Who Knew?’ is sponsored by Walter Stewart’s Market. I’ve never been able to understand more than six words of Marcel Proust, but from what I can gather, Remembrance of Things Past is 4,200 pages of inscrutable French about a cookie.
I can relate. I spend an impractical amount of time contemplating my Platonic ideals of food. Ice cream: Arethusa Farm coffee. Tomato: garden-grown, mid-September, still hot from the sun.
‘Who Knew?’ is sponsored by Walter Stewart’s Market. Our culture’s annual ritual of reinvention and deprivation is upon us, and it’s the absolute worst. The onset of a new calendar year is the obvious time to make drastic changes to your lifestyle because, last year, even if it was three weeks ago, you were a grievously flawed monster. Wellness and lifestyle brand ads proliferate in your Instagram feed, implying that whoever you are, you must immediately renounce that sad, besweatpantsed person because it is unthinkable to show up to a New Year without a New You. Propped up by billions of marketing dollars, New You sanctimoniously eschews caffeine, sugar, gluten, tequila, procrastination, toffee, cured meats, online shopping, croissants, spontaneously-purchased first-class airplane tickets, cupcakes of any size, movie popcorn, and smokehouse almonds.
One remarkable thing about our community is that, with very few exceptions, we made it through two years of a global pandemic without seeing any of our beloved restaurants close. You can attribute that to the hard work of restaurant and food service teams, as well as the dogged generosity of our town’s restaurant patrons. In my case, I was often just completely unwilling to make my own lunch in the middle of a long workday, or too lazy at night to cook. Either way, in appreciation of a restaurant scene we’re incredibly lucky to have, here are five dishes I kept going back for this past year. 1. Greens on the Go’s Butternut Squash Toast
As a society, we don’t talk enough about the magic of Unidentified Crunchy Things and why they need official designation as a food group.
For this installment of our daily Q&A with a restaurant owner navigating the COVID-19 emergency, we hear from Nick Martschenko, chef-owner of South End and SE Uncorked. South End is open 4 to 8 p.m. Sunday through Friday, and 12 to 8 p.m. Saturday. (SE Uncorked’s building is closed and the business is operating out of South End on Pine Street.)
We note here that Martschenko created a relief fund to help South End and SE Uncorked employees affected by layoffs. “These funds will be used to help those at SE & UC who will face significant hardship in the weeks and maybe months to come,” he said on a GoFundMe page that is hosting the fundraiser.
Here’s our exchange. New Canaanite: What has this past week been like for you?
Nick Martschenko: This week has been a mystery basket filled with many emotions.
Exciting news: We’re hearing that New Canaan’s defunct Outback Teen Center is being renamed ‘The Hub’ by the re-formed board charged with developing new uses for the structure behind Town Hall. Word is, the board is looking at a mix of human services, as well as wellness and possibly food providers to generate revenue at the disused building. New info: New Canaanite Bob Albus, head of the board, told us a program for special needs adults in town will run in the lower level of The Hub on weekdays, and that other activities could include after-school tutoring and mentoring and babysitting for parents who are shopping or dining downtown, and notable local agencies such as Getabout and Staying Put In New Canaan are part of the conversation. “We want to touch virtually every life in town from infants to seniors and really have an expansive program that addresses what are some unmet needs in town,” Albus told NewCanaanite.com. An online fundraising campaign is underway here—designed both to secure some “start-up” money for The Hub and to engage the community, Albus said.