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Pagano's Seafood in Norwalk: Restaurant & Insiders Shop Here

When a recipe called for whole uncleaned squid, I knew that the ingredient would be difficult to find.  However, I did not expect it to be impossible.  After 4 grocery stores, 4 markets, 6 restaurants, multiple phone calls and exactly 0 success, I began to think otherwise. Fortunately, a friend with ties to the food industry gave me a little tip as I was about to surrender: Pagano’s Seafood in Norwalk.  Sure enough, they had plenty of whole squid for purchase.  I started on my recipe within the hour.

It turns out that Pagano’s is greatly respected in both the restaurant community.  They provide fish to some of the area’s most popular dining destinations including The Homestead Inn, Quattro Pazi, Napa and Company, Barcelona, Match, The Spotted Horse, and Bartaco.  They even serve restaurants and markets in Massachusetts and New York.  When I asked Allen Pagano, a founder and owner, why Pagano’s was so sought after, he chuckled and responded simply, “Because we’re the best.”

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Champagne Tasting Event @ Nicholas Roberts Fine Wine Dec 16

The holiday season sparkles, and now your wine can too!  On Sunday December 16, Nicholas Roberts Fine Wine will hold a champagne tasting from 1-4pm.  The event is particularly special; it will feature selections known as “grower” champagnes.  The designation indicates that 100% of the product was grown by the person whose name appears on the bottle.   The bond between grower and wine results in champagne that is finely crafted, expressive, and artistic.

Owner Peter Troilo is excited to give people the opportunity to try this lesser known part of the champagne market.  He first encountered the wine four years ago and immediately gained respect for it.  “I never looked backed,” he recalls.

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Seasons Eats: Stamford's Hidden Gem in Plain Sight

What to call it?

By all outward appearances, Seasons Eats looks like your typical lunch takeout storefront. Looking through the window, you witness chaotic swarms of downtown types picking up a salad or sandwich to take back to their desks. But peer a little closer and discover a culinary gem that defies categorization.   

"We're not a deli. We're not a sandwich shop," says Phil Costas, a New York Times Three Star chef, who with his wife Liz, runs the place. “Maybe we're a cafe. I don’t know. We keep evolving.”

That’s why the Costas have just changed the name from Katie’s Gourmet to Seasons Eats. What started as a gourmet specialty shop 16 years ago, an offshoot  of their highly successful American restaurant Kathleen’s, has become a… I don’t know, maybe the best word for it is indeed  “Eats.” In this tiny 1300 square foot storefront, Phil and his five elves serve nearly 1400 delightfully inventive breakfasts, lunches and dinners a week.

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NY Times Wine Critic, Eric Asimov @ Darien Library

It’s a wine-derful time of the year!  On Thursday December 13, take a break from your holiday planning with New York Times chief wine critic, Eric Asimov, at the Darien Library.  In his new book How to Love Wine, Asimov dispels the notion that enjoying wine has to be a pretentious endeavor.  Through a mix of personal anecdotes and practical information, Asimov shows readers how to enjoy the delicious, multifaceted beverage minus anxiety.  His insights for selecting it and drinking it will make wine more accessible for new and seasoned wine lovers alike.

Asimov has years of experience to draw from.  He currently writes a weekly column for The New York Times Dining Section and contributes to the publication’s Diner’s Journal blog.  His interests transcend the world of wine; he began his career reviewing restaurants and food.  He pioneered the now famous “$25 and Under” restaurant reviews, which he wrote from 1992 to 2004.  He released four editions of $25 and Under: A Guide to the Best Inexpensive Restaurants in New York and co-authored five editions of The New York Times’s Guide to Restaurants.

Wine will be served courtesy of Nicholas Roberts Fine Wine, who worked with Eric Asimov to choose the selections for the event.  The library will open its doors at 6:30 p.m. and the event will begin at 7:00 p.m.  There is no cost for the event and no RSVPs are necessary, although they do advise that attendees arrive early to get a seat.  It will take place in the library’s community room.

More information here. 


Dinners at the Farm Tickets on Sale TODAY= Great Gift

The 7th season of Dinners at the Farm has just been announced...just in time for holiday shoppingEvery summer Dinners at the Farm brings their celebrated benefit dinner series to local Connecticut farms by hosting amazing multi-course feasts of just from the earth food, cooked fresh that day. They'll be dicing, chopping, sautéing and plating delicious locally grown food in the fields of host farms including Barberry HIll FarmScott's Farm & Greenhouses and White Gate Farm for 12 glorious summer nights in 2013.

