How Are You Celebrating National Hotdog Day?

Summer would not be summer for me without one grilled to plump perfection. I used to eat them way too often as a kid, annnnnnddddd I probably still do as an adult.

I prefer Hummel’s (and Hebrew National’s and Nathan’s are tied for second place when a Hummel can’t be found). And my absolute favorite way to eat one is plain, on a slightly doughy bun. Maybe that’s boring, or maybe that’s me being a purist. But, then again, cheese, chili, and bacon do bring a hotdog to a whole new level you have to respect and occasionally indulge in!

In honor of National Hotdog Day and one of my favorite foods, I give you the Windmill hotdog with Windmill’s chili (think Coney Island dogs if you aren’t familiar with this classic Connecticut food spot, which you can read more about here.) When I’m craving a hotdog this is where we go.
20140723-174531.jpgDo you want a hotdog now, cause I sure do!

What’s your favorite way to eat a hotdog?

The Windmill Tavern
400 Hollister Street
Stratford, CT
203-378-6886

CT’s FIRST Annual Foodtruck Festival Is Rolling Into North Haven July 19 & 20!

20140717-122031.jpg
This weekend head over to the North Haven Fairgrounds for Connecticut’s FIRST Annual Foodtruck Festival!!

From 11am-7pm on Saturday July 19 and Sunday, July 20 you can expect almost 50 food trucks and carts, live music, a flea market, farmer’s market, and” free fun” for the kids! To read more, check out the CT Foodtruck Festival’s Facebook page.

Admission is $5 and proceeds will help support local CT food banks.

North Haven Fairgrounds
300 Washington Avenue
North Haven, CT

*Photo from CT’s FIRST Annual Foodtruck Festival Facebook page.

Smoking It Slow and Boxing It Up Quick: Smoke Box BBQ, Hamden

20140603-145446.jpg There’s a new addition to Whitney Avenue in Hamden you should check out for lunch – Smoke Box BBQ!

20140603-145554.jpg
You’ll know you’re close to Smoke Box BBQ as you drive down Whitney Avenue because the smell of barbecue fills the air. Seriously. Just follow your nose!

I found out about Smoke Box BBQ through Instagram (check them out- @smokeboxbbq) where they regularly post pictures of daily specials and different menu combinations you can create.
<a
20140603-145544.jpg

The idea behind Smoke Box BBQ?
We chatted with the staff who explained during our visit that aside from bringing delicious slow smoked BBQ to Hamden, Smoke Box BBQ was started to supply its sister business Ordinary New Haven with BBQ when Caseus’ small kitchen (another sister establishment in New Haven) couldn’t keep up with the demand. Smoke Box BBQ slowly smokes high quality meats over oak and apple wood chips and makes all their sauces and sides from scratch. In case you haven’t guessed it yet, this is some amazing barbecue!

The Menu
20140603-145609.jpg

How does the menu work?

There are a few steps to the menu so you can customize your own smoke box, and the staff is very friendly and happy to help you figure out all your options. Also, the boxes come in two sizes – full box for $12 or half box for $9.

Step 1: Choose your meat

Smoke Box BBQ gives you the option of 3 meats:
Berkshire Pulled Pork (rubbed in Smoke Box’s “dust”, slow smoked over oak and apple wood, braised for 12 hours)

Pasture Raised Beef Brisket (rubbed in Smoke Box’s “dust”, slow smoked over oak and apple wood, braised for 14 hours)

Smoked Pulled Chicken (brined for 12 hours, rubbed in Smoke Box’s “dust”, slow smoked and roasted)

Step 2: choose how you want your meat

Once you pick your meat (or two or three), next you get to choose if you’d like the meat on Ciabatta or over BBQ Caesar Salad or hand cut fried or corn tortillas.

Step 3: choose your house made sawz (aka sauce)

North Carolina Apple Cider Vinegar
Texas Spice Sweet n’Sticky
Alabama Tangy Mustard

Step 4: choose some works

Smoke Box offers crispy slaw (a vinegar based slaw), smoked tomatoes, house pickled red onions, and smoked jalapeños, and, you ready for this bacon lovers?! – chopped crispy chicken skin bacon.

And for an additional $2 each you can add 1/2 avocado, Mystic Cheese Co. Melville cheese, or Cabot extra sharp cheddar cheese.

Still looking to add some more?

Smoke Box offers corn bread, grilled mac n’cheese, and handcut fries as additional sides, and a soup of the day.

Also, you can choose from four sandwiches: Smoked Cheeseburger, Smokerito Burrito, Boom Box Bomb, and the C.S.L.T, and don’t forget the daily specials.

