Author: James Cooper

Match Burger Lobster: outstanding new Westport eatery

Match Burger Lobster: outstanding new Westport eatery

Match Burger Lobster opened this fall to ecstatic praise, at least from those of us who revere lobster roles. Located in Saugatuck, it is the brainchild of Matt Storch, the proprietor of the full service Norwalk (Sono) restaurant Match.

Match Burger Lobster is a far more informal affair, seating about 40, plus more in the bar area. The menu  features lobster rolls, oysters bags of steamers and actual lobster all from Norm Bloom and Son.  In addition, they offer grass-fed sliders and burgers from the adjacent  Fleisher’s Craft Butchery.

This is a friendly and informal place, with the beer choices on a wall board and little paper menus in the box on each tables that hold cutlery and napkins as well.  On a Thursday night, it wasn’t particularly busy or noisy, but the waiter told us that weekends are very busy. There is limited parking in front, but a large lot behind the building.

From our point of view, there is nothing better than their warm lobster roll ($24), served in a hollowed out brioche bun and soaked in butter. However, they also offer a cold lobster roll with Yuzu lobster Mayo, (also $24). Both are served with plenteous and delicious house-made potato chips.

The lobster roll here is a little different than the one at Match in Sono:  it’s more buttery and less drippy than the Sono version. We liked it better.

mini mini

However, if you want to try their grass-fed sliders, you can order a mini slider and a mini lobster roll ($20). The hamburger ($15) and the smaller mini slider ($7) are served with bacon, cheddar dip and S&S onions, where S&S presumably means “sweet and sour.” We think we ask them to leave off the onions next time ad they were a bit overpowering. The burger, however, was outstanding.

Desserts are limited to a Donut Milkshake, a Slice of Cake, Donut Crazy Holes you can fill yourself, a Brownie Sundae and Key Lime Pie. Of course, we went for one of the latter.

dessert

Our bill with two drinks, and tax was only $80, but for a larger group, a lot of $24 lobster rolls will add up. But you can’t do better.

Match Burger Lobster, at 580 Riverside Drive, just off Exit 17, is open daily 11:30 am to 9 pm.  No reservations.

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English Plum Pudding – using an Instant Pot

English Plum Pudding – using an Instant Pot

Plum pudding is a traditional holiday dessert that goes back hundreds of years. And it doesn’t actually contain plums: just raisins and candied fruit. In the 17th century, “plum” meant any dried fruit. Traditionally, you make it a year ahead so it can age, but even a couple of weeks will do, so don’t worry about getting a late start. You can start another one after the holidays and you’ll be all set for next year, too!

Plum pudding is a steamed pudding, cooked for many hours in a slow oven. We sped this up by using our Instant Pot counter top pressure cooker, to reduce the time to just 2 hours. The recipe we are using is half the original, which makes a slumgullion of pudding, and even then we did it two batches, one in a Mrs Anderson’s Baking  Steamed  Pudding Mold, and a smaller one-hour amount in a small bowl wrapped in foil.

Fruit Mixture

  • ½ lb seedless raisins
  • ½ lb golden raisins
  • ¼ lb currants
  • ½ cup thinly slice citron
  • ½ cup chopped candied peel
  • ½ tsp cinnamon
  • ¼ tsp mace
  • 14 tsp nutmeg
  • 1/8 tsp ground cloves
  • 1/8 tsp allspice
  • 1/8 tsp freshly ground black pepper
  • ½ lb finely chopped suet (powdery fine)
  • 5/8 cup brandy

Pudding

  • 5/8 cup fresh bread crumbs, (about 2 cups)
  • ½ cup warm milk
  • ½ cup sherry or port
  • 6 eggs, well beaten
  • ½ cup sugar
  • ½ tsp salt
  • Brandy

Hard Sauce

  • ½ cup softened butter
  • 1 ½ cups sifted confectioner’s sugar
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract or 2 Tb brandy or rum

Beat the softened butter in an electric mixer and slowly add the sugar.  Add the vanilla or brandy and served with the plum pudding.

