Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Taco TV - On the Scene Reporting

Although the headline is entirely accurate, let me clarify that the "on the scene" reporter is not moi, but critic at large and all around lovely person, TK. She offers this artful assessment of El Charrito's moment in the TLC spotlight:

Despite the blustery weather, a steady stream of regulars showed up to
El Charrito today (the taco truck on Richmond Hill Ave). A film crew
was there, interviewing customers for a show on the top 10 best street
food vendors that is rumored to be airing on TLC. A Stamford Advocate
reporter was also on the scene interviewing customers. The
proprietors, Alex and Carlos, were in good spirits, passing out cups
of Mexican hot chocolate to keep everyone warm and happy.

The daily specials were Cochinita Pibil (pork tacos) and Enchilidas
Verdes. The tacos included tender pulled pork that was slightly sweet
and tangy, with carmelized red onions, fresh parsley, and a wedge of
lime. And the tortillas were soft, fresh, and delicious as always.
The Enchilidas Verdes included a moist chipotle marinated chicken
wrapped in tortillas and topped with lettuce and Mexican crema.

The whole event whet my appetite for more El Charrito. Unfortunately
they are closing for the winter soon, but they said they'll be open
March 1, 2010, come rain, sleet, or snow.

Monday, December 28, 2009

Taco TV

Although Stamford Talk has this topic covered, hoping she won't mind a little double duty: El Charrito (affectionately known by some as the Taco Truck) is hitting the airwaves. The TLC channel will profile them for a shoot tomorrow! Come out and support the local chef-lebrities!

My very good friend, TK, is a huge fan - and I can see why. Fresh ingredients and top shelf seasoning wrapped in a big happy yellow truck. Besides, it's conveniently located in front of Beamer's! (Ok, that's not my favorite feature...but anyway...). Check them out and bring a hungry friend.

Sunday, December 27, 2009

Sweet on Whiskey Sours

Long standing tradition in my family dictates that when my dad and my husband are out to dinner, they order whiskey sours and begin judging. The idea is to seek out the best whiskey sour the area (any area) has to offer. There are detailed considerations involving the manliness of the glass, the use of fruit garnish, the amount of and quality of whiskey and the taste of the sour mix (with odds weighted in favor of not-too-sweet).

We've done the restaurant rounds in Stamford (and then some) and a winner has emerged. Congratulations to the whiskey sour champion: Telluride Restaurant. Manly glass, strong and high end whiskey, appropriate fruit distribution and all around top notch showing. Cheers Telluride!

Saturday, December 26, 2009

The artist formerly known as Republic Grill

Or was it so fancy that it spelled grill with an "e?" Anyhoo, driving by yesterday, I couldn't help but notice that it's renamed itself Tengda. This keeps it in line with its sister locations. We've been fans of Republic Grill since day one. Lovely presentation, prices that won't dislodge your jaw and a colorful cocktail menu. Hope the name change doesn't dislodge the selling features that keep us coming back.

Thursday, December 24, 2009

On the Last Day Before Christmas, SN Gave to Me...

Best wishes for a fantastic Christmas!

(photo from Axel Bührmann, flickr.com)

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

On the Second Day Before Christmas, SN Gave to Me...

Real live reindeer! Neat. McArdle’s Florist & Garden Center in Greenwich (48 Arch Street) welcomes Dasher, Dancer and the whole crowd from now until December 24th. Feeding times are 9-4pm daily.

Enjoy free hot mulled cider and have a picture taken with Santa (hours during the week are 12-5:30pm). Photo ops with his reindeer buddies also available and include coupons with local merchants.

(photo from Lincolnian (Brian), flickr.com)

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

On the Third Day Before Christmas, SN Gave to Me...

Christmas events in Mystic, including the Holiday Sea of Trees and the Holiday Lantern Light Tours.

From now until January 4th, 9-5pm, The Mystic Aquarium will deck its tanks with 20 Christmas trees. What says Christmas more than Beluga whales?

The Lantern Light Tours are hour long performances recounting 19th century history of the area. The storyteller walks you through town as if it were Christmas Eve, 1876. Remaining dates are December 26th and 27th

More information on holiday events at Mystic available here.

(photo from David Paul Ohmer, flickr.com)

Monday, December 21, 2009

On the Fourth Day Before Christmas, SN Gave To Me...

