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 (www.roseberrywinn.com/), get top-grade parmesan cheese at Milk & Honey Bazaar (milkandhoneybazaar.com/), peruse pricey but well-edited furniture and home goods at The Cottage at Four Corners (www.thecottageri.com/), visit art galleries, The Donovan Gallery (www.donovangallery.com/) and Gallery 4 (www.gallery4tiverton.com/), ogle high-priced jewelry at Tiffany Peay (www.tiffanypeay.com), pick out children's clothes at Little Purls (www.littlepurlsonline.com/), view all things blue at Nankeen (www.nankeenstyle.com/), buy garden decorations, cards and gifts at Courtyards (www.courtyardsltd.com/), 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 (www.bacarorestaurant.net) 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 yourprov.com/fulltext?nxd_id=79837)will 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. gardengrillecafe.com/

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: