Christy Colasurdo Celebrates Connecticut’s Farm Tables

Christy Colasurdo  says her son Charlie was “somehow born to be a farmer and environmentalist.” To ensure that other kids would have a place to learn where their food comes from, how to care for animals, what it means to recycle and compost, and just spend time in nature — Christy got involved with Wakeman Town Farm.

While Charlie apprenticed at local farms, Christy — a former New York magazine editor — began writing about the farm-to-table movement. That led to her launch of Graze (now called The Simple Scallion), a service that delivers milk, eggs and the like from small farms to people’s front doors.

Christy Colasurdo

Christy Colasurdo

Christy admires and respects the endless hours of hard work farmers put in: working the land; handling weather, pests and disease; marketing their products; packing and unpacking wares at farmers’ markets, and (these are not farmers of yore) navigating social media to educate people about good seasonal food.

While getting Graze off the ground, Christy met Tracey Medeiros. She’d just published a book about Vermont’s farm-to-table scene.

Christy described Fairfield County, where fantastic chefs are partnering with local farmers, fishermen, oystermen and honey connoisseurs.

A new book was born. Christy identified restaurants, chefs and farmers, then wrote the profiles. Tracey and a tester tried hundreds of the chefs’ best recipes.

A year and a half later, The Connecticut Farm Table Cookbook is a beautiful homage/culinary travelogue. From Greenwich to Groton, Norwalk to Litchfield, Christy and Tracey tell great stories, using intriguing stories and stunning photos.

And, of course, mouth-watering recipes.

Preparing a recipe at the Westport Farmers' Market. (Photo/Oliver Parini)

Preparing a recipe at the Westport Farmers’ Market. (Photo/Oliver Parini)

Among the local places and recipes:

  • The Whelk and Le Farm (deviled eggs with cornmeal, fried oysters and pickled red onion)
  • Blue Lemon (fresh peach tart)
  • Gilbertie’s Herb Gardens (Brussels sprouts and petite edibles)
  • Saugatuck Craft Butchery (slow-roasted porchetta with cilantro and smoked paprika; dry-aged steak tartare crostini with pickled garden turnips)
  • SoNo Baking Company and Cafe (strawberry frangipane tartlets; caramel-apple tart)
  • Tarry Lodge (rosa bianca eggplant caponata)
  • Terrain (salt-roasted beets with blood oranges, pistachios and goat cheese salad)
  • Westport Farmers’ Market (various vendors)
  • Wakeman Town Farm (chipotle veggie chili)

Christy Colasurdo book“The chef/farmer relationship often goes unheralded,” Christy says. “Yet it’s exponentially more difficult for a chef to source from small local and organic farms and fishermen than from a large commercial supplier.

“It’s a lot easier to let the Sysco truck pull to the back door,” she adds. “Instead, they get out to the farmers’ market. They take ‘field trips’ to local organic farms. They forge old-fashioned relationships with their suppliers that often include bailing out a farmer with too much zucchini or kale, or asking the farmer to plant special crops like Peruvian purple potatoes or Asian specialty greens, just for their restaurants.”

The Connecticut Farm Table Cookbook is available at Terrain and Barnes & Noble. This Thursday, July 9 (10 a.m.) there’s a talk at the Westport Library. At 10:45, Christy and Tracey will stroll over to the Farmers’ Market. Local farmers and vendors featured in the book will be introduced, and Tracey will give a recipe demo using fresh market produce.

Get set for a delightful, delicious day.

You Won’t Believe What Someone Left At Compo Beach Tonight

(Photo/Fred Cantor)

(Photo/Fred Cantor)

Route To The Royals

Westport is known for many things. Producing professional baseball players is not one of them.

So we’ll take full credit for Joey Markus — even though his athletic career in Westport consisted of just a season in Little League.

Joey Markus in Little League...

Joey Markus in Little League…

But the 9th round draft pick of the Kansas City Royals has a decent local pedigree.

His father, Steve Markus, graduated from Staples in 1976, and played baseball and football there.

His mother, Robin Greenhut Markus, was a 1981 grad. She captained both the volleyball and ski teams.

Joey’s academic career in Westport consisted of a few months at Coleytown Elementary School. His family then moved to DeLand, Florida, where he was a power-hitter who played several positions.

Delayed puberty and and growth plate issues in his shoulder hampered his high school career. He coached the high school girls softball team one year; as a senior he was a designated hitter on a team that reached the state finals.

Still, he received a full athletic scholarship from Indian River State College in Fort Pierce, Florida. Last year, he finally pitched. Scouts liked what they saw: 1 6-6 left-hander who throws 91-93 miles an hour.

