Tag Archives: Ellen Bowen

Sherwood Island Shines Today

You could say that Sherwood Island made lemons lemonade out of lemonade lemons.

A better analogy would be: The state park’s admirers and friends made foie gras out of goose poop.

Less than 2 weeks ago, “06880” published alert reader Ellen Bowen’s complaint that the 9/11 Living Memorial there — Connecticut’s tribute to state residents lost on that tragic day 15 years ago — was an unkempt disgrace.

Very quickly, several things happened.

Tony Palmer — owner of T. Palmer Landscaping and Anthony’s Nursery and Garden Center, both in Westport — donated a 3-man crew. Working gratis for 2 days, they weeded, pruned rose bushes, cleaned and helped the overworked, under-budgeted park staff get the memorial in tip-top shape.

Tony returned this week, with a mission. He made sure that everything was perfect for today’s 5:30 p.m. ceremony.

Other volunteers turned out yesterday, to weed, clear and prune a large garden bed that visitors pass on their way to the memorial.

The garden bed on the way to the Sherwood Island 9/11 memorial.

The garden bed on the way to the Sherwood Island 9/11 memorial.

Bowen’s story also brought attention to Friends of Sherwood Island. The non-profit does important, seldom-noticed work everywhere in the park. Its annual fundraiser — ShoreFest — is set for 6 p.m. tomorrow.

Local businesses and individuals rushed to offer goods and services for the silent auction.

In addition, a major donation — for ongoing plantings — was made to the Friends’ tree committee.

It’s easy for Westporters to overlook Sherwood Island. Residents may not realize Connecticut’s oldest state park is also home to our 9/11 memorial — and a robust organization that serves the entire 220-acre property.

Thanks to Ellen Bowen’s alert, more Westporters now do.

And many are doing whatever they can to help make Sherwood Island sparkle.

Ellen Bowen: Sherwood Island 9/11 Memorial Now An “Embarrassment”

“06880” reader Ellen Bowen recently visited  Sherwood Island State Park. She was stunned at the condition of the state’s official 9/11 memorial. Among the Connecticut residents honored there are several Westporters. 

With the 15th anniversary of that tragic day near, Ellen writes:

Imagine my surprise and disgust to find the plaques covered with goose poop,  and the walkways and grassy areas (including near the water fountain and picnic area) overrun and filled with weeds. The condition was disgusting. And I paid $9 to park.

(Photos/Ellen Bowen)

(Photos/Ellen Bowen)

I am appalled and saddened that a beautiful and contemplative place remembering the victims and heroes who lost their lives that day has become an embarrassment to our town and the state of Connecticut. I will share some of the pictures I took with the Friends of Sherwood Island, local and state government officials, and anyone else I can think of.

I hope they clean it up in time for the governor and 9/11 families’ visit, and the memorial service, on September 8. But I sincerely hope they consider maintaining the memorial on a year-round basis, and not just “for show.”

CT Bites Invites: Something New To Chew On

When Ellen Bowen launched the Southern Connecticut territory for Living Social — the website offering daily discounts to subscribers — she liked working with restaurant owners to design enticing deals.

But, she soon realized, the website got a lot better deal than the merchants.

“It brings in traffic,” she says of the discounts. “But most people were spending only the value of the coupon. And there wasn’t a lot of repeat business.”

Her now job — event curator at CTBites.com — is much more satisfying. The Westporter has helped site founder Stephanie Webster move beyond the wildly popular restaurant reviews.

Amy Kundrat, Stephanie Webster and Ellen Bowen (from left) represent CT Bites at last fall's Blues,Views & BBQ Fest in Westport.

Ellen and Stephanie have introduced CT Bites Invites. Each week, the website offers readers a special culinary event. Because Ellen works closely with owners and chefs, the results benefit everyone: the restaurants, those who work there, and Fairfield County’s enormous population of “foodies.”

“We get very creative,” Ellen says. For example, Bobby Q’s paired great barbecue dishes with craft beers.

“You can’t just walk in and ask for that,” she notes. “It’s insider access.”

There’s insider access to chefs too. A 10:30 cooking demonstration by DaPietro’s Pietro Scotti was followed by a special 3-course lunch.

Pietro Scotti of DaPietro's wows his CT Bites Invites guests.

Beyond the great food and behind-the-scenes activity, Ellen says, “It’s very social. People invite their friends. And it’s really creative.”

Since CT Bites Invites began in November (with a pairing of exotic tacos and various tequilas), every event has sold out. Some are so popular, extra dates have been added.

Feedback (ho ho) has been great. And Ellen is having a good time too.

“I’ve learned a lot about food, chefs and restaurants,” she says.

One example: Iberico, a very rare ham. It comes from special pigs in Spain. Raised only on acorns, they’re “happy and totally stress-free,” Ellen says. “Even when they’re slaughtered, there’s music playing.”

The result is “the most tender and delicious ham you can imagine.”

(Also, very expensive.)

Barcelona Restaurant paired Iberico ham with cheeses, wine and sherry. “It was very successful — and educational,” says Ellen.

On January 25, Bonda in Fairfield features an evening menu tasting with chef Jamie Cooper. Participants will give insights — and the results will help shape his next menu.

“For a foodie, learning about chefs’ training, watching them in action, talking back and forth — it’s heaven,” Ellen says.

“This goes way beyond ‘honey, where should we go for dinner tonight?'”

Good food, conversation and education await CT Bites Invites guests.