30 Railroad Place, Westport
Even though I’d heard rave reviews of this cozy ristorante Italiano, its railroad station location sort of flummoxed me. I mean a bar, sure – knock back a few vodka martinis before reconnecting with loved ones—but who unwinds with a plate of linguine alle vongole? Ah, but this place is truly wonderful. And not just because of their impressive cocktail menu. Although, admittedly, that helps.
Robin’s note: When I asked about the “Pama” liqueur in their popular pomegranate libation, the manager produced a bottle of it for me to inspect, launched into a monologue praising its merits, and ripped off the tag for me to keep. You can’t buy this kind of dedication.
Who you’ll see eating here: Groups of 2-4, ages 30-65.
Their specialty: Any dish with the owner’s homemade pasta.
What you should order: Risotto is to die for, as is their jumbo shrimp and scallops with truffle oil in madeira wine sauce.
What you may not know but should:
1. The gregarious manager will happily make off-the-menu dishes.
2. As well, the manager personally developed the myriad of delightful (and large—yay!) specialty cocktails. He clued us in on this little-known tip: never order cocktails off the menu. It will, most likely, turn out lousy no matter now annoyingly meticulous you are with the instructions.
Friday, December 31, 2010 • Permalink
48 West Putnam Avenue, Greenwich
89 Elm Street, New Canaan
1067 High Ridge Road, Stamford
40-44 Post Road East, Westport
Those of you who prefer your sugar plums be cellutically affixed to your inner thighs, rather than dancing in your head, already know about Crumbs.
Note: I know cellutically isn’t a word. I just don’t know why.
Crumbs is the charming cupcakery sweeping Fairfield County. And only a hardcore funsucker would sap the delight from a visit to Crumbs for one of their notoriously big and decadent confections.
There are over 50 flavors of homemade cakes, such as “Baba Booey” (chocolate cake with peanut butter frosting and chocolate cream cheese frosting or something to that effect), “Cookie Dough” (vanilla cake with fudge center, cream cheese frosting and cookies), and the all-time favorite of children who love any abnormally bright food with a cartoon on top, “Pinkalicious.” You can also enjoy the cupcake-of-the-month and seasonal specialties like Peppermint Hot Cocoa.
Each whimsical gateau will set you back about $4.50. Sound like a lot? Maybe. But it’s nothing compared to your gym membership.
Robin’s note: I’m not going to lie and say they’re the best cupcakes I’ve ever eaten. They’re not bad, though, with an impressive frosting/cake ratio. Plus, your options are limited. The best cupcakes are the smaller “classic” cupcakes in vanilla and chocolate. Cheaper, too.
Who you’ll see eating here: Couples and moms with kids. Teenagers descend upon it after school lets out.
Their specialty: Baba Booey, Artie Lange, Red Velvet, Cookie Dough, Squiggles, Devil’s Food, and Peanut Butter Cup.
What you should order: Vanilla with chocolate frosting.
What you may not know but should:
1. Don’t like cupcakes? (Is that humanly possible?) But if you really don’t, they carry a tasty selection of cookies and muffins.
2. They’ll create cupcakes for weddings, birthdays, and other fabulous occasions.
Thursday, December 30, 2010 • Permalink
The Black Duck
605 Riverside Avenue, Westport
All hail our brave little eatery/watering hole featured on “Diners, Drive-ins and Dives”. It caused a sensation, and rightly so. However, it’s better at night when the conviviality and darkness obfuscates its imminent slide into the Saugatuck River.
Who’ll you’ll see eating here: Used to be the locals, now it’s every faddy foodie on the Eastern seaboard.
Their specialty: The “now famous” brie-stuffed burger.
What you should order: Reuben with onion rings and salad with unbelievable bleu cheese dressing.
What you may not know but should: If you’re a party of 6 or more wearing matching uniforms (they don’t specify what “uniform” is, so I imagine it could be anything… just remember: it’s a kid-friendly restaurant) you get a free pitcher of beer and an order of wings.
Tuesday, December 28, 2010 • Permalink
Shoes ‘N’ More
251 Greenwich Avenue, Greenwich
121 Elm Street. New Canaan
Buying anything other than shoes at a shoestore is tantamount to buying ceviche at a Burger King or an oil painting in a hotel lobby: sooner or later you’ll wish you hadn’t. Even if they slap a pithy appendage on their name, “Burger King ‘N’ More” or “Best Western ‘N’ More,” it won’t gloss over the fact you made a very creepy purchase. Not so at this purveyor of designer shoes for toddlers, tykes, teens, and adults. Their “‘N’ More” includes a small collection of apparel: chic tunics, flattering dresses, and tops in fun colors and styles. What’s ‘n’ more, they’re surprisingly affordable.
Robin’s note: Their sales staff is understanding and accommodating. Once, in New Canaan, I abruptly fled the store after spotting that most evil and heartless of creatures: the meter maid. Fifteen minutes later they had everything I requested laid out neatly, anticipating my return.
Who you’ll see shopping here: Moms, mostly, shopping for themselves and their children.
