Peaches Souther Pub & Juke Joint :: A Review

“Eat, Drink, Boogie, and Repeat!”

This has long been the mantra of restaurateur Greer Fredericks who brought low country fare to Connecticut by means of Mama’s Boy Southern Table & Refuge back in 2013.  A few years later opportunity would come knocking again and Greer would grab ahold of it, selling one southern inspired eatery and opening a new one. Peaches Southern Pub & Juke Joint is latest chef d'oeuvre with its bourbon-laced, chicken fried, home grown rockabilly restaurant and music venue. Pub fare with a Southern flare... For more read here

Taste of Fairfield Celebrates the Town's Vibrant Dining Scene (+ Ticket Giveaway!)

The Fairfield dining scene has been booming for the past few years. Where many towns are dormant after the sun sets, it is not unusual to find people milling around, chatting, laughing, and of course dining behind the dimly light restaurant windows... Afterwards they empty out into the streets, taking leisurely strolls to walk off their meals, or head off to one of the town's many ice cream or fro-yo shops for an after dinner treat. For more visit here

203 Pride :: A new Lifestyle Brand Embraces its Local Community

 203 Pride :: A new Lifestyle Brand Embraces its Local Community - The Entertaining House

203 Pride :: A new Lifestyle Brand Embraces its Local Community - The Entertaining House

Everyone knows that you absolutely cannot wear your souvenir T-shirt while on vacation; it's a major fashion faux pas... Until now... Enter TheTwoOhThree, a new lifestyle brand born out of a brother and sister's pride for their hometown of Westport, Connecticut. This popular lifestyle brand boasts a line of fun and colorful clothing and accessories bearing the area's area code. 
For more read here.

From Farm to Wok :: WUJI organic Chinese Food Restaurant Opens in Greenwich

 From Farm to Wok :: WUJI organic Chinese Food Restaurant Opens in Greenwich. Image property of WUJI

From Farm to Wok :: WUJI organic Chinese Food Restaurant Opens in Greenwich. Image property of WUJI

WUJI Restaurant introduces organic Chinese food to Fairfield County with its first Connecticut location opening in Greenwich by month's end. Already a success in neighboring Westchester County, this innovative restaurant concept bears an eco-pledge to customers vowing to serve local, organic, chemical-free and cooked-to-order Chinese food daily. This concept is a creation of MAAC Hospitality Group and takes a favorite Chinese-American comfort food and adapts it for how people prefer to eat today. Although, admittedly I am not a huge fan of Chinese Food I was quite taken with WUJI. You can read my review here. 
 
All WUJI locations share the same culinary platform, yet each location’s ambiance and vibe varies, with Greenwich’s being Shanghai chic. Upon entering the new 76-seat Greenwich locale, the former Hunan Gourmet next to Whole Foods, it’s evident the restaurant is a design and culinary masterpiece, with true passion at the forefront. Bright red Chinese lanterns hang from the vestibule’s ceiling. The dining area is distinguished by a grand water wall effect, which is bejeweled with colorful flower petals and floating lit candles. The black lacquer bar is reminiscent of a high-gloss piano piece with an oversized opium bed mirror displayed between 400-pound Chinese urns. Tables, chairs, and everything in between are custom made from vintage Chinese fabrics, original artwork, and a massive dragon wall sculpture designed specifically for the space.

WUJI, meaning the singularity of the universe, offers Chinese food enthusiasts a more vibrant and fresh approach to this often misrepresented cuisine and is in keeping with today’s sustainable food culture. The original menu is created by Chef Guang Zanghou, formerly of China White, culinary director Peter How, a curator for chefs directly from Hong Kong; and Chef de Cuisine Roger Luo who's pedigree includes Chinatown’s famous Golden Unicorn Restaurant. Chef Josh Moulton, former service director of NYC’s Gramercy Tavern, will manage the Greenwich location.
 
 WUJI’s authentic recipes utilize traditional and modern preparations, and incorporate only organic chicken, pasture raised pork, grass fed beef, wild caught fish, cage-free chicken eggs, Chinatown noodles, and organic vegetables. The food is as pure and natural as it can get, ensuring no MSG hangover. A strong emphasis on gluten-free includes vegetable and high-protein dishes and eliminates the use of starch based fillers and thickeners found in traditional Chinese restaurants. A product of MAAC Hospitality Group, WUJI is co-owned by Jody Pennette, founder and creative mind behind cb5 Hospitality Consulting, and Moodi Zahid, a business partner and friend for more than 30 years.
 
Menus are printed with vegetable ink on disposable paper that will be recycled after each guests’ use. Favorites include; organic Heritage pork spare ribs with honey-plum glaze; lo mein noodles stir-fried with vegetables and sesame ginger sauce; Cantonese roast chicken with crispy garlic and shallots; and spicy fried rice topped with a soft egg. The beverage program includes Asian beer selections, sakes, a well-crafted wine list and a creative selection of re-batched “tiki” cocktails prepared with top shelf spirits and fresh squeezed juices. Organic house made soda, herbal infusion ice tea service, and Kusmi hot tea round out the beverage offerings.
 
Delivery is available by calling 1-844-WUJI-NOW, or 1-844-985-4669. Traditional suburban delivery is reimagined with food delivered to nearby locations via a hot, insulated carrier case with “drivers” delivering on a custom designed bikes. For restaurant hours and to stay up-to-date with opening information, visit www.wujirestaurant.com.
 
WUJI LOCATIONS:
SCARSDALE: 2 Chase Road, Scarsdale, NY 10583
RYE: 26 Purchase Street, Rye, NY 10580
GREENWICH: 68 E Putnam Ave, Greenwich, CT 06830

TerraSole Ristorante embraces Italian Tradition and a new summer menu in Ridgefield

 TerraSole Ristorante embraces Italian Tradition and a new summer menu in Ridgefield. Image via TerraSole

TerraSole Ristorante embraces Italian Tradition and a new summer menu in Ridgefield. Image via TerraSole


Located in the heart of downtown Ridgefield, TerraSole Ristorante is a product of Owner Pietro Polini’s culinary upbringing in Puglia, Italy. He and his wife Lana introduced their charming Italian restaurant in 2007 upon meticulously renovating its farmhouse building. Designed by iH Design Studio of Stamford, TerraSole is framed in exposed wood beams, hardwood flooring, eclectic Italian artwork, and natural sunlight. An intimate bar and additional seating area is reminiscent of an Italian piazza and sidewalk café, which opens up onto a bustling retail neighborhood. Now open is their lovely garden-like private patio that seats 50, adding to the 65-seat main dining room.

Pietro Polini came to the states in 1999 and began working his way through New York City kitchens before establishing himself in Connecticut. He was front-of-the-house manager for the popular Siena Ristorante in Stamford for six years, and prior to opening TerraSole, Pietro and Lana opened a restaurant in Rimini Italy, called Malvasia. The Polini family still owns and operates restaurants in Italy today, and when Mamma Polini is in town it’s a family affair, offering her popular cooking classes for eager-to-learn guests.

A standout at this farmhouse-chic restaurant is their fresh made pastas including; tagliatelle, gnocchetti, cavatelli, and strigoloni as menu staples. TerraSole’s kitchen is led by Executive Chef Eugene (“Gino”) Jerome, formerly of Siena Ristorante in Stamford and Ristorante DiSopra in Greenwich. Together, he and Pietro create TerraSole’s extensive weekly specials and seasonal menus. Domestic and imported specialty ingredients are sourced from such quality producers as;  Salumeria Biellese and Murray’s Cheese in New York; Chicago’s Allen Brothers for aged steaks; Le Veneziane gluten free pasta imported from Italy; market fresh fish from New England fishermen; and local produced sourced whenever possible. With limited space, the restaurant has no room for a walk-in refrigerator or freezer, so all produce, meats, fish, cheeses, and other ingredients are delivered almost daily.
 
Menu highlights include: Burrata Caprese- imported truffle burrata with prosciutto San Daniele and shaved black truffles; Portafoglio di Melanzane- baked thinly sliced eggplant envelope filled with organic spinach, wild mushrooms, ricotta salata, fresh herbs, served on cheese fondue and San Marzano tomato sauce; Pappardelloni con Astice e Gamberoni - pappaerdelloni pasta sautéed with Maine lobster, head-on jumbo prawns, asparagus, zucchini, finished with white wine, e.v.o.o., truffle essence and a touch of Vecchia Romagna Italian brandy; Grigliata di pesce (TerraSole’s signature)- grilled seafood platter finished with lemon, e.v.o.o, local farm vegetables (branzino, Maya prawns, calamari, king salmon, fresh Maine lobster); Vitello alla Milanese- milk-fed veal chop milanese with prosciutto San Daniele, organic baby arugula, multi-colored cherry tomatoes, imported truffle Burrata and shaved black truffle or Misticanza salad.
 
TerraSole also boasts an impressive, mostly Italian varietal wine program with more than 200 wines by the bottle and 20 exceptional wines offered by the glass. House made seasonal ‘cello is also a staple with such flavors as, limoncello, meloncello and espresso chocolate-cello. Cocktails are crafted using fresh squeezed juices and purees. The restaurant welcomes the close-knit community of Ridgefield and offers multiple happenings to accommodate the whole family.
 

 TerraSole Ristorante embraces Italian Tradition and a new summer menu in Ridgefield. Image via TerraSole

TerraSole Ristorante embraces Italian Tradition and a new summer menu in Ridgefield. Image via TerraSole

 TerraSole Ristorante embraces Italian Tradition and a new summer menu in Ridgefield. Image via TerraSole

TerraSole Ristorante embraces Italian Tradition and a new summer menu in Ridgefield. Image via TerraSole

TerraSole Happenings:
·      Westport Farmers’ Market Cooking Demonstration, Thursday, August 25 @ 10 a.m.
·      Happy Hour - Monday thru Friday, 4:30 p.m. to 6:30 p.m.
Buy-one get-one select cocktails and drinks
·      Cooking Classes hosted throughout the year
·      Sunday - Kids eat free every Sunday night
·      Express Lunch - Two-course menu; $22 per person
·      Tasting Menu - Chef’s tasting menu is offered on Monday and Wednesday evenings;
$46 per person
 
Reservations are recommended and can be placed by calling the restaurant, visiting the TerraSole website, or using OpenTable.
 
TerraSole Ristorante
3 Big Shop Lane #1
Ridgefield, CT
203-438-5352
www.terrasoleridgefield.com

Tablao, a Spanish Inspired Restaurant Finds a Home in the Heart of SoNo

Tablao Wine Bar & Restaurant is a Spanish-Mediterranean inspired dining and social destination in South Norwalk’s thriving dining district. Spearheaded by veteran restaurateurs Juan ‘Vinny’ Gonzalez and Galo Aleman, the duo, who hail from South America, have created an intimate locale evoking the style and sensibility of  a modern wine and tapas bar that one would find along the café lined streets of Seville, Spain.

Framed in exposed brick walls, the restaurant’s design aesthetic is centered around the Spanish “tabla”, wood centric accents from the wine barrel host stand and wine crate paneled walls, to the dark oak wood furnishings and bold sliding door partitions. Edison light bulbs lend a warm hue to the space while the convivial bar dazzles at night flecked by dangling light fixtures and tequila infused conversation.
 
