Tag Archives: local food

Fresh Dine brings freshly made meals to your door with local love

18 Nov

Chef Peden and Maureen of Fresh Dine at the New Canaan’s Farmers’ Market, from Fresh Dine site

Like many locals, Maureen Shankar and Chef Lauren Peden (chef/owner of Simply Delicious catering) went to the New Canaan Farmers Market last weekend.  But what was different about their trip was the fresh ingredients they were shopping for weren’t for them…they were for their new farm-to-chef-to-door service called Fresh Dine.

Delivered meals from FreshDine

Meals come in recycled and recyclable materials

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Bailey’s Backyard Hosts Local Farmers for Ultimate Farm-to-table Dinner

28 Oct

It’s always a strange moment.  

Invariably, people will ask us what our favorite restaurants are when we meet them or when they discover we have a food blog.  Although we spend countless hours writing about some of the best places in Connecticut and trying new places, our minds always seem to draw a blank.  But, then, we remember some of the best meals that we’ve had.  And, one of those places that we always mention to people is a quaint little restaurant in Ridgefield called Bailey’s Backyard.  We’ve been there three times already and plan to come back three hundred more times.  

Bryan Walsh is not only the mixologist, but is also in charge of the drink program at Bailey's

Bryan Walsh is not only the mixologist, but is also in charge of the drink program at Bailey’s

You might remember back in March we interviewed Executive Chef Forrest Pasternack (formerly of Morello Bistro in Greenwich) and we saw how deeply devoted he and Sal Bagliavio (the owner of Bailey’s) are to the farm-to-table principle.  Yes, we know that word gets thrown around and is quite overused.  But, at Bailey’s Backyard it’s a literal interpretation.  Forrest and staff hit up the local markets and visit nearby farms to build their menu on a daily basis.  

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OmNomCT Named Local Food Champions by Fresh Nation

9 Oct

Fresh Nation is a new service, based out of Stamford, that pools together local resources to give you a central place to find the best and freshest local food.  Just type in your zip code and you’ll see an amazing list of places to help you keep it local!  And, just a few months ago, they began delivering food from farms, markets and artisan producers right to your door throughout Fairfield County and now parts of Westchester.

Because being local and keeping things in the community matters so much to Fresh Nation, they began a campaign to celebrate Local Food Champions.  These are people who work hard at bringing awareness to good food in our region and who constantly emphasize the idea of keeping things local within our own communities.  We have believed in this for a long time and hopefully you’ve noticed that we often focus on food, producers, and restaurants that highlight the amazing produce, meats, and products that are made here in Fairfield County and Connecticut.  And, to be honest, we’re honored that Fresh Nation would not only recognize this, but also put us up on their list of Local Food Champions that include the CEO and founder of Fresh Nation, Tony Lee, Analiese Paik of Fairfield Green Food Guide, Alicia Ghio of Local Food Rocks and The Natural Princess, and Lisa Corrado of Lisa Corrado Nutrition.

To help keep the community close together, you’ll also be able to visit the Local Food Champions blog feed to keep up to date with what’s going on in Fairfield County and Connecticut.  We’ll all keep you updated on how you can continue to keep it local.

If you’d like to learn more about Fresh Nation, check them out by visiting their site, and if you’d like to learn about their delivery options to Fairfield County and some Westchester County towns, check it out here.

Thanks again Fresh Nation.  We’re blushing.

Eat for Equity Stamford Paints it Pink with October Feast

1 Oct

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Eat for Equity is back with a very special meal on October 19.  Not only are they celebrating their one year anniversary, but they are doing their darndest to help Paint Stamford Pink.  Yes, the items on Saturday’s menu are pink in some ways, so there’s a literal interpretation, but there’s also the deeper meaning of what pink symbolizes.  All the money raised with the dinner ($15-$20 donations are suggested) from 7-10 that night will be donated to Stamford Hospital’s Carl & Dorothy Bennett Cancer Center and the Paint The Town Pink campaign.  

