Exploring Connecticut's Quiet Corner

Destination: 
Putnam, CT
Best of Show: 
Watermelon Steak at 85Main in Putnam

Watermelon Steak at 85MainWe explored the "Quiet Corner" of the Nutmeg State, from the Rhode Island border south as far as Route 6 and west as far as Willimantic. This area is home every August to the Brooklyn Fair, the oldest agricultural fair in the country, in bucolic Brooklyn, CT.

We had lunch in Putnam, a cute little town known for its antiques shops.

The downtown area of Putnam centers on a crossroads on Rte 44. On the south side is a short block of restaurants and shops, including 85 Main, a wonderfully creative locavore establishment.

I enjoyed the cutest lightweight summer salad: a slab of ripe seedless watermelon grilled and drizzled with balsamic vinegar, served with caramelized shallots and medallions of chocolate goat cheese from Capri Farm in Hubbardston, MA. This would be excellent at a late summer afternoon tea!

CiderDays

Destination: 
Colrain, MA
Best of Show: 
Sampling 30+ heirloom apples at the brick meeting house

CiderDay Apple TastingWe drove out to the wilds of Franklin County for the annual CiderDays festival.

This event is distributed all over Franklin County, but we typically use quaint little Colrain as our rally point.  That's because I really enjoy seeing the table outside the brick meeting house (shown here) with samples of scores of different heirloom apples. This is where you can try little-seen heirlooms like the Sheepnose, Twenty-Ounce, Winter Banana, and  Chenango Strawberry, as well as old classics like the Roxbury Russett, Northern Spy, Winesap, Baldwin, and more.

We also enjoy the (sometimes testy) cider panels and the tasting salon, where you can sample hard cider from some of the many cidermakers in New England and beyond.

The events include sessions about types of apples and cider, pairing cider with cheeses, cooking with apples and cider, growing apples, and making cider. It's really an eye-opening experience.

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