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Chef Aarón Sánchez Gives CTbites Preview of Paloma Restaurant, Opening in Stamford July 21

I never thought “gourmet” and “Mexican” belonged in the same sentence. Until I had dinner at Zarela's, a Mexican restaurant which had just opened on Second Ave. back in 1987.  A revelation!  Zarela Martinez orchestrated textures and flavors just as artfully and lovingly as the new chefs who were redefining Manhattan’s food scene.  Zarela’s fast became the Nobu of Mexican food, one of the hottest spots in town. There,  I learned the magic of mole and the enchantment that truffles could lend to an enchilada.  

A generation later, Aarón Sánchez, the Food Channel’s charismatic Mexican rock star chef, hopes that his new Stamford restaurant Paloma (opening Monday, July 21st, in Harbor Point) will similarly introduce Connecticut to the fire and the finesse of fine Mexican and Latin American cuisines.  Revelations run in the family --  Aarón  (pronounced "AH-rone") is Zarela's son.

For all his celebrity, Sánchez feels he remains not only in his mother's debt, but also her shadow.

"I honor her because she did it first," he told us when we chatted last week, a comfortable conversation marked by his humility and respect.

"I believe family is at the center of the Mexican experience."

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12 Places For Great Coffee in Fairfield County

Let's face it, we all like to get our buzz on. Lucky for us, there are a number of venues in Fairfield County with serious baristas, pulling some pretty epic espresso. For your coffee drinking pleasure we have created a cheat sheet to which you can refer when your craving for caffeine masks your ability to grind your own beans.
Here are our Top 11 Places to Get Great Coffee in Fairfield County.
Find the venue near you...and enjoy.
  1. Buzz Truck, Fairfield County
  2. Espresso Neat, Darien and Westport
  3. Lorca, Stamford
  4. Redding Roasters, Bethel
  5. Zumbachs Coffee, New Canaan
  6. Coffee Barn, Wilton
  7. Sugar & Olives, Norwalk
  8. Tusk & Cup, Ridgefield
  9. Shearwater Coffee Roasters, Trumbull
  10. The Granola Bar, Westport
  11. Terrain, Westport
  12. Raus Coffee, your local Farmers' Market

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Weekly Nibble: Upcoming Food News & Events

Cask Republic of Stamford gives you the chance to “Meet the Brewmaster” on Monday July 21.  Coverse with Bayerischer Bahnhof Brewmaster Matthias Ritcher. 7:00 PM. $35 pp (all-inclusive).

Also on Wednesday, Harry’s Wine & Liquor Market partners with 55 Degrees Restaurant in Fairfield and Vias Imports for a “Tuscany Revisited Wine Dinner.”  It will include special Guest Mike Petrizzo, Northeast Manager of Vias Imports. 7PM. $60 plus tax and tip. Details here. 

The Darien Farmers Market runs on Wednesdays from 11-3. 

Visit Napa & Co on your way to Stamford Downtown’s Wednesday night Jazz up July series and pick up:  cheese & charcuterie, salads, soups or anything from the menu and receive 15% off your take out order. A taste of Napa in the Park!

Napa is also giving wine aficionados the chance to enjoy more wines in July with special deals.  Enjoy 50% off any bottle of wine from Argentina as well as ½ off wines by the glass Monday-Friday from 4-7 at the bar. 

Thursday July 24, celebrate the winners of Moffly Media’s 10th Annual Best of the Gold Coast at the Stamford Hilton. 

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Island Life Cocktail Recipe via The Whelk's Jeff Marron

Jeff Marron is the new Barman and director of all things cocktail related at The Whelk & Le Farm. 

I like to work closely with the kitchen staff at The Whelk in Westport. The talent in that room is outstanding. I'm always trying to learn something new from them. A couple of months ago, they came to me with with a bottle of coconut white balsamic vinegar from a cool local oil and vinegar store called Olivette in Westport & Darien. It smelled and tasted delicious. As I like to get inspiration from the people around me, I asked Chef Lazlo what the vinegar reminded him of. He said that it reminded him of vacation and suntan lotion. 

Vacation and suntan lotion. Okay. Well, what vacation and suntan lotion bring to my mind are Pina Coladas, Margaritas and delicious rum drinks. Somehow, I wanted to put all of those drinks in one glass. I wanted to put summer in a glass, in other words. 

