Thursday, January 31, 2008

Date Night in Stamford: 10 Suggestions

The standard date option is dinner and a movie, but that gets old after a while. Here are 10 more unusual ideas:

1. One of the Avon Theatre’s special events, like the Pete Seeger documentary I saw this week, with a q&a afterwards with the director and Seeger’s grandson.
2. Karaoke at SBC on Thursday: good people watching.
3. Dunn’s Loft: great steak and pool table any night, live guitar Friday and Saturday.
4. Darts at Bradford’s or Rack and Roll
5. Trivia night at Tigin on Tuesday; need a few more people to do this.
6. Friday night- Observatory at the Stamford Museum and Nature Center* could be weird or awesome (* = I haven’t tried it)

Beyond Stamford:

7. Friday movies* at Greenwich library: free, so you can eat on the Avenue and not feel guilty. I’m currently liking Ginger Man and Meli-Melo for more affordable options on the Ave.
8. Bowling in Norwalk: I hate bowling, but other people seem to like it.
9. Pepe’s Pizza and a play at Yale Rep or Long Wharf in New Haven. The bakery next door to PP has good cannolis.

Way Beyond Stamford:

10. Mohegan Sun or Foxwoods Casino: If you have some extra cash and can stand 3 hours in the car, gambling can be fun, and there are some great restaurants and bars at Mohegan.

--If you want to do dinner, there are obviously a hundred great restaurants in the area, but here are ones whose food or location are more interesting: Melting Pot in Darien, my favorite Duo, Chocopologie for wine and dessert, Greenwich Hyatt for drinks in the atrium.

--If you NEED a date, you might want to look into:Stamford Singles powered by, this directory, which lists “It’s Just Lunch” and the Singles Network, and Quality Singles' list of sites. informs me that “With a wide range Stamford dating options, meeting Stamford, Connecticut singles is most likely easier than you think. Stamford has 117,083 residents, with 43,280 available singles. Breaking down this number, we find that there are 19,585 single men in Stamford and 23,695 single women in Stamford.” Well, that's great, but why can't we all manage to meet each other?
Click here to read more.

Pete Seeger Documentary at the Avon

You missed it. This entry is just an excuse to talk about myself and tell you to pay better attention to the Avon Theatre's special events listing.

I like my alone time, but I'm so funny that it's a real shame no one is around to appreciate all of the cinematic moments that I generate on a regular basis. For example, Tuesday night, as I waiting for the Pete Seeger documentary to start, I was eating Sour Patch Kids while reading Eating Well magazine. Oh, the irony! I can only hope the people behind me noticed and had a chuckle at my expense.

I don't only use my friends as an audience, I use them as inspiration. If a friend had been at the movie with me, I would have had the moral support to shout something silly in the post-film discussion with the director.

When the director said, "We did a limited theater release so we could get it out on DVD, and get it viewed as much as possible before the election," my interest antennae went up. Before the election? Why? Was Pete's antiwar message going to encourage folks to vote for... Obama? I felt my face turn warm, and the urge grew to shout, "Who's Pete voting for?" If a friend had been with me, I would have yelled my question and gotten some laughs, and perhaps even an answer.

My friends inspire me to make bold, confident choices. If I'd had a friend with me at Meli-Melo today, I would have had the courage to order a second bowl of soup. But you know, we all have our travails in life, and I guess going alone to movies and cute French bistros is my cross to bear.

FYI Pete is a total badass. Like me, you probably didn't know that. It's too complicated for me to go into, so see the glowing New York Times review for a description of the movie that does Seeger justice.

Visit the Avon Theatre's site for a listing of future special events.
Click here to read more.

Wednesday, January 30, 2008

Cozy Places to Eat Healthy in Stamford Area

In the winter, it's very important to get out of the house. When you do drag yourself out, it's important to find a cozy place to relax.

I was reminded of this yesterday as I was sitting in Meli-Melo in Greenwich eating carrot-ginger soup. It was gray out, and I was alone, but I was happy. MM's interior is a Provencale yellow, it was warm in by the kitchen, and the soup was-- well, let's just say, it's almost too painful to eat the soup, because eating it means I have to stop eating it, and it hurts to finish a bowl of soup that good and want more.

Capriccio in Stamford, pictured above, also matches the cozy bill: colorful, comfortable, delicious, light, affordable food-- and foreign language in the air.

In Capriccio on Saturday I heard the owner chatting in Italian to an impossibly beautiful couple with three kids. In Meli-Melo in Greenwich, I eavesdropped on a French woman musing for 5 minutes over which soups to get. After discussions with the owner, she eventually got 4 bowls of chicken noodle and 4 of zucchini/squash curry to go. She is returning this afternoon for 8 bowls of the asparagus soup, which they were making in a big pot on the stove right in the middle of the store. You so know I'll be stopping by to get that soup today so I can see what the big deal is.

I should have gotten a second bowl for lunch, but eating alone is a little awkward, and I didn’t want to look like a pig. Later on in the day, I realized I was being silly. If I want soup, I’m getting soup, so I returned and picked up two soups for dinner. The Mexican beef soup wasn’t bad, but the zucchini and squash curry was… like the carrot-ginger soup, way too good. It was real curry.

I'm adding "try all of Meli-Melo's twenty soups" to my list, a list which also includes "eat at every single Stamford restaurant."

Oh- one advantage Capriccio has over Meli-Melo? Capriccio has a FULL BAR. I just noticed that last weekend. I thought they only had beer and wine. I do wish Capriccio had better soups, at least in the winter. The two soups I’ve tried there have been mediocre, so really, go to MM for soup. Meli-Melo is on Greenwich Avenue and is open every day from 10-10. MM also has buckwheat crepes, in both salad/sandwich and dessert format. I recommend a dessert crepe with pumpkin ice cream, nutella, and whipped cream. However, Capriccio's lemon Torta della Nonna still wins out.
Click here to read more.

