Culture (and Dining) in New Haven :: The Yale University Art Gallery

A small museum with a behemoth art collection, the Yale University Art Gallery is truly the perfectly sized museum, offering something for everyone from Ancient Greece to modern day America.

 Yale University Art Gallery - an impressive collection

Yale University Art Gallery - an impressive collection

Founded in 1832, the gallery is steeped in history when patriot-artist John Trumbull gave more than one hundred of his paintings to Yale College. The collection currently boasts over 200,000 objects representing Eastern and Western cultures and ranging in date from ancient times to the present day. Hanging on the walls you're certain to see your favorite European and American artists. For more information regarding their collection, current and upcoming exhibitions, visit their website, http://artgallery.yale.edu/.

It amazes me that after living in Fairfield county for well over 20 years that my first trip to this beautiful museum was just last year. Having grown up on Manhattan's Upper East Side, on Museum Mile, art was as much a part of my childhood as it was in my DNA. I learned to appreciate it at a young age and later went on to study it pretty intensely in high school and in college. I might have an appreciation for all art, but I certainly have a soft spot for certain genres, and the Impressionists will always have a place near and dear to my heart. What I love about art is how reflective it is of an historic era, and offers an insight into the artist's background and surroundings. One doesn't have to have a deep knowledge before visiting museums, but what I like to do, especially with my children, is to pick a genre or an artist and read up on it before-hand. There's so much information available on line, not to mention all the wonderful books as well.

I'm fortunate in that my children have studied quite a few artists in school from Van Gogh to Georgia O'Keefe to Jackson Pollock, so if possible I always try to point out the familiar. But I also make our museum journeys a reason to learn more, in a fun way - of course! Regardless whether it's yourself or your children, use this as an opportunity to teach yourself something new - expand your own personal horizons. As you walk through the various parts of the gallery you'll be struck by the beauty and perfect marriage of the old and new architecture. 

Wander through the various rooms and hallways of The Yale University Art Gallery and you will see such notable favorite artists as:
Goya, Delacroix, Van Gogh, Gaugin, Pissarro, Manet, Monet, Cezanne, Picasso, O'Keefe, Sargent,  Wyeth, Hopper, Mondrian, Warhol, Basquiat, Rothko, and Lichtenstein.

Some might argue that New Haven's greatest asset (other than the University) is the wealth of incredible restaurants, from the iconic, upscale Union League Cafe's elegant brasserie to Zinc, American farm-to-table cuisine with a slight Asian slant in sleek, chic decor with a bar, to Heirloom, Locally sourced New American cuisine in a spare, modern space at the Study at Yale boutique hotel to OleaMediterranean fare including Spanish tapas is served in a modern environment with a bar. Barcelona offers great Spanish cuisine as well, and its more casual atmosphere makes it a great family restaurant. Claire's Corner Copia is a vegetarian Campus go-to for kosher vegetarian fare, including Mexican options and a great place to hob-nob with Yalies. But if it's pizza you're after, New Haven's is iconic with it's thin crust - a style all its own. There is no shortage of pizzerias from Pepes, Sally's, and Modern, alway make the Top 10 lists, but my recent discovery of Bar has me wanting to go back for more! At dark a popular nightclub, but by daylight a great family friendly pizza joint with perhaps the largest pie you have ever seen! This may be my current New Haven favorite.  Needless to say, as soon as I mentioned there would be pizza after the art gallery, my 10 year old got very excited! We do what we have to, right?

 Yale University Art Gallery - an impressive collection

Yale University Art Gallery - an impressive collection

 Yale University Art Gallery - an impressive collection

Yale University Art Gallery - an impressive collection

 Yale University Art Gallery - an impressive collection

Yale University Art Gallery - an impressive collection

 Yale University Art Gallery - an impressive collection

Yale University Art Gallery - an impressive collection

 Yale University Art Gallery - an impressive collection

Yale University Art Gallery - an impressive collection

 Yale University Art Gallery - an impressive collection

Yale University Art Gallery - an impressive collection

 Yale University Art Gallery - an impressive collection

Yale University Art Gallery - an impressive collection

 Yale University Art Gallery - an impressive collection

Yale University Art Gallery - an impressive collection

 Yale University Art Gallery - an impressive collection

Yale University Art Gallery - an impressive collection

Amazing Grace (Farms)

After much anticipation Grace Farms in New Canaan recently opened to the public and I had the privilege of visiting this magnificent space. A must see for both nature and design lovers. 

