Late Bloomfield: Boozing Our Religion

Oh, the weather outside is frightful..ish. Yesterday the ladies of OneSixNine would not be deterred by the impending snowpocalypse and ventured out into Bloomfield (which is, in fact, as beautiful its name implies, but more on that later.) Since the storm was predicted to hit New Haven in the early afternoon but not touch northern Connecticut until later, I packed my things to spend the night at Emme’s place in Hartford. After our trip to Bloomfield (beautiful as its name implies) we spent our evening doing what everyone else in Connecticut was doing – sitting at home and bracing for the PARALYZING NOR’EASTER that COULD START ANY MINUTE NOW OH MY GOD. I think I speak for everyone when I say that was the lamest snowpocalypse ever. Still, I’m glad we have that shared experience. I feel like I’ve bonded with all of you – as though you were right there with us as we played Clue and watched “How To Lose a Guy in 10 Days” on USA.

Anyway, on to Bloomfield. Bloomfield, aside from being as beautiful as its name implies, borders Windsor, East Granby, Simsbury, Avon, West Hartford and Hartford (41°50′39″N 72°44′29″W if you’re scoring at home). And what I’ve learned from my brief time there is that Bloomfield is big on two things – beer and religion.

See Something

I want to preface this bit by noting something about casual, unannounced visits in places of worship – they’re uncomfortable. Even if you’re just going there for totally innocent looking around. Even if most places of worship are very welcoming of visitors. And even if you’re at a place that’s run by your own team.

We experienced that last one at St. Thomas Seminary. The buildings there are really beautiful (even if the name doesn’t imply it). In fact, if I knew anything about architecture, I’d tell you what style they’re in.

I can tell you that The Archdiocesan Center at the Seminary offers “22,000 square feet of retreat and conference rooms, 80 dormitory style guest rooms, catering and conference services and recreational facilities.” There is also a Catholic Book Store and Gift Shop, which we did not visit. We really didn’t linger at the Seminary. The grounds were so quiet that it felt like we were trespassing even though, had we been approached by a passing Seminarian, we could have been like “It’s cool, man. We, too, enjoy incense and Bingo.”

However, if you think the Catholics have a monopoly on striking religious buildings in Bloomfield, you haven’t seen The First Cathedral. I have to admit that as we drove down Route 187 and it came into view, I took the Lord’s name in vain. (Guess we should have swung back to the seminary afterward for a quick confession.) The First Cathedral is huge, but I guess it needs to be since it’s home to 11,000 members – the largest congregation in New England. The edifice is allegedly built in the shape of a dove, a fact that we can’t verify since the OneSixNine helicopter was in the shop this weekend.

We ventured inside briefly and saw the Grand Lobby. This is one impressive non-denominational church. Unlike at the seminary, we did stop by the gift shop. The proprietors were very nice, and their merchandise included this amusing t-shirt, as well as “The Bad Girls of the Bible,” “The Slightly Bad Girls of the Bible,” and “The Really Bad Girls of the Bible.” Much like at the seminary, we didn’t hang around for too long. After all, there was a Nor’Easter coming and there was a lot of Bloomfield left to see.

Drink Something

As I’m sure all you studious students of Connecticut history know, Thomas Hooker was the puritan founder of the Colony of Connecticut. The nice thing about having a founding father like Mr. Hooker is that Connecticut companies, like the Brew Pub formerly known Trout Brook, can innocently adopt the name “Hooker” and then make a killing on hilarious merchandise.

Oh, the witty folks at Hooker Beer. The brewery is a pretty cool place. It has open houses – just make sure you obey the rules!

The scene at the brewery on a Saturday afternoon with a storm coming was pretty tame. Emme was telling me that sometimes it gets pretty crowded – like in one of the photos on the wall. Closer inspection of said photo confirmed Emme’s firsthand knowledge – she’s in it. Can you find the back of Emme’s head? You should know what it looks like by now!

The big attraction at the brewery was the Nor’Easter beer. And what an appropriate day to indulge! I made sure all our Twitter followers were updated on how much we were enjoying Nor’Easter while waiting for the Nor’Easter.

Do Something

As per the rules, we took a tour of the brewery. What I learned is that brewing beer, much like math class, is tough. There’s all this science stuff involved. Who was the dude who, thousands of years ago, discovered that fermented grain tastes good and makes you act silly? Props to him, because I still don’t understand how the stuff is made.