Tuesday, January 29, 2008

Loads of Good Movies in February!

Our own little Avon Theatre is so cool. I just got an emergency email that Pete Seeger's grandson will be at the Pete Seeger documentary screening tonight. The email also gave dates for the big Academy Award Film Festival in February. Long story, but for ten bucks, you get to see 2 movies on a Saturday morning. I'm going to the Feb 16 screening of Sweeney Todd and Into the Wild... and they're having the nominated film shorts on Wed. Feb 20! See the Avon's site for more details.

"This just in...Associate producer Kitama Seeger Jackson, grandson of Pete Seeger, will be joining director Jim Brown tonight for a special Q&A after the screening of Pete Seeger: Power of Song, moderated by John Farr (editor, Best Movies By Farr).
Be there at 7:00pm tonight!

Also just announced...

2008 Academy Awards® Nominated Film Festival
Carte Blanche Members – Free / Members - $6 / Nonmembers - $10
All festival screenings are free for patrons of our Oscar gala!

Saturday, February 2
AWAY FROM HER - 9:30am

Saturday, February 9

Saturday, February 16
SWEENY TODD - 9:30am
INTO THE WILD - 11:30am

Wednesday, February 20

Saturday, February 23
I’M NOT THERE - 11:30am
Click here to read more.

My Favorite Stuff in Other Towns

I'm very Stamford-centric these days, but there are places in surrounding towns that occasionally lure me up I-95.
Meli-Melo (carrot ginger soup)
Femme Gems
Just Books
Diane’s Books
Greenwich Library
Post Corner Pizza
Barrett Bookstore
Trader Joe’s

American Apparel
Stepping Stones Museum for Kids
Maritime Aquarium

New Caanan:


Las Vetas Lounge

New Haven: Pepe’s Pizza, IKEA

I'll end by giving props to my Stamford favorites: Capriccio, Cove Beach, H and M, Avon, Havana Jeans, Duo, my NYSC.
Click here to read more.

Monday, January 28, 2008

FC Moms Online!

I just found a nice site for Moms in the FC, called Fairfield County Child. It's run by a Stamford resident, OF COURSE. This town is teeming with smart, energetic people who are taking the search for fun activities into their own hands!

Here's a little selection from the Advocate article:

The 31-year-old Stamford resident, whose daughter, Mia, was nearly a year old, had decided one day last year that "it was time to get her out of the house." But her search wasn't really that simple and took far longer than she had planned. She found herself scrolling through the pages of many area bookstores and libraries.

I wish I had kids so I could avail myself of this site. When it comes down to it, I just want to do fun stuff. I'm pretty opportunistic that about it. I'll sing, dance, read, and go to Kwanzaa fest, all in the name of making friends. If I had a kid, I'd be hitting playgroup after playgroup to try to meet other cool moms. I actually already have my domain name ready for when I have kids. My husband balked at buying it, asking why I needed to get it years ahead of time, but I pitched a big fit, and we got it. Click here to read more.

Friday, January 25, 2008

Funny Video: Where the Hell is Matt?

I stumbled across this joyful video when I was looking for other blogs in the area. The guy is from Fairfield...

...and his videos are so ridiculous and happy. Basically, he travels around the world and does a goofy dance in front of various monuments. I first watched the outtakes/bloopers, and was laughing my head off-- just me, by myself, laughing loudly. The final product is more artistic, but still great fun.

I'm not exactly a big crier, but I get emotional when I see image after image of stunning landscapes. I'll probably never see them, but I'm happy they are out there-- just sitting out there, while I'm here, at my desk. I'm not sad, I'm amazed, in a "hard to get my head around that" way.

Oh Lord, don't even let me watch the part where he dances with the kids in Rwanda. Don't ever read any books about the genocide in Rwanda, because they will destroy you. However, if you're interested, I recommend We Wish to Inform You That Tomorrow We Will be Killed With Our Families: Stories from Rwanda by Philip Gourevitch and Problem from Hell: America in the Age of Genocide by Samantha Powers. That one covers all the genocides of the 20th century won the Pulitzer for Non-fiction.

To end on an upbeat note, here's a cute spoof by a guy in London. The guy is lovably dorky, and it looks like he enjoys life in London.

I ADORE youtube. Current fave: "Sweetest Thing (Dollar Bill)" by Wyclef Jean.
Click here to read more.

Stamford Restaurant: Dunn’s Loft... Steak!

I bring good steak news: we have an alternative to traditional, unadventurous Morton’s.* Dunn's Loft has soul-warming filet mignon, better prices, better atmosphere, and a better location: right across from the Summer Street movie theatre.

Dunn’s Loft is beautiful: tall ceiling, rich red walls and, smack in the middle of the room, an impressive pool table. The pool table is in great shape, maybe because Dunn’s Loft is very new and very upscale. Rather than sloppy young drunks in baseball caps, I picture nicely-dressed 30 year old couples- not married!- playing in a self-assured yet subtly flirtatious way. I picture it because that’s what I saw when I was there.

Robert Dunn, owner of Ocean 211 downstairs, opened this boutique steak house five months ago. Boutique sounds silly, but I’m sticking by my adjective. By boutique, I mean small, great-quality, a little expensive, and more personal service. It also means “the place that Patricia Brooks will be reviewing next.“ She’ll probably be there tomorrow, and the review will be published next week, and the place will be jammed forever after. This is pure conjecture, but at this point, I’m starting to know Patricia’s patterns.

If you don’t want steak, DL has other choices. I didn’t notice them because I knew I was getting the filet mignon. I was really hungry so I put the menu down as soon as I decided which sauce I wanted (horseradish peppercorn). I chose fries as my side; good call, because I got a big bowl of thin fries. I’m overjoyed to tell you the filet mignon is only 30 bucks, and big. You’ll pay that at a mediocre place, so you might as well go to DL. And, sides are free, unlike at Morton’s. Until we meet again, I’ll be thinking about Dunn’s Loft and the insanely flavorful seared surface of my steak.

