Friday, December 16, 2011


Last year my bȗche de noël was a solidly chocolate affair:( This year we're having a more subtle log, mocha butter-cream wrapped in a vanilla génoise (sponge). It's an easy bȗche to make, really. The cake cooks in 10 minutes and the buttercream requires no cooking.

yolks make a ribbon
Set the oven to 375° and grease a jelly roll pan (bottom and sides). Line the pan bottom with wax paper or parchment and grease the paper.

3 tbs butter, melted and cooled
3 large eggs, separated
1/2 cup plus 2 tbs sugar
1 1/2 tsp vanilla
1/4 tsp cream of tartar (or substitute)
1/8 tsp salt
1/3 plus 1/8 cups flour, sifted

• Beat egg yolks one minute then add the 1/2 cup sugar a little at a time until mixture thickens, looks yellower and forms a ribbon when you lift the beaters (about 2 to 3 minutes depending on the mixer)
• Beat in vanilla
• Beat egg whites in separate bowl until foamy. Add cream of tartar and salt. Beat until soft peaks form
• Beat in the 2 tablespoons of sugar and continue beating until stiff peaks form

stiff peaks
• Stir 1/4 of the whites into the yolk mixture. Fold in about 1/3 of the remaining whites until combined
• Then fold in the flour and the remaining egg whites, alternating
• Fold in the cooled butter
• Spread batter in the pan, lift the pan a couple inches off the counter and drop it (to remove air)
• Bake for 10 minutes

cutting off the edge

flipped onto the towel

While the cake is baking dampen a clean dish towel and lay it on the counter. Cover the the towel with wax paper. Sprinkle powdered sugar, through a sieve, on top of the cake after you take it out of the oven; then flip the cake over onto the towel, remove the wax paper from the cake bottom and sprinkle cake bottom with powdered sugar. Roll the cake up in the towel and cool completely.

Buttercream Filling
2 cups confectioners' sugar, sifted
2 1/2 sticks (1 1/4 cup) unsalted butter
2 ounces semi-sweet chocolate, melted
1 tbs instant espresso coffee powder
1 tsp vanilla

• Beat sugar and butter in the mixer on medium until light. This takes three or four minutes
• Add chocolate, coffee and vanilla and beat until smooth
• Unwrap the cooled cake and spread with about half the buttercream. Roll the cake up and put it, seam down, on a small cookie sheet
• Cut a diagonal slice off each end of the cake and set aside
• Frost the log, add the "knots" where you want and frost them too.

Now you can decorate. Being time-challenged, I only drew a few lines with a cake tester and added marzipan mushrooms and leaves. A little more elegant? Shower the log with shaved chocolate curls. Or lay a few live holly leaves on the roll and add red hots for berries. Hard to go wrong.

into the freezer
Now, if, like me, you would like to do all this ahead of time, make the cake today and when it's iced and decorated place it in the freezer and leave it there for at least an hour.

When the buttercream is frozen solid, lift the cake off the paper and wrap it tight (you want to eliminate as much air as possible) in layers of plastic wrap. Freeze the cake until you need it. Important: unwrap the cake before you thaw it to keep the icing perfect.

Thursday, December 15, 2011


Last year's ham post, still works. But Spanish hams are all the vogue so maybe you want to know about this:

5 Jotas - ham from Ibérico pigs is the specialty of this high-end outfit. This is the ham of poetry.  And it's a ham requiring serious financial commitment; in the $140-and-up per pound range, these aren't slices for your sandwich. Only in the highest-end markets so look to Boston or NYC (Fairway, Murray's, etc.).

Edwards smokehouse in Virginia cures its own version of Spanish ham, called American Surryano. We're giving it a try. You can buy a whole one (14-16 pounds) for $163 or a 12 oz package of thin thin slices for $34.

