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CTbites' Chef Demo Tent Sept 5 + 6th at The Blues & BBQ Festival in Westport. 8 local chefs. Ton's of great food for all! View lineup here. 

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Monday
Feb112013

Top Spots for Chocolate in Connecticut [updated]

For the traditional Valentines Day present, it's nearly impossible to beat the universal appeal of chocolate. And for those of us who could care less about the Hallmark holiday, consider this a great way to satisfy that sweet tooth. So without further ado, here is a short list of places across Connecticut to satisfy that craving and maybe score a few points with your sweetheart. A word to the wise: when buying chocolate, you'll want to stop in a few days before the holiday to strike the best balance between freshness and selection. And please comment below and share any favorite chocolate or sweet spots that we missed! [Originally posted in 2012, this has been updated for 2013].

Bridgewater Chocolate
What
: Huge variety of chocolates, bars, cookies, toffee, etc.
Where: 559 Federal Road, Brookfield
 

Chocolate Lab at eleven14 Kitchen
What: Chocolate shop and café located inside the JHouse hotel 
Where: 1114 East Putnam Avenue, Greenwich

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Sunday
Feb102013

Rainbow Thai Opens in Westport 

Yes, Virginia, there IS a great Thai food to be found in Fairfield County. The new RAINBOW THAI at 5 Bridge Street in Westport is just what Virginia (and all the rest of us who feared that a great, local Tom Yum Gung soup might not really exist) ordered. RAINBOW THAI is tiny and, not to its advantage, finds itself in that ill fated location in the Bridge Market complex that hasn't to date been a lucky spot for restaurants. Many an eatery has peaked and faded faster than a shooting star in this locale but I think Rainbow Thai has staying power. Why? The food is just so damn good.

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Friday
Feb082013

Friday Froth: Face Heater

The holidays are over, football is over, it's still cold, and meteorologists are gesticulating like Kermit the frog introducing the next act. It's time for strong drink.

The boys at Lagunitas Brewing in California screwed up their first try at making a barleywine ("Gnarlywine," natch) in the late 90's, but they were left with an interesting recipe wherein they threw in some brown cane sugar. The resultant brew wasn't what they were going for but... it was pretty good. Pretty damn good. They called it Brown Shugga, and it became a big hit for them when it was released every winter. In the winter of 2010-11 though, they hit a snag. The brewery was expanding, and construction forced the brewers to choose: do we make the time-consuming 'Shugga and cut production on our staple beers, or do we cut 'Shugga, and risk pissing people off? They went with option two.

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Thursday
Feb072013

Tutto Pasta in Fairfield: Fresh Pasta & More Made Daily 

When Harry’s Liquor Store and the Fairfield Cheese Shop decided to tear down the wall they shared between them, customers could wander back and forth, tasting wine and snacking on crackers and cheese.  It was the perfect symbiosis of oenophiles and cheesemongers. It couldn’t get any better. But yeah. It could. And it did.

Brothers David and Andrew Tavolacci, who sold fresh pasta and sauces at their little and much- loved store in Georgetown, made a smart decision to move to Fairfield and share the parking lot with Harry’s. Now we can shop for the trifecta of food – wine, cheese, and pasta – without re-parking the car.

Tutto’s is where you go to purchase fresh pasta and home-made sauces, Wave Hill Bread, pesto, soups, and a variety of specialty foods.

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Wednesday
Feb062013

Family Style Sunday Dinners at Norwalk's Strada 18

South Norwalk's Strada 18 restaurant has kicked-off a series of "Family Style Sunday Dinners." These successive winter Sundays will feature pre-determined menus served "family-style"with a set price (ranging from $30 to $35 per person, child pricing available). Reservations are required in advance of each Sunday dinner.

Upcoming Sunday Dinners: February 10, February 24, March 10, March 24. For more information and a list of menus, please visit www.strada-18.com.

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Wednesday
Feb062013

Kids Review: Greenleaf Organic Bakery & Café in Wilton 

This article first ran on Sunday Diners, a kid's guide to the best diners and breakfast joints in Fairfield County, Connecticut and beyond. Written by 4th Grader Alex (with a bit of help from his dad). 

Usually, at this time of the year, many people make resolutions to eat healthier or not eat junk food all of the time.  One of the ways that you can do this is by eating more organic foods which are healthier for you.  Today, we went to Greenleaf Organic Bakery and Café, in Wilton, where everything is organic, fresh and TASTY!

