saltwater sommelier

Archive for October, 2009|Monthly archive page

The Famous Silhouette…

In Sommelier Corner on October 28, 2009 at 1:47 am


Port sales skyrocket during the months of November and December like chocolate does in February.  A comforting Autumn meal in front of a fire on a chilly night begs for pumpkin pie accompanied by a port wine.  Sandeman port is the leader in the industry and offers an array of choices from complex 20YR’s to please the connoisseur to easy drinking ruby ports for the diner who wants to try something new.

Sandeman Porto Ruby NV is a great port to start with if you have never had port.  It is easy drinking and enjoyed best with chocolate or some sort of decadent dessert.  This ruby red colored wine has gobs of fruit that will candy coat your mouth.  Another universally liked choice is the Sandeman Founders Reserve.  Much like NV Champagne the Founders Reserve is a blend that is consistent year after year.  The complex style of the Founders Reserve pairs well with berries, nuts, and cheeses.  All ports are actually made with a blend of nine different red and white grape varietals that are native to the Douro region of Portugal.

If you are not a port novice try the ultimate pairing of vanilla meets caramel meets tawny port.  If you like milk and cookies chances are you will like: Harney and Sons White Tea with vanilla and grapefruit, warm Bread Pudding with rum caramel sauce, and a glass of Sandeman Tawny 10YR.  The 10YR tawny has nuances of honey, apricot, and dried fruit.  It is toasty, nutty, and spicy.  Tawny Ports become more elegant, sophisticated, and complex as they age.  Both the Sandeman Tawny 20YR and 30YR express nuttiness, spice, vanilla, and hazelnut on the palate. As the port gets older pair it with a more delicate dessert.  The Saltwater Grille crème caramel served chilled with a caramel topping is made with custard light enough to not overpower the 10 and 20 year ports.

Another tip for the holiday season of port drinking is to pair your port with an herbal tea instead of coffee.  Now that I have kindled your interest in Port stop by the Saltwater Grille and ask your server or bartender what his or her favorite port is.

Brett Clugston, SWG Sommelier


“She’s got style She’s got grace She’s a lady wooh wooh wooh…”

In The Mount Veeder Blog on October 27, 2009 at 3:21 pm

145_mt_veeder.jpgfullShe’s Elise, and the radio was broadcasting her tune. This young lady has been here as far back as I can remember. During the summer she is a constant fixture at the bar, but with the arrival of fall, she spends less time in the lounge and more time at school. The other week, she managed the restaurant on a Friday night and did an awesome job.

The new Red White & Blue Cosmo was selling better than candy before Halloween, so she swung behind the bar to help out. One of the customers read some of the new, delightful cocktail list out loud: The Original Pom – Grey Goose, Pomegranate, Spalsh of Cranberry, Orange Juice; The Buena Vista – Bushmills Irish Whiskey, Molasses, Hot Black Coffee, Whipped Cream, Nutmeg; and the Red White & Blue Cosmo – Stoli Blueberry Vodka, Cranberry Juice, Cointreau, Lychee Nut Garnish. Deliciousness! The last one caused me pause, and then Elise told the young lady that the lychee nut actually tastes like melon. Certainly would be an interesting one to try.

Truth be told, Elise always knows the answers to questions involving the restaurant. She’s a huge help to new people, and a cheery individual on the whole. While talking to a server, she mentioned that she gets up about 5 a.m. every day. TO RUN! Now that takes dedication. And it may also explain why she’s a happy lady… running equals endorphins…

Her sister got married a few weeks ago, and Elise organized her bridal shower and made all the party favors with a friend. The party was lovely. If I had a sister like that, I’d be one lucky girl…

Sit Back, Relax, and Smell the coffee…

In Uncategorized on October 22, 2009 at 5:52 pm

Life sure seems to come at you fast these days.  With the days getting shorter, the nights getting longer, and the temperature dropping as fast as the interest rates at your local bank, seems to me having a local place where you can stop by more than once or twice a week, whether it be for lunch on business, or with the family for dinner, or just because you need a quiet place to relax and catch up on some reading would be a good thing. Sometimes you’re in the mood for a cold beer or a happy hour cocktail, sometimes it’s wine with dinner and once in a while a great cup of coffee will do the job just fine. The Litchfield Saltwater Grille can be the perfect place for all the different occasions that may arise, with the coffee break being maybe a bit better than you would have expected.

Here at the SWG we have been serving a wonderful coffee sensation since we opened with our All- American theme three years ago, 100% Organic Kona coffee from the Big Island of Hawaii. Not like the Kona blend sold at most tourist spots on any of the Hawaiian Islands, but a true 100% all organic handpicked bean, farmed and harvested on a family owned estate.  Served in our American press pots, this wonderful estate grown coffee has come to be known as one of the world’s oldest and most enjoyed varieties around.  With its rich but smooth taste and mellow finish, Kona coffee is enjoyed by those who prefer a more aromatic flavor rather than a bitter or strong coffee taste.

