Power Up

Photographs: contributed by Asher Almonacy
Above: The original brick and many architectural details were preserved from the historic building.

A strong vision is key to great architecture, so it’s fitting that architect Rich Granoff transformed a ninety-year-old utility-company building into a sleek, industrial 30,000-square-foot office that has become his firm’s headquarters. The old CL&P building on Railroad Avenue may not have caught the average person’s eye, but Rich saw potential in its giant windows, amazing light and brick walls when he purchased the building three years ago. “I’d been looking to buy a building in Greenwich for ten years,” he recalls. “It was a big financial commitment. I took the risk and I think it’s going to have a happy ending.”

A wall of plants enlivens the entry to this open-concept office.

After growing his business in Greenwich over nearly three decades, he wanted a space to accommodate his team of twenty-four whose services extend to interior design and landscape architecture. With projects like the River House Adult Day Center and Restoration Hardware Gallery (the former Greenwich Avenue Post Office) under his cap, Rich is no stranger to the challenges of working on older buildings. He applied to the state to receive a historic designation for 330 Railroad Avenue. Following a gut renovation, the building now has a new roof, mechanicals and elevator, plus new tenants and landmark status.

“It’s basically a brand-new building in the shell of a ninety-year-old building. That’s what adaptive reuse is, it’s like restoring an antique car,” Rich says. “The idea was to keep as much of the original architecture as possible—the open space, the brick walls, exposed ceiling, the concrete floors—trying to keep the industrial grit. Then we added modern touches like the book library and materials library.” The finished building, which houses several businesses in addition to Granoff Architects, earned Rich and his partner Jeffrey B. Mendell, principal of Greenwich Development Partners, the 2018 Leadership Award for Preservation, being presented to them this month by the Greenwich Preservation Trust.

Rich Granoff


OFFICE SPACE

We toured the new building to check out some of its cool features

1 GREEN SPACE
Inside the entry, a living wall of 1,100 plants greets visitors. Six species of plants that grow in a colorful pattern stay green and healthy via a built-in irrigation system. The plants clean the air in the office and also make it social media-friendly, serving as a fun backdrop for photos taken at parties and fundraisers held at the office.

2 FLEX TIME
The largest conference room in the building features floor-to-ceiling folding glass doors that can enclose the space for meetings and open up for events; Rich hosts parties regularly and invites nonprofits such as Kids in Crisis and UJA-JCC of Greenwich to hold their charitable events here. Surround-sound speakers pipe in music throughout the office. A giant blackboard wall at one end of the conference room is primed for meeting notes or doodles from guests.

3 WINDOW SHOPPING
All 100 windows in the building needed to be replaced, with new steel lintels for each one. This was the single biggest expense of the renovation. For energy efficiency and optimum natural light without glare on computers, the blinds on the new windows raise and lower automatically depending on the time of day and location of the sun.

Granoff’s thoroughly modern corner office is outfitted with luxe Italian furnishings: a Luceplan chandelier and Daniel Libeskind sofa as well as a sit-stand desk (he rarely ever sits).

4 Materials Matters
“It’s hard to specify certain surfaces just by seeing them online,” says Rich. So he created a large materials library, its walls stocked with samples of the most current collections of wall coverings, carpet, tiles and wood, such as a living-edge oak from Poland that he recently spec’d for the café counter on the building’s second floor.

5 INDOOR PARKING
The lowest level of the building contains an indoor parking garage with eighteen spots, including a Tesla charging station. “It was a big selling point for the building,” he says.

6 ULTIMATE BREAK ROOM
File it under “only in Greenwich,” the most unusual office space in the building has been leased to some local hedge funders. The high-ceilinged rooms house a golf simulator as well as a lounge with 100-inch video screen, bar and small kitchen. It’s a place for high-stakes finance guys to blow off steam when they’re not working.

Granoff’s team works in the light-filled first floor; the second-floor offices are leased to other businesses.


COMMERCIAL SUCCESS

Fifty percent of Granoff Architects’ business involves commercial projects and interior design for businesses. Recent projects include a 60,000-square-foot building on West Putnam Avenue, with a gut renovation, interior design and landscape work, for L Catterton and an ongoing 30,000-square-foot space for Tudor Investments in Stamford. Rich shared some of the trends he’s seeing in commercial spaces and how they’re reflected in his own building.

COWORKING
The second floor of the new Granoff building will be dedicated to coworking. “That’s definitely a trend in the real estate world,” Rich notes of the flexible style of offices pioneered by We Work. He has leased the space to Greenwich locals who have founded a coworking company called Work Well Win (as of press time a name change was in the works) that’s geared toward the higher end of the market and financial services. “It’s going to be a really sharp space,” says Rich. “The model is, you can rent a seat, a desk, an office and/or a conference room for a day, a week, a month, a year.” The coworking model can help start-up businesses secure a Greenwich address and open without the longer-term lease commitment while they grow and expand.

A well-stocked materials library for viewing the latest flooring, wall coverings and other samples

RESIDENTIAL TOUCHES
We’re all working so much these days that people are looking for more home comforts at the office. This calls for residential elements, such as furniture and lighting fixtures, more like what you’d see in a home dining room or living room. In Rich’s corner office, a Moroso sofa designed by Daniel Libeskind sits opposite a sit-stand desk (all desks in the office have ‘standing’ capability) and under a contemporary Italian Luceplan chandelier made with thin Fresnel lenses that multiply the light.

INDUSTRIAL CHIC
With its open ceilings, exposed brick walls, and exposed duct work and polished concrete floors, the building epitomizes industrial style. Rich notes, “I think the open space fosters communication and collaboration, which is so important in a creative field.”

GOING GREEN
Eco-friendly elements continue to be popular in all new buildings. Here, Granoff sourced natural materials, such as wool carpet throughout, LED lighting and low-flow water fixtures. The repurposing of an old structure and preserving all the old bricks and floors make the building inherently green.

The main conference room with blackboard wall

 

 

Springing Ahead

Photographs by Doyle Herman Design Associates
Above: A backcountry landscape design with true wow factor

Like impatient kids near the end of a long road trip, garden enthusiasts reach this time of year and can’t help thinking, Is it spring yet? Still, the months leading up to the greenest season have their perks, providing much-needed time for dreaming and planning. To help get your creative gardening juices flowing for the upcoming season, we talked to some local pros about ideas and inspiration, plants to try, and tips on avoiding costly mistakes.


CREATING VISUAL APPEAL

EVOKE THE SENSES
Creating an interesting garden goes beyond what we see, explains Cleo Abrams-Horsburgh, partner landscape architect at Conte & Conte. “Sensory gardens and components that involve sound, light, music, color, texture—things that in the past were designed for healing or therapeutic gardens—are now in demand with much more mainstream audiences,” she says. Among many elements Conte & Conte has used are laminar jugs, high-tech arching fountains that have visual and tactile interest, and musical elements such as chimes and gongs.

CREATE CONTRASTS
“Texture is an often-overlooked element that can add a subtle or even louder twist on traditional plantings and landscapes,” says Maggie Bridge, manager of sales and marketing of Sam Bridge Nursery. Try mixing sleek broadleaf evergreens such as boxwood, cherry laurels or ilex with a finer, sharper textured juniper or chamaecyparis for contrast.

BRING IN STRUCTURE
Statuary, fountains, obelisks and even outdoor furniture can help add a wow factor to your ever-changing garden, says Maggie. “These provide you with a year-round anchor as the garden moves through the seasons, complementing and even adding a welcome juxtaposition between the hard and soft components of your outdoor space.”

WORK WITH NATURE
Unblock natural rock outcroppings and use the rock formations to create new living spaces where family and friends can gather. Add a fire pit for more interest and extended use of your outdoor space, again creating more together time, says James McArdle of McArdle’s.

HIGHLIGHT YOUR BEST FEATURES
If you’re building a new home, you may want to manipulate land to organize a site and remove visual clutter, says Justin Quinn, studio director of Doyle Herman Design Associates. “By changing the topography, the designer can highlight specific areas of interest; these features may include a specimen tree, an interesting rock formation or maybe an added piece of art.”

PICK MULTI-SEASON PLANTS
Look for structural plants that have year-round interest, advises John Conte, AIA and co-owner of Conte & Conte. Examples include ornamental grasses that turn to a russet color in fall and winter and perennials such as black-eyed Susans that become seed stalks and attract birds in the fall.

Bright, bold color never gets old when it comes to creating a striking entrance.
Fountains not only add visual appeal, but also offer a meditative component.
Maximizing backyard space can sometimes mean reducing the clutter.


TRENDS 2018 NEW & NOTEWORTHY

1. GREEN APPROACH
Recycled materials are big. “We just finished a landscape at a historic farm where the walls, terraces and walks were comprised of locally sourced repurposed materials,” says Justin of DHDA. “The bluestone terracing once served as public sidewalks, the granite walks once curbed roadways. We even approached a nearby neighbor and purchased a stockpile of wall stone that sat in a farmer’s field for over twenty years. Not only is this sustainable, but the newly completed landscape begins its life with some much desired patina.”

2. HIGH-TECH
Heated patios, terraces and driveways have become more popular. So, too, have outdoor spotlight speaker systems that are controlled by smartphones and direct a rich sound toward the middle of a property so it doesn’t bother the neighbors. And techy tools are being used in planning landscapes, says Cleo of Conte & Conte, including drone photography to create 3-D models of properties and virtual reality goggles that give clients a realistic sense of what it would feel like to walk through a garden.

3. NEW HUES
“New colors and better growing reboots of old favorites are all over,” says Maggie. Sam Bridge Nursery trialed the new osteospermum from Proven Winners last year and found it to be a fantastic grower that the nursery will have available in early spring.

4. PAINTING WITH PLANTS
Creating art with plants, hardscape and nature’s beauty isn’t a new theory, but it’s slowly being revived, says James McArdle of McArdle’s. Think simple lines, more greenery and symmetry in the landscape with container plantings to add color.

When hardscape, landscape and nature all work together, your space is in true harmony. Photo: Mcardle’s
Simple and sweet can sometimes be the way to go. Photo: Sam Bridge Nursery


MISTAKES TO AVOID

ALWAYS PLANTING IN PAIRS
It’s better to stick to odd numbers when planting a group that’s less than nine, according to Maggie Bridge. She also advises gardeners against “volcano mulching,” which is when mulch is piled too high around a tree trunk and can lead to insect and rodent damage and create too much moisture. Instead, leave a two- to three-inch ring that’s free of mulch around the tree trunk.

OVERBUILDING
Too often we are called to projects where the home’s footprint is too large,” says Justin Quinn. Instead, work with your design team to select a footprint that achieves your goals while preserving important site resources. Also, Pinterest can be inspiring but don’t try to incorporate all your favorite ideas into one landscape or you’ll wind up with a mishmash of elements.

SIZING IT WRONG
The biggest mistake made by inexperienced landscapers is planting the wrong plant in the wrong space, says James McArdle. Know what you are planting and the size it will be. “Stop trying to fit a large hydrangea where you need a dwarf hydrangea; stop planting green giant arborvitae where you need emerald green arborvitaes.”

MISSING TEAM PLAYERS
If you rely on an architect to be the driver of a new home and bring in a landscape architect only after the fact, you won’t have the best design outcome, says John Conte. “A project works best starting with the landscape architect and civil engineers looking at the project and its constraints,” he says. “The landscape as it exists naturally should direct the architectural features; the architecture shouldn’t force the landscape.”

 

 

Arrival of the Fittest

Photograph by Tyler Sizemore
Above: Aimee Early and Emily Joslin

When Aimee Early and Emily Joslin moved to town—from San Francisco and New York—they both missed the exercise classes they loved in their former cities. So the friends decided to partner on building a wellness community called The Well Edited, bringing to Greenwich hot names such as workout guru Taryn Toomey and her yoga-cardio-strength workout, The Class (Naomi Watts and Christy Turlington are fans).

“We wanted to make things more available. The Class, AKT, Tracy Anderson and other big outfits in the city want a presence out here,” says Aimee. However, she adds, rents are expensive and many Greenwich moms prefer to work out between 8 and 11 a.m., which may not justify the financial commitment of purchasing a gym or studio. Instead, Aimee and Emily have been renting space part-time from Allegra Dance and The Stanwich Club to hold classes by these fitness masters, with weekly schedules sent out via email to those who join the group.

On a recent snowy morning, the fitness space at The Stanwich Club was full with ladies (and one guy) who had come for The Class, running through what seemed like an endless loop of burpees, jumping jacks, planks and other moves with some poses, affirmations and even a little therapy from the teacher. A hypnotic mix of music helps you tough it out, and shouting or screaming as a release is encouraged, but, Aimee noted, “we’re a bit quieter in Greenwich.”

There are exciting new things happening with The Well Edited, as Emily and Aimee expand on the current schedule: The Class on Monday and Wednesday, AKT (dance-cardio class from the celeb trainer to Kelly Ripa and Shakira) on Tuesday and Thursday and modelFit on Fridays. Aimee says, “Our ultimate goal is to start a health and wellness center with everything from exercise to products to workout wear, the best of the best of the health world.” thewelledited.com


A FEW OF AIMEE’S FAVORITE HEALTH AND WELLNESS PICKS

GET BUZZED
“It’s my kryptonite! I do a version of the original recipe … I was never a coffee drinker, but now I can’t get my day started without this concoction.” bulletproof.com

MAGIC PILL
“This antiaging vitamin, vetted by my true and trusted MD, is all the rage. So far, I love the results.” elysiumhealth.com

SILKY SMOOTH
Epicuren After Bath Moisturizer  “If I were allowed only one product, this would be it!”

BODY BRUSHING
“A must daily. Stimulate your lymphatic system, boost digestion and circulation, decrease appearance of cellulite, etc.!”

SWEET TART
“Add apple cider vinegar to water throughout the day. Its healing power has been known for millennia [digestion, sore throats and infections].”

 

 

Rock the Casbah

Photographs by Thomas Mcgovern
Above: Cozy Moroccan style • Mia Octopus (the chef’s signature dish)

If you’re ready to break out of a restaurant rut and try something new, Argana’s authentic Moroccan cuisine, romantic lantern-studded dining room and out-of-the-box entertainment (belly dancing and a bocce court) are just the thing. Located in the spot that housed Nessa in Port Chester, this exotic eatery is owned by a couple who live with their family in Greenwich: Nordine Achbani, former general manager at Polpo, and his wife, Soumia Sedki Achbani, the executive chef. Chef Mia trained professionally with a famous chef in Morocco and grew up learning traditional dishes and techniques from her mother and grandmother. Her heartwarming cuisine of sweet-and-savory dishes was the perfect antidote to the frigid cold outside on a recent Saturday night.If you’re ready to break out of a restaurant rut and try something new, Argana’s authentic Moroccan cuisine, romantic lantern-studded dining room and out-of-the-box entertainment (belly dancing and a bocce court) are just the thing. Located in the spot that housed Nessa in Port Chester, this exotic eatery is owned by a couple who live with their family in Greenwich: Nordine Achbani, former general manager at Polpo, and his wife, Soumia Sedki Achbani, the executive chef. Chef Mia trained professionally with a famous chef in Morocco and grew up learning traditional dishes and techniques from her mother and grandmother. Her heartwarming cuisine of sweet-and-savory dishes was the perfect antidote to the frigid cold outside on a recent Saturday night.

Left: Harissa shrimp; Right: Chicken tajine

Argana’s dining room is designed with all the right elements for a date night: low lighting with hanging lanterns that cast a pretty pattern on the wall, plus good acoustics and enough space between tables to have a conversation. On Fridays a belly dancer performs, spicing up the scene. The décor reflects Moroccan style but in a subtle way, with an ornate carved mirror at the entry, some pottery on the walls, a mosaic-topped bar and lattice-work screens at the back. Right away our server brought a plate of pitas and green olive dip to the table. If you’re starting with a drink, try the popular Atlas mule cocktail, made with fig vodka and ginger beer, or one of the Moroccan wines, which are similar in style to French wines and rarely available in our area.

At the heart of Moroccan cuisine, with its rich blend of spices and pairings of meat and fruits, are slow-cooked stews called tajines that are prepared in their namesake clay pots. Tajines figure prominently on the menu here, which spans a range of Moroccan dishes with emphasis on the Atlas and Marrakesh regions. This is healthy food too, with many vegetable-based dishes and different types of couscous as well as seafood.

For our starters, we went with the waiter’s picks and one of the chef’s specialties, Mia Octopus. Though octopus has become almost common on menus these days, I really liked this version: it’s grilled and served on a bed of arugula mixed with red onions, tomato and radish in a lemony dressing—a refreshing combination. Other appetizers from the sea-to-mountain Atlas region include Harissa shrimp, Napoleon sardine and a traditional cumin-laced eggplant dish called zaalouk. Many cultures have savory pastries and in Moroccan cuisine, briouat plays a starring role. We enjoyed the savory briouat appetizer, phyllo pouches filled with fragrantly spiced ground beef; there’s also a vegetarian option with goat cheese and herbs.

Left: Orange Blossom crème brûlée; Right: One of the friendly waitstaff serving up the lamb shank couscous

For our entrees, we tried the short rib tajine, superb comfort food that arrives at the table in its decorative clay covered pot. Tender meat in a rich sauce is blended with prunes and topped with almonds and sesame seeds; the sweetness of the prunes balances the short ribs perfectly. Chicken b’stilla is a phyllo pie dusted with confectioner’s sugar and filled with layers of chopped chicken, egg and almonds that is seriously delicious. The b’stilla is cut into slices and our server encouraged us to pick it up and eat it like a sandwich, and we did, following the Moroccan custom. Chicken kebabs were tasty and mild, served on a bed of Israeli (larger size) couscous. Portions are generous. We paired our mains with a side of couscous and grilled vegetables, and enough was left over for almost another meal.

Craving sweets? Dessert choices include more phyllo-based options with almonds and honey, a Napoleon and cheesecake. We opted for the orange blossom crème brulee, a very light rendition of the custard with slivered almonds on top, a delicate orange flavor adding interest. The proper way to cap any Moroccan meal is with the hot mint tea, and theirs is served in a pretty, antique-y silver teapot. The attention to detail, plus friendly service and a fun atmosphere are among the charms of Argana, but the exquisite flavors are what will turn us from into regulars.

