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Fall in Love (Again, Over and Over) with Cheese this Fall at Fairfield Cheese Company

28 Aug

Cheese makes the world go round.  If you disagree, then you shouldn’t be reading this.  See, Fairfield Cheese Company (see our post) has created a load of cheesy goodness in store for you this fall.  If you haven’t stopped by their awesome store in Fairfield, now’s a great time.  See, they’ve just been named the winners of the 2012 Best Cheese Selection by Best of Connecticut.  But, that’s not all.  They are also featured in Food & Wine Magazine as one of the top 5 cheese shops in the entire country by Laura Werlin.  As if this isn’t enough, they’ve got an amazing variety of fun events happening.  So, check ‘um out for the first time or come back again to fall back in love with cheese:  

Fromage Friday

#FF #cheese #byob #heaven  Yup, it’s everything great about the world, every single Friday this fall from 5-8 pm.  Fromage Friday begins September 7 and will cost just $10.  In return, you’ll get to nom away on lots of gourmet cheese.  They will also provide empty glasses for you.  For what, you ask?  For your wine or beer, duh!  Let’s sweeten the deal a bit:  get your liquid goodness next door at Harry’s, tell them you’re a part of Fromage Friday and get a 10% discount.  Now, you can’t pull this on Swiss Cheese Saturday, Stracchino Sunday, Mascarpone Monday, or Turophile (means cheese lover, we looked it up and stuff) Tuesday.  This deal is only live during Fromage Friday, punks. Continue reading

Chef Sergio Reyes Makes Bar Rosso in Stamford Shine

18 Mar

*Click a picture to enlarge and bring up the gallery*

Way back in May 2011, we told Omnomivores about Bar Rosso and were dying to try what we hoped were great Italian tapas. We thought it would end up being one of our favorites, especially because Mary Schaffer from Napa & co was involved with the initial launch. But, much to our dismay, when we finally tried things out, we were a bit disappointed to find the food didn’t live up to the hype with way too much salt, seasoning and oil.  We left knowing Bar Rosso had potential, if they could just get the food right.

At a press dinner at Cactus Rose Cantina, Linda Kavanagh told us that Bar Rosso had a new chef and new management. So with that in mind, and the fact that we were dying for some great Italian tapas, we decided to give Bar Rosso another try. What went down next definitely changed our minds…

When we arrived we met Stacy, the general manager, and she seated us in a comfy booth by the brick oven and the kitchen door. To our delight, Chef Sergio Reyes came out and told us he wanted to share some dishes with us to show what Bar Rosso is now all about.  If a chef presents you with an offer like this, you take it.  Like if the Godfather comes up to you, telling you to do something, you do it.  Capiche?

So we were dying to find out what he would bring, but in the meantime we enjoyed a nice wine flight of a Primitivo, a Nero d’Avola, and a Sicilian Syrah selected by Eileen, head of the wine program. The picks were perfect and matched our taste so well:  big, bold reds that have body.

Wine Flight and Smoked Mozzarella, Spicy Sausage, and Broccoli Rabe Pizza

Chef Sergio came out with our dream pie: smoked mozzarella, spicy sausage, and broccoli rabe. The crust was beautifully cooked and golden, was crispy, yet still a bit doughy inside. The smoked mozzarella was a wonderful touch and added a great smokiness to the dish. We would order again, and–yes–it did stand up to the next morning reheat test.

Veal Ricotta Meatballs

Find these bad boys on the Bar Snacks section of the menu at 1 for $7 or 3 for $18.  Starting off, the meatballs were served in a cute jar.  They were meatier than we like, but not super meaty to the point that was all you could taste.  The ricotta was great because it added a juiciness to them that kept them moist.  Also, Chef Sergio did a great job of crustifying (is that a word?) the outside.  Any good meatball has been pan fried nicely…just ask any Italian.

Crispy Honey Calamari 

We also really loved the calamari.  There was a nice pile of them, generously drizzled with a jalapeño and honey sauce.  Although there was only a slight kick from the peppers, the flavor was intense, especially with little bits of olives mixed in.  The breading on the calamari was thick, but if it was any thinner it would probably become soggy because of the drizzle.

Short Rib Raviolis

A pretty complex dish.  Delicate and earthy short ribs with burrata, tomato jam, and hazelnuts.  These handmade bad boys had great contrasting flavors with the earthiness of the short rib, the acid of red pepper pesto on top, and the bite of the shredded parmesan.  Delicious and very filling, which leads us to the next course.  Lucky for us these dishes were small plates style, otherwise we never would have made it to dessert.  Yes, we’ll get there.

Lemon Ricotta Gnocchi

The gnocchi was served with capers and golden raisins in a creamy and light lemony sauce.  The capers added a nice saltiness to contrast the bright flavors going on.  The gnocchi itself was more on the heavier side that a typical ricotta gnocchi, rather than being like the light and fluffy pillows you’d expect. Chef Sergio said it was because they were made with a pastry bag which makes them heavier. The gnocchi definitely left us at the brink of exploding, but we couldn’t resist the chance to pick a dish of our choosing from the menu.

Pan Seared Pork Chop

This was the dish we had eyed on the menu and was actually recommended by Chef Reyes as one of his favorites.  The pork chop was paired with beautifully seared and buttery Brussel sprouts.  Oh man, how we love Brussel sprouts! On top of the chop were caramelized apples and under the chop was a bed of lentils.  Although it might seem scary, you should go with a medium on pork chops to get the full flavor and juiciness of this cut of meat.  But, make sure you’re at a good restaurant where the chef can handle this by cooking it to the right temperature.  :)  The chop was a bit over medium, but was still full of flavor and juicy.   The apples were a nice play on the classic pairing of pork chops with apple sauce.  We would order this dish again, no doubt.

