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The 2014 OmNomys: Celebrating the Best in Food in Fairfield County

15 Dec

Logo for OmNomys

Well, here we are, already at the end of 2014. Man, how time flies. But fret not friends, because the end of another year means another celebration of the best of the best in Fairfield County. That’s right, it’s time for the 4th Annual OmNomys! By now most of you know how this works, but for those of you new here, this is a list of the best that we’ve experienced in 2014… NOT necessarily the best EVER in Fairfield County. If your favorite spot or food didn’t make it on here, maybe it was on our list back in 2011, 2012, or 2013… and if not, let us know so we can check it out in 2015! 

So, without further ado, here we go:

Best Ambiance: Cask Republic, Stamford

With not one, but two fireplaces, Cask Republic has a warm, rustic, and down-homey kind of vibe going on. It’s hard to think of a chill spot with more class. It’s the perfect place to meet up with friends, have some drinks (from which there are many to choose), and try out some great gastropub grub.

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Bodega Taco Bar Resurrects Dia de los Muertos Celebration

27 Oct

Dia de los Muertos, a Mexican holiday that’s celebrated November 1 and 2 of each year, is a time for people to pay their respects and remember loved ones who have died. But, even though there are reflections about those who have been lost, it’s more of a celebration of life and the spirit that they’ve left behind in the world.

Keeping with that theme of celebration and remembrance, Bodega Taco Bar in Darien and Fairfield is bringing back their popular Dia de los Muertos party on November 1. In addition to muetro-fying Bodega up, you’ll also be able to check out food specials and drinks made Roca Patron tequila. (If you’ve never been to Bodega, they do tequila right, with an amazing menu. Maybe order a flight?) There will also be plenty of things to do like kids face painting and tattoo art during lunch or even learning how to create traditional sugar skull decorations used to honor the dead.

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Mole Stout OmNomCT Collabo + Casa Villa @ Half Full Rare Beer Night

7 Oct
The first stages of the Half Full Mole Stout

The first stages of the Half Full Mole Stout

Patience. Overwhelming, meticulous, and methodical patience. That’s what we discovered Jen Muckerman, Headbrewer at Half Full, has as we brewed a beer together. A serious scientific and orderly mind that moves her to create an arsenal of beer on tap at the brewery and for distribution. And, a nice little side effect was some of that rubbing off on us…yeah, we know: patience is a virtue and stuff.

It all started back at Dinosaur Bar-b-que after the Rare Beer Night on the SoundWaters boat a few months back. Jen said we should do a beer together so we were like…damn right, son! We talked about it for hours and hours. We didn’t want to do a standard kind of beer…it was going to be for Rare Beer Night after all: a monthly event highlighting nanobrews made by Jen, Jon, guest brewers, and the brew crew. Our immediate thought was to make it somehow food based, but still accessible and highly addictive. We settled on creating a dark stout made with typical mole ingredients, inspired by our favorite mole dish at Casa Villa in Stamford, CT.

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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

Food Trucks in the Valley ft. 18+ Trux, Music, Cars, Fun, Black Hog Brews + More

1 Sep

So…remember when we wrote about the Meriden Food Truck Festival going down October 25 +26 just a few hours ago?  Yeah…well, we’ve got another one to share with ya, this happening much sooner (9/18 from 4-8) at the Shelton River Walk:  Food Trucks in the Valley!  This feast by the river is being hosted by The Lower Naugatuck Valley Parent Child Resource Center and will help to raise vital funding for them that will go towards programs and services such as helping people who have undergone severe trauma, abuse, or neglect.

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New Restaurants, Craft Cocktails, VIP Party @ 4th Annual Food for All Fundraiser for Community Plates

12 Aug

It’s no coincidence that Community Plates‘ annual fundraiser is called Food for All because that’s exactly their goal:  food for all people.  While we have written about them many times on our blog, we’ve done a few runs, we guest bartended at Bistro 7 in Wilton to help raise some vital funds, and also helped to organize a fundraiser at Coalhouse Pizza with Gerard, the need to help out and eradicate hunger in Fairfield County and beyond still remains.  That’s why they’ve organized the 2014 Food for All event, happening this year on 10/2 at the Darien Community Association.