Left: Moroccan mint tea; Right: Colorful Moroccan details complete the décor.

MOST POPULAR DISHES
Short rib tajine, lamb shank tajine, chicken b’stilla, Mia Octopus appetizer, zaalouk eggplant, taktouka smoked tomato plate, Moroccan salad, savory briouat. The owner’s personal favorite is the braised lamb with couscous.

FAMILY MATTERS
Sunday through Thursday nights, there’s a family-style dinner with a starter, choice of mains and desserts for $25 a person. In season, sit outside on the patio and partake in a game of bocce.

DRINK DEALS
Tuesday through Thursday from 4 to 7 p.m., all drinks are half price for happy hour. Check out the signature Atlas mule cocktail, which blends fig vodka and ginger beer, and a list of other intriguing cocktails.


325 N MAIN STREET, PORT CHESTER
914-612-4440;
ARGANARESTAURANTBAR.COM

 

 

Critical Care

Photograph by ©Photographee.eu/stock.adobe.com

Teenage years are volatile ones and Kids in Crisis (KIC) has been helping teens in trouble since it opened in 1978 as a shelter for runaways. Since then the nonprofit organization, which is honoring its fortieth anniversary this year, has grown substantially to provide a range of services for kids of all ages. In fact, the group has helped more than 143,000 children and teens (and their families) since its inception, and it’s now the only agency in the state that helps children from newborns to teens. Whether there’s a teen in trouble or a four-year-old who needs services because Mom is homeless or someone in the family has mental health issues, KIC is there for them around the clock.

“It’s really humbling for us that families allow us to be part of their lives at a very critical time in their lives,” says Executive Director Shari Shapiro, who has been with the group since 1980. She recalls how KIC expanded over time to its current role, touching so many families in the process. “We started to ask, ‘How can we grow and meet the needs of this population without necessarily bringing them in for emergency care? Is there a way we can get out to them in the community?’” This thinking gave birth to the Outreach program, where KIC was sending staff out 24/7 responding to calls in the community, an effective way to help keep kids in their homes. In the late ’80s, the group saw a demand for assistance for children under twelve, and in 1993 KIC opened its emergency Crisis Nursery program.

Today many Greenwich residents may not even realize that their kids are being served by KIC. Through the Teen Talk program, a cornerstone for the agency, KIC sends full-time social workers to Eastern, Central and Western middle schools and other schools throughout Fairfield County where they’re available to talk with kids, augmenting the school staff. KIC social workers participate in school health classes, and they’re around at the cafeteria and at weekend events. They can also make house calls after school. “They try very much to be a part of the school community,” says Shari.

The agency also runs SafeTalk, a program where volunteers visit the elementary schools to teach kids through role play about bullies, strangers and ok/not ok touch. SafeTalk helps build resiliency in children so that they can protect themselves from potentially dangerous interactions with peers, strangers and known adults.

In spite of these valuable and much-needed contributions, KIC’s funding from the State Department of Children and Families was cut in 2016, forcing them to reduce the number of beds at the Teen House from twenty to twelve. “We’d like to get back to full capacity through increased support,” says Shari. kidsincrisis.org


BY THE NUMBERS

In just the past five years, KIC has touched the lives of so many in our area. Here’s a snapshot.

505
Children who have benefitted from the assessment, stabilization and treatment planning provided during their emergency shelter care

3,697
Middle and high school students who have received counseling through TeenTalk at eight schools throughout Fairfield County

4,243
Calls made to the 24-hour Helpline

14,867
Nights of safe shelter care that have been provided

20,143
Young people (ages six to ten) who have benefitted from the SafeTalk program, helping them to live “Safe, Strong & Free.”


WANT TO HELP?

ANNUAL FUNDRAISERS
Spring Fling Gala: March 2
Navigators Stamford KIC Triathlon & Race: June 23 & 24
Navigators Stamford KIC 5K: June 23

+ Volunteer to help with art therapy or sign up to bring meals to the Teen House.

Posh Spice

Photographs by Julie Bidwell
Above: Hara Bhara Kabab (spinach and chickpea patties stuffed with spiced paneer)

You can’t judge a book by its cover, but can you judge a restaurant by the number of natives dining there? Some would say yes. At India Avenue on a recent Friday night, the dining room was full with about half the tables occupied by people of South Asian descent. Several groups seemed to be celebrating birthdays or other special occasions—also a good sign that this restaurant is not just your average Indian take-out place. The Brits know their Indian, too, so we invited a friend who’s originally from England to join us in sampling the menu, which has a rich variety of options, including extensive vegetarian selections, dosas and some Indo-Chinese dishes.

While the modern dining room is a welcoming space—quite contemporary with touches of the traditional, such as metal elephant bells and an antique armoire—our first impression of the service left a little to be desired. When we walked in, the hostess was on the phone and jotting down notes (presumably taking an order), while a large group of guests stood waiting around her. Minutes passed and she didn’t look up or acknowledge either party. Then we noticed that the couple we were meeting was already seated at a table, so we excused our way through to the dining room and joined them.

Left: Lemon rice tempered with mustard seeds, curry leaves, peanut and cashew nut, Chicken Makhani and Lamb Vindaloo
Right: The traditionally chic dining room

Fortunately, our first impressions of the food quickly eclipsed this lack of greeting and occasional slow service during the meal. Everything here is intended to be shared, and we began with a chaat and onion bhaji along with the complimentary crispy papadums and sauces. The bhel purri chaat blends the crispy noodles and puffed rice with the citrusy flavors of tamarind chutneys, flecks of cilantro and lush potatoes and onion, somehow refreshing and hearty at the same time. This, along with the onion fries, whet our appetites for the rich flavors and Indian comfort food to follow.

Our server was helpful and friendly, recommending the he stuffed rice-and-lentil crepes, a specialty of the restaurant: “You can eat dosas for breakfast, lunch and dinner,” he said with a smile. We ordered a masala dosa, which is a meal in and of itself, filled with spiced potato and accompanied with a spicy curry and cool coconut paste. When we requested the lamb vindaloo, our server warned us about the intensity of the spice, but being heat lovers, we said bring it on. In fact, the vindaloo had a slow-developing heat: At first bite it doesn’t seem that intense, but then the heat gradually fills your mouth, in a pleasant way. I bit into a whole cardamom pod while eating the dish, which is lovely for those who enjoy the spice.

Mixed Grill Tandoor: salmon, chicken tikka, chicken tandoori, seekh kabab, malai kabab and shrimp kabab

A standout feature at India Avenue is its clay tandoor oven, which can be viewed from a glass wall that connects the kitchen and dining room. We opted for a mixed tandoor grill, which includes an excellent coriander-spiked chicken tikka as well as a “red” chicken, salmon, shrimp and some vegetables cooked in the tandoor oven. Anyone who thinks chicken is boring needs to try the butter chicken here, a super-fragrant, heartwarming curry with onions and red peppers. Vegetarians will appreciate that there are fourteen vegetable-based entrees; we only tried one but that saag paneer was a top-notch rendition of this creamy spinach and Indian cheese standard. It’s especially delicious paired with garlic naan. Most dishes are served in copper or other metal vessels, a pretty presentation with very generous portions.

The classic desserts are a must-try. We loved the mango kulfi, traditional Indian ice cream made from caramelized, slow-simmered milk (no egg). This kulfi is shaped into half-moons and has an intense, lush fruit flavor. For the ultimate sweet comfort food, also taste the kheer (rice pudding) topped with slivered almonds and golden raisins.

With the incredible variety on the menu, this restaurant takes you on a culinary tour of India, yet our elegant dinner was also quite affordable. We’re looking forward to a repeat feast.

Left: Jhinga Dum Nasha, shrimp marinated in hung yogurt and served with saffron flavored chutney
Right: Avocado salad with chili naan


QUICK BITES

DAILY DOSAS
Chef Ramesh comes from Southern India, where dosas are served for breakfast, lunch and dinner. He makes them with a traditional rice-and-lentil batter and fillings and serves with a coconut chutney and side of curry.

FIRED UP
The very large clay tandoor oven with charcoal fire, visible through a glass wall from the dining room, is used to cook many of the dishes, all of the kebabs, the naans and other breads and appetizers.

HOURS
Mon.–Thu. 11:30 a.m.–2 p.m., 5–10 p.m.
Fri. 11:30 a.m.–2:30 p.m., 5–10 p.m.
Sat. & Sun. 12–3 p.m., 5–10 p.m.

INDIA AVENUE
249 Railroad Avenue, 203-717-1567; indiaavenuect.com

CUISINE
South Asian

 

 

Couture Beauty

Photographs by Julie Bidwell

What is it that prompts a woman to travel from Philadelphia to Greenwich to have her hair done? Or for certain well-known names to drop their existing salons and try something new? A certain je ne sais quoi, one would guess, and the founder of Maison d’Alexandre has that in spades. Alexandre Chouery, who trained in Paris under Jacques Dessange before working all over the world, most recently as creative director at Frederic Fekkai, designed every aspect of his new luxe beauty atelier.

“All my life I’ve been in the very high-end places. I wanted to bring something different to the industry than a hair salon,” he says. To that end, his new Lewis Street salon doesn’t appear to be a salon at all. When you walk into the restored 1904 building, there’s no front desk, but instead a living room or library-like space: black walls lined with built-in bookshelves, a large fireplace flanked by sofas and original art on the wall that was a gift from Diane von Furstenberg.

“She’s a big mentor for me,” says Alexandre. “On the day of my opening, I went to her home in New Milford with my son and wife, and she took me to see her whole art collection and said, ‘Alexandre, just pick anything you want.’”

Elegant and welcoming defines the new salon just off the Avenue.

A staff member greets you at the door and ushers you into the elegant space, offering coffee or perhaps a bellini from the fully stocked bar cart, served in a Baccarat glass. The styling stations are housed around a custom sixteen-foot table that can be converted into a dining table. “Everybody here is family and our clients are part of the family,” Alexandre says. He didn’t hire an interior designer for the salon, but planned every detail himself, down to the ornate ceiling, to give clients a beautiful view while they’re being shampooed.

He took special care in selecting his team, led by creative directors Rabih Fakhoury and Beth Jablonska, and he uses only hair-care products from Leonor Greyl (which he calls “the Hermes of hair care”) and Phyto and the makeup line, Terry.

Ultimately, an elevator will connect four levels of the building, which will house a color floor, a spa and medical spa, with a rooftop garden for private events and parties. “We are going big. There’s more to come,” says Alexandre of his vision and investment. “I report only to my clients.”

33 Lewis Street, 203-661-1111; maisondalexandre.com

 

 

Worldly Style

A new design destination called PUTNAM & MASON showcases the talent of New York designers Robert Passal and Kim Alessi while also serving as a showroom for some local contractors and luxury vendors. “We really wanted to bring an edge to Greenwich,” says Robert, of this atelier, which feels more like an impeccably furnished loft with pieces collected from around the world: a striking vintage Murano glass chandelier, a ’70s cashmere-covered Jansen sofa and a seventeeth-century Italian painted chest, among other exclusive finds. Contemporary art by Hendrik Kerstens and photos of Cuba by Robert Polidori pop against the deep peacock blue walls. “We wanted to bring a worldly presence to town. Clients enter our space and feel as though they’ve been transported to a luxe, sexy, sophisticated home that’s all sensory, mood lighting and personalized,” he says.A new design destination called putnam & mason showcases the talent of New York designers Robert Passal and Kim Alessi while also serving as a showroom for some local contractors and luxury vendors. “We really wanted to bring an edge to Greenwich,” says Robert, of this atelier, which feels more like an impeccably furnished loft with pieces collected from around the world: a striking vintage Murano glass chandelier, a ’70s cashmere-covered Jansen sofa and a seventeeth-century Italian painted chest, among other exclusive finds. Contemporary art by Hendrik Kerstens and photos of Cuba by Robert Polidori pop against the deep peacock blue walls. “We wanted to bring a worldly presence to town. Clients enter our space and feel as though they’ve been transported to a luxe, sexy, sophisticated home that’s all sensory, mood lighting and personalized,” he says.

In addition to the custom furnishings, antiques, a revolving art gallery, lighting by Zia Priven and accessories such as Fortuny and Chanel-edged pillows, Putnam & Mason features a full-service kitchen with island and cabinetry by Wheelock Design, one of the vendors using the space as a showroom. Clients can enjoy coffee at the custom island and discuss their kitchen plans with a Wheelock rep. The fireplace surround is by Chesney’s, the custom leather framed mirror above is by KLASP Home and the audio system by Phoenix Audio Video, all available for purchase/install via Putnam & Mason.

Local designers are invited to shop Putnam & Mason, too—instead of trekking to the D&D building in the city—for fabrics, wall coverings, rugs, lighting and accessories at a trade discount. They can take a seat at the “Sample Bar” and scope out fabrics from Holland & Sherry, Kravet, Loro Piana and Romo to name a few. The location inspired the name for the design space: It’s at the corner of East Putnam Avenue and Mason Street.


PUTNAM & MASON

34 East Putnam Avenue
203-900-1414
putnammason.com

 

 

Home Base

The historic circa-1928 house located on prime downtown property has gas lanterns flanking its entry, a kitchen with custom cabinetry, antique leaded glass doors leading into a gathering space and a lower-level rec room with Ping-Pong table, vintage bar cart and garage doors opening to a landscaped bluestone terrace. A cavapoo named Rugby wanders from room to room, nosing up to visitors. Yet no one lives at this beautifully restored shingle-style house. Instead, the renovated West Elm Street address is the cool new office of Douglas VanderHorn Architects.

Celebrating thirty years as an architect in town this year, Doug purchased the old house—which had been converted into rental units—and transformed it into a custom office that’s fitting for a firm focused on creating homes with timeless style. “The character of the building was right for our practice, a residential practice. Having our office in a really nice old house is a good thing,” says Doug, who notes that the very convenient location, a block from the Avenue and close to the train, also attracted him to the property. “Over the years we’ve been able to work on quality older homes and that led me to the theme of the firm—designing classic homes, homes that you can’t pigeonhole into a period.” He notes that the 4,400- square-foot office, which is equipped with a state-of-the-art conference room with a rounded TV, special modeling systems and many other features, was completed in record time (five and a half months with Peerless Construction as the general contractor) and required special approvals from the historic district commission.

All in the Details

Doug is well-versed in the town’s building regulations and in overseeing a project from design stage through to completion. The son of a builder, he learned carpentry from his father, and he’s happy to roll up his sleeves to get a job done. Early in his career, which started in 1987 in town, he worked primarily on updating and expanding older houses.

Doing all that renovation work, I learned how old houses were put together and how the detailing was done. I use those lessons to make new homes look like they weren’t built currently,” he says, pointing to large glossy photos of a waterfront Shingle-style and an English Tudor that hang on the wall in his new conference room. “My hope has always been that people can’t tell that the homes weren’t built during the heyday of that particular style. I try to keep the work contextual and timeless.”

One of the ways he achieves this is by salvaging and repurposing original elements from older homes (the leaded glass doors leading to his new conference room were salvaged from a waterfront Victorian in Nyack, New York). From that same older house on the Hudson River—which was in too much disrepair to renovate—Doug’s team was able to save old plumbing fixtures, doors, windows, decorative brackets and a mantel that will be used in the new house, giving it the flavor of the original.

Luxury House Rules

Though Doug still handles renovations and enjoys the “happy accidents” they inspire (creative solutions for preexisting conditions), more of his clients are requesting new builds. “Fewer people are ready for the challenges and time involved in a complex renovation. They are just as expensive if not more expensive than building new.” So what do clients who are building high-end homes today seek in new construction? The wish lists are long and may include energy efficient materials, geothermal heating/cooling systems as well as lots of amenities—especially features for outdoor living, such as backyard kitchens, pools and spas.

In his new office, Doug has cutting-edge technology to help present ideas and designs to clients. The conference room features a curved wall and a flat-screen display that fits into the rounded space. He grabs a remote and plays a video that simulates a “fly-through” of a home he’s working on in Field Point Circle. It gives a sense of what it would feel like to stand in the space and move from room to room. Along with these 3-D digital models, the team also has the capability to create laser-cut models of houses. And from these high-tech tools come high-tech homes.

Says Doug, “Even though our homes look like classics, in terms of technology and energy savings, they’re leading edge.”


Snapshot
A look at the architecture of Doug’s career 

Doug VanderHorn

 

First Project
A major renovation of a home in Belle Haven in 1987.

Geography Club
Current projects are located in several states, from a house on the Hudson River in Nyack, New York to waterfront homes in Belle Haven, Darien, Essex and Watch Hill, Rhode Island. “We’re lucky to be working in a broad area, up the coast.”

Architectural Styles
As the practice has evolved, so has the diversity of its projects. Recently the firm has been designing houses that are French Normandy, Shingle-style, Federal- style, English Tudor, French eclectic barns, English Georgian and even English country cottages.

Family Ties
When he was a teen, Doug worked for his builder father learning the crafts of the trade, and today his own son, Colin, has joined the firm.

Game Plans
Doug is quick to credit his team of fourteen, including his associate partner, William Malmstedt, and office manager, Deb Biondolillo, among others, for their contributions to the firm’s success. His employees like to hang out in the new office rec room for lunchtime Ping-Pong matches and Friday afternoon happy hours.

When Not at Work…
Doug can be found playing tennis or cruising on Long Island Sound in his Grady-White. “I love to be on my boat, sometimes fishing and other times just cruising around looking for nice old houses. There’s a special dialogue between boaters and waterfront homeowners.”

Musically Inclined

Photographs by Thomas Mcgovern
Above: Brioche French toast with apples, calvados and dried fruit

What is it that people love about brunch? Of course, there’s the crowd-pleasing variety inherent in the meal: Breakfast fans dig into eggs Benedict and blueberry pancakes, while the lunch team takes on cheeseburgers and Cobb salads, and everyone’s happy. So maybe it’s the balance of sweet and savory? The abundance of bacon? The permission to indulge in champagne before noon? Or the endless coffee and bottomless bloody Marys (or both)? Or the vague timing of it all, with that leisurely feeling that the meal lends to a weekend—even after you’ve finished eating, there’s still a whole day ahead? In some cases, the social vibe mixes with a sophisticated locale and an opportunity to hear live music; but if a friend mentions plans to go to a jazz brunch, I assume she’s talking about a drive-into-Manhattan excursion. However, Z Hospitality Group and Executive Chef Albert DeAngelis are bringing a city staple closer to home with the addition of live jazz music at brunch at East End on the Avenue and at Mediterraneo in White Plains and Norwalk.