Our waitress was really nice and gave us lots of insider info. The only part I’ll share is that there’s a guitar player on Friday and Saturday nights. He sets up right by the bar and pool table. Sounds like a damn good scene to me.

*Morton’s, nothing personal. I like you, and I had a good birthday dinner at you. Your molten chocolate cake is still awesome, and your bar is still filled with youngish men in suits. It would probably be a pretty obvious ploy for a single woman to go sit at the bar, but we only have one life, so...
Click here to read more.

Wednesday, January 23, 2008

Whole Foods Mess Might Benefit Tawa

“Planned market is likely to create a mess for traffic” was the title of my November letter to the editor. I opposed the proposal to build a Whole Foods at the Bull’s Head intersection because I anticipated traffic problems. I’m big fan of some of the Bull’s Head businesses: Tawa, Grunberger Jewelers, Hawley-Lane shoes, Four Corners liquor store. Initially, I wanted to protect them by trashing the Whole Foods proposal. Now, I’m not so sure. Maybe a WF will help local businesses by bringing more “traffic”- uh, shoppers!- to the area. Besides the Super Stop and Shop, I can’t see what other businesses the WF complex would threaten.

My main concern was Tawa, home of the fantastic, spicy, well-priced lunch buffet. I viewed the Whole Foods prepared food section as a threat, but now I believe that WF parking hell will benefit Tawa.

Update 6/5/08: Whole Foods proposal was withdrawn.

Hungry people will drive toward Whole Foods, see traffic spilling out of the poorly-designed turn lanes, and think, What the @&!*?!? What kind of idiot designed this place? Then they’ll spot Tawa, and think, Indian food! I haven’t had Indian food in a while! A $9.95 buffet is worth a try! I think they’ll be pulled toward Tawa, where they can sit and eat with their co-workers. They will realize that a buffet is quick, too, and much more satisfying than eating bland food out of a plastic container.

I have not completely decided if I’m for or against WF, because I know cities need to change and grow. I’m going to the zoning board meeting tomorrow, because I’m pretty sure the proposal will go through, so I want to hear what plan the developers DO have for traffic flow. The meeting is at 7pm, tomorrow, Thursday Jan. 24, at our beloved yet misunderstood 888 Wash. Fourth floor. See the Smart Growth for Bull's Head website for more specific details on the plan.

Oh- for all you shameless Whole Foods proponents? Let me remind you, because all those organic cheese puffs may have gone to your head, that Whole Foods will be accompanied by a parking garage. I may be able to accept the garage IF parking is free. If I have to pay for parking, and that money goes to anyone besides the coffers of my beloved city, I will be a bitter woman. Not only will my evening ride home be fraught with traffic, traffic made up of aggressive people who want artisanal bread, I’ll know that someone who already has money is making more money with their ugly parking garage and irritating retail complex.
Click here to read more.

Tuesday, January 22, 2008

NYSC Latin Groove: Dance Disaster

If you are thinking about taking the Latin Groove class at NYSC, good luck. You’ll need to take a couple of months of dance lessons before you try it. The class sounded like so much fun, but I ran out in tears.
Usually classes at a gym allow you to adjust the level of difficulty. You can kick a little lower in kickboxing, lift lighter weights in total-body conditioning, modify your warrior pose in yoga, use a smaller step in step class, put the bike on an easier level in spinning class. When you’re new to a class, you stand in the back where no one notices you.

Well, in Latin Groove, AKA Advanced Latin Dance Class, you can’t hide in the back, because when the class turns around in a sequence of complicated spins, they’re all facing you. There is no back. You can’t modify a complicated salsa sequence: step, turn, step back, turn, feet together, turn, big step, back to basic step, repeat all that right in a row. You also can’t really shimmy across the floor in a modified way. I tried grape-vining it, but I’m tall. When all those petite people turned around to shimmy my way, I could see in the mirror how ridiculous I looked.

I almost made it through class. I don’t mind looking a little silly, and I understand the concept of a learning curve. However, on the last song, I totally lost it. Not only was it a new sequence, it was a sequence every other person knew. It was basically like a chorus line. Every single person was doing the same choreography, and I stood there like a tall deer in headlights as 20 people did fancy footwork that repeatedly required them to turn, face me, and shimmy around.
I tried to fake it or modify it, but it was just pathetic. I paused, hung my head, grabbed my water bottle and towel, and ran out. I sniffled past the Nautilus and out to my car, thinking to myself in great sadness and disappointment, I never knew salsa dancing could make you cry.

I think the only thing that would have helped is if the teacher, a cute guy with an accent who was clearly a pro dance teacher, had said, "Don't worry, I can teach you some of the moves at the end of class, or come a little early next time," or, "Come stand here on the side while you're learning." A tiny woman who clearly had salsad since she was 8 tried to help me. "You're trying too hard. Here, like this- no- just- don't think about." It was hopeless.

To make it even worse, I don’t think I can ever try the class again, because all of those women saw me run off in a huff. I might be able to do it if Shape magazine hired me to write an article about it.
Click here to read more.

Sunday, January 20, 2008

New Stamford Restaurant Republic Grill, Movies at the Mall, Police Trust Us

On Saturday night, Stamford showed its true, non-cohesive self: a mish-mosh of food styles, social groups, unpredictable alliances, and small-town police antics.

On Bedford Street, the Avon marquee glowed, the white tree lights sparkled, the wholesome crowd at Lucky's smiled…. but Tigin was dead, Egane Korean BBQ patronless, and Bradford’s dart machines deserted. The trendy UMPs* were probably down near Market, Black Bear and the Summer St. Theatre, but I got coerced into seeing Cloverfield at the mall. I don’t LOVE seeing movies with hordes of scruffy teenagers, but I choose to view it as an adventure.

