Greenwich International Film Festival: enjoy unique and original films with the “Virtual Festival” May 1st-3rd

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One of our very favorite events that we look forward to each year is the Greenwich International Film Festival (GIFF).  This amazing festival brings to our area a slate of original and unique narrative films, documentaries and short film.  These are thought provoking films you will not see anywhere else.  As well the festival each year hosts panel discussions with filmmakers and actors, the Changemaker Gala and so much more.  The festival also awards money each year to filmmakers and as well has donated hundreds of thousands of dollars to its charity partners.

We all know that the Covid-19 health crises has changed our world, and Governor Lamont of Connecticut  recently issued a  State of Emergency Declaration in response to the crises. GIFF has made the decision to continue with the festival, but in a very different way.  Instead of viewing films at the different venues in Greenwich, GIFF 2020 will now be a virtual festival.   From May 1st to 3rd 2020 attendees will be able to view the festival online.

According to Ginger Stickel, Executive Director of the Festival, “Out of concern for public safety and the well-being of our community of supporters, filmmakers, staff and health care professionals, we have moved the Greenwich International Film Festival to an online experience. We remain committed to providing an effective platform for filmmakers to showcase their films, as well as to supporting them with cash awards. Our team has worked incredibly hard to launch the inaugural virtual festival and we can’t wait to share it with audience members, both near and far.

The virtual festival is sponsored by Betteridge, Maison d’Alexandre, JP Morgan, The Nature Conservancy, Nichols MD, Brightline, ICON, CAIS, Richards, Ashforth, Volvo, and Compass. The rest of the events around the annual festival, including the Changemaker Gala, and in-person screenings and panels, will be postponed until Fall 2020.

This virtual three-day event will include an exciting selection of Narrative & Documentary Features, the Connecticut Shorts Program, exclusive interviews with film talent, acknowledgments, and a chance to Vote for the JP Morgan Chase Audience Award. It will also feature the Best Social Impact Film Award, presented by the Bill & Ann Bresnan Foundation, and the Best Connecticut Shorts Award, presented by the Connecticut Office of Film, Television & Digital Media.  In the past 5 years we always enjoyed the vast array of fine and original programming available at the festival.  The mission of GIFF to make a “social impact” remains unchanged even though the festival has moved online.

For those who always supported the festival by attending the special programming events such as the Changemaker Gala, GIFF has announced that this fall it intends to host a special slate of events including the Gala, a selection of films and panel discussions.

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For information on the list of films and the festival program:

http://www.greenwichfilm.org/wp-content/uploads/2020/04/official-program-2020-4-16-20.pdf

For information and to purchase tickets for the festival :  go to “Purchase a Pass” and hit the “Virtual Pass” button at:

http://www.greenwichfilm.org/

Greenwich International Film Festival (GIFF) is a non-profit organization that hosts a world class film festival each year, and supporting events throughout the year. It was founded to bridge the worlds of film, finance, and philanthropy. The Festival’s mission is to provide filmmakers with the opportunity to showcase their work with the goal of finding financing for future projects. Additionally, GIFF harnesses the power of film to serve the greater good by supporting charity partners with festival proceeds.

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Fortina: Meet the new plant based “meatless” dishes

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Plant based “meatless” meatballs

We recently dined at  Fortina in Armonk.  The eatery owned by Christian Petroni, who is also the chef behind the Fortina group of restaurants which feature classic New York Italian dishes and pizza.   Recently Fortina has embraced the plant based trend in dining and has rolled out two new dishes,  meatless Meatballs and meatless Chicken Parm.

The meatless “meat” is the product of Hungry Planet  They provide the plant based meat, which then Chef Petroni transforms into his dishes with his own touch of sauces and spices.   We understand the recipe is almost the same as the traditional meat version that is on the menu.  We were curious to see how it tasted.

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Plant based “Chicken” Parm

The plant based meatballs were soft and delicious and had a texture very similar to ground meat.  The delicious blend of spices and marinara sauce complemented the dish and we were pleasantly surprised.  It was that good.

The plant based Chicken Parm was the star of the show as it looked, sliced and tasted exactly like traditional Chicken Parm.  We had to check with the waitress to see if they brought the incorrect order.  It was fantastic with light breading and served with marinara.  We would order this dish again.