Left: Blueberry buttermilk pancakes with New York state maple syrup
Right: Mushroom toast with fried egg, chili oil, and fresh mint

On a recent Sunday, a jazz duo was well into a set when we walked into Eastend and grabbed a high-top table next to the marble bar. This spot turned out to be ideal for people watching and checking out the musicians, who were stationed just beyond the hostess table, allowing the bar crowd and those seated in the main dining room to hear and see them equally well. Our table by the window overlooked the sidewalk, where the café tables were occupied by a trio of twentysomething ladies and a family of four along with their Malamute puppy. Because we went for brunch on a hot summer morning, I was expecting a light crowd, imagining that most people were either at Tod’s, out on the Sound or in Nantucket but all of the high-top tables were filled, as were most of the bar stools and a decent number of dining room tables, not to mention the outdoor seating.

After ordering mimosas, we chatted with our server about his favorite dishes and the most popular items on the menu. The well-edited menu of sixteen dishes splits into an even balance of eight breakfast-esque and eight lunch mains, plus Copp’s Island oysters for $1 each. Beyond the basic fresh squeezed juices, mimosas and bloody Marys (bottomless option available for both), the drinks menu features a Sunday Special with sparkling wine, orange juice and a Stoli O float.

Left: Tagliatelle with Manila clams
Right: Avocado toast, with poached egg, queso fresco and basil

Traditionalists can opt for the blueberry buttermilk pancakes or the spinach, mushroom and goat cheese omelet, but Chef DeAngelis also has some interesting spins on standard brunch fare, including ‘crispy’ egg with pork belly and a potato, apple, onion hash and a lighter smoked salmon version of eggs Benedict with roasted cauliflower, crostini and citrus hollandaise. We had to try the avocado toast, which was very messy to eat due to the thick, crusty bread but very tasty with the addition of shaved radish slices, sunflower seeds, a little pickled onion and ribbons of basil.

It wouldn’t be brunch without some bacon on the table, and we got ours in a pork belly BLT (with both pork belly and Nodine’s bacon) with herb mayo and terrific fries served in a metal cup, each one crispy and delicious. A basic grilled cheese was elevated with a mixture of parmesan, cheddar and mozzarella and paired with a green salad, while brioche French toast gets a boost from Calvados (apple brandy), accentuating the flavor of the apples and dried fruit on the plate.

Right: Copp’s Island oysters

Though we’re certainly not jazz buffs, we enjoyed the smooth sound and chill atmosphere. Even our ten-year-old daughter got into the music; she was moving around to the beat in her seat while slowly finishing her food, prompting my husband to joke with her, “less grooving, more eating.” Whether your tastes run to sweet or savory, classical or jazz, breakfast or lunch, the new brunch option on Sundays at Eastend is well worth a try. I know I’m looking forward to more grooving and more eating.

409 Greenwich Avenue, 203-862-9200; zhospitalitygroup.com


QUICK BITES

JAZZ ACTS
Artists featured will include up-and-coming New York City jazz musicians Margi Gianquinto and Albert Rivera .

COOL SIPS
As a mimosa alternative, try the Spring Spritz with Tito’s, Aperol, sparkling wine, grapefruit and lime juices.

HOURS
Brunch is served Sundays, 11:30 a.m. to 3:30 p.m.

 

 

Two If By Sea

Photographs by Julie Bidwell
Above left: Polvo with parsley whipped potatos and salsa verde; Right: Sea bass with littleneck clams, shrimp, and seasonal vegetables

Those who travel to Portugal rave about the food and wine, especially the stellar seafood and first-rate vintages from Douro, Dão and Alentejo. At one time the country was more of a culinary best-kept secret. Recently, Portugal has been in the limelight, having more restaurants awarded Michelin stars last year than any other country in Europe. So it’s fortunate for Greenwich that we have our own Portuguese chef who now has two restaurants in town. Chef Rui Correia, who is a regular guest on the TODAY show, opened Gaia last year, just a block up the Avenue from Douro, his first restaurant here.

What distinguishes Gaia from its popular big sister, Douro? The seasonal Mediterranean menu has an emphasis on seafood (though meat and vegetarian dishes are represented, too) and it changes regularly. Where Douro is high-energy with a sometimes noisy bar, Gaia is sophisticated and understated—a spot where you can enjoy your dinner conversation. If you’ve ever found yourself shouting, “I can’t hear a thing in this place” and then felt embarrassed for sounding like your mother, you’ll appreciate the acoustics at Gaia, which has a minimalist modern décor with light wood paneling on the walls and long birch logs embedded in the ceiling. This intimate setting was a relaxing place to catch up with friends on a recent Friday night.

Left: Lamb meatballs with yogurt sauce, toasted pignolis and fresh mint
Right: Tomato salad with cucumber relish and feta

As we mulled over the menu, our server brought over an amuse-bouche of cucumber rounds topped with hummus and excellent green olives and feta along with heavenly grilled bread with a hint of garlic. Chef Rui’s creative approach and attention to detail were evident in many of the dishes we tried. A refreshing panzanella salad, for instance, was much less bready than the standard, with bright greens, micro-thin radish slices, chopped cucumber, green olives and very tasty tomatoes for what was early in the season, as well as parmesan crisps and just a few croutons. Octopus has become trendy lately, but the signature polvo appetizer here trumps other versions—super-tender seafood seasoned with pimenton (a smoky paprika) and served over mashed potatoes, and a salsa verde with microgreens dressing up the plate. Lamb meatballs are served in a stainless skillet with a garnish of mint and a sprinkling of pignoli nuts over a bed of yogurt sauce. These savory morsels made us wonder if we should plan a whole meal out of appetizers. In fact, we decided to order another starter, a special that evening, of pickled pork belly. Though tasty, this was our least favorite app because the flavor of the pork belly was eclipsed somewhat by the vinegar.

Since we had tried and loved cataplana during a vacation to Portugal, we had to order it here. Chef Rui’s modern take on the seafood broth-based entrée involves lots of colorful vegetables and South American shrimp, a hearty portion of sea bass and a few snippets of little neckclams (I wanted more of them, but that’s a personal preference). Seafood bolognese is a must-order, an unusual dish with a slightly sweet sauce made of ground octopus, calamari and shrimp as well as celery, carrots, onion and garlic all over a torchio, shell-shaped pasta; a half order with a salad would make a perfect weeknight supper. The other table favorite was the chef’s spin on Surf and Turf, with short ribs, grilled octopus and shrimp and a polenta cake with pineapple salsa, a bold departure from the average meat and seafood pairing. Even the salmon entrée managed to surprise us; it’s paired with zucchini spirals, crispy chickpeas and sweet cured tomatoes and a smattering of feta.

Portions here were plenty hearty, and we really had no business ordering dessert. However, we succumbed to the siren call of affogato, a blend of ice cream, cookies and chocolate mixed together in a low-ball cocktail glass and paired with a shot of espresso to pour on top. The indulgent dessert of Valrhona brownie and fried banana and Nutella also made it to the table. We ended our dinner beyond sated and in agreement that the food was top-notch. The restaurant seems to echo the homeland of its chef: a gem that’s well worth exploring.

355 Greenwich Avenue, 203-900-2234; dourogroup.com

Left: Affogato: Hazelnut ice cream and biscotti topped with a shot of espresso
Right: Chef Rui Correia


QUICK BITES

CAN’T-MISS COCKTAIL
The Port & Tonic is the hot drink right now at Portuguese resorts and Gaia’s take with white port, tonic, fresh mint, lime and orange makes the perfect aperitif.

FAVORITE ENTREES
Though the menu changes frequently, some of the most popular mains include the seafood bolognese, grilled dorado with roasted cauliflower puree and crispy vegetable, Portuguese fried chicken (made with tempura) and Mar, a mix of lightly charred seafood with roasted potatoes and a squid ink sauce.

FOODIE TRAVEL
Every fall Chef Rui and his wife, Dana, offer guided food and wine tours of Northern Portugal where travelers meet winemakers and local chefs and visit some amazing restaurants.


HOURS

Dinner
Tuesday – Thursday: 5–10 p.m.
Friday & Saturday: 5–10:30 p.m.
Sunday: 5 – 9 p.m.

Brunch
Saturday & Sunday: 12 –4 p.m.

 

 

Dancing with a Star

Above: Billy Blanks Jr. – Photograph: Lora Karam

Popular TV shows have made it clear: Dancing whips people into incredible shape. Billy Blanks Jr. has known this instinctively from a young age. Growing up with Billy Blanks—creator of the popular martial arts-based Tae Bo workout—as his dad, Billy Jr. was always involved in fitness and drawn to dance. After years of working as a professional dancer, performing in videos for Madonna and Paula Abdul among others, Billy Jr. created his own fitness program, “Dance It Out,” and debuted it nationally on Shark Tank. Today he has 1,000 teachers in the United States, 1,200 in Japan and others around the world. Recently he and his thirteen-year-old son have moved to town, where he’s opened Blanks Studios at Arthur Murray in Greenwich; he has also taken a lead role at the Wall Street Theater in Norwalk and cocreated a fitness network called MoveTube. We caught up with him to talk about his latest moves.


WHAT BROUGHT YOU TO GREENWICH?

I was born on the East Coast and grew up in Boston. I’ve been in LA ever since, working and performing, and I always wanted to get back here. I love the East Coast, love the people. I’ve been coming for the past two years for the Stamford Health, Wellness & Sports Expo [put on by Tammi Ketler] as the fitness celebrity for the event. Every time I’ve been here, she’s had me stay in Greenwich. Then when I met Chris Georgopulo at Arthur Murray and she said, ‘I’d love to have you come in with your program and open Blanks Studios’, I couldn’t wait to start building on the East Coast—I wanted to be here in person. That’s also when the Wall Street Theater was looking for an artistic director and I said, perfect timing, I’m going to move.

DO YOU TEACH CLASSES YOURSELF? WHAT SHOULD PEOPLE EXPECT AT THE STUDIO?
Absolutely. Monday, Wednesday, Friday and Saturdays I teach [at 10:30 a.m.], and I have other teachers who work with me. Most people who have a gym membership and like to do dance and fitness classes never use the gym. They walk right by the gym to take classes. Blanks Studios gives you that fitness room without having that huge membership, you take as many classes as you like. We have everything from my program Dance It Out, Dance It Out Sculpting, Dance It Out Cardio, and we’ll have Zumba, Bally Ex, Yoga. I brought in the top instructors in Connecticut so you can get a variety of classes.

HOW DOES DANCE IT OUT COMPARE WITH ZUMBA?
What makes us different are two things: One, we have so many different styles of dance incorporated. If you go to Zumba, it’s 90 percent Latin. With Dance It Out, you’ll get everything from Broadway to hip hop to decades [‘70s, ’80s, ’90s], salsa, all the ballroom styles, even a little Irish and country line dancing. The second thing that sets us apart is our teaching method. A lot of people are afraid to take a dance fitness class. They think, oh I’m not a dancer. In some classes by the time they get the routine, the song’s over and they missed out. I wanted to make it so that people learn what they’re doing and actually get a chance to do it. It’s for all levels. Mr. T takes my class; he’s not a dancer.

Dr. Oz takes my class; he’s not a dancer. My oldest student Ida is ninety-six and takes a class in the same room as a professional dancer for Lady Gaga. I designed the workout so that you have fun and go at your own pace.

WHAT DO PEOPLE LIKE MOST ABOUT DANCE IT OUT?
You burn from 700 to 1,000 calories per class. I’ve had people lose all kinds of weight, but the biggest compliment I’ve gotten is that our class is the most supportive workout. It’s not about fighting over spots or being the perfect dancer. It’s about having fun. If you’re not perfect, who cares. People will say, ‘This class is like therapy. I feel good, I can have a great week now.’

HOW DID YOU GET INTO DANCE AND CHOREOGRAPHY?
I’ve been in fitness since I was eleven years old. My dad created Tae Bo, and at age twelve or thirteen I taught my first class, but I was into dancing more. I would teach with my dad and I would be doing the punching and kicking, and then I’d get fifteen minutes into class and hear a disco song or something funky and I’d start dancing and people would follow me. At the time, dancing wasn’t considered a workout. So my dad would say ‘stop kidding around.’ I didn’t get it. I thought, I’m sweating, why isn’t this a workout? Fast-forward and everybody now knows some of the best athletes are dancers.

WHAT LED YOU TO CREATE A DANCE-BASED EXERCISE PROGRAM?
I have such a love for dance and I see some people are afraid of it. I want to show how they can have movement. When I was about seventeen or eighteen, my dad was on Oprah for five days in a row; she did the workout every day and then on the last day she quit on air. She said, ‘This is too hard for me; this is not fun.’ I’m like her—I want to have fun when I’m working out. I like to feel like I’m having a good time. That really inspired me. How do I create something for someone like Oprah? That became my mission.

IS THE WORKOUT FOR KIDS TOO?
Yes, working out with kids is one of my favorite things. My son used to be glued to my leg. Now I’ll be teaching a class and turn to him and he’ll start leading the group. When I first started doing this in schools, I did some huge events with 1,000 kids at one time. I tailor the music to the group, to the younger crowd. High school students are a harder audience to win over. I did a huge event for Van Nuys High School for about 2,000 kids. They were standing there like typical high school students, arms folded, like what are we doing here? I got up and started the music and not one of them would move—they’re trying to be cool. I turned off the music and said, ‘Listen, I got you out of class and I hope you’ll dance with me; if you don’t want to dance, you can go back to class.’ Then the first three rows started moving and the next ten rows and eventually the whole room erupted into cheers and dancing. It was incredible.

WHO INSPIRED YOU?
Paula Abdul is like a big sister and mentor to me. She would come to my father’s studio. She would bring me on the set of her dance videos and I had a natural love for it. Paula taught me how to have attitude and confidence. I started working and getting videos with Madonna and Babyface and Paula. Eventually I starred in Fame on Broadway and we toured throughout Europe and America.

WHAT ARE YOU WORKING ON FOR THE WALL STREET THEATER IN NORWALK?
It’s a 100-year-old theater that’s reopening after a $50-million renovation. I’m the artistic director, so I’m in charge of programming and directing shows with local talent. Our first show was “8” A Night with Broadway’s Best, with eight Broadway stars performing the songs they made famous and knock-it-out-of-the-park Broadway songs. We’re also getting acts like Macy Gray and local performers. I’m working on a three-week residency with Paula Abdul this summer, and she’ll be helping to create some original shows for the theater.

AND YOU OWN A NETWORK TOO?
I also own a fitness and lifestyle network with my mom, Gayle Blanks, called MoveTube for people who can’t get out to a live class. We have forty to fifty fitness celebrities, body builders, every type of fitness you can imagine. It’s free workouts, inspirational stories. The idea was to create a network that would move you physically, mentally, spiritually and emotionally.

Classes are $20 for drop-in, $99 for five-pack or $119 per month unlimited; arthurmurraygreenwich.com; 6 Lewis Street; 203-769-1800; movetubenetwork.com

Photograph by Bob Luckey Jr.

 

 

Hidden Gem

Photographs by Julie Bidwell
Above: Chef Ian Vest • Organic salmon with asparagus, fiddlehead ferns, cannellini bean and basil puree.

Whether you’re a diehard food-stagrammer or you think that snapping your supper is déclassé, you’ll have to admit that the dishes at Back 40 Kitchen come out ready for the paparazzi. The vegetables and fruits starring on the menu here—many sourced from Back 40 Farm up in Washington, Connecticut—dazzle with their color. Even if I wasn’t taking notes, I’d be tempted to sneak a screenshot of the vibrant green fiddleheads nestled against the pink salmon and the strawberries and sorrel mixed into the beet salad. In the hands of Chef Ian Vest, who’s newer to the restaurant, these beautiful ingredients translate to big flavor.

Left: Grass-fed beef with cauliflower and confit potato
Right: Black bean and beet veggie burger with fermented vegetable slaw, hand-cut fries and fresh greens

Since Chef Ian took the helm in the kitchen, he has introduced a six-course tasting menu with an option for wine pairings. It’s a chance for him to connect with guests one on one, first discussing their preferences and dietary restrictions and then turning out a creative meal to suit, working with the freshest ingredients that day. When you’re ordering from the main menu à la carte, as we did on a recent Friday night, everything from drinks to dessert can also be customized to your tastes and needs—whether you’re gluten-free, dairy-free, vegan or you simply don’t like lima beans.

The setting for this personalized, farm-driven restaurant is intimate: a rustic space set on the second floor (main entrance is behind the Avenue) with farmhouse décor, reclaimed wood walls, a giant blackboard mural of vegetables and a cupola ceiling. It’s a spot for lunch or dinner with friends, a date night or a family meal when you want to be able to hear your conversation; there are just twelve individual tables plus bar seating and two communal tables. On the night we went for dinner, seats were filled by around 7 p.m., with a mix of families and couples, including one that brought along a bottle of red (corkage fee is $35). From our table by the window, early evening light flooded in from the skylight and we could spy the old weathervane that tops the building.

Beet salad with strawberries, sorrel, fresh ricotta, spiced pecans in a citrus vinaigrette

Cocktails, like the rest of the menu, reflect the season, and we sipped on a summery white sangria with citrus and lots of apple pieces and The Alpaca, a blend of ginger beer with lime, basil and Barsol Pisco. There’s a nice list of mocktails including a coconut “no”-jito. Every meal begins with warm mini corn bread muffins, and we also ordered a roasted beets salad and charcuterie board to start. That bright and beautiful salad won over a friend who was beet-skeptical; we loved the textures and flavor combination of the lush strawberries, roasted beets and sorrel leaves with creamy ricotta and crunchy pecans. Served on a wooden plank, the charcuterie appetizer includes a mix of hard and soft cheeses, chorizo and a sweeter sausage (both house-made), onion jam, spicy pecans, delicious pickles and toasts—enough to enjoy a taste of cheese but not spoil your appetite.

