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Pantanal Restaurant & Churrascaria: Brazilian in Bridgeport

The smell of grilling meat perfumes the air on Frank Street in Bridgeport. What’s going on here? This drab residential neighborhood is crowded with cars. And what’s that funky-looking vividly green-and-yellow building? The sidewalk’s striped green and yellow too, the colors of the Brazilian flag.  This is Pantanal, a Brazilian buffet and churrascaria. We’re going in.

It’s Thursday at lunchtime and the place is crowded. We grab plates and try to take in all that’s offered at the cold and hot buffet. We’re overwhelmed, and we’re in the way. Everyone else knows what they want. We’re gawking, and we know we could easily overload our plates with the choice of salads, fruits, hearts of palm, collards, white rice, Spanish rice, mac ‘n cheese, black beans, pinto beans, fried sweet plantain, fried chicken, fried fish and stews. Customers are digging in to those stews. The chicken and okra stew looks intriguing, but I need to exert restraint. I need to focus. I chose an orange-colored stew of smoked pork ribs and white beans. Excellent choice, smoky and deeply flavorful.  

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"Fine Food For a Cause" Fundraiser to Fight Childhood Obesity

Please help conquer an important battle that is being waged in our own backyard - the fight against childhood obesity and the critical need to teach local children and their families about the value of healthy eating and exercise.

On Monday, January 27, 2014 the Stamford Family YMCA will host more than 200 local supporters to help their fight against childhood obesity. The event, Fine Food For A Cause, will be held at the Palace Theatre in Stamford at 6:30PM. At this year’s event guests can sample a plethora of culinary creations provided by chefs of 10 outstanding well-known Stamford restaurants including: Barcelona, bartaco, Columbus Park Trattoria, Bar Q, Quattro Pazzi, Sushi Charlie, Tabuouli Grill, Sweet Lisa’s, Napa & Company, Forever Sweet Bakery and David’s Soundview Catering.

The evening will include dinner, music, live auction and a commemorative journal, with special guest, Chris Hansen, TV Journalist and NBC Dateline correspondent, serving as Master of Ceremonies 

Proceeds from the event will support the Stamford Family YMCA’s youth development and healthy living programs.

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Recap: Plan B Magical History Tour, Featuring Pappy Van Winkle Bourbon

Tucked back to one side off the well beaten path of the Post Road in Milford, roughly a hundred red heads lie on their sides in elevated cubbie holes. Hardly anyone paid them attention. In fact, I may be the only one who even noticed. A double stacked row, maybe 25 gallons of Maker's Mark bourbon - original wax seals unbroken - is just for decoration. My eyes roamed elsewhere, and caught George Harrison sprinting away from a Blue Meanie. I shook my head and returned my attention to the chicken and waffles. 

This past October, thieves (likely insiders) made away with approximately $26,000 worth of Pappy Van Winkle 20 year old bourbon. Each bottle in the 65 cases stolen is worth roughly $130, but many sell for hundreds of dollars more. Pappy had a small cult following of aficionados until rock star chefs like Anthony Bourdain and David Chang blew up its spot in the past few years. Ever since, the small supply that leaves Frankfort, Kentucky each year has been dwarfed by the demand. Drew Kulsveen, a minor royal in the bourbon world and friend to CTBites, could barely get one bottleOn a weeknight at Plan B Burger Bar, we were about to be presented with two servings.

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The Weekly Nibble: Upcoming Food News & Events

The Whelk in Westport will start serving LUNCH on January 15th! Lunch will be served Wednesday, Thursdays, and Fridays 12pm-2:30.

Saturday January 11 is Step Out at Stepping Stones Museum.  The wine and food tasting supports the museum’s educational initiatives. It includes the Melting Pot, Nicholas Roberts Fine Wines, The Brewhouse, and more.  7-9:30pm.  $40 and up per person. More info here. 

Mohegan Sun’s Restaurant Week begins Sunday January 12th and goes through the 17thVisit the website to see what the casino’s renowned eateries are offering.

Sundays are ½ off bottles of select wines at many local restaurants, including The Spread, Bar Sugo, and Bistro Latino.

On Tuesday January 14, learn how to braise at Barcelona Fairfield.  Join Chef Helton and learn the art of braising and complementing it with a few vegetable side dishes. 4-7pm. $35pp plus tax and gratuity. 

Also on Tuesday, Caseus Fromagerie in New Haven is offering a class called “Relishing the Rind.”  The class will explore categorizing cheese by types of rind. You will get to taste bloomy, ash, wash-rind cheeses ...and more! 6-7:30pm. Approx $37pp. Buy Tix Here.

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Maple Syrup Tap A Tree Program @ Ambler Farm

It's that time of year again. Sign up for Ambler Farms immensely popular, Maple Syrup Tap-a-Tree program. Sign up quickly...these classes fill up fast. 

