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Best of Wines Recap: Greenwich Wine + Food Festival 2014

The Greenwich Wine + Food Festival feels a lot like a rock concert.  People from across the state come by bus, train, cab, and car to Roger Sherman Park. This year marked the 4th year of the festival.  Although I have attended the event for the last three years, it never gets old.  Each year, Greenwich Food + Wine evolves with new guests and changing formats.

This year, the first thing I marveled at was the organization.  The number of demonstrations and participants had definitely increased, but guests were evenly distributed throughout the grounds.  

As wine correspondent, I enjoyed the food (understatement!) but focused on the wines and drinks served that day.  Wine is central to the festival; demonstrations not only include the best chefs, but also revered mixologists and sommeliers.

Here are my selection for some labels to watch:

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2014 Greenwich Food & Wine Festival: Best Eats of Culinary Village

This year’s Greenwich Food and Wine Festival was held from Thursday through Saturday, September 26-28, with the final day the beneficiary of a breathtaking location overlooking the harbor, temperatures in the 80s, and a cloudless sky. With the main tent offering liquid libations and food, other areas emitting smoke as the precursor to burgers, pork and ribs, a grass parking area for numerous food trucks and the CTbites' Blogger Lounge shadowing the main stage where Alabama would perform in the evening, it was ripe for a perfect culinary adventure.

I arrived early to wander through the main tent, stopping at each of the booths to have a quick chat with the chef and sample their creations. From crudo to bisque to steak, some were delicious and deserve special mention. These were the favorites:

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Behind the Scenes @ Fresh & RIPE: Connecticut's Craft Juice Movement

We are in the midst of a craft food and beverage movement. Craft cocktails, craft beer, craft butchers, so why not craft juice? The New Haven-based FreshBev Craft Juicery, best known by its RIPE bar juice and Project Fresh product lines, is seeking to define the craft juice movement, one cold-pressed bottle of fresh vegetables and fruits at a time.

I had the opportunity to visit the New Haven factory (read: I was nosy and curious, so I invited myself over) to meet the folks behind the juice, taste some juice, and was excited to find a Connecticut business succeeding in the emerging and highly competitive juice market. First a little history. In 2008, frustrated by the abundance of preservative-laden shelf-stable cocktail mixers, founders Michel Boissy and Ryan Guimond took to their kitchen to create a natural and fresh juice for cocktails, beginning with everyone’s favorite cocktail staple, the margarita.

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Ecco Oktoberfest Dinner October 13th


Porktoberfest 2014 @ Saugatuck Craft Butchery...A Piggy Photo Recap

Saugatuck Craft Butchery's 2nd annual Porktoberfest came and went this past Sunday in Westport, with great weather, epic pig action and plenty of beer from New England Brewing. People lined up to grab photos and gawk as each beautiful Berkshire pig was lifted out of its Caja China roasting box. Austrian tunes played, kids ate s'mores and a generally good time was had by all. Thanks to Saugatuck Sweets for the seasonal desserts as well as the newly opened Garelick & Herbs for some tasty sides. Enjoy the photos and see you next year. 

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Q's Restaurant: Vietnamese PHO & BBQ in Norwalk 

What's PHO lunch today? As autumn quietly slinks in, there's nothing like a truly authentic PHO to ease us into the chill that awaits. Head on over to Q's Restaurant at 172 Main Street in Norwalk (the old Valencia Luncheria spot) for the real McCoy. Recently opened (about 3 months and counting) and charmingly tiny, Q's is the love child of husband and wife duo Charles Eaton and XiaoNing Liu. Eaton, a Vietnam Vet, met Liu (a native of Old Nanking Province in China) while he was serving a tour of duty in Asia. Together, they have brought a small menu featuring Pho as well as other Vietnamese and Chinese cuisine to their wee, little kitchen. 

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Cast Your Vote in Connecticut Magazine Readers' Choice Restaurant Awards

Connecticut Magazine is once again reaching out to food lovers statewide and asking them to name their best restaurants for a Readers' Choice feature. Last year, in voting that took place in the fall for a story published online and then in the January 2014 magazine, the list of winners was dominated by Fairfield County hotspots—which Connecticut Magazine thinks was thanks in large part to all of you, our CTbites audience, which saw news of the readers' choice survey here and hungrily clicked and voted.