There’s always at least one vegetarian entrée on the menu, but we gravitated toward the seafood and beef dishes. Pan-roasted salmon was cooked perfectly with that just-right crispy skin and paired with lovely fiddleheads, asparagus and a basil puree that’s like spring on a plate. The grass-fed beef, with its pinkish center, was completely tender and flavorful, accompanied by potatoes, cauliflower and arugula with a hint of Moroccan spice adding interest. I’m a fan of squid-ink pasta, and the slightly spicy spaghetti nero lived up to my craving: the black spaghetti tossed with grilled octopus, roasted peppers, green olives and capers.

Desserts are a definite, whether you sip on a mint-julep milkshake or choose straight-up sweets, as we did. The chocolate chip cookie in a mini cast-iron pan was warm from the oven, gooey and amazing, topped with vanilla ice cream; share if you want just a bite or two, otherwise order your own—it’s that good. I enjoyed the mixture of berries on the Pavlova, but the texture of the meringue was chewier than expected.

Blackberry Smash: Litchfield County Bourbon, muddled blackberry, lemon, bay leaf syrup.
Bees Need Honey: Bar Hill Gin, rose hip, turmeric honey.
Smoky Paloma: mezcales de leyenda, lime, ginger liqueur, grapefruit and smoked paprika popsicle
Right: Pavlova’s Meringue, mixed berries, mint, berry coulis

Whether you end your meal here with a post and hashtags or simply decide to tell a friend, it’s a farm-to-table experience destined to be shared.

107 Greenwich Avenue, 203-992-1800; back40kitchen.com


QUICK BITES

CHEF’S SPECIALS
This time of year, one of the chef’s favorite ingredients is morel mushrooms. “He loves the vibrant color of peas and anything green! It’s nice to feature something bright
on the plate,” says General Manager Susan Mason.

FRESH SIPS
Guests can’t get enough of the Farmer in the Jungle cocktail, a mix of Prairie Vodka, hibiscus, mint and lime served in a glass rimmed with pink peppercorn; and the lush Blackberry Smash with muddled blackberry, lemon juice, bay leaf syrup and Litchfield County Bourbon is a summer must-order.

VINO VALUES
If you eat out on Win(e)down Wednesdays, every bottle of wine under $100 is half-price

HOURS
Tuesday–Friday, lunch,  11:30 a.m.–3 p.m.; dinner, 5–9 pm;
Saturday, lunch, 11:30 a.m.–3 p.m.; dinner, 5–10 p.m.

 

 

A Gracious Update

We’re all shopping online more than ever before—even putting big-ticket items like rugs and chairs into our virtual carts. Still, there are times when you want to touch and feel something (and learn more about it) before making that purchase. Luxury bedding and bath is one of those categories and that happens to be a specialty of Gracious Home, the New York City housewares store that’s reinventing itself under the guidance of its new CEO, Greenwich’s Rob Morrison.

The retailer reopened its Manhattan store last spring with a smaller 3,000-square-foot footprint, but it’s expanding its online presence and considering a future storefront on Greenwich Avenue. “We have a tremendous number of consumers from Greenwich, whether they have dual homes or they just come into the city to shop,” says Rob, who notes that living in Greenwich helps him stay on the pulse of these core customers and understand their shopping habits. “I ship more to Greenwich than to the rest of Connecticut.”

For customers here and in Manhattan, Gracious Home 2.0 is paring down its selection to focus on the categories that have proven to be its most profitable. “Unless you’re Amazon, you can’t afford to be all things to all people, which we were trying to be, carrying everything from doorknobs to chandeliers,” he says. The store will stock a choice selection of upscale bedding (“sheets that get better with age if you take care of them and last fifteen to twenty years”), high-end bath, table linens as well as lighting and lightbulbs.

Gracious Home also offers a seamless online shopping experience. A new high-tech ordering system lets shoppers access their past purchases and ensures that the throw they’re buying online, for instance, will match the sheets they picked up in the store two months ago. GH also works closely with design professionals. With the new site, designers can log on to their private portals to access purchase history, organize orders for clients and receive a trade discount. But when designers or individual customers prefer to call the store directly and talk to the sales associate who’s been helping them for the past twenty years, they can do that too.

Looking to Refresh your own Abode? These are some of the Timeless Top Sellers

Yves Delorme Palais pillows

 

Kelly Wearstler Halcyon Table Lamp

 

Mike + Ally White Ice Bath Accessories

 

Yves Delorme Athena Bedding Collection

Ride On

A Spanish fashion brand founded by polo patron Oscar Bermudez has opened its first U.S. outpost in Greenwich. At the new MONTEPICAZA shop on the Avenue, the décor reflects the equestrian-inspired attire with illustrated horse wallpaper and window displays featuring polo mallets and balls. Shop here for men’s and women’s sportswear all made in Spain: cool jackets with patterned linings, gorgeous riding boots with tassels and real polo shirts (Bermudez outfits his two polo teams outside of Madrid in Montepicaza). Accessories such as duffle bags and purses with leather trim, bow ties and corded key chains with metal stirrups complete the look.

“Oscar has an eye for detail and wanted to offer what his competitors are not—fine tailoring that you won’t see anywhere else at this price point,” says Ellen Christian-Reed, who with partner Victor del Cerro brought the brand to the States. “Greenwich is a natural launching point for the brand because it aligns with the lifestyle and demographics, classic and elegant,” she says, also noting that there are fifty stores in Spain, and she is looking at Nantucket, The Hamptons and Palm Beach as possible future sites. This summer expect a colorful collection of skirts, dresses and trousers as well as shoes. Montepicaza will also participate in the Polo Family Fun Day on June 18 at Greenwich Polo Club, which will include sale of the collection and a mini fashion show.

371 Greenwich Avenue, 203-542-5360; montepicazausa.com

 

 

Dream Weavers

Above: Elegantly appointed bedrooms are a Togas specialty.

In our quest for the perfect night’s sleep, many of us are no strangers to luxury linens. But even those well-versed in the highest-end brands may find themselves cozying up to something new after scoping out the selection at TOGAS HOUSE OF TEXTILES: Think hand-drawn patterns and fabrics (cashmeres, silks, crisp cottons) that beg to be touched.

This family-owned Greek company, founded in 1926, recently opened its first U.S. store in Greenwich; a boutique on Fifth Avenue will follow later this year. Togas offers a range of coordinating linens, towels and more. “Everything is orchestrated by our creative team in Greece with a sophisticated approach, it’s not matchy-matchy,” says Paula Tovitch, store manager. The patterns represent an eclectic mix of styles, opulent and traditional looks as well as modern silhouettes.

To create bespoke bedding, draperies and upholstery with made-to-measure fabrics, the company’s designers make house calls, helping clients with color palettes and aesthetics. “We’ll sketch three possible versions for a design for a bedroom,” says Paula. Togas also works with interior designers, offering a trade discount. Beyond the bedding, draperies, table linens and accessories, Togas specializes in the nuts and bolts of bedding, the duvets and pillows underneath it all. Choose from Austrian and Mazurian down-filled duvets; cashmere and silk duvets filled with camel hair, which can be beneficial for people with arthritis. There’s even an anti-stress pillow, which features a grid of fine-gauge iron threads, and eco-friendly Lyocell sheeting (made with fibers from eucalyptus trees) that rivals silk in its softness.
51 East Putnam Ave., 203-900-1555; togas.com


STEP INSIDE

Here, just a sampling of the ultra-luxe offerings from togas house. We’re pretty sure you’ll never want to leave the house.


GORGEOUS TABLES
Jardin Tablecloth
Togas’ elegant offerings aren’t just for the bedroom.


SNUGGLE UP
Santorini Bathrobe
It’s perfect for comfy lounging.


MORE THAN A TOWEL
Olympia Gray Towels
Sure, they’ll dry you off, but they’ll also look gorgeous hanging in your bathroom.

 

 

Super Bowls

Photographs by Christian Harder
Above: The urban-Zen vibe is a welcome addition to the Rye dining scene  • Marketbowl of toasted quinoa, wild sockeye salmon, Sicilian cauliflower and spring radish

Our appetite for healthy fast food shows no sign of letting up, and Dig Inn brings a hip, farm-to-counter option to our area. A suburban outpost of the popular New York eatery, Dig Inn opened in the Rye Ridge Shopping Center a few months ago, serving up “vegetable-forward” dishes in a Zen-like open space, all light wood and marble with a completely open kitchen. You watch the cooking happen while you’re ordering, cafeteria/food hall style. Up front there’s a dining area with big communal tables that attracts a quick turnaround lunch crowd, and in back, the seating has more of a café feel with individual tables for people who want to linger over a cup of Counter Culture coffee, MatchaBar matcha or a glass of wine, local beer or cider.

Chic communal tables – Photo courtesy of DIG INN

The menu centers around what’s called a “Marketbowl,” and you pick your base, market sides and protein to create lunch or dinner in a bowl, or to make any meal vegetarian, opt for an extra side or grilled organic tofu as the protein. All calorie counts are listed, as well as what’s vegan and what contains soy, egg, dairy and gluten—helpful for those with restricted diets. The base choices include toasted quinoa with preserved lemon, brown rice and farm greens that change depending on what’s in season. We liked the blend of greens with kale, baby romaine, chervil and mint. Market sides range from seasonal veggies like sautéed broccoli with lemon and crunchy spring radishes to healthy takes on comfort foods such as cauliflower mac n’ cheese and roasted sweet potatoes. When I brought home the cauliflower mac n’ cheese as part of a “family meal” to go, my daughter devoured it as if it were the more sinful all-pasta version.

New sides for summer include tricolor carrots with rosewater vinaigrette, cantaloupe and arugula with lime leaf, roasted
asparagus and baby bok choy with yogurt and ranch. Fruits and vegetables are the stars here and mostly sourced from New York state farms: Burch Farms, Satur Farms, Eden Valley Growers, Red Jacket Orchards and more than a dozen others. Still, we also enjoyed the proteins, in particular the charred chicken—juicy pieces of thigh meat—and the wild sockeye salmon.

Kids dig the Happy Valley Meatballs, and they can order from the Little Digs Menu too, opting for mini marketbowls, crispy quinoa chicken nuggets and almond butter and banana sandwiches, waffle bites and other treats. On the weekends brunch is served with egg sandwiches, quinoa waffles, yogurt parfaits and more to pair with your coffee. Catering is also available for events, parties and office lunches. If you’re eating here for dinner, the prices seem quite reasonable at $9.78 to $12.81 per meal.

Tricolor carrots with rosewater vinaigrette • Artwork with a message

DIG INN
112 South Ridge Street, Rye Brook, NY
914-305-8463; diginn.com

 

 

Case Study

If your summer plans call for plenty of vacation time without any packing headaches, these It bags should be on the itinerary. When Kelly Corroon, a world traveler who has worked for Ralph Lauren and Chanel, searched for the perfect luggage, she couldn’t find quite the right bags so she created her own line. Here, she shares thoughts on organizing for travel and making the most of your next trip.

TELL US ABOUT YOUR GREENWICH CONNECTION.
We moved to Greenwich two years ago from Hong Kong. We love the diversity of the people, the proximity to New York City and the beauty of the area. I have lots of cousins and friends who
grew up here.

WHAT INSPIRED YOU TO START A LUGGAGE BUSINESS?
I grew up with a steady diet of stories and photos of the Corroon family traveling in the ’30s and ’40s, and I have always loved to travel. As we raised our three kids in London and Hong Kong over the last decade, we were able to indulge this passion. All the bags
I had during this time seemed to fall short in some way. I saw a gap in the market for things that had a sense of personality and style but didn’t cost a fortune. My background was in marketing, but I knew nothing about design or production, so it has been a learning-on-the-fly type of endeavor.

Around the world: Kelly in India, and with her family in Namibia

WHAT’S SPECIAL ABOUT YOUR BAGS?
We focus on weight, functionality and color. It’s frustrating to have a bag that’s heavy before you even put a sock in it, so we sourced very lightweight canvas from England that’s also water- and stain-resistant. All our women’s totes have a snap-out clutch that functions as an extra pocket when you travel and then as a smaller purse for nights out on the town. We pair unusual color combinations so that the bags feel fresh. Each bag is named for a place or a travel experience, and researching these names is part of my ritual in any international destination. It drives my kids crazy!

FAVORITE FROM YOUR OWN COLLECTION?
The Big Daddy, named for the highest sand dune in Namibia, is the workhorse in the collection. We have a great collaboration with Veronica Beard in New York doing hand-painted monograms, which has given it a fun edge.

PERSONAL TRAVEL TIPS?
Whenever possible I try to use travel agents that only specialize in the region I plan to travel. Local knowledge is the best way to get off the beaten tourist track. I always bring my running shoes and get the lay of the land in the early morning so I’m oriented before the day begins.

From weekenders to suitcases to men’s dopp kits, there’s a Corroon bag for you.

CARRY-ON ESSENTIALS?
I plan my onboard bag with meticulous precision, which means lots of smaller, purpose-specific bags inside to stay organized. I pack a few of our nylon Sungkay bags: one for chargers; one for glasses, hand cream, lip balm. And I never travel without a toothbrush! I always bring an oversized cashmere wrap. In fact, we’re launching our own collection with Andraab, a well-loved resource from Jaipur, as we expand into the whole travel-lifestyle category.

ALL-TIME FAVORITE DESTINATIONS?
Tops on your bucket list? That’s so hard! We took a family trip to Namibia and Botswana last summer, and their raw beauty took my breath away. I also loved the sensory overload of India. Feeding the monks in Laos with my children at dawn was another unforgettable experience. This summer I am doing a fly-fishing trip to Iceland with one of my daughters. Next up for me are Russia and Ethiopia.

corroon.com

 

 

Northern Exposure

Photographs by Wes Tarca
Above: Pappardelle with pulled smoked Long Island duck, trio of mushrooms and caramelized onions

Go North, young man,” must be the directive for top New York chefs and restaurateurs looking to branch out. Over the past decade, some noteworthy culinary talent has migrated to Westchester, and the trend continues at Tredici North in Purchase. Chef Giuseppe Fanelli, who worked at Rao’s and Felidia (Lidia Bastianich’s flagship) among other Manhattan restaurants before heading up the kitchen at Tre Dici in Chelsea, brings finesse and creativity to the table at this modern Italian eatery. When it opened last year, Tredici North joined the well-populated field of Italian restaurants in our area, but it distinguishes itself with some seriously cool design by Michael Macaluso and contemporary takes on classics—such as Ravioli Zucca, a burrata-filled pasta with butternut squash crema in brown butter with sage and finished with a whiskey sugar brûlée.

Homemade Kobe beef ravioli with carmelized onions and Fontina Val d’Aosta in caramelized butter

Word seems to be out about the quality experience here, as we could only get a very early reservation on a recent Saturday night and by the time we left, the bar and small waiting area by the door were packed and every table filled. Beyond the valet as you enter, paneled glass partitions lead to the dining room with a variety of tables, some surrounded by circular tufted-red-leather banquettes and others by ivory upholstered wing chairs; a wall of onyx acts as the focal point on one side of the room and the gold-lit bar with coppery bar stools on the other. Upstairs, there’s a small dining room (just five tables) decked out in black velvet damask wallpaper and red chandeliers. If you’re looking for a romantic or quieter spot, upstairs will work, but if you prefer the buzz of a see-and-be-seen atmosphere, be sure to request the main dining room.

“Inside-out” meatballs

Chef Giuseppe tweaks the menu to take advantage of what’s in season and black truffles figured prominently on the night we visited, turning up in the arrancini, mac and cheese and several entrées. Among the apps we tried, a shaved Brussels sprout salad nicely melded flavors and textures, picking up sweetness from pieces of roasted butternut squash and a drizzle of chestnut honey, crunchiness from sliced apple and rich, chewy bites from duck bacon. Playing to meatball fans, the chef’s “inside-out” meatballs are a real hit: a savory blend of panko-breaded meat stuffed with fresh mozzarella and ricotta.

Nutella lasagna
Veal T-bone Parmigiano

The lineup of homemade “macaroni” here is truly tempting, with creative options such as a Kobe beef ravioli (it won Best of Westchester) and gnocchi with a white veal ragu and chopped roasted chestnuts. A pappardelle is served with Long Island duck that’s smoked in-house, and the whole dish comes out fragrant with black truffle essence and a hint of vanilla. Wide ribbons of pasta are topped with the shredded duck, wild mushrooms and caramelized onions to a melt-in-your-mouth effect. The free-range chicken entrée resembles scarpiello but seems lighter than some versions, a crispy whole chicken leg garnished with potato chips and served on a bed of mixed mushrooms, sausage and cherry peppers, with the vinegary flavor of the peppers infusing the dish. Veal T-bone Parmigiano is a massive chop that’s not overly breaded and topped with a tasty marinara and ample melted mozzarella and served with a side of spaghetti—enough to feed two people. For those craving something lighter, there are seafood dishes like black sea bass over roasted cauliflower purée and pistachio and mustard seed-crusted organic salmon with pomegranates and blood-orange reduction.

 

After such a hearty meal, who could think of dessert? Yet our arms were easily twisted when the options of Nutella lasagna and banana chocolate chip gelato were mentioned. That dessert version of lasagna is composed of layers of chocolate wafers sandwiching hazelnut and chocolate whipped cream with toasted hazelnuts on top, and it’s best for sharing and eating right away while the wafers are still a bit crisp. Another sweet way to cap your meal is to stick around for live music on Thursday nights. When we left around 8:30, this hip and lively spot was just getting into the swing of it.


QUICK BITES

WINTER CHEERS
Try one of the seasonal cocktails: The Drunk’n Pumpk’n with pumpkin-infused vodka and amaretto; the Icicle with Icelandic vodka and blue curacao, ice wine and white grape juice; and a cherry-orange blend with brandy in Billy the Kid.

CHEF’S PICKS
Chef Giuseppe Fanelli’s favorite dishes on his current menu are the shaved Brussels sprout salad; Ravioli Zucca filled with homemade burrata, pumpkin and squash; and the Berkshire pork chop.

