Monday, August 31, 2009

Pimp My Road

With a respectable number of responses to my Mayor O'Bedford post, I can definitively say the following: we like eating and drinking things. I realize that this is profound and heady stuff, but I felt like you should know.

In particular, we like to eat bread (bagel/bakery shop got 5 votes), cheese (cheese shop got 3 votes), fresh produce (3 votes - although in fairness that was coupled with a request for flowers presumably not for consumption), food from Asian markets (2 votes), Brazilian steak (I had to look up "churrascaria" but it got a vote), Thai/Asian fusion (isn't Thai already Asian? That notwithstanding, it got a vote), and soup/salad (another vote).

We like drinking coffee - specifically good and/or independent coffee (3 votes). Some of us prefer our coffee with an open mic. We like to listen to jazz (3 votes), buy high end home goods (one vote - ps see my post on Juliska), vintage clothing and CDs (one vote), shoes (one vote), and independent books (one vote). We also like things Traded by Joe (2 votes). There was a pharmacy vote, but as one reader noted, roll down to Wolf Cleaners and you'll find a sparkly new one up and running next door.

So vendors, if you're out there...we love you, we want you, we need you. Bake us some bread, dress us in vintage and "independent" up our various needs.

Sunday, August 30, 2009

The Tawa I First Believed

Although “Tawa – Indian Cuisine” is not new to Stamford, it is new to 211 Summer Street and to me. My in-laws are in town, and it seemed like a perfect destination for a Sunday afternoon. Tawa opened its doors on August 17th after an extensive renovation, and the new d├ęcor is impressive. As you enter from the ground floor, there’s a charming bar to the right under jewel colored lanterns. Heading up the stairs, you find the picturesque dining area where the floor is inlaid with delicate scrolling metal work and an adjacent wall displays Indian art on dark wooden shelves. The dark wood repeats on the ceiling where white pin lights poke through like stars. There are pale gold toned curtains and panels sparkling by the doors and windows.

It’s treat for more than just the eyes. For the taste buds, all four of us enjoyed the buffet. Everyone had high praise for the Masal Dosa, an airy pancake filled with a lentil and potato mixture. It’s a bit disconcerting to eat green chicken, but that aside, I found the mixed kabobs quite tasty. Others at the table found that dish a little dry, but it suited me fine. My favorite plate real estate was occupied by the Raj Asthani (apologies for any mutilation of the spelling). It’s a lamb curry with a luscious gravy that melted into your pallet almost before it left the fork. Dum Aloo, a potato dish, was a little mushy (although others in my party disagree) but flavorful with a tomato base and an appropriate amount of spice. I also liked the Channa Saag, a creamy spinach and chick pea dish with warming subtle spices.

Your ears will appreciate the understated sitar music and your pocketbook will appreciate the price tag. Although, in the interest of full disclosure, they were kind enough extend a discount, full price for the buffet at $11 was very fair.

Saturday, August 29, 2009

Filling in the Blanks on Bedford

Imagine you are the Mayor of Bedford Street. There are a good four empty storefronts - maybe more. Your job is to fill them. Money is no object. What do you do? A bagel store, a new restaurant, a spa, a grocery store, a clothing store...you name it.

Tell me and I'll blog about the best ideas.

Write to me at stamfordnotes@gmail.com.

(photo from bionicteaching, flickr.com)

Friday, August 28, 2009

Cheap Thrills

Entertainment on the cheap is a scarce commodity, but with a little thought you can have a good time on a thin dime. Here's a few ideas to get you started:

- Play tennis at one of Stamford's seven free public tennis courts

- Stamford beaches and parks - you got your Scalzi Park/Cubeta Stadium, Cummings Park, Terry Conners Rink and Cove Island Park. Cummings and Cove require a beach sticker until September 7th, but that's closer than you think - and it's only $20 anyhoo

- Ferguson Library - not only can you check out a new read, you can take advantage of the affordable but fabulous used book shop and events including films and classes

- Join a Meetup group like Stamford Kayak Group, the Food, Wine & Jazz Meetup or the 20s/30s Book Club.

