Archive for October, 2009

WaterFire Providence

WaterFire

Providence alights with WaterFire.

Tonight, the final fires of the season blazed for WaterFire in Providence, RI.

WaterFire

Sparks fly on a windy night.

A warm night made it a perfect evening for a walk through the city, although it did get quite windy at times spreading the sparks all over the banks of the river.

The 2010 season will begin in May.

WaterFire
www.waterfire.org

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Munroe Dairy Milk

Yes, we've got milk, and it's fresh and delivered weekly from Munroe Dairy.

For the brief stint that we lived in the suburbs of Massachusetts, we had fresh milk delivered from Crescent Ridge Dairy.  I adored this creamy milk delivered in recycled glass bottles.  But no dairy delivers in Boston, and who could blame them?  The traffic would surely consume any possible profits.

So it was with great enthusiasm that Geoff and I recently spotted a Munroe Dairy delivery box on a friend’s Providence stoop.  Soon after, we placed our first order — Bliss Bros. cookies & cream ice cream and raspberry sherbet, Autocrat coffee syrup, and of course milk, both whole and 1%.  This week, we expanded the order to include chocolate milk (tastes like melted ice cream — in other words , delicious), apple cider, bread, and eggs.  You can nearly do your grocery shopping through them — they even deliver laundry detergent.  I was a bit disappointed to discover some of their products are not all that natural.  For example, the bread contains partially hydrogenated oil, and the ice cream has corn syrup.  As for the milk?  Well, just imagine how good milk can taste when it only takes 24-36 hours to get from the cow to you.  Yes, it is that good.

A.B. Munroe Dairy
Delivery throughout RI (except Block Island)
151 N. Brow Street
East Providence, RI 02914
www.cowtruck.com

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escargot

Sweet escargots but was it intentional?

We had planned to go to Tini, a new downtown Providence bar and restaurant serving tiny, tasty dishes, but discovered they are closed Monday nights.  So is Al Forno.  So is Farmstead.  Just as I was starting to think Monday might be the worst night to try to have an elegant and delicious dinner in Providence, I found Chez Pascal open.  Better yet, they offered their special “Market Menu Mondays” featuring all dishes created solely from local ingredients purchased at the nearby markets and farms.

We chose all our dishes from the Market Menu.  Well, except for escargots.  Oddly they were quite sweet which I didn’t notice until Geoff guessed that they had accidentally sugared not salted them.  The waiter attributed it to the pernod, but we never did hear the official word on that from the chef.  Still, we gladly ate them — once we added a bit of salt they tasted a bit more familiar.  Although much breadier than their Paris counterparts, the escargots were just as tender and perfectly paired with some toasted parsley-scented brioche. 

apple

Cortland apple crumble with lemon verbana ice cream.

For an appetizer, I ordered the fresh crisp greens with cortland apples, ginger pecans and sweet honey vinaigrette.  Geoff had the hearty escarole and potato soup.  For entrees, the Market Menu choices were meat (angus strip steak) or more meat (brined pork chop) so we ordered both.  The salty, blackened crust on the steak balanced the tender rare interior, and a sweet sauce complemented the pork chop and braised red cabbage.  Both were terrific.  We shared the baked cortland apple with rolled oat crumble and lemon verbena ice cream. Overall, Chez Pascal was a pleasant surprise, and I was glad to see the restaurant full and the bar humming. There is restaurant life in Providence on a Monday night, after all. Just make it an early night — the kitchen closes at 9 pm.

Chez Pascal
960 Hope Street
Providence, RI
www.chez-pascal.com

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Three Sisters café -- a cup of coffee and coffee ice cream.

Three Sisters café -- a cup of coffee and coffee ice cream.

I first discovered Three Sisters when I needed an oil change in a hurry.  The East Side Shell service center said they could squeeze me in, but that I’d have to wait a few hours.  Having work to do, I quickly googled for a free wifi café nearby and found Three Sisters two doors down.  All I wanted was an iced tea and a place to work for a few hours.  What I discovered was much more — a thick, gooey egg and cheese sandwich on an english muffin and an atmosphere that welcomed earnest laptop users and moms with strollers alike.

Anyone noticing a theme?  A yummy chocolate ice cream cone from Three Sisters -- I won't tell anyone if you eat it for breakfast.

Anyone noticing a theme? A yummy chocolate ice cream cone from Three Sisters -- I won't tell anyone if you eat it for breakfast.

Today, the East Side Shell brought me back to Three Sisters since this morning we had a flat tire.  I’ve been meaning to try their homemade ice cream, but keep showing up there at breakfast.  In fact, I have nothing against eating an ice cream cone at 10 am, which is why I bought a pint of chocolate and some cones and took them home to eat.  It’s a grittier chocolate — you can feel and taste the cocoa — but absolutely perfectly thick and creamy.  Oh, and they also sell Only 8, a highly addictive frozen yogurt safe for dieters, diabetics, and those with lactose-intolerance.  Yet I have the strange feeling that I won’t be getting the Only 8 next time either…

Three Sisters
1074 Hope Street
Providence, RI
www.threesistersri.com

East Side Shell
1100 Hope Street
Providence, RI
www.shell.com

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Jack-O-Lantern Spectacular at Roger Williams Park Zoo.

Jack-O-Lantern Spectacular at Roger Williams Park Zoo.