The press pot may be the most natural way to brew coffee. Easy to use simply by placing the course ground coffee into the carafe then pouring steaming hot water over the grounds, allow to steep, then press down slowly on the fine stainless steel mesh screen which then forces the grinds to the bottom and the brewed coffee to the top. After a great meal or when I am just unwinding with the local newspaper, I have come to enjoy the island flavor of 100% Kona coffee as a perfect substitute for the boring blends that the chain stores have to offer.

Hawaii is the only place in the United States where coffee is grown.  With its rich volcanic soil, its sunny mornings and cloudy afternoons, Kona coffee will soon be your first choice when looking for just the perfect brew to enjoy any time of the day. In his letters from Hawaii, Mark Twain once wrote “Kona Coffee has a richer flavor than any other, be it grown where it may and call it what name you please.” So, when you are at the Saltwater Grille and your ready to sit back and smell the coffee, try a pressed pot of our Kona coffee, and chances are you are going to stop by a little more often.

Albe Galotta, SWG Chef & Bloggerkona-coffee-french-press


In The Mount Veeder Blog on October 20, 2009 at 1:28 pm


Excitement was in the air! Staff raced around with tables and chairs while white linens lounged over their arms. The smell of food tickled my senses and taunted my paper mouth. A party was afoot, and there was a lot to accomplish by 1 p.m. Tables were arranged according to the hostess, napkins were folded, and silverware was set amongst bursts of seriousness and giggles. It was one. The restaurant was ready, as were the guests. The person of honor, the birthday girl, arrived at 1:30 p.m. It was a surprise 90th birthday party, and as she ascended the stairs, I pondered if anyone had spilled the beans prior to the event. The server who greeted the women and her companions had certainly kept the charade going. A huge cheer engulfed the woman… the beans had definitely stayed in the pot. Bottles of red and white wine bowed graciously over glasses as everyone settled in for their meal. Sole with lemon caper butter sauce followed by filet minion with a blue cheese fondue and beefsteak tomato arrived shortly thereafter. Mashed potato and sautéed vegetables completed the meal. It was a delight to behold. Children and adults meandered down the stairs post meal, enjoying drinks and the sports on television in the lounge. However, when dessert slipped by the bar, everyone followed it to the loft as if it were a magnet. The smell of raisins, cinnamon, and rum caramel flowed down to me… the tell tale sign that the bread pudding was being enjoyed. Hints of coffee swept by as well, and I longed, not for the first time, to be something more substantial so I too could enjoy the taste my favorite smelling pick me up.

Clean Vineyards…Behind the label marketing frenzy…

In Sommelier Corner on October 15, 2009 at 4:55 pm


As a sommelier customers have been asking me for “sulfite free wines” for years.  This is such a loaded question since sulfites naturally occur during the fermentation process. I suggest looking for a wine that specifies on the label “no added sulfites.”  If the label says organic you can also be assured that there are no added sulfites in the wine.  This should steer you clear of that terrible “wine headache.”

Sulfites are not the only thing wine consumers are concerned with in this green wine movement.  How “clean” the winery is has become an area of marketability.   I find the whole regulation process similar to the difference between wine labeling in Europe versus America.  If a wine carries the label Sancerre it must contain a wine made from the Sauvignon Blanc grape, a label on a red wine marked Burgundy must be made from Pinot Noir.  Yet in America the rules are different.  Pinot Gris?  Pinot Grigio?  It is actually the same grape yet for marketing choices one Washington winery may choose to use the label Pinot Gris and a winery in California chooses Pinot Grigio.  Fume Blanc, a word created by the California Mondavi Empire is another unregulated term.  Some say it means smokey and is attributed to the fog seen over the water on the coast of California that looks like smoke.  On the other hand, for Spanish wine to be classified reserve it must specially be aged for at least three years and spend at least one in oak.


Sustainable viticulture is the new gray area in wine labeling. Generally sustainability means the winery attempts to use earth friendly farming practices. This could include solar powered energy sources, composting, and more natural alternatives to prevent pests and maintain the soils health.  Yet the term is loose and you will not know from the label how many of these practices are employed.  The term organic is regulated and is not an easy title to obtain. In order for a wine to be labeled as “organic wine,” it must be made from 100% certified organic grapes and contain no added sulfites.

And last to go even one step further is the holistic world of biodynamics.  For a winery to label itself as biodynamically farmed the regulations and process to obtaining certification are extremely strict. This process, based on the teaching of Rudof Steiner considers the entire vineyard to be one complete living organism.  The goal is to create harmony between the earth, the winemaker, the vineyard, and the cosmos.  Some may dismiss this as hocus pocus but it is actually the most highly regulated of the “green” choices.

