Wednesday, March 28, 2012 Update - Cafe Oo La La

Who remembers last August when a 92 year old guy drove into Cafe Oo La La? Remember the exciting investigative report by yours truly? Well, it looks like they installed a safety barrier to prevent the cars in the handicapped spaces from ending up inside the restaurant. Stellar work, Stamford. I'm proud.


Sunday, March 25, 2012 The Exciting Life of a Food Blogger

Being the Headbanging Hostess has brought a great amount of joy into my life. Along with my usual dinner parties with friends I have, indeed, expanded my circle of friends over the past two years to include some of Fairfield County's finest people. I like to refer to them as Fairfield County's Heavy Metal Elite, but they're more than that. In fact, it was that fateful e-mail to Arcane Malevolence that directly led to my participation in Saturday night's bachelorette party for the future Mrs. Ax-Shredding-DeVaney.

When the bachelorette was being planned I suggested Zaza Gastrobar in downtown Stamford. Good, central location, great food - what more could you ask for? Someone in the party called a few days ahead for a reservation but they told us they didn't take reservations but we could wait at the bar if we needed to. Well, when a member of our party tried to get us a table for 8 the hostess actually said "no" and that only 4 tables for 4 were available. So we ate at Remo's. And, while my Country Salad was good, it wasn't Lobster Polenta.

I was bummed, I'll admit it. And slightly pissed that I'd made a recommendation and it had failed me. I e-mailed them the next morning and I'm happy to say they actually e-mailed me back. So they get points for that. The hostess claimed she gave us a 2.5 hour wait time (which was not the case.) They also stated they're not meant to be a restaurant for big parties. So that's that. If we had been told that when we called for the reservation we would have made other plans. Maybe this is more of a miscommunication rather than flat-out bad customer service, but according to the other Google reviews I read it seems to be a recurring problem. The food there is really good - if you get to eat it. I'll leave it at that.

This is similar to our Darien Unsocial visit. It leaves me wondering what I should or could be doing different.

It plays into a new "drama/debate" regarding us lowly food bloggers vs. the real professional food writers. Ugh. Apparently CT Magazine has an article in their April issue putting food bloggers down - we're not trained, we're not pros, blah, blah, bullshit. OmNomCT had a very well written reply. Mine may not be so nice.

First of all, get off your high horse. It's 2012 - everyone has the ability to write and self-publish anything they want to on the web. We're still (pretty much) a free country. If we suck as writers or food critics people won't read us, it's as simple as that. And training? What is that about? I've been eating for 39 years! And, yes, as a matter of fact I have worked in the industry and I do have culinary training under my belt. But - here's the kicker - before anything else I'm an entertainer. I came to this after living decades of my life upon the stage. I've written plays that have been performed across the country. Theatre, like writing, is about communication. People getting together to share a communal experience...kinda like EATING! Pardon me, my inner drama queen is coming out. No one should make sweeping generalizations about other "groups" of people, it's unfair - unless it's for comic affect, of course.

I went to a Connecticut Press Club luncheon at about a year ago about food writing. The panel was very esteemed, all from serious food publications, and they talked to us about the business. One woman, who had been a food writer for longer than most of us have been alive, went over the proper "etiquette" for food writers, which included calling ahead and letting them know you were coming, calling the chef after with questions and really trying hard not to give a negative review because people's livelihoods depended on your words. I can understand that, and you have advertisers to answer to, as well. But, for me, I think it's silly to call up a restaurant and say "Hi! I'm the Headbanging Hostess and I'm coming to your restaurant tonight." And besides the silly factor, I want to be treated as a regular customer. The only way to give an honest (yet entertaining) review is to experience it the way your reader will - as just another customer. Believe me, I've considered getting a button that says "food blogger" as well. When my table goes unnoticed for 13 minutes I feel I should have warned them as I head home to my computer. After that unsocial experience I seriously considered at least tagging Zaza and letting them know we were coming. I honestly forgot to do it, and it may not have mattered.

Once again, it's 2012. I expect restaurants to be connected. Take Station Eats. They're pretty savvy guys, they know exactly how to use social media. They always follow up a post or a tag with a thank you and they're just so nice and down to earth that you want to spend your money there. That's the mark of a fantastic business.

So, what the hell am I going on about. I don't know, at this point I've lost track of my thought process.

Things I know -

- Zaza is not for large parties.
- People always like to think they're superior to other people.
- Station Eats = Good

Things I'm not sure about -

- Calling ahead to let restaurants know the Headbanging Hostess is coming?
- If I see someone walking towards me dressed as a clown can I assume they're a clown?
- Do people take me seriously?


Wednesday, March 14, 2012 Brie Cheesecake with a Girl Scout Cookie Crust

I took one for the team this year and bought one box each of the new Girl Scout Cookies. The Savannah Smiles are simply stupendous. Crisp and tart with a melt in your mouth powdered sugar finish. The cranberry ones, Thank U Berry Much, were okay. Maybe I should have waited a day after the lemon one before trying one of these. A good cookie but it lacks the pizazz you would expect from a cookie containing a tart cranberry treat. And it could have used more of them. The tiny bits barely made an impact.

But, I wanted to make something using the cookies. All hopes of a savory dish like last year's Samoas Shrimp were quickly dashed. Neither cookie seemed right for what I had in mind - a cranberry crumble topped Shepard's pie and a lemon crusted chicken or fish. Both were way too sweet, what was I thinking? So my mind went to cheesecake.

Brie Cheesecake

1/2 pound of triple creme brie, softened and rind removed

1/2 pound of cream cheese, softened

1/2 cup vanilla sugar (plain sugar is fine, add vanilla extract after the egg)

1 egg

Mix cheeses and sugar with an electric mixer until smooth. Add egg and mix until smooth.

Girl Scout Cookie Crust

8 Thank U Berry Much cookies

4 Savannah Smiles cookies

3 Tablespoons of melted butter

Put cookies in food processor and blend until they're crumbs. Add melted butter and mix. Put nine liners in a cupcake pan and fill each cup with two and a half teaspoons of cookie mixture. Press down into the bottoms of the cups with your fingers.

Using an ice cream scoop fill each cup with cheesecake mixture. I used two scoops per cupcake.

Bake in a hot water bath (I used a roasting pan) at 350 for approximately 25 minutes.

Chill before eating (which I didn't do - I ate it lukewarm and it was DDelicious \m/)

The cookies are actually the star here - the cranberry and lemon flavors dance around your tongue as you consume every creamy, sweet, earthy, smooth, somewhat savory bite of the brie cheesecake. Okay, maybe the cheesecake is the star. It has a real nice finish that doesn't leave an overly sweet "I'm going into a diabetic coma because this dessert was pure sugar" feeling in your mouth.

Try these - that's all I'm going to say. Thanks Girl Scouts! You Rock \m/


Tuesday, March 13, 2012 The Food Review That Never Was or Unsocial Darien

It was my plan to experience Darien Social tonight. I read their OmNomCT preview (OOPS, and earlier version of this post said review - it was a preveiw), I studied the menu while salivating on my keyboard. I knew I wanted shrimp and grits. But, alas, it was not meant to be.

Thirteen minutes we sat at our table with no service. I know this because we stopped at CVS to pick up a prescription on the way in - it was time stamped 4:50. By the time we left after being ignored for so long it was 5:05. So that's actually 15 minutes, but let's assume 2 minutes were spent walking the 50 feet between CVS and the restaurant and finding a hostess to seat us.

You read that right. We had to find the hostess to seat us. In fact, there's a sign when you go in the front door that directs you to walk to the back, wave to the chef on your way, and find a hostess. When we found her she didn't have menus so we stood there while she went into the main dining room to get them. Then she sat us near the window by the bar. Not sure why - we passed a bunch of empty tables and booths on the way. "These are my favorite tables" she said. So there we sat...for 13 minutes. We read the menu, my husband got up to look at the vodka selection and he was unnoticed by the staff. He sat back down, we waited, nobody brought us water, he expressed his displeasure, still no one acknowledged us, we waited a few more minutes and that was it. We were out of there.

On the way out my husband turned to the busboy and told him why we were leaving and he just said “oh.”


So we went to The Goose one block down. We told them what happened and they were very nice to us. They even brought us water. The restaurant was practically empty but we still got great service. Crazy, huh? The beet and goat cheese salad just plain rocked. Red and yellow beets with baby spinach leaves dressed in passion fruit dressing (passion fruit or pomegranate, but I think it’s passion fruit) with beautifully crisp fried goat cheese patties that really should come with everything in life. Dentist with beautifully crisp fried goat cheese patties? I’m there! DMV with goat cheese? Sign me up. I might even consider a stint in the Middle East if crisp fried goat cheese was in the mess hall. Love that salad, have I made the point?

Halfway through our meal the other couple in the restaurant started having a fight. They were raising their voices, him more then her, and totally oblivious to the fact that they were in public. At that point my husband and I just busted out laughing. For the first time in two weeks we get one hour out of the house to enjoy ourselves without the puppy and this is what happens. You just gotta laugh. Or you’ll go nuts.

So the Goose wins! And Swizzles because we hit it on the way home. Fruity pebbles on plain yogurt rock! Ha. That’s punny. \m/


UPDATE - A comment to the Darien Social Facebook page was deleted. And an email sent to them through their website has gone unanswered. So that's that.

Thursday, March 8, 2012 For Shame...

I like to rant about what we feed our children in school. And by our children I mean your children because I don't have any human kids. In fact, I also like to rant about what you feed your children at home because, frankly, home cooking seems to be a lost art and the people who suffer that loss are the kids. Yeah, yeah, I know you can't cook every meal from scratch. But you know you need to do better. But that's not what this post is about.

Have you heard about the 7 million pounds of "pink slime" the feds are buying to feed your kids? You can't make this shit up. Here we are with a First Lady who claims to care about what you and your kids eat and the government is buying inedible, ammonia treated garbage to feed your kids! Talk about a reason to home school!

Now, I think it's kinda funny. I read a lot of articles about food and school lunch programs. It seems when the point of an article is to improve the nutritional value of the school lunch the writer highlights the lack of vegetables, lack of color (everything is a deep fried beige) and the reliance on processed, canned and otherwise unappetizing food.

But when the purpose of the article is to expand the school lunch program to include breakfast, and even dinner, then the writer will stress the importance of good nutrition and claim the school is providing proper nutrition for children who otherwise wouldn't get fed at home.

Um. Which one is it?

Never mind the fact that people who can't feed their children really shouldn't have had them in the first place. That opens up a can of worms that'll keep everyone arguing 'till the cows come home. The cows being the fat children who are fed crappy food at school and never go play outside. Either school lunch is good or it's not. And I think, if the feds are considering buying 7 million pounds of pink slime to feed the kids, it's not good. It's not good at all.

I've said it before and I'll say it again. And I'll keep saying it until someone fucking listens. Make lunch part of the curriculum! There's no reason every school can't have a garden. There's no reason every school can't have a compost heap. Aquaculture! Combining hydroponics and agriculture to grow veggies using fish.

Aquaponic greenhouse yields food for business:

If that isn't the coolest thing around I don't know what is. Can you imagine the powerful effect of seeing science at work and putting it into your belly? You can teach history through food. The possibilities are endless. Without food we have nothing! It's time we acknowledged that and passed it onto our children. And by our children I mean your children.


Sign the petition to get the pink slime off the spork.

Wednesday, March 7, 2012 I'm Back and There's Less of Me \m/

At my last weigh in I was down 10 pounds since starting my diet. That was about a week ago. Since getting this adorable puppy 2 1/2 weeks ago I haven't had much "me time." Yes, even weighing myself in the morning can prove to be an issue. So can showering, going to the bathroom by myself and (of course) cooking.