Tuesday, December 13, 2011


The French Confection (72 East Main Road, Middletown  401-619-7816) is new, opened by Xavier and Karen Mauprivez. We went over to sample pastry immediately. Why drive from Providence to a pastry shop at one of the most congested, annoying intersections in the state of Rhode Island? Because Seven Stars, a Providence baking landmark, produces great bread, scones and giant sticky buns but no real pastries (sorry, the croissants don't cut it). Pastiche, on Federal Hill, turns out pretty cakes but no great pastries. And so on. Providence has any number of places to buy fabulous bread but where to get a Napoleon or a raisin pastry?

Xavier Mauprivez is the baker at this new venture. Originally from Reims, he's been in the states, baking and making pastries, since the 1980s. Karen Mauprivez is management.

Our excursion was for tea and something decadent so we settled on a Napoleon big enough to split. Waiting for our tea at the counter, we sampled, then purchased, the holiday fruit cake. The Napoleon custard was dense and delicious, made without a heavy hand on the vanilla. The pastry layers were maybe a bit tough. Purchased for later, pain au chocolate passed the test (large enough, tender enough) and the raisin pastries (known generally as raisin danish but not like danish at all) were almost, but not quite, successful. Good ones always have a yummy goo factor in the coiling while remaining firm. These were soft, limp actually, and needed more raisins. A retry later.

Cakes and pastries at The French Confection don't all look perfect like they do at Pastiche, but they do look real, which gives them an endearing quality. The French Confection also makes petit four size pastries which are good for serving to people who say they can't possibly eat an entire eclair (then go on to eat three little ones), and for people who want to sample everything.

It's a casual place where you order and pick up at the counter. Plenty of table space.

Quiche and other savory items are available so you can stop in for lunch. Worth a visit.

The website was not working at last check but a pdf with a menu appears when you search.

The French Connection is open Monday through Saturday, 7:00 a.m. to 6:00 p.m. weekdays and 7:00 a.m. to 3:00 on Saturday.

Friday, December 2, 2011


Beau Vistal, New Rivers' chef, will be in charge of a three course dinner, billed as "farm and vine", at Ocean House (1 Bluff Avenue, Watch Hill  401-584-7000), Wednesday night, December 7. Local organic produce and the not-so-local wines of Vins de Vienne ( are featured.

7:00 p.m.    $75 plus tax and tip    Reservations required

Thursday, December 1, 2011


The Garrison Confections (72 Ledge Street, Central Falls  4-1-725-0790) factory store is open. Here's the schedule:

December 1-3 (Thurs.-Sat.)
December 8-10 (Thurs.-Sat.)
December 15-23 (Thurs. through the following Friday)

11:00 a.m. - 6:00 p.m.

It's a good idea, I think, to call ahead.


Red Bridge Tavern (22 Waterman Avenue,  East Providence, 401-438-3899) isn't a place with lots of polished dark wood, a super-long old-world bar, or even vintage posters; it looks pretty much like somebody's basement rec room - lots of pine and standard issue tables and chairs. It's a local bar not in the image of an imaginary Ireland; this may be one of the reasons it has a following.

What Red Bridge provides is easy access to a pretty good burger. Yelp and Urban Spoon may be a little generous in their reviews but Red Bridge is okay. Yes, the burger is preformed (what is this about Rhode Island and the preformed burger?) but the taste is about right (can't be totally right unless it's made thicker in the middle) and the bun is minimalist instead of thick and/or seedy. You can take a seat at the bar, have a beer and cheeseburger and talk to the non-hipster bartender. The onion rings could use some work.

Getting to Red Bridge from Providence is easy: cross Waterman Avenue to the Henderson Bridge and take the first East Providence exit. This will return you to Waterman in East Providence. Red Bridge is on the left after the curve.

Red Bridge Tavern   22 Waterman Avenue, East Providence   401-438-3899

Tuesday, November 22, 2011


With the opening of LaDurée (864 Madison Avenue,  New York  646-558-3157) in New York, The New York Times has decided to weigh in on the relative merits of all things macaron in NYC. Eight locations in Manhattan, Queens and Brooklyn are reviewed but only one, Vendôme (917-892-2127 for local delivery only), a Brooklyn-based venture of Taryn Garcia who sells her treasures through Saks Fifth Avenue, is deemed worthy of comparison to LaDurée.

