Archive for the ‘North Kingstown’ Category

farm-dog-and-veg

Music at the market…

Guest post by Nancy Caronia, a Lecturer in the Honors Program at University of Rhode Island. Check out her blog at http://ncaronia.wordpress.com/

fennel

From the bounty of the market: fresh fennel.

I’m from Brooklyn, NY, but I lived in Central New York for ten years. In New York City, I would frequent the Union Square Market, and in Central New York, I happily shopped at the Rochester Public Market. I love farmers, I love the food they grow, and I love supporting them and eating their food.

That’s why I appreciate the Coastal Growers Market near my current home in South County, Rhode Island. The four-season farmers market is like both of these markets, but actually reminds me more of the market when I lived in Cassis, France during a semester long writing fellowship with The Camargo Foundation. The vendors in the open-air market would teach me French and I would bring home the loaves of hot olive bread, fresh greens, rabbit, olives, cheese and fresh eggs. Each vendor was kind, whether I was buying two heads of lettuce or a bouquet of mimosa that was large enough to make me feel like a beauty pageant winner. They were patient and funny as I made a mockery of the French language. At the market, I met the people with whom I would soon be hiking buddies and purchased ingredients that meant I made excellent meals without ever stepping foot into a supermarket.

zephyr-customer

A customer browses at the Zephyr Farm stand.

The Coastal Growers’ Market takes me back to the market in Cassis. The farmers and vendors are kind, patient, and caring—towards their customers and about the food and products they provide. In the summer, when the market is located at Casey Farm, I meet up with friends and we sit all morning on picnic benches and listen to music by different local bands each Saturday morning while drinking iced tea or a cold-pressed iced coffee from The Coffee Guy and eat the most amazing tacos in New England by Chef Jake Rojas of Tallulah’s Tacos.

In the winter, the market moves indoors to Lafayette Mill and we still listen to great music and drink—only it’s more likely to be an apple cider that’s been freshly pressed by Barden Family Orchard or a juice from Fully Rooted. There’s Seven Stars for croissants and fresh crusty bread and Bravo Wood Fire Pizza. We meet up with our farmers and buy our groceries for the week as well. I get my greens from Mark, the hydroponic farmer of Abasaloma Greenhouse. I buy my fresh eggs from Zephyr Farm. And I indulge in nitrate-free bacon from Pat’s Pasteurized, where I’ve gotten to know Deb and Annie, aka Santa’s Elves, who do service work feeding the homeless throughout the year.

I get my fresh seafood from The Local Catch and Matunuck Oyster Farm, where the young children love to hear Gabe’s stories about bivalves and watch as he opens an oyster just to watch their eyes light up in delight. There’s also Yorerganics where I purchase my laundry soapbuds and Susannah of Susannah’s Ice Cream and Sorbet, who makes the best darn Meyer lemon sorbet no matter what the season.

Coastal Growers’ Market has made my transition to Rhode Island simple. I’ve made new friends and I’ve become part of a community of people who care about food and healthy living. If you need holiday gifts, the market is the perfect stop. And if you just want to meet up with terrific people and have a relaxing Saturday morning, the market folks will greet you with open arms.

Coastal Growers’ Market
Lafayette Mill
650 Ten Rod Road
North Kingstown, RI
Every Saturday from 10am to 1pm until May 2, 2015

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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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The rainbow cake created by Sin Desserts.

When our daughter tells us she wants a rainbow cake for her birthday, we take such a request seriously. Geoff researched making one like this, but quickly realized we had enough to do without cake baking (when Geoff made our wedding cake, he spent weeks refining a recipe). So we turned to Sin Desserts in Providence who with about a week’s notice exceeded our expectations. Not only did they make a rainbow cake, but they added a smiling sun with the cut-out semicircle (Madeline requested her first piece from there) and a drawing of blue sky and puffy clouds on the tray below. The hard crust of the fondant kept the chocolate cake and whipped cream layer inside perfectly moist — and also ensured that Madeline’s anticipatory poking did no harm. Usually cakes this pretty are awful, but I have to say this was an exception — the cake was light with a great chocolate flavor. Although I did skip eating the fondant, I have to admit — that stuff just doesn’t seem edible.

Finally -- an occasion to order an Allie's Donuts donut cake!

Thinking that the cake would feed about 30 small mouths (turns out it was more like 60), we also ordered a donut cake from Allie’s Donuts which we’ve been wanting to do since our first visit there a few weeks ago. At first, I had no idea what could possibly be inside the pizza-sized boxes emerging from the donut place, but it turns out it’s a giant donut. Genius.

