Greek Wine Dinner at the Fez

The Fez is a charming, cozy, Moroccan restaurant on restaurant row in Stamford, which owner Nancy Laist describes as a “bit of Soho in CT.”  Although they are known for their live music, we came for the food (and the wine) and were not in the least bit sorry that we did.

Greek wine is a category neither Scott nor I have explored at any length, so we were delighted that Nancy invited us to attend (and gave us tickets for the event, thank you!)  The wine itself was good enough and interesting enough that several bottles found a home in our cellar (a Domaine Katsaros Valos and a Rhous White – all bottles pictured below and available for purchase at Horseneck Wines & Liquors).  The Rhous White in particular we loved: a Muscat blend lacking the sweetness of many of the lighter whites of Italy and Spain.  The wine, overall, was punctuated by a somewhat intense but very pleasing mineral quality, which the distributor  assured us was indicative of the region.

And the food?  Oh my, the food.  Baba ganoush was a creamy and airy delight: whipped eggplant served with a cinnamon toasted Pita chip.  Scott proclaimed the grilled octopus with harissa mango sauce (not pictured) to be his favorite – a great textural char on this dish offset the subtle sweetness in the sauce nicely.  As for me?  The vine leaves, stuffed with meat alone and no rice, were fresh and appealing.  Vegetable kebobs punctuated with freshly made falafel and a light dessert of African style baklava, known as Briwat, ensured that the balance of food was also not too heavy or overwhelming – a common issue at multiple course wine dinners.  Of everything we sampled, my heart belonged to the lamb: slow braised with a thick wine reduction to ‘fall off the bone’ perfection.

And speaking of hearts – The Fez is hosting a Valentine’s Day dinner (reservations highly recommended).  Four courses and a prosecco toast are offered for $60 – excluding tax and gratuity – with live music from Kathy Muir.  Treat your sweetie to a cozy, intimate dining experience, and enjoy the visual tour of our dinner below.

The Fez | 227 Summer Street, Stamford | 203 324 3391

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Hotel Cocktails: Beluga Caviar Martini

Welcome, friends, to a new special section of my blog where I review cocktails at the various hotel venues Scott and I venture into during the course of our travels.

Why?

Well, because hotels are a perfect little microcosm of the macrocosm of the city around them.  The best are thought out in meticulous detail, creating a world unto itself, much like a properly created cocktail is a world unto itself.  A chance to pause from life, and enjoy one simple, thing, executed well, if you will.

So let’s explore together, starting with the Beluga Caviar Martini at the Beverly Wilshire

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Beluga Noble Russian Vodka | Cinzano Dry Vermouth | Petrossian Caviar Cube

A word about the Beverly Wilshire – classic Beverly Hills.  How classic?  Well, “Pretty Woman” was filmed here, and yes, there is a “Pretty Woman” cocktail on the menu (but of course), although  visual inspection of one several tables over was definitely not encouraging.  Something has to cater to the tourists, after all.

No, order the Beluga Caviar Cocktail instead.  At first, it will impress you as, perhaps, pretentious, a little “too too” – much like Rodeo Drive itself.  But then you taste it, and soon you are a convert.  The oil from the caviar will slowly but surely seep into the vodka, so I would recommend drinking this at a semi brisk pace before it crosses the line from ‘dirty’ to ‘fishy:’ and if you’re brave enough to order two – that’s on you.  One was perfect for me.  Sometimes, simplicity and brevity are best.

Champagne and Teddy Bears!

The Holiday Season means different things to different people, but one universal is that it SHOULD involves the things (and people) we love the most.  That was most certainly the case for me at Max Downtown for their annual Champagne Gala reception, with my most favorite date (Scott), followed by Teddy Bear Tea the following day, with my darling daughter Penelope and the adorable Mommy/daughter combo of Rosa and Gloria – of Lady Diana’s Pearls (check out her blog about our experience here!)

Before I delve into everything we enjoyed – a quick note for those (like me) still doing holiday shopping (bonus points if you make a spreadsheet to track the eight nights of Chanukah… oh that’s just me… oh ok).  A Max gift card is an excellent gift for those who enjoy champagne, teddy bear tea, burgers, wood fired pizza, local oysters – the list is long with ten locations to choose from!  Pick one up here (e-card options available too for those last minute purchases!)

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And also, a huge thank you to my friends at Max for inviting me in for both of these amazing experiences below.  Please enjoy the photos at the bottom of this article also for a visual recap of my experience.

