Sunday, February 27, 2011


Community Supported Agriculture ("CSA") is run by subscription - subscribers pay up front for the coming season's produce. Each week, from early summer through fall, participants pick up their "shares" at designated locations. Prices run upwards from $400 for the season - cost depends on quantity and contents. Some CSAs are vegetables and fruit; others are eggs, meat and/or fish.

Learn all about it on Wednesday at the Wintertime Farmers Market at Hope Artiste Village (1005 Main Street, Pawtucket). Fourteen farms are participating in the Rhode Island CSA Fair.
Wednesday, March 2, 4:00 - 6:00 p.m.

For more CSA info, go to

Saturday, February 26, 2011


The Pawtuxet Village Farmers' Market presents a screening of Dirt! The Movie ( next Wednesday, March 2 at 7:00 p.m. at the William Hall Free Library, 185 Broad Street, Cranston. Admission is free.

Learn more about the ground we stand on.

See also

Thursday, February 24, 2011


GOURMET HOUSE (787 Hope Street, Providence  401-831-3400) is Apsara Palace dressed up and serving wine and beer. Popular. Shrimp Nime Chow a/k/a fresh rolls - rice noodles, sprouts, lettuce, Thai mint and basil in a translucent rice wrap with peanut dipping sauce - are usually in my order but we let the manager choose a second appetizer, Hae Kainge, a fried bean curd wrap with cilantro and green onions. Hae Kainge is an ugly sight on the plate but take a bite and looks won't matter. Like many area restaurants, Gourmet House covers a few bases, offering much Thai but including other Southeast Asian dishes and lots of Chinese. Along with a Thai curry we chose Bejing duck which was completely different from the expected (pork-bun style puffy pancakes for one thing) and a success.

Another good choice in the upper Hope neighborhood.

Wednesday, February 23, 2011


There were thousands of entries for the 2011 Best Chef and Best New Restaurant awards bestowed by the James Beard Foundation.

Making it to the semi-finalist list for Best Chef for the first time are Matt Jennings of La Laiterie ( in Providence and Champe Speidel of Persimmon ( in Bristol.

On the semi-final list for Best New Restaurant is Cooke & Brown Public House ( 

Finalists are announced in March and winners in May.

Friday, February 18, 2011


TOMORROW in Newport: 16th annual Chili Cook-Off at the Newport Harbor Hotel from 11:00 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. Hosted by Samuel Adams beer, it's basically an all-you-can-eat chili tasting with chips. $8.00, or $6.00 if you have a Winter Festival Button which is $8.00 and available at the Newport Gateway Center(23 America's Cup Avenue) and other locations listed on the Newport Winter Festival site. Buttons get you discounts and special deals at venues around town from tonight, February 18, through February 27.

LOCAL 121 (121 Washington Street, Providence  401-274-2121) is holding a Kermit Lynch wine event Wednesday, February 23, 5:00 - 9:00 p.m. $30.00 plus tax and tip.  It's a moule & frites supper with new wines. Check the website for details.

FARMERS MARKET AT ATTLEBORO FARMS (491 Hickory Road, North Attleboro, MA) now sells wine from Coastal Vineyards of South Dartmouth, MA ( at its market, Sundays, 12:00 - 4:00 p.m.

Thursday, February 17, 2011


SIENA (238 Atwells Avenue, Providence   401-521-3311)   Siena was voted Best Restaurant in Rhode Island and Best Italian Restaurant in Rhode Island Monthly's 2010 readers' poll. It's a nice enough place, done up to look more high-end than red-sauce trattoria. Psyched for our first visit, guests in tow, the thought was: finally, we'll have fine Italian rather than the usual fare. Not to be. Well that isn't exactly correct - Siena IS better than most of the neighborhood but that doesn't make it great. Appetizers and salads include the usual variations of calamari, clams, buffalo mozarella, caprese, etc. - competently prepared. Moving on to pasta, Frutti di Mare in a red clam sauce over linguine was okay. Tagliatelle alla Bolognese sampled on a subsequent trip promised to be "truly classic" but the beef and pork were overwhelmed by pancetta and the result was a super salty pasta dish. Scaloppine orders fared better. Saltimbocca, normally salty, suffered from too much (or just not good?) proscuitto and an odd sauce. Next time, maybe the fish and chicken.

TRINITY BREWHOUSE (186 Fountain Street, Providence  401-453-2337) It's big. A bar/restaurant (emphasis on bar - definitely bar restrooms), the style is unadorned, the menu is pub fare, most drinkers/diners are south side of 40. Burgers are okay but buried in too-big rolls. Prices are good.

Thursday, February 10, 2011


The Haffenreffer Museum of Anthropology at Brown University has a lecture series  to accompany its Reimagining the Americas exhibit.  On Monday, February 14, anthropologist Patricia McAnany of the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill, presents Before Columbus Discovered Chocolate: Cacao Cultivation and Courtly Appetite in the Classic Maya Lowlands. A tasting, by Taza Chocolates ( follows.

