Friday, October 28, 2016

New Haven Restaurant Week Returns for Fall 2016

#NHVeats Restaurant Week Returns

It's that magical, mystical, marvelous time of the year! 

No - not Halloween (well, it IS Halloween week) but not JUST that!

It's New Haven Restaurant Week for Fall 2016!  

The most delectable, delicious, delightful time of the year!

 New Haven Restaurant Week returns October 30 – November 4, 2016

Here's what some of New Haven's best Restaurants have in store for you!

Twenty-eight of New Haven’s amazing restaurants are featuring $20.16 lunch and $34 dinner prix fixe menus, offering multi-course, prix fixe menus typically consisting of an appetizer, entrée and dessert.

Reservations are highly recommended, so book early!!  

Participating Restaurants Below:

116 Crown  – (203) 777-3116

Adrianna’s –  – (203) 865-6474

Atelier Florian   – (203) 859-5999  NHRW Lunch Menu   NHRW Dinner Menu

Barcelona  – (203) 848-3000

Basta Trattoria  – (203) 772-1715

Caffé Bravo – (203) 772-2728 ==>> NHRW Menu

Caseus Fromagerie Bistro –  (203) 624-3373  ==>> NHRW Menu

Cask Republic  – (475) 238-8335

Christopher Martin’s –  (203) 776-8835

Elm City Social –  (475) 441-7436  ==>> NHRW Menu

Fornarelli’s Ristorante  – (203) 745-5677 ==>> NHRW Menu

Goodfellas –  (203) 785-8722 ==>> NHRW Menu

Harvest Wine Bar & Restaurant  – (203) 777-2500 NHRW Lunch   NHRW Dinner

Heirloom  (203) 503-3919

John Davenport’s –  (203) 974-6858

L’Orcio  – (203) 777-6670   ==>> NHRW Menu

Miya’s Sushi  – (203) 777-9760  ==>> NHRW Menu

Olea –  (203) 780-8925  ==>> NHRW Menu

Pacifico –  (203) 772-4002 ==>> NHRW Menu

Roía – (203) 200-7045   NHRW Lunch   NHRW Dinner

Shell and Bones –  (203) 787-3466  ==>> NHRW MENU

Soul de Cuba Cafe –  (203) 498-2822  ==>> NHRW Menu

Tarry Lodge –  (203) 672-0765

Taste of China –  (203) 745-5872  NHRW Lunch   NHRW Dinner

Temple Grill  – (203) 773-1111 ==>> NHRW Menu

Tre Scalini  – (203) 777-3373 ==>> NHRW MENU

Union League Cafe –  (203) 562-4299  ==>> NHRW MENU

Zinc  – (203) 624-0507  ==>> NHRW Menu

Some of the offerings from Shell & Bones Oyster Bar & Grill
Photo Courtesy A Little Bird Told Me CT

Tuesday, October 25, 2016

The Great Mac and Chili Contest returns November 6th 2016

Vote for your favorite 

Connecticut Mac-n-Cheese and Chili 

At the Great Mac & Chili Challenge

Who has the best mac n' cheese and chili is as controversial as the current presidential election but one thing is for sure, at least one election this November will be more than just palatable, it will be delicious! 

The Great Mac and Chili Challenge, sister event to Yankee Magazine's top event of the season Chowdafest, comes to Westport's Sherwood Island State Park on Sunday November 6th just two days before the national election.  “We love the timing of this event” said Jim Keenan, event director.  “Voting is on everyone's mind especially this year so why not vote for something all-American like who has the best mac 'n cheese and chili”.

There are twenty entries featured in this event over three categories:

  • Classic Beef Chili, 
  • Creative Chili and 
  • Mac n' Cheese.  

Restaurants include defending champions, Chili Bomb of Fairfield (classic chili), Little Pub of Fairfield, Greenwich, Ridgefield and Wilton (creative chili), along with Simply Delicious of Norwalk (mac n' cheese). 