- Window shopping at Saks (warning, this may lead to very un-cheap entertainment)

- Test drive a Mini (same warning, only much worse)

- See all the Roam Around sculptures before they get packed up and shipped out

- Check out a taping of Springer (yup, it's free)

- Play on the playground - Twin Meadows and Mill River are good choices

- DQ - small dip cones are all kinds of cheap

Thursday, August 27, 2009

Wonder Woman, Super Man and Molly

You arrive at the Stamford station, having enjoyed a cocktail or two in the city, only to find that your cell phone is too low on batteries to call your husband for a ride.

What do you do? A bird? A plane? A generous stranger named Molly? If you are Stamford Notes, you tried one and two, but three worked out even better. Hats off to Molly who let a tipsy stranger use her phone to call home.

Gentle reader, I tell you, kindness is alive and well - it's buying tickets just above the train platform. Please tell her I said "thanks."

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Kona Persona

Lovely lovely evening catching up with friends on the patio at Kona Grill. My buddies took advantage of the happy hour prices and had quite a spread all set up. The potstickers were cold by the time I showed up (boo!), but thumbs up to the Ahi Wonton Crisps. The drinks could have used a splash more kick, but the outdoor atmosphere (plus some really amazing company) made the evening one to remember.

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Restaurant Week: To My Chagrin, Tigin Not In

Tigin is listed among the Restaurant Week participants, but if you click on their online menu, you'll see the message below. Too bad, I was interested in checking out the new menu and saving a nickel or two. Maybe next time...

All

In our efforts to provide a great Irish pub experience we have renovated our kitchen and are in the process of introducing a new menu, as anyone who has ever renovated a kitchen knows we have encountered some delays along the way. As a result we will be unable to participate in the summer restaurant week promotion. We look forward to seeing you soon and sharing our new menu with you.

Regards,
Conal McDonough
Owner, Tigin Irish pub & restaurant
203-353-8444

Restaurant Week Menus

A few Stamford restaurants participating in Restaurant Week (which ends this Sunday) are featuring special menus. Here are some of my favorites from the dinner selections:

From Telluride: Prosciutto Wrapped Amish Chicken Breast applewood smokde mozzarella stuffed, basil-potato cannelloni, roasted shallot-cranberry sauce

From Market: Grilled Salmon. Marinated Japanese Eggplant, Roasted Red Peppers, Basil Oil, Shoestring Potatoes

From Emme of Capri: Gnocchi Capresi. Fresh, hand made potatoes dumplings, tossed with our famous fresh tomato sauce, topped with diced fresh mozzarella cheese

From Ferrante: Tagliardi con carciofi e Spinachi. Baby artichokes, spinach, white truffle oil, fontina cheese

From Columbus Park: Homemade green & white linguine tossed with wild mushrooms in a brandy cream sauce

Buzzing on Bedford

A new pharmacy has sprung from the empty storefront row, and I don't care what they sell - I am buying some of it. It's next to Wolf cleaners (which is next to the Avon). Show the new neighbors some love and help keep those stores occupado. Just down the block, McDonalds is undergoing some sort of renovation just like the library across the street. Around the bend, the old baby store is looking more like an actual factual new building now that the blue construction veil has been lifted. Looking forward to all these new additions!

Sunday, August 23, 2009

You Say Tomato, I Say "La Tomatina"


Restaurant Week is in full swing, but don't forget about La Tomatina - Barcelona's tomato extravaganza on August 26th (this Wednesday).

Learn more at my way-too-early post here.

(photo from bucklava, flickr.com)

Boy Trucks

My astute better half noticed an extra appendage hanging from the back of a truck en route to the Jersey Shore. I thought it was worth sharing - check it out at www.bullsballs.com. It boggles the mind that there is a factory somewhere churning these out for the paying public. Not only that, but searching around online, you will find at least 3 competitors trying to corner the market in truck jewels. Amazing...

