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Friday
Feb212014

Friday Froth: Steam Heat

The business of craft beer is expanding rapidly. Every Friday Froth column I've ever published on this site has been a celebration of that fact. I - and I'd guess you, if you're reading this - revel in the vast landscape of offerings which slake our thirst, delight our palette, and expand our notions of what beer can be. An article in the March issue of Forbes stated there are over 2,700 craft breweries in the U.S. right now, and the industry is currently worth roughly $100 billion per year. Unfortunately, that's money worth fighting for. 

Lawyers in the employ of San Francisco-based Anchor Brewing Company have taken legal action against Hartford craft beer touchstone City Steam Brewery over the use of the word "steam." As of this week, I am officially boycotting Anchor beers until they drop this petty lawsuit, and I encourage anyone who cares about the craft beer landscape of Connecticut to do the same. Here's why...

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Thursday
Feb202014

Rincon Taqueria in Norwalk- A Hidden Gem in Plain Sight 

Rincon Taqueria is the epitome of a hidden gem.

The exterior is fairly non-descript and the interior is one large, open space, but the food is delicious. As you enter there are tables for twenty patrons to the left and behind these tables is a long glass deli case containing large baskets and bowls filled with several varieties of chili peppers. Along the right wall are three six-foot tall refrigerators with bottles of soda, home-canned items and take-away containers, including homemade apple sauce, beef and vegetable soup, cassoulet with duck and pork, duck confit. Taqueria?

The young lady behind the counter asked if I needed assistance. I looked at the wall behind her and saw two large hand-written chalkboard menus with more traditional taqueria fare…Huevas Rancheros, Burritos, Chilaquiles, Tacos, Empanadas, Tamales and a Chicken Quesadilla. I ordered a trio of tacos…a fried fish, a beef and a pork. As it turns out the young lady is one of the owners, Maria Munoz Del Castillo.

As I waited, Maria brought a plate of Frijoles con Arroz. In addition to the slightly spicey rice and black beans, the dish contained a few green beans, corn, scallions, diced red onions and cilantro. It was a very pleasant way to wait for my meal.

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Tuesday
Feb182014

Muse by Jonathan Cartwright' Debuts at Connecticut's Luxe Mayflower Grace

“At the Mayflower Inn, reality does not intrude,” our restaurant critic, Elise Maclay, once wrote in Connecticut Magazine.“The doors are firmly shut against it and the staff is skilled at maintaining the illusion that the elegant dining room, the spacious entry hall, the cozy library, comprise your ancestral domain, a country estate that has been in your family for generations."

That was many years ago, but memories of how sybaritically satisfying the Mayflower was in its early days, when chef Thomas Moran oversaw the kitchen, pushed to the forefront last Wednesday evening when fortunate members of the media were invited to join some of Litchfield County’s notable residents in celebrating the debut of The Mayflower Grace, the country retreat as restyled by new owner Grace Hotels.

The Mayflower Grace a 30-room hotel on 58 acres of gardens and woodlands nestled on a rise in lovely Washington, Conn., retains its “Downton Abbey” appeal as the type of luxury hideaway that has drawn the likes of Bill and Hillary Clinton. 

Where the recent extensive refurbishment of the Mayflower is most obvious—and the reason folks such as authors Dani Shapiro and Candace Bushnell braved the wintry weather Wednesday—is the creation of Muse by Jonathan Cartwright, the new restaurant that brings with it a much different, sleeker and modern feel, complemented by the cuisine of Cartwright, the native of Sheffield, England, and world-class chef with a Grand Chef Relais & Châteaux distinction who offers refined modern European cuisine that incorporates the best of local and seasonal produce.

On Wednesday, those qualities, along with Cartwright’s versatility and flair for subtle drama, were evident in the wide range of small-bites offered to guests, most notably in a smoked lobster dish served in a plastic egg-shaped vessel. When you unscrewed the top and lifted it off, a wonderful smoky aroma wafted upwards. The lobster itself was rich, smoky, perfectly cooked and delicious.

