Tag Archives: Bistro du Soleil

Roundup: Breakfast Club, Library Trustees, Rugby Rout …

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A full house at Toquet Hall enjoyed yesterday’s Triple Threat Academy workshop production of “The Breakfast Club.”

The cast — a mix of old and young — nailed the iconic (and now 37-year-old) movie.

Highlights included Michael Sharits — a professional actor and Triple Threat student — who jumped in as Claire’s dad with just 2 hour’s notice when a cast member had COVID exposure.

In addition, there were 2 Staples Players parent/child duos: Nick Sadler (Principal Vernon) and Cooper Sadler (John Bender), plus Jean Pitaro (Brian’s mom) and Josy Pitaro (Claire).

Triple Threat founder (and Staples High School graduate) Cynthia Gibb was in the audience, watching acting teacher/Juilliard grad Keith Contreras-McDonald’s production.

Cynthia’s mom Linde was there too. She’s in Triple Threat’s adult acting class.

For more on Triple Threat’s acting and improv classes for youth, teens and adults, dance classes, audition workshops, private voice lessons and more, click here.

“The Breakfast Club” cast, outside Toquet Hall.

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The Westport Library gives so much to Westport. Here’s a chance to give back.

There are vacancies on the board of trustees. The Library seeks candidates with previous board experience. and expertise in finance, fundraising and development for non-profits; knowledge, expertise and understanding of trends in media and information technology, and entrepreneurs with experience in business, economic development and innovation.

Trustees must be Westport residents, and serve for 4-year terms beginning July 1. There are 20 members; half are appointed by the Representative Town Meeting, half by the Library Board itself. For more information about trustees’ roles, click here.

To apply, email a resume and letter of interest to rpowell@westportlibrary.org. The deadline is April 25.

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The Staples High School rugby team is ranked 9th in the nation, by Goff Rugby Report. Georgetown Prep of Maryland is 8th.

But the Wreckers traveled south, and demolished the Hoyas yesterday 45-7. The livestreamed match was watched by dozens of Staples parents, siblings and fans — and plenty of ex-pat former ruggers from South Africa and Australia — at Little Barn restaurant.

Congratulations to 1st-year head coach Neil Seideman and his excellent team on their 2nd win in 2 games. They opened the season with a 38-3 trouncing of Xavier-Middletown. (Hat tip: Terry Brannigan)

Cheering on Staples rugby, at Little Barn.

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Speaking of sports: This weekend marks the return — after 2 canceled COVID years — of the Westport Soccer Association’s WIN tournament.

Over 160 teams from throughout the tri-state region compete indoors and outside, at Staples High and Bedford Middle School, and Wakeman. In 40 years of existence, the event has raised hundreds of thousands of dollars for the Coleman Brothers Fund. It honors former Westport athletes Scott and Keith Coleman, who were killed at the World Trade Center on 9/11.

Boys teams ages 9 through 19 played yesterday. Girls play today. Congratulations to the Wreckers of Westport, who won the U-19 championship yesterday, including a 6-0 thrashing of Dynamo in the final.

U-19 champions (front row, from left): Avery Mueller, Ben Tanen, Aidan Mermagen. Back row: Thomas Corridon, Brewster Galley, Bruno Guiduli, Jaden Mueller, Jesse Sanchez. Missing: Santi Alfageme, Jacob Greenberger. (Photo/Barry Guiduli)

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Speaking still of sports: Chad Knight — for the former Staples High School and Little League World Series star — leads the Duke University baseball team in hitting. The 6-0, 220-pound catcher/designated hitter has a .350 average for the 11-8 Blue Devils. (Hat tip: Steve McCoy)

Chad Knight

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Bistro du Soleil is not just a great restaurant. It’s also an inspiring art venue. Westport artist Karen Silver Bloom — known for her unique collectible shadow boxes —  is next up, at the popular Riverside Avenue spot. An opening reception is set for March 27 (4 to 7 p.m.). The shadow boxes will be on display at Bistro du Soleil on weekends through May 8.

Karen Silver Bloom and friend, in her studio.

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Just announced: an interesting CNN+ and HBO Max project focusing on Westport’s own Paul Newman and Joanne Woodward.

Ethan Hawke is the director. Martin Scorsese is the executive producer. Deadline says, “The Last Movie Stars will celebrate the enigmatic personas, incandescent talent and love story of the 2 actors, who occupy a unique space in the Hollywood pantheon.

“Central to the film is a long-abandoned project that Newman, who died in 2008, commissioned…. (Stewart Stern interviewed) Woodward, Elia Kazan, Sidney Lumet, Karl Malden, Sidney Pollack, Gore Vidal, Jacqueline Witte and others for a planned memoir.

