Donut Underestimate the Power of a Mini Food Hiatus

  
A little over one month ago two of my friends announced they we’re going to do a Whole30 while also still following their macros (read more about their “Flexible Detoxing” journey here). 

Double wow. 

A third friend said, “C’mon let’s give up donuts for the month to show our support.”
“Okay,” I agreed. I was a little reluctant, I’m going to be honest. I mean I’m obsessed with donuts, but it was the right thing to do to support my friends, so I did it.

My weekly donut crew was going on 30 day hiatus. Eek. 

The first week was the hardest and it did get easier, but boy oh boy have I missed my weekly visit to Donut Crazy.

Tuesday marked the end, but I didn’t make it back until today (that makes it 34 days, I think).

What was it like eating a donut after a mini hiatus? 

Glorious.

Heavenly.

Happiness IS a sweet treat.

The part I didn’t expect from the mini hiatus? 

I appreciated my donut so much more than I already would have this morning. I savored each bite. There were some moments of silence and reverence for my donut (The BLUE was all mine, read more below) as I ate it slowly with a giant smile on my face. 

These three are Donut Crazy’s newest seasonal specialty flavors:

Cherry Lemonade Stand (left): lemon center with cherry lemonade glaze topped with buttercream and maraschino cherry.

The BLUE (right): blueberry cake with blueberry glaze topped with buttercream and fresh blueberries.

Lemon Merinue (top):lemon center topped with bruleed marshmallow fluff, sugar crystals and a lemon candy fruit slice.

No, I didn’t eat all three by myself, but I did try all three and they’re all Savory Sweet Eat (aka Kim) approved! 

Don’t forget Donut Crazy has two locations: 

3690 Main Street
Stratford, CT 06614 (Paradise Green)

and 

785 River Road 
Shelton, CT 06484 (Across from Sports Center of Connecticut)

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More Than Just Pizza! The NEW Seafood Menu at Rizzuto’s of Westport Focuses On Fresh, Local Fish.

Rizzuto’s of Westport has answered the call for more fresh seafood dishes and raw bar offerings from its patrons with its newest menu addition, “The Fresh Sheet.”

Fried Bluepoint Oysters with Citrus Wasabi Aoili

  

A compliment to its core menu, which changes twice each year (Spring/ Summer and Fall/Winter), “The Fresh Sheet” menu will change weekly based on fresh fish available from local markets (and will be posted to Rizzuto’s Facebook page). 

The updated menu at the Westport location truly illustrates how each of Rizzuto’s four locations – Westport, Stamford, West Hartford, and Bethel (the original) – have their own personalities while staying true to the overall food philosophy of Rizzuto’s: “quality food at a great value.”

As restauranteur Bill Rizzuto explains, “Our restaurants (four to date) adapt to their environments, and therefore take on their own personalities. From day one our Westport customers gravitated towards our raw bar offerings and fresh seafood dishes. We will always be an Italian restaurant at the core, but there’s no denying the synergy between the two and the high demand for fresh fish.”

The raw seafood bar and fresh seafood dishes on “The Fresh Sheet” each week are the creative collaboration of Rizzuto’s Executive Chef Mariano Flores and General Manager Mark Turocy. You can expect 5-6 varieties of daily fish selections alongside the raw bar such as mussels, clams, calamari, branzino, mahi mahi, sea scallops, and Bluepoint Oysters.

I had the pleasure of experiencing “The Fresh Sheet” this week and seeing how Rizzuto’s is adding New England style seafood to their repertoire. 

So what did we eat?

Nine courses.

Nine. 

Don’t forget Rizzuto’s is still an Italian restaurant at heart (my goodness, how I love Italians and their food!).

  

Are you ready seafood lovers?

Mini Crabcakes

We began cocktail hour with hand passed fried oysters, mini crab cakes, and mixed berry sangria. The Fried Oysters are Bluepoint oysters coated in panko, fried, and served with a citrus wasabi aioli with grilled lemon. The panko is light and adds a little crunch to the chewy oysters while the wasabi adds the slightest kicks and pairs perfectly with the citrus. The Mini Crabcakes were packed with flavor from the crab meat itself to the finely diced red and green peppers inside to the spicy remalade sauce dolled on top. 

It was hard to not keep eating both of these dishes, but I had to pace myself – there were nine courses, don’t forget. 

Cocktail hour was complimented by a house made Mixed Berry Sangria of muddled strawberries, blueberries, and raspberries. Sangria is one of my favorite summer cocktails and this one is simple yet delicious and you can taste the berries.  

Mixed Berry Sangria

  

The next course was the Raw Bar Seafood Tower comprised of Bluepoint Oysters from local Cobb’s Island Oyster, Co., Little Neck Clams, Wild Pacific jumbo shrimp, and fresh Shrimp Ceviche.

Raw Bar Seafood Tower

The Ceviche is made with shrimp, cilantro, a little jalapeno, and lime juice. Citrus always pairs well with seafood, and our drink recommendation of Magic Hat Electric Peel beer (not pictured) further played up this flavor pairing offering a light beer to go along well with the brininess of the raw bar. 

Horseradish and sauces accompany the Seafood Tower

  

Our next course was the Speck Wrapped Scallops paired with Vermentino, Sella & Mosca “La Cala” wine from the coastline in Sardinia showcases the slightly sweet scallops wrapped and seared in panchetta or speck, plated on top of a green pea purée, and sprinkled with bell pepper confetti.

