Greenwich Best Blog

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Sept. 23, 2014

“Promises and pie-crust are made to be broken.” ~ Jonathan Swift

What started out as a hobby of making homemade pies to bring to dinner parties as hostess gifts in lieu of the traditional bottle of red has turned into a big business here in lower Fairfield County over the past several years.

 

Lulu Morgan has been whipping up scrumptious treats for decades, having learned the sacred art of southern cooking growing up in her hometown of Memphis, TN.

 

"It just kind of happened," Morgan said, as she stood in the kitchen at her antique farmhouse on June Road, near the Greenwich-Stamford border.

 

After friends began tasting her chess pies -- a custard-like pie popular in the South, which Morgan said earned its name when a southern belle's accent was misunderstood after announcing it was "just pie" -- word spread quicker than cream cheeze. She began selling her pies at a farmers market in the Rowayton section of Norwalk, where she flew a banner that read "Lulu's Southern Pies," and brought along 20 pecan and 20 chess pies each week, only to sell out in a few minutes.

 

"I've been selling these pies like you would not believe," Morgan said. "I've added a key lime pie, which has been very, very successful, and I'm going to add a sweet potato pie and a coconut cream pie."

 

Soon, one farmers market wasn't enough. Now she serves them up for $20 apiece at the Old Greenwich Farmers Market, as well as markets in Fairfield, Newtown and Rowayton. And then there are the stores: Pasta Vera and Greenwich Prime Meats in Greenwich, as well as Village Market in Wilton and Walter Stewart's in New Canaan. These days, she's turning out 200 pies a week.

 

Lulu Morgan Pies

"Last Thanksgiving, I made 500 pies," she said, adding that she's on track to see that kind of demand again this year.

 

The secret, she said, is in the little details and recipe tweaks she has added over the years, like the pecans she sources from a plantation in Alabama. She won't go into more detail on what sets her pies apart than that -- it's a secret recipe, after all. But a forkful of the pecan reveals a comforting kick of chocolate tempered by the nuts, and a crust straight out of grandma's kitchen.

 

They're not quite homemade these days, since health codes dictate that Morgan prepares her desserts in a commercial kitchen. But she's careful to keep that home-style quality, even as her quantities increase.

 

"People have told me that I should go on `Shark Tank,' " Morgan said, referring to the ABC TV show where entrepreneurs pitch their products and businesses to a group of investors.

 

"But I don't need to be that big," she continued. "When you go from everything being homemade by me, like they are now, to becoming too big, you lose that quality, and that's important to me."

 

For now, the 70-year-old grandmother said she's more interested in baking pies that make people smile than turning into a pie-making machine.

 

 

"At this age, I'm just happy making my pies," she said.

Posted in Local Good News
Sept. 19, 2014

Thomas Lyon House Honored

 

Peter John Lee was a young adult about 20 years old when he and six others escaped from a Virginia plantation with a stolen boat and made his way up to Greenwich.

 

What happened on that journey was not recorded but Peter John Lee eventually landed at a wood shingled home located on the corner of Byram and Post and lived there for six years.

 

 

This week that home listed as the “Thomas Lyon House” will be inducted into the Connecticut Freedom Trail, which designates important sites in African-American history throughout the state.

 

Thomas Lyon House

Posted in Real Estate News
Sept. 15, 2014

Join The Cub Scouts

Looking to join the Cub Scouts?

New cubs are being recruited and Greenwich Cub will be bringing its pitch to local schools on Tuesday, Sept. 16.

 

Join The Cub Scouts

The townwide School Night will be held starting at 6:30 at Glenville, Hamilton Avenue, Old Greenwich and Parkway elementary schools. Interested parents can visit their (first to fifth grade) sons’ neighborhood pack on Sept. 16 to meet fellow Cub Scouts and adult leaders, participate in fun Scouting activities and learn more about what makes Scouting such a blast.

Visit GreenwichScouting.org for additional school night locations and dates.

 

Designed for boys ages seven to 10, Cub Scouting combines outdoor activities, sports, academics and more in a fun and exciting program that helps families teach ideals such as honesty, good citizenship and respect. There are eight Cub Scout Packs throughout the town of Greenwich that hold pack and den meetings, take adventurous trips, help boys earn Scouting awards and get outdoors!

 

Adventure, leadership, service and learning, especially in the outdoors, have remained essential to the Greenwich Scouting experience since its inception in 1912. Nearly 2,600 local youth participate in programs, run by 350 dedicated volunteers, all of whom help prepare local boys and girls for life. With more than 18 partnering organizations and Cub Scouting, Boy Scouting, Venturing and Exploring opportunities in Greenwich, there’s never been a better time to join the Scouting community.