Holiday goodies featured at the Rowayton Arts Center. Not acres of time left to check it out, but if you have some blanks on your your schedule and on your Christmas list, take the seven mile trip up the road. Remaining days are Tuesday the 22nd and Wednesday the 23rd, open from 12-5pm. The center is located at 143 Rowayton Avenue in Rowayton. You can call for info at (203) 866-2744.

(photo from ginnerobot, flickr.com)

Sunday, December 20, 2009

On the Fifth Day Before Christmas, SN Gave to Me...

Seasonal Events at Stepping Stones Museum. Keep your children from peeking in the gift closet by taking them to Norwalk's most kid-friendly venue. Featured in December are events highlighting the holidays as well as the home of the icicle, Russia.

Christmas characters Santa, Frosty and the Gingerbread Man will all be on-site for photo ops from Monday the 21st to Wednesday the 23rd. One of the winter superstars will be spreading cheer for twenty minutes each hour for a few hours every day. Click here for a full schedule.

Russia is the destination for the month as part of the museum's Around the World program. Events stretch through the week following Christmas, taking place at 11:30 and 2pm. On Saturday the 26th, there is an opportunity to paint artwork inspired by one of Russia's most famous artists, Marc Chagall. On Sunday the 27th, take advantage of a little language lesson where children will learn Russian words and how to write their own names. On Monday and Tuesday the 28th and 29th, learn about and decorate a Faberge-style Russian egg ($3 fee; limited spots). On Wednesday the 30th, listen to Russian Folk Tales (only 2pm, other readings that day as well).

Additional information on the museum's calendar here.

(photo from Lady Locket, flickr.com)

Saturday, December 19, 2009

There's No People Like Snow People

Went to Butterfield 8 tonight for a little holiday party. Walking down the street with the snow coming down and the trees covered in white lights - pretty freakin picturesque. Check out the snow, citizens, before it goes from a pristine white blanket to a dirty brown mess. Be careful on the roads, but don't let the lovely part of winter pass you by.

Other good signs of the season:
- At least 3 downtown Stamford Santas (+ at least one sexy elf friend) spreading cheer
- Crazy nice guys unwrapping Christmas trees and trimming branches at Stew Leonard's - Adorable 80 year old man buying diamond gift for his wife at Grunberger Jewelers
- A Christmas angel sharing her extra Bed Bath & Beyond coupons with those of us who failed to plan ahead
- Everyone behaving themselves despite ridiculous line at Liz Sue Bagels

Do you have winter pics or holiday goodness you'd like to share? Send it my way. If I like it, I'll post it.

(photo from MGShelton, flickr.com)

Thursday, December 17, 2009

Won't You Lighthouse My Sleigh Tonight?

Want a little nautical flare in your joyeux noel? Take a look at Norwalk's Maritime Aquarium's Festival of Lighthouses Display. Up and running until January 18th, the event features 24 handmade lighthouses from three to six feet tall.

Some are true to life, some are more artful, but all are there for a little extra holiday sparkle. Cast a vote for your favorite. The winner receives $1,000 at a ceremony to celebrate the victory, and cash prizes are available for other top picks as well. Cost of the exhibit is covered by the general admission price tag.

(photo from howardignatius, flickr.com)

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Heart Art? Pucker Up!

Good: There is a new gallery opening up on Bedford Street featuring the art of Fernando Luis Alvarez.

Bad: I'm not available for the opening reception on December 17th.

However: Gallery Manager, Ivey Dennen, was kind enough to give me the lowdown.

Ms. Dennen describes Mr. Alvarez's art as influenced by heavy hitters from pop art era like Keith Haring, Andy Warhol, Basquiat and Julian Schanbel in addition to other modern artists.

When I asked why people should take a look inside the new gallery, the answer was intriguing. Ms Dennen responded "Once inside, you will be brought into a world that is driven by the power of female lips and if opened to it, will likely walkout no longer underestimating this powerful part of a women."

The new gallery seems keenly aware of and appreciative of the city's emphasis on art, with a plan to help make Stamford a "valid platform for the arts" and "a great hub for the local gallery market." Ms. Dennon noted that "[t]he city has done well and needs to continue that work which is why we are opening in Stamford."

I, for one, can't wait to see what's our new neighbor has in store.

