Friday, December 20, 2013


If you love the house-made sausages and hot-dogs at Chez Pascal (960 Hope Street, Providence  401-421-4422) go pick up a four-pack of sausages ($8) and/or a six-pack of hot-dogs ($10). Sausage types vary (bratwurst, chorizo, etc.). Indulge.

Tuesday, December 10, 2013


New Rivers (7 Steeple Street, Providence  401-751-0350) is having a seafood and beer dinner in the upstairs private dining room on Wednesday, December 18 at 6:30 p.m. The dinner showcases Rhode Island beer, fish and shellfish (the lobster in the lobster/scallop gratin is foreign, from Maine). Cost is $80 per person before tax and tip. If this dinner is anything like the beer dinner I attended at New Rivers a year or so ago, it is worth every penny. The dinner I went to was terrific; some people came with friends others on their own, everybody talked. The age distribution ran from 30ish to retiree age.  Food was

Wednesday, December 18    6:30 p.m.    Call 401-751-0350

Thursday, December 5, 2013


Move your head away from chocolate gifts for a moment and consider apricots.

Lovers of glacéed apricots know that at Christmastime Williams Sonoma ( is stocked up with boxes of delicious apricots, plain and chocolate-dipped. Very pricey ($42-$45) to be sure.  But know this: if you order chocolate-dipped from Williams Sonoma you will receive apricots in perfect shape, chocolate intact. That wasn't my experience when I ordered through Amazon - the California vendor sent good apricots but they arrived in a jumble with all the chocolate broken.

And take a look at this site: for a good selection of luscious California apricots ($38 for two lbs). Andy Mariani runs Andy's Orchard in the Santa Clara Valley.

drying apricots in California 1905 - Orange County Archives


Joanne Chang, owner of Flour Bakery + Café in Boston ( will be talking about baking and discussing her new book, Flour, Too: Indispensable Recipes for the Café's Most Loved Sweets & Savories (long title, yes?) at the Brown Faculty Club on Tuesday, December 10 at 5:00 p.m. This is free (with a cash bar) and open to the public but best to call and reserve. Number is 401-863-3023

Brown Faculty Club     1 Magee Street     Providence

Thursday, September 12, 2013


You waited to sign up for cooking classes with chef David Reynoso and company at Al Forno (577 South Main Street - until you read the blurb in ProJo and you were, as usual, too late. Every single class was sold out. But do this, call Lexi at 401-273-9760 and put yourself on the wait-list. I did this last-minute for a cooking class and got lucky. Life intervenes, people over-commit, so put yourself on the wait-list for: September 28 (Al Forno Classics); November 2 (Local Waters); November 16 (Local Classics II); November 30 (Apples Apples Everywhere) or December 7 (Christmas at Al Forno). Classes are noon to 2:00 on Saturdays - $65.

THE FRENCH TARTE  (1005 Main St  Pawtucket  774- 280-4803)

ready to rise
French Tarte classes are fun; afterwards I barely made it to the car before taking the first ethereal bite of a still-warm croissant. Susan VandenBerg teaches in a clear orderly way. She makes rolling out the croissant dough look easy - demonstrating technique, she rolls, cuts long triangles and forms perfect shapes while you, intent on getting it right, roll awkwardly, cut pretty good triangles, and create a few croissant which look like mangled hot dogs and a couple that are picture perfect. Then you form a pain au chocolat and have a Voilà moment because it looks authentic.

The Croissant classes are two hours long and cost $45 - worth every centime for a morning spent learning and working (with wonderful buttery pastry smells filling the air), sampling the goods and going home with a box of treats and a packet of dough to freeze and roll out later. Paradise, really. So, go on line and check out all Susan's classes: tartes; croissant; sablés, pâte feuilletée and brioche. Some of the classes are full but if you need particular dates, try the wait list.

I wrote about Ciril Hitz's classes last spring. Here's an excerpt from that piece:

Ciril Hitz has a BFA in Industrial Design from RISD. A Swiss native, he returned to Switzerland after graduation and apprenticed as a pastry chef and chocolatier. Hitz came back to the States in 1997 and joined the Johnson & Wales faculty. He teaches full-time at the International Baking and Pastry Institute and wins accolades for his work with both breads and pastry. And on weekends, Hitz will teach you at his place in nearby Rehobeth, MA. His classes are small (6-8 persons) and they sell out.

