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From Trash to Treasure: the Food Trucks at Elephant’s Trunk Flea Market

22 Jul

Considering Kristien’s obsession with all things HGTV, it’s a surprise it took us so long to get to the Elephant’s Trunk Country Flea Market. This massive market every Sunday in New Milford features antiques, rare finds, farm stands, and anything you’d need to furnish a home. Sure, you have to rummage through some trash to get to the treasures, but that’s part of the fun. In fact, there are so many food trucks at this flea market every Sunday, they sort of work the same way. They have lots of smaller carts and stands serving up hot dogs, lemonade, Italian ices, and breakfast sandwiches that could be hidden treasures, and they have some of the food trucks we’re all heard of that might not be as much of a treasure as you’d hoped. So we’re going to break down our trash and treasure food truck finds for you so you don’t have to rummage. We got your back! Continue reading

It’s ’bout Time We Dined @ Sugar + Olives: A Review of a Farm-to-Table Mainstay in Norwalk

9 Jun

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We have a huge “must try” restaurant list that seems to get bigger and bigger every month with all the awesome new restaurants opening up around here. So you can imagine how sometimes restaurants that have been around a while that we’ve been meaning to try, somehow end up getting pushed back. This is exactly what happened with Sugar & Olives in Norwalk . . . that is until we finally got our acts together and booked a table a couple of weeks ago. I mean we’re suckers for legit (and local) farm to table, so it’s pretty embarrassing that we waited so long.

How long exactly? Well, we were instantly psyched about Chef Jennifer Balin’s concept when she opened Sugar & Olives . . . that was even before OmNomCT was born! Whoa.  Her concept centered around being a dependable go-to spot for farm-fresh food, whether it was in the form of dining at her restaurant, picking up some eggs or milk within the tiny market inside, or for cooking classes which she hosts regularly. Then, the cherry (or should we say garnish) on top was when they added their new mixologist, Chris Grimm, who has quite the reputation for his creativity behind the stick.

When we finally arrived for dinner (yes, they’re much more than just a lunch/brunch spot), Chris greeted us and showed us right to our seats. The first order of business? Yeah, you know us so well . . . drinkey times! Here’s what we tried:

Esmerelda cocktail at Sugar & Olives in NorwalkEsmerelda: Chris shares, “The Esmeralda is Tequila Blanco, Grapefruit Liqueur, and Lime Juice, in a Mezcal rinsed glass, garnished with ground black pepper.” This was refreshing, vibrant, and has a juicy gush from the grapefruit liquer and the lime. Very nicely balanced and a definite must order if on the menu.

Gold Rush cocktail at Sugar & Olives in Norwalk CTGold Rush: Kristien went gaga for the one. Again, this drink was very well-balanced with bourbon, lemon juice and honey syrup. The sweetness from the Red Bee Honey made in Weston marries so well with the bourbon. Really just the right amount of kiss from the honey, making this a drink we’d just sit with and drink all damn day.

Ramp Gibson: Apparently, ramps aren’t just for dishes and for seeking after like the rarest kind of Pokemon. The ramps in this drink were pickled at their peak and add a strong kick and wildness to this drink. That garlicky-spicy punch blends in nicely with the gin which comes through as a slightly stronger flavor. This is Chris’ play on a dirty martini, mixed with gin, dry vermouth, ramp brine, and pickled ramp. Super creative, super tasty!

Il Palio cocktail at Sugar & Olives in Norwalk CTIl Palio: There is an undertone of cherry going through with bourbon up front making a nice Manhattan. As the drink melts more it evolves into a Boulevardier. Chris uses a Campari ice cube, bourbon, sweet vermouth, and housemade orange bitters with this drink. Definitely a fun and interactive experience, with a nice balance to make it well worth the wait.