Thursday, November 17, 2011


Here's a field trip from Providence. Drive to Tiverton Four Corners (Wednesday - Saturday is best to be sure most stores are open) and browse the shops.

Look at handmade porcelain tiles at Rosemary-Winn Pottery (, get top-grade parmesan cheese at Milk & Honey Bazaar (, peruse pricey but well-edited furniture and home goods at The Cottage at Four Corners (, visit art galleries, The Donovan Gallery ( and Gallery 4 (, ogle high-priced jewelry at Tiffany Peay (, pick out children's clothes at Little Purls (, view all things blue at Nankeen (, buy garden decorations, cards and gifts at Courtyards (, ponder an antique or two at Peter's Attic.  

Then, relax with a sandwich at Provender (3883 Main Road, Tiverton  401-624-8084) before it closes for the winter. Buy a couple of their terrific cookies to save for later.

The last step: cross from Provender to Gray's (401-624-4500) and indulge. Maybe it's best in summer, but a Gray's ice cream cone is still excellent in the fall. And now you can have the so-called seasonal flavor, pumpkin, in a home-made cone. It's autumn-evoking even though it is about as appealing as Mission Fig (a Daily Scoop flavor, truly good) to some people I know. In any season, enjoy mocha chip, peppermint stick, chocolate walnut and black raspberry.

Sunday, November 13, 2011


Chef/owner Brian Kingsford of Bacaro ( was talking about fresh produce one day in October and got excited about squash, and more specifically, pumpkins. He described the pie-making attributes of particular types so when I purchased green tomatoes at Walker's in Little Compton I added a pumpkin to the pile. It will be a good pie but I usually use canned pumpkin and that's good too, so use it here.

Simple Pumpkin Pie
preheat oven to 350˚

3 cups aerated flour (flour stirred with a fork)
2 tsp sugar
1/2 tsp salt
2/3 cup plus 2 tbls vegetable shortening
ice water (up to 6 tbls)

Stir flour, sugar and salt with a fork. Mix in the shortening: 1) use a pastry blender or your clean hands, or 2) put the whole thing in a food processor and pulse. You don't want it perfectly smooth, just well blended. Gradually add tablespoons of ice water. After 4 tablespoons, try forming a ball with the dough; if it crumbles, add some more water - usually 6 tablespoons will do the trick.

Cut the ball of dough in half.  Flatten half (wrap the other and refrigerate or freeze it for a second pie). On a floured surface, neaten the edges, lift the dough up, add more flour to the work surface beneath, sprinkle flour on the top side and roll so the dough fits a 9-inch pie tin. Cut the dough off at the edge of the pie tin. Form this extra dough into a ball, roll it out (flouring etc.) and draw some freeform leaves with a knife. They do not have to be artistic achievements. Reserve these for later.


Freeze the pie crust for 15 minutes. Then line the crust with tin foil and fill with ceramic pie weights if you have them or those dried beans that have been in your cupboard for three years. Cook for 10 minutes. Remove the foil and beans and cook the crust for 10 minutes more. Cool on a rack while you make the filling. Reduce the oven temperature to 325˚.

3/4 sugar
1 tbls brown sugar (dark or light)
1 tbls corn starch
2 tsp ground cinnamon
1/4 tsp ground ginger
1/4 tsp salt
16 oz* of pumpkin (plain not pie filling)
        *if the market has 15 ounce cans use 15 oz
3/4 whipping cream
1/2 cup sour cream or fromage blanc
3 large eggs

Mix the sugars, pumpkin and spices. Add the pumpkin, cream, sour cream and eggs, blending well but not beating. Pour into the crust. It's likely you'll have too much so put the overage in a ramekin (and bake for about half the time or less). 

Now, take the leaves you made and press them gently along the rim of the pie tin. Brush the leaves lightly with egg wash (mix a little water with an egg). They should overlap the pie not the air. Carefully place the pie in the oven and cook for about 55 minutes. Cool on a rack.

