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Tuesday
Jul262016

Zucchini Fritters Recipe & Edible Flowers via The Westport Farmers' Market

Edible flowers are all the rage, and squash blossoms are perhaps one of the most familiar of culinary botanicals. Though tremendously popular today, serving the flowers of plants in the Cucurbit family – which includes Cucurbita pepo (zucchini, yellow squash, acorn, and pumpkin, among others) – dates at least as far back as 16th century Italy, and to Native Americans before then. Barcelona of Fairfield will bring this Mediterranean tradition to the Westport Farmers’ Market as this week’s featured chef. Don’t miss their demonstration, complete with recipe, starting at 10:15.  

Squash blossoms are not the only edible flowers you’ll find at the market. Muddy Feet Flower Farm, of course, is chock full of flowers for your table and recipes, but other vendors feature flowers for your plate and palette, too. Nasturtium, lavender, calendula, thyme, dill, clover, begonia, elderberry, and even daylilies adorn dishes and recipes, from cocktails to the main course. Make this the week you gather an armful of edible flowers to try at home. 

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Sunday
Jul242016

Best Warm Lobster Rolls in Connecticut: 2016 Updated Edition

Enough of the Lobster Salad roll vs. Warm Lobster roll debate.   After all, when dining on whole steamed lobster, only a land lubber would first chill the meat, lather it in mayo, and sprinkle on some celery. Whole lobster is best devoured warm and buttery.  Just like a Connecticut Lobster Roll. Our state lays claim to the warm lobster roll because it was first created at a Milford café named Perry’s sometime in the twenties.   Elsewhere in New England, warm lobster rolls are rarely served.

Since 2014 CTbites has celebrated summer with a survey of Connecticut Lobster Rolls available along the shoreline.  We stand by our past evaluations since those versions of rolls remain relatively consistent from year to year.  After all, the three simple ingredients of a warm lobster roll -- bread, butter, and meat – never change.  Such variables as doneness, toppings, and cuts are not an issue.

So for 2016, at the suggestion of readers, chefs, and staff, we add a dozen new restaurants, trucks, and drive-ins to the 2015 portfolio. This list represents the NEW additions. 

And CTbites even ventured mid-state, far from the shore, for one of the best lobster rolls in Connecticut.  Which is where we begin …

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Sunday
Jul242016

CTbites Invites: Happy Hour on the River at Vespa for $39 

Third in the Summer 2016 Happy Hour series presented by CTbites, happens on Tuesday August 9th 5:30-7:30 at the gorgeous outdoor patio of Vespa in National Hall. 

Overlooking the Saugatuck River and Downtown Westport, for $39 per person, enjoy delicious appetizers from Chef David White while sipping on specialty Summer cocktails.  Price includes specialty cocktail, "Color Blind"  and second drink of your choiceBuy your tickets here 

Menu items include:
- Golden Fried Artichoke Hearts with lemon zest and fiore di sale
- Chicken Liver Toast with Red Onion Mostarda, Crispy Spring Onion and Sourdough bread
- Fresh Whipped Ricotta Toast with Kumquat Marmalade and Chili Roasted Hazelnuts
- Heirloom Beet Salad with warm goat cheese, ginger salted pistachios, avocado yogurt and lemon

"Color Blind" cocktail is a refreshing mix of Citadelle Gin, Lemongrass Basil, Lemon Juice, Boston Bitters, and Basil Oil.

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Thursday
Jul212016

El Segundo Opening in Downtown Sono: The Spread Team + Global Street Food

The Spread was the first: hip, smart, happening.  Contemporary Sono. 

El Segundo, by definition, will be The Second.  This time:   Street.  Urban. Old World Global. 

“We’ll have street food from each of the 7 Continents,” said Chris Hickey as he recently gave CTBites a preview of The Spread team’s new joint set to open in early August.   Hickey and co-owners Andrey Cortes, Chris Rasile, Shawn Longyear and Executive Chef Carlos Baez envision an international playground for the palate.

“We’re going to have some fun,” Chris promised, grinning.   

Open the corrugated metal garage door, and the vista is a courtyard boasting a fountain, storefronts, and looming apartments.  A piazza in Naples?  A market in Buenos Aries. A food fair in Bangkok.     

Inside the restaurant, you’re on a side street.   The vibe is almost Third World.  The predominant motif is that corrugated sheeting – the humble material that shelters much of the earth’s population. A wall is painted in the brilliant graffiti of Duster, New York’s notorious tagger.    On the wall, a subway door and a Number 6 Train to Duster’s Bronx.  Its boogie.  Its street food.  

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Wednesday
Jul202016

Millwright's Restaurant to Host Two CT Chef Events

(Photo courtesy of BSC Photo)

Help celebrate Millwright's Restaurant and Tavern's fourth anniversary with two outstanding culinary events in July. 

Located in Simsbury CT, Chef/Owner Tyler Anderson has created a gathering spot for both old and new friends in the historic 1680 Hop Brook Mill. The Restaurant offers three different unique spaces, an elegant dining room, a relaxed tavern, and a beautiful loft that includes a small kitchen/prep area, most of which allow guests to view the pond and rushing waterfall out back.

The first event occurs on Tuesday, July 26th at 6PM. Aptly named The Millwright's Reunion Dinner, Chef Anderson is welcoming back the people who were instrumental in creating what Millwright's has become today.

Enjoy a cocktail hour with passed canapes, plus one course from each of the following chefs:

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Wednesday
Jul202016

Nibble: CT Food Events & Happenings for Week of July 24-31

A new farmer's market opens in the heart of Sono.  The market, known as "Common Ground," runs from 11am-3pm on Saturdays through the end of October.  There will also be a table of free books for children and musicians on hand to perform.  Visit the market at 50 Washington Street.

