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First Tastes of Dinner + New Menu at The Granola Bar- Westport, CT

31 Oct

Who knew when Dana and Julie started making and selling their OATS Granola a few years back that today they’d have a successful restaurant that people religiously flock to for breakfast and lunch? Of course, when you meet them and experience their passion, energy and strong work ethic you aren’t at all surprised. And, when you add the talented Chef Jess Bengston to hold down the kitchen, The Granola Bar really becomes a sure bet!

As if The Granola Bar wasn’t already rocking in its first year of business, there are some exciting changes to help take things up a notch starting Wednesday, November 5. Brace yo’selves because The Granola Bar will be open for dinner with extended hours of 7 am until 9 pm Wednesday through Saturday and regular hours 7 am -5 pm Monday and Tuesday, and 8am -4pm on Sunday.

In addition, they’ll be rolling out their third menu change since they opened, and spoiler alert, this new menu is awesome! Chef Jess shared that the inspiration behind these changes had to do with what was fresh and in season, which you can definitely see when you look at some of the dishes on the menu like their new amazing grilled cheese sandwich: The Post Road. This was one of the dishes that we tried on Wednesday during a preview tasting . . . and it also ended up being one of Chef’s favorite new items. She shared with us, “Anything that I’ve had total control over where I’ve made and worked with the ingredients is exciting to me like my apple butter. The soup is also something that I’m super excited about.”

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Will Drive for (Good) Food @ Firebox – Hartford, CT

24 Oct

When we grew up in our New York towns a 1-2 hour drive was no big deal. But, since living in Fairfield County for 10 years, 1-2 hours might as well be 20 hours for some crazy reason. Hence why we never seem to make our way up to Hartford to try Firebox, a Modern American Farm to Table restaurant people have been raving to us about for years! But, one random Saturday we had nothing going on so we figured it was about time to make our way on up . . . Continue reading

Why Kawa Ni Is the (Sake) Bomb – Westport, CT

5 Oct

When you’re asked where you want to go out to dinner for your birthday, how do you pick? Do you go for that fancy schmancy place you’ve been waiting for a special occasion to go to, or your favorite spot you know is going to be amazing, or the hot new restaurant you’ve been dying to try? It’s a tough call…I mean, you only get that choice once a year.

Well, when Danny’s birthday came around he didn’t even need to think twice (or once really) as he blurted out Kawa Ni within seconds of asking. See, years ago (before the blog) we spent his birthday at Chef Bill Taibe’s restaurant, LeFarm, and had an astounding meal that featured bacon in every dish. Danny knew going with Bill again along with his brother Jeff would be a sure bet at their new Izakaya pub with Pan-Asian influences. And (spoiler alert) it SOOOOO was!

Jeff Marron runs the bar at Kawa Ni Westport Kawa Ni is located in a somewhat unsuspecting spot, tucked away in the corner of Bridge Square in Westport. It’s small but lively when you walk in, with the bar at the back left and a decent amount of seats throughout for such a cozy spot. The decor is tasteful…not that stereotypically tacky and kitchsy Japanese decor you might expect, but it definitely says modern Japanese food is served here. One random but awesome thing about the restaurant itself to mention in the blog post? Yeah, the bathrooms have the mega-toilet 3,000 or something like that with seat warmers, a bidet, dryer and more buttons that we were too scared to press. As we got comfy in our seats, we occasionally heard the bang of the gong and Bartender and Beverage Director, Jeff Marron, enthusiastically shout out something in Japanese. But more on that in a minute…

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Bistro 7 in Wilton Grand Reopening Party w/ New Chefs + Menu

30 Sep

Bistro 7 in Wilton invites you to their Grand Re-Opening celebration dinner on October 9 with seatings at 5:30, 7, and 8:30. Meals are $39 per person, include a cocktail from the new beverage menu created by Front of House Manager Cristian Caldarariu, and also include tastes of what’s new at Bistro 7.  

So, why exactly are they re-opening and celebrating? Well, there’s a few things going on:

1) Chef Tony Kalmanidis is leaving to start up some awesome food trucks. It’s always nice to give props where props are due.

2) Chef Marcelino Martinez is becoming the new Chef de Cuisine. He’s no stranger to Bistro 7, though, having already been a pastry chef and sous chef there.  