Monday, February 14, 5:30 p.m., Solomon Center, Room 101 (De Ciccio Family Auditorium)

Wednesday, February 9, 2011


Garrison Confections (72 Ledge Street, Central Falls  401-725-0790) has its factory store open today, Wednesday, through Saturday, February 12. Garrison will offer its regular line as well as some special Valentines including pink French macarons filled with raspberry jam.
Hours are: 11:00 a.m. - 6:00 p.m.

Tuesday, February 8, 2011


Where Bittman's elegant brownie has an almost bittersweet adult taste, this dense brownie is more conventional, definitely American. Even packed with nuts, it's a good gift brownie because it cuts well.

Super Brownie

16 tbls unsalted butter
8 oz bittersweet or semi-sweet chocolate cut into big pieces
4 eggs*
1/2 tsp salt
1 cup sugar
1 cup packed dark brown sugar
2 tsp vanilla
1 cup all-purpose flour
(2 cups walnut or pecan pieces)
 * I buy x-large eggs

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees, rack in middle. Butter (generously) a 9- by 13-inch pan, line the bottom and sides with waxed or parchment paper and butter again.

2. Heat water to boil in a big saucepan then turn burner to lowest heat. Put chocolate and butter in a ceramic bowl and sit bowl in the saucepan. When chocolate is nearly melted, remove pot (with bowl still sitting on it) off the heat and whisk until smooth.

3. In a big bowl whisk the eggs until they look entirely blended, then add salt, sugars and vanilla. Using a big spoon, stir in the chocolate mixture and fold in the flour. (Add the nuts here if using them.)

4. Pour batter into the pan and even it out if needed. Bake for about 45 minutes. Cool on a rack then wrap the entire pan and leave it, in the fridge or on the counter, overnight (or all day).

Brownies should be at room temp before you cut them. Gently loosen the pan sides and corners with a knife. Place a cookie sheet on top of the pan, flip the pan over and unmold. Remove the parchment paper, put another cookie sheet on the brownies and flip them back to right side up.

Trim the edges. Don't be alarmed - they will be crisp. For  24 two-inch square brownies make 3 cuts lengthwise and 5 across. For boxed gift-giving, wrap each brownie individually.

Monday, February 7, 2011


Need an easy price-performer Valentine? Mark Bittman's recipe produces a thin, fudgy, not-too-sweet classic brownie.

Bittman's Brownies

3 ounces unsweetened chocolate
8 tbls unsalted butter
1 cup sugar
2 eggs
1/2 cup all-purpose flour
pinch of salt
1/2 tsp vanilla (Bittman) or 1 tsp (me)

1. Pre-heat oven to 350 degrees, rack in middle. Butter an 8-inch-square baking pan (straight sides are best). If you want to be certain you can flip the uncut brownie out of the pan, line the bottom with wax or parchment paper and butter that too.

2. Combine chocolate and butter and melt almost completely on very low heat. Remove from heat and stir until smooth. Transfer mixture to a bowl and stir in sugar. Vigorously stir in eggs, one at a time. Add salt and vanilla and stir in flour, mixing only until you see no flour.

3. Pour into pan and bake 20 - 30 minutes. Timing depends on your oven and your taste for a softer vs. firmer brownie. Just use a skinny cake tester or toothpick to make sure brownie has cooked past the goo level.

Cool completely on a rack before cutting. Then gently loosen the sides and flip the uncut brownie out. If you can bear it, wrap up the brownie and leave it at room temp or in the fridge overnight. Carefully slice off the very edge of all four sides so your brownies are all flat. For 9 large but not giant brownies, cut across the pan in thirds.

If you're making a gift, cut squares of plastic wrap and wrap each brownie (be neater than I am). Put six in a box, tie a ribbon. Voila. I've been making brownies as a birthday present for one friend long enough that she has sampled a half-dozen recipes. I wrap each brownie separately so she can hide them and enjoy at her leisure.

Now, brew a cup of ginger tea and eat the side strips you cut off.

Tomorrow, another bigger (for a 13- by 9-inch-pan) brownie recipe, this one with nuts.

If you missed it, here's the site for Mark Bittman's favorites:

Tuesday, February 1, 2011


CAFE NUOVO (1 Citizens Plaza, Providence  401-421-2525)   Nice location along the river. Conference center decorating. Lunch menu is so big you worry they won't do justice to any single item. They don't. Orders arrive mixed up and nothing holds up to the descriptions. But, due to the occasion, desserts are ordered by all and they are beautiful to look at, great to eat. Laurie Nadeau is pastry chef.

RED STRIPE (465 Angell St, Providence  401-437-6950)   Wayland Square, an East Side shopping stop (independent book store, coffee/quick-eat sites, several restaurants, hairdressers, clothing and housewares/furniture shops) is open for lunch and Red Stripe is the most popular place. Modeled loosely on a French bistro, the bar, dining room and kitchen form a big cheery rectangle. Along the street side are large windows, open in summer. The menu is a bistro list: moules et frites, salads (roasted beets, panzanella, cobb, nicoise), omelettes, burgers, etc., with nods to New England (cod cakes and seafood chowder). The funny part is, there isn't a single knock-you-over item served - it's all decent without standing out. And that works for me. Red Stripe is lively, service is friendly, the menu is reasonably priced (though not cheap) and it's well known so you can say, "Let's meet at ..."