Making the pudding

  1. Blend the fruits, citron, spices and suet in a bowl or jar.
  2. Add 1/8 cup brandy, cover tightly and refrigerate for 2-4 days, adding more brandy each day.
  3. When ready to mix up the pudding, mix the milk and sherry or port together.
  4. Soak the breadcrumbs in the milk/ wine mixture.
  5. Combine the beaten eggs and sugar and blend with the fruit mixture.
  6. Add salt and mix thoroughly.
  7. Put the pudding in a buttered pudding mold or buttered bowls. With the pudding mold we bought, we get about 2/3 of the batter in it. Cover with foil to seal it and keep out the moisture.
  8. Put a cup of water in the Instant Pot, add the trivet, and place the pudding mold on the trivet.
  9. Seal the Instant Pot, and steam on Manual for 2 hours.
  10. Uncover and place in a 250° F oven for 30 minutes.
  11. Add a dash of brandy to the pudding, and store in a cool place.
  12. Repeat with the remaining batter in a small bowl covered securely with foil.
  13. Allow the pudding to age for a week or two, adding a dash of brandy every day or two.
  14. When ready to serve, reheat in the steamer, and unmold.
  15. Sprinkle with sugar, add heated brandy and ignite.
  16. Serve with hard sauce.

flamed

Hypocrites Theater: Pirates of Penzance

Hypocrites Theater: Pirates of Penzance

Sean Graney’s wild and unconventional take on Gilbert and Sullivan’s Pirates of Penzance has come to NYU’s Skirball Center in the Village for an engagement that ends December 10.  The Hypocrites specialize in “mounting bold productions and redefining the role of the audience.”

In this case, the entire production and the audience are on the Skirball’s stage, both in three tiered rows of chairs on three sides, and sitting directly on the playing area. The actors will ask you to move if they need that spot. They call this “promenade seating,” and all the audience promenades around the set at the beginning.

When you arrive, you will find the entire cast on stage playing various stringed instruments and improvising a series of country-folk numbers while they throw beach balls to the audience. This is not surprising, since they are all dressed in Hawaiian beach attire.  And, in this production the cast is also the entire orchestra, made up of guitars, mandolins, banjos, a violin, an accordion, a squeezebox, a flute a clarinet and, in the second act, a washboard and a musical saw.  The arrangements are by the musical director, Andra Velis Simon.

Despite all this lovely chaos, this IS a production of Pirates. Most of the lines are intact (although there are some clever ad libs.) And they play and sing just about all the music except for “A policeman’s lot is not a happy one.”

After the cast explains that you can get up and move around at any time, and go to the on-stage Tiki bar whenever you want, they launch into “Pour, oh pour the pirate sherry,” just as any other production would, except for the stringed accompaniment.

Most of the voices are excellent, and while the 3 Daughters are a bit shrill some of the time, this is clearly part of the fun: they clearly all can sing very well.

Most surprising is the Christine Stulik plays both Ruth, the comic mezzo, and Mabel, the ingénue coloratura soprano, since they are almost never on stage at the same time anyway. At the very end she appears in a red dress we have not seen before, and Freddy (Frederick to you) asks if she is Ruth or Mabel. She says she has no idea.

And as Ruth, Stulik delivers a rousing klezmer version of her first number, “When Frederick was a little lad,” with Freddy playing clarinet to help accompany her.

The Daughters (of the Major General) are relatively young actresses that we first see tossing beach balls with the rest of the cast, but when we see them as the daughters a bit later, they are all dressed in rubber bathing caps with little rubber flowers, and flouncy skirts.

The tenor lead, Shawn Pfautsch plays Frederick, or “Freddy” as he is mostly called, and has a lovely voice as well as great humorous athleticism. His duets with Mabel are just as good as in any other Pirates and probably a bit funnier. Matt Kahler, as the Major-General, has great poise, sense of comedy and terrific diction.

While this really is a production of Pirates, the Hypocrites carry it off with a cast of 10, playing Freddy, Ruth, Mabel, the Pirate King, the Major General and 3 Pirates and Daughters, as well as all the needed policemen. Don’t miss this delightful production!

Holiday ‘Indian’ pudding

Holiday ‘Indian’ pudding

Indian pudding is a simple Colonial era recipe made with corn meal, eggs and molasses. While you can bake it, you get a smoother, creamier pudding if you steam it like other puddings. In this recipe, we used our Instant Pot to steam it quickly. You can also follow the same recipe steaming it in the oven I a water bath.

