Friday, December 18, 2009

So that's why I'm so unhappy!

In a study by the University of Warwick (Davis) in England to determine the happiest states, out of the fifty states and the District of Columbia, the Nutmeg State comes in 50th! Yay for us! CT came in just ahead of...drumroll, please...my home state of New York!

So here's my scientific experiment:
Why is JR so cranky?

Hypothesis:
He's cranky because he's lived in the two least-happy states his whole life.

Data:
He's cranky.
He's lived in the two least-happy states his whole life.

Conclusion:
He's so cranky because he's lived in the two least-happy states his whole life. And he wasted all that money on therapy when it was New York and Connecticut's fault the whole time!

Sunday, December 13, 2009

Speaking of our beloved Bedford Street

This article in The Advocate is about the recent struggles of the retailers along Bedford Street. Here are some quotes, followed by my comments in bold.

"Most retailers on Bedford Street are predicting a dismal shopping season to round out a bleak year in sales. While retail sales nationwide experienced a 1.3 percent increase last month, signs of recovery have been few and far between on Bedford, where merchants have for years waited with bated breath for a retail revival."

That revival won't start until those empty storefronts actually have something in them. It's bad visually and it's bad ch'i.

"Part of the disappointment with Bedford stems from its storied reputation. Once known as the Fifth Avenue of Stamford, it was home to a bevy of retailers that stressed quality and service."

You can thank the mall, for the most part, for destroying good old Bedford Street (don't even get me started on what it did to Atlantic Street). Why did this country go mall-crazy in the 80s??

"Quattro Pazzi, an Italian restaurant that used to be on Hope Street and which currently has locations in Norwalk and Fairfield, is set to open on the corner of Bedford Street and Walton Place. Sandella's Flatbread Cafe, a franchise eatery with more than 100 sites across the country, plans to open at 154 Bedford St."

Is Quatro Pazzi still related to Quatro Regali, which recently moved in with Spazzio? And what's at the corner of Bedford and Walton? Isn't that the Congregational Church? Do they mean the old Sabatiello's at the corner of Bedford and Forest?

"'We need a variety, like a good shoe store or a jewelry store, things that bring people down here. There's no interest.'"

How about a cheese shop? A bakery? A coffee shop?

"'The storefronts are older and don't meet the configuration of large retail chains,' said Michael Freimuth, the city's economic development director."

I hate when cities and towns pin their hopes for economic revival on chain stores or SuperMegaJumboMart. Between the mall and Route 1 in Norwalk, we have enough big box stores and chains in the area. In my opinion, Bedford Street should focus on attracting unique, independent retailers. Yeah, the landlords might have to settle for less than they'd get from, say, J. Crew or another freakin' bank, but isn't that preferable to earning ZERO dollars from an empty storefront??

"
Toss in traffic and parking issues -- a decades-old complaint among Bedford merchants -- and the result is a format that is 'harder to work with.'"

WALK FIFTY FEET. You'll live. Trust me.

PS: Try to patronize our downtown friends when you can. The more business they generate, the better chance the area will have of attracting new businesses. Like a cheese shop!

Sunday, December 6, 2009

Mr. Stamford moves across the Pond?

Over at Mr. Stamford's old site, which has been untended for quite some time, a new owner has taken over and is reconstructing the site. Based on the small Flickr sampling on the right, the new owner appears to be from Jolly Old England, where one of their cities plaigiarized our city's name. The audacity!


Then again, I've always wanted to visit Belmesthorpe, Little Casterton and Uffington. Does Metro-North stop there?

Friday, December 4, 2009

Break the chains! Chain stores, that is...

Independent retailers are an important part of any community. They keep money local and usually provide more personal service than your multinational conglomerate superstore. Just in time for your holiday shopping pleasure, here's a list of some suggested alternatives to big boxes and chain stores.

Toys
Instead of: Toys R Us (or Target)
Shop at: Stamford Toys on High Ridge Road

Books
Instead of: Borders, Barnes & Noble
Shop at: Barrett Bookstore in Noroton Heights (I know it's not in Stamford, but it's close enough.)

Jewelry
Instead of: Kay's, Zales
Shop at: Nagi Jewelers on High Ridge Road, José Grant on Summer Street, Marco Jewelers in Ridgeway, or a bunch of other independent jewelers around town.

Baby clothes, etc.
Instead of: Carter's, Baby Gap
Shop at: Kaleidoscope in the Bull's Head Plaza

Chocolates
Instead of: Godiva, Lindt
Shop at: Chocopologie in South Norwalk (Turns out that Schakolad is a chain.)

Heck, even groceries
Instead of: Stop & Shop, A&P
Shop at: Palmer's Market in Noroton Heights

Any other suggestions?

12/5: Here are a few more!

Ice cream
Instead of: Baskin-Robbins, Carvel
Shop at: Gofer Ice Cream on High Ridge Road, Sunny Daes on Shippan Avenue

Home improvement
Instead of: Home Depot
Shop at: Karps Hardware, Keough's Turn of River Hardware

Sunday, November 29, 2009

SPAMford

In the past two days, I've gotten two odd spam comments. It's strange that someone took the time to go on my humble little blog and post this stuff. Even stranger is that they posted in what appears to be Japanese. I ran the posts through Yahoo! Babel Fish and came up with this:

H the sociable place of the human wives, also the association which is divided naturally OK! In combination with the [ero] human wives of frustration to the taste, it introduces. Same the wife, [serebu], the ripening woman and the SM wife, secret, please meet, play young from the genre of or more six and choose the like woman

I'm not sure, but I think it's offering me the opportunity to pick a secret S&M wife from a choice of six or more young women. Um, wha...?

