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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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Food trucks take over Vet’s Park in Downtown Stamford Weekdays

14 May

Let us introduce you to your new favorite days of the week:  Tuesdays, Wednesdays, and Thursdays.  That’s when food trucks will be rolling into Vet’s Park in Downtown Stamford to feed ya.  Just come by from 11-3 on those days, pick the kind of food you want or mix and match, and you’re all set.  Plus, you’ll be happy to know that there will be tables, umbrellas, and music to help you escape a bit from the work day into your own little piece of paradise.  The nomworthy food truck feasting begins today, so you’ve got some time to gather up your friends and make new lunch plans…

Here’s the schedule:

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A brunch to make even Portlandians jealous @ Olio in Stamford, CT

24 Apr
Man, we wanna come back STAT!

Man, we wanna come back STAT!  Huevos Rancheros, Olio (Veggie) Frittata, Chorizo Frittata, Steak & Eggs, and Sweet Potato Hash

One of the coolest things for us as bloggers is watching a restaurant grow from a mere idea to a fully working dynamo. We definitely had that kind of feeling when we came back to Olio, remembering when we first sat down with co-owners Moira Hyland and Chef Steve Costanzo.  And, we remembered seeking shelter at Olio during Sandy when we had lost all power. But, it was time for some new experiences…namely brunch, the best meal ever!

Before we even picked out what we were eating, we got uppers (coffee) and downers (mimosas) to start things off right. Then, after much deliberation, we finally decided on our dishes: an order of the amazing Ricotta Doughnuts, Steak & Eggs, Huevos Rancheros, and an order of the sweet potato hash. We brought Kristien’s parents to let them try out one of favorite places and they both got frittatas that they loved and devoured every bite of: one veggie, one with chorizo.

Thanks Mike and Ann!

Thanks Mike and Ann!

As we waited for our food, a super nice couple (Mike and Ann) sat down next to us who we had talked with at Casa Villa a few months back. They were inspired to go after seeing that we had asked our Facebook fans where we should take the ‘rents for brunch. Then, our donuts arrived, so we had to get down to business. They were still as light and fluffy as we remember…and still sooooo freaking amazing.

Kristien devoured her steak & eggs, served with home fry gratin (scalloped potatoes,) grilled strip, and a cilantro parsley chimichurri sauce. The eggs were cooked perfectly: runny yolk that oozed out in a rich yellow. The steak itself was cooked closer to medium rather than medium-rare, but was still excellent. And, the chimichurri sauce took the whole dish to another level with its herbaceous kick. Oh, and that home fry gratin…imagine scalloped potatoes, cooked to a delicate tenderness, placed in a thick cheddar-y sauce.  Seriously nomworthy.

Dan’s Huevos Rancheros was a great brunch item, featuring those nicely cooked eggs, the scalloped potatoes, a Guajillo Chili sauce, and grilled chorizo sausage that was split in half. The eggs (perfectly over easy) and sauce (bright and fresh) were placed atop a blue corn tortilla that added a nice texture to the dish. The chorizo was great, offering a nice bite and a undertone of spice that lingered. If this dish had just a little more salt it could have been super stellar, but still great nonetheless.

The Sweet Potato Hash is something our friend Kelley told us to get, and when we tried it we understood why. There was this amazing contrast going on between sweet and savory, soft and crispy due to the small bits of sweet potato and crispy pork belly.  A must have.

Having eaten here many times over the past couple of years, we can definitely put Olio up there with some of our favorite places to go in the area.  Service is always cheerful, happy, and helpful and the food is inspired, creative, and has heart in it.  It’s really nice to see that they are serving a brunch that is getting people coming in to fill up the place.  Mimosas are just $5, so you can load up without feeling guilty, too…and the rest of the brunch menu has a variety of options like House Cured Salmon, Cinnamon Brioche French Toast, Lobster Eggs Benedict, and Egg in a Hole.  Also, they just started serving lunch again, so you know where to go when you’re in the area…


