All posts filed under: Food

Growing and Cooking Asparagus

There’s nothing like asparagus that has been picked within hours of cooking. They are so sweet and juicy. Asparagus is at its best right after picking, because the sugars start converting into starches, and the longer it sits around, it loses flavor and toughens. Which is why we started an asparagus patch years ago. Growing asparagus is a bit of an investment, in time (the plants start producing two years after planting) and space (the patch will be fallow from July to April). But so worth it.   I never know how many I’ll find. On a good day, a dozen, on an average day a few. The spears range from thick to thin, and I’ve observed no rhyme or reason why. I like the thicker ones because they are juicier and meatier. But the thin ones have their own concentrated flavor. The way I cook them is like this:  First, peel the bottom third of the stems.  I don’t snap or cut the ends off because the asparagus are so fresh and the stems …

Prime: American Kitchen and Bar

The location is prime. Right on the water in Stamford, with floor-to-ceiling windows overlooking a harbor filled with pleasure boats. Comfortable, contemporary, and sophisticated, Prime serves an updated American surf and turf menu. Start with sushi, and end with steak. That’s what we did. Prime, which opened 2 years ago, wasn’t on my radar, until I was invited to dinner there by Carolyn Izzo of CIIS.  It’s one of the 8 restaurants in the Bohlsen Restaurant Group, which runs another Prime across Long Island Sound in Huntington, N.Y. The intriguing avocado-wrapped Green Lotus revealed an interior of spicy tuna, lump crab, and Asian pear. The Stamford Landing roll wrapped tuna over shrimp tempura and avocado. For those who avoid sushi, a starter of prosciutto and caramelized figs, with almonds and goat cheese, drizzled with balsamic glaze, was sweet and salty. Prime lived up to its name with this 21-day aged USA Prime porterhouse steak for two. It had a good char on the outside, and was pink, well-marbled, tender and full of beefy flavor.  It …

Lucas Local Oyster Bar and Woodfire Cookery

Oyster lovers, head inland. The best oysters to be found in Fairfield County are not on the coast but in Newtown, CT, at Lucas Local Oyster Bar and Woodfire Cookery. The other day I sampled some of the freshest and most expertly opened oysters, pristine, glistening, and briny. This contemporary American Sea and Land restaurant is housed in an antique house, renovated with rough hewn repurposed boards, and calming gray walls. Lucas is relaxed and fun, a place to enjoy life by eating well. Owner Vince Capelletti is a seasoned restaurateur, and the kitchen is kicking out some excellent dishes. We were recently invited to a tasting by Max Ex, the restaurant marketing firm. The dish that stayed in my mind afterwards? Shrimp and grits. Coarse stone-ground grits, lightly grilled red shrimp, sprightly fresh scallions, basil oil, and a poached egg. At brunch it’s like the best adult porridge you could imagine. At dinner, pure comfort food, where you’re saying, “ummm,” after every bite. Seared Stonington scallops were simply paired with grilled frisée. Octopus was finished over the wood fire, and paired with hummus …

Bests and Favorites: Food of 2017

In no particular order other than jogging the old noggin, here are the dishes, drinks and food experiences I enjoyed the most in Fairfield County, CT, and beyond, in 2017.  Critera for inclusion: eaten in the last year. Samosas. Royal Guard in Norwalk makes crisp deep-fried samosas filled with spiced potatoes.  But that’s not all. The fish and chips are the best in Fairfield County. And the Pakistani chicken curry with warm, glistening naan makes up for the lack of atmosphere in this little hole in the wall. I reviewed Royal Guard for the Hartford Courant. Cochinita at Los Poblanos in Norwalk. I’ve written about Los Poblanos for the Hartford Courant and CT Bites. It’s a big favorite of  my friends, one of whom lived in Mexico. We refer to the restaurant as “Juan’s.” Juan is the chef-owner. He, his wife and children are lovely people. I love Mexican food. Could eat it every day. Here are a couple of my favorite dishes at Mexican places in Bridgeport. I wrote about my favorite ethnic restaurants in Bridgeport here. Carnitas with grilled jalapeno at La Mexicana, Bridgeport Carnitas tacos …

Village Tavern

It’s the first restaurant you’ll see driving into Ridgefield, the sort of place you hope to find in this gracefully affluent town. Inside, there’s a long copper bar and a relaxed, clean, comfortable vibe. A friend and I went to Village Tavern the other day to catch up with Bruno DiFabio, the restaurateur. I’ve written about Bruno a number of times over the years. He’s a master pizza maker who also owns Amore in Stamford. Bruno always has got something new going on. Beneath Village Tavern is his Romolo Gastro Pizza. My friend raves about the lasagna Bolognese at Romolo. Village Tavern menu has burgers, lobster rolls, Caesar’s salad, all the things people want, and it also has what we wanted: homemade pasta. This is corn flour penne with Parmesan cream and porcini. My friend loved the silky texture of the pasta. I didn’t try it because it had truffle oil, and as those who know me know, I can’t stand the stuff. But I loved the tagliatelle Bolognese. The homemade pasta curled around the ragu of ground pork, veal and beef. It was warm and …

Roasted Pepper Salad

One of the first dishes I ever learned to make is still one of my favorites. Giuliano Bugialli’s insalata di  peperoni e capperi, pepper salad with capers. The recipe comes from Bugialli’s Foods of Italy, which was published in 1984, yet remains contemporary, filled with classic regional recipes and gorgeous photographs by John Dominis. It’s a book I’ve enjoyed sitting with, reading and looking, and standing over, checking instructions. My copy opens to the pepper salad dish, and as I flip through the pages, I see how much I learned from Foods of Italy, how many  techniques I use years later.     The colorful salad of silky, sweet bell peppers, tangy capers and fresh mint and basil, can be an hors d’oeuvre, a side-dish, an addition to a sandwich. It goes well with anything. The first step is grilling the peppers. My most recent version of this dish expanded beyond bell peppers, and included some spicy long peppers from Sport Hill Farm. If you’re roasting the peppers inside, under the broiler, here’s an excellent technique I learned from Bugialli’s recipe: place a …

Best Tomato Season Ever

This long, warm summery fall has extended tomato season in our little garden. Last year, we harvested only green tomatoes. This year, we’ve had the best harvest ever, growing this heirloom variety for first time. I don’t know their official name. My husband grew them from seeds he saved from an heirloom tomato we bought from Sport Hill Farm the previous summer.  They’re multi-colored, showing shades of yellow, orange, pale green, blushed with red. They grow to be over a pound.  The sweet flavor takes well to quick sauces filled with fresh herbs.  They also slice up beautifully as a side dish for dinner, or for sandwiches. For a size comparison, here’s one of our Peachy Giants (which is what I’ve named them because when I chop up a quart to freeze, they look a lot like the quarts of frozen peaches)  with tomatoes we got at the Black Rock Farmers Market. Of course, those tomatoes were delicious too. Juicy and ripe. Sliced, sprinkled with salt, drizzled with olive oil, and scattered with fresh herbs, basil, chives, fresh mint, …