Friday, July 14, 2017

Mario Batali Joins Celebrity Chef Participants Scott Conant, Alex Guarnaschelli and Adam Richman at This Year's Greenwich Wine and Food Festival


The 2017 Greenwich Wine + Food Festival, presented by Serendipity magazine (www.greenwichwineandfood.com), has announced that Mario Batali will be appearing at the Festival, conducting a cooking demo, a book signing and meeting attendees at the event’s festivities on Saturday, September 23, at Roger Sherman Baldwin Park.

“As a partner in Tarry Lodge in Westport and Port Chester, Mario Batali is no stranger to the incredible culinary talents in our area,” said Suni Unger, Founder and CEO of Unger Media and the 2017 Greenwich Wine + Food Festival.  “We are thrilled to welcome him to the Festival for the first time, and announce the Mario Batali Foundation (MBF) as the event’s primary beneficiary. We are proud to help raise awareness and funds for this wonderful organization that strives to ensure all children are well read, well fed and well cared for.”

“I’m excited to be part of this year’s fun lineup of talent and especially honored to have MBF be this year’s main beneficiary,” said Batali.  “The festival’s support of feeding, educating and encouraging children speaks volumes of their commitment to supporting their community.”

Additionally, the festival announced that platinum-selling rock band Train (“Play That Song,” “Drops of Jupiter,” “Hey Soul Sister” and “Meet Virginia”) will be the event’s headlining musical performance.

“We have been so lucky over the past seven years to host amazing musical talent at the Festival, and this year the tradition continues with Train,” said Suni Unger, Founder and CEO of Unger Media and the Founder and CEO of the 2017 Greenwich Wine + Food Festival.  “In addition to their celebrated musical careers, they are foodies with their own chocolate brand and wine label. They’re a perfect fit to close out our seventh year of festivities!”
Saturday is the heart of the 2017 Greenwich Wine + Food Festival, celebrating food, beverage and music.  The Grand Tasting tent is the center of the Festival, with tastings and demonstrations from more than 150+ of the area’s finest food, wine, spirits experts, in addition to the Bud and Burger, Empire City Casino and South of the Border Fiesta tents.  Guests can also enjoy sommelier, mixologist and brew master presentations, celebrity book signings, Q&A sessions with top culinary experts, a celebrity green room with live interviews, The Market Place with the latest and greatest in culinary product trends and industry technology, and an exclusive Meet the Masters Panel discussion with Scott Conant, Alex Guarnaschelli and Adam Richman.  The 6th Annual Burger Battle, hosted by Adam Richman (with judges Scott Conant and Alex Guarnaschelli), and the 3rd Annual Top Bartender Showdown provide friendly competition between area restaurants.

VIP ticket holders will enjoy all day access to Saturday’s VIP tent, a private bar, a secluded lounge area on the water’s edge and private restrooms. They will also experience an exclusive dinner, with the Festival Ambassador Chefs showcasing their most creative dishes, served with select wines, beers and elite liquors. In addition, VIP guests will have prime seating for the performances on the Main Music Stage and VIP parking.

True foodies will also have an opportunity to add a once-in-a-lifetime on-stage or lawn dinner experience to their VIP Pass, which will include a meet-and-greet cocktail party from 6-6:30pm with Batali, Conant, Guarnaschelli and Richman. Following cocktails, guests will enjoy a three-course dinner with table service and premium spirits, wine and beer. These private tables are the best seats in the house for the Main Music Stage performances, with liquor table service available until 9:30 pm.

The 2017 Greenwich Wine + Food Festival will host the Master Chef Wine Dinner at Roger Sherman Baldwin Park by the water’s edge on Friday, September 22, honoring famed restaurateur and author Scott Conant (“Chopped”, “Top Chef”), with special guest Adam Richman and celebrating this year’s class of Serendipity Most Innovative Chefs.  Along with Festival Ambassador Chefs, guests will enjoy innovative dishes, carefully selected wines, creative cocktails and a live musical performance by platinum-selling southern rock band Big Head Todd and the Monsters (“Bittersweet,” “Broken Hearted Savior”).

