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Restaurant Files: TerraSole Restaurant in Ridgefield, CT – Beyond Traditional Italian

November 6, 2016 4 comments

When it comes to the so-called “tableclothed”  restaurants in the USA, Italian restaurants are the most popular category (Italian cuisine is the third most popular overall, as you can’t beat Chinese restaurants, present at least on every other block in our cities and towns). With such a popularity comes a question – how can you differentiate yourself? Every Italian restaurant can serve fried calamari, mozzarella sticks and penne alla vodka – and this is what people want, the traditional comfort food. But you want people to come back to your restaurant, so you want to keep the tradition, but make the dining experience memorable – how can this be done?

Talking about “how”, I have an example for you  – TerraSole Cheese Wine Bar Ristorante in Ridgefield, Connecticut. The restaurant serves food which is unmistakably Italian, with heart and soul, but the word which comes to mind to describe it is elevated – from ingredients and preparation (for instance: 85% of the pasta is made at the restaurant, 15% is imported directly from Italy) to the presentation of all the dishes – I tried my best with the pictures below to give you an idea – the pictures might not do the justice to the food, so you might need to visit restaurant on your own.

I visited TerraSole few month back with the group of bloggers, with the torrential rain pouring outside (was well soaked by reaching inside from the parking), so I forgot to take any interior pictures which I like to start the post with – and thus let me just jump straight to the food. Well, no, the drinks first.

The restaurant offers a nice selection of the cocktails. We started with the cocktail called Chanel #6 (Kettel One vodka, Prosecco, Chambord, Pineapple juice) which was refreshing and not very sweet, something I always appreciate in the cocktail.

The restaurant owner, Pietro Polini, pre-selected the wines for our dinner, which I definitely appreciate. For the white, we had 2015 Cantina Terre del Barolo Roero Arneis, which was excellent, with a nice fuller body and touch of sweetness. I don’t drink Arneis all that often, but this wine was definitely a notch above any other Arneis wines I tried before. For the red, we had a few different wines, and 2015 Vecchie Terre Zensa Primitivo Puglia was my favorite – perfect balance, nice dark roasted berries, espresso, mint – an excellent wine overall (looks like the wine was imported directly from Italy as wine-searcher can’t find it anywhere in the USA).

Now, let’s talk about food. There were lots and lots of food. Imagine that proverbial Italian mother, making sure you will eat well – Pietro Polini played her role, making sure we will fully experience what TerraSole got to offer. Here is my usual warning for this type of posts – if you are hungry, please stop right here, or proceed at your own risk.

I tried to format all the food notes alongside the menu as it was presented to us. But even with such a huge menu, it still didn’t include all the dishes served. We actually started with Charcuterie, which is excellent at the TerraSole restaurant, and features lots of tasty options – I’m including two of the menu excerpts so you will see it for yourself:

I love the idea using cut up corks as a pointers to what we are eating. And everything which was on that Charcuterie board was delicious – creamy La Tur cheese, spectacular Humbold Fog, Duck Prosciutto and every other piece of cheese and meat.

After Charcuterie, the dinner proceeded with the selection of Antipasti:

antipasti
BURRATA CAPRESE
Imported black truffle Burrata, imported Prosciutto San Daniele aged 16 months, organic tomatoes, roasted peppers, shaved Parmigiano Reggiano, shaved black truffle topped with truffle balsamic drizzle

INSALATA DI GRANCHIO
Salad of Alaskan King Crabmeat, red quinoa, fresh Fava beans, avocado, organic multicolored tomatoes

POLPETTE
Sicilian Eggplant & Porcini veggie balls served with San Marzano tomato sauce and shaved Ricotta Salata

From this selection, Burrata was excellent, and I really liked the Polpette, which was unusual and tasty.

Next up – couple of salads:

insalate
INSALATA DI CAVOLETTI
Shaved miniature Brussels sprouts salad tossed with toasted hazelnuts, crispy imported Pancetta in a truffle Parmigiano vinaigrette with Westfield goat cheese croquettes

CESARE
Grilled organic baby artisan romaine heart with creamy Parmigiano dressing, Parmigiano crisp & Grissini

Shaved Brussels sprouts salad had truffle vinaigrette, which translated into an incredible flavor – I didn’t know truffles would work so well with the brussels sprouts. And Caesar salad with grilled Romaine hearts was a pure standout, simply fantastic. I have to honestly admit – I tried to grill so Romaine hearts on my own, and failed – but this is definitely something worth mastering.

