Thursday, November 9, 2017

The Cook and the Bear in West Hartford

Social Media Promotion: Sponsored

We finally made it! The Cook and The Bear is one restaurant I had been waiting and waiting to have an opportunity to visit. I loved the origins of this great collaboration between Millwright's chef and owner Tyler Anderson and the talented Jamie McDonald of Bear's Smokehouse. 

The Cook and The Bear - Table Setting
Made on Premise BBQ sauces
served in cute lil' honey bears

The duo first came together at a farm to table dinner, and then paired up in a series of pop up dinners. The sheer popularity of these dinners demanded a permanent pairing, and hence, the inception of "The Cook and The Bear" resulted in a win win!

Small and cozy and located in the heart of West Hartford's popular Blue Back Square, the Cook and the Bear continues to win over the locals and offers up a casual barbecue menu in a fun setting. 

Fresh Pickling Going' On!

Patrons order off a cute clipboard menu that features small bites, salads, sandwiches, snacks, entrees after 5pm, and smoked meats, sides, and combos.

The Cook and the Bear Clipboard Menu
The Cook and the Bear Clipboard Menu

A small but satisfying beer, wine, and cocktail menu is also available that features some fabulous specials!

So many of the cocktails at The Cook and The Bear are made with fresh ingredients. The marinated cherries served in many of the drinks are marinated on premise in bourbon and are incredibly delicious! So good that I thought they were made of chocolate!

Drinks at the Cook and the Bear
Drinks at the Cook and the Bear
(Left) Draft Beer.   (Right) 90s 2.0 Appletini 

Wendy from CT Lifestyles and I shared this fun cocktail found below - the Tom Selleck! It was fruity-juicy, potent, and oh so tasty! And it was served up in a fresh scooped out pineapple. 

Another great thing about their cocktail menu is that there are 'mocktails' available of several of their offerings - for those that want the flavor but not the 'punch'!

After sipping on some cocktails we moved on to our appetizers and starters enjoying everything we sampled! A simply MUST ORDER when you visit are the bacon wrapped dates! 

The Cook and The Bear Grilled Corn
Grilled Corn, parmesan, poblano

The Cook and The Bear Bacon Wrapped Dates
Bacon Wrapped Dates
Chorizo Stuffed - Spiced Yogurt 

The Cook and The Bear Smoked Salmon Deviled Eggs
Smoked Salmon Deviled Eggs
Everything Bagel Spice

The Cook and The Bear Pork Rillette and Fried Green Tomatoes
Crispy Pork Rillette - Fried Green Tomato
Sauce Choron

The Cook and The Bear Burnt End Sliders
Burnt End Sliders
Flavors of French Onion Soup 

The Cook and The Bear Chicken Wings
Charcoal Roasted Chicken Wings
Sesame Seeds - Buttermilk Dressing

Believe it or not - after sharing all those starters we found a little bit of room to move on to some smoked meats and proteins. We sampled some delicious thick cut pastrami, chicken, short ribs, and briskets.

The Cook and The Smoked Meats
Chicken-Smoked and Grilled
Smoked Brisket

Did someone say BURGER??? 

The Cook and The Bear Rodeo Burger
The Rodeo Burger
Wagu Beef - Cheesy Sauce - Onion Rings

And accompanying our proteins we ordered an assortment of sides. 

Traditional in their origins, but each had such an interesting twist. Wonderful flavors to add to our meal! Mac and Cheese Gratin, Broccoli Casserole with Rodeo Cheese and Crispy Shallots, Cabbage and Fennel Slaw, and Grits with Fennel Jam. 

Hard to pick a favorite, but if I had to it would be that amazing Broccoli Casserole!

Well, our dinner wouldn't be complete without dessert, and The Cook and The Bear rose to the occasion with some seasonal happy endings! 

Think of flavors like pumpkin pie, and apple spice, and you've got  just a bit of an inkling of what's in store for you at this incredible new barbecue restaurant!