Notes: Pumpkin pie is a good day-before pie. Refrigerate after totally cooling. Then take out a couple of hours ahead of dinner. All wise and respectable cooks say you cannot freeze it but if you, like me, are required sometimes to break the rules, go ahead and freeze. Make sure the pie is completely cooled, put it in the freezer uncovered for an hour, then take it out and wrap and rewrap. Lots of state universities have excellent extension websites which tell you how to freeze and thaw almost anything. I just got some tips from the University of Illinois extension services. The thawing tips are useful because what to do is not always intuitive. For instance, thawing by cooking the frozen pie at 350˚ for an hour.

Friday, November 11, 2011


Jacky's Waterplace & Sushi Bar (200 Exchange Place, Providence  401-383-5000) opened in September at the glass apartment and business complex perched above Waterplace basin close to the train station. Getting new owners/renters to move downtown in recent years has been hard enough; getting any retail in these buildings (literally off to the side of downtown) which don't generate much people traffic during the day or at night, has been even more difficult. The new restaurant is the latest outpost of the Jacky's Galaxie mini-chain; other locations are in North Providence, Cumberland and Bristol.

Style? It's pretty much Asian fusion on steroids - modern, kind of glitzy. There is the ubiquitous fish tank and the supposed-to-be-soothing but, to me, totally alarming piped-in elevator music. Actually, it's the atmosphere of an upscale Chinese restaurant. Except Jacky's isn't an upscale Chinese restaurant; it's a pricey mishmosh of Japanese and Chinese with a few popular Thai (pad thai) and Vietnamese (nimh rolls) dishes tossed in. Wikipedia tells us that fusion food is often a grouping, Asian countries for instance, where inspired combinations are created. It's a plausible idea but what you get at Jacky's isn't it.

What you get is set pieces from semi-Asian menus, crowd pleasers. There are chicken fingers on the menu. The hot and sour soup didn't pass the taste test and it was gelatinous.

Nothing billed as hot, as in spicy, was. A pork and shrimp dish was well-fried (no grease at all) but coated in what could pass for hot and sour sauce.

It's fancy mall food. Too bad.  

Thursday, November 10, 2011


The topic is the birth of the diner - very Rhode Island. Richard Gutman, director of the Culinary Arts Museum at Johnson & Wales University will give a talk entitled Providence 1872: The Birth of the Diner Business that Became an American Institution, at the museum (315 Harborside Blvd, Providence  401-598-2805) on November 10.

Little Billy's Gourmet Food Truck (see be parked alongside for attendees to buy dinner.

Thursday, November 10 at 6:00 p.m.


Garden Grille (727 East Avenue, Pawtucket  401-726-2826) has its annual vegan harvest fest dinner on Wednesday, November 16, 5:00 p.m. Cost: $40.00 Call for details and reservations.

Sunday, November 6, 2011


It's church bazaar time of year again and mostly that's only a semi-appealing idea, with all the white elephant table junk, odd-colored knit things and the unappealing not-so-home-made selections of baked goods, but there are exceptions, usually events involving Greek or Armenian cooking. Two fairs coming up:

Saint Mary Antiochian Orthodox Church (One St. Mary Way, Pawtucket) has an annual fair featuring Middle Eastern foods. Friday, November 11 (5:00 to 8:00 p.m.), Saturday, November 12 (10:00 a.m. to 8:00 p.m.) and Sunday, November 13 (11:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m.)

Sts. Vartanantz Armenian Church of Providence (at Rhodes on the Pawtuxet, 60 Rhodes Place, Cranston) holds its bazaar on Saturday, November 12 (5:00 to 9:00 p.m.) and Sunday, November 13 (noon - 8:00 p.m.)