Speck Wrapped Scallops

Fourth course, and almost halfway through this glorious meal, was the Spicy Housemade Squid Ink Fettuccine with Shrimp.

Spicy Housemade Squid Ink Fettuccine with Shrimp

Topped with Andouille Sausage (not made in house), extra virgin olive oil, garlic, red pepper flakes, green bell peppers, and cherry tomatoes and paired with a Pinot Grigio/Sauvignon Blanc, Bertani “Due Uve,” the Spicy Squid Ink Fettuccine is excellent. You can expect a slight flavor from the squid ink, but mostly you will taste the shrimp and the spicy andouille sausage which has a nice kick to it!  

Mixed Green Salad

  

Organic mixed greens, watermelon radish, jicama, Peruvian sweet teardrop peppers (they look like small red berries), cherry tomatoes, shaved pecorino, drizzled with a balsamic vinaigrette comprise the Organic Mixed Green Salad at Rizzuto’s. What’s makes this salad stand apart from any other mixed green salad you might find? The unexpected ingredients you will not typically find in a mixed green salad such as the watermelon radish, jicama, and the beautiful and surprisingly sweet Peruvian teardrop pepper make this salad unique.

  

Chilean Seabass with Tri-colored Cauliflower served in a Blood Orange Cream Sauce was served next and it was so delicious our entire group went silent; you could hear a pin drop as everyone focused on this dish. The freshness of the cauliflower along with that flaky seabass with the skin-side seared so it was crispy was even further enhanced by the slightly citrus flavor of the blood orange cream sauce. I should also add that the portion we received for our tasting is smaller than the typical dinner portion of eight ounces. This course was paired with the Consenso Rosato, Saladini Pilastri from the spits Adriatic coast made from organic grapes with a slight strawberry flavor to it. 

  

In between these two courses new tried the bread which is served at all Rizzuto’s locations made from their pizza dough and topped with Pecorino Romano and garlic; it’s perfectly cheesy and chewy.

On to another course!

Lobste Macaroni and Cheese

  

Rizutto’s famous Lobster Macaroni and Cheese with Ribeye Steak was our seventh course paired with Super Tuscan, Re Di Renier from Tuscany.

Rib Eye Steak

One bite of the Lobster Macaroni and Cheese is all you need to know why Rizzuto’s is known for this dish. Made with Parmesan cheese, pecorino, and cream, the lobster meat is mixed inside and panko and lobster claw are added on top. Paired with the Ribeye Steak, these two dishes make a great surf and turf option.


 

Our second to last course was a Cheese Course made up of seedless grapes, Maytag Blue Cheese (cow cheese) from Iowa (far left), Melinda May from Mystic Cheese Company in Mystic, Connecticut (made from cow milk in the summer and goat cheese in the winter), a fifteen year Pecorino Brio de Vino from Italy (right; this sheep cheese is aged in terra cotta vases with wine), and honey from Red Bee Apiary in Wilton, Connecticut. 

And last, but not least, our final course – dessert!
  

House made cannolis, a friendly reminder of Rizzuto’s Italian menu, and the unique adult root beer floats finished up this memorable meal at Rizzuto’s. 

 

Small Town Brewery makes this sinfully delicious beer that tastes just like root beer soda called Not Your Father’s Root Beer. It’s only recently become available in Connecticut and I was able to try it recently, however this is the first time I have tried it as a float! If you didn’t know it was Not Your Father’s Rootbeer you might easily mistake it for a Rootbeer soda. This special treat was thought up by General Manager Mark Turocy and I am so grateful he did!  This wasn’t just vanilla ice cream in our floats, this was Vanilla Bourbon Gelato with 5.9% Not Your Father’s Root Beer poured over the top and the striped straws made it even more fun! 
 

Rizzuto’s new “The Fresh Sheet” seafood menu is impressive offering fresh and locally sourced fish and raw bar options weekly, and even more importantly it has new and exciting changes while still staying true to what Rizzuto’s does best – great food and hospitality.
Rizzuto’s 

540 Riverside Avenue
Westport, CT
203-221-1002

Don’t forget to check out the weekly “The Fresh Sheet” on Rizzuto’s Facebook page!

*Disclaimer: I was invited to this media dinner but all opinions expressed herein are my own

Get Fezzier With A New And Vibrant Stamford Favorite!  Grand Re-opening Of The Fez on Aug. 15th.

Open since 2010, The Fez has established itself in downtown Stamford with its Moroccan inspired menu and diverse musicians. 

“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.”
  
The Fez’s summer-long renovation is complete along with a new brand – the monkey in an iconic fez hat – and website. Inside The Fez you can expect an enhanced stage area, a new dining room, and double the bar space. 
What can you expect to see on the menu? 

Inspired by the historical Spice Route, The Fez’s Moroccan and Mediterranean cuisine now includes vegetarian, vegan, and gluten-free dishes in addition to customer favorites such as Baba Ganoush, Spanakopita “ravioles,” Shrimp Falafel, Grilled Octopus, Chicken Aroub, and Charmoula Wild Salmon.

Along with the renovation of the restaurant and its menu, you can also expect The Fez’s music scene now under the direction of The Casablanca Project, the house band under the direction of musician Bobby Fioriti, to continue to entertain patrons. 

The Fez will be unveiling its new look on August 15th at their grand reopening along with a performance by The Juicy Grapes.

For more information visit The Fez’s Facebook page and website.

