Rhode Island Rye

Rhode Island Rye supports a local farm, a local mill and a local bakery. And it tastes good, too.

I’ll admit that I’m not as much of a bread connoisseur as an ice cream one. Still, there are quite a few reasons to be impressed by Seven Stars Bakery’s addition of the Rhode Island Rye loaf. Modeled after a dense, moist German Vollkornbrot, the loaf weighs more than it looks. Sliced thin and toasted with some salted butter or Farmstead cheese, it offers a rich, complex flavor.  According to the bakery, it can last for several weeks when kept sealed in plastic.

But my favorite feature of this bread is that it’s home grown. The rye is grown on Schartner’s Farm in Exeter, RI then ground using traditional stone milling at Kenyon’s Grist Mill in Usquepaug, RI. The resulting flour becomes the star ingredient (along with RI rye berries, water, salt and yeast) in the official Rhode Island Rye bread.  Buy the loaves at Seven Stars Bakery locations and their farmer’s market stands.

Schartner’s Farm
Route 2 and 1 Arnold Place
Exeter, RI

Kenyon’s Grist Mill
Usquepaug, RI
www.kenyonsgristmill.com

Seven Stars Bakery
Providence & East Providence, RI
www.sevenstarsbakery.com

Gray’s Ice Cream: Coffee Chip

A cup of coffee chip at Gray's Ice Cream.

After last fall’s botched attempt to try Gray’s Ice Cream, I decided to give it another try this spring. Their Bristol location officially opened for the season on May 8, and I arrived the next day despite the cold and windy weather. I had to sit in my car waiting for them to open for the day, since apparently they don’t expect people to want ice cream before noon.

I tried their chocolate, which was quite tasty — more of a light malt chocolate than a rich dark flavor. But I ultimately opted for their coffee chip since the coffee is their specialty, along with a scoop of regular chocolate chip for comparison. The woman working there told me they had just brought in the batch of coffee chip that day, and you could tell — the texture was perfectly soft and creamy. I guess ice cream is more like bagels than I thought — the fresher, the better. The chocolate chip was fine, but nothing special. Overall, it’s no Handel’s, but it’s a much shorter drive to Bristol than Ohio, and that’s not to be overlooked.

Gray’s Ice Cream
16 East Road
Tiverton, RI 02878

259 Thames Street
Bristol, RI 02809

www.graysicecream.com

Juniper Frozen Yogurt

July 2014 Update:I am sad to report that Juniper has closed.

Pure white — you can’t beat a small original with nothing on it.

No, it’s not Pinkberry. Still, Juniper Frozen Yogurt whips up some tasty, tangy frozen yogurt in two flavors — original and blueberry — satisfying that urge (which I seem to get quite often) for soft serve. (See my related obsession with Frosty Freez).

Madeline likes it. Although, to be fair, she’s not very picky.

If you somehow missed the tangy frozen yogurt craze, I do believe you are missing out. Obviously, I consider myself an expert having tried Pinkberry, Red Mango, and any imitators. If you don’t believe me, see Madeline and me pictured at BoYo’s debut last year in The Boston Globe (photo number three). Long gone are the days when frozen yogurt tries to guise as ice cream; now it embraces its tartness.

As for Juniper, I do wish they’d alternate flavors the way Boston’s Berryline does since I’ve long since tired of their blueberry. But I’m content enough with a small original with no toppings to keep coming back. And with it being organic and nonfat, it’s guilt-free, as long as you don’t mind the damage to your wallet once you’re addicted.

Juniper Frozen Yogurt
229 Thayer Street
Providence, RI

Delekta Pharmacy’s Coffee Cabinet

The interior of Delekta is a throwback to an old-time pharmacy.

After rediscovering KidoInfo’s list of 100 Things to Do with Your Kids in RI, we honed in on what appeared to be the most urgent, number 90: Order a cabinet at Delekta Pharmacy in Warren.

The coffee cabinet -- it tastes even better than it looks.

