Tag Archives: The Whelk

Slice Is Nice!

Hundreds of Westporters — and many more out-of-towners — poured into the narrow streets of Saugatuck today.

They ambled along Riverside Avenue, Railroad Place and Saugatuck Avenue, enjoying our 3rd annual Slice of Saugatuck festival.

Food and drink was the main attraction. Over 25 restaurants and merchanats — including Viva’s, Mansion, Rainbow Thai, Craft Butchery, Saugatuck Sweets, The Duck, Chinese Takeout, Cuatros Hermanos — even 99 Bottles and Dunkin’ Donuts — offered treats.

But there was music too, ranging from School of Rock and folk to steel drums, along with stuff from hair salons, galleries and a tae kwan do place.

The weather was perfect. The vibe was cool.

And — because most people stayed off the roads — even the traffic was fine.

It was a fantastic slice of life, on a wonderful Sunday afternoon. With proceeds benefiting the Gillespie Center food pantry too, what’s not to like?

Tutti's was 1 of many Saugatuck restaurants dishing out some of its most popular items. Lines formed instantly, and stayed long.

Tutti’s was one of many Saugatuck restaurants dishing out some of its most popular items. Lines formed instantly, and stayed long.

The plaza between Saugatuck Sweets and The Whelk rocked all afternoon long.

The plaza between Saugatuck Sweets and The Whelk rocked all afternoon long.

What's a street festival without a bounce house? This one was in the Rizzuto's parking lot.

What’s a street festival without a bounce house? This one was in the Rizzuto’s lot.

Mr. Sausage showed up too, to help promote Saugatuck Craft Butchery's carnivorous samples.

Mr. Sausage showed up too, to help promote Saugatuck Craft Butchery’s carnivorous samples.

Downunder was busy all day, offering kayak and paddleboard rides. Nearby, boat owners tied up at the dock.

Downunder was busy all day, offering kayak and paddleboard rides. Nearby, boat owners tied up at the dock.

 

This Is Literally A Scoop

Saugatuck Sweets has its official, grand opening, ribbon-cutting ceremony on Saturday, May 3 (12 noon).

What? You heard rumors already? What makes this a “scoop”?

Well, Saugatuck Sweets is that neighborhood’s newest (and only) ice cream shop.

Sure, they also sell high-quality desserts, yogurt and great candy. But you can’t make those into clever headlines.

Saugatuck Center is Westport’s hot new neighborhood. Ice cream from Saugatuck Sweets will be the perfect way to chill.

(Saugatuck Sweets is located in the former Craft Butchery on Riverside Avenue, next to The Whelk restaurant.)

Saugatuck Sweets

 

The 3rd Time’s The Charm

Actually, the 1st 2 are pretty charming as well.

Bill Taibe — owner of Le Farm and The Whelk — will open his 3rd Westport restaurant early this summer.

CT Bites reports that the site is the short-lived Bistro 88 space in Bridge Square — formerly Peter’s Bridge Market. It’s just a few steps away from The Whelk in Saugatuck Center.

Bill Taibe serves up octopus and squid at The Whelk.

Bill Taibe serves up octopus and squid at The Whelk.

Taibe — much beloved for his fierce dedication to locally sourced farms and distributors — told the food blog that the new spot will “take its culinary and design inspiration” from Japanese pubs. The emphasis is on small dishes, and great drinks.

He called it an Asian version of The Whelk — including a communal table — offering a mix of Japanese and Chinese dishes. You can also buy a bottle, write your name on it and store it for later.

Saugatuck has been on the culinary map for a couple of years now. In June, a new kitchen warms up — and the area will be even hotter.

 

Ho Ho Ho! They’ll Drink To That!

Seventy or so Santa Clauses — and a few random Mrs. Clauses, elves and Grinches — descended on Saugatuck Center this afternoon.

They drank, ate and ambled their way – no sleighs allowed, not after all that beer! – from Dunville’s to the Whelk, then Viva’s, Rizzuto’s and the Duck. Dessert was at Saugatuck Sweets.

