Archive for the ‘Sweets & Treats’ Category

Summer = ice cream

Summer = ice cream

It has long been no mystery to my friends that any day that includes both swimming and ice cream is a ’10’ in my assessment. Maybe that’s why The Sweet Spot in Narragansett remains one of my favorite ice cream shops in the state — I don’t think I have ever been there without having first spent the day swimming at the beach. Although I usually come from one of the many beaches within a short driving distance, Sweet Spot happens to be located directly on the water, in front of Salty Brine State Beach, so close that it may even be possible to be swimming while eating ice cream.

They have the usual flavors — vanilla, chocolate, strawberry — and all are homemade, but I usually go for their Black Raspberry Chip (yogurt or ice cream) or Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough or, my favorite, Coconut Chip.

The Sweet Spot
256 Great Island Rd.
Narragansett, RI

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Our version of almond, sunflower seed granola inspired by the one at Blue State Coffee.

Our version of almond, sunflower seed granola inspired by the one at Blue State Coffee.

Narragansett Creamery yogurt topped with our granola.

Narragansett Creamery yogurt topped with our granola.

I’ve developed an addiction to Blue State Coffee’s house-made granola, but since they only sell it in small cupfuls, I decided it was time to take matters into our own hands.

Last weekend, I bought the ingredients listed on the package and enlisted Geoff to create his own version. We wound up adding two ingredients not listed — a bit of oil to prevent it from sticking together and a small amount of chopped banana chips for sweetness. The results are impressively similar — ours is equally crunchy and has the same nutty flavor. The best part is that we can make it in large batches, so there’s plenty to share. I like it sprinkled on Narragansett Creamery Yogurt or Fage.

I wonder if I can convince Geoff to make our own yogurt next.

Oats, Almond and Sunflower Seed Granola Recipe

Ingredients:
oats
sliced almonds
sunflower seeds
agave nectar (or honey)
chopped banana chips
cinnamon
brown rice flour
oil

Steps:

We spread the oats, almonds, sunflower seeds and chopped banana chips on a tray to get the balance we wanted first.

Mix those in a bowl, sprinkle in some brown rice flower, a bit of agave nectar (or honey) and a small sprinkle of cinnamon. Mix in a bit of vegetable oil to prevent sticking.

Spread it out on a cookie sheet and bake in the oven at 250 degrees until brown (basically until it matches the color of Blue State’s) or about 45 minutes.

Let it dry on the tray until cool. Then, move to an airtight container to store.

Note: Narragansett Creamery Yogurt can be purchased at the farmers’ markets or at Whole Foods Market. Blue State Coffee has two locations on Thayer Street in Providence — see www.bluestatecoffee.com

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Foremost Bakery's pretzels can be found at the café at the Providence train station.

Foremost Bakery pretzels can be found at cafés throughout Providence.

Foremost Bakery received a write-up in Edible Rhodyand I was surprised to discover we’d already been enjoying their breads at places like Garden Grille, Small Point Café and Loie Fuller. And I was even more surprised that you can get them with your tea or coffee at cafés like White Electric and Coffee Exchange.

Foremost’s version of the Bavarian pretzel is a bit more bread-like than my ideal (which I found located in Ulm, Germany). Basically, it has the texture of challah bread with an unmistakeable pretzel flavor. Today at White Electric, I asked for one with more rock salt than the others — a common request, a White Electric employee informed me. Apparently, I’m not the only one on a special high salt diet.

Foremost Bakery
Providence, RI
on Facebook

White Electric
711 Westminster Street
Providence, RI
http://whiteelectriccoffee.com/

Coffee Exchange
207 Wickenden Street
Providence, RI
www.facebook.com/TheCoffeeExchangeRI

 

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The Old-Fashioned Coconut Cake from Pastiche Fine Desserts.

The Old-Fashioned Coconut Cake from Pastiche Fine Desserts.

It’s day four of the New Year, and I’m already tired of the media stories on how to lose weight and get in shape in 2014.

My personal favorite: the coconut cake.

The slice.

So for all of you who have made it their New Year’s resolution to eat more cake, here’s one of my personal favorites–a generous slice of the Old-Fashioned Coconut Cake from Pastiche Fine Desserts in Federal Hill. It’s made with coconut and almond flour and topped with light cream cheese frosting and shredded coconut.

Or select your personal favorite from their extensive menu. Enjoy.

Pastiche Fine Desserts
92 Spruce St
Providence, RI
pastichefinedesserts.com

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Geoff and I both grew up with the tradition of Christmas and have continued it with our girls despite the fact that we are not religious. Although our daughters know that Santa Claus isn’t real, we all love pretending during the holiday season. Here are some ways we’ve celebrated Christmas in Rhode Island…

1. Pick Your Own Christmas Tree

It’s the ultimate ‘paper versus plastic’ debate — we’ve chosen a real tree because ultimately it’s more sustainable (another tree can be grown) and so much more festive to have the smell of pine in the air. This year, we once again got our tree from Lockwood Tree Farm. Trees get collected after the holidays in Providence — don’t make the mistake of one over-eager dad who tried to burn his tree in the fireplace and nearly set his house on fire.

