Westport Author Pens Farm Table Cookbook

12 08 14 CT Farm Table Final copyWe are never more excited than when a friend does something extraordinary! Today we are proud to announce the publication of the Connecticut Farm Table Cookbook, penned by Westport resident, Christy Colasurdo, an award-winning writer and former New York magazine editor.

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It was almost two years ago when Christy announced that she was working on a cookbook that would showcase the best of Connecticut’s farm-to-coast inspired fare. Partnering with fellow food writer and cookbook author, Tracey Medeiros (The Vermont Farm Table Cookbook, Dishing Up Vermont), the Connecticut Farm Table Cookbook contains more than 100 recipes from the state’s best-loved eateries – including many local Fairfield County spots. The book also includes interviews with the chefs who created the dishes, artisanal food purveyors, and drool-inducing photographs.

Then there are the recipes…from simple weeknight meals to restaurant-worthy productions, the Connecticut Farm Table Cookbook is certain to inspire anyone who loves fine food and cooking to explore all that the Nutmeg State has to offer.

We spoke to Christy about the book, her favorite recipes, and the making of the Connecticut Farm Table Cookbook!

Fairfieldista: What prompted you to write the Connecticut Farm Table Cookbook?

Christy:  This book was a long time coming. The green foods scene in Connecticut has really caught fire over the past few years and was high time for Connecticut food producers and chefs to get some time in the spotlight! So, when Tracey Medeiros, author of The Vermont Farm Table Cookbook, sent me her book, I said, “We really need to do one of these for Connecticut” and that’s how our collaboration started.

Fairfieldista: How did you choose who would be featured in the book?

Christy:  That was the hardest part of the book, in my opinion. There are thousands of small family farms, fishermen, foragers, restaurants, etc. from Greenwich to Litchfield to Madison who are great representations of the local foods movement. How to choose? We used a gut approach, rather than a scientific approach. We went for some of the more representative examples of restaurants and chefs who were partnering with great local sources for oysters, beef, chicken, produce and so on. We talked to chefs, reviewers, food writers and others, and also trained our eye on some of the places we’d be drying to try, and we pulled together a list we were proud of. Our only regret is that we couldn’t have featured more.

Fairfieldista: Any favorite restaurants or recipes that stand out?
Christy: I am partial to some of the foods that are produced right here in my home town of Westport and in nearby Norwalk. I’m a sucker for some of the simpler dishes, as they speak to the fact that the best foods are created using the freshest local ingredients. I love the easy-to-assemble antipasto platter from Bar Sugo, the Polpette Alla Napoletana from Tarry Lodge, the Bacon-Jalepeno Oysters from Match, The Chicken Under a Brick from The Spread…

Fairfieldista: Seems like you are booking up a lot of tour dates and appearances!
Christy: Yes! The book launches on May 31 with our first event at The Greenwich Audubon Society, then, we’ll be at Stew’s signing books and doing a food demo on June 6, followed by our big kickoff party at Terrain on June 8. Our tour dates are on our website, www.ctfarmtablecookbook.com, and we invite people to come to any/all!

Fairfieldista: I want to pick up a few copies as gifts. Where can I find them?
Christy: They’re available at most bookstores, from small independent retailers, like Elm Street Books in New Canaan, to larger venues, like Barnes & Noble and Amazon and a variety of specialty retailers, like Terrain, Back 40 Mercantile in Old Greenwich, and a few local wine and cheese shops.

CTBites Team Launches Fairfield County Chefs Cookbook

ctbitesI am tremendously excited to announce the launch of a new cookbook penned by the duo behind the award-winning website CT Bites“Fairfield County Chef’s Table Extraordinary Recipes from Connecticut’s Gold Coast,” published by Lyons Press, will go on sale tomorrow at local booksellers and Amazon.com.  

