Couët Farm & Fromagerie: Local cave-aged cheeses


Thankfully, the proprietors offered me a sample, or I might have missed this recent addition to the Wintertime Farmer’s Market. Couët Farm & Fromagerie makes cave-aged cheeses from raw milk in Dudley, Massachusetts. We purchased the Evelina—a rich raw sheep’s milk cheese with a delicious natural rind.

Couët Farm & Fromagerie

Find them at the Pawtucket Wintertime Farmer’s Market

Food Truck Bash: New York, Boston and Providence

The Wafels and Dinges truck from New York parked in Providence for the Food Truck Bash.

The Wafels and Dinges truck from New York parked in Providence for the Food Truck Bash.

Empanadas from Nuchas.

Empanadas from Nuchas.

I only recall two kinds of food trucks from my childhood–the New York quick breakfast truck (for rushed commuters) and the ice cream truck (for us sweet-craving children).Things have certainly changed.

Last weekend, at the Food Truck Bash, nine trucks from Providence, Boston and New York gathered in the ice rink at Kennedy Plaza to present their offerings. There, we tasted empanadas with ground beef, onions, peppers, scallion, potatoes and olives in a white dough from New York’s Nuchas; a Portuguese thin pork sandwich from Providence’s Portu-Galo; and a dark hot chocolate and several liège wafels (chewy Belgian waffles that need no toppings, in my opinion) from New York’s Wafels & Dinges.

Liège wafel from Wafels and dinges.

Liège wafel from Wafels and dinges.

During our last trip to Belgium, we searched everywhere for a waffle as good as the one you can apparently get from a New York food truck. They even have Spekuloos ice cream, which I’ll be getting next time Wafels and Dinges comes to me or I go to them.

Learn more about the Food Truck Bash at Wafels & Dinges won the “Best of Maker’s Mark Bourbon” category with their dish “De Bourbon Whip” – which was Maker’s Mark® Bourbon Spicy Salty Caramelized Walnuts, Bourbon-Infused Maple Syrup, and Bourbon-Infused Whipped Cream on a Liege Waffle.

Food trucks participating included:

Nuchas (New York)

Portu-Galo (Providence)

Wafels & Dinges (New York)

Fugo (Providence)

Boston’s Baddest Burger (Boston)

Phil’s Steaks (New York)

Radish (Providence)
see separate blog post about Radish

The Chubby Chickpea (Boston)

Big D’s (New York)

Blount Clam Shack: Summer All Year Long

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

Blount Clam Shack and Soup Bar
371 Richmond Street
Providence, RI
Also see their list of other locations in Warren, Fall River, MA and Crescent Park (Riverside, RI) at

Rock Spot Climbing: Rock climbing for all levels (and almost all ages)

Rock climbing–it’s for kids too.

It was as if she’d been rock climbing her whole life. That said, she is only five. Today, my daughter kept up with the best adult climbers as she adeptly made her way up the 30-foot climbing wall at Rock Spot Climbing in Lincoln over half a dozen times. Using top roped climbing, she was harnessed into a belay device to protect against a sudden fall and create a smooth, slow (and apparently fun) ride down.

When my husband asked her before bed if she’d like to go back, she said yes, she’d love to go back tomorrow.

Rock Spot Climbing
100 Higginson Ave
Lincoln, RI

1174 Kingstown Rd
South Kingstown, RI

They also have the largest indoor bouldering facility in New England at:
67 Sprague St
Boston, MA


New York Quick List

Bo Ssäm @ Momofuku

It was a busy weekend, but here’s the gastronomic sequence:

1. Petrossian. Coffee & Orange Brioche. Much fawning over caviar.

2. Roasting Plant Coffee. Espresso and own-made Ding Dong (michele only).

3. Kin Shop. Spicy Duck Laab, Duck Breast Roti, Grilled Trigger fish. Roasted bone marrow.

4. Fedora. Martinis and Manhattans

5. Bakehouse. Coffee and Short Rib Hash

6. Kava. Espresso.

7. Magnolia. Cupcake (michele only)

8. Red Farm. Not open 😦

9. Momofuku Ssam bar. Bo Ssam. Vieux Carre.

10. Think Coffee. Espresso.

11. Arthur’s Tavern. Beer.

12. Joe’s. Slice of pizza, eaten outside in Father Demo Square.

13. The Breslin – curried lentils and poached eggs. thrice-cooked chips,

14. Stumptown. Espresso.

15. Eataly. Fresh bread and mozzarella for the train ride, spicy salumi.

Espresso, in order of preference:

1) Kava

2) Stumptown

3) Think Coffee

4) Roasting Plant

5) Petrossian

The Art of the Brick: A Lego Art Exhibit

Madeline found a cello made of legos at the Narrows Gallery exhibit.

