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Valentine's Gift Guide

Oh, for the love of....10 Unique CT Valentine's Gifts for your loved one. 

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We Wrote A Book!

Tuesday
Jun252013

The Connecticut Wine Festival Returns July 27th & 28th

The Connecticut Wine Festival will be returning this year for its fifth year of showcasing some of Connecticut’s best wines.   It is a reflection on the growing popularity of Connecticut wines, which are quickly gaining a reputation as quality vintage worthy of attention from wine lovers everywhere.

This year, the Fifth Annual Connecticut Wine Festival will be staged again at the Goshen Fairgrounds in Litchfield County, on Saturday and Sunday, July 27th and 28th. Sponsored by the Connecticut Vineyard and Winery Association (CVWA) and presented by the CT Wine Trail, the festival features fine wines from a wide variety of local vintners, making it one of the “must attend” events of the summer.  The festival also features wine classes, specialty food vendors, artisanal crafts, as well as a variety of live musical entertainment.

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Sunday
Jun232013

Mama's Boy Southern Table & Refuge: Southern in SONO

Visit Mama’s Boy Southern Table and Refuge in SONO and experience some good old-fashioned southern hospitality and cuisine. The newest addition to SONO offers a Georgian-Carolina cuisine with the flavors and ingredients not seen on other Fairfield County menus; not spicy Cajun or Creole but grits, okra, shrimp, catfish, with a little fried chicken thrown in.

Fairfield County native and owner Greer Fredericks, and her business partner Ami Dorel, bring a southern feel to the décor, and flavors to the menu, from Greer’s years in the South. Overseeing the kitchen is Chef Scott Ostrander who recently relocated from Jacksonville, Florida. His previous restaurant, ‘Town, won the Robert W. Tolf Award for Best New Restaurant from Florida Trend magazine and voted one of Jacksonville Magazine’s Northeast Florida’s Top 25 restaurants. After graduating from the Culinary Institute in Hyde Park, Ostrander worked in restaurants from DC to Florida and brings authentic southern cuisine to the Mama’s Boy menu. Ostrander is currently sourcing many of his ingredients from South Carolina while simultaneously building a stable of local farms, vendors and merchants.

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Saturday
Jun222013

Strawberry Picking is On @ Bishop's Orchards

This just in from Bishop's Orchards...

"The 2012 Pick Your Own Season is OFFICIALLY here.  Picking is at its peak right now so come PYO Strawberries this weekend, from 8:30 am - 5 pm.  The Strawberry crop looks great this year and they are absolutely delicious and so sweet.  Remember, our Strawberry season is only a few weeks long, so don't miss your chance to pick and enjoy the freshest local strawberries! 

We hope to be open most mornings thru mid July, but weather conditions and the plentiful availability of ripe berries determines our daily schedule, so call in daily for our schedule. 203.458.PICK  We hope to see you in the fields!"

For more information on Bishop's Orchards see their web site

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Friday
Jun212013

Meatball & Co. Opens in Darien

Meatball & Co., in Darien, was in “soft opening” mode last week in anticipation of next week's "official" opening and CTbites stopped by to taste a few of their meatballs. The main entrance is in the rear of the building and I decided to sit on their patio and enjoy the beautiful weather. The menu is separated into numerous sections so please listen carefully as the server explains the various options.

I chose an assortment of sliders including a Beef with Cheesy Goodness, a Spicy Pork with Pesto and the special of the day, a Buffalo Chicken Slider. Each was served on a delicious and sweet brioche bun from Kneaded Bread in Port Chester.

Chef / Owner Joe Criscuolo showed a deft hand in both the texture and the flavors.

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Friday
Jun212013

Friday Froth: Sunshower

I have met a lot of great people at beer bars. Whether the conversation starts with an apology for bumping elbows or parachuting into someone's conversation, there's a good chance they won't act like you've tried to cut them off in traffic. Plus, there's always beer to talk about if the conversation stalls out - most people are there for the same reason, after all. I like beer bars, but June is hardly a time for working on your hunchback impression over rings stained into a wooden bar, is it? No, ma'am. The recent spate of thunderstorms have currently left my basement in good condition to solve the drought problems of the entire American southwest, but it's still outdoor drinking season, dammit. 

Outdoor drinking, especially outdoor day drinking, is the best drinking. Park, yard, beach, rocky outcrop in the Dolomites, it doesn't matter: you've already escaped the four walls which house most of life's tedium. Simply getting outside at all apparently makes us happier all on its own, but a drink in the hand does tend to add a certain air of possibility. 

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Thursday
Jun202013

Mecha Noodle Bar Opens in Fairfield: An Interview w/ Tony Pham

Ramen noodles are having "their moment," and restaurateur Tony Pham, owner of Pho Vietnam in Danbury has just opened a new venture in Fairfield that will have fans of Asian food slurping without pause. Welcome to MECHA. 

