Saturday, December 21, 2013

Whole Foods Market at Bishops Corner West Hartford CT for Holiday Recipe Ideas!

Every year I mull over the same predicaments! What to serve for holiday dinners!?!? 

Not necessarily the ones where the entire family gathers on Christmas Eve or Christmas Day, but appetizers and dinners that I can serve for friends dropping in for casual dinners and get-togethers!

Thankfully, I don't have too far to look for inspiration.  Great ideas can be found in my local Whole Foods Market. Unfortunately, for me, that's about a 40 minute drive to the Hartford/Glastonbury area from my hometown of Branford CT!

But as I was lamenting the fact that they're not right around the corner from me while I was there last week , Whole Foods Corporate tweeted me that they are always looking for new locations to open!  How's that for active listening to their consumers???

So, if you would like the great folks at Whole Foods to consider opening in an area near you, here's where you can make your recommendation ==> 

At the event I recently attended at Whole Foods Market in Bishops Corner West Hartford CT, many of their culinary experts gathered to give us some great ideas for all the upcoming holiday soirees!

And I also got to meet up with some local bloggers I've been following, Carrie from Poet in the Pantry, Allie from VitaTrain4Life, Erica from Erica: Thoughts of an Organic Mama , Jess from Foodette Reviews, and of course, Wendy and Greg from Connecticut Lifestyles Magazine.

I started with some of their savory ideas. My favorite was the Crispy Risotto Ball served on a bed of pureed sweet potato, prepared by Chef Bryce. So crispy good and delicately fried on the outside, with soft and creamy risotto on the inside. Then I swirled a few bites into the sweet potato puree to take me right straight into holiday heaven food bliss! So good and this would be a great appetizer or side dish to serve at any holiday party.

Chef Bryce's Crispy Risotto Ball

My favorite inspired protein of the evening was the Grilled Lamb. I'm a little sheepish (PUNNY) to admit that I've never prepared lamb at home, although it is something I always order when I'm out. However, Chef Devlin furnished me with a recipe that just might get me over my trepidation of preparing it!

Devlin prepares rack of lamb
And Devlin also showed a simple yet creative way to display your lamb when serving it. Simply mound it up on a stack of grilled vegetables surrounded by some simple holiday decor! Recipe for the Rack of Lamb HERE.

For seafood we were treated to some of Craig's lobster tails and some bacon wrapped shrimp and scallops. Did you know that you can purchase party packs of bacon wrapped scallops and shrimp at Whole Foods?

What a great idea! Pop them in the oven with no fuss while you mingle with your guests!

Then I moved on to some of the sweets! We were able to sample some Bourbon Pecan Pie, Dairy Free "Cheesecake" , Chocolate Biscotti (Recipe HERE), and Cocoa Oat Truffles (Recipe HERE)!

Clockwise, L-R
Top L: Dairy Free Cheesecake, Top R Cocoa Oat Truffles
Bottom R: Chocolate Biscotti, Bottom L: Bourbon Pecan Pie

To cap the evening off with a beverage, we sampled a great alternative to the traditional heavy and rich eggnog! This one is called Almond-Nog, and it's quite light in consistency because of the Almond Milk, but still has that nice holiday flavor.

As you can see they used a banana as a thickener. I think when I make it I'm going to use a frozen banana to make it almost milkshake-like. YUM! And healthy too!


Thanks to Whole Foods in Bishops Corner West Hartford CT for the wonderful holiday cheer and inspiration!

Look for great events at YOUR local Whole Foods Market! 

Incredible specials, a calendar of events, cooking classes, holiday magazines, and more!

For more pictures from this event visit the Home Place Facebook page HERE!

What's on your holiday menu this season?

I'd love to hear about it in the comments below!

Saturday, December 14, 2013

A #WarmAndFuzzy Giveaway - From Teroforma

I love the holidays and the meaningful things that they stand for.

Tradition. Celebration. Home. Family.

There's something about this time of year that brings out the warm and fuzzy in everybody. Don't you agree?  Everyone has an extra smile to share, from the postman, to the corner grocer. Everyone gets in the spirit for the season.

Everyone is more caring. Everyone is more giving.

That's why I'm so happy that the great folks at Teroforma contacted me to help them spread some #WarmAndFuzzy cheer with all of you! That's right!  In the true spirit of giving they are gifting FIVE lucky readers of the Home Place blog with some of their amazing products!

Do you know about Teroforma?

They are a local CT company right out of Norwalk CT who are curators of design products from around the world for the home and table.

