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Valentine's Gift Guide

Oh, for the love of....10 Unique CT Valentine's Gifts for your loved one. 

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Wednesday
Feb102016

25 Spots For Great Oysters In Connecticut

It’s no secret that oysters are a catalyst for romance.  Ordering from the raw bar is adventurous, yet sexy: the perfect start for a date.  With its proximity to Long Island Sound, 618 miles of coastline, and bustling culinary scene, Connecticut is the perfect place to dine on fresh seafood. 

Here are 25 CT restaurants in the state that serve up delicious oysters.

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Wednesday
Feb102016

MECHA Launches Late Night Menu in Sono

MECHA in Sono is launching their Late Night Menu served Thu 10pm-12pm, Fri and Sat 10pm-1am.

The Late Night Menu will feature special snacks and Ramen as well as cocktails you can only get after hours. To celebrate, they will be introducing the menu and hosting a PARTY Thursday, February 11th at 10PM. Enjoy some special treats from the kitchen (even some complimentary chicken sandwiches) and some amazing cocktails from their late night market menu.

A few highlights from the Late Night Menu include: THIT BO KHO beef brisket jerky, SHOYU BREAKFAST RAMEN w/ brown butter, bacon, egg, and cheese; WONTON MI RAMEN w/ fried shallots, sesame, greens, pork & shrimp wontons $10.

Remember, slurping in encouraged. 

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Tuesday
Feb092016

Liuzzi’s Gourmet Market In North Haven: A Well-Crafted Bridge to Italian Foodways

Anna Bendiksen is new to the CTbites team. Anna is a former scholar of Russian literature, and a food blogger over at threecoursesonaweeknight.blogspot.com or follow her on Twitter @anna_bendiksen

When Domenico “Dom” Liuzzi talks about artisanal cheesemaking, his eyes light up.

“Quality is what sets us apart from Stop and Shop,” he said in a recent conversation at Liuzzi’s Gourmet Market---not that anyone could mistake his store, which carries over 200 cheeses, for anything other than the Greater New Haven landmark it is.

The cascades of Italian speech in the air, the display cases featuring Liuzzi’s own house-made cheeses, the scent of cured hams and sausages hanging overhead, the attentive staff darting about---all combine to make Liuzzi’s a prime destination for foodies from Connecticut and beyond.

The cheeses for which the store is best known---the result of the family’s cheesemaking heritage stretching over a century---are its burrata (favored by Mario Batali), a caciocavallo (“cheese on horseback,” so named because it is strung in rope to drip dry), and two kinds of ricotta (whipped and large-curd).

Yet the cheese offerings at Liuzzi’s, located in North Haven, don’t stop with these house-made specialties. You’ll also find imported Grana Padano (a cheese similar to Parmesan that is favored by Italian children and a standby in Lidia Bastianich’s new cookbook Mastering the Art of Italian Cuisine); Moliterno, a raw sheep’s-milk cheese exquisitely scented with black truffle paste; the best of American artisanal cheeses such as Humboldt Fog; and many more. 

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Tuesday
Feb092016

The Winners Of MacChilifest 2016 Are....

The votes were tallied at the annual MacChilifest competition held at Bedford Middle School in Westport on Sunday Feb. 7, 2016  and the event has crowned several local champions including one for the best mac 'n cheese. Guests voted in 3 categories, Classic Beef Chili Category, Creative Chili Category, Mac 'n Cheese Category. 

Classic Beef Chili Category:

  •  1st Place:  Chilibomb in Fairfield for their “Texas Peacemaker” Chili  
  •  2nd Place:  The Weston Fire Dept. with their “SmokeEater” Chil 
  •  3rd Place:  Southport Brewing Co. with their “Maple Stout” Chili 

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Sunday
Feb072016

20 CT Restaurants for Decadently Delicious Desserts

The lights are dim. Conversation flows. A luscious, silky piece of chocolate cake arrives at the table.  You both pick up your fork, lean in, and dig into the silky decadence in front of you. Cakes, Soufflés, Cream Puffs, Tarts, Crépes, Brulées are more... Go enjoy some with your loved one this Valentine's Day.

Here are 20 restaurants that serve decadent, sexy desserts in Connecticut.

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Friday
Feb052016

Happy Hour at Basso Café in Norwalk

Basso Café exudes an easy intimacy that comes with a chef-owned restaurant whose reassuring presence is felt both in and out of the kitchen. Chef Renato Donzelli has built a loyal following of customers at his Norwalk restaurant who come for both his creative Italian-meets-South American dishes, as well as his charming hospitality and boundless energy. And now, they are coming for a newly added bar menu and cocktail list.