I wasn’t even sure what a cabinet was, but I knew a coffee cabinet comprised of some combination of sugar, dairy and coffee, which was enough to convince me of its worthiness. So upon arrival, Geoff and I requested a coffee cabinet each while ordering a chocolate chip ice cream cone for Madeline, the latter clearly a mistake since the cabinet was far superior and Madeline is no fool. As for the cabinet, it was a hit all around — wonderful coffee flavor without the bitterness, perfectly smooth and sweet, and thicker than milk but thinner than most shakes.

Since I noticed their menu also listed milk shakes, I decided to ask an employee: exactly how is a coffee cabinet different than a coffee milk shake? She explained that to Rhode Islanders a “milk shake” is just that: milk (with syrup) shaken. But a cabinet is what everyone outside RI actually calls a milk shake — ice cream and syrup, shaken. The coffee syrup used in their cabinets is an old-world family recipe made fresh daily by the owner himself. No wonder it’s so tasty.

Delekta Pharmacy
496 Main Street
Warren, RI, 02885
(no website but they have a Facebook page)

Kafe’ Lila

Kafe' Lila's entrance in the Grant Building lets you

When you call your ice cream “Really Good Vanilla,” you’d better mean it. Luckily at Kafe’ Lila, they do. I first discovered their small batch, homemade ice cream at the weekly Winter Farmers’ Market (and yes, ice cream in the winter makes perfect sense to me). Their Bittersweet Chocolate is absolute perfection — rich, dark, smooth and creamy. They have a variety of fruit flavors like Local Plum, Local Peach and Local Blueberry — all made (obviously) with local fruit. They also have a flavor sweetened solely with honey (quite good) and a variety of vegan flavors (never tried them).

It actually is "Really Good Vanilla."

I decided to go check out their Pawtucket ‘headquarters’ last week and found they have a wonderfully charming little café — the well-worn chairs and retro coffee tables create a warm atmosphere and fit in well with the rough-around-the-edges atmosphere of downtown Pawtucket (a.k.a. Downbucket).

For people not obsessed with ice cream, they also sell coffee, teas and a variety of sandwiches, salads and pastries.

Kafe’ Lila
The Grant Building
250 Main Street
Pawtucket, RI
www.kafelila.org

Their ice cream is also available at other locations. See their list for details.

My Milkman: Munroe Dairy Delivery

Munroe Dairy Milk

Yes, we've got milk, and it's fresh and delivered weekly from Munroe Dairy.

For the brief stint that we lived in the suburbs of Massachusetts, we had fresh milk delivered from Crescent Ridge Dairy.  I adored this creamy milk delivered in recycled glass bottles.  But no dairy delivers in Boston, and who could blame them?  The traffic would surely consume any possible profits.

So it was with great enthusiasm that Geoff and I recently spotted a Munroe Dairy delivery box on a friend’s Providence stoop.  Soon after, we placed our first order — Bliss Bros. cookies & cream ice cream and raspberry sherbet, Autocrat coffee syrup, and of course milk, both whole and 1%.  This week, we expanded the order to include chocolate milk (tastes like melted ice cream — in other words , delicious), apple cider, bread, and eggs.  You can nearly do your grocery shopping through them — they even deliver laundry detergent.  I was a bit disappointed to discover some of their products are not all that natural.  For example, the bread contains partially hydrogenated oil, and the ice cream has corn syrup.  As for the milk?  Well, just imagine how good milk can taste when it only takes 24-36 hours to get from the cow to you.  Yes, it is that good.

A.B. Munroe Dairy
Delivery throughout RI (except Block Island)
151 N. Brow Street
East Providence, RI 02914
www.cowtruck.com

Three Sisters: Breakfast, Lunch and Ice Cream

Three Sisters café -- a cup of coffee and coffee ice cream.

Three Sisters café -- a cup of coffee and coffee ice cream.

I first discovered Three Sisters when I needed an oil change in a hurry.  The East Side Shell service center said they could squeeze me in, but that I’d have to wait a few hours.  Having work to do, I quickly googled for a free wifi café nearby and found Three Sisters two doors down.  All I wanted was an iced tea and a place to work for a few hours.  What I discovered was much more — a thick, gooey egg and cheese sandwich on an english muffin and an atmosphere that welcomed earnest laptop users and moms with strollers alike.

