Monday, May 23, 2011


June 1     Ocean House ( in Watch Hill hosts the season's last Farm & Vine dinner, featuring chef Brian Kingsford of Bacaro in Providence ( cooking with Stamp Farm (RI) ingredients.

$75.00 plus tax and tip    7:00 p.m., Wednesday, June 1
Call Ocean House for reservations: 401-584-7010

June 3-5    Block Island has a three-day weekend event featuring discounted ferry trips, lodging and food. Requires a lot of planning and reserving, not to mention acute hopefulness re the weather, but check out the website for more info:

June 4    At this point who could possibly come up with a new chowder recipe? Newport says its Annual Great Chowder Cook-Off is the longest-running chowder competition anywhere (30 years) and on Saturday, June 4, from noon until 6:00 p.m. you can participate as a taster. Tickets are $20.00, purchased ahead - the website explains all.

June 7    Not to be left out of the movement to have the world come eat at your distant inn or on your remote island, Atwells Avenue in Providence offers an urban experience on Tuesday night, June 7. Stroll Federal Hill, sampling your way up and down the street between 4:30 and 7:30 p.m. Tickets are $30.00 pre-tax and you MUST purchase them beforehand.


Monday, May 9, 2011


Stylewise, Dirigeable in the 15th (37, rue d'Alleray  01 45 32 01 54) is way more 2011 in attitude than La Truffiere (see April 3 post) in the 5th but the menu is only degrees away from classic. Dirigeable is just north of Convention off Vaugirard, so for most visitors this is a destination address. 

Decorating is spare and attractive. Service for us was very good - low-key and responsive. Responsive is important when there are issues of translation at stake.

Choice is streamlined - six or seven appetizers, same number of main courses and three or four desserts. Appetizers included a haddock carpaccio, a salad of grapes, citrus and ginger, chicken liver terrine, smoked foie gras with lentil velouté, sautéed foie gras with leeks, and a compote of rabbit and prunes. The sautéed fois gras with leek confits was amazing. The question we neglected to ask, however, was if the rabbit and prune compote was chaud. Turns out it was not and chunks of cold rabbit make a dense dish to eat. This is definitely the American me speaking, noting that in our food culture cold tureens usually mean slices of not very chunky pâté.

Main courses were evenly divided between fish and meat. The fish choices, very appealing, included carrelet (a flat fish, like flounder) with chorizo, noix de Saint Jacques, and a French cod. There was also duck breast with foie gras, beef tartare, and osso bucco.  Sauteed leeks were a major component of the accompanying vegetables in more than one dish but generally enhanced without overwhelming. However, the centerpiece of one fish entrée, the actual fish, was deemed bland and not up to the standards of the vegetables.  Scanning the tables around us we could see that all the main courses were represented and it made me want to do more sampling.

Dessert choices were limited (each would have worked for me) but the special dessert of the evening was a prune clafouti which was ordered prior to the meal. Here a clafouti is made with fruit baked within a batter. Dirigeable makes this dessert regularly, varying the fruit. Excellent. It did remind me of the made-to-order tarts at Al Forno and Bocaro in Providence.

Certain menu items appear very often with the remainder changing daily. Dirigeable has the sort of menu and ambience which remind you that good neighborhood dining is a pleasure. South of Convention (home also to Jadis, another favored spot in the 15th), Dirigeable operates L'Annexe du Dirigeable (4, rue de Dantzig  01 45 30 63 82).

No website.
night snacks in Paris

Thursday, May 5, 2011


Garrison Confections' factory store (72 Ledge Street, Central Falls 401-725-0790) is open tomorrow, Friday, May 6, and Saturday, May 7. The website is not up-to-date but the hours are probably 11:00 a.m. - 6:00 p.m. CALL TO CHECK.

