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The Spread in SoNo 2.0…Enter Chef Carlos Baez

Twelve years of apprenticeships and hard work are now benefiting Carlos Baez, the newly appointed Executive Chef at The Spread in SONO. Baez started his career at the age of 19 and gained his culinary experience through diverse roles including a sushi chef; he smiled as he told CTbites, “I was the only Mexican sushi chef in the restaurant”.   He worked as a line cook in two top-rated local restaurants, Le Panetiere (Rye, NY) and Napa and Company (Stamford) before arriving at The Spread as one of its opening chefs.

After a few months in his new role of Executive Chef, CTbites spent an afternoon with Chef Carlos to sample a few of his newly introduced additions to the menu. The menu has a varied approach to the cuisine, with influences from American, French, Italian and Spanish cuisines while adhering to The Spread’s philosophy of offering high quality, locally sourced options, with entrées priced less than $25. I enjoyed many of the dishes but found many of the presentations a little over- or under-seasoned.

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Green & Tonic Opens in Greenwich: Raw, Vegan, Gluten-Free 

Green & Tonic Opens Second Location In Greenwich with foods that find their power in both taste and healing.

As a California native who has spent the last 17 years living in Connecticut, I know health food in its many forms. I also know junk food disguised as health food. I’ve eaten my share of overpriced twigs and sprouts on tiny plates, overcooked veggies flavored with too much salt and oil, “natural” juices loaded with sugar and calories, and ingredients I couldn’t pronounce. In other words, you can’t fool me, baby. But when I walked into Green & Tonic after it opened its second location in Greenwich, my doubts quickly vanished. This place walks the walk on healthy food. Oh, and it tastes good too.

Co-owner Jeffrey Pandolfino, a Johnson & Wales graduate with vast experience in the restaurant business, who ran his own operation for many years and also spent time at Pret A Manger, was motivated to serve healthy, organic food for another reason – he knew the healing power of food.

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Gazpacho Recipe: South End In New Canaan

 Gazpacho is one of those summer treats that allows a chef to combine vibrant seasonal flavors with a unique personal touch. Every bowl of gazpacho is different, and Chef Nick Martschenko of South End in New Canaaan does a wonderful job marrying texture, taste and a little heat. This sweet and spicy version combines the sweetness of the tomatoes with a little spiciness from finely diced jalepeno peppers. He then finishes this delectable recipe with grilled shrimp. Enjoy!

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Underground Dinner: Plum Luv Foods Pops Up at Butcher’s Best

This past Sunday, a group of us were six of the lucky 40 folks to nab tickets to a "hip" six course menu put on by Plum Luv Foods at Butcher's Best in Newtown, CT, showcasing sustainable local produce, seafood and grassfed meats. This was a sold-out event, even after adding ten more tickets than had been sold at previous dinners.
For the past few months, Chef Plum and Sous Chef Kern have been hosting Underground Dinner ("pop-up dinners") in Connecticut, where they take over a space for the evening, and prepare dinner in a casual, local setting.
No one in our group had ever been to a pop-up dinner, but we knew we were in for a fun night when we were greeted with a glass of bubbly champagne with local blueberries as soon as we walked in the door.
Take a peek at the menu ~ this particular evening, Chef Plum showcased grass-fed meats from Shiregate Family Farm (carried by Butcher's Best), local grown produce (from Farming 101 and Holbrook Farm), and fresh fish and oysters caught right off the Connecticut shoreline.

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Ridgefield's BBQ Throwdown on Sunday, August 4

Join 109 Cheese & Wine this Sunday, August 4 @ 4pm for a Wine vs. Beer Throw Down with some amazing BBQ from Ridgefield Prime's CodyQ "Smok'in Good BBQ." Cody just returned from an intense BBQ boot camp learning from the most awarded man in BBQ, Myron Mixon, and he's got a greeat menu planned for the big day. 109 Cheese & Wine will pair 4 BBQ centric wines (selected by wine pairing fanatic Monica) vs. 4 craft beers (selected by beer guru Patty).