Keenan says that like Chowdafest, this event is designed to promote terrific chefs and their restaurants, giving people a “little taste” of why they should visit these restaurants.  “If you think this is good, wait to you try the rest of the menu” Keenan says.  He adds the timing is great as the weather is perfect for comfort food and it will help the restaurants create momentum into the upcoming holiday season. 

Other restaurants in the competition include The Blind Rhino in Norwalk, Bogey's of Norwalk, DrewbaQ a food truck in Fairfield County, Hub & Spoke of Black Rock Bridgeport, TruNorth of Black Rock Bridgeport, Walrus & Carpenter of Black Rock Bridgeport, Liquid Lunch of Shelton and Milford, Hoodoo BBQ of Ridgefield, Old Post Tavern of Fairfield, Geronimo of Fairfield and New Haven, Chef's Table of Fairfield, and Judy's Bar & Kitchen of Stamford.

Some of these restaurants have entered in more than one category.

Previously, this event has been held over Super Bowl weekend the past couple years and was formerly known as Chilifest.  When asked about the date, venue and menu change, Keenan said “Most chili cook-offs are held outside mainly because it's difficult to find an indoor venue big enough to accommodate all the chili lovers but also because the fall weather makes us appreciate warm comfort foods even more.  We tweaked our name because we wanted to be different from all the “fests” that are around because we're a different kind of an event.  Calling it “The Great Mac and Chili Challenge” has a great Charlie Brown, Fall kind of vibe to it which brings out the kid in all of us.  We're thrilled to move the event to Sherwood Island as it's been an ideal venue for Chowdafest.  However, we'll be in the open air covered pavilion as this event is smaller than Chowdafest.  From the emails and Facebook comments, people seem really excited about coming in a few weeks.  It should be a hot ticket.”

The event uses the successful people's choice format of Chowdafest, giving everyone a spoon, ballot and pencil upon entry.  However voting is slightly different as people are given three votes per category.  “Sometimes it's just too hard to narrow your favorite to just one” Keenan noted.  However, for those who can narrow their choice to just one or two, people can give all three of their category votes to just one restaurant or break them up giving one restaurant two votes and assigning the third to someone else.  “The restaurants work very hard at trying to get more than just one vote in their favor”.

Tickets to the The Great Mac and Chili Challenge are just $15 adults, $5 kids (6-12) and parking is free.  The event runs from 11AM to 3PM and the ticket includes sampling of ice cream and milk from The Farmer's Cow too.

Purchase tickets HERE

The event will benefit the Turtle Shell Fund and Friends of Sherwood Island.

For additional information about The Great Mac and Chili Challenge, please visit or email event director, Jim Keenan at

The Great Mac and Chili Challenge
Sherwood Island
Sherwood Island Connector
Westport, CT 06880

Saturday, October 22, 2016

Ella's Fine Food and Drink - Fall 2016

Social Media Promotion:  

Blogger Dinner at Ella's in Westerly Rhode Island. 

In mid-October we received an invite to visit one of our favorite Rhode Island restaurants just over the Connecticut border, to Ella's Fine Food and Drinkin Westerly Rhode Island.

It was such a perfect fall day for a drive and the 'leaf peeping" foliage along I-95 was breathtaking. We couldn't have planned a better day to travel up the Connecticut coastline and have a leisurely drive on some of Rhode Island's side roads in search of some great food.

Fall Foliage in Connecticut

We were also looking forward to meeting up with some other Connecticut bloggers at Ella's!

Joining us for dinner were food and travel blogger Ron from Ron's Food Trips and Wendy and Greg from Connecticut Lifestyles.  In addition to the Connecticut contingency was RI based recipe blogger Jennifer from Savor The Thyme.

The Connecticut Contingency in Rhode Island!

Needless to say, when bloggers get together at a great restaurant there is much fine food and drink to be had - and lots of pictures to be taken! But before we start our food picture show, let me tell you a bit about Ella's Fine Food and Drink and owners Chefs James and Jeanie Roland.