Tickets are now available; visit www.greenwichwineandfood.com to purchase, and for updates on musical and culinary talent as well as the full event schedule.

The main beneficiary of this year’s Festival is the Mario Batali Foundation. Founded in 2008, MBF raises funds to provide literacy programs, as well as nutrition information and access to emergency food organizations to underprivileged children and their families. MBF also funds pediatric disease research.  Other Festival beneficiaries include The Friends of James Beard Benefits and the Town of Greenwich Parks and Recreation Foundation.

The event will be held rain or shine, and anyone under 21, including infants or strollers, will not be admitted.  Animals are also not permitted.


ABOUT THE 2017 GREENWICH WINE + FOOD FESTIVAL
The 2017 Greenwich Wine + Food Festival is a multi-day event that celebrates the area’s rich culinary landscape, and showcases innovation in the food and beverage industries. The mission is to strengthen our communities’ non-profit partners, local businesses and renowned food culture. It will benefit multiple charitable organizations, including the Mario BataliFoundation, The Friends of James Beard Benefits, and Town of Greenwich Parks and Recreation Foundation. The Festival is partnered with Serendipity magazine. Sponsors to date include 1893 Cola, 90+ Cellars, Aitoro, Alpha Romeo, Angela Swift of Houlihan Lawrence,  Budweiser, Coldwell Banker, Dacor, Deane Rooms Everlasting, Delamar, Empire City Casino, Hospital for Special Surgery, Marriott Stamford, NuKitchens, PepsiCo, Rudy’s Executive Transportation, Starr Tent, Stella Artois, Tea House Collection, Whole Foods Market, Wüsthof and Barbara Zaccagnini.*  For more information, visit www.greenwichwineandfood.com.

Friday, March 17, 2017

SAVE THE DATE! The Greenwich Wine+Food Festival Returns September 22-23, 2017

Celebrity Chef Scott Conant To Host Master Chef Wine Dinner

Platinum-Selling Big Head Todd & The Monsters To Perform Live

Tickets On Sale Today




The seventh annual GREENWICH WINE+FOOD FESTIVAL, presented by Serendipity magazine (www.serendipitysocial.com), will return to the Roger Sherman Baldwin Park in Greenwich, Connecticut with a Master Chef Wine Dinner on Friday, September 22nd, followed by a full day of food, drinks and more on Saturday, September 23rd.  Tickets for the Friday event are on sale today.

Celebrity chef Scott Conant will be Friday’s honoree; the Food Network star and famed restaurateur will talk about innovation in the restaurant industry and introduce the area’s top chefs who have been named Most Innovative and Ambassador chefs.

“Chef Conant’s fantastic New York City restaurants like L’Impero and Alto have made his name synonymous with innovation, so it’s only fitting that he’ll be introducing the incredible lineup of chefs in this region who also push the culinary envelope,” said Suni Unger, Founder and CEO of Serendipity and the GREENWICH WINE+FOOD FESTIVAL.  “We’re also thrilled to have festival favorite Adam Richman back as a special guest who will mix and mingle with Friday night guests!”

The evening will honor Serendipity’s 2017 Most Innovative Chefs and showcase some of this year’s festival’s Ambassador Chefs. The talented lineup of Ambassador Chefs for 2017 includes: Mogan Anthony (Village Social), Rui Correia (Douro/Gaia), Constantine Kalandranis (273 Kitchen), Michael Kaphan (Purdy’s Farmer and the Fish), Geoff Lazlo (Mill Street Bar & Table), Stephen Lewandowski (Harlan Social), Brian Lewis (The Cottage), Rafael Palomino (Sonora), Forrest Pasternack (Baldanza at The Farmhouse and The Barn at The Bedford Post Inn), Christian Petroni (Fortina), Debra Ponzek (Aux Délices), Nadia Ramsey (Méli-Mélo Catering), Robin Selden (Marcia Selden Catering), David Snyder (Char), Matt Storch (Match/Nom-eez), Bill Taibe (The Whelk/Kawa Ni) and Luke Venner (Elm).  The Most Innovative Chefs and additional Ambassador Chefs will be announced soon.