Their specialty: Designer-label women’s shoes.
What you should buy: Tunics and Mexican-inspired tops.
What you may not know but should:
1. Shoes N’ More is very active in community fundraisers and non-profits. Recipients of their largesse includes local American Red Cross chapters, Girl Scouts, and junior league events.
2. I have yet to see a top or tunic in their store sold at any other boutique in Connecticut.
3. Sadly, their boutiques seem to be dropping like drunk flies.
To all of my witty, attractive readers: Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays! To those of you who are agnostic, Have a Great Weekend!
To my regular readers, including but not limited to my Mom, my husband, a wonderful circle of friends and shopowners, and all those folks at NBC in Washington, Happy Holidays!
To the resourceful attorneys at Las Vegas Criminal Defense who tirelessly spam my site, I’m strangely flattered you think my readers are hardened hooligans and whatnot. It makes me feel, I don’t know, kind of badass that my reviews of breakfast nooks and cocktail dresses would appeal to that element. And to the convicts reading this, I sincerely apologize if I offend you in any way. Happy Holidays!
To the industrious e-marketers of Viagara, here’s a tip: don’t market to women. A 6-hour erection may sound lovely to you, but to us it sounds exhausting, painful, and time-consuming. As a matter of fact, don’t market to men either. Happy Holidays!
Lastly, to those who have made Robin’s Resources a success, Happy Holidays! You’re all invited to my house for margaritas and free babysitting. Except the convicts. Can’t wait to see you!
Friday, December 24, 2010 • Permalink
1026 Post Road East, Westport
45 East Putnam Avenue, Greenwich
116 Elm Street, New Canaan
Attention private school alumnae and wives of men in a certain tax bracket: the McLaughlin brothers (Jay & Kevin) know where you live and they’re ready to take over your closet.
They’re gorgeously colored new Westport flagship is so delightful I hated to leave. Piles of bright sweaters with Hermés-inspired design, racks of patterned jersey dresses, and rows of colorful cotton shirts made me want to stand up and shout, “So THIS is where all the color is this season!” But that would have been dorky and disturbing, so I restrained myself and tried on some dresses that looked silly on me but fantastic on another woman who was clearly stocking up on J. apparel in anticipation of a mass sartorial extermination.
The prices are reasonable, the cuts are forgiving, and the patterns distract from a multitude of corporal imperfections. Their designers are getting hip with their styles; I noted faux fur vests and slinkier cuts on the jersey togs.
The men’s clothes are great, if your man likes color and pattern. My husband loved the ties and there’s a solid selection of novelty cufflinks.
Robin’s note: My kids loved the new store, too. Specifically, they loved the box of toys, the pile of packaged animal crackers, and the bowl of M&Ms. They cried when we left (they usually cry when I enter a clothing store.) The sales staff is extremely helpful and “babysat” my kids while my husband and I shopped.
Who you’ll see shopping here: Women 35-65 years old, their husbands, and sometimes their teenage daughters.
Their specialty: Brightly patterned sweaters, jersey dresses, and jersey shirts.
What you should buy: If the jersey flatters you, by all means wear it. I also loved the patterned cotton trench coats for $189.
What you may not know but should: They’re getting cheeky with a line of fun socks, dog collars and leashes, and other accessories. Also, they sell goodies from brother Kevin’s restaurant, “Island.”
Thursday, December 23, 2010 • Permalink
Merri Mueller, 108 Sun Salutations
Tonight, December 21 at 7:00 at Kaia Yoga
1200 Post Road East, Westport
(behind Crate & Barrel in Westport)
108 is a sacred number in many religions. A mala is a string of 108 beads. Hindu deities have 108 names (Christians are lucky in that regard). Tibetan Buddhists must resist 108 earthly temptations to achieve nirvana which, honestly, makes nirvana sound like a drag.
Caption (Click to enlarge)
A Westport yoga instructor, Merri Mueller, chose 108 Sun Salutations to celebrate the solstice and raise money for a struggling Bridgeport family. Last year, her celebration raised over $1,100 for a family who had lost their home in a fire. They were living with friends and used the money to buy mattresses, “so everyone has a place to sleep.” This year, the proceeds will help a family of four who have difficulty feeding their two young boys. The husband and wife are both unemployed and trying to find new jobs.
Merri founded the fundraiser/celebration a year ago and holds them on the first day of each season. She donates the money to causes such as breast cancer, hospitals for alternative medicines and, of course, to families in need. Participants are invited to donate $20 each, but many donate between $50-100.
The 108 Sun Salutations are a “series of poses that flow together, looking like a prayer in motion—one breath, no talking, with positive powerful energy in the room.” She encourages people to do however many they can. Some do 10, some do 108 which takes about an hour and a half. The poses are done in 4 sets of 27, with breaks. Word is, it’s tiring.
An accomplished yoga instructor, Merri is certified to teach women with cancer and is a frequent volunteer at the Bridgeport Resources Center, offering instruction to women who would otherwise have no means of receiving classes. So 108 also represents the number of words to describe her, beginning with generous, kind, beautiful, resourceful, hard-working, amazing…
Robin’s note: During the 3rd set, Merri’s friend Scott Williams plays the guitar for the Sun Saluters. Scott is also in an ‘80s cover band called “Fake ID” which is the greatest name for a cover band ever.
