Saturday, July 27, 2013

Cash Mob CT at Country Paint and Hardware in North Branford CT

We're finally experiencing some beautiful weather in Connecticut! Today was a humidity-free 75 degrees, and sunny and warm.

Country Paint and Hardware, North Branford CT
Country Paint and Hardware, North Branford CT
I finally got to jump back into a local Cash Mob CT experience in neighboring North Branford CT at Country Paint and Hardware!

If you haven't participated in one of our local Cash Mob's here in Connecticut, you should! It's a great way to support some local businesses. All you need is a $20.00 bill and a yearning to shop (yup - that I've got!) and it's a great way to inject some of that economic stimulus into a locally owned business.  Because that's where it will make a REAL difference!

Each month the folks at REX Development, together with Cash Mob CT,  choose a town or city that is part of the 15 municipalities that make up the South Central Regional Council of Governments (SCRCOG) to descend on to be "Cash-Mobbed".  Then, we voters do the rest! Local businesses are nominated - and a final vote is held where the Mob-Winner is selected and announced. 

Past winners have been RJ Julia Booksellers in MadisonFlutterby in Guilford, the Bethany Farm Market in BethanySweet Cioccolata in Wallingfordthe Sweet Shoppe in East HavenSomething of Bev's in MilfordBooks and Company in Hamden, Totally Awesome Goods in Branford, and Metamorphosis in West Haven, CT

This was my sixth Cash Mob and although I can't do a lot, I can spend $20.00! Just doing my part to save the world - one dollar at a time!

And Country Paint and Hardware is a great place to go!  In fact, today, Julia, one of the knowledgeable service staff at the store, even offered us some delicious popcorn, free, while we shopped, in honor of the Cash Mobbers!
Popcorn at Country Paint and Hardware, North Branford CT
Meet Julia - And have a little popcorn at Country Paint and Hardware

Here are some of the items I spotted in this great little hardware store - still offering great prices - in spite of the big box stores!  Even my husband says that Country Paint and Hardware is his "go-to" spot when working within a 10 mile radius.
Country Paint and Hardware Adirondack Chairs
Bright colored Adirondack chairs, wheel barrels and planters at Country Paint and Hardware
 Country Paint and Hardware North Branford CT
Copper Wall Sculpture, the Farmer's Almanac, and Lawn Gear at Country Paint and Hardware

Did you know that Country Paint and Hardware has a full decorating center?  Decorator paint, cabinet hardware, and more! Stop by and see them!

Country Paint and Hardware Decorating Center
Country Paint and Hardware Decorating Center
We did our part too! I came home with a beautiful turquoise resin Adirondack chair and the cowboy purchased a hummingbird solar light for our garden!
Cash Mob CT Country Paint and Hardware Purchases
Cash Mob CT Country Paint and Hardware Purchases

There is certainly something for everyone at Country Paint and Hardware. 
Stop buy and see them!




Do you want to participate in a local Cash Mob CT?

Follow them on facebook HERE to find out where they'll be next!

And here I am...enjoying my new purchase!

Support Local! 

Do you have any favorite neighborhood merchants you shop at?

I'd love to hear about them in the comments below.
Note: Home Place uses "Comment Moderation" - your comments may not be visible for 24 hours.

Brasitas Restaurant in Stamford CT

Last week we were invited to be the guests of Brasitas Restaurant in Stamford CT for the five course 15-year anniversary celebration.
Brasitas Restaurant Stamford CT

This was my first time at Brasitas Stamford (there is also a Brasitas Norwalk) and I was pleased to learn that this incredible five-course dinner would be complete with paired wines.

When we arrived, Brasitas general manager Ingrid Forero, greeted us and explained a little about Brasitas history of preparing nueva latina and latin fusion foods. She explained tonight's menu was geared more with a Spanish theme, and that all the wine pairings would be Spanish, as well.  Ingrid is the niece of the owners (pictured below) of Brasitas, hosts of our wonderful evening. I'm so disappointed I wasn't able to get a picture of the lovely Ingrid, she was so busy welcoming and seeing to her guests, I didn't want to disturb her. Next time Ingrid!
The Owners of Brasitas Restaurant Stamford CT
Our charming hosts for the evening, Jaime, the owner of Brasitas (center),
his beautiful wife Nubia (left) and lovely daughter Jeanelle (right)

The restaurant features an indoor/outdoor combination bar and a wrap around patio for outdoor dining. Although intimate and cozy by nature, there is plenty of comfortable seating both inside and out. Inside the restaurant are warm and vibrant colors, which glow with intensity at night, and tastefully simple Latin decor.

