From the outside, Morello Bistro in Greenwich appears to be a cute, maybe even unassuming restaurant with a brown and white awning and a few outdoor tables. But, as you enter, the beautiful domed ceilings, archways, terra-cotta colored columns, and second-level balcony really set the mood for a contrasting old world, yet modern Italian experience. We were excited to have that experience again when General Manager, James Branigan invited us for a special tasting since we haven’t been to Morello Bistro since the first time we tasted their menu back in November ’12 when Chef Pasternack ran the kitchen.
We started the night chatting with Olivier Flosse, Beverage Director for MARC (Mardon Abela Restaurant Corporation). Not only is Olivier in charge of wine and cocktails at Morello, but also A Voce, Bistro du Midi, and FPB. We loved talking with Oliver because he oozed passion and excitement for his job! We talked about wine, cocktails, and his pairings for the night as he shared insights and observations in the world of adult beverages. He talked about how cocktails seem to be returning to classic liquors, how St. St. Germain has made a huge comeback in cocktails because it is, in the words of Olivier, “pure and elegant.” And, he kinda blew our minds when he told us about a cocktail that he has at A Voce: Il Tartufo. It’s made with a 10 year bourbon infused with three different vermouths and black truffles. Then, they put white truffle honey on one side of the rim…DAMN!
Well, enough foreplay, let’s get down to business:
As bad as you think your life is now with problems left and right, think about this: what if you lived during the Prohibition Era? You couldn’t get a beer, couldn’t get a cocktail, couldn’t even drink wine…what kind of life is that? But, that didn’t stop the truly devoted who took the ban on liquor as a creative opportunity to sell illegal drinks in speakeasies and make a profit. Oh, and you best believe that people started brewing their own liquid goodness too…stuff that would put hair on your chest, stuff that could polish (and maybe corrode) metal, stuff that was sure to get you all messed up with just a few sips.
While we focus on Fairfield County, we sometimes can’t control ourselves when it comes to nearby towns and events: there’s the CT Brewers Guild Brewfest at Ski Sundown, Miya’s in New Haven, Coals in Port Chester, Captain Lawrence Brewery in Elmsford, and there’s also the SoWe Food & Wine Festival. That’s Southern Westchester Food & Wine Festival for you n00bs.
This event, now in its third year, (2012 was Taste of Scarsdale which morphed into the SoWe Food & Wine Fest) brings together the best of food in NYC, Westchester and Fairfield Counties, along with excellent wine (beer too) and exclusive experiences. SoWe goes down from 9/19-21 with tickets ranging from $0 to $85 for the Celebrity Chef Battle on Friday. They have also teamed up with WhyHunger, Scarsdale Volunteer Ambulance Corps, The Community Counseling Center, JDRF, Greyston, and the Food Bank for Westchester to donate a sizable portion of their profits from the weekend to these important charities.
Let’s take you through the different days and options that you can take part in.
Karen operates Chop Shop classes right out of her beautiful kitchen
With Fairfield County’s active food scene, it’s no problem trying a new restaurant whenever you want. But, sometimes you might want more than a meal out. Maybe you want to take those restaurant-quality dishes home with you to make whenever you want. Again, there are certainly many cooking classes that you can try out here in the 203, but many are simple meals or involve basic skills.
Some of the steps involved in making a great ceviche
So, we were very excited to learn about Karen Brownlow of Chop Shop Cooking. She loved cooking for friends and at parties so much that she decided to study cooking at The New York Restaurant School in Manhattan. Seeing her talent, they kept her on in their catering department and became one of their head chefs in charge of the many events that they cater. From there, she worked at Abigail Kirsch and even started her own catering company. As her life got busier and she wanted to spend more time with her family, she decided to stop catering, but…and here’s where Chop Shop came in…but, her friends convinced her to start cooking classes. And, so Chop Shop Cooking was born!
After taking a trip to Barcelona, Spain a couple years back we became a little “tapas shy” back here in the states. Ok, we know what you’re thinking, OmNomCT shy about anything, let alone food? Yeah right! It’s true though! We had such amazing tapas in the motherland that we were afraid we might be a bit disappointed by the local tapas spots. But, after Ibiza owner, Ignacio Blanco assured us that his tapas were the real-deal (and he should know, he’s from Spain and has spent a lot of time there), we said, what the heck, let’s do it!So last Sunday evening we headed on over after we worked up an appetite failing miserably at a round of golf in Southbury. The restaurant is in a bit of an odd location within a strip mall, but they’ve done a nice job making you forget that once you get in. The walls are sleek and dark, the lighting dim, and there were some festive brightly colored paintings throughout, much like many of the tapas spots we went to in Barcelona. The scene wasn’t too lively, but it was a Sunday night which usually tends to be a chill night for restaurants. Before we went at it, we talked with Ignacio a bit and learned more about his experiences in Spain and his other restaurants, including Miegas (another tapas restaurant) in Norwalk which we LOVED but never got a chance to write up back in 2010. Continue reading
The brisket takes center stage, but the mac & cheese is workin’ it too
Wakeman Town Farm wowed guests with their soup and made them say WTF (Wakeman Town Farm)
August is a bittersweet month: the last bits of summer are dripping down, parents, teachers, and students are ready to head back to school, and the boys of summer are gone (points for the reference). But, screw that bittersweet crap: we’re talking ’bout just sweet for the next two weeks! In CT Food + Beer News, Volume 15, we’ve got openings, restaurant updates, fairs, restaurant specials, and more. If you’d like a full list of events that we’ve covered in previous posts, check out our Events page up above.