GROOVE ON
Tredici North hosts live music on select Thursdays, at least once a month. Check Facebook for dates and times.


TREDICI NORTH
578 Anderson Hill Road, Purchase, NY
914-997-4113; tredicinorth.com

HOURS
Tue. & Wed. 11:30 a.m.–10 p.m.
Thur. & Fri. 11:30 a.m.–11 p.m.
Sat.  5–11 p.m.
Sun. 4–9 p.m.

Paleo Passion Foods

Whether you’re trying to get your kids to eat healthier, looking for a guilt-free dessert or avoiding processed foods, Paleo Passion Foods has an answer to your cravings. The company, founded by Martin and Kim Sands, who have lived in Greenwich for twenty-five years and raised their four kids here, includes a line of ice pops, grainless granolas and nut butters—all gluten-and dairy-free, with no added sugars and many are vegan. The pops, which were introduced in late 2014 and first hit the supermarket shelves locally at Whole Foods, manage to sneak in nutritious superfoods such as chia seeds, flaxseeds, green tea, pomegranate, kale, spinach and sweet potato. Flavors ranging from apple crisp to strawberry passion are all delicious enough that kids will enjoy them as much as you do; these pops get their sweetness from pear or pineapple juice or other fruits.

“Our brand is all about healthier, cleaner quality foods, free from all the bad stuff that you shouldn’t be eating,” says Martin. That means no chemicals, no dyes. “When you walk down the supermarket aisles today, the big buzzword is a clean label, meaning you can read the side panel and actually know what it means.” Paleo Pops caught on quickly and as the company developed new flavors, it also added other foods to the brand, including a baked Grainless Granola made from walnuts (high in omega-3s) and almonds as well as ingredients like shredded coconut, maple syrup, pumpkin seeds, flaxseed and nut butters made from unblanched almonds.

Today, the brand is carried in more than 3,000 stores around the country and appeals to a diverse audience, from fitness fanatics to diabetics to vegans to the average person seeking a nutritious alternative. As large chains and even drugstores have been picking up on the healthy-eating craze, Paleo Passion Foods will soon be available at an even wider range of stores including Walmart. Plans are in the works for snack-sized packaging and other brand extensions including frozen meal entrees, nut butters, cookies and bars. “Fast food is here to stay. Everybody’s on the go and in a rush, so the idea is to give people something as healthy as possible in that category,” says Martin. “We’re super excited about our growth.” paleopassionfoods.com


DON’T-MISS TREATS

1. COCONUT CRAZE
If you love coconut desserts but not the high calories and sugar that go along with them, try Kim’s Kokonut pops. Kim, the company’s cofounder and nutritional adviser, spent ten months working with her team to develop a coconut pop that’s creamy and sweet without being loaded with calories or sugar. The pops are also dairy-free.

2. KID FAVORITE
A classic summertime flavor, the Strawberry Passion Pop gets sweetness from apple juice and passion fruit; kids will never know that the popsicles also contain healthy flaxseeds.

3. CHOCOLATE FIX
The Choco-Nuts flavored Grainless Granola made from walnuts blended with shredded coconut and dark chocolate (cacao powder, cocoa butter and wildflower honey) also contains sunflower seeds and pumpkin seeds.

 

 

The Sweet Life

Photographs by Julie Bidwell
Above left: Sweet nostalgia: At By the Way Bakery the cookies are sized just right for making homemade ice cream sandwiches. Right: Owner Helene Godin

Everything about By the Way Bakery feels nostalgic in a comforting way: the scent of the almond cookies, the buttercream-colored cabinets, the light fixture made from Mason jars and the French rolling pin used as a door handle. The bakery, with its design that’s part grandma’s kitchen and part modern sweets shop, is big on samples, so before you’ve even sized up the pretty cakes and treats, someone is likely to offer you a taste of the madeleines or sour-cherry coffee cake. But one thing about By the Way stands out as being decidedly 2017— all the cakes, cookies, challah bread and other treats in the shop are gluten-free, dairy-free and kosher.

Here, visitors instantly feel welcome

When Helene Godin opened her first By the Way in Hastings on Hudson, New York, five years ago, it wasn’t because she or anyone in her family needed to cut gluten from their diets, but simply because it made sense to the former lawyer from a business point of view. “Four days after I quit my job, I announced to my family, ‘I’m going to open a bakery,’ and my sons and husband looked at me and said, ‘But you don’t know how to bake!’” Helene recalls with a laugh. “I said, no problem, because I’m going to open a gluten-free bakery and no one knows how to do that well. I won’t be constrained by old habits.” She dove into the idea and went to a vegan baking boot camp at the Natural Gourmet Institute. Though today she doesn’t do any baking herself—instead she hired a strong team—those early days helped her develop treasured recipes and learn how to trick rice into thinking that it’s wheat. And for her chocolate chip cookies, she tinkered with her recipe “sixty-two times, easy,” before being satisfied.

Her perfectionist approach paid off, with baked goods so tasty that many customers were driving far out of their way for the gluten-free, kosher treats from the Hastings shop. Soon, she opened a location in Manhattan and expanded the business to include custom cakes. You can also buy packages of her cookies and treats in eighteen Whole Foods stores. Everything is mixed and baked by hand in a 7,000-square-foot commercial kitchen in Pleasantville. Each week the team churns out 1,500 pounds of flour (a mix of white rice, brown rice, sorghum, potato starch and tapioca) and all kinds of layer cakes, from black-and-white to red velvet. Brides can order custom wedding cakes that they can enjoy with their guests, who won’t taste any difference—telling them, “By the way,” it’s gluten-free. Says Helene: “I love the idea of baking for inclusion, bringing people together. The thing that makes me happiest is when I get a note from a mom about how she served a birthday cake and all the kids ate it and her kid didn’t feel different.”

DON’T MISS TREATS

1. THE COCONUT CLOUD
“It’s my dinner party go-to,” says Helene. This pretty, fluffy white cake is made with a coconut flavored cake and a cream cheese-like frosting (“customers can’t believe it’s dairy free”) and coconut chips.

2. ORANGE-ALMOND CAKE
“I think of it like a little black dress because it’s perfect for a brunch but it also works for a dinner with an espresso or glass of port at the end of the meal.”

3. CHOCOLATE CHIP COOKIES
These luscious cookies are sized just right for making homemade ice cream sandwiches, which you can make with vegan ice cream or sorbet for those who stick to a dairy-free diet.

19 East Putnam Avenue, 203-489-3610; btwbakery.com

 

 

In Vino Veritas

Above: Sommelier John Freitas

Do you tend to order the same kind of wine and familiar labels every time you eat out? John Freitas, the sommelier at l’escale, might just change that. Wine Spectator recognized l’escale with its award of excellence, and John is passionate about introducing people to new vintages, lesser-known regions and also helping them find great values. “The fun part is educating people. It’s such a pleasure when people ask me to pair the wine with their food,” says John, who grew up in an Italian family in Brazil and originally came to the United States for school and to play soccer, but quickly developed a love of wine while working in restaurants. He learned the business over the years working for the Marc Restaurant Group in New York and Greenwich and also by traveling around France, Italy, Germany, Oregon, California and many other wine-producing regions to meet with wine makers. He has completed multiple levels of courses in his quest for the designation of Master Sommelier (there are only a couple of hundred in the world).

Since joining l’escale in 2014, John’s been bringing diversity to the wine list, noting “I don’t see l’escale just being French at all, especially the wine program. I try to match the kitchen, the chef and, most important, what the customers like,” he says. Chef Frederic notes that John has an amazing knack for knowing the guests, studying their palates and remembering what they like while also inviting them to sample something new. “We change the wine list and print a new list almost every day, especially in the summer,” says John, who does multiple tastings each week in search of great new wines. “It’s fun to work in a place where you can do that.”

Wine preferences are very personal, of course, and the options are vast, but we asked John to share suggestions for lesser-known bottles and terrific values. Here are a few of his recommendations for broadening your wine horizons:

BAROLOS
If you love Italian reds like Barolos, Brunellos and Barbarescos, try Aglianico, a wine from the Campania region of southern Italy. “It’s a monster, a full-bodied wine from a grape called Aglianico. It grows around Mount Vesuvius. It’s gorgeous and the price is so low compared to the big Bs.”

BURGUNDY
If you love wines from Burgundy, look to the smaller villages. John likes Santenay in the south for reds and Saint Alvin for whites. “Saint Alvin, which is in the middle of the two Montrachets, is like the poor cousin that nobody talks about. We sell it for about $80 and The Puligny Montrachet is like $200. To be honest with you, I think the Saint Alvin is better. It’s also comparable to Chassagne Montrachet.”

CABERNETS
If you love full-bodied Napa cabernets, look for wines from places like Alexander Valley in Sonoma, and Santa Maria Valley in Santa Barbara, and also Washington State, which is the second-largest producer of wines in the United States and very much up-and-coming. “The quality in Washington State is amazing with the cabernets and merlots especially, which we call Bordeaux varietals. We now have four Washington wines on our list.”

 

 

Fancy Pants

Photograph by Julie Bidwell
Above: Inside the Armoire

UNDERCOVER
Sexy, chic—and comfortable. What’s not to love?

Stylish women don’t get dressed without fashionable, well-fitting undergarments too. If you need to replenish your supply of cute-but-comfortable unmentionables or your bras and panties have seen better days, scope out the selection at Inside the Armoire, which stocks elegant lines like Marie Jo, Simone Perele, Chantelle, Eberjey and Cosabella. The boutique owned by Karen Papadopoulos, who also has a shop in Long Island, specializes in customer service. “It’s our goal here to have relationships with our customers,” says Karen. “This is an intimate purchase and we want them to feel comfortable.”

We’ve all heard that every woman needs a proper bra fitting, and the pros here can have you sized correctly in fifteen minutes without using a tape measure (about 80 percent of us are wearing the wrong size, experts say). Once you’ve got the right size, the biggest trend now in bras is color. “Ladies are mixing it up,” says Karen.

Loungewear is also extremely popular, pieces that are cozy for relaxing at home but presentable enough for walking the dog and running errands. Her boutique carries several brands of chic lounge-wear as well as pj’s, plush robes, and lingerie—all great gift ideas for Mother’s Day.

45 East Putnam Ave.; 203-422-2055; insidethearmoire.com

 

 

Time to Shine

GET GLOWING
Co-owner Jonathan Pelly gives a customer a mineral boost.

Could diamonds be your skin’s best friend too? At a new luxury skincare boutique called Kristals, opened recently on the already gem-studded Avenue, co-owner Jonathan Pelly says the answer is yes. “Minerals come from nature and they really are naturally effective,” says the skin care pro about the special ingredients used in trace amounts in products such an Antigravity Spark Eye Mask, which blends soluble collagen and other boosters with diamond powder. Diamonds have light reflective properties that can make skin look younger and brighter and they’re also beneficial as an exfoliant. You can treat your skin to Gold Perfecting Cream, Rock Crystal Refining Moisturizer, Rose Quartz Cream as well as the Ruby Super Wrinkle Kit, which Pelly calls an alternative to Botox as it contains ingredients for immediate skin firming. The line addresses all kinds of skincare needs, such as uneven skin tone, age spots, wrinkles and loss of elasticity. At the new Kristals location, a chic space with white-washed floors, hide rugs, white leather lounge chairs and a touch of bling from three crystal chandeliers hanging above, you can also schedule facials with an esthetician who offers customized treatments in the spa rooms in back. Pelly, who’s been working with the Kristals line for a decade, says he spent time in Greenwich during the summer while growing up and has always wanted a business in town: “It was a dream to open here.”

229 Greenwich Ave.; 203-769-7900; kristals.com


ROCK STARS
check out some of the lotions and potions, and the gems that give them their power

GM-TN-TimetoShine-1Super Facial Serum
GM-TN-TimetoShine-2RUBY

Key Characteristics
Strengthens and nourishes the skin.
Creates a youthful glow.
Promotes overall skin health.

GM-TN-TimetoShine-324K Gold Eye
Perfecting Cream

GM-TN-TimetoShine-4GOLD

Key Characteristics
Nourishes skin with antioxidants.
Increases skin’s elasticity and flexibility.
Reduces the appearance of wrinkles.

GM-TN-TimetoShine-5Multi-Vitamin C
Dark-Spot Corrector

GM-TN-TimetoShine-6AMBER

Key Characteristics
Minimizes the appearance of pores.
Reduces fine lines.
Evens skin tone.

GM-TN-TimetoShine-7Multi Action Toner
GM-TN-TimetoShine-8ROCK CRYSTAL

Key Characteristics
Cleanses and protects the skin.
Moisturizes.
Promotes overall skin health.

 

 

Art de Vivre

Those in search of stylish home upgrades—from sconces and chandeliers to rugs and accessories—will find a chic selection at Interieurs, a new design studio in Cos Cob owned by designer Francine Gardiner. The French-born tastemaker, who had a shop in SoHo and later in New York’s Design District for more than twenty years, has moved her business closer to her home in Stamford, though she is still working with clients in the city and internationally.

“I really wanted to be in this area,” says Francine of the new location. “I like to discover and create, and this place has a more intimate type of feeling.” The soothing 800-square-foot shop displays vignettes that reflect Francine’s eye for design, her travels and her modern European sensibility, but the inventory represents only a fraction of the furnishings she sells (larger items such as tables, sofas, beds can all be ordered). A few of the accents you can view in person: sconces and fixtures from Tekna lighting, a range of rug samples from luxury Belgian line Limited Edition (LE), exclusive to Interieurs lighting by Jose Estevez, hand-blown glass pendants by Siemon & Salazar as well as art, textiles and gifts such as fabrics woven by an artist in Senegal, gold-leaf glasses and Belgian jewelry.

Though Francine has designed for big names and her installations are featured in Hollywood homes, she also has a passion for helping younger clients get started. Influenced by her twentysomething sons and their friends who are settling into their first homes, she is working on a concept for Millennials called “Design in a Box.” She will create packages with three or four options for pieces of furniture that all work together visually, representing different looks. Her edited choices will make it easier for people to furnish their spaces. “I want to help younger people have a design vision.” 238 East Putnam Ave., interieurs.com

Hey, Good Lookin’

Isn’t it high time to treat yourself to some beyond-the-basics care: a rejuvenating, volumizing facial to perk up your skin or a luxe treatment to repair overprocessed locks, perhaps? The top talent at our town’s spas and salons can help you bring your beauty A-game, but which treatments should you book? We indulged in a few and talked to the pros to get their advice on the latest and greatest, the beauty secrets of those who always seem to shine.

Glowing Skin

The Spa at Delamar
500 Steamboat Road; 203-661-9800; delamargreenwich.com

Thanks to advances in the technology, MICRO-NEEDLING is one hot skin treatment right now. The process involves the tiniest of needles, often applied using a roller-type device, that inflict very minor injury to the top layer of the skin. This triggers your skin to create new collagen (part of its normal healing process), and also allows serums to reach deeper into the skin, helping plump the face in a more natural way. Although some needling treatments can be painful and require numbing cream prior to appointments, The Spa at Delamar manages to blend relaxation and results with its new MICRO PUNCTURE LAB, using a machine and serums from Biologique Recherche.

During the procedure, special serums are applied using the micro-puncture machine. Then, while a cooling marine-based collagen mask soothes your skin, enjoy a relaxing neck, shoulder, arm and hand massage with an antiaging, hydrating moisturizer that contains essence of yams, an ingredient that also helps balance hormones. Finally, the aesthetician applies chilled cryo-sticks along the contours of the face for further cooling and lifting while also closing the pores. Bonus: Throughout this treatment, you’ll lay on an amethyst biomat, which promotes relaxation and eases muscle tension. End result? Brighter, smoother, firmer skin and a relaxed state of mind. Another cutting-edge skin plumper at The Spa at Delamar is the HYALURONIC ACID STRIPS that the aesthetician applies directly to the skin to target fine lines. The special strips are created using a 3-D printer and imbued with skin-boosting serums; you can request them as an add-on to a facial.


GLOsquad

95 East Putnam Avenue; 203-340-0790; glosquad.com

If you fall into the dull-skin-but-no-time-for-a-facial camp, GLOsquad has created a lineup of QUICK SKIN FIXES BASED ON PROBIOTICS. “People need to balance their hormones and provide the essential nutrients needed for their skin to glow,” says Michelle Baizer Cooper, GLOSquad cofounder and health and wellness expert, who recommends an at-home regimen to clients to complement the treatments offered at their skin lounge. This is the only area salon to carry Wellco, Elle McPherson’s super elixir of plant-based protein, and it’s been selling out, Michelle says. For maximum results and a refreshed face, try the GLOBIOTIC YOUTH BOOST FACIAL, which uses topical probiotics to stimulate collagen and brighten and tighten the skin. The service takes just twenty-five minutes.


Hopscotch

10 Railroad Avenue; 203-661-0107; hopscotchsalon.com

Though Hopscotch is known for its hair expertise, clients are also rejuvenating their skin here with the new DERMAPLANING service with aesthetician Suzanna Kudzinowski, who has been written up in Vogue. Once a trade secret in the modeling biz, dermaplaning gently removes the outermost layer of dead skin cells and fine facial hair. This skin refresh requires no downtime and can be done as frequently as every two weeks. Suzanna also does REJUVENATING MICROCURRENT and LED LIGHT TREATMENTS in addition to her signature brow shaping.


Body Work

The Spa at Delamar

Celebs swear by detoxing treatments, and now you can indulge in a DETOX BODY WRAP at The Spa at Delamar. The ninety-minute treatment combines massage techniques with Biologique Recherche algae and seaweed, plus essential oils, applied to your body, which is then wrapped in a heated blanket. The effect is detoxifying to help with slimming and cellulite control. The aesthetician selects a blend of essential oils tailored to your body’s and skin’s needs. For overall skin toning and firming, the DELUXE BODY LIFT is a facial for the body that involves exfoliation and micro-current therapy for toning and skin tightening.