 

 

 

For additional Greenwich School Night for Scouting information visit GreenwichScouting.org or contact Kevin Piro 203-869-8424, ext. 108 or Kepiro@bsamail.org.

Posted in Local Good News
Sept. 3, 2014

3 Things to do Before Selling a Property

 

 

Selling a property, yours or someone else's, can be quite challenging by times.  Market trends, the economy, property flaws, etc., are all things that can work against you.  Try these three things to help you make the sale process a smoother and more enjoyable experience...

 

# 1: Lower the property taxes

 

As I have written in the past, lowering the property taxes on a property will automatically increase the value of that property, and make it more desirable to perspective buyers.  If you own a property, or are in contract to purchase a property, New York State law provides that you can grieve your property taxes. Buyers like seeing that the seller is proactively lowering the taxes, as it makes the buyer's life much easier once they become the new owner.

 

# 2: Have an inspection done

 

Any buyer today is going to hire a professional to inspect the property for "defects" and environmental hazards, and then they will turn to the seller to cure any issues, or give them a credit at closing so they can cure them.  You may as well hire an inspector and have your own inspection done beforehand.  An inspection will cost you a few hundred dollars, but by doing so, you are being proactive, and helping yourself avoid the headache of dealing with these inevitable issues later.  

#3: Order a title report

Any lender today will require title insurance on a property before they agree to lend money for a purchase.  Title insurance ensures the property is being transferred to the new owner free of any liens.  It's a good idea to have a title company generate a title report on your property so that you can see exactly what kinds of, and how many, liens exist against your property.  As an attorney, I have seen many instances where a closing is significantly delayed, and sometimes even cancelled, as a result of excessive or hard to clear liens.  The liens could be yours, or a prior owner's that are still showing up on public record for some reason.  As the seller, if you know what liens are outstanding, you can work to clear them before you even find your buyer.  It could save you significant time and headache later.

 

 

 

Posted in Real Estate News
Aug. 26, 2014

Greenwich Police Take The ALS Ice Bucket Challenge

 

We know that when the Greenwich Police Department members accept a task that they take it very seriously.  When they recently accepted the ALS Ice Bucket Challenge this past Monday, they took it very seriously.

 

About twenty of Greenwich’s finest officers and staff took part to honor Sgt. Roger Petrone, who died Feb. 20 after a seven-year battle with ALS, or Lou Gehrig’s disease.

 

 

They were doused with 600 gallons of ice water dropped from a bucket loader in front of Greenwich Police headquarters.

Greenwich Police ALS ice bucket

Posted in Local Good News
Aug. 18, 2014

Bruno DiFabio opening new restaurant in Stamford!

The bad news is that after thirty years we must say goodbye to Amore Restaurant of Stamford!

The good news is that Bruno DiFabio, celebrity chef will be taking over the space!

Bruno is a first generation Italian American, and was already working the lead sauté station at age 16 in his grandfather’s restaurant kitchen.  He went on to man the famed ovens of Spacca Napoli, Da Michele, and Trianon in Naples, win five World Pizza Championship titles, and pioneer restaurants of his own.  He is also a judge on the very popular Food Network show Chopped.

Bruno is also the force behind the very popular pizza restaurant in Old Greenwich ReNapoli.

Posted in Restaurants
Aug. 14, 2014

Greenwich Polo Club August 31st

A great event at the Greenwich Polo Club – which was founded in 1981 by local businessman and art collector Peter Brant – kicks off Augest 31 with the Virginia’s House of Hope Charity match from noon to 5 p.m.

This is the second annual “Benefit of Hope” and will feature an open bar, tastings, entertainment and the time-honored tradition of halftime divot stomping, all in support of the charity’s Tugboat Program, which provides qualified candidates from underprivileged backgrounds with a career start in the maritime industry. (After the three-week program, each student is certified to work as a tugboat deckhand, which could ultimately lead to becoming a captain with a six-figure salary. House of Hope guarantees that each graduate is hired.) Tickets are $350 VIPs, $250 individuals, $50 children ages 11-15. Children 10 and under are admitted free.  For more, visit http://virginiashouse.weebly.com

Posted in Events
Aug. 12, 2014

Bruce Museum exhibits Roz Chast!

