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Recap: The Spread & CTbites Host Rooftop Fireworks Party 

When The Spread co-owner, Chris Hickey, first approached CTbites with the idea of co-hosting a party on a roof of a Norwalk garage, we admittedly were pretty skeptical.  A parking garage roof?  For a sit down dinner party?  The popular CTbites Invites program has co-hosted a slew of unique culinary events,  but never one in a parking garage. 

But skepticism turned to enthusiasm, as talented Executive Chef Carlos Baez, began sharing his ideas for the creative menu and we toured the space on the top floor of the North Water Street parking garage across from the Maritime Aquarium. 

An open sky above, panoramic views from all sides of Norwalk Harbor, Downtown SoNo and even a glimpse of competitive rowers in the Norwalk River lent itself to a great venue for an evening dinner and viewing of the City of Norwalk fireworks scheduled for Thursday July 3rd

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Olivette Opens in Westport: Ultra Premium Olive Oil & Balsamic Vinegar

The olive oil craze continue with the announcement that Olivette is opening a second tasting room at 24 Railroad Place in Westport. Akin to its sister in Darien, the second location will also offer the freshest, ultra-premium, extra virgin olive oils from around the world and authentic balsamic vinegars from Modena.

The grand opening is scheduled for Thursday July 17th from 4-7PM and guests can sample a wide variety of full line of olive oils and vinegars while enjoying light refreshments. “We are very proud to offer our customers exclusive products of superb quality. One of the many outstanding olive oils we carry was recently named one of the top 10 extra virgin olive oils in the world. It is a thrill to be able to offer such delicious, high quality products to our customers” said Alina Lawrence, owner of Olivette. The philosophy of Lawrence is to provide only the finest artisanal products that are never mass produced, and a “culinary experience that delivers unsurpassed sensory and health benefits to its customers.” Guests are always encouraged to taste before they buy and discuss food pairings and recipes with the staff.

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Vegan/Vegetarian-Friendly Food Evolution Now Open in Ridgefield's Marketplace

Food Evolution, a gourmet plant-based café, has recently opened in Ridgefield's Marketplace located at Copps Hill Plaza, 109 Danbury Road, taking over the space formerly occupied by a vegan cafe.

The new owner of Food Evolution is Ridgefield resident Elizabeth Berney, a passionate vegan and elementary school teacher for the past 18 years. Berney and her omnivore husband purchased the restaurant from its original owner, a local real estate developer eager to sell the restaurant to owners dedicated to maintaining a plant-based menu.

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Winvian in Litchfield Hills: Farm Dinner & A Little History

Ever since a friend mentioned to me his unforgettable experience  visiting Winvian in Litchfield Hills, Connecticut, I have always kept it on my “to do” list.  In fact, when my daughter and I perused the website, she prematurely decided that it was to be her future wedding venue. So, when I received an email announcing a farm dinner event, my daughter and I jumped at the opportunity. Arriving at Winvian on June 11, 2014 was reminiscent of the approach to a French chateau, along with the service, culture, and class that such an experience entails. 

In 1775, Dr. Seth Bird, an eccentric but respected physician known for bringing a coffin along on his house calls, built a home for himself and his family in the Litchfield Hills of Connecticut. It was a white clapboard beauty, aproned with meadows and woods, and a comfort and sustenance for the generations.

In 1948, the Smith family bought the historic Bird estate and named it Win-Vian, a combination of the first names of Winthrop Smith and his wife Vivian. They raised a son, bounteous fruit and vegetables, and livestock on the property (today the luxury Spa stands where the pigpens once did but offers a rather nicer kind of mud treatment).

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Crumbs Bake Shop Chain Closes Its Doors 

Just in case you hadn't heard...Crumbs has closed all of its CT locations as of this Monday. 

As reported in The Daily News as well as dozens of other publications, Crumbs Bake Shop, famous for its 600-calorie, 4-inch, frosting-topped sweets, notified employees Monday that the popular chain had run out of dough. The chain’s 48 stores across 10 states closed Monday, the same day employees were notified they were losing their jobs, the Wall Street Journal reported. Crumbs’ sales had been sinking for several years. Its 48 stores across 10 states closed for good this Monday — the same day employees were notified they were losing their jobs, the Wall Street Journal reported.

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Crumbs had been touted at the world’s largest gourmet cupcake business with 70 stores globally — but its sales had been falling off for several years.