The first thing I noticed when I walked in were the displays of amazing pastries, croissants, cupcakes, tarts and the BIGGEST chocolate chip cookies I have ever seen.  The second thing you notice, is how good it smells! The walls are decorated with photos of food and fruit, and it is a good place for kids and adults too.

I looked at the menu before we left the house and already knew what I wanted — The Fruit Explosion  - Fresh organic cream, layered with organic strawberries, blueberries, raspberries, yogurt, granola, all topped off with chocolate hazelnut spread.  It was beyond good and… healthy at the same time.  It was also BIG!  Do you know what else was BIG? The Organic Hot Chocolate – which is made with real melted organic chocolate and whipped cream – it was GIANT!  Bigger than our cereal bowls at home – now that’s BIG!

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Tuesday
Feb052013

THE SUNDAY SAUCE: a.k.a.- Family Meal @ LeFarm

This just in from Le Farm:

In the restaurant business, "Family Meal" is the staff's meal right before service starts. It's when we all gather together around a big table...just like many families do on Sundays...and eat what the Chef has created for us. We pass around huge platters of food and enjoy each other's company. 

This Sunday, 2/10/13 at 5pm, LeFarm will be hosting the first in a monthly dinner series entitled, "The Sunday Sauce: a.k.a. - Family Meal". 

Come and eat at our big table. Chef Bill Taibe and our new chef, Geoff Lazlo will be creating a family style dinner that will include much more than just the sauce! Frank & Andreawill serve the food and drink, and you can just enjoy a great meal and great company.

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Tuesday
Feb052013

Sun Winefest Recap: One Woman's Search for the Best Bottles

It was the calm before the storm.

As I strolled into the SunWineFest before the doors opened to the public, the ballroom appeared almost peaceful.  Exhibitors casually erected their stands and freely moved about the space.  Within an hour, that all changed.  People stood packed shoulder to shoulder and attempted to elbow their way through the throng for tastes of wine.  The crowd surged with energy, and my heart raced with excitement.

For some, the Mohegan SunWineFest is one giant party: an excuse to get buzzed with friends, blow off steam, and sample as many wines as physically possible.  For others, the event is a valuable opportunity to find exceptional bottles. 

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Tuesday
Feb052013

Interview & Recipe with Slow Cooker Author Dina Cheney

Dina Cheney is a Connecticut-based food writer and author of Year-Round Slow Cooker, published in 2013 by The Taunton Press. I recently chatted with her about her latest book, what makes Connecticut a special place for dining out, and her inspiration for fellow food writers. 

As a CT resident, what do you think makes CT a special place for food and dining culture?  I love living in Connecticut! We moved from Manhattan nearly 10 years ago, and I haven't felt at all deprived from a culinary perspective. Being on the coast, the seafood is terrific! I also think CT residents are educated and discerning, so the restaurants and shops that cater to them are top-notch, many quite sophisticated. 

As a mother of two, what are some of your favorite family-friendly places to eat out? So many! We love City Limits and Coromandel. This sounds strange, but—being part Syrian—I love exposing them to Middle Eastern food. So, we enjoy taking them to Safita in Fairfield (plus Shiraz in Elmsford, which is in Westchester County). Other Connecticut favorites are SoNo Baking in South Norwalk for breakfast and The Bedford Post Inn in Bedford (also for breakfast) and ReNapoli Pizza in Old Greenwich.

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Monday
Feb042013

Scenes from Chowdafest 2013 & Winners Are Announced!

Chowdafest 2013 rocked the Webster Bank Arena yesterday with 30 restaurants serving up chowders, soups & bisques to over 3000 eager eaters. Guests held their ballots tightly in hand as they sampled their soup, trying to slurp their way to the winner in three categories: New England Clam Chowder, Creative Chowder, and Soup or Bisque.

Valencia Luncheria, Rory's, Bobby Q's, The Crab Shell and many of the area's top chefs each prepared 25 gallons of Chowda not just for mere consumption, but to raise funds and food for the CT Food Bank. Chowdafest representatives tell us that over 1,200 pounds of food were collected during the 5 hour event. 

The winners of Chowdafest 2013 are just in. Congratulations to...

Donovan's of Norwalk who won the Classic New England Clam Chowder category!

The Ginger Man of Norwalk who won the Creative Chowder category with their sweet potato clam chowder in a tie-breaker by the narrowest of margins, beating out the Brewhouse Restaurant, also in Norwalk who entered a chicken corn chowder.

The Crab Shell restaurant from Stamford who successfully defended their Soup/Bisque crown with their Lobster Bisque. 

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