Be sure you visit The Cook and the Bear soon!

The Cook and The Bear

50 Memorial Road
Blue Back Square
West Hartford, CT

DISCLAIMER: We were invited to this sampling by members of The Cook and the bear's management and marketing team, however, all views and opinions are our own.

© Home Place 2017

Thursday, November 2, 2017

New Haven Restaurant Week - Fall 2017

New Haven Restaurant Week for Fall 2017

Fall, food, fun, feast, and prix fixe - it all comes together for one week in the Elm City when New Haven launches their delicious RESTAURANT WEEK!

For one week - participating New Haven Restaurants throw open their doors and offer some amazing deals and menu items! Some for lunch specials, some for dinner specials, some for both! There are some prix fixe specials that you simply must try!

Running Sunday, November 5th through Friday, November 10th - treat yourself to a fab meal during New Haven Restaurant Week at one or more of over thirty participating restaurants!

Participating New Haven Restaurant Week Restaurants:

116 Crown (203) 777-3116
Adrianna’s  (203) 865-6474
Atelier Florian  (203) 859-5999
Barcelona (203) 848-3000
Read about my 2013 Restaurant Week visit to Barcelona HERE
Basta Trattoria (203) 772-1715
Caffé Bravo  (203) 772-2728
Caseus Fromagerie Bistro (203) 624-3373
Cask Republic (475) 238-8335 
Read about my 2012 dinner at Stamford's Cask Republic HERE
Christopher Martin’s (203) 776-8835
Read about my 2013 Restaurant Week visit  to Christopher Martin's HERE
Elm City Social (475) 441-7436
Fornarelli’s Ristorante (203) 745-5677
Goodfellas (203) 785-8722
Harvest Wine Bar & Restaurant (203) 777-2500
Read about my 2015 Restaurant Week visit to Harvest HERE
Heirloom (203) 503-3919
John Davenport’s (203) 974-6858
L’Orcio (203) 777-6670
Lenny and Joe’s Fish Tale  (203) 691-6619
Mecha Noodle Bar  (203) 691-9671 
Read about my 2016 visit to Mecha for dinner HERE
Miya’s Sushi (203) 777-9760
New Haven’s Taste of China (203) 745-5872
Olea (203) 780-8925
Olives and Oil (203) 891-5870
Pacifico (203) 772-4002
Prime 16  (203) 782-1616
Roía (203) 200-7045
Shell and Bones (203) 787-3466
Read about my 2016 visit to Shell & Bones for Restaurant Week HERE
 Soul de Cuba Cafe  (203) 498-2822
Tarry Lodge  (203) 672-0765
Read about my 2017 visit to Tarry Lodge for Restaurant Week HERE
Tre Scalini  (203) 777-3373
Read about my 2012 visit to Tre Scalini for lunch HERE
Union League Cafe (203) 562-4299
Make sure if you visit one of the participating restaurants during restaurant week that you tag #NHVeats and #CTRW and follow the hashtags for some looks at some amazing fare!

Fresh Market - Taste of the Holidays

The Fresh Market "Taste of the Holidays" Sampling Event

Photo Source: The Fresh Market
Photo Courtesy The Fresh Market

One of the BEST holidays is almost here! 

Thanksgiving has got to be one of my favorite times of the year! It's all about gorgeous fall weather, family, friends and GREAT FOOD!

I mean, really! Who doesn't love the sweet and savory flavors of the fall holiday season! One of my favorite places to shop for holiday meals is my local Fresh Market store. Lucky for me there's one about10 miles away from me in Guilford CT at the Guilford Commons! Find one near you HERE

The Fresh Market is THE destination for fresh and delicious holiday food! 

Not convinced? 

You can sample a little “Taste of the Holidays” at your local Fresh Market's Sampling Event on Saturday, November 11 and Sunday, November 12 (my birthday!!) from noon to 4 p.m. at ALL of their176 store locations!

The specialty grocer has selected holiday menu items available for sampling to spark meal ideas in advance of the Thanksgiving feast. 

