Tucked in the rear of a charming passageway on Elm Street in New Canaan is Baldanza Natural Market Cafe. With a large and diverse organic menu, and a blackboard filled with the names of local purveyors, this small restaurant is fast becoming a local favorite. Owners Sandy and Angela Baldanza opened the café last year serving lunches and an occasional ‘pop up dinner’. Baldanza recently expanded the hours to include regular dinner service and partnered with Chef Kender Urena, who many will remember as the Chef /Owner of Bistro Bonne Nuit. Urena was awarded a Grand Diploma in Culinary Art with outstanding honors from the French Culinary Institute in NYC and was one of Bon Appétit Magazine Top 100 Chefs in America in 2007.
Entries in New Canaan (73)
In terms of eating, the CTbites team of writers, photographers, and chef friends have managed to sample and savor more than most. 2014 has been a stellar year for restaurant openings as Fairfield County and the surrounding areas continue to draw great culinary talent. Instead of coming up with a top ten list ourselves, we asked the CTbites extended family to share some of their most memorable meals and dining experiences this past year.
Here are our favorite meals and restaurants of 2014.
Executive Chef Mogan Anthony of Locali restaurant in New Canaan rolled out his fall menu, inspired by the fresh autumn ingredients, and invited CTbites to stop in and sample a few of his new culinary creations.
My favorite of the Small Plates was the “Shaved Local Cauliflower.” The thinly sliced raw cauliflower was tossed with pieces of Medjool dates, cashews, and drizzled with white Balsamic. The earthiness of the crispy cauliflower was beautifully complemented by the sweetness in the dates and the slightly tart balsamic. The cashews added additional earthiness and a delightful crunch.
Fjord Fish Market has some big news for sushi lovers. Fjord Fish Market started selling sushi at their Cos Cob and New Canaan locations a few months ago, and the Westport sushi program will launch in August. You'll never have to wonder about the freshness or quality of the fish you're eating at Fjord because first and foremost Fjord is one of Fairfield County's finest fish markets. Trust us...it's good.
“The Fjord name has always been synonymous with the highest quality seafood, says Owner Jim Thistle. Adding Sushi to our product mix is a natural extension of the brand”.
Sushi at Fjord is hand rolled daily, under the guidance of a Manhattan-trained Sushi Master who has over a decade of experience. Some of the most popular items include the volcano roll—a California roll topped with baked lobster salad and spicy sauce-- and the Fjord tower, a scrumptious roll filled with Tuna, Avocado, Crabmeat, Lobster Salad and a blend of sauces.
You can be sure the fish in our sushi is of the same premium quality as all the Seafood that they sell at Fjord, where they carefully source and select only the top of the catch. All of Fjord's seafood is also free of antibiotics and colorings.
With summer in full swing there are even more reasons to shop Walter Stewart's Market, a fixture in downtown New Canaan since 1907. This family run grocer features not only outstanding customer service and a great selection of everyday needs for your family, but also local producers and hard to find specialty goods in every aisle.
Get healthy this summer with several new delicious offerings at Stewart’s prepared food grab and go salad case: Daikon Slaw with Organic Vegetables and Ginger Dressing, Sesame Salmon, Fresh Burrata over Grilled Peaches, or Summer Corn and Edamame Salad provide the perfect start to a great meal. Beat the heat with their Chilled Melon Soup and home made Gazpacho.
“gingerbitz” is opening its doors in what owners Andrew and Karen Zuckert call the store’s “dress rehearsal” and CTbites and Hearst Connecticut Media Group were invited for a sneak peek and sample several of Karen’s delicious creations.
Described as a bakery and café, gingerbitz is a welcome addition to New Canaan, which has yearned for a local bakery for many years. The longtime dream of New Canaan residents Andrew and Karen Zuckert, gingerbitz represents years of dedication. Karen is well known within Fairfield County for her amazing gingerbread houses that have graced many mantles, as well as featured at numerous holiday festivals. When the opportunity arose to open a bakery in town that would “broader showcase Karen’s talents,” the couple jumped at the opportunity. They painstakingly and meticulously renovated the location, developed relationships with vendors to provide organic products and Andrew embarked on his search for the perfect coffee.
May is National Burger Month and it’s that time of year again for CTbites to unveil its “Best Bar Burgers of Fairfield County.” The last twelve months brought us several suggestions to try and I tried many of these additional locations. The 2014 list included some outstanding bars and haunts that served delicious burgers, so good in fact that only one newcomer was as delicious. (See complete list below)
Not only was this an outstanding burger, but it earned my top spot as the Best Bar Burger in Fairfield County.
Bick’s Burgers & Fries – 2014 Best Bar Burger in Fairfield County
Finally…the weather has changed…the farms are beginning to produce spring vegetables… and al fresco dining is in full swing. CTbites recently posted a round-up of over forty restaurants with al fresco dining including Locali in New Canaan and many readers added their favorites.
At the northern end of Forest Avenue, aka Restaurant Row, the patio of the newest restaurant addition, Locali, opened its patio, doubled the seating and Executive Chef Mogan Anthony has completely revamped the menu. The new spring offerings include nine predetermined pizza combinations and sixteen appetizers and salads, all for sharing, plus a smattering of pastas. All of these new culinary delights combine bold flavors and textures to highlight the seasonal bounty.
Designed to educate children about healthy eating while getting them to try something new, a Pop Up Park will be created (off Elm Street) on Saturday May 17th between 9:30 – 11:30am. Kids can register for a fun food trail, and be entered into a drawing to win a special prize.
New Canaan residents Silvia Baldini, Founder / Chef Strawberry & Sage and Rachel Lampen RLPR Ltd, have volunteered their time to be the 2014 Food Revolution Ambassadors as one of four towns participating across Connecticut, as New Canaan joins Branford, Meriden, and Middletown.
There are some ingredients in this world that, when you add them to anything, they pretty much make it spectacular. Bacon, for example. It would probably make a sneaker taste good. “Air” is another ingredient. Air-a bizarre ingredient on an episode of Chopped? No. Air, as in fresh air. Eating outside. Have you noticed that when you eat a lobster roll outside on a deck overlooking the ocean, it makes you happy? Or eat a grilled burger at a picnic table on a warm summer evening? Or sip a frothy cappuccino at a sidewalk cafe? What is the common ingredient here? Fresh air. Good food combined with a hefty dose of the outdoors.
And lucky for you, we’ve put together a long list of our favorite eateries (40+) that have lovely outdoor dining spaces.
If we missed an outdoor venue you frequent, please share your find below.
For more Summer Eats see our Guide to The Best Warm Lobster Rolls on the CT Coast.