2. ‘Christmas’ Waterfire

Tonight (December 13), there will be a special (and as always, free) WaterFire lighting to enjoy. It really is much warmer by the glowing fires, although you’ll still need a coat, and a hat, and gloves, and a scarf.

3. ‘Twas the Night Before Christmas

The Providence Ballet also will put on a performance tonight (December 13) at Rhode Island College of ‘Twas the Night Before Christmas.

4. Christmas at a Mansion

Somehow seeing someone else’s house decked out in holiday spirit can be as satisfying (and a lot easier) than your own. Christmas at The Newport Mansions continues through January 5. I personally love to visit Blithewold, a 45-room English style manor house adorned with holiday decorations. Don’t forget to stop in the Carriage House where the “Gingerbread Wonderland” features mini-gingerbread houses of all styles made by area children. And right in Providence, you can visit the John Brown House Museum‘s Home for the Holidays.

5. A Christmas Carol

The Trinity Repertory Theater has certainly perfected its performance of the classic Dickens tale. The show has moments that can be scarier for children, although of course we were brave (or stupid) enough to bring our two-year-old one year. Let’s just say, it was a good thing we packed plenty of lollipops. Anyway, the show kept all of us mesmerized. I also recently discovered there’s another production of A Christmas Carol featuring Big Nazo puppets, which is definitely on my list to check out.

6. The Nutcracker

Festival Ballet's Nutcracker

Festival Ballet’s Nutcracker

Festival Ballet puts on a stellar performance of The Nutcracker at the Providence Performing Arts Center. For next year, you might also consider the Island Moving Co.‘s performance at one of the Newport Mansions, Rosecliff.

7. Gingerbread Houses and Holiday Cookies

Of course, a great way to celebrate is to make your own or build a gingerbread house (or village as the girls did this year) at home. There are also several decorating events and contests (everything’s a contest apparently) throughout the state. Check out the Decorate Your Own Gingerbread Man event on December 21, 2013 at the Smith-Abbleby House Museum in Smithfield, RI. The Ocean House in Westerly also hosts a Gingerbread Village Competition and Reception on December 16, 2013.

8. Ski, Skate and Sled

There are plenty of indoor and outdoor skating options throughout the state, including the Kennedy Plaza rink in Providence. If we actually get enough snow, you’ll probably find us sledding on the East Side. We still haven’t been, but there’s kid-friendly skiing in Yawgoo Valley Ski and Sports Area in Exeter, RI.

9. Shop Local

Two years ago, I came up with a list of great places to shop locally for children’s gifts. There are also guides to Shop Downcity and the Shops at Hope Street, which includes stores like Kreatelier which has wonderful hand-made items for adults and children.

While you’re shopping, get into the spirit by donating gifts at any one of the local toy drives: Children’s Friend or Toys for Tots (Whisky Republic in Providence is accepting gift donations today December 13), for instance.

10. Holiday Pops

Last but not least, tonight the Boston Pops comes down to Providence Performing Arts Center for a special local performance. We went years ago without children when we were living in Boston. I think older children (especially aspiring musicians) certainly would appreciate the performance.

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We’ve now lived in Providence for over four years, and it would be hard to fit in one blog post all my thoughts about that. So instead, I thought I’d describe an eventful, but fairly typical Saturday, which as it turns out, might be a perfect way to highlight our life in Providence.

8:28 am – We woke up “late” for us, which meant we had to rush to get the girls ready for gymnastics and ballet at Aim High Academy, where dozens of gymnasts were already hard at work.

10:00 am – We head to Allie’s Donuts–an institution for good reason. A donut cake (exactly what it sounds like) has been ordered for one of our daughter’s birthday this month.

11:15 am – We make our way to the Pawtucket Wintertime Farmers’ Market opening day. This year’s market has more than doubled, and it is every bit better. We all sit in the courtyard and have Tallulah’s Tacos for lunch. The girls make a basket at ACKpack Basket Studio. Michele buys a giant stalk of brussels sprouts, freshly dug potatoes, onions, and parsnips from the market, along with apples from Barden Family Orchard. Our daughter insists we buy more pickles from Harmony Hill Farm. We get dessert–an almond croissant and an apricot financier–from the French Tarte. On our way out, we discover a new store, Sassy Mama Cuisine, that has rows upon rows of hot sauces. I’m looking for one made with Bhut jolokia, and pick from more than a dozen.

2:00 pm – I nap.

3:30 pm – I take my six-year-old daughter to Cirque Éloize, one of the first shows in this year’s FirstWorks Festival at the Providence Performing Arts Center, while Michele takes our two-year old to the Providence Children’s Museum.