A beautiful representation of the area’s culinary treasures, the cookbook features more than 50 mouth-watering recipes and gorgeous full-color photos from Fairfield County’s diverse swath of restaurants – everything from four-star dining to burgers to ethnic specialties. Imagine being able to prepare a salad from Stamford’s Napa & Co, alongside an entree from Bonda in Fairfield, and dessert courtesy of Chocopologie – all in your own kitchen…it’s akin to Christmas morning for the food obsessed.

I had a chance to catch up with the author, Amy Kundrat and photographer, Stephanie Webster, to discuss the cookbook, their fortuitous partnership, and what’s next for CT Bites!

Fairfieldista: How did the two of you meet and how did you decide to launch CT Bites?

Amy: I’ve always been obsessed with travel and food and I realized I knew more about great food in other cities than my own back yard. I came across CTbites shortly after Stephanie launched it, and latched on for dear life. In those early days because it was one of the few places you could go to find like-minded gourmands who were curious and thoughtful about food culture. Stephanie and I work so well together because we are definitely food sympatico. For us, it’s about seeking out the best and the unique, not just casting a wide net.

Stephanie: I have always been obsessed with food. When I moved to Westport, CT in 2007, I immediately set out to find the best of everything edible in the 20 mile radius. Finding few credible culinary online resources, I decided the only solution was to launch my own. The site evolved into a multi-voice platform quickly as I realized, there was only so much I could consume or document alone. Amy joined the team very shortly thereafter, and together we created the blueprint and vision for CTbites.

Fairfieldista: How did you transition from Fairfield County’s favorite food bloggers to cookbook authors?

Amy: We’ve built the CTbites platform with the help of many great writers. Our goal has always to provide insight beyond what you may be able to glean yourself by walking into a restaurant and glancing at the menu and to go behind the scenes, do the legwork, and get to the deeper story. A book seemed like a great way to represent the essence of what we’ve accomplished in Fairfield County.

Stephanie: So much of CTbites’ success is relationship based. Our goal has always been to support the culinary community by highlighting the very best of the CT food scene. This book is a natural extension of the sentiment.

Fairfieldista: How did you select the restaurants and the recipes in the book?

Amy: If I could, I would have included everyone over the years that I’ve written about. Unfortunately print is not as forgiving as pixels. Our goal from the publisher was about 50 restaurants that represented the entire county, representing a spectrum of cuisines, approaches, and price points. I’m already thinking of how to update, reorganize and include even more chefs this in the next release!

Fairfieldista: The photography is absolutely gorgeous…what’s the secret to taking beautiful food photographs?

Stephanie: If you are not walking around with bounce cards and pro equipment, here are a few basics. 1. Always scout out a location with nice flat light, preferably near a window, but avoid harsh direct mid day sunlight. 2. Bring the focal point to the front, meaning don’t worry about keeping the entire frame in focus. Food shots look better if the Aperture is set large for a shorter depth of field. 3. As in any photography, you have to have a feel for the subject. I tend to get very up close and personal. It may just be a donut or bowl of pasta but make it the hero. 4. When in doubt, shoot overhead.

Fairfieldista: Speaking of photography…how did you get some of the more elusive chefs to pose for photos?

Stephanie: Perseverance…and patience. Chefs are a busy lot. You need to be flexible and work around their schedules. However, this challenge was made easier due to the fact that we have worked so closely with the local chefs via CTbites. We were able to leverage the relationships we had built with many of the local chefs over the past 5 years.

Fairfieldista: What was the biggest challenge in creating the cookbook? What was the most fun?

Amy: Wrangling, er, organizing the chefs was the biggest challenge. Reaching out to over 50 chefs and trying to convince them to give you a recipe was a bit of a challenge. Many of them don’t write down their recipes, or even want to. As a result there are some chefs missing that I would have loved to include. The most fun? Seeing it come together and hopefully reading/hearing about people making the recipes.

Stephanie: Ditto

Fairfieldista: What do you love to cook at home?

