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.
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.
The end of the growing season is a great time to visit Walker'sRoadside 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.
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.
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.
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 (www.nytimes.com/2011/08/31/dining/laduree-brings-its-macarons-to-new-york-food-stuff.html), 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.