And, as with every year, these dinners are benefits. Dinners at the Farm will be donating $20,000 towards the critical work of our beneficiaries CitySeedCT Farm Land TrustWorking Lands Alliance,Region 4 Schools and NEW this year, The New Connecticut Farmer Alliance, a group of emerging farmers working to grow and sustain new farms in Connecticut ensuring a viable agricultural future. Visit their schedules and tickets page for more details and to purchase tickets

Farm dinners make great gifts, just in time for the holidays. View our PHOTO GALLERY here. 

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Ultimate Holiday Gift Guide for the Connecticut Foodie

As is always the case, one holiday ends and another is launched into our consciousness almost instantly. Those crumbs from the pumpkin pies are just being swept away, but The Holiday Season is officially here and Christmas, Hanukkah, Kwanzaa shopping has begun. What to get? Where to get it? It’s the annual quest. We’d like to make things a wee bit easier for you, as we’ve found some great items for the food lovers on your list. Buy one, buy several! Either way, you will seen as one of those “good gift givers”!

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10 Questions w/ Chef Scott Quis of Barcelona Stamford

Chef Scott Quis has been the Executive Chef at Barcelona Restaurant in Stamford since 2010. His credentials go like this:  Culinary Institute of America; Executive Sous Chef @ Café Boulud; Chef @ Picholine in New York City...not too shabby. He lives in Norwalk, has a wife, and a baby, and loves coming in to work every day. Here are some things you may not know about the guy in the kitchen who cooked up those delicious Black Truffle Croquetas and Chorizo w/ Sweet & Sour Figs you enjoyed last weekend. Don't miss his recipe of the moment; Snapper Ceviche, seen below. 

If you had unexpected guests arriving at your home for dinner in 1 hour, what would you whip up?I have a fire pit in the backyard of my home so I'd probably roast a chicken or make a paella with a side of seafood risotto.

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Westport Farmers' Market Opens Dec. 8th @ Gilbertie's

This just in from The Westport Farmers' Market...

"When One Farmers’ Market Door Closes Another One Opens! As the temperatures start to dip and winter approaches we must bid a fond farewell to what has been a phenomenally successful summer season. However, we are thrilled to announce the start of the Winter Westport Farmers’ Market which will officially begin on Saturday, December 8th at 10:00am. The market will return for our third season at Gilbertie’s Herb Garden on Sylvan Lane in Westport.

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Cotto Wine Bar and Pizzeria Opens in Stamford

There’s a new kid in town, Stamford that is, and its name is Cotto Wine Bar and Pizzeria. Husband and wife Claudio and Silvy Ridolfi have teamed with Chef Kevin Kraklio to create a traditional Italian menu (with a few exceptions) that includes a wide variety of Tapas, entrée-sized dishes and pizzas. Located in the space that formerly housed Tappo, the trio first transformed the interior into a sleeker space, with a front-to-back Italian marble topped bar along the right wall, black-and-white photos adorning the left wall, a curved wood-planked ceiling and an enormous gas fired pizza oven in full view in the rear. Raised in Rome, Cotto represents Claudio and Silvy’s first restaurant in the United States, while Chef Kraklio takes the helm of the kitchen after attending the French Culinary Institute and working at restaurants throughout Italy.

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Pink Sumo Opens in Westport w/ Former Nobu Chef

Why Pink? Why Sumo? I'm not sure that I understand the restaurant's name (as it conjures up images of a very large, pony-tailed wrestler in fuchsia bikini bottoms) but there is no mistaking the quality of the food at Westport's latest Sushi and Sake cafe, PINK SUMO! Located at 8 Church Street, across from the YMCA and the colossally popular Spotted Horse, PINK SUMO suits the cozy, subterranean space that formally housed Manolo and, before that, Zest. Those restaurants couldn't seem to make it work in this location but I am pretty sure that PINK SUMO is here to stay. Here's why...

For starters, PINK SUMO'S owner, Skye Kwok, is doing it right by employing former NOBU Sushi Bar chef Eric Cheng to run the kitchen. With great expertise and aplomb, Cheng presents each dish as a work of art. And as the painter chooses the best oils for her art, Cheng uses the highest quality sushi-grade fish purchased by Kwok (also owner of SWEET BASIL in Fairfield) from YAMA, the renowned Japanese fish purveyor in New Jersey. Experienced chef, high quality fish and charming, newly popular location are certainly the ingredients for success. 

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