When Lucy started to crawl, I moved Madeline’s ten pounds of legos out of the girls’ room and into the living room. I feared that the tiny brightly colored pieces would make too tempting a snack for an infant.

The Narrows Gallery's exhibit "The Art of the Brick" is open through November 19, 2011.

But Madeline seldom went to the living room to play with them. What was once her favorite activity was no longer part of her daily play.

So I decided, it was time to bring back the legos.

Yesterday, we drove to Fall River where the Narrows Gallery is currently hosting a free art exhibit of work by New York artist Nathan Sawaya. The pieces, entirely made of legos, don’t match the intricacy of the displays at Lego World (in Germany we saw a lego stadium with 30,000 lego people fans), but they were inventive — a giant pencil writing the word yes, a yellow man with an open chest pouring out legos (which Madeline said looked like a jack-o-lantern), and a full size cello.

Lego walls down the hall give children the opportunity to build their own lego art.

Of course, it’s hard enough to prevent kids from touching art when it’s not made of legos, so wisely the center set up an accompanying build-your-own exhibit down the hall with logo walls so low even Lucy could try her hand at building.

The exhibit inspired Madeline to build her own at home too — so far she’s made her own lego family, a sewing machine, and a robot. Legos are now strewn all over the kitchen and our bedroom floor. Lucy loves running her hands through the giant bucket of legos. As expected, I have caught her eating one a few times, but so far she hasn’t swallowed any. At least, I don’t think she has.

Madeline's lego girls.

The Art of the Brick
through November 19, 2011
Narrows Gallery
16 Anawan Street
Fall River, MA

New York City: Come Away

New York City: Come Away

This post was originally on Michele’s blog Where in the World:
Traveling and living adventures before and after children.

In a short stint in New York City, I packed in a bunch of movies at the Tribeca Film Festival, several trips to Pinkberry, a Magnolia cupcake, and a Saturday evening performance of South Pacific starring Paulo Szot and Laura Osnes — all of which I highly recommend.

Having done both, I’d say living in NYC is much more enjoyable than visiting it.  In either case, there’s nothing like a great Broadway show, and South Pacific didn’t disappoint.  The sets and lighting truly transported me to a slow sunset on an island much prettier than Manhattan.  The performances were stellar and the vaguely familiar songs quite catchy.  I bought the soundtrack the next day and have been playing it on repeat ever since.  Yes, I am a sucker for the theatre.  I’d like to go back every night.  Do you think there are people who spend $300,000/year going to Broadway shows?  If so, how might I become one of them?

But the thing I noticed about New York was how stressed and hurried strangers seemed.  I’m not sure if I just never noticed it before.  In fact, I’m not sure I wasn’t like that myself before.  I actually saw a woman argue over who was first for a bathroom stall when there wasn’t even a line.  This is a person who is spending too much time crowded in subways, waiting in lines and making sure no one’s getting the better of her.  Oh and trust me, if you’re not paying attention, they will get the better of you.  I realized this when my cab driver decided to drive from Lincoln Center to the Village by way of Times Square on Saturday night, making a 15-minute ride take 45 (and a $8 cab ride cost $16).  And yet we still tipped him.  I might as well be a hick.  But this is how you become a “New Yorker”: spend your day getting cut off, shoved and swindled and pretty soon you’re getting in a cab haughtily instructing the driver which route to take.

Don’t get me wrong, New York is a truly wonderful place — one of the best cities in the world.  For years, I had one of those “I Love New York” bumper stickers on my car.  But I think now I’d need one that says, “I Have Mixed Feelings about New York.”

Surfing Queens and Canoes

This post was originally on Michele’s blog Where in the World:
Traveling and living adventures before and after children.

When I close my eyes I see waves.  I’ve been surfing nearly every day that we’ve been in Waikiki — today was my last, and seventh surf lesson.  The surf instructors at Beach Boys tease me because most people take one lesson and then proceed out into the waves unattended to figure it out by themselves.  But after having tried that in Newport, RI last summer, I saw my week in Hawaii as a custom surf camp so I went out each time with an instructor.  I find that I learn something new each time (how to steer, how to handle the second push of a wave), and it’s nice after wiping out and swallowing a heap of seawater that there’s someone there who notices and shouts “You ok?”

