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Sun WineFest 2014 @ Mohegan Sun: The Recap

Mohegan Sun’s annual WineFest is my Super Bowl.  Before the big game, football aficionados took to twitter in anticipation of the showdown.  I, too, waged a full out blitz on social media- enthusiastically counting down til I could try some great wines and see my favorite chefs back in action!  For the Super Bowl, avid fans suited up in team apparel and NFL jerseys.  I also donned some fancy getup; my yearly uniform is a pink shirt bedazzled with “Wine Diva” and a sparkly headband.  Some people love calfskin; I love food, wine, and fun.

From the moment I entered the Convention Center, it was apparent that this year’s festival was bigger than ever.  Media members are granted an additional hour to peruse the venue.  Last year there was a handful of us and it was easy to get a preview of what was to come.  This year, however, it seemed that people everywhere were vying to cover the event.  Media members were elbow-to-elbow before the doors even opened to the public.  It was an extravaganza!

The SunWineFest’s signature event is its Grand Tasting, which spans the weekend. 

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Valhrona Milk Chocolate Panna Cotta, Salty Caramel, Malt Ice Cream Shake via Parallel Post 


Parallel Post in Trumbull is currently celebrating National Chocolate Lover's Month during February, and will also honor American Chocolate Week during the week of March 17th.  Parallel Post is overseen by James Beard nominated Chef Dean James Max, and serves up modern-American cuisine focused on seasonal ingredients. To celebrate the joy of chocolate, Chef Max will be sharing a few of his chocolate inspired recipes with CTbites, the first is this amazing Valhrona Milk Chocolate Panna Cotta, Salty Caramel, Malt Ice Cream Shake. Yes please!

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[Live Event] A Taste of Innovation: From Farm to Table

Join the Yale Sustainable Food Project for A Taste of Innovation: From Farm to Table, a conversation on innovation in the agricultural value chain. Moderated by Mark Bomford of the Yale Sustainable Food Project, this panel of entrepreneurs and authors will explore some of the ways that we can redesign our current food systems and how to develop the regenerative food systems of tomorrow.

The event is free and open to the public, held at Yale School of Management at 165 Whitney Avenue, Room 220, in New Haven, CT. Watch the event live on February 25 at 11:45 am.

Speakers include: Joe Dobrow, Author of Natural Prophets: From Health Foods to Whole Foods; Patrick Horan, Waldingfield Farms; Dan Horan, President and CEO of Five Acre Farms; Moderated by Mark Bomford, Director of the Yale Sustainable Food Project.


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Kibberia Restaurant Brings Middle Eastern Cuisine to Westport 

In September, Westport welcomed KIBBERIA Restaurant and Cafe to the Post Road serving traditional Lebanese and Middle Eastern cuisine. Kibbe, a Levantine dish made of bulgur, minced onions and ground beef, is a staple in many Middle Eastern kitchens, and  KIBBERIA serves KIBBE and an enormous variety of other Middle Eastern dishes, always fresh, always home-made (except for the Pita Bread)  and very tasty! You have to excuse the packaging and get right down to the food… Cafeteria style with paper bowls for soup does not scream “GOURMET” by any means. But the food is the thing...and KIBBERIA does not disappoint.

Westport is KIBBERIA’s second location (the other has been a huge success in Danbury since 2011) owned by Lebanese-born Nick Iskander and co-owner and head chef Carole Iskander. She is cooking for a packed, Westport crowd every day but Sunday. From moms with kids to business people out for a healthy, quick lunch to vegans to carnivores KIBBERIA provides a healthy, hearty, Middle Eastern meal that suits any palate.

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Cocktail Contest: Win Dinner for 2 @ Baró in Fairfield

WIN a FREE Dinner for two @ Baró New World Cantina in Fairfield. Here's how...

It's time for another cocktail throw down! Baró  New World Cantina in Fairfield has decided to trust the fate of their new specialty cocktail to the naming skills of our CTbites readers.  If your cocktail name is selected, you will win a FREE DINNER FOR TWO at Baró in Fairfield (cocktails included). 

Here are the ingredients for the cocktail in need of a name:

1.75 ounce Flor de Cana 7-Yr
1 ounce simple syrup
.75 lime juice
.5 grapefruit juice

Swizzle with crushed ice, top with two dash angostura bitters and Pina leaf.

Post your submission below (include email). We welcome input from readers. If you see a name you your vote!

May the best namer win!! Good luck.

The winner will be announced on March 10th

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[Video] Behind the Scenes with Stanziato's c/o Local Food Rocks

There is a synergy that sets Matt Stanczak's Stanziato's Wood Fired Pizza in Danbury apart. The combination of a chef/owner with a sincere devotion to his craft, a respect for simplicity, a loyalty to local ingredients, and last but certainly not least, Matt's fearless and fun leadership, make the sum of Stanziato's greater than its parts.

Local Food Rocks captured the essence of Stanziato's perfectly in this behind-the-scenes video of how they build their fires (Jenga-style), what makes their pies so amazing (slow fermentation, good old Danbury water), and a couple trips to local farms you may recognize.

This talented duo behind the blog and RMedia.TV deserves its own shout-out. Alicia (passionate home cook and blogger) and Renato (the man behind the camera and guitar) Ghio are literally a rocking duo. Check them out.

If you watch one thing this weekend, make it this. And if you go to Stanziato's, don't miss the soppressata and chilies pizza and pair it with a salad.  

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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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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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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 

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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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