Olio
Noms: 4
Cost: $$$
Address:  934 Hope Street
Stamford, CT 06905
Phone:  (203) 817-0303
Fax:  (203) 817-0305

Olio Restaurant on Urbanspoon

Food Trucks, Beavers, Custards + Theater @ Westport Country Playhouse Block Party

4 Apr
Last year's Block Party, photo from Westport Country Playhouse

Last year’s Block Party, photo from Westport Country Playhouse

This ain’t Pee Wee’s Playhouse (but we do freaking love that show), this is CT’s own Westport Country Playhouse…and they’ve brought back their popular Block Party to kick off the 2014 season.  So, come on down 4/12/14 from 4-7 to take part in all the fun events that are planned out.  Here are some reasons to check it out:

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Branford, New Haven, and Stratford Restaurant Weeks Hit Mid-April

28 Mar

We told you about the 1st Annual Stratford Restaurant Week at the start of the week, but you’ll be happy to know that there are lots of other options for branching out and trying new spots throughout the middle of April, too.  So, let’s break these restaurant weeks down in order from Branford, to New Haven, and then to Stratford:

April 6-12, 2014

April 6-12, 2014

First up is Branford Restaurant Week, make sure to enter for a $25 gift card good at any of the participating restaurants.  Secondly, check out the selection of restaurants that will feature specials, deals, and prix fixe menus.  Third of all, don’t forget about Stoney Creek and Thimble Island breweries, both in Branford.  Make a day of it!

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Taste of Stamford 2014: Culinary Tour of the City that Works

12 Feb

 

As if the great deals of Stamford Winter Restaurant Weeks weren’t enough, the Stamford Chamber of Commerce is giving hungry people even more reasons to visit Stamford. You got it people, it’s the 21st Annual Taste of Stamford!  This year’s event is on 2/27/14 at the Stamford Marriott and goes from 5:30-8:30.  Tickets are $50 if you pre-pay by ordering here or will be $60 at the door.  Money raised from Taste of Stamford will go to the Kids Our Future Trust Fund formed by the Chamber to bolster educational programs in Stamford Public Schools.  

Now, let’s give you the details on why this night is gonna rock yo world:

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3rd Annual OmNomys: Celebrating the Best in Food in Fairfield County, 2013

18 Dec

Logo for OmNomys

Can you believe that this is the third year of the OmNomys?! For those of you new to us this year, we like to eat a little food every now and then (riiight), and keep track of the best of the best to celebrate at the end of the year. In 2011 and 2012 we were lucky enough to dine on some amazing food throughout Fairfield County, but we feel like 2013 really upped the ante with some fantastic new spots opening up!

So here it is, the 2013 OmNomys…the best food we’ve eaten in Fairfield County in the year 2013 (not necessarily ever, just in 2013)!  If you noticed one of your favorites that wasn’t on the list, it doesn’t mean it’s not awesome…it just means we may not have eaten there in 2013 or we happened to eat somewhere just a little better this year.  But hey, there’s always 2014, so tell us where we need to hit up for next year’s list!

Best Ambiance: Dolce Cubano, Stamford

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Chow Down: Wine and Food Tasting to Support Local Stamford Community

29 Oct

wine tasting poster

The North Stamford Exchange Club is a made up of a group of community members, coming together through community service, providing activities for children, helping to prevent child abuse, and strengthening Stamford.  All of this work that they do for local Stamford families and youth isn’t cheap, so they’ve brought back their Wine Tasting event on 11/1 from 7-10 pm at The Italian Center of Stamford.  Tickets are $50 each and that gets you wine samplings from across the world as well as some tasty treats from local restaurants.  Tickets can be purchased via PayPal at http://www.northstamfordexchangeclub.org, with a credit card at http://www.localwineevents.com/, in person at Giovana’s Wine & Spirits (the awesome sponsor), 1492 High Ridge Rd., 203-252-2518, or at the door.