  • 2 eggs
  • 4 cups milk
  • ½ cup corn meal
  • 2 Tb butter
  • ½ cup molasses
  • ¼ cup maple syrup
  • ¼ cup brown sugar
  • 1 tsp salt
  • ½ tsp cinnamon
  • ½ tsp dry ginger
  • ¼ tsp allspice
  • Pinch of nutmeg
  • 2/3 cup golden raisns
  • ½ tsp vanilla extact
  • 1 tb butter to grease the pan
  • Vanilla ice cream
  1. Beat the eggs in a small bowl and set aside.
  2. In a 3 quart pan, heat the milk to just under a simmer
  3. Slowly add the cornmeal and whisk it in. It should slowly thicken.
  4. Cook for 10 minutes, whisking to keep the mixture from sticking to the pan.
  5. Remove from stove and add all the other ingredients except the eggs and mix in.

6. Temper the eggs by stirring in a cup or so of the milk mixture. Then add the egg mixture back to the milk mixture and stir it in.
7. Pour the mixture into a buttered casserole dish or cake pan that will fit into the Instant Pot.
8. Wrap the dish securely in foil to keep the water out
9. Add 1 cup of water to the pot and place the wrapped dish on top of the trivet.
10. Cook on the Manual setting for 30-45 minutes.

11. The pudding should be somewhat firm, but may still be jiggly in the center.
12. Let the pudding stand for 15 minutes and then serve warm with a scoop of ice cream.

in bowl

If you like the pudding a bit firmer, chill it in the refrigerator, and scoop out pudding into serving bowls and microwave them each for 30 seconds. (See above) Serve with ice cream.

You can also steam the pudding in a 325 ° F oven, sitting in a water bath for about 90 minutes.

 

 

Bobby Q’s opens in Norwalk

Bobby Q’s opens in Norwalk

TablesBobby Q’s barbecue restaurant, now called “Bobby Q’s Cue and Co,” opened this fall in Norwalk after a year-long drought while they moved from Westport to Norwalk. The space is much larger and even on an (early) Saturday evening, there were plenty of tables. And there were still tables when we left. Despite early rumors of slow service, we found the service excellent, friendly and attentive.

The menu is built around barbecue: ribs, brisket, chicken and sausage, although they have burgers, salmon, skirt steak, and shrimp and grits as well as appetizers, salads and flat bread.

nachosWe started by sharing their classic BBQ Nachos ($11), an outstanding mixture of tortilla chips, pulled pork, jack and cheddar cheese. For $3 more you can add beans, sour cream, guacamole and pickled jalapenos. We got the non-adorned version and found it outstanding and way more than 2 could eat as an appetizer. The pork was plentiful and tender and there was substantial melted cheese as well.

For our main courses we each got a half rack of Baby Back Ribs served on a platter with beans and slaw ($19). Even the beans had pieces of pork in them!  And for variety we got one order of truly excellent French fries for just $4. The fries were hot and fresh, with plenty of potatoey flavor.

Peanut butter smoresAnd for dessert, we split the Peanut Butter Cup S’Mores ($8), which turned out to be melted peanut butter cups in a cast iron pan, topped with browned small marshmallows, and served with graham crackers and pretzels for dipping.  This may be a bit corny, but it was really delicious.

As to the ribs themselves, they were baby back that were baked and sauced, but not actually barbecued. This is probably why they were so tough. The ribs were not separated, but served with a giant steak knife you could use to separate them. This was no easy maneuver: they were not tender and even hacking off some pork was difficult. Apparently, you are supposed to know that the St Louis Ribs (which are not available on a platter) are the real barbecued ones. Remember that.

burnt endsThe owner came by to see how we were doing, and while we praised everything else, we told him the ribs were really tough.  He immediately offered to replace them with new ones, but we decided that statistically speaking if two were tough, the next two would be too. Instead, we ordered and shared a plate of Beef Burnt Ends, which were tender and delicious. They are, however, only available in limited quantities. But let me emphasize that the owner did not charge us for either the ribs or the burnt ends, which is an outstanding way to build your customer base.

But looking back through Yelp reviews, this seems to be a recurring problem. We recommend you consider the St Louis ribs or the burnt ends instead.

