Colin M. Caplan’s invitation read: “Join Taste of New Haven and friends for a fun and jovial night celebrating our first television appearance on Fox CT News.”
Caplan, owner and chief tour guide of Taste of New Haven Food and Drink Tours, wanted to screen the appearance and celebrate his inclusion in a “Daytrippers” news segment airing on last Thursday’s Fox CT News broadcast. To his delight, a spirited group of around 40 friends and supporters gathered at Oaxaca Kitchen on College Street, where the demand for salt-rimmed Margaritas kept the bartender hopping.
Filmed several months ago, the segment featured Fox CT News reporter and travel host Jim Altman and Fox CT weekend anchor Tim Lammers as they made the rounds with Caplan at some of New Haven’s culinary hot spots. The tour included stops at The Wine Thief, Bar, Temple Grill, Oaxaca Kitchen, and for indulgent dessert toppers, Chocopologie. Click on the play arrow to watch the segment as seen on the screen at Oaxaca Kitchen.
“Taste of New Haven is another example of what happens when the historic meets the caloric,” Altman proclaimed in the introduction to his upbeat “Daytrippers” report. While he was referencing New Haven’s status as an historic city with a landmark university and eateries like Louis Lunch, he could well have been talking about Caplan himself, a New Haven historian, architectural designer, and author of four New Haven-based books, with another soon to be published.
Among those enjoying the festivities were Caplan’s parents, Bob and Francine Caplan. Francine recalled that their son demonstrated interest in architecture at an early age: “As early as age 2, he couldn’t stop drawing houses and buildings—and he never stopped.” Bob said that his son’s interest in buildings, architecture and people was cemented with his first job at Neighborhood Housing Services while in high school. The agency buys and refurbishes affordable homes for first-time home buyers and provides education in home ownership. Eyeing the crowd gathered at Oaxaca Kitchen, the senior Caplan seemed pleased: “It’s nice to have the following, the friends and participation. They like him and we like him.”
Caplan is also is an ambassador for the city as he dispenses historical, cultural and architectural tidbits during tours, along with culinary samplings and fine drinks. Seth Poole, program director at the Boys & Girls Club of New Haven and food tour alumnus, recalled seeing things he had never noticed as he toured with Caplan from eatery to eatery: “We looked up at the tops of buildings and saw gargoyles and all kinds of interesting things.” Poole, who considers himself a bit of a foodie, had high praise for the city’s cuisine: “In other places you go out to eat. In New Haven, we dine.”
As an architect, Caplan recently redesigned the facade for the old Richter’s pub fronting the New Haven Green. Its interior meticulously restored, it is an establishment whose history is embraced by new management, but with a new service philosophy and new name. “Ordinary,” as it has been dubbed, is slated to open within days. Anything but ordinary is Caplan’s museum-quality installation created for the pub’s interior: a visual timeline and photographic history of the pub that is sure to engage and educate.
Caplan said that Taste of New Haven tours “provide an economic engine that promote the local restaurants and shops, but also give New Haven a positive image.” With 1.2 million viewers of the Fox CT News program, Caplan predicted, the tour segment will help showcase New Haven as the culinary capital of Connecticut.
Caplan was excited by recent news that Daytripper’s Jim Altman, who also writes for the Hartford Courant and Hartford Magazine, has selected Taste of New Haven for inclusion in his annual list of best summer activities for all of Connecticut. His complete “Top Seven” list will be published in an upcoming issue of Hartford Magazine. Altman said that in addition to Caplan’s dynamic personality, he likes the fact that the tour is right here in Connecticut. “We loved it—we really did, and would go again.”
For a list and descriptions of upcoming weekly tours, visit the Taste of New Haven website.