Chile AND Chocolate? YUM!

Sometimes I feel that I am the only person on the planet who loves the flavor combination of chocolate and chile.  To me there could be no better union.  The perfect Ying with its Yang.  Isn’t that a match made in heaven?

I have been baking chile chocolate cakes for ages, and eating them all by myself because my friends and family are too scared to try it.  Each time that happens, I remind myself that it’s not so bad…coz there is all the more for me! 

I came across a collection of spicy brownie mix at Crate and Barrel the other day.  Of course I had to buy it.  I could not wait to bake it off when I got home.  The result was pure bliss.  Perfectly moist brownie with deeply rich chocolatey flavor and a bold dash of Pasilla chile.  As the chile fires your palate, the luxuriously rich chocolate cools you down…and the rhythm goes on and on until the very last bite.  Don’t look now, but I may have just died and gone to heaven.

This particular brand is Chuoao Chocolatier.  Founded by two brothers of  Venezuelan origin, who reside in San Diego.  Their products are offered online as well as in many fine stores in the area like Whole Foods and Crate and Barrel.  Click on the image below to visit their website.

Have you tried any spicy desserts lately?  If so, I would love to hear about it.  Let’s explore together.

Spicy Brownie


Westport Farmers Market Moved to Gilberties For Winter

Some great minds have thought of the perfect solution to benefit one and all!  And I sincerely thank them. 

So many towns in our area have farmers markets during summer and fall.  But, come Halloween, they are all wrapping up their act and getting ready to hibernate for the winter. And it leaves you thinking, hmmm…. now what?!!!  Am I supposed to wait for them to come back?  Not Fair!  

Isn’t it wonderful that Westport, and its powers that be, have figured out a way to keep the farmer’s market going, despite the winter season and its harsh temperament? 

The farmers market has now moved to Gilberties on Sylvan Rd off of Saugatuck Ave.  Parking was convenient and easy. To get to the market you have to walk through Gilberties store but there are well marked signs leading the way.  A huge weather-proof totally covered tent makes sure that those who set up shop and those who come to shop are not inconvenienced. 

I was so happy to see all the usual vendors with their smiling faces!  Even the wood-fire pizza vendor does not get deterred by the cold, and was set up at the entrance to Gilberties.  Boxcar cantina was still there selling the yummy hot tamales.  Raus coffee company, happily selling their special brew.  Savor fine foods, with their amazing assortment of savory and sweet shortbread cookies.   YES!!!! 

If you start to get the winter blues, this may be a good place to visit on a Thursday from 10 am to 2 PM.  The cozy warmth of the market and the warm welcome eluding from all the smiling faces that greet you are sure to put you in a good mood instantly.

Click on the image to view Westport Farmers Market website.

Westport Farmers Market Winter

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My Trader Joe Favorites

You know how once or twice in your life you may meet someone who instantly knows you and truly understands you?  Like a soul mate?   One who knows what makes you smile and what makes you happy.   And when you find that person , you never want to let them go?  Well!  I feel the same way about Trader Joe. 

I can’t believe that everything and anything I buy from that one store becomes my new favorite.  How can one store be so in-tune to my tastes?  To my likes and dislikes?   How does Trader Joe do it?!!! 

While the mystery remains unsolved, I would like to share my absolute favorites at this store.  These are things I can never leave without, once I enter the store: 

I love their hazelnut chocolate bar.  What a perfect marriage of sweetness, cocoa flavor and nuttiness from the roasted hazelnuts.   You simply have to try it!

Have you ever tried their Ham & Cheese Croissant Sandwiches?  To die for!  Just a few minutes in an oven or a toaster and you have a perfect lunch.  

I also love their French Style Flat Bread with Ham, Caramalized Onions and Gruyere.  Mmmm…. .mmm.   good!  This is yet another quick lunch time favorite of mine.  Simply pop it in the oven or a toaster.  The amazing flavor profile of caramelized onions with ham is delectable….and the Gruyere just takes it to a whole new level of lusciousness. 

