The 39 Steps: an evening of intrigue and comedy at the Ridgefield Theater Barn

 

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The Ridgefield Theater Barn current production is Alfred Hitchcock’s “The 39 Steps”.  This play is an adaption of the movie of the same title that was released in 1935 as a serious suspense film.  The story and characters have been adapted by Patrick Barlow into a zany two hour comedy which has the audience laughing all evening.

The story is set in Britain during the 1930s.  Richard Hannay (Bob Lussier) is a 37 year old English bachelor living a safe if not boring life in London.  One night he attends the theater where he meets an attractive woman who turns his ordinary life upside down.  The woman (Suzanne Powers) explains she  is a secret agent and that she has information about “The 39 Steps” which has implications about the national security of Britain.  She informs Richard she is being followed by enemy agents and he offers to help.   The woman is murdered and Richard is framed and he must leave his flat in London followed by the police and spies all the way to Scotland where he seeks to uncover the secret of the 39 Steps and clear his name.

While the movie was a serious affair, the play is a zany comedy with only 4 actors.  Two of the actors Matt Austin and Joe Harding have the task of playing numerous roles including spies, police, inn keepers, train passengers and more.  They are hilarious.  Ms. Powers has to play three different female roles and does so convincingly.  The sets are constantly changing from Richard’s flat, to the theater, train, Scottish countryside, and an inn, all by quick changes of the furniture and props on the stage (which movement is part of the action.)  It is no coincidence that as part of the comedy, several Hitchcock films are referenced including “Rear Window” and “North by Northwest” during the performance.

The cast also moves through the audience during the play and brings the comedy  up close.  A very fun evening with excellent direction by Katherine Ray and produced by Cheryl Ann Boyd.

Tickets for this fun  show are only $24.  A great deal.  The production runs through December 10th 2016, so don’t miss the fun.

 

Ridgefield Theater Barn

37 Halpin Lane Ridgefield Ct  

Tickets and information:    http://ridgefieldtheaterbarn.org

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The National: a celebrity chef, great menu and fine design make for a great evening of dining

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Described as an American Cafe by its celebrity chef and owner, Geoffrey Zakarian, The National in Greenwich is a dining delight and features a menu that has been called “dynamic American”.

The space located on Greenwich Avenue is a wonderfully designed place to dine.  The decor is a combination of both the elegance of a prior era blended with clean, modern lines. Seating in the approximate 100 seat restaurant is at small wood or marble top tables, some with curved banquettes that create a dining environment that is both elegant and intimate.  The walls are paneled in rich white oak, and potted palm plants give the impression of dining in the subdued elegance of a cafe in the classic Hollywood era.  The feeling is both familiar and comfortable as we settled into our corner table .  We knew that we were in for a special night.  See slide show below for interior photos.

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The evening we dined at the National there was a special price fixe dinner called the “Cider and Harvest Dinner” that offered a family style menu in three courses.  With each course there was a pairing from Downeast  Craft Cider.

First  Course: Our first course was actually three different courses wich were meant for sharing.  Included were Bibb Lettuce and Lolla Rosa  salad prepared with blue cheese, fennel, thinks sliced apple and dressed in a white balsamic vinaigrette.  It was light and delicious.

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We followed that with a Chicken Liver Mousse that was blended with a persimmon citrus chutney and served over thick hearty slices of toast.  Although I am not a fan of liver, I must admit that the combination of the soft pate and the fruity chutney made for an interesting taste experience.

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The final appetizer was the Connecticut Burrata, a locally sourced soft white cheese served with artichokes, rapini, and a green olive vinaigrette. The cheese was so soft,fresh and virtually melted in your mouth.  The cider pairing was the Downeast Cider Original Blend composed of fresh pressed local apples that was light crisp and refreshing.

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Burrata

Main Course:   We really enjoyed the three main course samplings.  First was a pan roasted Chatham Cod served with butternut squash, pomegranate and five spice.  The cod was splendid with a light roasted crust revealing a soft, tender and delicious white fish that was so fresh.  The preparation with the butternut squash fit the harvest theme and was fantastic.

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Pan roasted Chatham Cod

Keeping with the harvest dinner theme was the Wood Grilled Pork Shoulder served in small slices with polenta, spiced apples and an apple cider jus that was nicely presented and very satisfying.

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Wood Grilled pork with Polenta

Rounding out the main course was the classic Wood Roasted Chicken with rice, kale, cured red cabbage and a natural jus. The chicken was roasted to perfection and the combination of kale and rice made for a hearty and healthy dish.    The cider pairing was a custom blend of cider, grapefruit and crushed coriander which tasted more like a cocktail then a cider and was a complex blend of flavors.