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Wood fired Cauliflower

We understand more meatless dishes are in the works including Italian sausage which we look forward to tasting in a future visit.    For the vegetarian of healthy eater in your party there are plenty of options, including pasta, Broccoli Rabe, Wood Fired Cauliflower, Wood fired Carrots and a Wood Roasted Veggie Platter for two.

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Wood Roasted Veggie platter for 2

Naturally, Fortina has not strayed from its traditional fare which has made the restaurants so popular.  Wood fired pizzas, pastas,  rib eye steak, regular Chicken Parm, Spaghetti and Meatballs and Pork Braciole all remain cornerstones of the menu.

We were excited to try the new plant based dishes coming now on the menu at Fortina and look forward to their new items.

Fortina

Armonk, Yonkers,  Rye Brook, Stamford, Brooklyn,

web>>>> https://fortinapizza.com/

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Bradley Mountain Farm: a very special goat farm with goat yoga, hikes, goat soap and so much more

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We recently enjoyed some time at Bradley Mountain Farm in Southington Ct.   Bradley Mountain Farm is a goat farm with some of the most friendliest animals you will ever meet.  The farm is a 200 year old property that once was a dairy farm. The  farmhouse and barn is tucked away in the beautiful countryside of Connecticut.  This lovely property borders Crescent Lake Park, a 233 acre park featuring hiking trails, a large lake and scenic vistas.

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Some of the friendly goats at Bradley Mountain Farm

 

Arriving at the farm after an easy 1 hour trek from Northern Westchester we were greeted by Annalise Deadras who is the owner. Her herd  of dairy goats provide milk which is then produced into high quality goat milk soap.  The high fat content of the goat milk is perfect for making a smooth creamy soap.  Soaps are available at the farm or on line and come in a number of fragrances .   They feature such names as “Fairy Garden”, “Hippy Hemp”, “Sweet Angel” and  ” Water Lily”.  They look and smell as pretty as they sound.

We learned the farm is not just about the production of goat milk soap, as  several fun and interesting programs are featured at the farm.  There are the Goat Hike and Nature Tour where you can hike with some of the herd along the shore of Crescent Lake which borders the farm.

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Farm store with soaps and more for sale

Goat Cuddle Therapy is also offered .    A “Goat Cuddle Instructor” will lead you through a relaxing session while the goats are eating and playing. The goats may even snuggle up to you, or climb in your lap.  It sounds like a relaxing way to unplug from a stressful world and reconnect to the natural world with these gentle, friendly animals.

Goats with Pajamas is another fun event for families. You can help put the herd to bed, cuddle with your favorite goat.  Guests are able to brush the  goats, feed  them, and put pajamas, tutus, and other costumes on the goats.  The session ends with a cuddle session with the goats.

Goat Yoga is a different and fun take on this popular activity.  As you move through a guided one hour yoga session, the goats move about you creating a peaceful and natural mood.  What a unique and fun way to spend some time as you connect with yourself and nature.

If you are in the area of the farm, do spend some time checking out the area which is quite picturesque.  The village of Southington is a classic quaint New England village just minutes from the farm.  There is a canal trail, restaurants and a brewery with tap room all there to explore.

Please check the farm website for hours and for event times.

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Bradley Mountain Farm

537 Shuttle Meadow Road, Southington, CT    tel. 860.385.GOAT 

https://bradleymountainfarm.com/

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Sylvia: a very funny and thought provoking play at the Music Theatre of Norwalk

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A very funny and poignant play is now on stage at Music Theatre of Connecticut in Norwalk. Sylvia by A. R. Gurney was first produced off Broadway in 1995 and starred Sarah Jessica Parker and Blythe Danner. That production received Drama Desk Award nominations for Outstanding Play, Outstanding Actress in a Play (Parker), and Outstanding Costume Design.   In 2015 the it opened on Broadway and featured Matthew Broderick, Annaleigh Ashford and Julie White as cast members.

