A little shopping and dining at Middlebury Consignment

Found: Patricia Petrelli of Wallingford wrote, “I have recently enjoyed a visit to the Middlebury Consignment. It was a pleasant adventure in itself. But the high point was discovering the charming cafe on the third floor. They have cooking classes there as well as a lunch spot.

“What a wonderful experience. We chose the soups of the day, a minestrone and a leek and fennel. Both were fabulous, but the one I truly recommend is the leek and fennel. I brought home some to try and duplicate. But I would love to find it in your column one day.

“It is delicious hot or cold. I highly recommend it cold on a hot day. They served it with a biscotti seasoned with rosemary. Meanwhile, I will continue to enjoy your column and hope to find this soup recipe gracing your column soon.”

To see the rest of the column and recipe, please go to


A taste from ‘The Holiday Kosher Baker: Traditional & Contemporary Holiday Desserts’

Rosh Hashanah, often called the Jewish New Year, begins a week from tonight and marks the start of the year in the Hebrew calendar. I am always learning something new about this holiday, which begins on a different day each year since it follows the lunar calendar: I didn’t know that Rosh Hashanah starts 163 days after the first day of Passover.

Unlike Dec. 31, when many celebrate with parties and drinking, Rosh Hashanah is one of the holiest days in the Jewish religion. The similarity of all holiday celebrations is food, and no matter what religion or culture, food has a symbolic meaning and kindles fond memories of childhood. The Jewish high holidays are all about family and friends sharing meals, and nothing enhances the dinner like a decadent dessert.

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Porcine goodness awaits at BarBacon, 836 Ninth Ave. in New York City

Single-subject cookbooks and restaurants are my favorite. Think cookbooks using only lemons, maple syrup, kale or bacon, or dining establishments featuring chocolate, oatmeal, rice pudding, mac and cheese, meatballs or bacon.

While National Bacon Day, the Saturday before Labor Day, has passed, I still want to pay homage to one of America’s favorites, and take you to one of New York City’s single-subject restaurants, BarBacon. If cookbooks and restaurants featuring bacon isn’t enough to get your fix, how about a bacon of the month club, bacon candy, soda, maple-bacon coffee, bacon body wash, bacon fragrance, ice cream and band aids?

BarBacon, 836 Ninth Ave., www.barbacon.com, 646-362-0622, serves its star ingredient in the most unusual ways. Chef and owner Peter Sherman sat down and talked about the restaurant he opened in Hell’s Kitchen earlier this year.To see the rest of this column, video and recipe, please go to


Milford diner discovers tarragon-lobster sauce over cod at Gelston House

Found: Larry Solkoske of Milford wrote, “I went to Goodspeed Opera House for a play, and ate lunch next door at the restaurant. I can’t remember the name of the place, but they made this delicious cream sauce to put on the codfish I had. Is there any way to get that recipe for the cream sauce?

Larry, head to the fish market because chef/owner Iso Dedushaj and chef Rudy Cecunjanin of the Gelston House Restaurant & Inn, www.gelstonhouse.com, 8 Main St., East Haddam, 860-873-1411, were delighted to share the recipe. This dish is on its Gastro Pub menu.

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You don’t have to be an Iron Chef to have a rewarding culinary career

The popularity of “Top Chef,” “Hell’s Kitchen,” “Iron Chef America,” “Cupcake Wars,” “Chopped” and my favorite “Food Network Star” proves that the food scene remains on the forefront of entertainment.

The astounding fall lineup of new food shows, thousands of food blogs, new cookbooks and the big-screen movies about food and chefs, support the fact that people are hungry to learn more about cooking.

Food TV shows have elevated the awareness of the industry as a viable profession. Once August arrives, and school is on the front burner of people’s minds, I receive dozens of phone calls about how to get started in the culinary and hospitality fields.

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Chef du Jour: Meet Frank Proto of Barcelona in New Haven

Editor’s note: Chef du Jour is an occasional profile of an area food professional.

Name: Frank Proto, 43, executive chef, Barcelona, 155 Temple St., New Haven, next to the Omni, www.barcelonawinebar.com/newhaven.htm.