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Uncle Leo's Not Just Coffee & Donuts in Redding

A top secret doughnut recipe, a father and son business, and a dozen or so different types of doughnuts and New York-style bagels mean that mornings in Georgetown just got that much better, thanks to the arrival of Uncle Leo’s “Not Just” Coffee and Doughnuts.

Norwalk residents Leo Spinelli III (age 22) and his father Leo Spinelli, Jr., recently opened Uncle Leo's in the heart of Georgetown, at 19 Main Street, in the former Swirl Ice Cream location. The shop is a second coming for the father and son and the familiar Spinelli surname, who previously owned Spinelli’s Not Just Bagels in Norwalk that closed in 2009.

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TIERRA Opens in Westport: Locally Sourced, Latin-American Gem

Desperately seeking authentic Latin inspired cuisine with a strong Mexican flair and some cocktails that can render you “muy feliz?”  TIERRA could be the place for you. Deep, down (way down, under SPRUCE on the Post Road) in the heart of Westport is the new TIERRA, love child of married chefs Sue Torres and Darren Carbone. Torres - previously chef in such notable jaunts as La Grenouille, The 21 Club and former owner of Suenos in lower Manhattan  -and hubby Carbone (Rosa Mexicano and Alma De Cuba in PA) have created a cozy and inviting restaurant that has Westport diners in a chile infused tizzy. Complete with outside seating for 30 (perhaps not the greatest view but who cares, it’s summer!) and indoor seating for at least 45 - including a beautiful private dining room for 16 or so, TIERRA lures you in and treats you right.

Chef Carbone is always on duty and on our first visit, showed us around his well appointed kitchen and dining room. The cast iron, homemade tortilla press - a rarity - is in plain view and sous chef Mario was busy breaking down lobster and fresh Bronzini for the evening’s freshest picks. 

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Blue Lemon's Bryan Malcarney to Guest Chef @ Westport Farmers' Market July 10th

Executive Chef Bryan Malcarney will be the "Guest Chef" at The Westport Farmers' Market on July 10th. Chef Malcarney is the creative force behind Blue Lemon in Westport and Rory's in Darien. Chef Malcarney was classically trained at New York’s French Culinary Institute and Blue Lemon has earned rave reviews from both the New York Times and Zagat's. 

This Thursday, Chef Bryan will be demo'ing a wonderful summer recipe for Crudo of Wild Striped Bass (view recipe below). Don't get to taste it too. Samples will be available after the recipe demonstration. 

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Friday Froth: New Beers From Jack's Abbey And OEC Brewing

Few sensations enliven the mind like eye-catching novelty. Our minds have evolved such a predilection to find the next new thing, it's a compulsion. This is why slot machines are addictive even though they're so repetitive: there's something new every time. The new glass house is made of screens. Status, tweet, pin... tap, tap, tap.

It's easy to read about how this river of information which flows to us has made Americans indistinguishable from the couches which we permanently inhabit, but I think this is losing sight of the fact that rivers are also a means of transport. Ideas are hardly stationary. This week, let's take a look at a few novelties which have arrived on the Connecticut beer scene, and see if we can get some wheels turning. 

Jack's Abbey launched just three years ago up in Massachusetts and has seemingly been winning awards ever since. The company is run by Jack, Eric and Sam Hendler, scions of an ice manufacturing family, whose Hendler Farms supplies man of the ingredients found in their beers. The brand name comes from Jack (who earned a degree in brewing in '07) and his wife, Abbey - whose name worked out pretty well as a reference to monkish beer brewing traditions. I started off with their Mass Rising Imperial Pils

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Summer Grilling Tips from Saugatuck Craft Butchery

Craft Butchery is an old-fashioned shop with modern-day ideals (not to mention beautiful new digs). It carries only pasture-raised, organic meat from small farms located within a 150-mile radius of Westport. They sell premium beef, pork, lamb and poultry from animals that have never been given antibiotics, hormones, steroids or animal by-products. These guys know a thing or two...or three...(well, actually Ryan has 5 tips here), about grilling. 

Owner and head butcher Ryan Fibiger helps us make the most of his offerings with tips on grilling perfectly.

1. Keep it simple. When it comes to grilling high-quality, pasture-raised meats, less is more. Stick with just a salt rub on our steaks and burgers. Pepper, garlic, spice rubs and oils can burn, so use only if you’re cooking at a lower temperature.

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