Chet Baker: The rum is up front, a fun drink, with a nice punch, but like his other drinks, not overpowering. Chris describes it as a, “Cool cross between a Manhattan and an Old Fashioned, using dark rum as the base ingredient, instead of whiskey. Dark Rum, Sweet Vermouth, Honey Syrup, on a big rock”

While we were there we serendipitously ran into Chef Bill Taibe of The Whelk and Kawa Ni with his wife and they asked us to join them and their friends, Lori Cochran from Westport Farmers’ Market and her husband . . . and that’s when the feasting began. 

Up first? Shaved Brussels Sprouts and Radicchio, topped with a Pomegranate Molasses Dressing. It was fresh, bright green, bright citrusy, and the pumpkin seeds added a nice tastiness. Exactly what you’d expect from a fresh Brussels Sprouts salad.

Taco platter at Sugar & Olives in Norwalk CTThen, Tacos Featuring Fish, Chorizo, and Veggie. Although we thought this dish would be three tacos, one taco filled with each of the aforementioned fillings separately, it actually was a mixture of all three fillings in all three tacos. Surprisingly though, it worked. The fish was moist and delicate, the veggies had a nice bite, and the chorizo added a fatty, smokey tenderness. The Cesar’s special sauce also had a solid kick, so if you like a steady slow heat, this is it. Overall, we were very happy with this dish.

 

Our next course (you know we can eat a massive amount of food, right?) was a series of the Chocolate Bread Toasts. Yes, we know, you’re wondering . . . chocolate bread? Does it work? Yes, it sure does, especially because it’s not even sweet, with just a hint of that real cocoa taste peeking through. The first we had was the Pea + Leek which featured a silky and gentle puree of pea and leek, topped with a vinegary and garlicy bite of foraged and pickled ramps. We did like this one, but did want a little more flavor punch in the puree. The Bacon Jam toast, however, is where it’s at. That jam was savory, smoky, with the cocoa playing nicely off of it. It was all topped with a perfectly cooked sunny-side-up duck egg that just oozed out all its fresh deliciousness onto the bacon. And, we also tried the Sun Dried Tomato toast that had a beautiful fresh and slightly-acidic bite. Rounding it all out and playing so well with the tomato-forward tapenade was a generous portion of goat cheese that cut the acid and added a nice creamy tang.

Trout a la plancha at Sugar & Olives in Norwalk CTWhile we were waiting for our other dishes to come out, Chef Balin brought out the Whole Trout a la Plancha, served over quinoa paella with lemon beurre blanc. The fish was moist and wasn’t dry one bit, but it really lacked seasoning or any flavor really. In addition, the quinoa underneath also lacked flavor, offering nothing but a texture contrast to the delicate fish. We didn’t eat much of this because we wanted to save room for dishes that ended up being far superior.

Lovely Lamb Burger at Sugar & Olives in Norwalk CTUp next we tried the Lovely Lamb Burger, made with May-Tag Blue, caramelized onions, ancho chile ketchup, leaf lettuce, all topped with an English muffin and served with roasted carrots. The lamb was top quality and had that exciting wild and gamey undertone that was powered up with the bold fattiness of the cheese, and toned town with the slightly sweet and spicy ketchup. A must order, no doubt.

The Pulled Pork Ragout also caught our eye, so you know what we had to do. The ragout itself was rich, earthy, and had a nice spice undertone with flavors like cinnamon and clove. The pork inside was cooked just perfectly and flaked off well, too, jiving well with the sauce. And, the nice touch for us was the creamy, cheesy, and silky polenta underneath. It cut into the richness of the sauce and brought even more complexity to the dish. Very nice.

Chic pea busted scallops at Sugar & Olives in Norwalk CTAnd, we rounded out our meal with an order of the Chic Pea Busted Scallops, served with lentil stew and ramp oil. This, people, was a legit dish. There was this amazing crust on the outside with some extra crispy bite from the chic peas, while on the inside it was that perfect cook with a little bit of give to it. The lentils were cooked nicely and the ramp oil brought out a garlicy explosion to the dish. This dish was fun, was fresh, and was a nice play on textures, which we’re real suckers for.