3) Chef Harrison Schaefer will start as the new sous chef.

4) They are revamping the menu for the season, for what’s locally available, and to jive with both new chefs. 

5) Bistro 7 continues its support of local produce and products by working with Debra Sloane of Sloane Farm and Donna Simmons of Pound Ridge Organics among others.  

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7 Local Chefs Compete in 4th Annual Connecticut Chefs Challenge to Benefit The Optimus Foundation

17 Sep

2014 CT Chefs Challenge

Food competition shows are fun to watch on TV, no doubt. There’s lots of excitement, panic, stressful situations, and lots of smack talk going down.  But, you miss out on a key component:  interaction. You can’t talk with the chefs, (even though you might be yelling at the TV and telling them to not cook the pork for any longer, they can’t actually hear you) and you certainly can’t taste all the awesome food that they are making.

Well, you’ve got your chance as the Connecticut Chefs Challenge returns for another year at Lincoln Culinary Institute in Shelton. This year there are seven CT chefs who are vying to win the title of “Best in Show.” The fun begins at 5:30 with a cocktail reception where you’ll learn about The Optimus Foundation (they construct and maintain medical facilities in Fairfield County for communities in need) who this event benefits and you’ll get to down some great small bites to help prep you for the contest.  

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Guten Grog 2014: Guide to Beer Fests + Oktoberfests in Connecticut

9 Sep

It’s hard to beat a crisp fall day.  Sweat isn’t pouring down your face and stinking up your clothes, there is excitement in the air, and…well…beer takes center stage.  (Then again, in our lives, beer always takes center stage.)  There are Oktoberfest beers, brown ales, and pumpkin beers as the last of the summer beers are drunk.  And, you better believe fall time means that Oktoberfest and beer festivals are in your plans.  Lucky for you we have been keeping track of all of these events throughout Connecticut and we proudly present them to you right here.  Prost!

Oktoberfests


Beer Garden SoNo’s Oktoberfest, 1st Annual

Location:  Oyster Shell Park in Norwalk, CT

UPDATED! Date and time: 10/4 10/5 from 12-5

Cost: 1) General Admission is $10 with code IWANTIN or $20 at the door.  This gets you entrance, live music, food truck access, free bottles of water, and a chance to purchase beer.

2) The Beer Drinker is $30 with code GIVEMEBEER or $59 at the door.  This gets you entrance, live music, food truck access, free bottles of water, a commemorative tasting glass, and unlimited tastings from 12-5.  You can also buy beer, but you’ve got unlimited tastings!  Come on now!

3) VIP Access is $105 with code CANTSTOPWONTSTOP or $211 at the door. This gets you in an hour early, gets you unlimited tastings with a bigger 10 oz tasting glass, you can skip lines, you get a reserved table for singing beer songs, water, live music, food trucks, and you get to take part in The Beer Garden SoNo’s after party!

Description: Achtung, baby…the Beer Garden in SoNo is throwing a major par-tay at the beautiful Oyster Shell Park right in Norwalk. There will be beer, there will be music, and there will be food trucks, so we’re not really sure what else you need.  ;)  But, if you want some deets, here they are:  Blind Pug Ales, Shock Top, Widmer Bros., Goose Island, Hooker, Blue Point, Paulaner, Palm, Radeberger, Heineken, Guinness (they’ll be debuting a new beer), Strongbow, Newcastle, and more along with some great food trucks like Grab Your Balls, Cowabunga, One Bro Pizza Co, Tacos El Azteca, and Caseus. If all of that seems too overwhelming, they’ll have a digital guide that can take you from beer to beer and get you to where ya need to be.  While all the drinking and eating is going down, check out One Bad Oyster, The Adam Currie Band, Tim Currie’s Motown Band, and Beach Avenue who you might know from America’s Got Talent!  Deals go on until 9/26, so snag ‘em while the snagging’s good. Children 13 or younger are free, btw.  A portion of sales will be donated to the Whittingham Cancer Center, too, so cheers to that!