Dream Spa

151 Greenwich Avenue; 203-629-2525; dreamdayspa.com

Ever book a pedicure just for the foot massage? At the new Reflex Lounge at Dream Spa, you can skip the polish but still enjoy a half hour to hour of STRESS-RELIEVING MASSAGE AND REFLEXOLOGY. The word “CHILL” is painted in white on the lounge’s gray wall, and chill you will as your feet, arms and hands receive the royal treatment. You recline in first-class leather seating with an oversized terry-covered cushion propping up your lower legs. Depending on the service you choose, legs and feet will be scrubbed with essential oils and then treated to a soothing masque followed by a hot stone massage. The aestheticians are trained in reflexology methods and apply pressure to appropriate points on your feet and/or hands to promote energy. The lounge’s four chairs are separated by long white drapes that close to create privacy when you want to bliss-out solo or open up for friends who want to catch up and relax at the same time. Short on time? Two therapists can work at once to treat both your hands and feet in half an hour.

For a straight-up massage that’s not only relaxing but healing, ask for Dalia at Dream. She has just the right touch—even her voice is soothing—and she’s skilled at locating your most tense muscles and coaxing them back into shape.


J House Spa

1114 East Putnam Avenue; 203-698-6980; jhousespa.com

Need head-to-toe rejuvenation? The PURE ZEN SERVICE at the J House Spa, a newer boutique spa and wellness center within the hotel, combines a classic Swedish massage with a foot-refresher treatment that includes a sugar-scrub exfoliation, soothing wrap and foot massage. End with the ANTI-AGING FACIAL using products by Natura Bisse, customized to your skin.


Dream Hair

Warren Tricomi
1 E Putnam Avenue; 212.262.8899; warrentricomi.com

At Warren Tricomi, the latest hair fix centers around new technology. “We have some exciting innovations heading to our Greenwich and NYC-based salons,” says Edward Tricomi, stylist and cofounder of Warren Tricomi Salons. The game changer is a new STEAM-CONDITIONING TREATMENT that leaves hair looking and feeling its best. “This steaming machine treats damaged hair with microscopic water particles that go deep into the hair follicles. The mist is not only amazing for your hair, but it’s a relaxing experience that we know our clients will love.


Jaafar Tazi Salon

149 Greenwich Avenue; 203-340-2525; jaafartazi.com

If you’re tired of dealing with damaged, lackluster hair from years of coloring or environmental wear-and-tear, the beauty buzzword to know is OLAPLEX. “It’s changed my whole career as a colorist. It’s the most innovative product being used,” says veteran color pro Lea Arpell of Jaafar Tazi Salon, who raves about Olaplex as part of her custom color process. Created by two University of California chemists with multiple patents pending, Olaplex repairs broken bonds in the hair (which make up elasticity and tensile strength) to keep hair shiny, healthy and strong, even when you’re opting for the latest ombre look or going from brunette to light blonde. “All of our art looks better as a result,” says Lea. Another top treatment involves FUSIO-DOSE BY KERASTASE and its various boosters and concentrates as part of a hair transformation that’s completely custom. For instance, the stylist could mix a blend that adds body and moisture or protein and shine, depending on your hair’s needs.


Becker

380 Greenwich Avenue; 203-340-9550; beckersalon.com

Becker is known for delivering top-notch cuts and color at his namesake salon. Now clients can treat themselves to his BECKER SIGNATURE TREATMENT to retexturize hair and add major shine. “The formula created by Becker is tweaked to the individual depending on the hair’s look, feel and texture,” says Danielle Torres, salon manager. His cocktail of four products remedies hair troubles by demineralizing (taking out chlorine and well-water residue), strengthening texture, repairing damage and adding keratin. Schedule the treatment for one week after your cut or color.


Hopscotch

Ladies who like to stay on trend are expanding their color palettes for hair, increasingly turning to fashionably gray/silver as well as other colors, says Christian-Angel, manager of Hopscotch Salon. He notes that clients are also seeking long-term solutions for manageability. “Clients want their results to expand beyond the typical life span that Keratin treatment can provide,” says Pam Wade, senior stylist and thermal reconditioning specialist. “JAPANESE RECONDITIONING is an easy, permanent solution to smooth locks with minimal maintenance.”


Toni & Guy

181 Greenwich Avenue; 203-869-4500; toniguy.com

For precision cuts with European flair, talk to the Pirri brothers who command the stylists’ chairs at Toni & Guy. Piero and Luigi Pirri have been doing hair in town since 1992 and recently became associated with the Toni & Guy salon group. In a modern space above Greenwich Avenue, they work with clients to determine the ideal cut and color. “Right now people are being more playful with their color,” says Piero, who does specialized looks such as OMBRE AND BALAYAGE. “It’s reminding me of Madonna and the ’80s.” To improve the condition of your hair, ask for the Pirri treatment: A blend of natural ingredients, including extracts such as carrot and wild cherry bark, is applied to the hair to achieve different results depending on the need, boosting shine, moisture and volume.

 

 

The Fab Five

Photograph: Cai Pandolfino, co-owner of Green & Tonic

So many of us vow to eat well and live healthier in the New Year that it’s become a resolution cliché—but also a worthwhile goal. For motivation we turned to Cai Pandolfino, co-owner of Green & Tonic (a plant-based food and drink spot with five Fairfield County locations including Cos Cob and downtown) and a busy mom of three. “January in Connecticut presents conflicting urges,” says Cai. “We want to get out there and be healthy, trim, light … all the while craving things that keep us cozy, warm and satisfied. I like putting together a balanced portfolio of wellness goals—some easier, some involving a bigger stretch.” Here, a few of Cai’s tricks. greenandtonic.com

  1. Hydrate  

    I cut a lemon into eight slices in the morning and keep them in a Ziploc bag, putting one wedge into each big glass of water I drink during the day to keep count. Lemon water is a natural way to detoxify and get vitamin C.

  2. Embrace healthy fats

    Avocado, nuts (milks, butters, oil), coconut (milk, meat, oil) make a meal more satisfying.
    I add coconut milk to smoothies and soups, dice up an avocado into black bean soup and add almond butter to my morning oatmeal. Healthy fats support digestion, hormones, vitamin absorption and blood sugar—all essential to hitting those weight-loss goals.

  3. Take a brave leap

    January may be the best month to try something new on the exercise front because if you’re new to it and a little nervous, you’ll find plenty of company. Be brave and swing for the fences! This past year, a few weeks after giving birth (post-forty pregnancy and recovery is a whole different ball game), my husband Jeff challenged me to try Crossfit. Greenwich CrossFit is awesome at scaling workouts to all levels.

  4. Bring the heat 

    Our bodies naturally slow down in winter, so any kind of circulation and metabolism support is welcome. Cayenne pepper brings the heat (it’s a natural immunity and metabolism booster), and the subtle warmth from fresh ginger is a great anti-inflammatory. I use both in smoothies and hot tea, and they’re also combined with lemon juice in my absolute favorite, the G&T Fireball.

  5. Go with your gut 

    Good digestion is the starting point for building a strong, balanced body (think strong immunity, balanced hormones, glowing skin, reduced inflammation). To kick-start any health resolution, make a habit of taking care of your gut. My go-to is Fire Cider, an ancient New England brew of raw apple cider vinegar, raw honey and citrus with a spicy kick that’s a natural source of probiotics. It supports immunity, digestion and circulation, and wards off bacteria. I take a shot in the morning, use it in vinaigrettes, and as a secret ingredient in the best-ever Bloody Mary.

Chic Bites

Photographs by Julie Bidwell

Set inside an impeccably restored 1912 Victorian, this chic shop-and-nosh spot can satisfy your taste buds and your holiday gift list in one fell swoop. Like Greenwich’s smaller version of Freds at Barneys, the place owned by Lisa Lori blends a luxury goods boutique with a tiny but charming café. The Perfect Provenance is stocked with handpicked items you can’t help but covet: fashion finds like velvet sneakers and gold leather cage sandals, luxe French fragrances, copper cocktail shakers, and even colorful Martone bicycles. Too many businesses toss around the term “curated” these days, but at Perfect Provenance it’s accurate, reflecting Lisa’s personal selection and ongoing art exhibits (Rock ‘n’ Roll launched this fall). The café features an evolving menu, too, recently shifting from French bistro favorites that paired with the exhibit We’ll Always Have Paris, to American classics with a twist to accompany the Rock ‘n’ Roll theme.

Given Lisa’s eye for detail, it’s fitting that she attracted Arik Bensimon to serve as her chef. A Culinary Institute of America grad, Chef Arik developed a serious following at LeFarm in Westport and Napa & Co, not to mention stints at Le Cirque and Picholine. Now in this café setting, he’s cooking for just five or six tables (plus a few more on the porch in season) and his pared-down menu showcases his talent. This is truly intimate dining.

Lunch here draws downtown shoppers to the café, which feels like its own destination. With its deep Hague Blue walls, brick walkways built from an old chimney and a refurbished original front door, the space could be an outpost in Litchfield or Vermont. From the latest lunch menu, some popular dishes include the Lucky Lobster Club, more decadent thanks to the black truffle mayo; a curried chicken salad on sourdough; the perfect grass-fed burger with bernaise sauce and a truffle macaroni and cheese. The chef gets creative with Devils on Horseback (bacon wrapped dates with blue cheese) and whips up seasonal soups, among many tasty starters.

When I visited “47” for dinner recently, it was a warm fall evening and we were able to sit outside on the porch. Dinner is served only on Thursday and Friday nights, and the brief menu comprises whatever Arik dreams up that week. We sampled and savored almost everything he cooked that evening. That night’s salad mixed a variety of greens with haricot vert, kohlrabi and currants along with sunflower and pumpkin seeds, a fresh combination that picked up a nutty flavor from the seeds and a hint of sweetness from lime–crème fraiche dressing. Another app that drew raves: a flavorful and not-at-all-chewy octopus plated with bites of chorizo, red pepper and potato topped with a fresh herb sauce and sprinkling of smoked paprika. We also enjoyed a starter of spicy lamb sausage with peppers and eggplant. The mains we tried were devoured with gusto—an Alaskan salmon with summer squash topped with sorrel in a bright, lemony sauce, and a tender beef brisket that’s not overly sauced and served with butter beans and char.

We enjoyed iced tea with our meal, but if you prefer wine, you’ll have to bring a bottle (there’s no liquor license) and pay the $10 corkage fee. Service was on the slow side considering the small number of tables. Also, we were disappointed that there was no decaf coffee to go along with the excellent desserts: chocolate budino (a mousse-like pudding with whipped cream and chunks of chocolate) and ice cream sandwiches with homemade chocolate chip cookies and strawberry ice cream.

Don’t be surprised if you find yourself shopping between courses. After dinner we wound up trying on tops and shoes upstairs at 10 p.m. In the end, some Scandinavian tableware proved irresistible. But whether you cap your meal by purchasing a wood-and-glass salad bowl or diving into a bowl of pear-ginger sorbet, you’re bound to leave with all cravings sated.


Café 47
47 Arch Street, 203-900-1131; theperfectprovenance.com
HOURS
Lunch/All-Day Menu,
Tuesday–Saturday,
11 a.m. to 6 p.m.
Dinner, Thursday and
Friday, 6–9 p.m.

Join the Club

For lifelong learners, digital exchanges such as online classes don’t come close to offering the same rewarding experience as watching live play readings, listening to speakers in person, or attending movie screenings with a group followed by an open and honest dialogue.

The Nantucket Project (TNP), headquartered in Greenwich, has created
a venue for thinkers to interact in at its annual “ideas conference” held in September on Nantucket. This year’s event attracted attendees with a diverse group of presenters: Deepak Chopra, Norman Lear, Christy Turlington Burns, Seth Godin,
Larry Gordon, Monica Lewinsky and dozens of others. The goal? “To exchange ideas, build strong relationships and share groundbreaking insights.” But for those
who aren’t able to attend this intellectual summit, local programming lets you experience TNP throughout the year.

A membership at TNP’s Mason Street Library ($500 annually) includes invites to a robust lineup of events as well as exclusive access to speakers, actors and scholars. “The library is similar to how Starbucks created that third place between work and home,” says Scott Williams, TNP president. The space, which opened during the Greenwich International Film Festival last June, is a spot where members can drop in for espresso, chat with founder Tom Scott and fellow members, use the speedy Wi-Fi and read any of the “world’s best magazines,” among other resources. Members are automatically invited to all of the ongoing events and can attend TNP speaker rehearsals. Though most of the events are free to the public, members receive priority and also have the chance to network with some of the area’s most creative people.

“Our hope is that we create this fellowship, a community that is 200 strong, and that they stay with us,” says Williams. “It’s for those who have
a curiosity that’s insatiable.”

Drama Club

The American National Theatre presents readings by actors Kelli O’Hara, Gabriel Macht and Jacqueline Antaramian. Des Moines on Thursday, November 10 and Famous Blue Raincoat on Thursday, December 1 at 7 p.m.    

Science & Health 

Dr. Richard B. Lipton, a brain expert and professor at the Albert Einstein College of Medicine, will present “The Aging Brain: Use it or Lose it” on Thursday, November 3.

Politics and History 

A special Election Night event is in the works. And on Tuesday, November 22, the anniversary of JFK’s assassination, author Paul Wolfe will read from his upcoming novel, The Book of Mary based on JFK’s lover and confidante Mary Pinchot Meyer.

Tech Films

Watch We Live in Public, a documentary about internet pioneer Josh Harris and the loss of privacy in the Internet age. Harris will then speak from Las Vegas via Highfive after the film on Thursday, November 17.  (Other recent viewings include the documentary Screenagers, covering tweens and teens who are addicted to screen time.)

Fatherhood 

A new parenting group for dads only will meet every other Tuesday to discuss topics such as raising resilient kids and regulating our emotions as parents.

Teenage Dream

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Land of Nod
Satellite pendant; $179.
landofnod.com

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RH Teen
Illuminated chalkboard oval speech bubble; $289.
rhteen.com

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Palacek
Rio tall basket; $283.80.
laylagrace.com

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cb2
Blaney 23”x 11” pillow with feather-down insert; $39.95.
cb2.com

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oomph
Easton secretary desk in oceanfront; $5,795.
Greenwich, 203-518-8068; oomphonline.com

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Jonathan Adler
Puli pouf in natural; $495.
Greenwich, 203-622-1476; jonathanadler.com

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Anthropologie
Dotty nailhead bed; $1,699.95 —$1,899.95.
anthropologie.com


All images courtesy of designers/brands

 

 

Birkenstocks Not Required

Above: Salmon avocado toast

If you’re the type who’s a healthy eater most of the time but craves a good old-fashioned bacon, egg and cheese now and then, the new Granola Bar has you covered. This casual breakfast and lunch spot founded by Westport moms Julie Mountain and Dana Noorily features a menu that speaks to what these food entrepreneurs felt was missing in the market. “When we started to create the café and granola bar, we realized we were hungry for a certain type of food, not a diner, not a white-napkin place but something with clean, simple food,” says Julie.

Though the new eatery on the Avenue has its roots in granola, which was the pair’s original business, the resulting menu is anything but crunchy. Instead, expect a lineup of all-day breakfast options, smoothies, avocado toast, salads and bowls, and satisfying sandwiches and wraps, most items with a health-conscious spin, such as the vegan roasted cauliflower chowder, power matcha smoothies and homemade paleo muffins.

Kale and turkey salad in a citrus vinaigrette
Kale and turkey salad in a citrus vinaigrette
Assorted yogurt parfaits
Assorted yogurt parfaits

Julie and Dana, both New York City transplants who now live in Westport, first partnered on a homemade granola line called Oats. It was started in Julie’s kitchen and quickly expanded, with the pair renting a kitchen space in Westchester and driving there at night after their kids were asleep. “It was quite the Thelma and Louise adventure,” says Dana. Soon, all of the Whole Foods stores in the Northeast were carrying their Oats granola line. When they opened a café in Westport with plans to make granola in the kitchen in back and serve coffee, yogurt and granola out front, the small restaurant took off, so much so that the granola biz took a back seat.

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Today in the restaurants, the granola is made daily in the kitchens, while other items are sourced from local purveyors, such as the organic yogurt from Glenview Farms and sausage from Fleishers used in a breakfast wrap and the Modern Farmly bowl. Everything is made to order, so you can also customize any dish. In a hurry? The grab-and-go case stocks popular items—all made that morning—so you can be in and out in two minutes. Of course, granola is still part of the mix, with five varieties made daily and several yogurt parfaits such as the Crunchy Elvis with vanilla-almond granola, almond butter, honey and banana. Also, don’t miss the new vegan cashew yogurt with mandarin oranges, toasted coconut and chia.

Dana Noorily and Julie Mountain
Dana Noorily and Julie Mountain

THE MOST- WANTED LIST
Popular dishes on the breakfast menu include the breakfast burrito and The Dana wrap with egg white, spinach, avocado and turkey bacon, while lunch favorites are avocado toast with different toppings, the Brussels and kale salad, the Buddha bowl with quinoa and eggs and the blackened salmon wrap.

GET BUZZED
The space has quickly become a hot spot for coffee, serving Toby’s Estate and Rise Nitro cold brew on tap. (There’s also a coffee bar for lingering with your java and recharging your devices.)


THE GRANOLA BAR
41 Greenwich Avenue,
203-883-5220; thegranolabarct.com

 

Portrait by Bruce Plotkin; salad and parfaits by Crissi Grimaldi; coffee by Kyle Norton

Drinks that Dazzle

When you’re planning a party, festive drinks count as much as the food. A bespoke cocktail caterer called The Cup Bearer, run by Justin Pasha, aims to elevate the home bar and cocktails to an art form. He helps to plan events with distinctive drinks and all the luxe accessories that go along with them, bringing his full cherry-wood bar with him to party locations. “We can transform your living room and backyard into a Manhattan cocktail lounge,” says Pasha, who has served at parties at The Greenwich Polo Club and Baccarat as well as many private fetes. “We show up and create an experience. The drinks are a small part of what we’re doing.” With his white-glove service, details matter: crystal glasses, old-fashioned soda syphons, copper tools and hand-chipped ice. Before any party, he meets with clients twice: first to discuss signature drinks and then again for a tasting. In addition to classic cocktails, he can re-create memorable vacation libations—that Painkiller from the BVIs or Pisco Sour from Peru—or put a twist on a favorite, such as a passion fruit mojito with bitters. Hot right now? Think Havana-inspired beverages and tiki culture, such as an expertly prepared mai tai.  thecupbearerct.com


CAN’T MISS COCKTAIL

THE PERSIAN LEMONADE
A mix of Crop organic cucumber vodka and fresh lemonade with muddled mint and a spritz of rose water

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MORE OF A DO-IT-YOURSELFER?

