a december weekend

After attending  just one holiday party under Friday night’s light dusting of snow, we geared up for a weekend visitor. My cousin (Hawaii native & BU student) Brent boarded Amtrak for some Connecticut R&R.

First stop: The Griswold Inn. Funny how even on a bright and sunny day I didn’t mind ducking into this dark, classic New England dining room. This spot is good enough for a Mad Men weekend away (according to Henry Francis), but we just popped in for lunch. This inn has been around much longer than the 1960s. The Gris opened it’s doors in 1776!

The Gris is right in the heart of Essex, CT. This little village is filled with small shops (I did a little Christmas shopping) and colonial charm.

Essex is located on the banks of the Connecticut River. As you stroll through down Main Street, you’re never far from the water.

We had to skip our last stop at the Black Seal. December in Connecticut means the sun is starting to set at 4 PM. Knowing Sunday would be a rainy deluge, the three of us hurried over to Treat Farm in Orange to pick up our tree.  We thought this would be a speedy undertaking, but our tagged tree was GONE! Just a distant memory and a fresh-cut stump in the ground.  So we wandered the field, in the increasing shadows, looking for a new candidate. This ‘second place’ conifer is still resting in the garage. In our rush to beat nightfall, I hope our hasty selection doesn’t turn to pure regret when the tree takes center stage in the living room.

After all that running around on Saturday, we were happy to settle in for dinner at home. Earlier in the day, we had happily stumbled upon Cliff’s Quality Meats in Ivoryton, CT. Three 3 filet mignons later, we were back on the road counting our good fortune to discover a butcher shop on the way back to I-95! What was on the menu? Steak au poivre.

A few weeks ago we watched Alton Brown prepare that very dish on Good Eats. D was confident he could ignite cognac without burning down our kitchen. I’m sure I sound a little paranoid, but a small stove-top fire once took out the entire kitchen in my childhood home! I stood back at a healthy distance with my camera, while Brent was armed with a fire extinguisher.

I’m pleased to report our house is still standing and the steak au poivre was a success.

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  1. A trip to the Gris is always memorable! I can’t say I go there for the food, but the atmosphere is so inviting. Speaking of CT River Valley… is the Gelston House still open!? I am dreaming of a summer day at the riverfront beer garden.

  2. My wife and I absolutely adore “the Gris.” Sometimes dinner there can be a bit touch and go, but the ambience is second to none. The Tap Room is like an old friend every time you walk in, my parents stayed in the Garden Suite when we did our Wedding Rehearsal Dinner there. Memories abound.

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