Who Knew, Cagematch Edition: Solé vs. Spiga

‘Who Knew?’ is sponsored by Walter Stewart’s Market. If the Shrimp Index is any indicator, we’re experiencing a boom time on the New Canaan restaurant scene. 

Let me explain this metric, because I invented it 30 seconds ago: the Shrimp Index is the number of ways in which you can have shrimp prepared and brought to your table on any given day. My data acquisition methods may be lazy, but it seems at first AI-assisted count that you can get at least 49 different shrimp dishes in town, unless it’s

Monday, in which case, you’re eating popcorn over the sink, my friend. But Tuesday through Sunday, this index is a handy quality-of-life metric, and if Zillow chooses to include the Shrimp Index on their future real estate listings alongside Walk Scores and School Grades, my earnest hope is to buy a boat with the residuals. When it comes to fine dining, we’re doing mighty fine. 

The answer is in the shrimp. 

But this isn’t an article about shrimp (note to self: write article about shrimp).

Who Knew: New Canaan Life Hacks

‘Who Knew?’ is sponsored by Walter Stewart’s Market. It’s summertime and, with all due apologies to Mr. Gershwin, the living’s not that easy. Metro-North has forsaken us, traffic is brutal, there’s been an uptick in actual ticks, and between recent bouts of record-breakingly bad air quality and blowout-destroying humidity, one might feel vaguely at odds with the elements this season. Or at least that one can no longer enjoy the kind of summer that Porgy, Bess, and later, Will Smith romanticized in song. 

To be clear: these are tongue-in-cheek problems of a most suburban variety. Yes, we live in a ZIP Code of smoothed-out edges and air-conditioned SUVs, and obviously, many places on the planet have it far worse.

Who Knew: The Best ‘Open House’ of the Year

‘Who Knew?’ is sponsored by Walter Stewart’s Market. “Week-end crowds have been blocking traffic on Ponus Ridge in this conservative old community of early colonial homes, with hundreds of residents turning out in holiday mood to inspect Philip C. Johnson’s all-glass house. While workmen put the finishing touches on the ‘private’ residence and the adjoining guest house, startled, uninvited visitors tramp about to view the results with mingled expressions of awe, wonder and indignation. They agree that nothing like it ever was seen in these parts.”

— The New York Times, December 1948

The first time I can recall hearing the words “New Canaan” was in an undergraduate survey class of modern architecture, in a hot, sleepy room lit only by images of Philip Johnson’s startlingly simple, rectilinear Glass House on a slide projector. I’d never seen a house so effectively magnify what was beautiful around it.

Who Knew? And Then, There Was Pizza

‘Who Knew?’ is sponsored by Walter Stewart’s Market. The worst pizza I ever had was in a former Eastern Bloc country where I was shooting a TV commercial. A miscommunication (my fault) with the friendly set caterer meant that my slice arrived with no sauce, a greasy slick of Edam cheese, and a single, uncut, lurid red hot dog.  It was undercooked, visually startling, and, if I’m being honest, not that bad. 

Even bad pizza is still pizza, which is, by definition, good. 

But, for a concept so patently indestructible, pizza is also subject to some 900-degree opinions. Variables in its production, like geography, water source, flour type, leavening, canned tomato brand, olive oil, mozzarella provenance, and oven fuel, each engender some intense debate, and millions upon millions of food journalism column inches have been dedicated to their impact. I’m not necessarily here to add more, as I’ve had pizza of all stripes, thicknesses, and levels of purism that have done the pizza trick at the right time.

Who Knew? Nothing Never Happens in the Suburbs

‘Who Knew?’ is sponsored by Walter Stewart’s Market. 

Admit it: you didn’t move to New Canaan for the nightlife. At whatever point you opted to put down roots in this charming (and evidently snowless) Yankee snowglobe, your first thought probably wasn’t, “but whither the superstar guest DJ, and whence the exclusive popup collabs?”

All the same, the choice to live here isn’t necessarily lights-out for your evening calendar. You’ve surely discovered your rotation of date night restaurants, pizza Friday stalwarts, and places with sports on the TV and cold beer on tap. But if, like me, you yearn to stretch your legs beyond a well-trodden routine, particularly now that the Sweatpants Years are finally in the rearview, know that events are firing back up into full swing for spring ‘23, and we’d all be remiss to miss them. 

If you don’t yet know about Chef Prasad’s collaborative dinner parties, let’s change that.  During COVID, Chef Prasad Chirnomula and his team renovated the dining room at 62 Main St. to serve as a teaching and communal kitchen instead. Daily service is now predominantly takeout, with bar seating available on weekends.