This is an Italian dinner, so it is time for pasta!

farinacei
PAGLIA E FIENO CON CARNE MISTE E FUNGHI
Homemade yellow and green fettuccine with mixed braised meats and organic Japanese mini mushrooms

CAVATELLI CON SALSICCIA
Homemade Cavatelli infused with broccoli rabe, baked hot with and sweet sausage and San Marzano tomato sauce topped with whipped Ricotta

PASTA DI GRANO ARSO CAPRESE
Imported Grano Arso pasta made with “burnt” semolina grain, tossed with roasted organic eggplant, San Marzano cherry tomatoes, basil & imported truffle Burrata

Homemade fettuccine dish was nice and light, Cavatelli had an amazing flavor, excellent texture and a bit of the spicy kick – all three dishes were delicious.

And finally the main course – various types of grilled meats, seafood and chicken:

secondi
GRIGLIATA DI CARNE
Platter of grilled meats: lollipop rack of veal, lollipop rack of lamb, sliced skirt steak, duck breast and Luganica sausage, served with Shishito peppers and marble potatoes

GRIGLIATA DI PESCE
Grilled seafood platter: Branzino, head-on Maya prawns, calamari, King salmon, fresh Maine lobster finished with lemon, cold pressed EVOO, local farm vegetables

POLLETTO DELLO CHEF
Panko crusted organic chicken breast wrapped around Prosciutto, wild baby arugula & Truffle Burrata cheese, finished with natural chicken broth over truffle mashed Peruvian potatoes & sautéed baby spinach

Presentation, flavor and overall execution were perfect on all three main dishes – all three were simply a “wow”.

You don’t expect us to leave without the desert, don’t you?

Espresso was perfect (it is generally expected, but often not the case), and profiterole together with the chocolate liquor was a perfect finish for the delicious meal.

I really would like to thank Pietro Polini for the delicious meal. And for all of you, my friends, if you will happen to be any anywhere in a proximity of Ridgefield in Connecticut, and craving a delicious, creative Italian food, TerraSole is definitely the place to visit. Cheers!

TerraSole Ristorante
3 Big Shop Ln
Ridgefield, CT 06877
Ph: (203) 438-5352
http://terrasoleridgefield.com/

Terrasole Ristorante Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Spring [Menu] Has Arrived to Bailey’s Backyard in Ridgefield, CT

May 11, 2014 6 comments

What do you expect when you go to the farm-to-table restaurant? Probably that everything will be fresh, locally produced and seasonal? I like that “seasonal” part very much, as it means you can visit the same restaurant many times, and every time expect to see a different menu. You know that the taste and quality will be there, but then it is the foodie adventure served right up for you, the dilemma being solved without you thinking “hmmm, this is what I had the last time, it was good, so should I take it again?”.

The new season – Spring – has arrived to Connecticut (considering the way this last winter was, I wonder how many people didn’t expect spring to arrive at all), and it also arrived to the new menu at the Bailey’s Backyard restaurant, which I already wrote about the last Fall. I was very excited to visit the restaurant and try all the new food, as since the first visit, it became one of the favorite restaurants not only for me, but also for a few friends who were very happy with my recommendation. I was a bit short on time, so I had to leave before trying a few dishes, but nevertheless, there were lots of very tasty dishes which I need to tell you about.

The dinner was served with a number of cocktails – and it is not only food which is fresh and locally made at Bailey’s Backyard – all the cocktails, artfully imagined by the master-of-all-liquid-cocncoctions, Bryan, contained some of the ingredients which were locally made, like ginger infused vodka or mint-infused rum. Here are the cocktails which were served at the dinner:

Six Toed Cat (Blueberry & Mint Infused Rum, Lime, Fresh Mint, Ginger Beer) – absolutely delicious version of Mojito! Refreshing, bright, with a bit of the liquid happiness served inside.

Don’t Call Me Shirley (House Made Citrus Vodka, Fresh Citrus Juice, Cointreau) – Bryan’s answer to the Cosmopolitan – zingy, refreshing and delicious.

Samuel Clemens (Ginger Infused Vodka, Lemon, Ginger, Black Pepper , Club Soda) and Rude Barbara (White Rum, strawberry-Rhubarb Puree, Lime) – I didn’t get the chance to try these two, but I’m sure they were every bit as delicious as the previous two.

And then, there was food (and lots of it).

Chicken Liver & Grand Marnier Pate (Apricot Mustard, Thyme Toast) – if you are a fan of the chicken liver (like I am), this was the perfect dish, delicious combination of flavors, all melding very well together.

“Devils on the Horseback” (North Country Bacon, Armagnac Plums, Pear) – bacon and plums – who would’ve thought? It was actually very tasty.

Goat Cheese Profiterole (Aged Balsamic/Crispy Parmesan/Sun Dried Tomato Vinaigrette) – goat cheese profiterole – just say it a few times – does it produce a moth watering sensation in your mouth? Delicious! And I would take it over the actual dessert profiteroles at any time.

