Connecticut’s bounty of culinary festivals
“Celebrating food is easy in Connecticut, which is known for fresh seafood, being the birthplace of the hamburger sandwich (at Louie’s Lunch) and top-rated New Haven Pizza,” says Susan Henrique, director of group/international sales for the Connecticut Convention & Sports Bureau.
She recommends the following culinary events for those seeking to sample a cross-section of the state’s diverse foodie scene:
The Sun Wine & Food Fest (January)
Mohegan Sun in Uncasville plays host to this world-class celebration of food and drink. Popular events include the signature Grand Tasting, Bourbon Tasting, Elite Cru Tasting and the Celebrity Chef Dine Around.
Harbor Brew Fest (September)
Craft beer lovers have taken to this six-year-old event, which is held at the Ballpark at Harbor Yard in Bridgeport. Limited releases and hard-to-find brews are available in the exclusive-access Brewer’s Beer Garden.
Mystic Eats Food Festival (September)
Festival-goers can taste culinary delights from more than 25 of the Mystic area’s premier restaurants. The event, which takes place in the city’s historical downtown, also includes live entertainment.
The New England Food Truck Festival (September)
Connecticut has witnessed the recent rise of many food truck-centered events, including this regional favorite that’s held at Mohegan Sun. The 2017 event brought together 30 of the area’s top trucks.
New England Chowdafest (October)
Held at Sherwood Island State Park in Westport, this festival showcases the talents of chefs from New England and as far away as Seattle, who compete for best-in-show honors in various chowder and soup categories.
Lots to savor in South County, Rhode Island
Located 80 miles south of Boston and 160 miles from New York City, South County, Rhode Island, boasts a burgeoning culinary scene that keeps the focus on local products.
Oysters amore Louise Bishop, president of the South County Tourism Council, says there’s no better way to experience Rhode Island farm-to-table cuisine than to visit the Matunuck Oyster Bar. “Guests can begin with a pontoon boat tour of the oyster farm with owner Perry Raso, who explains how oysters are ‘grown’ and educates visitors on the importance of aquaculture,” she says. “After visiting the farm where Raso grows all the vegetables, they return to the restaurant for a sumptuous meal that starts with chilled oysters and champagne before moving on to a main dish featuring some of the local, fresh vegetables.”
What’s brewing While oysters may be the area’s calling card, South County also is home to a thriving craft beer culture. At pastoral Tilted Barn Brewery, travelers can tour the hops farm then sample seasonal beers. Grey Sail Brewery in Westerly, which is the region’s largest brewery, offers tours that are followed by a visit to the tasting room that is located next door in a historical home. Bishop says another popular stop is Whaler’s Brewing Company, which is known for its homey atmosphere and variety of board games.
A spirited stop Guided tours at award-winning Sons of Liberty Spirits provide insights on how its whiskeys, vodkas and other limited edition liquors are made. The tasting room offers whiskey and beer flights and has a menu of craft cocktails featuring Sons’ spirits.
Top photo by Rhode Island Tourism Division