Category Archives: Restaurant reviews

Gourmet burgers restaurants, Italian, Mexican, Chinese, German

Maurice’s Piggy Park BBQ

Maurice’s Piggy Park BBQ

Maurice’s Piggy Park BBQ is real fine homemade gourmet BBQ with a mustard base sauce that makes you pucker, all awhile biting into a succulent piece of pork rib that just melts in your mouth. The savory hickory smoked flavor of their ribs is something you will definitely be back for with out a whole lot of time lapsing in between visits. The mustard-vinegar based sauce just grows on you and you can’t really put your finger on it so you just keep dipping into this sauce for another lick. I recently had the opportunity to eat here when my son Reilly and I met up with his tennis team in South Carolina for his National Team competition.

Well, I tell you, when I travel I want to visit places to eat where their heart and soul is served up to you on a plate.  To taste different foods from other regions is one of the most wonderful opportunities we get when we travel. If you are not into this kind of thing you ought to open your self up and try to appreciate new tastes and ways to prepare foods that have become traditions for people in that region. That’s what makes the world such a diverse place with so many different flavors to soak up.

I decided that during our stay in South Carolina I wanted to accomplish a few of things before heading back. First off, was having Southern BBQ, of course! The second was to get my son, Reilly, to Carowinds Amusement Park in North Carolina which would be an easy task since we were flying in and out of Charlotte and the third was to get in a couple rounds of golf! My friend Luanne, one of the other tennis mom’s, had the same point of view as me on the whole Southern BBQ thing and tasting new foods from where ever you happen to be traveling especially if you are miles away from where you live. On one of the afternoons at tennis practice much of our group was ready to hit up Chic-fil-A AGAIN! I am happy to say that didn’t even enter my mind nor did I go there during our stay in South Carolina. I looked at my friend Luanne , we began to laugh and said lets go, lets do REAL BBQ. She had already looked it up on her phone and it wasn’t far from The Cayce Tennis Facility so off we went in my rental car.

It was the tastiest meal I had on this trip to South Carolina and it totally lived up to my BBQ standards. I ordered the pork ribs, collard greens, and coleslaw and needless to say I wore much of it that mustard based BBQ sauce all over the front of my white with navy blue pinstripe cotton dress I had on. Too funny but it was definitely worth it…should have gotten a picture of that 🙂 The ribs  were moist and falling of the bone tender slathered in their mustard-vinegar sauce and I can’t help but love that hickory smoked flavor. The collard greens were delicious, earthy but not too bitter and the chopped style coleslaw was a refreshing balance with the mustard sauce from the ribs. Each item complemented one another very well! I did buy a bottle of Maurice’s Piggy Park BBQ sauce to take home with me. They have quite the assortment of sauces to choose from (shown below) but I bought the one I had that day. To my surprise I was able to get the yellow mustard stain completely out of my dress before it dried.

On the last day Reilly and I headed to Carowinds Amusement Park and he had the time of his life bravely riding on several loop coasters over and over again! We actually found another gourmet BBQ eatery in downtown Charlotte which was a bonus. I was also able to get in two rounds of golf during our stay so it was a wonderful trip all around. Don’t you forget to treat yourself to Maurice’s Piggy Park BBQ when you are in Cayce, South Carolina …you won’t regret it!


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Pasta Cosi

Pasta Cosi

Pasta Cosi is located right here on our CT shoreline in Branford. They certainly don’t skimp on the quantities they serve and you can definitely count on taking home a goody bag. The bolognese and arrabbiata sauces were both delicious hearty red sauces that they served with their the eggplant lasagna. Their savory bolognese is made with beef, veal and pork and when they say “arrabbiata” there’s no beating around the bush here there’s heat to it…a sauce after my own heart! You will find yourself asking for seconds of the amazing bread that they serve at Pasta Cosi . It’s a moist, crusty, chewy bread that you’ll want to dunk into the tomato sauce which could be a meal all on it’s own.

The Italian red wine we ordered was a 2011 Montepulciano d’Abruzzo, Cantina Zaccagnini Reserva from the Abruzzo region and is one of Italy’s most famous wines. It was on the lighter side yet well-rounded, with soft tannis and notes of plum…I would recommend it in a flash! This wine is a steal if you were to purchase this at a liquor store running at around $15.00. I also love the warm and cozy ambiance here at Pasta Cosi. You can see their full menu at this link here Pasta Cosi. If you like Italian you may want to try my pesto garlic breadbaked asparagus wrapped in Prosciutto, authentic Italian meatballs, family zucchini torta recipe, slow cooked pasta sauce 101, mama Maria’s manicotti from scratch, or fresh mozzarella, pesto and roasted tomatoes on crostinis.


