Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Walkin' the walk

You can't really get to know a place from behind the wheel of a car, so head downtown to enjoy a stroll around town with Stamford Walking Tours! The group leader promises "a fun walk to learn about Stamford's history, architecture and development plans." It's only $10, so I'll definitely take the tour soon (and blog about it, of course)!

Monday, July 19, 2010

Creature features

Our first creature-related item comes courtesy of everybody's favorite local animal shelter, PAWS. They're holding a fundraiser "Yappy Hour" at BUtterfield 8 on July 28th from 7-9 p.m. Tickets are $40 each and include 2 hours of open bar and appetizers. $15 from each ticket sold will be donated to PAWS. Tickets are only available at the door the evening of the event.

Get your drink on and help adowable widdle kitties at the same time!

But before you do that, make sure you hit up the Avon this Thursday at 9 p.m. for "Creature from the Black Lagoon" in 3-D!!

"Are you cheating on me? It's not that damn Aquaman, is it?"

Monday, July 12, 2010

Eats of Stamford: The Fez

I really, really want to like The Fez, the new Moroccan restaurant on Summer Street. I was thrilled to see something new and different here in the FC, but The Fez just comes up short in too many categories.

First impressions are huge. When you enter, you're greeted by contemporary American rock music instead of anything even remotely Moroccan or Mediterranean. The space itself is nice, but nothing special - no lush couches, red-shaded lamps or other Middle Eastern clichés. It doesn't scream "Moroccan" at all.

As for the food, I had the swordfish tagine with saffron couscous, green olives and fennel salad, and JT from BlogStamford had the roast quail special. (Yes, we local bloggers roll in groups.) Both meals were pretty tasty, though my swordfish was a touch overcooked.

My biggest gripe with The Fez is the prices -- everything is just too expensive. $6 for hummus and avjar (an eggplant pepper spread)? $4 for a side of couscous?? The swordfish tagine was $25, and I was still hungry afterwards! Oh yeah, did I mention that the portions were too small? I don't mean they were small compared to ridiculous Olive Garden-sized American portions; they were smaller than even a sensibly-sized meal.

Plus, it just seems like they're trying too hard, like a restaurant vying to be the new hot spot down in TriBeCa. In doing so, the food disappoints. They try to make it too elaborate. Lobster-stuffed falafel? Give me a nice eggplant tagine or some spicy lamb.

My second-biggest gripe is how the waiter kept pushing the "Snacks" (appetizers) and, later, the desserts. We considered Snacks once and said no thanks, but he asked us twice more if we wanted something, and even rattled off a few recommendations. Dude, we said NO THANKS. (PS: "Fingerling potatoes confit with harrisa mayonnaise" is really "Fries with mayo.")

One positive about The Fez is the presentation. Both of our meals were very nicely arranged and served.

Since I'm a nice guy, I'll give them the benefit of the doubt that they're still ironing out the kinks, and I'll probably try The Fez again at some point.

Something different.
Nice presentation.
Great for people-watching.

Not enough food for the money.
Nothing really Moroccan about the place.
Enough with pushing the snacks!

Friday, July 9, 2010

Eats of Stamford: Chinese Mirch

Some places in this world hold special meaning to people for spiritual or religious reasons; Machu Picchu, for example, or the Vatican, or Mecca, or the "vortices" of Sedona, Arizona. In my case, it's 35 Atlantic Street. I loved Galangal when it was there, and now that I've experienced Chinese Mirch, I am inextricably drawn back to that same place time and time again.

Yes, I know that Stamford Notes has already written about CM (and her post is immortalized on their wall!), but I wanted to share my thoughts anyway.

The space is very cool - it's comfortable and interesting without being too hip (yes, I mean you, g/r/a/n/d) or too sterile (like Duo). I like the zig-zag middle section because you can put an arm up and lean on the side. However, I do have to admit that I miss Galangal's giant elephants. I hope they've found a new home in the new Long Island restaurant.

My friend and I ordered the rock shrimp appetizer, which was good but not earth-shattering. My friend then had the Five Spice Roast Duck and enjoyed it, though he was sweating halfway through (he's a lightweight when it comes to hot food). As for me, I asked the waiter which was the hottest dish on menu, and he recommended the Tellicherry Pepper Chicken. Tellicherries are black peppers from the coast of India with a strong peppery taste that makes them much sought-after by chefs. This dish made amazing use of the pepper as a complement to the spice. It was an incredible meal and I highly recommend it -- but only if you can take the heat!

My only criticism of Chinese Mirch -- and it's very, very minor -- is that rice is extra. Come on, guys. Rice should be included with the meal.

I'll let it slide, though, because I can't get enough of their mints!

Heck, I ordered lunch twice the week after I first ate there!

Also, they get big points for hosting the happy hour fundraiser organized by Stamford Notes to benefit the Food Bank of Lower Fairfield County. We all hope you can make it on September 29th!