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Stamford Summer Restaurant Weeks Goes Local w/ Farm Fare

7 Aug

Hand it to Stamford Tables and the local restaurant community to change up their popular restaurant weeks.  It’s not that they’re not working, it’s that they want to constantly make them better every single time.  Some of the great additions have been turning the experience into weeks (not just a week), Stamford Hospital’s Kids Fans’ 5-2-1-0 program that gives healthy food options for kids at participating restaurants.  We all try to be one of the first 3,000 restaurant week nom-ers because we know that we get a voucher for a small popcorn from the Avon with any movie ticket purchase.  And this year, from August 19 – September 2, a bunch of the restaurants are going local with their menu, highlighting produce from local farms.  We’re talking about Hubbard Heights Farm, Stamford Museum & Nature Center, Domus, and the Green Up Group!  Restaurants participating in the local farm food program are noted below with an  and those participating in the 5-2-1-0 program (kids 12 and under are $6.95 or $9.95 for a healthy lunch) have an *.

So, please check back as we add more 2013 Stamford Summer Restaurant Weeks menus and why not set up reservations now?  Just do it, trust us, this is a busy time of year and tables go fast.

$10.13 Lunch or $15.13 Dinner

*  Bobby Valentine’s Sports Gallery Cafe (Restaurant Week Menu)

*  Fin II Japanese Restaurant

*  Tiernan’s Bar & Restaurant

$12.13 Lunch or $20.13 Dinner

Bar Q Stamford

*  California Pizza Kitchen

*  Capriccio Cafe

*  Cotto Wine Bar (Restaurant Week Menu)

Kotobuki Japanese Restaurant (Restaurant Week Menu)

  Kujaku Japanese Restaurant

Lola’s Mexican Kitchen

*  Lucky’s Classic Burger

*  Quatto Pazzi

*  Remo’s Brick Oven Pizza

*  SBC Downtown Restaurant and Brewery

Tengda Asian Bistro (Restaurant Week Menu)

*  Volta Gelateria Creperia

$20.13 Lunch or $30.13 Dinner

Aria

*  Bar Rosso

Barcelona Wine Bar

Capital Grille (Restaurant Week Menu)

*  Columbus Park Trattoria

Emme of Capri (Restaurant Week Menu)

*  EOS Greek Cuisine (Restaurant Week Menu)

*  Hudson Grille (Restaurant Week Menu)

*  Kona Grill

Mitchell’s Fish Market (Restaurant Week Menu)

Morton’s, The Steakhouse (Dinner Only)

  napa & co. (Restaurant Week Menu)

*  Patrizia’s of Stamford (Dinner Only)

  Rodizio Grill Brazilian Steakhouse

ZAZA Italian Gastrobar

Adorably delicious brunch with Alex from Sunday Diners! Volta, Stamford

19 May

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If you haven’t been following the exciting eating adventures of Alex from Sunday Diners, you’re seriously missing out. Oh, did we mention that he’s just 10 years old?  Yep! He and his dad, James, hit up Connecticut diners and breakfast spots and write about the food, the people,  the experience, and, oh, the bathrooms…but more on that later. Always a fun read, we love seeing where “the boys” (James is a kid at heart) have gone. And, lucky ducky us got to sit in on one of their dining extravanganzas at Volta in Stamford with mom / wife Ann who runs the increasingly popular Fairfieldista. Here’s our adventure…and here’s his on Sunday Diners.

BOW BEFORE ALEX, HOLDER OF BACON!

BOW BEFORE ALEX, HOLDER OF BACON!

We got settled in to our table and enjoyed some nice Sunday morning conversation about the weather, places we’ve traveled, and restaurants we want to try. But soon we moved on from  the small talk and got down to the real business of the day: getting our grub on with some delicious crepes! For Alex, ordering was easy:  the Nutella crepe.   He had already been drinking up a healthy and freshly made juice concoction of carrots, apple, and ginger.  How cool is Alex drinking all his fruits and veggies…a 10 year old food blogger who is more adventurous with food than most adults.   He took out his notepad in preparation for the food arriving, then took a quick look around as if he was looking for something.   For Alex, his Dad explained, it’s not all about the food… it’s also about the bathroom! You’ll learn why soon.

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