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)