The price to party: $100. Plus, you had wear a costume. There were some very serious Santas today.

It was all for a great cause: Adam’s Camp, a special summer spot for children with special needs.

Everywhere the merry group went, traffic stopped. It was as if no one has ever seen 70 Santas drinking their way through Saugatuck before.

Kelly and Drew Schuette, who organized this afternoon's Santa pub crawl.

Kelley and Drew Schuette, who organized this afternoon’s Santa pub crawl. More shots are below.

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Nearly everyone made it to the plaza outside the Whelk for a group shot. A few were still inside, enjoying their beers and oysters.

Nearly everyone made it to the plaza outside the Whelk for a group shot. A few were still inside, enjoying their beers and oysters.

Lights! Christmas! Action!

Those beautiful lights that make the Bridge Street Bridge sparkle don’t screw themselves in.

At midnight Friday, Al DiGuido, Vinny Penna and a crew of helpers were out, ensuring another bright holiday season.

(Photo/Pete Romano)

(Photo/Pete Romano)

Al’s Angels — the Westport-based charity helping children and families battle cancer and severe hardships (among many other good works) — ensures that the well-traveled bridge looks its best every holiday season.

You can see the lights for yourself on Wednesday, December 4. That’s when Santa arrives (6 p.m.), and a Christmas tree will be lit in Saugatuck Center, on the plaza between the Whelk and Saugatuck Sweets.

From 5:30 to 8 p.m. there’s refreshments,  fun, and old-fashioned community spirit.

And — in that holiday spirit — the sponsoring Gault family asks everyone to bring an unwrapped toy, for a child under 10.

Al’s Angels will take care of the rest.

As — very quietly, but lovingly, all year long — they always do.

Farmer’s Market Forks It Over

The Whelk was hopping tonight.

Bill Taibe’s popular, sustainably fresh Saugatuck restaurant hosted the 3rd of 4 Westport Farmers’ Market “Fork It Over” fundraisers.

Farmers MarketIn addition to the Whelk’s great food — the Mexican theme included guacamole with grasshoppers (!); ceviche with local shrimp, lobsters and razor clams; tacos including chorizo and burnt scallions, blood sausage and squash, and smoked brisket and adobo — there was sangria and watermelon tequila punch from Saugatuck Grain & Grape, the Whelk’s around-the-corner neighbor. All the fruit and vegetables came from Easton’s Sport Hill Farm.

Taibe, and chefs Geoff Lazlo and Avi Benson of The Whelk and Le Farm, mingled with the 60 guests, and spoke about their dishes.

They — and all the food purveyors — were happy to help the Farmers’ Market. They believe in its mission: helping “real farmers connect with real consumers over real food.”

The Farmers’ Market does that in many ways, beyond its May-to-November Thursday Imperial Avenue markets. There’s a Saturday winter market, at Gilbertie’s Herb Gardens.

Plus, the food that Staples High School’s culinary classes use, when they prepare meals for the Gillespie Center.

And the usual expenses for any non-profit: insurance, attorneys, accountants…

Lori Cochran-Dougall, Westport Farmers' Market director.

Lori Cochran-Dougall, Farmers’ Market director.

The winter market costs organizers $15,000 a year. Director Lori Cochran-Dougall says the Farmers’ Market has raised vendors’ fees only $50 over the past 8 years.

That’s why the Market is running these “Fork It Over” fundraisers. And doing it in their typical fun, friendly fashion.

If you missed the 1st 3, no problem. Tickets go on sale tomorrow (Monday, October 7) for the final event (Sunday, October 20).

To get info, you must be on the Farmers’ Market email list (click here).

But even with tickets, you won’t find out where the event is — or the theme — until the morning of the dinner.

Kind of like going to the Farmers’ Market itself, and happily discovering whatever is on sale that day.

Simon And Garfunkel’s Local Tour

Simon and Garfunkel made great music together. They also were not particularly fond of each other, and have spent the bulk of their careers breaking up and reuniting.

This past weekend, both were in this area. Separately, of course.

