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Nola Oyster Bar Brings Seafood to South Norwalk

Several weeks ago CTbites first announced the opening of Nola Oyster Bar in South Norwalk, described as a seafood restaurant with dishes from Maine to New Orleans. After my initial visit, it is apparent that much of the food is influenced by the great flavors and traditions of New Orleans, but the creative interpretations are singularly of Chef Dan Kardos.

Exposed brick walls, wood and tin columns, and wrought iron rails dominate the interior with white “antique” chandeliers hanging from the ceiling to create a very New Orleans visual. The front area includes a large, arced granite-topped bar that seats 10, plus a large reclaimed “Bankers’ Table” that seats an additional eight guests overlooking the floor to ceiling windows. The center section of the restaurant overlooks the kitchen, plus the rear room is available for regular dining or a private event.  

Nola Oyster Bar is a place for fun, drinks and great food.

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Friday Froth: March Madness...Beer News & Reviews

March Madness has once again taken hold of America's mind, and I do not give a damn. I care about the tournament for exactly as long as the Huskies are still in it and, since they're out of the dance completely this year, I've been looking elsewhere for marginally productive entertainment. People like bracket-based tournaments, it seems, because there are a ton to be found on the intertron this month. Beer brackets, news and reviews follow in this week's Froth. 

Paste magazine, which is a pretty good source for new music and movie info, has the superbly named Top Of The Hops IPA Challenge, in which their editors purport to whittle down a national selection of brews in the quest to find America's best IPA. The bracket falls utterly flat, though, having taken cues from every other "national" review in history and leaving Connecticut beers completely off the list, despite having a Northeast region to the tournament. NEB's Gandhi-Bot remains the best IPA I've had in my entire life, and should have been the '99 UConn in this particular madness, but this is what you get when people from Atlanta grasp at a college sport not named football.

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Kids Bites: Stew Leonard’s Cookbook, Goat Cheese Scrambled Eggs via Sunday Diners

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). 

For any one who doesn’t know, Stew Leonard’s is The World’s Largest Dairy Store,and I’m so lucky that it’s right here in Norwalk, CT. I’ve been going to Stew’s since I was a baby.  They sell great bagels, fruits & vegetables, fried chicken, and of course… lots of dairy products.  Their milk comes from their own cows, on their own farm – you can even see them on live video in the store… and sometimes in Stew’s Little Farm right in the parking lot.  My favorite at Stew’s is the ice cream!  Stew’s is super fun for kids – there’s lots’ of great displays and there’s always new things to try and taste!

Today, instead of going out for breakfast, Dad and I decided to make breakfast at home.   There’s a great recipe from their “Winning Recipes Cookbook” that’s written right on the back of their Cage-Free Egg carton label… “Goat Cheese Scrambled Eggs”.  It’s really easy to make, with some help from an adult… it’s delicious and healthy.  It’s also a lot of fun to cook!

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What You Didn't Know About Sherry via Gretchen Thomas of Barcelona

Gretchen Thomas is the Wine & Spirits Director for the Barcelona/Bartaco Restaurant Group.

I firmly believe the single most important product that Spain has to offer to the world is Sherry. Well, soccer fans may disagree, but I stand by my opinion. If Sherry wines were a world famous rock band, I have been the equivalent of a road groupie for the past 6 years…always a fan, love to partake, but having never penetrated to the source of the art (i.e. I’d never been Jerez!). Not until last year anyways. After more than twenty wine excursions to Spain in the past 7 years, I finally made my way to the deep south of Spain and visited Jerez, aka Sherry territory.

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Fairfield Cheese Co. Cheese School Spring 2013 

Fairfield Cheese Company classes are back in session and school has never been this delicious. Whether you are a cheese novice looking for a an introduction to the basics, or a cheese-aficionado seeking toexpand your knowledge on a specific variety, they've got the class for you. 

Thursday, April 11th. 7-9pm: Grilled Cheese: Beyond Kraft Singles and White Bread

April is National Grilled Cheese Month and what better way to celebrate than a class all about our favorite sandwich? Chris will guide us through several different variations while we explore what makes a great grilled cheese. $45.00 

Tuesday, May 7th. 7-9 pm: Goat-a-palozza

Spring is here and that marks the return of what we like to call, goat cheese season.  Join us as we taste a plate of goaty delights that cross all styles of cheese, from fresh chèvre to washed rind, firm and blue. The goat possibilities are endless! $45.00

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Best Brunch Restaurants in Fairfield County something wonderful to be seen. In between daily meals one and two is something very delightful for you. How Dr. Suess-y, eh? Wedged in-the-between is the one and only: Brunch. With a capital B, thank you very much. Brunch is divine. You can roll out of bed late and into a perfectly wonderful, relaxed meal that begs to be savored. It lingers beyond the lunch hour and helps you cruise effortlessly into dinner. 

