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Wednesday
Jun052013

L'Escale Hosts Serge Hochar of Chateau Musar

There are moments in the career of a wine sales rep that will forever last in ones' memory. One of those moments happened this past Friday night when I had the privilege of dining and tasting through some of the most remarkable and enigmatic wines of the world – Chateau Musar. To my delight, I had the rare opportunity to dine next to Serge Hochar, wine maker of Musar in the Bekaa Valley, Lebanon, at L'Escale in Greenwich, CT. The event was sponsored by Nicholas Roberts Fine Wine in Darien, CT by Peter Troilo.

Serge came to speak with his son, Marc Hochar. In the lineup, we had six wines; three red and three white wines; all individually spellbinding and curious. But before I even start to tap into the amazing-ness that is Ch. Musar, I want to talk about Serge.

Serge Hochar, in of himself, is an enigma. But he's the kind of puzzle that you can't stop playing with, like a rubix Cube or those metal trick toys that are so simple, yet hard to find the right notch. Serge has been an engineer, a doctor, a lawyer and in his lifetime and the only thing that has held his attention so long is wine. Talk about a man that has found his calling in life! His wines are right in line with his own personality.

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Wednesday
Jun052013

Winner of Harlan Social Sandwich Naming Is...

Thanks to all of the readers who submitted some incredibly original names for the Harlan Social Chicken Sandwich Naming Contest.  Over 100 entries were submitted.

After careful consideration and diligence, the winning name is:  The Harlan Double Dip, Submitted by Lee

Lee will receive a $150 gift certificate from Harlan Social.

Thanks to all and stay tuned for the next Name That... Contest

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Tuesday
Jun042013

Fortina Restaurant: Casually Hip Italian Opening in Armonk, NY

Fairfield county residents will be soon crossing the border (passports not required)-- into Upper Westchester County's suburb of Armonk, after this week's opening of Fortina.  Chef Christian Petroni, recently Executive Chef of Greenwich's Barcelona Restaurant, is joined by John Nealon, ex-GM of the same provenance and Nealon's childhood friend, Rob Krauss as business partners. Both Nealon and Krauss originally hail from Westport.  Petroni, a local himself, is also co-owner of Cooked & Co., in Scarsdale.

Recalling the many memorable meals he had eaten during his time spent in Italy, Petroni's vision was to bring Italy's simple authentic flavors, cooking methods and presentation to the dishes he serves at Fortina. This vision is executed with the help of 2 wood burning ovens imported straight from Naples, Italy which serve as a focal point in the main dining room. In fact with the exception of just a few menu items, everything is cooked in these fiery hearths...even a pasta dish or two! (And you should hear Petroni when he speaks of his ovens...like a proud new Papa ) 

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Tuesday
Jun042013

Think Again Before You Default to Gas: The Wolf Induction Cooktop! (sponsored post)

Talk to most home chefs and you'll get a knee-jerk, "When it comes to my range or cooktop, I want gas."

It may be hard to believe, but if you are considering a cooktop, the Wolf Induction Cooktop may very well change your mind. Think extraordinary control delivering an instant boil and equally fast true simmer, a delicate melt function, extreme energy efficiency and a level of safety that gas simply can't deliver.  

Induction cooking has been used in Europe for decades by professionals and homeowners demanding the best in performance. Wolf offers five options with even more to come and they offer features and benefits not seen in any other cooktop in the industry. Ranging from a 15" 2-burner option (with total functionality) to 30" and 36" framed and unframed models, Wolf Induction Cooktops are 90-95% energy efficient; as a result, no heat is wasted because energy is supplied directly to the cooking vessel. This is compared to 55% efficiency for a gas burner. In fact, these cooktops actually sense your cookware and the elements will not heat without an induction-compatible pan on the cooktop surface. Cookware made from aluminum, copper or glass (including Pyrex) is not compatible. However, Culinary Institute of America and Staub cookware offered through Clarke's Savoir Fare kitchen boutique works perfectly, as do many other lines. 

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Sunday
Jun022013

The Best Warm Lobster Rolls on the Connecticut Coast

Connecticut's signature food may not be New Haven Pizza or Steamed Hamburger.  And it’s certainly not Nutmeg (indeed, not a single nutmeg seed has ever been planted, much less harvested, in the Nutmeg state.  But that's a tale for another time).  

Actually, Connecticut’s truly indigenous dish may be the Warm Lobster Roll, a state treasure.   According to the new edition of John Mariana's authoritative Encyclopedia of American Food and Drink, the Connecticut Lobster Roll was likely born in 1927 at Perry's Restaurant in Milford. A customer asked owner Harry Perry to serve his lobster meat off the shell, dressed in butter, and placed in a bun.   No need for a cracker, picks, or bib.  As the New Haven Register tells it, the new sandwich proved to be so popular that Perry soon mounted a large sign over his restaurant that read "Home of the Lobster Roll."     

Today, order a lobster roll in most of New England and you'll probably be served something quite different:  a bun filled with chilled lobster salad, the crustacean mixed with mayo, celery, and various condiments.  But travel along the Connecticut shoreline and your sandwich will likely be similar to Perry's original:  warm lobster meat drizzled in butter and piled high in a grilled bun, either long or round.  