 Grace Farms, New Canaan, Connecticut. Image property of Jessica Gordon Ryan and The Entertaining House

Grace Farms, New Canaan, Connecticut. Image property of Jessica Gordon Ryan and The Entertaining House

Grace Farms is all that it promises to be. And then some. Created by Japanese Pritzker winning SANAA architects, the main structure was designed to flow like a river as it courses over, around and through the multi-leveled terrain. Within its path are several glass buildings which house the sanctuary, a library, the commons (where one can enjoy a warm cup of coffee, cool beverage, light meal or sweet treat), a pavilion (offering tea service), and a court that sits almost completely below ground where children and adults can participate in volleyball and basketball games.  The structures flow gracefully along 80 acres of open space where people of all ages can be one with nature, observe the arts, pursue justice, foster community, and explore faith. The grounds have a very spiritual and zen-like vibe to them. The post modern architecture reminiscent of Philip Johnson folds in to the landscape seamlessly. The glass serves almost solely as a protective barrier from the elements, as even inside the various buildings, one still experiences that deep connection to the vastness of the surrounding countryside. This northeast corner of New Canaan has a rich and diverse habitat, home to many varieties of animals and vegetation. The former horse farm has retained the original open beauty and topography and promises to keep the integrity of the land in tact offering up pristine meadows, wooded areas, wetlands and ponds to those who want to stroll among them. 

Every once in a while I'm touched beyond words. Today was one of those days; I felt a sense of calm. A zen-like peace rushed over me like a giant wave. I live but 20 minutes away in Fairfield County and the landscape near my home, also resplendent with horse farms, seemed almost worlds away. As soon as I caught sight of the great riverlike architectural structure I'd read so much about I could feel the magnitude of its greatness - of the final product and of the vast undertaking it had been. Not at all imposing, but immediately important.

As I wandered up the hill I knew I was viewing an architectural masterpiece, it was as if I was partaking in an important moment of history. Visitors are encouraged to walk and wander and to sit and reflect with seating areas that abound both inside and out. Surely this is the place to come to melt the worries away. I meandered in and out of the buildings, winding around slowly - as if being pulled along on a lazy river - my camera clicking away. Outside the tea room, smooth round metal chairs resemble river rocks along the shore. All around me, I saw people of all ages enjoying the unseasonably warm but overcast weather. Young children delighted frolicking around outside while elders seemed to be as mesmerized as I was. The oversized chairs in the library offered a comfortable area for reading or quiet reflection. I immediately thought of returning one day soon with my laptop. I can't imagine a more inspiring place to sit down and write!

 The paddocks, a throwback to the original horse farm, athletic fields and numerous areas are there for us to enjoy.  The West Barn offers up artist installations and houses an art room for the budding artist for a mere $5 per child. In the rear of the building a theater offers up free matinees every Saturday. Tai Chi lessons are available for seniors and numerous lectures are scheduled to be offered.  Truly a family friendly community, Grace Farms offers cross country skiing and ice skates for those who have their own equipment. Snow shoe rentals are available for snow shoeing on premises. Children can rent free of charge, and adults for just $5. There is no charge to explore the property and visit the buildings. 

I'm eager to return soon to see the property covered by a thick white blanket of snow, and perhaps try my hand at snow shoeing. I can't wait to see it in springtime, bursting with pastel fireworks. And again in summer dressed in a rich emerald green. 

On March 5th, from 10-3pm A Winter Outing at Grace Farms will take place. This will include a line-up of community programs inspired by the season. There will be presentations from Olympic athletes, nature and wildlife tours and snow tubing. Visit their website for more information, http://www.gracefarms.org/

Coming from out of State? The historic Roger Sherman Inn is just minutes away as is downtown New Canaan which offers a wealth in dining and shopping experiences. Bedford Corners, in Bedford NY is also minutes away with its charming antique and bookstore and the renown Bedford Post Inn. 

They say that the best things in life are free. It's certainly true here at Grace Farms.

 

 Grace Farms, New Canaan, Connecticut. Image property of Jessica Gordon Ryan and The Entertaining House

Grace Farms, New Canaan, Connecticut. Image property of Jessica Gordon Ryan and The Entertaining House

 Grace Farms, New Canaan, Connecticut. Image property of Jessica Gordon Ryan and The Entertaining House

Grace Farms, New Canaan, Connecticut. Image property of Jessica Gordon Ryan and The Entertaining House

 Grace Farms, New Canaan, Connecticut. Image property of Jessica Gordon Ryan and The Entertaining House

Grace Farms, New Canaan, Connecticut. Image property of Jessica Gordon Ryan and The Entertaining House

 Grace Farms, New Canaan, Connecticut. Image property of Jessica Gordon Ryan and The Entertaining House

Grace Farms, New Canaan, Connecticut. Image property of Jessica Gordon Ryan and The Entertaining House