The Stamford Downtown Events Blog** tipped me off to new restaurant Republic Grill. Republic was almost empty, but it had tasty food for good prices, so I’m sure it will get busy soon. Finally, I have found a salad with quality green leaves…. for FOUR bucks!!! YES!!! Republic is five days old, and I liked it, which means Patricia Brooks will be sure to review it next week. Actually, she probably won’t, because it’s a sibling of the Tengdas in Greenwich, Darien, and Westport, and she already gave them the rare rating of excellent. If you go to Republic, ask for the white fish special roll with spicy sauce and tempura outside. Also, if you don't mind, try the watermelon mojito and let me know how it is.

On the way home from the movie, I saw a cop car illegally (!) parked outside McDonald’s with its lights flashing… and NO ONE IN IT. I rubbernecked the sidewalk: Ooh, was he cracking down on some loiterers, investigating an incident? Nope, he was inside, STANDING IN LINE. To some people, that looks like slacking. To me, that shows someone who’s in charge; he knows his audience, and he knows they won’t steal his cop car. If he trusts us enough to leave his car unattended, that shows us something about ourselves. He thinks we’re the kind of people who don’t steal cars, and that makes me proud of this city.

Even Stamford’s youths were mellow, behaving amiably and orderly from previews to credits. Thank you, high schoolers. Cloverfield kept you quiet with all of its pointless noise, and my fondness of you increased when you booed it at the end. I TOTALLY agreed***.

- - - - - - - - - - - - -
*Upwardly Mobile Professional, term designed to replace outdated “Yuppies,” since these days, you don’t have to be young to be moving up in the world, at least in the FC.

**The blog rarely gets updated, so don't bother checking it. I'll let you know if anything interested gets posted.

*** Cloverfield was a predictable combo of all the action/horror/sci-fi movies I’ve ever seen: 28 Days Later, Blair Witch Project, Transformers, Spider-Man, etc. It echoed every other movie in which a city gets attacked by a scary creature and/or covered in ice (Day After Tomorrow with Jake Gyllenhall). If you think Cloverfield offered something new, please comment. Oh, and the creature looks exactly like Voldemort mixed with a dragon-ish character from some other film that blends in with all the others. Save your money, and Tivo the old episodes of Battlestar Galactica on the Sci-Fi Channel. How ‘bout those Cylons?
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Saturday, January 19, 2008

My Singer-Songwriter Friend's New CD

My friend Beth January just released a great CD. She’s not a Stamford resident, but I met her in Stamford, and she’s part of the Stamford Talk inner circle. Beth sings and plays piano beautifully. Here’s her myspace page, which has song clips and her tour dates. Make sure to play 2 of my favorites, “Laugh” and “Happy Ending.”

Does anyone else totally hate their talented friends? Maybe 'hate' isn't accurate. Maybe I mean, 'disbelief that people can be so talented, gratitude that I know them, and slight jealousy.'
Click here to read more.

Friday, January 18, 2008

Stamford's Single Women: Where Are You?

My friend Adam is a journalist from Fairfield, CT who covers the hip-hop scene. His latest post at Adam’s World is titled “Where the Ladies At?” and it's about how most underground hip-hop shows are 70% male. Why is this a problem? Well, because women have most of the buying power, and musicians want to sell records and have a following.

I’d also say it’s bad for the guys in general. We all know that men cannot survive without women. They can’t do their own laundry, they can’t eat healthily, and they can’t live emotionally fulfilling lives without us. Most guys at these hip-hop shows are probably single, or else they’d be home watching TV with their girlfriend. Men don’t need us to buy their CDs; men need us to talk to them, and then marry them.

Stamford also suffers from a woman-less scene. I’ve heard many guys say that it’s hard to meet women in Stamford, and the lack of ladies was one of Blog Stamford’s first posts. At the bar at Market on Wednesday night, there were two good-looking, nicely-dressed guys with no wedding rings. Any single women in sight? Nope. Look around at every bar, at every happy hour: men, standing around awkwardly. My heart breaks for them. They need a girlfriend. Women, this is your fault.

As a formerly-single Stamford resident, I can tell you that many of the women worth meeting are at home watching TV with their roommates, or they’re at the gym. The gym is the one place where men and women are together, and we all know that it is NOT appropriate for a man to talk to a woman who’s working out. You have to wait for her to talk to you. Basically, men, you are out of luck. You are at the mercy of women.

Plea to readers: ladies, get out there. Turn off the TV, hit stop on the elliptical, take a shower, and go out to a bar or concert. Guys, make an effort, too. Take your female friends out, because they make you look cool and approachable. Ladies, take your guy friends out, start talking to a girl, and introduce her to your guy friend. We’re all in this together. To keep Stamford happy, we need to be dating, we need to be flirting, we need to be having raucous, silly conversation.

Married folk, turn off your 42 inch plasma, go out with some friends, talk to strangers, talk to a female stranger, then talk to a male stranger, then try to get them talking. This requires effort and jovial laughter, but even married people need to act a little crazy sometimes.
Click here to read more.

Thursday, January 17, 2008

Update, Stamford Murder: Marco Paoletta

I’ve been writing about restaurants a lot recently, probably because it’s easy to write about, and this is harder.
In the latest Advocate article, it says that not only do police believe Marco Paoletta was targeted, they think the killers knew when his raquetball game at the JCC ended, and that’s when they got him.
Well. That is disgusting and sad and scary. As I passed the Jewish Community Center on my way home from the gym, and glanced to my right at Vine St. where Paoletta was found, I felt sick. I hate to imagine how terrifying the last moments of his life were. I hope someone saw something, and that we can find out who did this.

