Food Reviewer: Howard Steven Frydman
The 40 Dollar A Day Howard Food Challenge-
Who doesn’t like a challenge, a dare, a welcomed proposition – can you really do this or that and follow all the rules. Well a challenge has most recently come my way via the editor of the Messenger Magazines, Mr. John Karas. Over a recent discussion of local restaurants, we began with the query, could one actually spend no more than a certain dollar amount and still be able to have three delicious hearty meals, breakfast, lunch, dinner and a snack? I said an unequivocally – Yes! The amount agreed upon – $40.00. The restaurants – my choice but no fast food, and they had to be hometown favorites. Let the challenge begin.
Our first hometown – the beautiful New England hamlet of Bloomfield, Connecticut. I have always maintained that to dine, one should “eat breakfast like a king, lunch like a prince and dinner like a pauper.”
Being that this is indeed my hometown- the choice is simple – Isaac’s Bagel Cafe, situated on 16-B Mountain Avenue, Bloomfield, CT, and owned and operated by “the nicest man you will ever meet” – Mr. Isaac Suttar. The time – 7:35am. A queue has already formed, folks from throughout are in line for their morning cup of hot coffee and a “nosh”. From local college students to politicians, this is the morning meeting place to hear the “latest” and “the” best place to “Eat Breakfast Like a King”.
My order today consists of the Isaac Breakfast Special- Western Omelette; three fresh eggs, served with a heaping helping of diced ham, onions, tomatoes, peppers and blanketed with cheddar cheese. The omelette is accompanied with an extremely generous portion of red bliss potato home fries and served with either toast or a famous Isaac Bagel. As you can imagine, the breakfast is mouth watering delicious, and oh so filling. The Total for my Kingly Breakfast- 7.99. I have 32.01 dollars to go.
Some say my office away from the office is our next foodie destination, in fact besides being written up in several publications for its superb offerings, it was a “Foodie Friday” choice on Connecticut TV Ch. 61. The restaurant of course is the celebrated “Bloomfield Village Pizza”, 34 Tunxis Avenue, owned and operated by the husband and wife team of Stratos Livanis and his wife, “The Empress Of Pizza” herself Chef Maria Rosu Livanis. Besides their world class pizza, they are also becoming well known for their weekly Frutti Di Mare- “Friday Fish Fry”. Chef Maria – is a true “world” chef with her influences coming from such countries including those of Greece, Romania and USA – her food – is fit for the royalty in all of us!! Ahem- so this being Friday, the time 12:05pm. I’m now readying for a princely luncheon- I order the following: “The Whiting Fish Seafood Dinner” – a platter consisting of three massive fried, hand breaded Whiting, served with hand cut French Fries and a garden salad. Lip smacking good. The Total for my Princely Luncheon is 12.99. I now have exactly 19.02 left – can I do it?
Our next stop brings us too “the” most celebrated baker in Connecticut, the one and only Emiddio Botta of the world famous Pasticceria Italia Bakery, situated at 10 Wintonbury Mall in of course – the beautiful hamlet of Bloomfield, where Emiddio and his staff of busy bakers, craft around the clock, the most mouth watering treats you have ever tasted from hand dipped cannolis to tiramisu. During the holidays, folks are literally lined up out side the bakery awaiting freshly made pies, Italian cookies, breads, and cakes galore including Whip Cream Cakes, Ricotta Cakes, Chocolate Mousse Cakes,Tiramisu Cakes, German Chocolate Cakes, Napoleon Cakes, Rum Cakes, Cappuccino Cakes, Strawberry Cheese Cakes and so much more. It’s 3:45pm and it’s time for a snack. Emiddio suggests I try one of his signature pastries- “The Lobster Tail” – Light, flakey and oh-so decadently delicious, and filled generously with a scrumptious Chantilly cream. A customer takes note of my snack choice and then orders a whole dozen – a great choice. The cost for my Lobster Tail Snack: $3.50. Remaining funds now total 15.52.
The time 8pm. I now make my way to Bloomfield’s latest culinary entry “Elizabeth’s Restaurant”, located at 774 Park Avenue, and serving up some of the freshest and most creative Italian and Portuguese inspired cuisine you have ever encountered. Head Chef and Restauranteur, the highly regarded Paulo DaRocha, has brought his native Brazilian love for fresh “ frutos do mar” – seafood – and the Elizabeth’s franchise to Bloomfield. My friends, this is indeed a fine dining choice in a sophisticated glamorous setting that excites and inspires the pallet. As stated, we will eat dinner like a pauper this evening – well not exactly, but we will eat as the setting permits – smart and sophisticated. Our dinner menu choice- The Elizabeth’s Seafood Pizza – medium. This perfectly baked oval pie is brimming with clams, shrimps, scallops, and lovingly draped with Romano and mozzarella cheese, Italian herbs, and served on a fresh garlic and olive oil sauce- absolutely outstanding. The cost for my dinner – $14.95. – Did I do it??
You bet I did it – it was close but I won the challenge with a total of $0.57 left. Some had said it could not be done, and I did worry if 40 dollars would get me through, yet as they say – “the proof is in the pudding”. Special thanks to publisher John Karas for offering the challenge. I now offer you to take up this same culinary challenge – please take the opportunity to meet Isaac, Maria, Emiddio, and Paulo and tell them you are at their restaurant because you are taking the Howard Challenge. Enjoy!
Howard Steven Frydman is General Manager and Executive Director of BATV – Channels 5, 95 & 96 and a member of the CCC. Please feel free to contact Mr. Frydman with your thoughts and ideas at TheHoward24@gmail.com.“The