Mmmm, tank of Nor'Easter!

On the way out, Emme bought herself a growler of Nor’Easter (or, as Emme’s native people might say, “A growlah of Nor’Eastah”) and the Hooker folks threw in some innuendo at no extra charge.

Eat Something

After the brewery we headed to Concetta’s, an Italian restaurant located in the Bloomfield Shopping Center (which also has an Ocean State Job Lot, a definite sign of sophistication). Concetta’s was recommended to us by one of Emme’s co-workers and it did not disappoint. It was your standard, though very tasty and very plentiful, Italian fare.

Also, if some of our Jewish friends are feeling left out by the Catholic and non-denominational Christian stops on our tour, don’t fret: we made some time for your people as well.

Talk to Someone

As usual, the OneSixNine will disappoint our readers with our willingness to meet people on our journeys.  We can’t help it, we’re just such great conversationalists that it’s hard to find a reason to talk to anyone but each other.  We did get to chat up the Beer Girl at the brewery, who was super pleasant.  And she even gave us Christmas cookies!  Emme suggested getting OneSixNine business cards to pass around so people would know how legit and important we are when we go places, so if you’re looking to buy us a Hanukkah, Christmas, Kwanzaa, or Solstice gift, you’re welcome for the suggestion.  And thank YOU for thinking of us!

Lessons in Connecticuting

  1. Letting Elle be in charge of writing the post and using her camera for photos cuts our turnaround time down by, like, a month.
  2. Bloomfield has a lot of religion.  Which, for at least one lapsed Catholic, is both surprising and a little overwhelming.  It’s humbling to be in really religious places when you’re slacking and your mother is judging you for not going to confession.
  3. Worshipping false idols (or no idols) does not guarantee asign from the heavens in the form of outrageous snowfall.  Hartford was surprisingly snow-limited this morning when the oft-delayed storm had finally come and gone.
  4. Don’t trust Connecticut weathermen.  Or Aonghus.  Both misled us several times yesterday.  But you can trust Curt Cameron (not to be confused with Kirk Cameron… who, ironically enough, attends a megachurch).
  5. Eating dinner across from the University of Hartford women’s basketball team is a good way to feel short and unathletic.  And old.

4 responses to “Late Bloomfield: Boozing Our Religion

  1. I dunno, doesn’t look much like a dove to me:

    However, those are some GIGANTIC parking lots.

    I have a pretty limited knowledge of architecture, but I think the seminary is Gothic.

    And good for you that there were no puns involving being pounded by Nor’Easter Hooker or tapping a Hooker because those would be juvenile.

  2. Wally East has just gotten two girls to stare at Google Earth while tilting their heads at awkward, painful angles. Wikipedia talks about the building, but I’m not getting where this alleged dove is..

  3. My grandparents used to live in Bloomfield from 1986-1996. I loved their house, which was on a quiet, dead-end street. It had a separate paved basketball court built into the side of the house, and a really big cornfield behind the fence in the backyard. Believe it or not, it was beautiful to watch the sun set over that cornfield.

    I remember visiting all the time when I was a kid. We would spend time at other relatives’ houses in West Hartford before trekking out to rural Bloomfield. Seriously, a 15-minute trip from WH to Bloomfield felt like going from NYC to Kansas. There’s nothing there. It’s pretty boring. The most you can do now is go to Oy Vey (which is a new bagel place btw) or go to church. There is no synagogue as far as I know. Perhaps the most boring town in central CT, aside from the fun that is Hooker Brewery.

    But, being boring might be the best part. Hartford sucks these days (obviously), West Hartford is your All-American too-busy suburb, and Bloomfield is this quiet, quasi-rural town where a half million dollars gets you a 5-bedroom house and an acre of land. And a half dozen churches to pick from, apparently.

    P.S. One thing to add to a very nicely written blog post…..the restaurant to try is Ginza, a really good Japanese place in the Wintonbury Mall complex off Bloomfield Road.

  4. The real Nor’easter Brewing Company is on its way … Stay tuned. This Connecticut brewery in currently in planning and will market mainly Ales – Four flagship and four seasonal. The beers will be brewed from the finest of malted barley, choice hops, and the the most refreshing water Connecticut’s rivers yield! We hope to have our beers in the Connecticut market by this summer.

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