Governor’s Inauguration Ball: A Festive Taste of Connecticut

Kristin L. Wolfe

It was a winter wonderland celebration for Ned Lamont last Wednesday night, January 9, 2019, who was elected the 89th governor of Connecticut. There was certainly a lot of pomp and circumstance kicked off by a procession of the color guard, and Lamont’s family at center stage in Hartford’s Convention Center under the glowing light of silver, blue, and white birch branches, some even suspended from the ceiling. The music was pumping from a Jimi Hendrix Cover band, who featured Senator George Logan of Ansonia, and Joe Scarborough  of “Morning Joe,” attending the celebration with his new wife and colleague Mika Brzezinski. Christopher Meloni of “Law and Order” and a New Milford resident, emceed the event and partied along with about 2,000 guests, who all rocked out to a Hendrix version of “Star Spangled Banner” and the always strangely popular, “Play That Music White Boy.” But, amidst the flowing gowns and wintery glow of the chandeliers, the very sparkly things that normally distract me--for my three readers who are paying attention-- I was on a race to dip into the numerous tasty vendors there to flavor the occasion.


Andy Pforzheimer, Chairman and co-founder of Barteca, along with his skillful team, including Helen Haberman, event and catering manager,  Adam Halberg, President of Barcelona Wine Bar, and marketing and branding professional Janice Orefice Dehn, helped to coordinate the special event with the Governor's office. They were able to amass a selection of some of the finest restaurants, vintners, brewers, bakers, etc.,  from all over the state, including such luminaries as Tyler Anderson, Bun Lai, and Bill Taibe, to name a few. It was quite a tasty feat.


Here’s a list of the incredible places who delivered some really memorable, delicious bites or drinks for the evening.

Food Chef/Rep
Arethusa al Tavola Dan Magill
Aux Delices Tony Calandro
Bar Americain Tim Mueller, Mariglen Hysoll
Barcelona Wine Bar Anthony Camilleri
Bernard's and Sarah's Wine Bar Barnard and Sarah Bouissou
Grant’s Restaurant & Bar Corey and Melissa Cannon,  Michelle McMahon
Restaurant Bricco
Bricco Trattoria of Glastonbury

Cafemantic Jonathan Hudak
Cavey’s Steve Cavagnaro, Greg Janus
Chef Prasad Indian Kitchen Prasad Chirnomula
Craig's Kitchen Craig Wright
Gaudi Tapas and Wine Juan Flores
Golden Dragon Edward Allen, Mike Yaffe
Himalaya Cafe Deepak Sanap
Jesup Hall/For the Food Bill Taibe, Anthony Kostelis
Match/Match Burger Lobster Matt Storch
Nomeez/Match Taco 

Max Downtown Chris Sheehan
Millwrights Restaurant and Tavern Tyler Anderson, Ed Jones, AJ Aurrichio
Porron and Pina
Miya's Sushi Bun Lai
ON20 Jesse Powers
Osa Michael Denisiewiscz
Oyster Club/Grass and Bone Daniel Meiser, Charles Larkin, James Wyman
Engine Room
Present Company Jeffrey Lizotte
River Tavern             Jonathan Rapp, Thomas Peterlik, Kathy Stephenson

Sayulita Daniel Stevens, Alex Pepe
Shell and Bones Arturo Franco Camacho
Shu Restaurant Xinyu Huang
South End Nick Martschenko
Swyft Joel Viehland
Super Duper Weenie Gary Zemola, John Pellegrino
TEFF: Eritrean and Ethiopian Cuisine Hadas Mengesha
The Cook and the Bear Tyler Anderson, Ed Jones, AJ Aurrichio
Tuscany Shaun Houle
Union League Jean Pierre Vuillermet
Vue 24 Edward Allen, Mike Yaffe
Zohara Mediterranean Kitchen Dorjan Puka, Scott Miller


