saltwater sommelier

Archive for April, 2010|Monthly archive page

Farm to Table cuisine is the hottest buzz word…

In Sommelier Corner on April 30, 2010 at 6:56 pm

“Farm to Table” cuisine is the hottest buzz word in the restaurant scene right now.  This summer The Litchfield Saltwater Grille will take this trend to a whole new level offering a series of wine dinners at local Connecticut Wineries.  What better to pair with New England’s local seafood, cheeses, and produce than local handcrafted Connecticut wines?

What is totally unique about the wine dinners is that they will actually take place at the winery with the wine maker and chef co hosting the event.  Dining amidst the scenery of the vineyard is a transporting dining experience unlike any other.  At both Miranda Vineyard as well as Sunset Meadow Vineyard wine makers Manny Miranda and George Motel (respectively) will pour wine for guests offering stories as wine makers often do.  And you can bet they most likely hand picked the grapes in the glass of wine you are drinking.

Both dinners will feature fresh local products from New England and particularly Connecticut.  Artisan cheeses from Connecticut’s famed Cato Corner Farm as well as Beltane Farm will be served as well as Sea Scallops from Stonington Connecticut.  Much of the produce will come directly from Chef Albert Clugston III’s personal garden.  Depending on this summers growing season items will include: tomatoes, romaine, cucumbers, zucchini, and Swiss chard to name just a few.  Fingerling potatoes, commonly purple in Connecticut will be used as a sort of canapé base topped with a halibut salad, caviar, and horseradish cream.  Hen of the Wood Mushroom soup sippers are another Litchfield Hills inspired dish on the menu.  Traditional Maine Lobster Rolls, Long Island Blue Point Oysters, Connecticut Trout, and Clam Pie Flatbreads are other menu items featured.

Menus for each event can be viewed online at and people can sign up by calling the restaurant at 860.567.4900.  “A Taste of Summer New England” at Sunset Meadow Vineyards in Goshen will take place on Friday June 4th starting at 6PM.  The event priced at $83 per person features seven food stations and seven wines. “A Connecticut Wine Dinner” will take place at Miranda Vineyard in Goshen on Friday June 25th.  The event is $96 per person and includes five courses, stationary style hors d’oeuvres, and six wines. Go Local!


Oysters, Droplets, and Music…

In The Mount Veeder Blog on April 27, 2010 at 1:07 pm

I was quite fretful on Sunday. True, the last few days had been wonderfully busy, but puffy, gray clouds threatened the patio party’s outdoor launch. Rain drops fell by mid afternoon, and save a handful of people at the bar and two enjoying the warmth by the fire, the restaurant was quiet. But I should have known better.

The musician came to set up around 3:30 p.m., and by 4:00 p.m., the bar was full and more people joined the musician in the main dining room where the raw bar could be seen on the patio. Though many people went outside to see Albe shuck the clams and oysters, they ultimately claimed tables in the lounge and main dining room. As the afternoon faded into evening, the clouds thinned to reveal a few rays of sunshine. Despite being indoors, many costumers were cheered by this.

Towards the end of the night, the musician moved into the lounge where most of the customers remained. Amid requests for songs and some laughs, I found out that his name was Mike and enjoyed his spirited guitar and harmonica playing.

All in all it was a good night. The brisket sandwich was savored by every taster, and the oysters were, as always, a favorite. The new UFO beer was also well received. I overheard the bartender describe it as a cloudy, easy drinker garnished with an orange slice. Given its popularity, I would imagine it will be around through the summer at the very least.

After enjoying the lovely aromas of the party for a while, desserts began to appear. There was banana cream pie and a chocolate peanut butter torte. Even though I could not smell these desserts, they looked magnificent. The latter was very rich and often shared, while the former’s plate was often cleaned within minutes. The fabulous bread pudding with cinnamon and raisins, and a rum caramel sauce was also served.

Though the party was ultimately inside, it was still an enjoyable event. With the progression of days, I have no doubt that the patio will be sunny and host to many people.

Teach your children well…

In Albe's Blog on April 22, 2010 at 9:45 pm

Growing up in my family meant always being around food. It was the vehicle that brought all of us together. Each day would in some way intertwine with food and the kitchen, whether it be a small dinner at home or a Sunday afternoon meal for 18 at my Grandmother’s house. Someone was always in the kitchen preparing something. I enjoyed everything I saw in the kitchen as a young person; I liked the food, the smells, the talk and even the mess. Looking back it seems that my time tasting, talking and helping in the kitchen was a great way to communicate with my elders. Seemingly bolstering our family togetherness, while engaging all of us in a venture where we share skills and information with each other.  Making sure you take this time together is an important lesson to learn, it’s the perfect place for adults and teens to   bond with each other.