With summer starting, CTBites embarked on such a trip - up the state’s entire coastline in search of the best Connecticut Lobster Rolls. 

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Friday
May312013

Mediterraneo Opens at Hotel Zero Degrees in Norwalk

 

The coastal Mediterranean food we’ve come to know and love at the Greenwich Avenue restaurant Mediterraneo, has been successfully replicated inside Norwalk’s new urban-chic boutique Hotel Zero Degrees.

Restauranteur Ramze Zakka is the force behind Z Hospitality Group and its stable of sleek and popular restaurants, such as Acqua, Aurora, Mediterraneo, Sole, and Terra. In a notoriously difficult business, Zakka has been able to pile up the restaurant successes across Fairfield County (and Westchester) with equal emphasis on exceptional dining and desirable settings. Mediterraneo at Hotel Zero Degrees raises the bar on both of these counts. 

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Friday
May312013

The Pop Shop Market – Making a Pop Up Debut in Fairfield

The Pop Shop Market is popping up in Fairfield this weekend!  The first of 4 yearly Pop Shop Markets will be making its debut at the Fairfield Theatre Company’s warehouse and parking lot on Saturday, June 1st.  People of all ages are invited out to experience the European-style open-air market.  Kelly Scinto, Andrea Espach and Ashley Kane, founders and curators of the Pop Shop Market wanted to create a unique experience unlike any other pop up shop.  “We wanted to plan a fun day; one that would bring shopping, food, drinking and music together,” says Scinto.  

The Pop Shop Market will feature a variety vendors from all over the area, showcasing items such artwork, jewelry, and repurposed furniture by local artists, designers and merchants.  All this shopping will surely leave you hungry!  Or perhaps it is the all the incredible local food that will draw you out this Saturday.  The Pop Shop Market has recruited some of Connecticut’s most popular food trucks!  Grab a lobster roll from LobsterCraft, a meatball grinder from the Local Meatball, some California-style fish tacos from Taco Pacifico, fries from Fryborg, and top it all off with some soft-served ice cream from Cowabunga Food Truck.

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Thursday
May302013

Sugar & Olives Gets Serious About Baking w/ Pastry Chef Cindy Bearman

Sugar & Olives in Norwalk has been known for their inventive homemade indulgences, but with pastry chef Cindy Bearman at the helm, Sugar & Olive's bake shop is becoming serious business. Their bakery department not only offers cakes to order as well as favorites such as homemade devil dogs, pop tarts, decadent oreos, and porridge cakes, but they are also offering a range of pastry classes for both novice and serious bakers (even kids). 

Cindy Bearman brings years of experience as the opening chef for ABC Kitchen in NYC, and has worked at Le Cirque, and with Daniel Boulud. Her creativity and knowledge mingled with Sugar & Olive's dedication to sourcing local and organic ingredients from farms such as Arethusa Farm milk (Litchfield CT) and Speckled Rooster Farm eggs (Westport CT), make them a go-to spot for any birthday or sweet craving. They also offer wheat free and nut free desserts for those with food sensitivities. 

Pastry classes at Sugar & Olives are hands on affairs and heavy on technique. From Frosting 101 to Gum Paste Flowers, their is something for everyone this Summer. Check out a few of the classes below, or go to Sugar & Olive's web site for a complete listing of classes.

 

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Thursday
May302013

Bistro 7 in Wilton: The Backstory

At times the story behind a restaurant can be as delicious as what’s on their menu.   For instance, consider the improbable tale of how Wilton’s Bistro 7 came to be….

Breno Donatti began his restaurant career seven years ago as a dishwasher at Pizza Post in Greenwich.  A young kid from Brazil, he had just come to America, spoke no English, and was without home, money, or many friends.   Today, he is the popular co-owner and host of Bistro 7, a trendy restaurant in Wilton; his English is impeccable; and he lives in a lovely apartment in Stamford which he shares with his even lovelier wife, one of America’s most esteemed coloratura sopranos. (Her bio is just as amazing, but we’ll get to that shortly.)

After graduating high school, Breno had enrolled at a Nutrition College in South Brazil..  “Although my family was in the car business.  I always had this passion for food,” he explains.  “At school, I loved dealing with farmers and the business side of the industry.  ”

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Wednesday
May292013

Recap: Happy Hours Cocktails Al Fresco @ Artisan, Southport  

That “drink after work” thing is not really about a drink.  It’s an escape from ennui, stale air, the copier just ran out of toner, we didn’t like the tone of that last email from our biggest client, and there’s a personal text message on our cell phone we’ve decided not to answer until later. Much later.

We claw our way out of the office, desperate for a breeze and a cocktail, and begin the search for an outside venue, of which there are precious few, and those include curbside seating on busy streets and tables in parking lots.

But Artisan in the Delamar Hotel in Southport opens their back doors onto an open-air bar and patio where, if you pretend a little bit, you can think you are in Europe.  

The hotel itself provides privacy from traffic on three sides, and the tiny street that abuts the fourth is private. Bicycles are lined up in sturdy racks, rattan furniture and Adirondack chairs are scattered in conversational groupings, and flowers hang from trellises and bloom in pots and boxes; hence, the name: the Pergola, Patio, and Garden Bar.

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