“These celebrated area chefs will prepare and serve their inventive dishes while interacting with guests, making this a unique opportunity for area foodies to meet the men and women behind their favorite restaurants,” added Unger.  “Wine will also play a major role in this year’s dinner, featuring tastings from wineries located around the world, including buzzed-about startups, winemakers with their own labels, and larger, well-known wineries.” 

Friday night will finish with a live performance from platinum-selling blues rock band Big Head Todd and the Monsters (“Bittersweet,” “Broken Hearted Savior”).
           
Tickets are now on sale for Friday’s Master Chef Dinner ($325 per ticket) via www.serendipitysocial.com or by calling 203.588.1363. Additional tickets, including Saturday General Admission, Saturday VIP and more, will be available in the coming weeks. 

Visit www.serendipitysocial.com or the event’s Facebook page (https://www.facebook.com/GreenwichwinefoodFestival) for more information and updates about the event schedule, participating celebrity and local chefs, musical talent, ticket availability and more. 

The event will be held rain or shine, and anyone under 21, including infants or strollers, will not be admitted. Animals are also not permitted.

THE GREENWICH 2017 WINE+FOOD FESTIVAL
The GREENWICH 2017 WINE+FOOD FESTIVAL is a multi-day event celebrating the area’s rich culinary landscape, and showcase innovation in the food and beverage industries. It will benefit multiple charitable organizations including the Greenwich Parks & Recreation Fund and the James Beard Foundation (more beneficiaries to be announced in the coming weeks).  The festival is partnered with Serendipity magazine.  Sponsors to date include Barbara Zaccagnini, Dacor, Empire City Casino, Hospital for Special Surgery, NuKitchens, Wüsthof and 90+ Cellars.*  For more information, visit www.serendipitysocial.com.

(*As of 3/15)
Photos courtesy of Serendipity Magazine

Wednesday, August 10, 2016

A Decade of my Life Has Been Spent Craving Pepe's Pizza

Pizza, you make me a happier person.

It has been a very long time since I've written a blog post. Last year, I got into a groove and really stayed on top of updating it. Then, I got busy with other work, and life, and the many excuses we all make when we're not getting everything done. 

But if there's one thing that can bring me out of hibernation, it's pizza. In this case, one of my favorite pizzas: Pepe's! The first time I experienced Pepe's was at their Fairfield location, nearly ten years ago, and the pizza had been much-hyped.

I am happy to say I was not in the least bit disappointed. Thin (but not too thin - no droopy crust to be found here), toothy crust with just the right amount of char at the edges (a result of hot hot hot coal firing) and fresh tangy sauce. The restaurant's original location is in CT's pizza mecca, New Haven, with other outposts in Manchester, Danbury, Uncasville, and West Hartford, CT as well as Yonkers, NY.

The much lauded white clam pizza
Anyone who tells you about Pepe's will mention their famed white clam pizza. I certainly recommend giving it a try, as it's a classic, but my favorite is chicken and spinach. It's a combination I never order anywhere else, but Pepe's is just so good. Trust me, you'll like it. 

I've had the pleasure of consuming excessive quantities of Pepe's Pizza in Manchester, Danbury, and Yonkers in addition to my original experience in Fairfield. Every time has been amazing. They use the same exact pizza oven in every location, so you get the same great crust no matter where you go.

If you don't want to take my word for it, there are many, many others who have sung Pepe's praises. Huffington Post named them one of the reasons CT is heaven on earth, the Daily Meal ranked them among the 35 best pizza destinations in America, and Thrillist gave them the title of best in the state of Connecticut, to name just a few. 


Click here for all Frank Pepe Pizzeria Napoletana locations
Follow them on Twitter: @pepespizzeria and Instagram: @frank_pepes_pizza

Photos by Tom McGovern 

Wednesday, June 1, 2016

Most Innovative Chefs Announced for Master Dinner at Greenwich Wine + Food Festival

I've said it before and I'll say it again, Greenwich Wine + Food Festival is my favorite event of the year.