- Prime Big Texas Brisket (Oak smoked)
- Smokey & Sweet Carolina Pulled Pork (apple wood smoked)
- Georgia style Baby Back Ribs
- Jalapeño Cheddar Sausage
- Pit Beans
-Locally grown tomatoes and buratta salad

Weather permitting this will all go down outside. Cody will have his smoker out front and will bring the very best beef, and pork cuts from Ridgefield Prime.

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Preserving the Harvest Canning Workshop @ Wakeman Farm 

Wondering what to do with all those extra vegetables from the garden?  Don't let them go to waste.  Instead, come to the Wakeman Town Farm on August 10th and learn how to can and preserve your harvest.  During this 2 hour workshop, you'll learn the basics of canning as you make delicious homemade jam, tomato sauce, and salsa.  There will be tastings, and participants can take home a jar of their choice! The Preserving the Harvest Canning Workshop will take place on Saturday August 10th, 10am - 12pm.


Fee:  $25
When:  Saturday, August 10,  2013
Time:  10:00am - 12pm
Location:  Wakeman Town Farm, 134 Cross Highway, Westport

Ages:  Open to all

Email to reserve your spot!

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Delicious Dives: Los Poblanos, Mexican in Norwalk

One bite into the tacos al pastor at Los Poblanos, and my husband and I looked up at one another in amazement. Whoa, this is really good. Tender plump bites of orange-hued pork shoulder, coated with ground chiles and herbs, mixed with bits of sweet, juicy pineapple. The flavors melded, cooked together to just the right moment. Warm, soft homemade corn tortillas. The pork topped with minced fresh raw onions and cilantro. 

The exterior didn’t prepare us for food made with such care. I mean, I love discovering a little Mexican hole-in-the-wall. When I noticed a handmade sign for Los Poblanos hanging outside what was still at that point Hubba Luncheonette, in a dingy little strip mall in Norwalk (cattycorner to Penzy’s), I took a quick left turn. The transformation from American breakfast place and luncheonette to Mexican, in terms of décor, at that point was shiny tourist posters of the Puebla region of Mexico. Since then it’s brightened up. The walls are painted cheerful contrasting colors, orange, green and red. The place is small and simple, with four booths, and a couple tables for two. 

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Friday Froth: GermaNY

NPR recently had a piece by Joel Rose about the booming booze business in New York, focusing partially on one of my favorite distillers, Tuthilltown Spirits. Their rye (as experienced in Manhattan form) has gotten me through the darker portions of several recent winters. The gist of the piece is the birth of craft distillation after the industry's wrongful execution by the dullard proponents of the Volstead Act. The second coming of legal hooch in America, post-Prohibition, had a tremendous amount to do with first generation immigrants, especially Germans, who brought old-world recipes to a thirsty nation. The foundations they laid have paired beautifully with the American penchant for ignoring inconvenient rules, and the two together have produced our current boom in craft distillation and craft beer, which has begun (somewhat ironically) to echo in Europe. 

Let's take a look at some of the excellent brews, New Yorker, German, or otherwise, with which we may satiate our parched palettes this summer. 

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Best Places to Grab a Picnic or To-Go Meal in Fairfield County CT

A tisket, a tasket...a lovely picnic basket. Or possibly just a simple, perfect, brown bag lunch. A lunch wrapped to eat by the seashore (sand not included), one to eat while lounging on a blanket in the grass listening to an outdoor, evening concert or one stuffed into a backpack for your long, summer hike. What is it about eating en plein air that is so fabulously enjoyable? Whatever your destination, here are a few suggestions for acquiring the perfect to-go meal....

Share your favorite To-Go spots by leaving a comment below:

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Summer Cocktails from Luxe Modern: Ginger Smash

LUXE Modern Wine & Cocktails in Westport has been serving up a curated selection of over 45 wines and inventive Craft cocktails since January of 2012. Under the keen direction of owner Robert Reilly, Luxe has established itself as a go-to spot for beverage aficionados in Fairfield County and beyond. 

We recently swung by Luxe and asked Robert to whip up a few of his favorite summer cocktails. CTbites will be running a series of these recipes, the first of which is the beautiful Ginger Smash, (seen above). Try one of these out for your next party..they are sure to be an instant hit. 

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