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Ciril Hitz Returns to Gracie's

Gracie’s continues its monthly Star Chef Series, this time with world-renowned bread baker and Johnson & Wales instructor Ciril Hitz returning for his fourth appearance. As always, the series pairs the guest chef with Executive Chef Matthew Varga to collaborate on a five-course meal with pairings. This month’s pairings come courtesy of Peter Egelston, founder of New Hampshire’s Smutty Nose Brewery. The dinners are $100 per person and usually sell out. Call 272-7811 to make a reservation.   More

Simple, Fresh and Delicious on Thayer

One restaurant opening I missed a few months back was Coco Pazzo (165 Angell St.) – probably because I try to avoid Thayer Street while school is still in session. However, now that the college crowds are gone, I recently spent a sunny Friday afternoon enjoying a leisurely lunch there and I’m glad I finally stopped in. The menu is eclectic, but mostly centered around modern Italian fare, with lots of easy-to-share plates like appetizers, tapas and pizzas. It’s the kind of casual, European style dining that relies on simple, fresh preparations that let the ingredients shine through. We sampled several small plates perfect for eating al fresco: a Prosciutto and Burrata Board; Grilled Long Stem Artichokes with Olive Salad and Pesto Crostini; Roasted Beets, Goat Cheese and Watercress with Beet Vinaigrette; Wild Roasted Mushrooms; and Seasonal Vegetable Pizza with spicy tomato puree from the restaurant’s wood fired oven. It’s always refreshing to see a restaurant that respects its vegetables instead of treating them as mere accompaniment to meat and pasta, and the artichokes, mushrooms and beet salad really stood out here. I look forward to going back and trying some things I missed the first time around – in particular the Cantaloupe, Prosciutto and Burrata Salad with Ice Wine Vinaigrette and the Branzino in Cartocio steamed in foil.   More

An Hour in the Life Of Accessory Designer Jaclyn Altieri Murphy

Who: Jaclyn Altieri Murphy

What: Accessories designer and owner of LuniacStyle

When: 8am, Saturday June 16

Where: Sandy Point Beach, East Greenwich

She places a stretchy cotton turban on my head like a crown – one half bright pink, the other a multicolor floral that’s reminiscent of my grandmother’s old curtains. “It’s perfect,” she says, stepping back with a nod of her head. I examine my reflection in a hand mirror as the warm morning sun casts a glow on my face. I look chic, regal, trendy. She’s right. It is perfect.

Jaclyn has been making jewelry since she was six years old. “I remember going on car rides with my parents and lugging my bead boxes everywhere,” she says with a smile as she hands me a pair of dangly peace sign earrings, which coordinate perfectly with my new headpiece. “Back then I made necklaces and bracelets to sell on the beach.” I glance at the ocean; she’s come full circle.

LuniacStyle is Jaclyn’s successful jewelry and accessories line, and this morning she’s invited me to join her on the beach for a photo shoot. Ethereal young models don flowy dresses, stacks of gold bangles and strands of funky necklaces. Like me, they wear turbans on their heads as they pose gracefully by the sea. I’m reminded of a scene from a Brigitte Bardot film.

“I love the look of old Hollywood glamour icons, with tons of jewels, and that whole beachy scene,” Jaclyn says. “I think of Elizabeth Taylor and Sofia Loren. They would wear the most elaborate outfits on the beach and rock them.” She pauses to select a new set of jewelry and to fluff a model’s hair. “I love turbies at the beach.” Me too, I think to myself, me too.

“I wanted to put a little spin on the turbies: mix and match materials, sequins, studs, puffy hearts. I wanted to revamp that old Hollywood glamour. I love the girls who aren’t afraid …   More

We Were There: Mohegan Sun's GLO at The Pool

As I glanced around the elevator on my way up to the third floor of Mohegan Sun Hotel, I was blinded by neon — lots and lots of neon. Apparently, fans of LMFAO (the party rockers who have brought us hits such as “Sexy and I Know It” and “Shots”) pledge allegiance to the band by bedecking themselves in legions of lime green, fluorescent orange and bright pink. I looked down and evaluated my black and white graphic print dress… passable. I would be the canvas, everyone else would be the paint.