It is the guide of the sideline where 1 day 50,000 Yen ~ enters into the hand. The [serebu] woman of the man deviation eats the man who knows each other with the net one after another by power of the gold and scattering and others has done. It doesn't try making the large sum such a woman for the beanbag?

It starts off with something about money, but then it goes and brings cannibalism into the mix. Besides, everybody knows you can't just trade your wife for a good beanbag chair nowadays.


Very odd. I'll post more of these if they come up. In the meantime, I'm heading to Western Union to wire money to my long-lost relatives in Nigeria.

Monday, November 23, 2009

The Great Shop-Rite Caper

I was reading the public notices in the paper the other day to see if any abandoned glue factories were on the foreclosure market so I could buy one and use it as a base from which to launch my overly elaborate plot to take over Stamford - a plot that would be foiled by either Batman or a bunch of meddling kids - when I saw this interesting notice:


The area in question is the Grade A Shop-Rite on Shippan Avenue, and the owners have received approval to change its zoning from a C-N or "Neighborhood Business" to a C-B or "Community Business."

I called the Zoning Department and left a message inquiring about the difference between the two, but got no response.

What can this mean? Will Grade A succeed in its diabolical scheme to sell mind-controlling produce? Will the Dynamic Duo of Pavia and Tarzia save the day??

Tune in next week...same Streets time...same Streets channel!!

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Everybody's Fine, starring...Stamford!!

Here's the trailer for Everybody's Fine, the new movie starring Robert DeNiro, Drew Barrymore, Kate Beckinsale & Sam Rockwell. As I'm sure everybody knows by now, parts of it were shot right here in Stamford. DeNiro reportedly grew quite enamored of Remo's pizza while he was in town (and with good reason).



In case you blinked, here are some screen shots featuring the City That Works.

Our beloved train station...did they actually cover the platform sign or did they change it in post-production?


The east side of Summer Street, just north of Main Street (across from the former Twenty).


Somewhere around Park Square West. There's no mistaking that façade.

This movie looks pretty good, so go see it at the Avon's special sneak preview next Thursday at 7:00.

Saturday, November 7, 2009

There's a new sheriff on the Streets of Stamford

...and I don't mean Mike Pavia.

Please say hello to Maxwell Alexander!


He was born November 7, 2009, in Stamford Hospital.

As you can imagine, I'll be out of the loop for a little while. Feel free to talk amongst yourselves.

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Disney buys Marvel Comics, Marvel Comics blows up Stamford

Did you ever want to see Stamford get blowed up real good like the trolls who used to pollute the Advocate's Topix boards did? If so, check out this trailer for the new video game Marvel Ultimate Alliance 2.



A Timeless Journey, the comic store on Summer Street, also made a cameo appearance in the big Marvel storyline where Stamford goes boom. Come to think of it, maybe this is how The Hole was really created, and the government covered it up...

Bonus: They did a nice job replicating Stamford High School!

Thursday, October 29, 2009

Improv your life

If you're down and feeling blue,
Here's a fun thing you can do.
BUtterfield 8 this Friday night,
You'll laugh until you feel all right.

World Class Indifference will be in the house,
Doing improv comedy for man and mouse.
They'll make you laugh, they'll make you think;
Here's their Meetup info link.

Monday, October 26, 2009

More Reinventing Stamford stuff

If you're a development nerd like me, here's a ton of stuff from the Reinventing Stamford initiative. First is a page from their website chock-full of documents on topics such as proposed and current projects, Stamford's green programs, and the future of the Northeast Corridor. The videos below are from a seminar in Australia where Kip Bergstrom, the executive director of Stamford's Urban Redevelopment Commission, gave a presentation on Stamford's past reinventions and its current status in the state and the region as they relate to "place-making" for Australia's residential college and halls. OK, it's not as exciting as a visit from the President, but it's interesting if you like this kind of stuff.

Reinventing Stamford: Redefining the Recession, Part 1 of 3

Reinventing Stamford: Redefining the Recession, Part 2 of 3

Reinventing Stamford: Redefining the Recession, Part 3 of 3

Saturday, October 24, 2009

Stamford's best chili

Today was the 2nd Annual Stamford Pro-Am Charity Chili Cookoff to benefit the Food Bank of Lower Fairfield County, and man did I enjoy some delicious chilis! Seven local restaurants and seven amateur chefs competed for the title of Stamford's best chili. Did an amateur pull the big upset? Did Monster B's retain the title? Did anybody bring some cornbread????

Here are the results:

Third place - Benny's Fast Break and their Smoky Chipotle Chili! This chili must be awesome on a Benny's hot dog. It was spicy with just the perfect amount of chipotle, which is overused too often.

Second place - Smokey Joe's BBQ and Ma's White Chili! This was a different kind of chili; it had a white cream sauce as the base (faintly reminiscent of stroganoff) and big chunks of smoked turkey and chicken. It had a very nice kick, which is what I look for in chili.

The winner and new heavyweight chili champeen of the woooooooorld is:
Kathy and John Rattner's Quattro Carne Chili! These now-famous amateurs make their chili with chicken, beef, veal and hot Italian sausage, all stewed overnight. It was delicious, with a different kind of spice from the sausage.

