Ballou?s Wine Bar revolves around three prized delicacies: chocolate, wine, and coffee. From those staples, dozens of indulgent dishes ensue, including chocolate, Nutella, and peanut-butter-chocolate fondues and homemade truffles developed by Debbie, half of the husband-and-wife team that runs Ballou?s. Her chocolate fondue and homemade truffles are so deliciously decadent that they?ve earned the wine bar a spot on the Best of New Haven Reader?s Poll list for best desserts. In addition to rich desserts and froth-capped cups of cappuccino, guests can order wines from local and international vineyards, as well as a wide selection of pastas, sandwiches, and flat breads.
SBC Restaurant & Brewery lines up an inviting smorgasbord of comfort food to be devoured alongside an arsenal of brewed on-site beers. Take in the expanse of the appetite-assassinating lunch menu (served from 11:30 a.m.–3 p.m.) and try not to set off the fire alarms while your head smokes with indecision before easing yourself in with the SBC calamari, which comes prepared three ways: crispy with marinara and rémoulade, fried with hot peppers and artichoke hearts, and sticky with a sweet chili Sriracha glaze ($6.99). Follow that up with the crispy chicken salad, festooned with mandarin oranges, grape tomatoes, gorgonzola, and honey white balsamic vinaigrette ($12.99), or the margherita pizza topped with sliced fresh tomatoes, garlic, mozzarella and basil ($10). SBC burgers are 8 ounces of natural custom-quality beef served on a handmade roll and topped with american, provolone, cheddar, swiss, fontina, or mozzarella cheese ($7.99).
Named for a small archipelago off the Branford coast, Thimble Island Brewing Company began with the home-brewed concoctions of Connecticut Natives Justin Gargano and Mike Fawcett. Though they lacked formal training, the duo tirelessly spent nights and weekends tinkering with their recipes until they sold their first pint of American Ale to KC's Pub in Guilford. Today, American Ale is one of the brewery's three mainstay beers, which Justin and Mike craft along with specialty batches such as a dark pumpkin porter. The twosome keeps four beers on tap at Thimble Island's tasting room, where visitors can drop in to fill up a growler, buy a t-shirt, or take a tour. Outside the brewery, Justin and Mike's beers grace many local establishments, including pubs and grocery stores.
Stephanie O, the charismatic celebrity talk show host on Long Island's News Radio 103.9, has teamed up with Clear Vision Productions to host smashing events along the Atlantic coast. Backed by a combination of national and local vendors, each event features amenities such as food and drink samples, top-shelf entertainment, and celebrity appearances in VIP areas. Guests are also treated to red carpet photos and interviews before being sent home with goodie bags and other surprises.
At The Wine Press, aficionados crush, press, rack, and bottle their own brand of wine. Overseen by the shop's staff, amateur winemakers craft their silky reds with the same process as modern-day wineries. Through this process, they learn how much time and care goes into winemaking. They can produce varietals such as sangiovese or pinot noir or create hybrids such as a cabernet-merlot or a sentient pinot-human. To show off the possibilities of winemaking at their facility, The Wine Press also leads guided tours and wine tastings during the summer months.
Presented by Valley Discount Wine & Liquor, Hoptoberfest lets taste buds loose on a bounty of frothy pours. As many as 130 beers and a smattering of spirits anoint tasting glasses, letting beer connoisseurs expand their palates wider than that of a whale sommelier. A selection of food complements the diverse brews, and attendees can sit and listen or get up and groove while live bands electrify the air with popular tunes. All proceeds from the festival benefit the Seymour Ambulance Association and Ansonia Civil Defense Rescue Association.