Joey is playing now for the Burlington Royals, a Rookie-level team in the Appalachian League.

...and as a Burlington Royal.

…and as a Burlington Royal.

 

 

Pulling Into An Actual Parking Spot Is So Overrated

For most Westporters, yesterday evening was a chance to relax just a little bit longer, after a wonderful Independence Day weekend.

One driver though was apparently so stressed, he or she could not be bothered to use a parking space — even though most were empty, in the Saugatuck Craft Butchery/Garelick & Herbs parking lot.

Yes, this is an actual parking job. No, there was no one in the car.

(Photo/Jamie Braun)

(Photo/Jamie Walsh)

Did the driver have an immediate need for ice cream at Saugatuck Sweets? A drink at the Whelk?

Most times, these “entitled parking” photos evoke at least one defender, who points out a legalistic or otherwise morally suspect reason the driver may have parked as he or she did.

No one can dream up an excuse for this one.

Howard Munce Turns 100!

Westport’s famous artists — and Famous Artists School — have come and gone.

The “Mad Men” era — the real 1950s and ’60s ad agency scene, and the TV show celebrating it — are both just memories.

But Howard Munce endures.

Howard Munce, in his 90s. (Photo/Kristen Rasich Fox)

Howard Munce, in his 90s. (Photo/Kristen Rasich Fox)

In a town long known for its great artists, illustrators and painters, he’s a towering figure. Advertising director, graphic designer, sculptor, cartoonist, book author, teacher — and, above all, longtime and beloved civic volunteer — Munce turns 100 on November 27.

The Westport Historical Society — one of the many organizations he’s served so well for so long — has the perfect gift: his own show.

“Howard Munce at 100: A Centennial Celebration” opened June 29. A gala reception is set for this Sunday (July 12, 4-6 p.m.).

Howard Munce at work.

Howard Munce at work.

It’s hard to capture a century of life — and 8 decades of professional work and life in Westport — in the walls of one building. But the WHS tries.

The exhibit is curated by Leonard Everett Fisher, Munce’s longtime friend. In his 90s himself, he’s the perfect choice to organize the show.

There are 2 parts. The Sheffer Gallery showcases Munce’s paintings, drawings, illustrations and sculptures.

The Mollie Donovan Gallery chronicles his Westport connections as a young artist (he first came here in 1935); his military service, when he sent illustrated letters to his Westport artist friend Stevan Dohanos; Munce’s Pulitzer Prize nomination for his essay on the folly of war; his role in a legendary ad campaign for Rheingold beer, and his community involvement.

The exhibit includes documentary films, interviews, photographs by Laurence Untermeyer, and a lenticular photo of Munce by Miggs Burroughs.

It’s dedicated to Munce’s wife Gerry. She died in November, but her memory is vivid to all who knew and loved her.

Howard Munce has worn many hats. (Photo by Brian Ferry for Harry's)

Howard Munce has worn many hats. (Photo by Brian Ferry for Harry’s)

Munce’s resume is beyond impressive. Trained at Pratt Institute, he was a Young & Rubicam art director beginning in the late 1940s — after World War II, when he saw action as a Marine platoon sergeant at Guadalcanal.

Munce is professor emeritus at Paier College of Art; honorary president of the Society of Illustrators in New York City, and an honorary board member of the Westport Arts Center. For over 25 years, he volunteered as graphics director for the Westport Library, and — with Fisher — co-curated the black-and-white drawings by Westport artists in its McManus Room.

But those are facts. Far more important is Munce’s humanity.

Whenever he is asked to help — donating dozens of paintings and illustrations to the Permanent Art Collection; curating exhibits for the WHS; mentoring young artists — he always says “of course.” With a sparkle in his eye, a smile on his face, and a handshake as firm as a 20-year-old’s.

Until a couple of years ago, he clambered up ladders to make sure every exhibit he oversaw was properly hung.

At 99, Howard Munce no longer climbs ladders. Then again, he doesn’t have to.

He long ago reached the top.

BONUS FACT: In 2008, Howard Munce was grand marshal of the Memorial Day parade. Here’s his speech: 

 

Land Of The Free, Home Of The Entitled Lazy Pigs

We all love eating at the Compo Beach pavilion. It’s a wonderful spot, with a beautiful view.

So why don’t some people let everyone else enjoy it too?

Compo Beach 1

The crew at Joey’s does a fantastic job cleaning up. But some folks give them more than they can handle.

Oh, yeah. One more thing.

When your umbrella breaks — or you decide you just don’t want it anymore — get rid of it yourself.

Or at least carry it 10 feet to a trash can.