Check out the remainder of the fall schedule, which is mostly about bread and, later, Christmas cookies.

pain au chocolat at the french tarte class

Thursday, August 8, 2013


August 14 - 18  -  47th annual Washington County Fair, Route 112 in Richmond (

August 24  -  Tomato Day at Coastal Growers' Saturday morning market at the Casey Farm in Saunderstown. Indulge, sample tomatoes of every color. Opens at 9:00 a.m.

September 11 (Wednesday)  -  Farm & Vine dinner at the Ocean House in Westerly. Chef is Nathan Rick of Lake Placid Lodge. 7:00 p.m. $95 per person.

September 28  -  Back at Ocean House, learn how to preserve what you grow or buy. Brought to you by edible Rhody, Ocean House and Sherri Brooks Vinton, author of Put 'em Up! Fruit. Call Ocean House for details (which are not on the website): 401-584-7000


Live in South County? See the article in the summer issue of edible Rhody or go on line and look at  photos of the Trust's 2012 dinner ( and you will want to purchase one of the few remaining tickets for this year's September 7th party at the Avondale Farm Preserve.  It's an afternoon event, reception at 3:30 p.m., seating at 4:00. $175 per ticket - good dinner, good cause.

Call 401-315-2610

Wednesday, July 24, 2013


A Restaurant City box store has opened in Providence (think Staples, only pots and pans) with supplies for both commercial and residential kitchens. Not much of a website as far as specific product information. You'll need GPS or a map to find it at 100 Dupont Drive (401-383-6260).

Monday, July 15, 2013


Walrus and Carpenter Oysters ( are from Ninigret Pond in Charleston, RI. You can order oysters (buy "shares"), even get a knife and a lesson when you pick up. Most people know the oyster grower from restaurant offerings - they're the oysters that are already sold out when you arrive at New Rivers. This summer Walrus and Carpenter is offering a series of oyster outings at their set-up on the pond. Well known RI chefs will be featured:

July 21 Chef Beau Vestal of New Rivers (
July 27  Chef James Mark of north (
Aug 11  Chef Derek Wagner of Nicks on Broadway (
Aug 14  Chef Jeanie Roland of Ella's in Westerly (
Here's the info straight from the website: "The evening begins with a boat tour of 3-acre offshore oyster farm, on the very boats we use daily on the farm. As our farm is run by a field biologist and an environmental lawyer, we have a lot to say about the local ecology, the practice of oyster farming, and it’s significant environmental benefits. Once we've whet your oyster appetite, we'll wade into the water for a floating raw bar. Not for the faint of heart, you'll be enjoying raw oysters and drinks while partially immersed in their original habitat – with flora and fauna abounding! We argue that oysters taste best when you're still standing in the water they were harvested from, and we aim to have you convinced.

    Following the raw bar, we'll take a walk on stunning East Beach, which faces the open Atlantic Ocean and is just behind the farm over the dunes, followed by a seated dinner served family-style. Each chef has originally designed the meal, and select chefs will join us for the entire night. We'll return again to the marina by boat around 8pm.

    We hope we’ve made clear this is no ordinary dining out experience. Like oysters themselves, an oyster farm can be rough around the edges, and we hope you share our view that adventure can entail getting your feet wet! Please bring water shoes (Tevas, Chacos, etc), sturdy clothes, a change of clothes, and a bathing suit and towel if you are so inclined.  Contact Phoebe with any questions or concerns at We can’t wait to share these evenings with you."

    Tickets are $100. Reserve on this link ( then send a check to:

     Walrus and Carpenter Oysters
     50 Fourth St, #3
     Providence, RI 02906

    or, go to the bottom of the dinner series page on their website and hit the PayPal link.



    Wednesday, July 10, 2013


    Félix Magdalena
    Bodega Malasaña (186 Union Street, Providence) is a Spanish wine bar - around the corner from its associated restaurant, the tiny Flan y Ajo. On Sunday, July 14, owners Diego Luis Pérez and Siobhan Chavarria are hosting a Sidra Asturiana festival. Sidra Asturiana is the strong, tangy cider from Asturias in northwest Spain. There are many varieties of the cider and, of course, rituals associated with drinking it - certain glasses, strong cheeses, etc. Sounds like fun. Pay $15 in advance at the Bodega or at Flan y Ajo (225A Westminster Street) or Eno Fine Wines (225 Westminster Street). $20 at the door.