Friday, August 21, 2009

Imagine a World...

...a world full of cartridges: www.cartridgeworldusa.com.

It's new, it's environmentally friendly and you - my friend - can check it out on Bedford.

Thursday, August 20, 2009

Musings on the Stamford Mall

Macy's was not able to sell me fragrance because the "girl with the key" was on a break.

Brookstone is selling frogs.

I would make fun of the Verizon guy quoting Futurama but I knew all the quotes too.

I have never seen anyone buy anything from a kiosk.

Naked mannequins are funny.

Mannequins wearing street hooker clothes are funnier.

If you don't want to wait to buy an iPod at the Apple store, amazingly you can buy one out of a vending machine hiding in a corner of Macy's men's department.

Pirate shirts are "in."

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Farewell to Summer

Congrats to the Locals!
You’ve made it through the season.
Did you let your hair down
Or act within reason?

It isn’t too late
To squeeze in some fresh air.
But with Jerry in town
Watch out for flying chairs.

Alive@5 came
Some rocked and some mocked.
Rell considered what to do
Since the budget got socked.

Highgrove’s not done
But Trump’s nearly finished,
Still my property values
Are greatly diminished.

We roamed with the animals
And beat with the street.
Despite the economy,
Saw new places to eat.

Stamford Talk profiled
Marriott’s legal defense.
Did the best pizza win?
We’ll debate it long since.

Streets of Stamford kept us up
On the news that’s fit to eat.
Although it truly sucks
Summer’s just about complete.

Sunday, August 16, 2009

Don't Mess With Taxes

...Except for this week, when from August 16th to the 22nd, you can buy clothes and shoes valued at up to $300 tax free in CT.

It's great and all but it rules out my big weekend plans to buy $10,000 jeans and $1000 flaming leopard 4.75 inch heels.

(links from forbes.com and zappos.com respectively; photo from zzzack, flickr.com)

Dorking it up on Bedford

Scene: Walking past the animal sculptures on Bedford.

My friend: Is that a black panther?

Me: No, it's a rusty panther.

My friend: What's a rusty panther?

Me: It's a cougar past her prime.

Saturday, August 15, 2009

Restaurant Week: Making the dinner bill a thinner bill


I, for one, am excited about Restaurant Week. Affordable meals and - if the flyer is to be believed - waiters with tiny mustaches.

It runs from August 17th to 30th with participation by:




Black Bear
BUtterfield 8
Capital Grille
Chez Jean-Pierre Bistro
Columbus Park Trattoria
Emme of Capri
Ferrante
Kujaku
Market
Mitchell's Fish Market
Mona Lisa
Remo's Pizza
Republic Grill Asian Bistro
SBC
Telluride

(photo from nicubunu, flickr.com)

Friday, August 14, 2009

Siena no evil, hear no evil

We had a little sumpin sumpin to celebrate today, so we headed to Siena because (a) I'd never been there, (b) I'd heard good things and (c) why the hell not? I wanted to be transported to Italy on a Slip 'n Slide of olive oil, but to be honest it was more like a juice box of Chianti.

Don't get me wrong - I liked it - but like so many things that are hyped beyond their capacity, it failed to live up to expectations. I got the spinach cavatelli with a cream tomato sauce, and it was fresh and lush, but not particularly interesting. If I have to add salt, I can't be all that impressed.

Although the wine list was comprehensive, when we asked for glasses instead of a bottle, the waiter said "red or white" and "Chardonnay, Pinot Grigio, or Sauvignon Blanc...." Somehow when we answered Chardonnay, I expected we'd have some options. Not so - I guess there's one Chardonnay by the glass. What it might be, I couldn't tell you, but it's incredibly sweet. I liked the bread and the marinated white beans, but the waiter seemed like he had better things to do.

Next time, so will we.

