Catch a Healthy Habit Café, Fairfield, CT

by Gena on December 18, 2012

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Today, I hopped on the train to Fairfield, CT, so that I could pay a morning visit to Hannah Kaminsky. Hannah’s blog, Bittersweet, is a treasure trove of meticulous, gorgeous recipes, elegant and heartfelt writing, and some of the most beautiful photos you’ll see online. In addition to being the author of Bittersweet, Hannah is a professional photographer, the author of three cookbooks (with a fourth on the way), and a student. Did I mention she’s about five years younger than me? Hannah is a powerhouse of talent, and I am so tremendously inspired by her.

Hannah and I spent a few hours at her home, both laughing and speaking seriously, and sampling some of a terrific new pumpkinseed brittle she has concocted. I also got to peek at the studio in which she creates her marvelous photos. As someone with very limited photography talent and not enough time in which to improve substantially, I really appreciate Hannah’s artistry. After we had a chance to visit, we made our way into Fairfield for lunch Catch a Healthy Habit—a local raw, vegan café.

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I’m always excited to find and support raw establishments in cities that aren’t giant metropolises. I take it as a sign that culture is changing in a much more pro-raw, pro-vegan direction, and it gives me a chance to explore new menus! I was instantly charmed by the cozy interior of Catch a Healthy Habit, and Hannah and I enjoyed peering over the many cool products being sold there, including cacao butter, various superfoods, and homemade crackers.

It was hard to pick from the extensive and wonderful menu. See for yourself how lovely it is! Since I didn’t want to choose between the nori wrap and the spring roll and the house salad, I decided not to; I got the spring roll and salad for lunch, and took the nori wraps to go. But it all began with a carrot, celery, and kale juice (unpictured—I forgot!). For her part, Hannah got the Lo Mein (zucchini and kelp noodles with a coconut and sesame seed sauce). Here’s a shot of our whole lunch feast:

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Everything was so tasty! I especially loved the spring rolls, which were wrapped in a spinach and coconut wrap (must recreate!) and stuffed with kelp noodles, avocado, mango sauce, carrots, and avocado. So many of my favorite things in one little package!

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The salad was a simple mix of veggies and a fresh, lively vinaigrette:

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It’s amazing how you can “know’” someone through blogging for a long time without ever sitting down to chat intimately. I so enjoyed learning more about Hannah’s life, work, and story. It was especially nice to compare our vegan “conversion” narratives. After sharing them, we both nodded solemnly and said, nearly in unison, “it was the best decision I ever made.” It’s such a gift to find people in the vegan community who understand so totally how powerful and life changing a journey it is!

I was sad to leave Hannah and head back to Manhattan, but I was pretty excited to bring with me the nori rolls with fig marmelade, cashew cheese, beets, and lots of greens. Needless to say, they were totally divine. I enjoyed them later on for dinner with a giant salad of raw veggies and steamed brussels sprouts, all dressed with a little hemp oil and lemon. A beautiful plate of food:

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I’m so grateful to lovely Hannah for her company, her work, and her contributions to the vegan community. And for introducing me to Catch a Healthy Habit! Hopefully I’ll be back at some point soon.

EDITED TO ADD: Someone commented just now saying it was odd of me not to mention the recent tragedy in Connecticut in this post. I totally understand how it may have felt like a glaring omission to chat about food without addressing it. The fact is that Hannah and I did talk about it, gravely and with a combination of disbelief and horror. But neither of us really knew what to say, and right now I am struggling to know how to talk about it, privately or publicly. Normally I can find my voice with current events–for example, when I wrote about sandy–but this feels different, and leaves me at a loss for words. I’m so sorry if, in not knowing what to say, I said too little. Forgive me. As I wrote on my Facebook page earlier this week, my whole heart goes out to anyone who has been touched directly by this tragedy. And I hope we all remember to clasp our loved ones a little closer this holiday season.

