In an industry as fickle as restaurants, longevity is a rare prize. Most restaurants don’t last more than a couple of years – meanwhile, Mills Tavern is celebrating a full decade. Starting this month, the restaurant will mark this milestone with its new Spring Anniversary Menu, reintroducing some of the signature favorites from the past 10 years. Highlights include the “Mills Sandwich,” Hudson Valley foie gras with a black currant buttermilk biscuit and tea braised figs; Open Faced Braised Rabbit Ravioli with wild mushroom truffle cream sauce; and Beef Tartare Over Bulgur Wheat Salad with cornichon emulsion and sunny-side up quail egg.
Be sure to check Mills Taverns’ website for the date of its special anniversary dinner. In the last week of April the restaurant will host a special six-course tasting with wine pairings. Chef Ed Bolus will be in the kitchen with guest chef Jules Ramos of Eleven Forty Nine; Ramos was the first executive chef at Mills. Tickets are $150 per person, with $25 benefiting Festival Ballet.
The moment I walked into The Spot Underground on Sunday afternoon for The Great Cupcake Championship, I was immediately struck by two things: The herds of audible people and the dimly lit brick-walled room illuminated by beams of blue, pink and red lights. If it wasn’t 2:30 in the afternoon, I may have thought that I’d stumbled upon a killer new nightclub, like those among the streets of Prague. (Although I’ve never been to Prague, this is what I imagine a killer new nightclub to be like there.) A few steps further into the lively room and I saw what I had come for. Cupcakes. Lots of them. In heaping towers, dazzling displays and rows longer than highway lanes. It was a feast for the eyes and the best part was that they were all there for the taking—much like my sanity, minus the harmful side effects.
(Prague? Or Providence?)
Fourteen bakeries from around the state vied for the coveted spot of Cupcake Champion in this genius event created by Jim Nellis of RI FOOD FIGHTS and graphic designer/illustrator extraordinaire Casey Spencer (who created some gorgeous artwork for the promotional materials). I was largely impressed with the event’s emcees, Mike Ritz and our very own John Taraborelli, as they engaged the crowd and entertained with humorous banter. Although John ambushed me with hopes that I could spew a coherent sentence into that God-forsaken microphone while recovering from my previous evening’s newfound love for Wild Turkey American Honey (which failed on both accounts), I can’t hold it against him because he was doing his job. Plus, he was wearing a pretty cool fedora, so he was excused.
(Check out John's cool hat. Photo credit: Elaine Collins)
I cruised around the room, filling my plate with the little pieces of heaven that were beautifully presented to me, and after grabbing a nice selection, I began my taste-testing. I took bites of creamy red velvet and tangy margarita and fruity angel food …
Vintage shopping and local indie designers are a big part of the Providence fashion scene. Now a collective of young style entrepreneurs on a mission to, and we quote, "have the most fun possible while selling you our favorite things in this world." The Boho Bazaar is an evening of fun, fashion, shopping and drinks featuring local designers, vintage retailers, menswear, jewelry, clothing swaps, a DJ and more. The first such event is March 15 from 7-10pm at The Salon downtown. Featured designers and retailers include Shoppe Pioneer, Gypsy Vintage, Wanderluxe Jewelry, AMC Men's Vintage Americana and Workwear, Libby Hodgkins Jewelry and Nicole Lebreux Original Apparel. Music will be provided by DJ Baby Panda Logic and the feature cocktail will be the $5 Boho Bellini. Those looking to swap clothing are welcome to bring any six pieces to trade for another six. Check out their Facebook page for updates on future event.s
You've spent your entire zoo-visiting life being told not to feed the animals, but finally your days has come. Beginning April 1, Roger Williams Park Zoo will host group feeding sessions, in which visitors will have the chance for an up-close encounter will giraffes, penguins and seals. There will only be a handful (cue rim shot) of spots available for these feedings, and tickets will be sold on a first come, first served basis. The first giraffe feeding is at 2pm on April 1, with penguin and seal feedings to begin later in the spring at 11am. They will take place daily until Labor Day, and on weekends in October. We know some of you out there are probably really excited about this, but please don't shove any little kids to the ground in your scramble to get one of those tickets.
So you tested your knowledge with this issue’s The Great Providence Quiz. How’d you do? Here, I drop some more Providence knowledge on you, but, this time, it’s for all of us moms and dads out there. And why we all need this awesome city.
1. There is a cupcake shop on almost every corner.
Cupcakes are an essential parenting tool. They either serve as an incentive (read: bribe) for your child to get his pencil out of his brother’s eye or as a reward for yourself after you’ve lost 32 new pieces of hair as a result of the hurricane of a day you just had. While a [delicious] cupcake may not bring your hair back, it will satisfy your stomach and make you dream of Ryan Reynolds later that night. (These side-effects have been documented.)
2. You will always look your best. Or at least pretend to.
Let’s face it; parenthood could crimp your style. While you once spent time beautifying yourself in the morning with the trendiest duds and loveliest locks, you now just might be lucky to have pants on as you leave the house to drop your kids off at the bus stop. And that disposable income you once took for granted? It now pays for disposable diapers. But, fear not, because Providence has more consignment shops per capita than any other city in the country! Ok, I just made that up, but, really, there are new fabulous shops popping up all over the place, with a vast array of brand-name items, gorgeous jewelry, and, even diaper bags.
3. Spike’s Junkyard Dogs.
Do I need to say more? (See: bribing your children with cupcakes, above.)