Taking its culinary cues from the Mediterranean Sea and the land that embraces it, Tablao’s menu is a virtual tour throughout these culinary rich cites and coastal ports. Chef Raul Gonzalez, formerly of the popular Meson Galacia in Norwalk, CT, which was instrumental in introducing Spanish cuisine and the tapas style of dining to Fairfield County circa 1991, harkens back to his early chef days with a menu that is both spirited and traditional. With a nod to our sustainable food culture, as well as exceptional imported ingredients from Spain, the menu at Tablao features domestic and imported charcuterie, an array of tapas, entrées featuring market fresh fish and prime beef, as well as traditional family style paellas.
 
A wine bar at its core, Tablao offers an extensive, while accessible, and always evolving, wine selection featuring varietals from across the globe with unabashed nepotism towards the wine regions of Spain and South America. Creative cocktails and craft beer round out the beverage program, as does Tablao’s late night menu, happy hours – upon hours, and special wine nights.
 
General Manager Zach Shafran and Bar Manager Sam Porteus, both seasoned hospitality professionals and alumni from SoNo’s Barcelona Restaurant, are at the forefront of this service-minded restaurant.   Guests can enjoy DJ spun music, televised soccer games, and a unique offering for the summer - Happy Hour on the Harbor boat cruise series in conjunction with the SoNo Seaport Association.
More info: www.tablaosono.com


Happy Hour On The Harbor
July 19 and August 16
6 - 8 PM
$45 pp, all inclusive
2-hour Guided Boat Cruise
Seasonal Cocktail, Beer and Wine, Tapas
To purchase tickets to Happy Hour on the Harbor visit www.seaport.org.

Totò restaurant officially opens offering a “Taste of Life” to Downtown Fairfield

Totò restaurant officially opens offering a
“Taste of Life” to Downtown Fairfield

 Toto Restaurant, Fairfield CT. Above: Mark Barnhart , Fairfield First Selectman Michael Tetreau, Antonio Ninivaggi and his wife Elena

Toto Restaurant, Fairfield CT. Above: Mark Barnhart , Fairfield First Selectman Michael Tetreau, Antonio Ninivaggi and his wife Elena

Restaurateur Antonio Ninivaggi recently welcomed friends and family to celebrate his newly redesigned and re-named eatery in the heart of downtown Fairfield. Formerly Osianna, the restaurant continues to focus on Mediterranean inspired dishes with a strong emphasis on fresh, seasonal, and healthful cuisine using sustainable all-natural ingredients. Toto offers a European sensibility with a casual and warm approach. Keenly tuned into the lifestyle and diverse dietary needs of today’s diners, Ninivaggi sources the finest ingredients including organic, hormone-free fish, poultry and meat, GMO-free olive oil, a full line of gluten free pasta, as well as pizza crust imported from Italy. The new menu also features a full line of gluten- free offerings to not strictly limited to pasta, but many other menu items as well.

At Totò diners will enjoy the return of many Osianna favorites like Grilled Octopus, Greek Tomato Salad, Lamb Chops, Sicilian Rice Balls, Crab meat stuffed shrimp, homemade Hummus and Tzatziki. Eager to showcase his own distinctive style, Ninivaggi has added several new dishes such as Lemon Caper Sole, Crackling Calamari Salad, Baked Whole Seabass. The Totò Burger - made from grass-fed beef, organic bacon, Vermont cheddar, and gourmet gribiche sauce on brioche - also makes an appearance for the first time.

Patrons will enjoy a full bar menu with specialty cocktails, a large selection of wines by both the glass as well as the bottle, and a nice assortment of craft beers from local breweries.

Upon entering the restaurant guests will immediately notice the newly redesigned space which takes on a more modern and youthful approach. A bold burgundy interior wall anchors the space which is balanced out by crisp white exterior walls and the clean, lean lines of the furniture. The patio has seen a nice change as well with the ability to be enclosed in a temperature controlled environment, guests can now enjoy dining outdoors from April through October.

Restaurateur Antonio Ninivaggi’s career began at the highly acclaimed Tarantino restaurant in Westport, and Columbus Park in Stamford. From there his talents took him to Capricio, Barcelona and then back to Tarantino. In addition to Totò, Ninivaggi, is also an owner of the newly opened The Pearl at Longshore in Westport.

Go Ape adventure park Opens in New Britain :: Get eacquainted with nature through aerial obstacle courses and ziplines

The folks at Go Ape reached out to me to see if I might be interested in experiencing and reviewing their newest course in New Britain. I, of course,  jumped at the chance!

Go Ape  is an amazing outdoor Treetop Adventure Course providing participants with about 3 hours of outdoor fun and exercise.  The result is spectacular. We were able to explore the park from an otherwise unobtainable vantage point as we navigated our way through the treetops using zip lines, obstacles and tarzan swings.

I'd like to think I'm pretty adventurous. I'd like to think I'm physically fit and strong. I'd like to think I'm up for challenges and adventures. I definitely like to step outside my comfort zone as I believe that's where the best things happen. And so here I was about to step as far out of my comfort zone as I've ever gone, though I didn't know it at the time! 

For the FULL review click here. 

A Seaside Sanctuary for the soul :: Saybrook Point Inn

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As Americans we tend to do everything in extremes, the motto "go big or go home" pretty much sums that up. The same can often be said of how we vacation, as couples and as families. While there's nothing wrong with planning and saving for that trip of a lifetime, sometimes a quick getaway is exactly what's needed to calm the nerves and soothe the soul and Saybrook Point Inn is just the place you're looking for. 

 Saybrook Point Inn and Spa :: A Coastal Connecticut Treasure. Image Property of Jessica Gordon Ryan/The Entertaining House

Saybrook Point Inn and Spa :: A Coastal Connecticut Treasure. Image Property of Jessica Gordon Ryan/The Entertaining House

I was invited to stay at Saybrook Point Inn's newest property, Tall Tales (Pictured above - pink house to the right) a wonderful guest house with sweeping and picturesque views of the Long Island Sound. Inside, turn of the century antiques evoke a feeling of comfort and familiarity, with the comforts of home and the amenities of a luxury boutique hotel. The guesthouse is steeped in local history and traditions; the decor reflects this and each uniquely designed bedroom has been named after a prominent member of the community. Each bedroom has its own private beautiful bathroom, fireplace, private balcony, fine handwoven linens (Matouk bedding and a Sferra blanket were on my bed) and original artwork by local artists.

A casual living area with a gas fireplace that guests can control and dining space and fully accessorized kitchen offer guests the comforts of a home away from home. There were plenty of wine glasses, bottle openers and room in the generously sized fridge for a bottle of wine and some healthy snacks as we opted to relax in the comfort of the guesthouse one night. Additionally, the there are guest bathrooms off the entertaining areas on the main level as well as upstairs where one can find a game room complete with pool table. An elevator is centrally located off the main living area for those individuals who may have difficulty with the stairs. Every morning a large pitcher filled with ice water, lemons and limes, a bowl of fresh fruit and assorted pastries or muffins is placed on the buffet for guests to enjoy at leisure and help themselves to throughout the day. I noticed that each day I was there, additional lemons and limes were left in the refrigerator in case the pitcher needed refilling. The treats (of course I had to sample!) were delicious and the citrus water was the perfect touch. In the kitchen guests can help themselves to coffee or tea made in a Keurig or go into the lobby for coffee there. I tasted no difference in particular between the lobby and the Keurig coffee. 

Next to the Tall Tales Guesthouse is Three Stories which is slightly larger with 8 bedrooms. (The light pink house pictured above.) Both guesthouses serve as perfect meeting places for couples, families and friends to get together and celebrate or simply reconnect. There is plenty of off-street parking in the back behind the two houses. For those who prefer not or are unable to travel by car, the hotel provides transportation to and from the Old Saybrook Train Station nearby.

 Saybrook Point Inn and Spa :: A Coastal Connecticut Treasure. Image Property of Jessica Gordon Ryan/The Entertaining House

Saybrook Point Inn and Spa :: A Coastal Connecticut Treasure. Image Property of Jessica Gordon Ryan/The Entertaining House

I loved my room at Tall Tales and wanted to really enjoy it so I made a point to as best as I could. I helped myself to the lemon water left for me that morning which I enjoyed so much more than the standard bottled water most places leave you. For those with a curious spirit there's much to do on foot or on bicycle provided by the inn for your enjoyment. One can peruse the wonderful shops and boutiques in town and visit the Katherine Hepburn Cultural Center. I was amazed by the number of cafes and liquor stores for such a small town! The hotel can provide you with a lengthy list of places to see. 

My room was located at the front of the house with a wonderful view of the Long Island Sound.  It was conveniently (depending on how you look at it) located next to the kitchen so I could pop in and out for ice, ice water or a glass of wine. (I purchased a bottle in town.)  The room's gas fireplace offered the ultimate relaxing touch, especially as I watched the early sun rise over the Atlantic illuminating everything in its path. It's quite possibly the most magnificent sun rise I have ever seen. A large wall-mounted television set sat over the fireplace thus creating what I will call a perfect morning trifecta! 

 Saybrook Point Inn and Spa :: A Coastal Connecticut Treasure. Image Property of Jessica Gordon Ryan/The Entertaining House

Saybrook Point Inn and Spa :: A Coastal Connecticut Treasure. Image Property of Jessica Gordon Ryan/The Entertaining House

Imagine waking up to this every morning! It's positively incredible and sets the tone for the rest of the day.

 Saybrook Point Inn and Spa :: A Coastal Connecticut Treasure. Image Property of Old Saybrook Point Inn

Saybrook Point Inn and Spa :: A Coastal Connecticut Treasure. Image Property of Old Saybrook Point Inn

I had the pleasure of touring all the rooms in both guest houses. Each was impeccably pristine with newly renovated modern bathrooms. Pictured above is the Katherine Hepburn room at the Three Stories guest house which pays a wonderful tribute to the late star. More beautiful guest rooms are pictured below. You'll notice how incredibly different each one is and how the utmost attention to detail and space is given in each room.

 Saybrook Point Inn and Spa :: A Coastal Connecticut Treasure. Image Property of Old Saybrook Point Inn

Saybrook Point Inn and Spa :: A Coastal Connecticut Treasure. Image Property of Old Saybrook Point Inn

 Saybrook Point Inn and Spa :: A Coastal Connecticut Treasure. Image Property of Old Saybrook Point Inn

Saybrook Point Inn and Spa :: A Coastal Connecticut Treasure. Image Property of Old Saybrook Point Inn

 Saybrook Point Inn and Spa :: A Coastal Connecticut Treasure. Image Property of Old Saybrook Point Inn

Saybrook Point Inn and Spa :: A Coastal Connecticut Treasure. Image Property of Old Saybrook Point Inn

 Saybrook Point Inn and Spa :: A Coastal Connecticut Treasure. Image Property of Jessica Gordon Ryan/The Entertaining House

Saybrook Point Inn and Spa :: A Coastal Connecticut Treasure. Image Property of Jessica Gordon Ryan/The Entertaining House

Guests can also choose to stay at one of the Inn's villas or at the Inn itself, a lovely well-appointed boutique hotel. Located within the hotel is a health club complete with a full fitness center, heated indoor and outdoor swimming pools, jaccuzzi, steam showers and saunas and the newly renovated SANNO Spa where guests can enjoy an expanded spa menu offering massage therapy, facials, body wraps, scrubs, manicures and pedicures. The highly acclaimed Fresh Salt restaurant offers guests the best of local and seasonal items. 