Chef Jeanie Roland is a seven-time James Beard nominated Chef, who owns and operates both Ella's Fine Food and Drink in Westerly, Rhode Island and The Perfect Caper in Punta Gorda, Florida together with her husband and business manager, James Roland.  The Roland's Westerly venue features French-Asian inspired fare where everything is made from scratch, and local food is showcased.

Each month they feature a Saturday cooking demonstration highlighting their love of everything local and fresh. I attended their August "Lobster Life" cooking class (recap HERE) and let's just say that I've worked in enough kitchens in my life to attest that Chef Jeanie Roland is the REAL DEAL!!  It's no surprise that she is one of the few to beat the legendary Bobby Flay on the Food Network's hit show "Beat Bobby Flay" with her winning dish of Moules-Frites and its amazing Red Thai Curry Broth and array of dipping sauces.

And, let's just say Taylor Swift and Lorde agree with me and the 'Beat Bobby Flay' judges - as they are also big fans of Chef Jeanie and the Westerly Rhode Island Restaurant, having taken a cooking class themselves with Chef Jeanie at Ella's!

Photo Source: Ella's Fine Food & Drink

Enough with the fan gushing! Let's move on to Chef Jeanie's amazing menu! Here's a bit of what we sampled on this trip to visit Ella's Fine Food & Drink:

Cocktails at Ella's Fine Food & Drink: 

Cocktails at Ella's Fine Food and Drink are bold and flavorful -- think Mad Men-esque with a creative spin. Some of the cocktails available are the PAPER PLANE, made with Woodford Reserve, Aperol, Amaro, and lemon juice; the CAPERNOITED with Fernet Branca, Luxardo maraschino liqueur (YUM!) Buddha spiced simple, cardamon; the FROTHY SWINE made with Dave's Blind Pig espresso, Van Gogh Espresso Vodka, and Kahlua.

What? You want to hear about more?? How about the DIRTY LAUNDRY with Dorothy Parker Gin, olives, serrano chili, caper berry, and dirty juice (this was so dirty good!); the SHINSEN made with Tito's handmade, muddled cucumbers, ginger infused simple syrup, shaken and served up (what would 007 say?); the FRENCH CONNECTION made with Grey Goose Vodka, elderflower liqueur, fresh and grapefruit juice; and finally, the LONDON TYPHOON with Bombay Sapphire, sake, muddled ginger, yuzu juice, and ginger syrup.

I loved my cocktail, the "Capernoited" (the dark elixar pictured in the champagne glass) and the Luxardo maraschino liqueur it was mixed with was amazing!

Appetizers at Ella's Fine Food and Drink

Appetizers run the gamut from a seasonal charcuterie to pate to the Flay-beating moules frites! My personal favorite was my own dish of the the Sweet and Spicy Calamari, which lived up to its name with a tasty sweet start and end note of savory heat.

Appetizers we sampled!

warm crostini with ricotta-parm-pec cheeses, sautéed wild mushrooms,
saba & fleur de sel drizzle, white truffle oil, topped with arugula. 

flash fried squid, tossed with cilantro-green onion, crushed peanuts. 

cool miso soup, avo, cucumber pickle, local pea tendrils.

pan seared foie gras on house made brioche,
applewood smoked bacon, tomato-apple jam, Meyer lemon-citrus aioli.

marinated tenderloin, watercress, lime, cilantro, red onion. 
And, of course, the perfect palate cleansing salad, topped with shaved cheese was delightful!

Entrées at Ella's Fine Food and Drink

Ella's entrée menu features pasta dishes, as well as a "by land or by sea" - and of course, with Chef Jeanie's classic training, one of her specialties is duck. A tour of her kitchen uncovered a huge chafing pan of duck fat, that I may or may not have considered putting in the car to take home with me.

Of course, I went with the duck. Perfectly prepared the way I love it, a bit on the medium to well side, with that amazing blackened skin. Heaven. On. Earth.

pan seared duck on wild mushroom risotto with frisee & parmesan.

