Friday, January 27, 2012

Cooking with My Butcher's Help

I love to cook especially with fresh, local ingredients.  Now that we have Craft Butchery at Saugatuck Center in Westport, I especially like to eat what I cook.  Ryan Fibiger, the owner, sources organic, pasture raised and grass fed animals from local sustainable farms.  He brings in the whole animal and every part, from nose to tail, is used.

Ryan and the two other butchers who work along side him can tell you where the animal has come from and will butcher exactly what you need and how you want it.  I love knowing the source of what I'm eating and feel good that I can trust what I am putting in my body.
Just recently, I walked in and asked Ryan for short ribs. He cut them right in front of my eyes, fresh as can be. I got an excellent product and an education. Back home, I slow roasted the ribs with wine, carrots, garlic, onion, tomato and added parsley at the end.

The smell and the taste were phenomenal.  I served the ribs on top of stone ground grits with white cheddar cheese with  a side of dandelion greens. My husband and I could not stop eating it, but I made sure I saved a serving for my friend, Juliet.
I've enjoyed eating lemon-rosemary roasted chicken made with their free range chickens, veal meatballs with their organic ground veal and even pizza with their sage sausage. I am getting hungry just thinking about the goodness of Craft Butchery's products.

I better get busy making dinner, but first I'm on my way Craft Butchery to see what my butcher can suggest.

Saturday, January 21, 2012

Celebrating Local Seafood at "The Whelk"

Last Thursday night, my husband Gil and I were invited to a sneak preview of Bill Taibe's new seafood restaurant, The Whelk, in Westport's new Saugatuck Center.  The ever creative Chef Taibe is featuring sustainable seafood from local and regional sources. Like at his LeFarm restaurant, Bill concentrates on where his ingredients are coming from.  He gets to know and builds a relationship with the people whose hard work brings food to his kitchen.  For example, Bill and chef de cuisine Dan Kardos, went out on Norm Bloom's oyster boat to see how he seeds, farms and harvests oysters around the Norwalk islands.

The result is unmistakable--fresh, sweet, local bivalves you can enjoy raw or cooked at the Whelk.

In his inimitable manner, Bill Taibe kept his sea-centric snacks coming all evening.  We really loved, the barbecued clams, blackened pollock sandwich with spicy slaw and the poutine which is grilled octopus and squid with french fries topped with beef gravy.  And my husband especially loved the lamb burger with meat from Craft Butchery.

The perfect complement to these delicious and surprising dishes was the fresh Bitter Hound made for me by Raffa.  It has Tito's Vodka, grapefruit juice, bitters and tonic poured over ice.

Although perfectly satisfied with our savory dishes, Bill did not want us to leave without dessert, which was a  cream filled chocolate whoopee bar, and we were happy to oblige.

Bill and his team are gearing up for the opening scheduled for the end of January and after sampling his creations, the calm, casual and fresh restaurant interior and his delightful staff, he is sure to satisfy customers for a long time to come.  Bill's understated and calm demeanor comes through in the atmosphere and in the people he works with.  What a great addition to Westport's culinary community.  Thank you Bill!

 And if you are wondering what a whelk is, I had to look it up myself.
 It's a sea snail!

Monday, January 16, 2012

On the Road with Pinkki

It's been deeply gratifying to receive the support of so many people for my project, "Cookies for a Cure". Pinkki, a cookie developed by Andre Kreft of Savor Fine Foods, hit the road in October to raise funds for Breast Cancer Research. For each bag sold, Andre, William Raveis and I make a $16 contribution to the WRRE Breast Cancer Research Fund.

We unveiled the program at the Westport Farmers Market in October and response to the cookie itself and to the donation program was very enthusiastic.

Encouraged by the response, we took Pinkki on the road in December. "Cookies For a Cure" was invited by Mitchells in Westport to take part in a special evening to benefit breast cancer. Customers experienced a delightful evening of shopping and in the process made a donation to pinkaid (Mitchells program to support services for local women in need) and Cookies for a Cure.
Pinkki is so delicious that once people taste it, they jump at the chance to make a donation through their purchase. Men are some of the biggest supporters of Cookies for a Cure, including Bill Mitchell himself.

The evening at Mitchells resulted in 100 bags sold and raising $1600 for WRRE Breast Cancer Research Fund. Word of mouth spread the news of Pinkki and other merchants took in bags to sell in their shops. Cookies for a Cure are being sold by Soleil Toile, Effi's Salon and
 Lynne Ostilly Collections in Westport.

Andre and I are grateful for everyone's support. If you want to join a baker and a realtor in the fight against breast cancer, buy a bag of Pinkki!

