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Last night, we thought we’d check out the grand opening of Tom’s Bao Bao on Westminster Street in Providence. Apparently, we weren’t the only ones. After waiting in line for about 10 minutes, we decided to head to Faust down the street for yet another fine meal.

But we promised the kids to return for breakfast—well, Sunday brunch at least. This time, there were only a handful of people in line, and the service was fast.

We tried several kinds of bao—sweet potato, vegetarian, chicken, pork, and beef. For the uninitiated, a bao is similar to the pork buns in  Chinese dim sum—it’s basically a steamed doughy bun filled with vegetarian or meat ingredients. My favorites were the vegetarian, which contained lots of greens and tofu, and the fragrant sweet potato.

Tom’s Bao Bao
326 Westminster Street
Providence, RI
http://www.tomsbaobao.com/

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Chicken, Collard Greens, Black-eyed Peas, Biscuits and Souther Fried Shrimp.

The chicken was the star of the show. There was nothing left of this meal but a small amount of whipped, honey-flavored butter.

Bucktown Chicken & Fish
471 W Fountain St
Providence, RI 02903
(917) 861-0644
http://www.bucktownpvd.com/

"Surrender" by Holly Wach

“Surrender” by Holly Wach

One of my favorite things about living in Providence is meeting people who are doing what they love, and good at doing it — like Holly Wach.

A recent transplant from California, Holly hosted her first Rhode Island show last weekend out of her home studio in Providence. There, I had the chance to tour her studio, learn about her process, and see her art up close. I even purchased a print of “Surrender” pictured above. Let’s just say it reminds me of someone I know.

Holly’s art will be featured in a solo show at the Morris Gallery of Contemporary Art at Missouri Valley College this December, and she’ll be representing Rhode Island in “Figure 50 2016,” a juried online interactive map featuring one artist from every state.

You can explore some of her art on her website and sign-up to be hear about her upcoming shows.

And if you think you might have what it takes to be an artist yourself, she also offers private art lessons.

Holly Wach
Artist in Providence, RI
www.hollywach.com

Johnny cakes with strawberries.

Johnny cakes with strawberries.

To give you that Revolutionary War feel, you might be greeted at the door.

To give you that Revolutionary War feel, you might be greeted at the door.

Since moving to Rhode Island, Geoff has wanted to attend a May Breakfast, an annual tradition since 1867 in celebration of Rhode Island’s Independence Day—May 4, 1776, the day Rhode Island declared itself independent of the British crown.

Currently, the May Breakfast usually takes place at a local church between late April and early May throughout the state, and it often doubles as a fundraiser for the hosting organization. We finally made it to one today at St. Martin’s Episcopal Church. The girls definitely took advantage of the all-you-can-eat menu of fresh cut fruit, johnny cakes, pancakes, french toast, custom omelettes, bacon, sausage, and an array of baked goods—including strawberry-rhubarb pie.

A traditional breakfast.

A traditional breakfast choice.

Volunteers from the community bake goods, cook food, serve coffee, and bus tables, so it truly feels like a community event.

Perhaps it makes us officially Rhode Islanders now that this has become our annual tradition as well.

To find the May Breakfast near you, you might want to check your local churches or do a search for May Breakfast with your town name, since there doesn’t seem to be a comprehensive list of them across the state. Or here are a few other resources:

Strawberry-rhubarb pie.

Strawberry-rhubarb pie.

Warwick Beacon/Cranston Herald
Quahog.org
Providence Journal

 

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I’ve now been to Den Den Café for Korean food at least a half dozen times, and it’s one of the few places in Providence that we often bring visitors. Their variety of dishes seems to have something for everyone in the group—noodles, soups, rice dishes, vegetarian or meat-heavy.

Their menu features many of the standards like Stone Pot Bibimbap, Agedashi Tofu, and Kimchi, but I’ve also discovered some new favorites here to add to my list—Kimbap, a korean seaweed roll (my favorites are the vegetable and the tuna rolls), and Tofu Kimchi, a spicy combination of kimchi with soft tofu served on a hot stone plate. Our daughters love the Bento Boxes, especially the Teriyaki Salmon, but my favorite is the Chicken Karaage, ginger garlic deep fried chicken.

When it’s crowded, a host/hostess will help you find a table before you order at the counter, and they always bring your order to your table for you. I’d also recommend reserving a table in advance if you’re planning on showing up with a group on a weekend night.

Den Den Café
161 Benefit Street
Providence, RI
www.dendencafe.com

 

 

Watching the game, changing seats, and picking their favorite players.

Watching the game, changing seats, and picking their favorite players.

We’re not big sports fans in our house. So the first day my older daughter played Little League, I realized that it might help her to know the rules by actually watching a few games (we then discovered the Paw Sox). Now with our younger daughter playing ice hockey, a friend suggested that we join them for one of the Brown women’s hockey games.

Waiting to give high-fives to the players as they re-enter the rink.

Waiting to give high-fives to the players as they re-enter the rink.

This weekend, we attended our first game. The women’s hockey games at Brown are thinly attended, despite being free to the public. When my older daughter asked if we had bought the seats we were in, our friend joked that we had bought the whole section. But the low attendance makes it easy to change your vantage point, mid-game. And when the team lined up to re-enter the rink, our girls would run to greet them and lean over to give each player a high-five as she entered.

We found the game packed with plenty of action, and the fans in attendance enthusiastic. There’s also a well-stocked snack bar, which came in handy since my younger daughter was hungry even though we had just eaten dinner. The girls even chose their favorite player — Conway because she was ‘so fast’ — although she was briefly displaced by Najjar when she scored.

And as if that wasn’t exciting enough, they even ‘caught’ an errant puck to bring home as a souvenir.

Our own little hockey player.

Our own little hockey player.

Meehan Auditorium
235 Hope Street
Providence, RI
www.brownbears.com/sports/w-hockey (find the remaining home games in the 2016 schedule)

The traditional caprese salad is made even better at Roslina with burrata cheese.

The traditional caprese salad is made even better at Roslina with burrata cheese.

It wasn’t quite a Griswold Christmas Eve, but it was close. First, it was hard to get into the spirit when it was about 65 degrees on Christmas Eve as we walked downtown to see A Christmas Carol at Trinity Repertory Theatre. It got worse when we discovered we had arrived at the wrong time, and the show we had tickets for was just letting out.

Then, later that night after the girls left cookies for Santa, we discovered a bat flying through our house. And it got away.

Gnocchi, also made better with burrata.

Gnocchi, also made better with burrata.

Fortunately, our day was redeemed by a late lunch between those two events at Rosalina, which for me included a caprese salad made with burrata cheese, kumato tomatoes, fresh basil and olive oil followed by gnocchi sorrentina baked with tomato, burrata and basil.

The girls both ordered the meatball sandwiches, and Geoff had the eggplant, mozzarella and marinara sandwich. Since there was no burrata in any of the desserts, we settled for some blood orange and coconut gelatos, along with a cheesecake ‘imported’ from the Carnegie Deli.

I think Geoff was a bit disappointed to skip La Vigilia (the Italian Christmas Eve tradition of the Feast of Seven Fishes) – but not me. I’ll take a meal full of burrata and marinara any day, including Christmas Eve.

And things are looking up. We caught the bat. And Trinity Rep kindly helped us get tickets for another night. And it seems it’s finally freezing outside (be careful what you wish for).

Rosalina
50 Aborn Street
Providence, RI 02903
www.rosalina-ri.com

Trinity Repertory Company
201 Washington Street
Providence, RI 02903
www.trinityrep.com