Here's a picture of the proud winners:


(Back row, left to right: Kathy and John Rattner, Smokey Joe's, Benny's Fast Break. My apologies to the chefs for neglecting to ask for their names!)

And to answer my earlier question, yes, several people brought cornbread! Nothing wrong with cornbread...

Friday, October 23, 2009

American choppers

After the President's motorcade left Kosciuszko Park, I got close enough (across the water on Harbor Plaza) to take these pictures of Marine One and one of the escort Chinooks. The pictures don't do justice to how big and impressive these machines are.

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Why does Pitney Bowes hate Stamford?

The postage-meter-maker is whining about traffic in their little kingdom again (as I recounted in one of my early posts on Mr. Stamford's blog, they used the same rationale to prevent Stamford from becoming the home of the now-Bridgeport Sound Tigers hockey team). Why are they so resistant to change? Do they enjoy being surrounded by a post-industrial wasteland? If so, then they should move to Detroit.

Pitney Bowes has been the biggest obstacle to redeveloping the South End for years. I think the city should've called their bluff back then, and they should tell PB to stick it now.

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Hail to the Chief

Get out your signs for or against health care reform, because President Obama is coming to Stamford! He's attending a fundraiser for Chris Dodd this Friday at the Stamford Hilton. I hope he addresses pressing issues like The Hole, people who block the box, and the absence of a single bowling alley in the CTW.

Monday, October 19, 2009

Light rail for NYC?

Let me begin by saying that I'm not yet sure how I feel about the proposed light rail for Stamford. Now let me bring to your attention a seemingly far-fetched proposal to turn Manhattan's 42nd Street into a traffic-free light rail line. Here's the Times article.

Some interesting quotes:
“Real estate people should take a look at what’s happened with real estate values in other cities where there are these walking streets,” said Mr. Durst, who visits pedestrian-friendly Copenhagen frequently, as his wife is Danish. “They’ve increased tremendously.”

Vision 42 advocates said light rail lines in Dallas had stimulated more than $1 billion worth of development. In Portland, Ore., light rail has catalyzed about $1.2 billion worth of development. In Jersey City, about 33.3 million square feet of development is under way, Mr. Haikalis said.

Thursday, October 15, 2009

Food, food and more food

If you're still hungry after the Greek festival, carb it up at the Lions Club pancake breakfast on Sunday from 9-1 at the Belltown Fire Department! The firehouse is at 8 Dorlen Road (across from the Newfield Green shopping center).


Once you've digested all that baklava and pancakes, get ready for some hot chili! The 2nd Annual Stamford Pro-Am Charity Chili Cookoff will take place on Saturday the 24th from 12-3 at the Unitarian Universalist Society in Stamford, 20 Forest Street (across from the Avon).

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

To-ga! To-ga! To-ga!

Bluto and the other Deltas won't be there, but there's a Greek festival this weekend at Church of the Archangels, located on the corner of Bedford and Third Streets. It'll be a regular bacchanalia, or perhaps a baklavanalia. Mmm...baklava...

Also, it might be a tad chilly to actually wear a toga, at least commando.


Monday, October 12, 2009

The Connecticut baseball Triple Crown

Some thought it was impossible. Some thought it was foolhardy. Some thought I would eat too many hot dogs. But I did it: I saw all three of Connecticut's professional baseball teams in one summer. Read on for my thoughts.

New Britain Rock Cats (AA affiliate of the Minnesota Twins)
New Britain is a hike from Stamford, which should show you how much I love baseball and how dedicated I was to this pursuit. It was worth it, however, because going to a Rock Cats game is a fun, affordable experience. The stadium is your typical AA stadium with about 6000 seats and three or four food stands. Seats are around $8.

The Rock Cats have the best souvenir shop of the three. They sell souvenir baseballs in about twenty different designs and colors, including hippie flowers and tie-dye. They also sell giant foam hats, which are doubly awesome at a baseball game because the person behind you can't see a thing.

They also have the best food selection. You can get your typical ballpark fare of hot dogs and hamburgers, but they also have a "grill" out in left field serving chicken sandwiches and other slightly healthier stuff.

Since the players are all striving to make the bigs, the baseball is also pretty darn good.

My only complaint is about the seats behind home plate. They're not your traditional fold-down baseball seats; they're this weird plastic bucket-type seat, kind of like an oversized booster seat. They're not very comfortable and they make you sweat.

Where the Rock Cats truly excel is in atmosphere. They don't overdo it with the sound effects and other annoyances, though they do have a whopping four mascots. It's a fun time, and the fans get into it without being told when to "MAKE SOME NOISE" or "CLAP YOUR HANDS."

Connecticut Defenders (AA affiliate of the San Francisco Giants)
Did I say that New Britain is far? OK, Norwich is really far. It's up-near-the-casinos far. Not only is it far from Stamford, it's far from the highway. Once you get off of 395, you then wind your way through an industrial park to get to the stadium, which is pretty much in the middle of nowhere. This might explain why there were maybe 700 people at the game, making this the most eerily quiet baseball game I've ever attended. I'm sure it didn't help that the Defenders have been rumored for years to be leaving town, which they finally did. I guess my Defenders souvenir baseball is now a collector's item!

Besides all those drawbacks, the game itself was darn good until the opposing pitching fell apart in the seventh or eighth. These players are also AA hopefuls, so they can run, hit and throw.