The doors slid open and I stepped out into Miami. Oh, I mean into Mohegan’s newest rooftop nightclub — GLO at The Pool. As LMFAO had headlined a concert earlier that evening, they were in attendance to get the party started. (Although, looking around, it didn’t need any help to that effect.) Bikini-clad dancers shimmied beside the roaring fire pits while VIP waitresses scurried to and fro, replenishing bottles of Grey Goose for those lucky few lounging in private cabanas. DJ Clinton Sparks kept the tunes fresh.

The sold-out pool party was a blast, and I am eager to return again for what is surely one of the most unique and resort-like experiences here in New England. Check out GLO at The Pool every Thursday and Saturday evening. Dress to impress, but feel free to pair your ensemble with some flip-flops. You can even wear a bathing suit in place of your skivvies. It is, after all, summertime. $10 Thursday, $20 Saturday, free for hotel guests. 866-760-5901   More

My Proposal to the EDC

In light of the recent 38 Studios disaster, there is a lot of talk about economic development in this state, and how best to achieve that goal. The Rhode Island Economic Development Corporation kind of owes us one now, seeing as how it, along with the governor, former director Keith Stokes, the local media, the Bilderberg Group, George Soros and pretty much everyone other than Curt Schilling, brought about the untimely demise of such a promising and financially viable company. Now that the State of Rhode Island is unlikely to remain in the MMORPGCF (massively multiplayer online role-playing game clusterf**k) business, it will likely be looking for new opportunities to invest the taxpayers’ hard-earned money in dicey, unproven companies with inexperienced chairmen operating in highly competitive markets with huge development costs – and I believe I have the next $75 million idea.

If the EDC will simply hand over a blank check, I will immediately begin the process of relocating my innovative startup with huge growth potential from its current home in my daydreams to some swanky downtown real estate (I’m looking at you, soon-to-be-vacant Superman Building), bringing with it hundreds of (potential) jobs, millions of dollars in (hypothetical) tax revenue, and several (on layaway) air hockey tables. People of Rhode Island, say hello to the next Enron, Worldcom, and Bernie Madoff’s hedge fund all rolled into one. Prepare to witness an explosion of growth and investment in the new Knowledge District, a dramatic drop in the unemployment rate, streets paved with gold, pennies from heaven, a chicken in every pot, 40 acres and a mule, free health care for everyone and lotto scratch tickets that are all winners. I’m talking, of course, about VagiTech.

Think about it: what are America’s two most innovative, high-tech, rapidly growing industries? Biotech and porn. VagiTech combines both. By using embryonic stem cells to develop …   More

Fit News - June/July

On Sunday, July 1, Ocean State Bikram Yoga in Pawtucket is celebrating its one-year anniversary. Join threetime National Yoga Asana Champion and 2011 International Yoga Asana Champion Joseph Encinia for a free demonstration and Q&A session from 1-3pm. Save yourself a spot by calling the studio at 743-5405 or sending an email to

There will also be a Shakti Activewear trunk show from 9:30am to 4:30pm. 560 Mineral Spring Avenue #104, Pawtucket.

The summer is the perfect time for an urban paddle with The Woonasquatucket River Watershed Council. Join them on Monday, July 16 at 6pm for a canoe/kayak trip that will give you a new perspective on the city as you head past Providence’s old mills, through Waterplace Park and into downtown Providence. The complete round trip is about four miles. Children are welcome as long as they are accompanied by an adult. The cost is $20 a person if you are using one of the Watershed Council’s canoes or kayaks, or $5 a person if you are bringing your own. Life jackets and advance sign-up required. 481-1376,   More

A Cool, Refreshing (and Healthy) Treat

With last summer’s opening of Pinkberry in Garden City qualifying as Probably the Best Thing to Happen in Cranston Ever, the popularity of urban/Asian-style frozen yogurt shops continues to rise. There are already Juniper and Froyo World on Thayer Street, and now the north side of town is getting in on the action with the opening of Hot & Cold at 895 Smith Street, a combination coffee and frozen yogurt shop (hence the name). Open since the spring, Hot & Cold maintains the tradition established by operations like Pinkberry of offering healthier, more thoughtfully sourced treats. In addition to high quality frozen yogurt, a more waistline-friendly alternative to ice cream, they feature fresh fruit toppings that are replenished throughout the day, as well as organic coffee. Co-owners Vicky Fernandez and her brother were inspired by their time living in New York and California respectively, and their goal is to bring a product that is better for you and better for the environment to the neighborhood – which, considering the shop’s proximity to LaSalle Academy and its popularity with the students, qualifies as both a smart plan and an admirable one.   More