I've made a few batches of my Kitchen Sink Cookies. They're a great way to sneak a little more fiber (and some chocolate) into my diet. Yesterday's batch had Pretzel M&M's! Nummy.

But, to continue on my high fiber diet that has me shedding the pounds with little effort, I'm eating Smart Taste pasta, whole grain toast with peanut butter, Kashi cereal, yogurt and one meal a day. That one meal always has veggies, sometimes brown rice or barley. Sometimes it's vegetarian and sometimes there's chicken, pork, beef or fish. Sometimes I'll eat cheese, but that's a real treat. My diet has drastically changed from 6 months ago. Three years ago I ate like this all the time. And when I'm ready I'll be getting those clothes out of storage and wearing them. 15 more pounds to reach my old "I'm an actress" weight of 105.

Wish me luck.

I have managed to treat myself a few times. The first week Apollo was here my neighbor puppy sat so we could get some time to ourselves. Off we went to Zaza Gastrobar in downtown Stamford which OmNomCT had raved about. Reading their review I just had to have that lobster polenta, and the rest of the menu looked equally good. I wish I could say I took pictures, but I had relaxation on the mind that night. The restaurant is just beautiful - my color scheme with black and red. The chandeliers alone are worth the trip. The place is pretty hip, something I try to stay away from usually. I can't stand when people go somewhere to be seen. And it's not just restaurants, it's outdoor Shakespeare, too. But that's just me and I'm strange. The music at Zaza was horrendous and too loud, another sign of the tragically hip, but no one is perfect and I expected the food would be the music for my ears. It was.

We started off with the smoked mozzerela plate - served with olives, roasted peppers, grilled eggplant and prochuitto it was the perfect way to start the meal. They have a nice selection of fresh mozz as well, I'll have to try another one one my next visit. The lobster polenta was more amazing than I expected. It's what the lobster mac-n-cheese at Gray Goose in Southport wants to be. (Talk about people wanting to be seen. I actually saw a guy in kakis and a blue blazer with the gold buttons. The atmosphere was annoying and the food was nothing to write about. So I'll stop,) Zaza actually delivers on taste. My other dish, roasted beets with fennel, was simple stupendous. I expected the lobster polenta to rock, but this dish with it's perfectly roasted beets smothered in gorgonzola, walnuts and balsamic was - To. Die. For. I can see myself stopping by on a hot summer day after walking downtown to get a plate of beets to cool my soul. Two Tits Up for Zaza Gastobar.

Speaking of hot summer days Station Eats has opened up their Stamford location. Along with the usual DDelicious Station Eats fare they have ALCOHOLIC MILKSHAKES! Somehow they knew that the only way I can drink alcohol is when it's mixed with ice cream. I'll be stopping in for a shake and stumbling back to the Cove on numerous occasions this summer. If you happen to be driving by please don't run me over.

And last but not least, last night I went to Rico's. Ahhh AHHH! Rico's is located in a section of Stamford that most people don't go to. I'll leave out any mention of bad neighborhoods (or will I?) and focus on the food. (Since they're opening a new restaurant in Newfield Green you won't have to worry about your safety.) The Selleck Street location was empty - but the numerous delivery vehicles in the parking lot told the story. These guys have made a killing doing what Colony doesn't do. Ha! Gotta love the American entrepreneurial spirit - especially when it comes with fan-fucking-tastic pizza. Service was horrendously slow - considering we were the only people in the place. The waiter was a nice young man who was extremely polite, a rarity in Stamford, but it took at least 45 minutes for our pizzas to come out. Worth the wait? Absolutely. These guys execute the trademark pie a thousand times better than the original. Thin crispy crust, the right amount of crisped up cheese on the rim, the sauce is seasoned perfectly. I'm eating a cold slice right now for breakfast and I couldn't be happier. Two Tits Up for Rico's.

And now, to wrap up this lengthy post, a video of my boy :)