 Grace Farms, New Canaan, Connecticut. Image property of Jessica Gordon Ryan and The Entertaining House

Grace Farms, New Canaan, Connecticut. Image property of Jessica Gordon Ryan and The Entertaining House

 Grace Farms, New Canaan, Connecticut. Image property of Jessica Gordon Ryan and The Entertaining House

Grace Farms, New Canaan, Connecticut. Image property of Jessica Gordon Ryan and The Entertaining House

 Grace Farms, New Canaan, Connecticut. Image property of Jessica Gordon Ryan and The Entertaining House

Grace Farms, New Canaan, Connecticut. Image property of Jessica Gordon Ryan and The Entertaining House

 Grace Farms, New Canaan, Connecticut. Image property of Jessica Gordon Ryan and The Entertaining House

Grace Farms, New Canaan, Connecticut. Image property of Jessica Gordon Ryan and The Entertaining House

 Grace Farms, New Canaan, Connecticut. Image property of Jessica Gordon Ryan and The Entertaining House

Grace Farms, New Canaan, Connecticut. Image property of Jessica Gordon Ryan and The Entertaining House

 Grace Farms, New Canaan, Connecticut. Image property of Jessica Gordon Ryan and The Entertaining House

Grace Farms, New Canaan, Connecticut. Image property of Jessica Gordon Ryan and The Entertaining House

 Grace Farms, New Canaan, Connecticut. Image property of Jessica Gordon Ryan and The Entertaining House

Grace Farms, New Canaan, Connecticut. Image property of Jessica Gordon Ryan and The Entertaining House

 Grace Farms, New Canaan, Connecticut. Image property of Jessica Gordon Ryan and The Entertaining House

Grace Farms, New Canaan, Connecticut. Image property of Jessica Gordon Ryan and The Entertaining House

 Grace Farms, New Canaan, Connecticut. Image property of Jessica Gordon Ryan and The Entertaining House

Grace Farms, New Canaan, Connecticut. Image property of Jessica Gordon Ryan and The Entertaining House

 Grace Farms, New Canaan, Connecticut. Image property of Jessica Gordon Ryan and The Entertaining House

Grace Farms, New Canaan, Connecticut. Image property of Jessica Gordon Ryan and The Entertaining House

 Grace Farms, New Canaan, Connecticut. Image property of Jessica Gordon Ryan and The Entertaining House

Grace Farms, New Canaan, Connecticut. Image property of Jessica Gordon Ryan and The Entertaining House

 Grace Farms, New Canaan, Connecticut. Image property of Jessica Gordon Ryan and The Entertaining House

Grace Farms, New Canaan, Connecticut. Image property of Jessica Gordon Ryan and The Entertaining House

 Grace Farms, New Canaan, Connecticut. Image property of Jessica Gordon Ryan and The Entertaining House

Grace Farms, New Canaan, Connecticut. Image property of Jessica Gordon Ryan and The Entertaining House

Stamford's Sign of the Whale is now offering a seafood inspired menu

Stamford's Sign of the Whale embraces the Harbor Point waterfront area with a new seafood inspired menu making it the perfect destination for a city at work and play.

 Stamford's Sign of the Whale embraces the Harbor Point waterfront area with a new seafood inspired menu 

Stamford's Sign of the Whale embraces the Harbor Point waterfront area with a new seafood inspired menu 

Over the past few years the pulse of downtown Stamford has been constantly changing and rapidly growing. Harbor Point, the largest, multi-dimensional restaurant space on the Long Island Sound has become the newest go-to destination for diners. Sign of the Whale first dropped anchor there in the fall of 2014 and quickly made its mark. Its main level dining area and bar has a capacity for over 250 people. Its rooftop bar accommodates up to 300 people. The Whale continues to capture a vibrant social scene, as well as the city’s corporate sector.

 Stamford's Sign of the Whale embraces the Harbor Point waterfront area with a new seafood inspired menu 

Stamford's Sign of the Whale embraces the Harbor Point waterfront area with a new seafood inspired menu 

The Whale’s street side level is framed in dark wood furnishings, blue textiles and low lighting with distressed paneling, and panoramic views of the Harbor Point neighborhood. During the warmer months the full service rooftop bar resplendent with patio furnishings, potted shrubberies, and an eclectic music playlist fills the space welcoming those wanting to feel the sun's warm rays on their shoulders. 

As an avid seafood lover, I am thrilled that The Whale has expanded their menu. I am always amazed at how few seafood restaurants there are in our coastal communities. I was delighted to hear that they too recognized the lack of such eateries in the area. 

