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Tipping Point: Our picks and pans (Pasta Vita's Southwestern Chicken Salad, 'Heathens,' Goodspeed by the River)


Southwestern Chicken Salad

Pasta Vita, Old Saybrook

This salad is my new fave from Pasta Vita — and it tastes like summer to me. Atop a bed of fresh lettuce sits an array of goodness: Cajun chicken, Monterey Jack and cheddar cheeses, black beans, onion, grape tomatoes, scallions, cilantro, and red and yellow peppers. Included is a small container of avocado you can add into the mix, and top it with a chipotle-lime ranch dressing that has just the right amount of kick. It costs $10.95, but it’s such a generous/multiple-meal serving that it’s well worth it.

— Kristina Dorsey



Ace Atkins

I don't even bother to literally write Ace Atkins bets anymore. Rather, I have a fill-in-the-blank template on file, ready to go whenever his latest book is published. Atkins (who is a friend) is that reliably good. In his latest, the 10th in his Quinn Colson series about an ex-Army Ranger-turned-sherriff of a rural North Mississippi town, the protagonist finds himself in the disturbing position of being on the opposite side of a case from his close pal, U.S. Marshal Lillie Virgil. The novel centers around a young woman on the run after being accused of murdering her mother. As always, the recurring support characters are terrific. Too, Quinn is a new father, and elements reflecting cultural and political discord in our country are depicted angrily but with compassion. I should also point out that NO ONE writes a better Southern dumb-ass than Atkins. It's truly funny but goes way beyond comic relief in support of the author's genuine concerns about the world today.

— Rick Koster


Goodspeed by the River

Outdoors at Goodspeed, East Haddam

The Goodspeed Opera House might not be reopening till fall, but you can see some great concerts this summer outside under the tent in the Goodspeed parking lot, overlooking the Connecticut River. It’s a wonderful way to spend an afternoon or evening. I saw the first offering, featuring Ben Clark and Dee Roscioli doing numbers from Elton John, the Eagles, Cher and more; so much fun. “Johnny & the Devil’s Box,” which runs through Sunday, was a pleasure, too. It features bluegrass songs from the musical of the same name by Waterbury-Tieman, who plays instruments and sings alongside a trio of other talented performers. Coming up Aug. 4-29 is “Little Girl Blue: The Nina Simone Musical” starring Laiona Michelle, who also wrote the piece. Tickets for either show are $45; call (860) 873-8668 or visit “Johnny” runs 75 minutes, with no intermission. “Little Girl Blue” is 2-1/2 hours with an intermission.

— Kristina Dorsey



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