When Geoff called to order it, they wanted to know exactly what time he’d be by to pick it up — it turns out they were going to make it immediately before to ensure the maximum freshness possible.  And it showed — it was so soft, it practically melted in your mouth.  I personally could have done without the rainbow sprinkles, but it wasn’t my birthday. We froze some of the rainbow cake, but the donut cake has been eaten, and I’m now awaiting the next appropriate occasion for one.

Sin Desserts
200 Allens Ave
Providence, RI
www.eatwicked.com

Allie’s Donuts
3661 Quaker Lane
North Kingstown, RI
Also read a blog post from our first visit.

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An assortment of old fashioned and raised doughnuts from Allie's Donuts.

You’d think in the doughnut capital of the United States, there would be a plethora of great options a short drive, or better yet, a short walk from my house. But a Google Maps search shows only two local options – Honey Dew Donuts and Dunkin’ Donuts – fine if you’re desperate, but lousy if you’re looking for a fresh homemade doughnut.

If you’re willing to travel for your doughnuts however (which I am), then there is a great option – Allie’s Donuts in North Kingston which has been around since 1968.

Allie's Donuts

Inside, they offer doughnuts in two categories – old fashioned and raised – each in assorted flavors such as sugar coated, chocolate frosted, glazed, jelly-filled, and chocolate. The old fashioned are usually the type of doughnuts I find too dry, but Allie’s are crunchy on the outside and soft and moist inside. The raised are soft inside and out so that they practically melt in your mouth. We tried several different kinds – all delicious, although personally I prefer a darker chocolate frosting (the chocolate donut, on the other hand, was right on).  They even make “donut cakes” for birthdays and other lucky occasions – something I’ve never heard of before, but will be sure to be trying at the next opportunity.

There’s no doubt how fresh Allie’s doughnuts are since they sell bags of day-old ones at discounted prices. But for me, the fresher, the better so next time instead of arriving at noon on a Saturday, I’d like to be there at 6 am when they open.

Allie’s Donuts
3661 Quaker Lane
North Kingstown, RI

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Bowling for a three-year-old warrants even more enthusiasm than the average adult.

On a recent vacation in France, we made the mistake of promising to take Madeline bowling. After trekking out to the outskirts of Nice, we found the Acropolis only to learn that at age three and shoe size seven, she was much too young and too small to bowl. Somehow that never occurred to us.

To give the kids an advantage, they have a plastic ramp to roll the ball down the center of the lane.

So when we decided to take her duckpin bowling in Rhode Island, we called ahead to confirm their available shoe sizes, operating hours, and bumpers. Satisfied that this might actually work, we headed out to The Bowling Academy in East Providence, RI for an early Saturday night bowl (after 8pm, it’s Rock N’ Bowl).

Duckpin bowling, for those who don’t know, is a variation of bowling with smaller, lighter balls and shorter, fatter pins.  The Bowling Academy is one of a handful of alleys in the state that offer duckpin bowling (see list below).  The place is nothing fancy, but the lanes are gleaming and the employees spray disinfectant in the shoes after people leave, which I personally appreciate. Of course, for a three-year-old, none of that matters. Rather, the easy-to-handle balls; bumpers to keep them in the lane; and even a plastic ramp to slide a ball down the lane more centrally are the things that make duckpin bowling a surefire kid-pleaser.  So, it wasn’t at all a surprise that the next morning, she was already asking to go back.

Duckpin Bowling Alleys in Rhode Island

The Bowling Academy
354 Taunton Avenue
East Providence, RI
(401) 434-5839
www.bowlingacademyinc.com

Dudek Lanes
409 Child Street
Warren, RI
(401) 245-9471
www.dudekbowling.com

Legion Bowl & Billiards
661 Park Avenue
Cranston, RI
(401) 781-8888
www.legionbowlinc.com

Meadowbrook Lanes
2530 Warwick Ave.
Warwick, RI
(401) 737-5402
www.ridba.net/Meadowbrook%20Page.htm

Mac’s Bowlaway
890 Main Street
West Warwick, RI
(401) 828-3279

Town Hall Lanes
1463 Atwood Avenue
Johnston, RI 02919
(401) 831-6940

Wickford Lanes
7665 Post Road
North Kingstown, RI 02852
(401) 294-9886
www.ridba.net/Wickford%20Page.htm

Also see the Rhode Island Duckpin Bowlers Association at www.ridba.net.

