connecticut food & farm, summer 2016, issue 5

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Connecticut comes alive in the summer time; in this issue of CT Food and Farm Magazine, we celebrate the iconic CT features that make this season in this place so remarkable. Enjoy the nostalgia of the countrys oldest fair; get inspired by some of the States trailblazers and their worthy causes. Learn about the benefits of cooperative kitchens and the crucial role a large animal veterinarian plays in this lives of farmers. Travel from New Haven, to Hartford, to the Litchfield Hills for artisan coffee, Prohibition-Era cocktails, and the most decadent dairy in CT.


  • 4 A Partnership in Pastry: Mystic's new SIFT Bakeryby laura graham

    16 Oldest fair in the U.S.: Brooklyn Fairby Winter Caplanson

    40 To Those who enjoy snug club roomsby KellEy Citroni

    48 Love at Largeby Jessica Giordani


    70 Arethusa Benvenuti in paradiso by Hilary adorno

    82 The Jitter bus: calming nerves among new haven food trucksby EL SHERWOOD

    86 beach eats and local treatsby REBECCA HANSEN

    90 community building through farmingby Philip Griffin and Morgan Osborn

    102 CLick: community cooperativeby Michelle Firestone

    108 Contributors

    VOLUMESummer Contents 2016

    Photo Winter Caplanson

  • 4 CT Food & Farm / Summer 2016

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    exudes the kind of physical and personal energy that one would expect from a presidential candidate. Or rather, the kind it takes to embark on an entrepreneurial enterprise that requires working 130 hour weeks, one after another, after another. It is the effort required to make magic happen. At SIFT, Young's new bakery in downtown Mystic, magic happens.

    If you seek the mundane, look elsewhere. From savory to sweet, each offering takes not one, but two steps beyond expectation. Exquisite loaves of bread, sandwiches, brownies, cookies, cakes, macarons and chocolates are created with an inspired twist.You cannot leave this bakery without something truly special in your hands.

    SIFT's opening has been overwhelmingly successful. Chef Young and his team had hoped for one thousand customers the first week; instead, they got several thousand! Mother's Day found the bakery packed with an enormous line out the door. When I arrive the following week, the shop is bustling, yet spotless, and perfectly organized.

    Chef Adam grew up on a dairy farm in Vermont where long hours and hard work were the norm. His parents were the first in a series of mentors; he speaks with respect about those who taught him, and about the importance of establishing credentials. Entering the workforce as a dishwasher at a local restaurant in his hometown, Young worked his way up though the kitchen and then enrolled in the New England Culinary Institute at age 17. From there, he cooked in a series of fine dining restaurants; Chef Adam first honed his pastry skills in New Orleans under the mentorship of French Master Chef Ren Bajeux at Rene Bistro, and Pastry Chef Joy Jessup at La Cte Brasserie. His next step Head Pastry Chef at Quail Valley Golf and River Club in Vero Beach, Florida under the direction of Chef Jose Faria. In 2010, Chef Adam returned to New England to work as Executive Pastry Chef at Ocean House in Watch Hill, Rhode Island.

    Chefby Laura Graham

    photographs by Anna Sawin

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    When I arrive at SIFT, he is consulting with bride from New York on her wedding cake. Recently married himself (he met his wife Ebbie at Ocean House), he speaks with patience and understanding, assisting the bride in formulating her vision. Adam presents a selection of cakes and pastries for both the bride and her mother to sample. When they ask if he could create a cake for 150 people, he humbly replies that he handled weddings for 1,000 guests at Ocean House.

    With gleaming stainless steel, glossy, white-painted surfaces, and large plate glass windows, SIFT is a showcase of product and process. The interior is American in feel, yet the pastries, presented on white ceramic platters, are decidedly European. The confections are as much about innovative presentation as they are taste. As customers make their purchases, each item is lovingly packaged on its own. I chat with the four friendly women working behind the counter, and they tell me that in addition to Chef Young, there are seven bakers in the kitchen, and 18 front-of-house employees. SIFT is open seven days per week, 7:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m., but baking begins at 2:00 a.m. I get the impression that they never really close.

    Originally Chef Adam and Ebbie thought SIFT would be a primarily wholesale operation. The retail space is compact, adding to the European feel. With only a couple of places to actually sit, SIFT was not designed as a place to linger. Adam tells me that his vision was for customers to go out and enjoy the beautiful town of Mystic to take his pastries to the park near the river, or eat while strolling through downtown or the nearby Mystic Seaport. SIFT's retail is so popular though, that it has now become a priority. Chef Adam and Ebbie plan to add awnings and outdoor seating right away.