Part of the festivities is a celebration of the year's "Most Innovative Chefs" and the lineup, announced today, is full of talent. Check out all the details below, as well as links to get your tickets.


The sixth annual GREENWICH WINE+FOOD FESTIVAL, presented by Serendipity magazine (www.serendipitysocial.com) and benefitting Paul Newman's Hole in the Wall Gang Camp and The Greenwich Department of Parks and Recreation, has announced the ten local chefs who have been named to this year’s class of Most Innovative Chefs. These culinary stars will be honored at the Master Chef Dinner on Friday, September 23, where they will prepare their unique dishes and interact one-on-one with festival guests.

The 2016 Most Innovative Chefs include:
Mogan Anthony, Village Social, Mount Kisco, NY
Carl Carrion, Cask Republic, South Norwalk, CT
Albert DeAngelis, Eastend, Greenwich, CT
Constantine Kalandranis, 273 Kitchen, Harrison, NY
Michael Kaphan, Purdy's Farmer & The Fish, Salem, NY
Geoff Lazlo, Mill Street Bar & Table, Greenwich, CT
Brian Lewis, The Cottage, Westport, CT
Tony Pham, Mecha Noodle Bar, South Norwalk, CT
Robin Selden, Marcia Selden Catering & Event Planning, Stamford, CT
Bobby Will, Saltaire Oyster Bar, Port Chester, NY

“This year’s class of honorees continue to push the envelope on fresh, creative, unique fare for local foodies lucky enough to live or work in Fairfield and Westchester Counties,” said Suni Unger, Founder & CEO of Unger Publishing and the Founder & CEO of Greenwich WINE+FOOD Festival. “Each year, we assemble our group of alumni chefs who have been honored in past years to flag for us whom they feel are making their mark in the local culinary world, and once again, this year’s group of talent makes dining out an experience of its own.”

“To enhance our celebration of the best in the area, we also decided this year to invite our talented Ambassador Chefs to join the Friday event, offering more options for guests to sample the innovative dishes served at area restaurants,” continued Unger.

The celebration of local and national talent will continue with the Saturday Festival, the center of the entire GREENWICH 2016 WINE+FOOD FESTIVAL.  This day-long event will offer tastings and demonstrations from more than two hundred of the area’s finest food, wine, spirits and product vendors in the main Grand Tasting Tent, as well as the Burger & Beer Tent, Master Griller Tent, the first annual Ultimate Sandwich Take-Down and Taco Party! Culinary demonstration tents and stages will house cooking presentations by celebrity chefs, including Marcus Samuelsson (“Chopped,” “Iron Chef” and winner of “Top Chef Masters”), and local talent. Guests will also enjoy sommelier presentations, celebrity chef book signings, Q&A sessions with top food and beverage talent, the fifth annual Burger Battle, the third annual Top Bartender’s Showdown and a live musical performance. VIP ticket holders ($375 per ticket) will enjoy a Sustainable Dinner by the water’s edge, prepared by local chefs featuring locally-sourced, sustainably-produced ingredients under a private tent with premium liquor, wines and beer service, secluded lounge areas open throughout the day, private restrooms and a premium viewing area for the evening’s musical performance. 

A special ticketed event, Saturday VIP Pass with Intimate Dinner featuring Marcus Samuelsson and Red Rooster Harlem, will give attendees the opportunity to enjoy the best of Harlem in a waterfront setting, featuring the roots of American cuisine from award-winning chef, restaurateur and cookbook author Marcus Samuelsson. Guests at this seated dinner with table service (6:30-8:30pm) will also enjoy the evening’s musical performance from private tables on an elevated stage ($525 per ticket) or from reserved, lawn table seating ($450 per ticket).

Visit www.serendipitysocial.com for more information and updates about the event schedule, participating celebrity and local chefs, musical talent and more. 

