On a recent visit to my dear friend and fellow food writer, Lee White, in Old Lyme, Connecticut, I had the pleasure of visiting her friend Linnea Rufo, owner of the enchanting Bee and Thistle Inn. I knew, from the moment we entered the curved driveway and viewed this magical place, that it would speak to every fantasy I've ever had about New England inns. It was like entering into another world, another calmer more graceful time, a dream. Linnea gave me a tour of the immaculately kept grounds with a view of a tributary of the Connecticut River, ideal for kayaking. The inn is also conveniently situated only about 5 miles from the Atlantic Ocean and pristine state beaches. The interior of the Inn fully lives up to its surroundings. In the room off the entrance way there is an exquisitely ornate antique cage with resident parrot Burt who was only too happy to come out, perch on our shoulders, and welcome us with a few choice phrases (all perfectly polite!). Linnea and I have crossed paths over the years without ever meeting. She worked in the Wheatleigh Inn in Lenox, Massachusetts where I spent many vacations visiting the home of my great Uncle Nat and great Aunt Pink. Linnea worked as a pastry chef at the Chester Inn and then at the Mercer Kitchen, a block away from where I live in New York City. This is the seventh year in which she and her charming husband David are hosts of this idyllic country inn. I can't imagine a more perfect place for a wedding or other special event or for a romantic weekend, relaxing or exploring the quaint nearby towns and countryside. (Fresh off the train from New York to New Haven, Lee took me for lunch at Lobster Landing in Clinton and it was the best lobster roll I've ever had--tender, sweet, and buttery instead of the usual mayonnaise.) You will enjoy dinner at the Inn's award winning restaurant Chestnut Grille. The vegetables are from Linnea's garden. Chef Kristofer Rowe is a graduate from the Culinary Institute of America and also chefed at the Wheatleigh Inn. His cooking is refined, imaginative, and perfectly executed. The chocolate cremeaux is silky smooth and flavorful. I long to return...Blissful Dreams!
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