    Ebbie and and Stella the couples two-month old daughter come to join us. Ebbie shares how things materialized between her and Adam personally and professionally. "It was kind of hard at first, because we worked together at Ocean House, and it didn't seem professional to be in a relationship at work; but, Adam was persistent!" The idea of SIFT evolved as their relationship did.

    To say the least, it is a big step to go from a regular paycheck to your own bricks-and-mortar place and a team of employees (and the payroll that comes with it). Adam and Ebbie talk about the process: finding the right piece of real estate (with the help of local realtor Judi Caracausa); looking for investors; and finding a way to finance it themselves through local Chelsea Groton Bank. Adam used Business Plan Pro software to draft a business plan which he used to present to the Bank and potential investors. The process took several months; now, the business plan helps in the daily running of the business.

    With gleaming stainless steel,

    glossy, white- painted surfaces,

    and large plate glass windows,

    SIFT is a showcase

    of product and process.

  • 8 CT Food & Farm / Summer 2016

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    Gorgeous Vegetable Quiches made with asparagus, spinach, shallots, garlic, and local chevre from Beltane Farm in Lebanon.

  • Traditional brioche dough - equal parts dough and butter - is used as the base for SIFTs sinful Pecan Sticky Buns with Salted Toffee.

  • 12 CT Food & Farm / Summer 2016

    Flaky Almond Croissants baked with slivered almonds, split in half, and

    piped with almond mousse.

    Milk Chocolate Hazelnut Orange Blossom Crme Brle Entremet with a Micro Hazelnut Macaron and Tempered Chocolate Garnish.

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    Every bite of Pain dEpi maintains its crunch and is ideal for dipping in soup.

  • 14 CT Food & Farm / Summer 2016

    Ebbie explains that Adam completed a lions share of the physical construction, from laying the tile floor to hanging sheet rock. He designed the interior himself, and she helped him select some of the colors, which reflect the cool nautical tones of a New England seaport. Adams goal was to make the baking process as accessible as possible to the consumer. From both the retail space and the exterior, customers can look through large plate glass windows, right into the kitchen, and watch the bakers at work. There are so many panes, you can peer through the entire building from front to back to see sun light glinting off the water of the Mystic River.

    A woman comes into the shop and greets Adam like a close friend. She is a former student of his from when he taught holiday baking classes at Ocean House. Adam tells me how much he enjoys teaching. Once you master a skill, giving back to the community by passing that knowledge along is the right thing to do. When he worked in Florida, Adam donated teaching time to Daisy's Bakery, an organization that works with kids from at-risk backgrounds. Now that he is the owner of his own business, he discusses the importance of mentoring employees so they have something to take away from their job, beside a paycheck. To keep things interesting, he and his team create at least one new product for the store each day.

    Given their current work load with a brand new business and baby it seems almost cruel to ask, but I cant help it. "Future plans?" Adam gives me a huge grin. "A large wholesale business? A commissary kitchen? A cooking school? Ebbie arches an eyebrow at him and then laughs.

    Personally, I have no doubt whatever their endeavors, these two will pull it off.

    Adam tells me that his vision was for customers to go out and enjoy the beautiful town of Mystic to take his pastries to the park near the river, or eat while strolling through downtown or the nearby Mystic Seaport.

    SIFT Bake Shop is located at 5 Water Street, Mystic, CT (860) 245-0541 /

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  • Written and Photographed by Winter Caplanson

  • 18 CT Food & Farm / Summer 2016

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    he Brooklyn Fair is the oldest agricultural fair in the country, and while that claim to fame might be a good bit of trivia, lead organizer Sandy Eggers couldnt care less.That doesnt matter to me. If the farmers who started the Fair thought we were caught up in trying to portray what they were, theyd laugh. Theyd want the Fair to be current. And thats what we want: to show how agriculture remains a big part of our lives.The event is run by the Windham County Agricultural Society, of which Eggers is president.Though fair-goers can ride the Ferris Wheel and eat a deep-fat-fried Oreo, Brooklyn remains at its core an agricultural fair, not a carnival. The 1809 charter defined the Fairs goal to be the promotion of agriculture and domestic manufacture.In the show rings, youll see working steers, sheep, and dairy cows being assessed, using standardized procedures, by judges