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CT Chef & Chopped Champion Silvia Baldini Competes Again On Food Network’s ‘Chopped Champion

Chef Silvia Baldini, Founder of New Canaan, CT based culinary group Strawberry and Sage, will compete again on Chopped Champion, the Food Network’s hit series. On April 19st at 10 pm, Baldini will be one of the 16 returning champions chosen to battle it out for a chance to earn the Chopped Champion title and $50,000 in prize money. Four preliminary rounds will determine who gets a spot in the finale. But only one chef from among the four finalists will be named the winner.

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Acuario Peruvian Seafood Restaurant Opens in Stamford

There’s a new Latin pulse beating on West Park Place in Stamford and it goes by the name ACUARIO (Aquarium, in Spanish.) Funky, warm and charming, the new Peruvian jaunt is the latest culinary jewel from the treasure box of Saida and Nicolas Oshiro, who opened the original ACUARIO in Port Chester in the 1980s. This new ACUARIO is in the worthy hands of Oshiro offspring, Eduardo, and his wife, Beth, and they know what’s cookin’. We’ve dined at ACUARIO twice and each time the restaurant has been packed, with many patrons speaking Spanish - ALWAYS a good sign.

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Nibble: CT Food Events & Happenings For April 10-17

Every Sunday and Monday is half priced wines at The Spread! All bottles $100 and under are 50% off.

Fleisher's Craft Kitchen's Butchers Meat Brewers dinner series continues Wednesday, April 13th with a four-course dinner featuring Relic Brewing Co.

If you’re in the agricultural business, or interested in learning more about it, you can participate in a “One-on-One: Free Professional Agricultural Advising Session”  @ Rockville High School in Vernon, CT 9am - 3:30pm on Wednesday April 13.  Sit down with an agri-business professional for up to one hour to discuss farm related questions, concerns, and techniques. 

On Tuesday April 12, Chefs Geoff Lazlo (Mill Street Bar & Table), Dan Magill (Arethusa al Tavolo), Nick Martschenko (South End and South End Uncorked), Pat Pascarella (Bar Sugo), James Wayman (Oyster Club), and Pastry Chef Caryn Stabinsky (Mill Street Bar & Table) will takeover The James Beard House for a Farm to Table Feast.  The evening showcases fresh, local ingredients.  View the full menu, learn more, and buy tickets here

Learn how to “Cook to Impress” at the Hartford Public Library on Monday April 12. 

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Little Pub Opening in Fairfield on Black Rock Turnpike @ Dolan's Corner

If the "EXPECT BIG THINGS" train station platform signs or the Little Pub "adopt a highway" sign by exit 23 weren't enough of a hint, Owner, Doug Grabe, is happy to confirm that Little Pub is in fact coming to Fairfield's Dolan's Corner this summer.

Located at the intersection of Stillson Avenue and Black Rock Turnpike in Fairfield, "Dolan's Corner" was the original hub of Black Rock Turnpike's thriving business district and home to various incarnations of the Angus restaurant for almost 70 years. Grabe told CTbites,

"It's a cute and cozy building in a perfect neighborhood for Little Pub and we’re really looking forward to serving the community. And besides, how could an iconic Fairfield address known as "Dolan's Corner" not have a neighborhood pub?"

Little Pub Fairfield will share the traditional old world charm of our other little pubs with thick plaster walls, hand hewn beams, and antique iron light fixtures. "We have some really great stuff planned and of course, fun is mandatory," Says Grabe. 

Stay tuned for interior photos and opening news as the renovation gets underway. 

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Free & Company Kitchen: Saving the World One Brownie at a Time (Gluten, Dairy & Refined Sugar Free)

What do brownies and superfoods have in common? Some of you might jump up and shout, “Why chocolate, of course!” while the rest of you might scratch your heads and wonder. What if I told you that the Free & Company Kitchen’s incredible baked goods are all super-food based? Additionally, every one of their items is gluten, dairy and refined sugar-free, sweetened only with organic maple syrup. Some of their products are also egg and nut-free. For those of you with food sensitivities or who have children who do, this small, newly launched company should be on your radar. It should also be noted that these edibles aren’t for just vegetarians, vegans or celiac patients; they’re truly for everyone. 

Founded on the premise that snacks can be familiar and comforting and still good for you, Chef Lynne Pasquale sets out to prove this possible one brownie at a time. She has, so far, won over even the most discerning of palates, myself included. 

I met with Chef Pasquale at her bakery last week where we had a chance to chat. 

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Tuscan Kale Caesar Slaw Recipe via Marcia Selden Catering

Tuscan Kale Caesar Slaw with Garlic Bread Croutons & Parmesan Frico

Eating clean, healthy and minimally processed foods are better for you and for our environment.  You’ll eat fewer chemicals and there will be less fuel used to transport packaged foods. This yummy slaw makes it easy (and delicious) to eat your greens for Earth Day and every day! 