Can we do it again? Voting on the Connecticut magazine website has been live for a couple of weeks, and our sources there are so far seeing the opposite of last year's trends, with restaurants across Connecticut getting lots of votes. VOTE HERE!

In the past few days, Bear's Smokehouse, which is establishing its primary location in Hartford, and Goodfellas in New Haven, have prompted their fans to almost hijack the voting. We can't stand for that in Fairfield County, can we? Here's where you can vote and sway the tide, and for inspiration, see the January 2014 results.



Weekly Nibble: Mark Bittman, Oktoberfest Parties, Chowdafest & More Upcoming Events

Westport Restaurant Week returns October 5 – 19!  Many of Westport’s beloved restaurants offer prix fixe menus for lunch and/ or dinner.  

Napa & Co invites you to take a “trek through South Africa” on Monday, October 6.  They will give you tastes from producers like Hamilton Russel, Boekenhoutskloof, Stark Conde, Spice Route, Southern Right and Kanonkop paired with 3 small plates. $55pp (plus tax and gratuity). 

Sugar & Olives will teach you to make HORS D'OEUVRES IN A PINCH on Wednesday, October 7. The menu includes rosemary flatbread, quinoa and black bean galettes, polenta "fries," and beef sliders.  $80pp, 7-9pm. 

On Wednesday October 8, The Spread in Norwalk will hold an Oktoberfest celebration.  Chef Carlos will prepare a 5-course meal that transcends the usual brast and wurst... And it even includes beer pairings!  $55 per person, reservation required.

Author and New York Times columnist Mark Bittman will have a conversation with the Director of the Yale Sustainable Food Project on October 8, 2014 from 6 to 7 pm.

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13 Pumpkin Treats & Cocktails To Enjoy This Fall in CT

Fall is officially here… and nothing embodies the season as perfectly as the pumpkin!  Many of CT’s best restaurants, eateries, and specialty stores are celebrating the arrival of autumn with pumpkin-inspired treats.  For fun for the whole family, Chips serves up pumpkin pancakes; Ferris Acres Creamery is serving "Pumpkin Pie" ice cream (pie crust included); while the over 21 crowd can sip on homemade pumpkin vodka at Darien Social, or a Spiced Pumpkin cocktail at Napa & Co. 

  1. Darien Social, (Darien): Housemade Pumpkin Vodka
  2. SONO Baking Company, (Westport, Norwalk, Darien)  Pumpkin Cookies, Pies & muffins
  3. SBC, (Milford, Branford, Southport)  Pumpkin Crème Bruleé
  4. Ferris Acres Creamery, (Newtown) Ice cream specials include: Pumpkin, Pumpkin Cheesecake, Pumpkin Cookies and Cream - with crushed Oreos, Pumkpin Pie, Oh Snap - pumpkin w/ crushed ginger snaps
  5. Stew Leonard’s, (Norwalk, Danbury, Newington) Pumpkin Frozen Yogurt
  6. The Schoolhouse, (Wilton) Kabocha Squash Soup
  7. Fresh Market, (Westport) Pumpkin Salsa

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Westport Restaurant Weeks October 5th - 19th...Now w/ Cocktails!

Westport Restaurant Week is here with 2 weeks! It just keeps getting better, so get out of the house and let one of these great restaurants do the cooking for you.

Each of the participating venues will be offering a Prix Fixe meal, and this year, there is a flexible pricing program to further enhance the experience. Lunches will be $15, $20 or $25, Dinners $25, $30 or $35 and Brunch, if offered starting at $20, its up to each restaurant to set their fixe.

Also new this year is the addition of Specialty Cocktail venues. So enjoy a pre dinner drink or a night cap at one of these fine establishments.

VIEW THE FULL LIST OF PARTICIPATING RESTAURANTS BELOW. Just click on a name or logo to see what is being offered. 

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