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Connecticut's BEST DAIRY FARM ice Cream. This is the only guide you need this summer. 

Swing by South End in New Canaan for excellent "modern tavern" fare in an elegantly rustic setting. Live music on Wednesdays!

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My Signature Dish: Chef Tony Pham of Mecha Noodle Bar, Fairfield Talks Ramen


Ramen Shops in Japan are as plentiful as hamburger joints over here.  Every street boasts a shop.  Yet none are exactly alike, mainly because each is distinguished by the owner’s unique signature dish, his personal  autograph.  In that tradition, Tony Pham has created his own signature dish for Mecha Noodle Bar: a unique interpretation of traditional Miso Ramen.  Here’s the story behind it.

Tony likes to play with contrasts.  And not just the culinary kind.  

Case in point.  Before trying his signature dish, Miso Ramen, take a look overhead at his futuristic Mecha Noodle Bar.  Dangling from the ceiling, an arsenal of over three hundred vertical 2x4’s seem to be aimed directly at every table in the room.  Alien, threatening.  

By design.

Now try  Pham’s dramatic interpretation of a classical Ramen.  No, don’t taste it, slurp it.  Breath in its steamy aromatic bouquet.  Savor the deep, contrasting flavors: mushrooms and miso redolent of the earth, noodles that invoke wheat fields,  a succulent pork belly that also warms and welcomes, counterpointed by the lively spice and heat of scallion and chili oil.  It’s Japanese comfort food,a perfect  contrast after a playful scare. 

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Local CT Resident, Emma Frisch is Next "Food Network Star!"

Is there any coincidence that one of this season’s “Food Network Star” contestants grew up in a state known as the Nutmeg State? Emma Frisch is a 1st generation American who grew up in Wilton to an Italian mother and a British father. I had the privilege of talking with this bubbly, energetic and talented contestant last week. 

Her non-traditional, non-American upbringing would influence Emma both in and out of the kitchen. Her mother cooked everything from scratch and embraced home-grown when few in this country did. There were no processed or ‘kid-friendly’ foods in Emma’s childhood home, instead, esoteric items like tripe and sardine sandwiches were commonplace. 

Emma’s love of food and cooking was passed down from her mother who focused on making food the centerpiece of the home. Emma explains “There was once a great farming culture in Wilton as evidenced by all the stone walls. My mom had a way of finding the local gardeners and farm stands, and I was so embarrassed because other people’s parents didn’t do this!”

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Romanacci Cafe in Norwalk: A Slice of Roma with a Casual Flair

It is a unique place that can transform itself from a casual, family friendly lunch and dinner spot to a young and hip late night stop after a dinner of popcorn at the movies.  Romanacci Cafe (which translates as “From Rome”) on the Norwalk-Westport border is such a place, offering Artisan pizzas, salads, Focaccia paninis, crepes and freshly made Italian pastries. 

Tucked into a strip center on the Post Road, Romanacci is the handiwork of two brothers, Graziano and Maurizio Ricci.  Both hail from Rome, where they attended culinary school and worked alongside their parents as well as in other family-run restaurants.

Graziano migrated to the US almost 18 years ago and eventually oversaw the kitchen in New Haven’s Hot Tomatoes. He subsequently convinced his younger brother, Maurizio, to join him as its maître d’, and they finally chased their dream of owning a restaurant. When the owner of Norwalk’s Osteria Romana decided to sell his business, the brothers decided to purchase the restaurant with the intention of bringing a younger attitude and clientele to complement Graziano’s fresh pastas, breads, and sauces. Osteria Romana continues to thrive with a loyal and regular crowd, outdoor seating and a cozy bar area. 

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Chef Elizabeth Falkner Dazzles Napa's Guests with Grilled Pizza

It was a great event for a great cause. Seventy five pizza craved guests joined Celebrity Chef Elizabeth Falkner at Napa & Company to sample some incredible pizza and raise money for The National Center of Learning Disabilities.

When I entered the dining area shortly after the 6PM start, Chef Falkner was already grilling the dough on the Weber grill. As she flipped and turned until perfectly charred, she was chatting with other guests. Over the course of the night I witnessed her love of food, people and the enjoyment that she brings to all around her. Guest after guest approached her and she engaged each in conversation; she is one of the most gracious people I have ever met.

For several hours, Chef Falkner grilled her doughs, then she worked her magic with the toppings and each was finished by Chef Adam Truelove in Napa’s ovens. As soon as they appeared on the tables they were consumed by incredibly anxious and eager guests. Positioning and quick hands were the order of the evening. And for those wishing a break from the constant stream of pizza, Chef Truelove prepared an assortment of hors d'oeuvres and a pasta salad.

Cases of wines from Valley of the Moon Winery were explained and poured, including an un-oaked Chardonnay that was delicious. For those looking for a non-alcoholic option, mixologist Eric Ribeiro was ready. He prepared a yuzu and ginger cocktail for me that was outstanding.

What a great way to spend a Friday evening with phenomenal pizza for a cause.


Valencia Luncheria's Carlo Arepa Recipe c/o Fairfield County Chef's Table

If you thought arepa's were our of your reach in your own kitchen, think again. This week we are bringing you a recipe from one of the our reader favorite spots—Valencia Luncheria in Norwalk, featured in Fairfield County Chef's Table—featuring one of their most popular dishes, the Carlo Arepa. 

