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Tuesday
May072013

Tips for Great Grilled Cheese from Chef Jason Sobocinski of Caseus

King of the Grilled Cheese, Jason Sobocinski is the owner and founder of New Haven's innovative cheese-centric gastropub and cheese shop  Caseus Fromagerie Bistro. Here are his tips for the perfect Grilled Cheese sandwich. 

The crispy and the melty are no more typified than in America's greatest culinary accomplishment, the Grilled Cheese! Who thought up such a wonderful combination, to put bread to butter then heat with cheese till melted? Pure culinary Genius. 

The first signs of what we know as the Grilled Cheese sandwich surfaced around the 1940's. Sliced white bread was used often with cheese melted open faced called cheese toasties in England and was a popular dish to make in U.S. Naval galleys. These toasted melted precursors of what we now know where easy to make and super satisfying...did they come from the English Welsh Rarebit or the French Croque Madame? I'm not sure, but I do know that now more than ever this nostalgic sandwich has become increasingly popular and more and more refined. Is it because it's simplicity and comfort evoking qualities? Again, not sure but I know how to make a seriously great GC and here are some of my tips and stellar condiment suggestion to bolster your next crispy melty endeavor! 

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Sunday
May052013

Top 10 Bar Burgers from Greenwich to New Haven 2013

Over a year ago CTbites decided to create as comprehensive a guide as possible for this year’s Best Burger review. During that time, I visited over sixty local chains, bars, fast food joints, and restaurants, grabbed a seat, looked at the menu and placed my order. Over sixty patties of ground meat were prepared on a griddle, grill, or flat-top, and thousands of French fries were plunged into oil. The meat was seasoned, the rolls were sliced, the toppings were placed on the patty and the fries seasoned.

When each arrived at the table, it was sliced to check for doneness, a piece of meat pulled and tasted and the competition officially added another competitor. Each of the toppings was individually tested and finally the burger, toppings and bun were viewed as a single entrant. Many did not make the grade on seasoning, some failed on doneness, others on taste and others due to toppings. A very simple process for a very simple product, but the sheer variability of my reaction to the end result ranged from a huge smile to a grimace. Some I craved for more, while others earned a few tentative tastes and I asked for the check.

This year we decided to present the burgers in two categories, “Bar Burgers” and “Restaurant Burgers,” believing it unfair to compare a $7-12 burger with a $20+ burger.

With only three repeat locations from the 2012 list, here are the… Top-10 “Bar Burgers” from Greenwich to New Haven. Happy National Burger month!

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Friday
May032013

Dinner Underground in Newtown CT with Chef Plum

I wasn’t sure what to expect as we entered the butcher, but were warmly greeted with a glass of champagne by Chef (Chris) Plum himself and were shown to our table.  Butcher’s Best deli and butcher in Newtown, CT has been transformed twice in 2013 to offer 30 lucky diners one of Plum’s "Dinner Undergound" culinary evenings. I was lucky enough to enjoy night #2.  

Chef Plum is a graduate from The Culinary Institute of America with over 18 years of experience. He has worked all over the east coast in five-star hotels and resorts, as well as small neighborhood restaurants. Plum-Luv-Foods was born in 2006 and since then has brought whole farm foods to families, small parties, Broadway actors, executives, Food Network and network TV

Plum’s happy demeanor shines through his food.  His inventive style and clever riffs show both his appreciation for food and simple enjoyment of offering his guests thoughtfully created dishes.  As each course is served, Plum tells us about where the food is from, his inspiration and why he chose to marry the components. 

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Thursday
May022013

Taste of the Nation in New Haven 2013

Join famed Chef Jacques Pepin as the Taste of the Nation New Haven continues to set the bar on the culinary event scene by bringing over 40 of Greater New Haven's most notable chefs and bartenders together under one roof; providing an exclusive opportunity for attendees to mix and mingle with the area's top chefs while savoring their creative food and drink. The event raises important funds in the fight against childhood hunger.  

Taste of the Nation will be held at The Omni Hotel at Yale on May 22nd, 2013, in the heart of downtown New Haven. Tickets are $85 general admission and $150 VIP admission. VIP guests will enjoy private access to our VIP lounge with specialty cocktails and opulent bites provided by Winvian and sparkling wine by Mionetto.

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Thursday
May022013

Wine Gal Abroad: Lebanese Winemakers 

I have an exciting announcement that I can’t wait any longer to tell you… or maybe I should say “KuWAIT any longer to tell you!”  I have left the United States for an indefinite period of time in order to pursue my culinary dreams in the Middle East!  I have accepted the position of Guest Relations Manager at Figs, a restaurant by Todd English, in Kuwait.  The restaurant originated in Massachusetts, but English is bringing branches to new locations.  This will be Kuwait’s second Figs and I have the exciting chance to be involved with it from its inception.

In one of my favorite movies of all times, Sleepless in Seattle, Tom Hank’s friend turns to him and asks, “What do you call it when everything just intersects?”  Tom Hanks shrugs and replies, “The Bermuda Triangle.”  This brief back-and-forth pretty much embodies the past month of my life when a series of improbable events seemed to come together to.  A chance meeting with Chef Todd English at the Mohegan Sun WineFest set the chain of events in motion.  By February I had submitted my resume and one short month later I was signing the contract.  My car is sold, my apartment is for rent, and my clothes are packed.