Oh! And for some kick-ass tangy and spicy flavored snack, look no further than the Lime and Chile Mixed Nuts.  These are a staple snack at every one of my parties. 

And finally, these yummy, nutty, crispy Savory Thins made with sesame flour.  So perfect with a good hummus!

Always looking to expand my horizon, I would love to hear about your Trader Joe favorites.  Be sure to post your recommendations.Trader Joe Favorites

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SONO Baking Company Has Arrived In Westport!

I am so delighted to announce that, to satisfy my embarrassingly frequent cravings for the best and the yummiest almond croissants, I no longer need to drive any further than Westport.  About 3 weeks ago, SONO Baking Company set up shop in the A&J Market on Post Rd in Westport Connecticut.  Can things get any more perfect than this? 

From delicious breads to delectable desserts to great lunch and brunch items. I have always loved the yummy offerings at SONO Baking Company.  They really know what they are doing.   However, for some reason I always felt that their South Norwalk location was a bit out of my way…and I often had to ignore my cravings because I could not make it all the way there.  Now my prayers have finally been answered and they are open for business in Westport as well. 

The Westport location is really nice and cozy.  They have their usual dessert selection, along with their famous breads.  And of course they have coffee!  A few tables and chairs are set up for those who are too impatient to wait to try the goodies until they get home….like me!  :-)  

I went for my usual almond croissants, and ended up buying so many more irresistible things…so before you walk in there, you’d better beware!  

Welcome to Westport, SONO Baking Company!  I wish you would never ever leave me. (wait!  did I just say that?  Hee! Hee!) 

Click on the image to visit SONO Baking Company’s website!SONO Baking Company comes to Westport

Sono Baking Company and Cafe on Urbanspoon

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A Well Kept Secret!

Looking for a delightful little place for a warm and comforting breakfast?  Look no further than the Olde Bluebird Inn in Easton.   This quaint little place is such a hidden gem.  Not many people know about it.  A true old-fashioned country style restaurant, this is Fairfield County’s well kept secret. 

We have been there a few times and always enjoyed the food.  The service was not always consistently good.  The ownership has recently changed hands and I thought it is finally in very “good-hands”.  

We went there last weekend for breakfast.  It was a chilly morning, and we were craving some soul-satisfying food and warmth.  As soon as we walked in, we were served hot coffee and tea within minutes.  How perfect!  

We ordered ham egg and cheese omelette, corn beef hash, eggs over-easy…..everything arrived at our table very quickly.  And everything was DELICIOUS!   

I like a little spicy kick in my eggs so I made a special request to our server for hot peppers in my omelette.  I was told that they normally don’t have it in the kitchen, but our server offered her personal stash of jalapenos for the cook to use in my omelette.  REALLY?   Does any restaurant do this sort of thing anymore?  Most eateries are so set in their ways, and allow very little flexibility from their menu.   It was so personal and so very heart-warming to know that they made this special gesture for us. 

Olde Bluebird Inn is also open for lunch.  It is located on Black Rock Turnpike in Easton near the intersection of Rt 58 and Rt 136. 

Watch out Olde Bluebird Inn…..the secret is out!

Breakfast at Old Blue Bird Inn in Easton

Olde Blue Bird Inn on Urbanspoon

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Crepes Galore!

Love Love LOVE dessert crepes! 

To me the perfect dessert crepe is soft and chewy with tons of chocolate inside and out!  Earlier this year I had the pleasure of gorging at the Jean Philippe patisserie at Aria Hotel in Las Vegas.  While everything I ate there was out of this world, I have to say that their chocolate crepe just blew my mind.  What a decadent ooey-gooey chocolatey creation!  It had tons of chocolate sauce, large chunks of chocolate cake (slightly crunchy) as a topping along with huge shavings of chocolate to complete this feast for my eyes as well as my mouth.  It will be forever stamped in my memory! 

