saltwater sommelier

Archive for August, 2009|Monthly archive page

Dining to blog by Marion Herbert…

In The Insider View on August 31, 2009 at 5:15 pm

At the Litchfield Saltwater Grille, we aim to provide our guests with a superior fine dining experience. As the server, however, there comes a time when you think about what it would be like if the tides turned and we were the ones sitting at the table.

Last week, I rounded up the Herbert clan and headed towards the center of Litchfield as I’ve done countless times before. This time, however, I was going out to dinner.

Walking through the doors of the Saltwater Grille as a customer is an entirely different experience. I suddenly had a greater appreciation for the aesthetics of the building and its evening ambiance. We took a seat at a large table in the lounge. We were promptly greeted with refreshing water, warm bread, and told the plethora of tasty specials for that evening. As an employee, I know this routine like the back of my hand. As the customer, however, I still couldn’t help but be impressed by the seamless service and fluid, flowing nature in which everyone worked together to tend to the needs of our table.

Perhaps the only challenge of dining at the Saltwater Grille is deciding what to eat. Fortunately for me, I had been studying this extensive menu for quite some time and knew what exactly what I would order if and when I had the chance to eat here. That dream dish was the lemon sole. When Julia Child had her first bite of sole in France, she had a “culinary epiphany” and it changed her world. Perhaps then it could do wonders for my Monday night.

And, oh my, did it ever. After one bite I knew that it truly was as good as it looked. The sole was drizzled in lemon caper butter and complimented with grilled zucchini and classic Texmati white rice. I looked around the table at my family all dolled up in lobster bibs, as they had all ordered our signature Monday lobster dinner. Although they were unwilling to share with me, their clean plates suggested they enjoyed every bite.  For dessert, I ordered the crème caramel, a flan dish with a fabulous caramel drizzle. Naturally, I had to help myself to the homemade chocolate mousse and strawberries with Anglaise sauce my family ordered. (I told them it was really important research for my blog…) I can report back that those too were nothing short of perfection.

I must admit, throughout dinner it was a bit difficult to resist the urge to organize the menus, refold our napkins, or jump behind the bar to fetch our drinks. Finally, I just took a few deep breaths and let our server, Elise, do her job – a job that she does so well – while I chatted with my family, finished my wine, and listened to the light jazz music that filled the room. After all, life gets busy and everyone – including us bartenders – deserves a chance to sit back, relax, and enjoy the finer things in life.

Marion Herbert, SWG Inside Blogger


Everything in its place…

In Uncategorized on August 31, 2009 at 4:50 pm

Mise en place… means everything in its place.  This is the backbone to any good chef worth their weight in kosher salt.  It’s also the state of mind a chef needs to get thru a busy day producing lots of fine food fast. So apply this at home, like feng shui for the kitchen.  Have the onions chopped, the parsley & garlic ready, and the stocks made.  Now you can cook effortlessly like a real chef.

mise en place  [MEEZ ahn plahs]
A French term referring to having all the ingredients necessary for a dish prepared and ready to combine up to the point of cooking. (Source: Epicurious)

SWG Chef, Albe Galotta

Drink bars are the current industry trend for weddings and other catered events.

In Uncategorized on August 26, 2009 at 3:56 pm

Here is a sophisticated drink bar idea with both alcoholic and non alcoholic options.

White Bar: All stylish white beverages.  This is perfect for elegant and traditional style weddings.

  • White Cosmos: Your Choice of Vodka, White Cranberry Juice, and Triple Sec. Garnished with Cranberries.
  • Sparkling Wine Garnished with Fresh Raspberries
  • White Asian Pear Martinis: Absolut Pear Vodka, Fresh Pear Puree, Lemon Juice, Simple Syrup
  • White Vanilla Grapefruit Ice Tea, Non Alcoholic

Brett Clugston, Event Planner Connecticut Caterers

A classic restaurant dish…

In The Kitchen on August 26, 2009 at 3:31 pm

Poached salmon with lemon dill cream sauce.  Boil 5 cups water, with some bay leaves, wedges of lemon, and peppercorns. Place in 2 pieces of salmon filet (no skin), and simmer until cooked. In a side pan add white wine, S&P, a dash of cream, and fresh dill. Cook until thickened. Pour over drained salmon.  Serve with couscous and asparagus.  Pair with Salmon’s perfect match Pinot Noir.  Try: 2007 Brancott Pinot Noir South Island New Zealand.  “Salmon & Pinot Noir”  “Milk & Cookies”

Albe Galotta, SWG Chef

Brett Clugston, SWG Sommelier

Behind the Scenes of Monday Lobster Night

In The Insider View on August 24, 2009 at 2:51 pm

An Insiders View Blog by Marion Herbert, SWG Bartender

For the staff of the Litchfield Saltwater Grille, Monday Lobster Night requires much preparation, both mental and physical, as we organize our reservations, review our specials, and stock our barracks with over 80 fresh lobsters.