Restaurant Openings and Updates
Pepe’s Pizza will be opening up a restaurant in Brookline, MA, further expanding their cheesy empire. Pepe’s will be replacing The Fireplace restaurant, formerly owned by Jim Solomon. Other locations include the original Pepe’s in New Haven, and their pizza satellites in Danbury, Fairfield, Manchester, Mohegan Sun, West Hartford and Yonkers.
Ride the Lightning! (Please don’t sue us Lars)
Watch out CT, you’ve got another beer festival on the way! Yup, yup…get ready for Connecticut on Tap at Ives Concert Park in Danbury on 9/13 from 3 to 6 brought to you by i95 Rock and Townsquare Media Danbury. Think of it: over 120 different craft brews being poured out for you and your hop-happy friends. Tickets are either $35 for GA, $55 for VIP, or even a special price for designated drivers on the day of the event. Now, here’s what you’ll experience at both price levels:
Let’s just put it out there now…we haven’t had the best of luck with celebrity chef restaurants over the past few years, with the exception of Gordon Ramsay’s Maze and Michael Psilakis’s Kefi both in NYC. More often than not we’ve had disappointing meals like our experience at the recently closed Primary Food & Drink by Graham Elliot and at Bobby Flay’s Mesa Grill in Las Vegas. We’ve found that a celebrity chef putting his or her stamp on a restaurant and menu doesn’t guarantee anything. So, you’ll have to forgive our skepticism when Aarón Sánchez made plans to open up Paloma in the Harbor Point area of Stamford (where The Beer Garden used to be). Would Chef Sanchez, from Chopped and Cooking Channel’s Heat Seekers (with partner in crime Roger Mooking), be a rare exception?
Well, you better believe we wanted to find out ASAP. We just so happened to see an ambiguous announcement on Harbor Point’s Facebook page Saturday evening so we made a bee-line for Harbor Point to see if it was really open. To our delight it was a soft opening and we were lucky enough to get a table. SCORE! So, let’s get down to biz-natch… Continue reading
Tix on sale 9 am on 7/15/14!
Update: Sold out in 1 1/2 hours!
Love sour beers but frustrated because they are so hard to find? Well, how about we make it a helluva lot easier for you by introducing you to Sour’d in September. Yes, on 9/13 from 1PM-5PM Captain Lawrence Brewery in Elmsford, NY will be hosting the first annual Sour Beer Festival.
Here’s Tierra’s version of the margarita…excellent.
Make sure to add the egg…it’s sooo necessary!
Beautifully prepared and contrasted
Make sure to ask what the season ceviche is when you’re ordering.
Abstract art never looked so damn good
When we hear about new restaurants, we get excited. When we hear about new Latin restaurants, like Tierra in Old Town Hall in Westport, we get really excited. Tierra (which opened in mid-June) is a bit hard to find at first, located to the right side of Spruce at 90 Post Road, close by Urban Outfitters, and by the parking lot off of Jesup Road.
Like good ‘ole Americans, we went there with our friend Christine on the Fourth of July (woo hoo South ‘Murica). Looking around, the bar to the left was warm, classic, and comfy with a huge loungy couch behind it. In the back there’s a private room with a nice wine rack wall and a fancy, shimmering chandelier. The main dining room features the same kind of vibe with a few tables and a side area with a view of the open kitchen.
Speaking of the kitchen, a husband and wife team run the kitchen and own it along with Chad Whited (and Laura Luce) who was there that night to help out. We first met CIA grad Chef Sue Torres, who is half Italian and Puerto Rican. She’s had an amazing amount of experience with Nuevo Mexicano fare including working at her own Suenos, Arizona 206, Rocking Horse Cafe, and Hell’s Kitchen. We met her during our dinner as she went around from table to table to see how everyone was enjoying the food. Next was chef Darren Carbone, who comes from Columbia with an Italian-American upbringing. His impressive resume includes a CIA degree like his wife, and heading the kitchens at Super Linda, Rosa Mexicano, La Verdad, El Vez, and Alma de Cuba. Ok, ok, you’re probably getting anxious to know about the food, so vamos, vamos.