20140603-145619.jpg

Basically, this menu offers so many options for you to customize that you might feel slightly overwhelmed at first (we were) and then just pile on everything that sounds good (we did!). I have to admit it’ll be hard not to add the whole menu at this point to your box!

After some help from the staff, my husband and I created these two beautiful Smoke Boxes!
20140603-145803.jpg

My husband’s smoke box contained all three meats (pulled pork, beef brisket, and chicken) with all three sauces on the side over fries with Cabot extra sharp cheddar, chopped crispy chicken skin bacon, and slaw.
20140603-145827.jpg

My smoke box was made of pulled pork (sauces on the side- I had to try them all) over a Caesar salad with Cabot extra sharp cheddar, chopped crispy chicken skin bacon, avocado, and a side of grilled Mac n’Cheese piled on top. All three meats offer classic BBQ options with those housemade sauces enhancing the flavor of each. We like all three sauces -
North Carolina Apple Cider Vinegar, Texas Spice Sweet n’Sticky, Alabama Tangy Mustard – and decided it’s really a matter of preference, or you can try all three like we did.

20140603-145846.jpg

I had to include a close up of the grilled Mac n’Cheese. This was my first experience with grilled Mac n’Cheese and I don’t know what took me so long! The grill gives the Mac n’Cheese some added flavor and, most importantly, it changes the texture a little on the outside so you have the soft, gooey, cheesy macaroni inside and a slightly crunchy grilled crust on the outside.

20140603-145905.jpg
Head on over to Smoke Box BBQ and they’ll help you create your own box of barbecue goodness!
20140603-145641.jpg

Smoke House BBQ
2323 Whitney Avenue
Hamden, CT 06518
203-909-6545

Washington Prime, Eating + Drinking Well Is Coming to South Norwalk!

Get ready SoNo, a new restaurant is about to open it doors! Say hello to Washington Prime, Eating + Drinking Well set to open in mid-July on Washington Street.

 

Washington%20Prime%20-%20FINAL[5]

Located in a new structure on the corner of Washington Street and Water street, Washington Prime, Eating + Drinking Well “is the collective vision” of Rob Moss, a cb5 Restaurant Group alumn, and restaurateur Marco Siguenza along with Executive Chef Jared Falco. Washington Prime, Eating + Drinking Well’s philosophy is simple, “quality food and drink presented by an attentive staff, set within a vibrant, comfortable space. No gimmicks – just honesty and creativity in their offerings and genuine hospitality at the forefront.”

Expect to see an Americana menu with cross-cultural references, “The Connecticut coastline, our combined experience, the cultural backgrounds and the desire to offer some culinary excitement to our customers is what you will see on the menu,” beams Rob. For example, “Knuckle & Claw” with Long Island lobster, Tennessee blue grits, lobster sauce, smoked butter and tobiko or the  Shrimp A La Linda (named after a local loyal customer’s favorite dish) with chili ­flakes, parsley and cognac cream sauce show the bold takes on typical dishes and big flavors you can expect to see at Washington Prime. If you’re feeling like something a little more classic,  “all the Steaks are USDA Prime Certified and aged before being placed in a 900 degree specialized broiler, allowing for that true Chicago steakhouse char.” Furthermore, the menu is almost all gluten free and noted for customer ease!

What beverages will accompany this adventurous menu? With “eating and drinking well” in the name, you can be sure Washington Prime, Eating + Drinking Well will have a thoughtful beverage program. A selection of cocktails, craft beer, spirits, and wine will be available along with Prime Martini service. The Prime Martini service “will come with a side of the guests’ choice of house made items; Blue cheese or anchovy stuffed olives, pickled pearl onions, segmented rosemary clementine, queso stuffed jalapeños, and other offerings. The martini comes with a backup refill of your gin or vodka in a chilled and non-diluted carafe, resting in an iced bath bucket at the table.”

With seating for 95, a private room available for small groups, and an outdoor area for up to 40 people, Washington Prime, Eating + Drinking Well certainly offers a comfortable place where you can enjoy a meal with small or large groups, or hang out at the bar and watch the game.

 

A mid-July opening is in the works for Washington Prime, Eating + Drinking Well.

 

 

Washington Primary, Eating + Drinking Well

141 Washington Street, South Norwalk, CT

www.washingtonprimect.com

 

 

*Rob Moss is no longer affiliated with cb5 Restaurant Group

*Marco Siguenza is no longer affiliated with Scena or 55 Degrees

 

 

Western Honey Pepper Whiskey

Calling all whiskey fans – here’s a new one for you to try!
20140613-095235.jpg
Imagine the sweetness in Honey Jack mixed with a little heat, almost the kind of heat you get when you have a shot of Fireball (yet a little more subtle), and you’ve got Western Honey Pepper Whiskey.