The plot of the play involves an older couple Greg (Dennis Holland) and Kate                  ( Carole Dell’Aquila) who after raising their children in the suburbs have decided to move back to New York City.  Liberated from child rearing, school schedules, yard work and other suburban chores, the couple look forward to this new phase of their life.  Kate has returned to work as a teacher and is energized by her new role, new friends and new life.  Greg however feels quite the opposite.  He begins to lose interest in his job as well as his new life.  Leaving work early he wanders through the park only to discover a dog who like himself seems lost and alone in the big city.  The only clue to identity of the dog is her collar with her name, Sylvia.   Sylvia the dog is played by a human, Bethany Fitzgerald, whom he takes home.

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Kate, Greg and Sylvia the dog

Kate is not pleased with Greg bringing the dog home, but relents and allows the dog to stay a few days until they can find it a new home.   Kate sees Sylvia as a hindrance to her new found freedom in the city.   Over the next few days Greg and Sylvia bond and it seems to Kate that Greg is having a mid life crises and Sylvia is quickly replacing her in their marriage.   There are some very funny scenes as Sylvia bounds around the stage, gnaws on Kate’s shoe, climbs on furniture and cuddles with Greg.

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Sylvia and Kate at odds

Greg discusses his plight with his new found friend and fellow dog lover (Jim Schilling)  and Kate seeks out a therapist (also played by Jim Schilling) for help in saving her marriage and dealing with Greg and Sylvia.  But saving their marriage and new found life will come with compromises.

Though the play is a comedy and the physical comedy of Bethany Fitzgerald as Sylvia bring many laughs to the audience, the play too is filled with many thought provoking moments.  The subjects of love, mid life crises, and alienation in the modern world are all touched and leave a lasting impression on the audience.  Sylvia is just one of the many fine productions we have seen at this gem of a local theater.   The play is wonderfully directed by Kevin Connors who always brings out the best in his actors.

Sylvia will be at MTC through February 23, 2020

For tickets and information:  https://www.musictheatreofct.com/

Music Theatre of Connecticut

509 Westport Ave, Norwalk, CT, 06851

 

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Godspell: A theatrical tour de force now on stage at ACT in Ridgefield

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A total modernized and powerful version of the 1970s classic musical Godspell is now on stage at ACT ( A Contemporary Theatre of Connecticut) in Ridgefield Ct.  It was our first time seeing a play  at this theater and we spellbound by this  incredible production.  If you see only one play this year, make it Godspell at ACT.

The original production of Godspell which opened in 1971 off-Broadway and the 1973 film of the same name was a lighter play with the characters dressed in colorful period clothing.   The story features Jesus in a modern setting with his disciples (though given different names), and the story follows parables from the New Testament which teach the lessons of forgiveness, charity, kindness to all,  and that man must worship God and not money.  These lessons can be appreciated by anyone of any faith or background, and seem even more relevant today.

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Artistic Director Daniel C. Levine was given permission by the show’s creator, Stephen Schwartz to revise Godspell and cast it in a new light.  Levine has brought Godspell from 1971 to 2020 and in the process created a powerful and moving production.   The play opens in an abandoned church in Manhattan that where some homeless have taken refuge.   Enter the developers and realtors who reveal that this old magnificent structure will be demolished to build high priced condos for the wealthy.  They care not for the church nor its purpose as they discuss the price of these condos to be built and brag about how the building is 90% sold.  Suddenly from the ruins of the church, Jesus appears to transform the greedy and to open their eyes to his lessons.   The stage design of the abandoned church is magnificent with its Gothic pillars, and stained glass windows  which creates the perfect mood for the play.   Levine was inspired to set the musical in an abandoned church after witnessing the fire at Notre-Dame in Paris.  Reid Thompson who is the scenic designer helped bring a Broadway quality set to our backyard and in doing do brought Levine’s vision to fruition.

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The score from Godspell is memorable and includes such favorites “Day By Day”,  “All the Best”. “Light of the World”, and from the film, “Beautiful City”.   The sound is professional and some of the best and clearest we have heard at any theater.  Credit goes to Sound Designer John Salutz and his talented team.  The vocals are outstanding with great performances from the entire cast.