Zucchini Fries (Shaved Parmesan, Pecan Puree, Mint) – I love zucchini in all shapes and forms, and lately I encountered a number of indigenous dishes in few restaurants, with zucchini being simply a star. This dish was one of them – perfect combination of the light crunch outside and delicate zucchini slice inside.

Tempura Vegetables (Sweet Potato, Asparagus, Red opinion, Cashew powder, Hoisin Sauce) – perfectly executed, very light and delicious.

Grilled Asparagus Salad (Frisée/Prosciutto, Black Truffle Hollandaise, Shaved Pecorino, Herbed Red Wine Vinaigrette) – great acidity, very refreshing, and black truffle Hollandaise…. black truffle… need I say more?

Hawaiian Ahi Tuna Poke (sesame oil, garlic, soy sauce, Wakame, Black Sesame seed, Puffed Wonton) – one of the most delicious tuna dishes ever. Incredible flavor profile, just right amount of heat – close your eyes, and you are in Hawaii…

Whipped Foie Gras with Caramelized Onion Perogi (red wine pearl onions, Chive Crema, white truffle and Bacon Powder) – as Chef Forrest presented the dish, he explained it as a “rich man – poor man” play. The luxurious creaminess of the whipped foie gras paired with simple goodness of the onion perogi – this dish was a textural heaven, combined with the great balance of flavors.

The two dishes which I had to miss were Firecracker Rock Shrimp Scampi (Hand cut Linguine, Diced Shallots, Roasted garlic, Meyer Lemon) and Slow Roasted Suckling Pig (yellow corn Fritters, Lavender, Buttered peas, crackling-red eye gravy) – well, that gives me an incentive to visit the restaurant rather sooner than later.

And we are done here. I just want to say Thank You to the Executive Chef Forrest Pasternack, Bryan and Sal for the evening of great food and great cocktails. Until the next time – cheers!

Disclaimer: I attended the dinner as a guest of management. All opinions are my own.

Bailey’s Backyard
23 Bailey Avenue
Ridgefield, CT 06877

http://www.baileysbackyard.com
Bailey's Backyard on Urbanspoon

Farm-to-Table Dining At Its Best: Bailey’s Backyard in Ridgefield, CT

October 25, 2013 15 comments

DSC_0446What do you think is the most important ingredient in the farm-to-table dining? Fresh local herbs? Fresh local cheese? Humanely raised chicken from the nearby farm? Based on my recent experience at Bailey’s Backyard, an American Farm-to-Table restaurant, the main ingredient of successful farm-to-table dining is … passion.

It was enough to listen to the Chef Forrest Pasternack, who was presenting each and every dish during the dinner, to see and feel the passion. Each and every ingredient had its place. The potatoes were not just the random potatoes from Idaho, there had an exact source  – Maple Valley Farms in Kent, CT. Whipped cream was not coming from the random can acquired in the Restaurant Depot – it was coming from the farm in Litchfield, Connecticut. Every little ingredient had an exact source, and there was a relationship built behind all those ingredients – and that takes a lot of passion and hard labor.

And then you can see, or rather taste, the results of passion and hard labor. Each and every dish we had at the dinner had a soul. You could taste and admire each ingredient by itself, and then they played together in the concert, delivering an immaculate experience. As usual, I will attempt to present our dinner in the form of the pictures – it will not do the justice to the unique experience, but it probably can make you hungry.

We started with the cocktails, of course. Fresh and local ingredients in the cocktails are as important as in the food, and Brian, the master behind the bar, had a great selection of carefully crafted concoctions. I had The Ballard (Cucumber infused gin, fresh lemonade, splash of elderflower liqueur), which was tangy, a bit grassy and very refreshing.

The first item to appear on the table was, of course, the bread. To describe it, the first thing which comes to mind is “loaded” – raisins, cranberries, spices, perfectly breakable texture, very tasty – locally baked, of course:

Fresh "loaded" bread

Fresh “loaded” bread

Our first dish was Butternut Squash Soup (butternut squash from Veronica’s Garden, Litchfield, Toasted Pumpkin Seeds, local honey, Crème fraîche) – it was presented step by step – first the plates with all the condiments came out, and the hot soup was poured into each individual plate. The soup was well balanced, with the nice creamy texture, a bit of a heat and a touch of cinnamon.

As you can imagine, for me the dinner should include wine (of course I can make exceptions – if I’m in the BBQ joint, beer is my friend). The wine list at Bailey’s Backyard is simple, but quite versatile, with most of the wines priced quite reasonably. Considering that this is a farm-to-table restaurant, the only change I would suggest is to add a selection of local (CT/NY/MA), organic and natural wines (in case Brian would read this post :  ) ). I took a full advantage of the “by the glass” selection, and had three different wines with the dinner. First one was 2012 Actobat Pinot Gris, King Estate, Oregon. The cutting edge acidity which was present in this wine, was working very well with the soup – while accidental, this was a successful pairing.