Vases, dinnerware, linen, and accents, everything for the discriminating host or hostess.

For the #WarmAndFuzzy giveaway Teroforma is offering five readers of the Home Place blog some warm and fuzzy prizes!

Two lucky readers will each receive a set of four Arbor Coasters!

Inspired by the foliage in Berlin's famous Tiergarten, these 100% wool felt coasters pop in any season and are at home in any home. The lyrical stem detail cutout in the coaster allows it to do double-duty as a napkin ring. The natural density of 100% wool felt makes it relatively durable, spills should be wiped away quickly.
Value $36.00 per set of four

Three lucky readers will each receive a set of the Trio Candlesticks!

Natural beech wood handcrafted set of three taper candlesticks is almost two sets in one. On one end, a clean natural finish and on the other, a sophisticated yet energetic pop of color. Whether set out in a row or clustered together, the gracefully complementary angles of the Avva series make the combinations distinctive and practical.
Value $52.00 per set of three

So let's get this giveaway started!  Not only are there FIVE LUCKY WINNERS - but there are also FIVE WAYS TO WIN!

Just use the rafflecopter below! And enjoy the #WarmAndFuzzy Giveaway! 

This contest runs Dec. 16, 2013 through December 20, 2013

IMPORTANT - Open to continental U.S. residents only.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Added Bonus!!! From now until December 25th 2013 Home Place readers will also receive an exclusive 20% off discount code (home) to readers on Arbor Coasters & Trio Candlesticks

DISCLAIMER:  This contest is sponsored by Teroforma. Home Place is not liable for the delivery of any prizes. Winners will be contacted by Home Place within 48 hours of the contest end date and at that time they will need to supply a continental U.S. mailing address.

I received the candlelight trio and arbor coaster set for facilitating this giveaway.
Clockwise, left to right.
(L) Set of Trio Candlesticks
(top R) Arbor Coaster used as a Napkin Ring
 (bottom R) Arbor Coaster

Friday, December 13, 2013

The Restaurant at Rowayton Seafood for the Holidays!

Established in 1996 and owned by local residents, The Restaurant at Rowayton Seafood is a destination  known for its sea-faring atmosphere, waterfront location, fabulous food, and attentive service.

Now is the time get together with loved ones over the holidays and enjoy this wonderful time of year at The Restaurant.

Meet your friends and family over a delicious lunch or dinner, or even Sunday brunch, while enjoying the coastal view and cozy fireplace.

The Restaurant is open 7-days a week serving lunch and dinner. Watch a glorious sunset and enjoy good times with friends.

Having a holiday party at home? Let the Rowayton Seafood Market (open year-round) be your secret chef with plenty of crowd-pleasing party ready appetizers and entrees to choose from.

Photo Source: The Restaurant at Rowayton Seafood Facebook Page

The Restaurant is currently accepting New Year's Eve reservations, but is filling up fast- They look forward to ringing in 2014 with you!

89 Rowayton Avenue
Rowayton, CT | 06853

 Like them on Facebook HERE

Rowayton Seafood Restaurant on Urbanspoon

Wednesday, December 11, 2013

Cask Republic to open in Stamford CT December 2013

Open 12-19-13

UPDATE: Read my review HERE
Cask Republic, a tavern, a restaurant, a bar, a DESTINATION is now open in downtown Stamford, CT.

Opening 12-19-13, Cask Republic, is part of the  SKAL Restaurant Group, the team behind such well known Connecticut spots as The Ginger Man, and the Cask Republic in New Haven.

The Cask Republic Stamford is located at 191 Summer Street (formerly Ferrante) and has undergone a complete renovation. 

The menu will feature food that is globally inspired and a world class beer program, as well as extensive spirits and wines.

Owner Christian Burns combines an nueuvo American-style tavern with the old-world European taverns of yesteryear. The restaurant will provide a panoramic view of the Summer Street restaurant scene while the interior features a polished copper back, a dining room with fireplace, a great place to meet with friends to enjoy cocktails and cuisine.The space is decorated with warm, earth tone walls.  

The menu at the Cask Republic also combines the old with the new, featuring Executive Chef Carl Carrion's creations.. A graduate of the New York Restaurant School, Chef Carrion hails from some of New York’s finest kitchens, including Union Pacific under Chef Rocco DiSpirito, and at Patria with Chef Douglas Rodriguez.