Friday, November 4, 2011


Newport Restaurant Week runs from today, November 4, through November 13 and includes restaurants in neighboring towns. At Persimmon (31 State Street, Bristol  401-254-747) it's $30 for a prix fixe dinner but you must call ahead to reserve. Here's the menu:

First Course
• Native butternut squash soup with Persimmon Provisions lamb sausage, apples, shaved chestnuts and petite sage
• Cool salad of Narragansett Creamery mozzarella, petite herbs, La Quercia coppa, hazelnuts, saba and extra virgin olive oil
• Slow poached native farm egg with sunchoke purée, grilled scallions, beech mushrooms and mushroom broth

Second Course
• Painted Hills beef hangar steak with yukon gold potato gratin, native horseradish and turnip purée
• Slow roasted loup de mer with citrus-braised endives, roasted potatoes and fresh thyme
• A ragout of braised Vermont pork shoulder, belly and pork sausage, sweet potatoes, apples and brussels sprout leaves

Third Course
• Native pumpkin pie with fresh whipped cream and caramel ice cream
• Yogurt and vanilla panna cotta with poached cranberries, white chocolate tuile and walnut praline

Tuesday, November 1, 2011


On a recent night at Bacaro (262 South Water Street  401-751-3700) we were lucky enough to sample a new producer's oysters. "Farm Raised by Fishermen" reads the Hope Island Oysters business card. The owners, long-time quahoggers, are growing plump, fantastic oysters in Narragansett Bay.

For more information contact Steve or Phil:

Thursday, October 27, 2011


Jacques Pepin,Renaissance man and master chef, will be at Dave's Marketplace (371 Putnam Pike) in Smithfield on Sunday, October 30 from noon to 2:00 p.m. He'll sign copies of his latest book, Essential Pepin (includes an instructional dvd). Books must be purchased at Dave's where the price is discounted to $25.00.

Wednesday, October 26, 2011


Three course lunches for $16.00 and dinners for $30.00. Mostly in Newport, but participants off-island in Bristol and Warren too.

Thursday, October 20, 2011


Back on Broadway, home also to Julian's (at 318) and Nick's on Broadway (at 500), we've paid several visits to Broadway Bistro (205 Broadway, Providence 401-331-2450), closest to downtown and considered by some a semi-secret oasis. On the small side, Broadway Bistro sits on a corner and has broad windows so there is street-scape to view and a warm balance of light. Decor is simple, thoughtfully executed and not out of a playbook.

It's definitely a bistro, with bistro prices and a lot of modern comfort foods featuring what's local and in season. Like menus at some of its compatriots, Broadway Bistro's is sometimes heavy with the heavy - gnocchi with short ribs, for instance, or jerk pork - but the tastes mostly work. Broadway Bistro uses a little ingenuity and prices reflect that.

On one visit I know I was thinking that my pasta may have been just slightly overwhelmed by the short rib meat and that a roasted beet appetizer may have had too many things going on but all my thoughts, all the positive feelings as well as the not-so, were in one big muddle by the time we left because of absorbing extraneous circumstances. Beside us, a short space away, there was serious, subdued conversation about a failed business venture; it drew our attention because the speakers' voices were so heart-breakingly sad. Turning away from this I mentally jumped back to two distant evenings in a subterranean New York restaurant. At the first, two persons shared a tiny table barely a foot from our own. A young guy, out on what looked like a promising first date, couldn't get past the getting-to-know-a-little-about-you stage without relating the entire boring tale of his divorce, becoming more animated as his recitation ran on with mind-numbing detail.  His date, we were sure, was formulating escape plans, a quick dash to the subway maybe, or a cab. In match-making mode months later, we met two friends at the same restaurant. And right at our very table friend "one" began the self-pardoning story of why his wife left him. We could not shut him up; he recognized no signals. And three of us planned an escape. No way anyone was thinking about the menu.

The food at Broadway Bistro is definitely better than the ersatz French we ate at the bad-date site. There have been some terrific appetizers in recent months. Three really good ones: tacos (with chicken confit, tomato salsa and cilantro), split figs (with gorgonzola, bacon and walnuts) and neighborhood arugula (with goat cheese). Delicious. Can't say enough good things about home-grown arugula and the salad is big enough to share. Appetizer prices range from $5.00 (for the tacos or the truffle-oil fries with parmesan) to $11.00 for seared scallops.

