Wednesday, December 31, 2014

10 Foodie Instagram Accounts You Should Be Following

I see a lot of "Best Instagram" account lists, particular in the realm of food. I'm often disappointed to discover, after spending the time to look up recommended accounts, how many of them are not actually very active or focused on food. There are endless accounts that really are great, and it's a ton of fun to browse. I've spent many hours on instagram, and certainly have a long list of favorite accounts. Some of them are hugely popular and not location specific, but there are also many that focus specifically on Connecticut and New York City, my usual stomping grounds, and I often use them to find new places to try. Now I'm sharing my favorites here, and I know they will not disappoint! 

In no particular order (though I start with the locally focused accounts):

She may not have a ton of followers, but I think that will be changing quickly! Her photos are awesome, and feature a wide range of cuisines.

All Connecticut, all food, all the time. Love it. 

- CTDRINKS: Highlighting the best of Connecticut's drinking scene, alcohol or otherwise.

Hugely popular, and a very active account. They also have a fabulous website and fun twitter account. Partially focused on NYC, but also Chicago, San Francisco, and Denver.

I love this guy's account. It's almost all photos of his own cooking, often showing several steps of the recipe, and they're always mouthwatering. Props for the fun username, too.

Restaurant Editor at Food and Wine Magazine. 'Nuff said.         

Another member of the Food and Wine Magazine team, and since he's in the test kitchen, there's always something new to check out. Lots of fun to see what goes on behind the scenes. 

Based in Canada, so I won't be visiting any of the places he highlights any time soon, but at the very least I can drool over them digitally. 

Not sure what her bio is, but I love her photographs.

Hey, I'm vain! I admit it. I think my pictures are great. And if you like kittens, I post some pretty cute photos from time to time.

Tuesday, December 16, 2014

Mini Review: Hitting the Bar at the Newly Reopened Georgetown Saloon

Note, April 2015: Sadly, the Saloon has closed yet again. Stay tuned.

Mention Georgetown Saloon to any Redding area local, and you're sure to hear a fond memory or a tale of a wild night. It's a dark, no frills hole in the wall with a Western feel that leaves you wondering if a real cowboy is going to walk through the swinging saloon doors. Much to the chagrin of the many who posted up at the bar with a pint on a regular basis or danced the evenings away there, Georgetown Saloon closed its doors last year. 

The story goes that the building was left unattended, pipes burst, and the whole thing was a moldy, expensive nightmare. Popular opinion was that there would be no reopening, but then the news spread: someone was taking on the challenge! After a summer and early fall of waiting, Georgetown Saloon is open again, and continuing the tradition of live music, unpretentious eats, and a cowboy friendly vibe (though I was heartbroken to discover that those swinging saloon doors are absent now). 

I stopped in on a whim with some friends the other night, and we had the place completely to ourselves, so it was the perfect opportunity to get the inside scoop from the bartender while enjoying a beer from their selection of 30 taps, an incredible number for this area. And they aren't just pouring the standards, they have a list that's full of beers I'm not familiar with, which is exciting. 

The kitchen (remarkably) stays open until midnight, though I wonder if that will be sustainable in an area that gets quiet by 9. For now, that's great news, and is the latest that any kitchen in the area is open. We ordered three appetizers and enjoyed them all: "Menage a Tot," a trio of stuffed potato skins, one bacon, one veggie, and one truffle, Biscuits and Gravy, and mini cheeseburgers. It's quality, delicious bar food for markedly lower prices than similar spots in the area. 

The menu, we were told, is changing in the next day or so; I am interested to see what they keep and what they add. They have also just started serving brunch, so of course that's high on the list of "must check out" meals. 

We learned from the bartender that there have been good crowds on the weekends and steady business during the week, with a great response to the food so far, and a lot of customers who are not familiar with craft beer but very enthusiastic about tasting and learning. 
Live music was always the defining feature of Georgetown Saloon, and it seems that the owners intend to continue this tradition while adding far better food and a formidable craft beer list. 

Sounds like a killer trifecta. I'm impressed. 