Valencia Luncheria
164 Main Street, Norwalk, CT 06851 | (203) 846-8009 |

Carlo Arepa (serves 4)

For the chicken filling:

1 (31/2-pound) whole chicken
1 large white onion, julienned
4 cloves garlic, chopped
1 poblano pepper, julienned

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Weekly Nibble: Upcoming Food News & Events

Cask Republic presents a 5-course New England Brewing Company Beer Dinner on Monday June 30!  Dishes like oysters 2 ways, grilled black bass, and peking quail will be paired with delicious brews… including the famous Gandhi-Bot!  Tickets are $75/person (tax and gratuity included) and it starts at 7:00PM.  More details and the menu here.  

Dessert lovers take note: Sugar and Olives of Norwalk will offer “Sweet and Lovely: A Crash Course in Dessert” on Wednesday July 2.  They’ll teach you everything you’ve always wanted to know about chocolate, butter and heavy cream.  Make three fabulous desserts—warm and gooey chocolate cake, sweet honey panna cotta, and a gâteau de crêpes. $80pp, 7-9pm. 

The World Cup has arrived at City Limits, which has locations in White Plains and Stamford.  Guests can enjoy a special globally inspired  menu of small bites in the bar and lounge area from 4 p.m. to close every day until Sunday, July 13, 2014.

The Darien Farmers Market takes place every Wednesday from 11-3. 

FJord Fish Market in New Canaan has put together a special "Waveny Summer Concert Picnic Dinner" available every Wednesday this summer through Aug. 27th

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CTbites Launches New Website to Focus on the Miami Food Scene

CTbites is very pleased to announce the expansion of its food community to Miami with the launch of The new site will be under the direction of managing director and editor, Ellen Bowen, who as a partner in CTbites launched the successful CTbites Invites program, offering “curated culinary experiences” exclusively to CTbites readers and subscribers. 

MIAbites will follow the CTbites lead and share the best culinary experiences through restaurant profiles, chef Q & A’s, and unique culinary events paired with topnotch writing and photography.  

“MIAbites will offer a local community voice to the fast growing Miami food scene,” said Ms. Bowen. “We hope to provide interesting chef profiles, reviews, news, and interviews with respect for the industry and with a balanced point of view and look forward to building it into the go-to resource for all things food in Miami,” she added.

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Espresso Neat to Open 2nd Location in Westport: Coffee by Day, Craft Cocktails by Night

Coffee and cocktail drinkers unite at the latest hotspot in Westport, C.T. From the owner of Espresso NEAT in Darien comes NEAT, the collaborative concept experience where coffee enthusiasts can enjoy Connecticut’s finest during the day and cocktail drinkers can wind down at night. NEAT will be located at 6 Wilton Road in Westport as part of the National Hall re-development. The bar is expected to be open in early August from 7:00 a.m. -12:00 a.m.

Customers will receive the exceptional, distinctive coffees and popular offerings that they have come to expect from Espresso NEAT by day, as well as innovative breakfast and lunch offerings prepared in-house. By night, patrons will be able to enjoy well-tailored cocktails. Both coffee and cocktails will be crafted in the constant pursuit of excellence with regard to ingredients and skillful preparation.

The NEAT bar will have an innovative spirits program including artisanal beer featuring seasonal craft beers and carefully selected wines that allow patrons to “take a trip around the world” in order to expand their palate. A selection of simple and locally cultivated house crafted bar snacks will also be available with new takes on traditional bar food.  There will be live music from local artists with a strong focus on Jazz, Bluegrass and Folk.

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Azuca and Gastro Bar Open Tonight in Stamford

The Grand Opening and celebration of the two newest additions to downtown Stamford occurs tonight as Azuca and Gastro Bar open their doors to the public at 5:30 pm with a traditional ribbon-cutting ceremony Mayor David Martin.

The brainchildren of Mario Lopez, a co-owner of Wilton's Bianco Rosso, his wife Cristina Ramirez and several brothers, the side-by-side restaurants, Azuca and Gastro Bar are located at 78 West Park Place. The celebration begins at 5:30 pm; reservations for the Grand Opening are not necessary and admission is free.

The four Lopez brothers relocated to Connecticut from Ecuador two decades ago and worked their way up the ranks in the restaurant trade, most recently managing the sleek, Italian-style Bianco Rosso, which opened in 2012 and received a "Very Good" rating from the New York Times.

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Chef Brian Lewis Brings elm restaurant to Millstone Farm

This summer, Chef Brian Lewis brings the tables of elm restaurant to Millstone Farm to share the flavors of the season with a new series of farm dinners under the stars. Millstone’s beautiful landscape will set the stage for a 4-course feast of seasonally-driven cuisine. Each event will begin at 6 p.m. with small bites, lawn games, live music and farm tours for the entire family. See dates below:

Tickets are $35 per child and $135 per adult, BYOB, tax and gratuity included. Limited family-style seating. Reserve at or call 203.920.4994. Reservations will be accepted one month prior to each event.  For more information, please visit the event page at

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