Sunday, September 28, 2014

Greenwich Wine and Food Festival 2014 Recap

Rafael Palomino and Matt Storch
The 2014 Greenwich Wine and Food Festival is now in the archives, but the memories of some amazing food, as well as the memories of meeting and listening to some amazing chefs, lingers.  This year was even better than last year and the set-up was better organized giving an easier flow through the festival.

Anne Burrell
CTbites, a premier food writing community, along with Serendipity Magazine, set up the blogger lounge once again and many of the celebrities were there to speak and pose for pictures. It's interesting to see some of the people you see on TV in person and realize that their persona is the same as on the screen. 

Geoffrey Zakarian and Adam Richman
Geoffrey Zakarian is much taller than I thought and he has a very firm handshake. He was an economics major in college before going to France and falling in love with food. 
Chef Fritz
The proceeds from the event went to The Hole in the Wall Camp which is an amazing charity giving camp experience to childhood cancer patients. Many years ago my nephew attended their camp in New York and he still remembers it fondly.
Kathy Lee Gifford
Kathy Lee Gifford was there promoting her new line of wines and she was much more interesting live than on TV.  



The food was of course the real star of the event as many fine restaurants offered samples of their fare. I loved the burger battle and sampled a few, but by this time of the day my stomach couldn't take any more food. I really need to learn to pace myself better. At any rate, here are a few more pictures which will speak better than my words.








Thursday, September 25, 2014

BGR The Burger Joint- Danbury, CT


BGR the Burger Joint is a small chain of burger restaurants that started out in the Philly area and now has spread to just under twenty locations scattered over the East Coast. I noted that there was one in Danbury, not sure how long it's been there, and we decided to try them out.   


Teresa went with the kids meal at $5.99. There were two sliders, fries and a drink and it was probably the best value there. She said her burgers were good and we shared the fries. The fries were quite good. Simple, yet seasoned properly, hot, crispy on the outside and soft in the middle. 



The regular burgers cost $6.99 and you can add lettuce, tomato, onions and a few other things at no cost. Cheese, bacon, avocado, and other items cost .99 each. I decided to go with American cheese, lettuce, tomato and pickles to keep it simple and get the true taste of the burger.

They say that you can order the burger cooked the way you want it. Well, you can order it how you want, but they may not do it the way you want it. I ordered mine medium and it came well-done. This isn't a big deal, but please don't tease me with a choice only  to let me down.

The burger, overall, was good. The meat, in spite of being overcooked, was tasty and seasoned properly. The brioche bun was not quite fresh, and not quite stale. Let's call it middle-aged. A slight toasting would have taken care of that problem.


I got a chocolate shake for $4.99 and it was okay, if a bit thin. 


So, the bottom line. Two of us ate for about twenty bucks, the price we usually pay at places like this. The food was good, but nothing stellar. If I were to rank BGR on a scale from Five Guys to Smashburger, I'd place them dead center which would be three stars out of five. 

Tuesday, September 23, 2014

FAQ about this blog

Some of you have some questions about this blog, and my policies, so I thought I could clear them up for you. I may add more if the need arises.

Q- What happened to the Urbanspoon links?

A- I had a nice relationship with Urbanspoon and the links allowed me to give restaurant details easily. In return I gave them pictures and content. Urbanspoon was recently purchased by Zomato, an Indian company, and after perusing their site I was not happy with it. They don't seem to be a good fit for my style and we parted company. I still use them for research.

Q- Why did you change it so that I have to log in with an ID in order to comment?

A- While some comments are interesting, most of the comments I have been getting of late are people who want to spam me by adding a link on their comment to their useless web page. Others are anonymous ones which are usually negative, think comments made on Amazon reviews, and I'm not going to post them. I just had someone tell me to do something that was essentially anatomically impossible. This way it eliminates anonymous comments and I still screen comments. Sorry, it is my blog and I'll do whatever I want. 

Q- But I disagree with what you said. I need a forum to express my hatred of you.

A- Start your own blog.

Q- Are you available to judge cooking contests and competitions?

A- Yes, if it fits my schedule. I'd love to be a judge on a Food Network show. 

Q- Can I get you to join my network/page/site/cult/etc? I will give you a badge/hat for your page that directs traffic to me.

A- Um, probably not. I get at least one request per week and after reviewing their sites I see no advantage for me. All they want is for me to drive traffic to their page. Besides, we don't need no stinking badges. If you e-mail me I will most probably ignore you.

Q- Can you put a link to my product? I'll give you some crappy software for free. 

A- No!

Q- Do you take advertising?

A- Not at this point. I tried Google ads and after two years I still didn't meet the threshold for payment. The only ads I currently have posted are for my own books. However, I am amenable to an advertiser or two if it is the right fit, say a winery, a brewery, or a  restaurant supply company. I won't take ads from restaurants though as that would change the integrity of my reviews. If you are interested, e-mail me and we can discuss it.

Q- I want to advertise with you, what are your demographics?

A- About 55% of my readers are women between the ages of 25 and 50 from the Hudson Valley of New York, Wilmington, North Carolina, Eastern Pennsylvania, North Jersey, and Fairfield County Connecticut. 

Q- Do you take food and chef pictures for restaurants?

A- Yes, e-mail me for info. I'd be happy to do some work if your location and time fits my schedule, location, and my mood. Rates vary with location, time, etc. 

Q- Can I invite you to eat at my restaurant and write a review?

A- Yes, but that doesn't mean I'll be there. If the concept and location interest me, I may pop in. 

Q- Can I invite you to my food festival/beer festival/wine festival/ cheese festival/etc? I'd love for you to cover it.

A- Yup. Send me a press pass and I will go if it fits my travel and time schedule. I'll write a nice piece on the blog and give advance notice for the following year. I will be doing tours of some local breweries, wineries, and distilleries over the summer and if you want to be included, drop me an e-mail.

Q- I don't like the review you wrote about my restaurant. Can you change it? Can you come back again?

A- If I didn't like it, I probably won't go back. Remember, I pay for my meals and I have so many places I want to eat at, so I'm not inclined to return to someplace that was really bad.

Q- How can I help you so that you keep writing this blog?

A- Click on one of the book links and buy a book or two.  

Saturday, September 20, 2014

Chops Deli- Wilmington, NC


Chops Deli on Front Street In Wilmington has a sign proudly proclaiming that it's a Boar's Head deli. Coming from a land where delis abound, and are usually stocked with Boar's Head Cold cuts and some which are even better, my initial reaction was a disinterested yawn. Chops does have a stellar reputation, and I tried and liked their new location near the beach, so I put it on the list. 



The cold cuts are good, and give the pallet by which masterful sandwich creations are made. It isn't just the good product, it is the interesting combinations they have come up with, all named after cities and places. I had the Tripoli which had pastrami, roast beef, Corned beef, provolone, Swiss, and more. Teresa  and Rachel had the Marseille which had chicken, brie, and greens on a baguette. Sarah got the Plymouth which was turkey. All were excellent. 

My sole complaint is that they need better ventilation in the cooking area. Bread and butter meeting a hot panini press give off enough smoke to make one feel like they are in the midst of a Journey song. That having been the case, and it being a delightful day, we ate outside.

Overall, quite good but a bit pricey given that it was close to forty bucks for four sandwiches with only a small bag of chips as a side. I will be back to try some of the other creations.