Providence's Ethiopian Ambassador Takes It Outside

Abyssinia opened on Wickenden Street last year as the first Ethiopian restaurant in Providence. Despite its popularity elsewhere in New England, particularly in Boston, the East African cuisine hadn’t yet taken hold here – and despite Abyssinia’s popularity, for many people it still hasn’t. (African food in general is sadly scarce in the Providence area. Elea’s in South Providence is a popular neighborhood spot for Liberian food. Village provides some Nigerian specialties in Pawtucket, and the excellent Senegalese restaurant Dakar was unfortunately short lived in Central Falls.) That’s why Ben Thorp, one of the proprietors of Abyssinia, is launching the restaurant’s food cart this month. It’s expanding on the business’ twofold mission: to help popularize the cuisines of Ethiopia and neighboring Eritrea in Providence, and to cultivate what Thorp calls a “social entrepreneur business,” which employs refugees and immigrants to use and share the culinary skills developed in their home countries. The modified hot dog cart will make many of the usual food truck rounds – special events, College Hill, farmer’s markets – serving a variety of Ethiopian specialties, with a focus on the wats, or stews, for which the cuisine is best known. The restaurant already has a loyal fan base, and the ability to go mobile will allow Abyssinia to bring what is arguably one of the world’s most underrated food cultures to more people in more places. It’s the first step in what Thorp envisions as a fleet of mobile eateries, all employing refugees to share the foods of their home countries, and he’s trying to secure nonprofit funding to establish training programs. Be on the lookout for it this summer, because if you’re one of the unfortunate souls who still hasn’t tried Ethiopian food, now’s the time to change that.    More

RI Fisherwoman Wins Conservation Fellowship

Sarah Schumann doesn't fit the stereotypical image of a commercial fisher: she's a woman, first off, with a master’s degree in Environmental Policy. As she explains in this month's So Rhode Island cover story, her goal is to make the ecosystem a more stable and sustainable environment for people and fish to exist co-dependently.

Schumann now has the opportunity to spread her message even further than her base here in Rhode Island, now that she's earned a TogetherGreen Fellowship award from Toyota and the National Audubon Society. The Fellowship was launched in 2008 to encourage diverse environmental leadership and fund innovative conservation projects and ideas. The TogetherGreen Fellowship gives 40 local leaders $10,000 to help engage a wider audience in environmental conservation, which works well with Schuman’s mission to involve and educate fisherman and their customers about the ecosystems from which their seafood is sourced.

Her project, Eating With the Ecosystem, is a culinary tour of the native species from the fishing areas around New England, with a marine scientist and local fisherman explaining the ecological context behind each item on the plate. The next part of this dinner series will take place at Cook & Brown Public House in Providence on September 10, with a focus on the seafood native to Southern New England. Buy tickets here.   More

We Were There- Motherhood the Musical

To say I was excited to go see Motherhood the Musical last Friday night at Trinity Repertory is an understatement. The last five live-performance shows I’ve gone to have involved either an ogre excreting ungodly sounds, Peter Pan flying across a zip-line or a sparkling princess leaping into endless double axels on ice. Don’t get me wrong, I enjoyed those shows too (and, let’s face it, everyone laughs at a good ogre fart), but I was finally going out to see something for ME and not for my tribe of children. Although I had to come to terms with the fact that wine would replace popcorn (in a normal world, that wouldn’t be an issue), I acclimated. And then drank wine.

I’d already heard that Motherhood was hysterical. In fact, my sister-in-law began singing “Mammaries” (in the tune of Andrew Lloyd Webber’s “Memory”) within 22 seconds of our conversation about the show, the week prior. (Which, by the way, she sang quite well. My sister-in-law often surprises me with her endless bags of tricks. She also surprises me with her ability to say inappropriate things only when my mother-in-law is around.) In that moment, I knew this show was going to be relatable, laughable and a long-lasting favorite.

A group of Rhody mamas and I got together for the Friday night Girls’ Nite Out at Trinity. It was so great to be able to see a show about women with other women. It made the night that much better, knowing our pool of hormones were a united force. I was also beyond happy that my mom came along, because I knew that if anyone could relate to a show about motherhood, it was the head honcho herself.

The poignant story of Motherhood is one of a very pregnant mom-to-be (Amy) and three of her closest girlfriends, as they celebrate Amy’s baby shower. Each of their personalities reflect their own stories of parenthood that they share with Amy. One girlfriend is a stay-at-home mom, another is a working …   More

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