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Wednesday
May012013

Cooking is Believing. Start Your Kitchen Project at Clarke (sponsored post)

When something seems too good to be true, it typically is too good to be true. However, there is one exception right here in Connecticut: a visit to Clarke, New England's official Sub-Zero showroom and test kitchen in South Norwalk, CT.

While many think a kitchen design is all about cabinetry, discerning home chefs know a new kitchen starts with appliance research. Is a gas cooktop really better than induction? Will refrigerator drawers work in your layout? Can a convection steam oven replace a microwave? Clarke can answer all of these questions and more. 

According to Marco Barallon, Clarke showroom manager in South Norwalk, spending one to two hours at Clarke can save you months of your own research. He should know; he provides many of the private showroom tours at Clarke to educate homeowners about what is possible in their space and how to best accomplish their cooking goals in a new kitchen design. Are you passionate about pastry baking? Do you expect your children to prepare food? Do you have more than one chef in your home? How many dishwashers do you need? Should you incorporate wine storage into your kitchen or pantry?  

Your lifestyle informs your kitchen design and Clarke is a wonderful place to begin the design process.

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Wednesday
May012013

Shake Shack "No Kid Hungry" Shake Sale: Donate $2...Get FREE Shake

Shake it forward!  Starting today, Shake Shack® is hosting the 2nd Annual Great American Shake Sale benefiting Share Our Strength’s No Kid Hungry® campaign.

The Great American Shake Sale is a company-wide cause marketing initiative taking place May 1-31, 2013, at all Shake Shacks—excluding stadiums and international locations.  The goal is to help raise awareness and funds for Share Our Strength’s No Kid Hungry campaign in its effort to end childhood hunger in America.

Throughout the month of May, Shake Shack guests who donate $2 or more to No Kid Hungry will receive a card for a complimentary hand-spun shake—valued at $5—redeemable on their next visit.  One hundred percent of donations will benefit No Kid Hungry. Swing by their locations in Westport or New Haven. 

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Wednesday
May012013

American Craft Beer Week in CT Starts May 11th

American Craft Beer Week was created in 2006 by the Brewers Association to promote American craft beers and protect the independent brewers who make them. The first Craft Beer Week had only 124 participating breweries, but by last year there were over 1,300 official events in all 50 states, with who knows how many local promotions on top of that. May is for drinkers, people.

Connecticut is home to some of the best beers in the country - a fact regularly ignored or glossed over in even regional beer reporting - but this year marks the first ever Connecticut Craft Beer Week, which runs May 11-18 to coincide with American Craft Beer Week, May 13-19. We have some highlights from around the state below, and we'll update this post as new info comes in over the transom. Feel free to tell us about events you've heard about or will be attending in the comments.

The first event of CT Beer Week opens the taps at the Rising Pint Brewfest, where over 230 craft beers from 70+ brewers will be on offer at Rentschler Field in West Hartford.

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Tuesday
Apr302013

Forever Sweet Bakery Opens in Norwalk

Forever Sweet Bakery opened last week in the small mini-mall across from the Subaru dealership on New Canaan Avenue in Norwalk and CTbites paid a visit.

We visited after lunch on opening day and the success of the store preceded our arrival since the remaining inventory consisted of a few “Red Velvet” and a single chocolate cupcake. We decided on the Red Velvet and it was quite tasty. The cake was moist and they kept the sugar in the cake to a minimum. The icing was sweet and delicious and added great flavor.

The size of the cupcakes at Forever Sweet is also manageable, not the mega-cupcakes that have become the standard. Priced at $2.75 each, these are the perfect size and price for a kid’s party.

The Cake Pops start with a sphere of cake that are dipped in a hard shell and topped with some sparkles, priced at $2.75 each or $24.00 for a dozen. The Cupcake in a Jar is an 8-ounce mason jar filled with various layers of cake and priced $5.95 each.

With a following from its recent appearances at the Stamford Mall and current sales at local fooderies, Forever Sweets is a place to purchase some very tasty and creative cupcake inspired desserts.

Forever Sweet Bakery - 4 New Canaan Ave, Norwalk, CT - 203.939.9600

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Tuesday
Apr302013

Greenwich Dishcrawl Returns by Popular Demand

Dishcrawl, a national start-up founded on the premise that communities can be brought together through good food and good company, is returning to Greenwich again this June!  Dishcrawl takes food lovers on a gourmet Dishcrawl to four unique restaurants in one night. Similar to a pub-crawl—but more delicious! Local food enthusiasts in Fairfield County got wind of the inaugural Dishcrawls earlier this month and devoured the tickets – literally.

In the beginning of April tickets were released for the inaugural Downtown Greenwich Dishcrawls scheduled to take place on May 7th and May 8th; within five days both events had sold out. On June 11th at 7PM Greenwich Dishcrawl will return with the same mission of building community through a commonality of a passion for food, but in a new location. Old Greenwich will play host to Greenwich Dishcrawl round three, and foodies can expect a ton of surprises along the way. 

Reservations are $45 per person and can be purchased at http://www.dishcrawl.com/oldgreenwich

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