Cheeseburgers with smoked aioli and side salad

Biscuits and gravy
Menage a tot

Georgetown Saloon is located at 8 Main Street, Redding, CT 06896

Friday, December 12, 2014

Awesome Eats in the City: Thrillist's Fest of The Best at Villain

If you know me at all, you know how much I love Connecticut. If you don't know me, just look at the title of my blog, and you'll get the idea. But living in Fairfield County means regular trips to the city and its many excitements and one of my favorite resources for finding fun in NYC is the website Thrillist. When I saw that they were hosting a “Fest of The Best” featuring a bunch of great restaurants in the city, I knew I had to go. Luckily, I was able to procure press access, so off to Brooklyn I went.

Photos by Kimberly Mufferi (and the photo booth!)

The event was held in Villain's large warehouse event space, and was a smorgasbord of great food, cocktails made with Grey Goose Vodka, and beers from Saranac Brewery. Wandering amongst the guests was saxophonist Kareem Wilkes, a touch I found very cool. DJ Kasey Berry was spinning all afternoon, and instagram-happy foodies milled about excitedly. This was the first “foodie” event I have attended where instagramming one's food was not met with a single sneer. In fact, there was a “VIP Food Porn Lounge” sponsored by Samsung and featuring two food stylists, Alexa Mehraban of EatingNYC and Chloe Wynnof THEPICURIST, on hand for photography tips!

After hitting the photo booth and grabbing a cocktail, it was time to start sampling the fabulous eats! Each guest was given a poker chip for voting, and one restaurant would reign supreme, so I got my taste buds in gear and forged a path through the crowd. There were thirteen restaurants featured, and photos speak louder than words...

Clockwise from top: Sweetgreen's Rad Thai salad (organic arugula, organic mesclun, sprouts, carrots, shredded cabbage, spicy sunflower seeds, cucumbers, basil, citrus shrimp & spicy cashew dressing), BLT Fish's James River oysters with wasabi peas & nori, and The Monarch Room's seared octopus with fennel, celery and citrus. Photos credit: Me
Clock wise from top left: Two Hands' Avo Toast (thick-cut wholegrain pullman loaf, smashed avocado, olive oil, sea salt, cracked pepper, chili flakes & a lemon wedge), Fletcher’s Brooklyn Barbecue's wood-fired sliders with all-natural organic beef, salt, pepper, burger sauce and a fridge pickle on a potato roll, Two Hands' Cortado, Seoul Chicken's Next Day Fried Chicken (double fried chicken thighs, served on Kings Hawaiian rolls with habanero spiced honey, kimchi pickles & miso mustard aioli) - Photos by Kimberly Mufferi
Clockwise from top left: Bacchanal
​ with a mint-olive-caper relish​, French Louie's snails Merchand de Vin with Falls Mill grits (snails, bordelaise sauce, mushrooms and grits), and Crave Fishbar's Shetland Island salmon crudo with charred cauliflower, lemon prawn oil & prawn dust - Photos by Kimberly Mufferi

After getting our fill, it was time to cast votes for the best. I stole my date's chip and made both votes, which went to French Louie's incredible snails Merchand de Vin and Crave Fishbar's Shetland Island Crudo. They were truly excellent, but the official win went to Bacchanal's confit lamb shoulder. Ultimately, everyone was a winner (except for a few places that ran out early and I didn't get to try...lame. But I won't name names!) The afternoon was a smashing success and a wonderfully indulgent way to spend a day out of town.  

Special thanks to Lauren Coombs, Communications Coordinator for the Thrillist Media Group

Wednesday, December 10, 2014

New Kid on The Block: Brick + Wood in Fairfield, Connecticut

Downtown Fairfield is a charming strip of shops and eateries that all too often gets forgotten in the midst of Westport and South Norwalk's well publicized hot spots, but it also makes for a great evening out on the town. Much to my excitement, it seems more and more restaurateurs have realized that Fairfield is a great location for opening up shop.

I had the pleasure of checking out one of Fairfield's newest restaurants, Brick + Wood, and if you're a fan of great wine, upscale Italian comfort food, and wood fired pizzas, you're in luck. 

As the name implies, the restaurant is outfitted in a mix of rustic wood and exposed brick, with a large brick pizza oven. A cozy bar and a large, open dining room and pizza bar where you can watch the chefs in action make for a comfortably casual atmosphere that's nice enough for date night.