Goodnight, friends.

xo

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{ 23 comments… read them below or add one }

S. December 18, 2012 at 11:27 pm

You should probably add a line to this post mentioning something about the tragedy in Connecticut, it kinda comes off weird without it.

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Gena December 19, 2012 at 12:03 am

I did add something. The omission was my being at a loss for words. Thanks for bringing it tommy attention, though. You were right.

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Victoria (District Chocoholic) December 19, 2012 at 8:59 am

This is a food blog, not a news site, so I come here to read about food. Not current events. Sure, Gena was up in Connecticut, but it was for completely unrelated reasons. Kudos to her for being gracious enough to add a note, but I really think many of us looked to our daily routines – including preparing meals and reading interesting non-news blogs – as a way of coping and not developing an unhealthy fixation on the events.

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Hannah December 19, 2012 at 9:16 am

Thank you Victoria. If I could “like” or +1 this comment, I would one hundred times over. All of CT was not involved in this tragedy and it’s impossible to live if we only dwell on it, unable to move on or add anything constructive to the situation.

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Gena December 19, 2012 at 9:42 am

Thanks for weighing in, friends.

I see both sides of this one: since I’ve always made a point of addressing notable, sobering events in the past, I can absolutely see how my not saying anything in this post would come across as a very odd and perhaps inappropriate omission. CR is a food blog, but I do engage with the world around me on it, and I would not want any reader to think that the events aren’t on my mind.

That said, Victoria and Jennie and Hannah, I also quite agree that there is no good in saying something “in passing” just to say something. When words can’t do our feelings justice, it’s sometimes best to be quiet, and show respect by not trivializing the situation in saying something inadequate.

This discussion also makes me think of your blog title, Hannah, and the idea that quotidien pleasures, especially food, help to brace us against life’s bitterness. I can think of no more human and comforting thing to have done in the wake of this tragedy than eat and drink with you.

Xoxo

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Abby December 19, 2012 at 4:36 pm

For a lot of people, food and blogging are a distraction from everything else going on. Distraction doens’t equal disrespect, it’s simply how people cope.

But as usual, you handled the situation–both the comment and addressing the tragedy–with grace.

Christine (The Raw Project) December 19, 2012 at 12:37 am

Everything looks wonderful and what a fun visit with a friend!

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Jennie December 19, 2012 at 8:35 am

Personally, I’ve felt like “tweets” and offhand comments about the tragedy just diminish the loss that those families have suffered. It is a struggle to fit into words how I feel about what happened. Sometimes saying nothing at all is actually the most respectful tribute, so I completely understand where you’re coming from Gena.

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Jennie December 19, 2012 at 8:35 am

BTW: I did NOT mean that your comment above was “offhand”… just to clarify. :)

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Hannah December 19, 2012 at 9:58 am

I agree. This is what I was trying to express below!

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Lia @ Sojourning December 19, 2012 at 8:49 am

So, I live in CT and LOVE finding out about places like this! My area, the southern, NYC suburby area, does not have tons of Raw options but a few vegan ones, Le Pain is in Greenwich and The Stand is in Norwalk. Thanks for providing this hehehe! Now I know. The spring rolls sound really cool to try out. I love that the wrapper is green.

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Hannah December 19, 2012 at 9:10 am

Wow, you really are wonder woman, Gena! I’ve never seen such a fast real life to blog conversion of events. I’m so thrilled to finally have had time to chat with you one-on-one, and hope there will be many more chances to do so, too. Thank you for taking time out of your intensely busy schedule, and for featuring the cafe- I’ll send along your kind words to the owners, who I’m sure will be just as excited.

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Hannah December 19, 2012 at 9:57 am

Two of my favourite heart-soaring people, together! My soul sings to think of the joy you felt in each other’s company.

I agree with Victoria above. I have not mentioned the CT tragedy on my blog, either, and have found some of the references on others’ blogs jarring. I completely understand why you didn’t discuss it here in the first place, and think it was kind of you to add something in afterwards, though no necessary. I don’t think this should become some sort of “tick the box/mention it or you’re heartless” situation. If that were true, all of our blogs, all the time, would have to start with paragraphs upon paragraphs about all the things in this world that aren’t blissful.