The Defenders also didn't play too many annoying games or sound effects, which is nice. I know minor league teams do all of this to keep the kids entertained, but a lot of teams go way overboard with the cute crap. The Defenders managed to find a nice balance between watching the game and watching silly sausage races.

They also had the best beer selection, including Sam Adams and Brooklyn Lager.

On the con side, the concession stand behind us on the third base side closed in the fifth inning, and the Voodoo Grill, which serves buffalo wings and crab cakes, never even opened!

Time will tell if Norwich will play host to another baseball team in the future.

Bridgeport Bluefish (Independent)
The Bluefish are right here in the FC, but it might take you just as long to get to a weeknight game as it would to go to New Britain on the weekend. In other words, northbound traffic sucks!! This definitely hurts the Bluefish, though they still draw pretty good crowds. (Now if they had built this ballpark in Stamford as was originally proposed, highway traffic would be going against rush hour, and they would draw from all over the area, including Westchester.)

As for the ballpark's immediate surroundings, don't go there. Literally. BPT might be getting better, but I still wouldn't recommend walking around at night.

The food at the Ballpark at Harbor Yard is subpar, even for minor league baseball. Aside from hot dogs and burgers, everything is fried. I don't go to a ballgame and expect arugula and escarole salad, but some healthier choices would be nice.

A lot of the Bluefish players are former major leaguers trying to get back to the Show, so it's usually pretty good baseball. The crowd does get into it, and there are even a few diehard characters like the guy with the giant sign covered in Bluefish logos and slogans on both sides (I didn't take a picture, darn it).

The one other minor drawback to seeing a Bluefish game is the view. In left field, you've got the Arena, and in center and right you've got the train tracks and the power plant. Blecch.

***********************

OK, final verdict time. For the money and the fun, I have to place the New Britain Rock Cats at the top of the list. It's a nice stadium, the fans are into it, and the baseball is great. If you're itching to get away (but not too far), it's worth the drive up to the Hardware City to see a game.

Second place goes to the Bluuuuefish. It's right here, it's affordable, and it's a good time. If you can ignore the relatively minor inconveniences and don't mind sitting in traffic, check it out.

And last but not least, the departed Connecticut Defenders. Remember the beginning of Major League, when there are a handful of fans in the bleachers and Bob Uecker doesn't even care anymore? That's what a Defenders game is like. It feels like they just gave up, which is kind of sad.

Well, that's the final score of today's game. Join us again next summer for some great baseball action, and please drive home safely.

Sunday, October 11, 2009

Eats of Stamford: Egané

Last night, the wife and I ate with friends at Egané on Bedford Street, and I only have one thing to say: WHY AREN'T MORE PEOPLE EATING THERE????

I had the dolsot bibimbop, spicy pork (or beef, chicken, tofu or kimchi) with vegetables and a fried egg over rice in a hot stone bowl. It was just incredible. (If you get this, make sure you mix everything together! I learned that this is how you eat it when I was already halfway done.)

My wife had yookgaejan soup, which is finely shredded beef, scallions, mushrooms and egg served in a spicy beef broth.

Our friends had the authentic Korean BBQ experience. Take a look at this sizzling pork belly and then get your butt over to Egané!

video

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

Speaking of empty storefronts...

This Time article is about how some cities are repurposing vacant retail space for other uses like art galleries, libraries and ads.

Here's a quote I thought was interesting:
"Nationwide, 10% of shopping-center stores sit empty, according to the real estate analytics firm Reis. That's the highest percentage of vacancies since 1992 — what you get when you mix a bad recession with a commercial real estate bust (thanks to years of overzealous building)."

Stamford's perpetual vacancies were definitely not caused by either the recession or overbuilding. Some spaces have been empty for three or four years, long before the recession. What I've gleaned is that landlords here want way too much rent and/or a particular type of clientele.

Maybe they'd be wise to follow this advice:
"...in the short term, getting creative with commercial space keeps storefronts filled, which helps keep properties secure and community spirit intact, and may even bring in a little money for would-be landlords to offset costs like utilities, taxes and maintenance."

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

Inconceivable!!

Wallace Shawn, the real star of The Princess Bride will be appearing at The Avon tonight! I realize that it's short notice, but blame The Avon folks - I just got the email about it this morning.

Still wondering who the heck Wallace Shawn is? Well, here's his most famous scene:


Friday, October 2, 2009

Help cure juvenile myositis!!


Kevin of Always Home and Uncool has asked me to post this as part of his effort to raise awareness in the blogosphere of juvenile myositis, a rare autoimmune disease his daughter was diagnosed with on this day seven years ago. The day also happens to be his wife's birthday.

*

Our pediatrician admitted it early on.

The rash on our 2-year-old daughter's cheeks, joints and legs was something he'd never seen before.

The next doctor wouldn't admit to not knowing.

He rattled off the names of several skin conditions – none of them seemingly worth his time or bedside manner – then quickly prescribed antibiotics and showed us the door.

The third doctor admitted she didn't know much.

The biopsy of the chunk of skin she had removed from our daughter's knee showed signs of an "allergic reaction" even though we had ruled out every allergy source – obvious and otherwise – that we could.

The fourth doctor had barely closed the door behind her when, looking at the limp blonde cherub in my lap, she admitted she had seen this before. At least one too many times before.

She brought in a gaggle of med students. She pointed out each of the physical symptoms in our daughter:

The rash across her face and temples resembling the silhouette of a butterfly.