Entrèes range in price from $11.00 for the house spaghetti (chopped local tomatoes, basil and parmesan on a recent night) to $20.00 for seared rib-eye or house gnocchi (with short ribs). At a recent dinner we had the following: seared salmon with lentils and broccoli rabe, the evening's special rib-eye, cod cakes with garlicky spinach and chive mashed potatoes and a plate of petite fried trout with a vegetable melange with slow-roasted cauliflower. The steak was ordered rare and arrived medium-rare to medium so it was a bust but the salmon and the cod cakes were delicious. The trout was outstanding, over-the-top excellent - every edible bit was consumed.

And there is NO DESSERT. Amen. Enjoy an appetizer, eat everything, and savor a single, small, excellent, chocolate truffle before you depart.

Wednesday, October 12, 2011


The end of the growing season is a great time to visit Walker's Roadside Stand in Little Compton (261 West Main Road, Little Compton, RI  401-635-4719 ). You arrive intending to buy a single head of lettuce and depart with a $5.00 bargain box of peppers or a $10.00 crate of tomatoes, or both. Labeled irregular, the peppers and tomatoes were mostly perfect yesterday.

Last fall all the red (or mostly red, or orange, or purple) peppers became red pepper soup, a soup so satisfying it deserved a repeat.

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 food processor or using a stick blender, puree soup (in batches if you are using a processor) until smooth. Taste again 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.

 Go soon. Walker's is open every day but will close by the end of the month.

Tuesday, October 11, 2011


Over the years my friends and I have often complained that The Back Eddy (1 Bridge Street, Westport, MA  508-636-6500) has a hard time serving all the people at a table at the same time. It looks like changes have been made. You can actually see the coordination among the waitstaff if you're seated near the open kitchen. On a recent visit our group of six (admittedly not-100%-well-behaved) was served everything, appetizers through dessert, perfectly. Out-of-town guests liked the fish and chips, the cod with fava beans and clams, and the crispy fried shrimp and were smitten with Christina's ice creams - ginger and burnt sugar. Only real negative was the uncooked (totally) bacon wrapped around the scallops.

Winter hours from Columbus Day through New Year's Day (when Back Eddy closes):

Thursday and Friday, 5:00 - 9:00 p.m.
Saturday, noon to 10:00 p.m.
Sunday, noon to 6:00 p.m.

Wednesday, October 5, 2011


Langworthy Farm Winery in Westerly (308 Shore Road  401-322-7791) hosts an Olive Fest this weekend, Saturday and Sunday, 12:00 noon to 5:00 p.m. Pay $10 for a logo glass and pair wines with olives and oils from around the globe.

Saturday and Sunday, October 8 and 9   12:00 - 5:00 p.m.

Tuesday, October 4, 2011


When you saw the kiosk at Heathrow you knew it was only a matter of minutes before Ladurée opened in New York. You were correct. As The New York Times reports (, Ladurée has crossed the Atlantic in all its splendor to serve eager macaron worshippers, who are, by the way, only too happy to wait in line and pay fortunes for the goods. And these sweets are all the more inviting when presented in one of the fantastic new boxes.

Go for it. Laduree is at 864 Madison Avenue (71st St)  646-558-3157 
Open seven days a week.

Tuesday, September 27, 2011


Right now, grapes are available at local farm stands. Most are Concords and offer an intoxicating fragrance for your kitchen even if you never get to cooking them. But cooking them is easy and the jam produced is delicious.You may scoff at the idea, remembering the supermarket grape jelly of childhood, but make it and you'll see that mass-market grape bears no resemblance to fresh-made.

And like raspberrry jam (see ), this jam is no-fail and easy to make. But it does require a food mill (I use the smaller Foley mill).

1. Wash 12 jelly jars and lids and put them in a large pot with a jam funnel and a ladle. Cover with water, bring to a boil, reduce to simmer (alternative: dishwasher, using high heat dry setting). When the jelly is close to done boiling, place the sterilized jars and lids on a clean, linen-type dish towel.

2. In a big pot put 1/2 cup of water in the bottom, add 12 cups* of washed grapes and 12 cups of sugar, heat on low at first to thoroughly mix in the sugar, then raise to a boil and boil for 20 minutes.

3. Remove pot from the stove and carefully (the grapes are hot hot and will splatter) ladle the grapes into a food mill (not all at once - do this in batches) placed on a large bowl or another pot. Mill each batch of grapes very thoroughly - you want to be left with only the seeds and skins. 