I usually take issue with things named spectacular, but I have to admit in the case of the Jack-O-Lantern Spectacular, the name fits.  The sheer number of pumpkins sacrificed to the cause of creating this glowing presentation is extraordinary.  You’ll pass hundreds of hand-carved unique faces along the winding path and see the hundreds more lit lanterns shimmering in the trees and across the ponds.

Each evening it starts at 6pm, although sunset comes a bit later.  We arrived at 5:30pm, waited in line, bought our tickets, then meandered near the entrance buying pretzels and drinking coffee.  What we didn’t realize is that there is another queue within the zoo for people to wait until it’s dark enough outside, and there’s plenty of stands (and time) while you’re on that line to buy SuperPretzels (not as deserving of their name).  Despite the line’s seeming to contain the entire population of Rhode Island, once dark descended, it moved fairly well.  And the fiery tribute to one of the prettier traditions of Halloween is truly worth the wait.

Roger Williams Park Zoo
Jack-O-Lantern Spectacular (october 8-November 1, 2009)
Providence, RI
www.rogerwilliamsparkzoo.org/jols/index.cfm

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A coffee ice cream cone from Rhode iln Ice Cream's stand.

A coffee ice cream cone from Rhode Iln Ice Cream's stand.

After a bungled attempt to find ice cream last weekend, it surprised me to stumble upon a great cone just a short walk from our house.  Yesterday, Madeline spotted the little cart of Rhode Iln Ice Cream and demanded, “I want ice cream!”  I have to admit, I almost never say no to ice cream, usually because I want some myself.  Yesterday was no exception, and I replied by immediately getting in line.

Here in Rhode Island, a small is two scoops, a fact I greatly appreciate.  Madeline requested a chocolate cone, so I dolloped off one of her scoops into a spare cup so Geoff and I could have a taste.  It was so pale that I thought it was coffee ice cream at first, but it had a light chocolate malt flavor, not too sweet and perfectly creamy.  In general, I prefer a darker chocolate, but it was quite good, and there were no complaints from Madeline.  The coffee ice cream (my choice) blended just the right amount of subtle coffee flavor with sweet creaminess.  Both were equally smooth and soft (no traces of icicles here).  And as an all-natural treat made with local ingredients, you can feel good about indulging.  At least, I did.

Rhode Iln Ice Cream sets up a stand at farmers' markets and Water Fire.

Rhode Iln Ice Cream sets up a stand at farmers' markets and Water Fire.

Sadly, Rhode Iln Ice Cream doesn’t have its own store which makes them a bit elusive.   Right now, you can find them at the Hope Street and Rhode Island College Farmers’ Markets, as well as WaterFire (one more this season scheduled on October 31).  Founded by 20-something co-owners Tom Seiter and Jocelyn Nestell in 2008, the company’s success has already prompted them to increase their locations this year.  Their future plans even include packaging their ice cream for supermarkets.  Seeing as the farmers’ markets and WaterFire both end this month,  I’m hoping those future plans come to fruition soon.  I’ll certainly be buying.

Rhode Iln Ice Cream
www.rhodeilinicecream.com

WaterFire
www.waterfire.org

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Pumpkins of all shapes and sizes.

Pumpkins of all shapes and sizes.

Over the weekend, we spent a day with our family at Schartner Farms in Exeter, RI.  The farm stand alone is an impressive sight– in autumn, they sell over a dozen crops grown on their 85 acres — beets, apples, peppers, carrots, broccoli, squash, tomatoes, string beans, potatoes and of course, pumpkins.  They also offer fruits, vegetables and flowers from other farms so you can pick up staples like lemons when you need them. From their on-site bakery wafts the smell of their pumpkin, apple, and berry pies which are obviously quite popular judging by the volume they churned out last Sunday.

Heading into the corn maze on Schartner Farms.

Heading into the corn maze on Schartner Farms.

The family fun begins with a hay ride which winds you deeper into the farm along dirt roads.  It drops you off at the ‘pumpkin patch’ where you find an assortment of activities for the kids.  Madeline enjoyed the waist-high mini-maze, but gave up quickly on the the larger corn maze which I continued on alone.  Their maze is based on a quiz  — this year’s theme was insects so the questions centered on the peculiarities of mosquitos, dragonflies, cockroaches and more.  For example, how long can a cockroach survive without it’s head?  The right answer leads you to the correct path.  Let’s just say it took me a little while to get out of there — I apparently don’t know much about insects.

They also have a number of photo ops in addition to their pumpkin patch like their enormous funky scarecrows, Halloween-themed pictures to poke your head through and some larger-than-life cartoonish bugs.  You’ll also find a handful of carnival-like games (guess the number, ball toss).

After you’re done, you take the slightly bumpier hay ride back to the farm entrance and by then you’re certainly ready for a snack (or at least we were).  No need to leave, you can get hot dogs, their custom soft drinks and tasty french fries made on the spot with their own fresh farm potatoes.  For dessert, pick up a slice of one of their pies (we preferred the crispy apple pie to the pumpkin).

French fries freshly made from farm potatoes.

French fries freshly made from farm potatoes.

On your way out, you can pick up a pumpkin (if you hadn’t already at the pumpkin patch).  At their stand, they have all shapes and sizes — tiny ironsides to ones large enough to need two hands and your full attention to carry.  They even have a collection of decorated and painted pumpkins which come with names like “Grumpy Dave” and “Scary Mary.”

Shartner Farms
Route 2 and 1 Arnold Place
Exeter, RI
http://www.farmfresh.org/food/farm.php?farm=11

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