That's right! The Fresh Market invites you to sample their mouthwatering, vegetarian-fed, 100 percent antibiotic-free thanksgiving turkey – never frozen and unmatched in taste and tenderness. 

Also featured at the event will be The Fresh Market’s spiral-sliced honey ham, double-glazed with honey and brown sugar and smoked over hickory hardwood – prepared to conveniently heat and serve at home. You can also savor some of their delicious side dishes during Taste of the Holidays, including The Fresh Market’s signature cranberry relish with just the right balance of sweet and tart. Perfectly spiced pumpkin pie, baked fresh in-store, will end the event on a sweet note – along with other traditional seasonal favorites made simple for the busy holiday season.

It only gets better! Now through Monday, November 20, The Fresh Market is offering holiday meal ordering for a simplified, foolproof Thanksgiving feast. The Fresh Market’s holiday meal ordering program is specially designed for guests who crave delicious, gourmet dishes prepared to perfection, as well as the comfort and convenience of a personalized order ready, reserved and waiting.  Uh-huh! Let The Fresh Market do all the food prep for you!

For those who savor the experience of cooking their Thanksgiving meal from scratch, The Fresh Market offers choices such as fresh turkey, beef tenderloin and lamb that can be purchased and prepared at home according to favorite family recipes. From a deluxe holiday dinner that serves 12-14 to a selection of à la carte items, the 2017 holiday meal ordering program delivers maximum flavor and minimum fuss to satisfy everyone at the Thanksgiving table.

After placing an order online or in-store, you can pick up a holiday spread at your local Fresh Market store by 10 p.m. on Tuesday, November 21 and Wednesday, November 22 and, in all store locations outside of Hingham, MA, by 3 p.m. on Thursday, November 23. 

Orders can be placed at

About The Fresh Market, Inc.

Founded in 1982, The Fresh Market, Inc. is a specialty grocery retailer focused on providing fresh, delicious food with friendly service in a warm and inviting atmosphere. From seasonally fresh produce to exceptional quality meat and seafood, signature baked goods and thousands of organic options, The Fresh Market is dedicated to offering its guests the most delicious and inspiring foods available. 
As a destination for weekly shopping and special occasions, The Fresh Market provides a thoughtful product assortment curated for all tastes and culinary preferences. The company operates 176 stores in 24 states across the U.S. 
For more information, please visit or follow The Fresh Market on Facebook, TwitterInstagram and Pinterest.

Wednesday, November 1, 2017

Wine On9 New Haven

One of my favorite events returns this Friday - the fabulous wine crawl through New Haven's Historic 9th District!

Wine On9 New Haven!

On Friday, November 3, Town Green District and The Wine Thief present an evening to remember with Wine On9

Visit the friendly 9th Square merchants & restaurants and sample over a dozen wines selected with the holiday season in mind. Find out how to pair these delicious wines with your favorite holiday meals, or purchase some to bring as a gift to parties. 

What a great opportunity to find your new personal favorite to enjoy all year long!

Free  parking  at  the Temple  St  Garage! 
Raffle Prizes!  

Registration  opens  at  5:45 pm  at  Baobab Tree Studios.

Participating Merchants for Wine On9:

116 Crown | 116 Crown St | New Year’s Eve Party

Artist & Craftsman Supply | 821 Chapel St | Crafting Holiday Fun

Baobab Tree Studios | 71 Orange St | Registration & Holiday Story Recordings

Breathing Room Yoga | 216 Crown St | Essential Holiday Healing

Capture Salon | 100 Crown St | Holiday Pampering

Ciivies | 845 Chapel St | Vintage Cocktail Party

EBM Vintage New Haven | 839 Chapel St | Holiday Table Settings 

EcoWorks | 262 State St | Build a Cork Trivet

Fletcher Cameron Design | 91 Orange St | Christmas in the Kitchen

Fornarelli's Ristorante | 99 Orange St | John’s Special Mulled Thanksgiving Sangria