Paul Simon had dinner at The Whelk. It was a summer weekend night, so like everyone else he had to wait for a table. No word on whether he ordered a dish with parsley, sage, rosemary and thyme.

A few miles away, Art Garfunkel was rehearsing his new act at the Wilton Library. He sang “Scarborough Fair,” “The Boxer” and — perhaps in deference to the library location — “The Sounds of Silence.”

Simon and Garfunkel have both gone off — separately — to look for America.

Or at least, southern Fairfield County.

Simon and Garfunkel (above, Garfunkel and Simon) harmonized beautifully. They were not always looking at each other, however.

Simon and Garfunkel (above, Garfunkel and Simon) harmonized beautifully. They were not always looking at each other, however.

Whelk’s Deviled Eggs: You Can’t Beat ‘Em

What’s better than the Chinese pork-belly sandwich at Butcher & Bee in Charleston, South Carolina?

Better than sunchoke soup with potato, lobster and white truffle foam at Goosefoot in Chicago?

Better, in fact, than every other dish in the country?

Green-goddess deviled eggs at The Whelk, in Westport, Connecticut.

The #1 dish in the country.

The #1 dish in the country. (Photo/GQ.com)

That’s not me talking. It’s Alan Richman. He named that egg dish #1 – Number One!  — on his GQ list of “The 50 Best Things to Eat and Drink Right Now.”

So obviously The Whelk’s green-goddess deviled eggs are also better than the 97 jazillion other dishes — at the Whelk, Butcher & Bee, Goosefoot, Peter Luger’s Steakhouse, Viva’s, Red Lobster, Waffle House, and every other momofuku restaurant in the entire country!

It’s right there on the GQ website. Richman writes:

This has been the breakout year for deviled eggs, forgotten except in southern and midwestern kitchens. I ate them across the country, but none came close to this complex and captivating variation: yolks mashed and mixed with a homemade green-goddess dressing (creamy, tangy, and once as beloved as ranch), then stuffed into egg-white halves.

The dish gets better. The eggs are topped with two elements similar in texture but opposite in character—crunchy, sweet pickled onions and crunchy, sweet baconlike guanciale. Or you can have your deviled eggs with fried oysters on top. Both are right.

Whelk logoAfter this honor, the Whelk — named for an edible sea snail — may have to change its name.

Just kidding. That was a yolk.

(Hat-tip to Johanna Rossi and the Omnomct blog for this great catch.)

From The West Village To Westport: 1 Year Later

A year ago April, I posted a story about a woman I’d never met. She was a native Californian who spent the last 7 years in Greenwich Village; a freelance graphic designer with a great portfolio, and the mother of a 2-year-old girl.

The family — well, the little kid had no say — were thinking of moving to the ‘burbs. They were looking at 2 towns: Westport and Darien.

She asked me what she’d find here. I deferred to the collective wisdom of “06880″ readers.

Alli DiVincenzo

Alli DiVincenzo

Some people advised her to stay put. Others bashed Darien. But the majority of responders offered thoughtful, wide-ranging, realistic reasons for her to come to 06880.

Things happened quickly. Within 2 months Alli DiVincenzo, her husband Glenn and young Capri found a house and closed. On June 22 they moved to Green’s Farms.

The other day, Alli emailed again.

Did she bear good news? Was she aching for the city — or California?

Read on:

I can’t believe it’s been just over a year since you came to my curious rescue about the town of Westport. You graciously posted my cry for help and opened the blogwaves to your readers for their opinions.

The responses not only hit every geographical touch point, but many emotional ones as well. Your readers are passionate. I thank you and all of them again for enlightening us on the good, the bad and the ugly –although I have yet to witness anything truly “ugly” in this town. Even the seagulls are pristine.

My sister visited last week. She described Westport as “Perfectville!” (She acknowledged that she has yet to experience a winter here.)

Alli's neighborhood, near Burying Hill Beach. (Photo by Alli DiVincenzo)

Alli’s neighborhood, near Burying Hill Beach. (Photo by Alli DiVincenzo)

Lots has happened to Alli in a year.