Chef Carrion has created a menu that brings global tavern classics to a new level through his seasonal preparation of quality ingredients. A raw bar with oysters served with honey-lime mignonette (YUM) and colossal whole shrimp with mustard remoulade and wasabi cocktail sauce.  A light menu is also available with smoked slow roasted chicken soup with red potato and pumpkin and a kale salad of radicchio, cranberries, toasted walnuts and lentils tossed with creamy ginger vinaigrette.

Cask Republic will feature dinner - with lunch and Sunday brunch to follow.

Cask Republic
191 Summer Street, Stamford, CT 06901

Sunday, December 8, 2013

Cookies on 9 in the Historic 9th Square - New Haven CT

Media Promotion

New Haven’s Historic 9th Square district is quickly becoming the downtown destination for New Haven, featuring great art, food, music, and cultural activities.

Best of all, this eclectic neighborhood provides the backdrop for First Fridays On9 in New Haven.

Photo Source: Cookies On 9 New Haven
On Friday, 12-6-13, I participated in the December "On 9" First Friday event, Cookies On 9 or #CookiesOn9, a type of "cookie crawl" through New Haven's Historic 9th Square.

What a fun event this was, in spite of the sporadic rain drizzle that night. Each attendee received a map of the participating merchants in the neighborhood, and at each stop we received a delicious cookie to fill our cookie boxes with. 

Cookies were supplied by the culinary students at Gateway Community College AND one of New Haven's newest merchants, Insomnia Cookies!

Here's a sample of some of the places I visited and the delicious cookies that were available.

I love cookies!

The great folks at Insomnia Cookies in New Haven donated many MANY cookies!
Yes - my favorite Snickadoodles were there!  YAY!

Say Hi to Robert from Arpaia Lang Fine Jewelers
with delicious brownies!!
Cookies - Cookies - and MORE Cookies please!

And the BEST THING: ==> Proceeds benefit the “Neighbors in Need” dinner hosted by Gateway Community College Foundation.

Unfortunately, the weather and my shoes did me in...and after these stops I had to call it a night!

It was great fun chatting with the merchants at all the establishments I visited. In many cases it was the first time I've been there - and I can't wait to go back and support all these local businesses!

Special thanks to the On 9 people who invited me and the bakers who provided these delicious cookies. What a great way to start the holiday!

I've enjoyed participating in these First Fridays On9 events this year! 

If you're not familiar with First Friday - they are open-house evenings that run April through December and feature creative events that showcase the wide array of shops, restaurants, marketplaces, homes, and cultural centers in the historic 9th Square neighborhood.

The On9 activities typically happen between 6:00PM and 8:00PM on the First Friday of the aforementioned months.

If you'll remember, in September we attended the #BreatheOn9 event that featured the amazing designer Neville Wisdom's Fall Fashion Show. (Read about it HERE)  Then, in October I attended the #WineOn9 event that consisted of a wine crawl through the 9th Square Historic District. (Read about it HERE).

Hope you all have a happy holiday - and I hope to see you at the next First Friday in April 2014!

For more pictures of the event, click HERE
and "like" the Home Place facebook page

Disclaimer: We were invited to attend the Cookies On 9 Event, however, the views and opinions expressed herein are our own.

Saturday, December 7, 2013

Rouge Brasserie and Oyster Bar - Greenwich CT

Media Promotional Event

Connecticut is now home to a new French style restaurant and bistro, the Rouge Brasserie and Oyster Bar, located in the Byram neighborhood of Greenwich, CT, 

The cb5 restaurant development group has taken their unique touch and transformed Rouge into a transcontinental dining destination, ala the ROUGE Brasserie & Oyster Bar.
Rouge Brasserie & Oyster Bar

Chef Josh Moulton, the former Chef de Cuisine of Union Square Café and The Monkey Bar in New York City, is preparing hearty French bistro fare such as classic steak tartare, sautéed foie gras, onion soup gratinee, skate meuniere, poulet en croute, and short rib Bourguignon.

Chef Moulton

We started our sampling at the beautiful bar with some libations with deliciously-French names: the French Kiss and Chanel No.5 martinis, and the Brigitte Bardot cocktail.

Clockwise from left
The Chanel No. 4, The Bridget Bardot, The French Kiss

Chanel No.5 was by far my favorite, made with raspberry vodka, crème de framboise, pineapple juice and a touch of champagne, garnished with a sugared rim. The French Kiss was made with gin, white lillet, elderflower liqueur and fresh grapefruit. The Brigitte Bardot, was prepared with cognac, fresh lemon, sugar, raspberry and a hint of champagne, however, this was a bit too hearty for me.

