Thursday, June 08, 2006

Perfection at Sunset

What could you wish for more after a hard day than
to sit by a rushing river with a class of cold wine?
We go to Apricots in Avon on those kind of nights.
It's not only Steve Crutti, our friend and maitre' D
extraordinaire that draws us, or the wonderful food,
or the wine even. It is also this ambiance. Check
it out!!!

And when you've talked and loved, and become
mellow again, by now it is probably sunset.
Either you drift away back to your abode,
or you walk upstairs and brace yourself for
a romantic and epicurian evening that will
make a memory. Nice choice.


The Venetian Restaurant in Torrington, CT

Walking in, to me, was like walking into the old
Italian section of Hartford 25 years ago.
When you open the door, you feel a touch of
Italian class. And it never stops the rest of
the evening.
Just being seated in this place is so very
different from 90 percent of the restaurants I
have been in the past several years. Seasoned
waiters and waitresses, not the typical restaurant
amateur hour. Caesar salad made at the table
by the maitre d', where are you going to find that?
And delicious to top it off. The staff took pains to
help us pick a fine wine. My entree, Fettucini
Alfredo, was one of the best I have ever had.
And ending the meal with Tiramisu and an
after dinner drink and an espresso, all made
for an absolutely incredible, romantic, and
magnificent dining experience.
In Europe, most people visit their local.
It's a nice little restaurant where they feel
at home and know they will eat well.
If I lived closer, this would be mine.
Pasta made fresh, I opted for the
fettuncini with clams and mussels....
it was awesome.
His Fettucini Alfredo was pure and delicious.

and of course, HIS knows all the chefs and
owners! Hence his picture with one again!!!

52 E. Main Street
Torrington, CT

Saturday, May 20, 2006

Blue Smoke in Bloomfield

The owner of Blue Smoke, his sister the Manager,
and HIS.........
We were on our way to a party but wanted to snack
before and heard good things about Blue Smoke.
What a pretty restaurant, almost a New York feel
to it. The rooms are calming in latte tones and
there's a huge bar wide enough to dine on.
We had a simple Chopped Salad which was
ample, pretty, and delicious - shaped like an
upside down bowl.

And a platter of Calamari. I always order Calamari.
So I can say that this was outstanding in that it was
so tender it almost melted in your mouth.

I was sided by a Wasabi Sauce and a
Marinara Sauce. Now we know we are going
back to have a full dinner. The place was jammed.
And the menu was interesting, including Beef
Carpaccio which I have to try!!!
6 Wintonbury Mall, Bloomfield, CT

Monday, May 15, 2006

Rise Bar, Lower Manhattan

Perched 14 floors above Wall Street, facing
the river, is a fabulous bar located in the
Ritz Carlton. Its large patio is open in warm
weather, although on this day we sat inside.
As you can see, the view is magnificent,
magnified at night by the stars and sparkling
skyline of the city. If it is very hot, it's great
to sit outside for the sea breeze to watch the
cruise ships and seagulls pass by.
Kamilyn Trotman, one of the first people
you see when you enter, and by the way, the
one that gets you a great seat, is pictured
here on the lap of you know who!

This great lady makes you feel at home
and pampered. We ordered Campari
and Orange Juice. We ordered a Mojito.
We ordered a "Tier". We started by
enjoying 1/2 pound of nuts from a heavy
crystal bowl. Our drinks were superb.
And our Tier was surprisingly filling.
It had three layers of small treats,
including brucheta, skewers of baby
mozerella and cherry tomatoes, grilled
tomatoe and prociutto sandwiches on
croissants. The NYC Tier looked great
with baby hamburgers.

This bar draws a beautiful crowd.
Go dressed.

The Ritz Carlton
2 West Street
New York 10004

Sunday, April 02, 2006

Long Live Prima Vera!!

HERS: We got a tip from a Portugese family about a
great place for Portugese food. They said it was where
they went and where Portugese families get their parties
catered. Two hours later we arrived there for dinner and
just loved the place. Owner and Chef T. Vincente proved
a hospitable host, walking around talking to his guests
as well as cooking for them.
We were there on Saturday night when - although not
listed on the menu - he offers Grilled Red Snapper.

Also not listed on the menu is what they offer
for Friday lunch.....octopus sauteed in garlic and
white wine! The Grilled Red Snapper was just
scrumptious, sided with boiled potatoes and
broccolli rabe. I ordered the Seafood Mix and
asked for an addition of Portugese sausage.
Wow! What a combination. The juices from
the clams spilling over to mix with the juices
from the grilled smoky sausages, mixed in with
grilled shrimp and squid.....another awesome
The place is packed with families and lovers,
so be patient for your table, there are only
about 8 of them.
Of course we had to have the Flan for dessert
and it was tender and wonderful. The chef/owner
brought out as a treat a plate of sliced
goat cheese and sliced sweet cinamon
bread as well as two glasses of white port
and two shots of something he called:
Portugese Custard Cake Liquor.
Here's a picture of this ambrosial drink!

You need to go to this restuarant.
There are so few real restaurants left.
Let's make sure they endure.
I was a little nervous about going over there
having never heard of the restaurant. Hidden
not only in reputation but also hidden in kind
of an oddball place where you would never
run into it. The parking lot was jammed.
The place looked like a little dinky local
bar from the outside. Walked inside.
Had a five minute wait. It appeared to be
a restaurant where the owners and the
staff knew everyone and everyone looked
like they were at home.
The portions looked not only beautiful but
huge. I felt like I might have been in another
country or a New York Portugese ghetto.
They sat us, and were embracing, almost
with a Welcome to my House attitude.
The waiter came over - very warm, very
helpful, because the menu needed describing.
The atmosphere for a place that mobbed was
quiet and peaceful and relaxing. The Portugese
rolls and Portugese white wine, the bowl of olives....
it was a fun way to start off the meal and the wine
was delicious. The presentation of all three dishes
we ordered was beautiful, and all were very fresh
and as you can see from the pictures very colorful.
The lettuce in the Caesar Salad was crisp. My Grilled
Snapper was absolutely perfectly prepared and each
bite was wonderful. The waiter was always on top
of us with great service. As the place emptied out,
the chef came out and mingled. We got a little bit
of insight into how the dishes were made and we
ended our meal with liquors and special treats.
All around, it was great food, warm environment,
hospitable help, great conversation place....and
wouldn't hesitate going back frequently. The prices
are more than fair. Delicious. Looking forward to
trying other dishes there. This place is really fun!
271 Newington Avenue
Hartford, CT
Telephone: 860-953-7411

Monday, March 27, 2006

Grant's in West Hartford March 28th

HERS: Ok, so we were here again! But we needed Grant's tonight.
We needed good food. We needed service. We like to
sit at the bar.
Now, look at this. There's this glass jar on the bar filled
with fresh pineapple slices and vodka. You know how good
this tastes, after it has been marinating a while? So fresh.
In Paris they do this jar BIG with limes and vodka. This was
slightly slightly sweet and fragrant. Still....very nice.
What was our dinner? Well, always Caesar Salad to start.
But then a STUNNER fresh trout with pistachio crust.
It came out hot, topped with crisp pistachio crust, then
tiny lentils in butter and lemon sauce draped all over
the trout. Are you droooling yet? It was droooooling

HIS: The vodka was unique and fun and very out of the norm
at a local bar. My Caesar's Salad was a delight in what has
been a long dark Caesar Salad hole.
The trout was a good portion considering that we
split it. It was beautifully presented. The pistachio
sauce was blended almost to perfection. The fish meat
was great, the skin was even better. The bartender,
who was our waiter, was very personable and tried
very hard to be a good waiter. The bread was OK,
but the bread at the sister restaurant BRICCO'S,
had the edge tonight. The atmosphere at the bar at
Grant's was calming, relaxing, somewhat romantic...
great spot to have good food and a love affair
with your mate.
West Hartford, Ct

Wednesday, March 22, 2006

The Karate Club at Max Amore


Someone should write a book about the Karate Club. A bunch
of guys that have known each other for over twenty years,
who once a week met to practice Karate. They were good.
Gentle souls. Now in older years having tons of fun in their
brotherhood of dining and imbibing.
Last night (March 21) they met at Max Amore in Glastonbury.
With their wives and girlfriends. You know how I know?
Because I was there. And because people were ordering
pink drinks, and that means women, not the Karate Club
We always have a good time.

Max Amore's signature is the little plate of roased garlic
that arrives for each diner. Well, Ok, I had two. On Foccacia.
Delicious salted.

Campari Orange followed.

An eggplant appetizer with crisp discs of eggplant pooled
by deep red tomato sauce. A Tilapia filet on top of aspargus
rissoto. Gnocci. Strip steak with Gorgonzola cheese.
Fettucini with a creamy Pesto and Shrimp saucing.
A Chianti soaked Short Rib. You know, every dish was
satisfying in a Tuscan way. They were big portions, mostly
meat dishes, and deeply satisfying. A little bit like
the Karate Club.