While the food has been generously provided by local restaurants and markets such as Saugatuck Craft Butchery and Grade A, Eat for Equity is run by a great group of local volunteers who want to make a difference in the community.  If you’d like to help out at this meal or any Eat for Equity event as a volunteer or greeter, then please e-mail stamford@eatforequity.org.  Make sure to reserve your spot by October 11 by simply confirming here.  For more information about Eat for Equity, please check out our original post and their website.  Here’s the pinktastic menu:

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PopShop Market Returns 2 Fairfield with Shops, Food Trucks, and Pop Up Restaurants on October 5th

30 Sep
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If it ain’t broke, don’t you dare go fixin’ it!  But, if something is so awesome, it sure don’t hurt to keep making it better!  That’s what you can expect with the third PopShop Market here in Connecticut.  This special one day market on 10/5 from 9 am -3 pm is back at Fairfield Theatre Company where it all began on June 1.  This time around, though, you can expect a ton of great food trucks, lots of other food and drink options, tons of shops and even some pop up restaurants!
Here are just some of the food trucks and restaurants that will be there:

Celebrate Connecticut Farm to Chef Week 2013 at Farms, Restaurants…and Schools

11 Sep

The premise of Farm to Chef Week (September 15-21) in Connecticut is pretty simple.  Use the freshest, most local ingredients from Connecticut farms at restaurants and different venues throughout the state.  While some of the restaurants that are participating such as ON20 in Hartford, Zinc in New Haven, or Rizzuto’s might not surprise you because they already make good use of local ingredients, there might be some surprises for you on the list.  We’re talking about local schools like Branford, Newtown, Westport, and Wilton as well as colleges such as Fairfield University and University of Connecticut in Storrs.

When you visit any of the restaurants listed below here during Connecticut Farm to Chef Week, you can expect special menus and offerings.  Each participant must offer at least four foods or courses that feature one or more Connecticut Grown items.  And, if a venue allows alcohol, they need to also offer at least one Connecticut wine.  As for the farms listed below, they will be offering specialty items and produce during CT Farm to Chef Week.  Just check here to see what each farm is offering!’ Continue reading

Elevated, True Farm to Table at Bailey’s Backyard in Ridgefield, CT: Restaurant Review

2 May
Some of the veggies that Forrest has pickled for sale

Some of the veggies that Forrest has pickled for sale

When we talked with Forrest Pasternack (former Executive Chef of Morello Bistro in Greenwich) a few weeks ago, we couldn’t help but get excited about what he and owner Sal Bagliavio had planned for the reopening of Bailey’s Backyard.  A farm-to-table restaurant that would live up to its name, built from the ground, the farm, and garden up.  A restaurant where the chef actually visits local farms and buys food from them.  A full and complete embrace of what farm to table means.  And, after visiting Bailey’s Backyard a few days before opening and being treated to a special preview menu, we know our excitement was well warranted.

The Menu

The menu is pretty easy to handle, fitting on just one (large) page.  In terms of what to order, it’s divided up into a few sections:  snacks, sides, greens, starts, mains, and desserts.  Of special note is that this is a great restaurant if you’re looking for fresh vegetarian options.  You can order whatever you’d like, or have a 3 course meal (starter, main, and dessert) for $27 ($39 with wine pairing) or a 4 course meal (greens, seafood starter, main, and dessert) for $38 ($50 with wine pairing).  In addition, you can even have the special Chef’s Tasting which is a seven course tasting menu for a very reasonable $65 or $95 with wine pairings.  No tasting menu will ever be exactly the same because it’s built daily based on what’s fresh and from the farms.

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Bailey’s Backyard Gets Farm-to-table Remake and Gains Chef Forrest Pasternack – Ridgefield, CT

22 Mar
Tarragon growing at Bailey Backyard's Own Garden

Tarragon growing at Bailey Backyard’s Own Garden (photo courtesy of Forrest Pasternack)

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Update:  Bailey’s Backyard is now open…read our review.

Elevating local ingredients.  That was the recurring theme to a recent talk we had with Forrest Pasternack, Executive Chef at Bailey’s Backyard in Ridgefield.  We talked about Forrest’s amazing cooking a few months ago when he was Executive Chef at Morello Bistro in Greenwich, but he’s moved onto greener pastures…literally.  He’s been working with Sal Bagliavio, owner of Bailey’s Backyard to not only refocus the menu, but also to rework the philosophy, the heart, the body, and the soul of the restaurant as it undergoes some major changes.  While the restaurant is closed right now for renovations, you can expect an opening around the middle of April.  Let’s look a bit closer into how Forrest plans to inspire diners, fully embrace the philosophy of farm-to-table, get the community involved, and spread the love of all things local across Connecticut.

Planting the Seeds:  A Fresh Start, a Local Approach

Forrest knows Ridgefield. He grew up there and for a long time he’s been looking to get involved in the local food scene of a community and elevate the ingredients found nearby. With great excitement he shared, “I want to offer a showcase for local ingredients.” And, yes, he’ll be doing that…and not in your typical way, either. He’ll literally be planting seeds with his sous chef in the restaurant’s garden courtesy of Veronica’s Garden, will help nurture the seedlings, will reap the veggies, then will feature them in the dishes. For everything else, the staff will gather the freshest veggies, herbs, meats, and supplies every week from local farms. Some of the farms they plan to visit are Veronica’s Garden of Ridgefield, The Hickories of Ridgefield, and Maple Bank Farm of Roxbury. As for meat, he’s going local too such as Greyledge Farm in Roxbury. Even the wine menu at Bailey’s Backyard will be almost entirely local, with lots of Long Island and Connecticut vineyards showing up like Lieb Cellars (we love the wine and the vineyard itself) of Mattituck, NY; Millbrook Winery in Millbrook, NY; and DiGrazia of Brookfield, CT.