Helping make things awesome this year at the VIP Reception featuring light bites and a cocktail party from 6-7 ($100 and includes the Main Event) is the always fabulous Marcia Selden Catering & Event Planning.  Then, starting at 6:30 and going until 8:30, check out the Main Event ($50) that includes some of Fairfield County’s best and newest restaurants.  Also, new this year, are killer cocktails from restaurants who embrace cocktails and house some amazing mixologists.

Here’s the info:

Craft Cocktails from Local Restaurants

Bailey’s Backyard

Cask Republic/Post 154

Match

Mama’s Boy Southern Table & Refuge


Restaurants (as of 8/11/14):

Azuca Bistro Latino – Stamford

Back 40 Kitchen – Greenwich

Bravo – Stamford

Brick + Wood – Fairfield

Craft 260 – Fairfield

Gastro Bar – Stamford

Hana Tokyo – Fairfield

Johnny Utah’s – Norwalk

Little Barn – Westport

Little Pub – Greenwich

Local Kitchen + Beer Bar – Norwalk, Fairfield

Shearwater Organic Coffee Roasters – Trumbull

Sign of the Whale – Stamford

The Granola Bar – Westport

Walrus & Carpenter – Bridgeport

Washington Prime – Norwalk


We hope you can make this great event that not only helps to make a huge difference in people’s lives, but is also a great time.  When we went last year, we tried so many new restaurants, had a chance to meet up with fellow writters, and had some nice moments with the chefs and owners who were there supporting Community Plates.  The goal this year is to raise at least $75,000…and, with the way people were so generous last year, we don’t think this will be a problem at all.  If you’d like to learn more about Community Plates, please check out our original post, see the “About” section below, and visit them at the Westport Farmers’ Market on 8/28 from 10-2 pm.  Also, feel free to send us any questions via e-mail.


Event Details:

Thursday, October 2, 2014

VIP Reception + Main Event: 6-7 PM, $100

Main Event: 6:30-8:30 PM, $50

Darien Community Association

274 Middlesex Rd, Darien, CT 06820


About Community Plates

Community Plates is committed to ending food insecurity in America.  Recognizing the problem as a matter of logistics, not a lack of food, the organization established a volunteer-driven, technology fueled method for transferring surplus food to those in need.  The simple process includes food donors (e.g., grocery stores, restaurants, caterers, bakeries and other food-service establishments), food runners (individuals who pick-up and deliver donated food) and receiving agencies (e.g., soup kitchens, pantries, etc.).  Scheduling is made easy with the web and smartphone enabled Community Plates’ GoRescue technology powered by WhenToManage, which received the 2013 Computerworld Honors Program 21st Century Achievement Award for human services.  Since Community Plates was founded in 2011, more than 700 volunteers have rescued food that equates to 4.9 million meals to date.  Launched and headquartered in Fairfield County, CT, Community Plates also operates in New Haven, CT, Albuquerque, NM and Columbus, OH with plans to expand to four more markets in 2014.  For more information or to get involved visit:  http://communityplates.org.

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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Harbor Brew Fest 2014 Tickets on Sale Saturday, 6/21

20 Jun
Picture yourself here...what, you're dunk already?

Picture yourself here…what, you’re dunk already?

That’s right, tickets to one of our absolute favorite beer fests in the tri-state, Harbor Brew Fest at The Ball Park @ Harbor Yard in Bridgeport, go on sale June 21 starting at 9 am.  Tix are $40 for GA ($50 at the door if any tix are left) and $60 for the Brewer’s Special, which gets you in an hour early and gives you access to a special tented area for exclusive and rare tastings.  You can also get your tix at Harry’s (they help to make this festival so freaking awesome!) in Fairfield.  

9/20:  mark it down!

9/20: mark it down!

If you went last year and thought they had an amazing selection of craft and local beer, then prepare to be blown away. Seriously, brace yourselves. That’s cuz this year on 9/20 from 12-5 (1-5 for GA), there will be over 100 breweries on hand!  And, whereas there was one giant tent filled to the brim with CT breweries down on the field, prepare for more on that green green grass!

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CT’s Biggest Food Truck Festival EVER, ever, ever: 1st Annual Connecticut Food Truck Festival

17 Jun
Set aside July 19 and 20...now...seriously...we'll wait...

Set aside July 19 and 20…now…seriously…we’ll wait…

Update:  the festival organizer changed the price for tickets to $5.  Bring your ticket back on Sunday and pay only $2 admission! 