Anyone noticing a theme?  A yummy chocolate ice cream cone from Three Sisters -- I won't tell anyone if you eat it for breakfast.

Anyone noticing a theme? A yummy chocolate ice cream cone from Three Sisters -- I won't tell anyone if you eat it for breakfast.

Today, the East Side Shell brought me back to Three Sisters since this morning we had a flat tire.  I’ve been meaning to try their homemade ice cream, but keep showing up there at breakfast.  In fact, I have nothing against eating an ice cream cone at 10 am, which is why I bought a pint of chocolate and some cones and took them home to eat.  It’s a grittier chocolate — you can feel and taste the cocoa — but absolutely perfectly thick and creamy.  Oh, and they also sell Only 8, a highly addictive frozen yogurt safe for dieters, diabetics, and those with lactose-intolerance.  Yet I have the strange feeling that I won’t be getting the Only 8 next time either…

Three Sisters
1074 Hope Street
Providence, RI
www.threesistersri.com

East Side Shell
1100 Hope Street
Providence, RI
www.shell.com

Rhode Iln Ice Cream

A coffee ice cream cone from Rhode iln Ice Cream's stand.

A coffee ice cream cone from Rhode Iln Ice Cream's stand.

After a bungled attempt to find ice cream last weekend, it surprised me to stumble upon a great cone just a short walk from our house.  Yesterday, Madeline spotted the little cart of Rhode Iln Ice Cream and demanded, “I want ice cream!”  I have to admit, I almost never say no to ice cream, usually because I want some myself.  Yesterday was no exception, and I replied by immediately getting in line.

Here in Rhode Island, a small is two scoops, a fact I greatly appreciate.  Madeline requested a chocolate cone, so I dolloped off one of her scoops into a spare cup so Geoff and I could have a taste.  It was so pale that I thought it was coffee ice cream at first, but it had a light chocolate malt flavor, not too sweet and perfectly creamy.  In general, I prefer a darker chocolate, but it was quite good, and there were no complaints from Madeline.  The coffee ice cream (my choice) blended just the right amount of subtle coffee flavor with sweet creaminess.  Both were equally smooth and soft (no traces of icicles here).  And as an all-natural treat made with local ingredients, you can feel good about indulging.  At least, I did.

Rhode Iln Ice Cream sets up a stand at farmers' markets and Water Fire.

Rhode Iln Ice Cream sets up a stand at farmers' markets and Water Fire.

Sadly, Rhode Iln Ice Cream doesn’t have its own store which makes them a bit elusive.   Right now, you can find them at the Hope Street and Rhode Island College Farmers’ Markets, as well as WaterFire (one more this season scheduled on October 31).  Founded by 20-something co-owners Tom Seiter and Jocelyn Nestell in 2008, the company’s success has already prompted them to increase their locations this year.  Their future plans even include packaging their ice cream for supermarkets.  Seeing as the farmers’ markets and WaterFire both end this month,  I’m hoping those future plans come to fruition soon.  I’ll certainly be buying.

Rhode Iln Ice Cream
www.rhodeilinicecream.com

WaterFire
www.waterfire.org

From Gray’s Ice Cream to Newport Creamery (or Why Didn’t Anyone Tell Me Ice Cream Season Was Over?)

Not a bad consolation prize: the all-Oreo ice cream sandwich from Newport Creamery.

Not a bad consolation prize: the all-Oreo ice cream sandwich from Newport Creamery.

I’ve had some darn good ice cream in Rhode Island which is why I’ve been eager to check out the serial Best of Rhode Island winner Gray’s Ice Cream. Deciding it wasn’t wise to promise a two-year old ice cream, get in the car for a half hour and then not actually get it, I opted to call first. Apparently, there’s no phone in their new Bristol shop, but the Tiverton staff member I spoke with assured me they would be open until 9 pm today in Bristol. After our scenic drive, we hopped out of our car and headed to Gray’s Ice Cream’s picture-perfect dockside building. Imagine our horror to find that same building dark and locked.

Don't believe everything you read.

Don't believe everything you read: Gray's Ice Cream's posted hours.

