Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Stamford Restaurant Ratings: First Appear Useful, Then Useless, Then Useful Again!

As you know if you read the Stamford Advocate, the city is now posting its restaurant inspection results online.
Below 80 is one hat: poor compliance!
80-96 is two hats and acceptable compliance, and 90-100 is three hats, best compliance. The overlap from 90-96 has to do with the type of violation- click on graphic to right for more details, or see Advocate article.
Sounds like a great idea, but when I read further, here is the problem: the patron has no idea if the restaurant got a poor rating for something important, like food being stored improperly, or something smaller, like a back door being left open. See quote from article:
Sometimes the smallest circumstance can trigger a low score and poor compliance rating, managers said. A March inspection at Bennett's Steak and Fish on Spring Road left the establishment with a one-hat rating, denoting poor compliance. A ceiling tile was missing and the back door was open, manager Matt Salvatore said.
"It was such little things," Salvatore said. "But again, coming from someone living in Stamford, I like knowing when my family goes out to eat, every restaurant is being dealt with that way."

I mean, first of all, close your back door because flies can get in, but second, I agree with the dude. Something not so egregious can make your restaurant look like a total one-hat dump. Now, the ratings seem useless.
However, I do appreciate how motivating that one-hat possibility will be to make sure all details are squared away. Therefore, these at-a-second-glance useless ratings are, at a third glance, probably a great idea. As the article says, The site shows many local eateries that turned poor scores into excellent ones, such as Capriccio Cafe on Bedford Street, Amore Restaurant on Hope Street and Coromandel Cuisine of India on Broad Street.

Go, Stamford! There is nothing I like more than seeing people and places strong-armed into following rules that protect their patron's tummies.

The ratings are actually kinda complex- like, you can't read it once and fully understand and remember the system (especially if your baby is crabbing in his crib while you are blogging about it). Quote:
Stamford used the beaming face icon because the 100-point scale can be misleading, city health inspector Ronald Miller warned. Restaurants with a score below 80, or a single four-point violation automatically fail, so a restaurant with a score of 96 could have failed its inspection, he said.
On the 62-item inspection sheet, there are 10 possible four-point violations, such as food storage at improper temperature and inadequate sanitation practices. If unchecked, four-point violations can lead to food-borne illness.

I mean, geez, all those numbers. OK, must go take care of tired baby!
Click here to read more.

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

I'm Boycotting the Rogue Farmer's Market

I'm still pretty irritated that another farmer's market opened on the very same day as the Bartlett's, and that the new rogue market seems to have situated itself in such a place as to siphon customers from the Bartlett. I corresponded with someone from the Bartlett, who wrote: "We too, are very upset and bothered that a for profit business has taken business away from us a non-profit. The Arboretum does not make any money from the market, instead we opt to offer people a reason to visit our beautiful property and find out more about us and we believe that supporting local farmers compliments our mission of promoting sustainable practices. Our market is held on Wednesdays because we do not charge gate admission on that one day of the week."
I do understand that competition is a way of life, but it is still beyond me why the city did not choose a different day for the new market at the High Ridge shopping center by Borders.

Q and I have a baby class (followed by a long leisurely lunch for the Moms!) on Wednesdays, so we won't make it to the Bartlett market for another month and a half, but I'm going to try to make it up there near the end of August. The Bartlett is so beautiful, a great place for a FREE picnic on Wednesdays... can't wait to buy a pie there.
Click here to read more.

Monday, July 13, 2009

Holla to Baby-Friendly Barcelona Stamford

We hit Barcelona Stamford last night with the baby in the stroller and were very pleased with the service. When we walked in the door, the staff didn't act like we were huge pains in the asses for wanting to take baby out to dinner, stroller and all. Several people conferred over where we'd be best, and they gave us a prime outdoor seat. Much appreciated. My baby, of course, was an angel, and we had a great dinner. There was another baby outdoors, and a couple kids inside, and all were civilized as far as I could tell. This was around 6pm.

Among the tapas, I highly recommend the empanadas (get a couple of helpings- and ps they are delightfully spicy) and the smoky eggplant dip. And the free bread: delicious!

