Chili Fest, 2013

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My favourite “holiday” of the year has come and gone again. Chili fest is the “Thanksgiving of Chili” where you can try an assortment of chilies prepared by family. Last night, I sampled 6 different chilies, ate some good guac, and had a delicious piece of pie (though, at that time I was ready to pop from eating multiple bowls of my favourites).  Continue reading

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Prologue to the Fest

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“You must be imaginative, strong-hearted. You must try things that may not work, and you must not let anyone define your limits because of where you come from. Your only limit is your soul. What I say is true – anyone can cook… but only the fearless can be great.” – Gusteau, Ratatouille Continue reading

The Harvest Cafe and Bakery

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Harvest Cafe & Bakery
1380 Hopemeadow Street
Simsbury, CT, 06070
(860) 658-5000

Lately, I’ve been a later riser of sorts on the weekends. As such, breakfast is long past by the time I head upstairs to start the day. This was not the case Sunday morning when mum asked Sydney and I to join her and our grandfather for brunch. “Brunch? What’s that?” I remember jesting. But all jesting aside, we would be meeting them for brunch at the Harvest Cafe & Bakery. According to mum, it was well worth the wait. But before I tried the food and on the drive over, I had scoffed to myself. Surely no place here in Connecticut would be so popular that there would be an hour wait.

Oh how wrong I was.

When we arrived, a little after 10, this place was absolutely bustling. 

We stood just inside the entrance, trying to ward off the chill of the late February morning. The door opened a multitude of times as people came and went. Most people who came after we did only stopped in to get a pastry from the case right next to the door. Some who stopped in were with first timers, bits of their conversation going as such:

“Is it always this busy?”

“Yes and the food makes the wait worth it.”

I was rather skeptical about it. I could still be home sleeping, but here I was a half hour away from home, my stomach growling ferociously while I waited. After some time, my sister, Grandfather and I were joined by mum who had been running a little late. Shortly after she arrived, and just as my patience began to wear thin, we were seated.

Though the dining room was busy, it was still cozy. Along the back wall was a counter where you could sit, drink a cup of your drink of choice and people watch if you so pleased. There were tables lining the enormous picture windows that made up most of the exterior wall. Just imagine that… sitting at one of those tables on say… a snowy morning and just watching the snow fall while drinking a cup of fresh coffee and eating your breakfast. Sounds nice, doesn’t it? Though I hadn’t eaten the food just yet, I began to think from the way the dining room smelled that perhaps my skepticism was unfounded. We were seated at a table that was a handful of steps from the entrance to the dining room and it wasn’t long before our server came over to start us off with some drinks.

After ordering a water, I perused the menu. My stomach had long since given up on growling and now I just felt that hollow pang, made all the worst by the aroma in the dining room.

What to get?

The menu was on the larger side, it abundant with both breakfast and lunchtime fare.

I was torn as to what I should get. Though I liked the fact I could make my own omelet, the breakfast burritos sounded just as good. When I finally tore myself from them, it was the thought of waffles or pancakes that sounded just as good. How could I try everything without it costing an absolute fortune, though?

Finally, I saw it and I couldn’t believe that I had missed it to begin with.

The Hungry Harvest: 3 eggs*any style, double order of  breakfast meat, homefries, and choice of toast OR one French toast OR one Pancake.”

Sydney had the same idea I did, except where I went for breakfast sausage and a pancake on the side, she went after bacon and some French toast. Mum and my grandfather both went with their favourites, the names of which evade me now.

While we sat and waited for our food, I continued to take in the Cafe. Overall, I was impressed so far and I could see why mum had been telling us about it for ages. The environment was great and the coffee must have been amazing because mum was working on her third cup just as our food arrived.

I stared down at my plate and it was all I could do to get a picture of the food before I tucked in (pancake not included):

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I doubt the aroma from the sausage had even hit my nose before I was tucking into the food. Though the eggs were a bit on the bland side, salt and pepper were a quick fix and they were fine, better than the eggs I end up making half the time, even. The potatoes reminded me of mum’s. I smothered them in ketchup and enjoyed them to the very last bite. But truly, my favourite part of the whole meal was tied between the breakfast sausage and the pancake. The pancake (unfortunately not pictured) was enormous and lightly sprinkled with powdered sugar. Unlike my pancakes, each bite was fluffy, airy and simply perfect. There was no need for butter or syrup on it and if I wasn’t so full, I’d have liked to order another. The sausage was definitely not box stuff. It was fresh, delicious, savoury. The whole meal made me question my breakfast choices in earnest. Why spend $10 at Dunkin Donuts when for the same price I could get better, more delicious food and be in a wonderful environment?

Now the million dollar question: will I go back?

Absolutely. Maybe even this weekend.

A Long Strange Journey

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Over the course of the last month, I’ve sparked life back into my food lover. I’ve eaten at a couple of new places, been to old places remodelled and even, surprisingly, done a touch of cooking. It’s because of these things that it’s safe to say I’m back from my winter hibernation. And hopefully, just hopefully, I’ll have more to talk about as the month progresses.

The Sick Holiday

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Let me start by saying I don’t usually get sick. But when I do, on that off chance that I catch something, it knocks me on my ass, hard. About three months ago, I got sick. Work was terrible, but I suffered through it. I went to work, I came home, ate something and passed out, all to repeat it the next day. That went on for about a week. That was a baby compared to what I’ve been suffering through for the last two weeks. I’ll spare you the details, but being sick over holiday really sucks.  Continue reading

Let’s Call It Beef Stroganoff

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A few days ago, Josh messaged me at some point in the morning asking if I would come over and do some cooking because he hadn’t had good food in a while. While I lay there wondering what to make, my mind was going about a million miles an hour and still nothing came to me. Then, just as the tendrils of sleep started to creep back over me (it was early), I got it.  Continue reading

Chicken Parmesan Melts

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At the beginning of the season, I mentioned how autumn is the perfect time of the year to bake things. Since then, I have incorporated baking into my cooking repertoire more than usual. A little while back, I made the perfect bisquick chicken. It was perfectly baked and crisp on the outside and still juicy, yet cooked through on the inside. The parmesan chicken melts were the same way. While baking was only one of the steps, I didn’t hesitate to use the oven like I so often do in the summer. In fact, I cranked the heat up and enjoyed the warmth it brought to the house.  Continue reading