The story is not all heavy, as lighter comedic moments are part of the show including satirical references to the President  as well to Harvey Weinstein.    The cast also interacts with the audience playfully, and even leaves the stage to move about the theater.  During the intermission the actors appear and begin to mingle with the audience while still in character.  This was effective in really allowing the attendees to feel immersed in the story and not a passive observer.

The cast was brilliant and even included an ensemble of children actors who make brief appearances as they represent the innocent and the future of us all.   The cast of actors have numerous Broadway, off Broadway, National Tour and regional credits.   It was an evening of wonderful performances with Trent Saunders (Jesus), Jaime Cepero (John the Baptist), Shalen Harger, Jacob Hoffman, Katie Ladner, Alex Lugo, Andrew Poston, Monica Ramirez, Phil Sloves, Morgan Billings Smith , Emma Tattenbaum-Fine, and Cameron Nies.

We were totally mesmerized by this stunning new interpretation of  Godspell.  It is a show for us all and so relevant today.  The show runs through March 8, 2020 and it has to be on your must see list.

ACT    A  Contemporary Theatre of Connecticut

36 Old Quarry Road

Ridgefield, CT 06877

Box Office: (475) 215 5433

web  >>>https://www.actofct.org/

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Five Guys Named Moe: a funny music filled show that will have you smiling

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The Westchester Broadway Theatre is currently producing the musical “Five Guys Named Moe” a musical revue inspired by the jazz blues pioneer Louis Jordan.  The show is lively, upbeat and had the audience on their feet on opening night.   The show was produced originally in the UK and later on Broadway where it was nominated for two Tony awards.

The production features 25 songs many of which were written by Louis Jordan.  His blues and jazz style would influence other blues artists and early rock and roll artists such as Chuck Berry.   The story is about a man No Max who is down on his luck, has lost his girlfriend and has turned to hitting the bottle pretty hard.   He is listening to music on his radio when seemingly spring from the airwaves themselves are five performers.  The five men, Eat Moe, No Moe, Four Eyed Moe, Big Moe and Little Moe spring out on stage to sing the first of the evenings songs, “Early in the Morning”.  Though the story is a bit thin, its purpose is to tie together the musical numbers.  Along the way the Five Guys help  No Max out of his situation and make him a better man.

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The fast moving Act One features some excellent numbers such as “I Like ‘Em Fat Like That”,  “Safe, Sane and Single” and the fun calypso inspired song “Push Ka Pi Shi Pie” which encourages the audience to actively participate in the singing.  A lyric sheet is given to each audience member so they can sing along.

Act Two wastes no time getting the audience back into the groove with one great song after the other.  Memorable songs such as “Let the Good Times Roll”,  “Caledonia” and “Don’t Let The Sun Catch you Crying” really moved the audience.  The cast was excellent with Quentin Avery Brown as Eat Moe, Tyler Johnson-Campion as No Moe, Napoleon M. Douglas as No Max, Douglas Lyons as Four Eyed Moe, Tony Perry as Big Moe and Isaiah Reynolds as Little Moe.    The cast is backed by an on stage live band of John Daniels (music director/piano), Steve Bleifuss (trombone), Jim Briggs (clarinet, sax), Dave Dunaway (upright bass), Jay Mack (drums) and Brian Uhl (Trumpet).  Having a live band on stage really brought out the authenticity of this great music and complemented the casts vocals.

Directed and choreographed by Richard Stafford, the show runs through March 1, 2020.

for tickets and information:  https://www.broadwaytheatre.com/

Westchester Broadway Theatre

One Broadway Plaza Elmsford New York

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Captain Crab: welcome aboard for a Cajun crabboil and fun tropical drinks

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An eatery with tropical drinks, cool nautical decor and Cajun style seafood is right up my culinary alley.   Captain Crab has recently opened on Central Avenue in Hartsdale and is a fun place to gather with friends and enjoy an old fashioned Cajun crawfish boil.

The decor of Captain Crab is pure fun and escape with fish nets hanging everywhere, a mural of tropical fish in one room (dubbed the fish tank), sharks hanging from the ceiling and so much more.  The interior design transports you to some fun dockside restaurant.

