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Champagne: Nicholas Roberts Fine Wines Says "It's Not Just For Valentine's Day"

Flat screen TV: check. Afternoon game on: check. Matching jerseys: check. Champagne. Check?

If football conjures up images of greasy chicken wings, beer, and people shouting at the television, champagne is equated with glitz, elegance, and a touch of pretension.  It seems impossible that the two would ever exist in harmony.  Recently, Peter Troilo of Nicholas Roberts Fine Wine in Darien, CT proved otherwise.  He and wine distributor Peter Slywka held a grower champagne tasting against a backdrop of Sunday afternoon football.

“Most people think they have to drink champagne for a special occasion.  People should drink it all the time!” Troilo proclaimed.  Slywka nodded.  Then both turned their attention to the TV and let out a whoop as their team complete a play.

Don’t let the laid back demeanor fool you; these guys know their stuff.   Just this year, the Wall Street Journal wrote an article on the boutique wine store, praising it for its carefully stocked shelves.  Troilo’s knowledge has earned him widespread respect in the industry.  Recently he joined forces with New York Times wine critic Eric Asimov to select wines for an event celebrating the launch of the commentator’s book at the Darien Library.

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CTbites Invites Recap: Passover Cooking w/ Tabouli Grill

With the snow piled so high in front on the Post Road, it could have been easy to miss Tabouli Grill in Southport… but  I was determined to join a spirited group for CTbites Invites Passover Cooking, so maneuvered my way around to the side parking lot and entrance. 

Chef/owner Judith Roll greeted everyone with hot coffee and her spongy homemade lemon cake as we were handed recipes for the morning's “hands on” cooking class in the Tabouli kitchen. (See Chef Judy's recipe for Bubbe's Brisket below.)

Chef Judy, who has traveled the world bringing authentic Middle Eastern cuisine to her two restaurants, in Stamford and in Southport, is passionate about what she prepares and had created a wonderful Passover menu for our entertainment and dining pleasure ( Passover is March 25-April 2 ).

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CTbites 2013 Burger Round-Up Needs Your Help

CTbites is gathering candidates for the 2013 Best Burger Round Up and we need your help.

What restaurants do you think are deserving of a spot on our Third Annual List of BEST BURGERS? Post the names of your favorite Burger spots below and we will do our best to sample your suggestions. 

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Winesday: Don't Forget About The Glass

Wednesdays are my favorite day of the week!  I know that I have the New York Times Dining Section and a new episode of Top Chef to look forward to.  Now there’s one more reason to love them: our new weekly column, Winesday!  This is your pass to all things wine from amazing bottles to local retailers to restaurant vino offerings.

For the first article, I thought that I would cover a slightly atypical topic: the glasses in which we drink wine.  There are many articles about wine itself, but the vehicles in which we consume it is a less explored frontier.

I first encountered Bottega del Vino stemware at the Mohegan Sun Wine Fest and alluded to it in my article on the event.  Since then, I had the opportunity to try it for myself.  Some of you wanted further information, and now I can render my verdict!

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Farmer's Cow Dairy Farm Tours for 2013

The Farmer’s Cow announces its full schedule of farm tours for 2013 beginning April through October. During these tours, visitors will be able to walk the farms, meet the farmers and the cows that make the milk, learn about farming, and sample a variety of The Farmer’s Cow fresh local products. All walking tours and events are free and no reservation is required.

Information about the events and directions to the farms is available on The Farmer’s Cow website. For more information call 866‐355‐COWS or email

Farm Schedule 2013

April 20th, 1 – 3pm: Springtime on the Farm at Graywall Farms 
49 Chappell Road, Lebanon, CT 
Experience springtime on the farm with tours guided by members of the next generation of The Farmer’s Cow farmers. Enjoy a wagon ride to see the fields being prepared to plant the crops that will feed the cows and learn about agriculture in Connecticut.