The purple-brown spots and smears, called heliotrope, on her eyelids.

The reddish alligator-like skin, known as Gottron papules, covering the knuckles of her hands.

The onset of crippling muscle weakness in her legs and upper body.

She then had an assistant bring in a handful of pages photocopied from an old medical textbook. She handed them to my wife, whose birthday also happened to be that day.

This was her gift – a diagnosis for her little girl.

That was seven years ago – Oct. 2, 2002 – the day our daughter was found to have juvenile dermatomyositis, one of a family of rare autoimmune diseases that can have debilitating and even fatal consequences when not treated quickly and effectively.

Our daughter's first year with the disease consisted of surgical procedures, intravenous infusions, staph infections, pulmonary treatments and worry. Her muscles were too weak for her to walk or swallow solid food for several months. When not in the hospital, she sat on our living room couch, propped up by pillows so she wouldn't tip over, as medicine or nourishment dripped from a bag into her body.

Our daughter, Thing 1, Megan, now age 9, remembers little of that today when she dances or sings or plays soccer. All that remain with her are scars, six to be exact, and the array of pills she takes twice a day to help keep the disease at bay.

What would have happened if it took us more than two months and four doctors before we lucked into someone who could piece all the symptoms together? I don't know.

I do know that the fourth doctor, the one who brought in others to see our daughter's condition so they could easily recognize it if they ever had the misfortune to be presented with it again, was a step toward making sure other parents also never have to find out.

That, too, is my purpose today.

It is also my birthday gift to my wife, My Love, Rhonda, for all you have done these past seven years to make others aware of juvenile myositis diseases and help find a cure for them once and for all.

To read more about children and families affected by juvenile myositis diseases, visit Cure JM Foundation at www.curejm.org.

To make a tax-deductible donation toward JM research, go to www.firstgiving.com/rhondaandkevinmckeever or www.curejm.com/team/donations.htm.

Thursday, October 1, 2009

Sammy's latest arrest...and a wine competition

It would be funny if it weren't so sad: everybody's favorite failed restaurateur Sammy Settembre has been arrested AGAIN. I can't add much to the Advocate story, so here's the highlight:

"Stamford Police Sgt. Peter diSpagna said police got several complaints from companies, including one from Dec. 8, in which a company booked a Christmas party at the restaurant and paid a $4,100 deposit.

The company gave the restaurant a corporate credit card number, and there were unauthorized charges made on the card amounting to $20,000, diSpagna said; the charges went toward Sabatiello's restaurant."

In more pleasant Stamford news, there's a local competition for amateur wine-making! Who knew?

It's the 17th annual event, and it takes place this Friday at 7:30 at the Italian Center, 1620 Newfield Avenue. Here's the Advocate article.

My favorite quote: "Doesn't matter if we win," concurs his son. "Either way, I've got 40 to 50 gallons to myself."

Wednesday, September 30, 2009

More awesome deals at Duo

I can't keep up with all the changes at Duo and Plateau Thai Chi, but I do know that Duo has some more great deals for the month of October!

Check out the voodoo that Duo do so well:

Mondays and Thursdays all day - weekly featured wines by the bottle: only $15 for whites and $20 for reds.

Tuesdays - 1/2 price sashimi and specialty rolls all day

Wednesdays - 1/2 price appetizers all day

Plus: free soft drinks during lunch every day (no refills please; offer includes fountain sodas, hot and iced tea and thai iced tea)

Saturday, September 26, 2009

Bull's Head CVS open for business!

OK, not really, but they do have one item available for purchase:

Just check out this selection!





I can't believe they have the new Glacial Leftover collection!

Thursday, September 24, 2009

More trouble for Sabatiello's

It seems that Sammy "The Obnoxious, Customer-Insulting, Bad Businessman" Settembre has gotten himself into even more hot water. According to the Advocate article, he was arrested for allegedly vandalizing his restaurant before he vacated it. Yikes.

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

The Mystery of the Relocated Restaurant

Call the Hardy Boys, Nancy Drew, Encyclopedia Brown and the Scooby-Doo Crew because we've got a Saturday morning mystery on our hands.

As we all know, local Thai restaurant Galangal is gone. However, I found this review on the New York Times website for a restaurant on Long Island also called Galangal. The odd thing is that, according to the review, this restaurant is "the younger sibling of a place by the same name in Stamford, Conn." The review was written on September 11, so it's strange that the restaurant would say that they still had a location in Stamford (or that the reviewer wouldn't check).

Now here's where it gets even weirder. According to the review, Long Island Galangal has been open since June, which is about when our Galangal closed. The safe assumption would be that the owners pulled up stakes, loaded everything onto wagons and trundled across the Sound, but then why call the restaurants "siblings"?

Adding to the mystery is Galangal's new website. The name is in the same font as our departed friend, and the menu is similar to the one from our Galangal. Very odd.

Well, in the name of investigative journalism, I did what any good sleuth would do and called "Galangal 2." At first, the friendly hostess was either confused or being elusive, because she made it sound like both restaurants were open for business. After some intense grilling (mmm...grilling), it came out that they opened the one on L.I. and then closed the Stamford one because they couldn't handle the travel back and forth.

So...it looks like we've solved this case. That was so much fun we should tackle another mystery! Um, does anybody have any mysteries that need solving??

