Wait–can it be? Greetings from… MY OFFICE!
After two long months of recruitment travel where I met with prospective students, alumni and advisors across the country (from Boston to Honolulu and too many cities to mention in between), I have finally arrived back in New Haven. I’ve got to say, it was a joyous reunion with the “Elm City.” As I’ve mentioned previously, the travel season is really one of my favorite parts of the job, since I get to meet so many of you (and get to see the country too, while I’m at it!) but life on the road gets a bit old after a while. Lugging bags everywhere, airport delays, or stressing about missing FedEx boxes quickly loses its glamour… But, I’m most excited for my time back in New Haven simply because I LOVE it here. I think I may be one of New Haven’s biggest fans. One and a half hours from NYC and two and a half from Boston, New Haven has a great cultural scene and there is also easy access to nature (think beaches, parks, hiking and outdoor recreation)… for me it makes it the best of all worlds.
With that in mind, I’ve decided to put together a multi-part piece on what I think you need to know about New Haven. First topic (and most important, of course!) is FOOD!
Before I start this series, for due diligence I do have to admit that I’m a bit biased. To understand this, you have to know that I grew up in the next town over from New Haven. However, I left when I was 18 for college, and spent a total of 9 years in Washington, DC and New York City. When the daily grind of Big City life got to me, I made a very conscious and very specific decision to get myself back to New Haven however I could… luckily, I found the perfect match here at F&ES. So, aside from my bias of being a native of the area, I hope I also gain a bit of credibility having lived in DC and NYC for big stretches of time.
Now… on to the good stuff. Obviously, New Haven can’t compete with the sheer size of the big cities and what they have to offer in terms of overabundance of choice… however what New Haven has, it does with gusto. First, the pizza… oh the pizza! New Haven is known for its ridiculously good pizza. It has something to do with the brick ovens, which have been around for decades, but the likes of Sinatra and many Yale grads-turned-US Presidents have been known to frequent our pizza joints throughout the years. Always a hot topic, the competition between Sally’s, Pepe’s, Modern and Bar (hello, mashed potato pizza!) is fierce, and a must-do is to conduct your own experiment as to which is best. I happen to live a little too close to my favorite one, which means I exist in a perpetual state of internal struggle in an attempt to resist the pizza smells that waft by my apartment window every day. You can probably guess from the pizza wars that Italian food rules here, and you have a huge selection of wonderful, authentic, Italian places at different price points to choose from. Orange Street, which is one of the main streets that runs through the East Rock neighborhood (where most Yale grad students live), is also home to several Italian delis and markets for both quick groceries and hot prepared foods.
Aside from the establishments that encourage carb-loading, we are also home to an incredible selection of really high quality ethnic restaurants (I believe that you can get meals here that arguably rival the quality of those in NY), including Ethiopian, Turkish, Tapas, French, American, Middle Eastern, Thai and so many more. It isn’t hard to be a vegetarian here either with all sorts of different fare to choose from, and there is also a growing area-wide focus on local, sustainable food with several restaurants featuring this aspect of their cooking. One great example is Miya Sushi (http://miyassushi.com/), which is owned by a man who has become a leader in the sustainable seafood movement and is also known as one of the top exciting up and coming Eco-chefs. Don’t go expecting to have a traditional sushi experience, afterall it is known as “New Haven’s weird sushi,” but it is really yummy.
There is also no shortage of fresh produce for you to access for your own cooking adventures (if you want to stay away from the large grocery chains)—there is the State Street Farmers Market (http://statestreetfarmersmarket.com/), multiple locations of the City Seed Farmers Market (http://www.cityseed.org/index.html), a new Co-Op called Elm City Market (http://www.cityseed.org/index.html), and resources through the Yale Sustainable Food Project and Farm (http://www.yale.edu/sustainablefood/farm.html). The Sustainable Food Project is also a locus of research on the field here at Yale, and is a great source for our prospective students interested in sustainable agriculture. There are also multiple Orchards and Farms nearby such as Lyman Orchards, Jones Farm, and Bishop Farm, where you can find locally-grown produce and even entertain yourself picking your own fruit while it is in season. Speaking of local orchards (and on a somewhat related topic), Connecticut also has a small but strong contingent of vineyards that are really fun to check out. Many are incredibly beautiful in a distinctly New England way, and offer wine for tastings and purchase. Is it Napa? No… but there are some standouts that are known for consistently good wine. Check out http://www.ctwine.com/ for information on the Connecticut Wine Trail.
As you can probably tell, I’m passionate about eating well, and about what you can find here in this thriving small city. When you are planning your visit, be sure to let me know and I’ll be happy to give you a few suggestions of places to fill your belly!
Stay tuned for more on New Haven… until then, I hope you have a wonderful Thanksgiving!
PS. A fun fact of the day– did you know that New Haven is known as the birthplace of the hamburger? Check it out: Louis Lunch (http://www.louislunch.com/)… Make sure you don’t ask for Ketchup!