I don’t think I’m phrasing any of this right. I think I’m just bristling at the comments of S., because to me it diminishes what happened by turning the focus onto those who weren’t directly affected.

I need to stop writing now! I’m not making things any clearer.

xoxo

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Heather @ For the Love of Kale December 19, 2012 at 12:13 pm

Well, shoot! I’m going to be in Fairfield, CT on 1/2 for Gabby Bernstein’s May Cause Miracles lecture – sponsored by Catch a Healthy Habit. HOW RAD?! My best friend and I were planning on eating there before the event (we’ve never been) and I’m so grateful I have your review in my back pocket now. Even more reason to look forward to it. Those nori rolls look to-die-for.

As for your not mentioning the event, I absolutely agree with Hannah. Being the in the “public eye” doesn’t necessarily mean that we have to address every “public event.” We all grieve and take in these tragedies in different ways – and that’s okay. As long as we take responsibility for our own feelings (acknowledge them) and remain light workers (which you are), we are doing our part. Love you so much, Gena!

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Hannah December 19, 2012 at 12:41 pm

Oh awesome! I’m going to the event too, so maybe I’ll see you there? :)

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Heather @ For the Love of Kale December 19, 2012 at 2:35 pm

You bet, girl!!!

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Alice Minasian December 20, 2012 at 4:28 pm

Oh how wonderful! I love Catch A Healthy Habit and try to get there whenever I can. Everything is always so delicious and so fresh. I love that they also bring in such wonderful events, for instance thanks to them, I have met Dr. Brian Clement, Dave the Raw Food Trucker, Dr. Gabriel Cousens, Lisa Wilson and Michael Bergonzi from the Raw Food Institute, and so many more people. I learn something new or make a new friend at almost every event. Great stuff!

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Gena December 22, 2012 at 8:08 am

Wonderful stuff! So glad I got to go there.

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elizabeth December 20, 2012 at 8:18 pm

Mothers, bloggers, vistors to Connecticult, are all supposed weigh in on what was an unspeakable tragedy? And if we choose instead to be silent, because our words can’t begin do justice to what happened, it’s interpreted as a moral failure? I for my part have not shed a tear. Not because I was untouched. But because I am still numb. Who knows when the numbness will thaw, when my tears will fall. Not on schedule, that much I know.

I grew up in the shadow of the twin towers; my father’s offices were on Wall Street Plaza – I can’t think or write about 9/11 now withoug getting teary. But it was at least a year before I cried. And it wasn’t on cue either, at some anniversary celebration. Or on reading a Zagajewski poem. I needed a good year to process that loss. Of buildings I didn’t realize I’d grown to love until they were gone.

Maybe one day I’ll feel something about what happened in Connecticut, and if it feels right, I’ll say something. But my tendency – it may be a self-protective mechanism – is to shut down. It doesn’t make me a bad, horrible, unfeeling, or immoral person. I have a hard time integrating tragedy into my mental and moral frameworks. I don’t ever succeed, really. I need distance in order to feel things. I am grateful to those for whom the words come more immediately, more easily, but in the wake of tragedy, I need silence, not cacophony. One Zagajewski. Not 100,000 tweets.

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Gena December 22, 2012 at 8:00 am

Beautifully said.

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Bitt December 21, 2012 at 1:13 am

I love catch a healthy habit! The cinnamon rolls were delicious. I don’t think it’s odd to not mention the tragedy, although maybe since you did Sandy people appreciated your lovely writing and thoughtfulness. But you aren’t a news blog. What I can’t stand actually are bloggers posting a trite per-written pinterest type blurb about how they are taking a day off to be with family, then post a regular post. That strikes me as insensitive. Sometimes it’s ok to not say anything right away and reflect. We could use more of that.

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