Thursday, January 9, 2020

Chutni Biryani & Noodle Bar, Stamford, CT

For no specific reason whatsoever, I have probably had Indian food less than 10 times in my entire life, so it’s really an exciting pleasure to be able to write this review. It’s strange, because I actually really do enjoy this particular cuisine, but it’s only on a very rare occasion do I find myself in the position to have it. Even when I am picking where to eat, the Indian restaurants I seem to frequent are so light on vegetables and so heavy on the breads and rice that it just seems like an unlikely contender.

Now you can say what you want about Stamford, but there really are so many interesting lunch options. When my coworker suggested Chutni Biryani & Noodle Bar I was intrigued for having walked by it countless times. As explained to me, this restaurant is eclectic in their menu, with Indian, Indo-Chinese and ramen options so it definitely had me wondering.

Walking into the space, I immediately liked it. The inside is clean, bright and quiet. I went for lunch on a Thursday and it started to fill up towards the end of my meal, another good sign. The service was extremely prompt and nice, even being coy in explaining that the medium heat items may be very hot for some.

It was true that the menu had all three cuisines and between the variety of options and my lack of knowledge surrounding certain sauces and dishes, I just stuck with my favorite – chicken korma. For those readers with same level of knowledge surrounding Indian cuisine as I generally have, korma is a saffron cashew curry and I often find the creaminess of the sauce to be velvety with incredible depth from the spices used.

In ordering, we were asked if we wanted the lunch special and we both said yes. With that, we were able to each pick our preferred type of naan bread and there were more than a handful of options. To get my coworkers to stay away from me this afternoon, I went with the garlic naan and boy was I glad that I did. This bread came out, draped in butter, garlic and herbs and it was as hot and fresh as one could ever hope for. The naan was thin and heavenly. I imagine you have to eat it there in person for the full effect, but I would go back there just for the bread if nothing else.

When my meal came out, this korma was quite a bit more yellow in color than any other korma that I’ve ever had which made sense when I realized that the curry taste was far stronger in this dish than I usually expect. The other thing to note was that the chicken in my dish was all dark meat, with no vegetables to be found and as I am not a rice eater – of which they generously gave us an incredible amount, it wasn’t the perfect lunch order for me.

It should be mentioned that the entire heaping portion only cost $10.99 so the value was quite good. That said, I’d like to go back and order from the regular menu to try something else, because the majority of this restaurant experience was quite good and I wonder if the regular meals, which are about double in price have better quality meat or fresh vegetables.

Chutni Biryani & Noodle Bar
211 Main St, Stamford, CT 06901

Monday, January 6, 2020

Kit Kat French Toast: Taco Daddy, Stamford, CT

I’m not ashamed to say that I’ve been drooling over Taco Daddy’s Social Media since they opened in Stamford a few months back. It’s like some genius engineered both a drink and food menu which could make even the most Instagram adverse person pick up their phone and create a Foodie Insta to capture their TD meal. After tagging anyone who I thought might come with me in their posted food pics, I was all too delighted to go on a rainy Saturday in January.

It should be mentioned that starting January 01st, I decided that I would eat less sugar and avoid alcohol more often to get my nutrition back on track. December found a good reason to have cocktails and dessert on a near daily basis, so it was time to reign it in. Funny for me that the only Saturday I had free for brunch this month was on January 4th, so it wasn’t exactly a long run towards a clean diet that I had originally planned for but such is life.

Taco Daddy is on Open Table, so it was all too easy to make a resevation for 4 people at 1130AM. When we arrived, I was surprised to learn that 1130AM is the minute they open – but the staff was as friendly as could be. This restaurant took over where Harlan Social used to be in Stamford, a place where we had visited several times in the past so it was a shock to see that they had closed and this was the replacement but it looked much the same, if not a bit more casual.

Our server was perfectly happy to talk us through the cocktail menu – and that was a good thing based on how cool and creative the menu was. The names of the drinks were so cool that I was tempted to order ones that had ingredients that I don’t care for just to say “I’ll have the Missed My Flight”, etc. Unsure of my food order, I went with the prosecco – but the other three people at brunch were far more adventurous. You can see from the picture that the glassware was as ecclectic as the rest of the experience. The Gin and Tonic is purple and was poured with the kind of heavy hand you want when it’s early morning.

When we arrived, there were a few complications with the menus we received as some copies had many food items and later versions giving to us had a much smaller selection but I wanted one thing and was not too shy to ask. Kit Kat French Toast; that’s right. I wouldn’t even list Kit Kats on my top 10 favorite chocolate desserts, but can you imagine? French toast, which is already good – draped unashamedly in melting chocolate candies? The description mentioned that the salted caramel cream was also a part of the dish, also not necessarily my favorite thing but since I had waited so long to get into this place and all of their photos of this had blown my mind, I was not planning to leave with any regrets.