Being, Nothingness and Much, Much More: Roz Chast, Beyond the New Yorker

July 12, 2014 - October 19, 2014

The exhibition presents approximately 30 works by the well known cartoonist Roz Chast, including many examples of Chast's iconic work from The New Yorker magazine, as well as prints and drawings from other projects. Also on display will be tapestries and painted eggs in the pysanky tradition decorated with the artist’s signature images.Bruce Museum, Gift of the Melvin R. Seiden Collection, 2006.47.01 © Roz Chast

Roz was born in Flatbush Brooklyn and graduated from the Rhode Island School of Design. Her cartoons first began appearing in New York City in publications including The Village Voice.

Since the late 1970s, her work has been featured frequently in The New Yorker, and in 1986 her work was featured on the cover of that magazine for the first time.

She has written or illustrated more than a dozen books, including Unscientific Americans, Parallel Universes, Mondo Boxo, Proof of Life on Earth, The Four Elements and The Party After You Left: Collected Cartoons 1995–2003 (Bloomsbury, 2004). In 2006, Theories of Everything: Selected Collected and Health-Inspected Cartoons, 1978–2006 was published, collecting most of her cartoons from The New Yorker and other periodicals.

Her most recent book, Can’t We Talk About Something More Pleasant (published in May), chronicles her relationship with her parents as they each approached the end of life.

Posted in Events
Aug. 6, 2014

Greenwich 2Q 2014 Market Report Summary

The Greenwich housing market appears to be a tale of two circumstances at opposite ends of the scale, but the latest second quarter market report issued by Five Corners Properties indicates that the town's overall market values are improving.

The Greenwich housing market saw fewer sales despite higher prices in the second quarter, as the lack of inventory priced under $2 million curtailed sales volume for entry-level home buyers, according to the firm, which has an office in Greenwich on Putnam Avenue right across the street from Whole Foods Market.

Single-family home sales declined 15 percent in the second quarter, compared with the same period in 2013, while the median sale price was up 12 percent to $1.7 million, Five Corners reported.  The slowdown in sales was concentrated in the under-$2-million price range, where sales fell 32 percent and inventory was down 13 percent. But the $3-million- to $5.99-million market jumped 90 percent.

The Greenwich market luxury high end is showing a comeback this year, Jonathan Lerner, Broker/Owner, said in the market report.  Buyers continue to see real value in our area and motivated buyers are stepping up to the plate and enjoying a wide range of wonderful properties to choose from"

New construction continues to be sought after, according to Five Corners.  While buyers today lack some imagination when it comes to renovations buyers willing to do a little work on a home can make a great deal and purchase a house at a discount.

While inventory continues to be difficult for the many typical brokerage firms that are new to the Greenwich market, Five Corners Properties continues to use its existing contacts to help locate the right properties for it's many buyers.  "We receive multiple calls daily from buyers wishing to work with our trusted advisers because at the end of the day its about results" reports Jonathan Lerner.  "Our unique blend offering boutique white glove service to our clients has earned Five Corners Properties a independent certified Customer Satisfaction Rating of 96%"

Debra Chamberlain, president of Connecticut Realtors, which counts nearly 15,000 members in its ranks, attributed much of the improvement in the higher-end real estate market in Greenwich to confidence in the economy and improving conditions in the New York City financial market.

"Greenwich is so closely aligned with New York City. When things are good on Wall Street, they are good for Greenwich real estate," said Chamberlain, "Things are good on Wall Street so people are willing to spend for things like homes. People are feeling more secure."

Typically there is a correlation between inventory and price, so as house prices rise, home owners become more willing or able to sell and inventories will rise, said Katherine Pancak, professor in-residence of finance and real estate at the University of Connecticut.   

 

"The current strong stock market together with still low but possibly rising interest rates are likely adding fuel to demand for housing in Greenwich, and low inventory means that buyers will compete against each other and drive up prices. Eventually rising prices will encourage more homeowners to sell which would help alleviate the inventory constraints," she said.

Posted in Real Estate News
Aug. 4, 2014

New State Law effects Greenwich horse owners

Governer Dannel P. Malloy isn’t horsing around about a new law to protect owners of domesticated horses from recent court rulings, by making it clear in state statute that the animals "do not possess a naturally mischievous or vicious propensity."

Malloy introduced the legislation earlier this year in response to rulings by the state Appellate Court and Supreme Court, which in practice may have increased the insurance rates for horse owners and handlers, according to a press release. It also could have caused financial hardship for horse owners and farmers across the state.  The bill was adopted unanimously in the House and the Senate.

“Greenwich, Connecticut and the surrounding area has a large population of horse owners and handlers, and as such, I’m happy to sign this legislation, so that we can ensure their operations can continue without possible negative consequences,” said Malloy. “I am proud of Connecticut’s growing agricultural sector, and I remain committed to the growth of this industry and to the hard working farm families of Connecticut.”

 

 

Posted in Real Estate News