Others went with the seafoods and traditional pasta, and the men went with the lamb (Greg) and the NY Strip (the cowboy). There were happy faces all around!

jumbo lump crab topped grilled scallops, coconut-cilantro infused forbidden black rice,
Shanghai bok choy, mirin-yuzu apricot beurre blanc.

classic with 14 oz. new york strip & truffled frites.


pan seared miso-infused salmon, toasted coconut dusted forbidden black rice,
 chili bok choy, ginger sesame butter

summer corn risotto, corn-basil sauce, heirloom tomato confit, watercress greens. 

seared, spiced half rack of domestic of lamb, oil cured olives,
fingerling potatoes, sautéed kale and honey drizzle

And yes...after all this delicious food we somehow saved room for dessert!

Dessert at Ella's Fine Food and Drink

Ella's doesn't disappoint when it comes to desserts, and Chef Jeanie herself said it's one of her favorite things to develop and create, stemming from her experiences at the Culinary Institute of America, in the days when women were often relegated to the pastry duties, because, well, that was a secondary skill that the women should do. (That's funny!!!).

We're thankful to all the male chefs attending CIA at that time, because Chef Jeanie certainly showed them, didn't she ... and she created a heck of a dessert menu!

We sampled some amazing cakes, tarts, and custards, but the winning moment goes to the cowboy when his eyes glazed over and he may have shed a tear at the sight and sound of a gingerbread ice cream sandwich - and was wowed by the spun sugar crown upon it!

Gingerbread Ice Cream Sandwich
Spicy Gingerbread with Dulce de Leche ice cream

Just Chocolate Cake
Layers of Chocolate Torte, Chocolate Ganache and
White Chocolate Cheesecake
Drizzled with Chocolate Sauce

Pumpkin Cheesecake
Pumpkin Cheesecake with Toasted Gingersnap Crumble
and Whip Cream

And my lemon tart did not disappoint either! The silky sweet lemon curd was garnished with a tart raspberry sauce - giving it the perfect balance of flavors!

Lemon Tart 
Creamy Lemon Curd Tart with Fresh Raspberry Sauce

Without any hesitation I would recommend Ella's Fine Food and Drink for any occasion! A date night with a loved one, a special celebration, or a gathering of bestie friends (and bestie bloggers!) - Ella's is the place to go to enjoy great food and drink!

Thanks to Chef Jeanie and Chef James for being the consummate hosts and to the fabulous culinary crew in the front and the back of the house for a wonderful time!

Ella's Fine Food and Drink

2 Tower Street
Westerly, RI  02891

About Ella’s Fine Food & Drink

Ella’s Fine Food & Drink, located at 2 Tower Street in Westerly, RI, opened in 2011 by Chef Jeanie Roland, a seven-time James Beard nominated Chef, and her husband and business manager, James Roland.  A premier dining destination for coastal, southern New England, Ella’s features French-Asian inspired fare imbued with Chef Roland’s passion for cooking with the freshest seasonal ingredients. In her pursuit of perfection, everything is made from scratch, from breads to desserts and everything in between, and menus change frequently in an effort to highlight the best available ingredients and to challenge Chef Roland and her culinary team. She has been quoted as saying that perhaps, "she has yet to create her best dish!"

Disclaimer: I was invited to this event by members of Ella's management and marketing team, however all opinions expressed are entirely my own. 

© Home Place 2016

Sunday, October 16, 2016

The 6th Annual Greenwich Wine and Food Festival

Social Media Promotion

The  Greenwich Wine + Food Festival keeps getting better!

I don't know about you, but when August arrives, I get a little sad. It means the end of the summer is coming and fall is just around the corner. As much as I love Connecticut's changing seasons, and the fall colors ARE beautiful, it means that the dreaded winter and frigid temperature are coming.

BUT.... what gets me through to September is that the GREENWICH 2016 WINE+FOOD FESTIVAL is back!