A new seafood focused menu launches this week, offering a mash-up of American tavern fare and New England’s best seafood. This will include raw bar favorites, coastal water, and market fresh fish. Small plates include; ahi tuna tartare with soy, ginger, caper aioli, avocado and wasabi, served with fried wanton chips; crab cakes with spaghetti squash and saffron remoulade; pan seared octopus legs with celery, potatoes and Spanish paprika; shrimp tempura served with sautéed cabbage and sweet chili sauce; shrimp gumbo; New England clam chowder; and fresh raw bar selection of oysters, clams, and shrimp.

Entrées include: salmon burger topped with arugula, house dressing and pico de gallo on a black sesame bun; seafood pizza topped with fresh calamari, shrimp, clams, alfredo sauce,  mozzarella cheese, arugula and tomatoes; pan seared sea scallops with parsnip puree, shiitake mushrooms, wilted spinach and truffle honey glaze; lobster and crab filled ravioli with pancetta cream sauce; and pan roasted Atlantic salmon prepared with a lemon and white wine sauce and served with chorizo couscous and fresh asparagus.

Tavern fare and customer favorites will remain on the menu. Diners will find handmade chipotle bbq beef empanadas with Argentinean chimichurri; The Whale burger, porcini dusted, topped with applewood smoked bacon, gruyere, fried egg and truffle spread all on an English muffin and served with fries; roasted chicken with garlic aioli, potato spears, mixed greens and bleu cheese; tacos – shrimp, ahi tuna or buffalo chicken; and beer braised short rib prepared with their neighbor’s Half Full Bright Ale.

Sunday Brunch, always a favorite, offers a nice assortment of decadent dishes, DJ spun music, playful and flavorful breakfast shots, bottomless sparkling cocktails, and an ultimate Bloody Mary Bar.

The Brunch menu will feature: breakfast pizza topped with bacon, egg, hash browns, cheddar and spicy aioli; old fashioned eggs Benedict with lump crab meat; lobster waffle made with fresh lobster and cornmeal waffles, all laced with lobster butter sauce; and sweet banana nut French toast.

 Stamford's Sign of the Whale embraces the Harbor Point waterfront area with a new seafood inspired menu 

Stamford's Sign of the Whale embraces the Harbor Point waterfront area with a new seafood inspired menu 

 Stamford's Sign of the Whale embraces the Harbor Point waterfront area with a new seafood inspired menu 

Stamford's Sign of the Whale embraces the Harbor Point waterfront area with a new seafood inspired menu 

Happy hour revelers will be thrilled with the High Tide Happy Hour, Monday thru Friday from 4-7 PM, and Jazzy Thursdays featuring live music, $25 bottles of wine and $2 oysters all night long. The Whale also morphs into an exciting sports bar, with large screen TV’s throughout, and of course there’s The Whale’s popular music series featuring local bands performing on the weekends.

For more information visit their website: http://www.signofthewhalect.com/

Organic Coffee Roasters Collaborates with Iconic Connecticut Brewery to Create Espressway Cold-Brew Coffee Stout

Connecticut's Shearwater Organic Coffee Roasters partners up with the state's Two Roads Brewery to Create Espressway Cold-Brew Coffee Stout. This is a game changer! 

Fairfield County’s first and only 100% USDA* Certified Organic & Artisan Coffee Roaster, Shearwater Organic Coffee Roasters, continues to evolve as the region’s premiere coffee roaster, supplying their small batch roasted coffee to specialty markets and high-end restaurants and cafes throughout the state. Owner Ed Freedman recently added Running Rapids Ready-to-Drink Cold Brew Coffee to his growing repertoire. Now he'll show his customers an entirely different brew combining his premium roasts with Two Roads Brewery's newest creation, Espressway Cold-Brew Coffee Stout. Here Espressway merges the flavors of Shearwater’s locally-roasted, organic Ethiopian/Sumatra blend of coffee beans with a rich oatmeal stout utilizing a proprietary cold brew beer process.

The folks at Two Roads’ underwent extensive coffee training with Shearwater in order to secure the right blend of beans and brew. From “coffee cupping” classes to extensive tasting sessions with Ed, months were spent finding the perfect coffee to complement the rich, full-bodied stout taste.

Espressway will be sold in all Two Roads markets on draft starting in late February and in six pack bottles starting in mid-March. The draft version will also be previewed at their first annual Winter Classic outdoor event at the brewery on February 20th.

Shearwater is family owned and run. With over two decades of coffee roasting experience, Ed took his passion for producing high quality coffee to a full USDA certified organic 2,000 square foot production facility in Trumbull in 2013. Shearwater Organic Coffee Roaster’s commitment to creating a premium organic product, and their presence as a local artisan producer, is the cornerstone of their success. www.shearwatercoffeeroasters.com