One question I commonly receive by querulous passersby on the road is, “Foodette, what did you do before you were a food writer?” they say, their eyes quivering with the anticipated thoughtful brevity of my response. “Before your brilliance was unleashed upon the masses, what was your life like?” they utter, fingering my fine dress shirt and sniffing my potent, curated combination of Comme des Garcons and Diptyque.
“Well,” I tell them, exuding pure swag,
“I was a baby.”
This baby. But what you might not know is that I was born very, very prematurely- at approximately 24 weeks gestation. I celebrate my birthday on September 27th every year…three months and eighteen days before my actual due date, January 15th. In true form, I pioneered showing up early to everything. Birth included. I weighed 1 lb, 12 ounces at birth, and according to my parents, I lost the 12 ounces that next day, a feat which I have since been unable to replicate. I was in the hospital until mid-December, after multiple exams, tests, a spinal tap, and incubating sessions. Miraculously, I wound up relatively unscathed, free of birth defects or brain trauma.
I grew up with these circumstances constantly lingering at the back of my mind, the result of being slightly older than my classmates, and making yearly trips to Yale for examinations and MRIs as part of a study I was involved in. My mom and I still keep in touch with some of my nurses from NICU. Nearly half a million premature babies are born each year, and costs more than $26 billion a year in delivery, hospital, and service fees. The March of Dimes is working to address the issue of premature birth and seeks to improve care for moms and babies with their Prematurity Campaign, among other noteworthy campaigns in their organization. Last night, I was invited to their 75th Anniversary and Signature Chef’s Auction in Simsbury, Connecticut, to help celebrate the cause and the 75 years of work they have done to support it. As something I personally benefited from as an infant, it was so gratifying to be able to give back and help cover the event.
It was a wonderful event- seventeen food vendors came and cooked some scrumptious, autumnal plates. I took Piper and we perused the selection, meeting up with lovely blogger Caitlin of Cait Plus Ate, and enjoyed a fantastic, formal evening. If you follow my Instagram, foodettereviews, regular readers know I suited up famously for the event.
My favorite selection of the evening came from Craftsteak, in Foxwoods. They served up a massive, medium-rare slice of roast Wagyu beef topped with whipped sweet potatoes, scallions, and chipotle hazelnuts atop creamy pumpkin risotto. Coincidentally, this was the only decent photo I took of the evening! The lighting was very low, and purple, the official color of the March of Dimes, festive, but very difficult to get bright or non-psychedelicesque photos.
Brio made pasta a la vodka, with a ravioli-esque twist. Piper approved of this plate.
Rizzuto’s made two types of pasta, an aglonotti pasta with mascarpone, biscotti crumbs, and toasted hazelnuts in a brown butter sauce. Admittedly, I ate this one, and paid for it later when I fell asleep at ten on the dot. It was marvelous, though I wish it had been a little warmer. They also served a classic pasta bolognese with homemade ricotta- I snuck a scoop of the latter and couldn’t stop eating it. (Again, I’m inclined to apologize for the photos- I really tried!)
The March-tini was also tempting, with fresh limes, Cointreau and a few other fun ingredients. I was too busy poking around for snacks that I missed out!
We also checked out the silent auction, filled with wonderful gift baskets, food and wine treats, real swords, and destination packages.
After our break, we went back to grab more food. Another stellar dish, Bricco’s roasted pork with squash risotto, scallions, Parmesan cheese, and sweet cranberries and blueberries knocked it out of the park.
The Pond House Grille, my neighbors near law school, presented ‘scallops and sticks,’ a crispy-crunchy combo of a beautifully seared scallop with crispy potatoes and a spicy-sweet coleslaw.
We capped off our savory dishes with Red Lantern’s sushi- they just arrived at Foxwoods, and I was pleased to get a sneak preview of what I’ll be trying next week at a media dinner! The spicy salmon roll, with sesame seeds and a hot kick, was my favorite, but the carne asada Philly roll from the Scorpion Bar, also at Foxwoods, was a close second.
Our amuse bouche and dessert were gulped down simultaneously- butternut squash bisque and a sweet, perfectly-sized banana pudding shot from Taste by Spellbound, each sweet and slightly savory.
Taste had so many desserts to choose from that it was hard to pick which one I wanted!
Unequivocally, our other favorite treat of the night was the coffee from Omar Roasting. Piper had a cappuccino with cinnamon and I went for an espresso. Both were extremely nuanced and rich in flavor.
It was a wonderful evening, and I was glad to go out to support the babies. And check out those adorable favors! If you’re interested in donating to the March of Dimes, just click here. It’s a really marvelous organization and I was proud to be there to cover their event.
Disclosure: The March of Dimes gave me and a friend tickets to this event, but all thoughts and opinions are my own, and yes, I really am a March of Dimes baby, just like the one in the photo, except blonde and female and cuter.