For one thing, Capri now has a baby brother. Will was born 9 months to the day after Alli and Glenn moved here. (Ahem. I refuse to go there.)

He’s got a longer-than-he-realized commute to New York. But she set up a home studio. Thanks to tons of people she’d just met, but who were eager to refer her, her AlliQDesign firm has plenty of projects. She worked with Westport Invitations; designed a poster for Amy Oestreicher‘s Gutless and Grateful show, and did graphics for the Westport Library‘s Great Gatsby Party. A mother at Capri’s pre-school sent 3 clients Alli’s way.

The neighbors on her cul-de-sac were very welcoming. She was invited to a Christmas party, and they threw her a baby shower plus a baby welcome brunch.

Her neighborhood features a long-running book club, filled with women who are “smart, beautiful, strong and successful, each in her own way.” A neighbor introduced her to the staff at the Westport Country Playhouse; she’s been to every play since. 

Alli and Capri, with holiday plants at Terrain.

Alli and Capri, with holiday plants at Terrain.

Alli and Capri went on the Wakeman Town Farm chicken coop tour. The family has explored Earthplace, the beaches, and canoed on Sherwood Mill Pond. Alli calls Westport’s resources and recreational activities “beyond any scope we’ve ever known.”

Alli loves the open spaces — and the fact that people don’t hide in it. Last week she chatted with a man pushing a stroller. He works on environmental issues. “People here do very interesting things,” she says.

For a while, she and Glenn thought Bobby Q’s was the only place to eat. They’ve since discovered the Whelk, the Dressing Room and many others. The variety of restaurants was “a pleasant surprise,” Alli says.

This summer — for the 1st time ever — the family is not going anywhere. They just want to enjoy their new home town. After all, Alli says, “It’s like a vacation spot.”

She admits downtown is “a bit sleepy.” But she is excited by the changes coming soon. And, as her father observed, “You can always tell a great downtown: It doesn’t have parking meters.”

Of course, every mother wants her child to be happy. So how does Capri like Westport?

“She’s taken the town by storm,” Alli says.

A Beef With Martha Stewart

Martha Stewart may no longer live here, but it’s not like she has a bone to pick with us.

Yesterday, in her cleverly named “The Martha Blog,” she gave a nice shout-out to Saugatuck Craft Butchery — the shop on Riverside Avenue (opposite the old Doc’s)  that’s drawing raves from plenty of non-Martha normal people as well.

(On Monday I was at The Whelk — Bill Taibe’s equally excellent restaurant next door, whose meat comes from Craft Butchery. Sure, Bill’s menu is heavy on oysters, clams and other seafood. But my lamb burger at least equaled any dish I had in New Zealand. And the meat there was waaaay beyond mouth-watering.)

But back to Martha (of course). She wrote:

Recently, I learned of Saugatuck Craft Butchery, which opened its doors last November in my former hometown of Westport, Connecticut, and is owned by Ryan Fibiger. Fibiger started his career in finance on Wall Street and after relocating from Manhattan to Westport with his wife, Katherine, he became deeply disenchanted with the food choices in his new neighborhood.

Ryan Fibiger and friend.

Fibiger learned about a Butchering 101 course being taught by Joshua Applestone at his shop in Kingston. After taking the class, Fibiger started rethinking his career path, spending his weekends as Joshua’s apprentice. Along the way, he met Paul Nessel, who had some restaurant experience and was also deeply interested in the art butchery. The two found a shack to rent near Kingston, which they dubbed ‘Meat Camp’, and spent an intensive eight months learning the craft.

Saugatuck Craft Butchery is a gem of a shop, which Ryan and Paul run together.  They are one of perhaps ten butcher shops in America that deal with cutting whole animals from nose-to-tail, sourcing their organic meat from local sustainable farms.  It’s also a very friendly shop with wonderful customer relations and a true sense of community.

Okay, as a food writer Martha is no Ruth Reichl or Frank Bruni. But the woman knows her onions.

And her grass-fed, grain-finished, all-natural, humanely raised beef, pork, lamb and poultry too.

Martha Stewart talks turkey about Saugatuck Craft Butchery.