For those interested in bookings please contact Bobby Fiorito directly: Booking@FEZEG.com
Image courtesy of MaxExPR

Parallel Post’s Farm-To-Table Dining Series Is Back

  
Parallel Post is now taking reservations for the second part of their farm-to-table dining series being held on Sunday, August 9th from 3-7pm at Gilbertie’s Herb Garden in Easton. 

James Beard-nominated chef Dean James Max, Executive Chef Chris Molyneux, and Chef de Cuisine Erik Waybright have planned an experience “inspired by the season” and fresh offerings by Gilbertie’s which will invite patrons “to embrace their adventurous sides.” You can also expect Parallel Post to utilize locally sourced ingredients such as seafood from Norm Bloom & Son in Norwalk and meats from Ox Hollow Farm in Roxbury.
  
“As part of this year’s series, Parallel Post is thrilled to continue their partnership with authors Tracey Medeiros and Christy Colasurdo, who will be available for a meet and greet and book signing, to honor their recently released national cookbook, The Connecticut Farm Table Cookbook. Featuring Parallel Post and a recipe by Chef Dean James Max, The Connecticut Farm Table Cookbook is much more than a regional cookbook packed with 150 recipes from the area’s top chefs and local farmers.”

“For $110 per person (including tax and gratuity), this large-scale reception-style backdrop will feature various bars offering cocktails sponsored by locally-renowned Fishers Island Lemonade; brews by DuVig Brewing Company; and wine pairings and signature craft cocktails presented by resident mixologist Greg Genias aka “BootlegGreg.” Attendees can sample from numerous chef stations serving various small bites and dinner entrees ripe with the region’s finest local seasonal ingredients; enjoy an all-you-can-indulge dessert bar. For couples seeking an exclusive dinner package including the dinner and one personally autographed copy of The Connecticut Farm Table Cookbook, the ticket will be priced $200 per couple (including tax and gratuity).”

 To RSVP for the August 9th reception-style dinner (occupancy 150), please e-mail our partner Fairfield University Bookstore at FairfieldUBookstoreEvents@gmail.com or call Nancy Quinn at Fairfield Uuniversity Bookstore at 203.255.7756 ext. 501. 
For guests seeking to purchase additional copies of The Connecticut Farm Table Cookbook that evening, representatives from Fairfield University Bookstores will be available on-site.

The last scheduled date for Parallel Post’s Farm-to-Trumbull series will conclude on Wednesday, October 29 at Parallel Post with an intimate 30-person dinner. Tickets to Farm-to-Trumbull dinners are available for advance purchase at $110 per person or $200 per couple. 

Parallel Post is located in the Trumbull Marriott, 180 Hawley Lane, Trumbull. 

Gilbertie’s Herb Farm is located at 65 Adams Road in Easton with their new retail store, Petite Edibles, in Westport.

Photos courtesy of Rockaway PR

Best of…Brunch? Table 104 Osteria & Bar, Stamford.

104 Sausage Egg

Breakfast is my favorite meal of the day. Well, second favorite meal if you count dessert as its own meal, but most people don’t. I’m one of those people who must have breakfast food in the morning and I’ll eat breakfast food for lunch or dinner. So, as you can imagine, I love a good brunch. 

Brunch is perfection to this night owl; a slow Sunday, time spent with people you love, and lots of amazing food and mimosas (or bloody marys) for breakfast late in the morning – what’s not to love about brunch?

Brunch can be tricky, however. Some people prefer a brunch buffet and many do not like buffets. For me, buffet or à la carte doesn’t matter as long as there are bottomless mimosas (champagne or proseco with a splash of orange juice, a splash), but my friends are a mixture of pro-buffet versus pro à la carte (you know who you are, peeps!). When you have a mixture of preferences it makes brunch rather tricky to navigate.

White Egg Fritatta

Our favorite brunch destination closed forever a few months ago, much to our dismay, and we have been on the hunt for a new favorite brunch location. And I’m so excited to share with you that we have found it – one of my top five all-time favorite brunches anywhere (not just in Connecticut) is at Table 104 Osteria & Bar in Stamford. 

Grilled Mint Shrimp

Why is Table 104 such a favorite with me? Why should you go and try it?

1. For $19.95 you can enjoy a two-course brunch, the perfect compromise for the pro-à la carte brunches and the pro-buffet brunchers, or a traditional à la carte menu. Plus, for an additional $14 you can add bottomless bellinis, mimosas, or bloody marys. Also, the restaurant has an extensive wine list offering wines from both global and lesser known wine makers.

2. Everything we ate, everything, from the classic Lemon Ricotta Pancakes to the unique 104 Sausage Egg, was so delicious that sharing with the group was a struggle and we all jumped when seconds were brought out for several dishes.

3. Everyone, from the owner,  Walter Cappeli, to Executive Chef Domenico Iovieno to each staff member we interacted with was friendly and offered attentive service within a stylish and casual atmosphere. 

Lemon Ricotta Pancakes

We began our brunch with sampling bellinis, mimosas, and bloody marys and the house-made focaccia bread before beginning with three small plates:  Grilled Mint Shrimp, Arancini Bolognese, and 104 Meatballs.

House-made Foccacia Bread and Hummus and Olive Oil

The Foccacia bread is made each night after the pizza ovens are turned off so the bread has a softer chewy center and a crusty outside.

Next up was the the Grilled Mint Shrimp (above). This memorable dish really grabbed my attention because you can taste the flavors of all the ingredients, yet they do not overpower the grilled shrimp itself. I was pleasantly surprised by the hint of mint and how it complimented the fresh zucchine, the slightly nutty and sweet chestnut honey, feta, and chopped toasted almonds.