Brick + Wood offers something that sets them apart from other brick oven pizza spots: wines on tap. Yep. How cool is that? Several years ago, I experienced Chardonnay on tap at City Winery in NYC, and loved the novelty as well as the taste. Finally Fairfield County has caught on! We enjoyed wine flights served in mini stemless glasses on wooden boards - a nice touch. In addition to wines, there is a rotating selection of cocktails on tap (plus a regular cocktail menu). I tried the Fig Martini and Pomegranate Martini, and both were fruity, sweet, and went down smooth; I knew I'd be back for the bar even if the food turned out to be average. 

Of course, one cannot live on cocktails alone, and we migrated to the dining room, where an impressive array of appetizers began to fill the table. First, Loaded Baked Potato Crochette, which looked like fat mozzerella sticks but instead of cheese, were the insides of a loaded baked potato, deep fried. Yes, they were as good as they sound. Certainly a great choice for adults and kids alike. Next, Fritto Misto with calamari and shrimp, served with a smoky chipotle aioli that I would buy by the bottle if I could. Continuing the fried food extravaganza, we tried 4 Cheese Arancini with Vodka Sauce, which were standard.

In addition to their unique "wine on tap" feature, Brick + Wood offers another treat: fresh burrata, made in house. We tried two versions: their classic served with meat and vegetables and their truffle burrata with prosciutto and arugula. I personally do not love burrata, but the truffle-y creamy goodness was absolutely delicious. These two dishes were met with pleased murmurs from the whole table. We also sampled Girelli, thin layers of fresh mozzarella layered with eggplant, prosciutto, and roasted peppers. We enjoyed a mixed green salad, which was dressed in the owner's own signature balsamic dressing, which was noticeably superior to many others I've tried.

Of course, I was waiting with bated breath to try the cornerstone of Brick + Wood's cuisine: the wood fired pizzas! Three kinds arrived to the table, and I attacked them heartily. First, the Diavola with spicy soppressata, garlic, jalapenos, and oregano. It had a nice spicy kick but wasn't overwhelmingly spicy, and the crust (which can make or break a pie, whether the topping are good or not) was nice and chewy with the smoky charred spots that characterize a wood fire baked pizza. My favorite pie was a special that evening with shrimp, corn, and pancetta; a somewhat unusual combination, but completely delicious. The delicate shrimp paired with sweet tender corn and smoky, meaty pancetta is a magical trio of flavors. Lastly, I found room for a slice of classic Margherita pizza and sank into a happy food coma.

Brick + Wood is absolutely worth a visit, as is the town of Fairfield in general. Small shops, many restaurants, and a more relaxed vibe than in neighboring Westport make for a pleasant experience. Bring the family for a Main Street stroll, or wait until nightfall for a romantic evening out.

Brick + Wood is located at 1275 Post Rd #7, Fairfield, CT 06824
Follow them on Facebook & Instagram

Photos by Jason Varga

Thursday, December 4, 2014

72 Bottles of Spiked Seltzer on the Wall: My 30 Day Challenge Comes to an End

My trusty companion on the train to NYC!
Since bars there don't serve Spiked Seltzer (yet), I brought my own! 

It's already December, and my challenge, to switch from beer to Spiked Seltzer for a full 30 days, has come to an end. I've been amazed at the total lack of the usual negative side effects of alcohol in the past month. I have not experienced any morning headaches or sluggishness from a night of drinking, i imagine thanks to the low sugar content in Spiked Seltzer (and it's gluten free).

Though I am a beer lover, the light, crisp flavor of Spiked Seltzer is deliciously addictive, and certainly more refreshing than a heavy beer. I love that is isn't sugary sweet at all. Now I find myself drinking club soda instead of a second beer when I'm out at a bar. Hooray for fewer calories (and less money spent)!

Drinking in style, as always... :-)

Beyond the fact that it tastes good, and didn't ever give me a hangover, I am also pleased to report that I lost a couple pounds. I usually drink double IPAs, but Spiked Seltzer is only 140 calories, and I saved about 100 calories per drink by making the switch!

If you're in the New England area, give Spiked Seltzer a try - even the most loyal beer drinker may find themselves converted!

Click here for a list of retailers and restaurants that offer Spiked Seltzer.