Farm pics

The Greenhouse at Maple Bank Farm in Roxbury, CT (photo courtesy of Forrest Pasternack)

Watering the Seedlings: Nurturing the Restaurant, Nurturing the Community

Forrest told us that he wants to be a real driving force in the community in regards to food.  By keeping the menu at Bailey’s Backyard local, he’ll be helping to reach that goal.  In addition, he was sad to see that the farmers’ market in Ridgefield went away so he’s going to do whatever he can to try to bring one back.  But, it’s not just Forrest who is nurturing Bailey’s Backyard.  Chef Pasternack shared, “Sal, the owner, really understands food and he knows farms.  He knows local wineries.  And, whether people know it or not, he’s been a proponent of farm-to-table philosophy for a long time.”

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Harvest Wine Bar + Restaurant Brings Modern American Farm-to-Table to Greenwich

24 Jan

Update:  Harvest is open and here’s our review!

The rows of plants seem to stretch on endlessly on harvest day.  Within a few hours, months worth of hard work and devotion will come to fruition as all the veggies and fruits are gathered.  Hundreds of fresh tomatoes, corn, apples, and more will soon hit up the farmers’ markets, the stores, that cute little stand set up in front of the farm, local restaurants, and will eventually end up right on your plate.

This is the kind of imagery that owner Vicente Siguenza and Chef Eben Leonard of Harvest Wine Bar & Restaurant want to convey.  If you’ve been following our blog, you might remember those names.  Yes, Vicente is one of the owners of the classic go-to spots that we know as Cava in New Canaan, Scena Wine Bar & Restaurant in Darien, and 55 Wine Bar & Restaurant in Fairfield (we wrote an article for CBS about all of them, too).  As for Eben, you might remember his work as chef at Scena.  While we have love for their takes on Italian dishes (two years of OmNomy wins) and can’t get enough of their gnocchi, we’re really interested in what Harvest has to offer.

The new spot at 372 Greenwich Ave. (former home of La Brasserie and Le Figaro Bistro de Paris) in Greenwich will focus on Modern American food, put together with love and attention, and will be held together with deep roots to the earth with a farm to table experience.  In fact, they refer to the experience of eating at their restaurant as “farm to fork” dining.  According to Eric Gendron’s article for Greenwich Daily Voice, they will have an extensive wine menu of over 300 bottles, a beautiful wood-fired grill, will have small and large plates, and will also offer charcuterie options.  Sounds like our kind of place.

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Ocean to Table Sushi that Is Seriously out of this World! Miya’s Sushi – New Haven, CT

12 Nov

Our fascination with Miya’s Sushi and Chef Bun Lai began when we had our first bites of their sushi at The Whole Hog fundraiser for Wholesome Wave.  Bun’s uniquely awesome personality really came through when he talked to us about harvesting his own seaweed and how everything in the sushi roll was made.  We could tell that he had a deep passion for food and keeping things local, which is exactly what made us want to travel into New Haven to check out Miya’s.

It was finally when we were contacted about Bun Lai and Miya’s Sushi being on a new TV show that we got our butts in gear and headed out to New Haven. Plus, it was the perfect place to celebrate Dan’s birthday! We know that New Haven can seem so far away, especially when you’re in the western part of CT, but it’s really worth the trip!

As we sat down, we learned from our waitress about some basics of Miya’s.  First off, she told us that the staff are trained divers and they were going on a diving trip the following day to get seafood for their rolls and dishes.  The DIY philosophy also comes through when they served us their homemade low sodium soy sauce and their homemade ginger that is just de-vine.

Our strategy was to order lots and lots of rolls so that we could try as many flavors and combinations as possible.  This worked out well because most rolls were sliced into four slices, not an overwhelming amount at all.  We also HAD to order a few drinks because they were so incredibly unique. And, despite all the food and drinks that we ordered, we still ended up spending a bit less than we would at other “comparable” sushi joints.  We say comparable because, well, it’s hard to compare anything to Miya’s anymore after eating there.  Dan felt very zen, so he allowed his poetic side to reign and compose haikus (5-7-5 syllables) for each roll.

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