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Wood Roasted Chicken

Dessert:  As part of the cider dinner we sampled two wonderful desserts.  First was a local Honey Mousse with mulled wine gelee and almond, that was light, airy and sweet

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Honey Mousse

. The second was a perfect complement to the harvest theme which was the National Apple Cobbler.  This classic was prepared with Granny Smith Apples, cranberry and malted ice cream.  A fresh, fruity and so very delicious dessert.  The cider pairing for the dessert course was a  Winter Blend of pressed cider with cinnamon bark and nutmeg.  Its classic blend of spices was the perfect capstone to the Harvest dinner.irene 671.JPG

Cocktails:  I would be remiss if I did not mention the craft cocktails available at the bar or at your table. After dinner I sampled the  “Greenwich Means Thyme”, a sweet concoction of gin, fresh lime juice, honey syrup and fresh thyme.  A   refreshing cocktail and great way to round out the evening.  This drink is just one of the many interesting and innovative cocktails to try.

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Greenwich Means Thyme cocktail

 

I really enjoyed my special evening at The National.   Executive chef Gregori Pena and his staff presented a delightful harvest meal with a tasty variety of dishes.   If you are looking for a new dining experience, I highly recommend that you try The National in Greenwich.  Check their website for special dinner nights once a month and for evenings featuring music and a late night menu.

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The National

376 Greenwich Avenue  Greenwich Ct      tel: 203-861-8651

web:  http://thenational-ct.com/

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Organic Vegetable baskets for Thanksgiving at Hilltop Hanover Farm

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Hilltop Hanover Farm in Yorktown Heights is offering organic vegetable baskets for your Thanksgiving dinner!  If you are looking for organic locally grown produce for your Thanksgiving feast, then look no further.  Hilltop Hanover farm is offering prepackaged baskets that include farm grown, seasonal, all organic vegetables.  All baskets will feed four to 8 people and include recipes.   Each basket will be available for pick up at the farm stand on November 22nd 2016 from 10am to 5pm.  The cost is $60 per basket.

The farm stand at Hilltop Hanover Farm also sells maple syrup, pies, gift baskets, pasta and more.   You can also pre order pies and turkeys as well from the farm.

Support your local farming community by shopping at the farm stand this Thanksgiving.

for more information:

http://www.hilltophanoverfarm.org/

Hilltop Hanover Farm

1271 Hanover Street  Yorktown Heights NY   tel 914-963-2368

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Inn at Pound Ridge:Elegant dining in a casual rustic setting

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Main dining room – photo by inn at pound ridge

Upon opening the door at the Inn at Pound Ridge one is immediately drawn to the entrance fireplace and beautiful display of Autumn bounty of gourds and pumpkins.  The space is inviting and warm with a casual sophisticated flair.  Reclaimed wood, high ceilings in the main upstairs dining room and custom lighting create a soothing environment in which to dine. One has the immediate feeling that a special dining experience awaits.

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There are two floors on which to dine at the Inn at Pound Ridge as well as a large bar area.  All these spaces are all unique. The original building dates to 1833 when it was constructed as a home, but the property has served as an Inn for many years.  The Inn at Pound Ridge now owned and run by international chef Jean-Georges Vongerichten brings fantastic cuisine to this landmark restaurant.   The main floor of the Inn is a blend of modern design yet retains much of the charm of the original structure with fireplaces, wide plank wood floors, bleached wood and exposed rustic wood beams and trusses.   I chose to eat on the lower level which is divided into smaller more intimate spaces  and gave me the feeling I was in a secret yet warm place inside a castle with its exposed stone walls.

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There are several seating options from the small fireplace room behind the bar with its inviting couches and antique coffee table which offers a great place to enjoy a drink to the main dining area. The bar is comfortable and looks like it would be right at home in the English Countryside.  There is an understated elegance to this space and the wait staff was well prepared to tend to you from start to finish.

 

The menu is  a farm to table cuisine with many of the ingredients being locally sourced from farms in the Hudson Valley and New England.  Such a culinary philosophy brings great taste to each dish.  I  began my meal with a soothing and quite tasty lentil soup.  The broth was expertly prepared with just the right amount of seasoning. It was a flavorful and hearty soup that was just perfect for a November afternoon.

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Lentil Soup

Another appetizer to try is the Butternut squash salad with sliced apples and pumpkin seeds in a yogurt dressing.  This was light and delicious and the perfect pairing of fruit and vegetables.  Also a perfect selection with keeping with the spirit of harvest.

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Butternut Squash salad

My main dish was the salmon salad which consisted of a nice portion fresh salmon filet, encrusted with sesame seeds and served with a superb Asian dressing on the greens. Truly a delicious and healthy choice.  Another nice selection was the Fish and Chips, which was nicely prepared with a light and flavorful batter for extra crunch. The cod was not greasy and  was flakey, very fresh and served with potato slices.