Each Monday, our commander and chief of the kitchen and his troops arrive very early to receive the fresh lobsters from Kennebunkport, Maine. To say the lobsters are fresh may be an understatement, as they arrive still kickin’ and alive. These 1 1/3 pound crustaceans are kept refrigerated until their time comes to be steamed. Batches of lobsters are rotated and steamed continuously throughout the evening to provide the freshest taste.

Next, it’s time to go to conquer this savory sea creature. We provide a lemon fork and lobster cracker to make this operation a little less daunting, along with a bib to make it just a tad bit neater. There are a few different strategies to keep in mind as you plan your attack. You could systematically dismember the lobster by holding each end of the tail, which will come apart easily, and hallow out the meat from the pre-crushed claw. Or, you could take a more aggressive approach like Chef Albert. “I usually just give it a dirty look and go after it… with lots of butter.” Add a fresh ear of corn and some red roasted potatoes and consider it mission accomplished.

Enjoy all this on the Saltwater Grille’s covered patio, our sunlit dining room, or in our cozy lounge. In need of a refreshing summer drink?  Enjoy one of our specialty cocktails, including the original pomegranate, or a personal favorite, the pear martini, a delicious blend of Absolute pear vodka and pear puree.

See you this Monday… over and out.

Smoked Sausage, Shrimp, and Baked Eggs Contessa

In The Kitchen on August 23, 2009 at 8:38 pm

Sunday Brunch for Two

1 small white onion chopped

4 eggs – room temperature

10 uncooked shrimp

6 oz smoked sausage sliced ¼” thick

2 tablespoons olive oil

4 long fresh scallions chopped

1/8 cup fresh flat Italian parsley chopped

Salt & pepper to taste

¾ cup mixed red, yellow & tomatillo chopped tomato

½ cup grated sharp white cheddar

¼ cup grated Monterey Jack

½ cup chive sour cream

Using an old style black iron skillet bring to medium high heat.  Brown chopped onions in olive oil.  Add smoked sausage & brown slightly.  Add shrimp to pan and sear till opaque on all sides.  Break eggs into skillet keeping yolks from breaking.  Lower heat to medium.  When eggs are 2/3 cooked sprinkle with chopped scallions and mixed tomato.  Cover with both cheeses.

Put entire pan in 425 degree oven for 5 minutes.  Before serving garnish with chive sour cream.  Sprinkle with chopped parsley and serve from hot skillet.

Serve with roasted Bliss potatoes, croissants and your favorite Champagne.

Albe Galotta, SWG Chef

Lobster Bake Party Bags

In The Kitchen on August 22, 2009 at 4:55 pm

Summer is almost over & Labor Day is soon to come.  Back to school, college and work are right around the corner.  These are all good reasons to have one last ‘Warm weather party’ before things start getting hectic.  In light of today’s economy luxury spending on such affairs sometimes gets crossed off the list.  The idea of toning down things and keeping costs in line with your budget can still make for a great event.

The SWG offers a wonderful economy buster party theme that still has a bit of luxury with an economic conscious price.  Our famous ‘Lobster In A Bag’ ready for you to cook at home (maybe in the back yard or the beach) for all of your friends and family to enjoy.  Order as many bags as you have people and all your guests at your lobster bake will enjoy a complete meal of:

1 1½ LB Hard Shell Live Maine lobster

6 Little Neck Clams

10 Black Mussels

6 Peel n Eat Shrimp

3 Red Bliss Potatoes

1 Corn on the Cob

Spring Onion and Fennel

All bags are seasoned with fresh lemon, peppercorns & Bay Leaves

Instructions come with all bags requiring you to only boil water, drop the bags in and wait for them to cook.  Add to this your own salads and desserts and maybe a cold beverage to complete a wonderful summer feast.  Lobster bags need to be ordered 3 days in advance.  No minimum required.  The charge is $35 plus tax per bag. How much easier can it be?  Just give us a call @ (860) 567.4900.

