Rock-a-Baby for Little Music Lovers

Melody, Rhythm and Harmony - the Rock-a-Baby puppets.

Combine a live band, familiar rock-n-roll songs, and three clever puppets, and you get Rock-a-Baby, a musical learning experience for babies and toddlers. The classes originated in New York City, although watching a video from one of the NYC classes makes me glad I live in the much more low key (and less populous) state of Rhode Island.

Madeline and I joined one of the first Providence sessions this fall with about a half dozen other children ranging in age from six months to three years. Each class, hosted by singer Kate, pianist Marc, and guitarist Benny, focused on a different ‘theme of the week’ with songs to match and a new instrument in the spotlight to explore. The format perfectly balanced the repetition kids need (starting class with the same song and ending with bubble time, for example), while offering some new exposure to instruments or musical concept. Even adults were entertained by the repertoire of songs and the Henson-like humor of the Rock-a-Baby puppets.

Alas, as much as I loved Rock-a-Baby, Madeline is getting a bit old for it so we may try some classes at the RI Philharmonic this spring. I mean, she could be playing Beethoven’s waltzes at four-years-old. As for our new addition, Lucy, I’m sure she’ll be a Rock-a-Baby fan as soon as she can stay awake long enough to attend a class.

The 2011 classes begin in January, but for a preview you can see the Rock-a-Baby group perform as part of the Bright Night celebration in Providence, RI on December 31 at 1:30 and 3:30 pm at the Providence Children’s Museum.

Classes in Providence and Warwick, RI

Garrison Confections: Rhode Island’s Chocolatier

Garrison Confections produce delicious artisan chocolates right here in Rhode Island.

Yes, it’s true that I have a new cavity for the first time in decades, and I’ve found a reason worth making more – Garrison Confections. This artisan chocolatier in Central Falls, Rhode Island makes such excellent chocolate that it rivals the likes of Galler in Belgium. Their “turtles” – salty caramel covered with a sliver of dark chocolate and sprinkled with pecans – are definitely addictive. And their hot chocolate mix reminds me a bit of Burdick’s, which I also love (although, in my opinion, you only need 2 heaping teaspoons instead of a 1/4 cup for a steaming mug).

Tasty "turtles"

If you happen to be buying a present for someone with a sweet tooth, they have plenty of pretty designed chocolates in fancy boxes. As for me, I’m sticking with the turtles.

You can visit their factory outlet this month for the holiday season, or you can find them Saturdays at the Wintertime Farmers’ Market in Pawtucket.

Garrison Confections
72 Ledge Street
Central Falls, RI 02863

Top photo by roboppy.

Ebisu for Winter Treats

Making Takoyaki at Ebisu

It was cold and rainy when I came home on the train from Boston. I remembered a note sent from Ebisu restaurant that they were making Takoyaki – a pan-fried sphere of creamy batter, crispy on the outside, with a little piece of octopus in the middle. As tasty as a Rhode Island clamcake with a Japanese spin to it.

They make shabu-shabu too, which is delicious with their homemade dipping sauce.

My next trip will be all about sitting at the bar and ordering plate after plate of yakitori. I saw their shishamo (little grilled fish) which looked like they would go great with a tall cold beer.

Ebisu Japanese Restaurant
38 Pontiac Avenue
Providence, RI
(401) 270-7500