Thursday, August 13, 2009

500 Days of Summer at The Avon

I’ve conducted studies, I’ve weighed the evidence and I’m confident in my assessment that Joseph Gordon-Levitt is adorable. He went from angelic troublemaker in “3rd Rock from the Sun,” to brooding hustler in Mysterious Skin, to brain injured athlete in The Lookout...which of course leads naturally into quirky love interest in a romantic comedy.

The movie opens by telling you, essentially, that it’s not a love story, but it can’t help itself. I felt like the director wanted me to fall more in love with Zooey Deschanel than I could muster, but I thoroughly enjoyed the arty flourishes marking the contours of their courtship. The world would continue to revolve on its axis if we’d waited until the video release, but it’s a sweet story that was worth my time. Not clear how much longer it will be at The Avon (the online schedule’s looking a little barren), but if you need a bubbly smart summer flick, it’s a solid choice.

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Jerry! Jerry! Jerry!

I've never been a fan, I'm still in denial, but every news source that gives a milli-crap about Stamford is eager to tell you that Jerry Springer has set up shop. For instance, The Stamford Times, The Connecticut Post, and The Hartford Courant have all come down with Spring(er) Fever. The Cityfile article on the topic felt a little sad and a little true: "Congrats, Stamford. We have no doubt a flood of classy tourists with high disposable incomes will follow shortly."

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Bring a pocket full of singles and a rump to shake


Obviously, I'm talking about the second and LAST Stamford Downtown Street Beat TOMORROW at 6:30pm. Featured acts run the gamut, from African drummers to 30s and 40s big band singers. The seven bands scheduled to appear will be strumming and drumming all around town: at Columbus Park; near the Bowtie Theater on Summer; in front of Park Square West; and on Bedford above Broad.



(photo from David Paul Ohmer, flickr.com)

Monday, August 10, 2009

Stuck on the train

Out too late cause I'm a sot.
Hobknobbing with people both charmers and snots.
Full of cocktails the price of a yacht.
Stuck on the train beside a squirmy tot.
Trying to make a little jot.
All I can think is it's too damned hot.

Sunday, August 9, 2009

The Police Are Calling and It’s for You

On September 1, 2009, Connecticut is rolling out a Reverse 911 system. The state’s website is keeping quiet for now, but the Connecticut Post reports that residents can receive notices about emergencies on their home phones, cell phones, email accounts or fax machines (do people still use those?).

The article suggests that the program will cost $1.4 million in its first year and $650,000 each year thereafter. This program sounds swell and all, but having just posted about the state’s seeking a billion dollar loan and just read that we’re shedding another 1,200 public teaching positions, I have to wonder if this is really a necessity. Were TV, radio and the internet failing to spread the word? Are there people savvy enough to register an email address who are not savvy enough to turn on the local news? I suggest we put this back in the “what a lovely idea when there’s money to spend” file and open it up again when the Dow reaches 1200.

(phone man photo from KB35, flickr.com)

Saturday, August 8, 2009

Now that's something you don't see everyday...

The Advocate's Frank MacEachern probably enjoyed writing the following headline: Greenwich man breaks into home, cuts pubic hair. Unsurprisingly, I was not able to continue living and breathing until I read that the 18-year old crotch barber "broke into a Locust Street home Wednesday while the owner was away, cut his pubic hair and left the trimmings, police said. Remorseful about his actions, the man later confessed to the woman, who then called police."

Apart from the fact that the word "trimmings" made me throw up a little, this article inspired so many questions. Was the lighting better? Was it a furry little love note? Did he walk around his neighbor's house and think to himself, "I know just how to make this house a home..."?

(photo from fast eddie 42, flickr.com)

Friday, August 7, 2009

Urban Transitway

Ok, so the ribbon cutting was in July, but it's not ridiculously untimely to point out that the first leg of the Urban Transitway is up and running. I noted it mostly because the irritating collection of construction cones leaving the Stamford Metro North station was replaced by a spiffy looking intersection - but were I coming from Elm Street, this new stretch of road allegedly would make my commute to the train all the easier. The first section extends one mile, but work is underway to expand the passage further and reduce congestion.