When my breakfast came out, I was surprised to see that the portion was on the smaller side as pictured above. I’m not sure what the serving size should be for such a calorie bomb, but two pieces at first sight left me wanting. It was an interesting mix really – with the french toast being very good, but the cream which was quite solid and not cold left me a little put off. Bites with the candy in them were good, because sugar, sugar, sugar. The addition of the maple syrup cut the tartness of whatever was in the cream to make it have such a bite. In the end, I didn’t even finish the dish – because I wasn’t enjoying it after the first few initial bites.

I had a bite of my fiance’s tacos and they were good, if not a little heavy in the masa taste of the shell – but the real MVP of this restaurant was was incredible game selection. When we were done eating, we played mini golf, mini bowling, Rock ‘em Sock ‘em robots, and Jenga. This place was cool and the food was really instagram friendly, but not exceptional in actual taste. That said, there’s a cheeseburger burrito which has my interest and could get me back there for another visit.

Taco Daddy Stamford: 121 Towne St Suite 2, Stamford, CT 06902

Monday, October 28, 2019

Review: Kimble’s Georgia grown “Ole School Corn Flake Chewy”

On a night where we had gotten together to bake homemade chocolate chips peanut butter cookies much to my delight, my Sister pulled out a dessert from her purse unlike any that I had ever seen before. While on a trip to West Virginia, she and my BRO bought me a Kimble’s Georgia grown “Ole School Corn Flake Chewy”. The name reminded me of all of the Olde English malt liquor that I grew up on, so I already knew it would be a hit.

At first glance, I thought I had this all figured out – eating it with my eyes and suspecting it to be similar to a basic Rice Krispy, the only difference being that this was made with corn flakes. As I am always excited to try a new regional delight, you can imagine my increased interest when reading that this was made with creamy peanut butter. I’ve never even had cereal and peanut butter at the same time, but peanut butter makes everything better so onto the review we go.

The nutrition states that there should be 2.5 servings in the package, but the length and width makes that seem nearly impossible; however in lifting the package, the sheer heft of the chewy was notable and I suspect it’s the density that makes splitting up the square a consideration. At first bite, I was impressed at how soft and pliable the cornflakes were. Not feeling or tasting much marshmallow, the primary flavor was sweetened peanut butter. Even being so moist, I was surprised that the cornflakes were in no way soggy.

To be fair, I can’t remember the last time I bought any dessert that didn’t have chocolate as an element but this was incredibly interesting. You could bite away layers of cornflakes and the chewy seemed to remain to be the same size as before. This was so good that I would gladly buy this if I saw this anywhere.

Seemingly simple enough, it would be quite a fun recipe to try at home, assuming one could figure out how to keep the cornflakes as crisp at these seemed to be.

Monday, September 9, 2019

Anything But Basic: Starbucks Pumpkin Cream Cold Brew

Nothing mystifies more than the magnitude of reaction that pumpkin flavoring seems to elicit from the average person. Some people countdown to its arrival, while other people post hostile memes towards those who seem to enjoy it so much - but hate it or love it, it’s about to take over our world for the next couple of months. For me, I enjoy my fair share of fall flavored things with a pumpkin beer here and one annual pumpkin spice latte over there. Before you go ahead and buy me the “I am Basic” trucker hat, rest assured that I only dapple due to an aversion to overly sweet flavors that generally accompany these items.

This past Saturday, I found myself at a rest stop and needing some caffeine. Walking up to the Starbucks, I saw a fancy sign advertising their new Pumpkin Cream Cold Brew and wasn’t too sure what to make of it. While I do love their iced lattes, I find Starbucks iced coffee to be far too bitter for my very mild preferring palette, but with a quick comparison of the calories in this advertised drink versus the PSL – my mind was made up.

Due to this location having increased rest stop prices, as well as my own personal reservations, I kept my order to a grande, which clocked in at 250 calories, 12 grams of fat and 35 grams of sugar. For those of you readers at home without their own personal nutritionist, that’s enough to make anyone with health in mind to think twice for just 16 oz. Still, the sign didn’t have any actual description of what exactly was in the drink so the dice was rolled. Looking online now, the drink is described as cold brew coffee sweetened with vanilla syrup and topped with a pumpkin cream cold foam and a dusting of pumpkin spice topping.

