Editor’s note: Chef du Jour is an occasional profile on an area restaurant professional.
Just celebrating its one year anniversary, Sweetpea - real foods to go, 912 South Main St., Cheshire, 203-271-TOGO, www.sweetpeatogo.com, is worth a visit for quality and inventive food as well as classes and catering. A couple of tables are available to enjoy your purchases.
By the way, it was good to see Sweetpea Chef Maria Ojeda, a graduate from our culinary arts program at Gateway Community College, showing off what she learned with owner Cristina Chang-Bryant.
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Congratulations to Alison Fratarcangeli of West Haven who won the 10th annual Savin Rock Fireworks Committee’s Chili Cook Off at Westwoods Ballroom in West Haven. The stay-at-home mom, enjoys cooking and thanks her friends Daryll Proto and Mary Parkin, her husband, Sean Truncone, and her mom, Suzanne Schiano, for encouraging her to enter the contest.
Alison’s mom went to culinary school, and perhaps that’s the reason she has a passion for cooking. She said her chili is more like a stew. When it was announced she was the winner of the 21 entries, she was totally shocked, never expecting to take home the trophy.
Coming in second place was Lou Cappola of West Haven who was the winner in 2010. Third place went to Mike Doran and his nephew Matt Doran, both of West Haven. The People’s Choice went to Al and Sherri Lepper of West Haven for their Chuck Wagon Chili.
For those who wish to enter their chili in next year’s competition Feb. 28, 2015, contact Jim Kelly at 203-988-4148. As you might have guessed, proceeds from the event support the July 3 fireworks display in West Haven.
Given the weather, it couldn’t be a better time for my fifth annual “Hidden Gems of Florida,” a column I thoroughly enjoy researching.
In 1927, John Ringling brought his Ringling Brothers and Barnum & Bailey Circus — elephants and all — to Sarasota County to escape the winters of Bridgeport.
This friendly city, midcoast in southwestern Florida, sits an hour-plus north of Ft. Meyers and Naples, and an hour south of Tampa-St. Petersburg. Sarasota and her string of eight coastal barrier islands is a delightful and attractive city of art, architecture, beaches, a historic circus family and diverse culinary delights.
On two successive visits, I called Siesta Key and Lido Key “home.” Both islands and accommodations proved to be excellent launching pads for exploring the diverse and delectable food scene.
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Love will be in the air on Feb. 14, with the 1 billion Valentine’s Day cards expressing love and affection, according to the U.S. Greeting Card Association.
The ritual of exchanging confections, especially chocolates, is thought to be because of chocolate’s aphrodisiac qualities. Others reason, according to www.foodtimeline.org, the valentine candy phenomenon is just a clever scheme developed by confectioners to promote products in the seasonal lull between Christmas and Easter.
Whatever the reason, what better way to show your valentine and loved ones how special they are on Feb. 14 than by giving a gift of chocolate or other confection you made especially for them?
Checking out the seasonal cookbook displays recently, I browsed through several to see what new titles will help make some delectable treats. Of course, a few had to become part of my collection, so I could experiment.
Found: Joy Habib of Orange wrote, “I am writing to tell you about a new restaurant in New Haven called Mambo (758 State St. www.mambonewhaven.com).
“The food was wonderful, well prepared and presented. The Corn Chowder With Shrimp was outstanding, and we would love the recipe so we can create it at home. Would you be so kind as to ask the chef for the recipe? We would really appreciate that. Many thanks.”
Joy, get out your soup pot, because Chef Alex Morales, who opened Mambo Cocina Latina with Elena Fusco, owner of Bin 100 in Milford, and Gerry Iannaccone, owner of Goodfellas, was happy to share the recipe.
Chef Morales’ cuisine of South America and the Caribbean is inventive, with big flavor, and it is beautifully presented as well. Tasting the soup and the best fried yucca I have had at the photo shoot for this column was a tease, so I went back for lunch with my good friend, food writer Jane Stern and explored more of the menu. To see the rest of the column and recipe, please click on this link
Found: Angela Cooke of Branford wrote, “ I went to the Greek Olive Restaurant on Long Wharf in New Haven. I ordered the Cod Fish Papillote; it was superb. It seems to contain parsley, scallions, capers and lemon served on rice pilaf. I would love to have this recipe.”
Angela, chef Kam Tom and owners Anna and Tony Antonakis were happy to share the recipe. In business for 10 years at 402 Sargent Drive in New Haven (the former Howard Johnson’s location), this is not the Antonakises’ first restaurant. They owned Roberto’s on State and Court streets for 11 years and Tony’s International, which was located under the Air Rights Garage.
Open for breakfast, lunch and dinner, the restaurant, www.thegreekolive.com, is known for its Mediterranean-style cuisine as well as burgers, breakfast served all day and pastries made in-house. To see the rest of this column and recipe, please click on this link
Happy New Year! I look forward to another year of sleuthing out your favorite restaurant recipes, answering your food-related questions, showcasing area chefs, sharing my food travels and keeping you up to date with “everything food.”
It is soup season … what better way to warm up a cold winter’s day than with a bowl of steaming soup or chowder … so comforting. Many of the recipe requests I receive are for soups. Here’s one.
Found: Pat Carlquist of Guilford wrote, “My husband and I ate at The Stone House Restaurant in Guilford (506 Whitfield St., www.stonehouserestaurant.com, 203-458-3700). I began my dinner with the soup special of the night, which was Corn Chowder. It was absolutely delicious and one of the best soups I have had in a restaurant.To see the rest of the column and recipe, please click on this link:
Are you an “in-ny” or “out-ty,” that is, on New Year’s Eve?
For someone who enjoys dining in restaurants throughout the year, I must admit, the last few years I have become an “in-ny.” As people gather today for the Christmas feast, one of the topics of conversation around the table is New Year’s Eve plans.
For those of you who will be “in-nys,” a cocktail by the fire sounds like a fine way to count down 2013. Here are a few libations to welcome in the new year at home. “Winter Cocktails: Mulled Ciders, Hot Toddies, Punches, Pitchers, and Cocktail Party Snacks,” by Maria Del Mar Sacasa with photography by Tara Striano, 2013, Quirk Books, $22.95, has fresh takes on classic warm drinks, as well as creations using sweet treats, including this recipe for Nutella Melt.
Did you know that the pineapple is a winter fruit? It is also the symbol of hospitality. Warm up a blustery night with the author’s Liquid Gold, a mulled pineapple drink.
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The Big Taste at the Greater New Haven Chamber of Commerce Business Expo showcased more than a dozen area restaurants. I was honored to host the event where attendees voted for their favorite dish.
Congratulations to Park Central Tavern, 1640 Whitney Ave., Hamden, 203-287-8887, www.parkcentraltavern.com. Their Burgundy Braised Bison Short Ribs With Blue Cheese Risotto was the winner. Chef Tom Schultz adapted his recipe for the home cook using a slow cooker.
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