The first two lessons that I took were group lessons for $40/hour.  Those seem to be set up mostly for total beginners.  The lessons start on the beach to practice paddling and standing on the board.  At Beach Boys, most instructors taught newbies to get on their knees then one foot, then both feet.  As expert as such company made me feel, I decided a private lesson (at $75/hour) might help me learn a bit quicker.  So after that I chose to go for the pricier private lesson (although they did cut me a deal after I kept coming back).  I’ve gone out with several different instructors, all men — Zack, Junior, and Tony.  If there are any women instructors, I haven’t seen them.  I’ve taken the most (four) lessons with Tony, a sturdy tanned Italian guy born and raised on the island who can move quite nimbly around even on the 11 foot board he takes out with him.  As for me, I’ve graduated down to a 10 foot board and have stuck with that for the duration.  In fact, several of my instructors have informed me that the board I purchased in Newport, RI, an 8 foot 2 inch epoxy board is too small for me to learn on.  They all think I should be with a 9 foot 6 inch or a 10 foot board.

Tony finds it funny, but I’m not joking when I tell him that I’m actually scared to go out each time, and yet I am totally compelled to as if I were addicted.  What can I say about surfing?  I don’t think it’s a sport most people learn in their mid-thirties, and I can see why.  Fear holds us back.  As I’ve surfed around, I’ve seen quite a wide age range of talented surfers from about age 7 to 77.  I haven’t seen as many older women in the water as older men, but they’re out there, and they’re damn good.

In Waikiki, the surfing can get quite crowded — to the point that it’s a bit hazardous.  As I finished my last lesson, the Beach Boys instructors were taking out a group of 25 newbies in already crowded waters to learn to surf.  Let’s just say, I was glad I was done for the day.  Apparently there are not many surf rules in Waikiki, although supposedly you should get out of the way of oncoming surfers riding a wave.  Although this sounds simple, it can be a challenge when you have people coming at you from all sides.  It’s also hard to judge without knowing the locals who can steer around you and who cannot.

One day when it was particularly crowded, I asked Tony if we could head out slightly to the left of the mob scene in the water where I saw some nice waves breaking.  He said that was where the locals surfed and it was a slightly bigger and more challenging ride, but we could give it a try.  I hadn’t realized it until then that each of the breaks had a name.  Where most people surf (and have surf lessons) in Waikiki is called Canoes, according to Tony named after the canoes that take out passengers to paddle in and ride the waves.  To the left of there is Queens, an area more highly rated and more popular with the locals.  Later that day, Geoff discovered this site that lists all the breaks — check out the difference between Oahu ( and Southern New England ( — a bit depressing but I guess it could be worse.

The waves in Queens were bigger, and leaned sideways a bit so the ride was more across than straight ahead.  The larger waves give you more of the downhill ride, in addition to just the whitewater push ahead.  Throughout my week of surfing I learned how to steer (with the weight of your back leg), how to stop (get down on the board and put your hands in the water, or more quickly shift your weight to the back of the board), how to fall (belly flop or back flop since the water is shallow and the bottom rocky), how to keep ahead of the wave (step forward on the board), in addition to things like finding the right wave and timing your paddling into it.  But maybe most importantly, my fear seemed to wane a little bit each time.

If you haven’t tried surfing, I highly recommend it.  When you catch a wave and ride it into the shore, it’s pure elation.  It makes me think of the Woody Allen line, “It’s the most fun I’ve ever had without laughing.”

Waikiki: My Kind of Winter

This post was originally on Michele’s blog Where in the World:  Traveling and living adventures before and after children.

When I had first pictured Hawaii in my mind, I had imagined something along the lines of Blue Lagoon. Although Waikiki does give you the feeling that it’s been crafted by Hollywood or Disney with its smooth stone sidewalks and carefully spaced palm trees – it doesn’t quite match my mind’s pre-conception. I had pictured the beach as a serene, romantic place, when in fact it’s no less crowded than New York’s Jones Beach on a hot summer day. I suppose the contents of 60,000 hotel rooms spilled out onto the beach mid-day would be anything but peaceful. But despite the throngs of honeymooners and Japanese tourists, Waikiki has its redeeming qualities. It’s rare to discover a beach with fine soft sand and clear blue-green water where you can take a baby out swimming safely in relatively calm waters as well as take surfing lessons a few feet away. And I love the fact that they let everyone bring floats and boogie boards into the water (boats even wash up on shore).

We’ve spent most of the past few days at Waikiki Beach, although we did decide to rent a car yesterday to explore the rest of the island. With surging mountains, roaring surf and too many beaches to count, Oahu offers quite a scenic drive. Yet after being turned away from one beach after another (too rough surf at one, a Portuguese man-of-war warning at another), I think we’ll stick to Waikiki for the final four days of our trip. That said, I did enjoy watching the surfers at the Bonzai Pipeline even though the waves only hit 5 feet or so today (versus the winter peak of 20 feet) and got in a quick swim in giant waves at Waimea Bay.