Arancini Bolognese

  

The Arancini Bolognese followed and were served over the house Bolognese sauce (aka 104 Bolognese). The only down side? Each order contains only two of these beautiful golf ball-sized fried rice balls. Oh, and did I mention there is cheese in the middle? The Bolognese sauce is hearty and adds even more flavor to the Arancini.
 

The inside of an Arancini


 

104 Meatballs

  

If you’re looking for a traditional Italian meatball, try the 104 Meatballs at Table 104 served with a rustic tomato sauce and crusty bread. The meatballs are made with a sour dough bread from Brooklyn bakery which is soaked in whole milk and then mixed in with pork, chicken, and beef creating an excellent meatball packed with flavor.

Buffalo Crostini

  

If I had to, had to, pick a favorite out of all of these dishes the Buffalo Crostini would be one of my top two. Take a very crusty piece of bread (who doesn’t love crusty bread?) and top it with a melted mozzarella, a fried egg, and smoked paprika – simple yet delicious.

Oh hello, beautiful Buffalo Crostini.

  

  

Feeling like something a little different for brunch? Try the Pizza All’Uovo topped with salsa verde, bacon, and a fried egg. Cooked in Table 104’s wood fired pizza oven, the pizza has a lovely chewy consistency and the runniness of the egg takes the pizza to a new level.
  

Along with the Pizza All’Uovo we tried the very unique, and exceptionally delicious 104 Sausage Egg (also pictured at the top of the post). It’s own take on a Scottish Egg, the Table 104 Sausage Egg is a soft boiled egg crusted with panko and sausage – yes, that’s panko and sausage – deep fried, and then served with hollandaise sauce. The panko and sausage creates this beautiful crust that’s is ever so slightly crunchy and packed full of flavor along with the egg itself and the hollandaise sauce. When you visit Table 104 you must try this one!

  
The Flat Iron Steak with smoked chimichurri and a warm potato salad started us off with some entrees followed by Grilled Ocopus (below) with warm potato, chives, celery, with a hint of citrus flavor from the citrus vinaigrette. Finally the White Egg Fritatta (pictured above), made with herbed mushrooms, goat cheese and brussels sprouts, and the Lemon Ricotta Pancakes (also pictured above) served with Canadian maple syrup, bacon and a dollop of whipped marscapone finished up our entrees. All four entrees are certainly dishes we would order again upon a return visit to the restaurant.  
  

Grilled Octopus

  

For our final course we were treated to two favors of Artisanal Gelato, a Sorbet, and a Hazelnut Tiramisu.

Stracchiatella (top) and Sorbet

The Sorbet made with clementine grapefruit, cherries, and garnished with mint leaves is light and offers a mixture of some sweetness from the cherries and a little tartness from the grapefruit. The Stracchiatella is a gelato with irregular small shavings or chips of chocolate; creamy and a little chocolatey, this gelato was sweet and delicious. But if you’re looking for even more chocolate, the Choclate Gelato with shaved almonds is what you should order – yum!

Chocolate Gelato with Shaved Almonds

For another traditional Italian dessert option Table 104 offers the Hazelnut Tiramisu made with Bailey’s Irish cream, Frangelico, and dark chocolate. 

Hazelnut Tiramisu

  

Chef Domenico Iovieno talking to us about the dishes we tried

  

   

Looking for an amazing brunch that’s sure to please every member of your dining party? Head over to Table 104 for excellent, high-quality food in a comfortable atmosphere!
  
Table 104 

299 Long Ridge Road

Stamford, CT

203-388-8898

“Summer Seafood Happy Hour” at Parallel Post Through August 30th

Now through August 30th Parallel Post is offering “Seafood Summer Happy Hour” specials. Available now, Monday-Friday from 4 p.m.- 7 p.m., you can enjoy a different special each day of the week!

 PEI Mussel Monday features mussels by the pound steamed in a lemongrass broth ($8 per pound)

Mini Fish Taco Tuesday featuring mini fish tacos with local wild striped bass served with fire roasted salsa and lime crème fraîche ($3 per taco)

 Norman Bloom’s Grilled Oysters Wednesday with lemon butter, pecorino romano and Benton’s bacon ($1 per oyster)

 
 Mini Lobster Roll Thursday featuring mini lobster rolls served with Long Island Sound lobster with housemade lemon mayo, fresh herbs ($4 per lobster roll)
 
Local Raw Bar Plate Friday featuring 2 oysters, 2 clams, and 2 shrimp served with saffron mignonette, cocktail sauce (priced at $9) 

Parallel Post 

180 Hawley Lane

Trumbull, CT

203-380-6380

*Photos courtesy of Rockaway PR*

Looking For Somewhere to Celebrate National Tequila Day? Try These Fairfield County Favorites.

From margaritas to mescal, we all love tequila  – so let’s celebrate its existence today! 

Three of Fairfield Counties favorites are offering specials to help you celebrate your love of tequila.

 

Image courtesy of MaxExposure PR

 
Bodega Taco Bar with locations in both Fairfield and Darien will be offering $6 Bodegaritas, $5 Fireball Tequila and a high-octane night featuring the lovely Patron Tequila Girls offering tequila tastings and giveaways. Don’t forget to check out the over-the-top menu specials too!

Paloma in Stamford, located at Harbor Point, (read more here about my recent visit) will be feature half price tequila “shots”, a special tequila cocktail menu and botanas. 