(photo from snowkei, flickr.com)

Monday, December 14, 2009

A Walk Down Memory Hole

Angela Carella has a great article on your friend and mine, The Hole.

It's a history lesson that starts in the 1960s and takes us up to last Wednesday when the local powers that be met with the senior manager for the property owners, Milstein Brothers Capital Partners. On the table were the challenges of the market and the "old thorn in the side of developers seeking to build downtown -- parking."

The article suggests that zoning changes modifying the parking requirements could push development in the right direction. Perhaps that's true - I have no idea - but the twin suggestion that Stamford is all set for parking doesn't ring true. Still, if that's the wisdom we need to accept to fill the hole, so be it.

There are quite a lot of other interesting tidbits in the article. For example, one early alternative reality included a downtown Wal-Mart. Ick. Also, the Milstein Brothers cannot be forced to build because their contract does not require it. Notwithstanding the contract language, the Urban Redevelopment Commission has recognized litigation alternatives as a worst case scenario. Unhelpfully, there's no description of what those alternatives might be.

It does say that there is another meeting with the Milstein Brothers on the agenda after Christmas. Here's hoping that somebody sends them a vat of nog and gets them feeling festive.

(photo from willc2, flickr.com)

Sunday, December 13, 2009

Because there's just not enough press on Tiger Woods...

Tiger! Tiger! burning to a toast,
In the forests of the NY Post,
Amazing that a story so bizarre
Began from the smashing of your car.

In what universe did you think your wife would abide
Your getting so much play on the side?
Didn't you know that tongues would wag
If you couldn't keep your nine iron in the bag?

And what lack of class you must require.
Will you be on Jerry for the children you did sire?
Who would have guessed your slide into the tree
Would reveal such tremendous adultery.

(adapted from original "The Tyger" (from Songs Of Experience) by William Blake)
(photo from Michele Eve, flickr.com)

Saturday, December 12, 2009

Goodwill Buzzkill

My husband and I are doing some very late spring cleaning, and decided it was time to retire an Ikea dresser we'd bought a few years back. It's your basic six drawer dresser, solid wood on the front, particle board on the back. The drawers work and it's sturdy. We had painted it yellow. We took out the drawers to make it lighter coming down the stairs and loaded it in the truck.

Maybe it's because the drawers were taken out, but when we got to Stamford Goodwill they said were unimpressed. The guy unloading donations said "Uhh...it's yellow." Yeah, and? "I don't know," the guy said, "it looks kinda dusty. You could use it for firewood."

I could live with this comment if we had not, ourselves, been using this exact piece of furniture in our home up until that afternoon.

Perhaps the correct response would have been to use it for firewood and let the toxic burning paint fumes punish us for our unacceptable donation, but we didn't. The problem was, it was perfectly fine. So, instead, we dusted it off, put the drawers back in and aimed for Norwalk. The Goodwill a few miles up the road welcomed it with open arms.

So, in this time of cutting back and making due, don't forget - some people will still tell you where to shove it.

(photo from where are the joneses, flickr.com)

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

How Now Cow Brow

How'd you like your life to be saved by your birthmark? That's exactly what happened to this CT calf named Moses. Read about it on the LA Times site here.

(photo from juanRubiano, flickr.com)

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Stamford Museum & Holiday Center

If you are looking for free entertainment, head to the Stamford Museum & Nature Center on Fridays. On both December 11th and the 18th, admission is zero dollars and zero cents.

The Center has also revamped Heckscher Farm and offers extended hours to 7pm. Take a walk on their luminary path and sip some hot chocolate that will cost you nada. There are also crafts for kids and cookies for all!

For more information on the Center's excellent and festive events, click below:

Planetarium Show: The Star of Bethlehem

Dolls, Toys & Teddy Bears: Playthings of Yesteryear

Visions of Gingerbread: The Sweetest Architects (scroll down)

Christmas Tree Sale

For those of you who need it, CT Transit will run buses to this event as well.

(photo from Pink Sherbet Photography, flickr.com)

Monday, December 7, 2009

CT Topping the Charts for All the Wrong Reasons

Was sad - and a little bit unsurprised - to read MSNBC/Forbes' story about the wealth disparity in Fairfield County. According to the author (who cites the US Census Bureau) "the Bridgeport-Stamford-Norwalk metro area has the most income inequality of any area in the United States."