The base of the Island Life cocktail is an expansion on a Rum Old Fashioned which satisfies my craving for summer rum drinks. The aromatics of the foam are what bring all of the other flavors and memories together. Between the grapefruit and orange bitters that tie into the fresh lime juice and lime zest lies the coconut white balsamic vinegar. No one particular flavor stands out. They all play well together.

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Epicurean CT State Shaped Cutting Boards

We don't generally feature products on CTbites as we tend to stay focused on CT, but we've found some kitchen gear that bears mention. Epicurean State Cutting Boards has just announced the addition of CT to their line of State inspired cuttng boards. 

Epicurean State Boards Cutting Boards  not only represent the United States visually, but are made in the U.S. as well.  Additionally, they are eco-friendly, dishwasher safe and NSF approved. These novelty boards pull double duty, because they can be used for both chopping and serving. Based in Duluth, MN, the company fully manufactures all of its products here in the States and is known for using unique materials to make innovative and functional products for the kitchen. Epicurean’s cutting boards were born out of excess skate park materials and they now set the standard for today’s well-equipped kitchen. 

Natural 10x14 in.; $24.99



CTbites' Summer Intern on "Chopped Teen Tournament" via Food Network

CTbites is pleased to introduce you to our summer intern, Hannah Bukzin. Hannah is a 14 yr old Staples high school student with a passion for cooking. Hannah has her own blog "Small Chef in a Big World," and is a contestant in the 2014 Chopped Teen Tournament on The Food Network. Please welcome Hannah to CTbites and watch her episode on July 29th!

Sixteen talented teenagers bring their extreme energy and ambition to the Chopped kitchen, with Chopped Teen Tournament premiering Tuesday, July 15th at 10pm ET/PT on Food Network. In this special, five-part stunt, sixteen culinary whiz kids are aiming for perfect appetizers, entrées, and desserts, as they navigate through three rounds. The teen cooks are given ingredients that could stump even top professionals, with a rotating panel of the Chopped judges, including  Amanda FreitagAlex GuarnaschelliMarc MurphyChris SantosGeoffrey Zakarian and special guest judge Alex Stupak determining who gets chopped each round. 

Watch Hannah's episode: Premiering Tuesday, July 29th at 10pm ET/PT

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The Chelsea in Fairfield Celebrates 2 Years w/ Special Prix Fixe Menus


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Best Local Ice Cream Shoppes in Lower Connecticut: 2014 Edition

We have expanded and updated last year’s popular roundup of the best ice parlors in lower Connecticut.  

New flavors abound for 2014.  One of our favorite scoop shops melted away, but thanks to our readers, we found a truly magical hidden gem in an unexpected place.  Here's the updated list of BEST LOCAL ICE CREAM PARLORS IN LOWER CONNECTICUT. 

Ice cream fans, don't miss our companion piece, the 2014 Edition of BEST DAIRY FARM ICE CREAM IN CT.

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Chef Martschenko of South End to Guest Chef @ Westport Farmers' Market July 17

Nicholas Martschenko, Owner and Executive chef of South End in New Canaan will be the guest chef @ The Westport Farmers' Market on Thursday, July 17th. Nick will demo and serve up (yes!) a beautiful locally sourced Farmers' Salad complete with a fried duck egg from Farah’s Farm in Wilton, CT.

You can find the complete recipe for Chef Martschenko's Farmers' Salad below. 

Nick has worked alongside Chef/Owner Tom Colicchio at the famed Gramercy Tavern in in NYC, as well as i Trulli also in New York City and Solaia in CT.  Over the past two years, Nick has poured his heart and soul into South End in New Canaan

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Fried Chicken & Beer Night w/ Charter Oak Brewery

This summer, Ridgefield Academy will be host to some very special dinners.  The Fried Chicken & Beer dinner will be held on the scenic grounds of Ridgefield Academy, either indoors, in the former ballroom of the historic Lynch House; or outdoors, overlooking a view many describe as the best in Fairfield County, this dining experience will feature a superb menu prepared with the freshest local ingredients by Chef Paul Desiano (formerly of Cello Restaurant, Ridgefield). 

Our Fried Chicken and Beer dinner can be reserved for $65/pp. Dinner will begin at 6:00pm. This exquisite dining experience is limited to 50 guests.

Please note that because Chef Paul focuses on sourcing local and sustainable ingredients, these menus are subject to change. 

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