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

What I did on my summer blog-cation

Happy solstice, everybody! Autumn sucks because it's just a prelude to the cold darkness of winter, but here's my end of summer recap:

May was unseasonably cold and wet. I didn't like it, but at least I got initiated into the Stamford Pizza Tour gang.

June was awful - it rained, then Michael Jackson died. The only bright spot was Fairfield County Eats.

July was OK - some rain, but I had a nice 4th and also got to pig out at the Fancy Food Expo in the city.

August was muggy and hot, but at least it didn't freakin' rain every day. Also, Sugar Ray and Jerry Springer.

September has been so-so - it started with even more freakin' rain, but also lots of sun. Lately it's been sunny and kind of cool, which isn't so bad.

Where will autumn take us? Who will be the next mayor of Stamford? Will Congress pass a healthcare bill that both sides don't hate? Will we ever get a cheese shop, bakery or independent coffee house??

Stay tuned, loyal readers!

Monday, September 21, 2009

Return of the Stamford Pizza Tour

I had so much fun the first time that I decided to dine with the SPT crew again. Now that they've covered Stamford and crowned the winners, they're branching out to the surrounding area to try other notable pies. Here's their review of Mario Batali's Tarry Lodge in Port Chester.

Please don't believe their assertion that I refer to myself as a "fancy metrosexual." "Metrosexual" is sooo 2007. We beautiful people don't give ourselves labels. We let the rest of the world do that (because they're jealous).

Thursday, September 17, 2009

Chocolate rain

As you may or may not know, I love to eat. I love breakfast, brunch, lunch, dinner, supper, and everything in between. I also love desayuno, almuerzo y cena.

Furthermore, I love sweets: cookies, brownies, pie, etc. I also love candy, especially chocolate-type stuff.

So...if you're like me, you should stop at the Elm Street Market on, well, Elm Street.


The main reason to go there is their awesome selection of British candy. If you've never tried candy from England, you really should. The New York Times even wrote an article about the superiority of British candy.

The basic starting point is Cadbury Dairy Milk. This is to Brits what Hershey bars are to us.


The first difference you'll notice when you eat one is that the chocolate is much richer and creamier. It's mellow. It's delicious. They make them in other varieties like fruit and nuts, mint creme and crispies (like a Nestle Crunch).

Now be careful: the Cadbury Dairy Milk you see at the supermarket or at CVS is not the same! Hershey's has a license to make Diary Milk bars here, but the formula is different. Make sure you're eating one that was made in the U.K.

Also keep in mind that a lot of British candy bars have the same names as they do here, but have different combinations and/or flavors (some of these are described in the Times article).

Here are some of the other selections at Elm Street Market:

Top: Snickers, Milky Way and something else.
Bottom: Twix, Delight and Dairy Milk Golden Crisp.

Top: Cadbury Eclairs, Moro, white chocolate Maltesers (similar to Whoppers, but richer).
Bottom: Twirl, Snack (Sandwich), Refresher.

Top: Crunchie (mmmmm), Fruit Gums, Milkybar.
Bottom: Bounty (dark, I think), Bounty, Aero.

Top: Turkish Delight, Curly Wurly, Snack (Shortcake).
Bottom: Flake, Chewits Fruit Salad, Brunch Bar (does not contain omelets and pancakes).

Enjoy! Or as they say in England, bon apetit!

UPDATE 9/21/09!!
In a very convenient coincidence, Candy Blog wrote a post comparing the U.S. and U.K. versions of Cadbury Dairy Milk. Check it out here.

Monday, September 14, 2009

Fallen star(bucks)

Well, another Starbucks bites the coffee-scented dust, this time inside the Ridgeway Stop & Shop.


So we've lost two Starbucks (Starbuckses?) recently, and I haven't seen whether the one on the West Side ever opened. This doesn't seem to bode well for the local demand for an independent coffee house, but then again, if they can figure out a way to charge less than $4 for a cup of java, they just might make it.

Thursday, September 10, 2009

Be kind, rewind!

In a strange coincidence, I stumbled across two video store-related stories, both with a local bent.

The first one starts with a letter from a recent issue of Time (the one with the package of meat on the cover):


Here's a link to the critique he's addressing: Why Netflix Stinks.

Jack Trifero is the owner of Gramaphone Video in New Canaan, and while I've never been to his store, I agree with his view of the video store as a great place to chat with the staff. If you've ever been to MediaWave in Fairfield, you know exactly what he means. The guys there are movie geeks and can always point you in the right direction. The closest thing you get from Netflix is "Based on your 5-star rating of Mighty Joe Young, we recommend Joe Dirt."

However, I have to disagree with Jack's (and Time's) assertion that Netflix is the problem. Blockbuster and Hollywood Video killed mom-and-pop video stores long before Netflix was a player. If anything, Netflix is just the potential final nail in the coffin.

In other news, the former Video Hut may soon play host to some fruits and vegetables, though I'm leery of the idea of renting produce.


Then again, that's what they said about the former Family Dollar on Prospect Street, and nothing has *ahem* sprouted there yet.

Monday, September 7, 2009

Friday, September 4, 2009

Black Knights football, baby!

The 2009 Stamford High School football schedule is out!

I'd love to round up a posse of peeps to attend some home games and get into these games. We don't have any professional or college sports teams in the immediate area, so I think it would be great for the city to embrace its local high school stars. Civic pride, baby!! Who's with me??

Thursday, September 3, 2009

Now this is just weird

Apparently Michael Jackson's family is enamored of a certain local delicacy. I'll let TMZ fill you in.