Culinary programs across the States offer many different classes and hands on seminars on promoting togetherness through cooking. Bake and Bond with your teenager, something that easily can be started right in your own home with your kids and their friends.   A friendly kitchen is always a welcome treat for all of us, no matter what age. Teaching your children about all that life has to serve up, is easier to swallow with a little home cooking and a friendly place to enjoy it.

Albe Galotta

Wine Dinners in Goshen with a local flare…

In Sommelier Corner on April 21, 2010 at 9:57 pm

Two very special and unique wine dinners are planned for the Saltwater Grille’s line up of special events this summer.  The first is at Sunset Meadow Vineyards in Goshen on Friday June 4th.  This event titled “A Taste of New England,” is a more casual, interactive style wine and food pairing event.  Seven very different themed food stations will be set up for guests to select from an abundance of New England’s signature fare.  Maine lobster rolls, Connecticut farm fresh salads, and local artisan cheeses, to name just a few of the offerings.  Each table will be paired with a Sunset Meadow Vineyard wine.  Chardonnay, Merlot, Cayuga White, and Vidal Blanc are some of the wines that will be served.  Winemaker George Motel will pour as well as offer tasting notes on each wine.

One of the food stations: The Long Island Table will feature dishes inspired by a recent wine trail trip chef Albert Clugston III took to North Fork Long Island.  Sliced duck breast and Montauk tuna will be highlights.  The tuna will be served in the most classic of ways with a seaweed salad, wasabi, and soy, rare.  The meatiest and juiciest of all oysters: Blue Points will be shucked to order and served with signature cocktail sauce and horseradish.  The wine pairing at this table, what I consider to be perfectly fitting: Sunset Meadow Vineyards 2008 Twisted Red.  A blend of the grapes Cabernet, Cabernet Franc, Lemberger, and Chamborcin.  These varietals are also common in Long Island since the climate is somewhat similar to Connecticut being pretty cool with a short growing season. View complete details about the event and how to sign up here…

On Friday June 25th The Litchfield Saltwater Grille will host an elegant five course plated wine pairing dinner at Miranda Vineyard in Goshen.  When you arrive you will welcomed with a stationary local Connecticut Artisan cheese table that will be paired with the wineries Rose.  Cheeses will include Connecticut’s famous Cato Corner farm as well as Beltane Farm.  A baked Connecticut rainbow trout served by Chef Albert Clugston III topped with a Dijon and herb crust and lemon seafood butter is the main course.  Wine maker Manny Miranda will host the event along with wife Maria Miranda, and Sommelier Brett Clugston of the Saltwater Grille.  “The Miranda Chardonnay is the perfect white to pair with trout, a light, flakey, and delicate white fish.  Mr. Miranda has created a full bodied, dry, and structured Chard that certainly has the depth to serve with the main course,” Brett Clugston.

Another exciting course featured at the Miranda Vineyard wine dinner, titled “A Connecticut Wine Dinner” is the Ceviche course.  Stoningtn Connecticut Sea Scallops and Mandarin Shrimp will be tossed with a citrus vinaigrette to create a zesty summer flavor that begs for a crisp white wine.  The Miranda Vineyard Seyval Blanc will be just what you are looking for.  Seyval Blanc is a white varietal often planted on Connecticut vineyards that is comparable to Sauvignon Blanc.  This one in particular has a great minerality, acidity, and beautiful fruit flavors.  You can view the complete menu for the Miranda Vineyard “Connecticut Wine Dinner” here…

Link to Miranda Vineyard Website

Link to Sunset Meadow Vineyards Website

Brett Clugston, SWG Sommelier

Music, Sun, and Fun

In Uncategorized on April 20, 2010 at 3:49 pm

After poking around the restaurant a bit, I found the official patio party menu upstairs in the wine loft. Between the fare and weather, the party is sure to be great. Trees are flowering and budding, the sun is gracing the patio with its presence, and the new offerings as well as the classic favorites are sure to please.

An outdoor barbeque grille will feature smoked steelhead trout, grilled lemon chicken, smoked barbeque brisket, and mesquite grilled mahimahi with pineapple papaya salsa. A homemade potato salad can accompany any meal. In addition to the grilled items, the delightful scent of North Fork baked stuffed clams and lobster rolls will permeate the air. A Connecticut style chop chop salad with garden vegetables, garlic, herbs, and extra virgin olive oil will be available.

If raw bar items are more your speed, the iced outdoor raw bar will be sure to make you smile. Rhode Island little neck clams and Long Island Blue Point oysters will be shucked to order, and shrimp cocktail will be served as well. The delicious chilled seafood salad with shrimp, lobster, scallops, and a sun dried tomato vinaigrette will be made fresh, as always, and is a create side dish for any seafood lover.