We then moved into the dining room where we started with two amazing features from the Aquatique portion of the menu. the Plateaux De Fruits De Mer with lobster, shrimp, oyster, cherry stone clams, crab --- and the Fish Eggs & Chips that are served over house made potato chips with crème fraiche.

The seafoods were wonderful, the shrimp was large and cooked perfectly, the oysters and clams had the perfect crispy coldness, and the lobster. Well, how can you possibly go wrong with lobster? This large tower of pure goodness was served with several varieties of dipping sauces, though my favorite was the classic cocktail sauce.

We then moved on to several samples from the Commence portion of the menu, the Warm Onion Tart with tomato confit and nicoise olives, Escargots Bourguignon, prepared with shallot parsley butter, and the Classic Steak Tartare, a hand cut prime filet with charred country toast.

While each was wonderful, the escargot was AMAZING, succulent morsels cooked low and slow, and absolutely the perfect blend of garlic and butters. The steak tartare was also a hit, tender and packed with flavor.

We sampled some wines with our dinner, and, of course, my favorite was the white, which I thought had a pleasant sweetness that complimented our selections quite nicely.

We also sampled a French favorite, Moules Frites, prepared with white wine, garlic & fine herbs. The fries were hand cut and prepared on premise.

Next on our sampling menu was the Salmon Forestiere, prepared with sautéed mushrooms, baby spinach
& lemon-thyme jus. This was probably one of my favorite items of the night. I selected a plump piece of salmon and enjoyed the crispy sear that resulted in a moist and tender inside, complimented by the delicate thyme sauce. The mushrooms and baby spinach were the perfect accompaniment to this dish.

Last on our dinner sampling was the Steak Frites, a butcher’s cut served with sauce béarnaise also served with hand cut fries.

Of course, no dinner is complete without coffee and dessert, and for my happy ending I selected an espresso served with a lemon twist and a hint of anisette. For dessert we were served two custards, vanilla and chocolate. Hands down, my favorite was the vanilla. After all the delicious flavors combined that night, vanilla was definitely the sweet ending to a fabulous dinner.

I would be remiss if I didn't offer a small sampling of the decor of Rouge, which has a fun yet formal reckless abandon. Intimate tables are tucked into cozy nooks, as well as large communal dining areas. Outside there is even a small patio that will be a major draw in warmer weather.

The side entrance and front are decorated with boxwood and evergreen window boxes. 

Simple, yet utterly charming.

Rouge has the perfect blend of classic French cuisine and ooo la la! 

Merci to the cb5 Group for this wonderful new addition to Greenwich!

Do visit them soon!

Rouge Brasserie & Oyster Bar
230 Mill Street
Byram Neighborhood
Greenwich CT 06830


Like them on facebook HERE

Disclaimer: We were invited to this promotional  sampling at Rouge Brasserie & Oyster Bar by members of Rouge's Management and Marketing Team, however, the views and opinions expressed herein are our own.

ROUGE Brasserie & Oyster Bar on Urbanspoon

Tuesday, December 3, 2013

ChowdaFest 2014 - Webster Bank Arena Bridgeport CT

UPDATE: Read my recap of this event HERE

The ChowdaFest date and line up is announced!

Save the date! 
February 2, 2014

This incredible fundraiser benefits the CT Food Bank

Get your tickets early to avoid box office lines. 
Tickets will be on-sale in January at Stop & Shop and Webster Bank locations.   

February 2, 2014
11am - 3pm

Webster Bank Arena at Harbor Yard
600 Main Street - Bridgeport CT
Conveniently off exit 27 off I-95
Be green and car pool - parking just $5

Adults are $12
Children 6-12 are just $5, five years or younger FREE

Tickets available at the Webster Bank Arena Box Office.
Advance tickets can be purchased at Stop & Shop and Webster Bank locations in January 2014.
 SAVE $2 on each adult ticket when purchased at advance at any New Haven or Fairfield County Stop & Shop through January staring Jan. 4. Kids receive FREE chef hats, stickers and more while supplies last.

There will be 28 chowda-licious restaurants participating in the 6th annual competition. 

ChowdaFest will be bringing you an unbelievable line up of chefs and restaurants! There will be lots of other cool stuff too like the "Ciao"dafest Italian tasting section and the new Cracker & Cheese Corner.  

There will also be a beverage center to sample craft beer, wine, coffee & hot chocolate too.  