The Saltwater Grille wine list contains many “Clean Vineyard” choices.  Frogs Leap winery is certified organic.  La Crema, Sonoma Cutrer, and Honig are just a few of the sustainable group.  Randall Grahams Bonny Doon wines are in the biodynamically farmed category.  And most notably J. Lohr is taking great steps to make their clean vineyard practices known.

Hopefully this sheds some light on what labeling terms to take seriously.  Grower Champagne’s versus the conglomerates and how Veuve Clicquot has won in the world of PR.  Now that’s another marketing area in the wine world to tackle.  Another day.

Brett Clugston, SWG Sommelier


Introducing…The Mount Veeder Blog

In The Mount Veeder Blog on October 13, 2009 at 5:38 pm



My home is in the lounge. The light from the windows doesn’t reach me, but dances in the space around me. It would be so nice if it could warm me, but I suppose the hearth is an adequate constellation prize. People hustle and bustle around me – most of them oblivious to my presence. But I notice them. It’s hard to help it when you preside over them, even if it is from just the wall. My name is Lily and have I got stories for you.

Leaving California for Connecticut was a big change. New people. New weather. And new food and wine. I doubt that I’ll ever see the ­­­­Veeder Vineyard again, but that’s okay. I like it here.

I arrived in the Litchfield Saltwater Grille via a packing tube. Getting rolled out was a wonderful stretch, but I’m afraid my dark living space has rendered me pale. I fear my skin will rival the glow of the snow come winter as my new home lacks the ever sunny skies of my previous home. But enough about me… I hear someone coming…

Think Global – Act Local

In The Insider View on October 13, 2009 at 4:34 pm

Presenting the Saltwater Grille’s Homemade Line of Food Products

In our world today, with all its economic uncertainty, corporate doubt, and forebode of environmental crises, it is becoming increasingly more important (and rather trendy) to turn to local business and products for your needs and services. Litchfield County is a leader in the local movement, serving as the Mecca for farmer’s homegrown goods and premier Connecticut products. Neighborhood food markets offer up everything from hometown honey to artisan breads and dairy products to wine from local vineyards.

The Litchfield Saltwater Grille is proud to make its mark on the scene by introducing its homemade line of jams, marinades, relishes, salad dressings, chutneys, and more. There is nothing more comforting in autumn than a home-cooked meal. Bring the great tastes of the Litchfield Saltwater Grille straight to your kitchen through our homemade goods. Hot Apple Chutney, Port Wine Fig and Shallot Compote, Key Lime Kiwi Mint Sauce, and 5-Spice Hard Apple Cider Sauce are just some of the goods offered through our restaurant.

On October 8, the Litchfield Saltwater Grille was one of many participating restaurants in “A Tasteful Event,” held in Middlebury, Connecticut. Their new line of products debuted and was a hit with the crowd as they took home two awards for “People’s Choice” and “Most Palate Pleasing.”

The products are available at the Litchfield Saltwater Grille website and can be purchased for delivery and pick up. These products make a great holiday gifts and assorted gift baskets will be available soon. From our kitchen to yours, we hope to bring you quality local products this holiday season – and always.

Marion Herbert, Inside Blogger

If you’re going to drive in the country you better have a cool car…

In Uncategorized on October 12, 2009 at 3:14 pm

The Litchfield Hills and all of Connecticut have always been a wonderful place to take a weekend drive through the country. With an array of great little towns and an abundance of scenery to enjoy, a country ride provides all that the doctor ordered after he has diagnosed your stress level way high, and that you should enjoy life a little more. Connecticut has for many years been a Mecca for car clubs whose members enjoy the privilege of such fine surroundings right at their back door. There may be as many as 200 American and International car clubs in the state with clubs dating back as far as the 40’s and 50’s.  Major clubs such as the Jaguar club of Southern New England or the Ct. Valley BMW Car Club may have as many as 2000 members with many still participating since the clubs were started.  The Litchfield Hills Historic Auto club and the Model A. Ford Club of Ct. are also popular groups that tour the area and enjoy the year round beauty of what Ct. has to offer.

During the fall season with the landscape showing off its autumn colors and the lakes and hills cool with the breeze of another winter on its way, many of the local clubs enjoy the all-round convenience, quality and value of The Litchfield Saltwater Grille for a weekend lunch time destination during a day of winding curves, lush countryside and picturesque foliage. Here at the SWG we can offer your group the ease of a very large parking lot for all your cool rides, plus the space to accommodate private group’s event seating up to 125 people.  Lunch packages, buffets or hors d’oeuvres parties are just a few of the offerings we can tempt you with, starting as low as $12 per person. Past luncheons with the Ct. Valley Region Porsche Club of America have been so successful that we have been put on the calendar for every summer when they make a day of cruising through Litchfield.

