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Welcome to a new ice cream experience @ Milkcraft, Fairfield

28 Jun

The “going out for ice cream” experience is pretty standard these days: you wait in a brief line while browsing frozen vats of available flavors, you order, you pay, and before you know it you’re licking your way to dairy heaven. But, at Milkcraft, the newly opened ice cream shop in Fairfield, the experience has completely changed . . . and for good reason. 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 a Pair of Tix to the 8th Annual Chocolate, Dessert & Wine Lover’s Evening

18 Jan

Marla is the winner, but keep an eye out in your e-mail boxes because there might be a special deal waiting for some of you! 

Every year we look forward to a massive event that helps us get through winter. No, we’re not talking about football: we’re talking about the Chocolate, Dessert & Wine Lover’s Evening! This year is the 8th year . . . and it will definitely prove to be even better than the rest! 

The action is going down on February 4 from 6-9 at the Stamford Marriot Hotel & Spa with all proceeds going directly to Shelter for the Homeless. There will be over 70 different dessert, chocolate, food, and adult drink vendors on hand to help ya warm up. In addition, there will be entertainment and tips from host Chef Plum, music, a 50/50 raffle, door prizes, and even chances to shop for Valentine’s Day gifts for your precious little love. Tickets are $45 per person or $80 if you buy them in pairs: perfect for a Valentine’s Day treat. Continue reading

Celebrate Bacon Day w/ The Fat Elvis from Donut Crazy!

30 Dec



Slightly after . . .

Okay, so it appears that there are TWO International Bacon Days. Because, well, bacon. Can you really have one day for bacon? Pssssh. For the true, hardcore and devoted even two days is not enough . . . try 365.

But, we digress. Let’s talk about The Fat Elvis from Donut Crazy with locations in Shelton, Stratford, and hopefully soon in New Canaan. When we last visited Donut Crazy we, sadly, did not order a Fat Elvis donut. We nearly broke down in tears, whence we realized our folly.  Continue reading

Sweet! Chocolate, Dessert + Wine Lover’s Presale + Vendor Invite

13 Nov

Yes, The 8th Annual Chocolate, Dessert & Wine Lover’s Evening isn’t going down until February 4th, 6 pm, at the Stamford Marriott, but if you act before December 1 you can save some serious bucks. Instead of paying $45 per ticket, you’ll pay only $35 which adds up if you’re going as a couple or with a friend. We’re just saying, but this will make a great holiday present or an early way to prep for Valentine’s Day. Think how nice that’ll be to be prepped and ready to go that far in advance! Continue reading

The Granola Bar Crunching into Greenwich w/ 2nd Spot

5 Nov

The Granola Bar, known for their healthy spins on classic dishes, fresh juices, and coffee and other wake-ya-up drinks, has made a name for itself in Westport. We’ve been by their spot many times and dig the cool, relaxed vibe . . . and now we won’t have to go so far anymore because they are moving to where we live now: Greenwich. Continue reading

Going Cray Cray for Donut Crazy in Shelton (Review)

19 Aug

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After a long day of brewery hopping with Dan’s brother and new sister-in-law Chad & Lindsey, we were in the mood to play an intense game of mini golf at The Sports Center of Connecticut before hitting Dew Drop Inn in Derby, with our minds on wings as we pulled in, we were quickly distracted by the bright shining Donut Crazy sign right across the road. It’s like we have Food A.D.D., so of course we had to work it into our plans.

Donut Crazy in SheltonAfter Dan won mini golf (by only one point for the record, hehe), we hit up Donut Crazy to get us some dessert for late night. Upon entering, the sweet and doughy smells overcome you and then you feast your eyes upon them. Donuts, a crazy amount of donuts, everywhere. Over 36 flavors to be more specific. Yeah, you can’t help but get that kid in a candy store kind of feeling. Continue reading

Gimme S’more: 4 S’mores Recipes for a Killer Backyard Party

10 Aug
Elvis has left the building and is just about to enter our bellies. Photo from Robin Selden

Elvis has left the building and is just about to enter our bellies. Photo from Robin Selden

You haven’t had any kind of good summer until you’ve busted out the fire pit or grill to make some S’mores. And, like the good people they are, Marcia Selden Catering has gone ahead and given us four recipes that will help you to elevate your dessert level from n00b to expert in no time flat. So, let’s take you through these recipes, one delicious bite at a time:

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27 Trucks + Counting @ 2nd Annual RBS Food Truck Festival, May 22

18 May

After their inaugural food truck festival last year, the Race Brook School Food Truck Festival is back and bigger than before (15 last year)! All you have to do is come by the Orange Country Fairgrounds from 4-8 on May 22 with some dinero and a massive appetite! That’s because there is a crazy amount of food trucks that will be there!  Just look at this list:

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Craveworthy: Parallel Post Unveils Dessert Menu Featuring Girl Scout Cookies

28 Jan
Hungry yet? Killer shots from Roger Ho-Yen!

Hungry yet? Killer shots from Roger Ho-Yen!

There are important events all year long: New Year’s, Thanksgiving, the 4th of July, and . . . of course . . . Girl Scout Cookie season! Ordering has already started and keeps going strong and deliveries are on their way, but if you can’t wait to get your packages in then we’ve got some great news for you. Parallel Post in Trumbull has created a wickedly decadent dessert menu using Girl Scout Cookies in conjunction with Girl Scouts of CT.

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