Mini is hot: for Catered Events

In Uncategorized on August 20, 2009 at 8:28 pm

“Mini” is very in right now.  This category mostly includes designer comfort foods.  These hors d’oeuvres are great for long extended cocktail hours.  Or if you are really going all out and throwing a post reception bash mini home-style foods are the perfect late night snack. You might even want to add boxes of mini dounoughts for guests to take home.

  • Mini Kobe Burger sliders with truffle butter and crumbled goat cheese, and paper cones with seasoned fries
  • Interesting Mini Sandwiches

Grilled Shrimp, Smoked Salmon, Dill, Sour Cream Horseradish, Soft Knot Roll

Mini Ruben, Pastrami, Caramelized Onion, Melted Swiss, Brown Mustard, Rye

Mini French Dips with Rare Roast Beef and Aus Jus

Croque Monsieur, Ham & Swiss Served with Spicy Mayo

  • Elaborate Mac and Cheese served in Mini Cups with Fancy Cheeses
  • Mini Ice-cream Cones or Colorful Sorbets passed on Plexi Glass Trays
  • Mini Spiced Grille Cheeses that run the gamut from:

Fontina, Escarole, and Onion Jam on Sourdough

Herbed Mayo and Basil Grille Cheese with Italian Mozzarella drizzled with Truffle Oil

Jalapeño Cheddar and Gruyere Combo with Tomato

  • An Adult Twist on the Traditional PB&J: Macadamia Nut Butter, Strawberry-Vanilla Jam, dab of Local Honey, Sliced Apples, on Mini Brioche.
  • Mini Lamb Meatballs, Horseradish Mustard
  • Chilled specialty soups served in shot glasses with or without alcohol.

Gazpacho, topped with a small shrimp cocktail

Chilled Strawberry Mint Vodka Shooters

Carrot Ginger


  • Mini Pigs in a Blanket stuffed with cheddar and served with dipping sauces: grain mustard and garlic mayo.  We list these on our catering menu in the section for kids party food but 90% of all adult parties request them.  They are so basic and you could make them yourself easily but they are just so good!

Brett Clugston, Event Planner

How about making your own sun dried tomatoes?

In The Kitchen on August 20, 2009 at 8:18 pm

Slice large plum tomatoes length wise to get three slices per tomato. About 1/3 inch thick each. Dust with S&P, oregano, dried basil, and a splash of good olive oil.  Let this sit in sun on pan for 10 hours.  Or you could also choose to slow roast it in oven at 250 for about 3-4 hours. Store in oil or use in 1 weeks time.

Albe Galotta, SWG Chef

Cost Effective Summer Wedding Tips…

In Uncategorized on August 19, 2009 at 4:18 pm
  • Hold your rehearsal dinner or day post reception brunch at the same venue as your wedding.  Restaurants will often be happy to offer a discount if you book more than one service with their company.
  • Choose a Sunday or a Friday wedding date rather than a Saturday.
  • Opt for a dessert bar or cupcake cake rather than a wedding cake.
  • When ordering rentals use plastic for bar glassware.  Guests will have about 3-5 drinks each and the price of glass rentals can really add up.
  • Ask your caterer for menu suggestions that are more cost effective.  Add pricier ingredients in small amounts during your hors d’oeuvres hour and choose less expensive food items for the main course.  Surprisingly, sometimes a little caviar on a smoked salmon canapé here and there doesn’t cost that much but really adds an extra splash of sophistication.  For the main course choosing sole rather than salmon or shrimp is a less expensive option.  Instead of serving Filet Mignon as a main course serve chicken and opt for a nice steak skewer as a passed hors d’ouvre.
  • Clam and Lobster Bakes are a great cost effective and festive wedding theme.  Some caterers actually sell do it yourself clam bake bags.  The bag is usually made with cheese cloth and could include: corn on the cob, a lobster, little neck clams, peel and eat shrimp, mussels, and three red potatoes.  Each bag includes laurel bay leaves, black peppercorns, a spring onion, and a wedge of lemon for flavor.  These bags cost about $20.00 each.  If you really want to cut back on costs you could cook them easily yourself or hire a company.

Brett Clugston, Event Planner

Albe Galotta, Connecticut Caterers Chef