For more information, you can fork over $3 and read Harold Davis' July 3rd article in The Advocate archives or check out the city's project information posting and map. My husband and I have long agreed with BlogStamford about the need for more city bike access, and we were pleased to see that the new roadway includes a bike lane. Too bad we'd get squished getting to it from Broad, but it's a step in the right direction.

PS - Yeah, I know I should have said something meaningful about the final Alive@Five, but I got nothin...other than props to Stamford Talk, BlogStamford and SOS for a blog well done.

Thursday, August 6, 2009

Stamford Center for the Arts Blackening Up Its Books

According to Stamford Plus, the Stamford Center for the Arts has filed legal papers to get out of bankruptcy in the next few months. If all goes as planned, their bankruptcy won’t live much beyond its first birthday. Very pleased for the SCA, but looking ahead to their fall schedule, I find it hard to get excited.

Upcoming shows include Jackie Mason, Tony Bennett and “Menopause The Musical.” Target audience for these acts combined has to about 72 years old. I swear to God I’ve seen some 20 and 30 somethings milling around this town. What’s on tap for us, pray tell? Perhaps they can combine two upcoming events – the symphony and “Fall Fisticuffs III,” the youth boxing event. I could be persuaded to spend a nickel or two to see if the last man standing was wearing trunks or a tux. If they don’t take my suggestion, here’s hoping they figure out another way to spice up the lineup.

Wednesday, August 5, 2009

Street Beat, On your Feet!

I was a little tardy for the Street Beat this time around, but what I saw was fabulous. The atmosphere of the street performance added another layer of character and texture to downtown Stamford. It's just what we need. I saw a group gathered around African drummers at Columbus Park and a guitarist singing her face off on Summer. I was hoping to catch the act in front of Napa, but we must have missed it. There's a repeat performance next Wednesday, and I recommend a little downtown exploration.

We did, however, enjoy a first-class late dinner at Napa this evening. All smiles from me on the cod, and I heard not one complaint from my cuter half about the duck. It was LOUD, but I was grateful for the 1/2 off wine deal with the iShop card (especially since every other time I've tried to use it, I got the thumbs down). A little street music, some lovely food and far too much wine - not a bad night altogether...

Tuesday, August 4, 2009

Connecticut is Moving in with its Mom

Bloomberg.com reports that Connecticut is on the verge of borrowing one billion dollars to cover its 942 million dollar budget shortfall. State law requires a balanced budget and, as you can see, we ain't got one. Apparently, the state maintains a 1.4 billion dollar rainy day fund, but Governor Rell has other plans for it - namely - to compensate for our future anticipated financial delinquency.

I have less than no expertise in this area, but I am not a fan of the idea that we'll be a billion dollars in debt and presumably paying interest on such a preposterously high loan. Today seems like a pretty rainy day - could we at least pay down a portion of the debt? I'd like to know what kind of interest rate we are getting and how the governor plans to pay for it.

Moreover, as an alternative, I would like to propose a tax on one or more of the following: excessive eyeliner; costumes for dogs; the wearing of pants so baggy that they cling desperately to the underside of the butt; fake British accents; the sale of crappy wine; anyone who went to Harvard and when asked where they went to school says "in Boston"; and sale of whatever detergent left blue marks on my shirt.

Sunday, August 2, 2009

You Got Nails Revisited

My neighbors and I caravanned to You Got Nails (108 Bedford St) yesterday for a heavy dose of girliness, and I am happy to report that the reason I stopped going – the massage guy who would not take no for an answer – was nowhere to be found.

Not only that, but they’ve lowered their prices considerably. When I went there last year, a pedicure alone cost $40. A manicure/pedicure yesterday together came to $25! The space is lovely and clean. The staff is polite and competent. I’ve changed my mind – I officially got nails.

(photo from Dplanet::, flickr.com)