Sunday, July 31, 2005

Best sushi in Fairfield County

This may be a bold statement but here is our pick of the best sushi restaurants in Fairfield County. In New York you have many choices for sushi restaurants but up in Fairfield County, ah, not so many. Last night some friends of ours suggested that we go to Koo in Ridgefield. The same town that we're looking for a home to buy. it's a charming, quant New England town and we're finding that it is a gold mine of great restaurnts. We ordered just short of a boat of sushi and a favorite of mine, the black cod, made famous at Nobu and an openly shared recipe.
The special sushi of the night was a wild Alaskan salmon that was the color of a tuna belly. Smooth like butter it melted in your mouth. In all honesty, I'm not a big fan of sushi. I get a little sad when I think of the ocean critters that gave up their lives for my meal. After a Saporo or two, my mind usually eases. The sushi bar had just three pieces of the Wild Alasan Salmon left so to make up for the dissappointment, they offered to bring us a group dessert of fruits and batter cake after our meal. The meal was incredible. There was talk of comparing it to New York's famous Yama, without the hour long wait outside. We have been told that Kazu in South Norwalk (SoNo) is also exceptional. We will let you know.

Friday, July 29, 2005

My friend just booked a trip for he and his girlfriend to go to Napa for a week this August. I was instantly reminded of our good friends Nick & Mary who we met in Seattle and were neighbors in Chicago. They moved back (home) to Northern California a few months before we moved back out east. We spent time with them at their cabin outside of Sonoma, CA. A cabin that Nick and his Dad built up a winding road. It's a good old fashion cabin with 2 bedrooms and a bathroom, sleeps 8-10 people, bare minimun appliances and a big deck surrounded by pine trees whose long needles crack under your feet when you walk through them. The only food that is permanently kept in stock is coffee. The light is, like people say about Italy, just different there. The four of us toured some wineries while we were there and found one of our surprise favorites to be Clos du Val. It was also the trip where we had one of the best meals of our lives. The Culinary Institute of America has a California branch located in St. Helena, CA. A beautiful open space that is reminiscent of the wineries and Missions in the area but the restaurant surrounds the kitchen so you can see all of your dishes crafted before you. Every course is a piece of art that is intended to stimulate your senses and it succeeds, beautifully and deliciously. If you plan a trip to Sonoma, this is a short drive north but worth it. Make reservations in advance.

Thursday, July 28, 2005

Boxed wine in a bottle?
This evening I cracked open a bottle of 2004 Marquaés de Caceres Rioja. A nice dark rosé wine that smelled of a (too) young spicy citrus when I first opened the bottle but a Daily Show segment later it has become a smooth drink with a rose petal essence. It kept a strong scent of alcohol that I was hoping would go away and reminded my husband of boxed wines that his parents used to drink. I would love a slice of manchego and dates to go with this vino but I'm afraid I don't have those items in stock and probably won't be buying it again. Would I recommend it as an inexpensive after work drink? Probably not.

Wednesday, July 27, 2005

My Baby o' Babys sent me flowers today. He rocks!!!
Please check out his blog but don't expect to hear about food allergies.

Back in the mid-80s in Bellevue, WA there was a small place in a strip mall called Thai Kitchen. My New Wave high school friends and I would go there on a somewhat regular basis for dinner. It helped that I had Thai friends to explain the different flavors and textures to expect when ordering certain foods. I learned quickly that I probably never could go beyond two stars (daring) and only old men, people with egos or pranksters ordered four or five star dishes. The flavors are incredible. Sweet, fragrant, sour and usually spicy. Since high school I've had Thai food at least once a week except when we lived in Chicago because all of the Thai restaurants required hoping on different train lines than the Brown line so it seldomly happened. There was damn good BBQ and hot dogs in that town though! Since moving back to the east coast, we settled into Stamford and found the couple Thai spots we could order from. All was well until January when the allergy tests came back.

Yesterday I looked at a menu from Kits Thai Kitchen on High Ridge Road in Stamford (coincidentally in the same strip as Domaine, as mentioned in a previous blog). The food is some of the best Thai that I have had anywhere outside of Seattle. The very odd thing is, every single menu item has at least one ingredient that I am allergic to and some items are made entirely of foods that I am told I should completely avoid. Take for example one my favorites, Phad Thai: Sauteed rice noodles (OK), ground peanuts (Bad), scallions (Bad), tofu (Bad), and bean sprouts (Bad). Also, the fine print says that they cook solely with canola & soy oils. This is fine for most people but terrible for me. So, Thai food, my soul food, is sadly and completely off my list - until a cure for food allergies is discovered.