 Congratulations to the following restaurants that earned their spot into this year's competition:  
  • Bernard's (Ridgefiled)
  • Bistro 7 (Wilton)
  • Brennan's (Norwalk)
  • Brewhouse (Norwalk) 
  • Close Harbour Seafood (Plantsville)
  • Crab Shell (Stamford) 
  • Donovan's (Norwalk) 
  • Dunville's (Westport)
  • Ginger Man (Norwalk) 
  • Go Fish (Mystic)
  • Guvnor's Brewery (Norwalk)
  • High Tide Gourmet (Madison)
  • Indigo by the Water (Milford)
  • Lenny & Joe's Fish Tale (New Haven, Madison & Westbrook) 
  • Liquid Lunch (Shelton & Milford) 
  • Mansion Clam House (Westport) 
  • Old Post Tavern (Fairfield) 
  • Parallel Post (Trumbull) 
  • Post 154 (Westport)
  • Rory's (Darien) 
  • Rowayton Seafood (Rowayton) 
  • Southport Brewing Co. (Southport, Branford, Stamford and Milford) 
  • Super Duper Weenie (Fairfield) 
  • Tavern on Main (Westport) 
  • The Spread (Norwalk) 
  • Tikkaway (New Haven)
Bring your friends and your appetite!

Non-perishable food items will be collected for donation to the CT Food Bank.

Anyone bringing a donated item will be entered into a raffle for a 
$200 Stop and Shop gift certificate!

Also new this year?

Meet Chef Ref in advance at these select dates and locations
Mascot Schedule:
•Sat. Jan. 11 – FIAT of Fairfield County in Stamford (12:00-1:30)
•Sat. Jan. 11 – Sound Tiger game at the Webster Bank Arena (7:00)
•Sun. Jan. 12 – Sound Tiger game at Webster Bank Arena (3:00)
•Fri. Jan. 17 – Stop & Shop in Westport (3:30 - 5:30)
•Sat. Jan. 18 – Stop & Shop in Stamford (Bedford St. 12:00 - 1:30)
•Sat. Jan. 18 – Stop & Shop in Darien (Noroton Heights 2:30 – 4:00)
•Sun. Jan 19 – Stop & Shop in Norwalk (Main Ave. 11:30 – 1:00)
•Sun. Jan 19 – Stop & Shop in Norwalk (CT Ave. 1:30 – 2:30)
•Sun. Jan 19 – Sound Tiger game at the Webster Bank Arena (3:00)
•Fri. Jan. 24 – Stop & Shop in Bridgeport (3:30 – 5:30)
•Sat. Jan. 25 – Stop & Shop in Milford (12:00 – 1:30)
•Sat. Jan. 25 – Stop & Shop in Stratford (2:30 – 4:00)
•Fri. Jan. 31 – Stop & Shop in Shelton (3:30 – 5:30)
•Sat. Feb. 1 – Stop & Shop in Trumbull (11:30 – 1:00)
•Sat. Feb. 1 – Stop & Shop in Monroe (1:30 – 2:30)
•Sat. Feb. 1 – Sound Tiger game at Webster Bank Arena (3:00)
•Sun. Feb. 2 – Chowdafest (11:00 – 3:00)

Here's your chance to WIN a family-pak of tickets!

Chowdafest, presented by Stop & Shop, will conduct live, on-air chowder, soup & bisque tastings on Star 99.9 every “SOUPer” Friday  in January on the Big Jim and Anna morning program starting on Jan. 10th.

“We had so much fun last year sampling some of chowder and soup that we thought we would super-size it and do a different tasting each Friday” said Anna Zapp, on-air personality for Star 99.9.

Each Friday will feature the eight entries in one of the four different competition categories.  The categories are New England clam chowder, Traditional Chowder which is exclusive to Manhattan (red) and Rhode Island (clear), Creative Chowders and Soup/Bisque.

“A chowdah competition that takes place on the Super Bowl, does it get any better?” said “Big Jim” Murray, former sports talk host from both Atlanta and Boston, now Anna Zappa’s morning broadcast partner.  

“It will be great to see how Jim and Anna’s favorites stack up to the thousands of votes we get at our pre-Super Bowl event on Feb. 2nd at the Webster Bank Arena” said Jim Keenan, Chowdafest Chairman.   

And here's where the fun comes in!!! A family pack of Chowdafest tickets will be given away on Star 99.9 during each Souper Friday as well as over the weekends.Make sure you listen to Star 99.9 radio!

For additional information about Chowdafest, please visit or email event director Jim Keenan at

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