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 rhodeislandismyoyster.blogspot.com/2010/07/raspberry-jam-easier-than-pie.html ), 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 (www.gacsri.org/) 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 (www.sidwainer.com) 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. www.corkwineandtapas.com

Friday, September 16, 2011


Here are your chances to learn what you need to know about mushrooms in the wild (and you need to know):

1. Saturday, September 17, 1:30 - 4:00 p.m. at the Norman Bird Sanctuary (Beach Road, Middletown, RI). Joe Metzen, of the Audubon's staff, will lead a workshop.  $12 www.normanbirdsanctuary.org

2. Saturday, September 17, 2:00 - 4:30 p.m. at the Kimball Wildlife Refuge (Charlestown, RI). It's their annual wild mushroom walk.  $10

3. Saturday, September 24, 10:00 a.m. - 2:00 p.m. at Parker Woodand Wildlife Refuge (Coventry, RI). This workshop is also led by Joe Metzen who teaches participants how to identify local mushrooms. It includes a mushroom lunch.  $30

4. Sunday, September 25, 2:00 - 6:00 p.m. at Denison Pequotsepos Nature Center (Mystic, Ct). This is the 10th annual wild mushroom festival. This is an eating event with music, wine, etc.  $15  www.dpnc.org

5. Saturday, October 8, 1:00 - 3:30 p.m. at Powder Mills Ledges Wildlife Refuge (Smithfield, RI). Audubon naturalists will lead the mushroom tour. Call to register (401-949-5454).  $25


Hemenway's (121 South Main Street, Providence  401-351-8570) has two oyster events on its calendar.

First, tomorrow, Hemenway's is hosting a benefit for the Ronald McDonald House. They will sell oysters and other shellfish, clam chowder and clam cakes on the plaza beside the restaurant. Family entertainment is also featured, according to Hemenway's, but the best entertainment may be the Oyster Lovers Challenge, at 1:00 p.m. and again at 3:00, when contestants vie to down the most oysters in one minute. $100 prizes to the best stuffers.

Saturday, September 17th   1:00 - 5:00 p.m.   

Next, on Thursday, September 29th Hemenway's is holding an Oyster and Craft Beer dinner. Their chef, Steve Long, along with Neil Thompson of Windfall Shellfish Company (www.poppasquashoysters.com/), will prepare a five-course mollusk and beer feast.

Thursday, September 29th   6:00 - 10:00 p.m.   $59 per person before tax & tip


Tuesday, September 13, 2011


There's still time to reserve for the 4th annual New England FarmWays benefit. It's Friday night, September 16 from 6:00 to 9:30 p.m. at Greenvale Vineyards (582 Wapping Road, Portsmouth, RI  401-847-3777 - www.greenvale.com).

It's pricey, $150.00 per ticket, but the food and wine contributors are good as is the cause. Sponsors preparing dishes include Bruce Tillinghast of New Rivers in Providence, Susanna Williams of Susanna's Ice Cream, and Joe Simone of Sunnyside in Warren.

Sign up at the New England FarmWays website:  www.nefarmways.org

Thursday, September 8, 2011


Friday, September 9 through Sunday, September 11: Cranston Greek Festival sponsored by The Church of the Annunciation. All the foods you want to eat under warm (maybe?) skies and Greek dancing performances (Friday at 7:00, Saturday and Sunday at 4:00 and 7:00 p.m.). The fair is open from 5:00 p.m. to 10:00 on Friday, noon to 10:00 p.m. on Saturday and noon to 9:00 p.m. on Sunday.

Florida Memory Project (1960s Boy Scouts)
The Church of the Annunciation
Greek Orthodox Parish of Greater Providence

175 Oaklawn Avenue (Rte 5), Cranston  


 Park & Ride service available


Monday, September 5, 2011


Here's the line-up for Farmstead's (188 Wayland Avenue, Providence  401-274-7177) classes this fall:

October 9 (Sunday) - Cidah and Cheddah - 4:00 p.m. - 6:00 p.m.   $50.00

November 6 (Sunday) - Bavarian Bash - 4:00 p.m. - 6:00 p.m.   $60.00

December 4 (Sunday) - Holiday Cheese Mix - 4:30 p.m. - 6:30 p.m.   $50.00

January 29 (Sunday) - Fondue Fiesta - 4:00 p.m. - 6:00 p.m.   $45.00 per person, $110.00 with fondue pot

Farmstead's website has all the info. To sign up, call the number above and ask for Thomas.