Tag Archives: jasper white

New Friends – One of Blogging’s Infinity Benefits

Please take a moment to vote for me (up to 10 times…a day…) in round one of the Hartford Courant 2012 Websters for CT’s Best Blogs! I’m nominated for Best Overall Blog, Best Health Blog, Best Food Blog, and Best Social Media Account! Thank you to those who nominated me, and voting for round one closes this Friday 3/30 at 11:59PM EST.

I have been feeling so grateful lately for the friends that this blog has brought me. I tried out Tisane on Monday night with a found-through-Twitter friend Olivia, and am going to Cuvee this Thursday for drinks with Amanda, who I met through Twitter after I started mentioning La Petite France on the blog (she does PR for them). I’ve hung out with Bethany several times, both at her adorable apartment and at some amazing Corey Wry restaurants in Manchester. This sounds cheesy, but it’s SO hard to meet new people after graduating college and starting work. My co-workers are great, but I work at a small company. I’ve met everyone – in fact, I met them all within my first week! And I am always up for meeting NEW people. The problem is that I can only meet so many at work, and even at class.

Salted edamame, edamame hummus, veggies, and wonton chips that Oliva and I enjoyed at Tisane!

I’ve met Jasper White, the founder and owner of a restaurant that I love, the Summer Shack. I’ve been shown the hottest spots in Boston by Ken of Pete & Gerry’s after finding out about their heirloom eggs and sampling custard that used them at the Mohegan Sun WineFest.

And of course on that Boston trip I also met Heather for the first time! She has proven to be a true friend (who shares my brain) and even came to stay with me a couple of weeks ago for an evening. I can’t wait to visit her next!

FitFluential Ambassadors ready for dinner – in lace tops, totally unplanned.

Lovely lady after our walk/run through my town. She adored my favorite cafe, Daybreak!

You can read Heather’s two recaps of our time together here and here!

Heather elected to sip on black Snickerdoodle coffee with her Wildflour vegan spinach and mushroom scone.

I went for coffee with a splash of steamed skim and a rosemary and caramelized onion scone that Heather’s manfriend, Matty, was nice enough to pick out for me!

Yup, definitely two peas in a pod. We couldn’t let our time together go by without getting our sweat on either! I reintroduced Heather to a machine she hadn’t done in awhile, my go-to StepMill.

Because taking phone pics in the gym is completely normal.

Another blogger I’ve found a lot in common with is Kelly B. of Cupcake Kelly’s! She and her family play music in and volunteer at the same Greek Festival that my best friend Lidia and I attend every single summer. She married into a Greek family and, just like me, adores their food (well, except the moussaka – Kelly, let’s work on that! ;-)) and especially their desserts (she is Cupcake Kelly after all).

Where am I going with this? Well, a Greek baptism took place in Kelly’s family, and she generously offered to send me some of the leftover Greek desserts from the baptismal celebrations! I was blown away by her generosity. It means so much to me when someone offers to do something for me that I know they understand I will appreciate. People being thoughtful just makes me happy 🙂

These photos don’t do the treats justice because they’re still in their labeled bags, but I wanted you all to see the names written out! Most of the desserts were new to me, which made me very psyched. The melomakarona (above left) tasted similar to gingerbread. I used good old Wikipedia to discover that it’s usually made with cinnamon, which explained the gingerbread-like taste! The kourabiethes (above right) were covered in powdered sugar! They’re made with almonds and even sometimes brandy 😉

I bet a lot of you are familiar with baklava, a very rich but very amazing dessert that is made with layers of filo pastry and chopped nuts. It’s often sweetened with honey, and even my ridiculously pickly little brother, who usually won’t even touch anything that looks the least bit interesting (that’s my wording, not his), really liked it. I shared some with my dad too, the newfound Greek food fan.

The cookie above tasted similar to shortbread cookies to me. More specifically, Girl Scout shortbread!

Yup, as you can see, I ‘m pretty damn lucky to have not only started this blog, but met so many amazing people as a result. I’m feeling particularly grateful for that today, so I wanted to share those feelings with all of you, and ask this:

What is an unexpected benefit that blogging or reading blogs has brought you?

Mohegan Sun WineFest: The Oyster Open

Finally, we’ve got the last recap of the Mohegan Sun WineFest! In case you missed it, I’ve already recapped both the food and the drinks I tried.

More specifically, this post is about an event I mentioned in my lead-up post, the 8th Annual Mohegan Sun Oyster Open. I was fortunate enough to meet Chef Jasper White of Jasper White’s Summer Shack during my last trip to Mohegan, and he told me this event was one that I would not want to miss. I found him at the WineFest, and he was kind enough to help me out by telling me more about the competition. He also helped me get as close as possible to the stage – and even ON the stage at one point – so that I could get some great photos!

Jasper kicked off the event and thanked everyone for coming out. I had no idea that so much went into just getting a chance to compete in the Oyster Open – after all, first prize was $5,000! All competitors (a couple were from Mohegan’s Summer Shack restaurant location) had to qualify and have a history of winning past, smaller competitions.

The MC explained to us that oyster shucking competitions are not just about speed – presentation also matters! Competitors could gain or lose points based on of the quality of the shucking job, which was demonstrated when the judges performed tests like checking to see how easily the oyster meat disconnected from the shell.

Before the first round got going, the newest judge, William “Chopper” Young, who has dominated the last several competitions, accepted a Hall of Fame Award for his achievements in oyster shucking. Chopper won the World Championship in Ireland two years ago. This is the most prestigious oyster shucking event in the entire world!

Soon it was time for the competition to get under way. The competitors stood poised, hands up, ready to be told they could start.


At this point, Jasper helped me out by getting me close enough to get some great shots of one of his restaurants’ oyster shucking chefs in action. It’s amazing what these guys can do!

The chef pictured above is Eladio Jadiria, a Boston Summer Shack shucker. He ended up placing 4th, but has been winning every Boston competition for the last several years!

Once time was up (some finished before that), all candidates raised their hands in the air again, and the judges took the trays away to be analyzed for shucking quality.

Another kind of competition took place while the judges did their work – a beer shucking contest! That’s right, who can open a case of beer the quickest? Best of all, the audience received the opened bottles after the contest was over!

Jasper and I were rooting for one of Mohegan Sun’s own, a bartender at Ultra 88 nightclub. Unfortunately she did not win, but the competition was sure fun to watch. The energy was great!

The judging was certainly thorough! There was still one more round to go, but the first round scores were still crucial.

At this point, I realized it was 4:47PM (the Fest closed at 5PM) and I had about 10 food tokens left. I bid Jasper goodbye and went off in search of places to spend them, so I did not catch the next round.

However, I found out that the winner ended up being George “Hannibal” Hastings of Virginia. He is a national champion at least two times over, and has competed at the World Championship in Ireland!

The Sun WineFest Facebook page has more great photos up from the entire weekend, including photos from the last round of the competition that I missed out on.

It was a fantastic way to end my trip to the Sun WineFest. Thank you so much to Jasper White for helping me make this the best post possible!

Have you ever heard of oyster shucking competitions? I honestly had no idea this sport existed until I read about it before the WineFest!