Compo Beach 2

Well, at least no one can take this from us:

Compo Beach 4

Oh My 06880 — Photo Challenge #27

A wintertime scene did not fool our summertime readers last week. It took Tom Feeley a mere 5 minutes — and Rich Stein just 24 more — to identify our photo challenge: a close-up of Swezey’s Jewelers Christmas display. For years, the scenes of ice skaters, model trains and miniature jewelry delighted Main Street passersby. (Click here for that photo.)

On to this week’s photo challenge:

(Photo/Lynn U. Miller)

(Photo/Lynn U. Miller)

If you think you know where in Westport you’ve seen this dude, click “Comments” below.

 

Independence Day Weekend — In Westport?!

Bill Whitbeck grew up here. His 1st job was cooking burgers at Big Top, where his customers included Paul Newman and Joanne Woodward. Bill also was a huge Mario’s fan.

He moved far away in the late 1970s. But he still lives in Westport.

Bill sent along a few photos, and explains:

“Happy 4th of July from Westport, Washington! A beautiful evening on the Pacific Coast.”

Westport WA 1

Westport WA 3

Westport WA 2

New Driving School Offers Compelling Videos, Cool Simulators And Fresh-Baked Cookies

Across America, high school is marked by certain rites of passage. Some — like Homecoming — are fun. Others (zits) are not.

Then there is driver’s ed.

For decades, it has not changed. Bored instructors cover boring material like braking distances. “Road hours” progress from parking lot practice, to real roads, to highways. Then comes the license, and — 5 or 6 hours later — the first accident.

Just about everything else in education has evolved. Whiteboards replaced blackboards. Kids no longer pass balled-up notes in class; they now send Snapchats. The cafeteria serves sushi, not Sloppy Joes.

Yet driver’s ed remains stalled in the hand-crank era.

A Weston couple, Steve Mochel and Laura Shuler — importantly for this piece, parents of 4 teenage drivers — hope to change all that.

Steve Mochel and Laura Shuler, with a Fresh Green Light car.

Steve Mochel and Laura Shuler, with a Fresh Green Light car.

They left careers in corporate marketing, and founded Fresh Green Light. The company’s mission is to “reinvent the way teenagers learn to drive,” making it “safer, simpler and more fun.”

Their 1st driving school was in Rye, New York. After expanding to 5 towns in Connecticut and 1 in Illinois, they’ve opened a new outlet just a short drive from home: 1362 Post Road East in Westport.

A press release promised “a more modern driver’s education experience that’s more engaging, convenient and more effective for teens and parents today.” Before wadding it up deleting it, I wrote back: “Prove it.”

Mochel and Shuler replied quickly.

They’re “more modern,” they say, because Fresh Green Light uses tablet computers in hybrid cars, providing parents with feedback on their fledgling drivers’ progress. The company also offers tips on what to practice together.

The fleet.

The fleet.

FGL also uses in-car cameras to record lessons, and “coach” their instructors. (Who, by the way, “have experience and passion as teachers, coaches, counselors and tutors.” No more “stereotypical driving instructors.”)

Fresh Green Light says it’s the 1st school in the US to have all instructors trained and certified to work with ADHD students.

They “constantly update the curriculum with video and new clips of current event topics related to driving.” For example, the recent Texas floods demonstrated how to drive in severe rain. Out, apparently, are those memorable training films featuring head-on wrecks and decapitations.

Classrooms have “the latest technology programs and devices for students, in addition to being visually appealing beyond the typical driver’s ed classroom.” Some include simulators that allow students to experience “the real-world outcomes of dangerous driving behaviors without putting them or anyone at risk.”

(To be fair, I’m not sure that traditional driving schools actually do put people at risk.)

A typical non-Fresh Green Light driver's ed scene.

A typical non-Fresh Green Light driver’s ed scene.

All classrooms have flat-screen TVs for videos and “interactive PowerPoint presentations.” Because nothing says engaged learning like PowerPoint!

Oh, yeah: FGL also offers “the best home-baked cookies during class breaks!” Take that, traditional driving schools!

The company surveys graduates 6, 12 and 18 months later. Their students have “75% fewer accidents” than the national average.

Fresh Green Light also features “convenient home pick-up and drop-off, and online scheduling.”

The company has drawn notice from CNN, NBC Nightly News, Money Magazine and Crain’s New York Business, as an innovative small business.

I must admit, I’ve never gotten a press release from a driving school before.

Well, maybe I did. But it probably was so boring, I slept right through it.

Just like most kids at traditional driving schools.

 

 

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What So Proudly We Hail…

Happy 4th of July