4. Big support for your budding artist. (Because, you know, each one of our kids is just that.)
If there were ever a place to raise a Picasso, it’s Providence. Between the art galleries and museums, art schools, and art sculptures gracing the streets of downtown, it’s no wonder your highly skilled children want to live here. I know that when my 2 year-old daughter draws …
Who: Jonas Parmalee
What: Bass player, The Silks
When: 11pm, Friday March 2
Where: Local 121, Washington Street, Providence
Why: Not only does he “slappa da bass,” he makes a mean crepe
I spot Jonas in the crowd at the dark Speakeasy downstairs in Local 121, wearing a heavy coat and winter scarf. “Aren’t you hot?” I ask. (The room is packed like an overstuffed suitcase.) “Actually I’m freezing,” he replies. He brushes the hair out of his eyes and smiles shyly. “I’m always cold. I think it’s in my genes.” It’s one hour to showtime, and he’s drinking a Guinness while chatting with friends.
Jonas is a whiskey and stout aficionado – my kind of guy. In January, the band was given a bottle of Laphroaig as a thank you for playing a fundraiser for Trinity Rep. Jonas counts this his crowning glory with the band, but also says, “Every moment with The Silks is the best moment. It’s the type of band I’ve been dreaming of playing in as far as work ethic and approach to music.”
Jonas, who – at first glance – is a cross between a rock star and Woody Allen (in the most endearing way), has been a Silks member for about a year now. Burnt-out on the “whole punk thing” after touring the U.S. and England with his former band, The Midnight Creeps, he took a break from music for a while. Then, he happened to see Tyler-James Kelly doing a solo set. “I was floored and totally inspired,” Jonas says. ”I realized I needed to be in a working band again.”
As Rhode Island luck would have it, Jonas’ friend Matthew Donnelly was a mutual friend, and eventually Jonas got word that Tyler-James (“TJ”) needed a new bassist. “Nervous as hell” after not playing for a few years, Jonas called anyway. He got the gig. Soon after, when in need of a new drummer, Matt signed on. The chemistry that the trio shares is obvious, both onstage and off.
At 11:30pm, the guys head upstairs to the taproom for some (more) boozing …
The Reduced Shakespeare Company, a three-man comedy cast that takes long, serious subjects and shortens them down to sharp comedies, will be performing The Complete World of Sports (abridged) at the historic Park Theatre in Cranston. The show is scheduled for Sunday, March 4 and will reduce every sport ever played on every continent in the entire history of the world while also showcasing the trio’s manically paced collection of one-liners.
The “Bad Boys of Abridgement” have created seven stage shows, two television specials, and numerous radio pieces which have all been performed, seen, and heard all over the world. The company’s first three shows, The Complete Works of William Shakespeare (abridged), The Complete History of America (abridged) and The Bible: The Complete Word of God (abridged) ran for nine years at the Criterion Theatre in Piccadilly Circus, and were London’s longest-running comedies. 4:00 pm. $20, $25, and $30. 401-467-7275
The Brown University/Trinity Rep MFA Programs will present two plays in rotation repertory this month at the Pell Chafee Performance Center: Waiting for Godot by Samuel Beckett, directed by Aubrey Snowden (Brown/Trinity Rep MFA Programs ’13) and Venus by Suzan-Lori Parks, directed by Ryan Guzzo Purcell (Brown/Trinity Rep Programs ’13). The plays will alternate taking the stage throughout their March 1-18 run.
Waiting for Godot has been considered one of the most important theatrical works of the 20th century. The play focuses on two men, Vladimir and Estragon, and their efforts to “hold that terrible silence at bay” while they continuously wait on the side of a road for a man named Godot to arrive. The men’s comical and desperate attempts to pass the time spans two acts and explores the notion of time and existence.
Suzan-Lori Parks’ Venus, on the other hand, is based on the true story of Saarjie Baartman, a member of the Khoi-San tribe of South Africa, who was transported to London in 1810 under the false pretense of opportunity. Upon her arrival, Baartman , nearly nude, is put on public display and dubbed “The Venus Hottentot.” This tale of exploitation will examine the treatment of women and minorities, and will demand that its' audience come to terms with history in order to move beyond it. $10. $5 students. The Citizens Bank Theater, Pell Chafee Performance Center, 87 Empire Street, Providence. 401-351-4242.
We may live in a digital world, but sometimes it just feels good to put pen to paper, particularly when it comes to setting goals. Róisín “Ro” McGettigan, a Providence resident and PC alum and fellow professional runner Lauren “Lo” Fleshman have created the Believe I Am Training Journal for this very reason, as they have seen, first hand, a training journal’s power in helping set and achieve personal goals. The journal features motivational musings and cheeky designs by the creators themselves. “Each section is illustrated, written and crafted with a great deal of heart and sincerity,” says McGettigan.
We often take for granted the fact that we can move. Unfortunately, there are many people who can’t because of a disease called ALS. Also known as Lou Gehrig’s Disease, ALS is a progressive motor neurone disease that robs people of the ability to move their muscles. On Saturday, March 3 from 5-7pm, The Mardi Gras Multi Club in Cranston will host a United We Dance to Cure ALSTM Zumbathon to benefit MDA’s Augie’s Quest, a non-profit research initiative dedicated to finding treatments and cures for ALS. Tickets are $10 in advance and $15 at the door. For more information, email Laura at firstname.lastname@example.org.
The semifinalists for the 2012 James Beard Foundation Awards (sort of like the Oscars of the food world) have been announced and three Providence restaurants are in the running. The Dorrance is up for Best New Restaurant, following on the heels of Cook & Brown Public House, which was nominated for that award last year. This year, Cook & Brown takes a nomination for outstanding bar program. Meanwhile, The Dorrance takes a second nod for Chef Benjamin Sukle in the Rising Star Chef of the Year category. Husand and wife duo Matt and Kate Jennings of La Laiterie are up for Best Chef: Northeast, a category in which they're seemingly perennial contenders. Finalists will be announced on March 19, and the awards ceremony takes place on May 7. Congratulations to all the contenders, and best of luck to the home team.