As I crash back through the figurative doorway of this site, dusty from the road, clutching a crumpled and beer-stained notebook and shaking the spiders from my clothing, I can only hope that this column's absence has made your hearts all the fonder. Although when I tried that line on a female acquaintance of mine some years ago she quipped that the sentence was not complete, and should have ended with "of someone else." Live and learn. Our triumphs and tragedies make us who we are, and sometimes intermingle. Such is the case with Lagunitas Brewing Company, and their Wilco Tango Foxtrot "Jobless Recovery Ale."
Dauntingly overcast skies would not deter the guest list of 50 or so people who only 24 hours before the recent Souterrain event were summoned to Sport Hill Farm in Easton CT for a Sunday brunch. Bill Taibe's latest culinary adventure would be unique in both the mid day time slot (leFarm does not serve brunch, and according to Chef Taibe...never will), as well as the presence of a film crew shooting a TV pilot during the meal. But the stars of the show were the menu, the shared experience, and the magnificent backdrop of Patti Popp's sustainable Sport Hill Farm. Check out the photo gallery here.
And here's what we ate:
Zagat released the results of the 2011/12 Connecticut Restaurants Survey today. The Survey covers 902 restaurants reviewed by 4,146 local diners. Highlights are as follows:
CT Winners: Le Petit Cafe in Branford (Top Food) with a near-perfect 29 for Food on Zagat's 30-point scale; PolytechnicON20 in Hartford (Top Decor & Service); Frank Pepe Pizzeria (Most Popular).
Top Newcomer: Boathouse at Saugatuck in Westport, serving "fabulous, fresh" "locavore" New American cuisine
Other Noteworthy Newcomers: Bar Bouchee – Madison, The Brasserie – Fairfield, Cafe d'Azur – Darien, Fez –Stamford, Gabriele's – Greenwich, Millstone Cafe – Kent, Red Lulu – So. Norwalk, Sails – Norwalk and Tappo –Stamford.
While the rest of us bitch that downtown Westport virtually shuts down before the sun sets, Bob Le Rose, the owner of Bobby Q’s Barbeque & Grill, and the president of the Downtown Merchant’s Association, is slyly doing something about it, turning his popular rooftop bar into a funky Beer Garden, complete with a thousand twinkling outdoor lights, a newly installed garden and a respectable selection of domestic microbrews.
“We’ve been sitting on this terrific asset for six years now,” says LeRose, about the newly opened Bobby’s Rooftop Beer Garden, a rooftop space that has long been the site for live music, well before Bobby Q’s came to town. Though Bobby Q’s had been using the space for live music and private parties, LeRose said he didn’t fully throw his resources behind it until the town started banging the drum for more nightlife. He says, “When P&Z started loosening up their regulations about outdoor spaces, we thought, “Let’s carve out a place in the community that is totally unique.
The June 2011 Filling Station Special Burger and Shake are a tribute to the upcoming summer season with a backyard favorite Chili Cheeseburger and a delicious Strawberry Maple Waffle Shake.
The Chili Cheeseburger includes the Filling Station’s farm-raised meat topped with cheese, their house-made chili, lettuce, and tomato. The “chili” is the Filling Station’s Sloppy Joe, which was developed in-house after significant research and development and includes BBQ sauce, Worcestershire sauce, ketchup, vinegar and several other ingredients to allow for a sweet and sour combination that nicely complements the flavors in the organic meat. The lettuce adds a nice crispy element, the tomato accents the tomato-ey based chili and the cheese is an essential part of any hamburger, in my opinion. The lightly toasted bun is still a favorite with a light exterior crunchy and the soft interior. I enjoyed this burger and it is a good way to start to the upcoming summer months.
Award winning local chef and long time CTbites contributor, Nicole Straight, has just published her second cookbook, "More Time to Eat! Delicious recipes from a busy kitchen," which aims to teach families how to streamline time spent in the kitchen, as well as make delicious meals in 15 minutes.
The new cookbook is an evolution of Straight’s lengthy experience as a cooking instructor who has taught thousands of people how to bring their families back to the table and simplify the nightly 6 o'clock dinner time dilemma.
Her new book comprises a plethora of easy recipes, such as BLT Tortellini, Provencal Braised Chicken Thighs, Asian Quinoa Salad and Dark Chocolate Cherry Cookies. She teaches you how to simplify meal preparation while minimizing time spent in the kitchen for both family meals and entertaining friends.
Ambler Farms is hosting a 2-part Cooking Series with Chef Brian Lewis, Wednesday, July 20th and August 17th.
Ambler Farm's popular 2011-12 cooking series resumes in July with Chef Brian Lewis making his debut in the Carriage Barn kitchen. Chef Lewis' kitchen credentials include Lutece, Oceana and The Sign of the Dove. His most recent venture was at The Bedford Post Inn which he co-created with Richard Gere. His new restaurant is due to open on Elm Street in New Canaan. Chef Lewis will work with Farmer Ben Saunders at the time of the dinners to select and harvest seasonal ingredients to create his menu.
Attendees will receive recipes, hands-on instruction and a fully serviced four course menu. Prices: $100/course for Ambler Farm members and $115/course for non-members.
When news first broke that Carole Peck, our east coast answer to Alice Waters, would be opening a burger joint adjacent to her popular farm-to-table Good News Café in Woodbury, the first thing I did was clear my calendar.
The second thing I did was ask the obvious question. Was this the same Carole Peck who has been running the Café in Woodbury since 1993, hosting culinary trips to France and espousing local farms?
Burgers? Carole, really?
Actually it makes perfect sense that Peck, who has been committed to sourcing locally and seasonally for Good News Café for almost twenty years, would want to widen her spectrum and open a more accessible establishment using the same approach that has won her accolades and a loyal following. Fueled by an extended financial recession, the inexpensive luxuries of the gourmet burger joint formula has been trending in Connecticut. Peck has joined the fray staying true to her signature style – by creating the farm stand version of the burger joint.