“He also interviewed Newman…. They discussed his youth, first marriage, romance and life with Woodward, personal demons, and the loss of his son Scott.”

Click here for the full story. (Hat tip: Dick Lowenstein)

Joanne Woodward and Paul Newman.

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Congratulations to Staples High School’s March Students of the Month.

Senior Olivia Marshall, juniors Lucy Dockter and Mirian Hurley, and freshmen Perrin Root and Ocean Banska were selected, principal Stafford Thomas said, for helping make their school “a welcoming place for peers and teachers. They are the ‘glue’ of the Staples community: the type of kind, cheerful, hard-working, trustworthy students who keep the high school together, making it the special place it is.”

Staples Students of the Month Perrin Root, Miriam Hurley, Lucy Dockter and Olivia Marshall. Missing: Ocean Bansak.

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Today’s “Westport … Naturally” selection is a first: a video.

Susie Kowalsky captured — on film, that is — these swans nesting on the Saugatuck River. It’s a scene we don’t always see, but can always admire.

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And finally … in honor of “The Breakfast Club” (see story above):

 

 

 

Roundup: Julia Marino, Bistro du Soleil, Ben Esselink …

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Julia Marino’s dream of a second Olympic medal ended yesterday.

The Westport snowboarder — already a silver medalist in slopestyle — pulled out of the big air qualifiers. She had fallen in practice 2 days earlier, and injured her tailbone.

That was tough news, for her millions of fans here and across the country. But that silver medal will be on display soon. Details of a townwide celebration will be released soon.

NBC’s split screen last week: Julia Marino in China, the Marino family and friends in Westport. (Screenshot/Jeanine Esposito)

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“Body of Work” — an exhibit of Westport artist Ruth Kalla Ungerer’s prints and collages — opens at Bistro du Soleil this Sunday (February 20, 4 to 6 p.m.).

The show coincides with a return to indoor dining at the popular Riverside Avenue restaurant.

Ungerer asks, “Where else can you enjoy art and cuisine in such a welcoming setting? 

Works by Kalla Ungerer

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Bernard Esselink of Westport, CT died earlier this month. He was 81.

His family calls Ben “a loving and generous husband, father and grandfather who was shaped by a life spent all over the globe. He was exceptional in connecting with and making others feel valued, whether family, friends or complete strangers, no matter now different from himself. His balance of humor, authenticity and willingness to serve others was an incredible gift to all of us who loved him.”

Born to Dutch parents in Indonesia, Ben earned a degree in chemical engineering from Delft University in the Netherlands. He worked for the United Nations in Thailand. before moving to Singapore and a career with Colgate-Palmolive.  He spent the remainder of his career with them, in Australia, California, South Carolina and New York.

Ben loved sailing. and was an active member of the Connecticut Orchid Society.  He was also committed to his church, and regularly involved in his local Gideons chapter.

Ben was predeceased by his wife Heleena Tjeenk Willink, daughter Karien and brother Bert. He is survived by his sons Rik and Frank, grandchildren Saskia, Philip, Marik, Bjorn, Claudia and Andreas, and nieces and nephews.

He is also survived by his wife Jean McGilvray, who he counted himself especially blessed to have met and married later in life.

A celebration of Ben’s life will be held in April.

Ben Esselink

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“Westport … Naturally” celebrates Valentine’s Day with this beautiful arrangement, courtesy of Ellen Wentworth (and her dining room):

(Photo/Ellen Wentworth)

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And finally … on this Valentine’s Day, there are thousands of great love songs to choose from.

Here are a few of mine, from one particular moment in time. What are yours? Click “Comments” below.

Roundup: Lynsey Addario, Bistro Du Soleil, More


Congratulations, Lynsey Addario!

The 1991 Staples High School graduate (and MacArthur “genius grant” award winner) has been named to the International Photography Hall of Fame. She’ll be inducted October 30.

The photojournalist has covered conflict and humanitarian crises around the Middle East and Africa for the New York Times, National Geographic and Time magazine for nearly 2 decades. Her work is powerful, thought-provoking, and very, very human.

The aftermath of a miscarriage in a Somali hospital. (Photo/Lynsey Addario, courtesy of NPR)

Lynsey joins such legendary figures as Ansel Adams, Richard Avedon and Mathew Brady. Click here to read more about the “pioneers of photography.” Click here for Lynsey’s website.

Lynsey Addario


Yesterday, “06880” highlighted outdoor dining in Westport. Jana Malakoff writes about her favorite restaurant — which has not added al fresco tables:

“Bistro du Soleil is open for take out only from Wednesday through Saturday.  They offer a wonderful 4 course dinner for only $32. Bistro is off the beaten track, south of Saugautuck center and north of the restaurants near the railroad station.

