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Friday
Jul042014

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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Thursday
Jul032014

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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Wednesday
Jul022014

New Canaan "Taste Tours" Dining Experience Start July 15th

Join the New Canaan Chamber of Commerce as it partners with Taste Tours and CTbites to offer special culinary evenings at four of New Canaan’s favorite restaurants. These special evenings begin on Tuesday July 15th and continue for four weeks offering special menus each Tuesday and Wednesday with either a 6:30 or 7:30 start time.

The first in the series of New Canaan Taste Tours will begin with three of Elm Street’s favorite restaurants; elm, Picador, and Chef Luis before finishing the evening at South End.

Your special evening begins at elm Restaurant at either 6:30 or 7:30 and enjoy the creative cuisine of Chef Brian Lewis as he dazzles the guests with several selections that are “inspired by the seasons.” Stroll to Picador where Chef Corey Falcone serves Iberian-inspired appetizers before taking a leisurely walk to Chef Luis, where the ebullient Chef Luis Lopez tantalizes your palate with his Latin interpretation of traditional southern cuisine. The evening continues with a short walk to South End where Chef Nick Martschenko creates a delectable dessert plus house-made ice cream to enjoy with after-dinner drinks and coffee.

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Wednesday
Jul022014

Weekly Nibble: Upcoming Food News & Events

Love chocolate?  How about wine?  If so, Sunset Meadow Vineyards has a treat for you!  On Monday July 7, they’ll pair 5 of their estate wines with 5 delectable chocolates.  11am-5pm. Details here

Sugar and Olives of Norwalk will teach you how to make “hors d’oeuvres in a pinch” on Wednesday July 9.  From flatbread to quinoa galettes to beef sliders, you’ll learn how to make platters perfect for entertaining. 

Wine & Dine Wednesdays continue at Darien Social.  Enjoy your Choice of Porterhouse, NY Strip or Filet… and 1/2 OFF on Select Bottles of Wine!   

The Darien Farmers Market continues from 11-4 on Wednesdays.  

Thursday July 10, Chef Brian Lewis brings the tables of elm to Millstone Farm.  Millstone’s beautiful landscape will set the stage for a 4-course feast of seasonally-driven cuisine on Thursday nights throughout the summer. Each event will begin at 6 p.m. with small bites, lawn games, live music and farm tours for the entire family.  Tickets are $35 per child and $135 per adult, BYOB, tax and gratuity included. Limited family-style seating. For more information, please visit the event page at www.elmrestaurant.com.

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Tuesday
Jul012014

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

MY SLURPY SIGNATURE DISH

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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Tuesday
Jul012014

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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Sunday
Jun292014

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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Saturday
Jun282014

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.

Friday
Jun272014

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 | valencialuncheria.com

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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Friday
Jun272014

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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