Western’s description of their whiskey explains how the honey and chili pepper flavors work well together: “This remarkable Honey Pepper Whiskey starts off caressing your palate with Natural Clove Honey, yet it has a long and teasing chili pepper finish.”

The hint of heat at the end is just enough to differentiate this whiskey from others and it encourages you to sip and enjoy.

Crawl Along With Us For Brunch! Dishcrawl Adds Brunchcrawl!

What: Brunchcrawl Eggstravaganza

When: Sunday, June 8th, 2:00pm

Where: Downtown Stamford

Tickets are on sale now! $45 per person

 

Have you heard about Dishcrawl yet? This national start-up brings together people through a unique food adventure, think pubcrawl but with FOOD! Dishcrawl helps you explore your neighborFOOD (so clever, I love it. Check out their main site here). Well, Dishcrawl has now added Brunchcrawl Eggstravaganza!

20130404-142905.jpg

How does it work? In one afternoon (or evening for traditional Dishcrawl) you will experience brunch dishes at several different restaurants in the city of your choice and meet the chefs and owners of each establishment, all for $45 per person. Instead of an evening of entrees for a Dishcrawl, this is an afternoon of brunch. Brunch at several locations is brilliant, especially if you’re like me and can never decide what to order for brunch. The restaurant destinations for your walking food tour are kept a secret and your Dishcrawl Ambassador emails you 48 hours prior to the event with the designated meeting place. A fun added feature to your food adventure – follow your Dishcrawl Ambassador on Twitter and they will post hints as to where your Dishcrawl event will be taking you to dine!

I haven’t been to a Dishcrawl event yet, and Kelly, our Fairfield County Dishcrawl Ambassador, recently invited me to attend the first Brunchcrawl – SWEET! Brunch is one of my absolute favorite meals, and I am very excited about this event. Feeling like exploring Stamford’s downtown brunch options? Come Brunchcrawl with us on June 8th!

 

For more information check out Dishcrawl’s website (above), or email Kelly, our Fairfield County Ambassador, at: kellyf@dishcrawl.com.

Food for Thought: Dreaming of Donuts

20130607-103746.jpg

This is not a photo of me, but this is the face I make when I’m excited about food, including donuts (or doughnuts, whichever spelling you prefer). And yes, my favorite donut is still the frosted kind with sprinkles as shown here. When my husband found this photo online (or on Istagram), it stopped him in his tracks, and all I heard was: “This is YOU!” as he began to chuckle. This photo made me chuckle too and I had to agree with him because he was right – this is the face I make. What can I say, food makes me happy and I get excited about it.

When I learned that today is National Doughnut/Donut Day I remembered this picture and I got to thinking about donuts. Ok, I’ll be honest, I got to dreaming about donuts. Dreaming of all the places where I’ve had donuts that are unforgettable and the one summer my great-grandmother made donuts with us from scratch (I have not made them as an adult from scratch, and now I have my next baking project). As a kid, my association with donuts was with this guy, Fred.

20130607-111425.jpg

Do you remember him? “It’s time to make the donuts,” was Fred’s catch phrase, and his fun commercials for Dunkin’ Donuts always made me laugh as a kid (you can watch one here). The donuts I ate as a kid were Dunkin’ Donuts, and they are still my favorite; when I indulge in a donut, this is where I am buying one (if you visit them today, Dunkin’ Donuts is giving you a free donut with any beverage purchase).

20130607-111438.jpg

When I was growing up, these small compact boxes would guarantee a delicious donut. We didn’t eat them often, in fact, it was my best friend’s mother who used to bring home several boxes of these on Sundays mornings. So if I was visiting or had a sleep-over from the night before, my BFF and I would enjoy a donut or two for breakfast; we weren’t coffee drinkers yet at that point. The box has changed to prevent the donuts from sticking together due to their frosted tops, but there was something about this box and pulling out a donut on a Sunday morning with my friend that makes me nostalgic for a donut.

Amy Kundrat’s “Fairfield County Chef’s Table” Offers A Unique Glimpse Into “Connecticut’s Undisputed Culinary Capital”

20140604-205129.jpg
Amy Kundrat’s newly released book, Fairfield County Chef’s Table: Extraordinary Recipes from Connecticut’s Gold Coast, with photography by Stephanie Webster, offers a unique, up-close and personal glimpse into the southern Connecticut food scene. Kundrat’s book isn’t just a where-to-eat guide to Fairfield County, instead she has compiled over 200 color photographs of restaurants, the chefs, and their dishes along with their recipes so you recreate the diverse and vibrant dining scene that thrives in Fairfield County in your own home.