 Saybrook Point Inn and Spa :: A Coastal Connecticut Treasure. Image Property of Old Saybrook Point Inn

Saybrook Point Inn and Spa :: A Coastal Connecticut Treasure. Image Property of Old Saybrook Point Inn

Saybrook Point Inn is known for their marina which offers convenient access to the Long Island Sound offers world-class amenities and high quality service to yachts of all sizes. Guests can enjoy concierge services as well as all the amenities that hotel has to offer. The marina can accommodate boats from 13 to 200 feet. The marina at Saybrook Point Inn prides itself on customer care and is committed to being environmentally friendly. It is Connecticut's first designated Clean Marina. 

 Saybrook Point Inn and Spa :: A Coastal Connecticut Treasure. Image Property of Old Saybrook Point Inn

Saybrook Point Inn and Spa :: A Coastal Connecticut Treasure. Image Property of Old Saybrook Point Inn

Located centrally Saybrook Point Inn between Boston and New York, an hour and a half from most Coastal Westchester County locations, and an hour from Fairfield Connecticut, makes it the ideal weekend (or midweek) destination. It's also a popular port of call for those residing in nearby towns who come for the friendly atmosphere, the breathtaking views and award-winning cuisine.

The restaurant, for those who live within an hour away, is well worth your drive. With wonderful selections that are seasonal, sustainable and local, the cuisine is innovative yet comforting. 

 Saybrook Point Inn and Spa :: A Coastal Connecticut Treasure. Image Property of Jessica Gordon Ryan/The Entertaining House

Saybrook Point Inn and Spa :: A Coastal Connecticut Treasure. Image Property of Jessica Gordon Ryan/The Entertaining House

 Saybrook Point Inn and Spa :: A Coastal Connecticut Treasure. Image Property of Jessica Gordon Ryan/The Entertaining House

Saybrook Point Inn and Spa :: A Coastal Connecticut Treasure. Image Property of Jessica Gordon Ryan/The Entertaining House

I'm fascinated and passionately mad about lighthouses. And even on an overcast, dreary day, she shines bright. Imagine if you could actually stay in a lighthouse... Well, by the time the summer season is here you'll be able to. Currently under renovation, this floating guest house will have the same amenities the others do, including a small but all inclusive kitchen, beautiful decor and a front row view to the most magnificent sun rise you will ever see! To stay here you'll need to get in line... You'll find me at the very front!

 Saybrook Point Inn and Spa :: A Coastal Connecticut Treasure. Image Property of Jessica Gordon Ryan/The Entertaining House

Saybrook Point Inn and Spa :: A Coastal Connecticut Treasure. Image Property of Jessica Gordon Ryan/The Entertaining House

I scored myself a little peek inside. It's a wonderful space that feels quite a bit larger than it is... In a few short weeks the interior will be magically transformed. I can hardly wait to see the finish result!

 Saybrook Point Inn and Spa :: A Coastal Connecticut Treasure. Image Property of Jessica Gordon Ryan/The Entertaining House

Saybrook Point Inn and Spa :: A Coastal Connecticut Treasure. Image Property of Jessica Gordon Ryan/The Entertaining House

Talk about a room with a view! Even non early risers will want to set their alarms and enjoy their morning coffee or tea in total serenity as they watch the dawn of a new day. (Have I mentioned that I can hardly wait?!) 

 Saybrook Point Inn and Spa :: A Coastal Connecticut Treasure. Image Property of Jessica Gordon Ryan/The Entertaining House

Saybrook Point Inn and Spa :: A Coastal Connecticut Treasure. Image Property of Jessica Gordon Ryan/The Entertaining House

For those seeking a bit of an adventure there's a great deal to do in the Old Saybrook area. One of the highlights of my brief stay was my little adventure across the causeway over to Fenwick. If the name sounds vaguely familiar, it is the bucolic area where Katherine Hepburn had her country house which she talked of often. I wandered across the causeway and all the way out to Lynde Point lighthouse, about 4 miles. I strolled over the river which in itself was magnificent, then took a left and meandered through Fenwick where golfers were enjoying the early spring weather.

 Saybrook Point Inn and Spa :: A Coastal Connecticut Treasure. Image Property of Jessica Gordon Ryan/The Entertaining House

Saybrook Point Inn and Spa :: A Coastal Connecticut Treasure. Image Property of Jessica Gordon Ryan/The Entertaining House

Many trees and large branches can be found in the river, along the water's edge and on the beaches. The weathering of the wood from salt, wind and sand create the most marvelous patterns and textures. 

 Saybrook Point Inn and Spa :: A Coastal Connecticut Treasure. Image Property of Jessica Gordon Ryan/The Entertaining House

Saybrook Point Inn and Spa :: A Coastal Connecticut Treasure. Image Property of Jessica Gordon Ryan/The Entertaining House

 Saybrook Point Inn and Spa :: A Coastal Connecticut Treasure. Image Property of Jessica Gordon Ryan/The Entertaining House

Saybrook Point Inn and Spa :: A Coastal Connecticut Treasure. Image Property of Jessica Gordon Ryan/The Entertaining House

Nothing brings you back down to earth and relaxes you as much as being up close with nature, from the beauty of the splintered driftwood to the grace and majestic beauty of the swans fishing for their supper. I paused on the causeway for a few minutes to watch these magnificent creatures at work. I continued on and followed a quiet dirt road where quiet houses awaited their summer guests and grassy marshes awaited young hands looking for tadpoles. Without a plan, without a destination, propelled by the magnificent scenery and the music in my ear buds I kept plodding away, stopping every now and then to capture a moment in time. 

 Saybrook Point Inn and Spa :: A Coastal Connecticut Treasure. Image Property of Jessica Gordon Ryan/The Entertaining House

Saybrook Point Inn and Spa :: A Coastal Connecticut Treasure. Image Property of Jessica Gordon Ryan/The Entertaining House

 Saybrook Point Inn and Spa :: A Coastal Connecticut Treasure. Image Property of Jessica Gordon Ryan/The Entertaining House

Saybrook Point Inn and Spa :: A Coastal Connecticut Treasure. Image Property of Jessica Gordon Ryan/The Entertaining House

The rustic beauty of a weather-beaten barn and dried out sea grass inspired my creative side. Trees were bare and the grass not yet green proved to be quite the contrast to the warm weather. In a matter of just a couple of weeks this would all look so very different. From the dirt road I made my way to a rocky and empty beach and strolled along the water's edge, as my eyes combed the rocks, shells and sand for any hint of sea glass. I found none. 

 Saybrook Point Inn and Spa :: A Coastal Connecticut Treasure. Image Property of Jessica Gordon Ryan/The Entertaining House

Saybrook Point Inn and Spa :: A Coastal Connecticut Treasure. Image Property of Jessica Gordon Ryan/The Entertaining House

My path would end at the lighthouse and I was admittedly disappointed when I saw it. It wasn't nearly as magnificent as many others I have seen. An ugly wire fence surrounded the house which was much less grand than I had hoped. My adventure would end here but there was more beauty to be caught as I retraced my steps back to the Inn. What's the best way to relax after a long walk? A nice massage of course! 

 Saybrook Point Inn and Spa :: A Coastal Connecticut Treasure. Image Property of Jessica Gordon Ryan/The Entertaining House

Saybrook Point Inn and Spa :: A Coastal Connecticut Treasure. Image Property of Jessica Gordon Ryan/The Entertaining House

SANNO Spa, located at the Inn, is a highly acclaimed full service Spa. If you are planning a visit to SPI either for the day or a few, you must be sure book a massage. My Swedish massage, relaxing and rejuvenating was perfected by the hot stone finale. When my session was done, I was given a glass of water and told to stay hydrated and then escorted to the lounge area, where there were two rooms to choose from - one bright and sunny, but I opted for the one with the fireplace. I helped myself to some more citrus water and settled down by the fire. (It would behoove me to tell you that bottles of Prosecco are also available, as is tea and fresh fruit... but back to the Prosecco... Next time!) 

 Saybrook Point Inn and Spa :: A Coastal Connecticut Treasure. Image Property of Jessica Gordon Ryan/The Entertaining House

Saybrook Point Inn and Spa :: A Coastal Connecticut Treasure. Image Property of Jessica Gordon Ryan/The Entertaining House

Shameless selfie that I pushed out through Instagram... As I look at it closely, I'm thinking I should have booked a facial... I wonder if they offer a de-wrinkling version?

 Saybrook Point Inn and Spa :: A Coastal Connecticut Treasure. Image Property of Jessica Gordon Ryan/The Entertaining House

Saybrook Point Inn and Spa :: A Coastal Connecticut Treasure. Image Property of Jessica Gordon Ryan/The Entertaining House

The staff couldn't have been more courteous, pleasant or helpful - especially when I forgot the number combination to my locker! When you enter the spa you're taken to the main bathroom and changing area where you're given a plush robe, spa sandals and a locker. The room was clean - so clean it practically sparkled. Hairdryers are available as well as disposable razors and other assorted sundries you may need during your time there. Many stay and have lunch at the award winning Fresh Salt restaurant. I had something else in mind... 

 Saybrook Point Inn and Spa :: A Coastal Connecticut Treasure. Image Property of Jessica Gordon Ryan/The Entertaining House

Saybrook Point Inn and Spa :: A Coastal Connecticut Treasure. Image Property of Jessica Gordon Ryan/The Entertaining House

A 4 mile long walk, followed by an hour long massage, some R & R in front of the fire, can only possibly be topped by a dip in the hot tub, which according to Livestrong has numerous health benefits... So why not? If only in the name of health! As I lowered myself in it was hard to imagine that not 24 hours earlier I had been in a stress-induced frenzy to meet a deadline with the chaos of my children swirling all around me... 

 Saybrook Point Inn and Spa :: A Coastal Connecticut Treasure. Image Property of Jessica Gordon Ryan/The Entertaining House

Saybrook Point Inn and Spa :: A Coastal Connecticut Treasure. Image Property of Jessica Gordon Ryan/The Entertaining House

Did someone say children? What children? Did someone say stress? What stress?

 Saybrook Point Inn and Spa :: A Coastal Connecticut Treasure. Image Property of Jessica Gordon Ryan/The Entertaining House

Saybrook Point Inn and Spa :: A Coastal Connecticut Treasure. Image Property of Jessica Gordon Ryan/The Entertaining House

My day at Saybrook Point in, from the magnificent view of the sunrise out my window, to the long walk over to Fenwick, to the spa, to the hot tub - could perhaps be compared to a wonderfully decadent hot fudge sundae. If so, then for sure my dinner at Fresh Salt would be the cherry on top. 

 Saybrook Point Inn and Spa :: A Coastal Connecticut Treasure. Image Property of Jessica Gordon Ryan/The Entertaining House

Saybrook Point Inn and Spa :: A Coastal Connecticut Treasure. Image Property of Jessica Gordon Ryan/The Entertaining House

I had a dear friend meet me for drinks and dinner. We caught up at the bar over as I sipped a deliciously briny Dirty Martini served in a festive coupe, followed by a glass of white wine (I forgot what I ordered) that we carried over to our table. My friend had been eyeing the Tuna Sashimi with Wonton Matchsticks that someone else had been enjoying at the bar. It is best perhaps described as an unrolled sushi roll where Sushi-Grade Yellowfin Tuna, Avocado with an Asian Ginger-Soy Dressing and Mango Salsa sat on a bed of Bamboo Sushi Rice. It was delicious. After devouring this all too quickly the waiter was ready to take our order and announced that the new Spring menu was debuting that evening. We asked him if he might have some ideas us. He did better than that - he sent out the chef, who offered some of his own suggestions. We told him to send out whatever he wanted us to try. And that is what happened. If you've never ordered like that and are quite adventurous in terms of food, I highly recommend it. It's a great way to try things you might not ordinarily order. 

