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Eating Out

We just keep going back to South End in New Canaan. Here's why...

Ummmmm.....Tacos..... Run, don't walk to Casa Villa in Stamford if you haven't been. 

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Caprese Burger w/ Pickled Tomatoes c/o Parsley Thief

Usually, when I make burgers at home, my toppings are fresh mozzarella, pesto, and tomato. But, for this post, I wanted something more creative than just that. Something worthy of being called a "recipe"...otherwise, I'm basically just telling you how to build a sandwich.

For a twist on the traditional Caprese ingredients, this burger is made with pickled tomatoes. Something that seems to be catching on these least according to all my Food Network TV viewing. The basil and balsamic vinegar elements come in the form of a basil mayo...which works out well for me, as I'm also known to enjoy mayonnaise on a burger. The rest is the usual...forming the patty by hand, between two pieces of wax paper {makes a perfect patty every time, in my book} and searing it in a hot, "salted" cast iron skillet {a method I learned from my MIL}. Lastly, my favorite parts...creamy, salty fresh mozzarella cheese, and a crusty, airy bread, like ciabatta. 

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Back to School with Clarke Culinary Showroom

Summer is winding down and school is nearly back in session. With that sobering news I decided to take it upon myself to reprogram the negative connotation with this time of year and embrace the classroom.

Clarke Culinary Showroom has a terrific line-up beginning late summer and into fall with new classes and a couple of new yet familiar faces such as Prasad Chirnomula of Thali and Michel Nischan.

Clarke's classes are known for their small class size which encourages an intimate atmosphere and the ability for guests to get up close and personal with the chefs. For a chance to win two tickets to a class of your choosing vote in Clarke's contest called "Vote for your Favorite Chef." The full list continues to change daily, so check-back soon as Clarke add classes, chefs and details:

Ice cream and Lollipops with Fritz Knipschildt on August 25; Tuna: Head to Tail with Matt Storch on September 1; Scandanavian Cooking with Fritz Knipschildt on September 15; Hors d'oeuvres with Chef Rui Correia on September 14; A Lesson in Spice with Prasad Chirnomula on September 29; A Special Night with Michel Nischan on October 6; Fritz's Favorite Pies With a Twist with Fritz Knipschildt on October 20; A Night with Chef Rui Correia and Portugese Cooking on October 27; The Freshest Ingredients with Michel Nischan on November 3; The Bounties of the Fall Market with Matt Storch on November 10; and A Winner's Class: The Art of Cooking with Root Vegetables with Fritz Knipschildt on November 17.

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Short & Sweet Cupcake Truck: A Mobile Bakery in CT

The scene at Cove Marina today was, in a word, cute. The green and white striped cupcake truck was cute. The owners, 16-year old twins Kate and Gavin Nelson, were cute.  And the cupcakes themselves were, yes, very cute. 

But there’s much more to the Short and Sweet Cupcake Truck. The truck is actually a fully equipped mobile commercial kitchen/bakery.  The young Nelson twins are not just accomplished bakers and entrepreneurs, but also authors (with two published children’s books between them) and philanthropists (founders of The Gift of Words, a non-profit foundation providing books to children in underserved communities).  Not bad for two high school juniors who don’t yet have driver’s licenses (their dad drives the truck)!  And the cupcakes don’t just look good – they taste great.  But more on that later.

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1st Ever New Canaan CT Restaurant Week

New Canaan's First-Ever Restaurant Week will take place during the week of August 26 - September 3, 2011. 

Special prix fixe menus will be available at the restaurants below, but there is more than dining during  "The Taste of the Town Stroll." Donations to the New Canaan Food Pantry will be accepted between 6 - 9 PM, Thursday, August 25th at designated areas in exchange for an opportunity to win fabulous prizes.

Participating restaurants include:
Tuscan, Fifty Coins, Cherry Street East Café, Gates, Plum Tree Restaurant, Cava, Roger Sherman Inn, Thali, Solé, The Pine Social, Kouzina, Club Sandwich. (Check back here for updates.)

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Tavern in Monroe: Modern Comfort Food in N. FC

Utter the word “tavern” and the mind conjures images of dimly-lit rooms, Hungry-Man portions of protein and white starches, with deep fried renditions of both. Upsell this concept to northern Fairfield County in the hands of two seasoned restaurateurs and you get Tavern in Monroe.