To compliment the food, there are a variety of drink specials. Sea breezes, bay breezes, and strawberry margaritas are the drinks of choice for those with a strong sweet tooth. For those who enjoy other drinks, there will be a variety of chilled bottled beers and wines.

Live music will complete the festive atmosphere, and a good time is sure to be had by all. The party is on Sunday April 25th from 3 p.m. until 8 p.m. There is no cover charge and no reservations are required. See you there.

Donald Trump is sending his secretary to The Saltwater Grille for lunch!

In Uncategorized on April 19, 2010 at 6:37 pm

Some emails from some pretty top notch business men slipped into my email box this morning…

“We’d all be overworked and underpaid without you! Enjoy lunch at The Litchfield Saltwater Grille! From your boss Michael Dell”

“The trouble with doing something right the first time is that nobody appreciates how difficult it was. Enjoy lunch at The Litchfield Saltwater Grille!  From your boss Bill Gates”

“As soon as you sit down to a cup of hot coffee, your boss will ask you to do something which will last until the coffee is cold. Enjoy lunch at The Litchfield Saltwater Grille! From your boss Warren Buffett”

Some More quotes:

“Accomplishing the impossible means only that the boss will add it to your regular duties.”
– Secretary Day Quotes by Doug Larson

“My Boss frequently gets lost in thought. That’s because it’s unfamiliar territory.”
—Anonymous (But we are betting this is from a secretary!)

“The first thing the secretary types is the boss.  Enjoy a catered lunch at the office by The Litchfield Saltwater Grille
—Donald Trump

Happy Administrative Professionals Week from The Saltwater Grille enjoy our lunch special Tuesday through Friday at the restaurant available 12 noon until 3PM or order snacks, lunch, or breakfast to be delivered to the office.

From Calistoga to Litchfield…

In Uncategorized on April 15, 2010 at 12:51 am

Some where about 5 years ago, I started enjoying the pleasure of visiting California’s  Napa Valley during the Harvest or Crush season. With the smell of fresh wine grapes permeating the air September and October may just be the most ideal time to visit this area. The days are sunny and warm and the nights are cool and dry making Napa a wonderful place to explore. Moving north towards the Upper Napa Valley I came across a town steeped in history while flourishing with modern wineries and health spas. With only 2.6 square miles of land, Calistoga has the warmth and beauty of a much larger town.  Centrally located between Napa and Sonoma Counties, and noted for its hot springs spas, a local specialty being immersion in hot volcanic ash known as a mud bath, Calistoga remains the historic hot springs resort destination of wine, water and wellness.  Some of Napa’s best Wineries are nestled into the beautiful landscape of this unassuming town.

Small family owned boutique wineries can be found throughout California, with, in my opinion, none more a ‘labor of love’ than the Summers Estate Winery in Calistoga. Owned by Beth and Jim Summers, along with their daughter Andriana and vineyard dog, Lola, Summers Estate Vineyards produces some of California’s Finest and most unique wines. Along with producing such great wines as Zinfandel, Merlot, Chardonnay and Cabernet Sauvignon, the Summers Vineyard prides itself on producing and bottling the largest amount of California’s rare varietal, Charbono, of any single vineyard in California.

Jim, along with his family and helpful staff have been the most gracious hosts to my wife and myself, along with friends, on more than a few visits. Sitting on the patio veranda outside the Summers Estate tasting room, with a view of California’s Old Faithful Geyser on one side and a 500 acre horse farm owned by Joe Montana on the other, has become a must see on every trip. Enjoying a rare glass of Summers Charbono and playing a game of Baci on their court amongst the lush vineyards adds to a lazy afternoon of enjoyment.  Summers Estate Vineyards and all Calistoga has to offer makes any tour of Napa complete.

With the warm weather setting in on the east coast, opening a bottle of the Summers Family Red Zinfandel or Charbono on the Saltwater Grille patio is like revisiting Calistoga all over again. At least that’s the way it felt when last week the SWG had the pleasure of hosting Jim, Beth and Andriana Summers, for a special dinner at the Saltwater Grille in Litchfield. Everyone enjoyed an outstanding East Coast Seafood dinner prepared by Chef Albert paired with some wonderful California wines along with a few stories of the times our paths have crossed.