    Sunday, July 14  4:00 - 9:00 p.m.

    Monday, July 8, 2013


    No offense to Whole Foods, Tony's Colonial or Venda Ravioli, but the prepared food market in Providence is pretty lame. Whole Foods has variety and the hot-meal selections will sustain you in a pinch but sustenance isn't much of a goal. Tony's and Venda will supply you with lots of tasty fats and carbohydrates but not much else. And "take-out" does not equal "prepared". Picking up "prepared" food is more like going to the bakery, perusing the goods and pointing at the exact cupcake you want.

    So, welcome to Pantry (The Pantry at Avenue N) where you walk in, peruse the offerings, and head home with surprises. Pantry is alongside Avenue N (the deservedly popular restaurant owned by Nick and Tracy Rabar) at 20 Newman Avenue in Rumford (401-228-6691).  

    Pantry posts a daily menu (  and there are standby sandwiches and an eclectic mix of main dishes and salads. On a recent visit, just about closing time, there were turkey burritos, small-piece fried chicken, a gorgeous looking pasta, meatloaf, and many sides and salads. I chose the terrific (and large) turkey burrito, a corn and quinoa side dish and a chopped salad with tomatoes and red onion. This is soooooooo welcome.

    Don't be put off by the location. Getting to Rumford (East Providence) is simple, especially easy from the East Side (over the Henderson Bridge to the last exit and straight up Broadway to the old Rumford mill at North Broadway and Newman. There is a Seven Stars bakery there too.

    Hours: Monday-Friday  11:00 a.m. - 6:00 p.m. 
    Saturday and Sunday  11:00 a.m. - 4:00 p.m.

    Friday, July 5, 2013


    On Wednesday, Gail Ciampa listed all the farmers' markets in Rhode Island and nearby Massachusetts - a true public service - in the Providence Journal. Here's the site:


    Close to 100 restaurants are participating in Restaurant Weeks this year, offering deals to entice summer city dwellers with three-course prix-fixe lunches for $14.95 and dinners for $29.95. Providence loses lots of residents in summer but even some vacation spots like Bristol offer deals. Complete list is on the site,

    Among Providence downtown and East Side participants: Bacaro (, Cook & Brown (, Gracie's (, Farmstead/La Laiterie (,  and Pizzico (
    If past history is a good indication Cook & Brown and Gracie's will treat you very well during restaurant week.

    Across the highway: Loie Fuller's (
    I like this eatery on the artsy west-side where few restaurants participate (notably missing: Nick's, Julien's and Broadway Bistro).

    Out of town: Hourglass Brasserie on Thames Street in Bristol (
    This is one I will book.

    Expense account giants: Ruth Chris (, Capital Grille ( and McCormick & Schmick's (
    Restaurant weeks are the only weeks when you can get sane prices at these tourist/business account/parent weekend haunts.

    July 7 - 20

    Friday, June 28, 2013


    The French Tarte at Hope Artiste Village (1005 Main Street, Suite 8226, Pawtucket  774-280-4803) is open Fridays through July (but not July 5). Start your weekend with fresh croissant, pain au chocolat, shortbread and financiers. Solve your "What should I bring as a gift?" question.

    9:30 a.m. to 1:00 p.m.

    Monday, June 24, 2013


    It's a good idea to give a restaurant at least a couple tries before sharing an opinion. That's my thought, ordinarily, but I'm willing to ditch the advice on occasion. Why? Dinner at a new place might be amazing and I want friends to try it right away. Or food is beyond awful. Or maybe a place is so dirty I don't want to touch anything let alone eat.

    At The Dorrance (60 Dorrance Street, Providence  401-521-6000) I (we) were served flawless dinners, not a fault in the plates served (though the desserts were a bit precious, way over-thought). But the room - the look, chairs, style - all say wedding venue. It's like having dinner in a hotel ballroom.

    Circe (50 Weybosset Street, Providence  401-437-8991) is the reborn DownCity Diner, sleekly painted in paler hues but pretty much the same. I understand the owners are going for "restaurant" but the feel is "bar" because that's where the noise is. On my first visit service was poor despite an empty room and nothing eaten at our table suggested come back again so I won't.