Brasitas Restaurant Stamford CT

The first course, a Spinach Salad, was a wonderful start to the meal, and paired with a bubbly Brut. The salad was perfectly dressed, with a nice balance of textures and flavors through the crunch of pine nuts, sweet raisins and quince, and a creamy valdeon cheese.
Ensalada Catalana  (Spinach Salad) at Brasitas Stamford CT
(L) Ensalada Catalana
Prepared with Baby Spinach, Valdeon Cheese, Golden Raisins,
Pine nuts, Caramelized Quince and a Sherry Vinaigrette
(R) Codurniu Brut Cava, Penedes Spain
Prominent variey of aromas, apple, citrus, almond flowers
The next course was from the sea,  Roasted Portuguese Octopus, served with a hearty white Mar de Frades Alberino, known for its distinctive cobalt blue bottle and temperature sensitive logo on the label. (It actually lets you know when the wine is at the correct serving temperature.)
This was my first sampling of octopus, and I thoroughly enjoyed it.  I was surprised that the texture was fibrous, similar in texture to a white table mushroom, and the taste was delightful, accented beautifully by the accompanying sauces and garnishes.

Pulpo a la Portuguesa (Octopus) at Brasitas Stamford CT
(R) Pulpo a la Portuguesa
Roasted Portuguese Octopus, Baccala and Potato Cream,
Lightly Charred Scallions, Chorizo, Mojo Verde
(L) Mar de Frades Alberino, Rias Baixas Spain
notes of fuji apple, pears, and lemon verbana
Our next course was also from the sea, a nice Monkfish, paired with a red Ramon Bilbao Crianza table wine.  The fish was prepared beautifully, however, I feel the wine was too bold to be paired with the fish, and somewhat diminished its flavor. I cleared my palate with a full glass of water before finishing the monkfish, and it was amazing how that alone enhanced the flavor.
Pajespo con Romesco (Monkfish) at Brasitas Stamford CT
(L) Pajespo con Romesco
Monkfish, Jamón Serrano,
With a Summer Pea Casserole, Romesco Sauce, Pisto and Clam Broth
(R) Ramon Bilbao Crianza, Rioja Spain
smokey and fruit infused nuances

On to our last dinner course, Pork Belly Brined in Smoked Paprika, paired with red Cruz de Alba Crainza. Although I was a bit apprehensive about trying pork belly for the first time, it was without a doubt, the highlight of my evening. Don't get me wrong, I love bacon and all its salty goodness to a certain degree, but I was afraid this might be too rich, salty, and overpowering for me.

I could not have been more wrong. It was wonderful. Simply wonderful.

Rich and delicious, the addition of pickled deep dark cherries added a delightful fresh and bright accompaniment to the only slightly salty rich flavor. It was amazingly good. Crispy on the outside, slow cooked and fat rendered smokily delicious on the inside. If I had to make a critique, it would be the difficulty in cutting through the crust with our dinner knife, and realized too late I should have simply requested a steak knife to assist with slicing.

I would travel the one hour trek to Stamford's Brasitas in a heartbeat, any day, just to have this one more time!
Chicarrón (Pork Belly) at Brasitas Stamford CT
Pork Belly Brined in Smoked Paprika, Cauliflower-Manchego Foam,
Crispy Cauliflower, Chanterelle Mushroom, Solera Vinegar, Pickled Cherries
Cruz de Alba Crainza, Ribera del Duero Spain
with a Plum, smokey background

Before moving on to the dessert course and apertif, I must thank the extremely knowledgeable Victoria from Brescome Barton Wine and Spirit Distributors who joined the gathering for the evening to explain each wine as it was served with its course.
Victoria from Brecome Barton Wine and Spirit Distributors
And now on to the crowning jewel of the evening, a wonderfully light and citric Olive Oil and Rosemary Cake topped with Grapefruit Sorbet, served with Licor 43. The cake was dense and flavorful, lightened by the citrus sorbet, and the dollop of mascarpone cheese infused with lemon essence and mint, was a delightful end to the evening.