I might have to dig up a few friends to shuffle on over there and try them.

Tuesday, September 1, 2009

Hot blog-on-blog action

My blogging colleague over at StamfordNotes posted an entry about the relocated Tawa before I had a chance to eat there and write about it. In response, I challenged her to an inter-blog duel, which she accepted. I suggested that we head to Tawa and try progressively hotter dishes until someone taps out. What do you, the loyal readers, think?

Democracy, Greenwich style

I went to Greenwich Town Hall last night in an attempt to see Congressman Jim Himes' forum on healthcare, and while I didn't come close to getting into the 200-seat auditorium (which was full by 5:45), I did have the "pleasure" of listening to one over-tan WASP lady's rantings about the event.

Some highlights:

"They filled it with supporters so they'd all be going 'rah-rah'!"

"150 of them are ringers!"

"They filled the parking lot with employees!"

"He should do it outside...or else I'm gonna knock that damn door down!"

"Let's make a scene right here and get that chicken out here!"

When a cop came down the line to say that the room was full and no one else was going to get in, she chimed in with "They sent a cop to intimidate us!"

You can't write this stuff. It's hilarious to see a Greenwich yacht clubber - who probably has better health care than 99.9% of the world - get her khakis in a knot over rumors about "death panels" and other nonsense.

Note: This is not a political blog, and I am not espousing a view for or against the current healthcare proposals. To be honest, I don't know enough about them to make an informed decision - and based on scenes like this across the country, neither does anybody else! Get informed, people. That's the key to our democracy working.

Monday, August 31, 2009

CT Grown

After visiting the Dutchess County Fair this weekend and seeing tons of local produce, I'm not going to air my usual complaint about what other places have that Stamford doesn't. Instead, I'll highlight ways you can buy some local produce, including some grown right here in the Nutmeg State (though I don't know if you can buy local nutmeg).

BuyCTGrown is a website where you can search for local produce, farmers' markets and pick-it-yourself farms. My favorite part is the listing of what's in season and where to get it. Frustration does set in, however, when every search results in a bunch of hits to the north and east, but a big ol' blank spot down here in the FC.

For fans of Community Supported Agriculture, the closest distributor is in Larchmont, so you might not get CT-grown produce, but it's at least fairly local. Their website is http://www.localharvest.org/csa/

Maybe we can turn the hole in the ground into farmland!

Monday, August 17, 2009

Time to dust off those pan flutes

The good news: there's another food festival coming to Stamford! Flavors of Perú 2009, which bills itself as "the biggest Peruvian gastronomic festival," will take place on September 4 & 5.


The bad news: tickets are $95 each!! Yowza!

The worse news: it's taking place at the Stamford Marriott, everybody's least favorite hotel.

Having scaled the heights of Machu Picchu, I will gladly attest to my affinity for the people and cuisine of Perú, but I can't drop $95 at the moment. Now if they're willing to throw a press pass my way in exchange for this free advertising...

Thursday, August 13, 2009

Warm and crusty

I just finished reading a A Year in the Merde, a very funny book about a Brit living and working in Paris. When he returns to England on vacation, he laments that he has to buy mass-produced bread from a supermarket after enjoying the availability of fresh baguettes at boulangeries on every corner of Paris.

What's my point? Well, much like everything else I see, read or do, I started thinking about how this applied to Stamford, in this case sparking my desire to find fresh-baked bread right here in town.

So I turn to you, faithful readers, for help. Where can I get good bread in Stamford, from soft white to grainy whole wheat to crusty sourdough? I know we have a number of bakeries, but how many of them make bread? No more bread shipped from Bangladesh for this guy!

Monday, August 10, 2009

New restaurant, moved restaurant, and dancing across town

The place that used to house Cafe Margot is getting a new tenant: Tabouli Grill. I'm curious to see how exactly they plan on grilling tabouli.


Tawa, the indian restaurant at the foot of High Ridge Road, is either moving or opening a second location on Summer Street, in the old Ocean 211 spot.


And, finally, Maria Fiora's dance studio is moving from Hillandale Avenue (near Stamford High) to a new location on Summer Street above Ferrante.

Thursday, August 6, 2009

GalanGONE :(

On the way to Alive @ Five yesterday, I saw a very sad sight.


Galangal, my one-time favorite Thai restaurant, is no more. The carved elephants no longer guard the entrance, but there was an odd note in the outdoor menu box saying that "Galangal is now Ocha" and listing Ocha's address and phone number.

I'm not sure whether to chalk this one up to the economy, a bad location or another unknown factor. However you slice it, it sucks to see another restaurant close.

Never Mind the Sugar Ray, Here's the Jerry Springers

Alive @ Five had a special musical guest. I'll just let the video speak for itself. Just remember, you saw it at StreetsofStamford.com first!!


video

Head on down to Camp Crystal Lake!

Jason Voorhees' mother is coming to Stamford.

JASON VOORHEES' mother is coming to Stamford
.

JASON VOORHEES' MOTHER IS COMING TO STAMFORD!!!!

You can keep your DeNiro and Pacino sightings. I can't wait to have a little Q&A with Betsy Palmer!

Sunday, August 2, 2009

Let the pizza wars begin

Hmm...while the Stamford Pizza Tour was counting down to their favorite pizza, The Advocate opened a poll to determine the "popular pizza vote," and the results are in. Here's the article, and here's perhaps the greatest image to ever grace the internet. Let's just say that it gives new meaning to the term pie chart.