Milford Oktoberfest

Location: Rotary Pavilion at Fowler Field, 1 Shipyard Lane in Milford, CT

Date and time: 9/27 from 12-9 pm

Cost: $10 per person, 16 and under free

Description: Sponsored by the Devon Rotary, the Milford Oktoberfest is one of the most popular scenes in the area.  There is a German biergarten, music from HitList, Rumrunners, and an authentic German band, a bratwurst eating contest, and even things for the kiddies to do while you get a refill.  And, food wise, you’re set with plenty of German goodies as well as some classic American dishes if you’re sausaged out.  Get your tickets at the gate or ask a Devon Rotary member, or call up Scott Moulton at (203) 306-5172 for more info.  

Oktoberfest on the Meadow, 4th Annual

Location: Stamford Museum and Nature Center in Stamford, CT

Date and time: 10/17 from 7-10

Cost: $60/$75 for non-members in advance or $70/$85 for non-members at the door (21+)

Description: SM&NC is one of our favorite places in Fairfield County and it’s also home to a great harvest festival weekend.  The ultimate kickoff to the weekend of cider making and family fun is celebrating fall and beer at Oktoberfest on the Meadow.  Plenty of great German brews will be flowing with live music from Green Eyed Lady.  Plus, it wouldn’t be an Oktoberfest without lots of great German food, and that’s what you’ll get with Old Heidelberg providing the delicious grub.  Oh…did we mention the S’mores bar?  Hell yeah.

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Ease into Fall w/ Fairfield County Farm Workshops, Dinners, and Events

3 Sep

Farms are what keep us rooted to our humble beginnings, they keep us in touch with nature…farms are what keep us alive.  And, while most people probably only have surface level interactions with farms by purchasing their foods at stores or getting a bit closer to the source by visiting farmers’ markets, farms have lots going on behind the scenes.  The sowing, the planting, the watering, the manicuring, and the picking.  And, there are plant-y of other things going on at farms, depending on the season.

So, this is where we leave you:  some great events, workshops, and dinners at farms in September and October for you to dig.

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Harbor Brew Fest 2014 Tickets Giveaway

2 Sep

There were so many entries for the contest, but the random winner is Amy Booth who really wants to try Ginja Ninja and the Cannoli beer.  Hey, we’re there with ya…love the Ninja, desperately want to try the Cannoli beer! 

Dude, it’s almost September 20…and you know what that means:  Harbor Brew Fest at The Ball Park at Harbor Yard in Bridgeport! We’ve got our tix, and hopefully you do too, but just in case you don’t, we’ve got a ticket giveaway contest just for you!  So, to win TWO General Admission tickets to Harbor Brew Fest 2014, all you need to do is check out the list of breweries below and tell us one beer from a brewery that you can’t wait to try. Comment on this post to enter or comment on our Facebook post too.  We will pick one random lucky winner at 5 pm (when the contest ends) on Friday, 9/5/14, and will announce the winner.

In case you need a reminder or this is your first time hearing about HBF from us, here’s a quick review:

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What’s in a name…a review of Salsa Picante – Port Chester, NY

2 Sep

…that which we call a Mexican restaurant by any other name would taste just as amazing. Right?

See, we heard about Salsa Picante in Port Chester well before it opened a little over a month ago, but we didn’t really give it any thought because the name made it sound like the same ‘ole, same ‘ole quick service Mexican joint. But then, like magic, we were walking down the street in Port Chester and the new spot caught the corner of our eyes. We peeked in and saw that it seemed to be more than what we thought it was, so Danny ran in to snatch a menu and Kristien immediately whipped out her phone to see what the word was on the street. Both searches turned out to be fruitful as the menu looked ah-mazing and people were RAVING about the food online. So, naturally you know what we had to do next…

The very next day (Sunday to be exact) we headed on over early, around 6PM…which we’re glad we did because by 6:30 there were people lining up outside to get in.  To be fair, the restaurant itself is pretty small fitting about 30 people. It has a simple, casual, cafe type feel with Mexican art work all around the darkly painted walls.  The sounds and sizzles of the grill are heard through the open kitchen and the chachacha of drinks being mixed are like music to diners’ ears.

Alright, let’s get into the drinks.

Before we did much of anything, we ordered some drinks. Lucky for us they got their liquor license just about two weeks before we visited.  That means they had margaritas, sangria, basic cocktails, wine, and beer available!  We went with margaritas for Kristien, sangria for Dan.  The margarita is made with house tequila (though we upgraded to Patron), Cointreau, and freshly squeezed lime and orange juices (we watched the bartender squeeze them by hand). It was a very simple, but well-balanced, fresh tasting margarita. Dan’s White Sangria was light, refreshing, and just sweet enough with a nice peachy undertone from the Schnapps.  Dan later got the Red Sangria (because you HAVE to try both, duh) which, again, was nicely balanced and not too sweet.  We later talked with owner David Dolores who shared that the sangria is made with at lest five different kinds of liquors, making them very complex.