15 Harbor Point Road |Stamford, CT

 
Geronimo in Fairfield, features OVER 400+ bottles of tequila, “celebrates National Tequila Day by paying homage to Casa Noble Tequila and their award winning Anejo, Resposado and Crystal Tequila – served neat or otherwise. This ultra-premium tequila is made from 100% blue agave and certified organic. Chef Tim Scott will also be featuring Casa Noble Tequila braised oxtail tacos. Hang out on Geronimo’s large patio which overlooks a bustling downtown Fairfield scene.”

2070 Post Road | Fairfield, CT

Happy National Tequila Day!!  
 

Chef Aarón Sánchez Brings Latin Inspired Cuisine to Stamford at Paloma

Overlooking the water at Stamford’s newly developed Harbor Point stands celebrity chef Aarón Sánchez’s restaurant, Paloma.

Paloma has received a lot of attention since it opened last year as you can guess with Chef Sánchez’s reputation amd roles on popular tv shows such as “Chopped!”
     
I was excited to attend a media dinner at Paloma recently and to try this restaurant I had been hearing so much about – both good and not-so-good – these past few months. Our experience ended up being somewhere in the middle; some of the dishes I would order again and others I would not.


The first thing you will notice when you visit Paloma is its location with lovely harbor views – this restaurant is all about location. If the weather permits, sit outside on Paloma’s large outdoor patio.

Harbor Point is still adding several more restaurants so it appears it will soon be a must-try dining destination.

What should you order when you visit Paloma?

Let’s begin with the cocktails because, well that’s usually the first thing we all order when we first sit down at a restaurant. The cocktails at Paloma were one of the highlights of my dining experience. From the house-made sangria to a large wine list to more creative cocktails, Paloma has an extensive beverage program that’s sure to please everyone in your group.
My two personal favorites of the evening include the “Bees and Bourbon” and the house made Sangria.

The “Bees and Bourbon” has hints of the sweet honey flavor and it compliments the bourbon making for a very smooth cocktail. Fans of Jack Daniels’ “Honey Jack” (or anything similar) will really enjoy this cocktail. The White Sangria, on the other hand was light and sweet from the very fresh-cut fruit; a perfect summer cocktail to enjoy on the patio.

Appetizers

We tried over a half a dozen different appetizers or botanas (small plates) at Paloma and they are available on the lunch, happy hour and dinner menus. Diners might begin with the classic Tres Salsa and Chips (above) or the more unique Tai Tiradito.


The Tai Tiradito is a snapper crudo in aji rocoto sauce with crispy hominy. The snapper was unbelievably fresh in this dish making an already delicious dish even better.
  The Lobster Cerviche made with passion fruit habanero sauce, on the other hand, was not something we would order again. The citrus flavor, while light and enjoyable for a meal during warmer weather, did drown out any flavor of the lobster – lobster lovers want to taste that lobster!

 

A surprising find on the small plates menu are the meatballs or Albondigas. Served in a chipotle broth with mint and queso cotija these are truly Latin-inspired meatballs. The chipotle gives just a slight amount of heat and along with the queso cotija makes these meatballs just a little different from a standard meatball you will find anywhere else.


If you’re looking for appetizers to share the Queso Fondido of huitlacoche and wild mushrooms served with corn tortillas is a perfect choice. The flavor of the mushrooms is very subtle, just enough to remind you they’re a part of the dish. Reminiscent of a cheese fondue, the Queso Fondido is prepared and served at the table in a small iron skillet so it also achieves some crispyness on the top and along the edges – yum! 

The Tostadas were a hit with our group and something I highly recommend for a small plate to order before your meal or during a visit for happy hour. 

We tried two types: Shrimp Tempura and Crab. 

The Shrimp Tempura Tostada (above) is shrimp fried in a very light tempura batter and served with a creamy aji miraso and a mango salsa. The Crab Tostada is made with a chile arbol aioli and avocado purée. Both versions of the toastada were packed with flavor and the crispyness of the chip make them a palette pleaser.

  

After all those appetizer we were ready to try the entrees!

 

We began with one of Paloma’s best-sellers, the Braised Short Ribs. Prepared with an ancho-cacao rub and served with seasonal vegetables (fingerling potatoes here) and a horseradish gemolata the ribs fall apart with the simple pull of your fork. The ribs are a filling dish, one I can envision ordering during colder weather when you want something heartier.

Served alongside the Braised Short Ribs was the Cuban Style Chicken. The Cuban marinated roasted chicken is served with a pickeled salad and tamarind chicken fried rice. This was my first time experiencing tamarind, a tropical fruit,  and the flavor is quite unique and it really makes the fried rice stand out. The roasted chicken is a classic with the Cuban marinade giving it a Latin twist.

I have to be honest, when I saw this dish on the menu I was confused – why is there pasta on the menu at a Latin-inspired restaurant? Did you know that Italian cuisine has greatly influenced the cuisine of many South American countries? Me either, but now I know and now I see why there is pasta on the menu at Paloma. 

The Garganelli Pasta is a slow cooked ground chorizo, cauliflower, grilled escarole and tamarind reduction and it was quite delicious. 

Another best-seller of Paloma’s, and our final entree, is the Camarones Mojo de Ajo. These jumbo shrimp are cooked in a chile de arbol butter and served over a crispy grit cake. This dish was a hit with our group and I can see why it is one of th restaurant’s bestsellers. 

We finished off our meal with some dessert, as one should always finish a meal. 
Churros

These non-traditional churros are more like mini cake donuts rolled in sugar and topped with a dollop of dolce de leche and served warm with an agave-vanilla crema dipping sauce. If you like classic cake donuts with sugar topping, order these. I have to admit, I was secretly hoping these had the dolce de leche inside to make these really unique and noteworthy. One order of churros is perfect to share since they are rather large.