Our other excursion out of Waikiki was Saturday when we woke ourselves up early at 9 am (jet lag has allowed us to eat late and sleep in) for the weekly Farmers’ Market at the Kapiolani Community College on Diamond Head Road. We were glad not to have missed it since we found not only tasty breakfast (hot beignets, homemade spicy ginger ales and the most buttery cranberry scones), but also some local fruit to take back to our room – mangosteens, mangos, rambutans, apple bananas (which taste like pre-ripened bananas).

For the most part, food in Oahu has been good, although you definitely have to seek out reviews from a reliable source. The guidebook we brought Oahu Revealed offers wonderfully detailed descriptions of beaches, attractions and hotels, but I’ve found it doesn’t quite match our sensibility with food. It’s hard to take any book seriously that gives an ‘ono’ (meaning ‘delicious’) rating to McDonald’s, and I’ve found some of their recommendations off the mark. For example, Maui Tacos proved a definite disappointment with bland burritos (maybe it’s just too far from Mexico here to get that right). And some of their exclusions are unfortunate, like the great sandwiches at Ruffage Foods (I had tuna avocado and Geoff had a veggie burger avocado).

The restaurants are often geared toward tourists, which often make them a disappointment. And Waikiki obviously is a serious tourist destination. Any town with a Tiffany’s as large as the one here means business. And surf shops – well, take your pick. There are actually two Billabong stores across the street from each other. And there appears to be a Haagen-Daz every few blocks in case you’re feeling a tad faint (which I usually am). But by far, the most ubiquitous chain here is a regional shop called ABC Stores which carries everything you might need in a pinch – suntan lotion, allergy medication, milk, and sarongs – as well as plenty of souvenirs like pins, cups, t-shirts, flower barrettes, and kona coffee. The abundance of these stores seems almost absurd – on a short walk, we counted eight of them – but they certainly do offer comfort. Everything you need is there should you need it. And I suppose that is part of why Waikiki has become what it is today.

There are many families here on vacation, and I can see why. Although it feels so much like a remote tropical destination, Hawaii is just another state in the U.S. This provides comfort on many levels – there’s no problem getting money, speaking the language, driving a car, etc. In addition, the beach seems to please kids universally. Mirabelle sings “going to the beach” every morning and adores playing in the sand, swimming in the ocean, and wearing as few clothes as possible. The poor thing – she certainly doesn’t realize that in a few days, we’ll be back to bundling her in umpteen layers before leaving the house, only to proceed as quickly as possible from one indoor location to another.

Leaving Taipei


This post was originally on Michele’s blog Where in the World: Traveling and living adventures before and after children.

It was our last morning in Taipei. We were a bit sad to go and not just because we had a 8 hour 20 minute China Airlines flight ahead of us. Taipei surprised us as with its varied culture, tasty cuisine and relatively baby-friendly city. Of course, we were extremely fortunate to have Allan and Susan as our hosts who helped navigate our outings, choose the restaurants, and speak the language for us. The few times we went out by ourselves, we managed with a lot of pointing (most menus have pictures) and gesturing. I realized that cab drivers were more likely to understand the word “okay” than “yes” which came in handy and not surprisingly, Geoff started recognizing certain Chinese characters during our trip. We were certainly glad we came to Taipei, knowing that as much as we packed into our week trip, there was still much to be explored. We never had a chance to take some day trip to the north coast like Yeliu which looked mystical with its sandstone formations, and we never made it to the National Palace Museum – not too surprising since it wasn’t until we moved to Paris that we finally went to the Louvre.

For our last half day in Taipei, we (of course) chose to get breakfast at Yungho Soybean Milk & Porridge King. Allan and Susan met us there, and Susan (who loves peanuts) introduced us to two new dishes there – peanut soup and a sticky rice wrapped around mashed peanuts.

Before we headed to the airport, we decided to take a quick trip back to Wistaria Teahouse to buy a tea set, complete with the pot, cups, bowls and wooden spoon. We got back just in time to get our bags into our car service back to the airport.

The flight which left at around 3 pm essentially was an overnight flight since it arrived in Hawaii 6 am local time (although in Taipei that’s midnight). Since we were crossing back over the dateline, it would be Thursday morning again when we arrived in Honolulu. The flight was fairly uneventful, except for one bit of rough turbulence about 30 minutes prior to landing that had me regretting deeply the decision to fly China Airlines. But it ended well, and the passenger behind us commented on our way leaving the plane how “easy” Mirabelle is. It has been remarkable, and I say this with three days of travel behind us and one day of travel left. I’m not sure if it’s the preparations, the presents, the pacifier, or just the fact that Mirabelle really likes Lady and The Tramp. But overall, my fears have not at all been realized. We have all slept well, ate well and traveled well. And I think when we’re back home, we’ll be planning our next adventure.