Other tapas:
The potato tortilla: not tantalizing.
Chorizo with figs: enh. Figs a bit dry.
Garlic bulb: I did not partake.
My sangria: could have been stronger...

but overall, this could be one of our eating-out-with-baby standbys, because I love the empanadas, and the staff and outdoor seating are quite pleasant. It's not cheap, but it's not crazy either- I think we spent about $23/person for a medium-small amount of food. The bread definitely made it a meal.
Click here to read more.

Friday, July 10, 2009

On Leaving Babies in Cars (For a "Quick Errand")

I'm not talking about the accidental forgetting of children in cars (see terrifying Washington Post article). I'm talking about, if I am picking up food at Layla's Falafel that I know is ready, and the baby is asleep in his carseat, can I just leave him there for three minutes, rather than haul him out and me have to fend off people who are going to get all up in his face to try to get a peek?
I am so paranoid about my baby that I wouldn't leave him in the car, but I believe people do this quite commonly. A couple months ago on Greenwich Ave, a woman left her 4 week old in the car to do an errand at a bank. When she came out, someone had called 911 (which you HAVE to do, because you don't know if the person forgot their kid or not) and the cops were already there. She said she could see the car the whole time, but they arrested her.

When is it OK to leave a kid in the car for just a few minutes? I doubt the law says, "Parents may leave a child in a car as long as they can see it from the window of the store, and as long as their errand does not take longer than ten minutes."
My husband says, When the kid is old enough to let himself out in an emergency, it's OK. I don't agree. I think they need to be like, 11. Or as old as it takes for them to have common sense not to break something in the car, or let a stranger steal them, or to accidentally put the car in drive.
I suppose the situation falls under the area of neglect and endangerment, but that's pretty subjective. I want to know, can you leave your baby in the car or not? Or, like most things, is it OK as long as you don't get caught?

OK, I found the law:
"An act concerning the penalty for leaving a child unsupervised in a place of public accommodation or motor vehicle.
(a) Any parent, guardian or person having custody or control, or providing supervision, of any child under the age of twelve years knowingly leaves such child unsupervised in a place for a period of time that presents a vehicle for a period of time that presents a substantial risk to the child's health or safety, shall be guilty of a Class A misdemeanor...
(c) Any parent, guardian or person having custody or control, or providing supervision, of any child under the age of twelve years knowingly leaves such child unsupervised in place of public accommodation or motor vehicle between the hours of eight o'clock p.m. and six o'clock a.m. for a period of time that presents a substantial risk to the child's health or safety, shall be guilty of a Class C felony."

See, it's subjective. Is three minutes alone in a cool, locked car a "substantial risk to the child's health or safety?" I say no. I think the woman on Greenwich Ave basically just left her kid alone for too long, long enough for people to notice and worry. So, she messed up, but you can see how she could easily think she had done no wrong.

I'd never leave my baby alone in the car, because here's how I think: "What if someone ran into my car with my baby in it, and he was trapped? I'd want to be trapped WITH him. Or, what if I fainted in the store, and no one knew I had a baby in the car? What if there is an explosion in the store and I'm knocked out? My baby could overheat in the car." I mean, weirder things have happened, right?

By the way, the Washington Post article is worth a read, but it's really, really depressing. Between 15 and 25 kids die each year when their caregivers accidentally leave them in the car. The biggest thing I got from the article was a) when you are tired and busy, your memory can short circuit and b) to avoid that, leave your purse in the backseat by the carseat so you won't forget your kid. A sleeping kid is a quiet kid, and a busy parent who is not used to taking the kid to daycare might forget he/she has the kid in the car and just go right to work. The article profiles a couple of these devastated people and describes how the scenario can easily happen to a tired, distracted person.
Click here to read more.

Wednesday, July 8, 2009

Pops in the Park: Is Alcohol Allowed?