    Wednesday, June 19, 2013


    The summer Rhode Island Brew Fest is August 10th at Ninigret Park in Charlestown. Rhode Island Brewers Guild members will present their beers as will craft brewers from across the borders. Lots of food, music, maybe even sunshine. Two sessions: 1:00 - 4:00 p.m. and 5:00 - 8:00 p.m.

    There are tickets for designated drivers, general admission goers and VIP big-shots. Prices begin at $15 for designated drivers who buy tickets online to $95 for VIP big-shots who pay at the door*.

    Important to know: tickets are cheapest if you buy them now. * Number of VIP tickets (which get you into a private tent with special brews) is limited.



    •   Birch opens tomorrow at the Tini location - 200 Washington St, Providence (across from Trinity Rep). Benjamin Sukle, formerly chef at The Dorrance, and Heidi Sukle, are running it. Get a seat at the bar - it's a great location.  401-272-3105

    Wednesday, May 29, 2013


    Polar Seltzer's 32nd Chowder Cook-Off (and the connection between chowder and seltzer is?) at the Newport Yachting Center (Commercial Wharf) is this Saturday, June 1, noon to 6:00 p.m. Go to for info. Or call 800-745-3000. Tickets purchased now are $20, $25 on day of event, and include admission to the Newport Oyster Festival a bivalve's throw away.


    meg zimbeck
    Michael Ginor, chef and co-founder of Hudson Valley Foie Gras, a purveyor of terrific goods, will be at Gracie's (194 Washington Street, Providence  401-272-7811) for a five-course tasting menu on Monday, June 10. Wine pairings will be from The Savory Grape of East Greenwich ( This is a pricey deal but it's so deliciously tempting.

    Monday, June 10   6:00 p.m.   $150 plus tax & tip   Call 401-272-7811

    Friday, May 24, 2013


    I dug my rhubarb out because it was pale, too soft, low on flavor and went to seed in about five minutes. It came back (bad digging) and its new, smaller self looks promising. Time to think about rhubarb pie.

    For a great rhubarb pie, revisit:


    Good news for bivalve lovers, Parkside Rotisserie (76 South Main St, Providence  401-331-0003) is a new entrant in the dollar oyster game. Tuesdays and Fridays. After 4:30.

    Wednesday, May 15, 2013


    "Baking with the french tarte" is her website's lead-in for classes. If you don't know the Paris-trained Susan Vanderberg from her shop at Hope Artiste Village (which is generally open on Farmers' Market mornings) in Pawtucket (1005 Main Street) you are missing out. Her butter cookies are terrific, breakfast treats fresh and buttery, tarts lovely. And she instructs. From June through September she is holding classes for specific ventures, i.e., a class for making financiers and madeleine, another for croissant, etc. Her classes sell out.


    Go local for sleek, amazing cookies created by  painter Katrin Snippering. Based in Barrington (Katrin Schnippering, 3 Tiffany Circle, Barrington 02806   401-338-8881) Snippering custom-designs her cookies and decorates in eye-popping color.

    Minimum order: 12 cookies starting at $3.50 each (prices lower for bigger orders).

    This is when it pays to plan ahead.

    401-338-8881 or

    Thursday, May 2, 2013


                         Joachim Beuckelaer: A kitchen interior
    Every year the Portsmouth Public Education Foundation convinces people to show off their splendid kitchens for the Hidden Kitchens of Portsmouth Tour. There's an inner voyeur in most of us when it comes to other peoples' homes and these tours are usually fun. Pick up ideas (e.g., pot rack solutions; lighting fixes), be snarky (Does anyone actually cook here?), look over the gardens on the way in, and, support a cause.

    The kitchens are all over town but two are at Carnegie Abbey, one in a so-called "cottage" and the other in the condo tower. Free snacks and drinks (donated by local restaurants, caterers and other businesses). Tickets are $30 if you purchase online at or at Corey Farm (3124 East Main Road, Portsmouth). Call 401-862-4447 if you need more info.

    Friday, May 10     11:00 a.m. - 7:00 p.m.     $30

    Monday, April 22, 2013


    tea area
    Meandering along the coast, a friend and I were ready for lunch when we arrived at Pawtuxet Village, a scenic R.I. spot as historic as Providence itself ( We were looking for a sandwich or salad and walked into The Elephant Room (2170 Broad Street,  401-461-2170) without
    reading the menu posted on the door. Elephant Room is a modern tea-room with coffee, wheat-grass shots, wi-fi and bring-your-own-bottle privileges. And no sandwiches, only crepes, sweet or savory. We stayed, but I worried, envisioning soggy, spongy concoctions which are what you get most everywhere. No faith at all. What arrived? Beautiful crepes, folded into squares, filled with fig, proscuitto, and whatever else we ordered, and topped with peppery baby arugula salad tasting of lemon. Sometimes you get lucky ...