OK – on to the important stuff.  Champagne, champagne, champagne.  Our good friend Jacob of the Wise Old Dog was on hand along with Max Sommelier Brian Mitchell the night of the gala.  Scott and I are semi regulars at the wine tastings of the WOD (if you haven’t been – go – RSVP in advance and prepare to be entertained AND educated by Jacob, who is both knowledgeable and oh so clever.  And probably going to give me flack about writing all of this about him next time I see him).  My two favorite champagnes of the evening were the Fourny and the Marguet, and he was gracious enough to give me the background on each.  The Fourny is imported by Kermit Lynch, and is organic, small batch, and sustainable in a mass market, over produced area.  The Marguet is imported by Jeff Hellman, a quote “Grower Champagne Gangster.”  Small batch, specially produced and created with a relentless attention to detail.  Another Jacob quote on this champagne “this all grand cru fruit, high toned sparkler shows orchard fruit, nice structure, medium-plus body, and a very clean and persistent finish. Delicious.”  Both these champagnes were indicative of the evening overall – if you want to stray from Verve and find something interesting, original, and totally excellent, the Champagne Gala is the way to go.  Or, just go and soak in some bubbly.  The choice is yours!  So check out the impressive bubbly list next time you’re at Max Downtown – and also – when you go to the Wise Old Dog.  And if you need help selecting a bottle – Jacob and his staff will be more than willing to oblige.

On the Teddy Bear Tea: this was Penelope and my first tea, and we will absolutely make it a holiday tradition.  Every part of the afternoon was a high note, from the impressive brunch cocktail selection to the well curated brunch/dessert plates, to the stuffed bears which every child received, to the candy bar.  Penelope was all smiles the entire time – a bit of a rarety for a little kid in a restaurant setting.  We also lucked out in that Shabbat Bear was visiting that weekend from her preschool, so he was able to hang with the other bears and also enjoyed a delicious latke as part of the tea spread.  Having lived in the UK for several years, I’m a large fan of high tea in general, and the concept of eating many small bites as part of a full meal on a lazy Sunday afternoon.  The Teddy Bear Tea is also a fundraiser and toy drive for the Connecticut Children’s Medical Center – so in addition to be excellent Mommy/daughter Daddy/daughter Mommy/son Daddy/son bonding time, it’s a destination to drop off toys and help sick children enjoy their holiday too.  What a wonderful time.  So set your calendars for next year, and from my family to yours – Happy Holidays!

One last note: Steve Abrams, Managing Partner at Max Downtown, was on hand for both evenings.  Steve is a dapper dresser and gracious host, and seeing him is always one of the highlights of visiting MD!  He is pictured below with Brian Mitchell and again with Rosa at Tea.

Max Champagne Gala

Max Teddy Bear Tea

Blogging with friends at Shell and Bones Oyster Bar and Grill

Cocktails on the water with good friends.  It’s hard to think of this as ‘work,’ but when you’re in PR, sometimes you get really lucky (and sometimes you get REALLY excited about Black Friday coz it’s a full day to work!  With no interruptions!  everyone else will be shopping!  ah, small business life).  My agency, A Little Bird Told Me, recently hosted a blogger event at our awesome client Shell and Bones Oyster Bar & Grill.  For the uninitiated, Shell and Bones is one of the best restaurants/water view combos in the state. Chef Franco’s cuisine puts Spanish flair on traditional classics, and the ambience is gorgeous, al fresco dining in the summer, and cozy, fire pit “watch the snow fall on the water” in the winter.  If you’re looking for a spot to host a holiday party in New Haven – highly recommended.  Just check out the small bites below which Chef Franco created for our crew (menu details below pictures).

Pictured in the cover are some of my favorite bloggers/girlfriends.  Left to right: Style Diversion, Lady Diana’s Pearls, my amazing make up artist, That Girl, Jamie Ever After, and Erin Logan of Fox 61.  Bottom row: blogger Rosa’s adorable mini me, Gloria, hard working Bird, Jordanna (all pictures in the blog below taken by her!) and Jen.

Please enjoy this visual preview of small bites and, if you want to book your holiday gathering, call 203 787 3466 to do so!

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pictured in order: deviled eggs | scallops ceviche & tortilla chips | tuna tartare potato crisp | crostini of sundried tomato salsa garbanzo | paella cakes with chorizo & saffron | mini crab cakes with avocado & lemon grass aioli | clam chowder fritters remoulade | beef satay chimimchurri

NYFW 2016 recap plus a look forward to Hartford Fashion Week

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Pictured left to right: LaMoo Designs designer and model, Kara Sundlan of Better CT, Faschinn designer, Matthew Reisman designer and model (in lavender gown), Stylist Debbie Allen Wright, and model wearing Faschinn

I’ve loved fashion since long, long before I started working in Fashion PR (I think I bought my first issue of Vogue when I was 12 and I’ve made a point of reading every issue, cover to cover, every month since then).  But when you get to source and buy and promote fashion for a living, especially when you’re close to NYC – the entire experience just gets much fuller, as you meet incredible, creative people and learn their stories.

And it’s not just a NY scene.  We have Fashion Week in Hartford, thanks to founder Katrina Orsini.  I’m honored to serve on the committee which helps make everything happen and brings local designers together for two nights of runway shows, a VIP preview night and – starting this year – an accessories lounge where you can purchase original designers including the gorgeous handmade shoes of fellow committee members The Brothers Crisp, and the jewelry of Elyse Ryan, pictured below.  You can purchase tickets here and view the Better CT segment with more details on the shows here.