Photo Courtesy Inside Out Photo Booth 
and sponsor Shreve Crump, and Low

This year the cowboy and I traveled back up to one of our FAVORITE Connecticut Events, the Greenwich Wine and Food Fest! It just so happened that this beautiful sunny Saturday proved to be one of the last really warm weekends of the year promising to be in the the mid to upper 70's. So off we headed - up to Greenwich Connecticut to partake in some great food and drink on the Grand Tasting Day!

Although there's more to the Festival than just the Grand Tasting Day and Tent, it's my favorite part of the festival. If you're not familiar with this Greenwich festival it's a multi-day event that includes specialty tasting dinners and sampling events in the days leading up to the Festival. AND the best thing of all is the entire affair benefits The Hole in the Wall Gang Camp, a nationwide organization dedicated to providing healing to children and their families coping with cancer, sickle cell anemia and other serious illnesses, as well as The Greenwich Department of Parks and Recreation and Wholesome Wave Organization.  

Here are some of the sights, products, demos, and flavors we sampled under the big top Grand Tasting Tent - and some of the celebrity sightings we made. The best thing about this festival is you can get up close and personal with the demonstrating chefs and most are more than happy to pose for a picture with you. 

Greenwich Wine + Food Festival: Food Tastings

There are so many great restaurants and food products under the big top that it's hard to feature all of them, so here are just a few of those appearing. Of those in attendance, most are from Fairfield County and surrounding areas in New York.

Apple Salad from B Good

Brown Dog Fancy Mustard

Fjord Fish Market Ceviche 

DeCiccio  & Sons Cannolis

Jalapeno Jam by Fourth Creek

Tuna by Little Pub

Beverages, Wine and Spirits at Greenwich Wine and Food Fest

There's more than wine at the Greenwich Wine + Food Festival, there's beer, spirit and more! From Bloody Mary's to Margaritas, to all sorts of mixers and mixes, and coffee too!

Shearwater Coffee Roasters

The cowboy enjoying some Stella Artois

More at Greenwich Wine + Food Fest

There are also some pretty neat products found at the Greenwich Wine and Food Festival! 

Luxury Products from the Delamar Greenwich Spa

Bottle Openers and Cork Screws from M & W Coastal

Totes from Seabags Maine

Celebrity Sightings at the Greenwich Wine + Food Festival

In addition to the local celebrity chefs at the Festival, there are some pretty well know television chefs too!

Adam Richman

Emma Frisch, Nicole Gaffney, and Alex Guarnaschelli

Marcus Samuelsson

Greenwich Wine + Food Fest Competitions

In addition to the great food, wine and entertainment, the festival hosts several competitions!

Burger Battle 

Photo Courtesy Serendipity Social

  • Cask Republic won the Judges Choice.
  • Bareburger won the People’s Choice vote.

Top Bartender Showdown:

Photo Courtesy Serendipity Social
  • Eastend won the Judges Choice.

The Ultimate Sandwich Takedown


  • Judy’s Bar + Kitchen won the Judges Choice.

Entertainment for the evening was 
Ziggy Marley and Old Crow Medicine Show!

Photo Courtesy Serendipity Social

Photo Courtesy Serendipity Social

We can't wait to see what Serendipity Social has in store for us next year for the 7th Annual Greenwich Wine and Food Festival!

Hope to see you there!

For more pictures of the event visit the 

Home Place Facebook Page

and while you're there - don't forget to "like" us!

The festival is presented by Serendipity magazine, along with Pure Leaf, PepsiCo, Citi®, Empire City Casino, and Stamford Lincoln.  Other official sponsors include Coldwell Banker Preview International, Cabot, Stamford Tent, Barbara Zaccagnini, Whole Foods, Westy Self Storage, Rudy’s Executive Transportation, Dacor, Deutsch Family Wine and Spirits, Granoff Architects, Shearwater Organic Coffee and Wusthof.  

Disclaimer: We were invited to attend the Festival by members of the event's management and marketing team, however all opinions are our own.

© Home Place 2016

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