 Saybrook Point Inn and Spa :: A Coastal Connecticut Treasure. Image Property of Jessica Gordon Ryan/The Entertaining House

Saybrook Point Inn and Spa :: A Coastal Connecticut Treasure. Image Property of Jessica Gordon Ryan/The Entertaining House

We had two appetizers. The first was the Ricotta Gnocchi “Genoese” with wonderful Spring Vegetables, Fava Beans, Sweet Peas, Carrots
and Parmesan-Arugula Pesto. It was a perfect appetizer-sized serving, with a couple of wonderfully pillowy gnocchi accompanied by a very generous serving of vegetables - just enough to please the palate while leaving enough of an appetite for something else. This dish was so wonderful I wouldn't hesitate to see if they might make me a dinner-sized version. 

 Saybrook Point Inn and Spa :: A Coastal Connecticut Treasure. Image Property of Jessica Gordon Ryan/The Entertaining House

Saybrook Point Inn and Spa :: A Coastal Connecticut Treasure. Image Property of Jessica Gordon Ryan/The Entertaining House

The second appetizer was the Jumbo Shrimp with Basil-Prosciutto Wrap served over Polenta Fries in an Orange Reduction. A pairing I wouldn't have thought of, the prosciutto offered a perfect salty balance to the sweet meat of the shrimp as well as a nice crispiness juxtaposed by the tender. The polenta fries were crispy and rich and a fun alternative to the traditional potato. 

 Saybrook Point Inn and Spa :: A Coastal Connecticut Treasure. Image Property of Jessica Gordon Ryan/The Entertaining House

Saybrook Point Inn and Spa :: A Coastal Connecticut Treasure. Image Property of Jessica Gordon Ryan/The Entertaining House

The Pan-roasted Salmon with Coconut-Ginger Black Rice, Julienne Vegetables and a Wasabi-Mango Sauce was placed in front of me. Truth be told I am not sure this would have been something I would have selected but I am glad I had it. The salmon was perfectly cooked, the outside had a nice crispy crust while the inside remained flaky. The unexpected flavors of the wasabi and mango paired perfectly with the salmon and the coconut ginger black rice that arrived in the form of a patty. The rice's texture was crisp and nutty but the flavor was soft with just a hint of sweetness from the coconut. The vegetables too were well cooked, tender yet retaining their crispiness.

 Saybrook Point Inn and Spa :: A Coastal Connecticut Treasure. Image Property of Jessica Gordon Ryan/The Entertaining House

Saybrook Point Inn and Spa :: A Coastal Connecticut Treasure. Image Property of Jessica Gordon Ryan/The Entertaining House

When my friend Doug bit into the Roasted Pork Tenderloin I could see his eyes roll back in his head! Served with Braised Red Cabbage, a Carrot Spätzle Gratinée (that I mistook for pasta when I bit into it) was a wonderfully fresh twist along with a Marsala-Chestnut Sauce that perfectly complemented the pork which was smooth, mellow and tender to the bite as a slow cooked pork should be. Smoked Hickory Sea Salt was sprinkled over the top. We think chef knocked this one out of the ballpark. 

We did not order dessert as we simply had no room... That's a decision I now regret! 

 Saybrook Point Inn and Spa :: A Coastal Connecticut Treasure. Image Property of Jessica Gordon Ryan/The Entertaining House

Saybrook Point Inn and Spa :: A Coastal Connecticut Treasure. Image Property of Jessica Gordon Ryan/The Entertaining House

Final thoughts:

Tall Tales: 
A wonderfully renovated guest house evoking the tradition and history of the local community. The rooms are bright, immaculately clean, spacious, well equipped. The bathrooms are all brand new with new showers or bath tubs with shiny chrome accents and bright white wainscotted walls. Not a spec of dust or dirt could be seen in mine. I loved the fireplaces in each room as well as the main sitting areas, all easily operated. The kitchen which is open all day and night boasts a full fridge, dishwasher and ice maker. There were plenty of wine and drinking glasses as well as place settings and plates. I did think the kitchen could use a few sharp knives, a better wine bottle opener, some larger bowls and a colander for those who may want to eat a small snack or a meal in the house. I did send my suggestions to the manager. I can see this being a popular place for small family reunions, bridal and bachelorette parties as well as girl's weekends

SANNO Spa:
As spas go this one is really top notch. Full service, the only thing they don't offer is a hair salon. The staff was kind and helpful. The upscale facility was clean, fresh and current. The small kitchen/bar area was clean and well stocked. The two lounges were immaculate. The bathroom and changing areas were immaculate. My massage therapist, Eleanor was professional and kind and I will ask for her again when I return. 

The Health Center:
I didn't use either pool or any of the saunas or steam room. Despite the fact I had wanted to use the gym I never got to it. The small work out area offers all the standard apparatus, each was new and looked to be in excellent condition. The buildings were clean and tidy and the hot tub was divine. 

Fresh Salt:
The restaurant that prides itself on local, sustainable and organic didn't disappoint with it's fresh twist on classic fare. The award-wining eatery is named as its location is where freshwater meets the saltwater.  I'd say coming from Fairfield, about an hour away, it would be well worth the drive just to come for the food. I would wait until the weather is just a bit warmer so one can truly take advantage of the outdoors. 

Overall my experience at Saybrook Point Inn was tremendous and I would not hesitate, and have already started, to recommend any of or all of the facilities there. It is truly a gem on the northern Connecticut shoreline. 

For more on Saybrook Point Inn and Spa be sure to visit their website. http://www.saybrook.com/hotel/
Old Saybrook Point Inn
2 Bridge Street Old Saybrook, CT 06475
800-243-1212

 

Disclaimer: I was compensated for my stay, dining and spa services.
The opinions are of my own and not those of Saybrook Point Inn. I am always careful to choose my wording, and it should be noted I do not make recommendations lightly, as I have become a trusted voice and do have a reputation to protect.

Cake by Franck, a sweet little pastry shop, opens at Foxwoods® Resort Casino

This past weekend I was invited to a press event to celebrate the opening of Cake by Franck at Foxwoods® Resort Casino.  Franck Iglesias is the Executive Pastry Chef Foxwoods Resort Casino, Connecticut. The bakery, a "celebration of pastries, offering classic New England and seasonal desserts with a twist" offers such mouth-watering treats as handmade macaroons, chocolates, candies, pies and muffins, whole cakes and cake by the slice, all crafted under the guidance of a world-class pastry chef. For those readying to tie the knot, the bakery also features a personalized wedding cake design section. A selection of gluten conscious and no-sugar-added offerings and limited-time specialty desserts for those who have dietary restrictions. Guests will be delighted year-round by the spectacular in-store displays, fragrant aromas and an unparalleled selection of must-have treats – including a build-your-own Belgian Waffle station. 

 Chef Franck Inglesias at Cake by Franck. Image property of The Entertaining House.

Chef Franck Inglesias at Cake by Franck. Image property of The Entertaining House.

 Chef Franck Inglesias (and me) at the opening of Cake by Franck at Foxwoods Resort and Casino.

Chef Franck Inglesias (and me) at the opening of Cake by Franck at Foxwoods Resort and Casino.

Born in Argenteuil, France, just north of Paris (most noted for the works of Van Gogh), Chef Franck was raised in the food and restaurant industry. We spoke at length about his childhood in France and the life-changing decision to move to the States. At the age of sixteen he entered Andorra Culinary School, where spent two years mastering the basics of French cuisine, from there he moved to Perpignan to study and learn the art of pastry making. After many years of working both as cook and pastry chef throughout France and Spain, he made the life changing decision to move to America and in 2000 where he worked as a pastry chef at Patisserie Mirabelle in Old Saybrook, CT. Two years later he moved to New York to enhance his culinary skills there and soon found himself at the esteemed Upper East Side Payard Patisserie & Bistro. Franck’s creative work has also been published in Food & Wine, Gourmet, Art Culinaire and Modern Bride Magazines and Dessert Professional Magazine where he was recently named a Top Ten Pastry Chef.

Several years ago in 2009, on a quest for new challenges Chef Franck came to Foxwoods Resort Casino as the Executive Pastry Chef. In his current role, he oversees a staff of 40 and services 34 on-site food outlets. This year, in his most recent endeavor at Foxwoods, Chef Franck opened Cake by Franck, a boutique storefront showcasing a unique dessert experience that serves as an outlet for Chef Franck’s fine-tuned talent. 

“The broad spectrum of cuisines offered at Foxwoods Resort Casino has been an excellent outlet for me to showcase my passion for crafting unique confections,” Chef Franck Iglesias said of his seven-year tenure at Foxwoods. “I feel very fortunate to be opening Cake by Franck for our guests who appreciate and enjoy gourmet cakes, pastries and other delicious desserts. I can’t wait for customers to experience the process from start to finish and, most importantly, indulge in my creations.”

 Macarons by Franck. Image property of The Entertaining House.

Macarons by Franck. Image property of The Entertaining House.

While Cake by Franck was designed to take on the personality of a New England Country Store with a playful and interactive environment, the patisseries and treats are very reminiscent of a French bakery, and brought me back to my own youth in France. In addition to the Cake by Franck storefront, There's a custom cupcake vending machine on the Foxwoods property located on the Concourse Level of Great Cedar Hotel. The vending machine offers a vast selection of fresh cupcakes 24 hours per day, at the press of a button. Selections include the decadent Sinatra’s Jack Daniels Cupcake, the mouthwatering Poker Face PB&J Cupcake and the fiery Mashantucket Campfire S’Mores Cupcake. How fun is that?!

 Portable sweet treats by Franck. Image property of The Entertaining House.

Portable sweet treats by Franck. Image property of The Entertaining House.

 Mouthwatering Chocolate Croissants by Franck. Image property of The Entertaining House. 

Mouthwatering Chocolate Croissants by Franck. Image property of The Entertaining House. 

 Sugared Doughnuts by Franck. Image property of The Entertaining House.

Sugared Doughnuts by Franck. Image property of The Entertaining House.

 Raisin Croissants by Franck. Image property of The Entertaining House.

Raisin Croissants by Franck. Image property of The Entertaining House.

 Miniature breakfast Danish by Franck. Image property of The Entertaining House.

Miniature breakfast Danish by Franck. Image property of The Entertaining House.

After the tour of the shop and the opportunity to sample some wonderful treats, we headed over to our cake decorating competition. Below I am caught in the act of trying to take a selfie as we were setting up for our cake decorating contest!

Below Chef Franck gives us a demonstrations and shares some of his tips with us... Less is more... Height is good... and be sure to squeeze the air pockets out of the pastry bags before decorating!

Members of the press in line to gather our cake decorating materials. There was so much to choose from. We were taking this competition very seriously! The event was so much fun that I think these guys should host one for the public. You'd go, wouldn't you? You'd get to take home your cakes! (They're mighty tasty.)