G Café | 141 Orange St | Bread and Tapas

Make Haven | 266 State St | Laser Cut Snowflake Ornaments

Meat & Co |116 Crown St | Day After Thanksgiving

NHV Pride Center | 84 Orange St | Photo Booth Fabulosity

Reynold's Fine Art Gallery | 96 Orange St | Gift Guide for Art Buyers

The Institute Library | 847 Chapel St | Literary Selections for the Season

The Wine Thief | 181 Crown St | 15% case discount & 10% discount on single bottles of wine from tour, beer & spirits! After the tour ends at 8 pm visit to the enter raffle!

VOVO Organics | 28 Orange St | All Organic Holiday Gifts

Purchase tickets HERE

And save the date *Friday Dec 1st* for Cookies On9

Here Comes the Third Annual Great Mac and Chili Challenge

Get Ready to Celebrate Comfort Food at Its Finest!

Get ready cuz it's back! 

The 3rd Annual Great Mac & Chili Challenge to be held Sunday Nov. 5th at Sherwood Island State Park in Westport. 

“You never know where you might find a great chili or mac n' cheese” say event director Jim Keenan. “For example, you wouldn't expect a great mac n' cheese from a pizza joint, would you? Well you can find an incredible Alfredo Mac recently entered in this year from Pizza Planet in Norwalk”. 

That's just one example as you can find other examples like a great pesto mac n' cheese from the Cast Republic in Norwalk or a spinach and artichoke mac from Killer B also from Norwalk. 

All of the chili entries are just as amazing. From local classic favorites to creative chili entries like a Yankee white bean and seafood chili from Harbor Harvest in Norwalk and a green hatch chili from Geronimo in Fairfield. 

“Your taste buds will be dancing” says Keenan!

This people's choice competition determines who has the best classic chili, creative chili, classic mac and creative mac n' cheese! And everyone who attends will be  given a spoon, ballot and pencil when they arrive. That's right! YOU'LL BE THE JUDGE!

You'll rate each entry on a scale from 7 to 10.5 and the restaurants with the highest rating average in their category will be declared this year's champion. 

“I love how seriously everyone takes this event” said Keenan. “First, they grab a complimentary coffee or tea from the New England Coffee Company or Harney & Sons , then discuss their strategy about whether they start their day with chili or a mac n' cheese. They bring a muffin tin from home to carry their samples. Some break-up and head in different directions and meet in the middle to discuss who they think are the best and compare ballots.. They take their voting seriously as they know it determines who is declared the best”. Keenan says it's great fun and to come early, come hungry and bring your muffin tins! 

Joe's American Bar & Grill from Fairfield along with Pizza Planet from Norwalk recently joined the competition that now includes: Firehouse Grill in Monroe, Hub & Spoke in Blackrock Bridgeport, Little Pub from Wilton, Fairfield, Ridgefield and Greenwich, Prime 16 from Orange, The Blind Rhino from Norwalk, Cask Republic in SoNo, Stamford and New Have, Geronimo of Fairfield and New Haven, Harbor Harvest of Norwalk, Simply Delicious of Norwalk and Westport, Burger Bar & Bistro in Norwalk, Peaches Southern Pub & Juke Joint of Norwalk, Bobby Q 's Cue & Company of Norwalk, Killer B of SoNo and Old Post Tavern of Fairfield. 

Those who attend can add Hummel hot dog “bites” to either their chili or mac n' cheese samples grilled up by the DogTracks food truck. 

To cap all the sampling, attendees can enjoy sweet samples of Farmer's Cow ice cream and milk, or try amazing cookie dough form the CT Cookie Company and grab a sample of those famous NECCO wafers! 