And what's more, Licor 43 was the absolutely perfect apertif to serve with it. Licor 43 had a strong spirit taste tempered beautifully by the vanilla essence. I had never sampled this before, and before this week ends, I can promise you a bottle will be in my spirit cabinet. The unusual name? It's based on the 43 citrus and fruit juices, vanilla, and other aromatic herbs and spices blended to make this "Spanish Temptation" a smooth. slightly sweet, 63 proof liqueur.

Torta de Aceite (Olive Oil and Rosemary Cake with Grapefruit Sorbet at Brasitas Stamford CT
Torta de Aceite
Olive Oil and Rosemary Cake,
Grapefruit Sorbet, Cosecha Miel Marinated Grapes
Licor 43 - Cuarenta Y Tres
citrus essence with a touch of vanilla, warm-bodied and very aromatic
The wonderful food was equally matched by my dining companions for the evening, several other Connecticut Food and Restaurant Bloggers who had also been invited to the anniversary dinner,

Alicia from Local Food Rocks, Dee from DeeCuisine, Anatoli from Talk-A-Vino, and Greg and Wendy from Connecticut Bloggers - it was wonderful to meet you all!
Talk-A-Vino, DeeCuise, Local-Food-Rocks, CTBloggers, HomePlace
My amazing dining companions at Brasitas Stamford
 Anatoli from Talk-A-Vino, Dee from DeeCuisine, Bonnie from Home Place,
Wendy and Greg from Connecticut Bloggers. Alicia from Local Food Rocks,
If you have a chance, it is worth the trek from anywhere to sample this delightful touch of South America and Latin Fusion in Stamford CT! Stop in and try this amazing restaurant.

954 East Main Street
Stamford, CT 06902

Phone:  (203) 354.7329

Like them on facebook: HERE  
Follow them on twitter:  @BRASITAS

Do you have any favorite items from this review? 

Have you ever tried any of the items from this five course dinner? 

Do you like Latin Fusion?

I'd love to hear about it in the comments below.
Note: Home Place uses Comment Moderation - your comments may not be visible for 24 hours.

Disclaimer: I was invited to Brasitas Restaurant as the guests of management for this special fifteenth anniversary dinner. All opinions and views expressed are my own. The items reviewed in this post may not be available on their traditional menu. 

Brasitas on Urbanspoon

Sunday, July 21, 2013

Whole Foods Market Local and Organic Showcase in Glastonbury CT

This week I was invited to the Whole Foods Market in Glastonbury CT, for a local and organic showcase event, featuring some of the best products New England has to offer! 

Whole Foods Market Local and Organic Showcase
Whole Foods Market Glastonbury - Local and Organic Showcase
What an informational event! In attendance were several Whole Foods Culinary Specialists, as well as several brand ambassadors and owners of other local New England companies: Cissé Trading Company, Ripe Bar Juice, Ooma Tesoro's, and Tea-Rrific.