King Estate Pinot Gris

King Estate Pinot Gris

Next up was Slow Roasted Berkshire Pork Belly (Baby Pink Shrimp, Artisanal Grits, Roasted Baby Bell Peppers – Veronica’s Garden, Ridgefield) – roasted baby bell peppers worked perfectly with pork – this was definitely an excellent combination. Sweetness of shrimp and creamy, oozy grits were adding a great complexity here as well.

Slow Roasted Berkshire Pork Belly

Slow Roasted Berkshire Pork Belly

Now for the next glass of wine I had 2012 Ernie Els “Big Easy” Chenin Blanc, Western Cape, South Africa – this wine had a bit less acidity than the Pinot Gris, and it had some nice body presence – medium to full body, somewhat plump with white stone fruit notes. Worked perfectly with the next two dishes.

Slightly changing the pace, the next dish was a salad – Roasted ‘Ida Red” Apple Salad (Apples – Averill Farms, Washington Depot, CT, Cinnamon Carrots, Belgian Endive, Black Currant, Fresh Dill, Buttermilk Dressing) – it was very interesting to listen to the passionate presentation of this dish by Chef Forrest, talking about black currants being soaked in the Riesling, mentioning all the farms where the different elements of the dish were sourced from – really different and unique. The dressing was perfectly balancing the dish, and everything worked together as a whole – perfect crunch in the texture, sweetness, acidity – including the bright visual appeal.

Next we were presented with Citrus Marinated Swordfish (Sauteed Romano Beans, Rosemary & Finnish Potato Puree – Maple Valley Farms, Kent, CT, Saffron Mousseline) – swordfish (caught that day in Boston) was perfectly cooked, which is not an easy task by itself, and then it was simply heavenly together with that homey, rustic puree (next time, I just want a bowlful of that puree). Excellent dish overall.

The dinner was nicely progressing according to our tasting menu, and then we had a surprise. White plate with the spoon appeared in front of everyone. Rested in the spoon was Herbed Ricotta Gnocchi with truffle powder. Chef Forrest came out to quickly present the dish, and then all of us happened to eat it almost at the same time. So this, my friends, was a true food porn at its best – forget the picture, the picture tells you nothing , but you had to hear that almost simultaneous moan coming from everybody, followed by the “oh my god” expressions. I remember some of the Food Network competitions required chefs to make the best single bite-sized food they can. Single bite or not, this was one of the most spectacular food experiences I ever had. I can’t describe it any better for you, sorry – but if you are in a mood for some food porn, the address of the restaurant is at the bottom of this post.

"omg" Herbed Ricotta Gnocchi

“omg” Herbed Ricotta Gnocchi

Before getting to our last main course dish, I got a glass of red wine – 2010 Rocca delle Macìe Sasyr Sangiovese Syrah, Tuscana IGT – dark red fruit nose, medium to big body, plums, hint of dark chocolate and espresso notes on the palate, nice balance. Enough power to stand up to the short ribs.

DSC_0476

love the decor...

love the decor…

Last entree – Balsamic Glazed Boneless Short Rib (Spanish Black Radish, Gilfeather Turnip Puree – Coch Farms, VT, Chick Peas, Smoked Paprika) – I would have to call this dish an ultimate comfort food. Everything perfectly worked together, and if you ever had well prepared, slow cooked short rib, you know how heart-warming that meat gets, after it absorbs all the flavor and literally falls apart so it can be eaten with the spoon. This was a perfect finish to our main course.

And then there was dessert. We had two different desserts. First, it was Nutella Mousse (whipped cream – Arethusa Farms, Litchfield, CT, Chocolate Crumble) – perfectly light, not overly sweet, very tasty:

DSC_0488

Our last dessert was Pumpkin Cloud 9 (Brioche “Pain Perdu”, Whipped Pumpkin Custard – Jansal Valley Farms, Westport, MA) – another staged dish, where the brioche arrived first, then the whipped pumpkin custard was individually scooped on top of each “toast” – another very balanced dish, not overwhelming with sugar or pumpkin notes itself. It was an excellent finish to the very tasty meal.

All the dinners come to an end. It is interesting to see how 3 hours go by unnoticed, when you have a great company, great food, great service. This was definitely a unique experience, listening to the Chef presenting each and every dish, talking about what farm-to-table really means, talking about all the farms and all the people who work very hard to create this wonderful experience.

As always, the last thing left to do is to thank Chef Forrest, drinks master Bryan Walsh, and the owner and our host Sal for their passion and the wonderful time we had.  We will be back!

Disclaimer: I attended the dinner as a guest of management. All opinions are my own.

Bailey’s Backyard
23 Bailey Avenue
Ridgefield, CT 06877
203-431-0796
http://www.baileysbackyard.com
Bailey's Backyard on Urbanspoon

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