Something else got my attention in the Advocate article: former Stamford police officer Vito Colucci is a friend of the family. I had read about Colucci in the Stamford Times a few months ago; he published a book about being a private investigator. I called Barrett Bookstore in Darien, and they had five copies. I'm looking forward to reading a Stamford cop’s account of his job. I’ll let you know what I think. So far, I’m taken aback by how large the print is, but that will make it easier to read on the elliptical at the gym. It might be too disturbing to read at night, anyway.

I should end by saying to Paoletto’s family that I’m very sorry, and that a lot of people are thinking about Marco and hoping the case is solved.

Here’s some text from the Advocate article. You can also view the Stamford Times’ article for similar information.

Murder victim targeted after racquetball
By Zach Lowe, Staff Writer for the Stamford Advocate, January 16 2008
STAMFORD - Police believe a city man found dead on the side of a road near a school this month was the target of a planned killing, timed for the end of his racquetball game at a nearby community center.
The body of Marco Paoletta Jr., 51, was found by police on Vine Road near Turn of River Middle School on Jan. 3 at about 6:30 - a few minutes after Paoletta, a local racquetball champion, finished his game at the Jewish Community Center, said Capt. Richard Conklin, head of the police department's detective bureau…
Police have narrowed their focus to the few minutes after Paoletta left the community center and before his body was found with a gunshot wound to the head.
Vito Colucci Jr., a private investigator whose wife is related to Paoletta, said police have active leads and are piecing together an idea of who may have targeted Paoletta.
"This is not a cold case by any means," said Colucci, who is acting as a spokesman for Paoletta's nine siblings. "They are making progress."
Colucci said the killer may have known Paoletta's schedule and waited for him outside the community center.
Paoletta may have known the killer and set up a meeting for after his racquetball game, Colucci said…
Paoletta, known to his friends as "Chickie," was a lifelong Stamford resident who worked in the credit division of a bank in Bridgeport.
His siblings said they were shocked by his death could not think of anyone who would want to harm him.
Police did not recover a weapon and have not speculated on what kind of gun the killer used.
Click here to read more.

Wednesday, January 16, 2008

Stamford Food: So, So Good

Yikes. I've spent the entire morning posting on, which is a great site for posting your own restaurant reviews, reading other foodies' suggestions, and discussing local food options. If you care at all about eating out, you should be checking that site out. I apologize in advance for the "Tri-State" board, which necessitates sorting through Long Island, Westchester and even New Jersey to find the CT topics. Just search the board, though, for either Stamford or Fairfield CT. I got so many food ideas that I don't even know what to do with myself.

Here's my shortlist of places to try: Athens Pizza's Greek pizza, Sundance Cafe on Broad St. for soup, Uncle Dai for Chinese, Giovanni's Deli, Belltown Pizza, Springdale Pizza, and also Avenida and Toku Shin in (gasp!) Greenwich. I usually support Stamford restaurants, but if it's Latino or Asian food, I'll travel. I know most of the places I listed are smaller, but I've tried almost every single good restaurant in Stamford (more about that odyssey later). I'm trying Market this week, which the NY Times just gave a "VERY GOOD." I'll be calling for reservations the second it opens at what, 11:00? and pray that the rest of Stamford has yet to hear about the review.

Last night when I went to Dunn's Loft, the Summer St. parking lot was completely full, which is odd on a Tuesday night. Where IS everybody? I asked. Who is out on a TUESDAY? Now, I realize, they were probably at Market.

Later this week, I'll post my glowing review of Dunn's Loft (four words: filet mignon, pool table!) and my goal of trying every Stamford restaurant, which I get closer to as each week passes.

Until then, Stamford, eat! Eat!
Click here to read more.

Tuesday, January 15, 2008

TaWa: Best Indian Lunch Buffet in Stamford

Tawa is the newcomer taking the Stamford Indian food world by storm. Well, it's taking my life by storm. I went there for lunch last month, not intending to get the buffet. I'm anti-buffet because I am deep-down PRO-buffet, but that's bad for many reasons.

The entrees were quite pricy for lunch, so I said "What the heck" and got the buffet. It changed my life. I give the lamb koorma most of the credit for that. I'm decidedly NOT a lamb koorma girl, but this was fantastic. It's the dark stuff in the picture, and its heat went superbly with a cold glass of chardonnay. The price for this buffet? TEN BUCKS. You can't buy anything for ten bucks around here. AND, you get your 6th lunch FREE!

Tawa takes the rice pudding because 1, it's cozy, 2, the staff is nice, and 3, you can park without losing your mind. Dakshin, another good Indian restaurant, is downtown, in parking hell. I'm sure Dakshin is good for you downtown working folk. But I work in the Bull's Head area, in a place called "my house," so I don't feel like driving downtown, paying for parking, and walking to lunch, especially in the winter.

Tawa is right beside Home Goods, with the liquor store and tanning salon. I was dubious about TaWa's little storefront, but don't let that deceive you. TaWa, is, as far as I can tell, very good.

Note: I didn't go wild for the naan, but I've only been to Tawa once, and maybe it's better at dinner.
Another note: Wouldn't it be cool if the New York Times reviewed Tawa like they did Duo?
Click here to read more.

Monday, January 14, 2008

Stamford Events Calendar

I'm very excited to start a calendar feature. Clicking on the CALENDAR link (not the actual calendar) will take you to my google calendar. Please let me know if there are any interesting events coming up! Click here to read more.

Ahoooooooooooooo: Coyotes in Stamford

“That’s a pretty dog!” I shouted across the road to a woman in a reflective safety vest. On our residential street, you’re taking your life into your hands trying to walk your dog, and I am SO not joking. I was taking my Toter can out to the curb. We made small talk about our dogs, then she told me she’d seen a coyote on the next road over. We’re in a ‘hood off High Ridge. So folks, coyotes are on the prowl.

