Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Belgique Opens Second Store in New Canaan, CT

Belgique Patisserie & Chocolatier, best known for its delicious handmade Belgian chocolates, has opened a second location and is changing its name to Belgique Chocolatier to reflect a new primary focus on chocolate.
The new store opened on September 16 and is located at 88 Elm Street in the middle of downtown New Canaan.  It is open Wednesdays through Sundays.  The Gilissens have taken great pains to make the façade look as much like the Kent store as possible, with the familiar yellow clapboards, rounded red awning, and Belgian cobblestone front.  
Connecticut Magazine has named Belgique chocolates as the best in the state 3 years in a row (2008, 2009, 2010).   Belgique also had the prestige of providing its chocolates to royalty such as Queen Elizabeth II at a state dinner in Washington, DC in 2007, and over the years Belgique has been featured in such notable publications as The New York Times, The Boston Globe, Chocolatier Magazine, and Conde Nast Traveler Magazine.  Its authentic Belgian hot chocolate was named as “one of the best 7 hot chocolates in the world” by Vivre Catalog in 2004.
Before opening Belgique in the year 2000, Chef Gilissen served as Executive Chef & Manager at The Residence of The Netherlands Ambassador to the U.S. in Washington, D.C.  Prior to that, he worked in Washington as Sous Chef for the British Ambassador to the U.S.  Gilissen’s job was to prepare all meals, receptions, teas, etc. for these Ambassadors, their families and up to 1,000 guests.  Working for embassies gave him the opportunity to cook for such notables as Queen Elizabeth II, President George H.W. Bush, Princess Diana, Margaret Thatcher, Hillary Clinton, Queen Beatrix of The Netherlands, King Hussein of Jordan, and violinist Isaac Stern.  His particular passion for chocolates began during his time in Washington, D.C.  He received his culinary education at Belgium’s École Hôtelière de Libramont after four years of study emphasizing gourmet cooking, restaurant/hotel management, pastries and wine.  While in Belgium, Gilissen worked at Michelin 2-star hotel/restaurant Le Moulin Hideux in Noirefontaine, Belgium and Auberge de Lavacherie in Lavacherie, Belgium.
Belgique Chocolatier is located at 1 Bridge Street in Kent (860) 927-3681.  The phone number for the New Canaan store is (203) 801-0538.


Dracula, Frankenstein and other heroes of the horrors will be on hand, while spooks and spiders, ghouls and goblins will abound in haunted graveyards. The Litchfield Hills of Northwestern Connecticut will be filled with unique ways to celebrate Halloween throughout the month of October.  Families can choose from fearsome to friendly, with many chances for younger children to don their costumes and parade in happy small town celebrations,


Scary Scenarios

For chills, make haste to the Haunted Graveyard at Lake Compounce Family Theme Park in Bristol, which has been called "The granddaddy of the horrifically good time."  An unholy order of monks keep watch over the graves in the dark caverns of the Catacombs here and a dark and misty fog envelops the graveyard where zombies and night stalkers have wakened from the dead.  Some are real, others are amazing animatronic creations made by The Haunted Graveyard's crazed staff.  Recommended for adults, teens and very brave children, the park opens at dusk weekends from October 1 to 31, and runs to midnight on Fridays and Saturdays, to 10 p.m. on Sundays.  Lake Compounce will also be operating 17 thrill rides including Boulder Dash, Downtime, and Thunder and Lightning.  Proceeds will benefit the American Diabetes Associations. http://www.lakecompounce.com

This will be the 44th year for the annual Witches Dungeon Halloween Classic Movies Museum in Bristol.  The Graveyard Of Classic Ghouls sets the atmosphere as you enter the dungeon where accurate life-size figures of Boris Karloff, Vincent Price, Lon Chaney, Bela Lugosi, and others are featured in 13 scenes or dioramas based on the vintage movie chillers.  Many of the figures are made from the actual life casts of the actor's faces, plus some original costumes or props, in a wax museum style setting with special voice tracks by Vincent Price, Mark Hamill, and John Agar.  Many Hollywood props are on display and vintage films may be shown outdoors, weather permitting.  Hours are Friday through Sunday evenings, 7:00 p.m. to 10:00 p.m., October 1 to 24. The Museum is not recommended for children under age 7. http://www.preservehollywood.com

Historic Happenings

At the historic Glebe House Museum in Woodbury on Saturday, October 23 costumed spirits will lead the way through the Ancient Burying grounds, where 20 of Woodbury's most famous and infamous 'spirits' await at their gravesites to relate tales from the darker side of 18th and 19th century Woodbury.  There will be a spooky candlelit tour in the museum itself and stories and tales from Moll Cramer, the Witch of Woodbury, told in the Museum cottage.  Madame Suzolo will be offering Tarot Card readings and there will be free fall refreshments for all.  The Hollow will be closed to traffic and the area, including the walk to and through the cemetery will be lit with over 200 luminaries.  Hours are 5 pm to 9 p.m. (203-263-2855) http://www.theglebehouse.org

