake up, honey, wake up.

If you have a chance - take a trip to Books & Company in Hamden CT, and try to always support local business!  Remember that for every $20 that is spent at a local retailer, $13.60 will return to the community through taxes and payroll!

And Cash Mob makes a difference! The folks at Books and Company report [we had] "the highest daily sales volume by far in our nearly 18 years in business!"



1235 Whitney Avenue, Hamden, CT 06517
(203) 248-9449

Hours
Mon-Wed 8:30am-6pm
Thu-Fri 8:30am-8pm
Sat 9am-6pm
Sun 10am-5pm 


For more pictures of today's visit visit the Home Place Facebook Page: Books & Co.

To learn more about Cash Mob CT clickHERE 

**********

Have you participated in a Cash Mob yet?  If so, where?

Are you a book lover?  Reading anything special right now?

I'd love to hear about it in the comments below!

Wednesday, January 23, 2013

ChowdaFest 2013 at Webster Bank Arena Bridgeport CT


How can you have a truly SOUP-ER BOWL SUNDAY??

Come to CHOWDA FEST!!!


This year, ChowdaFest, the premier CT chowder and soup competition, will be held at the Webster Bank Arena at Harbor Yard, in Bridgeport, CT.

(Update: For the recap of this event click HERE)
In fact, you might want to say ChowdaFest  is "soup-er-sized" this year!  

Come to Harbor Yard on Sunday, February 3, 2013, from 11 a.m. – 4 p.m. and sample some great soups and chowder!

Most importantly, your participation benefits the Connecticut Food Bank.

And you'll be back home in plenty of time for the Super Bowl Sunday Game!

This year the ChowdaFest is big! How big?? So big that it had to be moved to this premier area!

Howard Saffan, President of Harbor Yard Sports & Entertainment notes,
“The Yard has never hosted a culinary event before but we know foodies are a passionate group. We are excited to welcome them and to play a role in the continued success of Chowdafest.”
Thirty different chowders and soups will be featured in this competition where both children and adults get to be judges and vote for their favorite Classic New England Clam Chowder, Creative Chowder (anything other than New England) and Soup/Bisque.

The current roster includes:

  • Bloom Brothers (Norwalk) 
  • Blue Lemon (Westport)
  • The Brewhouse (Norwalk) 
  • Bobby Q’s (Westport)
  • Close Harbour Seafood (Plantsville)
  • Crab Shell (Stamford) 
  • Donovan’s (Norwalk) 
  • Dunville’s (Westport) 
  • Ginger Man (Norwalk) 
  • The Goose (Darien)
  • High Tide Gourmet (Madison)
  • Liquid Lunch (Shelton / Milford)
  • Mansion Clam House (Westport)  
  • Nicholas Roberts Gourmet Bistro (Norwalk) 
  • Old Post Tavern (Fairfield) 
  • On the Rocks (E. Haddam) 
  • O’Neill’s (Norwalk) 
  • Restaurant at Rowayton (Rowayton) 
  • Rory’s (Darien) 
  • Southport Brewing Co. (Stamford/Fairfield)
  • Super Duper Weenie Dog (Fairfield) 
  • Tavern on Main (Westport)
  • Valencia Luncheria (Norwalk) 
  • Wave Hill Breads (Norwalk)

Cost

Adults: $10.00
Children 6-12: $5.00
Children under 5: Free

Everyone gets a spoon, pencil and ballot, samples each soup and chowder and judges on a scale from 6 (low) to 10 (high) with an optional half point bonus. The restaurant receiving the highest rating will be declared the winner in each category.

Supporting sponsors include Fiat of Fairfield County, The Farmer’s Cow, Hearst Publications, Star 99.9 and World Centric. Given the event’s Super Bowl date and “souper” bowl theme, restaurants and fans alike come dressed in their favorite football jerseys, eye black and more.

Or come as you are!  Just come hungry!



Hope to see you there!

For more information click HERE

Webster Bank Arena at Harbor Yard
600 Main Street
Bridgeport, CT

Conveniently off I-95 exit #27

UPDATE:  See the results and pictures from 2013 HERE

Sunday, January 20, 2013

Margaritas & Manicures with SensatioNails, L'Oreal Paris, & Master of Mixes


This weekend the Sweeties Reviews Team asked the CT Blogging Community and friends to participate in a Margaritas and Manicures (#margaritasmanicures) Product Review and Party Event.


Products that were featured were SensatioNail, a gel nail polish kit,


Master of Mixes Margarita Mix (traditional and strawberry),


and L'Oreal of Paris Nail Polish Products


And, to top it off, the great folks at Jalapeno Heaven in Branford, CT sent over some delicious chips, salsa, guacamole, potato poppers, popper bites, and mini-chimichangas to go along with the Margaritas!

What a great time everyone had!