Olive Oil Cake at Sugar & Olives in Norwalk CTWell, the meal might have been over, but we still had dessert on the way . . . and you know it’s kind of like a second meal, right? Chef Balin was so blown away, she asked if we were hiding food somewhere . . . um, yeah, in our freakin’ bellies. So, up first we really needed to check out the Citrus Olive Oil Cake because, well, Citrus Olive Oil Cake. How do you NOT order the potentially moistest, not too sweet thing ever, especially when there’s a note on the menu that says, “THIS IS GOOD”? Well, we agreed. The cake itself was exactly what we hoped for: moist, but not too sweet, and the citrus came through so well with a nice toasty nuttiness to finish it off. For us, though, the thing that just took this dessert over the edge was the mascarpone cream, which added a nice tart bite and richness.

We wrapped up the meal with some dark and bold French press coffee that you can order in three sizes . . . oh, and a cookie. How could we resist a cookie? Especially Mexican Chocolate Cookie! It was delightfully dense, yet moist, chewy, and had notes of cinnamon running throughout the chocolate chips. YUM, we want again right now as we write this.

Final Thoughts

We are very happy that we FINALLY had the chance to check out Sugar & Olives. The space itself is great, super cozy and chill. It has a big patio, a warm and comfy bar, and a small market of milk, eggs, and other produce and products. Also, there’s a large space for events and parties off to the side as you enter, there’s a beautiful kitchen where you can take cooking classes, and plenty of tables in the main and side dining room to accommodate everyone.

In terms of what Chef Balin is putting out, it’s harder to get any closer to the farm than what she’s doing at Sugar & Olives. Just look at some of these producers that she works with: Arethusa Dairy Farm, Homefront Farmers, Speckled Rooster Farm, Fort Hill Farm, Millstone Farm, Sport Hill Farm, and Ox Hollow Farm. And, mix in the spot-on, creative, and well-balanced drinks of mixologist Chris Grimm, and that makes it a nice place to check out. With the majority of the dishes being solid in terms of flavor, balance, and how they were cooked, we feel like this is a great place to check out when you’re looking for real, fresh, and rustic flavors. We need to head back for brunch too!


Note: While some of what we ordered was given courtesy of the kitchen, the thoughts, comments, and observations in this post are our own . . . cuz that’s how we roll.


Sugar & Olives

Noms: 3.75

Cost: $$$

Address: 21 Lois Street

                 Norwalk, CT 06851

Phone: (203) 454-3663

Win Two Tix to Burger + Beer Blast @ Westchester Magazine’s Wine + Food Festival 2016

26 May

Update: Thank you to everyone for entering on Instagram. Lots of excited people entered, but we’re sorry that we could only pick one random winner. The winner? @evanl5 who will be taking along @kimmybrady. Thanks again for entering . . . and be sure to grab your tickets before it sells out!

We told you allllllll about Westchester Magazine’s Wine & Food Festival earlier in the week . . . and we’re back with an incredible giveaway! Yup, we’re working with Westchester Magazine on a ticket giveaway. Up for grabs: two tix to the Burger & Beer Blast on 6/9 from 6-10, valued at $150! We’re talking about 5 Napkin Burger, Bareburger, Campagna, Coals Pizza, Dinosaur Bar-B-Que, Fortina, Little B’s Burger Bar, Madison Kitchen, Peekskill Brewery, Piper’s Kilt, Pow! Burger, Prime 16, Rye House, X20 Xaviars on the Hudson, DoughNation, Souvlaki Truck, Walter’s Hot Dog Truck, Artuso’s Pastry Shop, Beascake’s Bakery & Breads, and so many more restaurants! Plus, you know it’s gonna be some killer good burgers because Schweid & Sons is providing all the top-notch beef! Who will win the Blue Moon Best Burger Award? Well, you’ll be there, so you can find out!  Continue reading