In appreciation of the Summers family “labor of love”, which has enabled us to offer such wonderful Calistoga wines right here in Litchfield Connecticut I would like to help you enjoy a bottle of their family’s wine. Please print out a copy of this blog and bring it with you for dinner at the Saltwater Grille any Monday night and you may choose any one of the Summers Estate Vineyards wines at a 50% discount.  I am sure you will enjoy this wine so much, even you might think you could be in Calistoga. Offer good thru May 24th 2010  (Valid on Monday Nights only).

Albe Galotta

Daryl Galotta of the SWG at the Summers estate

More on the Summer's Estate

Lovely Luncheon…

In The Mount Veeder Blog, Uncategorized on April 12, 2010 at 9:54 pm

There never seems to be a shortage of activity in the restaurant. A special five course luncheon menu is available this week from noon until three p.m., Tuesday through Friday in honor of Administrative Professionals Week. The meal will start with an amuse bouche chosen daily by the chef followed by chilled gazpacho soup sippers, which will feature cocktail shrimp garnishes. The salad, with an Italian balsamic with herbs, and warm bread with whipped butter will be next. For the main course, there are six options.

There are two special creations for this menu. The first is butterflied shrimp, grape tomato goat cheese risotto, pesto cream, and micro greens. The second is breaded chicken medallions, and heirloom tomato and red onion salad with a balsamic reduction. Restaurant favorites comprise the remaining entrees, like the Saltwater sole, butternut squash ravioli, and Hawaiian Mahimahi. A filet mignon will also be served with goat cheese hash browns, blue cheese fondue, and grilled zucchini.

Tuille strawberries with crème fraiche or French macaroons with chocolate mousse will finish the meal. Coffee and tea will compliment the desserts. I heard that the meal is just $20 and will be available anywhere in the restaurant; even outdoors if the weather is pleasant.

If the above menu does not strike your fancy, the normal lunch menu will also be available. Featuring oysters, clams, and shrimp from our raw bar, Connecticut clam chowder, and a variety of scrumptious starters and entrees, you are sure to find something you will love.

I found the menu for the patio party too. Now all I have to do is remember where I put it. Perhaps I will find it by next week…

Have you heard of a Wordle?

In Uncategorized on April 12, 2010 at 4:43 pm

Wordle: Sunday April 25th Patio Grand Opening Party!

This is a wordle.  Click on it and make it bigger.  It is awesome.  Make your own wordle @

It is a picture of words that are all about the Saltwater Grille’s Patio Grand Opening Party.  Taking place on Sunday April 25th the patio at the Saltwater Grille will scream summer is almost here! Walk up to the iced down raw bar featuring our Blue Point Oysters and Rhode Island Little Neck Clams.  Your order will be freshly shucked by the chef right in front of your eyes.  Smell the steelhead trout being smoked while dining on the alfresco patio.  Relax and order as you please.  Stop by the outdoor bar for a delicious Strawberry Margarita and wander on over to the grille station for an order of Lemon BBQ Chicken.  Lobster Rolls, Stuffed Clams, Potato Salad, Mahimahi, and more!  Bring your friends to enjoy the live music, food, and drink specials.  The party starts at 3PM.  We cant wait for summer to start!  Complete menu and details here…

Brett Clugston, SWG

Pisco: A revolutionary summer refresher…

In Uncategorized on April 11, 2010 at 7:23 pm

Pisco, a brandy that is the main ingredient in Peru’s national drink the Pisco Sour, has been making it’s way onto trendy US cocktail menus as the “Bird” cocktail lately.  Pisco directly translates “bird” in Peru’s Quechua dialect.  Not only that but the word Pisco is found in the name’s of quite a few Peruvian towns such as: Piscohuasi (house of birds) in Ancash, Piscotuna (fruit of birds) in Ayacucho, Piscopampa (panpas of birds in Arequipa), Piscobanba (plain of birds).

The brandy is made from a blend of white grapes grown in Peru’s “Mystical Ica Valley.”  The mystical valley grows asparagus, olives, and grapes. It is also a popular vacation destination.  The Nazca Lines (a series of unexplained patterns that can be viewed from a plane ride) are just one of the reasons the area is referred to as the mystical valley.  Visit this link for more information about Peru’s fascinating Ica Valley at

To make Pisco three white grapes Quebranta, Torontel and Italia are crushed in the old fashioned way by foot.  Next the skins are removed so that the tannins in the skins do not effect the sweetness of the Pisco.  The must of the grapes is then distilled to produce a vegetal, tangy, fruity, herbaceous, spirit called Pisco.

The Saltwater Grille’s new spring cocktail list features “The Green Bird” a cocktail made with mulled sweet peppers, cilantro, and lemon juice that is mixed with Pisco to created a frothy a refreshing drink served on ice.  See the complete new spring cocktail list here…Spring Cocktail List

Brett Clugston, SWG Sommelier