Monday, March 20, 2006


Imagine driving up to a large wooden structure at the
base of Mt. Monadnock in New Hampshire....
it is dark and it is starting to snow. You are entering
a barn. You have to cross a large polished
wooden floor in an elegant setting to arrive at your
table. And wait. You sit and wait while candles are
slowly lit around you, while gentle jazz begins to
float in the air, while your huge white napkin is
draped on your lap. Now you are realizing this
is a special place, a special experience. It is
a spa, a resort, an awesome restaurant, set in
the foothills and very quiet, very focused on
you. The chef/owner, Scott Mitchell, is cuts above
....he's so passionate about his food and cooking
he is insistent on at times delivering dishes
so that he can see your face ....
I can tell you that each and every dish I
had this night was intense, delicious, and
competing for honors with the best.
We began with ameuse geules...
one was a plate draped with lemon and
lime creme fraiche with little assiago
cheese chips to dip into it....another
was a small dried apricot stuffed with
goat's cheese and drizzled with 12 year
old balsamic delicious.

These caramelized sea scallops
were perfection.

This was Seared Haddock Filet served with a
sweet corn risotto....small portion but
huge on flavor and satisfaction!
My Lobster Thermodore, made with
lobster, shallots, baby spinach and
napped with a Grain Mustard Brandy
Cream sauce stood out starkly from
any meal I have had for months.
HIS had his picture taken with
the chef/ usual, loving it!

at the Grand View Inn & Resort
580 Mountain Road
Jaffrey, NH 03452

Sunday, February 26, 2006

Max Amore in Glastonbury, CT


Our table mates one night at Max Amore were
a load of fun. Pictured here, we laughed so
hard we had stomach aches leaving...but not
from the food. A quick pizza fix turned into
a really delightful interlude. It was light
and delicious enough to satisfy our
not-so-hungry desire to be out and about
but not overladen with food. Max Amore
hit the nail on the head. Our pizza was
crisp, smokey from the oven, and very
very fresh on top.

Glastonbury, CT

Geppi's in New Haven

This Italian hangout in New Haven has been there
for years. We revisted the other night and were
wow'd by the food. No one was there. It was a
Wednesday night. Eeery. Yet the food was
so delicious it was more than worth a drive from
Hartford. Go figure.
The first thing they put on the table for you
to nosh on is a small dish of antipasto with
cheese, hot peppers, eggplant salad.....

The bread arrives as if from the local
farmhouse down the road in an Umbrian
Village, nicely darkened from the fire.
What was the best dish that night?
Awesome Grouper with Lobster Ravioli.

Parade Magazine did a survey and found that
Americans' favorite restaurant food is
Italian. It's mine too in America.

113 Grand Avenue
New Haven, CT
Telephone: 203-776-0100

Monday, February 20, 2006

Yahoooo! Bricco's Is Back!!

We've been waiting for our favorite hangout to come
back's been under wraps while it has undergone
renovations. Bricco's is open again. We went and had
dinner, drinks, saw friends and had a blast.
The menu is a little different and so wonderful.
Look at the bar. Billy's added warm wood.....

It was packed. The buzz was on. Lots of regulars
and lots of pretty new people.

I had Veal Tonnato as an appetizer. It was not at
all like traditonal veal tonnato, the kind that is
thick cut, cold, smathered with a very tuna/caper/salty
sauce. In the heat of the summer in Europe, this dish
is a standard and a reliable dinner party dish. Here at
Bricco's it elevates so much it levitates.
Here you get incredibly thinly sliced roast veal
(cold) with a dollop of sauce. Then on the other
side of the plate, Tuna Tartare. Clever, fun, and
really delicious.
We split a pizza, and yes, it was also awesome.
How can I talk about food at Bricco's and not
sound redundant? Everything is always delicious.
Here's another piece of Bricco detail that
delighted me:

West Hartford, Connecticut

A Bad Birthday Choice


I was so disappointed. We were having dinner at the
beautiful Simsbury Inn. We were there to celebrate
our friend's birthday and we wanted something
special for her. The decorations, ahead of
Valentine's Day, certainly were. But the food left
all of us with cold hearts. Luckily Nancy

(seen here with her husband Jim)is a sweet person.
She had a nice time. But the food?
What went wrong?
Someone was cooking that doesn't like to cook,
and doesn't like food. How could anyone who
cares about food show so little interest or
respect for it? Well, here are a few pix so at
least you can see a visual record of what we had.
This salad with a half pear was the best of the lot.

As for the Steak Tips and Pasta, well.........

The Ravioli was dismal and gooey.

I hope no one I love takes me here for
my birthday. I want to go to McDonalds.
It's gotta be better.