Tickets are now on sale via http://serendipitysocial.com or by calling 203-588-1363. The event’s Facebook page,https://www.facebook.com/GreenwichwinefoodFestival, will also announce restaurant participants and schedule updates.

The event will be held rain or shine, and anyone under 21, including infants and those with strollers, will not be admitted. Animals are also not permitted.

GREENWICH 2016 WINE+FOOD FESTIVAL
The GREENWICH 2016 WINE+FOOD FESTIVAL is a multi-day event that benefits The Hole in the Wall Gang Camp, a nationwide organization dedicated to providing healing to children and their families coping with cancer, sickle cell anemia and other serious illnesses, as well as The Greenwich Department of Parks and Recreation.  The festival is presented by Serendipity magazine, along with PepsiCo, Citi and Stamford Lincoln.  Other official sponsors include Coldwell Banker Preview International, Pure Leaf, Cabot, Stamford Tent, Whole Foods, Westy, Deutsch Family Wine and Spirits and Wusthof.  

Wednesday, May 4, 2016

Stay Home on Cinco de Mayo and Make Some Awesome Guacamole!

I'm a relatively social person, but I have never gone out on Cinco de Mayo. Too many people, too many of them intoxicated to an unpleasant degree...I hate waiting for drinks and battling crowds! So I always stay home, margarita in hand, with snacks to share. 

This year, I'm loving Chef Prasad Chirnomula's Oaxaca Kitchen guacamole from the comfort of my own home! You may know Chef Prasad from his other locations as well, Thali (my favorite place for Indian food), Thali Too and INDIA.

Luckily for me (and you), he was willing to share the recipe!

INGREDIENTS
  •  2 ripe avocados
  • 1/2 red onion, minced (about 1/2 cup)
  • 1-2 Jalapeno chiles, stems and seeds removed, chopped to small dices
  • 2 tablespoons cilantro leaves, finely chopped 
  • 1/2 to 1 whole fresh lime juice (Based on personal taste and size of limes)
  • 1/2 teaspoon coarse salt
  • 1/2 ripe tomato, seeds and pulp removed, chopped
  • Thin slices of red radishes for garnish. Serve with tortilla chips or sliced cucumbers.
  • 1/2 teaspoon of finely minced garlic and roasted (Optional)
METHOD
  • Cut avocados in half. Remove seed. Scoop out avocado from the peel, put in a mixing bowl.
  • Using a wooden ladle, mash the avocado. (Remember to leave it a bit chunky and fully mashed)
  • Add the chopped onion, cilantro, lime or lemon, salt  and mash some more. Chili peppers vary in their hotness. So, start with a half of one chili pepper.
  • Before serving, add the chopped tomato to the guacamole and mix and garnish with radishes and some more chopped tomatoes and cilantro.


Executive Chef:  Prasad ChirnomulaAssistant to Chef:  Balu Sagadevan

Thursday, January 28, 2016

Beating the Winter Blues at Watson's Catering in Greenwich, CT

Watson's Catering and Events is a little gem tucked away in the woods of Greenwich's Glenville neighborhood, and I had the pleasure of receiving an invitation to their recent "Beat the Winter Blues" themed cocktail party co-hosted by CTBites. I was excited to try their food, as they've been voted “Best Caterer” in Greenwich by the readers of Greenwich Magazine four times since 2010. 

The evening had a playful "doctor's orders" theme with prescription pads printed with recipes for the various dishes, and cocktails served in pill bottles. My favorites bites of the evening were mini "onion soup" grilled cheeses and tiny tuna tacos.

The party really was a cure for the grey doldrums of winter; bright, fun, filled with happy guests and bloggers, food, and even a cocktail ice luge!

I brought my friend Jay, who snapped some pictures, shared below (follow him on instagram for lots of tantalizing food shots from Connecticut and NYC).

These cocktails will cure what ails you!
I ate a lot of these. I have no shame. Delicious.

Nothing beats the blues like an ice luge, right?


