Heart to Heart Champagne and Romance Dinner Dance

Valentine's Day may have come and gone, but romance is forever, right? That's what Faith Middleton, public radio personality, host of the weekly food talk show The Food Schmooze, and local celebrity, would have us think. On Thursday, February 23rd, she hosted the Heart to Heart Champagne and Romance Dinner Dance, and we were there with fellow foodie friends L and C.

Mushroom duxelles in a parmesan cup

Pulled shortrib and taleggio grilled cheese

The candlelit night of luscious foods, fine wines, sophisticated company and live music (with dancing!) took place at Belle Terrace at Avon Old Farms, a historic inn in Avon, Connecticut. The space itself, perfectly elegant, exudes romance, and the incredible dishes created by Connecticut's finest culinary masterminds surely helped. Giddy from champagne (Pol Roger White Foil Brut) and passed hors d'oeuvres (like mushroom duxelles in a parmesan cup, and pulled shortrib and taleggio grilled cheese) set amidst elaborate flower displays, we took our seats and waited expectantly for more.

The table was lavishly set with five sets of silverware and countless wine glasses (always a good sign). Each setting also had little gifts - a bottle of hot sauce made by the folks at the Pond House, who were also resonsible for the delightful hors d'oeuvres, and a box of truffles from Carol Monnerat in Branford, CT. The band played, a couple of speeches were given, and the food started to arrive. Without further ado, we offer you our photos of the culinary splendors of CT:

Course One (not too bad for someone who despises mushrooms, nice sweetness and very creamy): from Deniz Yalim of Zula (Hartford): Mushroom Cappuccino, paired with 2010 Hugel Gentil.

Course Two (very tasty with good crunch and lots of lobster): from Chris Prosperi of Metro Bis (Simsbury): Metro Lobster Salad, paired with 2010 Rocca del Dragone Falanghina della Campania.

Course Three (plenty of crab meat, crunchy slaw, interesting green-hued wasabi cream): from Stefan Drago of Belle Terrace (Avon): Sesame Crusted Crab Cake, Nappa and Jicama Slaw, Mango-Wasabi Coulis, paired with The Connecticut Blue Blood Cocktail (a sweet-tart mixture of Absolut Berri Acai vodka, ginger liqueur, fresh lemon juice, honey syrup, and cinnamon dusted flax seed - shown being held by another guest at our table).

Course Four (the pastry was nice, but escargot are maybe an acquired taste?): from Arlene Ghent of 1249 Wine Bar (Waterbury): Escargot with Chanterelle mushrooms and white truffle cream, en croute, paired with 2010 Olivier Leflaive Les Settiles

Course Five (for most of the table, this was the winning dish: tender, juicy, loads of flavor and we loved that sliver of potato cake): from Manuel Romero of Ibiza (New Haven): Braised Short Ribs, Parmesan Potato Cake, Dark Beer Ginger Soy, paired with 2010 E Solo Montepulciano

Course Six (the most disappointing dish of the night, slightly overcooked and lacking seasoning): from John Brennan of Plan B (we never knew which one - it's a small chain): Petite Lamb Shank braised atop Black Truffle with Asiago Polenta, Roasted Shallots, Asparagus, and a Duet of Blood Orange and White Balsamic Reduction, and Pomegranate and White Balsamic Reduction, paired with 2009 Michel Torino Don David Malbec.

Dessert: (this one gets a big "Wow, this is a-MA-zing!"): from Jordan Stein at Pond House Cafe (West Hartford): Baby Banana Split: Maple Cream Gelato, Caramelized Baby Bananas, Sweet & Spicy Walnuts, Chantilly Cream, paired with choice of Churchill’s Tawny Port or Zebo Moscato

Incredible, right?

In addition to all that, the true romantics danced to the siren's song in between courses. Unfortunately, as we learned early on in our courtship, we don't dance well together; we both try to lead, which leads to much stepping-on-toes and tripping-over-hems, so we decided to remain spectators. Therefore, we spent most of the evening at the table revelling in the food and wine, two of our most favorite things.

As all things must, the evening slowly wound to an end. As we made our way out the door, satiated and smiling, a couple of guys from The Farmer's Cow (which just so happens to be our super-ultimate-favorite local dairy provider) gifted us a can of their brand-new coffee and quarts of their half-n-half for the following morning. Since it was a school night, and we didn't get home until about 11:15, we were happy to have them! Here's to wine and romance, even on a school night, and to the little bit of snow that caused a 2-hour delay of school opening the next morning.


jck said...


yummychunklet said...

Everything looks delicious! Looks like a great dinner.

Dreams of cakes said...

Nice post! Thanks for the review. It looks like you had a very nice time over there...

Susan Lindquist said...

Sounds like a wonderful evening ... even if the siren's bell of the schoolyard sounded early the next morning ... what a great event and the setting sounded fantastic too!

Amy Williamson Motta said...

Thanks for this fantastic post! I have added a link to it on the Faith Middleton Facebook page! We appreciate your support!
Thank you!

Amy Williamson-Motta
Special Events Manager, WNPR