Archive for October, 2009

French toast and corned beef & hash at Oatley's Restaurant.

French toast and corned beef & hash at Oatley's Restaurant.

My dad has lived in Rhode Island for my entire life, but since my parents have been divorced for most of that, my childhood in the Ocean State comprised of a few weeks in the summer.  The rest of the time, my dad dutifully drove down to wherever I was living (somewhere in New York or Connecticut) every other weekend.  I’d joke that he was as reliable as the post office, delivering himself on my doorstep through rain, sleet and snow.  So it’s no wonder our moving to Rhode Island would evoke his enthusiasm.  The other day, he stopped by to mow our lawn.

And this morning, he and my step-mom (who Madeline calls Grand-Donna) treated us to brunch at Oatley’s Restaurant in North Kingstown, RI.  Even the name of it, I liked.  From the outside, it has the woodsy charm of a country store and inside it’s an old fashioned restaurant with several tables and a counter dishing out homemade comfort food.  At 10 am there was a bit of a line, which I took as a good sign.  Since they make their own breads and muffins, I chose the french toast made with raisin bread.  French toast on homemade bread can sometimes be dry especially if it’s sliced too thickly, but this was perfectly eggy and not too sweet.  (I’m glad to report that they don’t blanket their french toast with a mound of powdered sugar).  With some crisp, meaty bacon on the side, it made my ideal brunch.

Oatley’s Restaurant
717 Ten Rod Road
North Kingstown, RI

Read Full Post »

Not a bad consolation prize: the all-Oreo ice cream sandwich from Newport Creamery.

Not a bad consolation prize: the all-Oreo ice cream sandwich from Newport Creamery.

I’ve had some darn good ice cream in Rhode Island which is why I’ve been eager to check out the serial Best of Rhode Island winner Gray’s Ice Cream. Deciding it wasn’t wise to promise a two-year old ice cream, get in the car for a half hour and then not actually get it, I opted to call first. Apparently, there’s no phone in their new Bristol shop, but the Tiverton staff member I spoke with assured me they would be open until 9 pm today in Bristol. After our scenic drive, we hopped out of our car and headed to Gray’s Ice Cream’s picture-perfect dockside building. Imagine our horror to find that same building dark and locked.

Don't believe everything you read.

Don't believe everything you read: Gray's Ice Cream's posted hours.

Immediately, I called the Tivertown branch to inform them (much to their surprise) that there was, in fact, no one working at the Bristol store but there wasn’t much they could do. Since we had come all that way, we took a walk through the charming waterfront town of Bristol and stopped in at Organically Good and Quito’s (opposite ends of the culinary spectrum). We learned that since it had been raining all day, no one had really come to Bristol — for all we know, we were the only ones peering into the dark windows of Gray’s Ice Cream. A few blocks away was The Daily Scoop, but it too was closed, this time more officially for the season. I then tried calling the next closest place, Frostee’s Ice Cream and Desserts in Warren, RI, but there was no answer. So we resigned ourselves to an old standby: Newport Creamery. We had passed one on the way down in Barrington and were so confident they’d be open we didn’t even call first.

I’ve eaten at Newport Creamery dozens of times over the past several years and I have a lukewarm feeling about their food (although fond memories of their Earth & Turf Superburgers). Summers in Newport, I never went there, opting instead for Frosty Freez in Middletown or Cold Fusion in downtown Newport. But it was open, and apparently in October, that’s the main criteria.

An undiscovered treat on the menu caught my eye: the Cow’wich, an ice cream sandwich made with your choice of ice cream smashed between two giant Oreo® cookie wafers. I decided to go all-Oreo choosing cookies & cream ice cream for the middle. It was a good choice. The Oreo® wafers made the perfect crisp counterpart to the rich ice cream. Even just seeing it made Madeline’s sundae look like a meager substitute. And what kid doesn’t like a giant cookie? Needless to say, I had to share.

Sad Update 10/24/2009:  After one of the worst meatball sandwiches at Fellini Pizza, I decided to go for another Cow’wich consolation prize.  But sadly, the Newport Creamery in Warwick, RI has started refrigerating their cookies making them wet and mushy.  I’m not sure yet if this is a company-wide decision, but I’m in mourning nonetheless.

Newport Creamery
296 County Road
Barrington, RI
www.newportcreamery.com

Organically Good
267 Thames St
Bristol, RI
www.organicallygoodri.com

Quito’s
411 Thames Street
Bristol, RI
www.quitosrestaurant.com

Gray’s Ice Cream

Bristol, RI and Tiverton, RI
www.graysicecream.com

Read Full Post »

Peanut butter cupcake with dark chocolate frosting -- why didn't I think of that?

Peanut butter cupcake with dark chocolate frosting -- why didn't I think of that?

A bit of squash, some onions, certainly apples — these are the things I expected to find at today’s visit to the Providence Downtown Farmers’ Market in Kennedy Plaza. And although it’s a small market, there were certainly enough vendors to satisfy, including some of my favorites from the Newport and Middletown markets — Simmons Farm (squash, lettuce, corn, heritage pork, etc.) and Barden Family Orchard (peaches and apples). I also discovered some new farm vendors — Big Train Farm, Hill Orchards and Heritage Farm.

Madeline wakes in time for The Cupcakerie.

Madeline wakes in time for The Cupcakerie.

What I did not expect to find were cupcakes. Now, I do agree that there is a cupcake bubble. Yet I have to agree with a friend of mine who recently admitted that there’s no ceiling on the price he’s willing to pay for one of those small perfectly iced cakes.   But the disappointing truth is most cupcakes are just awful and usually the better they look, the worse they are.  A trip to New York is worth it if only for a sloppy Magnolia cupcake, but I only needed to try once the delicately designed and lousy imitation cupcakes from Sweet in Boston or Crumbs (from New York to California). So I remained fairly skeptical as we paid $2.75 per impeccably iced cupcake from The Cupcakerie stand at the market today. Our choices: a lemon cupcake for ourselves and a peanut butter with chocolate frosting for Madeline who instinctively awakened from her nap as we approached the stand. I’ve never had a peanut butter cupcake with a smooth dark chocolate frosting, but now that I have, I’ll say, it’s about time. It was one of the softest, tastiest cupcakes I’ve ever had — a perfect balance of light cake and rich frosting.  The lemon cupcake equally impressed us with a simple cake and and heavy-on-the-butter (I’m not complaining) lemon frosting.

The stands at the Providence Downtown Farmers' Market.

The stands at the Providence Downtown Farmers' Market.

The market was full of other wonderful sweet and savory surprises like the fabulously tender jerk chicken from a stand by Tina’s Caribbean Restaurant and a clearly addictive agave-sweetened and purple corn infused soda by Misti.  Oh yes, I’ll be back.  And I’ll try to remember to pick up some fruits and vegetables while I’m there too.

Providence Downtown Farmers’ Market
Kennedy Plaza & Exchange Terrace
Providence, RI
http://www.farmfresh.org/food/farmersmarkets_details.php?market=13
Fridays 11:00 AM to 2:00 PM from June 12 to October 30, 2009

The Cupcakerie
www.thecupcakerie.net

Misti
www.misticorporation.com

Tina’s Caribbean Restaurant
www.tinasjamaican.faithweb.com

Simmons Farm
www.simmonsfarm.com

Barden Family Orchard
www.bardenfamilyorchard.com

Heritage Farm
www.heritagefarmri.com

Read Full Post »

« Newer Posts