“There is no sincerer love than the love of food” says a quote that I stumbled upon recently. I think that is pretty darned accurate, especially when it comes to this meal. Here, for you, is a collection of some lovely spots to help you turn this noun into a go forth and brunch! 

Did we miss one of your favorite Brunch spots? Let us know...

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Cotto Winebar & Pizzeria in Stamford: Menu & Kitchen Changes

After a brief bout of Musical Toques, Claudio and Silvy Ridolfi --  owners of Cotto’s Winebar and Pizzeria in Stamford -- have convinced veteran Chef Greg Depelteau to come aboard and expand their imaginative menu of small plates and pizza.

Depelteau, a graduate of the French Culinary Institute, is in total simpatico with the Ridolfis’ insistence that a dish, especially a small plate, should be driven by primary flavors.  “These days a lot of chefs overdo things,” Greg contends and we agree.  “Too many flavors confuse the diner.“

Cotto’s simple take on hanger steak, a cut prized for its flavor, makes the case.  After marinating the muscular cut overnight in herbed EVOO, Depelteau quickly grills the meat on a blazing hot sheet pan to achieve a hard sear, while maintaining a surprisingly tender, rare interior. A

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5 Ways Kids Can Help Fight Hunger in CT

People often write in to CTbites asking how their kids can get involved in helping the hungry in our local community. We decided to go to the source, Connecticut Food Bank, to see how best to assist in their efforts. It turns out there are quite a few ways kids can get involved.  Here are some places to begin:

Organize a Team to Walk Against Hunger.  We just opened Registration for the 2013 Walk Against Hunger,  There are now four dates to choose from.  There also may be opportunities for young people and families to volunteer at the walk.  It’s truly a fun family event.

Organize a food drive at school, with a sports team/club or the neighborhood, here’s a link to the info. on our site,

Volunteer.  Contact Kim Damien, our Volunteer Coordinator to learn about volunteer opportunities for young people and families. There’s volunteer information the CT Food Bank's volunteer page, or you can contact Kim at, or call 203-469-5000.

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Must Try: Lao Sze Chuan Chinese Restaurant in Milford 

“How adventurous do we want to be?” Maria asks.  “On a scale of one to 10?”  She’s poring over the menus at Lao Sze Chuan and says it’s so authentic, some of these dishes aren’t found in Chinatown in New York City. Diced rabbit with peanuts. Hot and Sour eel with cellophane noodles. Pork intestines with blood cake.

“We have to have frog’s legs,” she says. “And the clams.” She starts making a list.

Donna and Mark’s list is already on their ipod. They’ve been looking  at Lao Sze Chuan’s menu online since three in the afternoon.  Maria passes me her list. Yes, the spicy ox-tongue and tripe is on it and I’m happy not to make more decisions. The menus – two of them, the main large, multi-plastic-paged booklet and the additional four page menu of Szechuan specialties  -- are overwhelming. Pages and pages of intriguing descriptions like “Silky fowl with black mushrooms and bamboo shoots in casserole.”  

I pass Maria’s list to my husband, who glazes over at the sight of her tiny script of five appetizers and 11 entrees. He passes it to Donna and Mark. They cross-reference against their i-Pod list, and add a couple dishes to the feast. Yes! The pig’s ear. 

There’s nothing like dining with the right group of people at the right place, and our crew of 10 is excited about our adventure to the commercial belly of Route 1 Milford to see if Lao Sze Chuan makes the most authentic Szechuan cuisine in Connecticut.  

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The Next Wave in Mobile Food: A Floating Oyster Bar

This is a story about a boat, and oysters, and a new concept in dining...a moveable feast if you will. Once neglected, America's oldest oyster boat is taking on a new role as a floating oyster bar, and it's coming to a location near you. But to make this new culinary concept a reality, this boat needs your help. Here's the whole story....

Two years ago, a typical photo assignment changed the course of photographer Jean Paul Vellotti's life. You might say that was the day he became an accidental oysterman.

When tasked with capturing a local captain for a Whole Foods Market advertising campaign, he visited the East Norwalk-based Norm Bloom & Son oyster firm. There, he climbed aboard a derelict oyster boat to get a better perspective of his subject who was standing on the bow of the immaculately kept Catherine M. Wedmore.

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