The Cup Bearer can pre-batch cocktails and deliver them for self-service in crystal beverage dispensers. An aficionado of tools of the trade—“I have a complete obsession with cocktail gear,” he says—Pasha can also outfit your home bar so you’ll be well-equipped for any type of gathering. Here’s what you need in order to mix, shake and stir like a pro.

  1.  A yarai, which is a Japanese mixing glass (available at cocktailkingdom.com)
  2. Quality hand juicer, zester and paring knife: “Freshness of ingredients is key,” he says.
  3. A Lewis bag, which is a canvas bag that you hit with a mallet to create crushed ice.
  4. Large metal bucket for storing ice and a metal scoop for transferring ice to glasses. It’s much more efficient than tongs, which can only move a cube at a time.
  5. Mixing glasses for Manhattans and martinis. (Rule of thumb: If a drink is just liquor, stir it; if it contains juice, shake it.)
  6. A martini stirring spoon
  7. Short-handled Hawthorne strainer
  8. A few types of bitters


PRO TIP
Vermouth should be refrigerated once it’s opened. It’s a wine and will go bad over time.


Photos: Trisha Keeler Photography

On Pointe

Above: Kayla Mak, daughter of a Beam & Barre employee, danced in the most recent Radio City Christmas Spectacular.

Dancers in town have long sourced their leotards, shoes and accessories from BEAM & BARRE, and the new Post Road location in Cos Cob gives them more to twirl about. The store catering to dancers, gymnasts and yoga moms has doubled in size, says owner Cara Milo, who’s also a part-time teacher at Greenwich Dance Studio and grew up dancing in town. She purchased the business two years ago when the former owner retired. Beam & Barre carries top-quality lines such as Ainslie leotards for dance, GK Elite for gymnasts and Vimmia yoga wear among others, with sizes for kids and adults. Well-known for its pointe-shoe fitting (Cara was helping with pre-recital sewing when we visited), Beam & Barre also stocks footwear and gear for hip-hop, jazz, tap and lyrical dance.

NEW TO THIS LOCATION
A party room with a hand-painted mural where Cara has started hosting birthday celebrations, ranging from dress-up and crafting for girls as young as four to yoga, pointe-shoe decorating and cake for tweens and teens.

NEED A GIFT?
Check out the edited selection of items for dancers: jewelry, fairy wings, puppets, wands, books and more. 241 East Putnam Avenue, 203-622-0591; beamandbarre.com

 

 

Lights Fantastic

Above: Place de Rome at Night, 1905 oil on canvas by Theodore Earl Butler

“Artists have been fascinated by light for centuries,” says Margarita Karasoulas, a curator at the Bruce Museum. So have scientists. Now the latest exhibits at the Bruce look at light and electricity from both perspectives, showcasing the museum’s focus on the relationship between art and science. Electric Paris explores the ways that nineteenth-century and turn-of-the-century artists responded to oil and gas lamps and newer electric lighting, while Electricity is a hands-on, interactive exhibit that brings the science and history of electricity to life. Viewed in tandem during a single visit to the museum, the effect is brilliant.

Au Café, 1888 oil on panel by Willard Metcalf
Au Café, 1888 oil on panel
by Willard Metcalf
Paris at Night, 1889 oil on panel by Charles Courtney Curran.
Paris at Night, 1889 oil on panel by Charles Courtney Curran.

 

Paintings from the Terra Foundation for American Art, Daniel J. Terra Collection

THE ARTISTIC SIDE

Paris was dubbed the City of Light long before electricity was widely used because it was a center of ideas and illumination, but the title stuck because of the beauty of its street lights. As the novelty of electric light was spreading around the city, many Impressionists were as fascinated by night scenes as they were with changes in natural outdoor light viewed in their en plein air paintings.

The art selected for Electric Paris includes fifty works: paintings, drawings, prints and photographs by noted artists such as Edgar Degas, Mary Cassatt, Pierre Bonnard, Jean Beraud, Childe Hassam and John Singer Sargent, depicting famous public spaces from Luxembourg Gardens to the Eiffel Tower as well as gaslit boulevards and private homes.

The whole gallery space is painted dark gray and dimly lit, in keeping with the theme and emphasizing the art, which is organized into four sections. Nocturnes reveal nighttime imagery, such as the striking gaslight from lampposts reflected in the rain in Charles Courtney Curran’s Paris at Night. The Lamplit Interiors section looks at the dramatized effect of light and shadow in the home, while the Street Lights calls attention to the fixtures themselves. Finally, In and Out of the Spotlight addresses light in public gathering places such as cafes, theaters and dance halls.

The Plasma Tube is a big hit for kids of all ages.
The Plasma Tube is a big hit for kids of all ages.

THE SCIENCE BEHIND IT
On the other side of the museum, Electricity, an exhibition developed by the Franklin Institute, is sparking interest in the science behind the force. While learning about how electricity is generated, kids and adults can touch the Plasma Tube with its colorful lightning tendrils and play with the Jumping Ring, where the electrical charge causes a ring to fly up and over a metal pole. Many camps and summer school classes will visit throughout the summer. For information on upcoming lectures, films and musical performances that complement these exhibits, go to brucemuseum.org.

 

Super Bowls

Above: Spicy Miso Ramen

When chefs talk restaurants, people listen, especially when they’re dishing about food other than their own. After several top local chefs revealed that Mecha Noodle Bar is one of their go-to spots, we had to see what the raves were about. Mecha’s original location is in Fairfield and now there’s a second one in SoNo, both featuring a simple two-by-four décor—literally boards of unfinished wood on the walls and hanging from the ceiling to form sculptural art. Both family-run spots serve Japanese-style ramen noodles and the Vietnamese version with rice noodles called pho. You can pick different types of broth and add-ons ranging from greens or tofu to shrimp or short ribs. These bowls make a satisfying, affordable meal at $10 to $13. My favorite bowl is the spicy miso ramen with red miso, mushrooms and chashu (braised pork belly), and a hot chili oil mixed into a flavorful broth with a serious helping of noodles. If you’re not as hungry or have children in tow, you can request a kid’s portion—it’s not on the menu, so you have to ask for it.

Pork Belly Bao
Pork Belly Bao
Red Oil Dumplings
Red Oil Dumplings
Shrimp Banh Mi Sandwich
Shrimp Banh Mi Sandwich

OFF-THE-HOOK NOODLES ARE JUST ONE DRAW TO THIS AUTHENTIC EATERY

BOLD BITES
The variety of Southeast Asian snacks and baos at Mecha can’t be found elsewhere in our area. Red-oil dumplings stuffed with pork and shrimp are the most popular dish. Topped with a heap of cilantro and resting in red-oil sauce, this dish is the ultimate Asian comfort food. The equally tasty roasted mushroom dumplings with miso have a nutty flavor. Veggie lovers will also appreciate the Brussels sprouts, which are crispy on the edges and mixed with fried shallots, peanuts, mint and nuoc mam sauce for an addictive combination. A Vietnamese crepe speckled with shrimp and ham is made with rice flour, crispy rice and coconut milk so it’s gluten-free. You break off pieces of the crepe and wrap them in lettuce leaves then dip into the nuoc mam sauce—amazing taste and very filling. The baos, mini Chinese sandwiches on steamed buns, are a must-order, especially the KFC (Korean fried chicken) and the shitake, which layers cucumber and Japanese kewpie mayo onto the mushroom sandwich.

HAPPY HOUR
Between 3 and 6 p.m., Mecha offers drink and food specials during its affectionately named Pho-king Happy Hour. Top deals include the KFC baos for $3, “pony” draft beer for $2 and cocktails for $6. Try the Love Potion #9.


MECHA NOODLE BAR
116 Washington St, South Norwalk
203-295-8718;
mechanoodlebar.com

 

Making Perfect Scents

Developed by Parisians William Bouheret and Anne-Cecile Vidal, Parfums de la Bastide is a fragrance line that captures the authentic essence of the South of France. But thanks to three Greenwich natives, beauty and fragrance-industry veterans Theresa Plavoukos and Alison and Charlie Leigh, the perfume and a new bath and body line are being marketed in the United States. The trio has worked together on top fragrance lines and recently formed Artisanal Collections, a company focusing on niche fragrances. Theresa and Alison traveled to Paris and Aix in Provence to select the fragrances to be sold stateside.

Charlie Leigh and Theresa Plavoukos
Charlie Leigh and Theresa Plavoukos

The Bastide line is named for Provencal country homes dating to the 1600s. The owners go to great lengths to preserve the integrity while adding modern touches. This concept inspired the perfume, which is sold in basic bottles with ochre caps that replicate the color of the hillside clay deposits. “This is the opposite of a designer fragrance,” says Theresa. No jewel-like vessels or gold tops, just subtle, elegant scents. Natural essences are the basis for the fragrances: lemon of Menton, lavender of Sault, rose of Grasse. There are six scents plus a Côte d’Azur-inspired bath and body line launching this month.

A 3.4 ounce bottle of perfume is $120; scented candles are $48. Available locally at Lily in Old Greenwich and the perfect Provenance in Greenwich. parfumsdelabastide.com

 

 

Classic Style

Above: This stately mid-country Tudor by VanderHorn Architects fits right into the historic Khakum Wood neighborhood, which is filled with English-style brick and stone houses.

Doug VanderHorn
Doug VanderHorn

When someone mistakes a new house for an elegant older estate, it may be the best compliment an architect can hear. The words “this looks like it’s always been there” have been used to describe homes designed by Doug VanderHorn, an architect who’s been practicing in Greenwich for twenty-nine years and strives to blend classic style, appropriate details and good proportions with modern comforts. Doug enjoys studying the history of buildings and surrounds himself with a rich library of books on the subject. As a builder’s son who worked on job sites and for a carpentry shop during his teen years, he has a keen appreciation for the effort that goes into fine craftsmanship. We caught up with Doug to talk classic architecture in Greenwich and what gives new homes character.

GM: WHERE ARE SOME OF THE MORE SIGNIFICANT HOUSES STILL STANDING IN GREENWICH TODAY?
DV: Greenwich was originally a farm community, and early architecture was very basic. The colonists were building timber-frame homes covered with wood boards for siding and wood shingles for roofing. As things evolved, New Yorkers came here and gentlemen farmers built “farms” that were more like weekend retreats. It was about making a beautiful place to escape the city. Those included very large estates like Conyer’s Farm, which used to be one estate; the Rockefeller Estate on Lake Avenue; and a host of others in The Great Estates. What we think of as the Greenwich Estates came around the turn of the century when New Yorkers decided to build mansions out here. This led to properties like Horse Island (a spectacular Tudor castle built in 1921 on Mead Point on Long Island Sound) and Old Mill Farm (an Elizabethan-style stone country house and horse farm in northern Greenwich).

GM: WHAT MAKES ARCHITECTURE CLASSIC?
DV: For me it’s the quality of the design. That means if you’re designing a Georgian Revival house, you don’t mix Italianate with it. You don’t mix and match styles. There’s a design purity to it. It incorporates fine craftsmanship and appropriate detailing of staircases, mantelpieces, doors and trim. Those things all match the style of the house. When people look at our work, whether it’s a shingle style or a Georgian or a French Normandy, they know what it is. They feel like they’re getting a classic design, and there’s value to that.

One of Doug’s favorite historic Greenwich homes is Horse Island—a Tudor Revival-style home that features a graduated slate roof, stucco with half-timber upper walls, and ornate patterned brick and stone chimneys.
One of Doug’s favorite historic Greenwich homes is Horse Island—a Tudor Revival-style home that features a graduated slate roof, stucco with half-timber upper walls, and ornate patterned brick and stone chimneys.

GM: WHAT ARE THE BENEFITS OF BUILDING A CLASSIC?
DV: People associate these fine old homes with successful people. They want to be perceived in that way and don’t want to live in a mishmash house. A lot of people will not spend their entire lives in their home. When sellers come along, they say, “Oh, this is a really fine old home.” It may be a new home, but it has that look and that has value in the marketplace. I think that building a classic home is a safer investment. It takes on significant meaning when you’re building on land that may cost $2 million or more and you’re going to invest millions in a home. Having something that other people will appreciate is important.

GM: DO YOU HAVE EXAMPLES FROM YOUR PORTFOLIO?
DV: One of many…we worked with a family that bought a small Tudor house in Khakum Wood, a historic neighborhood in mid-country that was laid out by Olmstead Landscape Architects (established by Frederick Law Olmstead). The deed stipulated that the houses should be masonry and of a certain quality, and that led to a lot of English brick and stone homes with slate roofs. The Tudor house was very small and right on the perfect spot for a house. We did make the decision to demolish it and build this substantial Tudor. The quality of the new home is superior to that of the previous home. This is one where people truly feel that this was a renovation; they think that we renovated an old Khakum Wood house. It fits right into the neighborhood. Tudor was the obvious choice, contextually.

We have been lucky enough to work on many beautiful renovations of older homes as well. We’re currently doing a fine brick Georgian Revival on North Street that was built in 1898. We’ve done an extensive renovation, and we will be relocating the driveway back to its original location, and we also added a garage in what would have been the same period as the house.

Chimney Corner is another one of Doug’s favorite homes in town. This exquisitely detailed Georgian-style home was built during the Colonial Revival period of the 1920s. It features cut granite quoins, a wood bracketed cornice and an ionic columned portico.
Chimney Corner is another one of Doug’s favorite homes in town. This exquisitely detailed Georgian-style home was built during the Colonial Revival period of the 1920s. It features cut granite quoins, a wood bracketed cornice and an ionic columned portico.

GM: WHICH SPECIAL DETAILS GIVE A NEWER HOME THAT ‘OLD HOUSE’ FEEL?
DV: Incorporating handcrafted elements—such as antique pieces, carvings or leaded glass—helps the home to have an older feel. Getting the detailing correct. One thing that makes a very substantial difference is stonework. A lot of the stonework done now looks artificial to me, cut into perfect rectangles by gas-powered cutters, fitted on the wall like puzzle pieces. This does not look handcrafted at all. That’s one of those things that can really make a difference. Take that saw away from your mason if you want your stonework to look old. It also pays to preserve larger trees, which make a big difference in making the house look old. I’m a big tree guy.

The stone base, painted blue shingle upper story and natural shingle hip roof of this VanderHorn home are hallmarks of the classic Shingle Style. The paired Tuscan columns add formality to the graceful front porch.
The stone base, painted blue shingle upper story and natural shingle hip roof of this VanderHorn home are hallmarks of the classic Shingle Style. The paired Tuscan columns add formality to the graceful front porch.

 

 

Art of Living

Above: Isabella Garrucho and Alex Trimper

Isabella Garrucho Fine Art and Fairfield County Antique & Design Center, formerly of Westport and Stamford, opened initially as a pop-up shop in the Design District on the Post Road and they’re now putting down permanent roots in the space. Born in Spain and educated in Brazil, Isabella Garrucho has been in the business for thirty-five years and was, at one time, the number-one corporate art dealer in Fairfield County. “You couldn’t walk into a Fortune 500 company and not see her hands on the walls,” says Alex Trimper, who is managing director of business development and also Isabella’s son. She later worked on numerous residential installations, partnering with designers and architects, many of whom were eager to see her open a gallery where they could bring clients.

Now these designers and all art enthusiasts can check out the top contemporary paintings, photography and sculpture on display or attend one of the curated shows, with new collections being showcased every six weeks. Coming soon, Manzur Kargar, a pop artist, whose oil work on canvas blends the artistry of the genre with social commentary. 45 East Putnam Ave.; igifineart.com


WHAT’S IN STORE?

INTERNATIONAL SCENE
Isabella Garrucho and her team deal in an international portfolio of art with prices ranging from a few thousand to multimillions: Calder, Picasso, Chagall and others at this level. “A lot of Greenwich residents have been going to New York for art buying, but we’re pushing the envelope of what’s available here, offering access to high-end investment pieces,” says Alex Trimper.

EXCLUSIVE ACCESS
Catering to buyers’ and sellers’ desire for discretion, the gallery will host some private events and dinners, affording exclusive access to very special pieces.

ENVIRONMENTAL CONCERNS
Buyers get a sense of how pieces will work in a home environment at this gallery because pieces are hung in relation to the mid-century furnishings on display, which are also for sale. These include coveted originals such as a G-Plan Blofeld lounge chair, Milo Baughman olivewood credenza and Eero Saarinen tulip dining chairs.

 

 

Chef’s Special

Those who have a taste for creative events and fresh, delicious food probably know Marcia Selden Catering—a Fairfield County favorite and a winner of Best of the Gold Coast. Now the local firm has been recognized on a national and international level. Robin Selden recently won the Chef of the Year in the CATIEs, the industry’s equivalent of the Oscars, and was also made president of the International Caterers Association. “It was this double-whammy moment in my career and I’m really, really proud of it,” says Robin, who owns the business with her brother, Jeffrey, and mother, Marcia, and gives credit to her whole team.

To be considered for the CATIEs, Robin had to submit a portfolio of recent work, and she’s had plenty on her plate. Among the many events she’s catered recently: The Knot’s Wedding Gala in New York City, a gathering of 1,000 top wedding pros from around the country who’ve seen just about everything. To wow this potentially jaded group, Robin created a “Mystery Wall of Love,” a giant black-draped wall with white-gloved hands poking out offering up fun appetizers and little shakers of martinis, all named with a bridal theme such as Appley Ever After and Some Like It Hot.

The media tapped Robin’s expertise recently, as she and her team created a spring menu for a Martha Stewart Weddings feature focused on the color chartreuse, and she was also a key source in a Forbes story on food trends.

Of her career and recent accolades Robin says, “I don’t want to say it defines me, but it definitely comes close. I wake up and I can’t wait to get here.” marciaselden.com

Pan seared salmon with snow peas and asparagus
Pan seared salmon with snow peas and asparagus
Custom cocktails

HOT & HIP IN NYC
Marcia Selden is based in Stamford, but the company also opened a space in New York with Ron Ben-Israel, a judge on the Food Network’s Cake Wars who is famous for his couture cakes. They share a loft-like space called Above Twelve in the fashion district. Both food pros have offices in the space, which has been the setting for all of the New York tastings as well as small weddings, cocktail parties and a surprise birthday dinner for Robin herself.

