Providence Alternative Market

Opening day at the Providence Alternative Market.

Opening day at the Providence Alternative Market.

As the Hope Street Farmers’ Market continues to expand (it’s now common to park a few blocks away), a new market has arrived.  The Providence Alternative Market launched this past Saturday less than a mile down the road on North Main Street with a small selection of vendors including Ward’s Berry Farm (Sharon, MA),  Baffoni’s Poultry Farm (Johnston, RI) and several more. Although I still find it a bit perplexing why they chose to have the market on the same exact day (and nearly the same time) as the Hope Street Market, I do recognize the need to have an alternative market in order to give an outlet for some of the other wonderful nearby farms.

On our visit to the first Providence Alternative Market, we found radishes, asparagus, rhubarb, and leafy baby kale. And in fact, the onions and potatoes looked more appealing than the ones at Hope Street this week. Although you won’t find nearly the variety as Hope Street, there are some advantages–no lines,  and great quality produce and meat. And you can always go to both. We did.

Providence Alternative Market
Saturdays May 18-October 26, 2013 10 am – 2 pm
http://provaltmarket.com/

Hope Street Farmers’ Market
Saturdays May 18-October 26, 2013 9 am – 1 pm
www.hopestreetmarket.com

Taste Trekkers Food Tourism Conference

Farmstead Chef Matt Jennings will deliver the conference's keynote

Farmstead Chef Matt Jennings will deliver the conference’s keynote.

Yes, we can admit that Providence is not the best Spring Break destination, as Travel & Leisure reports. However, we do rank high in arguably more important measurements: #1 for hamburgers and #2 for both pizza and ice cream. As if you needed more than that, Providence also ranks #8 for ethnic food and #9 for micro-beers, among others.

So, it should be no surprise that the Taste Trekkers Food Tourism Conference plans to come to Providence for its inaugural event in September 2013. Organized by Mystery Meet founder and Brown alum Seth Resler, the event, designed for people who plan their vacations around food, will bring together hundreds of chefs, farmers, food bloggers, travel writers, culinary students and others to enjoy a range of cuisines. Farmstead Chef Matt Jennings will deliver the conference’s keynote address, and the event will feature a cocktail reception, a tasting pavilion, a food truck court, and group dinners all around the city.

In anticipation, they’ve launched a KickStarter campaign that will run through March 30 to fund the event. As with all KickStarter campaigns, if the project succeeds in reaching its funding goal, all backers’ credit cards will be charged. If the project falls short, no one is charged. So ante up everyone–they are giving away tickets, books, posters and more to contributors.

Taste Trekkers Food Tourism Conference
September 20-22, 2013
www.TasteTrekkers.com
Reserve tickets and more through their KickStarter campaign at www.kickstarter.com/projects/mysterymeet/taste-trekkers-food-tourism-conference

Apple Picking and Brunch at Knight Farm

Enjoying an apple straight off the tree.


Each year we try to find a new farm for apple picking in addition to our old favorites. In past years, we’ve discovered Jaswell’s Farm, Hill Orchards, and Sweet Berry Farm. This year, we decided to try Knight Farm, founded in 1800.

Although many farms have stands or shops (Jaswell’s and Sweet Berry Farms are my favorites), few have restaurants. When we arrived this morning, it was clear this was a popular place for brunch and with good reason. It’s certainly nothing fancy, but they serve simple comfort food in a charming and rustic atmosphere. I ordered an egg sandwich, and I was not disappointed.

Knight’s apple orchards feel relatively compact to some of the others (they have about 40 acres versus Jaswell’s 100 acres), but really how many apple trees do you need? We had no trouble picking our own crisp, tasty apples. Of course, the real work came later — peeling apples, rendering lard (from Pat’s Pastured Pork), rolling the crust, and baking the pie. Not that I did any of that. But I did eat a piece of the resulting pie, and it was delicious.