Black Hog Brewing Company Tom and Jason Sobocinski
Chamard Vineyards, Inc. Farm, Kristen Parsons, Jim Messier, Carianne Lirot
Winery & Bistro

Counterweight Brewing Matt Westfall, Niki Ellis
Gouveia Vineyards Joseph Gouveia
Hopkins Vineyard Hilary Hopkins Criollo, Jorge Criollo
Litchfield Distillery Jack Baker David Baker Peter Baker
New England Brewing Co Jesse Springer, Rob and Mara Leonard
Sharpe Hill Kate and Tommy Beggs
Spring Hill Vineyard Ben Sterry, Eric Quist, John Bourdeau
Sunset Meadow Vineyards George Motel, Judy Motel, Christopher Chichester
The Beer'd Brewing Co. Aaron Simoncini, Precious Putnam
Two Roads Brewing  Company Brad Hittle, Collin Kennedy
Waypoint Spirits John Taylor, Doug Bowie, Khalid Williams
Westford Hill Louis Chatey
Willimantic Brewing Co. Doug Owens

Beach Donut Shop Ted Powaleny
Knipschildt Chocolatier Fritz Knipschildt
NoRA Cupcake Company Carrie Carella

SoNo Baking Co. John Baricelli
Sweet Maria’s Maria Bruscino Sanchez
Thorncrest Farm, Milk House Chocolates  Kimberly Thorn, Lyndon Thorn, Clint Thorn 


Complements x Caseus Jason and  Sylvia Sobocinski
From Atticus: Charlie Negaro, Jr
From Bantam Bread: Niles Golovin, Amanda Golovin, Matt Kirshner, Brian Lance

Although it is impossible to name just a few, as I so happily tasted many wonderful things, here’s just a sampling of some of the bites or sips that knocked my socks off:

Hats off to some of the Connecticut food industry new kids on the block. You rocked it with flavor:

--Guadi Tapas & Wine: “Las Ramblas” hanger steak, was a kapow of flavor and incredibly tender
--Himalaya Cafe: Chana Saag; one of those delicious bites wherein even meat eaters like me do not miss the meat; it was savory, creamy, and just spicy enough to feel heroic.
--Craig’s Kitchen: Oxtail, Mac & Cheese, Collards, and Yams; I was ready for seconds after the first bite.

Other Standouts:

--I could have stolen the tray of orzo risotto while politely chatting with Mr. Tyler Anderson at Millwright’s table.
--Super Duper Weenie, I’m not even a hot dog person, but after two bites of the New Englander, I was waving the weenie flag as its newest fan.

--The Golden Dragon’s steamed duck bun was generous, tender, and in the softest pillow of goodness.

--and after so much tasting, especially heavier fare, Jesup Hall’s bright, light citrus salad gave me a reason to jig.

--oh, Hadas, are you listening? The aroma alone of the spices from TEFF’s Eritrean and Ethiopian Cuisine was bewitching, even my eardrums tingled.

BUT, if I had to announce just one bite that made me cock my head and yearn for more…It was The Cook and the Bear’s Smoked Salmon Deviled Egg with Everything Spice. It was seriously everything you want in an everything bagel but in two bites; it was so smoky, delicious, yet without the heft or guilt from a carby bagel just sitting on the floor of your belly.


I’m a bit of a lightweight drinker, calling myself a sipper at best, so my list of boozish is shorter. But, after trying the featured drink of the night, the Lamont Family Skinny Margarita, I was sucked into the Governor’s Cup Cocktail with apple brandy from Westford Hill. It was just tangy and sweet enough with a good kick of booze, just in case you thought it was dessert. Then, to my surprise, was it the logo or the drink, I was floored by the Midnight Oil from The Beer’d Brewing Company. It was so deep and dark with full flavor, and yet not so heavy I felt overwhelmed

Connecticut got a new governor and I added a few pounds, yet again, albeit with a smile painted across my face.

Our state’s got it goin’ on, People… go forth and taste.