Immediately, I called the Tivertown branch to inform them (much to their surprise) that there was, in fact, no one working at the Bristol store but there wasn’t much they could do. Since we had come all that way, we took a walk through the charming waterfront town of Bristol and stopped in at Organically Good and Quito’s (opposite ends of the culinary spectrum). We learned that since it had been raining all day, no one had really come to Bristol — for all we know, we were the only ones peering into the dark windows of Gray’s Ice Cream. A few blocks away was The Daily Scoop, but it too was closed, this time more officially for the season. I then tried calling the next closest place, Frostee’s Ice Cream and Desserts in Warren, RI, but there was no answer. So we resigned ourselves to an old standby: Newport Creamery. We had passed one on the way down in Barrington and were so confident they’d be open we didn’t even call first.

I’ve eaten at Newport Creamery dozens of times over the past several years and I have a lukewarm feeling about their food (although fond memories of their Earth & Turf Superburgers). Summers in Newport, I never went there, opting instead for Frosty Freez in Middletown or Cold Fusion in downtown Newport. But it was open, and apparently in October, that’s the main criteria.

An undiscovered treat on the menu caught my eye: the Cow’wich, an ice cream sandwich made with your choice of ice cream smashed between two giant Oreo® cookie wafers. I decided to go all-Oreo choosing cookies & cream ice cream for the middle. It was a good choice. The Oreo® wafers made the perfect crisp counterpart to the rich ice cream. Even just seeing it made Madeline’s sundae look like a meager substitute. And what kid doesn’t like a giant cookie? Needless to say, I had to share.

Sad Update 10/24/2009:  After one of the worst meatball sandwiches at Fellini Pizza, I decided to go for another Cow’wich consolation prize.  But sadly, the Newport Creamery in Warwick, RI has started refrigerating their cookies making them wet and mushy.  I’m not sure yet if this is a company-wide decision, but I’m in mourning nonetheless.

Newport Creamery
296 County Road
Barrington, RI
www.newportcreamery.com

Organically Good
267 Thames St
Bristol, RI
www.organicallygoodri.com

Quito’s
411 Thames Street
Bristol, RI
www.quitosrestaurant.com

Gray’s Ice Cream

Bristol, RI and Tiverton, RI
www.graysicecream.com

I’d Rather Be at Frosty Freez

I challenge you: who doesn't love Frosty Freez?

I challenge you: who doesn't love Frosty Freez?

If you have a soft spot for soft serve, you must immediately head to Frosty Freez in Middletown, RI.  I have to admit, I have something of an obsession with ice cream and soft serve to the point where my husband once asked me last summer if it was okay that our 18-month old daughter ate ice cream daily.  As I discovered, a cookie or a chocolate could be eaten on the sly, but an ice cream cone is hard to conceal from a toddler.

If I’m within driving, walking or hitch-hiking distance from Frosty Freez, I will go and eat my favorite ice cream — a medium chocolate and vanilla ice cream swirl.  I do not mar my ice cream with jimmies or chocolate or cherry dip, although if that’s your thing, they accommodate you.  And although I keep telling myself I will switch over to their low-calorie Only 8 (which is, in fact, quite good as well), those words just never come out of my mouth when I order.

Here are my words of advice as a Frosty Freez expert.  If you go, do not order the hard-pack ice cream — it’s mostly Hersheys and it’s ordinary.  If your child wants some blue colored hard pack ice cream, do not permit him it.  Instead, here are your options: chocolate, vanilla and coffee soft serve ice cream or Only 8 chocolate and vanilla.  They also have ‘flavor burst’ which they can swirl into vanilla for additional flavors.  And don’t go from October 1 to March 31 — they’re closed.  I know, that’s hard news to hear, but it’s true.  To get around this, I even once emailed Garelick Farms who supplies their milk to find out if there was some other Frosty Freez imitation made with their milk on the eastern seaboard, but they never got back to me.  So there will be times, when even I will not be at Frosty Freez, which is why I have joined the Facebook group “I’d Rather Be at Frosty Freez.”

Frosty Freez
496 East Main Road
Middletown, RI 02842
http://frostyfreez.com