Today’s News 12 Website has an article about coyotes. It doesn’t tell you much more than I can. It mentions to watch your small pets, but anyone who heard about Kathie Lee Gifford’s bichon frise knew that. Her little dog was killed in her Greenwich backyard in 2003.

Around the time of the KLG incident, I was driving on Shore Rd. in Greenwich on my way home to my Southfield ‘hood. I saw a large yellow dog trotting down the sidewalk. How cute! I thought. A dog using the sidewalk! I passed him, then tilted my head in puzzlement— was that a coyote? Yup. Trotting as if he were out for a jog, totally civilized, on the sidewalk. That’s one cool coyote.

The News 12 article DOES have one tip I forgot about: Keep your eye on your "younger" children.
Click here to read more.

Friday, January 11, 2008

Fitness Does Matter, So Fix Your Sign!

I'm not making fun of Fitness Matters, and in fact, I am probably giving the business some nice free advertising. I saw these two signs when I went to Mackenzie's Bar and Grill a few weeks ago, so they may have fixed their sign by now- I hope. These two signs side by side, couldn't be much funnier.
Fitness Matters is right underneath Mackenzie's, which always looks busy, so they won't remain "Stamford's Best Hidden Secret" for much longer!

Don't click to read more. I apologize. My idiot Blogger template won't let me choose which posts to put that "Read More" on.
Click here to read more.

Tuesday, January 8, 2008

Redistricting: Test Scores, Money, Suspense!

Even if the words “Board of Education” and “redistricting” sound boring to you, keep reading. Stamford’s effort to balance its school population is one of our most important city-wide issues. At tonight’s hearing, parents and residents will have a chance to speak to the Board of Ed about the controversial proposal to close one school. The BOE has yet to choose which school to axe, so you can imagine the tension.

Redistricting involves ensuring schools are balanced in income and ethnicity. That’s cool: complicated, but cool, and in the best interest of the city as a whole. Four Stamford schools scored so poorly that they had to implement government-mandated No Child Left Behind interventions (school choice and tutoring). That’s a problem. Mixing high-achieving and low-achieving students has been shown to work, so let’s go for it.

The meeting also, and more controversially, involves the need to close one of Stamford’s twelve elementary schools. Oops, Stamford committed to building a brand new magnet school in the Cove before realizing our school population was not increasing as predicted. Closing a smaller school will provide kids for the new school, and according to a Jan. 5 Advocate article, save the city $5.4 million.

One of the schools at the top of the "maybe you'll get axed" list is Toquam Magnet Elementary-- one of only four of Stamford Schools that met NCLB standards. (Four out of TWENTY.) Kids apply for magnets in a lottery, and the student body is designed to be racially and socio-economically diverse. It makes sense to ask why the BOE wants to close that school, or any school that is performing well AND is racially balanced. Some Toquam parents suspect the board wants to disband Toquam because it would be easy to send those kids back to their neighborhood schools, and perhaps it wants the Toquam building for something else.

I’ve corresponded with a couple Toquam parents, and their feeling seems quite reasonable: the BOE needs to make a convincing case for whatever school they decide to close. In my opinion, if the BOE disbands Toquam, it needs to explain how the performance of that magnet will be replicated. While test scores aren’t the only indicator of success, it’s one measurement, especially when other Stamford schools are bombing out.

In the end, maybe it all comes down to money. Maybe closing Toquam saves the most money. Public education is always a compromise between cost and the best interests of kids, and choices are never easy. The Board of Finance will meet with the BOE at the end of the week to hear their reasoning and, I assume, decide if they agree with the BOE. Stamford, things are heating up.

School redistricting affects the future of Stamford as a whole. This is a segregated city except for a few areas. Mixing different types of people, again, can only help in Stamford’s quest to become a better city. We want a city whose student population is increasing. We want Stamford to be the place where people want to raise their kids.

I’d like info to be more easily accessible to interested residents. I don’t have kids, but I want to keep up with this issue. I want one place I can go for board notes, newspaper articles, and editorials. I don’t want to have to visit 5 websites (City of Stamford, Stamford Public Schools, Stamford Advocate, Stamford Times, Save Toquam) to find information. I’m not sure if SPS could maintain the site, or if a newspaper could do it, or if an interested resident would do it, but in today’s world, info needs to be online, and we need to be able to find it in less than five places.

I recommend two places for information:
1. At the Board of Ed section of the Stamford Public Schools site, you can read minutes of the 2007 meetings. However, each meeting’s minutes are in a separate PDF. It’s not very user-friendly, but it’s worth clicking around. I stumbled upon October 18 and found some thorough background on the situation.
2. The Save Toquam site is useful because it includes text from old Advocate articles, which DISAPPEAR FROM EXISTENCE after two weeks. The site also has commentary from Toquam parents and letters to the editor. I found Jeff Herz’s "January Situation Update" post helpful. If anyone knows how I can find old Advocate articles, other than keeping stacks of yellowing newspapers around my house, email me.

I’m going to end on a positive note: children are wonderful, children are resilient. We need to do whatever we can to give EACH ONE of them a safe, structured environment and capable, caring teachers. Once we do that, things will work themselves out. Happy, safe kids = good citizens and Stamford residents. Let’s give props to the teachers who work hard every day at a very challenging job.

*Last year the Supreme Court ruled that race can no longer be used as a factor in redistricting, so schools will use socio-economic and first language statistics.
Click here to read more.

Stamford's Jan.3 Murder: Too Much Info?

1. I'm a sensitive person. Words matter to me. I don't feel too good about this line from an article in the Stamford Times.

"Paoletta, whose last address was 10 Tuttle St., was a long-time Stamford resident who was well known in by the police department, according to Conklin but does not have an arrest record."