The article goes on to note that the lowest 20% of wage earners in our area take home an annual salary of $17,000, whereas the highest 5% of wage earners take home a whopping $823,000 per year - or just under 50 times as much. Of course, this doesn't account for the rising unemployment rate in the state. The Hartford Courant reports that CT's unemployment rate has steadily risen from October 2008 to October 2009, with an October 2009 rate of 8.8%.

It's not a sustainable solution, but when you think about giving during the holidays, don't forget that there are needy people in your midst. And if you could please do something positive and get MSNBC back for a do-over, that would be awesome too.

(photo from Daveybot, flickr.com)

Sunday, December 6, 2009

Heights and Lights – Ode to Bob the Vendor

You know Santa’s elf and the Grinch
And holiday cheer,
Singing children plus
Rappelling Santa and his Reindeer.

But do you recall...
The most ubiquitous Christmasy thing of all?

Bob the event vendor
Had shiny things in a row,
And if you ever bought one
Your children would press a button and watch it glow.

All of the other children
Insisted that their parents buy one,
Or two or three or six or twelve
Or any number other than none.

So this chilly December 6th
Bob set up his cart,
Your kid wanted a disco sword so bright
And it went home with you tonight.

Now all the children have them
And the streets were lit up with colors,
Kids of Stamford and their parents
You’re out a few extra dollars.

(photo from rachie lea, flickr.com)
(A la "Rudolph the red-nosed reindeer," Johnny Marks, 1947)

Saturday, December 5, 2009

Merry Library

StamfordPlus reports that the Ferguson Library bookstore will reopen on December 11th. As a next-door-Starbucks regular, I have noticed they are making great strides in the space, adding new bookshelves and eliminating salmon-colored walls. The full renovation is likely to be completed by spring. For a slideshow showing pictures of the $14 million renovation, click through from my earlier post here.

For those of you who don't know, the bookstore is particularly fabulous because of their ridiculously low prices on used-but-perfectly-fine books. The article suggests, and my memory confirms, that prices generally range between one and five dollars. The store's rebirth features spiffed up furniture and greater options for children.

Thursday, December 3, 2009

I Wanna Wish You a Stamford Christmas

The Stamford Downtown Special Services District is Felizing up your Navidad by bringing the father of most of the Spanish I know to your backyard! José Feliciano will be featured at this year's Heights & Lights. Click here for a refresher course on the event.

Heights & Lights now features multiculturalism, extreme sports, hot chocolate, singing children and explosions - making it officially the most American thing ever.

(photo from zaxl4, flickr.com)

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

Ho ho photo

'Tis the season and Santa has plopped himself onto his seasonal throne in the Stamford Mall. When I was young enough to take up residence on Santa's lap at Christmas, I got a grainy little Polaroid for my trouble. Nobody ever told me I'd poke my eye out, but it was a pretty unsophisticated (if charming) affair. Not so now.

According to the mall website, you can take your pic with Santa home as a flash drive, a 12-month photo calendar, personalized cards, a photo ornament and even something called a Russ Berrie Shining Stars Plush. Oh and there's also (yawn) photographs - if you're into that sort of thing.

(photo from f650biker, flickr.com)

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Fun with H1N1

Reverend Barbara Sexton (who adorably refers to herself alternatively as Reverend Barb and "The Biblical Biochemist") was kind enough to point out that there is an upcoming H1N1 vaccine walk-in clinic in downtown Stamford.

The clinic will be on December 7, 2009 from 1-4pm at the Stamford campus of the University of Connecticut (corner of Washington Boulevard and Broad Street). There are some important limitations on who is eligible for the vaccine. The following is cut and paste from the City of Stamford website - which you should check out for additional information on the walk-in clinic:

The H1N1 intranasal spray vaccine will be available to:
• Healthy children ages 24 months (2 years) through 24 years
• Healthy household contacts and caregivers of infants less than 6 months of age

The H1N1 injectable vaccine will be available to:
• Pregnant Women
• Children and adults from 3 years to 64 years of age with underlying medical conditions (examples: asthma, other lung disease, heart disease, diabetes, etc)
• Persons who live with or provide care for infants less than 6 months of age who are not eligible for the H1N1 intranasal spray vaccine

(photo from Môsieur J. [version 3.0a], flickr.com)