Friday, October 29, 2010


On Saturday, November 6, 11:00 a.m. - 2:00 p.m., Al Forno chefs will conduct a cooking class featuring rabbits and cornish hens from Lily Rose Farm in Foster Family style meal after the cooking. $65 per person; call to reserve.

NEWPORT RESTAURANT WEEK, for Newport and Bristol counties runs from Friday, November 5 through Sunday, November 14. Three-course lunches will be $16 at participating restaurants, $30 for dinner. Restaurant list is available at:

DRINK CIDER! A random sipping (guzzling?) of local Massachusetts and Rhode Island ciders resulted in an unsurprising conclusion: they're good. Really good is the cider from Hill Orchards in Smithfield and from the Barden Family Orchard in North Scituate. Both sell at the Lippitt Park Saturday Farmers Market in Providence (9:30 a.m. - 12:30 p.m.) and, by the way, tomorrow is the last day this season for the outdoor market at Lippitt Park.

Wednesday, October 27, 2010


Last week, Projo featured an Alsatian choucroute garnie using the recipe of Ellen Brown, original food editor for USA Today and a Providence resident. I admit to not knowing USA Today had/has a food editor but never mind, this dinner is simple enough and well worth your house smelling like an Alsace restaurant for a few days. Choucroute garnie is a robust, unglamorous, hearty dinner cooked in a pot, combining pork butt (or hock) and sausages with sauerkraut, onions and carrots. It's served on a platter along with steamed potatoes and mustard.  If you want to be properly French (or German) drink beer or maybe a Riesling wine but for me pinot noir works too.

The article is worth reading for historic background and preparation tips by Ellen Brown.

I followed the directions exactly except I used a ham hock (which was in my freezer and the main reason I paid attention to the recipe in the first place) and I put it in the pot whole, cutting the meat after cooking. To get the sweet taste of sauerkraut and not a strong pickled flavor, you need to follow Ellen Brown's rinsing directions. And, next time I plan to add more kielbasa and sauerkraut. The recipe says it serves 8 to 10 but if I were serving ten persons I would double it; better to be safe.

Printer ready directions:

Sunday, October 24, 2010


COOK & BROWN PUBLIC HOUSE (959 Hope Street, Providence  401-273-7275) has been named one of the best new restaurants of 2010 by Esquire Magazine. The write-up is by John Mariani who applauds the chef owners, Nemo and Jenny Bolin, for their "wonderful, personalized food" and lack of pretension. National media comments about a local place usually make me yawn and think, what do they really know?, but in this case, based on one visit, I agree that something special is going on. I'll return to get a better picture but judging by the fresh bluefish with ratatouille, and I don't even like bluefish, I'm interested in what they are doing. This is not an easy market, the Cook & Brown menu is slightly offbeat, and it takes time for people to catch on to what's new on upper Hope, so I'm nervous for them.

LA LAITERIE (184-188 Wayland Avenue, Providence  401-274-7177) and Hill Farmstead Brewery,, are doing a cheese, charcuterie and beer tasting event at 2:00 p.m. on November 14 followed by a 5:00 p.m. six course prix fixe menu featuring Laiterie's cooking and Hill Farmstead's brews. Call 401-274-7177
and, by the way, don't count on La Laiterie's website for up-to-date info. sign up for their emails and always call

DORIE GREENSPAN - If you're a fan, and Greenspan has beaucoup de, take a look at her latest tome, Around My French Table (Houghton-Mifflin). All the details, tempting.

Monday, October 18, 2010


UNITED BARBECUE (146 Ives Street, Providence  401-751-9000) will deliver your order but it's worth a pick-up trip just to see the place in motion. This is not a Carolina barbecue joint so don't get your hopes up for the barbecue you love at Clyde Cooper's in Raleigh, North Carolina -  slow-cooked shredded pork served on a soft cheap bun, doused with vinegary sauce and accompanied by hush puppies and iced tea. No, this is the north and barbecue places have giant menus: pulled pork, beef ribs, brisket, chicken, chili, wings, vegan burgers, macaroni and cheese, onion rings, etc. Onion rings, by the way, are NOT a substitute for hush puppies.
But, you live where you live and you make do. My first visit to United  Barbecue was to try the pulled pork. It's a couple of sandwiches later  now and I've come to the conclusion that I don't like the heavily-sauced meat. My friend calls this Kansas City barbecue - lots of smoky red/brown sauce - and he loves it. I call it a pork cover-up. The sauce overwhelms so I can't tell if I'm eating pork or beef.  The kaiser-type roll is too bulky and chewy. Unsatisfying.

Thick sauce shows up on other offerings too, working a little better with  the beef brisket, but I also have major issues with the beef brisket. My vision of barbecued brisket is sliced, not chopped, served sprinkled with the sharp, spicy brew you get at Cooper's Old Time Pit Bar.B.Que in Llano, Texas. Cooper's, which is unrelated to the Raleigh restaurant, is a must-go-to-place if you are visiting Austin and have time to roam a little in the hill country. Won't ever get there? Order the brisket on line (and the sauce unless you happen to have some Carolina bottles in your fridge):  Again, my friend, while calling the Llano brisket first-rate, liked United's brisket just fine, sauce and all, and ate every bit. 