Thursday, July 8, 2010

Breaking news about LeBron!!!

I hear from a reliable source that there's a reason LeBron James is making his big announcement in our fair state. I can't say exactly why, but here's a hint:

Tuesday, July 6, 2010

Hot today, Scot tomorrow

Man, was it a scorcher today! It was so hot that people were actually willing to drink Scofieldtown water to stay cool!

OK, I'm no comedian - but you know who is? Craig Ferguson!! I can't wait to see him tomorrow night at The Palace (if you're reading this on Wednesday, mentally replace "tomorrow night" with "tonight").

And if you like comedy at the Palace, Lewis Black returns on October 1st!

Friday, July 2, 2010

Falafel free-for-all

Since I'm already stuck in a love triangle with the falafels from Layla's and Tabouli Grill, I figured I might as well turn it into a love octagon by trying all of the falafel in town. Stamford Talk and the Stamford Pizza Tour have kindly offered their assistance in this monumental and delicious task.

Here's the list of places I can think of that serve falafel - did I miss any?

J&D Deli
Layla's (downtown)
Layla's (High Ridge)
Sweet on You Cafe (in the JCC)
Tabouli Grill

We'll try them all and then crown one undisputed falafel champeen of the world!! Or at least of Stamford.

And the title belt would say falafel, not waffle.

Thursday, July 1, 2010

Fancy Food Show 2010

I missed this year's Taste of Stamford and Fairfield County Eats, but there was no way I was missing the Fancy Food Show last Sunday at the Javits Center!

My day started out pretty fancy, as the FFS was on the same day as Pride Day in NYC, so my train ride down was FABulous.

Then I had to trek from Port Authority 326 blocks to the Javits Center, with a quick detour through the Hell's Kitchen Flea Market...

After sweating profusely, I finally got to the Javits Center, so here we go!

There was food from all over the world, including such exotic locales as Kosovo, Cyprus, Syria and Texas. Olive oil was a big theme, as there were booths from all over the world; even California is getting into the olive oil business! There were a lot of unique products as well, like basil spray, smoked jalapeños, sweet potato butter, yummy halvah, and chocolate bars infused with wasabi-ginger and with bacon. A lot of familiar names made their presence known too: Jelly Belly, Scharffen Berger, David's Cookies.

One product that I love is Bequet's caramels. Their caramels are so smooth and rich, and they have a flavor for everybody, from the traditional caramel to spicy chipotle!

My favorite item from the show was Mrs. Renfro's newest salsa: GHOST PEPPER!!!! The bhut jolokia, or ghost pepper, is the hottest pepper in the world, and this salsa was HOT!! However, it wasn't one of those 3,000,000 Scoville-type foods that just burns your eyebrows off - it was delicious as well! I can't wait to buy some when it hits store shelves.

Now here are some of the strange and interesting highlights from the show:

Haggis chips...

Ham hocks...

Tequila bottles shaped like weapons...

Amazingly beautiful chocolates...

An unfortunately named Slovenian soda...

The Mona Lisa made of Jelly Bellys...

A blue cow from Holland...

I haven't seen a cow that blue since Ol' Bessie found out what veal is!

And have you ever had a craving for a small bird stuffed inside of a bigger bird, which is then stuffed inside of an even bigger bird -- but just didn't have time for all that bird-stuffing? Well, you're in luck! It's Tur-Duc-Hen in a box!

Oh yeah, there was also cheese...


and lots...

and lots...

and lots...

and lots...

and lots...

and lots...

...of cheese.

I haven't seen that much cheese in Manhattan since NKOTB played the Garden!

So after tasting and tasting and tasting, I started my trip home. I made it to Grand Central just in time to make the 5:07 train with a connection to Glenbrook (free parking on the weekend!). And that was the last good thing that happened that day.

The train stopped in Mt. Vernon due to a mechanical problem. So we sat there while they tried to fix it. After half an hour, the A/C turned off. Yeah. It was tolerable for a little while, but then after half an hour, it became stifling.

They sent another train to take us home, but we didn't get on it until the newly-arrived mechanics tried again to fix our current train. Once they called it quits, we started transferring section by section.

Oh yeah - while transferring passengers, they have to power down both trains. I think you know where I'm going with this: no power = no A/C in the new train either!

Well, we finally got everybody on board the new train. And did I mention that we went from a 9-car train to a 6-car train? Time to get snuggly!

Luckily, we made it to Stamford in time for me to catch another connecting train to Glenbrook -- TWO HOURS LATER.

If I wanted to ride in a vintage car from the 70s, I'd hop in a GTO. When it comes to trains, epic CT DOT fail. In Connecticut's case, I think DOT stands for Decrepit Old Trains.

Overall, I had a fun day, and I can't wait for next year's Fancy Food Show, but man, do our trains suck.