When you wanna be good, go to b.good Greenwich

3 Mar

Sometimes you just need to hit that restart button on your diet. . . especially, oh say, after a deeply gluttonous vacation in Lake Placid and Vermont jam packed with beer, bourbon, bbq, burgers, Bloody Marys and bacon. Luckily, there’s b.good a couple of miles from us, which makes it easy for us to be good after our trip . . . especially when they have delivery. BOOM! Continue reading

20 Super Bowl 50 Spots in Fairfield County w/ Deals, Specials, and Prizes

1 Feb

The 50th Super Bowl is kicking off this Sunday, February 7, so we figured we’d help ya out a bit by giving you a guide to some of the best places in Fairfield County to watch the game! Yup, yup: we’re always looking out for our readers. If you know of any other events, let us know and we can add them.

Amore, Stamford

.50 cent Buffalo or Scarp wings, $3 pints, nacho pizza, pulled pork sliders, drink specials, and finally prizes and raffles. BOOM!

Anna Liffey’s, Fairfield

Prizes, giveaways, drink, and food specials.

B.J. Ryan’s BANC House, Norwalk

New England Brewing Tap Takeover featuring G-bot, Fuzzy Baby Ducks, Coriolis, and Sea Hag. That’s one SUPER beer lineup! Continue reading

Chick’n Shack Comes to CT and All Shake Shacks

14 Jan

 

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Oh dear God, shut up and take our money already! Photo from Shake Shack. 

 

Shake Shack just announced that they are bringing their Chick’n Shack sandwiches ($6.29) to all their US Shake Shacks starting today. Like all cool things, this sandwich got its start in Brooklyn, but finally we get the chance to try it and devour it. Continue reading

Bareburger: Great Apps + Drinks, But How ‘Bout the Burgers?

11 Jan

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For the longest time, people wondered if Bareburger Stamford would actually happen as that sad and lonely spot at 21 Harbor Point remained barren while Fortina and other spots nearby opened up and flourished. Well, glimmers of hope arrived as winter neared, and since opening up a few weeks back it has been jam-packed.

When we went to try it out this past Saturday (at around 6:45 pm) we were more than ready to eat and drink our sorrows away after witnessing our beloved Rangers lose in overtime at MSG. The space is pretty small with some seats at the bar, a few high-tops, and a handful of tables, but luckily we only had a 1/2 hour wait for a party of 6, which isn’t too bad. Continue reading

Shove this in ur face: the massive burger at Tomato Tomato in Stamford is larger than life

11 Dec
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I’m sorry, we ordered the large burger, this is clearly the small one. LOL Pic from Tomato Tomato.

Where do you even start with this burger from Tomato Tomato Pizzeria & Pour House? Literally, we don’t know where to start. It’s freaking huge. Do you just try to shove the whole thing in, cut it up, take it apart, eat it layer by layer? We just don’t know, but we’ve got some info on this stunning dish on the menu: Continue reading

Bareburger Stamford Readies to Open (Yes, 4 Realz)

7 Dec
Habanero Express burger at Bareburger in Great Neck, NY

The Habanero Express burger with Elk

Okay, so when we are saying that Bareburger Stamford is actually ready to open, we mean it. Yes, we did write about the expansion of Bareburger into Ridgefield and Stamford back in September of 2013, but things are finally falling into place. Now, starting on December 21, we’ll have two Bareburgers in our fine state. Continue reading

b.good Fairfield Hosts Grand Opening Party + Partners with Community Plates

14 Sep
Co-founder and chef, Tony Rosenfeld of b. good

Chef Tony Rosenfeld (also co-founder) of b.good putting together a Farmstand Tomato-Basil Kale & Grain Bowl at The Westport Farmers’ Market

We took a trip Portland, Maine a couple of weeks ago and devoured so much food (surprising, right?) One of our favorite spots that we checked out was The Holy Donut, which uses potato and sweet potato in their donuts. Holy crap, people: amazing. And, just a few doors down is b.good, a restaurant that we learned about a month ago when we were walking through Greenwich and saw that it was opening up on the avenue.  Continue reading

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