Let's start with the SensatioNail Starter Kit. The starter kit comes with the Pro 3060 LED lamp, gel cleaner, gel primer, color gel polish, and gel base and top coat.  Everything you need to get started!

There's a multi-step process that must take place when using SensatioNail, just like when gel nail polish is applied in a salon. The drying, or "curing" process between steps is critical in order to obtain maximum results.  The good news, the curing is quick, and only requires 30-60 seconds under the LED lamp, depending on which step you're on.

You MUST use the LED lamp to cure between each step.

The SensatioNail polish itself drys immediately upon application - it's truly AMAZING.  Best of all - they have such a wide array of colors.  I used color #71594 taupe tulips (shown below to the right).  It truly is INVINCIBLE nail polish and should go two weeks without chipping when applied correctly.

 (L)gel top coat--and polish(R)  

It's a relatively easy process to do by yourself.  Here, Hilary from My Own Blog Review applies a coat of polish. You can read Hilary's review, which includes directions (!!!) by clicking: HERE


We were lucky to have a designated (non-drinking!) bartender in Nicole from OberBargains preparing the frozen margaritas for the review crew. 

This was my first time trying Master of Mixes Margarita Mix and I was pleasantly surprised! 

I'm traditionally a purist and prefer my margaritas made from scratch with fresh lime juice, triple sec, and tequila.  The taste from Master of Mixes is almost the same as from scratch, with an ever so slightly sweeter flavor. Nice -- and natural tasting!  I will definitely use this mix for parties or when serving more than just a few people, as it is so much easier than squeezing all those limes (!!!) ... and the flavor is great!

Here's Wendy from Connecticut Bloggers and Sweeties Reviews, enjoying a much deserved mammoth margarita at our event!

Those who didn't use the gel nail polish used the L'Oreal of Paris Nail Polish and every participant completed a survey at the conclusion of the review and received a complimentary L'Oreal polish and professional emery board!


I loved the L'Oreal color I selected, #300, Walk on the Beach (seen above)!  What can I say?  I'm a beigey - beachy type of gal! It's a great neutral shade that I can wear every day, yet pretty enough that it will work for those special occasions!

All in all it was an informational and fun event!  



Here's a link to the Sweeties Review Wrap Up on Margaritas and Manicures: Click HERE

If you have an event you would like promoted or a product you would like reviewed by our group, 

Or contact me at homeplaceblogger@live.com


Have you tried any new nail products?  

How about margarita or drink mixes?

Did you like them? Why / Why Not?

Disclaimer: The products featured at this event were complimentary and provided by SensatioNail, L'Oreal, Master of Mixes, Jalapeno Heaven, and Sweeties Review.  However, all opinions expressed are my own.

Saturday, January 19, 2013

The Big Book Club Getaway is coming to CT

On Friday, February 1, 2013, and Saturday, February 2nd, 2013,  the Big Book Club Getaway is coming to the Mohegan Sun Conference Center in Connecticut.
Source: Big Book Club Getaway

Kristen Cusato, former WTNH co-anchor, and current regional director of the Southwest CT Alzheimer Association is the emcee for the opening night events.

Source: Big Book Club Getaway

You won't believe the list of authors, presenters, and exhibitors that will be there!

Here's just a sampling...

Amy Newmark, Publisher of Chicken Soup For The Soul
Brad Meltzer, Host of TV's Decoded
Kristin van Ogtrop, Managing Editor of Real Simple magazine.

AND MANY MORE!

Click HERE for a full list of authors and presenters

PLUS

Leeza Gibbons, TV talk-show host will be the closing keynote speaker!
Source: Big Book Club Getaway


For an agenda of Big Book Club Getaway events click:  HERE

To register for this event click: HERE

****

Are any of your favorite authors / hosts listed for the Big Book Club Getaway?

What are you reading now?


Hope I see you at the Big Book Club Getaway!

UPDATE: Read my recap of this event: HERE

Saturday, January 12, 2013

The Harlem Globetrotters' "You Write The Rules Tour" is Coming to CT!


Are you looking for a fun family event to get you through the winter?

Photo Courtesy of the Harlem Globetrotters

Something you can do TOGETHER -- Something that the whole family can enjoy?

Photo Courtesy of the Harlem Globetrotters

I still remember the first time I saw the Harlem Globetrotters!

And I'm sure this will be an unforgettable experience for your family too! 

One that TOGETHER you will all remember!

Photo Courtesy of the Harlem Globetrotters


And...I have a discount code for you!  

You guessed it! The discount code is "TOGETHER" and will save you $7 on every ticket purchased for any game on the Harlem Globetrotters 2013 "You Write The Rules" Tour. (discount available on select ticket levels)


Here's their CT Schedule


Uncasville, Connecticut
Thursday, February 14, 2013 at 7:00pm

Bridgeport, Connecticut
Friday, February 22, 2013 at 7:00pm


Danbury, Connecticut
Tuesday, March 26, 2013 at 7:00pm

Hartford, Connecticut
Friday, March 29, 2013 at 7:00pm

Hartford, Connecticut
Saturday, March 30, 2013 at 2:00pm

What's that you say? - You don't live in Connecticut?  