Date, Time, Location: Tonight from 7:00-8:30 PM at Kaia Yoga, 1200 Post Road East in Westport, behind Crate & Barrel.
Tuesday, December 21, 2010 • Permalink
22 Reef Road, Fairfield
On Saturday mornings I force my beloveds to drag their collective derrieres out to breakfast for two reasons: 1. someone else does all the work, and 2. I can’t think of any other reason.
So imagine my astonishment when I entered Firehouse Deli and realized we had to order breakfast from the counter in the front room and carry it ourselves to the back room to eat it. We all stood at the entrance like a pack of deer in the headlights. After carefully adjusting our expectations and befuddling the poor cashier with our discombobulated order (our children busily shouted out preferences based upon whatever happened to be in their line of vision), we carried our heap of muffins, omelets, coffees, milks, bagels, croissant egg sandwiches, yogurt parfaits, paper plates and plastic utensils to the well-lit back room.
The back room is cheery and cozy, with bright plastic tablecloths and rows of windows. Breakfast was delicious and our kids ate every bite without complaining too much. While the small paper plates did little more than provide a delicate, shifting barrier between our omelets and the tablecloth, their coffee is some of the best deli coffee around.
Robin’s note: There are several picnic tables in front of the deli for outdoor seating and for making the requisite joke about eating outside during sub-arctic temperatures.
Who you’ll see eating here: Firemen. HA HA HA!!! *phew* Kidding. Local families.
Their specialty: Egg sandwiches.
What you should order: Croissant sandwiches, omelets, and coffee.
What you may not know but should: Steer clear of the yogurt parfait. Granola, good. Yogurt, good. Watermelon, strange. Lots of large grapes, odd. And it was more of a mix than a parfait. Salad bar looked amazing, though.
Monday, December 20, 2010 • Permalink
Children’s Toy Drives
I threw out a pile of donation solicitations the other day. Depleted, I reasoned, were my charity and finances. Then I fired up the internet and bought myself a new pair of earrings.
And so the cycle of guilt continues.
For the price of the pair of earrings I now plan to return, you can buy several lovely Christmas gifts for children in need. Below are many wonderful organizations eager to help out those less fortunate this holiday season:
They all accept unwrapped toys or gift cards.
Holiday Toy Drive, Westport
Drop off new unwrapped toys and donations in the parking lot of Athletic Shoe Factory, 1560 Post Road East, Westport, on Dec. 18 & 19 between 9 AM and 3 PM. Toys are given to underprivileged children in Fairfield County. Or drop off toys any time at the Westport Police Department, 50 Jesup Road, until Dec. 19 at 3 PM. Toy Drive is sponsored by WPD Local Union #2080 and Police Benevolent Assoc.
The Child and Family Guidance Center*, Bridgeport
Founded in 1925 to address the emotional and psychological wellbeing of children and their families, the Center offers a wide range of outpatient mental health and substance abuse counseling services for children under the age of 18 as well as a variety of in-home supportive services to their families.
Click to read the rest ... "Children’s Toy Drives"
Friday, December 17, 2010 • Permalink
Question: What do I have in common with Elizabeth Taylor, Mr. T, and the weird guy at the dry cleaners?
We all like jewelry!
And I love the jewelry at Lula belle: the styles are fun, flattering, and just the right amount of flashy. Best of all, they’re so affordable you can “steal” Kim Zolciak’s* look of self-festoonery for about the cost of 50 cups of coffee (therapy costs extra).
Three lovely, hip Fairfield County sisters, born of a chic mom, founded Lula belle to create “awareness” jewelry and raise funds for causes.
After college, the sisters followed disparate career paths (reading specialist, retail management, and sales/marketing for IBM), then decided to start a business together when one of the sisters was diagnosed with Multiple Sclerosis. Growing up, their mother instilled in them an appreciation of jewelry (go, mom, go!), so they began with baubles and later threw in some evening bags. Because the illness helped them understand “what it really mean(s) to be in need,” they’re using profits from jewelry sales to start “b-Cause”: a line of studded leather bracelets representing “widely known causes.” Proceeds from sales of b-Cause will benefit the cause it represents.
Robin’s note: Charity is great, etc., etc., but, holy cow, the compliments I receive on my Lula belle earrings! Walking from my car to the door of my daughter’s school, I was stopped 4 times by people asking me where I bought my earrings. And at only $22 a pop, I bought three pairs!
I officially have to stop buying earrings.
Who shops here: Women age 25-60 years old.
Their specialty: Bestsellers are listed on their website.
What you should buy: Well, I love the earrings, especially the gold brushed earrings ($22) and the gold Dangle earrings ($18).
What you may not know but should: Lula belle holds periodic trunk shows. Check their website for time and location.
*Atlanta Housewives. But you already knew that…
Thursday, December 16, 2010 • Permalink