The night of October 23 also brings the annual night Haunted Trail Walk from 6 to 10 p.m. at The Institute for American Indian Studies Museum and Research Center in Washington.  The Institute promises spiders, ghosts, goblins and monsters spooking the half-mile walk, which ends at the museum’s Indian village where apple cider and marshmallows roasted over the campfire await. (860-868-0518. http://www.birdstone.org

For the first time, the Railroad Museum of New England in Thomaston is scheduling Halloween Weekend train rides on its vintage trains on Saturday, Oct. 30 and Sunday, Oct. 31.  The 20-mile round-trip ride runs along the Mattatuck State Forest to the Brass Mills of Waterbury and back to the spectacular Thomaston Dam.  Check for further details on Halloween Weekend happenings. (860-283-RAIL. http://www.rmne.org

Small Town Fun—for Free!!

Everyone is invited to join the Naugatuck Park and Recreation Department and Connecticut Signcraft at the “Children's Halloween Village” at Naugatuck Park on 258 Rubber Ave., the weekend of October. 22-24th, and the following Thursday to Saturday October 28-30.  Children can have their photos taken with costumed Halloween characters.  Kurt Beckley from Balloon Benders will be creating balloon sculptures on Saturday, Oct. 23rd and Friday, Oct. 29th.  Hours are 5:30-7:30 p.m.  Cocoa, coffee and cider will be served. The only admission is a non-perishable donation for the food bank.

The 18th Annual Halloween on the Green in Danbury will take place on Saturday, October 30 from 2 pm to 4pm with a Costume Parade scheduled for 3:30 pm.  Prizes will be awarded for Most Original, Scariest, Cutest and Funniest get-ups.  Children will have their own costume parade and games and get to decorate a pumpkin.  (203-792-1711.  http://www.citycenterdanbury.com


The Big Day

Two special events will mark Halloween day in Bristol. The town’s free Halloween Carnival and Costume Parade for boys and girls up to 5th grade will take place on October 31, from noon to 3 p.m at Rockwell Park.  The parade begins at noon and Amazing Andy’s Magic Show follows.  Carnival games, arts and crafts, Big Daddy’s Racing, an old fashioned photo booth, Twinkles and Jingles the clowns and Train Rides are also on the agenda.  Each child will receive a free reflective trick or treat bag. (860-584-6160)

On October 31, beginning at 4:30 pm, the annual Halloween Costume Party for Children will go on at the New England Carousel Museum in Bristol, with the costume contest scheduled for 5 p.m.  Ghoulish games and fun are promised, along with a crazy costume contest and what is billed as “frightening foods.”  Kids are free, but adults are asked to contribute $1. http://www.thecarouselmuseum.org

Finally, anyone who is in the area on Halloween night is invited to join the Safe Halloween fun at the Terryville Fairgrounds in Terryville from 6pm to 9pm.  Sponsored by the Terryville Lion’s Club, it will feature hayrides, games, food and treats.  All you need to participate is a non-perishable food item for the Plymouth Food Pantry.

For more information about Halloween happenings and other fall events and a free copy of UNWIND, a 112-page color guide to lodging, dining and all the attractions in Western Connecticut, contact the Western Connecticut Visitors Bureau, PO Box 968, Litchfield, CT 06759, (860) 567-4506, http://visitwesternct.com

The Restaurant at Winvian Wins AAA 2011 Five Diamond Award

October 2010 - Historical charm meets cutting edge cuisine at The Restaurant at Winvian, http://www.winvian.com where exceptional food, flawless service and luxurious yet comfortable décor has been recognized by AAA and received the prestigious Five Diamond Award for 2011.  The Five Diamond accolade is the highest level award given to lodgings and restaurants by AAA.

At the helm of Winvian's kitchen is Executive Chef Chris Eddy, a culinary architect, whose ever-changing menu highlights only the freshest farm-to-table cuisine, including fresh produce from Winvian's own seasonal, organic garden and delicacies collected from nearby farms. 

Winvian, a private and whimsical retreat ideally located just two hours from NYC, houses 18 luxe cottages and one suite on 113 acres of meadows and woodlands.

Winvian is Connecticut's only AAA award winning Five Diamond restaurant and one of two AAA Five Diamond Lodging Facilities in Connecticut -- the other being The Mayflower Inn http://www.mayflowerinn.com in nearby Washington Connecticut.