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We Wrote A Book!

Thursday
Dec122013

CTbites Speaks With Lidia Bastianich

Like Oprah or Madonna in pop culture, Lidia is one-name-famous to foodies,  a television star  (Lidia's Italy -- PBS), renowned restaurateur (Felidia, Eataly, Delposto, Becco), a worldwide brand  (Lidia's Sauces and Pasta), bestselling author (Lidia’s Commonsense Guide to Italian Cooking is her latest), mom, grandmother, whew,  one name so many roles. 

So CTBites was delighted that Lidia carved out time from her hectic schedule to chat with us prior to her book signing this Saturday at Stamford's Fairway Market (details below.)

Incidentally, Lidia is no stranger to Connecticut.  Her son Joe and his family live in Greenwich, she tapes her PBS show in Norwalk, and of course the Bastianich clan is associated with Tarry Lodge in both Westport and Port Chester. 

We began the conversation, wondering what Lidia the little girl would think if she could peer into a crystal ball and see the famous Lidia of today.   

“When I was nine years old we had fled from Communist Yugoslavia and my family was in a refugee camp,” she told us, “I think that little girl, her mouth would be open at what I’ve accomplished.”   Then Lidia thought about that youngster for a moment and resolutely stated, “But you know, I always had confidence I was going to amount to something   And food was so very important to me, because we didn’t have much.”

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Thursday
Dec122013

CTbites Editor Picks: 2013 Holiday Gift Guide

Amy Kundrat, Executive Editor

A Day in the Litchfield Hills: Kent, Community Table & Arethusa Dairy Store

"I prefer an experience-as-gift over a gift-wrapped box any day of the week. One of my favorite local experiences is a day in the Litchfield Hills. It almost always begins with a stop for some book browsing and shopping in Kent, an early and always amazing dinner at Community Table (do save room for Tommy Juliano's desserts), and a late stop at Arethusa Dairy Store to load up on milk, cheese and ice cream."

Reservations at CommunityTableCT.com. Hours and information at arethusafarm.com.

Glengoyne Scotch

“I love collecting single malt Scotch of all styles. But my go-to dram is a 12 or 15 year-old bottle of Glengoyne. It’s unpretentious, unpeated, well-rounded, and nicely priced. A Highland Scotch, Glengoyne still use wooden “washbacks” for fermentation, air dries their barley (they'd would never dream of using peat smoke), and distills their whisky more slowly than any other Scottish distillery.

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Wednesday
Dec112013

Wine Pick: Michael Keenan of Keenery Winery Talks Shop

Michael Keenan spent about half of our time together describing his wines.  He spent the other half apologizing for his colorful language.

“Once in San Diego I participated in an elegant dinner- 10 wines with 10 courses.  I found out later there was a secret contest to see how many times I would drop the f bomb during it,” he admitted with a look of mischief in his eye.

When our giggles subsided, someone asked, “So how many times were there?”

“I don’t know,” he shrugged. “At least 18.”

If a stereotypical winemaker is arty and even a touch pretentious, Keenan proved anything but.  His spirited attitude and knack for lively storytelling won me over immediately.  The story of his wines begins when his father, Robert Keenan, purchased 180 acres of abandoned land in 1974.  The property on Spring Mountain in Napa used to be a well-established vineyard called the Conradi Winery.  Unfortunately, it fell into disrepair during prohibition.  Robert saw hope in it though and hired a contractor to begin the ambitious task of breathing new life into the land.

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Tuesday
Dec102013

Hot Buttered Rum Cocktail Recipe via Saugatuck Grain & Grape

When the leaves on the trees in New England start to fall, my cravings for cocktails change a bit. I tend to lean towards drinks that will warm me up next to the fire. The aromatics of cinnamon and clove just seem to pair so well with the scents that come from the fireplace. To me, a Hot Buttered Rum cocktail is the essence of New England in Winter. 

This is an easy drink to prepare. You build it in a coffee mug. There isn't any stirring or shaking or muddling. You don't have to be an expert mixologist to make a perfect Hot Buttered Rum. You just need a dark, aged rum. Here, I use my favorite, Ron Zacapa 23 year old. You can certainly use other brands, as Ron Zacapa can reach premium prices. Some less expensive options that work well in this drink would include El Dorado 12 year or 15 year, Angostura 5 year or 7 year, Diplomatico Anejo Rum or Blackwell Jamaican Rum. 

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Monday
Dec092013

Meet Lidia Bastianich @ Fairway Market Stamford December 14th

Come to Fairway Stamford on December 14th from 1-3PM to meet Lidia Bastianich and get a signed copy of her latest book, Lidia's Commonsense Italian Cooking

Bastianich is the author of eight cookbooks, the host of Lidia’s Kitchen on PBS and owner of Felidia, Del Posto, Becco, and Eataly. Shoppers will also have the opportunity to sample some of the LIDIA’S line of pasta and sauces.

In her beautifully illustrated new cookbook, Lidia Bastianich lays out a comprehensive curriculum of wise cooking tips--from the cutting board to the kitchen table. Channeling the instructive elements from her TV show, she teaches us that a good dose of common sense is the key ingredient to a stellar meal. As storyteller and chef, she draws on anecdotes to educate and illustrate. Recalling lessons learned from her mother, Erminia, and her grandmother Nonna Rosa, Lidia pays homage to the kitchen sages who inspired her.

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Sunday
Dec082013

Locali Pizza Bar + Kitchen Opens in New Canaan 

Clean…Balanced…Flavorful…

Three words to describe the outstanding cuisine that Locali Pizza Bar + Kitchen, the latest addition to New Canaan’s Restaurant Row. This twenty-eight seat restaurant / pizza bar is already making its mark on the culinary landscape of New Canaan.  