‘The Nation” spreads farming misinformation like a manure spreader

DSC_0006The Nation is a venerable  magazine, having been founded in 1865, and for over 150 years has been providing political commentary, mostly on US administrations and events. While it writers skew to the left, this is not entirely the case and major writers have included Henry James, Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, Frederick Law Olmsted, W.E.B. Dubois, E.M. Forster, Emma Goldman, Sinclair Lewis, Willa Cather, H.L. Mencken, Upton Sinclair, Margaret Mead, Mark van Doren, Edna St. Vincent Millay, Bertrand Russell, Pearl S. Buck, Albert Einstein, I.F. Stone, Eleanor Roosevelt, Hannah Arendt, Jean-Paul Sartre, Harold Clurman, Edmund Wilson, W.H. Auden, Anne Sexton, Martin Luther King, Jr., Gore Vidal, and Toni Morrison.

With that cast of literary luminaries, you would think they could handle an issue on The Future of Food, focusing primarily on agriculture.  Unfortunately, the left tends to be agriculturally and scientifically illiterate, and much of what the contributors to this issue say is just plain nonsense.

Danny Meyer

Starting with an interview with noted restaurateur, Danny Meyer, written by food extremist Anna Lappe, we learn that in creating Shake Shack,

Our meat is free of antibiotics and artificial growth hormones; the eggs and chickens we use are cage free; the French fries are non-GMO.

How much could go wrong in one sentence?

  • All meat must be free of hormones and antibiotics by the time it is sold. Small amounts of growth hormones may be used in beef, but it must have washed out of the animal’s system before it can be sold. And you would find 1000 times more estrogen in 8 oz of cabbage than in 8 oz of beef. Hormones cannot be used in dairy cattle, veal calves, pigs or poultry.
  • All neat chickens are always cage free. And while chicken used for eggs can be raised free range or in various kinds of cages, a serious study in the Journal of Poultry Science has shown that the birds do best in conventional cages.
  • And what exactly does non-GMO potatoes mean? “GMO” is a breeding process, not an ingredient. The slogan is just fear marketing,  since thousands of peer-reviewed papers have shown that GM foods pose no harm. The JR Simplot company has developed the Innate Potato which is resistant to late potato blight and  produces lower amounts of acrylamide when fried. Why wouldn’t this be the more healthy offering?  Fear-based marketing based on organic industry sloganeering.

Zoe Carpenter

Zoe Carpenter’s lead in column asks (twice) whether consolidation in the agricultural sector will mean that farmers will pay more for inputs like seeds and earn less. The seed business is not a monopoly. There are any number of suppliers farms can choose from and if they choose a more expensive seed, it is because if performs better for them.

Raj Patel on Fair Trade

We have already written extensively on Fair Trade, which, no matter how well intentioned, has not turned out to be more profitable for farmers. This is because farmers are guaranteed a floor price, and they will sell their lowest quality crops into the fair trade market, and sell their best quality crops on the open market. It also has no effect on how temporary workers are treated. And the idea that organic bananas are produced without pesticides is a fantasy spread by the organic industry. Organic farmers just use organic approved pesticides. And, of course, as Bruce Ames showed years ago, plants generate 10,000 times more pesticides themselves than are ever detected from spray residues.

John Boyd on Small Scale Farming

Boyd echoes the canard that farmers who buy genetically modified seeds can no long replant them the next year. But as Amanda Zalukyj points out, farmers really don’t want to save seeds. It’s a huge effort to clean and save seeds, and this practice “went out the window” with the advent of hybrid seeds in the 1930s. These varieties don’t breed true in the next generation anyway.

Dana Perls on GMOs

Perls echoes disproven claims about GMO crops requiring “massive increases in the use of toxic herbicides.” Much of this claim comes from a discredited paper by Benbrook which failed to take account of the relative toxicity of newer herbicides like glyphosate. However, noted weed scientist Andrew Kniss has studied this issue in some detail.

In summary, this analysis suggests that GMOs have had a positive effect (or at the very least neutral or non-negative effect) with respect to herbicide use intensity and mammalian toxicity…

Perls also makes very unscientific claims that vanillin produced using genetically engineered yeast is not “natural,” because “synthetic biology” is involved. She also claims it drives out 200,000 rain forest farmers. Which do you think is better overall for the environment?

