Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Last Minute Waterbury Foodie Gift!

What should be on every Waterbury Foodie's Christmas wish list? How about a heaping helping of delicious lasagna recipes from one of Waterbury's most famous foodies? The New Lasagna Cookbook is a delicious collection of recipes for everyone's favorite comfort food, ranging from classic Italian recipes (like Lasagna Bolognese and Lasagna alla Norma) to modern lasagnas (like Beet Lasagna with Gorgonzola Cream Sauce and Arugula and Prosciutto Lasagna) to somewhat strange lasagnas (like Bacon, Egg, and Cheese Breakfast Lasagna). PLUS it is written by our very own Maria Bruscino Sanchez of the landmark Sweet Maria's Bakery. I am so excited, I can't wait to try some of the recipes.

Anyway, if you are looking for a gift for your favorite foodie or if you're looking for a great recipe for your holiday get-togethers, pick up a copy of the New Lasagna Cookbook. Help support local foodie culture!!! We have some great cooks in Waterbury!

Happy Holidays! I promise to write more after the New Year!

Sunday, November 23, 2008

Best Wedding Food EVER

Basically I don't have to much to say besides the fact that all true foodies should look into Glen Island Harbor Club in New Rochelle, NY for their wedding day. These pics represent about 1/10 of the "cocktail hour," which was then followed by an extravagant 5 course meal. I don't know how much it costs, and I definitely don't want to know, suffice it to say it was one of the most delicious days of my life. More to come (about Waterbury) soon, I promise!

Friday, September 12, 2008

Overheard in Panera

I've had a hectic few weeks trying to make up all of the work I missed while in Ireland. But luckily I am entirely caught up, so now I have more time for Waterbury restaurants again!

Today I had an hour to kill, so I went to Panera to grab some food and use the internet. Unfortunately it was not working, so I mainly listened to other people's conversations while munching on my creamy tomato soup and tomato, basil, and cheese panini combo (yum). Here were some of the highlights...

"So I says to her, 'Get a job?! But you're married! How can you have a job when you're a wife?!'?"
"Well, what are you gonna do? It's what all the girls are doing these days."
-2 women well into their golden years

(flirty) "No, I swear, my wife is gonna be out of time next week... She's not gonna find out, you're panicking... Come on, just come have lunch with me and we'll talk about it, I miss you."
-man on phone

"Well I'll tell you what...he's got a grill on his balcony and that's totally illegal in an apartment building like that. I'm gonna call the cops. That'll show him to mess with me!"
-an eccentric middle aged woman

And my all-time favorite:

"Nice sandwich..."
-Perhaps the single worst pick-up line I've ever heard in my life, by a 20 something male to a young woman who way out of his league. I practically choked on my food, but she clearly did not think it was as funny as I did.

Friday, September 5, 2008

Foods of Ireland

Scott and I got back from our 11 day journey through Ireland, which was absolutely amazing. We were really surprised about Irish food. I had always heard it was boring, but we had some of the best meals of our lives there. I even bought 2 Irish cookbooks, so perhaps some recipes will come soon. Here are a few food photos from our trip! (Sorry for the bad quality, we didn't have lighting or tripods.)

I wish there was an Irish restaurant in Waterbury!!!!

Potatoes! (of course)

A fabulous quiche


A traditional Irish breakfast with both black (aka blood pudding) AND white pudding.

The world's nosiest cattle


Jameson whiskey

Irish coffee, delicious!

"Garlic Cheese Chips," probably not the best decision but we had a few pints

Irish Potatoes

Breakfast spread

Soda Bread

Traditional Irish Breakfast

Bangers and Mash

Kilkenny Ale, a new favorite


Scott and his shrimp cocktail chips

Pint of Guinness at the Guinness Factory

Barley, a key ingredient in Guinness

Dublin meat market

Market in Dublin

Market in Dublin

"Happy Snacks" after a night of heavy Guinnessing

Fish and Chips

Famous Fish and Chips

Afternoon tea

Dublin Coddle

Bangers and Mash...SO good

Smoked salmon and brown bread

Fried Brie with a fruit chutney was a popular appetizer in Ireland


Creamy Guinness head

By the way, the two cookbooks I picked up are called Irish Cooking by Biddy White Lennon and Georgina Campbell and Irish Food and Folklore by Clare Connery, and they both look like pretty good representations of the foods we saw on our trip. Anyway, we're back, and will dive back into the Waterbury food scene soon!

