Sunday, November 30, 2008

New Layla's in Stamford: Falafal and Liquor!

Well, not exactly liquor, but wine and beer. If you don't know Layla's Falafel, it's well-priced, well-made Middle Eastern cuisine. There is one in Fairfield, one on High Ridge, and a new branch opening in downtown Stamford in Dec or Jan. My husband and I got lunch at Layla's on High Ridge today, and the owner gave me the excellent news that he is applying for a liquor license for the new Layla's. My God, a glass of white wine will go so nicely with the chicken Shawarma wrap. A NY Times review praised that wrap last year as "a textural delight that is worth the wait." Note: see Chris Preovolos' informative post about Layla's, which I must have missed because it was from the day I first started feeling under the weather... almost five damn weeks ago.

I got a sneak peek at the downtown Layla's menu, and it has many more items than the current menu. I'm looking forward to trying some new dishes. I think the new Layla's will be double the size of the one on High Ridge, and I wonder if it will be a little more upscale, or casual like the other two. (Casual is fine with me!) There will be outdoor seating, so when the weather warms, you can enjoy a quick but high-quality meal with your people-watching. Layla's downtown will be a nice alternative to Black Bear (not great food) and Market (expensive food).

Today I got the falafel pita, but, as the owner showed me one day last summer, you should really get the falafel on the lavash wrap, because then they grill the wrap for a few minutes and it turns out so much tastier. Here's a photo of that wrap; I apologize that I took a bite out of it before I remembered to take a photo. It was fantastic and very filling. It's always a challenge to save room for the baklava at Layla's, but you should. It's the perfect end to a flavorful meal.
Click here to read more.

Saturday, November 29, 2008

Heroes: Not as Translatable to Stamford as Lost

Over the last week, my fourth with a horrifying cough, I made it through two seasons of Heroes. Unlike when I watched 3 seasons of Lost over a period of two months, I can't really apply any Heroes lessons to Stamford. I tried to use flame-shooting power (see photo) on my husband when he refused to go shopping with me this morning, but nothing happened. I did think I might be getting super-hearing when I heard phlegm crackling in my throat (a crackling sound in the lungs is a sign of pneumonia), but the doc only heard wheezing yesterday; no crackling. No super-hearing, no flame-throwing, no flying. I certainly don't have super-healing power.

I suppose there might be some among us who have super-powers, but I think it's more likely that there are just bad people hidden among us, like robbers or plain old mean people. The guy who wears bat ears downtown... I don't think he's got a super-power. I can't think of a single person in this town who I suspect of having a power.

With Lost, I could apply lessons of mystery, determination, and seeming coincidence. With Heroes, I got nothin'. I can't even tell what time period Peter is jumping to any more, and Hayden Panetierre's bad acting is getting old. I am interested in figuring out how Gabriel becomes a good person, but he just blew up the world, right? (We just saw the fifth episode of season 3 last night.) Or was that the future, and it didn't really happen? The story lines are getting convoluted. So now there are three Nikki Saunders? Who's the third? Nikki is dead, now we have Tracy Straus, who's the third? Because Jessica was just a split personality right, not a real person? And did her doctor say he gave Tracy powers, she wasn't born with them?

Don't get me wrong; I'll be following Heroes from now on. I like a good multi-character drama with a sci-fi twist. But Lost is still my favorite. The actors are more fun to look at, the mystery more focused, and the pacing less frenetic. Only 7 more weeks until the next season of Lost.

Me to husband just now: Did you put the laundry in the dryer?
Husband: Uh... I have done it in the future.

Hmmm. Good attempt to apply Heroes to daily life, but it's not enough to capture my imagination.

Related Stamford Talk post:
--March 4, 2008-- Mystery, Power: Stamford and the Island of Lost
Click here to read more.

Thursday, November 27, 2008

Blue Holiday Lights Downtown: I Like 'Em

It took me a few minutes to get used to Stamford's new blue lights, but I'm OK with them. Obviously, I like the fact that they match my Stamford Talk theme. At first I missed the classic white lights, but blue is cool. As my husband says, "They're Christmas yet Hanukkah." He believes that holiday lights should be colorful. He shot down my all-white light Christmas tree idea the first year we lived together, then totally took over and proceeded to put together a great-looking tree. I'll admit, I'm a convert. I now see the appeal of colored lights.