Since I went to college in Virginia (and beach week in South Carolina), lived in New York for a year, and have now lived in CT for almost 10 years, I can't quite keep track of alcohol laws. I know I can buy liquor in New York on Sundays, but can I bring a bottle of wine to the Pops in the Park concert tonight in downtown Stamford? I am not a huge public drinker, so I don't know public alcohol laws. Can I bring it as long as it's like, in a paper bag?
I'm not actually planning on bringing a bottle of wine- if you are toting around a baby, you need to be sober- but I just want to know, so I can encourage the people I'm with to have some fun.

And like, if I can bring wine to the Pops in the Park, why can't I bring it to Alive @ Five? Because they have beer/wine tents there? I don't think they have beer/wine tents at Pops. Really, all this alcohol stuff is confusing. It changes for every state and every event. I do know about the open container in cars law. You can't do that. (WHY would you do that, anyway? Driving and alcohol just aren't a good mix.)
Click here to read more.

Tuesday, July 7, 2009

Best Baby Store in Stamford: Bed Bath Beyond

I'm really psyched about Bed Bath and Beyond carrying so much quality baby gear- now I can get the super-safe Britax carseat I want at 20% off since I can use the ubiquitous BBB coupons- but boy would BBB have come in handy oh, about 6 months ago when we started shopping for baby gear!
It would have saved me
a) a couple hellish trips to White Plains/Hartsdale, where Buy Buy Baby and Babies R Us are, and
b) 20% off of my babyseat and strollers. Yeah, I said strollers. You'll see when you have a baby. This wall, which looks really scary to you now, will look like a candy store when you were a child.

I hit the baby section at BBB yesterday and I was impressed. It takes up the entire back section of the store.

Here's a list of cool stuff they have that I have, love, and/or want: all the kickass strollers (city mini jogger, bugaboo cameleon, you name it they have it), Bebe au Lait nursing covers, the ERGObaby carrier (so much better than the Bjorn once the baby can hold his own head up), Swaddleme swaddles (don't get the fleece, too hot- get cotton), Halo sleep sacks, and hideously ugly but useful baby swings. They've got high chairs, pack and plays, medicine, bath stuff, baby-proofing safety stuff... everything except clothing, and there's not much in the way of crib sheets.*

I WILL say, although all this baby stuff is 20% off, it's still worth a trip to Giggle on Greenwich Ave because you cannot beat Giggle's customer service. With all the money you save at BBB, you can afford to splurge on some of Giggle's more unusual items (like a round bath tub baby can sit up in, fun sheets, and cool mobiles).

Here's a pic of the Bebe au Lait nursing covers; BBB has the best selection in the area! I own two because they are so awesome. Just be careful not to get the double fabric one (with eyelets) if you are going to be using it in the summer; it's hot enough under that cover even when you have the single layer!

*You should order crib sheets online from Babies R Us, or hit Giggle in Greenwich for some spectacular ones that cost twice as much but that I find worth it since it has such a prominent place in the nursery. My nursery was basically planned around some orange striped sheets from Giggle, much like the only thing I cared about for my wedding 2 years ago was that I had orange roses. Oh, and go next door to Carter's for adorable, comfortable, affordable baby clothes.
Click here to read more.

Wednesday, July 1, 2009


What the heck?!? I wrote a post last week that I didn't have time to perfect and post last week titled "Avoid Banks in Fairfield County." I wrote it because a Bank on High Ridge was robbed- one that had just been robbed 4 months ago! I stated that since I now tote a baby everywhere, there is no way in heinieho that I am ever going to a bank again.

Well, big shocker, on Monday there was another bank robbery on Summer St. I'm sorry, something is wrong with this town.

And do these banks not seem really easy to rob?

I have an $800 check I need to cash, but now I'm hesitant to go into a bank to cash it. BOTH of my Stamford banks (a credit union and a People's) were robbed a couple years ago, so I don't think I'm being that paranoid. And the guy who robbed my People's... TRIED to rob my credit union before he went to People's! Geez Louise.

Previous Stamford Talk bank posts:

--September 13, 2007-- My People's Bank Got Robbed!!!
--September 15, 2007-- Wrong Side of the Metro North Tracks? Bank Gossip
--October 5, 2007-- Bank Robbers- Not Just in Stamford!
Click here to read more.