Connecticut peeps really like their food trucks.  And, on July 19 and 20 from 11-7 on both days, CT peeps are gonna fall straight up, head-over-heels in LOVE with a helluva lot of food trucks at the The Connecticut Food Truck Festival at the North Haven Fairgrounds.  Although the final details are still being worked out, there are already a few dozen trucks that have been signed up, with 40-50 expected by the time of the festival.  That brings this festival into the record books here in CT as the biggest food truck festival.  The previous record was at Westbrook Tanger Outlets with about 20 food trucks, and the recent RBS Food Truck Festival clocking in at 15.  And, the top record will soon be broken with an estimated 33 trucks at the Hamden Food Truck Festival…still not as big as the CT Food Truck Fest, though.  

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Get you some: Taste of Port Chester and Wilton Are Back for more in 2014

4 Jun

We love tasting events where you get to taste some of the best spots in an area.  They tend to be inexpensive, they have lots of variety, and it’s basically like a Costco tasting spree on steroids.  ‘Nuff said, right?  So, get ready for two great events coming up:  Taste of Port Chester on 6/8 and Taste of Wilton on 6/9.  Check out the deets with us and get yo’self down (or up) there for all the nomworthy food.


Taste of Port Chester

6/8, from 12-3 pm

Registration starts at 11:30 at the Marina on Abendroth Ave.

Tickets are $25 (drinks extra; you’ll get a map for easy food tourism)

Taste of Port Chester is a walking tour (though there are busses available) through CT’s neighboring village.  Once you have your wristband, you can just visit any of the places below (there will be balloons outside) and get samples of their goodies.  We were downtown when this was going on last year and it was a very popular event, so you won’t want to miss this one.  Added bonuses:  your ticket purchase helps to support Port Chester Public Schools and you can walk off all of the calories that you ingest (wishful thinking).

Here are all the spots that you can check out:

• A&S Deli:  Italian
• Acuario:  Peruvian
• Aqui es Santa Fe:  Colombian
• Arrosto:  Italian
• Bubbles & Berries:  Juice Bar and Desserts
• Cafe Mirage:  Eclectic, Modern American
• Carvel Ice Cream
• Coals:  Pizza, craft beer, killer sprouts, and wings
• Copacabana Steakhouse:  Brazilian steakhouse
• Cousin Frankie’s USA Grill:  American
• Euro Asian Bistro:  Asian, sushi
• Frankie & Louie’s:  Italian, pizza
• Garcia’s:  Nightclub, bar
• Il Sogno:  Italian
• J.J. Cassone’s:  Bakery
• John’s of Arthur Ave:  Italian
• Kiosko:  Mexican
• Longford’s Own Made:  Ice Cream
• Los Chuzos de Juancho:  Colombian
• Mary Ann’s:  Mexican
• McShane’s:  Irish Pub (new)
• Neri’s Bakery
• Nessa:  Italian
• Paleteria Fernandez:  Ice cream, frozen treats
• Panera Bread:  Cafe, American
• Port Chester Hall & Beer Garden (new)
• Salsa Picante:  Mexican
• Sichuan Pavilion:  Chinese
• Sonora:  Nuevo Latino
• Spadaro’s:  Italian
• Tarry Market:  Gourmet market
• Varmax:  Wine, liquor
• Zeppoleme:  Zeppoles, panini, coffee

7th Annual Taste of Wilton

June 9 from 5:30-8:30

$30 per person at Wilton Chamber of Commerce, Fairfield County Bank, Bankwell, or Wilton Family Y

$35 at the door

Cheaper than an entrée at most restaurants here in CT, admission to Taste of Wilton is a great deal…especially because food and drinks are included.  This year, you’ll want to check out this event all over again so you can try out some of the new restaurants that have opened up and to nom away on your favorites.

Here are all the participants (getting full already):

• Ancona’s Wines & Liquors
• Bianco Rosso Wine Bar Restaurant
• Bistro 7
• Black Cat Grille
• Cactus Rose Restaurant & Tequila Bar
• Fleur de Lis Academy
Georgetown Package Store
• Little Pub Wilton
• Luca Ristorante Italiano
• Marly’s of Wilton
• Pinocchio Pizza
• Portofino Restaurant & Bar
• Stop & Shop
• Sweet Pierre’s
• Sweet Sabrina’s Cake Shop
• The Painted Cookie
• Toozy Patza Pizza
• Village Market
• Vintage Fine Wines (visit their store during the Taste)
• Wilton Pizza
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