However, I wonder if the all-blue lights will get old after a couple months. I wonder if I'll start to feel like I need a little variety. The blue is very blue, with no break. I wonder what other cities have all blue, and if people tolerated them for long periods of time. The nice thing about white is that it's very standard. Household lights are white, so having all-white lights in the trees year-round is no biggie, and it's pretty.

But see, this is where my husband would say holidays are for fun, and for different. I see his point... which is why I am OK with the blue lights. Et tu?
Click here to read more.

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Could Rampaging Turkeys Happen in Stamford?

It's Thanksgiving Week, people. You know what that means: be on the lookout for wild turkeys. Not to shoot them or anything, but just to appreciate their ugly beauty. I've spotted these hideous yet regal creatures in Old Greenwich, near Perrot Library, twice. As I wrote in a last year's wild turkey post, "They don’t seem scared by my car; they strolled nonchalantly around someone’s yard both times I drove by. On first glance, the turkeys are ugly and a little scary, but I think they are beautiful. I like how they walk around, head high, with an 'I don’t give a shit' attitude."

I have not seen any wild turkeys this year, but a blog post by my friend Christopher got me thinking about them. In "Food News: Are Turkeys Mobilizing?" he recounts several terrifying, inspiring incidents of turkeys performing feats of daring including stopping traffic on the Triborough. In my wildest dreams, I'd witness this, but I'll settle for a simple sighting.

My friend Christopher blogs out of Minneapolis, and he's beyond funny. When I lived in Rye, I became best friends with him and his wife Wendy. We did all kinds of crazy things, including spying on our neighbors and eating way too much McDonald's. When Christopher was in a play at LaMama in the city, Wendy and I tried to sneak inconspicuously to our seats, and instead, got stuck in the spotlight behind the biggest name in the cast. (We didn't know she was going to enter from the back of the theatre!) Another time, we were late coming back from intermission, and we got stuck backstage with the actors. We huddled against the wall, hoping that if we closed our eyes, they wouldn't notice us. Then, like all my good friends from my first year up here, they moved away. We've kept in touch, and I am so glad, because they are amazing, amazing people.
Recently, staying in touch has gotten easier, because they both started blogging over a year ago. Christopher's Blog Harbor has hilarious random opinions about turkeys, his daughters, and college sports. His hyperactive personality shines through in his writing. Wendy blogs at My Green Side about how to live in little ways that are better for you and better for the environment. Her mellow personality shines through.

Fave Blog Harbor Posts (the blog covers everything, but these posts about his daughters made me laugh out loud):
The Simple Language of Parenting and Football Coaching
Demando and Commando
Can Two Sisters Control the Universe?

Fave My Green Side posts:
Green Shopping for a White Christmas
Cleaning Green
Fabric Softener
Click here to read more.

Friday, November 21, 2008

Fireside Restaurant Burns Down?!?!?

Oh nooooooo! This was not what I was expecting as the top item on my google reader this morning! Fireside, the restaurant on Hope St. I've been dragged to once a month since meeting my husband four years ago, was destroyed last night in a blaze reported at 1:30 am. I'm not going to miss their food- well, maybe their excellent french fries- but my husband and his friends love/loved this place for its wings and casual atmosphere. I certainly hope the resto will rebuild.

Last night, Fireside and Capriccio were the two dinner options presented to me. My husband loves Fireside, but I always end eating an entire burger and fries smothered in ketchup, then I feel gross. We went to Capriccio, since I was meeting up with fellow bloggers downtown anyway. I got the penne arrabiata- red sauce made with spicy peppers, yum!- and it was outrageously good. (The not-huge portion makes it healthy.) Still, I feel a little bad my husband did not get to go to Fireside one last time. He loves their ribs, wings, and burgers... but would it be creepy to have the food of a burnt-down resto in your bowels? A little creepy, right?

Good luck to Fireside! I hope they rebuild soon. In the meantime, I'll try the other resto owned by the same people as Fireside, a little further up Hope St across from Twin Rinks, called Vinny's Backyard and BBQ. I hear their pizza is good!
Click here to read more.

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Can Someone Confirm That I Saw a Dead Pig?

I just saw something really, really odd on the Merritt. It's 10 pm and I just got home from visiting a friend in Westchester. Just before exit 34, I swear, I saw, lying dead on the right side of the road, a huge pig. It was white and grey, and a tiny bit hairy.

