Staycation 2009

When my friend David told me he’d secured a reservation for a trip to the top of the Travelers’ Tower, I had no choice but to invite myself along. This would bring me downtown in the late morning, and since I had plans to be less than a block from there later in the afternoon, I figured I would just spend the time in between downtown.

At eleven we zoomed to the 21st floor. I did not think about the logistics of this. After having walked 2.5 miles to get downtown, the three flights of stairs did not seem so fun. The view was worth the panting. From the street, the tower does not look like it can hold more than two people. We had six people up there, and there was plenty of room for more. I had no luck locating my apartment.

East Hartford

A Vegetarian’s Guide to the Taste of Hartford

I still lament that the days of the true Taste of Hartford have gone. It used to be that you could exchange money for tickets, and then walk along Constitution Plaza, listening to live music and sampling food from a variety of restaurants. You could grab a samosa, slice of chocolate cheesecake, and pierogi, even in that order if you wanted to. Now, the Taste of Hartford is a week-long Prix Fixe menu at over thirty restaurants. This remains a good chance to sample food from restaurants you may have considered too pricey, but really, the experience of a mad dash through adventurous culinary combinations is gone.

Unless you’re a vegetarian, which means that the adventure is merely finding a place that meets your needs. Here are the restaurants with their respective veggie options as advertised especial for the Taste of Hartford. This does not mean that other participating restaurants are completely devoid of meat-free foods, just that they are not offering them at a special price. But vegetarians know that usually, our foodstuffs are cheaper than $20.09 anyway, so it’s not like we’re getting a major meal discount. (more…)

Summer Fun is Brewin’

City Steam Brewery has been my safety net for where to take non-adventurous friends out when in town, since their American cuisine is consistent and reasonably priced. They’ve recently added free movie night (Mondays) to their menu; They are showing Stand By Me on 7/20 and Dirty Dancing on 7/27.

If that weren’t enough to get you to check out the restaurant, this Sunday (7/19) at 7pm, the Sea Tea Improv troupe will be giving a free performance. The troupe consists of:

“School’s Out 4” Summar Elguindy
“Stand-Up Joe” Leonardo
Greg “Pipes” Ludovici
Matt Neufeld AKA MC St. Louis
“Master Julia” Pistell
Dan “Bearded Fury” Russell
Kate “The Cleveland City Steamer” Sidley

The performance will be in the Richardson Room of City Steam Brewery, located at 942 Main Street in Hartford.

A Somewhat Holey Quilt

What would Hartford be like with people on the streets? As Doug Suisman put it, “people attract more people.” A bustling city would seem like a happening place to be. One might even reserve a seat on the MegaBus from Boston to come here. One of the goals of the iQuilt project is to do just this– make Hartford a destination. Yet for those of us who live here, we know that there are people out and about in Hartford– they are just not plentiful downtown. Park Street’s activity was alluded to during the presentation on the evening of June 24th at the Belding Center for the Performing Arts, as was the need for such a downtown project to reach out to the neighborhoods, yet that part of the plan was more talk than design. It’s early still in the process and every idea was clearly up for further discussion. Some of the iQuilt ideas are hope-inducing and would be positive changes; some ideas did not go as far as they needed to and other aspects were ignored altogether. Leaving the forum, I would have felt better had Suisman asked for comments mainly from people whose names he did not already know.

David Fay–President of the Bushnell—explained that two years ago the Bushnell began thinking about a plan for Capitol Avenue, as the center is isolated from much of downtown. The iQuilt project began about six months ago; “up to this point,” Fay said, the project “has been paid for.” They want feedback and public support before an organization is developed to manage the project and move it forward. Getting questions and comments during the public forum should be a start, but not the only effort taken to gather feedback.

The presentation on Wednesday was given by Douglas Suisman, of Santa Monica, whose role as one of the project’s planning principals seemed less of an odd choice upon learning that he grew up in this area. He is the principal of Suisman Urban Design (Los Angeles), which describes its vision and guiding principles this way:

cities are complex human artifacts which evolve over time. We believe that urban design solutions must therefore incorporate a deep understanding of the physical place and a profound respect for its social and cultural fabric. We are committed to broad participation, clear communication, and high quality. We are motivated by a passion for the lived experience of cities.


Satisfying Hunger

The Grow Hartford CSA

The way that Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) usually works is that a household buys a share, and then receives a box of produce weekly (either by picking it up or having it delivered). Sometimes a CSA will have other items like flowers, herbs, cheese, and meat available. Grow Hartford CSA is a project of the Hartford Food System, which has headquarters at 86 Park Street. Food from its three farm sites — located on Zion, Broad, and Laurel Streets — is entirely distributed to Hartford residents. (more…)