Dessert addicts looking for a little more, may I present the salted caramel cheesecake served with a cherry chunk cookie. What I loved about this dessert was that in serving the cheesecake in a deconstructed manner the layers insure you are getting salty and sweet in each spoonful and it wasn’t as heavy as when you eat a traditional piece of cheesecake.

The cherry chunk cookie is delicious and not a typical cookie you might encounter. However, the combination of flavors served together between the cookie and the salted caramel cheesecake do not compliment each other and were a questionable pairing.

Tips on getting to Paloma: 

First, as a new property the restaurant and its address will not appear in your gps, but a quick chat with the hostess when we called the restaurant offered a nearby address to help.

Second, once you arrive parking is a breeze with a free parking garage just a short walk away. Dining in Stamford is usually a challenge due to parking, so the parking garage was a very pleasant surprise. 

Finally, Harbor Point is near I-95 and Metro-North, however I’m not sure if it’s necessarily within walking distance.

Paloma

15 Harbor Point

Stamford CT

203-998-7500

Amore Cucina & Bar, Where You’ll Fall in Love with Pizza Again

People often ask me what my favorite types of food are and I often surprise them when one of first things I will say is pizza.

IMG_1320

Amore’s “For the Queen” Round Pizza Pie

That’s right, pizza is at the top of my list. In fact, I’d even go so far as to say that pizza is crucial to my existence.

It is very rare for me to go longer than a week without having a slice and I always stop for pizza on the way home from the airport after any traveling I do because, let’s be honest, pizza outside of the tri-state area, well, it’s just not the same usually (sorry Chicago, I haven’t had the pleasure of visiting you yet!). I will forgo so many other types of food if given the choice of pizza. Thick or thin crust, it doesn’t matter, I only discriminate based on my food mood, in other words, what I am craving that day?

Amore’s Square Pizzas: “Pitt Master” (left) and “Juliet” (right)

It may seem like a very simple dish so many of us cannot live without, yet in reality pizza is anything but simple as any pizza expert will explain. In fact, there are many different methods for producing different types of pizza dough along with its own scientific principles and theories; there is really so much more to creating a pizza than throwing together dough, sauce, cheese, and various toppings.IMG_1324

We recently had the pleasure of being guests at a media dinner at Amore Cucina & Bar in Stamford. For all you Stamfordites, yes, this is the old Amore Cucina & Bar formerly owned by Al Carozza located in the Sprindale section of Stamford, but the restaurant has been redesigned and is now under new ownership by a six time World Pizza champion, Food Network judge, and restaurateur Bruno DiFabio.

Also known as “Pizza Geek,” “Dough Boy,” and “The Fastest Pizza Maker in the World,” DiFabio is also the owner of The Academy of Pizza Science, a consulting company which helps new pizza restaurant owners to hone their skills and learn the science behind making pizza. In other words, DiFabio is a leader in the pizza making world and he takes his pizza very seriously.

Bruno DiFabio and Executive Chef Jared Falco

DiFabio takes pizza making so seriously that he does not use any man-made yeast to make his pizza dough each day. Instead he uses natural yeast foraged from the Dolomite Mountains in Italy to create pizza dough using two different processes: “Poolish” dough method, which requires a 72 hour fermentation process for the square pies, and the “in giornata” method, meaning the dough is made and used within the same day for the round Neapolitan pies. It is “mixed, cut, balled, and matured during an eight hour fermentation process at room temperature in Neapolitan wooden dough boxes.”

If the name of Executive Chef Jared Falco sounds familiar, it should. Formerly the executive chef at Washington Prime, Falco puts his signature touches on several of the dishes we tried this evening at Amore. If Falco is cooking, I am on board with a fork and knife in hand!

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The yeast used to make DiFabio’s pizza pies.

The Pizza

We began our meal with pizza, of course! Amore offers two types of pies – round and square – and six different flavors for each style. A third option is to order round or square pies “As You Wish” (love the movie reference!), in other words with the toppings of your choice.

The round pies are Neapolitan style pizza certified by the Italian Associazone Pizzaiuoli Napoletani (APN). The APN, an association formed in Naples by pizza makers to preserve the authentic Neapolitan pizza values, requires a rigorous certification process for any restaurant wishing to serve authentic Neapolitan pizza and very few pizzaiolos in the United States are certified.

Cooked in a wood fired oven at 900 degrees for 90 seconds or less, Amore’s round pies are crunchy on the outside and soft and pillowy on the inside creating a chewy consistency.

The Round Pies

“For the Queen”

We sampled four of Amore’s round pies: For The Queen (above), The Holy Cheesus, New Haven White, and Something Fishy.

All four pies were fantastic and I would recommend them all, it really is a matter of personal preference. The For The Queen is made with San Marzano, flor di latte mozzarella, pecorinio romano, basil, and a local egg on top. Who would have thought – a pizza topped with an egg that isn’t a breakfast pizza! For The Queen was a hit with our group.

Next up was my personal favorite: The Holy Cheesus. House Mozzarella, pargigiano reggiano, pecorino romano, fontina, and burrata top with gloriously cheesy pie. Why was this my favorite? I am all about the cheese! This white pie is not heavy at all, and instead the combination of flavors from all five cheeses along with the smooth, creamy texture, which I attribute to the mozzarella and burrata cheese, make this pie worth worshipping. In fact, I’ve ordered this pie on return visits to Amore because I just can’t get enough of it.