Located on a busy stretch of Rt. 25 just between Newtown and Trumbull, Tavern is already attracting a steady crowd in just under two months of operation. The after-work crowd is drawn to its handsome whiskey barrel studded bar and families clamber to fill the outdoor patio and comfortable vibe with family-friendly menu.   

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Cocktails: The Aviation c/o Barcelona's Gretchen Thomas

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

The classic cocktail revitalization is supercharged right now. San Francisco, New Orleans and Manhattan can take credit for getting that ball rolling, and the rest of the US...well we are a little behind as expected, but people are taking notice more and more. Why did the classics ever die out? In my opinion (strong emphasis on opinion), most of the classic drinks are whiskey or gin based, and Americans got sick of those flavors, turned to flavorless spirits, and they have been in fashion until recently. Now, vintage is back!

My new favorite vintage drink is the Aviation.

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Host A Champagne Croquet Party to Benefit EMERGE

EMERGE and Festivities are looking for your help!  

Festivities, known for their top notch special event catering & event planning, is using their business expertise to better the community in Fairfield County...and they need your help. Always wanted to throw a croquet party? Now you can both delight your guests and raise money to benefit EMERGE, a vital program that provides transitional and permanent housing along with mentoring and counseling to women and their children affected by domestic violence located in Stratford, CT.   

On Sunday, September 18 Festivities is asking Fairfield County residents to join them as a host/hostess for a unique and fun afternoon by hosting an afternoon of croquet, fun and libations. At the conclusion of the private events, all our guests will gather at a beautiful private estate in Southport for champagne, dessert and a croquet finale.  We will have the opportunity to hear Donna Jackson, co-founder of Emerge, share her riveting story of how she overcame a personal story of domestic violence to become the force behind her work.

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Ultimate Guide to Making Ice Cream: A Recipe (of Sorts)

Nothing says “Summer” like ice cream.  I make a lot of ice cream – more than we can eat.  I make really great ice cream, if I do say so myself.  So when my sister-in-law asked for an “award winning” ice cream recipe, to use in her local agricultural fair, I was happy to oblige.  I haven’t won any actual awards, but if you follow my instructions, you’ll appreciate my confidence.   Although Eleanore skipped the contest, she said she wished she had entered, if only because the entries all required detailed recipes and, as you will see, mine is nothing if not detailed. 

The key to a great ice cream is its base.  I almost always make fruit ice creams.  While different fruits require different treatments and benefit from different supplemental ingredients, the base doesn’t vary.  

I use a basic Cuisinart one-and-a-half-quart ice cream maker that only costs about $50.  If you like ice cream, it’s the best $50 you will ever spend

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Tim LaBant on the TODAY Show Thursday Aug 11

Tim LaBant, chef/owner of The Schoolhouse at Cannondale will be the guest chef on NBC's Today Show on Thursday, August 11. The current plan is an appearance during the 9:30am segment.
The Schoolhouse tells CTbites that he has 3 1/2 minutes to prepare a meal. Good luck Tim! We'll be watching. 



World Barista Champion Pulling Shots @ espressoNEAT

Coffee + Chocolate + 1 Coffee Celebrity= Fun. What more could you ask for on a Thursday night?

Come to NEAT this Thursday (August 11) at 8pm to meet the World Barista Champion, Michael Phillips, taste delicious coffees paired with chocolate, and enjoy a late night espresso prepared by Michael himself.

Michael is going to be spending a bit of time this week right here in CT, working with NEAT in their constant pursuit of top notch coffee and deilghtful service.  They are thrilled to be able to host him at NEAT.

He'll be working behind the espresso machine at NEAT a bit as well, so look for him on Friday and Saturday. 

Meet Michael Phillips
In addition to being one of the nicest guys you've ever met, Michael also has quite a resume in the world of specialty coffee.  After winning the US Barista Competition in 2009 and 2010, he took home the World Barista Championship in 2010, making him the first (and only!) from the good ol' US of A to ever win the WBC.  Michael ran the training program at Intelligentsia Coffee & Tea prior to co-founding Handsome Coffee Roasters earlier this year with two of his cohorts from Intelligentsia.