6:00 pm – At home,  I make the kids a pizza with dough from Olga’s and cheese from Narragansett Creamery.

7:30 pm – Michele and I walk downtown to the Brown University/Trinity Repertory Theatre, to see a production of Twelfth Night, or What You Will. Since we didn’t buy tickets in advance, we wait standby and luckily get seats from a few no-shows. Even after four years of shows, it’s my first time in the Pell Chafee Performance Center.

9:30 pm – We get drinks and appetizers at Gracie’s, which turned out to be a meal that would rival the best in recent memory: a sherry-roasted beet salad with Cloumage cheese, pistachio nougatine, wild rice crispies, sour apple, and Aquidneck honey; Hudson Valley foie gras with fennel dusted brioche donuts, roasted peach, pistachio, raspberry gelee; russet potato gnocchi with house cured ham, broccoli, cauliflower, cheddar, buttery herb crumb; and crispy veal sweetbreads with sunny side quail’s egg, parmesan spinach, potato fondue, pickled ramps (this one was a standout).

10:30 pm – Our babysitter needs to leave early tonight, so Michele grabs a cab home. I stay on, for a show at AS220.

12:00 am – The band Melt Banana plays in AS220’s tiny venue, where you can get up close and mingle with the bands.

1:00 am – I take an UberX ride home! Just 2 minutes after calling…

I’ve always thought that a perfect city is one that you can “use” to its fullest regularly. And with that as my definition, I’m in the right place for now…

For more information:

Aim High Academy
3355 S County Trail
East Greenwich, RI
http://www.aimhighacademy.com/

Allie’s Donuts
3661 Quaker Lane
North Kingstown, RI
https://www.facebook.com/AlliesDonuts

Pawtucket Wintertime Farmers’ Market (Saturdays 9 am-1pm and Wednesdays 4-7pm through May 17, 2014)
at Hope Artiste Village
1005 Main St.
Pawtucket, RI
http://www.farmfresh.org/winter

Tallulah on Thames
464 Thames Street
Newport, RI
http://www.tallulahonthames.com/

Sassy Mama Cuisine
at Hope Artiste Village
1005 Main St.
Pawtucket, RI

The French Tarte
at Hope Artiste Village
1005 Main St.
Pawtucket, RI
http://www.frenchtarte.com/

ACKpack Basket Studio
at Hope Artiste Village
1005 Main St.
Pawtucket, RI
https://www.facebook.com/pages/ACKpack-Basket-Studio/467747816608744

Barden Family Orchard
56 Elmdale Rd
North Scituate, RI
http://www.bardenfamilyorchard.com/

Harmony Hill Farm
Barrington, RI
http://harmonyhill-farm.com/

Providence Performing Arts Center
220 Weybosset Street
Providence, RI
http://www.ppacri.org/

FirstWorks
http://first-works.org/

Providence Children’s Museum
100 South Street
Providence, RI
www.childrenmuseum.org

Olga’s Cup & Saucer
103 Point Street
Providence, RI
www.olgascupandsaucer.com

Narragansett Creamery
www.richeeses.com

Brown University/Trinity Repertory Theatre
www.browntrinity.com

Gracie’s
194 Washington Street
Providence, RI
graciesprovidence.com

AS220
115 Empire Street
Providence, RI
www.as220.org

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Blount Clam Shack's famous clam chowder.

Blount Clam Shack’s famous clam chowder.

In an effort to try and pretend that summer is not over, I’ve continued to make regular trips to Eskimo King for soft serve (yes, it’s worth the drive from Providence). It just doesn’t get much better than their medium (okay sometimes large) coffee soft serve cone with chocolate jimmies. Sadly, they closed for their season on October 14.

Blount's seafood dinner for two, a Friday special.

Blount’s seafood dinner for two, a Friday special.

I also finally made my way over to Blount Clam Shack in Providence, which is open year round. We ordered the Saturday special “Seafood Dinner for Two” which as it turned out was plenty for all of us (two adults and two kids) with two cups of chowder, clam cakes,
haddock, scallops, whole belly clams, shrimp, french fries, cole slaw and two drinks. The clam chowder was our favorite with just the right amount of creamy with good hunks of firm potatoes and tender clams, but I definitely prefer the clam cakes at Flo’s Clam Shack. The rest seemed more like your traditional seafood shack fare, although the whole belly clams were quite unique and tasty. Next time, I’ll try the lobster bisque and a lobster roll for a taste of summer decadence in the off-season.

Eskimo King
29 Market Street
Swansea, MA
www.eskimoking.com

Blount Clam Shack and Soup Bar
371 Richmond Street
Providence, RI
http://www.blountretail.com/providence/home
Also see their list of other locations in Warren, Fall River, MA and Crescent Park (Riverside, RI) at http://www.blountretail.com/providence/other_blount_locations

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