Pham, a Vietnamese American who opened Pho Vietnam at the tender age of 21, again uses his raw talent drawing from his years of experience traveling around the world and working in numerous kitchens.  His newest baby, Mecha, located on Post Road in Fairfield is a hip, cozy joint that serves up Ramen as well as Asian street food. Consulting with a master Ramen chef, Tony Pham is placing all bets on this age old Japanese noodle..and we hear Pho is on the way. For a new restaurant aiming directly at the college crowd around Sacred Heart University in Fairfield, it's a perfect match.

Read our interview with Tony Pham below to find out more about Tony's family, the history of Ramen, the meaning of "MECHA," and what inspires Tony Pham. 

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Wednesday
Jun192013

And The Food 411 Winner Is....

You've waited long enough. We are pleased to announce a winner for our recent Food 411, featuring this fine looking piece of meat. 

The Restaurant is The Waters Edge at Giovanni's in Darien. Two readers guessed this venue, but the first person is the true winner, so Matt Pergo, you have won this round of Food 411. 

Great guesses were made by everyone. If you're hungry, go check these guys out. 

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Wednesday
Jun192013

BONDA En Plein Air Dining Event July 10 & 11 @ Greenfield Hill Grange

Back by popular demand, BONDA takes dinner to the outdoors July 10th & 11th 6:30 pm at the Greenfield Hill Grange at #133 Hillside Road in Fairfield. 

BONDA will host two magical and intimate evenings dining in the open air, “en plein air.” Following a cocktail hour,  featuring passed hors d’oeuvres, wine, and a BONDA special cocktail honoring the Grange, "The Granger," guests will be invited to a four course dinner (with wine of course!) artfully curated by Owner Jamie Cooper. All of this will be enjoyed in the sweet summer air with a background country orchestra of crickets and birds.

Price: $150 per person all inclusive of tax and gratuity, non refundable but transferable, rain or shine.

BONDA will begin taking reservations Tuesday, June 18th at 10:00 am Call 203.292.9555 or email bondarestaurant@hotmail.com

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Tuesday
Jun182013

Invites: Flower Arranging and Lunch at Da Pietro's

Kick off summer with a special lunch time experience on TUESDAY JUNE 25th (TWO SEATS LEFT) OR THURSDAY JUNE 27th ( just added! ) from CTbites for $48-! Two favorite Fairfield County businesses join together for this unique Invite. 

Join Coreen of Bridge Floral in Southport at Westport's intimate Da Pietro's Restaurant from 11:00 am to 12:45 pm as she does a demonstration and offers tips about cut flowers and flower arranging and then guides you thru your own personal floral creation to take home. MORE INFORMATION HERE.

Surrounded by your beautiful floral creations, enjoy a delicious 2 course lunch prepared by Chef Pietro Scotti followed by dessert and coffee. View Full Menu Below:

 

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Tuesday
Jun182013

The Best Store Bought Ice Creams: A Summer Roundup

THE BEST STORE BOUGHT ICE CREAMS NOT “HAAGAN-DASZ” OR “BEN AND JERRY’S”

Here’s the scoop on ice cream. It's not sold by weight, but by size. A pint of cheap ice cream is fluffed up 50 percent with air and tastes less deep, creamy, and rich as an equal volume of a better brand, which is pumped with only enough air to make it smooth.

"That's why the first thing I do when picking an ice cream," explains Guy Chandonnet, the Frozen Foods buyer for Fairway Markets, "Is simply lift the container. If it's got heft, that's a good sign I'm going to like what's inside."

Supermarkets carry up to 4 different grades of ice cream: Super-premium, Premium, Standard, and Economy. Aeration increases as you move down the ladder, butterfat concentration intensifies as you climb up, as do weight, price, calories, and sheer flavor.

Until the Sixties, no groceries carried super-premium. It was only sold in specialty shops, home made and hand packed. But then an enterprising ice cream maven in the Bronx commercialized his family's recipe, labeled it Haagan-Dasz, a meaningless but marketable name, and created a heavy, high end ice cream for the mass market. It took off, inviting competitors, like two guys from Vermont who added mix-ins and called the confections "Ben and Jerry's." Even today these two brands still dominate the SP category.

But in recent years, smaller, more artisanal companies have won space on supermarket freezer shelves, by crafting ice creams made with the freshest of sustainable ingredients, sourced locally, designed to deliver inventive flavor fusions, and marketed as tasting as good as what's offered at a gourmet ice cream shop. 

CTBites recently sampled some of the new super premiums available locally.  We were both surprised and impressed with what we tasted.

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