    Thursday, April 18, 2013



    Ciril Hitz has a BFA in Industrial Design from RISD. A Swiss native, he returned to Switzerland after graduation and apprenticed as a pastry chef and chocolatier. Hitz came back to the States in 1997 and joined the Johnson & Wales faculty. He teaches full-time at the International Baking and Pastry Institute and wins accolades for his work with both breads and pastry. And on weekends, Hitz will teach you at his place in nearby Rehobeth, MA. His classes are small (6-8 persons) and they sell out. Upcoming on the schedule (and still with openings) are:
    • Breakfast Basket   April 27   9:00 - 5:00 p.m.
    • ABCs of Breakfast Breads   May 11   9:00 a.m. to noon
    • Pizza Demo/dinner   July 19   6:00 - 8:00 p.m. 
    The all-day class is $210 with materials fee and includes lunch. The half-day is $85  and pizza night (a byob event) is $40. Having paid about the same price for a full day of terrine-making at Cordon Bleu in Paris I'd say the price is fair enough - I learned a ton and loved every single minute.

    Check out the website for more information: (

    Thursday, April 11, 2013


    Benjamin and Heidi Sukle will open Birch in the teeny Tini space (downtown at 200 Washington St) sometime this summer. A Johnson & Wales alum, Ben Sukle worked at La Laiterie ( before becoming chef at Dorrance ( where he's worked since its 2011 opening. The plan is to keep the space as is - i.e., dining will be at the u-shaped bar.

    This is good news. The Sukles have likely figured out that big spaces like Dorrance are tricky (impossible?) in downtown Providence. Think about it as Downtown A and Downtown B. Downtown A is the old business district where apartment living is minimal. So if you run a restaurant there you may be able to get an early and/or late-night bar business going but finding enough diners from 7:00 to 10:00 is a problem. Getting people to cross the bridges from the East Side or over 95 from the West hasn't been easy. Downtown B, home to the convention center, the Omni hotel and apartments and the apartments surrounding Blue Cross & Blue Shield of Rhode Island is another world (a world with a lot of chain restaurants) and its effect on the real downtown is lousy. So far anyway.

    Thinking small, as in the Tini space, may be the safest way to go.

    Sunday, April 7, 2013


    black trumpet - tero koski-valkama

    Evan Mallet is the chef/owner of The Black Trumpet Bistro (, a popular restaurant in Portsmouth, New Hampshire. He'll be visiting chef, cooking alongside Matthew Varga and staff, at Gracie's (194 Washington Street, Providence    401-272-7811) on Monday, April 15th as part of Gracie's Star Chef Series.

    At $125 it's pricey. No personal experience with Gracie's special dinners but I recently did the Smuttynose IPA night at New Rivers ( and it was fabulous start to finish.

    To reserve for April 15 call 401-272-7811 or email:


    Last year's craft beer event was a hit so now it's the 2nd Annual Newport Craft Beer Festival (, held in two three-hour sessions Saturday, April 27th under a tent at Great Friends Meeting House (the oldest house of worship in Rhode Island and probably not a beer venue), 30 Farewell Street.

    Check the site for details but the basic info is: 30 local (or sort-of-local) brewing companies, from the barely commercial to the well-known, will be under the tent.

    $45 a session.   Purchase tickets at the website
    Session 1: Noon to 3:00 p.m. 
    Session 2: 4:00 p.m. to 7:00 p.m.   