It was not a deer. I don't think it was a dog, because it was big. Like, me-sized. It looked like it had a snout, but the head was thrown back, so I was only looking at the underside of its chin. What I mean is, I did not get a great look at this animal as I was speeding by at 60 mph, but I really think it was a huge pig. It looked sort of like this pig, but it was lighter grey.

I share this info in hopes that someone else saw the creature, or knows someone who saw the creature. It's not unreasonable that a pig could have escaped from a farm-ish place near the Merritt. I feel bad about the dead pig. I really think it was a pig.
Click here to read more.

Let's Get Rid of These Leaves!

From the Advocate: It's time for leaf pickup. Stamford residents who live south of the Merritt Parkway and north of Interstate 95 should place leaves in biodegradable bags for pickup this week and next. Collection south of I-95 will begin by Nov. 28... The city has finished collection in North Stamford.
Let's get rid of these leaves already! It's getting dangerous on my street for pedestrians, who have to walk almost in the middle of the road. That's not so safe in a neighborhood where everyone speeds. I do like the fact that the leaves are a natural traffic hump, though. When there are two cars passing each other, one car has to pull over to avoid going through leaves.

Why is the info in the Advocate, though, telling me I should put my leaves in biodegradable bags? I thought we can just leave our leaves out in the road, loose, like leaf barbarians.
Click here to read more.

Monday, November 17, 2008

Stamford Talk Holiday Shopping Guide

A traffic-filled trip to a store on Central Ave in Yonkers has got me freaking out: the holidays are coming, people! Don't wait until after Thanksgiving to start planning. Start NOW, today. Here are my best tips for shopping in the Stamford area. I hope you'll add your own tips as well. Just make sure they’re geared toward lazy people who don’t like to fight crowds.

Tip 1: Go online to avoid dealing with the stressed out, perfectionist FC shoppers and their SUVs. Anyone with an iPod loves iTunes gift certificates, and I always do iPhoto calendars for my family. On Kodak Gallery, you can personalize stuff with photos. I made Christmas ornaments with my nephews' photos for their first Christmases.

Tip 2: To avoid the mall, go for some of the smaller stores in the area.
For women:
--Goldenberry in Darien- home goods store. It tends toward knick-knacky, but it's really nice stuff. I once got my cousin some stunning placemats. It’s on the Post Rd. past Trader Joe’s.
-- Artistic Hand Blown Glass on Bedford. Here's where to get something for your mother-in-law and/or the person who already has everything she needs. Last year we got my mom-in-law a blown-glass angel Christmas tree ornament. At 40 bucks, it was one of the cheapest things in the store, and so pretty. The store also has stunning glass (unbreakable, Pyrex-ish) bracelets that I’m still upset don’t fit me. They’re $80 bucks and in my semi-stylish opinion, totally worth it.
--Anthropologie has stand alone stores in Greenwich and Westport, so you can buy unusual clothes/home goods without dealing with the mall.

For men:
--My husband is impossible to shop for, but I can usually find something for him at GameStop; just ask the clerk for a rec based on a list of games he already has. Stores are on Summer St. or the mall; I know that's breaking my lazy rule, but desperate times...
--Montana for Men, a salon right beside g/r/a/n/d, has nice, expensive shaving stuff.
--Gift certificates for a massage at Noelle Spa also work well in a pinch.

For kids:
--Graham’s Kids Cuts on Greenwich Ave in Greenwich, a children’s hair salon, has a small selection of quality, unusual toys. I always go there at Christmas for my niece and nephews.
--Smart Kids Co on Elm St., just off Greenwich Ave, has a much larger selection of more typical toys like Legos and stuffed animals.
--This year I’m also going to check out Kaleidoscope Kids' Boutique in Bull’s Head, Stamford, to see what they have. I also want to try Stamford Toys. Evidently it's on High Ridge behind Kinko’s, which is why I've never seen it.

Tip 3: Big fat duh: Do not ever go to the Bed Bath Beyond complex on Summer after 9:15 am on a weekend from now on. After that, you'll never find a spot, and you'll hate everyone, because that parking lot is a nightmare. I took this photo at 8:35 last December 22.

Any other suggestions for shopping in Stamford?
I’d like to steal some ideas from you.
I have not even made my list yet, so I need to get cracking!

Related Stamford Talk posts:
--Dec 25 2007-- Stamford Holiday Shopping Analysis
--Feb 29 2008-- Beautiful Bracelets I'll Never Wear
Click here to read more.