Type of food prepared: Spanish/Mediterranean.

Background/education: Nassau Community College, Culinary Institute of America.

Q. How would you describe the concept of the restaurant?

A. Tapas.

Q. What’s the most memorable meal you have ever eaten?

A. When we were on our honeymoon in Paris, my wife and I had an amazing breakfast at a local bakery. Warm bread and eggs cooked in a ton of butter.

Q. What’s the most memorable meal you have ever prepared?

A. I did a wine dinner in Oregon for 600 people. It was by far the largest meal and one of the most memorable.

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‘Chopped’ champ, 13, put on show at Yale-New Haven Children’s Hospital

I was surrounded by food celebrities recently at the Yale-New Haven Children’s Hospital. The standing-room-only activities room was the set for a cooking demonstration featuring 13-year-old Chef Hunter Zampa of Stamford, who was the champion of Food Network’s “Chopped Teen Talent.”

This earned him a $40,000 college scholarship to an Art Institute International Culinary School. He would like to go to the one located in British Columbia. The young chef said, “the most important thing to winning is to have a positive attitude. It’s mind over matter.”

“Chopped” was not his debut on Food Network; Hunter was also on “Rachael vs. Guy: Kids Cook-Off.” Hunter’s love of cooking began when his dad taught him how to cook his Italian-American grandma’s recipes. Hunter didn’t get the chance to cook with her as she passed away when he was very young. What a wonderful way to pass those family recipes and secrets to future generations.To see the rest of the column and recipes.please go to


Here’s one guy who will be celebrating National Cheesecake Day


Today is National Cheesecake Day, a day of celebration for cheesecake lovers; but who doesn’t love a slice of this creamy dessert? We all have a favorite dessert or two or three; Cheesecake happens to be one of mine.

First, a bit of history about this dessert. Was the treat invented in New York, thus New York Cheesecake? No, it’s actually believed to have its roots in Greece. Perhaps that is why the cheesecake in Greek-owned diners is always delicious.

Alan Davidson, author of the “Oxford Companion to Food,” wrote that, “Cheesecake was mentioned in Marcus Porcius Cato’s de Re Rustica around 200 BCE, and that Cato described making his cheese libum (cake) with results very similar to modern cheesecake.”

No matter who invented it or when, each region of the country and the world has put its own spin on the dessert: baked or no-bake, New York-style or Philadelphia-style, German or Italian, plain or flavored with fruit, chocolate or peanut butter.

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Photos courtesy of Junior’s Cheesecake Cookbook/Taunton Press

Photographer: Mark Ferri

Save room for Pie On9 pie contest Aug. 1 in Ninth Square


National Pie Day might be celebrated in January, but New Haven’s celebration of the all-American dessert takes place in the heat of summer from 6-8 p.m. Aug. 1 on Orange at Crown Street. City Seed’s second Pie On 9 pie contest and block party features all-you-can-eat pie, Ashley’s Ice Cream, cash bar by 116 Crown and entertainment thanks to DJ Tootskee. And while you are indulging, you will also be benefiting CitySeed’s food stamp program.

Pies such as Shaker lemon pie are often associated with a group of people and, of course, others like pumpkin and mincemeat are synonymous with Thanksgiving and Christmas, respectively. There seems to be a pie for all seasons as well as pies for all regions. Think key lime pie and Mississippi mud pie.

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photos courtesy of Tagan Engel/CitySeed


When at Michael’s Trattoria in Wallingford, try the Eggplant Rollatini


Found: Pat Abrams of Orange wrote, “I attended the Cooking for CASA event, the fundraiser for Children in Placement where many restaurants were showcased. I would love to have the recipe for the eggplant rollatini served by Michael’s Trattoria in Wallingford.”

Pat, go buy those eggplants, because Michael Tiscia , owner/chef of the restaurant at 344 Center St., Wallingford, www.michaelstrattoria.com, 203-269-5303, was happy to share his recipe for the most popular appetizer. To see the rest of this column and recipe, please go to