During a recent renovation, Basso Café invested in a new bar area with seating for about twelve, and a special menu of cocktails and snacks, thanks to a hard-won liquor license after eight years in business. Although you can still BYOB, Chef Donzelli has crafted a happy hour menu that can be enjoyed Tuesday through Friday from 4 to 6 pm, as well as a mini happy hour from 11 to 12 noon each day for lunch.

A self-described “hot blooded Italian” who grew up in Venezuela, Donzelli focuses his creative energy on a menu that blurs the lines between dishes from those two countries, creating his own unique cuisine. “I start from the back,” is how Chef Donzelli explains his approach to his menu. The new cocktail and wine list are meant to compliment the food, and long-time diners will be rewarded with a solid selection of shaken and stirred, classic and contemporary cocktails, as well as wine and beer.

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Thursday
Feb042016

The Spread's Chef Carlos Competes on Beat Bobby Flay Feb 11th

Chef Carlos Baez is a local favorite.  He has impressed diners with delicious dishes at The Spread in South Norwalk since 2013.  Now, he’s taking his talents to an even grander stage: Food Network!  He will compete in an episode of Beat Bobby Flay that airs Thursday February 11 at 10pm.

Baez has never met Bobby Flay before, but considers himself a fan of the popular cooking channel.

“I’ve been a big Food Network fan, so I definitely saw the show before,” he reveals.  “When I watched, I put myself in the other chef’s shoes and thought about what I would do.”

It was a conversation with a regular customer from The Spread that turned Baez from spectator into competitor.  She had heard about the casting call for the upcoming season and sent Baez a link.  Within 2 days of submitting his name, Food Network responded.  They expressed interest and asked for additional information, including a bio and application.  Baez says 3-4 months passed before he heard back again.  They had positive news: they wanted him on the show!

The episode was filmed in June of 2015, about 6 months ago. 

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Thursday
Feb042016

Nibble: CT Food Events & Happenings for February 8-14

Match Restaurant is hosting a “Day After Brunch” on the Monday after the Super Bowl.  The special menu will include ingredients from Fleishers Craft Butchery and cocktails sponsored by William Grant & Sons, including Reyka Vodka & Hendricks Gin.  Doors open at 11:30, with the menu running until 3:00.  Please call for reservations ASAP as tables are filling fast.

On Fat Tuesday, February 9, there are 2 parties to check out: The Spread’s celebrates Mardi Gras with dishes like gumbo stuffed jalapenos, seafood jambalaya, and catfish po boy sandwiches. Walrus + Carpenter will be serving up live jazz, Shrimp Po' Boys, Muffuleta, & beignets. 

More exciting news for The Spread… Chef Carlos will make his Food Network debut on Thursday February 11!  He and Bobby Flay will go head to head on “Beat Bobby Flay!”  Tune in at 10pm.

Champagne and oysters?  Yes, please!  Shell & Bones Oyster Bar & Grill is having a special 5-course tasting menu inspired by Roederer Champagnes on February 9.  Chef Arturo Franco Camacho will prepare dishes, like a crispy soft duck egg and porcini dusted dayboat scallops, that complement the champagnes.  It is $135 per person, plus tax and gratuity.  For the menu and reservations, see:

During February, elm in New Canaan will be donating 100% of their Cosmo cocktail sales to “Help Ann Depuy battle ALS” on GoFundMe.

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Thursday
Feb042016

Impress Your Valentine: Baked Oysters Florentine Recipe via Marcia Selden

There’s a reason oysters are a permanent fixture on Valentine’s Day menus! They’re one of the most famous aphrodisiacs and have a reputation for love and fertility. If you’re looking to spark some romance this year, make our delicious and easy Baked Oysters Florentine. 

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Wednesday
Feb032016

Behind The Bar: 3 Winter Cocktails from Mixologist Adam Patrick 

Egg Nog (Jeffrey Morgenthaler version)

Behind The Bar is a new column from bartender Adam Patrick who has graced the bars of venues such as Walrus & Carpenter, Luxe, Match and Can Tiin. He will explore trends, recipes and the cocktail culture from both the front as well as behind the bar. 

One of my favorite movie quotes of all time is, “I won’t tell the story the way it happened, I’ll tell it the way I remember it.” It’s from the late-nineties film adaptation of Great Expectations, by Charles Dickens. Ethan Hawke delivers the line in the opening monologue.

There’s something about nostalgia that adds a touch of humanity to our lives. The real world, the world we exist in day to day, can be overwhelming and unforgiving. Take your job, your family obligations, traffic jams, mortgage, credit card bills, your dog destroying your new carpet, and view it all in aggregate, and things can steam roll out of control quickly. And yet, when we look at the past, we find it difficult to remember the mundane, the run-of-the-mill, even though those experiences dominate our lives. Sure, we can generally recall tragedy, or loss, but more than not it’s memories of our childhood, or a long lost love, or a favorite pet, that we gaze back at longingly.

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