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Chef Brian Lewis' The Cottage Receives Highest NY Times Rating

The NY Times reviewed The Cottage in Westport this past weekend and honored Chef Brian Lewis’ newest restaurant with its highest “Excellent” rating. The reviewer, Patricia Brooks, began her discussion of the cuisine with “There were too many high points at dinner to mention them all,” and continued her praise on dish after dish. The review included her visit for dinner where she and her guests enjoyed several appetizers, salads, pastas entrees and desserts, each garnering exceptional compliments. Her return for Sunday brunch was equally well received.

At the conclusion of the review Ms. Brooks offered her "What We Liked" section and included, "Chioggia beets, Maine sea scallop crudo, Wagyu brisket steamed buns, crunchy tuna, salmon toast, mâche and sunchoke salad, stinging nettle tortelloni, Wagyu beef sirloin cap, salmon in cedar paper, Casco Bay cod, crab eggs Benedict and fettuccine carbonara at brunch; pineapple rum tarte Tatin, vanilla-huckleberry sundae, peanut butter and chocolate ice cream crunch, butterscotch pudding." Looks like the list is every dish.

CTbites reached out to Chef Lewis for his thoughts on receiving the Times’ highest rating, “I am really delighted by the NY Times review and so proud of our team for all of their hard work! From the very first day that we opened our doors, I knew that Westport was the perfect town for me to take root and just cook my heart out! Our guests are amazing and seem so open and excited to experience our cooking - they help to define us and allow us to push ourselves further every day -  a really adventurous dining crowd.”

And for those who have enjoyed the current, and ever changing menu at The Cottage, we asked Chef Lewis about the future, “Next, keep cooking our hearts out, maybe fried chicken, more ramen and a fabulous Westport summer.”

Read the entire NY Times review here.


Old Greenwich Social Club - A Watering Hole Re-Opens 

Old Greenwich Social Club opened last November, replacing an area icon, Mackenzie’s Bar and Grill, on Sound Beach Avenue overlooking the Old Greenwich train station. The location is convenient for a drink with colleagues at the end of the commute, a relaxing meal with the family, dinner with friends or just relaxing at the bar.

The brainchild of local Jed Simon, this newly reopened watering hole presents an atmosphere reminiscent of “Cheers.” The wooden double-door entrance leads directly into the large bar area dominated by a U-Shaped bar. On one side, numerous taps offer a wide selection of beers including Bronx “Uptown Rye,” Jack’s Abby Express, Alagash “White,” Thirsty Dog, Omnipollo “Shilkmake” and Two Roads “Session IPA.” To the right of the bar is the main dining area with booths, a long wood-topped table plus others covered with retro-vinyl. Adorning the walls are photos from years past and sports memorabilia. During the summer months, guests can enjoy their meals on the patio to the left of the bar. This is definitely a local-oriented restaurant.

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You're Invited! Judy Michaelis Pop-Up Chef Series Goes Paleo (sponsored)

Having a Pop-Up Chef, prepare and serve at a cocktail party, might be the most luxe thing going. Hosts love hosting, chefs love cooking and the guests, milling about, sipping on cocktails, nibbling on tasty hors d’oeuvres, in a beautifully designed kitchen are entertained by all the activity – after all, who doesn’t love to see a trained chef in action, preparing and serving delicious food in a perfect setting? 

On Saturday April 30th, from 5 to 8 pm, Judy will launch her Pop-Up Chef Series, hosting Chef Danielle Hartog, of Paleo + Plate at one of Judy’s special listings in Wilton, CT. Danielle will prepare a beautiful selection of tasty bites and will be casually demo-ing her prep and presentation in a stunning chef’s kitchen designed by Deane.  Menu includes: Asian Meatballs in a Cashew Sesame Sauce, Deconstructed Shrimp Guacamole, Grilled Vegetable Lollipops, Bacon-Wrapped Avocado with fresh aioli, Pistachio Chicken Skewer with a strawberry glaze and Spring Gazpacho Shooters. Paleo Watermelon + Cucumber margaritas, wines and flavored waters will round out the bar. 

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Interview w/ Chef Zac Young, Executive Pastry Chef @ David Burke Restaurants

We recently gave you a sneak peek at Savor: A Celebration of Wine, Food, & Spirits, that will unfold in Hartford from April 7-9.  The event’s Grand Tasting will give guests the chance to try hundreds of wine, spirits, and beers, indulge in dishes from area restaurants, and watch celebrity chef demonstrations. 

Celebrity Chef Robert Irvine will headline the event while proceeds go toward the Robert Irvine foundation.  A few weeks ago, he spoke with CTBites and told us about the foundation, upcoming Food Network shows, his varied food projects, and what to expect this year.

Savor just announced another addition to its celebrity chef line-up: Chef Zac Young.  Fun, gregarious, and whimsical, Young currently works as the Executive Pastry Chef for the David Burke Restaurants.  I became a fan of his when I watched him compete on Top Chef: Just Desserts.  This past holiday season, his Thanksgiving “PieCaken” became a bona fide sensation.

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