On the twelfth night of Christmas, my true love brewed for me,” 1 buddha’s blend, 2 matcha matsu, 3 long life oolong, 4 la la lemon, 5 chocolate orange...and so the song goes. New to Main Street in downtown Westport, just in time for the holidays, is DAVIDsTEA, a Canadian company started by two cousins who wanted to introduce the masses to the ancient world of loose leaf tea in a fun, modern environment. Initially successful in Canada with over 80 stores, the cousins decided to set up shop in the U.S. with Westport following the likes of NYC, Chicago and San Francisco.
Entries in breakfast (80)
Big news for a local baker whose career CTbites has followed from the very beginning. Westport based NOTHIN’ BUT Premium Snack Bars have just announced that they have created a specialty blend granola bar for Le Pain Quotidien, an international chain of bakery cafes. Several months ago Nothin' But CEO, Steven Laitmon, and Jerri Graham, the founder and creator of the company, approached Le Pain with the idea of making a proprietary blended granola bar. Receptive about a Premium Snack Bar that could capture their commitment to excellence, the team at Le Pain readily agreed. Back home in Westport, Jerri and Steven set to work and started the process of crafting various combinations until they achieved what they felt was perfection.
Like facial hair and irony, the doughnut has received the hipster embrace, ushering in the likes of Voodoo, Dynamo and Doughnut Plant from New York to Portland, making the once doughnut-non grata, cool again.
Oblivious to the wax and wane of this food trend, “Beach Donuts” in Old Lyme, Connecticut has steadily and unironically been powering the shoreline with a traditional take on these habit-seeking baked goods for over sixty years. Each Saturday and Sunday in the summer, Ted Powaleny delivers about 125 dozen doughnuts from a kitchen in Clinton to the Shoreline Community Center in Old Lyme, just two blocks from Sound View Beach. From 7 to 10:30 am (or until they sell out), volunteers sell “Beach Donuts” hand-over-fist, with proceeds from the $1 doughnuts, benefitting the Community Center.
Back in Greenwich it was more than 10 years ago that I first walked into Greg Addonizio and Debra Ponzek’s tiny yellow-and-blue striped jewel of a café, Aux Delices. I went there almost every day, unable to resist their lemony ginger tea, inspiring desserts and gourmet take-out items. After I moved to Westport, I literally dreamed about their unbelievably decadent chocolate cake. Now, at long last, my dreams have come true. Aux Delices, which in French means “all the delicious food in life,” has opened a new location...in Westport, centrally located at 1035 Post Road East. With an airy, relaxed French brasserie ambience of copper fixtures, colorful chalkboard menus, and an outdoor patio, it’s the perfect instant getaway. And, while the service is quick and easy, the food however, is anything but fast food-like. With the exception of a few imported specialty items, drinks and cheeses, all foods and pastries are baked on-site, prepared by culinary institute-trained chef Ponzek, who describes her own cooking as “quality, healthy food for busy people.”
When restaurateur Colin Ambrose decided to follow his wife and three daughters and return to Fairfield County from the eastern end of Long Island, he brought with him a reputation for delivering creative farm to table cuisine. As the former owner/chef of Estia’s in Amagansett and the current owner of Estia’s Little Kitchen in Sag Harbor, Ambrose is celebrating his Darien homecoming by opening his latest restaurant, Estia’s American. After Ambrose settled on the location that formerly housed Ole Mole, he immediately set to create a rustic Americana décor that included American flags created from book spines, relaxing beach paintings and his personal collection of cookbooks and novels, including several by his uncle Stephen Ambrose.
I’ve never turned down a free sample. I’m shameless. I go back for seconds. I eat those stubs of hot dogs dipped in mustard at Stop & Shop, the weensy little mini-meals served in tiny paper cups at Trader Joe’s, curls of glamorous artisanal cheeses from a display of food and flowers at Balducci’s, chocolate at Garelick & Herbs, a taste of wine at my neighborhood liquor store. Especially wine, but they don’t usually let you go back for seconds and thirds.
This time I was snarking a free hunk of freshly-baked bread at Billy’s Bakery in Fairfield and a lovely young lady offered me a free spoonful of jam: strawberry-lemonade, blueberry-basil, or pineapple-kiwi. I chose the blueberry, primarily because I was intrigued by the basil, although they seem to be putting basil in a lot of things lately. I had a basil shortbread cookie last summer. Here is where the blueberry-basil jam became more than a free sample; it was the beginning of a beautiful culinary relationship.
It’s 8am on a Friday and we’re here to observe the inner workings at Isabelle et Vincent, aka The French Bakery in Fairfield. Eight a.m. is nowhere near the dark morning hours one would associate with a baker’s schedule, and yet there’s plenty going on even at this “late” hour. In one corner of the kitchen, a wide galley space behind the counter lined with ovens, a gigantic standing mixer, and speed racks of measured flour and finished pastries, strawberry tarts are being assembled. The scent of fresh berries, an enormous pile of ruby red, hit us before we even laid eyes on them. In fact, the entire space is a feast for the senses. Piles of baguettes, stacks of macarons in a rainbow of color, glistening apple tarts, fondant covered eclairs, and savory quiches...close your eyes and just imagine a symphony of freshly baked bread, butter, sugar, fruit, and chocolate. It’s incredible.
For two decades, former Darien restaurateur Colin Ambrose has been at the forefront of the sustainable food movement, originally in Amaganset, and now in Sag Harbor, Long Island with his popular café, Estia’s Little Kitchen. Here, the practice of growing his own fruits and vegetables on the restaurant’s property, and obtaining the rest of the ingredients from local farmers whenever possible, was never a gimmick. It was simply how he chose to source his food in order to maintain the high standards he set for the restaurant.
The second incarnation of Ambrose’s beloved restaurant concept is coming to Darien in the form of Estia’s American, a charming café that will offer breakfast, lunch and a juice bar, then transform itself into an urbane restaurant and bar for dinner service. Located in the newly developed brick walk section of a busy downtown, Estia’s American intends on filling a niche in the culinary landscape with its simple, clean, vibrant foods
Wave Hill Breads recently moved their renown bread baking mecca and opened a new cafe in Norwalk, heralding a new “must eat” venue to add to your Fairfield County foodie dance card. At their new location on 30 High Street, Wave Hill Breads is baking way beyond their notorious three-grain pain de campagne which graces the tables of some of the finest CT restaurants and markets. The cafe features 20 seats for eat in dining with sandwiches (on Wave Hill Bread of course), soups, muffins, pastries, tea and coffee, as well as wi-fi. And if you just want to stop in for a loaf of that pain de campagne, just knock on speakeasy-esque “Back Door Bakery” around back (no password necessary).
In a world all about “grab and go,” I was happy to stumble upon “Nothin' But” snack bars after a spinning class at Joy Ride in Westport recently. That same week, we spotted them at the Westport Farmers’ market and the Village Market in Wilton. Seems that the chewy little bars, packed with ‘nothin’ but’ organic oats, nuts, seeds and dried fruits and hand-mixed with organic cane sugar, olive oil and honey have found a cult following in Fairfield County. Not only are these the tastiest and most nutritionally dense snack bars we’ve tried (not too dry, not too sweet, loaded with fruits, nuts and all-natural ingredients), they’re also packaged in re-sealable Ziploc bags so that you can eat half in the morning and save the other half for a midday pick-me-up (if you have the willpower).