Executive Chef Mogan Anthony and his team are creating vibrant flavors and textural contrasts in many of their dishes, intermingled among other selections that are pleasantly soft and mild.

The interior design, with a strong focus on organic materials, creates a cozy and inviting environment with guests choosing between table or bar seating. In full view of the dining and bar area is the beautiful, hand-crafted ceramic encased Stefano Ferrara wood-fired brick oven.

Joining Chef Mogan in the kitchen is Chef de Cuisine Ruben Liriano and Chef Antonio Legato oversees the wood burning pizza oven. Chef Mogan gained his training at the Four Seasons Hotel in Singapore and subsequently under Chef Jean Georges Vongericthen in three different locations, plus the Bedford Post and Village Social in Mt. Kisco.

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Friday
Dec062013

The Weekly Nibble: Upcoming Food News & Events 

On Friday December 6, join 109 Cheese and Wine and Jim Morrison from Artisan Wines for some exceptional Italian red wines including Barolo, Brunello, and a few others.  The event will take place in Ridgefield, CT and costs $55pp. 7-9pm. http://www.localwineevents.com/events/detail/507053 

Saturday December 7 from 4:30– 6:30pm Amity Wines and the CT Craft Brew Guild will have a beer tasting.  It will include Down East Appe Cider, Breckenridge Regal Pilsner, Green Flash Saison, Wachusett Larry IPA, Six Pints Global Warmer, Andechs Dopplebock, and more.  Please RSVP to Kim or Tony directly at 203-387-6725 or tony@amitywines.net.  Amity Wines Tasting Room: 65 Amity Rd, New Haven, CT 06515. http://www.amitywines.net/events/ 

Bishops Orchards in Guilford, CT conducts wine tours every Saturday this month at 2:00pm.  Tasting and Tour combo for $10pp. http://www.bishopsorchards.com/index.php 

Monday December 9 at 7pm, Harry’s Wine & Liquor Market, 55 degrees Restaurant, and Vias Imports present a “Piedmont Holiday Wine Dinner” with guest host Michael Petrizzo, Northeast Brand Manager.  $89 plus tax and tip.  5 courses with wine pairings. http://www.localwineevents.com/events/detail/508378 

Tuesday December 10, Barcelona New Haven will hold a “Spanish Holiday Dishes” cooking class.  Guests can join Chef Frank as he demonstrates how to prepare Barcelona-inspired holiday and New Year’s dishes.  7pm, $25pp. http://www.barcelonawinebar.com/calendar.htm 

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Friday
Dec062013

10 Questions with the "Singing" Chef Neil Fuentes

Chef Entertainer Neil Fuentes (a.k.a. "The Singing Chef") was recently featured on the Food Channel giving audiences a tour of one of his favorite New Haven spots. Rubamba. We sat down with Neil to discuss his favorite ingredients, kitchen nightmares, and go-to dishes. 

1. If you had unexpected guests arriving at your home for dinner in one hour, what would you whip up?

One of the most effective recipes I like to make when I am in a rush is my Mustard Chicken, It’s fast, with deep flavors and really quick. I grab whatever I have in the freezer, chicken breast, chicken thighs, a whole chicken or whatever. I place the chicken in in a large soup pot! I put water until it’s covered with water. Put on the stove on high and covered. To that I add a 3/4 cup of good old yellow mustard. 1 tbsp of garlic powder, 1 tsp of worcestershire sauce, salt and pepper to taste. I let the chicken boil covered for 15 minutes. Then I uncover the chicken and keep it on high. The liquid will start reducing creating a super delicious sauce. One the sauce is thick I shut the stove off. At that pout I take the chicken off the pot and place it on a baking sheet with a rack and put it older the broiler in the oven until is nice and brown. I serve this chicken with a simple rice and sweet fried plantains.

2. What is the last dish you cooked for yourself?

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Thursday
Dec052013

Elm Restaurant's Lil' Foodies Event w/ Chef Brian Lewis

Asher is an 9th grader at Fairfield Country Day School. He has a true passion for food and started his blog, AsherZeats, in September of 2012. 

“A little chocolate a day keeps the doctor at bay”

I recently had the absolute pleasure of being a part of a unique experience called Lil’ Foodies. During this special event,  Brian Lewis, the chef/owner of well regarded restaurant, Elm, and his wife Dana, guided a group of children from the age of 8 to the age of 16 through a culinary extravaganza. All for the fantastic price of… nothing!

Our first stop on the journey was the New Canaan Farmers Market. During this time, Chef Lewis generously bought for us the freshest ingredients the market had to offer. We obtained fresh, crisp, juicy apples (of all varieties), a heap of straight from the ground fingerling potatoes, brightly vivid purple cauliflower, and much more.

Chef Lewis taught the group about the importance of supporting local organizations and also about picking the freshest foods from the stands.

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Wednesday
Dec042013

Luxe Wine Bar to Re-Open Soon in Westport 

Luxe Winebar (aka Luxe Modern Wine & Cocktails) at 190 Main Street in Westport will soon re-open on under new ownership. Former owner Robert Reilly has passed the torch to new owner, Dave Morton. The two are working together to make improvements to the menu and interior of the bar, while keeping things the way patrons liked it.

“We had a loyal customer base that was disappointed to see LUXE had closed temporarily,” said former owner Robert Reilly. “Dave and I hope they’ll come back and find LUXE better than ever.

Morton is working to make the setting warmer and friendlier, plus adding on menu items to complement the existing cheese and charcuterie. “The cheese and charcuterie have been well received,” Dave Morton says. “I want to give people even more options to choose from. New items will include desserts and chocolates from neighboring businesses, plus other wine-friendly noshes like hummus and pita chips, and olives.”

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