This rest stop provided those new sip lids, which was quite interesting for this drink as all of the pumpkin cream was directly on top of the iced drink. The first sip was Heaven. Honestly, the regular pumpkin spice latte is just okay for me, but this drink really blew my mind. Since I couldn’t stir this, the first sip was like drinking a sip of melted coffee and faintly pumpkin ice cream.

As my drinking continued, the cream topping started to drip down the edges of the cup, mingling with the cold brew coffee located underneath. Never once did the drink taste burnt like their regular iced coffee, but that could have had something to do with the 12 grams of fat in the cream. This drink was a real home run for me. The only downside? My once a year pumpkin spice latte has now just become the “as often as I can get the Pumpkin Cream Cold Brew”. Happy sipping!

Thursday, August 8, 2019

Restaurant Chronicles: Adventures on Arthur Avenue

On a steamy Sunday in August, my boyfriend and I took the train trip down to Fordham. I had never been there and since he has a real taste for Italian food, we thought it was a great place to go to for a late lunch. Walking from the train to Arthur Avenue, there were so many different establishments to choose from. I had spent the night before doing considerable research to determine where we should have our meal, figuring that we needed to make it count.

The majority of reviews said that Mario's was the best place to go, with 100 years of cooking up Italian food and I don’t know what more I could ask for. When we walked in, it was around 3pm. There were several occupied tables of the kind of people you would expect, but nothing that made us experience any kind of wait. 

The bread brought to the table was standard Italian bread, if not a bit tastier than average. I love that the restaurant brought over oil and butter to let you decide for yourself. Butter was the way to go.

When I walked in, I had no intention of having an alcoholic beverage, but it was so hot outside that we ordered Peroni’s because “when in Rome”. 

To start, we split the Mario Salad, which was just your average salad with a dressing a bit heavy on the vinegar factor. The waiter offered to split the salad for us, unprompted which I thought was particularly classy. The salad had both black and green olives in it, and I really love it when it does. 

Now I do not like raviolis, but when I was younger I worked at a place that used to take a van down to Arthur Ave once a month and load it up with as much frozen raviolis as could fit. After that, I realized that I only liked Arthur Avenue’s raviolis. I tested it out here and I was not disappointed in the slightest. Mario’s red sauce is to die for and I would go back in a heartbeat. I am going to be sure to check out if Mario’s sells their sauce in any stores because it’s so good I would bathe in it.

We ate and ate until we were so full that we could barely stand up. That being said, we immediately realized that we should try out some of the Italian desserts while we were down there, so we walked far and wide to find a pastry shop. Since it was Sunday, sadly several establishments were closed, so we would be more cautious of that next time.

We saw people milling around outside of Egidio's Pastry Shop, open since 1912 - so that was enough for us to pop our heads in and to order a chocolate covered cannoli and a chocolate filled donut. Normally, neither of us are cannoli people, but if ever we could get a good one, this would be the time. 

The cannoli was good, the cream inside tasting fresh and not overly zesty. The chocolate coating on the cannoli was thick and enjoyable. The chocolate donut was a bit more disappointing due to a lack of freshness. That said, I wouldn't be shy to buy another donut there if I ever find myself back earlier in the day.

The dream is to go back with an empty stomach and a cooler filled with ice to load up on prosciutto, fresh mozzarella, red sauce, ravioli and Italian bread. Talk about a foodie's paradise. 

2342 Arthur Ave, The Bronx, NY 10458

Egidio Pastry Shop
622 E 187th St, The Bronx, NY 10458

Thursday, July 11, 2019

Nuts about Fudge Covered Nutter Butters

In this modern day and age, there are a lot of things that are easy to take for granted. Between the constant stimulation from our smartphones, the constant need for validation on social media and a global world where news happens and is shared 24/7, 365 - it’s really easy to have high expectations when it comes to most things. Think about it, when’s the last time that you and all of your friends went out for plain vanilla ice cream? For me, that’s what happened to the Nutter Butter; a faithful friend from my childhood who never once disappointed me, lost somewhere up on the proverbial shelf to Frankenstein types of junk food, more outrageous than the last.

The good news for me? I have an awesome roommate; one who not only tolerates me, but who also surprises me on occasion with some of my favorite things and a few nights ago, it was no exception. Not only is Nutter Butter still churning out Old Faithful, but in keeping with the times, there is now a chocolate coated version. I love peanut butter, but 100 percent of the time, I will pick a dessert with peanut butter AND chocolate, so this is right up my alley.

Walking in after a long day to find a box of these cookies next to patriotic flowers, all I could think was God Bless America – the land where you can take a dessert and make it even more dessert-y. 