Monday, July 25, 2005

One of the great things about living in this area is that there is a Culinary Institute of America just up the Hudson River in New York. This means that there are a lot of graduates in the area and they aren't all creating 7 course gourmet meals. One of my favorite sandwich shops is Domaine on High Ridge Road in Stamford. It looks like a normal deli offering salads, sandwiches, chips and drip coffee all of which is good and pretty standard deli fare. Take a closer look at the extensive menu and you'll see the 'Signature' and 'Spa' sandwiches. I recently stopped by the deli and noticed the CIA blue ribbon medal by the cash register. No surprise. At work, I order in group lunches on a regular basis and these guys have always gone above and beyond to accomodate us. We often order platters of assorted sandwiches. A favorite for the East Coasters is the Reuben Deluxe with "Lean corned beef with melted swiss cheese, sauerkraut, cole slaw, tomatoes & Russian dressing on (awesome) Rye bread". The guys here seem to crave it and you pretty much need a bib if you're wearing clothing you don't want to get dirty. My favorite is the Californian with "smoked turkey, alfalfa sprouts, (fresh) avocado puree, plum tomato relish & olive oil on (again, awesome) multi-grain bread. All of their sandwiches are huge and under $7.25, these two are $6.75 which is average for this area.

So, the whole point of my bringing this up is because I had lunch from Domaine today and had an amazing salad sandwich that had celery in it. It was so good that I ate the whole thing knowing that I would pay for it. Sure enough, my throat and mouth started to tingle and itch because of my food allergies. Tomorrow, I'm sure I'll have a little rash around my mouth. I should be taking Benedryl but if I take it at work, I won't be able to work. BTW: The Californian is off my list because it has sprouts and onions in the relish - it requires a Benedryl. Sucks.

Sunday, July 24, 2005

Modern Love gets me to the church on Time
This is one of the best examples that I have witnessed of modern art channeled through technology to give the viewer something that is every day useful. It is at once brilliant, mesmerizing and
always accurate. It is my home page and I think you might want it as yours too.

Saturday, July 23, 2005

After living in Connecticut for just over a year, my husband and I decided to buy a home. Hey, interest rates are good and loans are easy so why not? Well, for one thing, the median home price in the area we want is $1 million. Not the average which would be much higher, probably closer to $1.8 million, but the median. We've learned that anything under $2 million is basically a mailbox you're paying for and the house is a perk. Those are the homes that for $700k are...well, let's call them fixer uppers. On a tenth of an acre, little upgrades if any have been done in the 30 years they've exhisted and there is no architecturally interesting features to speak of. One home that we looked at was 900 square feet, built in the seventies and we refer to it as the cat piss house. It was 70's brown inside and out and basically was for sale at that price because it is in 'desireable Darien'. So, as you can probably tell that I'm frustrated.

We've decided to look further into Connecticut for this reason and a few others (town benefits, New England charm, etc.). The fact is that people in these towns like Greenwich and Darien are very transient. The question that keeps popping in my mind is about people who live in these $15 million homes and pay for maintenance workers (thousands of dollars per month) end up moving out of them when they get older. The coordinating of maintenance people requires an assistant (we'll talk about my job later). I don't know, a home should be a home, not a pain in the ass you have to worry about. We don't need a place to impress our friends, just a place they will feel totally comfortable in and want to hang out at as a reprieve from NYC. We just want a home - we'll know it when we see it and in the meantime, we'll keep saving money for the down payment.

Friday, July 22, 2005

Rosé wine: my summertime favorite drink to enjoy. Still, few other Americans seem to be in my camp but my gut tells me that I'm onto something. Most wine shops in Connecticut, where the wine shops are a'plenty, carry between 5-10 different types. I'm on a quest to find the perfect bottle. Right now I'm enjoying Flying Cloud 2004 Syrah Rosé. It smells of strawberries and tastes of grapefruit but is young. The screw cap doesn't really add to the experience either. I've been told that a good rosé should cost less than $15 and this was close to that. It might be good with a balsamic grilled portobello or angel food cake but wasn't so good with the guacamole and chips that I called dinner.