In addition to new flavors, Muse by Jonathan Cartwright brings a distinctive new look and feel to dining at The Mayflower Grace.

Read the full article on ConnecticutMag.com 

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Tuesday
Feb182014

CT-NOFA Sponsors Food, Agriculture & Sustainability Conference on March 1st 

On March 1, 2014 the Connecticut Chapter of the Northeast Organic Farming Association (“CT NOFA”) will hold its 2014 Winter Conference at the Western Connecticut State University. CT NOFA is an independent non-profit organization dedicated to strengthening the practices of ecologically sound farming and gardening, and to the development of local sustainable agriculture. Its efforts give consumers increased access to safe and healthy food.

The conference is Connecticut's largest and brings into focus the challenges of the next generation of farmers and how they affect us all. The Conference will also feature lunch catered by some of Fairfield County's top farm to table restaurants including Barcelona, LeFarm, The Whelk, Bar Sugo and Sugar & Olives.

The conference will also feature a variety of workshops focusing on organic food, farming, gardening and food justice.

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Monday
Feb172014

Barolo Trattoria and Wine Bar Opening in New Canaan on February 19

A few weeks ago CTBites announced the anticipated opening of Barolo Trattoria and Wine Bar in New Canaan and we are pleased to announce that Barolo will open its doors to the public on Wednesday, February 19th. Under the ownership of Rafaelo Gallo, Erick Grant, and Gary Weinstein, Barolo will offer a relaxed atmosphere in its Antipasti Bar or a slightly more formal approach in its dining room. Roe Duva, the long-time owner of Bistro Bonne Nuit is also a member of the family. Overseeing the kitchen is Executive Chef Giuseppe Castellano. Born and raised in Naples and Giugliano, Italy Chef Castellano trained throughout Italy and then worked throughout Italy before moving to the US. His recent experience includes Gran Gusto in Cambridge and Tiella Restaurant in NYC.  He told CTBites, “We will focus on the Piedmont style on the menu.” Given Chef Castellano’s southern Italian roots and his desire to create northern Italy cuisine, the opening menu is designed for the full Italian culinary experience.

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Sunday
Feb162014

Morello Italian Bistro in Greenwich: Beautiful Food in an Exquisite Setting

Morello Italian Bistro is architecturally one of the most beautiful restaurants in Connecticut and offers equally fine cuisine. The exquisite interior of the landmark building on Greenwich Avenue was designed by Rafael Guastavino, Jr, whose father invented the golden amber tile vaulting system that grace the pillars, herringbone arches and ceilings. Art adorns the walls, and the soft, hand blown white tear-drop shaped glass chandeliers, descending from the ceiling create a beautifully romantic atmosphere for dinner. As we worked our way through appetizers, pastas, entrees and desserts General Manager Jimmy Branigan, Jr. was the perfect host, stopping by the table on several occasions to explain the composition of many of the courses and offer suggestions from the reasonably priced wine list.

While we leisurely perused the menu, we enjoyed the “Prosciutto & Parmesan Fritters.” The large fritters delivered complementary textures and flavors. The crisp exterior was offset by the marvelously smooth interior, which presented a delicious combination of prosciutto and Fontina cheese. The dish was finished with a sprinkling of Parmesan cheese which added the perfect level of saltiness to the fried exterior. An order or two for the table is an excellent way to start the meal. 

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Friday
Feb142014

Christian Petroni & Fortina Restaurant @ James Beard House in NYC May 19

Get ready to road trip. On May 19th, Chef Christian Petroni and his talented team from Fortina Restaurant in Armonk NY will be hitting up NYC. The prestigious James Beard House in New York City will play host for the evening, featuring a 6 course dinner with paired wines, beers, spirits...who knows?  You won't want to miss this. 

Plus, we are hearing rumours of a few other exciting guest chefs joining Chef Petroni to lend a helping hand in the kitchen. More on that later. 