4. When the grapes are all milled reheat the jam to boiling, and immediately remove from the heat. Place the jam funnel on a jar and ladle the jam in. Move the funnel to the next jar and repeat until you have 6 jars ready. Wipe the rim of each jar using another clean linen-type dish towel dipped in boiled water, then place a jelly lid on top and carefully screw on the ring (don't make it super tight, not necessary). Do the next 6 jars. Cool on a rack and listen for random (satisfying) pops as the jars seal.

* Have only 8 cups of grapes? Go ahead, recipe is the same but remember, the process will move faster.


The German American Cultural Society of Rhode Island ( is in Pawtucket at 78 Carter Avenue, not far from McCoy Stadium, a location you're unlikely to stumble on. The society sponsors musical events, offers German language study (all levels, 12 lessons for $195), opportunities to sing and opportunities to drink German beer in its ratskeller.

Oktoberfest in Munich

This Saturday and Sunday, October 1st and 2nd, the German American Cultural Society celebrates Oktoberfest featuring traditional German food and brew. And bands. Entry is $5.00 per person for Munich in Pawtucket.

Saturday  3:00 - 11:00 p.m.   Sunday  12:00 noon - 6:00 p.m.  
Info at 401-943-4850

Friday, September 23, 2011


You've probably noticed the Sid Wainer & Son trucks on the highway or making stops at local restaurants. Sid Wainer & Son ( delivers very fancy produce (perfectly ripe melons, miniature eggplants, exotic small fruits) and specialty foods (every grain or dried bean you can think of, high-end olive oils and vinegars, smoked meats and salmon) to the best restaurants. In fact, Sid Wainer delivers to more than 23,000 restaurants. It's a good story - the company is based in New Bedford (2301 Purchase, Street  508-999-3665) where it began in 1914. No longer strictly local, Sid Wainer delivers its goods to many tony restaurants who are happy to have you believe that their chefs spend early morning hours in green markets or scouring the countryside for perfect vegetables. In fact, Sid Wainer is often the agent doing the hunting and gathering.

It's an easy excursion from Providence. Take I-195 East to Exit 14, merge onto Penniman Street and turn left at County Street which runs into Purchase Street. Sid Wainer is less than a mile from the exit. Bring a jacket - you will need it in the cheese and produce rooms.

Well-known to locals and regular visitors is the lengthy tasting bar where samples of Sid Wainer products are sampled directly (olive oils, jams, etc.) or as used in recipes (as in the white beans with ham pictured above). Yesterday, you could indulge with cups of blood orange juice, serve yourself some Domaine de Provence (one of their brands) chicken and duck pâté and sample bean soup. Repeat visitors get to know which days and times are best.

You are not shopping for bargains here. More that you're getting an idea what's out there - exotic little vegetables, edible flowers, cheeses direct from producers in France, Ireland, Wisconsin (or down the street in Marion), Serrano ham, top-of-the-line vinegars. And you learn a little about the restaurant business. Even the best places can't send staff off every day hunting for squash blossoms. You know that the expensive fruit purees sold at Sid's are used to save steps in the "house-made" sorbet production.

Put your warm clothes on and visit the cheese. Ask all the questions you want - the staff is helpful. This is a place to buy. The produce area is entertaining but not as useful (to me anyway) in the summer and fall when local Rhode Island and Massachusetts market stands supply just about everything including the squash blossoms. The room becomes more interesting in the winter. But if you have a fruit urge and require a quality orange in August this is where you'll find it.

It is hard to leave Sid Wainer's place empty-handed - people usually succomb to the cheese. And occasionally there are bargains, products Sid Wainer has too much of and needs to move out - that is my explanation for the purchase of an eight-pound tin of Swiss strawberry confiture.

If you want to make a day of it, visit the New Bedford Whaling Museum downtown (18 Johnny Cake Hill  508-997-0046), open seven days a week and have lunch at Cork (90 Front Street 508-994-9463), the tapas bar, by the working waterfront.