What’s on the Menu? for the last five years has meant one thing…Keeping it Local. And the annual Taste of Stamford event does just that! Held at the Stamford Marriott and created by the Stamford Chamber of Commerce, this annual glut-a-thon showcases some of the city’s local eateries, caterers and beverage distributors.
This has become quite a hot ticket and happy to say that this past one was the 23rd time this event has taken place. It’s a wonderful opportunity to try so many different restaurants at one time and believe me, no matter what your tastes are or if you are like me and have food issues, you won’t leave here hungry.
When I first walked in, I was excited to see that we were given menus of what the individual food booths would be serving. I’ve been to quite a few of these types of gatherings and many times the lines at the tables are because you don’t know what kind of food you’ll be served. So bonus points in my book for this little touch!
There was great music playing thanks to the DJ from James Daniel Entertainment and it was time to grab an empty glass off of one of the tables and visit what I dubbed, the ‘beverage area’. Beer, wine and more were available to us and I was able to try a few different drinks before the evening was over. (Special shout-out to Al from Sam Adams who let me go back a few times for their Cold Snap ale.)
Glasses upon glasses waiting for us.
Despite the WOTM name, I’m not a food critic. However, I do know what I like and here’s what I had: Pulled pork from Brother Jimmy’s BBQ—piled high on the plate to which I added a little of their chipotle BBQ sauce to try—juicy, full of flavor, easily could have kept eating this.
I had a braised short rib taco from Cantina Tequilla Bar & Southwest Grill. The perfect size, it was packed with meat and personally felt it didn’t need the usual squeeze of lime or salsa, didn’t want to take away from the taste of it. On to Capital Grille to get a sample of the dish I get every time I go there—the Kona—a coffee encrusted, perfectly cooked piece of steak that you barely have to chew because it’s so tender and juicy.
Something new that I got to try and have been raving to anyone who will listen since was from Olio Restaurant on Hope St. It was the Gochujiang Pork Belly over Brussel Sprout Kimchi. I’m not a Kimchi person, never have been. But I can’t turn down Brussel sprouts—and who can pass by pork belly?! This small dish of food honestly made me stop where I was. There was so much going on between the pork and the Kimchi and it all worked so, so well.
Gochujiang Pork Belly over Brussel Sprout Kimchi from Olio.
I wish I was able to try more of the bigger dishes that were served as it all looked wonderful. As I have food allergies I have to be careful, so I brought a friend with me who got to try them and needless to say, they were hits! There were incredible presentations of sushi from Kona Grill, a mountain of fresh oysters waiting to become handcrafted oyster shooters from Sign of the Whale, big wheels of cheese with beautifully created dishes from Columbus Park Trattoria and the Stamford Marriott itself. There were many more places represented and I will provide the list below—I don’t want to forget anyone!
Restaurants were not the only Stamford representatives at this gathering promoting their menus. This was a great place to introduce new ideas from old favorites as well as a couple of new comers!
DiMare Pastry was on hand with a table full of cannoli creations that even just looking at them I put on 20lbs! I saw cannoli cupcakes, shooters, puff pastry and more. They of course had traditional cannoli and their super-famous cannoli donuts and nachos in both regular and chocolate varieties. So what’s so new about this? How about the introduction of DiMare’s latest venture: http://everythingcannoli.com Yes, everythingcannoli.com. You’re welcome.
Giant cannoli shell filled with cannoli from DiMare Pastry!
Another surprise for me was meeting the folks behind Brown Dog Fancy mustards. Made here in Stamford, I could’ve pulled up a chair, grabbed a beer and hung out with these guys all night. And not just because the mustards were SO amazingly good! They’re a fun duo loving what they do and know that if you offer folks both pretzel bread and mini-hot dogs for dipping, they will have you at ‘hello’. The selection varied from spicy to mild, honey mustards and a couple made with horseradish. Seriously good stuff and can be found at http://browndogfancy.com
Three local caterers were also on hand to show their stuff: David’s Soundview Catering, OntheMarc Events and Grade A ShopRite. Lovely presentations by all and I do have to say, even though I shop there all the time, I had no idea that ShopRite did catering! This is one of the beauties of these events, I learn something new every time! With wedding and graduation season coming up, or just for your next party, please keep all of these folks in mind.
Beautiful Spring-like display from OnTheMarc Events.
I was honored to be asked to go and represent WOTM this year. It gave me the chance to meet many of the folks that I’ve dealt with over the years but as many know, social media is funny stuff. You can culminate many relationships with folks without any face to face interaction! Well, there is a lot of that with this business. Thankfully, there are events such as this where names and emails become faces and friendships. Special thank you to Linda from MaxEx PR for this opportunity to go and allow me to get the word out even more about What’s on the Menu?. Truly a great night and great way to Keep it Local!!
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Full list of exhibitors of the 2016 Taste of Stamford Event:
Acqua Panna, Amore Cucina & Bar, BevMax, Brother Jimmy’s BBQ, Brown Dog Fancy, California Pizza Kitchen, Cantina Southwest Grill & Tequila Bar, The Capital Grille, Columbus Park Trattoria, David’s Soundview Catering, Dichello Distributors, DiMare Pastry Shop, Franklin Street Works, Grade A ShopRite, Hilton Stamford Hotel, Judy’s Bar & Kitchen, Kona Grill, Myrna’s Kitchen, Olio Restaurant, Saffron Road Food, Sign of the Whale, S.Pellegrino, Sparkling Italian Sodas, Stamford Marriott Hotel & Spa, Tawa, The Inn at Longshore, The Waters Edge at Giovanni’s and W. B. Mason. Special mentions to: STAR 99.9 FM and 95.9 THE FOX!
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