I don't have a problem with the Times printing this. I do have a problem with the police captain saying this about someone. It seems to me that if you're going to imply someone is a trouble maker, you need to have some specifics... if, in fact, that's info you should be sharing.
"Was well-known" is pretty ambiguous. A quick skim made me say, "Oh wow, some police staff were his friends?" A second read made me say, "Oh. He got in trouble a lot, or caused trouble." Now I might have a negative view of this person, not based on any real info. I don't like that. I'd like to know more about Marco Paoletta, more than just that he's not the police's favorite citizen. I do appreciate honesty, but I don't think that's an appropriate comment for the captain to share with the entire city.

Here's a little more info from the Advocate about Paoletta:
"Known to friends and his nine siblings as "Chickie," Paoletta was a lifelong Stamford resident and local racquetball champion, his family said...
Paoletta may have been in the area because he played racquetball often at the nearby Jewish Community Center on Newfield Avenue, said his sister, Brenda.
He had recently taken up the game again and was talking about it at a Christmas dinner with relatives.
"He was happy," Brenda Paoletta said of her brother. "Everything was perfect."
He played racquetball often as a child and won YMCA tournaments, she said.
Paoletta earned an associate degree at Albertus Magnus College in New Haven and worked in the credit division of a bank in Bridgeport, relatives said.
Carmella Circell, another sister, said the family cannot think of anyone who would want to harm their brother.
"I'm just in shock," she said. "I just can't believe someone would murder him. I wonder if he was robbed." (Jan.5 article by staff writer Zach Lowe)

2. I am totally freaked out by this murder. I feel so sorry that this violence had to happen to someone. I'm also freaked out that I could be driving along a road that we take as a shortcut to Dunkin Donuts, and all of a sudden see a bleeding person on the side of the road. That's what happened. Motorists saw this and pulled over. They also heard a loud bang. I don't know details, such as if they saw him pushed out of a car or anything.

I really, really hope they find who did this. I hope Paoletta's car, found burning in Norwalk, will provide leads.
Click here to read more.

Monday, January 7, 2008

Events Jan 8-10: School Redistricting Meeting, Russian Movies, and A Pretty Voice

Tues Jan 8, 7pm: A School Redistricting Hearing will be held tonight at Cloonan Middle. Stamford wants to redistrict the elementary schools so they’re more socio-economically balanced (Supreme Court recently ruled that race can’t be a factor). The meeting ALSO involves discussion about which elementary school will be closed, since OOPS, Stamford committed to building a new magnet school in the Cove before they realized the school population wasn’t increasing like they predicted.

Tues, Jan 8, 6:30 pm: Russian Film Festival at the Ferguson. We're lucky to have events like this. I bet Darien doesn't, and they also don't have the Haitian Book Festival. Grab a friend, get dinner at Capriccio, and walk over to the library.

Wed, Jan 9, 8:30: My friend Beth January is playing at Las Vetas lounge. That's in Fairfield, but I met Beth in Stamford, and she's in the Stamford Talk inner circle, so drop by if you're in the area. You can hear samples at digstation.

Thurs, Jan 11, 6:30: The Ferg is showing Sicko by Michael Moore. I dozed off halfway through, but my friend Keya loved it. Movie will be shown in the Third Floor Auditorium.

I’ll post more events later if I find them!
Click here to read more.

Saturday, January 5, 2008

Stamford's First Murder of 2008

Stamford, I'm sick of talking about your murders.

I read this morning that a man was found lying on Vine St. with a head wound. That’s right by Dunkin Donuts on High Ridge. At 6:45 pm on Jan 3., residents heard a loud bang and then found the man, who later died. There were no stab or gunshot wounds, so police thought it might have been a hit and run. Awful, but not murder.

Before bedtime, I checked my google reader and read in the Stamford Times that it was a gunshot wound. My stomach sank. I felt queasy at the thought of a murder victim lying in the road that I take home from Saturday morning coffee. Not again, Stamford.

And then, to add insult (and confusion) to injury, I read this Advocate headline:
" Gunshot wound found in head of dead Stamford man"… WHAT?
I read it again. Wound found in head. OK, it makes sense. A WOUND was found in the HEAD of a DEAD man. But something is awkward about that. You don’t FIND a wound in someone’s HEAD. You SEE it. Especially if there’s blood.

I called my sister over. “WHAT?” she said disbelievingly. Even a math major can see something wrong with that headline. Found wound head dead?
“It rhymes!” I said. It sounds like first grade spelling class. But to make it even more awkward, the last two words rhyme and the first two look like they should rhyme, but they don't.

In a way, this headline is almost disrespectful. Maybe I'm being picky. But I shouldn't have to look at this headline and laugh, should I? Advocate, you're awesome… but this headline is unacceptable!!!

I don’t mean to be flip and only focus on misguided words. This man got shot and dumped. I feel so bad. He was alive when police got to him. And four hours after they found the man, they found his car burning on a street in Norwalk. Norwalk! I’ve had enough of you as well! Your Christmas Eve murder was so sad and depressing.

Stamford residents, I don’t mean to scare you, but we need to keep our eyes open. There are no good and bad parts of this town. Weird stuff happens everywhere.
On one side, Dunkin Donuts and the Turn of River library. Next door: murder victim.
One side: my NYSC and Tip Top Nails. Across the street: Murder.
One side; Me getting gas at the Shell. 100 yards away: Woman murdered in hotel stairwell.
I wasn’t blogging at the time of the Cove murder, so I don’t know much about that.

I’m trying to find a message here. Stamford’s a real place with real problems. Unlike the zip codes to its left and right*, Stamford is economically and ethnically diverse. People have a lot going on besides making 130,000 (or 168,000) dollars a year (respective median household income of neighboring zips)**. I feel lucky to live in a place where there’s a lot going on. But that means, we have some things to deal with, and that’s why we need to talk, and that’s why I started this blog. I need to learn about the people I live near, and I’m doing that.