The box itself is vibrant, the picture calling me in. It’s amazing that two of these cookies are only 180 calories. Seems pretty reasonable as a dessert if you ask me.

Opening up the box, I was a little sad to see that there were only 12. I love to share, but this means that I would have six cookies, which isn’t a whole ton. Only thing left to do was to dig in and WOW, were these good!

If I had to compare the cookies to anything, it would be a less sweet version of Girl Scout Tagalongs, one of my favorite cookies of all time. 

The chocolate coating is thick and there is enough peanut butter in between that you could separate the cookie like it is an Oreo and enjoy two halves. 

The chocolate coating has a real texture to it, meaning it isn’t uniformly coated - in a good way, allowing for some bites to be heavier with the peanut butter and others with the chocolate.

The only negative to these cookies at all is that there are so few in the box. You can see in the tray that they need some space, probably to avoid melting and getting stuck together, but two is simply not enough to not want more. I’ll be buying these cookies again to be sure. Try them and you’re welcome!

Monday, June 17, 2019

Stamford Restaurant Chronicles: Pellicci's

Growing up Greenbaum, it wasn’t atypical for us to have pasta for dinner at least three times a week. As a kid, I remember eating so much pasta so often that as an adult I really don’t care for it much. For me, the carb laden meal is just a missed opportunity to eat the seafood or beef meal of my dreams. Second to that, it always gets my goat a little that a box of pasta with a dozen servings costs $1.00 at the grocery store, but a meal for one at the restaurant costs nearly $20. Talk about a cash cow for the restaurant.

The above being what it is, there are certain types of Italian restaurants that I can make exceptions for. Growing up, we spent countless nights at Paradise Pizza in Verplanck, NY; an unremarkable looking restaurant that holds some of my dearest memories, as well as the recipe for the world’s best pizza. Having been in Stamford for many years now, I have received the recommendation of Pellicci’s enough times to be led to believe that it had the potential to be something similar.

Pellicci’s has been operating in Stamford since 1947 in a neighborhood that I wouldn’t normally find myself hanging out in after dark, but for its reputation and the hopes of a local diamond in the literal rough, I just had to check it out. The restaurant exterior is nothing to write home about; an older house with the restaurant downstairs. Their parking is valet only, so we risked it and parked on the street.

Walking in, there’s a dining room reminiscent of my Great Grandmother’s house, as well as a room with a dark mahogany bar. To be fair, the room with the bar looked cooler, but when the waitress ushered us into the dining room, which was otherwise filled with people in their 70’s, we didn’t protest. There’s a lot to be said for eating where the elderlies like as they generally have a penchant for good deals and basic, decent meals.

We were seated in the back, by the restrooms in a wooden booth with a comical amount of space between the seats and the table. Let’s just say you could eat countless plates of pasta and somehow still fit into their booths. The waitress was very nice and in her fifties, memorizing our orders without writing them down. The menus were exactly like you’d expect – dated, simple and that of a no frills Italian restaurant operating for 70 years plus.

Settling in on prosecco as my drink of choice, I was as excited as I always am for the bread to arrive. A nice touch is that they offer you both oil and butter depending on your preference to wash down your bread with and it was good stuff. 

Going with the most obvious choice, I ended up deciding on chicken parmesan with salad on the side. For $20, you can have an entrée and a salad OR a vegetable OR pasta but not more than one option. Thinking that this was a bit frugal, I was expecting some superior chicken parm to be sure.

The salad was very good. It was a decent portion size to be sure. To continue my evaluation, I went with their house dressing – something between a vinaigrette and a creamy Italian. The flavor was good, but the consistency was surprisingly watery. There was no amount of dressing that seemed to coat the salad strangely.

At this point I was still optimistic. Nobody goes to an Italian restaurant for salad, so on to the main event. When my chicken parmesan came, I was surprised by the lack of cheese. You can see there are two big cutlets, and one small one. The second big piece was layered under the first, so it was a really missed opportunity to eat more cheese. 

The sauce, which looks abundant in the picture was really inadequate for the entire meal. I would have asked the waitress for more sauce, but she never came back after delivering the meal. The last nail in that coffin was that the chicken came out at room temperature. Usually chicken parm is broiled last minute to heat the cheese, so I was a little put off by when that must have been made. Overall, it was really a disappointing meal in light of my high hopes.

The restaurant space is cool, particularly for its history. Based on the neighborhood and the fact the meal wasn’t inexpensive, I wouldn’t rush back. That said, I am particularly curious about their pizza, so you never know. There must be something that’s been keeping this place open and operating for the past 72 years.

96 Stillwater Ave, Stamford, CT 06902