I’ve been writing about food, restaurants and chefs for SO Rhode Island since this magazine made its debut in September 2007, and since 1998 for its parent company which also publishes Providence Monthly and The Bay. I figure I’ve written hundreds of articles and restaurant reviews during my career as a food writer, which began in 1983. During that time I’ve also written several books about Rhode Island, its wonderful restaurant scene and its many talented home cooks.
It has been a dream job, but now it’s time to slow down a bit, and this is my final column for SO Rhode Island. I’m giving up almost all aspects of my career as of this month. The only thing I’ll be doing from now on is writing cookbooks and restaurant guides. That will keep me more than busy.
In 2006 I wrote The Providence and Rhode Island Cookbook, which was published by Globe Pequot Press. Last year, my publisher asked me to update the book, and The Providence and Rhode Island Cookbook, Second Edition came out a few months ago. The 292-page book has been totally updated and now features 30 new recipes from some of the hottest restaurants in the area. The second edition also features new color photography that illustrates how beautiful our state is, and how appealing our delicious food is – from arancini to zeppoles.
The book contains more than 200 recipes that are unique to Rhode Island, especially from the southern part of the state. I write about our beloved johnnycakes, the thin variety from Newport County and the thicker version found in South County. I sing the praises of Allie’s Donuts, Block Island doughnuts, May breakfasts and the breakfast sandwich favored by local sportfishermen.
And then there’s our amazing seafood – real Rhode Island chowder with its clear broth, the red clam chowder we enjoyed at Rocky Point and the creamy scallop chowder from The Mooring Restaurant in Newport. So many of my favorite recipes are in …
Have you heard? Athleta, the fitness and lifestyle brand designed by women athletes for women athletes, has opened its first Rhode Island store at the Providence Place Mall. Shop apparel for running, yoga, gym/training, swimming,hiking and everything in between.
Run with Ro is a weekly run club for ladies in the Providence area who want to network while working on their fitness. The group meets at Lippitt Park on Blackstone Boulevard every Wednesday evening at 6:30pm. The run is led by Olympic runner and founder of Believe I Am, Ro McGettigan.
It seemed like an April Fool’s joke – as of midnight on April 1, marijuana is decriminalized in Rhode Island – but, no, it was in fact reality. Those caught with less than an ounce of weed will no longer face criminal charges, but rather a simple $150 ﬁne. So as I sit here with 9/10s of an ounce and a check for $150 made out to the State of Rhode Island, I can’t help wondering, what the f&*@ took so long?
I’m going to spare you the freshman-year-of-liberal-arts-college tirade about marijuana legalization: the extolling of the many health beneﬁts of this natural medicine, the stock criticisms of our deplorable and ineffective War on Drugs, the debunking of the “gateway drug” myth, and all the other arguments we’ve been making for legalization since at least the ‘70s. I’m going to assume you know all that and talk to you like an adult.
You smoke pot. Or at least you have at some point in your past – and probably more recently than you’d care to admit in polite company. The same is probably true for at least half the people you know. We joke about it a lot – pot humor always goes a long way because damn near everybody can relate to it. I personally have witnessed some of the leaders of our community smoking up: lawyers, architects, politicians, entrepreneurs, PR professionals, scientists, executive directors of nonproﬁts – the list goes on. I won’t call anybody out by name, but they know who they are. Does this make them drug users? Potheads? Hypocrites? None of the above. They’re ﬁne, upstanding citizens and productive members of society. They’re also rational adults who recognize that indulging in a little vice here and there is good for the mind, body and soul. The beneﬁts are over-whelming, while the risks are minimal and, until now, mostly of the legal sort.
Though I was never a fan of the TV show Will and Grace, I always respected …
Now that spring is actually feeling like spring, there is no more snow on the ground and everyone is in higher spirits, why not add to the feelings of elation and head on down to the newest comedy club in Cranston, The Joke Store. Its opening weekend is May 17-18 with Nick Albanese headlining the occasion.
We all have to do some spring cleaning, and Chef Walter Potenza is no exception. His longtime Federal Hill establishment Potenza Ristorante-Bar is moving to Cranston. They will still be serving the same seasonal menu, appy hour and gluten free options, but are just changing locations.
And while one business is leaving the Hill another has put in some roots. Fruitzzy is officially open and serves frozen yogurt by weight. With 11 flavors to choose from and a nearly endless amount of available toppings, it’s a sure way to cool down the much anticipated summer nights.
If you don’t have a sweet tooth then maybe knocking back a cold one is more your style. Lucky for you, Foolproof Brewing Company in Pawtucket has recently completed its first expansion. The brewery installed three new brewing tanks which has doubled the company’s production capability. Crack open one of their year-round brews and raise your glass to celebrate this local success story.
The food truck craze is not slowing down, and adding to the fleet is Sprout: The Vegetarian Food Truck. They are out to prove that vegetarian o!erings are just as satisfying as their meaty counterparts. Follow them on Facebook and Twitter to keep up on their current location.
Move over, Alec Baldwin. Your time as champion of the Adams Memorial Library is over. This month, RISD grad student Emily Leighton is staging the Central Falls Museum Project, a pop-up museum celebrating the city’s arts and culture. From May 3-11, the carriage house at the library will become a gallery, performance space and place to create. Central Falls has had more than its fair share of problems, but Leighton’s idea is that sharing the city’s artistic talent is a step towards revitalization. The weeklong event will have art exhibits, dance performances, art lessons and more. What’s better, everything is free and open to the public. Good news from Central Falls? That’s something worth commemorating.
The first EatDrinkRI Festival kicks off April 19-21, showcasing the best and brightest of the local culinary scene. The Sunday morning Grand Brunch features some of the area's best chefs, including James Mark from north, Jonathan Cambra from Tiverton's Boat House and Melissa Denmark and Danielle Lowe from Ellie's Bakery. Here, they share the recipe for their blue cheese and walnut scone.