I worked my way around the room, starting with Rachael from Cissé Trading Company who prepared a refreshing frozen banana hot cocoa "frostéy". It was delicious, perfect for a health-conscious treat, and what a great idea to use a frozen banana instead of ice to "slush" it up. All it took was a frozen ripe banana, whole (or you can use skim) milk and Cissé's organic Fair Trade Vanilla Bean Hot Cocoa Mix. Cissé's also makes cake, cookie, muffin and brownie mixes, all made with Fair Trade organic products.  
Cisse Trading Company Demonstration
Rachel from Cisse Trading Company at Whole Foods Glastonbury CT
Next we sampled some of Tia's Blueberry Granola Crisp made with local blueberries from Rose's Berry Farm in South Glastonbury. Tia is a demonstration specialist, and this crisp was easy to make, and (Recipe: HERE)
Whole Foods Market Blueberry Crisp Granola
Blueberry Crisp Granola at Whole Foods Market Glastonbury CT
Next we sampled some of the best cocktail mixes around, from Ripe Bar Juice. Ripe is 100% fresh and natural, and comes in Margarita, Mojito, Punch, Lemon Sour, and Bloody Mary flavors. My very favorite was the mojito, probably because CT is experiencing a South Beach-like tropical heat wave...and mojito's remind me of fun times in South Beach. Best of all? They're located in New Haven, CT - right near me. Now that's what I call local!
Ripe Bar Juice
Ripe Bar Juice - Whole Foods Glastonbury CT
Next we met Mario from Tea-Rriffic Ice Cream - and sampled some homemade ice cream made with all natural ingredients. What a great idea! Tea infused flavors blended with light and creamy ice cream. The end result is a light subtle "grown-up" type taste. Tea-Rrific comes in Masala Chai (Assam black and rooibos teas with sweet aromatic and peppery spices), London Mist (malty and citrusy Earl Grey Tea with a hint of vanilla bean, Chunky London Mist (semi-sweet Belgian chocolate flakes and buttery roasted pecan chunks), Chamomile (with notes of Apple and Honey from Egyptian Chamomile Flowers), and Ginger Matcha (fresh ginger perfectly balanced with delicate grassy notes of premium Matcha green tea). Best of all?  It's ALL NATURAL!
Tea-Rrific Ice Cream - Whole Foods Market Glastonbury CT
Next up was Devon, a Culinary Demonstration Specialist, from Whole Foods-West Hartford who demonstrates at some of the greater Hartford area Whole Foods. Today Devon prepared a fresh Green Bean Salad with a homemade Berry Vinaigrette made with mostly locally grown products. (Recipe: HERE) Devon explained how Whole Foods partners with local growers to give their customers the freshest produce. Are you interested in pairing with Whole Foods? Contact your local store for more information.
Whole Foods Green Bean Salad with Berry Vinaigrette
Devon from Whole Foods prepared a Green Bean Salad with Berry Vinaigrette 
Next up was Jon, another Culinary Specialist from Whole Foods Market, who prepared an amazing Grilled Corn on the Cob, using sweet cooking rice seasoning, butter, and soy sauce. I have to admit when he explained the ingredients, I was doubtful, but when I tasted it - I was SOLD! It was amazingly good, and I will be incorporating this corn on the cob grilling technique into my summer barbecues!  When I asked why the unusual flavors, he explained his history as an exchange student in Japan, and how that influences some of the flavor profiles he works with. The tips you learn from these chefs at Whole Foods never cease to amaze me! **Update: See the Comments section at the end of this post for Jon's Japanese Style Grilled Corn on the Cob recipe. (Thanks Jon!)

Grilled Corn on the Cob at Whole Foods Market
Grilled Corn on the Cob - Whole Foods Market
Last on my Whole Foods Local and Organic Showcase tour was Michael, founder, owner, and chef of Ooma Tesoro's Marinara Sauce.  Michael's love for food is apparent in his dedication to producing his Ooma's (grandmother's) recipe, in the same way he learned from her, made with love with natural ingredients in small batches. Ooma Tesoro sauce is made in our neighboring state of Massachusetts, in the beautiful Berkshire Mountains.
Ooma Tesoro's Marinara Sauce - Whole Foods Market Glastonbury CT
What an informational and inspiring showcase we shared at Whole Foods Market on this visit.  A wonderful reminder to shop organic AND support and buy local!
Whole Foods Market Local and Organic Showcase
Whole Foods Market Local and Organic Showcase - Glastonbury CT

Do you have a Whole Foods Market near you? 

I'm still hoping that my immediate area in the Branford, Guilford, Madison, Old Saybrook shoreline in Connecticut gets a Whole Foods Market soon!  

 !! Hint-Hint !!

Disclaimer: I was invited to attend this Showcase by Whole Foods Market. All opinions contained herein are my own. All items shown are subject to change and may not be available in your area..
Real Time Web Analytics