FYI: Waterbury's Brass City Brew Fest is coming up! Click here for more info.

Sunday, August 17, 2008

San Marino's House Sauce

My lasagna was merely a vehicle for San Marino's sauce

I won't even claim to have tried all of the Italian restaurants in Waterbury. I feel like that would require its own blog. But I have been to many, and I have to say that my overall favorite is San Marino's on Thomaston Ave. There are many reasons I love San Marino's, including price, authenticity of the food, and the interesting menu options (I love their rabbit special). But the reason that I always bring my mother to San Marino's is that we both share a love (obsession?) for their house sauce. I mean, this stuff is perfect. So while trying to plan a "welcome home" meal for my parents, I was pleasantly surprised to learn that San Marino's sells it's sauce by the container!

San Marino's sauce

The $6 price tag for a container of their house sauce is actually not bad considering that you can pay $5 for a smaller jar of lower quality sauce at the grocery store. Plus it's super thick, so you can always thin it out, which is what I did for the lasagna. Their ingredient list is long and includes whole tomatoes, tomato puree, onions, olive oil, basil, parsley, celery, carrots, sausage, bacon, butter, garlic, salt, bay leaf, sherry wine, white wine, sugar, and black pepper. They all come together like magic. My mother can't wait until her next dinner party, she says she's going to buy a few containers and tell everyone she made it from scratch.

George also loves San Marino's sauce. And lasagna.

So one day I will actually write a review on San Marino's restaurant, but I just wanted to briefly share how excited I am that I can buy their sauce! Go out and pick some up, I promise you'll be glad you did. :)

San Marino's Restaurant
111-23 Thomaston Ave
Waterbury, CT 06702
(203) 755-1148

Friday, August 15, 2008

Tomato Season

Stop & Shop Heirloom Tomato Tart

I am posting this because it came to my attention today that my MOTHER still thinks that we're not supposed to eat tomatoes because of the whole salmonella outbreak. Well, Mom, and others, the salmonella probably wasn't from tomatoes to begin with, and if you miss tomato season because you're afraid, well quite frankly, you're a baby.

I found these heirlooms at Super Stop & Shop on Wolcott St. (I know, right?), so there are plenty to be had, but your best bet is to hit up a local farmer's market. Enjoy!

Destined to become Renee & Scott's dinner...

Thursday, August 14, 2008

Sesame-Chile Chicken with Gingered Watermelon Salsa

I've decided since 1. Gas prices are killing me and preventing me from eating out, 2. Scott and I are saving up for our Ireland trip, and 3. I need to work on my food photography skills, I would once in a while post recipes that we've tried and thought were really tasty. Sure, it doesn't really have to do with Waterbury, except maybe that I bought all of the ingredients in Waterbury. But it's my blog and I can do what I want! :P

This recipe I first tried at one of my professor's houses, and found that she actually got the recipe from Cooking Light, one of my favorite food magazines. It is an absolutely spectacular summer dish that I like to serve with rice and sometimes with a little side salad. I love the watermelon salsa so much that I usually double the recipe so I have extra for pita chips. Yum yum yum.

Sesame-Chile Chicken with Gingered Watermelon Salsa
adapted from Cooking Light

2 tablespoons low-sodium soy sauce
1 to 2 tablespoons chili sauce with garlic
1 tablespoon dark sesame oil
4 (6-ounce) skinless, boneless chicken breast halves

2 cups diced seeded watermelon
1/4 cup diced yellow bell pepper
2 tablespoons thinly sliced green onions
1 tablespoon chopped fresh cilantro
1 teaspoon grated peeled fresh ginger
2 teaspoons mirin (sweet rice wine)
1 teaspoon fresh lime juice
1/8 teaspoon salt
1 jalapeño pepper, seeded and minced

Remaining ingredients:
1/4 teaspoon salt
Cooking spray
Cilantro sprigs (optional)
Lime wedges (optional)


To prepare chicken, combine first 3 ingredients in a large zip-top plastic bag. Add chicken to bag; seal and marinate in refrigerator for 1 hour, turning bag occasionally.