Monday, December 12, 2011

Slow Food, Thriving Community

Westport Farmers Market

My love of fresh, local food led me to be a regular shopper at the Westport Farmers Market.  It was there that I linked my love of good, clean food to the community and  the environment.  Wearing my business hat of a realtor, I became an official sponsor of the Westport Farmers Market.

Taking part in the Thursday markets, I found a kinship with a number of vendors like,
 Donny of Raus Coffee for Humanity and,

 Jerry of Nothin'But Foods and,

I especially connected with one vendor--Andre Kreft of Savor Fine Foods.
Originally, a graphic designer, Andre turned his visual artistic sensibility to his gastronomic senses and is now baking the most unique savory cookies with ingredients like lavender, roasted leek, smoked red onion,  chocolate and black pepper.  He is constantly finding new artistic combinations that delight the pallet.  

Working with an artist is inspirational and together we came up with an idea where we would join forces to raise funds for Breast Cancer and COOKIES FOR A CURE was born. Andre made a cookie called Pinkki which we sold in October at the Farmers Market. For every bag sold, we donated $16 to The William Raveis Breast Cancer Fund.

Pinkki a delightful cookie made with rosewater syrup, orange and cranberry with beet pulp to make it pink is lovingly made by Andre Kreft, founder and baker at Savor Cookies.
To date, we have sold 100 bags which equals $1600 for the William Raveis Breast Cancer Research Fund.  This is just a start and we plan to continue! 

Come join me this Thursday Dec 15, 2011 from 6 to 9pm at Mitchell's in Westport, and discover the gastronomic delight of Pinkki Cookies and support a cause that is of concern to all of us. For each bag of Pinkki Cookies you purchase at $8.00, $16.00 will be contributed to the William Raveis Breast Cancer Research Fund. The 2 for 1 matching contribution is being made by me, Savor Cookies and Bill Raveis.

I look forward to seeing you at Mitchell's and introducing you to this delightful cookie and tell you more about the William Raveis Breast Cancer Research Fund.

Sunday, December 11, 2011

Summer Blooms to Winter Wreaths

This year I decided to make my own winter wreath using what I had in my garden.  Looking around I found so much to work with but I was most drawn to the lush mop head hydrangea blooms.  I had tons and I put them to good use. I feel like I have saved a part of my garden to enjoy every time I come in the front door. What do you think of my first home grown winter wreath?
My Front Door

After having made my first wreath, I was quickly inspired to make more.  I made this one for my friend Katie in North Carolina.  We were there recently visiting family and friends.  Katie's wreath reflects her creative and gentle personality.  She instantly hung it on her door and it suited her house to a tee.


Katie's wreath made of evergreens and hydrangea, lavender, gomphrena and Skimmia

Take a closer look

Friday, December 9, 2011

Getting Into the Spirit

Until this week, it's been so warm that it has been hard to beleive it's December. Today, I walked into the new Pop Up West Elm Store on Main Street in Westport and I quickly caught Holiday fever. There are so many unique home decor pieces and gift items that I was inspired to make my list of gifts for friends and gifts for me! The store will be here temporarily, so make sure you get your chance to experience it before it's gone.

Friday, June 17, 2011

Not in My Backyard! The Case of the Runaway Mountain Lion.

Oh no! First it was the moose on the Merritt, now it's the mountain lion!!!

The first sightings were last week in Greenwich, a mountain lion in way. The news told us that mountain lions have not been seen in CT since the late 1800's and that it was probably someone's pet. How a "pet" of that size could escape without being reported is beyond me, but whatever.

A week later, the news flash was that a mountain lion had been hit by an SUV and killed in Milford. So the question was wether or not it was the same "cat". This mountain lion had to have done a fair amount of running without being seen in the interim to end up in Milford.

Now, a few days later, I read that there were two sightings in Greenfield Hill in Fairfield...minutes from my home. I called up my husband to tell him and he asked if I thought that the coyote he saw with our dog was really a mountain lion instead. I couldn't help it, but I had to say it...the mountain lion wouldn't have would have meowed or worse, roared!

All kidding aside, here is info that the Fairfield Police Department has put out.

The recommended precautions at home are:
• Keep children indoors around dawn and dusk
• Do not feed wildlife that would be a potential prey
• Install or use motion detector lighting, especially near sidewalks
and pathways
• Scatter mothballs and ammonia-soaked scraps of cloth around your yard

Face to face with a mountain lion:
• Do not approach
• Gather and protect your children
• Keep eye contact and back away slowly, without running
• Give the mountain lion an avenue for escape

In wooded areas:
• Hike with a group, not alone
• Hike with a dog on a leash
• Keep children in close proximity
• Keep standing, even if you pick up a child
• Carry a walking stick or pepper spray, stones –
any weapon that comes to hand.

Any sightings should be reported to the Police Department’s emergency communication center at 203 254-4800, so officers can be dispatched to the area.