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wristROCKS 

Back to NYC.  I am learning from experience with my business and my passions that I need to budget more time for fashion week.  Every year, I play the same game of “oh, it will be here again in six months,” and do not give myself the adequate amount of runway viewings.  The point is – every show is unique, every experience is interesting, and the more I soak in, the happier and more creatively satisfied I become (and my wardrobe certainly benefits also).  So be on the lookout for more posts in February and in the meantime, here are some visual recaps from Noon by Noor and the Nolcha Accessories Lounge.

About Noon by Noor: based in Bahrain, this designer’s collection is crisp, effortless, and minimal.  Clean color palates and long lines made for a cohesive, sophisticated, Spring 2017 collection.

About the Nolcha Accessories Lounge: featuring independent designers from a variety of backgrounds, this first ever Accessories Lounge highlights the up and coming talent in the design world, much like the Nolcha runway shows highlight emerging designers.  Especially impressive were the Kenyan based jewelry designer Apprelle Duany – whose handbags are all designed with a powerful female role model in mind (the “Maya Angelou, for example) and Ami Doshi Shah, whose gaspingly gorgeous sculptural jewelry is truly one of a kind and unique.  These designers work through Global Connection – a collective designed to bring emerging International independent designers to the US Market.  Oh, also, that really cool looking lady in the Newsprint blazer?  That’s New York native and men’s fashion writer Lois Fenton.  She is also a personal stylist and an immensely interesting person.  We talked vintage for a while.  What an amazing day.nyfw-2016-blog-12-of-1nyfw-2016-blog-13-of-1nyfw-2016-blog-11-of-1nyfw-2016-blog-10-of-1

Noon by Noor pictures and show scene in Chelsea

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Nolcha Accessories Lounge at the Bryant Park Hotel

Weha Whiskey Festival is Baaaaack – plus a dive into Brimfield

Bubble, bubble, toil and trouble.  I LOVE October.  All the strange eeriness, the new year celebrations (Shana Tova), an era of spookiness and otherness which is allowed into mainstream culture but pretty much jives with my day to day aesthetic and mood.  To whit – the darkening of the world thrills me.  So I’ve saved my pictures from bizarre and wonderful land of Brimfield this summer for this fantastic month, where we dive into the bizarre and embrace it to us.  Brimfield is a magnificent outdoor flea which invades the northeast every summer, where you can find just about everything. And as you can see below – I mean that literally.  Mark it to your calendars for next year but first, in the nearest future, join me and fellow whiskey lovers at the Weha Whiskey Festival: where all profits go to Camp Courant, over 200 whiskeys are poured, and Maximum Beverage basically kills it.  This year, the event will take place at the Hartford Golf Club and include several curated, bourbon inspired small plates from local restaurants which you can both sample and vote upon.

So many reasons to attend – but here’s one more: use code KAT at checkout and get 15% off your tickets.  Which are available for purchase here and selling out quickly.  If you need me that evening, I’ll be nose deep in my favorite Glendalough whiskey and on the lawn, cigar in hand.  In my natural habitat, so to speak.  Here’s a picture of last year’s event, and below that, a small glimpse into Brimfield for your visual pleasure.  Here’s to strange, strange things and strong, dark liquor.

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(Photo via the lovely Kerri Provost from last year’s Weha Whiskey Festival.  That dude is one of the founders of Glendalough.  Give him a visit when you attend this year’s event, and tell him I sent you.)

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72 Hours in Montreal

Montreal.  A wonderful, artsy city, full of bicycles (at least in the summer months – I would imagine not so much in the winter), street art, amazing and authentic brasseries,  a sparkling clean subway (shocking to someone used to NYC, and apparently you can buy wine via a poster/barcode system although that was the subject of fierce debate between myself and Scott… so if anyone knows for sure, please chime in in the comments), outdoor street markets bursting with flowers, sidewalk cafes, Montreal bagels (life changing), chocolatiers, Syrian food, and really, really neat stationary stores.  Oh and so much more, I’m sure, but there is only so much you can soak in during 72 hours.  We just exhausted our store of meats and cheeses from trip one, with the last of the chorizo from the Jean Talon Market going into this weekend’s arroz con pollo.  Plus, there are so many more poutine variations to try:

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So a follow up trip will be a thing in the coming months.  In addition to the amazing outdoor/indoor market, we also purchased many small and necessary notebooks in the Nota Bene stationary store, strolled through the Ritz Carlton for a cocktail, shared an enormous portion of poutine (pictured above) at La Banquise, and noshed on small, dense, nutty, wood fired and utterly delicious bagels from Fairmont Bagel (noteworthy for having an entire separate flavor profile from its American counterparts.  and also!  the first bagel in space!  thats… adorable).  We also enjoyed the classic L’Express (not pictured as I didn’t bring my camera, but the steak frites and cornichons were superb), plus the unparalleled Syrian food at Damas.  So food, folks.  Lots and lots of food.  Pretty par for the course for a Kat/Scott excursion, although we are making a more conscious effort to experience more culture in addition to food culture (starting with Fiddler on the Roof next weekend in New York- hurrah!)  But regardless: no complaints.  No regrets.  Please enjoy the photos and do yourself a solid and visit Montreal if you have the chance to do so.