Chef Franck is squeezing some icing into a bag for me.

I'm putting the final touches on my cake - I've followed his less is more suggestion.

My daughter was my guest and assistant. She's putting the final touches on her cake. It came out really well. Much better than mine did!

One of my cakes in its completion.

My daughter's cake... Doesn't it look tasty? It was! 

My final chocolate cake. I like my daughter's much better. We each got two cakes to decorate - one vanilla with buttercream and one chocolate.

Chef Franck announces his winner! She and her cake were both darling!

If you're headed to Foxwoods, you absolutely must stop off at Cake by Franck!

About Foxwoods® Resort Casino is the premier resort destination in the Northeast. As the largest resort casino in North America, Foxwoods offers a vast array of gaming in six casinos; AAA Four-Diamond hotels, restaurants from gourmet to quick service, world-renowned spas, award-winning golf, state-of-the-art theaters, and exclusive retailers. Perfect for both recreation and business, Foxwoods provides modern and versatile convention and meeting space to infuse new life into any meeting or event. Foxwoods Resort Casino is owned and operated by the Mashantucket Pequot Tribal Nation. For a comprehensive look at Foxwoods Resort Casino and Mashantucket Pequot Tribal Nation visit Foxwoods.com.

Culture (and Dining) in New Haven :: The Yale University Art Gallery

A small museum with a behemoth art collection, the Yale University Art Gallery is truly the perfectly sized museum, offering something for everyone from Ancient Greece to modern day America.

 Yale University Art Gallery - an impressive collection

Yale University Art Gallery - an impressive collection

Founded in 1832, the gallery is steeped in history when patriot-artist John Trumbull gave more than one hundred of his paintings to Yale College. The collection currently boasts over 200,000 objects representing Eastern and Western cultures and ranging in date from ancient times to the present day. Hanging on the walls you're certain to see your favorite European and American artists. For more information regarding their collection, current and upcoming exhibitions, visit their website, http://artgallery.yale.edu/.

It amazes me that after living in Fairfield county for well over 20 years that my first trip to this beautiful museum was just last year. Having grown up on Manhattan's Upper East Side, on Museum Mile, art was as much a part of my childhood as it was in my DNA. I learned to appreciate it at a young age and later went on to study it pretty intensely in high school and in college. I might have an appreciation for all art, but I certainly have a soft spot for certain genres, and the Impressionists will always have a place near and dear to my heart. What I love about art is how reflective it is of an historic era, and offers an insight into the artist's background and surroundings. One doesn't have to have a deep knowledge before visiting museums, but what I like to do, especially with my children, is to pick a genre or an artist and read up on it before-hand. There's so much information available on line, not to mention all the wonderful books as well.

I'm fortunate in that my children have studied quite a few artists in school from Van Gogh to Georgia O'Keefe to Jackson Pollock, so if possible I always try to point out the familiar. But I also make our museum journeys a reason to learn more, in a fun way - of course! Regardless whether it's yourself or your children, use this as an opportunity to teach yourself something new - expand your own personal horizons. As you walk through the various parts of the gallery you'll be struck by the beauty and perfect marriage of the old and new architecture. 

Wander through the various rooms and hallways of The Yale University Art Gallery and you will see such notable favorite artists as:
Goya, Delacroix, Van Gogh, Gaugin, Pissarro, Manet, Monet, Cezanne, Picasso, O'Keefe, Sargent,  Wyeth, Hopper, Mondrian, Warhol, Basquiat, Rothko, and Lichtenstein.

Some might argue that New Haven's greatest asset (other than the University) is the wealth of incredible restaurants, from the iconic, upscale Union League Cafe's elegant brasserie to Zinc, American farm-to-table cuisine with a slight Asian slant in sleek, chic decor with a bar, to Heirloom, Locally sourced New American cuisine in a spare, modern space at the Study at Yale boutique hotel to OleaMediterranean fare including Spanish tapas is served in a modern environment with a bar. Barcelona offers great Spanish cuisine as well, and its more casual atmosphere makes it a great family restaurant. Claire's Corner Copia is a vegetarian Campus go-to for kosher vegetarian fare, including Mexican options and a great place to hob-nob with Yalies. But if it's pizza you're after, New Haven's is iconic with it's thin crust - a style all its own. There is no shortage of pizzerias from Pepes, Sally's, and Modern, alway make the Top 10 lists, but my recent discovery of Bar has me wanting to go back for more! At dark a popular nightclub, but by daylight a great family friendly pizza joint with perhaps the largest pie you have ever seen! This may be my current New Haven favorite.  Needless to say, as soon as I mentioned there would be pizza after the art gallery, my 10 year old got very excited! We do what we have to, right?

 Yale University Art Gallery - an impressive collection

Yale University Art Gallery - an impressive collection

 Yale University Art Gallery - an impressive collection

Yale University Art Gallery - an impressive collection

 Yale University Art Gallery - an impressive collection

Yale University Art Gallery - an impressive collection

 Yale University Art Gallery - an impressive collection

Yale University Art Gallery - an impressive collection

 Yale University Art Gallery - an impressive collection

Yale University Art Gallery - an impressive collection

 Yale University Art Gallery - an impressive collection

Yale University Art Gallery - an impressive collection

 Yale University Art Gallery - an impressive collection

Yale University Art Gallery - an impressive collection

 Yale University Art Gallery - an impressive collection

Yale University Art Gallery - an impressive collection

 Yale University Art Gallery - an impressive collection

Yale University Art Gallery - an impressive collection

From Farm to Wok :: Wuji to Open in Greenwich, Connecticut

 From Farm to Wok, WUJI Chinese Restaurant - Greenwich, CT/Image property of The Entertaining House

From Farm to Wok, WUJI Chinese Restaurant - Greenwich, CT/Image property of The Entertaining House

WUJI, which first introduced real, organic Chinese food to lower Westchester County last year, will open its first Connecticut location this March. The restaurant's innovative, modern and healthful approach offers diners a twist combining the traditional Chinese noodle house, dim sum restaurant and tapas bar while incorporating the freshest locally sourced meat and produce.

With WUJI’s authentic recipes prepared from both traditional and modern methods one will dine on organic chicken, pasture raised pork, grass fed beef, wild caught fish, cage-free chicken eggs, and organic vegetables. What one won't find in any of the dishes MSG. Menu favorites include; organic Heritage pork spare ribs with honey-plum glaze; lo mein noodles stir-fried with vegetables and sesame ginger sauce; Cantonese roast chicken with crispy garlic and shallots; and spicy fried rice topped with a soft egg. The beverage program includes Asian beer selections, sakes, a well-crafted wine list and a creative selection of re-batched “tiki” cocktails prepared with top shelf spirits and fresh squeezed juices. Organic house made soda, herbal infusion ice tea service, and Kusmi hot tea round out the beverage offerings.

While the final touches are being put into place, delivery is now available in Greenwich’s. Traditional suburban delivery is reimagined with all food delivered via a hot, insulated carrier case with “drivers” delivering (hyper) locally on a custom designed bikes. 

WUJI makes its home where Hunan Gourmet had been for many years, at 68 E Putnam Avenue next door to Whole Foods Market.

I had the privilege of dining at the Scarsdale location last summer. You'll find my review here

 From Farm to Wok, WUJI Chinese Restaurant - Greenwich, CT/Image property of The Entertaining House

From Farm to Wok, WUJI Chinese Restaurant - Greenwich, CT/Image property of The Entertaining House

 From Farm to Wok, WUJI Chinese Restaurant - Greenwich, CT/Image property of The Entertaining House

From Farm to Wok, WUJI Chinese Restaurant - Greenwich, CT/Image property of The Entertaining House

 From Farm to Wok, WUJI Chinese Restaurant - Greenwich, CT/Image property of The Entertaining House

From Farm to Wok, WUJI Chinese Restaurant - Greenwich, CT/Image property of The Entertaining House

 From Farm to Wok, WUJI Chinese Restaurant - Greenwich, CT/Image property of The Entertaining House

From Farm to Wok, WUJI Chinese Restaurant - Greenwich, CT/Image property of The Entertaining House

 From Farm to Wok, WUJI Chinese Restaurant - Greenwich, CT/Image property of The Entertaining House

From Farm to Wok, WUJI Chinese Restaurant - Greenwich, CT/Image property of The Entertaining House

 From Farm to Wok, WUJI Chinese Restaurant - Greenwich, CT/Image property of The Entertaining House

From Farm to Wok, WUJI Chinese Restaurant - Greenwich, CT/Image property of The Entertaining House

WUJI Restaurant
68 East Putnam Avenue,
Riverside, CT
 1-844-WUJI-NOW, or 1-844-985-4669.
For hours and to stay up-to-date with opening information visit www.wujirestaurant.com.




Amazing Grace (Farms)

After much anticipation Grace Farms in New Canaan recently opened to the public and I had the privilege of visiting this magnificent space. A must see for both nature and design lovers. 

 Grace Farms, New Canaan, Connecticut. Image property of Jessica Gordon Ryan and The Entertaining House

Grace Farms, New Canaan, Connecticut. Image property of Jessica Gordon Ryan and The Entertaining House

Grace Farms is all that it promises to be. And then some. Created by Japanese Pritzker winning SANAA architects, the main structure was designed to flow like a river as it courses over, around and through the multi-leveled terrain. Within its path are several glass buildings which house the sanctuary, a library, the commons (where one can enjoy a warm cup of coffee, cool beverage, light meal or sweet treat), a pavilion (offering tea service), and a court that sits almost completely below ground where children and adults can participate in volleyball and basketball games.  The structures flow gracefully along 80 acres of open space where people of all ages can be one with nature, observe the arts, pursue justice, foster community, and explore faith. The grounds have a very spiritual and zen-like vibe to them. The post modern architecture reminiscent of Philip Johnson folds in to the landscape seamlessly. The glass serves almost solely as a protective barrier from the elements, as even inside the various buildings, one still experiences that deep connection to the vastness of the surrounding countryside. This northeast corner of New Canaan has a rich and diverse habitat, home to many varieties of animals and vegetation. The former horse farm has retained the original open beauty and topography and promises to keep the integrity of the land in tact offering up pristine meadows, wooded areas, wetlands and ponds to those who want to stroll among them. 

Every once in a while I'm touched beyond words. Today was one of those days; I felt a sense of calm. A zen-like peace rushed over me like a giant wave. I live but 20 minutes away in Fairfield County and the landscape near my home, also resplendent with horse farms, seemed almost worlds away. As soon as I caught sight of the great riverlike architectural structure I'd read so much about I could feel the magnitude of its greatness - of the final product and of the vast undertaking it had been. Not at all imposing, but immediately important.

As I wandered up the hill I knew I was viewing an architectural masterpiece, it was as if I was partaking in an important moment of history. Visitors are encouraged to walk and wander and to sit and reflect with seating areas that abound both inside and out. Surely this is the place to come to melt the worries away. I meandered in and out of the buildings, winding around slowly - as if being pulled along on a lazy river - my camera clicking away. Outside the tea room, smooth round metal chairs resemble river rocks along the shore. All around me, I saw people of all ages enjoying the unseasonably warm but overcast weather. Young children delighted frolicking around outside while elders seemed to be as mesmerized as I was. The oversized chairs in the library offered a comfortable area for reading or quiet reflection. I immediately thought of returning one day soon with my laptop. I can't imagine a more inspiring place to sit down and write!