Watsons Catering and Events is located at 1 Glenville St., Greenwich CT, 06831
Follow them on Facebook and Instagram



Monday, December 28, 2015

Best of Fairfield County Food & Drink 2015

Looking back on 2015, I have so many great memories of fabulous meals, interesting people, fun food-centric festivals, and tempting Instagram posts.

Now it's time to share my picks for the best of what Fairfield County had to offer in 2015 - here's to another year of great eats ahead! If anyone has recommendations for where I should go in 2016, please let me know!


Best Pizza

Tie:

Frank Pepe's, Danbury, Fairfield, New Haven, Manchester
Obviously they're a gold standard in Connecticut, receiving accolades all over the place. Their white clam pic is the most famous, but I recommend chicken and spinach. Pepe's is the only place where I order that combination, and it's amazing.

Bar Sugo, Norwalk (pictured)
Obsessed. That is all. Check out any of their dishes; you won't be let down.


Best Cocktails 

Because what is food without a drink in hand?

Match, South Norwalk
Great vibe at the bar, too. Really friendly, engaging bartenders.

Best Beer

Two Roads Brewing Company, Stratford
Awesome brewery space and tasting room, plus they have food trucks parked outside.


Best Happy Hour




Tie:

Barcelona Wine Bar (pictured)

Cheap tapas, cheap drinks - both their amazing cocktails and selections from their wine list, one of the largest Spanish wine collections in the country!

The Spread

Food and drink specials plus $1 oysters on Tuesdays. Need I say more?


Best Italian


Tie:

Strada 18, South Norwalk (pictured) Check out my review here.

Rizzuto's, Bethel, Westport, West Hartford

Solid, no frills Italian food. My first job in the hospitality industry was at Rizzuto's in Bethel. They have the BEST penne all vodka ever.

Best Seafood




The Whelk, Westport


Best French

Bistro Versailles, Greenwich
Attending a press dinner and was just utterly wowed by everything I tried. Click here for my review.



Best Spanish

Brasitas, Norwalk, Stamford


Best Brunch


Bar Sugo, Norwalk

Yep, they're a winner in two categories.


Best Sushi


Tie:

Toro, Newtown (pictured)

Ichiro, Danbury

From the outside, you'd not expect it to be good. It's not fancy on the inside, either, but the sushi really is delicious.


Best BBQ

HooDoo Brown, Ridgefield

Absolutely a hands down winner. Crazy good. These guys are the real deal. They also carry a nice selection of CT beers!


Best Outdoor Dining




bartaco, Westport (pictured)

Rowayton Seafood, Rowayton


Best Coffee Shop




Tusk and Cup, Ridgefield

Not only are the lattes great, but they serve the best coffee, Shearwater Organic Coffee Roasters, which is the first organic roaster in Connecticut.


Best Casual Dining

Tie:

Little Pub, Ridgefield, Wilton, Cos Cob

Redding Roadhouse, Redding
Plus there's a lounge upstairs with a full size (free) pool table and fireplace.

Best Deli Sandwiches




Tie:

Tony's Corner Deli, Ridgefield (pictured)

O'Neil's, Bethel


Best Food Festival




Greenwich Wine and Food, Greenwich (I didn't take a picture this year; last year's will have to do!)


All photos copyright me, Adeline!

Tuesday, November 17, 2015

Cask Republic in South Norwalk: Way More Than Just Great Beers


Cask Republic, a beer lover's haven with 2 locations in Connecticut, recently opened a 3rd in South Norwalk. Previously The Gingerman, the space has been revamped with a more open floor-plan and a mix of regular tables, communal tables, and a private wine vault in the back that accommodates 4 diners.

Cask Republic retains The Gingerman's impressive selection of beers, and though they have reduced the number of taps from 42 to 37, it's for an exciting reason: they now also offer 10 wines on tap, 4 cocktails, and nitro coffee. Personally, I think 37 taps of beer is more than sufficient!

Cask Republic is ready to expand its reputation from a great place for beer to a great place for food, too. After trying 9 of Culinary Director Carl Carrion's dishes, it's clear they're on the right track.




