Today, I joined Eric with Taste of New Haven as he guided our congenial group around the Theater District and part of the Yale Campus. Eric, a fellow Washington University alum, is an architect working on community sustainability, as well as leading gastronomic tours. He provided a terrifically colorful history of the Yale Green. I probably won’t look out at it (from my apartment window) ever the same again.
On this hot afternoon, we started at a wine store with a refreshing Portuguese white. Did you know that the best time to drink wine is early in the morning, before you brush your teeth, because you palette is at its cleanest? As Eric said, this practice makes you not a lush, but a ‘wine connoisseur’.
Although we didn’t sample the food at this place, Louis Lunch is famous as the first place to serve a hamburger, to a man in a hurry. Some things never change. This building was moved from its original spot to make way for development and then was expanded. In this picture you see the entire length of the one room restaurant. In other words, it’s still tiny.
I’ve been wondering what makes New Haven’s apizza so famous. Eric explained it better than anyone else so far, attributing its accolades to a different quality of the dough. Apparently, it’s high protein, although I wouldn’t argue any health benefits. The dough is also stretched, not tossed, accounting for its irregularities.
The famous pizza places in New Haven cook the pizza in ovens that reach 800 degrees! They use not fresh but canned tomatoes grown in the ash of Mount Vesuvius. The classic cheese pizza at Bar did have the tastiest tomato sauce. I might go so far to call it volcanic.
New Haven has had a large Italian population and pizzas made popular lunches for factory workers. Apparently, an entrepreneur also stacked pizzas on his head “really high” before walking from the train station to the workers in Wooster Square on their lunch break to sell his delicious pies. Today, Wooster Square is home to two of the contenders for best apizza in New Haven, but I liked what we had at Bar better. Except perhaps for their famous mashed potato pizza. It tastes about as good as you’d expect, but it’s the best seller here. Diversity of taste is what makes the world go round.
Bar also has a great look.
We made a quick stop at a boutique chocolatier, a crowd favorite…
…wandered through the Yale campus, looking especially pretty with its alumni gatherings this weekend…
…and I learned why New Haven is called Elm City. One of its rich, nineteenth-century inhabitants wanted to beautify his neighborhood and planted the trees. In the 1880s, Charles Dickens on his famous trip across the United States thought New Haven was the prettiest place, based on seeing this elm-laden area.
Here Aaron rubs the foot of a statue. Lots of good luck in store for him!
And just like in New York, public art can surprise you. Eric showed us just where to stand to see the ‘Four Circles in a Square.’ The work is actually painted on several different buildings, including the circular parking ramp you see in the center rear. As we walked down the narrow cut through, the coherence of the piece broke down, and the remains looked like large, random orange blotches on disparate buildings. How wonderful to have someone help me see!
We ended at Kelly’s Irish Restaurant, where most of the group had corned beef spring rolls. Yes, really. But they were a hit. I was glad to be a vegetarian. By the time the Hawaiian mochi arrived, the sun relented, and sitting outside under the Greek-like arbor (note the crazy quilt of international influences here) with good company was just what this over-stuffed tourist needed.