WHAT’S COOKING?
“Dinner by the bite is still really huge,” says Robin, as are dramatic chef “action” stations, such as having a chef pulling mozzarella in front of guests or stretching noodles for a ramen bar with different broths, veggies and meats. “People get excited. It’s part of the entertainment,” Robin says. One food of the moment is poke,
a Hawaiian cousin to sushi and ceviche—raw fish laced with tropical flavors.

Spring salad bundle with goat cheese and herbed olive oil
Spring salad bundle with goat cheese and herbed olive oil


Family photo: Studio z photo; Food photography courtesy of Marcia Selden Catering & Event Planning

 

 

Gold Nuggets

Putting the chick(en) back in Chickahominy, Garden Catering on Hamilton Avenue has been rebuilt after being damaged in a fire. This favorite hub for chicken nuggets reopened in the spring with a new logo and a fresh look. “We’re setting the standard for what our stores could look like,” says Frank Carpenteri Jr., who is co-owner with his sister Tina, of the modernized decor. “As soon as we reopened, all of the regulars streamed back in. I grew up in this neighborhood and this is a special store for me.”

Frank and Tina’s father purchased the original Garden Catering in Old Greenwich in 1991, and they’ve expanded to seven locations with two in Westchester and others in Stamford, Norwalk and Fairfield. Though the menu now includes a grilled chicken salad, kale salad, as well all kinds of breakfast foods, hot and cold sandwiches and wraps, the number-one draw remains the seasoned chicken nuggets. GC’s signature sandwich is the Hotsy—a bacon-egg-and-cheese on a roll or wedge with chili made from the secret recipe of Frank “Hotsy” Bertino. Hotsy, a longtime employee at the flagship location, opened that store every morning at 4 a.m. into his early nineties and became a local food legend.

In support of charities and sports teams, Garden Catering hosts frequent “give-back nights,” where a percentage of sales goes to the cause; they are currently planning an event for Kids in Crisis and will donate 100 percent of sales.

As the name implies, the business does plenty of catering, too, with Tina Carpenteri overseeing corporate lunches, parties and barbecues. “We do everything but weddings,” says Frank. But, he adds, they have had frequent orders for post-wedding deliveries to clubs and venues around town. “When the party’s over, we bring in the nuggets and cones,” he says, smiling. “It’s fun comfort food.” 177 Hamilton Avenue, 203-422-2555; gardencatering.net

Photo by Jecek Dolata

 

 

Ada’s Kitchen & Coffee

Above: Mike and Krista Pietrafeso

Most Riverside natives have a soft spot for Ada’s and memories of brown paper bags filled with penny candy. Today the historic Victorian house, which was the local post office in the late 1800s before later becoming Ada’s Variety Shop, has been completely remodeled and reopened as Ada’s Kitchen and Coffee. The building is still in the family, owned by the Romaniellos, Ada’s nephew and niece. But the new location dishes out much more than candy and newspapers. You can still satsify your sweet tooth from the self-serve bar of gummies, sour twists and other faves, but most people are there to fuel up on coffee (made with beans from local roaster Path in Port Chester), breakfast and lunch from Chef Mike Pietrafeso.

The new Ada’s retains its old-school feeling, as interior designer Katie Watson kept the original bead board and window moldings and added a few rustic accents, such as vintage pendant lights, natural wood counters and a giant chalkboard displaying the menu, which changes weekly. Breakfast lovers will appreciate the fact that the morning meal is served all day. A must-try: the Ada’s English muffin sandwich, a farm-fresh egg on a baked-in-house English muffin with bacon, Grafton cheddar, arugula and bernaise sauce, one messy and delicious sandwich. There’s also avocado toast, homemade maple-almond granola and a power green smoothie, as well as freshly baked pastries.

While these breakfast choices were expected to be a hit with commuters (the location is so close to the train), families are big customers here, too, and Saturday is the busiest day.

A French Culinary Institute grad, Mike has spent time working at Napa and LeFarm, and his attention to detail shows. For a healthy lunch, try his roasted carrot hummus bowl that’s a rainbow of veggies with avocado, purple cabbage, chickpeas, roasted cauliflower and sweet potatoes over a bed of kale. The popular grilled chicken sandwich is served with caramelized onions, arugula and fontina on sourdough, while a buttermilk fried chicken sandwich dabbles in Southern flavors with homemade barbecue sauce, ranch, dill pickles on brioche. His finesse extends to sweets, too, and to the ultimate treat: a homemade ice cream sandwich. It melts quickly. Plan to eat yours sitting out on Ada’s front porch. 112 Riverside Ave; 203-637-1956; adaskitchenandcoffee.com

“WE’VE HAD A GREAT RESPONSE IN THE COMMUNITY RIGHT OFF THE BAT,” SAYS MIKE. “I COULDN’T BE HAPPIER.” SO GOOD, IN FACT, THAT THEY ARE SOON GOING TO BE OPEN ON SUNDAYS, TOO, AS WELL AS ADDING PREPARED DINNERS TO GO.

 

 

Wedded Bliss

As we’re in the midst of the festive wedding season, we chat with Rosinne Chlala who, along with her brother, Executive Chef Bill Kaliff, have owned the Festivities events and catering company for thirty-two years (and have been honored as Best of the Gold Coast wedding planner several times). In addition to planning the perfect day, Roe also makes giving back a priority through a foundation called Pass on the Love. Recently adding 2,000 square feet to their space in Norwalk, she’s opening a store that stocks nearly new entertaining ware, and all proceeds benefit the Center for Family Justice in Bridgeport.

GM-TN-WeddedBliss-2
ROE SHARES SOME TIPS, INSPIRATION AND WEDDING WISDOM

Q: WHAT’S POPULAR NOW?
A: Years ago you got married at a five-hour event at a reception hall and you were done. Now we’re often celebrating for three days and having multiple parties. Last year I did a four-day destination wedding in Westport with shopping, a beach party, brunches and more. In terms of décor, rustic and vintage are everywhere. Blush is everywhere. For venues, farms, barns and historic locations are really on-trend. People also love being by the water. I’ve put together a portfolio of twelve unique venues in the area and created catering packages for them, so that you can use these venues—a farm, a barn or a historic site—with a complementary menu (see theknot.com).

Q: MOST HEART-WARMING MOMENT?
A: I had a dad who was so concerned about his dance with his daughter that we set up the room for him ahead of time and he mapped out his steps, 1-2-3-4. On the day of the wedding, he was weepy and yet so intent on counting his 1-2-3-4. It was so very sweet. Those are the moments. That’s what makes it special.

Q: BIGGEST DISASTER AVERTED?
A: When there was lightning near the tent at a New Canaan wedding, a fire marshal wanted us to evacuate. I held him off and the lightning went away. The most important part is to be responsible with all of the officials. They trust me, so they give me some leeway. When they come, we salute.

Q: MOST OVER-THE TOP REQUEST?
A: At a wedding in Southport we had Grucci fireworks let off from a barge. I had to move the guests to the site near the water just in time. And I had to coordinate with JFK and LaGuardia, also spending many hours getting permits and working with the fire marshal. It was awesome.

Q: IS BRIDEZILLA REAL?
A: No. Well, she is and she’s not. Navigating the wedding process is not for sissies. It’s very emotional, even more so now because Pinterest has put so much pressure on couples. I ask our brides to allow themselves time to process all the information. To avoid the Bridezilla syndrome, I try to help our couples navigate families. When you honor your mother and father, stepparents, or whoever is a trigger in your life and include them from the beginning, they get off your back. A Bridezilla happens when a bride gets overly emotional, so you have to see what’s bothering them and help them figure it out.

Wedding photo: Craig Warga Weddings

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Players to Watch

Above: Ignacio “Nacho” Figueras

Greenwich Polo Club’s home team, White Birch Polo, also happens to be one of the most successful in history, having won more high-goal tournaments in the last twenty-five years than any other team. Recently, White Birch made it
to the semifinals at the USPA U.S. Open in Palm Beach. Other top teams competing in town include Audi, Airstream and McLaren (Peter Brant’s son Christopher plays on this team). Here, a look at the players to cheer for.

GM-TN-PlayerstoWatch-2PETER BRANT
HANDICAP: 1

Founder of White Birch and the Greenwich Polo Club, Peter Brant was one of the top-ranked amateur polo players in the world. In the ten years between 1979 and 1989, he rose to a seven-goal handicap—at the time the highest in the world of amateur polo. He has also enjoyed success as the breeder of 1995 Kentucky Derby winner, Thunder Gulch. He continues to be an avid player for White Birch.


GM-TN-PlayerstoWatch-3MARIANO AGUERRE
HANDICAP: 9

A living legend of the sport, Mariano Aguerre reached ten-goal status in the U.S. in 1994 and in Argentina in 1998, an achievement that’s particularly remarkable because Mariano is left-handed; per the rules, you can only swing the mallet with your right hand. Mariano and Peter Brant have been playing together on White Birch for thirty years. He is currently rated at nine goals in both countries. A nine-time winner of the Argentine Open at Palermo, he is also an award-winning breeder of polo ponies and his horse, Califa, was named to the Polo Hall of Fame this year.


GM-TN-PlayerstoWatch-5HILARIO ULLOA
HANDICAP: 9

Hilario achieved ten-goal status in Argentina in late 2015, and all eyes are watching to see if he will obtain the same status this season in the U.S. He won the 2014 U.S. Open and was also named the World Polo Tour’s Most Valuable Player that same year. He divides his time between Greenwich in the summer and Argentina during the rest of the year.


GM-TN-PlayerstoWatch-4SANTINO MAGRINI
HANDICAP: 1

One of the youngest players in last year’s East Coast Open, Santino is the son of Matias Magrini. They will play on competing teams this season (one of a few father/son players this season). Matias will play for Airstream this season along with Greenwich’s Peter Orthwein, who is patron for that team. Santino made his U.S. debut last year at the age of fourteen playing for White Birch.

 


POLO’S POSTER BOY
One of the sport’s most famous players, Ignacio “Nacho” Figueras is a polo icon and model who’s helping to popularize the sport. If his rugged good looks seem familiar that’s because he is the face of all Ralph Lauren men’s fragrances and one of the most photographed men in the world. He’s played many matches at Greenwich Polo Club, both when he was on the White Birch team and also during the Sentebale Cup. The Argentine player went pro by age seventeen. In 2000 he started modeling for Ralph Lauren. Still a top-100 player at thirty-nine, Nacho is currently captain of Black Watch Polo.

Photographs: Ignacio ”nacho” Figueras, Courtesy of Greenwich Polo Club; Peter Brant, Hilario Ulloa, and Santino Magrini  by ChiChi Ubina/fairfieldcountylook.com;  Mariano Aguerre by Juan Lamarca; polo mallets by 123rf.com/ pteshka

 

 

A Perfect Catch

Above: Oysters on the Half Shell with Saltaire signature sauces
Photographs: Gus Cantavero

In the seafood business, it’s not just what you know, but who you know. Saltaire owner, Les Barnes, has personal connections at the Fulton Fish Market that date back fifty-five years. He began shopping the market with his father at age five and guarding the best catch: He recalls how his dad would sit him on top of a tall stack of metal “cans,” each filled with twenty-five pounds of fish, hand him a donut and tell him, “Don’t move until I come back.” Today things are run a bit differently at the market. But Les still procures seafood and whole fish there for his father’s original restaurant, London Lennie’s in Queens, and for Saltaire, which is located in a historic building in Port Chester and named for a favorite oyster from Prince Edward’s Island.

Dining in style
Dining in style

Whether you sample the oysters at the bar or enjoy a full meal in the dining room, this expertise is evident. We started our evening in the spacious bar room, which is inviting enough that many guests also eat dinner here. It’s decorated with framed maritime signal flags and photos of old sea captain,s and houses high-top tables, two flat-screen TVs and a three-sided marble-topped bar with a huge display of fresh seafood on ice in the center.

“The first commandment of the raw bar is, ‘Let me see you shuck,’” says Les.

The bartender here is ready to talk oysters and preps everything in front of you. He gave us a rundown of that day’s selection—there are usually at least a dozen varieties available—and we opted for the big and briny Onset oysters and the smaller, wild Falmouth that paired perfectly with the apple cider mignonette. Other raw-bar options include Jumbo Florida Stone Crabs, Jonah Crab Claws, Chilled Lobster and the “Hook,” “Line” and “Sinker,” towers of assorted seafood, depending on the season.

The main dining room evokes Nantucket or the Cape with its blue-painted wooden booths in the center of the space and colorful nautical charts on the walls. Booths line the perimeter of the room, but we wanted to move to an ordinary table. At first we were told that you need to reserve these in advance, but a few minutes later a hostess granted our request. Menus are printed daily to reflect changes, depending on what’s freshest. We started with one of the four varieties of Mussels in a Pot (with pommes frites), the Smoked Bacon, a hefty portion of plump and very tasty mussels with big pieces of fennel, sundried tomato and a smoky tasting broth—a hearty dish. These mussels are from a Dutch grower in Maine and they’re a must-order for the table. Among the small plates, the Vietnamese shrimp noodles were a surprising and refreshing starter, the cold noodles made from shrimp and flavored with mint and nuoc cham. In addition to classic apps such as steamers and fried clams, Saltaire dabbles in non-seafood starters with a roasted pork belly and hanger steak tartare.

For mains, the Top of the Catch section of the menu is like a seafood mix-and-match, where you choose your favorite with different preparations (seared or grilled) and sauces, as well as from a variety of greens and grains. Halibut with the beurre blanc sauce was decadent, while the grilled yellowfin tuna was best sans sauce, though it came out more rare than we ordered. We swooned over the Atlantic John Dory, a sweet and buttery dish with carrot risotto and cauliflower and garden cress on top. There’s an Italian-style preparation of whole branzino, white and flakey fish with peppers and big pieces of artichoke.

Seafood restaurants and stellar desserts don’t often go hand in hand, but we loved the banana pudding with richness and texture from pieces of chocolate, caramel and brittle; the layered butterscotch cake was another sweet ending.

Service slowed around dessert time—yes, we were deserted at dessert—but eventually the waiter and check appeared. By that time, we were already plotting our next visit to this restaurant well worth its salt.

Les Barnes
Les Barnes

QUICK BITES
OWNER, LES BARNES’ FAVORITE DISHES:

Nantucket Bay Scallops, Clam Chowder, Mussels and Soft Shell Crabs. For drinks, he suggests, “Talk to our wine director, there are great gems on the list.”

The restaurant’s building is more than 100 years old and once housed a grain company; during the renovation, an old road was discovered beneath the bathrooms. An adjacent private dining room can seat sixty guests for parties or corporate events.

The Fishinista cocktail, a blend of citrus vodka, Aperol and fresh-squeezed orange juice, is named for the owner’s wife, Beth, who works in the fashion industry.


SALTAIRE
55 Abendroth Ave. Port Chester
914-939-2425
saltaireoysterbar.com

HOURS
Lunch
Mon.–Fri. 11:30 a.m.–4 p.m.

Dinner
Sun.–Mon. 4–9 p.m.
Tues.–Thurs. 4–10:00 p.m.
Fri.–Sat. 4–11 p.m.

 

 

Polo Primer

POLO 101

Polo is one of the only sports where professionals and amateurs play side by side. Each team has four players who ride on different ponies throughout the fast-paced match. Players numbered one and two have offensive positions while three and four are defense. The ponies are trained for speed, endurance and quick response time and they’re smaller than average (in the early days of polo the horses had to be fourteen hands or less) with manes shaved and tails wrapped or braided to keep them from getting tangled with players mallets or reins.

After the throw-in, the imaginary line of the ball (the path of a traveling ball) determines play. The line can’t be crossed until the ball is struck by a player’s mallet and a new line is formed. Players must use their right hands to hold the mallet and hit the ball with the side of the mallet, attempting to score by sending it through the goal post. Once a goal is scored, teams change ends on the 300-yard-long field to account for any wind advantage.

DRESS CODE

Fashion is definitely part of the equation on polo Sundays and your choice of outfit may depend on whether you’re picnicking or attending a private VIP lunch. For ladies, flowy sundresses or chic summer tops and white pants are popular on the lawn while at the Town & Country and Audi VIP parties, many opt for more formal clothes such as fitted day dresses. Wedges or flat sandals are best if you want to take part in the divot stomping. Men look sharp in linen or Bermuda shorts. Sunglasses are a must and hats are big too, both for the look and the sun protection. Children and dogs are welcome, their cuteness factor completing the scene.

Easy breezy Sundays are best spent on the sidelines with a cocktail in hand.
Easy breezy Sundays are best spent on the sidelines with a cocktail in hand.
Every day at polo is kid-friendly.
Every day at polo is kid-friendly.
Pack a picnic or hit the gourmet food trucks.
Pack a picnic or hit the gourmet food trucks.
The pooches get in on the fun too.
The pooches get in on the fun too.
Floral prints and floppy hats are never a fashion fail.
Floral prints and floppy hats are never a fashion fail.

POLO SPEAK

THE BOWL-IN OR THROW-IN
When the umpire starts (or resumes) a polo match by rolling the ball down the center of a lineup of players

CHUKKERS
In a polo match there are six periods called chukkers, each lasting seven and a half minutes. Typically, each player will ride a different pony for each chukker of the match.

DIVOT STOMPING
During play, the fast-moving polo ponies thunder down the field, tearing up small patches of grass and dirt as they turn, start and stop. At half-time, between the third and fourth chukkers, it’s a tradition for spectators to come onto the field and help to stomp the divots back in place.

HANDICAP
The U.S. Polo Association assigns a handicap to every player based on thier level of skill, horsemanship, strategy and knowledge of polo. The handicaps range from a low of -2 for a beginner and up to 10 for the most skilled player.

BUMP
When a player directs his pony into the side of another pony to break the other player’s concentration or ruin his shot

SUDDEN DEATH
If there’s a tie score, after a five-minute rest, an additional chukker will be played to determine the winner.