First, spiced lamb empanadas, pork belly mac and cheese, harvest salad, shrimp and grits, braised short ribs, and bacon popcorn from their "Small Plates" menu. The two standouts were the shrimp and grits, which were topped with perfectly cooked shrimp (I'd happily eat a plate of them solo or add to a salad), and the braised short ribs. Topped with a soft cooked egg and accompanied by grilled crusty bread, this dish got gobbled up immediately. Order two; you won't want to share!

Next, some dishes from their "Large Plates" menu: mustard crusted Canadian salmon over green onion risotto, maple brined double cut pork chop, and IPA citrus marinated chicken with jalapeno grits, wild mushrooms, and roasted brussels sprouts.

The salmon was flaky and tender, and the tangy mustard crunch of the crust was a delicious counterpoint. I'm not a fan of risotto, but I'd love this served over the brussels spouts that accompanied the chicken.



Speaking of the chicken...WOW. Who would think that chicken would be a star? Cask Republic's was juicy, perfectly charred, and wonderfully accented by the IPA marinade. I highly recommend it.














Rounding out the meal was a thick cut grilled pork chop so juicy it made a bit of a mess...but that was a good thing. Flavorful, tender, and quickly devoured, this would satisfy any meat lover.


Cask Republic is located at
99 Washington Street
South Norwalk, CT 06854
(203) 354-0163
Twitter: @TheCaskRepulic Instagram: @caskrepublic


Tuesday, October 6, 2015

Kicking off Fall with Another Fabulous Fundraiser for Mark Twain Library

What do movie stars, award winning gardens, and a giant spoon have in common? Read on...

Last year, Redding's resident comedian/actor/author Michael Ian Black wanted to do something special for Mark Twain Library. He went to the library's greatest cheerleaders, board members Pam Robey and Jen Wastrom, on a mission to raise funds while celebrating the art of comedy. Thus, the Pudd'nhead Prize for Outstanding Humor, named after the novel by the king of wit and library founder Mark Twain, was born.

The inaugural prize went to Roz Chast, celebrated New Yorker cartoonist and Ridgefield resident known for her wry worldview and humorously neurotic characters. Her prize was presented during a special fundraising gala at InSitu, Michael Marocco's absolutely gorgeous 8 acre Redding property that has been featured in Architectural Digest and Metropolitan Home.

In Situ made for a magical backdrop to a special evening. 
This year, Marocco again offered his stunning property as the gala venue. As was the case last year, supporters of the library spent the evening wandering the extensive gardens, enjoying drinks and live music by the swimming pool, and mingling with celebrity guests including funny lady Janeane Garofolo and the evening's honoree, the endlessly talented and hilarious Ben Stiller.

Stiller accepted his trophy, a giant 4 foot long silver spoon (for eating large quantities of pudding, of course), with amusement, and Black led a Q&A session. Among the highlights was Stiller kindly indulging the audience's request for a rendition of his iconic "Blue Steel" look from his movie Zoolander.

Merriment in the tent as Michael Ian Black presented the Pudd'nhead Prize spoon to honoree Ben Stiller. Top left, from left to right, Janeane Garofolo, Ben Stiller, Michael Ian Black, Jen Wastrom, Martha Hagen-Black, and Pam Robey.
Bottom right, me, with my boyfriend Bill (we like to consider ourselves celebrities).  :-)
The evening was a wonderful success, filled with good company, good will, and good humor, and I am so pleased to count myself among the many Redding residents who support the Mark Twain Library. It is an incredible asset to the town (and beyond), hosting events for all ages and offering a beautiful place to read, study, and relax. 


Monday, October 5, 2015

In its 5th Year, the Greenwich Wine + Food Festival Wows Again

My favorite food festival of the year is Serendipity Magazine's Greenwich Wine + Food Festival, held on the waterfront in Roger Sherman Baldwin Park. It's a beautiful setting for an impressive celebration of the region's best food drink, and chefs. Proceeds benefit the Hole in The Wall Gang Camp, a charity founded by Paul Newman to provide healing for children and their families coping with cancer, sickle cell anemia and other serious illnesses. 


