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SPOTLIGHT ON CONNECTICUT: We bearly made it...

Before heading out to explore some countryside towns and eateries in Connecticut, we visited family in West Hartford. This dude is not what we were expecting to run into - almost literally - around the corner from their house.

He looked at us like we might become a snack, so we decided not to approach. Are we smart or what? Moving on, quickly, we decided to navigate toward the shoreline town of Westbrook (population 6,914), home of the locally famous Lenny & Joe's Fish Tale restaurant. We set our navigation app to take us on backroads, as we normally do when we're "discovering". Our route took us to and by Lyman Orchard and Market in the small town of Middlefield (population 4,375). What an amazing gem of a place. It is a "must visit" destination if you're in this region.

Lyman Orchards is a "pick your own" fruit fans' dream. It has honeyberries, strawberries, raspberries. blueberries, jostaberries, peaches, nectarines, apples and pears.

The country road leading to Lyman Market and the grounds around its farm store are "old school" cool.

It's what's inside the market that really stole the show for us.

As my father often asked "What's better than pie"? His answer? "More pie". Rorie looked, but did not taste.

The market offers a lot more than amazing, fresh baked goodies, including the biggest eclair we've ever seen. Fruits of all kinds and cheeses definitely compete for attention. Speaking of cheese, who wouldn't want to sample one called "Mean and Nasty Cheddar"?

Leaving Lyman's, we noticed the founder's stately family home sitting high on the hill. I guess the orchard is doing pretty well.

Next stop: Lenny & Joe's in Westbrook. A visit to CT wouldn't be complete without our traditional trek to this seafood institution.

The building is modest in a weathered, New England shingled kind of way. It's the seafood dishes (and more) inside, along with L & J's colorful tee shirt offerings, that really grab your attention.

Fish Tale's lobster and clam rolls bring folks from far and wide. Rorie went with the fried, whole belly clam roll...her once a year, fried seafood indulgence. There are no words...

Bart's not a fan of clams, and wasn't in the mood for "lobstah". He went for a "tube steak", as his father often called it. He said it was ABSOLUTELY THE BEST HOT DOG HE'D EVER EATEN. Whoulda thunk a seafood joint would serve an amazing, foot long, grilled Hummel doggie in a natural casing (think "snap" when you took a bite") on a grilled split roll smothered in raw diced onions and mustard? As our friend David often says, in good times and bad, "Oh dear God".

With our bellies full and our nostalgia quotient met, we headed "home" for the day. Bart is on his own for the next road trip. He'll be reporting from Storrs, CT and surrounding environs. Stay tuned!


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