    Wednesday, April 3, 2013


    Over a year ago I read Gail Ciampa's article in ProJo about chef Eric Bui and his restaurant, Pho Horn's (50 Ann Mary Street, Pawtucket  401-365-6278), just over the Providence line off North Main. Vietnamese and Chinese offerings share the menu; it's the Vietnamese you're after, especially the soup. Share a Vietnamese crepe* (not a crepe at all in the French sense but a light eggy disk filled with sprouts and sliced shrimp) and try any one of the soups featuring different beef parts in a spicy broth filled with rice noodles and hot peppers, bean sprouts and fresh basil. The peppers, sprouts and basil are served on the side so you have a little control over flavor and intensity. Newcomers tend to order the soup with "identifiable" beef; more adventurous folk add tripe, sinew, etc. No need for adventure as the the broth itself, with the entire side plate of veggies tossed in for good measure, could stand alone - would, in fact, be fine with no meat at all (and there is a fish option). Pho Horn's other popular soup is the one ProJo wrote about, Chao Rice Chowder with Pork, chicken stock flavored with pork, scallions, shallots, ginger and cilantro using sushi rice instead of rice noodles. Cilantro and ginger, what's better?

    Pho Horn's is in a shopping center (off North Main, near 95) which has lost both anchor stores giving the scene an eerie atmosphere. The entire site is part of a land deal so who knows what will happen. Don't be put off by the location, or the decor, which I call "early pizza". It may be an unseen location but people know it's there. The waiter will likely ask if it's your first visit and then offer guidance.

    A note about soup portions: unless you've been on the French fast for a week, order the Small.

    * help. Blogspot refusing to allow special characters

    Monday, April 1, 2013


    Check out who's participating in Newport's next restaurant week at the Discover Newport site ( You'll find Bouchard, Black Pearl and Perro Salado on the long list which includes notable Bristol locations too. Generally, prices are $16 for a three-course lunch and $30 for a three-course dinner but some restaurants tweak the deals so check the details.

    Reminder, make your weekend reservations now.

    Newport Restaurant Week    April 5 - 14


    Raised in Providence and educated at Brown, award-winning chef Jody Adams owns four-star Rialto ( in Cambridge and co-owns Trade (, a more recent venture, in Boston's financial district. Adams has lots of acclaim - she's been on Food & Wine's top ten chefs list and she's won best chef from the James Beard Foundation. She's an advocate for children and the poor through Share our Strength and The Greater Boston Food Bank.

    She'll be talking and discussing her new book, "In the Hands of a Chef" at the Brown Faculty Club (1 Magee Street, Providence) on Wednesday, April 3d from 5:00 to 6:30 p.m.

    Call the club right away if you want to attend. It's free.     401-863-3023

    Tuesday, March 19, 2013


    What to do on a gorgeous, sunny, late-winter Sunday afternoon? Head to Matunuck Oyster Bar (629 Succotash Road, Matunuck, South Kingstown  401-783-4202), add your name to the list, enjoy the crisp air or squeeze up to the indoor raw-bar and sample oysters while you wait for a table (inside or out - deck has windshields and heaters). 

    Better yet, do all this during the week and avoid the crowd. In summer, I'm told, having lunch at 3:00 p.m. is the way to minimize wait time.

    My friend was first virtuous, eating a dozen raw oysters (Matunuck's own and some local R.I. imports), for a first course, then wicked, consuming more bivalves, this time fried, with the usual accompaniments. A happy camper. It was Narragansett restaurant week and the $20.13 offerings (items like chowders, lobster rolls and large over-the-top desserts) were popular and the patrons looked content. Tables are close so you notice that a lot of oysters are consumed but salmon entrees and lobster rolls aren't far behind. In the mood for a big fish sandwich (each time I have one there is always a comparison to a certain grouper sandwich in Southport, North Carolina), I ordered one and gave it plus points for having a smallish, soft bun but minus points for the fish itself which was only so-so. Still, I'm game to return in a few days and give it another go.

    Matunuck Oyster Bar is not the place you go for poached sole with asparagus. This is a fish joint. Keep to the diet by sticking to the raw bar; dine in healthy middle-ground with salmon; set off the fat alarms with fried oysters. Up to you. It's fun. Me, I am not tempted by the desserts (which look anything but delicate) because the goal is to eat oysters and fish by the water. And that's enough.

    Open seven days: Sunday - Thursday, 11:30 - 9:00, Friday and Saturday, 11:30 - 10:00

    Friday, March 15, 2013


    For anyone who has carted shelf-stable boxes of cream back from Europe good news is here. Trader Joe's (100 Bald Hill Road, Warwick) now stocks small boxes of cream. Check in the sugar and flour aisle. Trader Joe's labels it whipping cream. Shake the box before opening to mix the thicker cream in.


