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Eating Out

Pho Saigon: Real Pho. Really off the beaten path. 

If you like Italian cuisine (I mean real Italian) and you haven't been to Fortina in Armonk yet, something is ALL wrong. 


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Our Top 10 Eats of 2010

The Schoolhouse at Cannondale: Mushroom Truffle Soup Chef LaBant's Mushroom soup with truffle oil achieved maximum sounds of audible appreciation at a recent meal. His French culinary know how is evident in all of his sauces as well as this wonderfully decadent starter. 

The Boathouse:  Lobster Salad I'm embarrassed to admit how many of Chef Holzwarth's Lobster Salads I have consumed in 2010. A composed salad with the absolute freshest market vegetables, avocado and heirloom shell beans pedestaled on large chunks of succulent lobster meat. It's good stuff. 

leFarm:  Local Beets & Oregon Lentils, Pecans, Aged Ricotta with La Quercia Ham A celebration of fresh ingredients, tastes and textures, this dish sits in perfect harmony. Earthy, sweet, rich and savory, this is a dish often craved. 

Chao Chi: Foie Gras Beignet Now shuttered, this amuse bouche is stamped into my memory from a long meal enjoyed there. The buttery softness of the foie gras paired with a light and doughy shell was finished with a blackberry jam drizzle. Bravo Prasad. 

Bereket Turkish Restaurant: Manti This hole in the wall in Bridgeport (soon with a new larger location) serves a Turkish classic "Manti," tiny folded triangles of dough filled with ground meat and onion, floating atop a bed of yoghurt, meat drippings and spices. As close to Istanbul as it gets in FC. 

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Recipe: Homemade Bailey's Irish Cream

Bottling your own holiday spirit has its advantages. It's an excellent wintry hostess gift, it can be a comforting and decadent way to end a meal at home, and it sure beats giving out cookies (unless you've found a way to fill them full of whiskey too). A creamy concoction spiked with whiskey, I guarantee this loyal interpretation of Bailey's Irish Cream inspired by the Cupcake Project will be happily received and savored as a decadent way to extend the holiday spirit. 

Homemade Bailey's Irish Cream (aka "Holiday Spirit")

  • 1 C light cream 
  • 14 oz or 1 can of sweetened condensed milk
  • about 1 2/3 C Irish whiskey
  • 1 t instant coffee (Starbucks Via works well)
  • 2 T chocolate syrup
  • 1 t good vanilla
  1. Combine all ingredients in a blender on high speed for at least 30 seconds.
  2. Bottle in a tightly sealed container and refrigerate. Shake well before serving.
  3. Will keep for up to 2 months.



Ask Chef Nicole: Sweet & Spicy Nuts

Nothing says "cocktail party" like Sweet & Spicy Nuts. Salty and satisfying for both the sweet tooth and those seeking a little heat, this appetizer is a must have in any entertaining repertoire. Cinnamon and smoky paprika give this dish great flavor. 

NOTE: Make sure nuts have cooled completely before even thinking about putting them in the fridge, or you'll have some seriously soggy nuts. In fact, avoid the fridge if at all possible. Also, watch nuts closely in oven as cook times vary. We nearly torched our test batch. 

Sweet and Spicy Nuts

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Food Writing & Blogging Class w/ Corinne Trang 

Looking to learn how to write about food or start a blog? Why not learn from a master?  Corinne Trang is an award-winning author of several books including Noodles Every Day (2009), Curry Cuisine (2007), The Asian Grill (2006), She was dubbed the “Julia Child of Asian Cuisine” by the Washington Post, and has written for numerous publications including Saveur, Food & Wine, Relish, Cooking Light, and Bon Appetit. 

Now is your chance to study with Corinne Trang in a very intimate setting. Here are the details:

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People's Choice in Norwalk: Soulful Jamaican Cuisine

People’s Choice on Wall Street in Norwalk is as nondescript as a restaurant gets, but if you happen to walk by, the aroma of jerk chicken and stewed meat makes your head turn even before you open the door.  Step inside and you could be in the heart of Kingston, Jamaica – the savory spicy smells, the clanging of the pots and pans, people lining up to order directly from the kitchen, beverage coolers stacked with Jamaican drinks and sodas with names like Kola Champagne, Peanut Punch, and Irish Moss ….