“I am a senior citizen and have not felt comfortable dining in or out, nor do I want a fine dining experience marred by faceless servers. I have enjoyed my weekly dinners from Bistro du Soleil since they opened for takeout earlier this year.

“I hope ‘06880’ readers know that Bistro Du Soleil is in business, and certainly worth ordering dinner from.”

Bistro du Soleil


Interested in statehouse candidates’ environmental stands?

Earthplace and Sustainable Westport are sponsoring virtual debates for local Senate and House of Representatives candidates.

This Tursday’s event (October 22, 6 p.m.) features State Senate hopeful Kim Healy and incumbent Will Haskell. Click here to register.

The next day (Friday, October 23, 6 p.m.) House of Representatives incumbent Jonathan Steinberg debates Chip Stephens. Click here to register.


POP’T Art’s new show, “96% STARDUST,” features Brendan Murphy. With a focus on “transmitting positive energy” through his work, he’s making his area debut — at a time when joy, inspiration and hope are needed more than ever.

The show opens to the public next Saturday (October 24), at the 1 Main Street gallery. Email haviland@havilandreed.com for timed reservations, and for private preview showings beginning October 21.

Brendan Murphy’s work.


And finally … in honor of the new “Stardust” art show at POP’T Art:

COVID Roundup: Letters; Books; Food; CVS; More


A pair of Staples High School juniors want to make sure that children in the hospital are not forgotten during the pandemic. They created Mailed With Love — a service that collects cards and drawings from families around Westport, for kids at at Yale New Haven Hospital.

Everyone can make cards and drawings. Follow @mailed.with.love on Instagram for details, or email mailedwithlovewestport@gmail.com.


Jane Malakoff is one of many Westporters who support their favorite restaurants during the pandemic. Every Saturday she orders dinner from Bistro du Soleil, on Riverside Avenue near the train station.

“Bistro is a small family owned restaurant, and perhaps off everyone’s radar,” Jane says. “Maria’s delicious dinners are my treat for the week. Only she, her husband and mother are in the restaurant.”

As restaurants across the state slowly  open up, it’s good to remember that’s only part of the equation. With 50% capacity and outdoor dining only, many will still rely on curbside takeout and delivery.

Remember too to order delivery direct from the restaurant’s website, if offered. Third-party services like Grubhub take a large chunk of change from the order.

Maria and her husband, at Bistro du Soleil.


The Westport Library remains closed — though its online offerings are plentiful and busy.

Still, if you prefer the pleasures of an actual dead-tree book, the funky “Little Free Library” on Otter Trail off Imperial Avenue is open.

The selections are a lot more limited than the downtown library. On the other hand, you don’t have to worry about social distancing.

PS: Note the sign: “Take a book. Share a book.” Donations welcome!


As of today, CVS is back open 24 hours (store only). Pharmacy hours are 8 a.m. to 11 p.m. weekdays, 8 a.m. to 8 p.m weekends.


And finally … as we see glimmers of light at the end of the tunnel, Fontella Bass’ plea may be answered!

Meandering On The Saugatuck

Bistro du Soleil — the French-Mediterranean restaurant in the old post office on Riverside Avenue — has a loyal following. But it does not get enough attention, either for its food or the ever-changing art on its walls.

This Sunday (November 3, 4 to 7 p.m.), there’s a reception for Westport photographer Tom Kretsch’s photos of the Saugatuck River — the water that runs directly behind the restaurant.

His new exhibit is called “River Take Me Along.” Tom writes:

“The River that Flows Out” is the translation of the word Saugatuck. The Paugusset Indians gave this 23-mile river, with its origins in Danbury, its name.

This treasure of a resource served first as a place of early settlements by Native Americans. Later, settlers farmed along its banks. In the 19th century it was a large shipping port, with warehouses nestled by the edge.

Saugatuck River (Photo/Tom Kretsch)

Today this winding river, flowing through the heart of our community, serves as a wondrous resource for physical and spiritual reflection. From the fishermaen who cast their lines off the Cribari swing bridge to those who fly fish up stream, from the rowers who ply its waters both solo and in team sculls, to the many who simply stop and pause to sit on a bench by the library, the Saugatuck River holds a place in the hearts and souls of many Westporters.

Living close to its banks for 45 years sparked my interest to capture the many magical moods of this flowing body of water. Its ancient path that winds its way, sacred and slow, through woods, ponds, reservoirs and finally into Long Island Sound has provided me a palette to create my impressions of its spirit and soul.

From vantage points on a kayak floating slowly down the stream, to walking along its wooded banks, to standing on a bridge on a misty morning, the river can truly “take our breath away,” as Dar Williams sings eloquently in “The Hudson.”