Onto La Comida!

There was definitely lots of options to choose from on the menu like appetizers, tortas (sandwiches), burritos, and lots of classically authentic Mexican dishes.  We decided to start off with their Ceviche Misto, which was good, but we had two major issues:  they were pretty heavy on the lime so it was very acidic and, perhaps because of that, the fish had a bit of a mushy consistency. The shrimp and calamari, though, had a good consistency. Here, too (like the Margarita) it was very simple and traditional.  We also tried one of the specials for that day:  a lobster quesadilla.  The lobster, actually, wasn’t overcooked and had a nice consistency.  While we know lots of people say it’s a horrible sin to pair cheese with seafood, we have to say that it worked nicely here with the crispy tortilla and melty cheese playing off the lobster quite nicely.

Elote at Salsa Picante in Port Chester, NY

Next up is one of our favorite dishes from Latin spots, Elote.  They served two corn on the cobs with mayo, Cotija cheese, and chili powder.  David was accommodating with Dan’s loathing of mayo and kept it off of his ear.  The corn was spicy sweet, and rich from the cheese and mayo, just like we like it. The only issue was it was just warm rather than hot.  We would have preferred it to be hot, if not steaming. We also love those charred grilled marks on the corn, which we didn’t see.

For our entrée we decided to share the Taco Platter.  You got your choice of any 3 tacos meats plus onion, cilantro, lime, rice and beans, tortillas, and guacamole.  When the dish arrived, we were so excited:  it’s essentially “Do it Yourself Tacos”!  David explained to us that this is how they do things in Puebla, Mexica where he’s from:  family style, just like us Italians!  We had decided to go with the fish (tilapia), Carne Asada, and Al Pastor tacos because, well, those are some of our favorite flavor combos.

Fish (tilapia) taco at Salsa Picante in Port Chester, NY

First up was the tilapia that came out red (from paprika), moist, and delicate.  We made ours with cilantro, onion, radish, lime, and a touch of their orange sauce.  Then we both made our own Carne Asada tacos!  The beef had nice grill marks, giving off even more flavor.  We threw everything on this taco, using the smoky red sauce on one and the orange sauce on our seconds.  And, finally, we made our Al Pastor tacos. Unlike most variations we’ve had, you can actually taste (and see) the pineapple along with the pork…which we loved!  We decided to make ours with cilantro, onions, lime, and the orange sauce, though the red sauce did help to highlight the pork even more, too. We had enough meat and toppings to make 6 tacos each and even asked for more tortillas so we could make two more tacos at home. All in all a tasty (and again, simple and traditional) dish!

And last, but never least, dessert.

We couldn’t decide which to go with, the Quatro Leches (ooo that’s one more leche than normal) or the Churros. So guess what? Yeah, we did both…don’t judge!

The Quatro Leches was ridiculously moist, and only a little sweet unlike most we have that hurt our teeth. The chocolate syrup on top gave it a nice little warmth/depth. Honestly, this was one of the best we’ve ever had.

The Churros were stuffed with cream and Cotija…OMG. They were super crispy on the outside and oh so ooey gooey on the inside.  Man, that cheese really sent this dessert over the top. Yum!

So, would we say Salsa Picante lived up to our expectations of its name, or did it far exceed those expectations? Well, if you’re looking for a traditional, simple, affordable, authentic Mexican experience that is a major step up from quick service Mexican spots, then this is most definitely a great place to go. If you’re looking for modern twists, fancy cocktails, a hopping ambiance, and complex flavors, you can stick to one of our other fave trendy Mexican spots, like Bodega.

Noms: 3.25

Cost: $$-$$$

Address: 110 Adee Street.

Port Chester, NY 10573

Phone:  (914) 481-5488

Salsa Picante on Urbanspoon

Morello Bistro: Old World Italian Charm with a Modern Twist – Greenwich, CT

28 Aug

Exterior Morello Bistro Greenwich

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:

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