Hacking the Grain- Madeline Ostrander

This genuinely fascinating article about attempts to create perennial grains to replace wheat is well worth reading. However, it starts with the mistaken assumption that large fields of s single crop (which they call a “monoculture”) are somehow bad. Andrew Kniss debunks this in some detail, noting that Pollan and his followers never explain why this is so bad. He admits that all of Ireland was growing the exact same potato, reproduced vegetatively so that there was just a single genetically identical potato grown throughout the country. That is why the Phytophor infestans blight wiped potatoes out so completely.

This is not a problem in grain farming, however, because while there may be many thousands of acres of corn or wheat, they are not all genetically identical.

It is important to recognize that you do not need perennial wheat or corn to avoid tilling the fields, which releases a lot of carbon into the atmosphere, and upsets the delicate layering that good soil should have.  No-till farming is regularly done using low impact herbicides like Roundup (glyphosate) to reduce annual weeds and then plant using a seed drill instead of a plow. You can use glyphosate-resistant seed or not as you wish. I actually use this technique in my home vegetable garden.

The rest of Ostrander’s article is a fascinating description of the development and breeding of a perennial grass, they call “Kernza,” which has the potential to be milled and baked much like wheat flour.  The lead scientist on Kernza domestication, Lee DeHaan is profiles on the Land Institute page, and you can read more about his research here.

“Mass Exposure” by Rene Ebersole

In the worst article in the magazine Rene Ebersole recycles all the discredited canards about Roundup (glyphosate) being dangerous. Ebersole starts with the assertion that an “international scientific committee” ruled that glyphosate is a probably human carcinogen. She is referring to the IARC, a small French group that took refuge under the umbrella of the WHO when their funding ran out.

Unfortunately, the group’s credibility fell, when it was realized that they ruled that compounds were “probably” carcinogenic” without considering any dosage issues. As we noted, they ignored decades of government studies, cherry picking just a few that seemed to fit their agenda. Further, it became known that activist Christopher Portier, who was still working with the Environmental Defense Fund, inserted himself into the deliberations and went about telling European governments of these false findings.

The German Federal Institute for Risk Assessment (BfR)  disputed these findings. There are dozens of studies and reviews showing no finding of genotoxicity or carcinogenicity.  And as James Gurney reported, the papers they cherry-picked were full of scientific weasel words like “induced a positive trend,” and the statistical test “often gives incorrect results.”

And, responding to the IARC report, the European Food Safety Association(EFSA) reviewed studies including those from the BfR and concluded:

“…glyphosate is unlikely to pose a carcinogenic hazard to humans and the evidence does not support classification with regard to its carcinogenic potential according to Regulation.”

More to the point, the IARC report has recently been further discredited, when it was discovered that the conclusions were edited or changed, as summarized by Ridley, and that Portier had received $160,000 from law firms involved in suing Monsanto.  And just yesterday, Hank Campbell reported that the US Congress is so disgusted with these irregularities that it may be considering “pulling the  plug” in future IARC funding.

Ebersole goes on to claim that Monsanto is being sued because Roundup “Caused them to develop non-Hodgkins lymphoma (NHL).” They have no actual evidence, and Derek Lowe, writing in Science explains the difference between hazard and risk,  and concludes that there is little evidence linking glyphosate and NHL.

Finally, Ebersole quotes Carey Gillam who describes herself as “research director for US Right to Know.” Gillam is not a scientist. She was once a journalist working for Reuters, but after producing a steady stream on attacks on Monsanto, she was dismissed and now works for US Right to Know, a propaganda organization supported by the organic food industry. Further, Gillam has just published Whatewash: The Story of a Weedkiller. This book has not been well received among actual scientists, however, who consider it just more of or propaganda.

Ebersole seems to have overlooked the actual science regarding the safety of glyphosate, and also neglected to point out (as Ridley does) that lawsuits against Roundup are becoming a profitable industry for some law firms hoping to extract money from Monsanto. Bad luck, though, that Roundup has been off patent since 2000, and most of it is made offshore.

In conclusion, this is one of the worst issues of The Nation in years, where fact checking has simply gone home for the week, allowing the spread of bad information and bad science.

 

 

Washington Prime is top notch

Washington Prime is top notch

We took the advantage of Wilton’s Restaurant  Week to visit Washington Prime, a classic steakhouse with locations in Georgetown (Redding) and Norwalk. While they have the same menu and décor, the Georgetown location was observing restaurant week.