Gelato, Sorbet and Pot de Crème

Chef Sergio came out and told us that he was sending out two desserts for us to try.  Again, we were left waiting in anticipation to see what we would receive.  The first dessert was an amazing trio of gelato and sorbet made one door over at Volta Gelateria Creperia.  The blood orange sorbet was bright, tart, citrusy, and refreshing.  Also there was the caramel sea salt gelato.  It was creamy, caramely and had an undertone of saltiness that provided a nice contrast in flavors.   Now, then there’s the chocolate strawberry gelato.  Kristien melted into a puddle and proclaimed that she would eat this by the gallon.  It was everything she loves in a gelato – a super fruity, refreshing gelato with chunks of contrasting chocolate. I think she even liked this better than her favorite ice cream ever – Friendly’s Watermelon Roll. Don’t tell her I told you all that!

We also had the Nutella pot de crème with homemade whipped cream and crushed amaretto cookies on top.  The pot de crème was light and airy and hid light hints of cinnamon.  Seriously delicious.

So…Same, Better, Worse? What’s OmNomCT’s Verdict?

Our major problem with Bar Rosso when we first went was how everything was just a bit off. A bit too much!  But, after this meal, we can say that Bar Rosso is a wonderful place to hit up if you’re looking for some awesome Italian tapas.  You’ll get to try lots of small plates that pack in a lot of flavor.  The service is excellent and the wine selection is a blend of phenomenal wines from all over Italy.  Chef Sergio will also be changing the menu up, depending on the season, and filling it up with food from local farms.  We’d definitely recommend checking out Bar Rosso for some bar snacks, small plates, sharing a bottle of wine, or even just an all out dining experience.  So, let it be known that Bar Rosso has jumped from 3.25 Noms to 4 Noms.

Bar Rosso
Noms: 4
Cost:  $$$
Address: 24 Spring Street
Stamford, CT 06901
Phone: (203) 388-9640
Reservations recommended (also on Opentable.com)
Site: http://www.barrossoct.com/
Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=100001687354172
Twitter:  http://twitter.com/barrossoct

Bar Rosso on Urbanspoon

Typico Venezuelan breakfast is more like extraordinaria! Valencia Luncheria–Norwalk, CT

27 Mar

Holy Frijoles and Chorizo Batman!

Typico, Not So Typical in CT!

Update:  Michael Young has opened up Bodega Taco Bar in Fairfield.

Going to diners for breakfast is such a CT/Long Island kinda thing to do.  It’s not to say that diners aren’t great, they are comforting, dependable, and just damn good.  But, sometimes you have to branch out and try new things.  So, we decided to add some spice to our breakfast by heading to Valencia Luncheria–one of our faves for lunch and dinner, good, down-home, Venezuelan.  We walked in just in time to get a table, though it took quite a while for our waitress to take our order.  It’s understandable, though, because it was just her taking orders and serving.  When we got our meal we were dying of hunger and dove in, but not before taking some good pics.  You know, that might be the hardest part of having OmNomCT:  delaying our needs and gratifying our hunger just to get some good photos. We like to call it our “saying grace.” :)

Well, let’s get down to it.  I ordered the Red Smitty tortilla wrap and it came out much like a burrito, but cut in half.  Gooey cheese lined the inside of the tortilla, surrounding beautiful and smoky chorizo.  You could taste that they had grilled the chorizo which gives even deeper flavors to the wrap.  Throw in some chipotle for additional smokiness and my add-in of black beans and you’re almost there.  The real star of the Red Smitty was the egg, though.  It was light and fluffy and had such a fresh taste to it.  Unable to resist one of my favorites, I asked for plantains on the side and they were fried very well and oh-so-sweet.

Our waitress also gave us a bowl of rice and beans out of confusion, but who are we to deny a challenge?  I took that opportunity to try their two sauces:  a hot and spicy chipotle sauce and a puréed cold vegetable sauce.  The red sauce was smoky and had a really good heat behind it–definitely not subtle.  The green (vegetable) sauce was chunky, but not too thick, and had lots of fresh flavor playing off the cilantro.  Kristien went wild with these sauces in her dish (which she absolutely loved):  the Typico Breakfast.  In Costa Rica, they call this Tico Pinto.  As she dug her way through the eggs, over easy, beans and rice, and plantains we talked about how much we missed being in Costa Rica and how much we loved the food. Valencia, though, took us back.

Platanos, Por Favor! For the Gringos, That’s Plantains

If you come here, you come here for the amazing food, the freshly made juices, and the authenticity.  It’s one of the best dives in Fairfield County for sure. Service might be slow, but if you can get past that, you’ll keep coming back. Also, coming in at just $20, this was a pretty damn cheap meal.  It’s also BYOB, so bring $5 for a bottle ($10 for 2 or more) with a nice deep South American red to go with the food here. Jennifer Young (her husband Michael is the chef extraordinaire here) explained, also, that there is no fee for bringing in your cerveza!  You hear that Food Plus Beer?  Just remember, cash only!  Oh, and hey, guess what?  Guy Fieri was here!

Valencia Luncheria

Noms:  4.5

Cost:  $$

Address:  164 Main Street

Norwalk, CT

Phone:  (203) 846-8009

Website:  http://www.valencialuncheria.com

Valencia Luncheria on Urbanspoon

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