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Gettin’ Schooled at Karen Brownlow’s Chop Shop Cooking Class in Westport

11 Aug
Karen operates Chop Shop classes right out of her beautiful kitchen

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

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!

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Ibiza Tapas Restaurant + Wine Bar: a taste de las tapas Españolas en Danbury

4 Aug

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

CT Food News, Vol. 15: Pepe’s Takes MA, Festivals, Contests, CT Beer Props, Updates, and more…

31 Jul

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.

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CT on Tap: New Beer Festival in Danbury Focuses on American Craft Beer

28 Jul

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:

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Take a Culinary Tour Through Latin America via Aarón Sánchez’s Paloma in Harbor Point, Stamford

22 Jul

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

SWEET! Sour’d in September Beer Festival Hosted by Captain Lawrence Brewery ft. 50+ Breweries

15 Jul

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.

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Kickin’ It (Latin) Root Down at Tierra in Westport: CT Restaurant Review

8 Jul

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.

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A Peer into World of Beer – Harbor Point Area of Stamford, CT

29 Jun
Yes, that IS Dogfish 90 Minute that you see...along with 49 other selections...

Yes, that IS Dogfish 90 Minute that you see…along with 49 other selections…

After a beautiful day of running (and who are we kidding, walking) the Half Full 5k, we settled down and did what any healthy people would do: eat food from Vanchetta, Melt Mobile, and Lobstercraft, and drink our fair share of Peach Wheat, Toasted Ambers, IPAs and Bright Ales. Yeeeeah, and, what better way to celebrate an arduous 5-hour day of drinking and eating than having more beer at World of Beer, which conveniently happened to open for the first time JUST as the Half Full 5k beer fest ended?!

Now, we’re not normally a fan of chains, but our love of beer wins out on this one. Just like the rest of Fairfield County, we’ve been anticipating the opening since we broke the news in late September.  So when we finally had our chance, we beelined through the door for a seat right by the bar and tap list (smart!), and the TVs so we could enjoy the Greece vs. Costa Rica game. Speaking of games, there are helluva lot of TVs, so this just might turn into your new favorite place to watch a game. And, they will regularly have live music, which we got to enjoy after the game from Mark Zelenz, of Short Bus with his own band, The Easy.

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Shakesbeer Festival 2014: To Thine Own Yeast Be True!

24 Jun

A festival by any other name just ain’t cool ’nuff

Last year, we graced you with our Shakesbeerian musings in honor of the first ever Shakesbeer Festival. And, alas, we shall share more verse (you’re welcome):

Thou likest foam?

Thou likest foam?

“One sip of beer makes the whole world kin.”

“To thine own yeast be true, and it must follow, as the ale to the stout, thou canst not be false to any beer.”

“Budweiser is the curse of God; craft beer is the wing therewith we fly to heaven.”

“Pleasure and beer make the hours seem short.”

So, what is The Shakesbeer Festival, you ask?  A festival (the 2nd annual) built around great beer, live music, and craft food, put together to help raise money to reopen The American Shakespeare Theater in Stratford.  Tickets are $40 for this year’s event at The American Shakespeare Theater in Stratford on August 23 from 1-7pm.  Tickets can be purchased now, so why wait?  For more details, check out our post from last year and their site).

Beer

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Cooking up a steamy French Italian romance: Barrique – Stamford

23 Jun

As long as we’ve been in Stamford, Chez Jean-Pierre was an instution on Bedford Street.  There was rarely a day when the bistro wasn’t packed and never a beautiful day the front doors weren’t open to let the fresh air in.  A collective sigh rose up, though, when Chez Jean Pierre closed last year.  But then, like a beacon of hope, soon after, there was a sign up: Coming soon, Barrique Bistro & Wine Bar. When we inquired (like good food bloggers do) we found out that the brand new part French, part Italian spot was being opened by owner and Executive Chef Louis Barresi who also has Doppio Greenwich, Huntington, and West Village.

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