 

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The “crawfish boil” is a fun event where Cajuns boil crawfish, potatoes, onions and corn in large pots. Lemons and small muslin bags containing a mixture of bay leaves, mustard seeds, cayenne pepper, and other spices, commonly known as “crab boil” are added to the water for seasoning.   At Captain Crab you then poor the bag of your boil and sauce into a round flat metal bowl.  Patrons are given a plastic bib, plastic gloves and plenty of napkins so they can dive into the tasty concoction.

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Cajun Shrimp Boil in a mild sauce and served with corn and potato

At Captain Crab you can choose the ingredients of your boil from crab, crawfish, mussles, crab legs, lobster shrimp or clams.  Then pick your sauce (or no sauce at all) pick a level of spiciness, and then add your sides.   The ingredients are all cooked, placed in bag with the sauce,  shaken table side by the server and you then can pour it into your flat metal bowl.  Then you dig in!  It is quite the dining experience.

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Cajun boil with crab legs and mussles

If do not choose the boil, you can opt for appetizers from crab cakes to fried calamari to fried cheese sticks.  There are several salads, and two gumbos.   Po Boy sandwiches are popular at Captain Crab with shrimp, catfish, oyster, crab, and chicken offered.  Lobster rolls are also  on the menu.   There are oysters on the menu both raw and chargrilled and we enjoyed half a dozen of the raw Blue Point oysters that were fresh with just the right  hint of brine.

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Blue Point oysters

Captain Crab also delivers with a full bar and a slate of fun and colorful tropical drinks.  We enjoyed in a few glasses of these sweet colorful cocktails served in a hurricane glass and were instantly transported to a fun seaside location.

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Captain Crab is a unique dining experience, so grab your friends and your appetite and come aboard!

Captain Crab

145 South Central Avenue Hartsdale New York

tel.  914.368.8818 

web   https://captaincrabny.com/

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Smorgasbord: a hilarious ode to food now at the Ridgefield Theater Barn

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A hysterical new musical Smorgasbord is now on stage at the Ridgefield Theater Barn.   The play billed as “A Musical Menu” is the creation of Bradford Blake, a very talented and funny lyricist.  His holiday themed “Wreck The Halls” was a big hit at the Theater Barn in the past.  This musical revue has  food as its subject matter and Blake (who also directs the play), takes the audience on a wild comical ride through the world of food.

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Anya Caravella, Robert Geils, Tracey Marble and Zachary Theis serving up comedy and music

 

The stage of the theater features three talented musicians under the direction of Charles Smith.  They are dressed as chefs and set the tone for the evening.  The very talented and humorous cast of Anya Caravella, Tracey Marble, Robert Geils and Zachary Theis are tasked with leading the audience through a menu of 19 intricate original songs.   The vocals are quite good, and the comical acting of the cast had the opening night audience laughing the entire evening.  The cast is very talented and the vocals of Anya Caravella were quite impressive.  The direction by Mr. Blake was excellent as the timing of the comedy is spot on.

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Act One which was called “First Course” is composed of 10 different songs taking the audience on a tour of different foods.  Some of the standout numbers were “Chez McDonald’s”,  “De Fruit Song” and “Pigoletto” a hilarious look at Italian cuisine.   Eating alone is never fun and “The Frozen Turkey TV Dinner Blues” is a witty look at the subject.

The “Second Course” is just as creative and comical.  The audience responded to “Taco”, “Tomorrow’s the First Day” (an amusing look at dieting), “Sukiyaki Sue” and one  of our favorites “At Lebebschmittel’s Deli”, a  very funny tune about a Jewish deli. The evening concludes with an ode to ice cream in “One Scoop”.  The song draws inspiration and from the classic 1970s musical, “A Chorus Line”.

Opening night for Smorgasbord was filled with laughter at the Theater Barn.  This is a unique venue which you must experience.  Doors open one hour prior to the performance and guests sit at tables and are encouraged to bring their own food to enjoy prior to the show.   The lobby also features a snack bar that also features wine and beer.  Support local theater and enjoy a great evening of laughter.

This very witty and amusing show runs through February 29th.    This is a show is just the recipe to shake off the winter blues with non stop comedy.