Ever since that trip ended, I have been hunting for a place in Fairfield county that matches that perfection!  I tried Caroline’s Creperie in New Canaan last week.  Not a match!  I tried Bon Appetit Creperie in Fairfield. They did not have chocolate crepe on the menu.  They did have a pretty good nutella crepe.  Still no match  :-(  

I finally gave up the search and decided to experiment on my own.  I bought Barefoot Contessa’s crepe mix from Crate and Barrel.  And since I love chocolate, I decided to add a tablespoon of cocoa powder to the mix.  For my chocolate sauce, I created a simple chocolate ganache using semi-sweet chocolate.  I cut up pieces of an existing chocolate cake, put it in the oven a low heat to make it slightly dry and crunchy – for my topping.   What more do you need besides that and a dusting of sugar on your crepe? 

I have to say, my experiment was delicious.  I loved looking at it, and enjoyed eating it even more.   Barefoot Contessa’s crepe mix creates the perfect soft and chewy crepes.  Simply fabulous!!! 

Jean-Philippe patisserie will always get a visit from me when I am in Vegas, but in the meantime, Barefoot Contessa’s crepe mix will be my new best friend!

Dessert Crepes in Fairfield County

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Foodie Heaven!

Who needs to schlep to Aspen, when we can have our own Food & Wine Festival right here in Fairfield County?!!! This first annual festival in Greenwich CT presented by Serendipity magazine was a huge success.   

Unlimited food and wine presented by area restaurants and wine vendors.   Amazing celebrity chef demonstrations from names like Joy Bauer, Sara Moulton, Fritz Knipschildt, Michel Nischan, Rui Correia, Graham Elliot, Dr. BBQ and Stephen Asprinio…..are you getting the picture? 

My personal highlight was meeting Chef Jacques Pepin at his book signing.  What an honor! 

I had so much fun trying out all the amazing food and wines.  Over 70 some vendors displayed their bounty with a backdrop of great live band performances from names like Sister Hazel, Entrain, Remember September…   It was all included in the cost of the ticket worth $85.  But I must say that, I felt I got more than my money’s worth.  And the best part is that the proceeds benefit the Breast Cancer Alliance.  It’s a win-win situation for all.  

The Culinary Village at the heart of the festival was packed with amazing, mouth-watering, finger-licking food.  From appetizers to entrees to dessert to wines!  One glance in that tent and you would get an idea of why I feel compelled to blog about food in Fairfield County.  This area is so rich in food culture.   There are so many amazing options for die-hard foodies like me and oh! so little time! 

Greenwich Food And Wine Festival in Fairfield County

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Warm Beignets On A Perfect Fall Morning

Last March, I was in New Orleans.  If you have been there, you would know, that no trip to New Orleans is a complete success until you have visited Café Du Monde for their world famous Beignets.   One bite of that yummy fried confection and you will be in love!  Needless to say that ever since that trip, my taste buds have been crying out for that treat… it is no less than an addiction! 

I was so excited to find out that Sugar&Olives in Norwalk was offering warm Beignets at the Westport Farmers Market today.  I planned for it since the minute I woke up this morning.  I decided to skip breakfast in anticipation of the Beignets.  I went for a 2 mile jog/walk as soon as I was fully awake……and as I did that I kept reminding myself to keep my eye on the prize.   

The damned Farmer’s Market opens at 10 AM….can I wait that long?!!!   I rushed and got dressed…went to the Farmer’s Market and hurried straight to the Sugar&Olives booth only to find out that the Beignets had not yet arrived.  Any minute now, they promised me.  And all I could do was wait! 

I am not kidding when I say that I was the first person to get the Beignets when they arrived.  Man! They sure were well worth the wait.

Warm Beignets with light dusting of cinnamon sugar.  Crisp on the outside and moist and fluffy on the inside.  In keeping with the fall season, they were being filled with apple compote just before serving.  What a heavenly perfection!  

They were very different from Café Du Monde’s but I thought that they were pretty darned good.   