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The Gold Standard: My beloved pancakes from the Deluxe Town Diner in Watertown, Massachusetts. Photo by möca.


Why is it that I’m always reading blog posts and newspaper articles about great breakfast places that turn out to be subpar? Surely, I am not the only pancake purist in Rhode Island. After having eagerly gone from diner to hotspot and back again in my quest for Rhode Island’s best pancakes, I’ve decided I am going about this all wrong. When I discovered the best pancakes near Boston, I discovered them not through a blog (if those even existed then) nor through a magazine or newspaper article, but through an accountant friend who happened to live in the area and really liked pancakes.

Here I am with my Deluxe Town Diner pancakes.

Here’s how I know that the Deluxe Town Diner in Watertown, Massachusetts has amazing pancakes: it is the only thing I order there. That’s not to say I haven’t been tempted by tuna melts, homemade stews with fresh (not frozen) vegetables, and burgers with sweet potato fries. But the pancakes made with sour cream and buttermilk are just too good: they rise to thick height and remain fluffy, perfectly browned, made the size of your plate in a stack of three (or two if you so choose, but you’ll be sorry), and smeared with butter with a side of real maple syrup.

I know Rhode Island is the smallest state, but I refuse to shrink my expectations accordingly. So, fellow citizens, I beg of you: show me the (amazingly good) pancakes. Post a comment with your local favorite, and I promise to go, eat and report back.

Surely Not Rhode Island’s Best Pancakes List
(or the places I’ve tried so far)

Note: My criteria for the perfect pancake includes: 1) fluffy texture; 2) neither too wet nor too dry; 3) excellent flavor, more specifically a well-orchestrated recipe of ingredients that culminate in a caramelized flavor balancing salty and sweet; 4) made and served with real butter; and 5) served with real maple syrup.

Despite a wonderful old-fashioned diner atmosphere amidst the strip malls, you won't find the best pancakes at Star Diner.

Atlantic Grille
Middletown, RI
Why not? One of the RI Monthly reader’s choices for best breakfasts, this is truthfully the only place I can stand to eat pancakes on Aquidneck Island. Yet they are no match for the perfect pancake (decent flavor, but not fluffy enough) and fail to provide real maple syrup.

Corner Café
Newport, RI
Why not? Such a cute little spot, but they use margarine — a deal-breaker in my opinion.

Eddie & Sons Diner
Providence, RI
Why not? Here you’ll find decent pancakes (although too light indicated not enough caramelizing butter, sugar, salt), but nothing spectacular, and the diner lacks real maple syrup.

Gary’s Handy Lunch
Newport, RI
Why not? Although I love this place for its atmosphere and enjoy their thin old-fashioned french toast, their pancakes are thin and mealy.

IHOP (The International House of Pancakes)
Middletown, RI
Why not? There is no better option when you absolutely need pancakes at 1 am and are too lazy to make them (yes, it’s happened to me). But, let’s face it, as good as they may taste at that moment, we all know that IHOP is not the real deal.

Louie’s
Providence, RI
Why not? Generally their pancakes have fairly good flavor, although they are always too flat and light. Plus they lack consistency: a few times, the pancakes were metallic, which Geoff says is an indicator of too much baking powder. They serve them with real butter but artificial maple syrup.

Mel’s Diner
East Providence, RI
Why not? According to Providence Journal’s food writer Gail Ciampa, these are “some of the best pancakes around.” No way. Slathered with margarine, these pancakes were bound to lose. They were the right color and thickness, but ultimately too gummy with the wrong flavor.

Modern Diner
Pawtucket, RI
Why not? Their pancakes had great texture (just a tad wet) and were quite fluffy, yet the flavor was wrong — not sweet nor salty enough.

Nick’s on Broadway
Providence, RI
Why not? In general, breakfast here was terrific, but the pancakes sadly not so. Cinnamon in the batter definitely doesn’t fit the bill.

Oatley’s Restaurant
North Kingston, RI
Why not? I had high hopes here with the homemade breads and muffins, but ultimately the pancakes missed on both flavor and fluffiness.

Star Diner
Rumford, RI
Why not? Pancakes were greasy and burnt. By the taste, I highly doubt they were made with butter in the batter or on the griddle. And they don’t serve maple syrup.

T’s Restaurant
Why not? Pancakes were dense and dry with lousy flavor. They’re also served with a butter ‘blend’ (aka margarine), blanketed with powdered sugar, and a side of phony syrup — need I say more?

Top Photo Credit: möca

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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

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