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.
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.
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.
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.
Well, that pretty much says it all, doesn’t it? In their 28th year (here are this year’s results) of seeking out the hottest and best new restaurants all across America, Esquire is out with their latest list that has Elm in New Canaan on the list. To those who have dined here, they’d probably say that this is no surprise. Chef and owner Brian Lewis has been featured in countless articles and reviews, praising his style and his love of all things local and seasonal. His gig before Elm was cooking up a storm at Richard Gere’s The Farmhouse at Bedford Post.
As for options eating here, there are so many to pick from: dinner, chef’s tasting, bar dining (snacks), Sunday brunch, and even Sunday supper. Perhaps one of the coolest things to do here is go with Chef Lewis on a journey to the farm through his tasting menu. For $45 you’ll get three courses, paired beautifully for you. If you have more of an appetite or feel a bit more daring, check out five courses for $75. Now, this is great, but even more exciting (at least to us, we’re in serious awe of talented chefs) is the Chef’s Tasting Counter. Saddle on up and enjoy each bite of your tasting menu while you watch all the action go down in the kitchen. Yes, you’ll see your dishes cooked and prepared right before your hungry little eyes.
Eating local food shouldn’t have to be something that you seek out and search for. You shouldn’t have to hunt down a farm to table restaurant or find out which places use local and sustainable food. Imagine if we kept things local wherever we went to eat. Imagine the jobs that would be opened up and how the Connecticut economy would thrive. Well, Connecticut is trying to bring awareness to this and to the vast amount of farms throughout Connecticut by holding the third annual Connecticut Farm-to-Chef Week. It runs from September 16 until September 22, 2012 at various locations throughout the state. What’s very interesting about the list of restaurants that are participating is that, well, they aren’t all just restaurants. You’ll see many schools on this list that want healthier, non-processed, and more local options for their menus. You’ll even notice a couple of farmers’ markets on the list, too. We got this info from CT Farm Fresh, if you’d like to check out more from and about them.
How it all began…
Eat for Equity. You can find them hard at work in Boston, Minneapolis, Portland, and the Ozarks…and soon you’ll find their ground-breaking, community-minded, locavore-loving, change-making meals in Stamford, Connecticut. To understand Eat for Equity, you need to understand where it all began. After witnessing the deadly tragedy of Hurricane Katrina, one of the founders of E4E put a New Orleans style meal together in order to raise money to help out. Turns out, it was a huge success with 100 people attending. As the dinners continued, the popularity grew and so did the money that was raised. Their ideals and their approach to helping bring a fair shot and equity to the disadvantaged spread across the country and the next place on their stop: The City that Works.
Who they’re helping
E4E helps puts meals together using local ingredients in order to raise money and awareness for groups that fight inequities in education, the environment, health, and opportunities. In addition, they will help local organizations to make short-term changes and to bring about change to the community to bring about self-sufficiency. Check out all the non-profits that they’ve helped so far.
Here’s how it works: Continue reading