Sunday, November 16, 2008

Sabatiello's Kitchen Nightmares DeBriefing

1. I made the cut. The owner serves us steak, and I, smiling like an idiot, watch my husband cut into his steak. While the steak was good, the middle was undercooked, as were many of the steaks you saw served on the show.

2. I highly doubt that being on Kitchen Nightmares will give the resto a boost as the owner hoped. The show portrayed an Italian Steak House whose chef cannot cook a medium steak. Maybe the chef has figured it out by now, but I am too scared to go back and see. I'm afraid the owner will recognize me and ask me a question about the show. If someone else can go check out the steaks and report back, I'd be so grateful.

3. A lot of commenters on the previous post thought that Sammy came across looking like a jerk, but I bet a lot of owners are tyrannical when they have a million dollars sunk into a place.

4. The only horrifying thing to me was charging high prices for food that was not the quality that was promised: selling a lower quality steak than listed, charging $29 for sole with imitation crabmeat, and reheating week-old lasagna. What's the point of eating out? I can get better food for cheaper, and I can microwave a frozen lasagna dinner at home for 3 bucks.

5. I was happy to see that the kitchen was clean-- except for the raw chicken right beside the cooked, which Gordon Ramsay freaked over.

6. I think it's awkward that the main dining area is upstairs. Even if upstairs is full, the resto will look empty if people are not downstairs. Nobody wants to risk being the only one eating in a resto; people like to see who's there before they commit.

7. The show made me nostalgic for Dunn's Loft, the steak house that had a brief, glorious, rollicking run on Summer before it went down because, like Sabatiello's, there just was not the business to offset the high rent. However, at Dunn's, the steak was delicious and the atmosphere far more celebratory.

Related posts:

--Jan 2008-- Stamford Restaurant: Dunn’s Loft... Steak!
--March 2008--Stamford Steak Awards 2008
--Feb 2008--My experience with the TV show: Gordon Ramsey, Cleavage, Me, and a Kitchen Nightmare in Stamford
Click here to read more.

Thursday, November 13, 2008

Me on Sabatiello's, in Newsprint: Is It OK?

I feel bad saying bad things about nice people, so I hope the owner of Sabatiello's is not pissed that I said- to an Advocate reporter- that I thought the food at Sabatiello's was "OK."
It's such a neat little spot and it's just a mystery why it's not more productive," Redlien (that's me!) said. "You can look out and see everyone that's going by." One explanation may be the food. In comparison to other Italian restaurants in the city, the few dinners Redlien had at Sabatiello's were "OK," she said. (See full article.)

OK is OK, right? Like, it's not great, and it's not bad? I did not say the food was good, but that's because I am an FC-trained food snob. Not a real food snob, but a food snob who can either pay 20 bucks for great Italian food (small size pasta at Napa, or a delicious pasta entree at Siena) or pay $10-15 for OK food that most people would never complain about. That's how I classify Sabatiello's based on the few times I ate there. It's normal Italian food. But that's the prob. There is so much of it already in Stamford that Sabatiello's has not made a splash.

With Capriccio just a few doors down, you have already have quality Italian food on Bedford, plus the best outdoor scene in Stamford. My husband loves Capriccio, so that's where we get our fill of Italian food at a good price. He likes lighter Italian. I actually like Siena a lot, on the other end of Spring, even though it's a bit pricey to eat there regularly. By pricey, I mean meat entrees are over 20 bucks. Siena is a pretty, romantic resto with very good food. We rarely go there because my husband likes nothing on the menu, but sometimes I can play the sympathy card and we'll get to go there.

But back to Sabatiello's. I can't wait to see the show... and maybe we can all agree to go there in the next week and share our reviews! My husband has been scared to eat at a place that has been on Kitchen Nightmares (I forced him to the reality show taping under slight duress), but maybe the show will portray a place that is clean, with good quality cooks, but that is just struggling because of slow business.

There. I think I feel better now, and that what I said was alright. OK? OK.
Click here to read more.

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Comfy Shoes in Stamford at Hawley Lane

On the way home from work today, CBS 880 am said, "Get ready for the rain!" I smiled a big grin, because a) I like rain and b) I've got some adorable new rain boots. I've lived 33 years on this earth without rain boots, so I feel like the $85 dollar price tag is justified. I told my husband they were $45. My Bogs boots are thick and sturdy, with cushy soles and neoprene insulation, so I can use them in the snow, too. They come in 2 cute patterns- brown with pink swirlies, and black with yellow abstract flowers- and have handles on the side for easy pulling on.