Celebrate Summer in Style with Happy Hour at Patagonia!  From 5-7pm on Tuesday July 26, the Westport store will offer food, giveaways, and beer from Black Hog Brewing Company.

Fleisher’s Craft Butchery in Westport has announced a Summer Grilling Series.  The first installation will take place on Tuesday July 26 from 7-9pm.  Learn about the cuts of the meat that work best on the grill, how to season your meat, and how to flip burgers like the pros.  Then, dig into some delicious meats along with sides, salads, and a beer.  It costs $100 per person. 

Community Table & Kent Falls Brewing Co. are teaming up for a special evening of food and beer on July 26.

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Wednesday
Jul202016

Sneak Peek at Boothbay Lobster Company in Stamford, Something Wicked Fresh This Way Comes

Every start-up dream begins with two words:  what if?

Once upon a time, David Galin and his buddy George Craig fantasized opening their own unique restaurant. But they were young and fate was very fickle. So each forged a highly successful non-culinary career -- in academics (David) and finance (George).  A generation later, the two pals found themselves fishing up in Maine; and on a sudden whim, once-upon-a-time magically became now.

What if they brought the seaside Maine Lobster Shack experience -- and all its Wharf to Table freshness -- to Fairfield County?  

Voila: The Boothbay Lobster Company, a unique concept restaurant at Harbor Point in Stamford, which opens for real next week.  Galin and Willie Craig  (George’s son, a partner in Boothbay, and himself fresh out of college) offered CTBites an exclusive sneak peek at a dream come true.  

“’Wicked Fresh’ is our pledge,” Willie told us.   Pulled fresh from clean, cold Maine waters, the seafood will be rushed by BLC’s refrigerated vehicle down the coast to Stamford.   “We don’t believe in tanking our lobster,” David added, explaining that holding crustaceans in tanks causes the meat to deteriorate, affecting its fresh texture and taste.   “This is why we source from day boats rather than commercial vessels,” he said.  That way he can guarantee that his lobsters haven’t been stressed for a time in the ship’s hold.

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Wednesday
Jul202016

Community Table & Kent Falls Brewing Co. Host Beer Dinner July 26

Community Table & Kent Falls Brewing Co.
 are teaming up for a special evening of food and beer on July 26. Executive Chef Marcell Davidsen has collaborated with Barry and Derek at Kent Falls Brewing Co. on a summer-inspired menu fit for Connecticut locavore beer lovers. 

"We are very excited to host this event, and share some great beers and great food. And there might be a few surprises too," said Marcell Davidsen.

We have a sneak peek of the menu, which at last count is 7 courses and 6 beers, and as many reasons to get excited for this evening at Community Table. Tickets are $75 per person. Reservations are available on OpenTable.com.

July 26 Menu

Sourdough Bread
Toasted hay butter

Smoked Trout & Squash Blossom

Hazelnut crème 

Beer: Lade Øl 4.8 % Abv. 
A farmhouse ale brewed with smoked hay. This beer takes on delicate notes of sweet grass, vanilla and spice notes from the hay complementing our house yeast culture.  

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Tuesday
Jul192016

Foraging with Chef Bun Lai of Miya’s Sushi in New Haven

To Forage:  The word forage means to use wander or search for food or provisions. 

So when I was invited to James Beard nominated and passionate foraging chef, Bun Lai’s farm in upstate Connecticut for lunch, I half expected we would forage for much of our meal.  

When I saw on Instagram that Bun and his friend, Greg Grinberg from Actual Food had been diving the prior day for clams for lunch, I knew I was in for a treat. 

Chef Bun Lai is a passionate advocate for sustainable farming and eating and sources much of the food he serves at his New Haven sushi restaurant, Miya’s, from his own gardens, from the wooded forest around his 10 acre farm in Woodbridge, CT and from Long Island Sound.   His popular restaurant has been a New Haven destination for over 35 years, originally opened by his mother, who is still involved today. 

To visit with Bun is a lesson in locally sourced produce, with no pesticides or flavor or color enhancements.  He and Greg described foraging as, “the most natural way of eating… the “gathering” part of the hunter/gatherer”. 

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Sunday
Jul172016

Mezón Tapas Bar and Restaurant in Danbury – From the Heart, From the Home

Even though it’s one of the largest cities in Connecticut, Danbury was once regarded as a restaurant wasteland. The downtown eateries catered to a family demographic who sought a reasonably priced menu that took few culinary chances.   Very mid-century. However, in the past few years, a vibrant international food scene has burgeoned on the city’s west side.   The cuisines are sophisticated, diverse, and creative, reflective of 21st Century dining.

Many credit Richard Reyes’s Mezón Tapas Bar and Restaurant with transforming Mill Plain Road into destination dining. The year was 2011.  Reyes was then a former Wall Street Executive who decided to come home to Connecticut and open a restaurant where people could dine on food prepared in the Latin tradition of his family. From the heart. From the home. Richard was all of 25 … and Mezón posed far more of a risk than even the stock market. At the time, Mill Plain Road was dotted with a string of mostly red-sauce Italian/American restaurants. “Sure, we were taking a chance,” he recently told us, “But we helped break the mold.”   

Rich invited CTbites to sample some of the Latin and Caribbean fare that has attracted Mezón’s diverse and discerning clientele from across the region. Though the Paella and the Churrasco are the most popular dishes on the menu, Reyes had other ideas for our feast.

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