Knight Farm and Restaurant
1 Snake Hill Road
North Scituate, RI
www.knightfarm.com

Also see Farm Fresh RI’s Pick Your Own Guide near Providence.

Ship Street Farmers’ Market

Food trucks at the Ship Street Farmers’ Market.

It’s just a few weeks after the official unveiling of Providence’s new Ship Street Square, and it’s already home to a weekly farmers’ market. At this point in the season, the food trucks outnumbered the produce stands, but we were fine with that.

At the produce stands today, we found arugula and apples.

We ordered a few sliders from Rocket Fine Street Food (the Rocket sauce is excellent), and Geoff got a taco from Mijos Tacos. For dessert, the kids chose the non-dairy gluten-free soft serve from the Like No Udder truck. In my opinion this tastes pretty much like you’d expect — in other words, it’s no Frosty Freez— but they didn’t seem to notice the difference. As for me, I opted for the rhubarb mint ice pop from Rocket — a little sweet and perfectly refreshing.

Ship Street Farmers Market
Ship St And Richmond St
Providence, RI
see listing at Farm Fresh RI

Like No Udder
www.like-no-udder.com

Mijos Tacos
https://twitter.com/#!/mijostacos

Rocket Fine Street Food
see related blog post

Hill Orchards: Pick Your Own Apples, Peaches and Plums

Lucy makes her pick...

In our few years in Rhode Island, apple picking has become one of our fall traditions. We’ve gone to Jaswell’s Farm, which has a great farm stand and pasteurizes their own cider, and Sweet Berry Farm, which I love for their café/farm stand (their pumpkin muffins are addictive). This year, to try something new (and because we heard they still had peaches), we headed to Hill Orchards in Johnston, RI.

At most orchards, they discourage you from sampling the fruit, but at Hill they invited us to try before you buy. And sure enough, they still had peaches and plums in addition to plenty of apples — although not all of them ripe quite yet. This weekend, they recommended picking the macintosh, cortland, gala and macoun, although we also found some ripe golden delicious.

There do have a bare bones “farm stand,” which consists of a folding table where you can buy some cider and pumpkins in a variety of sizes (we got both). And they also offer horse-drawn carriage rides around the farm — we passed on the ride, although Madeline insisted on petting the horses.

As usual, we left with enough fruit to make several pies, except this time, we’ll have to add peach pie to our to do list.

Hill Orchards
86 Winsor Avenue
Johnston, RI
www.hillorchards.com

For other suggestions on where to “pick your own,” visit Farm Fresh RI.

Wrights Dairy Farm: Cows, Cake and Coffee Milk

See the cows being milked, then enjoy some of that milk (plain, chocolate or coffee milk) at one of their picnic tables.

This may seem strange, but I don’t like cake. I do make an exception for a perfectly conceived cupcake, but I never order it at restaurants, and I always pass on it at weddings and parties.

So recently at a 4-year-old’s birthday party, I instinctively replied “no thanks” to the offer of cake. But when I learned that it came from Wrights Dairy Farm, I immediately admitted I had made a huge mistake and got myself a slice. And yes, the cake from Wrights Dairy Farm lives up to its reputation — soft, buttery and layered with real whipped cream from their very own cows.

The cake at Wrights Dairy Farm -- I wish I were eating it right now.

A few days later, we were at the farm, admiring those cows.  At Wrights Dairy Farm, you can watch the cows being milked every day from 3-5 pm.  As we watched, I realized I’d never actually seen a cow up close being milked by a machine before, which is quite mesmerizing. Apparently, each cow provides about 5 gallons of milk during each milking — impressive output for a diet of corn and grass.

We then made our way into their bakery, which displays an array of pastries, pies, cakes, cookies and more. Ultimately, I couldn’t resist the strawberry shortcake layered with whipped cream. And as I enjoyed it with a side of their own coffee milk on a sunny day at one of their picnic tables, I decided this is definitely one of my favorite excursions in the state.