I got the boots at my favorite shoe store, Hawley-Lane in Bull's Head shopping center. Don't think this store is only for old lady shoes, although they do have quite the selection of orthopedic shoes. They have an enormous selection of men, women, and children's shoes, many of which are very stylish. I'm wearing a slick pair of black leather boots that I just bought today. I have terrible feet, so I pretty much only shop at Hawley-Lane. They've got running shoes, Reef flip flops, heels, boots, socks, leather sprays, insoles, and now they've got purses!

The service at Hawley-Lane is incomparable. The staff is patient, so freaky-footed people like me don't feel stupid trying on 15 pairs of shoes and walking around in each pair for 5 minutes. They've got a whole wall of kids' shoes, and a whole room of men's shoes- flip flops, athletic shoes, casual shoes, and really good-looking leather work shoes. If I were a man, this is where I would shop for shoes. It's calm, unlike a harried department store.

I am currently pretty much in love with the Bull's Head shopping center. If you've got a thousand bucks or two, you can get some nice trinkets at Grunberger Jeweler. I suggest you go window shop. The shopping center also houses Margot Cafe and Wine Bar, my favorite convenience store, Zen Spa and Nails, Kam Pei (fair to mediocre Asian food), stellar Liz Sue bagels, and some other stores I don't usually go to, but appreciate knowing are there: a dry cleaner, a children's clothing boutique called Kaleidoscope, a bakery, a mattress store, and a soccer store. I mean, rock on.

I'll leave you with my favorite rain poem:

April Rain Song
by Langston Hughes

Let the rain kiss you.
Let the rain beat upon your head with silver liquid drops.
Let the rain sing you a lullaby.

The rain makes still pools on the sidewalk.
The rain makes running pools in the gutter.
The rain plays a little sleep-song on our roof at night—

And I love the rain.
Click here to read more.

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Thursday TV: Stamford on Kitchen Nightmares!

I really hope I do not make it onto the TV show Kitchen Nightmares, which was shot in Stamford last February. A lucky convergence of events ended up with my husband and I (and other members of the Stamford blog network) eating at the featured resto post-makeover. It's awkward eating with a camera in your face, and I'm not the type who can play things cool, so I really hope there is no embarrassing footage of me. This photo is a paparazza-style shot I took of the resto on filming night.

Read about my experience with the TV show:
--Feb 20, 2008-- Gordon Ramsey, Cleavage, Me, and a Kitchen Nightmare in Stamford

Read about how I first found out there was a show filming in our city:
--Feb 17, 2008-- Reality TV in Stamford This Week: Let's Eat!

Read about Blog Stamford's experience with the show:
-- Feb 20, 2008-- Kitchen Nightmares in Stamford
Click here to read more.

Monday, November 10, 2008

CRUMBS: Not Impressing Me Yet!

I was going to wait until one more visit to Crumbs Bake Shop to pan it, but you know what, I'm still sick, and there is only so much work I'm willing to do to discuss cupcakes. Plus, I've heard from more than one person that their cupcakes were not earth-shattering. I had two problems at Crumbs last week.

Medium-sized problem: NO good system for waiting in line. When I went to Crumbs, there were only 2 other people in the store... and a guy still managed to cut in front of me! I was standing in the middle of the counter, and there was a guy near the end, by the cupcakes. Guess who the clerk went over to? The guy who got there after me!  Either he did not see me or thought I was already being helped, because he stepped right up to ask several detailed questions about cakes.  I was not feeling well, so it really pissed me off.  
I am willing to concede that this might have been a one-time failing by the Crumbs staff, but I need to be reassured that Crumbs does have a system. Is it common knowledge for cupcake aficionados that the line starts at the back of the store? Or, are customers really expected to keep track of which one, two, or ten customers were there ahead of them? That's far too much work for a mediocre cupcake... which brings me to the the larger problem with Crumbs.