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Salmon Salad

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Fish and Chips

You must not leave without trying one of the wonderful desserts prepared by top pastry chefs.  The Almond Cake was scrumptious and had just the right amount of sweetness with a nutty note.

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Almond cake

I also sampled the Warm Chocolate Cake which melts in your mouth with the velvet feel of the fresh cake and the soft chocolate inside.  The ice cream here is similar to gelato and I had the pleasure to taste is beautifully presented in bowl lined with warm chocolate syrup and sprinkled with caramel corn which gave a crunch to the smoothness of the ice cream.

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Warm Chocolate Cake

The Inn at Pound Ridge is a special restaurant with a beautiful atmosphere.  Reservations are a must at this popular Jean-Georges restaurant. The level of culinary skill and expertise makes this the perfect spot for a special occasion or for getting out and having a great dining experience.

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The Inn at Pound Ridge by Jean-Georges

258 Westchester Ave  Pound Ridge New York     tel: 914-764-1400

web: http://www.theinnatpoundridge.com/

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Sleuth: A great mystery to solve at the MTC Mainstage in Norwalk

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A wonderful mystery play has come to the MTC Mainstage in Norwalk, Ct.   Sleuth is being presented at the theater in a limited run through November 20, 2016.   The play was originally produced in 1970 and written by Anthony Schaffer and was released as a motion picture in 1972 starring Laurence Olivier and Michael Caine.  Both actors received Academy Award nominations for their performances.

The plot involves Andrew Wyke, and British writer of crime novels who lives in a country home in the English countryside filled with games.  He invites his wife’s lover, Milo Tindle to his home to confront him on their relationship.  Surprisingly, Andrew wants Milo to run off with his wife but Milo does not have the means to support her in the lifestyle to which she has grown to enjoy.  Andrew hatches a plot whereby Milo will break into Andrew’s home, steal a large sum of jewelry which he can pawn, and Andrew can file a claim against his insurance policy.    Andrew’s plan  has much more than just insurance fraud  as we find out.   The plot begins to thicken and the audience is drawn deeper into the intrigue and the working of the crime novelists mind.  The play keeps the audience on the edge of your seat until its conclusion

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The story moves along quite briskly during the two hour performance which includes fantastic performances by David Brickman as Milo Tindle and John Little as Andrew Wyke.  The theater is a small intimate space with seating on three sides of the stage.  The stage is flat and level with the first row of seats so that you feel as if you are actually in the play itself.  The set design by Jordan Janota is great as the manor house parlor is filled with furniture and games and that gives the feeling that you are inside one of the rooms from the board game, CLUE.  Very effective.

The play enjoys wonderful direction from Pamela Hill, and credit to  Kevin Connors ( Executive Artistic Director) and Michael Blagys (Lighting design) for their contributions to such a great evening of theater.

Tickets start at $45 and are available online.

MTC  Musical Theater of Connecticut

509 Westport Avenue  Norwalk Ct              tel: 203.454.3883

web: http://www.musictheatreofct.com/

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Harvest Cider Dinner at the National in Greenwich on Nov. 14th

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A fun food experience comes to Greenwich Ct. on November 14, 2016.  The Harvest Cider Dinner featuring Downeast Ciders will be held at The National restaurant in Greenwich.  The National which opened in 2015 is owned by Geoffrey Zakarian celebrity chef, author and star of several shows on the Food Network.

The dinner which is a culinary event which coincides with Greenwich Restaurant Week  will be a true experience including the best of Autumn with a seasonal feast paired with cider from Downeast Ciders of Charlestown, Massachusetts.  This will be  a three course meal that is expertly prepared and served in the beautiful setting that is The National.

The dinner is $68 per person.

The menu is as follows (subject to change)

 First Course
Bibb Lettuce & Lolla Rosa Salad
Blue Cheese, Fennel, Apple, White Balsamic Vinaigrette
Chicken Liver  Mousse
Persimmon-Citrus Chutney, Fennel Cracker
Connecticut Burrata
Artichokes, Rapini ,Green Olive Vinaigrette

Mains
Wood Grilled Pork Shoulder
Heirloom Polenta, Spiced Apples, Apple Cider Jus
Pan Roasted Chatham Cod
Butternut Squash, Pomegranates, Five Spice
Wood Roasted Chicken
Wild Rice, Kale, Cured Cabbage, Natural Jus

 Dessert
Local Honey Mousse
Mulled Wine Gelee, Almond
NTL Apple Pie Granny Smith Apple, Cranberry, Malted Vanilla Ice Cream

This is a great opportunity to dine at a fantastic restaurant.  For more infomation:

Reservations available on The National website, by calling 203-861-6851 or by emailing reservations@thenational-ct.comMenu items subject to change.

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 The National

376 Greenwich Avenue  Greenwich Ct     tel: 203-861-6851

web: http://thenational-ct.com/

November 14, 2016  starting at 5pm