Here's what I liked: great, crispy cole slaw, spicy old-fashioned chile con carne, home-made desserts which aren't bad - microwave the rum raisin bread pudding and it's actually pretty good.

Thursday, October 14, 2010

Walker's Roadside Stand Redux; Local Events

Walker's Roadside Stand: Part II
Stopping by Walker's (261  West Main Road, Little Compton, RI - open daily until the end of October) again last Saturday, I could not resist a $5 box of "irregular" peppers, mostly red, many shapes and sizes, and all sweet. I dug a perfect recipe out of the files- it calls for 12 large red peppers. The soup is easy to make, delicious and freezes. The color alone will knock you out. It is a vibrant, truly gorgeous orange-red.

Red Pepper Soup (New York Times - 2005 as altered)
2 tbls olive oil
3 1/4 cups sliced onions
3 large garlic cloves, crushed
1/4 cup dry white wine
12 large red (or mostly red) peppers in one inch pieces
2 cups no-salt-added chicken broth
up to 2 tbls chopped fresh thyme
1/4 to 1/2 tsp dried red pepper flakes
Salt and pepper
for garnish: thyme sprigs and a tiny dollop of creme fraiche, cream or sour cream

1. Warm oil in a large pot and add onions, cooking until they begin to soften and color. Add garlic and cook one minute before adding wine. Cook down quickly until there is about one tablespoon of liquid.

2. Add peppers, stock, thyme and red pepper flakes, seasoning to taste with salt and pepper. Cover and cook on low until peppers are tender, about 30 minutes.

3. In a blender or food processor puree soup in batches until smooth. Taste for seasoning. Cover and chill overnight (up to two days per the Times but we didn't wait that long). Or freeze - whisk when thawed. You can warm it but it seems perfect cold.

4. Serve in small cups with creme fraiche and a sprig of thyme. Of course you can put the soup in any bowl or cup you have but for the best effect, I'd go with white.
AROUND PROVIDENCE: COOK & BROWN PUBLIC HOUSE (959 Hope Street, Providence  401-273-7275), with White Barn Farm of Wrentham, MA, is preparing a five-course farm-to-table dinner at the restaurant, Sunday, October 24, 6:30 p.m. The dinner is $75 per person ($55 for the vegetarian option) and $30 for an optional drink pairing. Reservations are required.

IN THE NEWS: The upcoming December issue of Food & Wine features "40 Big Food Thinkers Under 40" and Matt Jennings of the Farmstead and La Laiterie is one of the forty big thinkers. He's cited for his work developing cheeses with small farms as well as innovating on his own. Farmstead is at 186 Wayland Avenue in Wayland Square, next door to the Jennings' restaurant, La Laiterie, and downtown (Farmstead Lunch) at 225a Westminster Street. One telephone number: 401-274-7178

FURTHER AFIELD, Westport, MA cheesemaker Shy Brothers (actually two sets of fraternal twins named Santos) recently won honors at the 2010 American Cheese Society Competition in Seattle, WA for their Cloumage Artisanal Curd and Classic French Hannahbells. I especially like the creamy curd.

Friday, October 8, 2010

This Weekend: Visit Walker's Roadside Stand in Little Compton

WALKER'S  ROADSIDE STAND (261 West Main Road, Little Compton, RI  401-635-4719) is more than a little famous for its corn and tomatoes. Or maybe it's more accurate to say Coll Walker is more than a little famous for his corn and tomatoes. Walker turned to retail to supplement wholesale about forty years ago and since then he's become a sort of rock star of produce. The accolades are deserved. Great corn is available early and late in the season and the tomatoes come in every type from what I refer to as the round red ones to the most eccentric-looking heirlooms. 

But this is all well known - what's news now is that this year's abundance is available at very low prices: fifteen-pound boxes of tomatoes, so-called irregulars (in fact, my boxes held almost all perfect tomatoes) just begging you to buy. So I did, and a frenzy of sauce-making ensued. Sauce from heirlooms, sauce from round reds, etc. Now I'm pondering what I can do with fifteen pounds of peppers. 

My own yard yielded hundreds and hundreds of large cherry tomatoes from last year's seeds. Dehydrating is a slow process (either at 200 degrees in your oven or in stacking dehydrator) but the result is worth the effort:

Slice the tips off the tomatoes and cut in half. Lay them on the racks (or on a cookie sheet over tinfoil) and salt lightly with fine sea salt. Rotate the trays every few hours. When the tomatoes are almost dry, but not crispy (about 24 hours depending on size of tomatoes), pile them loosely in small jars. Add a slice of peeled garlic and cover with olive oil. Store in the refrigerator. My labels say "N-Q Sun-dried Tomatoes."

On face book at

Yet Another Octoberfest - This weekend is the annual International Octoberfest at the Newport Yachting Center (4 Commercial Wharf, Newport), Saturday, noon until 9:00 p.m., Sunday, noon until 8:00 p.m. and Monday, noon until 6:00. Tickets are $20 on Saturday and Sunday, $12 on Monday. For more info call 401-846-1600.