The Simsbury Inn
Simsbury, Connecticut

Tuesday, January 10, 2006

Porto Fino A Hit For Lovers

This is why we went. We heard about this romantic
Italian restaurant in New Britain, CT with live
gypsy violins. When is the last time you found
strolling violins while you dined a deux?
Silly question. This father and son duo
were so intriguing they brought me to
tears. Hard to do. To tears I tell you.
They played the Israeli National Anthem.
They played La Vie en Rose. They played
Eidelweiss. They played till I cried. We
bought their CD and when we play it
tears come to our eyes. I can't wait to
tell you that I believe, although I have no
formal musical training, that these two are
hidden gems waiting to be discovered.
Music to me is a string to my heart.
Few can pull it. So our meal was
extraordinary from the start. The food
is delicious, the ambiance is super pretty
with a fireplace in one room and cozy
banquettes and low lighting.
HIS decided to order for me....and a
wonderful Suppa Clams arrived.

To say
I ate it all and then scooped up all the
sauce with bread would be truthful.
HIS ordered the Sole Francaise, absolutely
perfectly done. And there were three whole

HIS ordered for me again. He knows I like

This one came with capers, artichokes,
lemon, tomatoes, and a baked potato
with sour cream. Yum. Took the potato
to a party in the leftover sauce.
For dessert? Don't know.

It was delicious. I think it was a
fruit ice cream molded and then
surrounded by whipped cream.
You've got to promise me you will try
this restaurant, and go too for the
music. Buy the CD. You won't regret
it on a lonely night when you need
some comfort.
PORTOFINO Restaurant
New Britain, CT

Saturday, January 07, 2006

New Year's Eve in Boston!

With ice sculptures in the big common, fireworks,
a mardi gras parade, children blowing long really felt festive.
More and more it's becoming a
city of food.
From the beautiful produce on
street stands (amazing asparagus for
only $1!) - to a hole in the wall that
served only one thing: sandwiches from
Chile (these were delicious, made from home
baked rolls, barbequed chicken, munster
cheese, tomatoes, avocados, onions, and a
special piquant sauce)...we had a constant
food experience. Lunch? At Legal Sea Food.

For this plate of Butter Fish flown in
from Hawaii, served with Wasabi Mousse
and Seaweed Salad. It was awesome and
And for this tender piece of Salmon
with a Falafal Crust!
We walked off lunch and couldn't
wait for dinner. Where to go on
New Year's Eve? Chinatown!!!
Having never heard of Barundi,
one of our party ordered this fish
so lively in the fish tank behind our
heads. We honored it. It was so sweet
and juicy and delicious....well, we hope
it is now an angel because it was when
we tasted it.
We also had some of the Lobster with
Ginger and Scallions. Again, one of the
best lobster dishes we have ever had.
Unanimous agreement all around.

We finished just in time to see the end
of the fireworks on Boston Common.

Light snow flakes began to fall.
We all hooked arms and walked back
to the hotel singing.

Sunday, December 18, 2005

Holiday in New York City


The holiday tree at Rockafeller Center this year is fat and jolly
and drawing record crowds. This warm evening we found the
magic as well!

We strolled most of the day up and down Madison
Avenue, sauntering in wherever our curiosity took
us. I was overjoyed to see
that San Ambroseus
is back! My favorite place had been taken over by a
large Fauchon for a while,
and now it is back, better than ever. So of course we
had to celebrate with an espresso at the bar! And then
have some of their chocolate dipped gooseberries.
Awsome. Really awesome. We walked outside. Then
decided to dive back again inside for some gelato.
We're coming back for dinner soon. It looks great.
Next? Well HIS has been on a mission to find
Matcha tea (from Japan) (it has about
5000 times the antioxidants that green tea has)
(Dr. Weill only drinks matcha tea now)
so we went to ITOEN
to find some.
We wanted to have a tasting and before deciding
which version to buy, we went upstairs to their
restaurant named Kai for a cup.

We asked for the
thick creamy one and we loved it because it tastes
so fresh, and so green. You can almost feel
wonderful things happening all over your body.

We met a couple from Texas who were also
there to try the teas and especially the desserts
which included a tiny cup of strawberry mousse,
a pistachio chocolate cake with gold leaf and
a piece of apple tart.

A tea menu is served in the afternoons, and there
are literally over 100 teas to choose from.
Back down in the store, after much consultation,
we chose our selection of matcha tea and a
bamboo whisk to froth it. We've by now only
had two or three sipping cupfuls and can
honestly say something interesting is going on
inside! Maybe this IS the new elixer of youth
and health. We'll keep you posted.

822 Madison Avenue, NYC
Telephone: 212-988-7111
Restaurant Kai telephone: 212-988-7277

Madison Avenue, NYC
Telephone: 212-570-2211
Telephone: 631-283-1233