The Great Mac & Chili Challenge 

11AM to 3PM on Sunday Nov. 5, 2017 
Sherwood Island State Park in Westport CT. 
$15 Adults at the door or online HERE
$5 Kids 6-12
Parking:  FREE

For additional information please visit the event website: 

The Great Mac & Chili Challenge is sponsored by: The Farmer's Cow, New England Coffee Company, Hummel Brothers, Cabot Creamery, Connecticut Cookie Company, New England Confectionery Company, Acadia brand water, WEBE 108, Clover, Lowe's, Harney & Son Teas and City Carting & Recycling

Monday, October 30, 2017

Liv's Oyster Bar - New Fall Menu

If you're anything like me you love this time of year! 

Even though I absolutely adore Spring and Summer, there is just something so special about Fall. The beautiful colors of nature surround us inspiring our sense of fashion for deep jewel tones and warm cozy clothing. 

But even better - Fall harvest means sensational homestyle rustic dishes and savory comfort food. 

There's a great place out this way in southeast Connecticut that features some fabulous fall dishes. Now that fall weather is finally upon us, this is THE place to visit and enjoy some delicious fall food fare!

Where? Liv's Oyster Bar located on Main Street in Old Saybrook Connecticut. Executive Chef/Owner John Brescio has just added some new dishes to the fall menu and they sound absolutely delicious.

Sip your  way through a big bowl of savory soup enhanced with one of my favorite spices, curry in their Curried Cauliflower Soup made with smoked mussels, capers, and crème fraiche.

Curried Cauliflower Soup at Liv's Oyster Bar
Curried Cauliflower Soup $9.95
Photo Courtesy Liv's Oyster Bar

Soup not your thing? How about a Farro and Fall Vegetable Salad made with roasted fall squash and broccoli, baby brussel sprouts, beets, red onion, delightfully dressed with a brown butter and cider vinaigrette.  I know...right? So many fall flavors in one beautiful dish.

A must try is Chef's Fall Squash Ravioli, made with mushrooms, shrimp, parmesan mushroom sauce, pine nuts, and sage. Tell me this doesn't look and sound absolutely incredible. Rich, hearty, and so dang good!

Fall Squash Ravioli at Liv's Oyster Bar
Fall Squash Ravioli $24.95
Photo Courtesy Liv's Oyster Bar

Feeling like a bit more protein? Try the Pan Roasted Chicken served with potato gnocchi, roasted brussel sprouts, fall squash, with made on premise chicken sausage, with a beautiful chicken a jus! 

Pan Roasted Chicken at Liv's Oyster Bar
Pan Roasted Chicken $24.95
Photo Courtesy Liv's Oyster Bar

Last, but certainly not least, you simply must try these Short Rib Pastrami Sliders! Talk about a melding of fall flavors melting in your mouth! These flavorful big bites are made on pretzel rolls, with pickled red cabbage, cheddar cheese, whole grain mustard dijonaise, and potato knish. 

Short Rib Pastrami Sliders at Liv's Oyster Bar
Short Rib Pastrami Sliders $18.95
Photo Courtesy Liv's Oyster Bar

Liv’s Oyster Bar opened in 2006 from Executive Chef/Owner John Brescio’s desire to welcome the community to his family’s table, savoring time with friends and family on the shore during summer and beyond.  

The menu changes with the seasons, delivering simple, focused dishes with an emphasis on local ingredients, and stunning seafood, a mainstay of the Connecticut shoreline   
The restaurant is open six days a week for dinner on Main Street in the heart of scenic Old Saybrook, CT!

Be sure to visit them soon!

Liv's Oyster Bar

166 Main Street
Old Saybook, CT 
(860) 395-5577

Follow them on Twitter (@LivsOysterBar)
Like them on Facebook (Liv’s Oyster Bar
Follow them on Instagram (livsoysterbar). 

Sunday, October 29, 2017

Greenwich Wine and Food Festival 2017 Recap

Social Media Promotion: Sponsored

This year's 7th Annual Greenwich Wine and Food Festival was absolutely amazing! 

I honestly don't know how they do it - but every year it keeps getting better and better. From the delicious gourmet food served by some of New England's best restaurants and restauranteurs -- to the fine wine and libations - and consistently getting top notch entertainment, it truly is the best way to spend a fall weekend in Connecticut.