Corvettes Limited of America, the Studebaker Drivers Club, and the Ct. Street Rod Association are just a few of the groups that the SWG would love to have enjoy all we can offer. Pairing a great venue along with fantastic food and drinks at a reasonable cost should only make a great ride in one of the most beautiful areas of the United States that much better.     Call our event coordinator Brett at the SWG @ 860.567.4900 to start planning your next outing, one that all your members will sign up for and one that will make your life a little less stressful…. JUST WHAT THE DOCTOR ORDERED….

Albe Galotta, SWG Blogger

“It’s always happy hour somewhere”

In The Insider View on October 8, 2009 at 2:09 pm

This is the motto for overtired, well-worn, thirsty workers around the globe.  And Monday through Friday — between the hours of 4 and 6 p.m. — that somewhere is at the Litchfield Saltwater Grille.

Happy hours are universally recognized as a time to snag discounted appetizers and drinks. This period, which is rarely offered for just a mere hour, offers more than a budget friendly menu. Happy hour at your local watering hole is a place of refuge from a strenuous work day and a communal environment to gather with colleagues and friends.  The Saltwater Grille’s fireplace lounge and bar is Litchfield’s premiere happy hour location, offering quality food and drinks at the happiest of prices.

Our lounge menu, which features everything from spinach and artichoke dip to shrimp and avocado salad, is ½ priced during happy hour times. This includes such dishes as the peanut chicken skewers with apple slaw at $4.50, steamed mussels for $7.00, or a shrimp Caesar salad for $8.00. These plates are great for sharing with friends or as an individual post work pick-me-up. The quality and service of our fine dining food doesn’t change – just the prices.

The most important element during this time — and the one that makes it quite so happy — are the featured drinks. Any draft beer, including Heineken, Guinness stout, Sam Adams seasonal, Brooklyn Pilsner, and New Castle Brown Ale, are $3.00. If a cocktail is more your cup of tea, or rather, drink of choice, then you may be interested in our fabulous drink specials. $5.00 well drinks along with $6.00 call drinks for any martini, mixed drink, or drink on the rocks. Relax with a classic cosmopolitan, a trendy Manhattan, or one of the Saltwater Grille’s specialty fall cocktails.  $5.00 white and red happy hour wine specials are also available.

Make your transition from the office to home a bit more comforting by first stopping at the Litchfield Saltwater Grille; a great place to bring old friends, make new ones, and enjoy all our specials during the happiest of all hours. See you soon!

Marion Herbert, Inside Blogger

New Englanders Love Football…

In The Kitchen on October 7, 2009 at 12:47 am

One thing about New Englanders is they love their history and tradition. And when fall arrives in the New England area and the colors of the landscape change like possessions with the pigskin, it’s time for FOOTBALL. Everyone knows that if you live in any of the states north of New Jersey chances are you love football, and not only do you love football but you probably love the local teams. The New York Giants, The New York Jets, Boston Patriots and even UCONN or YALE College may be your favorite,  but whoever you root for your tradition runs deep and your love of the game is never ending. Saturday, Sunday, and Monday games take up every weekend from September thru January with college games on Saturday, the Pros on Sunday and the ever famous Monday Night Football. Another New England tradition is enjoying food and drinks with your friends and neighbors, and since football and food complement each other so well thus began the start of another tradition, the tailgating or home football party.

I’m sure that sometime between now and Super Bowl Sunday, one of these weekends you’re going to throw a football party at your own place or be invited to one somewhere else, either way the entertainment will be great and the food will satisfy all. That’s where the Litchfield Saltwater Grille can lend a hand. Here at the SWG we have been helping football fans throughout the east coast throw the best and easiest parties around. With our complimentary drop off service in the local Litchfield area, and our 2 day ordering policy, it’s easy to organize a small group of fans to gather round your TV or even a group large enough to fill a football field. The Saltwater Grille has a great list of party platters that can be ordered one at a time or a few platters mixed and matched to create a lavish spread to thrill all your guests. And if you’re wondering why our party platter brochures don’t have footballs, goalposts and cheer leaders on them, it’s because these are the same quality platters that we sell to our high end weddings,  anniversary parties, and even corporate affairs, but the prices are so fair that they fit even a moderate budget designed for a relaxing weekend football bash. And you still get all the gourmet treatment that your get together deserves, and we don’t look like the deli you used to go to…

So, if this Saturday or Sunday is the weekend to invite your friends over to see who’s team is number one, it looks like it’s time for you to call the Litchfield Saltwater Grille and speak to Brett or Chef Albert and plan a great party with us doing the work and you enjoying the game. Call now and mention that you have read this blog and receive a 10 % discount on your order. 860-567-4900    ……GO GIANTS!!!

Albe Galotta, SWG Chef