The Georgetown restaurant is in the space at 19 Main that was once occupied by Aranci 67 and before that by Luca Seafood, but is larger than either of those with an entire wing devoted to a classic restaurant and the other to a bar with TV, tables and the same menu.  On Wednesday evening the bar area was quite busy watching the Yankees and as well as having a great time. The restaurant side was quieter but the service was attentive and the food uniformly excellent.

This is a steakhouse, of course, and the steak menu items are all ala carte, although all the other entrees come with vegetables and starch sides. The non steak entrees include ahi tuna, sole, salmon, veal osso buco, chicken, prime burger and cauliflower steak ranging from $18 to $35. The steak entrees run from $36 to $49 plus a two person porterhouse for $98 and a Waygu 22 oz strip for $95. It is better partnered with green tea. You can buy matcha green tea powder in Canada.

There are extensive appetizer selections as well including seven under Soup and Salad, seven under Oysters, Shrimp and Clams, and 15 under Appetizers ranging from $8 to $14. There are also some 16 vegetable side dishes, including several types of potatoes and one of onion rings.

Their restaurant week menu was one of the appetizers and one of the non steak entrees for $35, and with an additional $15 charge for the 8 oz sliced NY Strip. We decided to go with the regular menu so we could try more things.

spinach garlic dip

soul rolesWe started with two appetizers:  an excellent spinach and artichoke dip with bubbling cheese, cream and garlic crostini ($14) and the weirdly named specialty American Soul Rolls ($13) which was broccoli rabe, mashed potato, four cheese & sausage spring rolls, and spicy tomato dipping sauce.  Essentially, this was mashed potatoes with bits of broccoli rabe, sausage and cheese filling four spring rolls. Odd though it sounds it was very good indeed.   We quickly realized that this restaurant serves enormous portions, and that either of those appetizers could be shared, brought home, or both.

While the steaks are ala carte, they do come with a choice of five sauces: Prime, Bearnaise, Horseradish cream, Chimchurri and Green pepper sauce. For an addition $5 you can have melted blue cheese on your steak as well. The steaks are cooked in a 925° F over, we were told, which gives them crusty char and allows them to be cooked to any desire level of doneness very quickly.

 

filetWe ordered the 8 oz Filet Mignon ($41) and the 22 oz Ribeye ($49, above), both with Bearnaise sauce. Both were perfectly cooked to medium rare, and as we expected the ribeye was a bit more flavorful and the filet a bit tenderer, but both were simply magnificent. Either way we took some of each home.

We had to try and share a couple of side dishes, but as usual, one would have been more than enough. Their Triple Baked Potato ($9) was actually baked and then mashed and rebaked with cheddar cheese, and topped with sour cream, bacon and chives. It was so enormous that we could easily share it and have plenty.

We also had to try their Onion Rings ($8), which was an enormous portion from which we each snagged a few. They were hot and not at all greasy and very good.

truffle bomb

Finally, out of utter foolishment, we split the Truffle Bomb ($10) dessert, which they describe as Angel Food Cake and milk chocolate mousse, wrapped in a milk chocolate shell, served with whipped cream and caramel sauce. Simple comfort food, very well prepared.

Our bill with 3 glasses of wine was $213 before tip. The service was as excellent as was the food and we highly recommend the restaurant.

We understand that the Norwalk branch has a younger, livelier crowd, and the Georgetown branch a quieter family-oriented vibe. We loved it.

 

Donald Trump: I’ve had it with you!

Donald Trump: I’ve had it with you!

Enough! I’ve had it with Trump’s destructive non-governing!