Mouth-Watering Prime Rib Sandwich at Walt’s

Mouth-Watering Prime Rib Sandwich at Walt’s

Restaurants aren’t the only place to go to get a gourmet sandwich for lunch.  I frequent a great food market right here on the Connecticut shoreline in Old Saybrook called Walt’s Food Market (right on the main road in town). There’s nothing like having that old school butcher shop feel when buy your meats and receive caring customer service from a team of very friendly employees, a lost art form nowadays. Walts has specialty items like their own in house kielbasa which also comes in hot dog size…yum, and you can find smoked fish that’s moist and bursting with flavor yet not overly smoked…it’s amazing! I picked up some smoked wild salmon over the holidays and served it as an appetizer on top of crostinis smeared with a cream cheese, caper, and red onion spread on Christmas for my family.  My favorite “sandwich special” at Walt’s is their mouth-watering prime rib sandwich, tender prime rib slices, horseradish sauce, piled high with crisp lettuce and tomato on a fresh baked hard roll and of course served with a snappy pickle!  Prepared meals, homemade pies and soups, my kids favorite chicken cutlets and the goody list there goes on not to mention their own baked dog bones which our King Charles loves. And they just celebrated their 50th anniversary so get yourself over there and see for yourself … old school butcher shop with great customer service and gourmet food. They can be reached at  And don’t forget to try my crostinis, smoked salmon & cream cheese-caper spread recipe from The Traveling Epicurean’s recipe index.

Greek Yogurt Remoulade

Greek Yogurt Remoulade

Having a homemade gourmet dipping sauce as tasty as this and made with greek yogurt is pretty much a no brainer for me.  This sauce has the tang from the yogurt, a little sweet from the ketchup and a nice spice from the fresh garlic and Siracha…..yum.  You need to try this sauce with the  Baked Yukon Potato Fries recipe.  It’s such a nice combination and a change up from plain ketchup!  The gourmet remoulade sauce is outrageous on sandwiches too.

You may want to try this on jumbo crab cakes too:

Jumbo Crab Cakes

Jumbo Crab Cakes






    • 3/4 cup plain Greek yogurt
    • 1/3 cup Hellman’s mayo
    • 1/3 cup plus 1 tbsp. ketchup (6 tbsp)
    • 3 dashes of Siracha – OPTIONAL (Siracha is a hot chili sauce sold next to the Tabasco at the store or what ever your favorite hot sauce is!)
    • Juice from 1/2 lime
    • 1 lg. garlic clove (put thru press )
    • 2 tbsp. extra virgin olive oil
    • 1 tbsp. rice wine vinegar (I use “seasoned” rice wine vinegar)
    • Freshly chopped chives to sprinkle on top of finished remoulade

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  1. Whisk all of the ingredients except the chives in a mixing bowl, then top with chopped chives.


The Best Burger of Your Life

The Best Burger of Your Life

Yes, I have eaten many great burgers in my life time, from The Grand Cafe in San Francisco to Louis Burgers in New Haven, which are both outstanding by the way, but I have to say this grassfed burger just melted in my mouth ….it was the best I have ever had! Right here in our own backyard of Clinton, CT we have Chamard Vineyards featuring their “New York Times Famous Four Mile River Farm Burger”.

It’s uncanny the feeling you have when you turn into the entrance of the vineyard.  Coming down the long drive, seeing the vines, the gorgeous rustic building, and the picturesque waterfall really give you that feeling of being in Sonoma.  Chamard also features musicians and other great events as you will see when you visit their site and Thursday is their $15 Grass-fed Four Mile River Burger night including Pommes Frites and a glass of wine….how awesome is that!  When I had lunch there they served my juicy burger with Pommes Frites and a remoulade sauce that complimented it nicely.  Over the years I have developed my own recipes for Pommes Frites or Baked Yukon Potato Fries and Greek Yogurt Remoulade Sauce…. just scrumptious and you would never know the fries weren’t deep fried or the remoulade not mayo based!  Even delicious re-heated the following morning with eggs. Then you can follow up and make my easy chocolate-avocado mousse for desert.

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