Amy: This will come as no surprise to those that know me, but I love cooking pizza. I’m constantly experimenting with dough fermentation and toppings. And I am also master of what I call the MacGuyver, cleaning out the refrigerator or pantry to create something worth calling dinner.

Stephanie: I prefer not to cook at all to be honest. I enjoy my food much more when prepared by someone else.

Fairfieldista: What do you love about the food scene in Fairfield County?

Amy: The people. I do this to meet and tell the stories of the people behind the food.

Stephanie: I would have to agree. The creativity and passion that drives our chefs, local vendors, and restaurateurs is inspiring. I have enjoyed getting to know each and every person in the CT food scene.

Fairfieldista: I realize this is like asking which child is your favorite, but what are your favorite restaurants?

Amy: There is no one absolute, so I am going to dodge the question by saying there are favorite restaurants for moments, cravings, and occasions and they are all in the book. For brunch, I adore Sugar & Olives. If I am craving Italian, I head to La Zingara. My favorite neighborhood restaurants (which are not in my ‘hood) are Match and South End. When I have out of town guests, which feels like once a month, we head to Community Table. For coffee, it’s Espresso Neat, hands-down. For a weekend errand lunch, you can’t beat a 109 Cheese & Wine sandwich….I can tell you a favorite for each craving!

Stephanie: Hmm….That’s a tough one. I can tell you where I eat most frequently these days. You will most likely find me weekly at Bodega, Valencia Luncheria, The Whelk, Rainbow Thai in Westport, Fortina in Armonk, The Spread and Match.

Fairfieldista: What else can we expect from the CT Bites team? Is there another book on the horizon?

Amy + Stephanie: Expansion. We have two new markets we are expanding to in the coming months. Stay tuned!

Fairfieldista: Where can people buy the book locally?

Amy: Local bookstores, online on Amazon and B&N, as well as Barnes & Noble in Milford and Westport, where we will be hosting two book signings in the coming months.

April 27: Barnes & Noble, Milford

May 17: Barnes & Noble, Westport

May TBD: 109 Cheese & Wine, Ridgefield

[Other events, To be scheduled but we are looking at Stamford and Norwalk]

Locals Team Up For Cookbook Series

cookbooks4_horizontalDr. Peter J. D’Adamo, New Canaan based naturopathic doctor and best-selling author of Eat Right for Your Type, a diet book that recommends foods based on your blood type teamed up with Ridgefield native, chef Kristin O’Connor to create a series of cookbooks based on his weight loss program.  The collaboration has resulted in four soft-cover cookbooks, Eat Right for Your Type Personalized Cookbook (Type O, Type A, Type B, and Type AB).  The books are published by Penguin Group, who also published D’Adamo’s previous work.

The books will be unveiled at a pre-launch celebration at the New Canaan Outback Teen Center on Thursday, September 26.  The event, from  7pm to 9pm, will include a cocktail reception, a sampling of selected recipes from the books, a brief lecture from Dr. D’Adamo & O’Connor, and a book signing.  The launch party will be co-hosted by D’Adamo Personalized Nutrition, his Wilton-based nutritional supplement company, and two New Canaan businesses, Pryority Wellness Center and Elm Street books.  For more information on the event, please contact D’Adamo Personalized Nutrition (203)761-0042.

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D’Adamo, a New Canaan resident for more than 15 years, explains that his goal in creating the cookbooks was to simplify eating and living according to blood type.  Each book includes more than 150 easy to prepare recipes, menu planning strategies, and pantry-stocking tips.

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Says author Kristin O’Connor, “To combine my philosophies on health with my love of cooking by writing this series of cookbooks is sincerely a dream come true.  I came to see Dr. D’Adamo as a patient and I have never been healthier; but more than that, I have been able to see first-hand how dramatically he changes the lives of so many patients who walk through his door, read his books or follow his web forums.  My intent with this cookbook and series is to make life a little easier (and certainly tastier) once you have started eating right for your blood type.”