    No getting around it, the chocolate situation in Providence is grim.  For Easter treats beyond the CVS array (where my guilty pleasures are cheap jelly beans and Peeps) there's hardly anywhere to go. Even Simple Pleasures ( is spare this year. There's some okay candy at Whole Foods, and Farmstead in Wayland Square ( stocks a few items.You can't even overpay at Williams Sonoma since they decamped to Cranston. For Italian filled eggs try Federal Hill, Tony's Colonial (website not responding this a.m.) or Venda Ravioli (

    But for stand-up bunnies (including my favorite "wall street bunny") and chocolate-dipped peeps, baskets and macarons visit the Garrison Confection Factory Store (72 Ledge Street, Central Falls   401-725-0790)   Only show in town really. Hours are Monday, March 18 through the 30 (but closed the 24th), 11:00 a.m. to 6:00 p.m.

    Wednesday, March 13, 2013


    This benefit (Friday, April 19th) for the Rhode Island Community Foodbank ( ) will be street food heaven. Parking their trucks for a cause are: Hewtin's Dogs Mobile, Championship Melt, Clam Jammers, Rocket Fine Street Food, Tallulah, Joedega, Mijos Tacos, Radish and Flour Girls Baking Company. Drinks are from Jonathan Edwards Winery (sermons  separate) and Narragansett Brewing.

    The venue: downtown at the Bank of America skating rink - event is on foot not ice

    Enjoy a spring Friday night and support the Food Bank. Cost is: $50 per person but pay $75 for early entry, extra tastings and a free drink from the cash bar.

    Friday, April 19   6:00 - 9:00 p.m.

    Tickets from the website or call 401-230-1673.

    Friday, February 15, 2013


    Chef, former Gourmet editor, cookbook author (too many books to list), Good Morning America contributor and PBS celebrity Sara Mouton will be at Hamilton House (276 Angel Street, Providence) at 2:00 p.m. on Saturday, February 23. Her topic: women's roles in the culinary word. It's a book tour; she will sell and sign her latest, Sara Moulton's Everyday Family Dinners. And it's free but space is limited, so call to reserve.

    Saturday, February 23   2:00 p.m.   Call: 401-831-1800


    Vegan chef, author (of ice-cream tome The Vegan Scoop), and pop-up party creator/host Wheeler del Torro will talk about soul food and its origins in African traditions and American slavery at the Rhode Island Historical Society (110 Benevolent Street, Providence), Saturday, February 23 at 4:00 p.m. While he speaks about the development of soul food in America and its modern adaptations, chef del Torro will be cooking, demonstrating how to cook veggies like black-eyed peas, collard greens and sweet potatoes.

    Saturday, February 23   4:00 p.m.

    $10 for members, $20 for non-members

    Reserve a place:

    Friday, February 8, 2013


    Stuck inside this snowy day, you are surely online, so hit and order a ticket for Monday's showing of Leading Between The Vines, a documentary by wine importer/author Terry Theise about terroir and wine-making in Germany.

    6:45 p.m. for an apertif
    7:15 p.m. Leading Between The Vines

    The film runs 55 minutes then it's wine tasting and snacks from Chez Pascal.

    $25 per person

    Cable Car Cinema    204 South Main Street, Providence


    Did you know that Glee Gum, with the retro packaging and funny little jumping-man, is a Providence company? Check out the well-designed website and maybe order some essentials like candy-making kits and gum dispensers.

    Sunday, February 3, 2013

    Champe Speidel, owner of Persimmon (31 State Street) in Bristol has been invited to cook with his team at the James Beard House in New York. For friends and foodies he's doing two "preview" dinners at the restaurant. The first (Tuesday, February 5) is sold out but there is space at the Wednesday, February 6 dinner. The party begins at 6:30 with canapés followed by four courses and wine pairings. Price is $100 before tax and tip. Call 401-254-7474 to reserve.

    Wednesday, January 30, 2013


    Stillwater (19th C  R.I. beer site) - Leatskob 

    The Rhode Island Brew Fest (Pawtucket Armory, 172 Exchange Street) this weekend features more than thirty local/regional breweries. Craft beer sales are huge and tasting events are popular. There are two sessions, 1:00 - 4:00 p.m. and 5:00 - 8:00 p.m. A session ticket is $45. The Providence Journal reports that the VIP tickets for the fest are sold out. To buy a ticket, visit the website.