As I drove home, I felt an odd mix of satisfaction and a renewed craving for more.  And I don’t see it on the Sugar&Olives menu.  I guess some begging and groveling is in order – to request that they add it to the menu.  Let me get to that now….

Click on the image to visit Sugar&Olives website.

Beignets by Sugar&Olives in Norwalk

Sugar & Olives on Urbanspoon

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A Va Va Voom Flatbread Sandwich!

I am a foodie who loves flavor-packed eats.  And I am about to disclose one of my most favorite things to eat at lunchtime… with a nagging feeling that it might be a HUGE mistake to let the whole world in on it.  So help me God! 

My favorite lunch time meal is this awesome Chicken Tikka Flatbread Sandwich at Whole Foods.   You can find it in the prepared sandwich section.  It is a very unusual sandwich packed with great flavors.  It is moist on the inside, and slightly crispy on the outside.  A truly kickass flavor combination of chicken tikka, onions, coriander chutney, and cheese – along with a whole bunch of other ingredients, I have yet to identify, I am sure. 

Best way to eat this baby is to toast it.  It truly brings out the flavors and melts the cheesy interior in this absolutely yummy goodness!  One sandwich is good enough for a lunch portion. 

I have found this sandwich at Whole Foods in Westport but I am sure that Whole Foods in Darien, Fairfield and Greenwich will have them as well.   They arrive from Café Spice in New York on Tuesdays and Thursdays and they get sold out pretty quickly.   So be sure to get there early.   Cheese and Potato flatbread sandwiches are also available from the same vendor…but I personally feel a strong bond with the chicken tikka one.  I feel that its the most flavorful and the most moist. 

Hope you love them as much as I do.  And do me a favor ….Don’t tell ANYONE!

Chicken Tikka Flatbread sandwich

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Bittersweet Feelings

When I heard that Thali Too in Westport has turned vegetarian, I was saddened by the thought of not being able to eat their yummy pan-seared lamb chops any more.  Those lamb chops had taken my family back, again and again, to Thali Too, and many times with our friends and family prefacing our trip down to the restaurant with a simple, “Wait till you try these lamb chops…”

When I met Chef Prasad Chrinomuola a couple of weeks ago, I told him that I will need some time to get over the loss of the amazing lamb chops on the old menu….and that, once I do, I will be sure to check out the new vegetarian menu.

Keeping my promise, I recently paid a visit to the restaurant, with a friend of mine, to check out the new fare . What I found on the menu were a lot of rare (ie: rarely found on Indian restaurant menus in America) Indian vegetarian dishes like Baigan Bhurta and Madrasi Aloo along with some not so rare ones like Dosas, Palak Paneer, Malai Kofta etc. It is a great combination, both for the seasoned Indian food lovers who have already decided on their favorites and loyally order them each time, as well as for those adventurous types who are always looking to try something new ….something different.

On his menu, Chef Prasad has created a fabulous showcase of Indian street food as well as the everyday food savored by Indian families in their homes. In India, meat is expensive and typically only cooked on special occasions. So these vegetarian dishes are what people like to eat on a daily basis. But, for Indians, food is to be celebrated.  So even these vegetarian dishes are prepared in homes with great love and care. They are anticipated and then presented at the dinner table like they are a pot of gold! :-)

Thank you, Chef Prasad, for bringing them all the way from kitchens of India to our doorstep.

We tried yummy dishes like Raj Katchori, Palak Paneer, Haldiram Chole Bhatura and Gobhi Parantha.  But I cant lie!  I left with bittersweet feelings about Thali Too….While I am excited about the new menu, there is a part of me that will always miss the mouth-watering pan-seared lamb chops.  Chef Prasad, I hope you add the lamb chops to one of your menus at your other restaurants in the area. Hint! Hint! Wink! Wink!

Thali Too, Indian Restaurant, in Westport

Click on the image to visit Thali Too website!

Thali Too Westport - Now Vegetarian on Urbanspoon

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