One last thing about the headline. “Wound found in head of DEAD man.” Isn’t that a bit gauche? Just because there was a popular movie with “DEAD MAN” in the title doesn’t mean we should all throw those words around. I understand that news is news, but maybe “victim” or even “murder victim” would fit in the headline space. Concise doesn’t have to mean callous.

*Nothing against you, Greenwich and Darien; I like you, I like your residents, I like your restaurants, and you have your own interesting issues. In fact, I like both of you very much, and one day, maybe I’ll have time to analyze you.

** Info according to Stamford’s median household income is around $66,000.
Click here to read more.

Friday, January 4, 2008

New Stamford Restaurant: Fin II

Part of me thinks we don't need another sushi restaurant in Stamford. We already have Duo (ravingly reviewed in the NY Times), Kujaku and Kotobuki. I love Duo, and Kotobuki is my tried and true standby. Now the Advocate reports that Fin II is opening on West Main… right next door to Kujaku and a block away from Duo. Okay, that’s odd. However, I’ve eaten at almost every Stamford restaurant except Market, so I’m excited about Fin II, if only to have something to talk about.

Here’s what the Advocate has to say: “Fin II is the sister of Fin, a popular Japanese restaurant in Fairfield. The Stamford opening generated a lot of buzz among the sushi and Japanese food aficionados in the area, though for those who had never been to Fin in Fairfield, the unprepossessing little storefront remodeling seemed like much ado over relatively nothing. Now that it is open and has been sampled, it is most definitely much ado over something.” I didn’t hear the buzz, but I’ve been scaling down my extragant eating out lately, so maybe I’m out of the loop. I also haven’t been on in a while.

Advocate Writer Melanie Barnard writes: “Still, the simplicity and almost sandwich-shop look of the place gave pause until my friend admonished me with a heaving sigh that I'd spent too much time and money in the glitz and glitter of new restaurants, and that the honored Japanese tradition is much more of restraint and quiet demonstrations of quality.” If I didn’t know the Advocate has nothing but good intentions, and if I didn’t know in my heart that anyone who doesn’t like Duo is crazy, I’d think that comment was a crack against Duo’s stylish interior and not so time-honored menu selections. Barnard’s review is overwhelmingly positive, so I think she meant to assure patrons that the simple interior doesn’t mean plain, poor food.

I’m looking forward to trying Fin II. Prices sound reasonable, so if it’s as good or better than Kotobuki, I might have another restaurant in my rotation.
Click here to read more.

Thursday, January 3, 2008

I'm Going to Planet Fitness

Planet Fitness is an awesome gym, but DON'T JOIN IT, because I want to join it, and I don’t want the rest of you taking up the elliptical machines. I visited the gym with a friend last month (Stamford Talk research) and was impressed.

I love my NYSC, but after they renovated and put in squash courts and a pool… well, the gym lost its tough-guy edge. Now, it looks like the tough guys are at Planet Fitness. I’m OK with that, because I like to feel tough when I go to the gym.

Good things about Planet Fitness:
It offers tons of cardio machines and a relaxed atmosphere. There are rows of cardio machines- 4 or so rows of 15 machines, all in a block, facing the same direction. At first it looked awkward, but once I got on the elliptical, surrounded by all those people running and stepping like crazy, I didn't think twice about breaking a sweat. I was part of a TEAM.

And the 10 $ a month price tag? Unbeatable! If you get the black card for 20 $, you get unlimited guests (and, oddly, tanning). I'm going to keep my NYSC membership; I've been going there for 8 years and got grandfathered in at a good price during the renovation. To me, though, PF is worth the additional 20 bucks so I can work out with my 3 friends who belong, AND make my husband go as my guest.

Bad things about PF:
I wish there were more free weights. At 5 pm, it was pretty busy. However, it’s cool to have to work in with people. You have to actually talk to them and say, "Hey, can I work in?" rather than going to the THIRD lat pull so you can avoid talking to anyone (that's what I do at my NYSC). Anyway, the point of PF is to offer basic stuff so the price can stay low. There are no classes and no towel service, but the locker room is pretty nice, and that’s important.

If you want to pay 80 bucks a month and get yoga and Boot Camp and Latin Groove classes and beautiful new machines, go to NYSC. If you are less high-maintenance and just want straightforward weights and cardio, PF could be the perfect gym for you. No, the perfect gym for me. You stay away.
Click here to read more.

Tuesday, January 1, 2008

Do We Care About the Naked Gold David?

I don't. But I mean, does Stamford as a whole care that an art store at the Bull's Head intersection displays a life-sized, gold-painted replica of Michelangelo's masterpiece?

I drive by there regularly and either don't notice it, or I think, without much interest at all, wow, that's weird. A naked, gold man, right beside the road.

I can't figure out who would care. Since it doesn't faze me, I assumed no one else cared either. I guess I forgot there's not one type of person in Stamford. We're young, we're old, we're rich, we're poor, we're neither, we own, we rent, we're Italian, we're Haitian, we have kids, don't have kids, etc. In all this mix, someone is probably really annoyed by that statue.

You might think, if 888 Wash had to take down the scary paper mache bear, should the naked guy go too?
The answer is no.
Bear = scary. Naked gold man = funny.
888 Wash = government building. Art/framing store = private.

I suppose the sidewalk that David stands on is probably public, so I'll change my "no" to "maybe, I don't really care." I'll have to swing by one day to see what the owner thinks. I should gather some data.

Maybe I could stand beside the statue with a sign that says, "Honk if you think this statue is funny." I could have a friend stand with me holding a sign that says, "Scream out your window if you find this statue offensive." That would make for a fun day. I'm changing my "maybe, I don't really care," to "leave it up, it gives this town some wackiness."
Click here to read more.