    Garrison Confections Factory Store (72 Ledge St, Central Falls  401-725-0790) is prepared to be your Valentine source opening Friday, January 31 through February 14, every day but Sunday. Hours are 11:00 a.m. - 6:00 p.m.


    Robert Burns (Alexander Naysmyth 1758-1840)
    Robert Burns (1759-1796), Scotland's Bard, was born on the 25th of January and every year lovers of Burns, Scotland, the Scots language and Romantic poetry celebrate his birthday with traditional dinners and music - there are at least three in Rhode Island. Here's one: The Robert Burns Anniversary Committee of Rhode Island is having its 50th annual celebration on Saturday, February 2 at Rhodes on the Pawtuxet (60 Rhodes Place, Cranston). There's a cocktail hour at 5:30 (cash bar) followed by prime rib, haggis and dessert (vegetarian option also), Scottish country music and highland pipes.

    Tickets are $50 if still available. Call Robin Tremblay to see: 401-434-0386 or email


    The pistachio macaron at Ellie's Bakery (61 Washington St, Providence  401-228-8118) is pretty fabulous.

    Friday, January 18, 2013


    Ellen Gracyalny who owns Gracie's (194 Washington St, Providence  401-272-7811) recently opened Ellie's Bakery just down the street from the restaurant (61 Washington St, same telephone). Ellie's is managed by Courtney Ortiz; the chief baker is Danielle Lowe, a Johnson & Wales grad who was assistant pastry chef at Gracie's; and Melissa Denmark, current pastry chef at Gracie's (also a J &W grad and noted by Food & Wine magazine in 2012 for her creations)  contributes part-time.

    Finally, I thought, after reading the gushing spread in the Providence Journal this week, a French-style bakery in Providence. *

    Right now I pick and choose or make my own creations. Seven Stars ( supports the olive bread habit, the occasional sticky bun requirement and the needed baguette sandwich for train travel but Seven Stars doesn't venture much beyond breakfast pastries and cookies. Olga's ( produces similar fare and makes some individual rustic tarts and pastries. Everybody has a go-to Italian bakery and I have my favored Portugese shops (Silver Star on Ives with those Saturday jelly doughnuts comes to mind) but these satisfy a different need. If you ask "Where can I buy French pastry in Providence," someone will laud Pastiche ( on Federal Hill. I don't. So, where to find a splendid French tart or a gorgeous mousse and merinque cake?

    Well, not at Ellie's, at least not yet. The shop offers a variety of breads, attractive sandwiches (maybe a little too bready) but there was only one actual breakfast pastry when I stopped in this week. Mostly, it was muffins and scones. Among the traditional cookies there are Madeleines, both olive oil chocolate and the more Proutian lemon-scented. They are good. Not a single fruit tart. The featured spicy chocolate meringue tart is lovely and made especially flavorful by the chocolate crust. As for the macarons (cookies I think I loved more when I had to cross an ocean to get them - I've hit macaron saturation at this point), the salted butter caramel is a winner and I would say so is the dark chocolate coconut if I were basing it on the meringue - the filling was so scant (see picture) I couldn't locate the taste.

    I'm hopeful. Maybe the tarts and cakes will come once the business is developed.

    Monday - Friday 7:00 a.m. - 7:00 p.m.
    Saturday 9:00 a.m - 5:00 p.m.

    *There is the french tarte (774-280-4803) operated by Susan VandenBerg out of Hope Artiste Village in Pawtucket but it's not a walk-in bakery. Order ahead.

    Tuesday, January 15, 2013


    We ate plump Tiverton oysters for Christmas and at the first post-New Year's market (Wintertime Farmers' Market, 1005 Main Street  Pawtucket) I bought South County oysters from Matunuk (and fresh flounder, only way to get it). Good taste is essential but Matunuk oysters also score points for looks, inside and out - they are plump and fill up the shells in a pleasing way and the outside shells are clean. Last year we had a giant bag of Cuttyhunk oysters which were so grubby (not to mention stinky due to a few bad ones) it tooks hours to clean them. In-house cleaner/shuckers appreciate Matunuk oysters.

    For New Year's Eve, alas, no oysters, just a nine-course fish-centered extravaganza at Fiaschetteria in Venice. Great fun from soup to panettone (the best ever) and prosecco.

    After eating Matunuk oysters and fish, it's time to visit the restaurant - Matunuk Oyster Bar (629 Succotash Road  South Kingstown, RI   401-783-4202)