Photo courtesy of Serendipity Magazine
With events taking place Wednesday through Saturday, the Festival is a feat of planning and coordination, and this was the third year I've had the pleasure of experiencing Saturday's "Culinary Village," a tented smorgasbord of over 150 opportunities to taste the offerings of top restaurants in the area. As was the case the past two years, the tent was packed with an enthusiastic crowd of appreciative eaters, wine glasses in hand (there are plenty of wine, liquor, and beer representatives mixed in with the restaurateurs). 

There were also talks by celebrity chefs, both local and national, including Alex Guarnaschelli, Geoffrey Zakarian, and Adam Richman. As the day wears on, there's a burger battle (Plan B Burger Bar reigned supreme again this year) and BBQ cook-off, followed by live entertainment, this year by Little Big Town.


The atmosphere this year was one of happy appreciation for such a perfect afternoon. Even in an incredibly crowded tent full of people stopping at random moments to take pictures, bumping into each other, and vying for spots at every vendor's table, there was not a single sensation of tension. Who could be unhappy in the presence of fabulous food, wine, beer, spirits, and a gorgeous view? 


Standout dishes this year were Parallel Post's steak and rosemary potatoes, and Harvest Wine Bar's tuna tartare. I also tried the best cocktail in recent memory, a whiskey based concoction from Rye House in Port Chester. After all that food, I started to fade, and Shearwater Coffee Roasters' organic cold brew was just the pick me up I needed. 

I truly cannot recommend attending this event enough. Over 5500 people attended over the course of the four day festival; make sure you're one of them next year!

Check out my coverage of last year's festival, and 2013's festivities. 

Wednesday, September 2, 2015

Pearls of Wisdom: Oysters 101 from Serendipity Magazine

September is the unofficial start of oyster season. Here’s what you need to know about the popular shellfish, from cooking to slurping. Whether you’re a novice or aficionado, these tips will guide you on how to shop for, shuck and serve oysters.
At a Restaurant
Enjoy them whenever you want: Myths endure about eating shellfish only during certain months of the year. For instance, it is often said that warm weather (aka non-“r” months) would encourage the spread of toxins among oysters. This is no longer a concern. “Most oysters are farmed now,” says Lisa McKiernan, co-owner of Ruby’s Oyster Bar in Rye, NY, and the quality of the water where the shellfish are raised is much more reliable. Still, experts say they taste best during those colder months. So welcome to the beginning of prime time for oysters!
Do some taste-testing: Eating only one kind of oyster is like drinking only one type of wine. “There are literally thousands of varieties,” says Jim Thistle, co-owner of Fjord Fish Market (fjordfishmarket.com, locations in Greenwich, Westport and New Canaan, CT) whose shops trade mainly in Blue Point varieties from Long Island, NY, Wellfleet and Duxbury from Cape Cod in MA and Village Bay from Canada. East Coast oysters are known for their briny, salty taste and meaty flesh. West coast examples, including the popular Kumamoto, tend to be smaller and creamier with a mellow cucumber-like flavor.
Ask if they’re shucked to order: True oyster lovers slurp them down without any adornment. At most restaurants, however, raw oysters are almost always served on a bed of crushed ice, with lemon wedges, cocktail sauce or mignonette sauce (red wine vinegar, shallots and cracked pepper). However you eat them, ask if they’re shucked to order, which McKiernan says is key. “Left out in their shells too long, they dry up.”
Eat them like a pro: “Forks are dainty, but slurping is definitely allowed,” says Drew Smith, author of Oyster: A World History ($30, amazon.com). Just be sure to chew the flesh instead of swallowing it whole, to release the flavors.
Know the facts: The scientific evidence that oysters are actual aphrodisiacs is murky. Still, zinc (which oysters are rich in) has been shown to improve fertility.


This article was reprinted with permission of Serendipity Magazine. This article originally appeared in the September 2015 issue. Cover photo by Nicholas Maggio for Serendipity magazine.