When attending a dinner at The James Beard House, guests are first invited to walk through the Beard House kitchen to meet the night’s chef and observe the event team at work. They then enjoy a canapé reception, which takes place throughout the ground floor and in our garden (weather permitting). Diners then climb to the second-floor dining room, where they enjoy a five- to six-course tasting menu with wine pairings. The evening concludes with a question-and-answer session with the chef in the dining room.

Tickets will go on sale shortly. We will keep you posted. The price is $130 for James Beard members and $170 per person for non-Beard members.   Please contact the James Beard House for reservations.  212-627-2308.

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Thursday
Feb132014

The Weekly Nibble: Upcoming Food News & Events  

Stamford Restaurant Weeks return February 17-March 3. This winter over 30 of Downtown Stamford’s restaurants are serving up special lunch & dinner prix fixe menus in several different price options. New this year: each participating restaurant will be mixing up its very own Signature Winter Cocktail. 

February 19 is Rare Beer Night at Half Full Brewery in Stamford.  Rare Beer Night is a recurring series that will take place on the third Wednesday of each month.  Attendees will receive full pints of each beer and tasty food pairings.  This month there will even be cheeses from The Fairfield Cheese Company (owner Laura will be on hand to discuss the pairings), Charcuterie from Fairway Market, and a mouth-watering dessert that will cap off the night. @25 pp.  

Join The Dew Drop Inn and Two Roads Brewing for a great beer dinner at Tavern 1757 on the 19th.  The menu includes beer cheese soup with barley bread, wood fire sausage, smoked brisket with roasted garlic mash & beer braised cabbage, and wood oven smores.  Each course features a Two Roads drink pairing. $70 per person +tax & gratuity.  Seating is limited, Please RSVP early (203) 516-5461

Baró in Fairfield is celebrating its Grand Opening by hosting a fundraising event for Community Plates.  On February 19 from 5-9 pm, you are invited to enjoy a signature drink, a complimentary drink, and a spread of tapas and tacos for just $40.

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Wednesday
Feb122014

Last Taste of Match Events: Match Restaurant in SoNo to Close Temporarily for Renovation

Match Restaurant in South Norwalk owned by Chef Matt Storch will temporarily close on March 2 for a renovation of the restaurant.

A 15-year veteran of the Connecticut dining scene and SoNo restaurant pioneer, Match is planning a series of special events to mark the end of an era and the beginning of a new one. Chef/owner Storch is keeping his plans for Match 2.0 under tight wraps, but says, “it’s everything you know and love about Match but better. This is a rebirth.”

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Wednesday
Feb122014

Homemade Apple Fashioned Cocktail Recipe via Luxe Wine Bar

Living in Connecticut, we are spoiled by the abundance of apples that are fresh out of the neighboring orchards. If you didn't make it out this past Fall to pick your own apples at Beardsley’s Cider Mill in Shelton or Silverman’s Farm on Sport Hill Road in Easton, you need to put that on your agenda next season. It’s fun for the whole family. If the crowds aren’t your thing, and you want a real farm experience, then definitely go buy local apples from Sport Hill Farm, just passed Silverman’s on the right heading north on Rt59.

To enjoy your local fruit and vegetables over the winter months, you need to preserve them. This can be accomplished in any number of methods. Some people like to pickle their vegetables while others may turn the fruit into spreads and jams.  I like to use my fruit to make syrups for cocktails. My Apple Cordial recipe has to be one of my favorites to make and to drink. Although it takes several days to make the syrup, it’s not a laborious task at all. In execution, however, this cocktail is definitely a labor of love.  The good news is that once all the prep is complete and it’s in your glass, you’ll realize that your efforts were worth it. It’s delicious. Another great alternative is to visit me at Luxe Wine Bar in Westport, where I will be happy to make one especially for you. The apple bitters and apple brandy can be purchased at Saugatuck Grain & Grape, also in Westport.

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