 The paddocks, a throwback to the original horse farm, athletic fields and numerous areas are there for us to enjoy.  The West Barn offers up artist installations and houses an art room for the budding artist for a mere $5 per child. In the rear of the building a theater offers up free matinees every Saturday. Tai Chi lessons are available for seniors and numerous lectures are scheduled to be offered.  Truly a family friendly community, Grace Farms offers cross country skiing and ice skates for those who have their own equipment. Snow shoe rentals are available for snow shoeing on premises. Children can rent free of charge, and adults for just $5. There is no charge to explore the property and visit the buildings. 

I'm eager to return soon to see the property covered by a thick white blanket of snow, and perhaps try my hand at snow shoeing. I can't wait to see it in springtime, bursting with pastel fireworks. And again in summer dressed in a rich emerald green. 

On March 5th, from 10-3pm A Winter Outing at Grace Farms will take place. This will include a line-up of community programs inspired by the season. There will be presentations from Olympic athletes, nature and wildlife tours and snow tubing. Visit their website for more information, http://www.gracefarms.org/

Coming from out of State? The historic Roger Sherman Inn is just minutes away as is downtown New Canaan which offers a wealth in dining and shopping experiences. Bedford Corners, in Bedford NY is also minutes away with its charming antique and bookstore and the renown Bedford Post Inn. 

They say that the best things in life are free. It's certainly true here at Grace Farms.

 

 Grace Farms, New Canaan, Connecticut. Image property of Jessica Gordon Ryan and The Entertaining House

Grace Farms, New Canaan, Connecticut. Image property of Jessica Gordon Ryan and The Entertaining House

 Grace Farms, New Canaan, Connecticut. Image property of Jessica Gordon Ryan and The Entertaining House

Grace Farms, New Canaan, Connecticut. Image property of Jessica Gordon Ryan and The Entertaining House

 Grace Farms, New Canaan, Connecticut. Image property of Jessica Gordon Ryan and The Entertaining House

Grace Farms, New Canaan, Connecticut. Image property of Jessica Gordon Ryan and The Entertaining House

 Grace Farms, New Canaan, Connecticut. Image property of Jessica Gordon Ryan and The Entertaining House

Grace Farms, New Canaan, Connecticut. Image property of Jessica Gordon Ryan and The Entertaining House

 Grace Farms, New Canaan, Connecticut. Image property of Jessica Gordon Ryan and The Entertaining House

Grace Farms, New Canaan, Connecticut. Image property of Jessica Gordon Ryan and The Entertaining House

 Grace Farms, New Canaan, Connecticut. Image property of Jessica Gordon Ryan and The Entertaining House

Grace Farms, New Canaan, Connecticut. Image property of Jessica Gordon Ryan and The Entertaining House

 Grace Farms, New Canaan, Connecticut. Image property of Jessica Gordon Ryan and The Entertaining House

Grace Farms, New Canaan, Connecticut. Image property of Jessica Gordon Ryan and The Entertaining House

 Grace Farms, New Canaan, Connecticut. Image property of Jessica Gordon Ryan and The Entertaining House

Grace Farms, New Canaan, Connecticut. Image property of Jessica Gordon Ryan and The Entertaining House

 Grace Farms, New Canaan, Connecticut. Image property of Jessica Gordon Ryan and The Entertaining House

Grace Farms, New Canaan, Connecticut. Image property of Jessica Gordon Ryan and The Entertaining House

 Grace Farms, New Canaan, Connecticut. Image property of Jessica Gordon Ryan and The Entertaining House

Grace Farms, New Canaan, Connecticut. Image property of Jessica Gordon Ryan and The Entertaining House

 Grace Farms, New Canaan, Connecticut. Image property of Jessica Gordon Ryan and The Entertaining House

Grace Farms, New Canaan, Connecticut. Image property of Jessica Gordon Ryan and The Entertaining House

 Grace Farms, New Canaan, Connecticut. Image property of Jessica Gordon Ryan and The Entertaining House

Grace Farms, New Canaan, Connecticut. Image property of Jessica Gordon Ryan and The Entertaining House

 Grace Farms, New Canaan, Connecticut. Image property of Jessica Gordon Ryan and The Entertaining House

Grace Farms, New Canaan, Connecticut. Image property of Jessica Gordon Ryan and The Entertaining House

 Grace Farms, New Canaan, Connecticut. Image property of Jessica Gordon Ryan and The Entertaining House

Grace Farms, New Canaan, Connecticut. Image property of Jessica Gordon Ryan and The Entertaining House

 Grace Farms, New Canaan, Connecticut. Image property of Jessica Gordon Ryan and The Entertaining House

Grace Farms, New Canaan, Connecticut. Image property of Jessica Gordon Ryan and The Entertaining House

 Grace Farms, New Canaan, Connecticut. Image property of Jessica Gordon Ryan and The Entertaining House

Grace Farms, New Canaan, Connecticut. Image property of Jessica Gordon Ryan and The Entertaining House

 Grace Farms, New Canaan, Connecticut. Image property of Jessica Gordon Ryan and The Entertaining House

Grace Farms, New Canaan, Connecticut. Image property of Jessica Gordon Ryan and The Entertaining House

Stamford's Sign of the Whale is now offering a seafood inspired menu

Stamford's Sign of the Whale embraces the Harbor Point waterfront area with a new seafood inspired menu making it the perfect destination for a city at work and play.

 Stamford's Sign of the Whale embraces the Harbor Point waterfront area with a new seafood inspired menu 

Stamford's Sign of the Whale embraces the Harbor Point waterfront area with a new seafood inspired menu 

Over the past few years the pulse of downtown Stamford has been constantly changing and rapidly growing. Harbor Point, the largest, multi-dimensional restaurant space on the Long Island Sound has become the newest go-to destination for diners. Sign of the Whale first dropped anchor there in the fall of 2014 and quickly made its mark. Its main level dining area and bar has a capacity for over 250 people. Its rooftop bar accommodates up to 300 people. The Whale continues to capture a vibrant social scene, as well as the city’s corporate sector.

 Stamford's Sign of the Whale embraces the Harbor Point waterfront area with a new seafood inspired menu 

Stamford's Sign of the Whale embraces the Harbor Point waterfront area with a new seafood inspired menu 

The Whale’s street side level is framed in dark wood furnishings, blue textiles and low lighting with distressed paneling, and panoramic views of the Harbor Point neighborhood. During the warmer months the full service rooftop bar resplendent with patio furnishings, potted shrubberies, and an eclectic music playlist fills the space welcoming those wanting to feel the sun's warm rays on their shoulders. 

As an avid seafood lover, I am thrilled that The Whale has expanded their menu. I am always amazed at how few seafood restaurants there are in our coastal communities. I was delighted to hear that they too recognized the lack of such eateries in the area. 

A new seafood focused menu launches this week, offering a mash-up of American tavern fare and New England’s best seafood. This will include raw bar favorites, coastal water, and market fresh fish. Small plates include; ahi tuna tartare with soy, ginger, caper aioli, avocado and wasabi, served with fried wanton chips; crab cakes with spaghetti squash and saffron remoulade; pan seared octopus legs with celery, potatoes and Spanish paprika; shrimp tempura served with sautéed cabbage and sweet chili sauce; shrimp gumbo; New England clam chowder; and fresh raw bar selection of oysters, clams, and shrimp.

Entrées include: salmon burger topped with arugula, house dressing and pico de gallo on a black sesame bun; seafood pizza topped with fresh calamari, shrimp, clams, alfredo sauce,  mozzarella cheese, arugula and tomatoes; pan seared sea scallops with parsnip puree, shiitake mushrooms, wilted spinach and truffle honey glaze; lobster and crab filled ravioli with pancetta cream sauce; and pan roasted Atlantic salmon prepared with a lemon and white wine sauce and served with chorizo couscous and fresh asparagus.

Tavern fare and customer favorites will remain on the menu. Diners will find handmade chipotle bbq beef empanadas with Argentinean chimichurri; The Whale burger, porcini dusted, topped with applewood smoked bacon, gruyere, fried egg and truffle spread all on an English muffin and served with fries; roasted chicken with garlic aioli, potato spears, mixed greens and bleu cheese; tacos – shrimp, ahi tuna or buffalo chicken; and beer braised short rib prepared with their neighbor’s Half Full Bright Ale.

Sunday Brunch, always a favorite, offers a nice assortment of decadent dishes, DJ spun music, playful and flavorful breakfast shots, bottomless sparkling cocktails, and an ultimate Bloody Mary Bar.

The Brunch menu will feature: breakfast pizza topped with bacon, egg, hash browns, cheddar and spicy aioli; old fashioned eggs Benedict with lump crab meat; lobster waffle made with fresh lobster and cornmeal waffles, all laced with lobster butter sauce; and sweet banana nut French toast.

 Stamford's Sign of the Whale embraces the Harbor Point waterfront area with a new seafood inspired menu 

Stamford's Sign of the Whale embraces the Harbor Point waterfront area with a new seafood inspired menu 

 Stamford's Sign of the Whale embraces the Harbor Point waterfront area with a new seafood inspired menu 

Stamford's Sign of the Whale embraces the Harbor Point waterfront area with a new seafood inspired menu 

Happy hour revelers will be thrilled with the High Tide Happy Hour, Monday thru Friday from 4-7 PM, and Jazzy Thursdays featuring live music, $25 bottles of wine and $2 oysters all night long. The Whale also morphs into an exciting sports bar, with large screen TV’s throughout, and of course there’s The Whale’s popular music series featuring local bands performing on the weekends.

For more information visit their website: http://www.signofthewhalect.com/

Organic Coffee Roasters Collaborates with Iconic Connecticut Brewery to Create Espressway Cold-Brew Coffee Stout

Connecticut's Shearwater Organic Coffee Roasters partners up with the state's Two Roads Brewery to Create Espressway Cold-Brew Coffee Stout. This is a game changer! 

Fairfield County’s first and only 100% USDA* Certified Organic & Artisan Coffee Roaster, Shearwater Organic Coffee Roasters, continues to evolve as the region’s premiere coffee roaster, supplying their small batch roasted coffee to specialty markets and high-end restaurants and cafes throughout the state. Owner Ed Freedman recently added Running Rapids Ready-to-Drink Cold Brew Coffee to his growing repertoire. Now he'll show his customers an entirely different brew combining his premium roasts with Two Roads Brewery's newest creation, Espressway Cold-Brew Coffee Stout. Here Espressway merges the flavors of Shearwater’s locally-roasted, organic Ethiopian/Sumatra blend of coffee beans with a rich oatmeal stout utilizing a proprietary cold brew beer process.

The folks at Two Roads’ underwent extensive coffee training with Shearwater in order to secure the right blend of beans and brew. From “coffee cupping” classes to extensive tasting sessions with Ed, months were spent finding the perfect coffee to complement the rich, full-bodied stout taste.

Espressway will be sold in all Two Roads markets on draft starting in late February and in six pack bottles starting in mid-March. The draft version will also be previewed at their first annual Winter Classic outdoor event at the brewery on February 20th.