1. In a large bowl, combine the dry ingredients. Using a pastry cutter or fork work the butter into the dry ingredients until the mixture appears sandy and the pieces of butter are slightly smaller than a pea.
2. Using a rubber spatula or wooden spoon, mix in the blue cheese and walnuts.
3. Slowly add the heavy cream. Fold everything together until the ingredients are almost fully combined. Be careful not to over mix, as this is what causes tough and chewy scones.
4. Remove the mixture from the bowl and place on a floured surface. Roll the dough into a rectangle (about 10” x 20”). Fold the left side into the center, and then fold the right side on top, like folding a letter to fit in an envelope. This is called a tri-fold.
5. Roll the folded dough out again to the same size rectangle and repeat the folding two more times. This technique is what creates flaky layers.
6. Once you have done three tri-folds, roll the dough to the same size rectangle and place onto a sheet pan and put in the freezer for 1 hour.
7. Once the dough is very cold and stiff, you can cut the scones into desired shapes. Use a knife to cut scones into squares or triangles, or use a circle cutter to make round scones.
8. Place onto a parchment lined sheet pan. Brush each scone with egg wash and a small pinch of sea salt. Bake at 350 degrees for about 15 minutes or until golden brown on the bottom.
This scone from Ellie's Bakery, will be served at the EatDrinkRI Festival's Grand Brunch at the on Sunday, April 21.
The season looks promising, with several new bars and restaurants in full swing. Probably the biggest news was the late March opening of The Grange, a vegetable restaurant from Garden Grille veteran Jon Dille. Much like its predecessor, The Grange’s plant-based cuisine is intended to appeal beyond the vegan/vegetarian set and attract all diners – even carnivorous ones. The Kyla Coburn-designed restaurant (she’s responsible for Loie Fuller’s, The Avery and several other restaurants that have caused you to comment on how gorgeous they are) occupies the fantastic space on the corner of Broadway and Dean Street that has sadly come and gone in various incarnations over the past few years. But judging by the work they put into it (the new façade is beautiful) and the early buzz, The Grange is here to stay.
Elsewhere on the West Side, enigmatic restaurateur Mike Sears (Lili Marlene’s, Ama’s) has opened Justine’s, his newest cocktail lounge, in Olneyville Square. The speakeasy style bar is squarely aimed at appealing to women (and by extension, of course, men): you enter it through a curtain in the back of a lingerie shop, and the “ladies’ lounge” (read: bathroom) has its own bar inside. There is a well-curated selection of classic cocktails that are shockingly only $5, and some light snacks. There is, of course, no website and I’m not going to tell you the address because Sears is probably already upset just that this is appearing in print. You’ll have to ask around and find it yourself.
After a long delay, Nami is finally open on Federal Hill, serving sushi and other Japanese fare in a handsomely renovated space. Moving Downtown, Bodega Malasaña is the new wine bar from the …
Some of you may know Stephanie Obodda as the foodie behind our monthly chef interviews, but she also does quite a bit of writing on her own about food and travel. She recently took a trip to the Galapagos islands, during which she kept a really cool illustrated travel journal. Now she's posted it on her website as an interactive flipbook, so we can all enjoy her experience. Read on and satisfy your (vicarious) wanderlust.
It hasn't been April Fool's for Providence Mayor Angel Taveras – in fact, only two days in the month has already been kind to him. First, there was some major national press from the Washington Post (by way of the AP) highlighting his accomplishments thus far. The article spotlights his efforts to "walk Rhode Island capital back from the brink of bankruptcy," citing his aggressive approach to the $110 million deficit he inherited, his spending cuts, his negotiations with the nonprofits, and his dealings with unions. It's sure to fuel further speculation about his potential run for governor next year.
In more good news, Providence will receive a sculpture from famed artist Olafur Eliasson (see below), a bonus that comes along with last month's grand prize win in Bloomberg Philanthropies' Mayors Challenge. The artwork will be on display at RISD – more details to come.
Whether it was the secrecy of the prohibition, the sexiness of the flappers or the excitement of the music, there is no denying that there is something very alluring about the Roaring Twenties. It was a time so glamorous you may find yourself wondering what it was like to be a part of it. If any of this is resonating with you we have some great news. Chifferobe Events is hosting a Flapper Workshop Series. Learn about everything from the dress to the drinks in anticipation of the Great Gatsby Ball, which promises to be fringe filled and fabulous. Read below for the complete program of events from the series:
April 21 (2-4pm) - 101: The Dress @ The Governor Henry Lippitt House Museum, $20
A look into the turbulent culture of the Flapper Era, with fashion as both cause and effect! We will take a peek at photos, videos, and a few great garments. You'll leave this interactive lecture primed and ready for those that follow AND you'll have a million ideas for what to wear to the next Chifferobe soiree!
April 28 (2-4pm) - 102: The Drinks @ The Dorrance, $30
Learn how to make 3 delicious classic cocktails and sample them too! You will be able to entertain a la Gatsby after this watch and learn workshop.
May 12 (2-4pm) - 103: The Dance @ AS220, $30
Learn period solo and partner dance crazes such as The Charleston! You do not need to register with a partner to enjoy this workshop. Make friends and kick up your heels. It's Sunday Funday!
May 19 (2-5pm) - 103: The 'Dos @ Suite Tart, $30
This three-hour hair and makeup extravaganza will teach you a few fabulous dos and don'ts when it comes to hair styles of the 1920s-30s. Learn some tricks of the trade as you watch Providence PinUp founder, Lulu, whip locks into shape...oh and all while sipping on a cocktail (or mocktail)! Time to release your inner bombshell!