Ridgefield Theater Barn

37 Halpin Lane
Ridgefield CT 06877

tel .203.431.9850

web  https://ridgefieldtheaterbarn.org/

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Madonia: a fresh take on classic Mediterranean dishes

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We recently dined at a local restaurant for the first time.  Madonia is located just over the  Westchester border on Long Ridge Road in Stamford.  Three staff members  are the new owners and are carrying on the tradition of good food and service.  The menu is Mediterranean with dishes from Italy, France and Spain.

The space is divided into distinct areas with the cozy bar with tavern tables, the main dining room with a soft color palette and hardwood floors, a small private wine cellar room with a wall of glass and yet another room that is perfect for parties.

As part of a media event we were able to sample some dishes from the new menu.   Appetizers are numerous with many seafood selections available.  We enjoyed the excellent Gnocchi with  shaved asparagus, peas, mint-zucchini pesto. A hardy dish which infuses new flavors in the classic Italian dish.

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Gnocchi

 

The Golden Baked Mushroom was a unique item and delicious as well. It is filled with broccoli, potato and pecorino.   The classic Eggplant Rolantini has been updated and featured two cheeses, both ricotta and prosciutto, and served in a rosé sauce.  Appetizers run $12-$21.

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Golden Baked Mushrooms

There are four salads on the menu for the healthy minded or the vegetarian in your dining party. We sampled the Field Green salad which featured sweet tones as it was prepared with cranberries, candied pecans, thinly slicedpears, and tossed in an apple balsamic vinaigrette.  Salads are $12-$14.

Main dishes include a wide variety of pasta dishes with something for everyone. Also included in the Mains are  beef, seafood and chicken selections.  We sampled the New York Strip drizzled with jalapeño oil.  Our favorite  was the delicious Alaskan Salmon, sliced in pieces and served in a honey-herb verjus,  and a medley of butternut squash mashed potatoes and mixed veggies.  A delicious and healthy dish.   Mains run $25-$28 and pasta dishes start at $21.

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Alaskan Salmon

What impressed us most at Madonia is the wide selection of dishes on the menu and an emphasis of infusing classic dishes from the Mediterranean with flavors.

Madonia

1297 Long Ridge Road Stamford Ct

tel. 203.322.8870

web  https://www.madoniarestaurant.com/

 

 

Taste of Fairfield Winter Fest: great way to chase away the Winter blues

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Looking for something to do this coming weekend?  There will be no football on Sunday and if you are looking for something different then The Taste Of Fairfield-Winter Fest may be the perfect way to take care of the winter blues. The event is on Sunday January 26th from 1 pm to 4p.m.

Taste of Fairfield-Winter Fest  is a great event that brings together in one place restaurants, wineries, distillers, craft brewers and markets.  Samples of their products will be available to taste for all attendees.   I attended the fall Taste of Fairfield event a few months back and had a great time.

The focus of this event will be on comfort food, party food and other great food and beverages you might serve at your own party.   The Fest is indoors at the beautiful Brooklawn Country Club in Fairfield Ct.  This is a great party space and in addition to the food there will be live music bowling, stand-up comedy and even roving entertainment. A special VIP ticket can be purchased to have early access to the event and to the Lenox Jewelers VIP lounge from noon to 1 PM. VIP ticket holders may enter the $500 Lenox Jewelers prize giveaway.

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In addition to fine and comfort cuisine, craft cocktails, wine, craft beer, and sweets, there will be fun for the whole family in the four-lane bowling alley and with the comedians from Fairfield Comedy Club who will perform at 1:30 PM. AR Workshop sponsors an interactive kids’ craft area with a terrific take-home craft.  Sounds like a great afternoon!

Tickets:  $50 in advance.  $100 for VIP tickets which includes open bar and access to the private lounge. Parking is free!  Two dozen restaurants and business will be serving tastes and sips of there wares.  The event benefits the local efforts of charity partner Operation Hope of Fairfield.

Taste of Fairfield -Winter Fest is a production of Town Vibe, the publisher of great local magazines in Fairfield, Westchester, and Litchfield Counties.

for tickets and info

https://www.eventbrite.com/e/taste-of-fairfield-winterfest-2020-tickets-77923847325

 

Taste Of Fairfield-Winter Fest

Brooklawn Country Club

500 Algonquin Road Fairfield Ct.

 

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