If the names Amy Kundrat and Stephanie Webster sound familiar they should with both ladies at the helm of the ever popular website CTbites.com; Webster is the founder and editor-in-chief and Kundrat is the executive editor.

As a native to Fairfield County, I couldn’t agree more with Kundrat’s description of the area in her introduction as “Connecticut’s undisputed culinary capital.” From Greenwich to Bridgeport and beyond, Fairfield County offers a spectrum of culinary adventures unmatched by any other area of the state. Influenced by the area’s unique location within a short distance from New York City, and with farmland in the northern part of the county and the seacoast to the south, Fairfield County offers a dining scene that is up on culinary trends, supports local farmers, fishermen, and artisans, and donates to those in need through several food charities.

20140604-204947.jpg

Beyond the thoughtful introduction painting an accurate picture of Fairfield County (so much so that you might find yourself nodding in agreement with Kundrat’s description), the book is organized alphabetically by restaurant name and includes a background of each establishment and chef (or chefs) followed by a recipe or two along with several color photos. In between featured restaurants the book often highlights local farmers, fishermen, and artisans with names you might recognize such as Patti Popp of Sport Hill Farm (Easton), Norm Bloom and Sons, and Red Bee Apiary (both of Norwalk) who also play a crucial role in helping produce the outcome on your plate. These “food features” as I like to call them, are a pleasant find and really encourage you to read the entire book so you don’t miss these smaller highlighted sections.

What differentiates Fairfield County Chef’s Table from a typical cookbook, in addition to the amazing recipes included from each chef, is the attention and care given to the information and background story included about each establishment. Furthermore, you will not find an equipment section or a breakdown by ingredients or seasons. Instead, a table of contents and index help to guide you to your favorite recipes.

Each recipe includes an ingredients list followed by detailed step by step instructions and a photo or two. Whether you’re a novice cook like me or much more experienced in the kitchen, the recipes offer a range of tastes and complexity that would appeal to many. I myself have started putting sticky notes on recipes I plan to try and restaurants I plan to visit!

 

 

Fairfield County Chef’s Table: Extraordinary Recipes from Connecticut’s Gold Coast, by Amy Kundrat with photography by Stephanie Webster. Published by Lyons Press (an imprint of Globe Pequot Press, ISBN 978-0-7627-8641-1).

You can find the book at Barnesandnoble.com or amazon.com for $24.95.

 

Disclaimer: A review copy of this book was provided by the publisher, however all included herein is expressly my own opinion.

 

 

Pop Shop Is BACK and Celebrating Their 1st Year!

Pop Shop Market and Bar Car is back this weekend!

178633925-sm

Image from: popshop.com

On June 8th from 11am-4pm at the Fairfield Theatre Company (FTC), 70 Sanford St, Fairfield, CT (a very short walk from the Fairfield Metro North Station) you can help Pop Shop to celebrate its first anniversary along with all these fantastic vendors (for links, click here):

Anita Designs

Art & Kindness

Belliza Knight Jewelry

Boxed & Borrowed

Bristol Bliss

Canvas Eyewear

Diane Conlon Jewelry

du Grenier {from the attic}

Ebb & Flow

Elle Sera

Fairfield Makeup Studio

Farmhouse Fancy

Kallio NYC

Kelly Designs

Kirby & Co

Love Images

nathan & moe

Olive My Skin

Royal Native

Sail to Sable

Snapping Turtle Kids

Stonehill Designs

Three Bluebirds

Verdi Blu

 

And, of course, don’t forget all the FOOD!

The Bar Car for this Pop Shop will be hosted by Bodega Taco Bar’s Food Truck – YUM! Get ready for summer cocktails and some of my favorite tacos (read more here about my visit to Bodega Taco Bar and Bodega Taco Bar’s NEW food truck!).

Bounty

Buzz Truck

Dash n Drizzle

The Fairfield Cheese Company

Fireman’s Ice Cream Truck

From Your Inside Out

Greenwich Food Company

The Local Meatball

RPM Foods

Sustainable Indulgence

Will I see you at Pop Shop? :D

BlogHer’s June NaBloPoMo Begins Today! Let’s Start Writing (and Commenting)!

20140601-092500.jpg

I felt like I needed a writing challenge as we head into summer, and what better way to accomplish this then by participating in BlogHer’s NaBloPoMo?! So here goes – one post a day for the month of June! Thank you for reading along, and if you feel like writing too you have up until June 5th to sign up (read more here).