Maple Syrup Tap-a-Tree program 
Training sessions (choose only ONE): Sat., Feb. 8th at either 10-11am or 1-2pm.
Learn the science and history of maple syruping by being a hands-on part of the process.   We will send regular updates on the running of the sap so you can come to the Farm to collect sap from your tree. We will boil down the sap in our sugar shack and send each family home with their very own bottle of Ambler Farm maple syrup.

The season runs from early February to mid-March (a typical season is five weeks long). If you are traveling during February or March, we will collect sap for you.  Contact Kevin Meehan

Enrollment Limited to 110 families. This program sold out quickly in previous years, so please do not wait to sign up.  The number of trees at the Farm is limited, so we are unable to accommodate late requests or wait lists. 
$65 per non-member family/$60 per member family.

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GIVEAWAY!! Win 2 Tix to Sun Winefest Grand Tasting @ Mohegan Sun

CTbites is GIVING AWAY 2 TICKETS to SUN WINEFEST'S Grand Tasting on Sunday, January 26th. To be eligable to win, tell us why you want to go to Sun Winefest below & like us on Facebook!

Join Mohegan Sun for the 11th annual Sun WineFest Saturday, January 25th and Sunday, January 26th @ Mohegan Sun's Convention Center.

Sun WineFest 2014 will feature celebrity chefs including: Robert Irvine, Todd English, Jasper White, Govind Armstrong, Michele Ragussis and more. 

With an amazing selction of beer, wine, specialty spirits and delectable dishes, this weekend extravaganza has something for everyone. Wine and beer enthusiasts can select from over 1,000 brands or enjoy tastings of specialty spirits. Guests will have the opportunity to ask questions, hear commentary from the winemakers and experts and enjoy delicacies from some of the region's finest restaurants with tasting portions of signature dishes. 

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Valbella: Old School Italian Elegance in Greenwich

I never go to Italian restaurants in Connecticut because I was lucky and spoiled enough to have eaten in Italy - a lot - and I always feel disappointed in the American version of Italian cuisine. So when a friend begged me to review VALBELLA in Greenwich, I was reluctant to say the least. The pastry chef, she claimed, was world renowned and his food art simply had to be reviewed. I did some research and decided to acquiesce. For more than 20 years, the stately, Victorian Valbella has been the archetype for excellent but old school Italian cuisine in the Greenwich/Riverside area, and has successful sister locations in Manhattan’s Meatpacking District and Midtown. And I can understand why. It is in no way funky or hip or cool but is extremely elegant and the food, though I am hesitant to admit it, was outstanding. 

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Loaf of the Week at Scratch Baking


Beginning on January 31, 2014 for 8 weeks, Scratch Baking in Milford will be kicking-off their second annual "Loaf of the Week" club. Participants, known as "the loafers," receive a surprise bread and spread each week, paired with a recipe. Think of it as a winter CSA for your bread box.

"It really is alot of fun and honestly it is perfect for winter time when you just want to curl up and fire up that crockpot," said Lesli Flick, Scratch owner and baker. 

Last year, Scratch's Loaf of the Week baked fresh loaves of brioche paired with a cinnamon raisin butter, ciabatta with pesto, and rosemary focaccia with a lemon curd. The cost to become a Loafer is $65 for 8 weeks of breads and spreads.

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The Weekly Nibble: Upcoming Food News & Events

Mohegan Sun’s Restaurant Week goes from January 12-17!  Savor all the specials at Mohegan Sun's most renowned dining venues, including a three course dinner at Ballo Italian for $29.95. 

On Saturday January 4 check out Half Full Brewery in Stamford for the “Hoptimist Experience,” a formal tour and tasting.  They are open from 1-5pm with a Tour at 3:00pm.  During the tour you will learn about the brewing process and how they got started.  $5 gets you a Half Full Brewery sampling glass, six samples of beers on tap, and a guided tour. More Info Here. 

Celebrate the return of Downton Abbey at the Silo Gallery at Hunt Hill in New Milford on Sunday January 5.  A demonstration cooking class will feature an "Upstairs/Downstairs" menu based on the TV series and using recipes from “The Unofficial Downton Abbey Cookbook.” The day will include a champagne cocktail, smoked salmon sandwiches, oxtail soup, lobster thermador, steak and kidney pie, and crepe Suzette. 11am-2pm.  $90pp.  Guests must sign up in advance. 

Every Sunday Mama’s Boy in Norwalk hosts brunch with live music from 1-4pm.  January 5 you can see Griffin Anthony perform.

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Vegetarian Prix Fixe Wednesdays @ The Schoolhouse

This just in from Chef Tim LaBant @ The Schoolhouse at Cannondale:

The Schoolhouse Restaurant is bringing back "Vegetarian Prixe Fixed Wednesdays" for the month of January. It's a great opportunity to get over the holiday food hangover and focus on improving your overall feeling of well being. We did this last year and have had many requests to again offer meatless entrees. So starting this Wednesday, January 8 and each Wednesday during January, you'll enjoy 4 courses for $40. Cutting back on meat, even a little bit, can reap big health and environmental benefits. We hope you'll join us by making a reservation. Reserve a table and get more information here. 

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