Large problem: The cupcakes were not great. My husband thought the cupcakes were pretty good, but he does not have a sweet tooth like I do. My classic strawberry was basically stale. The blackout cupcake was not that chocolately, and the Hostess chocolate cake tasted bland.   I got three, and not a single winner? Where's the cupcake kapow?
A coworker said her cupcakes weren't awesome, and another coworker said that although her husband loved his German chocolate cupcake, hers wasn't amazing.  A mediocre $4 cupcake? It's not enough just to look pretty! You need to taste good!

I am sure I will return to Crumbs, but for your sweet fix in the FC, try Chocopologie in Norwalk. I've also heard good things from readers about the cupcakes at Margot Cafe and Wine Bar in Stamford.
Click here to read more.

Saturday, November 8, 2008

North-South Relations: A Poem

For the second time in a week, I’m awake at 2am and can’t get back to sleep because of coughing and congestion. It’s 3:30 now, and this poem about North-South relationships is in my head, so I might as well busy my brain for a little and type it out for you.  I have to wake up at 4:20am, anyway, because I'm catching a 6:30 flight to Tupelo, MS.

A friend typed this poem out for me ten years ago when she was at a really boring job. My friend was my roommate at the time, and she is still one of my very best friends. She’s also an amazing poet herself. When you read this poem, try not to think of George Bush. Think of like, normal Southern people. This poem is about the strengths and foibles of both North and South, but really about friendship.

(from George Bradley’s The Fire Fetched Down, 1996)

From the land of football recruiting scandals,
Barbeque and kudzu, creation science,
Military schooling and right-to-work laws,
Country of country

Music, come, old friend, to the land of mud-rooms,
Flu, and acid slush, to decaying factory
Towns and autumn foliage fanfare, pilgrim
Mores and pilgrim

Cooking, please come flying. Fly Continental,
If you must, but travel and take advantage
Of the miser’s welcome New England offers:
Taciturn greeting,

Shellfish, maple glop, and a local stab at
Wine. Alas, the syrup and wine aren’t always
Easy to distinguish, while conversation
Here and about is

Rather less mercurial than the chowder.
We must count on you, then, to keep the table
Lively. Born and bred in the South, where breeding
Matters and manners

Are a sort of spectator sport, by instinct
You will captivate the assorted neighbors
We invite to witness a rare performance,
Charming them silly

With your deep-fried flattery, served in portions
Just this side of fattening, with your gossip
Balanced on the line that divides piquant from
Legal exposure.

Later, dinner done and the others gone or
Gone to bed, we heroes can strive to stave off
Sleep and reminisce for a while, rewriting
Scenes from our epic

College years together, lamenting classmates
Lost or dead, amazing ourselves to notice
Dreams we formed in youth of devoting life to
Language have somehow

Come to pas, albeit in ways we couldn’t
Possibly foresee at the time, arrived as
We now are at homes and careers and family,
Come to this present

Peace, or its simulacrum. Jay, what pleasure
Can compare to memories shared upon the
Stroke of midnight? Call it nostalgia, call it

Either way, please visit. It won’t be like the
Old days, when the hunger that pounded through our
Veins possessed us, driving us into darkened
Streets toward sunrise.

If you made it to the end of this poem, I want to brag about my friend real quick. The year before she typed this poem out for me, she wanted to be in the poetry class of a professor named Charles Wright. He gruffly told her on the phone that the class was full, but to bring some samples of her work by his office. He flipped through them and said, “Oh. These will be fine. I’ll see you Monday.” The dude won the Pulitzer the next year!  My friend is so talented, and I don't always think she realizes that.  I try to remind her as often as possible.

It’s 4 am. I cannot believe I am leaving for the airport in 45 minutes!!!
Click here to read more.

Thursday, November 6, 2008

Fancy Grocery Coming to the South End

The internet is abuzz about a Fairway grocery opening in the South End in early 2010. Clearly, I am not from this area, because I have no idea why that's a big deal! I vaguely knew Fairway was a grocery, but I figured it was just a regular New York grocery like Gristedes, but maybe bigger. In researching this post, I gather that Fairway is a grocery store based in NYC that is known for its produce and wide selection of cool food stuff. Read a bunch of the rave reviews on Yelp and you'll get the idea.

According to readers on Chowhound, the new store will be in the Yale and Towne property on the corner of Canal and Market. That's sort of near where the UHaul rental place is. I hate to be a traffic alarmist, but that corner is a mess as it is. I assume they'll fix up the traffic flow for us.