Tuesday, May 3, 2011


Near Watch Hill? There may still be time to sign up for Wednesday's dinner at Ocean House (401-584-700) featuring the cooking of Derek Wagner (Nicks on Broadway, 500 Broadway, Providence 401-421-0286 He is cooking with ingredients from Arcadian Fields of Hope Valley, RI (

7:00 p.m.   $75 per person plus tax and tip
Call Ocean House or book through Open Table (


Gerbil    (not on the tour!)

Visit seven kitchens on the annual Hidden Kitchens of Portsmouth tour (Friday, May 6). You may end up with a bad case of kitchen envy but it's usually entertaining and often educational to see what's new in appliances, counters and floors. Not to mention decorating, good and bad. Tickets are $25 and proceeds benefit the Portsmouth Public Education Foundation.

11:00 a.m. - 7:00 p.m.

Monday, May 2, 2011


Nemo Bolin, chef-owner with his wife, Jenny Bolin, of Cook & Brown (959 Hope Street, Providence 401-273-7275) has made a big splash in the cooking world since opening the new restaurant last year. In addition to having Cook & Brown nominated in the Best New Restaurant category of the James Beard awards, Bolin was voted to the top ten of Food & Wine's The People's Best New Chefs list for New England. Bolin is young but his credentials are solid. Dedicated to food since he was old enough to think about it, he worked part-time through high school and college at L'Etoile on Nantucket (where he is from) and after college attended the Cambridge School of Culinary Arts. Following culinary school Bolin worked several jobs, most notably at No. 9 Park in Boston and Craige Street Bistrot in Cambridge.

Moving to Providence and opening Cook & Brown Public House was a bold venture.
Cook & Brown, which is in the refurbished space of the late Oak restaurant, has been growing a following since it opened in March, 2011. Across from Chez Pascal on upper Hope, just feet from the Pawtucket line, it's in a known restaurant neighborhood if you live on Providence's East Side. Because it isn't near businesses, hotels or schools it is not an area known to most out-of-town visitors. Too bad.

The menu is as slim as the lines of the restaurant. Bolin obviously cares about fresh and local foods but he isn't preachy; you aren't bombarded with details of provenance. Origins may be cited on the menu but that's it, no speeches. Nor is there much food fashion at Cook & Brown  - pâté is still pâté, not foam served beside a reconstructed gherkin. Bolin's goal seems to be: present a short, interesting menu and make sure everything on it is better than good.

For main courses a recent menu included fish (poached hake), shellfish (seared scallops), roasted chicken, grilled lamb, and the truly special C & B burger with housemade potato chips. Checking the website the next day I saw that much of the menu had already changed. Refreshing.  Appetizers include a green salad, a soup (nettle with croutons one night last week), and five or six others. Friday's list was: herb flatbread with roasted beets, arugula and blue cheese; grilled beef tongue skewers; Maine mussels with house-made garlic sausage; chicken liver pâté; baby carrot salad with asparagus flan; and, fried Essex clams.

For the most part, over many visits, the food gets good ratings from me. It's doubtful there is a better burger in the city of Providence and when you add the chips it's close to a religious experience, should you have those. The fish (poached hake or monkfish) usually beckons me and Nemo doesn't shy away from what you might call the "fishy fish". One night he served bluefish on ratatouille - a pretty strong food statement, bluefish on Provençal vegetables, but it was terrific in all it's (healthy) fishiness.

As far as appetizers go, whatever the soup is it will be good. The green salad is fresh and simple. A friend ate the fried clams the other night and wasn't thrilled. The clams appeared to be flattened then coated and fried crisp with all obvious grease blotted away. The result is fake fried clams - clams are supposed to be a little disgusting.

Desserts change all the time. Usually worth the calories.

There are some quibbles - a waiter who talks too much, less than great chairs - and a weird lack of atmosphere. The space could use a little more life but it's hard to put a finger on just what it is that needs adjusting. It is certainly not the C & B Burger with cheddar, caramelized onions and chips because that, as is, is perfect.

Sunday suppers 8:30 p.m., one seating. You eat whatever is offered - my idea of a good adventure. (Regular dinner menu from 5:30 - 7:00 p.m. on Sundays.)