Shearwater is family owned and run. With over two decades of coffee roasting experience, Ed took his passion for producing high quality coffee to a full USDA certified organic 2,000 square foot production facility in Trumbull in 2013. Shearwater Organic Coffee Roaster’s commitment to creating a premium organic product, and their presence as a local artisan producer, is the cornerstone of their success. www.shearwatercoffeeroasters.com

Harvest Restaurant Now Open in Westport

Harvest Wine Bar - Westport

Last week I had the privilege of attending the opening of Harvest Wine Bar & Restaurant in Westport, Connecticut. For the full review as it appears on CTBites, click here. (A little hint... You should definitely check it out!) 

Healthy and Fast :: b.good Opens its doors in Fairfield

 b.good Fairfield, CT - Image via Jessica Gordon Ryan/The Entertaining House

b.good Fairfield, CT - Image via Jessica Gordon Ryan/The Entertaining House

It was just over 10 years ago in Boston that two boyhood friends sought to make a dream come true. This dream was to open a restaurant that sold healthy, wholesome food quickly. The company’s founders, Jon and Anthony grew up on nutritious food from Anthony’s Uncle Faris’ kitchen. When the two went off to college they did what many college kids do - they indulged on fast food. While they loved the food,  they hated how it made them look and feel. And thus the idea of b.good was born and based on the simple premise that they would offer people “fast” food by making it “real” – Food “made by people, not factories.” As they embarked on this journey, they heeded Uncle Faris’ other pieces of advice: “Take it easy, live life, and most of all ‘be good.’"

With many successful restaurants already established in New England, North Carolina, New Jersey, Pennsylvania and Toronto, Canada, the newest location has just opened in my town of Fairfield. (Greenwich will also open its door shortly.) 

 b.good Fairfield, CT - Image via Jessica Gordon Ryan/The Entertaining House

b.good Fairfield, CT - Image via Jessica Gordon Ryan/The Entertaining House

A few weeks ago I had the opportunity to meet with Steve Hourihan, owner of the newest b. good restaurant in my hometown of Fairfield, and a Fairfield resident himself. A former commodities trader, Hourihan was an early investor in the b.good company. Hourihan, who had taken a few years off to be with his family, was ready to re-enter the workplace and found himself presented with a tremendous opportunity.  After taking some time away from his former career in order to spend more time with his young children, he was ready to re-enter the workforce  when this incredible occasion intercepted. “The perfect opportunity came at the right time. This is exactly what I needed,” Hourihan told me. “I’m always having fun and always learning. I love being able to give back to the community, and hiring local people.” 

 b.good Fairfield, CT - Image via Jessica Gordon Ryan/The Entertaining House

b.good Fairfield, CT - Image via Jessica Gordon Ryan/The Entertaining House

b.good is unlike any restaurant I have been to. When you walk through the front doors, the feeling is anything but “fast food.” b. good occupies the long empty space at 1460 Post Road. Rich leathers, woods and warm paint tones create a welcoming atmosphere. A fireplace sits underneath the large photograph of Uncle Faris and will certainly be a popular seating choice on cooler days.  To the right of the front door,  a large bar awaits customers to come in and enjoy smoothies and shakes made to order. To the left plenty of comfortable seating for those who want to take time to relax and enjoy their “fast” food. Overhead, a large map hangs overhead showing customers where their food comes from, offering a sense of comfort and community. While items are currently sourced from all over New England, Hourihan works with several Connecticut farms and businesses including Grey Wall Farm, part of the Farmer’s Cow family, Botticello Farms in Manchester, and Bucks Ice Cream in Milford. Hourihan is currently talking to several local farmers.

 b.good Fairfield, CT - Image via Jessica Gordon Ryan/The Entertaining House

b.good Fairfield, CT - Image via Jessica Gordon Ryan/The Entertaining House

A creative and seasonal menu truly offers something for everyone – Southwest Goat CheeseHarvest Kale, Watermelon and Feta and Southwestern Chicken are the current salads on the menu. Kale and grain or quinoa bowls include Spicy Avocado & LimePower BowlFarmstand Tomato BasilToasted Almond & Ginger, andApple & Bacon. For those with a heartier appetite select from Burgers and Sandwiches which include turkey and veggie burgers and a grilled chicken sandwich with plenty of creative and toppings to choose form: Cousin Oliver - lettuce, tomato, onion, Chef Tony’s homemade pickles; West Side -  avocado, cilantro, fresh salsas, chipotle puree, lime;Buffalo – buffalo sauce, blue cheese, marinated carrots, shaved celery; El Guapo – bacon, homemade jalapeno slaw, jalapeno ranch; Adopted Luke – mushrooms, caramelized onions, smoked Gouda, bbq sauce. Sweet potato and real fries are available. There’s a children’s menu as well. Soon, as the weather starts to cool, a new fall menu will roll out. 

I had the opportunity to try a few of the items on the menu. The Kale Crush is a favorite among kids and adults alike. Emerald green in color this sweet beverage tastes mostly of the apples, pineapples and banana blended that give this wholesome crush a taste that’s sweet and refreshing – perfect for a mid-morning or afternoon pick-me-up, and filling enough for a pre-workout energy boost. 

 b.good Fairfield, CT - Image via Jessica Gordon Ryan/The Entertaining House

b.good Fairfield, CT - Image via Jessica Gordon Ryan/The Entertaining House

The Watermelon and Feta salad is a perfect choice for those who like a sweet and savory combination. Generous slices of watermelon and feta sit atop a generous serving of collard greens, super grans, black eyed peas, corn, dried cranberries, scallions, sunflower seeds and mint, gently coated in a red wine vinegar and oil dressing. The Spicy Avocado & Limemight well become a favorite of mine. This bowl, also generously sized, is brimming w kale, sautéed veggies, avocado, queso freso, black beans, corn, grape tomatoes, lime, and cilantro and topped with a chipotle puree and red pepper vinaigrette. Zesty, refreshing and filling, this salad bowl is a filling and refreshing option. Choose between quinoa and a mix of super grains (short grain brown rice, kamut wheat, hard red wheat berries, millet and lentils) to create a dish to your liking. 

 b.good Fairfield, CT - Image via Jessica Gordon Ryan/The Entertaining House

b.good Fairfield, CT - Image via Jessica Gordon Ryan/The Entertaining House

Next to try was the El Guapo burger. If you’ve never tried locally farmed beef, you really must. This burger, topped with avocado, bacon, jalapeno slaw and a jalapeno ranch. Fresh, zesty and satisfying, this burger will have you re-evaluate your thoughts on fast food. A serving of real fries accompanied my sandwich. Blanched and then oven baked, these fries taste more like potato than most – and you don’t have to feel guilty with this indulgence!

 b.good Fairfield, CT - Image via Jessica Gordon Ryan/The Entertaining House

b.good Fairfield, CT - Image via Jessica Gordon Ryan/The Entertaining House

It should be noted that my children were happy taste testers too. I brought my un-sampled portions back home for them to try after school. The burger reheated beautifully, and the fries crisped up well in the oven. My boys inhaled their portions. The leftover salads were divvied up 3 ways. The Spicy Avocado & Lime bowl held up really well and all three said they’d have it again, they preferred it over the Watermelon and Feta. The Fairfield location is open Monday through Saturday from 11:00 am to 9:00 pm and until 8:00 pm on Sundays. 

I’m delighted to welcome b.good to the Fairfield community where I know they will be welcomed with open arms. Creative options that are delicious and fast in a warm and inviting setting are certainly a recipe for success. As a working mother of 3, I’m happy to have a healthy, affordable and fast dining option that fits into our busy schedules. 

1460 Post Road
Fairfield, CT
Phone: 203-292-8970

* A version of this previously ran on CTBites

 

 

Table 104 :: A neighborhood Osteria that's unassuming and delightful

 Table 104 Osteria + Wine Bar. Images property of Jessica Gordon Ryan

Table 104 Osteria + Wine Bar. Images property of Jessica Gordon Ryan

A couple of months ago I had the pleasure to attend a press dinner at Table 104 Osteria and Bar in Stamford, Connecticut. Tucked away unassumingly on Long Ridge Road, this unpretentious restaurant offers exceptional fare. Together Chef Domenico Iovieno, Restaurateur Walter Cappelli and Chef and Restaurateur Enzo Bruno have teamed up to produce a restaurant that is vibrant, inviting, spacious and modern. Table 104 offers a menu that is creative and inspiring with notable influences from Rome and the Italian coastline. 

As I joined my my colleagues at the bar I was drawn to the Fried Olives. Served with Harissa Oil and a House Whipped Cream cheese, these large, green hearty olives revealed tender, meaty centers beneath a crunchy exterior.

 Table 104 Osteria + Wine Bar. Images property of Jessica Gordon Ryan

Table 104 Osteria + Wine Bar. Images property of Jessica Gordon Ryan

 Table 104 Osteria + Wine Bar. Images property of Jessica Gordon Ryan

Table 104 Osteria + Wine Bar. Images property of Jessica Gordon Ryan

Next to the olives was a tray of filled with beautifully Grilled Prosciutto Crostino made with whipped ricotta, roasted tomato and arugula. Drizzled over the top was an aromatic balsamic vinegar that nicely juxtaposed the saltiness of the prosciutto and the mellowness of the whipped cheese. The flavors and textures blended perfectly. I would have helped myself to a second serving, but I knew I had a smorgasbord of food ahead.

 Table 104 Osteria + Wine Bar. Images property of Jessica Gordon Ryan

Table 104 Osteria + Wine Bar. Images property of Jessica Gordon Ryan

From the bar we headed over to our table where we were served a smorgasbord of earthly delights! We first sampled the Grilled Mint Shrimp, Grilled Octopus and the Shaved Brussels Sprouts. The Grilled Mint Shrimp was served over zucchini, drizzled with chestnut honey and topped with feta and toasted almonds. The shrimp were tender, the mint was light and and the chestnut honey offered a lightly sweet and nutty essence that balanced out the saltiness of the feta. The flavor of the shrimp was not at all overwhelmed by the bold flavors. 

 Table 104 Osteria + Wine Bar. Images property of Jessica Gordon Ryan

Table 104 Osteria + Wine Bar. Images property of Jessica Gordon Ryan

The Grilled Octopus was served with celery, scallions and warm potatoes with a light Citronette dressing. I must admit that I adore octopus and order it as often as I can. With all the wonderful and varied octopus dishes around, this one stood out for me, and I will go so far to say that this may well be one of the best I have ever had. The meat was succulent, tender and perfectly flavored. 

 Table 104 Osteria + Wine Bar. Images property of Jessica Gordon Ryan

Table 104 Osteria + Wine Bar. Images property of Jessica Gordon Ryan

Next up were the Shaved Brussels Sprouts with shallots, raisins, pine nuts and Parmigiano. I had expected not to be terribly keen on this as I am not often a fan of mixing sweet and savory, but it worked here. I worried about the raisins of which there were just a few. Their sweetness was minimalized and balanced out by the shallots and Parmigiano. The combination worked and I helped myself to seconds.

 Table 104 Osteria + Wine Bar. Images property of Jessica Gordon Ryan

Table 104 Osteria + Wine Bar. Images property of Jessica Gordon Ryan

For the pasta course we started off with the Cauliflower Carbonara Fettuccini. Made with a cauliflower fondue, Bacon and Poached egg, this this dish is as rich as you'd expect, and the cauliflower puree adds an unexpected flavor. I loved this creative take on a very traditional Roman dish. A pizza-oven roasted cauliflower was to some cream and then pureed. Bacon was then added to create the right amount of smokiness. The poached egg on top offered the visually perfect accoutrement. Vegetarians can ask for this dish to be prepared without the bacon. 