Monday, July 27, 2009

Allow me to clarify my earlier Napa post

OK, just to dispel any further confusion or controversy, Bill Taibe is leaving Napa & Co., but you can bet your delicious burgers that the food at Napa will not suffer one iota. Some people may have taken issue with my flippant post title, but as a person who loves food, I would never disparage my cheese-sampling friends.

So, please, put away the pitchforks and torches. I didn't mean it!

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Eat at Napa while the eatin's good

From "Friends and Admirers of Chef Bill Taibe" on Facebook:

"Bill Taibe, Executive chef at acclaimed Napa and Co., has decided, after 3 exciting years, to move on. Bill will be opening a new farmhouse style restaurant concept in Westport, Ct.. This will allow Bill to be closer to home(he lives in Weston), to spend more time with his young family. Bill is excited to get back to his roots, which is being more hands on in the kitchen and using only the freshest LOCAL ingredients. We are excited for Bills new endeavor and look forward to keeping you updated on the opening date which is set to be in September."

Bill Taibe is leaving Napa. EVERYBODY PANIC.

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

It all comes down to this

My buddies at the Stamford Pizza Tour have completed their deliciously arduous journey through Stamford's pizza joints and are ready for the final battle for pizza supremacy to commence, with yours truly as a guest judge.

Much like March Madness, they have a tournament system in place to decide the grand champion, but they need YOUR help! That's right: head over to their site and vote for the final four empty slots in the tournament!

I see the tournament going down a little like this:



Or this:



Or maybe this:

Saturday, July 11, 2009

Do the funky chicken this Sunday at Cosi

The chickens have come home to roost, as the Southern Connecticut/Westchester Backyard Poultry Group is holding its first meeting this Sunday.

If backyard poultry is anything like backyard wrestling, I'm interested. If you make it a backyard poultry wrestling meeting, I'm there.

Here's the copy from their press release:

The Southern CT/Westchester Backyard Poultry Meetup will be having its inaugural meeting on Sunday July 12th, at 2PM, at Cosi, 1209 High Ridge Road, in Stamford CT. The Chicken Whisperer is scheduled to attend via Skype. The group can be found online at: URL: http://www.meetup.com/Southern-Connecticut-Westchester-Backyard-Poultry-Group

More and more often, chickens can be found tucked in among the hustle and bustle of everyday life. In the more rural corners of town, and even in cities, families are keeping small flocks and enjoying fresh eggs. Across the country poultry enthusiasts are holding Meetups to swap tips on where to buy hay and how to fight ordinances that prohibit poultry keeping. Backyard poultry has exploded on Facebook and Twitter as a hobby and a source of fresh food. To serve the backyard poultry community in the Southern Connecticut and Westchester areas, a group has been formed to connect local enthusiasts.

The group’s founder, Melina Brown, has been keeping fancy chickens for 3 years. “I have learned so much from keeping chickens. They are not only wonderful, funny pets, but they provide a great food source, eggs.” Ms. Brown has been to court to answer a noise complaint about her rooster, has dealt with predators, poultry health issues, built and bought housing, and hatched many eggs. She hopes to facilitate the connection of local poultry lovers to support each other and share tips and stories. The Connecticut/Westchester Backyard Poultry Meetup plans to have monthly meetings, classes, and coop tours.

(Wait...the Chicken Whisperer??)

Thursday, July 2, 2009

JR gets all fancy (food)


The life of a quasi-journalist/blogger-type person isn't always the glamorous romp you might think, but sometimes you do get to enjoy some awesome stuff. I got to check out the New York Fancy Food Show last weekend, and I'm still stuffed.

I don't even know where to begin. Chocolate, cheese, cookies, cakes, bread, wine, olive oil, soda, tea, coffee, caramels, holy cow! There were booths from national retailers (Jelly Belly, Scharffen Berger) and from micros (local chocolatiers, etc.). It was mainly a business expo where producers look for distributors and/or retailers, and vice versa, but every food booth had something to taste and taste I did. I think my cholesterol might never go back down.



I spent five hours on the main floor and didn't get to see everything. I also didn't know until fifteen minutes before closing time that the show took up the entire lower level too! Next year I'm doing two days.


This represents about .00000001% of the cheese on display.

I had so much cheese that I never want to see cheese again. OK, that's not true, but I had a lot of cheese.

There were booths and even entire pavilions representing countries like France, Italy, Germany, Austria, Mexico, Brazil, Peru, and on and on. There was even a booth from some strange backwards place called "West Virginia." I skipped it.

I found out about an interesting "chef search" website called Book of Cooks. It's a search engine where you can type in your location and the type of food you'd like, and it finds a chef who makes it. It seems like more of a Greenwich/Darien thing, but still kind of cool.

I saw the most incredible chocolates I've ever seen: Norman Love Confections. The pictures on the website don't do these chocolates justice. They look like glass sculptures or marbles. I didn't get a chance to try one, as their booth was understandably busy.

I'll just let the pictures tell the rest of the story.

Argentinian olive oil.


Yummy chocolates.


A leg o' ham.


Clever uses of marzipan!


It's called Tur-Duc-Hen, but it's stuffed with seafood? I don't get it.


An unfortunately named soda from Slovenia


And finally, Baconnaise!! Believe it or not, it's vegetarian and kosher!