Tag Archive: foodie

  1. Food and giving highlight Restaurant Week

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    Restaurant Week, one of the most popular culinary events in New England, returns to New Haven this Sunday, Oct. 30, and runs through Friday, Nov. 4.

    Twenty-eight New Haven restaurants will participate in the event, which is organized by Market New Haven, a nonprofit that aims to promote commerce and the arts, in partnership with Citizens Bank. Residents can eat three-course lunches for $20.16 and dinners for $34, and restaurants can showcase their menus and broadcast their images to both new and returning customers.

    Most menus feature variations of their signature dishes, but Restaurant Week is also a chance for chefs to be playful and inventive and experiment with seasonal ingredients, said Ryan Howard, managing partner of Elm City Social.

    “With the special prices and menus, we can expand beyond our core demographic of graduate students and young professionals,” Howard says. “We can attract different crowds — the elderly, undergraduates and people from outside New Haven.”

    His eatery, American with a new-age twist, will feature such delicacies as roasted pumpkin salad, pan-seared grouper cheek, a strawberry rhubarb tart, and a foie gras push pop.

    With a reduced parking rate, only $4 from 4 p.m. to 12 a.m. in Temple and Crown street garages, and unparalleled dining discounts, Market New Haven anticipates that food aficionados everywhere will flock to Elm City next week.

    “It’s a great opportunity for the restaurant community to showcase New Haven as a whole,” Howard said. “And, it’s great to give back to the customers — to give them a piece of what we do at a discounted price.”

    He added that Restaurant Week is a gift to eateries and eaters alike.

    The giving does not stop there. Last fall, Restaurant Week raised $14,742 for the Connecticut Food Bank, an organization that sources and delivers food to those in need nearby. The charitable effort will continue this year.

    “Every dollar donated gives enough to prepare two meals for those in need,” said Paul Shipman, communications and marketing director at the Connecticut Food Bank. “It is a wonderful opportunity for the community to get together and support us — to turn dollars quickly into food. We love the enthusiasm and visibility that it generates. We all benefit, the local economy, too.”

    When guests receive their checks, they are invited to make a $1 donation to support the Connecticut Food Bank and contribute to #buckforatruck, an initiative to stock a refrigerated food truck delivering food to pantries and soup kitchens in six Connecticut counties. Unlike other distributors, the food bank aims for 35 percent of its offerings to be fresh and local fruit, vegetables and meats.

    Marina Gonzalez, who owns the Spanish and Mediterranean restaurant Olea, said she is proud that her restaurant is a part of the event even though she must serve food at a significantly lower price. A three-course dinner without drinks would typically cost about $60.

    “It is important to get the community involved in supporting charities like the Connecticut Food Bank,” Gonzalez said. “A dollar goes a long way, especially during the holidays.”

    This year, Restaurant Week’s prices have increased, which incentivizes more expensive restaurants to participate but excludes those with lower price points. For this reason, Prime 16, one of New Haven’s top-rated beer and burger destinations, will not be joining.

    Though manager Larry Townsend said he respects Restaurant Week’s goals and charitable work, he explained that Prime 16’s involvement would not be fair to his customers.

    “The simple fact is that we would have to raise the prices on our menu to meet Restaurant Week’s criteria,” he said. “We have our own events to draw in customers, like Happy Hour Monday through Friday.”

    But Megan Bresnahan, general manager at the participating Caseus, a fromagerie and bistro, thinks the increase in prices is fair, adding that even though the price has increased, restaurants offer an enormous discount to students.

    The normal prices at these New Haven eateries make Restaurant Week a deal for diners. Without beverages, an appetizer, entrée and dessert at Elm City Social or Caseus would cost about $44. At Harvest, a snack, starter and entree goes for about $55.

    The 28 restaurants are all taking reservations.

  2. Crêpes Choupette owner debuts new food cart

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    At lunch hour on Tuesday, New Haven residents bought raclette, a cheese-based dish native to Switzerland, from America’s first raclette tricycle-cart.

    Owner Adil Chokairy, who also owns the restaurant and food cart Crêpes Choupette, and his employees served plates of roasted potatoes, ham, bread, white pearl onions and pickles covered with melted raclette cheese on the sidewalk near College and Grove Streets for the cart’s grand opening. Called “Raclette Les 4 Vallées,” the cart sells the Swiss dish for six to seven dollars a plate.

    “The idea was only an idea, but it’s thanks to Yale students and Yale faculty members that we’re able to operate,” Chokairy said.

    Though a large share of Chokairy’s crêpe cart business is made up of Yale-affiliated buyers, the raclette cart still needs to build its own customer base. On its first day, the cart brought a lot of curiosity from students, but since many were unfamiliar with the dish, few people purchased plates, said employees working the cart around 1:45 p.m.

    The inspiration for the tricycle-cart and restaurant combination of Raclette Les 4 Vallées stemmed from Anthony Chokairy, the owner’s nephew who moved from Valais, where he used to live with the rest of his family, to New Haven last year.

    “Every weekend, I went to my grandmother’s house, and we ate raclette,” Chokairy said.

    Now, Chokairy wants to share this cultural aspect from his upbringing with New Havenites.

    Unlike Chokairy’s crêpe cart, many students do not recognize the type of food Raclette Les 4 Vallées serves. Out of 10 Yale students surveyed in Bass Café, nine were familiar with crêpes but only two had heard of the dish raclette.

    One student, Thomas Gmür ’18, shares a home with raclette: the Swiss Canton of Valais.

    “There’s a festive aspect to it, people enjoy having it together,” Gmür said of the dish.

    Authentic raclette cheese, which Raclette Les 4 Vallées serves, is produced from cows that live in the pastures of Valais, Gmür explained. The semi-soft cheese liquefies easily, so it is melted with either a raclette machine, the method used by Raclette Les 4 Vallées to melt its cheese, or a wood-burning fire.

    According to Gmür, when eating raclette, people avoid drinking carbonated drinks since the cheese is “pretty fatty.” At Raclette Les 4 Vallées, a traditional accompaniment, hot tea, will be available for purchase at the cart, Chokairy said. Eventually, Chokairy plans to serve white wine with the raclette, but he will only serve that at the upcoming Raclette Les 4 Vallées restaurant.

    The restaurant will be located next door to Crêpes Choupette on Whitney Avenue and plans to open by February of next year. On Oct. 21, Chokairy signed the lease for the building, which was previously occupied by Tony’s Orangeside Donuts.

    The raclette cart is the latest addition to Adil Chokairy’s businesses in New Haven. The Paris native started in June 2014 with his crêpe cart and after much success, opened the permanent location on September 2015.

    A wheel of raclette cheese weighs 13 pounds.