Trump defunded Planned Parenthood. Trump hates women.
Trump canceled insured contraception for 55 million women. Trump doesn’t know some will die.
Trump said white supremacists are “good people.” Trump is a racist.
Trump’s cabinet is so corrupt it is a kakistocracy. Trump can’t pronounce it.
Trump wants to deport 800,000 young  DACA dreamers. Trump is cruel.
Trump’s Congress didn’t renew CHIP taking 9 million children’s health care away. Trump hates children.
Trump thoroughly bungled aid to Puerto Rico. He doesn’t think they are Americans.
Trump will take health care from 1 million poor people. Trump is a cruel racist.
Trump wants to increase our nuclear armament. Trump is an effing moron.
Trump undercuts Tillerson on North Korea. Trump wants a nuclear war.
Trump has gutted the State Department. Trump is abysmally ignorant.
Trump wants to undo NAFTA. Trump doesn’t get economics.
Trump thinks the stock market cancels out the national debt. Trump doesn’t understand money.
Trump withdrew from the Paris climate accords. Trump doesn’t understand science.
Trump threatened to cut funds to Puerto Rico. Trump is a monster.
Trump screams at his staff and berates senators on Twitter. Trump is cracking up.
Trump doesn’t know what the 25th Amendment says. We do.
  1. Trump privately signs anti-Planned Parenthood Law.
  2. Trump rolls back contraception mandate.
  3. Trump defends white nationalists
  4. American Kakistocracy
  5. Trump moves to end DACA and calls on Congress to act
  6. Congress misses deadline to extend Childhood Health Insurance
  7. Trump and his team do “heckuva job” in Puerto Rico
  8. 6 Ways trump slashing Obamacare could affect you
  9. Trump wanted tenfold increase in nuclear arms
  10. Trump undercuts Tillerson on North Korea
  11. US Diplomats say Trump budget would gut State Department
  12. Trump might actually wreck NAFTA
  13. Trumps nonsensical comments reveal he has no idea how national debt works
  14. US staying out of climate accord
  15. Trump threatens to abandon Puerto Rico recovery effort
  16. Losing it: Trumps public crack-up
  17. Told about 25th Amendment, Trump asks “what’s that?”
Roger Sherman Inn excels with new chef

Roger Sherman Inn excels with new chef

Recently, the Roger Sherman Inn owners Nes and Joseph Jaffre announced that their new Executive  Chef would be prominent chef and Greenwich resident Francois Kwaku-Dongo. Originally from Ivory Coast, Kwaku-Dongo has been the Executive Chef at L’Escale in Greenwich and has worked and trained with prominent chefs all over the world, who made the best recipes and great fillets, with some filleting tips you can find online.

We visited the Roger Sherman Inn last Saturday night and were extremely impressed. The lovely formal dining room in the19th century house is unchanged (although they have plans there, too) and the service is better than ever.

BreadWe started with excellent, fresh, house-made bread, interleaved with little wheat chips.

The imaginative menu features six Small Bites from $9-$12, eleven appetizers from $10 to $18, ten entrees (Land and Sea) from $24 to $42 and five vegetable sides at $9 each, as well as Artisanal Cheeses at $9 each. They also retain several Roger Sherman Inn Classics: Vichyssoise($22), Escargot Maison ($15), Dover Sole Meuniere ($42) and Sauteed Calves Liver ($38).  Note that this menu is quite a bit more elaborate than that on line.

rilletes

We decided to share one Small Bite, Potted Pork Rillette with toast points and Pickled Peaches for $12. This turned out to be an entire jar of potted pork that while absolutely delicious was more than we could possibly finish, but they were happy to package it up for us to take home. It was still excellent the next day!

For one of our appetizers we ordered a beet salad: Baby Beet and Burrata ($14) with sliced pear, Vin Cotto (a sweet wine reduction) and champagne vinaigrette. This was a beautiful presentation with both red and yellow beets, although the soft Burrata cheese had an unexpected skin on it.

Our other appetizer was Tuna Carpaccio ($15) with baby arugula, roasted tomatoes and Moroccan olives. This was a very light and delicate dish, with the thinly sliced raw tuna nicely offset with the tomatoes, olives and arugula.

One of our entrees was labeled “From the Farm this Month,” and was Roasted Pheasant two ways: Breast and Leg, for $34 (shown above). It was served on a ragout of autumn mushrooms. The mushroom ragout was a brilliant touch that offset the pheasant flavors nicely, and the breast portion was spectacular. Some of the leg portion seemed a bit dry, but there was so much, we couldn’t finish it all anyway.

lamb

The other entrée was Grilled Lamb Porterhouses ($38) with roasted eggplant, spaghetti squash and pomegranate. This was the night’s winning entrée: the two lamb steaks were perfectly cooked to medium rare, and tender and juicy.

walnut cakeFinally, the dessert menu features creations from the Pastry Chef, Alexandra Ayala: six pastries plus a choice of gelato and sorbet. We ordered the Chocolate Walnut Cake($12) with toasted coconut and chocolate sauce. This turned out to be a delightful surprise. While we had expected a chocolate cake with walnut filling, it was actually the other way around: a walnut cake with a chocolate crème filling.