June 8th, 1– 3pm: Connecticut Open House Day Farm Tour at Fairview Farm 
199 Route 177, Woodstock, CT 
Celebrate Connecticut Day with the Miller Family at Fairvue Farm, located next to the historic Woodstock Fairgrounds. Take a wagon ride to tour the dairy barn, learn all about what a cow eats in a day, visit the “milking parlor” where 40 cows at a time are milked, and see the big tractors that work the land.

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Top Spots for Chocolate in Connecticut [updated]

For the traditional Valentines Day present, it's nearly impossible to beat the universal appeal of chocolate. And for those of us who could care less about the Hallmark holiday, consider this a great way to satisfy that sweet tooth. So without further ado, here is a short list of places across Connecticut to satisfy that craving and maybe score a few points with your sweetheart. A word to the wise: when buying chocolate, you'll want to stop in a few days before the holiday to strike the best balance between freshness and selection. And please comment below and share any favorite chocolate or sweet spots that we missed! [Originally posted in 2012, this has been updated for 2013].

Bridgewater Chocolate
: Huge variety of chocolates, bars, cookies, toffee, etc.
Where: 559 Federal Road, Brookfield

Chocolate Lab at eleven14 Kitchen
What: Chocolate shop and café located inside the JHouse hotel 
Where: 1114 East Putnam Avenue, Greenwich

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Rainbow Thai Opens in Westport 

Yes, Virginia, there IS a great Thai food to be found in Fairfield County. The new RAINBOW THAI at 5 Bridge Street in Westport is just what Virginia (and all the rest of us who feared that a great, local Tom Yum Gung soup might not really exist) ordered. RAINBOW THAI is tiny and, not to its advantage, finds itself in that ill fated location in the Bridge Market complex that hasn't to date been a lucky spot for restaurants. Many an eatery has peaked and faded faster than a shooting star in this locale but I think Rainbow Thai has staying power. Why? The food is just so damn good.

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Friday Froth: Face Heater

The holidays are over, football is over, it's still cold, and meteorologists are gesticulating like Kermit the frog introducing the next act. It's time for strong drink.

The boys at Lagunitas Brewing in California screwed up their first try at making a barleywine ("Gnarlywine," natch) in the late 90's, but they were left with an interesting recipe wherein they threw in some brown cane sugar. The resultant brew wasn't what they were going for but... it was pretty good. Pretty damn good. They called it Brown Shugga, and it became a big hit for them when it was released every winter. In the winter of 2010-11 though, they hit a snag. The brewery was expanding, and construction forced the brewers to choose: do we make the time-consuming 'Shugga and cut production on our staple beers, or do we cut 'Shugga, and risk pissing people off? They went with option two.

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Tutto Pasta in Fairfield: Fresh Pasta & More Made Daily 

When Harry’s Liquor Store and the Fairfield Cheese Shop decided to tear down the wall they shared between them, customers could wander back and forth, tasting wine and snacking on crackers and cheese.  It was the perfect symbiosis of oenophiles and cheesemongers. It couldn’t get any better. But yeah. It could. And it did.

Brothers David and Andrew Tavolacci, who sold fresh pasta and sauces at their little and much- loved store in Georgetown, made a smart decision to move to Fairfield and share the parking lot with Harry’s. Now we can shop for the trifecta of food – wine, cheese, and pasta – without re-parking the car.

Tutto’s is where you go to purchase fresh pasta and home-made sauces, Wave Hill Bread, pesto, soups, and a variety of specialty foods.

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Family Style Sunday Dinners at Norwalk's Strada 18

South Norwalk's Strada 18 restaurant has kicked-off a series of "Family Style Sunday Dinners." These successive winter Sundays will feature pre-determined menus served "family-style"with a set price (ranging from $30 to $35 per person, child pricing available). Reservations are required in advance of each Sunday dinner.

Upcoming Sunday Dinners: February 10, February 24, March 10, March 24. For more information and a list of menus, please visit

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