I'm not quite sure what to make of the location. (See google map.) There are no other stores around there. Is the location near where Antares is putting up their new apartments/office complexes? Is that why they are putting it there? And are they planning more fancy stores? Rather than a one-stop grocery, if we're going to have a slice of traffic hell, we might as well have a few stores to hit before we head back out and block the paths of the other people who are trying to get in. (I'm thinking of the Summer St. Bed Bath Beyond mess, which I suppose is not that bad... unless it's Christmas time... which is coming soon, BTW. I'm already starting my Stamford Talk gift guide.)
Click here to read more.

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

I Voted! I’m Sick! I’m Taking a Trip!

On Voting: I hit the polls at 6:30am; it took about 45 minutes total. It was a smooth, satisfying experience at Rippowam Middle. My neighbors were very well-behaved in line, except for the guy behind me who was standing too close to my left elbow. Surprisingly, my wet, hacking cough didn't send him back a few inches.

Voting in G'wich: I was at a school in Greenwich for a work thing today, and the voting there scene was annoying. There were dozens of kids selling candies and cookies. That I can tolerate, because those little girls had the sense to stay out of my personal space. What I can’t tolerate:
-A guy right out front: “I’m so and so! Please vote for me!” I’m not even sure if he said please. I was clearly avoiding eye contact, so why did he talk to me?
-Boy scouts, blocking the sidewalk, rushing up to me with a book, a can, and an urgent plea for something or other. I was not feeling well at all, so I was not in the mood to be accosted by overeager children. I held up my hand (universal "back off" sign) and had to step off the sidewalk to get away from the kid.

On Being Sick: Yeah, it’s making me a little grumpy, because I have not felt well since Thursday. Congestion, feeling icky, now a nasty cough that’s ripping my throat up. I can’t sleep because I can barely swallow without coughing. My strep test was negative, and I don’t have a fever, so I guess this is just a virus to fight off.

My trip: I really need to be better by Saturday, because I’m hopping a plane to Mississippi to visit my nephews and niece- 5, 3, and 1. (Oh- and my sister and her husband will be there, too.) I connect through Memphis, TN on the way to Tupelo, MS, AKA Elvis’ birthplace.

They just redid the Tupelo Airport. It’s still small- one counter, one luggage carousel- but it’s beautiful. Until last year, the baggage claim was a tent outside the building, right by the runway. See pic to right. Actually, it was fun to walk off the plane and see your family standing right by the fence by the tent. I miss that, descending from the plane to a cheering crowd. Well, maybe the crowd didn't cheer.

I can’t wait to get away from the stressed-out, crowded FC for a few days.
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Monday, November 3, 2008

Meeting a Mate in the FC

Enough about politics! Let's talk about love and marriage in the FC. Before those 2 things, you have to meet the right person. That ain't easy. Take it from me. I endured 6 years of FC dating hell before I met my husband. It can be difficult to meet a mate in the FC. That's why I'm posting about it: I need readers to add tips to the few that I have. Let's pool our knowledge.

First, why is it so hard to meet a mate in the FC?
1. There aren't that many social gathering places besides bars. Bars are loud, and people tend to go in groups and not talk to other groups. Also, alcohol makes quality interactions less likely.
2. This is the suburbs. A lot of people are already married, so single people have fewer friends to go out with. Everyone knows that married people just sit at home.
3. I'm not really sure why else. I think many of us are complicated over-achievers with way too high standards.

My tips for meeting a mate:
1. Do go out to bars, even if it sucks. It's good practice talking to people. Try a fun bar like Tigin on a Tuesday, when Trivia is happening. I meet boatloads of people when I go to Trivia, but it's the single people who should be working it, not me. I look around at all the UBS dudes at the bar at Tigin and think, where the hell are the single ladies who should be all over them?
2. Work your connections. Don't be shy. Let your older coworkers know that you are dating; they might hook you up.
3. I've met nice friends on You could probably meet a mate through that.
4. Fairfield County Happy Hour Club!
5. Understand the role of chance, and get your ass out there. My friend once met a nice guy in an elevator at the Greenwich Library. She was checking out kids' books, he was studying for some accounting test. They were a bad match, but he was a good guy. The "friend" is actually me, but I don't want to talk about old boyfriends in front of my husband- even though he recently told me he usually only reads the beginnings of my posts, so who knows if he'll even read this far.