Wrights Dairy Farm
200 Woonsocket Hill Rd
North Smithfield, RI
www.wriwghtsdairyfarm.com

Note: The farm has a bakers’ vacation from July 18-25, 2011 so you might want to plan your trip before or after that…

20 Minutes and $5 at the Wintertime Farmer’s Market

The Yams and one of their biggest fans.

It was 12:25 on Saturday when my daughter said she wanted to go to the Farmer’s Market. “Ok, hurry up, it closes in half an hour,” I said, rushing her out the door. I had only $5 in my pocket, but no time to stop at the ATM. I didn’t think there would be much time for shopping anyway.

We walked hand-in-hand into Hope Artiste Village at 12:40, and it was still busy. First stop, McCarten Violins. They moved across the hall this year to a bigger space, and gauging from appearances, this was needed. The shop was full, and Madeline loved to watch people testing out the instruments.

Next stop, across the hall in the “Greenhouse,” all the food vendors are set up. Thankfully, Tina’s Caribbean is here now too. The Yams are still playing, and Madeline spent our first dollar on a small bag of Nettie’s Kettle Corn. Our time slipped by with dancing, and the Yams got dollar #2. A few minutes before 1pm, we finally walked the hall, and watched everyone finishing up business. I was happy to see that all of the studios lining the market hall were filled with designers and artists, and we stopped in to draw a picture, pet a puppy, and watch a painter at work. The last three dollars were spent on a meat pie at Tina’s, and Madeline and I talked with some friends and listened to the last strains of music. It was a well spent 20 minutes.

Apple Picking at Jaswell’s Farm

A shiny apple picked from the tree

Madeline proudly displays her conquest.

There’s nothing quite like biting an apple taken directly from the tree — so crisp, a little bit tart, and absolutely delicious.  On the advice of a friend, we decided to drive to Smithfield’s “Apple Valley” to Jaswell’s Farm. A fourth generation family farm, they have acres of apple trees you can wander through to fill up bags of apples for $1.50 per pound. Right now, cortland and macintosh apples were ripe for the picking. They also have a field to pick-your-own pumpkins and another to pick flowers. Jaswell’s is famous for their handmade candy apples and their fresh cider which is milled and pasteurized on the premises. Their daily farm stand offers a selection of locally grown and homemade baked goods, jams and produce.

Madeline loved hunting among the low branches to find the reddest apples. Needless to say, we came home with three big bags filled with 17 pounds of apples. Now, someone needs to bake some pies…

Jaswell’s Farm
pick-your-own apples and pumpkins continues through most of October
50 Swan Rd
Smithfield, RI
www.jaswellsfarm.com

Coggeshall Farm: Breakfast in the Barnyard

Breakfast on the fire consists of jonnycakes made with molasses and farm fresh milk.

It may seem absurd to wake your kid up early on a Saturday morning for morning chores, but we did exactly that this past weekend in order to visit Coggeshall Farm for their Breakfast in the Barnyard program.

Starting at 8 am, our Early American costumed hosts selected volunteers to carry a basket of corn husks, a container for milking and and a basket for vegetables.  We then headed to the garden to collect some rotted vegetables to feed the swine (unnamed, but you can call her bacon).  We watched the cow get milked, met her new calf (which the cow seemed a bit touchy about), let the sheep out to graze, saw a chicken find food for her baby chicks, and brushed the cattle. And all the while, we learned about customs of the late 1700s and life on a heritage farm.

A calf drinks from its mother while the sheep graze on the field at Coggeshall Farm.

We then headed into the original 18th century farmhouse to wash up and sit down for a breakfast of old-fashioned jonnycakes, some fruit and apple cider.

It certainly was the best time I ever had doing chores, and Madeline loved it even if she did spend most of the time there wearing her pajamas.

Coggeshall Farm Museum
Breakfast in the Barnyard takes place Saturdays August 21, 28 and September 4, 11, and 25
Poppasquash Road
Bristol, RI 02809
(401) 253-9062
www.coggeshallfarm.org