“The Holy Cheesus”

Seafood lovers, Amore has you covered with two pies: Something Fishy and New Haven White. White anchovies, capers, garlic, calabrian chilies, and pecorino romano come together to make a pizza that is slightly fishy (I mean, there are anchovies on top), salty, and with some heat to it.

“Something Fishy”

A tribute to New Haven and its famous New Haven-style pizza topped with little necks, Amore’s New Haven White is also topped with little necks along with Amore bacon, house mozzarella, and smoked lemon juice. After trying this pizza, I would say that the tradition of the New Haven white clam pizza can now be found in Stamford too!

“New Haven White”

The Square Pies

The square pies at Amore are made in a gas fired brick floor oven and shaped in a double gauge steel pan; the square pies are much thicker and heartier than the round pies and remind me of a Chicago-style pizza in regards to the amount of dough and crust.

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“Pitt Master”

If you’re looking for a heartier pie, then the square pies at Amore are the way to go. We sampled two of the six square pies Amore offers: Pitt Master is topped with pulled pork, red onion, mozzarella, BBQ sauce, and agave nectar, and Juliet made with house mozzarella, gorgonzola dolce, fig jam, prosciutto, and agrodolce.

“Juliet”

Greens and Small Plates

After enjoying so much pizza we moved onto greens and several small plates which were truly just as impressive as the pizza.

Ricotta

Whipped sheep’s milk ricotta, dried figs, honey comb, and charred fig jam comprise this small plate that I could not stop eating. The creaminess of the ricotta takes on the flavors of the sweet figs, honey and fig jam. This dish was delicious spread it on top of the crusty ciabatta it is served with or eaten by itself.

Arugula and Beet Salad

The Arugula and Beet Salad is made with roasted crimson and golden beets and topped with goat cheese and candied walnuts. The blood orange thyme vinaigrette ensure this dish is light and refreshing.

Can we talk about how much I love octopus, and especially the Octopus Puttanesca at Amore?

Octopus Puttanesca

The Octopus Puttanesca is made with tomatoes, capters, siciily olives, garlic, and n’duja sausage. Quite possibly some of the best I’ve ever had, you can taste the perfectly grilled octopus along with the flavors of the other ingredients.

The seafood small plates continued with a Tuna Crudo made with Calabrian chiles, tasted pumpkin seeds, red onion, and torn parsley, and Shrimp and Polenta comprised of shrimp, tomato, house bacon, and polenta.

Tuna Crudo


Shrimp & Polenta

 

The Chicken Scarpariello is an entrée on Amore’s menu which we tried family-style. This popular Italian dish is made with house sausage, peppadew, garlic, Italian polenta, and green shallots.

Chicken Scarpariello

I saved the best for last. If you order nothing else when you walk into Amore, you must, must, must order the Lasagna Balls. I would drive to Stamford simply for this small plate. Seriously.


Lasagna is made with Sugo Bolognese and ricotta and then scooped into meatball-sized balls and deep fried. Deep. Fried. Lasagna. Balls. Are you on board yet? The Lasagna Balls are not greasy or heavier than you would expect a typical piece of lasagna to be. You can expect a slight crunch on the outside due to their being fried. Ordering tip: since they are a small plate item you get two Lasagna Balls per order and I promise you are going to want your very own order.

Dessert

The final course, and my favorite at any restaurant, was dessert. Yes, we saved room for dessert! The Dolce is a budino and fat pizzele topped with butterscotch, whipped cream, and berries. The pizzelle is soft and chewy and the butterscotch added a little extra sweetness which was pleasantly surprising.

Dolce

Nutella Pie is pizza dough baked and topped with nutella and marshmellows. If you have a sweet tooth this one is for you and the perfect dessert to share because it is a little larger than a small pizza!

Nutella Pie

My love affair with pizza is reaffirmed every time I go back to Amore, and it just keeps getting better and better. When you visit Amore Cucina & Bar you won’t just fall in love with their pizza, but quite possibly with everything on their menu.

 

For more information be sure to check out Amore’s Facebook page here, or their website: Amore Cucina & Bar

921 Hope St
Stamford, CT 06907
(203) 357-1066

Hours: Monday – Thursday 11:30am-1 am; Friday and Saturday 11:30am-2 am; Sunday 11:00am-12 am
Amore Cucina & Bar on Urbanspoon

Disclaimer: I was invited to this media dinner, however all views and opinions expressed herein are my own.

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Donut Crazy Will Make You, Well, Crazy for Donuts! 

Donut lovers there’s a new artisanal donut shop on the River Road in Shelton and they are changing the way we will forever think of donuts. Donut Crazy is a game changer in the world of donuts both locally in Connecticut and beyond.

And I am obsessed, I tell you. OBSESSED with Donut Crazy.

Plain jelly stick, Kookie Monster (top); Patriot, LIV (middle); Samora, Apple Crumb, Bavarian Cream (bottom)

Why am I so crazy for donuts from Donut Crazy?


Where else can you get donuts hand made fresh daily with such unique flavor concoctions? No where else in Connecticut but Donut Crazy.The donuts are so fresh that it is the first thing you will immediately notice when you bite into one. Yes, we have a large donut chain with locations throughout our entire state, and I still eat donuts from there occasionally, but my love affair with these artisanal donuts began the week they opened and I haven’t looked back.

