Sunday, September 22, 2013

A Night Out in Ridgefield Connecticut: Art, Wine, Nachos, and Live Music!

All too often I hear people complain that there's nothing to do around Fairfield County. While it can be difficult to find activities at first, a small effort reveals a myriad of options every single night. My recommendation is to plan your night as an "activity crawl" - a bar/event/restaurant hop. It's the best way to try out new places without committing, and meet lots of new people in one night. In a small area like Ridgefield/Redding/Bethel/Danbury, the key to finding out what's going on is by having as varied a network of acquaintances as possible. Remember, everyone wants to go out and find interesting activities as much as you do! So never be afraid to engage new with new people. The only downside is that it's hard to have a totally free night, so be prepared to spend some money. It's worth it though, and mixing free events with dinners out and ticketed parties is a good way to keep your spending under control. Plus, there are tons of happy hours around the area.

Last night was a great night out and about in Ridgefield! I caught some photos along the way.

6:45pm: Opening reception for new exhibit "Wonderland" at Seven Arts Gallery in the Georgetown region of Ridgefield. Really cool art, a great space, and an opportunity to meet other people who enjoy the local arts scene. Plus free wine is always a plus!

8:00pm: Drinks at Bistro 7 down the road about 1/4 mile. It was hopping! We were lucky to snag a spot at the bar, and just stayed for one drink. Miles to go before I sleep! This is a great spot during the week if you're looking to take advantage of happy hour. It's half price tap beers, wine, and cocktails from 4-6pm, plus half off their awesome bar menu. It's class on a budget!

8:50pm: The Hideaway in downtown Ridgefield for a couple beers and shared nachos. It was pretty dimly lit so I didn't get a nacho shot, but they were delish. Great beer list and really good food. It was much quieter than Bistro 7, and there were some families having late dinner. Another spot with a good happy hour starting at 3pm on weekdays. 

9:45pm: The Bayou in central Ridgefield. Cajun themed restaurant/bar. Pretty small. Nice live music, but WAY TOO LOUD for my tastes. We couldn't hear each other. However, everyone else seemed very happy. They definitely draw people in who are there specifically for the music. They also have a good happy hour during the week. 

A terrible picture! But a good band, Lefty. 

Monday, September 16, 2013

Pork Tenderloin and Roasted Baby Potatoes with Balsamic, Rosemary, and Shallot Butter Sauce

Pork tenderloin can be a delicious and moist dish, but all too easily it comes out dry, tough, and flavorless - the cost of such a lean cut. Done right, however, tenderloin is a satisfying yet low fat meat. While many recipes for fall tenderloin include apples and cider, I wanted to try something a bit different but no less hearty. After consulting a few cookbooks, I created a sauce that's warm and hearty with an indulgently buttery consistency, yet only uses about 4 tablespoons of butter for 4 servings! The trick was the addition of Harvey's Bristol Cream Sherry, an ingredient I didn't see in any of the recipes I consulted, but that I've had success with in the past for bringing out meaty flavors in other dishes. 

I chose to pair the dish with roasted baby potatoes; a very simple two step recipe. 


  • 1lb pork tenderloin, well sprinkled with coarse salt and fresh black pepper, about 2 tsp. each
  • 3 tbsp. EVOO
  • 1 tbsp. minced fresh rosemary (fresh is imperative)
  • 1/4 cup diced shallots
  • 4 tbsp. unsalted butter
  • 3 tbsp. water
  • 1 tbsp. packed dark brown sugar
  • 1/4 cup Harvey's bristol cream sherry (a worthy purchase as it's useful in many recipes)
  • 4 cups sliced baby potatoes
  1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees.
  2. Heat 3 tbsp. EVOO a saute pan until almost smoking. Add the tenderloin and sear, about 1 minute, then turn and sear on the other side for another minute or so. Keep turning until all sides are nicely browned. 
  3. Heat a medium saute pan, add 1 tbsp. EVOO, heat over medium heat until shimmering, and add the sliced potatoes. Do not stir; let them get brown on one side, about 5 minutes, then give it a stir and cook another 5 minutes or so. They do not need to get tender, as they'll finish cooking in the oven with the pork. 
  4. Place the pork in a baking pan, (I line with foil for easy cleanup), surround the pork with the potatoes, cover loosely with foil, and pop it in the oven. Set the timer for 10 minutes. 
  5. In the pan used to cook the pork, add 2 tbsp. butter, 2 tbsp. EVOO, and scrape the bottom of the pan to loosen browned bits of pork that have stuck to the pan. 
  6. Add the water and brown sugar, stir to incorporate.
  7. Add the shallots and cook over medium heat until caramelized, about 5 minutes. 
  8. Lower the heat and add sherry, rosemary, and remaining butter.
  9. Remove the pork from the oven and let sit, still covered, for 10 minutes. The internal temperature should register 140 degrees. The meat will be SLIGHTLY pink. 
  10. Add all the pork, potatoes, and juices (there will be about 1/2 cup) to your pan sauce, stir it all together so the potatoes are coated in sauce. Then slice your tenderloin into medallions, and serve!
Serves 4 people