Saugatuck in the mist. (Photo/Tom Kretsch)

In my series of images I have tried to create both impressionistic and realistic photographs of this ever-changing body of water. I hope the work will speak to you, and draw you into the beauty and spirit of the river.

I hope too it makes you pause and appreciate what a great natural resource this river is for all of us.

Perhaps it will inspire you to take time to explore the Saugatuck’s many nooks and crannies, or simply pause on a quiet summer evening, an early misty morning fog or deep in the fall foliage season to gaze at this gift we have been given.

My journey on this water is always evolving. I continue to look for those moments that speak to me; to capture the many hidden treasures it holds, and that can only be captured in the light that breathes life into our treasure, the Saugatuck River.

(The reception this Sunday is free, and open to the public. Tom Kretsch’s exhibit runs through December 28.)

Bistro Du Soleil Serves Up Fine Food — And Art

There are 2 types of excellent restaurants in Westport:

The ones everyone talks about. You know what they are.

And the ones that don’t get much buzz at all. Like Bistro du Soleil.

Tucked away in a corner of the old Saugatuck post office — on Riverside Avenue just before the train station, next to now-departed Westport Auction — the Mediterranean-with-a-French-flair spot is beloved by everyone who knows it.

But not everyone does.

Bistro du Soleil is a family affair. Owner Maria Munoz del Castillo works alongside her parents, Soledad and Bernardo. They came to the US in the 1980s.

Soledad was trained as a French chef. Bernardo — a craftsman as well as a restaurateur — lovingly made every table, the outdoor seating and handsome wooden bar. He’s also a playwright and poet.

Bernardo Munoz del Castillo (right) hand-crafted this handsome wooden bar.

Bistro du Soleil is more than a great restaurant. Since it opened 2 years ago, over 200 local and international artists have had their work highlighted on the sunflower gold walls.

Next up: Peter Saverine. A public reception to meet him, see his art, and enjoy wine and treats is set for this Sunday (August 4, 4 to 7 p.m.).

Like Bistro du Soleil, Saverine is a strong believer in giving back. He wants his art to be affordable, so he’s priced it at $20 to $450.

One of Peter Saverine’s works …

When he offered to donate a portion of his sales to a local non-profit, Soledad asked him to choose one supporting women and girls. Saverine selected Project Return, the Homes with Hope facility on North Compo Road that helps homeless young women rebuild their lives.

Like Bistro du Soleil’s owner, Saverine has an intriguing background. Professionally he’s director of philanthropy at STAR, the non-profit serving area residents with intellectual and developmental disabilities.

But he’s also a self-taught artist. His seascapes capture familiar scenes along Long Island Sound, Cape Cod and Nantucket. Compo Beach is a frequent inspiration.

… and another.

Saverine also authored a children’s book about a mermaid: “Jenny’s Pennies — A Nantucket Tradition.”

Great food and wine; fine (and affordable) art; a wonderful cause — it’s all there Sunday.

Whether you’re a Bistro du Soleil fan or never heard of the place, this is a wonderful reason to stop by.

Bistro Du Soleil Shines On Saugatuck

The latest addition to Westport’s dining scene comes with plenty of ready-made fans.

Bistro du Soleil has opened on Riverside Avenue, across from Minute Men Cleaners — between the Black Duck and the train station.

Owner Maria Munoz del Castillo earned raves for Rincón Taqueria in Norwalk. She cut her teeth at an earlier Bistro du Soleil, also in Norwalk, owned by her parents, Soledad and Bernardo Munoz del Castillo.

Bernardo Munoz del Castillo offers escargots.

That Soleil is now closed, but Bernardo’s wizardry is strongly felt in Saugatuck. A craftsman as well as a restaurateur, he lovingly made every table — including the outdoor seating — as well as the handsome wooden bar. (He’s also a playwright and poet.)

Bernardo hand-crafted this handsome wooden bar.

Soledad and Bernardo came to the U.S. from Chile in the 1980s. Trained as a French chef, she made a name for herself here. In addition to restaurants, Soledad had a catering business — and was a favorite at the Westport Farmers’ Market.

The new Soleil’s menu is Mediterranean, with French flair. Dinners include salmon, seafood bouillabaisse, grilled rack of lamb, marinated grilled skirt steak, Muscovy duck breast — and a parrillada with chorizos, skirt steak, pork chops, half chicken, tomato, onion, bell pepper BBQ and cilantro chimichurri that serves 3-4.

As politicians, consultants, bridge engineers and ordinary Westporters debate the future of Saugatuck, here’s a suggestion: Do it over a meal at Bistro du Soleil.

Westport 1st Selectman Jim Marpe (with scissors) joined Munoz del Castillo family members and friends at last night’s official ribbon-cutting ceremony for Bistro du Soleil.