Now every Saturday morning my friends and I have a donut date at Donut Crazy. After crossfitting so hard all week, we like to indulge in a treat on Saturday mornings (thank you Hartford Courant for the shoutout). Seriously, every Saturday for weeks I’ve been eating, ahem researching, the donuts at Donut Crazy. I mean, I had to try as many flavors as possible so I could report back to all of you, right?

Thin and Minty, Sugar Cane (aka glazed), Red Velvet

So let me give you the lowdown on the donuts I have tried so far at Donut Crazy.

There are two types of donuts available: “Daily Donuts,” which you would expect at any donut shop such as donuts with glaze, frosting, sprinkles, jelly, and powder on them along with quality unique donuts, or “Special Appearances,” which will grab your attention with their clever names and your taste buds with the unique toppings – crushed candy bars and cookies, and frosting and flavor combinations you wouldn’t expect for a donut. The yeast donuts are surprisingly light even when covered in every sugar addict’s dream of toppings and the cake donuts, while somewhat heavier as you would expect from a cake donut, I have been pleasantly surprised by since I am usually not a fan of cake donuts in general.

The “Daily Donuts”

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Chocolate Frosted

Boston Cream, Apple Crumb (bottom), Bavarian Cream (middle), Red Velvet (top)

Boston Cream, Apple Crumb (bottom), Bavarian Cream (middle left), Red Velvet (top right)

The “Daily Donuts” are the classic flavors you might expect to find at any donut shop. So what sets these apart from others? I’d have to say freshness. Since I have been eating Donut Crazy’s donuts for a few weeks now I notice a difference if I grab a donut at another donut shop.

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Chocolate Glazed

The “Special Appearances”
At Donut Crazy you can expect a rotation of these “Special Appearances” enabling you to always have the option to try a new flavor if you should choose. “Special Appearances” are also regularly posted on Donut Crazy’s website (to see the current list you can check their website here). When a new flavor makes its appearance the growing fans Donut Crazy has already built up in the few short weeks they have been open head over to try the new flavors. Certain days of the weeks and certain times are popular so you can expect a line sometimes especially on the days a new flavor is released. But be patient, the donuts are worth the fast-moving line.

Fat Elvis

One of the most unique donuts we have tried has been the Fat Elvis. Fit for the King himself, the Fat Elvis is filled with banana cream and topped with peanut butter, bananas, bacon, and drizzled with chocolate and honey. If you like peanut butter and banana together – order this donut. Bacon lovers, I know you’ll try all the flavors with bacon on top because, I mean, it has bacon on top.

Speaking of bacon on top, the Maple Bacon donut is sweet yet lighter than I expected. The maple glaze balances with the saltiness of the bacon in a way that you might actually be able to eat more than one in one sitting.

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Cherry Bomb is filled with a lemon center and covered with cherry icing and crumb topping. Don’t forget the cherry on top!

Cherry Bomb

Calling all Girl Scout cookie lovers – the Samora tastes as close as a donut can taste like a Samoa Girl Scout cookie. Warning: it is a heavy donut (aka you’ll only need to eat one donut)! The bottom of a cake donut is dipped in chocolate and then covered in caramel, toasted caramel, and dark chocolate is drizzled over the top.

Samora


Some other special appearance I would recommend are the Mumbo Italiano (aka Cannoli), Kandy Krush, Mud Pie (see below), and the Nutty Nutella.

Bacon Maple, Kandy Krush (top); Red Velvet, Mumbo Italiano (aka cannoli) (middle); Mud Pie, Bavarian Cream (bottom)

The Nutty Nutella is every Nutella lover’s dream – a nutella mousse filling which is light, almost whipcream-like in texture fills the donut, which is then frosted with nutella and chopped hazelnuts.

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Nutty Nutella

We have tried many flavors, and you know what, they’re all delicious. It really comes down to a matter of personal preference! I know, some of you are probably shaking your head and doubting me. There was only one flavor I haven’t liked, but it was entirely personal preference because everyone else I asked loves it. Are you craving a donut yet?

Need a recommendation, can’t decide? My personal favorites I order over and over again (and the list is growing!): Red Velvet, Samora, Nutty Nutella, Mumbo Italiano, Kandy Krush, Kookie Monster, Apple Crumb, and the Strawberry Crumb – these two are the closest I think you can get to the happy union of a piece of crumb fruit pie and a donut! Also, I really enjoy the coffee roll, croissants, and the grilled cheese donut (read more below).

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Strawberry Crumb

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When what you’re eating is so good you forget to take a photo until you’re halfway done eating! This is the Kandy Krush.

On National Donut Day I tried the Kookie Monster! Oreos and frosting – what’s not to like?

Bavarian Cream is my husband Ron’s favorite!

We went to a Donut Crazy today in celebration of National Donut Day and had a blast!

Don’t forget the “Breakfast Sandwiches and Such”!

Some of our favorites have been the coffee roll, bagels, flagels (flat bagels), croissants, and Udi’s gluten free products for my gluten-free friends! Egg sandwiches have been a hit along with the fresh-squeezed orange juice and the grilled cheese donut (Take a sugar cane or glazed donut, cut it in half, and put your choice of cheese in the center to make a grilled cheese sandwich! The sweetness of the donut goes with the cheese surprisingly well.).

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Coffee Roll

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Cinnamon Raisin Bagel

If you see me there on a Saturday morning, say hello! I’d love to talk donuts with you!

Donut Crazy has two locations: 3690 Main Street, Stratford and their larger location 785 River Road, Shelton.

Hours: Sunday – Thursday 5am-9pm; Friday and Saturday 5am-10pm.