The "get your ass out there" method works. I met my husband randomly through a roommate of mine who neither of us was very good friends with. The roomie invited a bunch of people out for lunch after a business school test she was taking. I had nothing to do, so figured I might as well have lunch with her before going to the gym. One man showed up, a guy she'd met out at the bars through a guy we'll call "The Baker." My soon-to-be boyfriend/husband was The Baker's neighbor, and he had gone out with The Baker a few times. See why it's important to go out? If my husband had not gone out to lame Stamford bars with his neighbor, we never would have met. Also, if my husband and I had been lazy and not gone out for a possibly lame lunch, we never would have met. That's freaking scary. (Photo: The happy couple, in photobooth with "rollercoaster" background. I'm trying to make my husband wave his arms like he's on a rollercoaster. As usual, he tries to play it cool.)

Essentially, I'm telling you that you have to endure hell and loneliness to meet people in the FC, but that it should pay off in the end. If you can't wait a few years, move to Boston or NYC.

Related Stamford Talk posts:
--June 2008-- Socializing Opps with FC Happy Hour Club
--February 2008-- The Best Way to Meet People in Stamford!
--January 2008-- Stamford's Single Women: Where Are You?
--August 2007-- It's Easy to Meet People at Tuesday Trivia
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Sunday, November 2, 2008

Does the Advocate Also Endorse Palin?

Um, Advocate? I suppose it's your job to endorse a political candidate. Therefore, I am not holding it completely against you that you endorsed McCain. However, your endorsement of McCain failed to mention vice-presidential candidate Palin. I'm refraining from using the words "cracked out" (adjective form, as in, "you are cracked out"), because I'm too mature and level-headed for that, but I think it was a foolish oversight not to factor Palin's presence into your decision.

While Palin was a hoot in her cameo on SNL, I can't say enough bad things about almost every politically-oriented word I've heard come out of her mouth. It's a horror show of ignorance and unpreparedness, and that's an unacceptable situation for the vice-president. If the
Advocate's editorial board is endorsing McCain, they are also endorsing Palin for vice-president and possibly president. So why don't they mention her?

Is the Advocate OK with Palin? If so, tell me why. I'd love to hear. If the Advocate is not OK with Palin, and didn't mention her because they know she is an unacceptable choice, it's irresponsible to endorse McCain. Either way, I'd like to know what the Advocate thinks. It was kind of weird they didn't mention Palin, because her out-of-nowhere selection has been a big factor this presidential race.

I've been tactfully keeping mum on politics, because Stamford Talk is about Stamford, not about my own political leanings. But when the local paper endorses a candidate but ignores his choice of an extremely problematic running mate, it needs to be called out. That's an incomplete story, and readers notice.

If you missed the real Sarah Palin's cameo on SNL, here it is:

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Saturday, November 1, 2008

Cool-Sounding Documentary at the Avon

The name of the movie is boring (A Man Named Pearl) but the synopsis is not. After being told he was not welcome in a white South Carolina neighborhood because "black people don't keep up their yards," Pearl created an elaborate topiary garden and became the first black man to win his town's Lawn of the Month award. A Man Named Pearl started at the Avon Theatre yesterday and goes through Thursday. I'm going to catch a showing this weekend at 12:15, 2:15, or 6:15. See a trailer of the film, or keep reading for a summary.

From the Avon's website: Winner of the Heartland Film Festival Crystal Heart Award and Salem Film Festival Audience Award, 'A Man Named Pearl' tells the inspiring story of self-taught topiary artist Pearl Fryar, whose unlikely journey to national prominence began with a bigoted remark. In 1976, Pearl took a job in a can factory in Bishopville, South Carolina. New to this rural southern town, he and his wife Metra looked at a house for sale in an all-white neighborhood. The Fryars' real estate agent was notified by neighbors in the prospective neighborhood that a black family was not welcome. A homeowner voiced the collective concern: "Black people don't keep up their yards." Pearl was stung by the racial stereotype. But rather than become angry and embittered, it motivated him to prove that misguided man wrong. Pearl bought a house in a "black" neighborhood and began fashioning a garden that would attract positive attention. His goal was modest, but clear: to become the first African-American to win Bishopville's Yard of the Month award.

Pearl's garden has grown into a masterpiece. In order to keep the project alive and well for future generations, the garden has been designated as a Preservation Project of the Garden Conservancy. To view more photos of Pearl's topiaries, visit Fryar's Topiaries.
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