Greenwich Wine+Food Fest Gift Bags

This year was no exception, and on a beautifully sunny and warm September Saturday, over 5,000 people agreed with me and attended  the Greenwich Wine+ Food Festival. This year a portion of profits supported the year's host Mario Batali's own Mario Batali Foundation, as well as the Friends of James Beard Benefits and the Town of Greenwich Parks and Rec Foundation.

The festival opened on Friday evening with Scott Conant serving as MC of the 2017 Serendipity Magazine's "Most Innovative Chefs" Wine Dinner.  This dinner honors the area's most innovative chefs as well as the festival's ambassador chefs. Each group of chefs prepares their specialty dishes along with select wines and signature cocktails.

  • Most Innovative Chefs: Carlos Baez (The Spread), Stavros Karipides (Famous Greek Kitchen), Lisa & Steve Maronian (Sweet Lisa’s Exquisite Cakes), Mike Pietrafeso (Ada’s Kitchen + Coffee), Brad Spence (Amis Trattoria), Ian Vest (Back 40 Kitchen) and Marc Weber (On the Marc Events).  
  • Festival Ambassador Chefs: Mogan Anthony (Village Social), Rui Correia (Douro/Gaia), Constantine Kalandranis (273 Kitchen), Brian Lewis (The Cottage), Christian Petroni (Fortina), Debra Ponzek (Aux Délices), Nadia Ramsey (Méli-Mélo Catering), Robin Selden (Marcia Selden Catering & Event Planning) and David Snyder (Char Restaurant).
Saturday is the showcase event, the Grand Tasting where over 150 vendors meet under the Grand Tasting Tent. In addition, contests, demonstrations and interviews are taking place outside the tent. Guests were treated to demos and interview with Celebrity Chef and this years GWFF Chef Host, Mario Batali, Chopped judges Alex Guarnaschelli and Scott Conant, Man V Food host Adam Richman, as well as many locally renowned chefs! Here local Chef Matt Storch interviews Chopped's  Scott Conant. 

Matt Storch and Scott Conant

We started our day visiting the vendors and sampling some of the great food and drink before moving on to the contests, like this one of the Bartender's Showdown!

Bartenders Showdown
Photo Courtesy 2017 Greenwich Wine + Food Festival - Sara Luckey

  • Burger Battle Winners: Hapa Food Truck – Judge’s Choice and Darien Butcher Shop – People’s Choice
  • Top Bartender Showdown Winners: Juan Meyer from Eastend in Greenwich – Judge’s Choice and Jamie Johel from Craft 14 Kitchen + Bar in Wilton – People’s Choice
Here are some of our pictures from throughout the day

GWFF the lodge
Small bites from The Lodge at Woodloch

Wine Pour with AIX Wine
GWFF Back 40 Brunch
Delicious offerings from Back 40
featuring their delicious Sunday Brunch

GWFF Muscado
More Delicious Wine from Greenwich Wine + Food Fest

GWFF 2017 Del Frisco Grille
Del Frisco's Grille at Greenwich Wine + Food Fest

GWFF 2017 Bom Bom Liqueur
Bom Bom is the Bomb!

The highlight of my night was staying for the first time to see the entire entertainment act of the evening - with headliners TRAIN closing out the evening!

Train at GWFF
Photo Courtesy 2017 Greenwich Wine + Food Festival - Sara Luckey

We had a wonderful time again this year at Greenwich's premier food festival and can't wait to return next year to see what Serendipity Magazine has in store for us all!

Hope we see you there!

For more photos of our day 
visit our Facebook page HERE 
and while you're there - don't forget to "like" us!

Greenwich Wine and Food Festival

Sponsored by Serendipity Magazine
Roger Sherman Baldwin Park
100 Arch Street
Greenwich CT 06830

Disclaimer: Portions of our weekend at the Greenwich Wine and Food Fest were sponsored.
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