Not a problem!

Click HERE to see other tour dates for a city near you!

Don't forget to use the discount code "TOGETHER"

Have fun!

Friday, January 11, 2013

The Lansdowne Irish Pub & Music House at Mohegan Sun


This week we took a drive up to the Mohegan Sun in Uncasville, CT for lunch, shopping, and a little casino-ing!

Our main intent was to partake in Mohegan Sun's Restaurant Week, and when we saw that the Lansdowne Irish Pub and Music House was OPEN, we just knew we had to have lunch there! 

The Lansdowne opened only 12 days ago and is a welcome addition to the Mohegan Sun Casino   Its comfortable "pub feel" lets you walk away from the bright casino lights - and meander right into a great little place that brings you straight to the 'Heart-o-Dublin'! And even though the inside is HUGE - it is sectioned off so that each area has a nice little cozy feel to it.

There's quite an interesting story about the interior!  It was originally built in Ireland for the Lansdowne by fine Irish craftsmen, and then disassembled,  packed, and shipped over here to America in three cargo containers. The ship approached our New England shores right as Super Storm Sandy was getting ready to hit, so it detoured to the Carolina's before heading back up the East Coast to arrive here in CT.  Hence, the slight delay in the Lansdowne's opening.  The Irish craftsmen who originally assembled the fixtures in the "Mother-Land", arrived on our shores shortly thereafter, and worked non-stop to so that the Lansdowne could open in time for 2013!  

Folks, the interior is authentically Irish! Seating is roomy and comfortable with a charming  pub feel!

On to the food...


The menu is quite extensive and true to its Gaelic roots, with the customary corned beef and cabbage, bangers and mash, and chicken, beef, and lamb pies. Oh yes, this is Irish comfort food at its best!  In addition, you'll find lots of pub fare, light salad offerings, and each night features a different special!

We were seated promptly upon arrival at a cute high top table for two, however, it was a little on the dim side for us, and when we requested a move, we were immediately and graciously relocated.  Although most of the restaurant does have that authentic dark tavern feel, there are many tables in other sections that are well lit.

Our server,Angela, was friendly and knowledgeable about the menu offerings. Such a pleasure when you can ask questions about how items are prepared!

That's Angela on the left, and Bree on the right.


The Cowboy decided to go with traditional Irish fare and decided on the Corned Beef and Cabbage. (tender cooked corned beef, cabbage, potatoes, and carrots $16.00)

The corned beef was wonderful (and he let me take a bite - so I can vouch for this!) so flavorful and tender! The only complaint we might have was the cabbage was a bit on the mild side.  He and I are both used to the way I learned to cook cabbage using the water from the boiled corned beef.  (A trick I learned from my old days working at an Irish Pub). 

I decided to go with the Fish and Chips (crispy fried cod with pub chips, cole slaw, tartar sauce and lemon, $15.00).

...and here's another view to show how delicious it looked on the inside too!


Everything about this sandwich was delicious!  The greens were fresh, the fish was crispy on the outside and moist and tender on the inside, the fries were that perfect combination of golden brown and soft and tender on the inside.  And the cole slaw? WONDERFUL!  I am a true cole slaw aficionado, and when I find one that's good I need to shout it from the roof tops!  This was perfect, fresh cabbage, just the right amount of carrot, zingy vinegar, a dash of horseradish, and creamy mayonnaise   Not at all soggy - with just the right "bite"!  A splendid accompaniment to the fried cod!  

Again, service was excellent, with frequent stops to check if everything was okay and cooked to our liking.  In addition to Angela looking in on us, both the  Lansdowne's manager, and the general manager, Kevin Mcilwain, were circulating the dining room, checking on everything and everyone.

All in all, we had a great time visiting one of Mohegan Sun's newest additions and can't wait to go back again!

If you are visiting the Mohegan Sun, we heartily recommend that you visit the Lansdowne Irish Pub and Music House and enjoy some traditional Irish offerings!

 Source: Lansdowne

F√°ilte! - The customary Irish welcome is spoken here!

 Lansdowne Irish Pub and Music House

1 Mohegan Sun Boulevard, Uncasville, CT 06382 | Phone 860.862.BREW
Hours of Operation
Sunday - Thursday: 11:00am - 1:00am
Friday & Saturday: 11:00am - 2:00am
Follow them on facebook!
Check out their website: HERE

Disclaimer:  Today we were the guests of Lansdowne but the opinions expressed herein are those of our own.


Do you have a favorite Irish pub that you visit?  
Do you like traditional Irish fare?
Have YOU ever tried bangers and mash?  (It's on MY bucket list!) 

I'd love to hear about it in the comments below!


Lansdowne Irish Pub on Urbanspoon
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