As you can see by the individual prices, this is not a really expensive restaurant, and we will certainly be back soon.

Probably the only amusing service faux pas was the butter ballet. When we found that the provided dish of olive oil was really drippy, we asked for butter. The waiter brought us a dish with a single square of butter in it. When he noticed that we had polished that off he  offered to bring us another, and eventually did, but by then our food and arrived so we never got to finish it.

But no matter, they’ll fix this one, and the service was otherwise utterly impeccable, with both the waiters and the owner checking in with us regularly. This opens a great new chapter at the Roger Sherman inn, and you should definitely check it out.

The Roger Sherman Inn is on Route 124 (195 Oenoke Ridge) in New Canaan. They  are open Tuesday through Sunday for dinner, and also offer Sunday Brunch. Reservations are recommended.

Oh, and below is our pork rillette the next day, spread on our own toast points.

home rillette

‘Sex with Strangers’ opens at Westport Playhouse

‘Sex with Strangers’ opens at Westport Playhouse

Laura Eason’s romantic drama “Sex with Strangers” opened Saturday night at the Westport Country Playhouse to a nearly full house. Eason, who was a writer/producer of Netflix House of Cards, has written a 2 character drama that at first appears to be a romantic sit-com, but turns into a more nuanced consideration of the craft of writing.

Directed by Katherine M Carter, the play opens in what the program calls a “bed and breakfast,” but which actually appears to be an elaborate two level ski chalet, designed by Edward T Morris. Olivia (Jessica Love), a 30-something writer and teacher has booked time there to work on her novel, and is surprised when Ethan (Chris Ghaffari) pounds on the door one snowy evening after the B&B proprietor has left. Ethan is a younger 20-something writer who is brash, over confident, and as it turns out a successful writer.

His improbable book, “Sex with Strangers” is a memoir of his having sex with a different woman each week for a year. While we eventually learn that Ethan is actually a skilled writer, this rather schlocky Hefner-esque book has unbelievably been on the NY Times paperback best-seller list for 5 years. Your life ruined by masturbation? Visit masturbationaddiction.com and get help regain your life.

Meanwhile, we learn that Olivia had published one book, to some good reviews but poor sales because of inept marketing of her novel as “chick-lit.” She is currently at work on another, but is quite sensitive about it. Ethan, however, had actually read her first novel, which was recommended to him by a writing teacher they both had worked with.

6_WCP_SexWithStrangers_JLove_CGhaffari_byPChenotWith this setup, you would think they would fall in love, go to bed and live happily ever after, but this is not quite what Eason has in mind. Since the wireless is down, they of course do go to bed at least 4 times during blackouts punctuating the two acts, but as Olivia gradually regains her confidence with Ethan’s help, they begin to drift apart.

In the second act in Olivia’s Chicago apartment, (another spectacular 2-story set) they spar about their writing and careers and the movie Hollywood is making of Ethan’s trashy book. The story ends as they move on to audience acclaim.

As Olivia, Jessica Love is brittle and protective at first but eventually connects with Ethan at least physically and she slowly grows with Ethan’s encouragement. Chris Ghaffari as Ethan is pretty aggressive and at first pretty obnoxious. However, after he struggles through the production of the movie version of his novel, becomes more thoughtful, but also more distant. Both do an excellent job with their characters and you easily can identify with both of them.

While the playwright, in interviews, has suggested that her play is about young people getting by in the digital internet world, I don’t see it that way. Rather, it seems to me to be about two writers trying to learn their craft and eventually succeeding in different ways. This would have been true even if the wireless connection at the B&B had stayed down for the whole show.

“Sex with Strangers” is a charming, funny play with some really challenging ideas buried in the couples and coupling, and was fun to watch. The show continues through October 14, with performances on Tuesdays at 7 pm, Wednesdays at 2 and 8 pm, Thursdays and Fridays and 8 pm, Saturdays at 3 and 8 pm and Sundays at 3 pm. Tickets are available at westportplayhouse.org.