 Table 104 Osteria + Wine Bar. Images property of Jessica Gordon RyanTable 104 Osteria + Wine Bar. Images property of Jessica Gordon Ryan

Table 104 Osteria + Wine Bar. Images property of Jessica Gordon RyanTable 104 Osteria + Wine Bar. Images property of Jessica Gordon Ryan

Following the creamy cauliflower was a spicy seafood pasta trifecta. For those who like a good cioppino, the San Fran Linguine abounds with generous amounts of octopus and calamari. As prepared, the dish is very good, but what set it apart was the hot oil that I drizzled over the top. For those liking a little extra kick, I encourage you to do the same. For those preferring extreme heat, toss in the peppers that have been infusing the hot oil. When ordering this dish do ask for the hot oil on the side. You will thank me.

 Table 104 Osteria + Wine Bar. Images property of Jessica Gordon Ryan

Table 104 Osteria + Wine Bar. Images property of Jessica Gordon Ryan

It's not an Italian restaurant if there's no pizza (at least in my book.)  A large Hell Pizza, a spicy blend of sopressata, Calabrian Long Hots, San Marzano tomatoes and house made mozzarella was presented to us. I wonder if my particular slice may have been a little lighter on the long hots – I bit into spicy excellence. While my slice did not send my mouth on fire, the person to my left was on the verge of notifying the fire department! 

 Table 104 Osteria + Wine Bar. Images property of Jessica Gordon Ryan

Table 104 Osteria + Wine Bar. Images property of Jessica Gordon Ryan

 Table 104 Osteria + Wine Bar. Images property of Jessica Gordon Ryan

Table 104 Osteria + Wine Bar. Images property of Jessica Gordon Ryan

Following, we were presented with the Branzino FilletBarolo Braised Beef and the Waygu Burger. I’m not much of a burger person, so it wouldn’t be quite fair for me to pass judgement here. I will say that the fries were exceptional! I enjoyed the branzino served with manila clams, a cherry tomato sugo and red quinoa. The fish was cooked perfectly – tender, flaky and full of flavor with a crispy crust. Of these three my favorite was the Barolo Braised Beef served over house made, hand-cut pappardelle. The meat was tender to the bone and melted in my mouth with a flavor that was smooth, velvety and bold. Although we're in the midst of a heatwave, soon the temperatures will cool, and this will be perfect on a chilly fall or winter night. 

 Table 104 Osteria + Wine Bar. Images property of Jessica Gordon Ryan

Table 104 Osteria + Wine Bar. Images property of Jessica Gordon Ryan

Our meal was rounded out by a Hazelnut Tiramisu made with Bailey’s Irish Cream, Frangelico and Dark Chocolate and a Lemon Ricotta Pancake served with Canadian Maple Syrup and Whipped Mascarpone. Tiramisu lovers will not be disappointed. This rendition of the traditional Italian treat is almost mousse-like and the traditional coffee and chocolate flavors are enhanced by the subtle yet bold flavors of the Bailey’s and Frangelico. Lemon lovers will want to slip a fork into the Lemon Ricotta Pancake. The ricotta makes these melt-in-your-mouth pancakes particular light and airy. The Canadian maple syrup offers the perfect balance to the tart lemon. 

In addition to the spacious restaurant, a private lower level serves as the perfect event space with private bar and fireplace that can accommodate 45 seated and up to 60 people reception style. A charming outdoor patio seats just over 30. Table 104’s wine list is a well thought out offering a nice selection of Italian varietals, global favorites and some lesser known wine makers that produce exquisite wines. On Monday bottles of wine are offered at a 50% discount. An extensive and creative craft cocktail menu changes seasonally and “Social Hour” food and drink specials are offered Tuesday-Friday from 4-6:30 PM.  Parking is not an issue here with a spacious parking lot offering valet parking on weekends, holidays and for special events. 

I've yet to experience Sunday Brunch, but I've been told it's quite special with a delectable buffet and made to order entrées, as well as live acoustic music throughout the afternoon. 

A lovely and lively neighborhood restaurant, Table 104 should be on your radar. Bring a friend – bring a few friends so that you can share all the wonderful dishes.

Table 104 Osteria & Bar -  299 Long Ridge Rd, Stamford, CT 06902 Phone:(203) 388-8898

A similar version of this article first appeared in CTBites.

Cirque Eloize iD comes to Foxwoods Resort Casino

 Cirque Eloize iD. Image Property Cirque Eloize

Cirque Eloize iD. Image Property Cirque Eloize

This past weekend I had the privilege to attend Cirque Eloize iD at Foxwoods. This Montreal-based traveling circus has been creating moving performances filled with magic since 1993. Don't let the word circus mislead you. This isn't the type with animals and oddities, but a circus that expresses its innovative nature through theatricality and humanity, and combines circus arts with music, dance and theatre in a completely unique and original form. With ten original productions to its credit, Cirque Éloize has presented almost 4,000 performances in over 440 cities and 40 countries including such locations as Israel, Hong Kong, Scotland, Norway, Germany, Tokyo, Russia, Mexico, Lebanon and the US with the most recent performances taking place in Connecticut's Foxwoods Resort Casino.

I was invited to attend opening night, a preview night with fellow bloggers and press but due to a schedule conflict I could not make the performance. I was fortunate to catch Saturday's Matinee with my two boys ages 10 and 14. I was thrilled as I had been thinking of attending at the end of the month.

We almost didn't make the performance as I95 was an absolute disaster. Between the traffic backup from the highway construction in New Haven (which should have taken a mere 20 minutes from my home, and instead took over an hour and a half) and the residual traffic from the serious accidents with fatalities upstate, I knew early on it would be a close call. While I kept my eyes on the road my older son reprogrammed my car's navigation as well as that on my phone and we were able to find an alternate route. My suggestion - right off the bat - would be to advise you to hop on the Merritt Parkway. Once we were away from the congestion of I95 all was smooth sailing, but I still worried about getting to the performance as we needed to find the parking garage and then make our way over to the theater. How could I properly review the show if I was a half hour late? Somehow, we made it, just a couple of minutes after the doors closed and made our way over to the seats, up on the mezzanine 2nd row back up from the orchestra seating. Our seats were incredible.

To describe this performance as a circus is almost doing it an injustice - it's so much more. With the fluidity and grace of ballet, to the energy of hip hop and the agility of acrobatics, this circus form celebrates the remarkable talents, grace and strengths of the human body. Always entertaining, often breathtakingly beautiful, with moments that are knee-slappingly funny and silly as performers dance, jump, twirl, hula, bike, roller-blade and pogo and bicycle on stage, makes this performance one that is truly family-friendly. In fact, I was surprised there were not more children in the theater. As I sat in my seat I was awed by the talent of the dancers and acrobats, their nimbleness and elegance and the beauty in many of the numbers. My 10 year old who was seated next to me was at times at the edge of his seat, at times wide-eyed and at times laughing uproariously.

Cirque Eloize iD is a loose and creative interpretation of West Side Story, a tragic love story about two young New Yorkers from rival gangs. As the show commenced I wondered whether I should have explained the tale to my boys, but as the show continued I saw that it didn't matter. I found myself focusing on the short interlinked vignettes, or scenes, rather than on the story line. It's easy to lose yourself in the independent performance.  

Without wanting to reveal any of the show - the videos and images I had seen prior didn't do it justice - I will simply end with the suggestion that all who can - all who enjoy creative and interpretative performances should set a little time aside and bring the family for an afternoon or evening of fun and some good old fashioned family bonding before school starts and we're all back to the frenzied schedules that accompany it. Unlike many theatrical performances these days, tickets are very reasonable, ranging from $30 - $65. All the more reason to attend! 

For those of you like myself, who live a distance away, there are plenty of restaurants from which to choose, both casual and fine dining. to grab a bite to eat either before or after your performance. Plus, if you have the kids and they're anything like mine, there's a great 2-story arcade for them to enjoy.

For more information on Cirque Eloize iD and how to order tickets, please visit the Foxwoods Resort Casino website. The show runs through August 30th.  http://www.foxwoods.com/cirqueeloize.aspx

Dining in Connecticut :: Stamford's The Fez scheduled to re-open August 15th, 2015

The Fez first opened its doors in 2010 in the heart of downtown Stamford, with a Moroccan inspired menu, eclectic wine offerings,  and an underground vibe that included steady stream of diverse musicians. After a summer-long renovation process to enhance The Fez experience that patrons have grown to love, the restaurant will once again open its doors this weekend. 
 
“The original inception of The Fez laid down the foundation, “says Eric Monte, creator and operator of The Fez, “Now it’s time to take things to the next level. We are not reinventing the wheel here – we are just making things a whole lot Fezzier.”
 
Diners will notice a stunning interior transformation that  includes a stunningly renovated dining room, bar, and performance space, framed in vibrant red walls, bursting with eclectic artwork, and posh drapery. With a bar that has nearly doubled in size and the addition of a stage-side bar section music enthusiasts will enjoy front row seating while enjoying drinks and dinner. The stage area is enhanced with contemporary lighting and the entire space is wrapped in a state of the art sound system.
 
Diners can also look forward to more of The Fez’s vibrant Moroccan / Mediterranean cuisine which takes it cues from The Spice Route - the name given to the network of sea routes where fragrant spices were traded from the west coast of Japan, through the islands of Indonesia, India, the Middle East, and across the Mediterranean to Europe.

In addition to customer favorites the new menu will feature a large selection of vegetarian, vegan, and gluten-free dishes. Bold and flavorful dishes include; Baba Ganoush, a classic Turkish roasted eggplant puree served with Fez pita chips; Spanakopita “Raviolis” filled with spinach and feta cheese, wrapped in filo dough with toasted pine nuts and kalamata olives;  Shrimp Falafel, house made falafel stuffed with shrimp and served with a trio of dipping sauces: artichoke sauce, fennel dip and harissa mayo; Grilled Octopus with harissa mango sauce and fried fava beans; Vegan Pizzet topped with arugula and dried apricots and drizzled with Moroccan Aragon oil; Chicken Aroub over sumac braised onions and walnuts and topped with toasted pine nuts; Filet of Tenderloin (two 4 ounce filets) served napoleon style with potato cake and an olive truffle drizzle; and Charmoula Wild Salmon cooked in an aromatic Moroccan spiced rub and seasoned sauce, served with saffron couscous, cracked green olives and fennel salad. For wine enthusiasts, Eric Monte promises a "wine list [that] will evolve constantly and we have crafted an extended beverage program which will highlight our popular seasonal spirit infusions and lend itself to even more food pairings.” 

The changes extend beyond the restaurant, a refreshed brand that encompasses The Fez’s signature fez hat and scimitar sword, will now introduce the iconic fez hat clad monkey, a traditional companion to the Turkish accordion players. Patrons will also be able to navigate through a brand new web site, complete with menus, event information and an in-depth live music calendar.

Join The Fez for its grand re-opening and unveiling on August 15 and celebrate Eric’s, “Papa Fez” Birthday! Opening night will feature the Casablanca Project and The Juicy Grapes, along with special guest appearances from Bobby and Eric’s talented musician friends.