I must have driven past this restaurant countless times before I was introduced to this ‘find’ by my Jamaican Nanny – Corrine. During the snow laden Connecticut winters, homesick for ‘ackee and salt fish’ and ‘callalloo’ she wanted nothing more than her weekly visit to People’s Choice.

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Friday Froth: IPA's, Wheat Beer & A Lotta Hops

Hello, and welcome to Friday Froth: the weekly beer column designed to tempt, inform, and share the joy I find in discovering great brews. A quick introduction:

There are limitless possibilities to beer. By that, I mean not just different styles like lagers, ales, stouts and barley wines (very much a winter beer, btw), but all the variations possible within those styles. Budweiser's a lager, but comparing it to Brooklyn lager is like comparing me to Lebron James because we're both human males. This column is identical in theme to the rest of CTbites, i.e., "Here are some new flavors, aromas and sensations you may like to try."

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What Kind of Cookies Do You Leave for Santa?

Christmas is a special time of year for many reasons. For many this food-centric holiday revolves around lots of food and a ubiquitous jolly man donning a large red suit.* Santa Claus is a happy guy who loves his sugary carbs. 

But before we pass judgement on the man for his growing waistline, I think we need to dig deep and think about our role in his Big & Tall preferred customer card. Are we to blame for feeding him plates of cookies and milk? 

For those of you who celebrate the holiday, we want to know from you enablers, do you share your baking loot with the big man? And if so, what's your cookie of choice?

*I admit this is an oversimplification, but our lens here is food so let's just go with it.


Tartines for the Holidays via Healthy Living Blog

I had the most fortunate experience of meeting Dorie Greenspan, a James Beard Award-winning author, several months ago at a BlogHer conference. Dorie was signing her new cookbook at the Darien library recently, Around My French Table: More than 300 recipes from my home to yours. After leaving Dorie’s book signing, I was so inspired that I went through her entire cookbook, page by page. 

The Dieter’s Tartine caught my eye as it is popular among ladies who lunch in Paris, who want something filling, but not fattening. A tray of assorted tartines would also be especially festive during the holidays (cut in half for appetizer size portions).

I made Dorie's Dieter's Tartine, a tartine topped with artichoke tapenade, a sardine piquillo pepper tartine, a zucchini tartine, and a blueberry tartine. I have to say my son and I loved them all (his favorites were the artichoke tapenade, sardine piquillo pepper, and blueberry tartines). As you can see, the possibilities are endless.  Report back on any new toppings and combinations you come up with for tartines. 

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Reheated: Ridgefield's Elms Closes & Gift Ideas

Reheated is a twice-weekly round-up of bite-sized food news in Connecticut and beyond. 

In Connecticut...

Brendan's at The Elms, a Ridgefield institution for 15 years, has closed. Citing his battle with cancer for two years, Brendan Walsh has decided not to renew his lease. Walsh and his "Yankee cuisine" will be missed. Via Also, check out this recent CTBites post.

CTnow's biggest restaurant news of 2010, a great round-up for those of us who skew toward that part of the state (Hartford). List via

Last minute gift ideas for the foodies in your life?  Check out these Fairfield County cooking classes and a short list of our favorite cookbooks recommended by our readers and contributors.

Looking to spend Christmas Day far, far from your kitchen? Check out Tabouli Grill in Stamford for a Middle Eastern feast (seatings at 2 & 4 pm).

The Feast of the Seven Fishes is being celebrated throughout the county, including Stamford newcomer Tappo Restaurant. To book a table for this traditional italian meal, call Tappo at 203.588.9870.

...and beyond.

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Kids Review: Rye Ridge Deli in Stamford

Carly Monson is our roving 10 yrs old food critic. She hopes to get Fairfield County kids excited about eating in new venues like this one...

Are you starving for some classic deli food?  Then get in the car and head on down to Rye Ridge Deli in Stamford, CT.  As soon as I got there I knew exactly what I was going to order, Matzo Ball Soup and half a sandwich of corn beef and half a sandwich of pastrami on white bread. Before the waiter even came to take my order we got two bowls of pickles one bowl had half sour pickles the other had sour pickles.

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