Prepare grill.

To prepare salsa, combine watermelon and next 8 ingredients (through jalapeño); cover and chill until ready to serve.

Remove chicken from marinade; discard marinade. Sprinkle chicken evenly with 1/4 teaspoon salt. Place chicken on a grill rack coated with cooking spray. Grill 6 minutes on each side or until done. Remove chicken from grill; let stand 5 minutes. Cut chicken diagonally across grain into thin slices; serve with salsa. Garnish with cilantro sprigs and serve with lime wedges, if desired.


4 servings (serving size: 1 chicken breast half and about 1/2 cup salsa)

Mario's Pizza

My parents had a brief "fling" with Mario's pizza a few years back. I think there was something about a "giant party-sized pizza" and a "white chicken pizza" that they really liked. What do I remember about Mario's pizza? THICK CRUST! Bleh. I'm a thin-crust girl, through and through. Needless to say, the affair was short-lived, and my parents soon went back to Vinnie's of Middlebury for their weekly pizza night. If pizza night ain't broke, don't try and fix it, I always say.

Brandon resting after a very filling meal

So I was a little surprised when my friend Brandon invited me to Mario's to celebrate my return to Connecticut. "But I don't remember liking their pizza," I told him, and he said, "They have tons of other stuff besides pizza. Plus, I'll pay." Deal.

Mario's dining area


Considering that I had never realized that Mario's had an actual restaurant component, I was very impressed with their facilities. There are two sides, a deli side and a restaurant side. We went restaurant side because I was immediately drawn to a sign for a gorgonzola/roasted red pepper/polenta appetizer. Yum. I guess I'll have to leave the deli review for another day.

The dining area, pictured above, is rustic Italian style, and a cool feature that is not in the picture is that you can actually sit at the bar and watch the cooks making pizza. I would imagine children would love that. We arrived at the end of lunch hour, and Mario's appears to be quite the popular lunchtime destination. And of course it is! The food is incredible and unbelievably well-priced! Oops...I'm jumping ahead of myself.

My delicious entree, which I couldn't eat because I filled up on the appetizer. :(


I was so thankful that Brandon made me retry Mario's. I found the food to be exceptional but also simple and homey. It actually reminded me a lot of my Italian grandmother's cooking. Brandon was excited to introduce me to the appetizer mussels in fra diavolo sauce, since mussels is the appetizer we always order, and is the basis upon which we generally judge a restaurant. Until now, the reigning champ had been Vasi's mussels right next door (Vasi's also wins for fried calamari, martinis, and several other things, I'll post on it soon...). But I have to admit, Mario's mussels have taken the crown. They were perfectly cooked in a delicately spicy tomato broth, and came with plenty of fresh bread to soak up the juices. Which I did, possibly too much, since I could barely finish the rest of my meal. Just writing about those mussels makes me want to go back tonight.

Anyway, looking over the rest of the menu I was impressed by the sheer number of items they offered, and also the price. This might be the best value for down-home Italian food in the area. I ordered an entree, whose name I have since forgotten, that came with shrimp, scallops, clams, mussels and calamari in a fra diavolo sauce over linguini for under $13!! How do they even do that? And Brandon's clams and linguini was even less expensive. Bravo, Mario's, really.

Brandon's clams and linguini in white sauce

1. The fra diavolo sauce
2. The price!
3. The ambiance, at once completely casual and elegant

Yes, hopefully soon. I've been raving about it to Scott since I went, and he is dying to try!

Mario's Pizza and Deli
1650 Watertown Ave.
Waterbury, CT 06708
(203) 575-0485