Yacht Club Soda: Create your own cocktail

Yacht Club Soda's January Signature Cocktail...

I’m not usually a sucker for companies that contact me and ask me to post something, but I do happen to be a fan of Yacht Club Soda. And no, I did not get a free case (or even a bottle) for saying so.

The company, which has been bottling its own soda in Rhode Island for nearly one hundred years, creates over a dozen flavors — cola, cream soda, sarsaparilla, root beer, black cherry, etc. I’ve liked all of the ones I’ve tried except for the pineapple, which reminded me of a medicine I took as a child. The company makes their own flavored sugar syrups onsite without the use of the dreaded high-fructose corn variety. They also bottle only in glass, and you can return your bottles to the winter farmer’s market for reuse. They even have a factory store that you can visit yourself in North Providence (it’s on my list).

In the meantime, if you fancy yourself a ‘mixologist’, you can enter your favorite mixed cocktail recipe using Yacht Club Soda by February 3 at noon to win some prizes. All entries should be sent to yachtclubbeverages@gmail.com.

Yacht Club Soda
2239 Mineral Spring Avenue
North Providence, RI

Rhode Island Rocks

Peanuts, raisins, pretzels and chocolate make up the lumpy Rhode Island Rocks.

I’ve never been a huge fan of chocolate-covered pretzels, so I was pleasantly surprised by the simultaneously chewy and crunchy, salty and sweet candy called Rhode Island Rocks. Invented by two out of work siblings and based on their mother’s recipe, the candies have grown in popularity over the last few years and can be found at dozens of locations in the state (as well as some stores in Connecticut and Massachusetts) and ordered online. If only every Rhode Island job loss story could end this way — and by that I mean, with candy.

Rhode Island Rocks
Tesoro Confections Inc.
Headquartered in Warwick, RI and available throughout the state (see locations)

Legendary Lovers Collection for Valentine’s Day

The mouth-watering Legendary Lovers collection from Garrison Confections.

The mouth-watering Legendary Lovers collection from Garrison Confections

I know I already wrote about Garrison Confections, but I felt compelled to highlight their Legendary Lovers collection of handmade chocolates for Valentine’s Day. The truth is I adore chocolate, but I generally dislike boxes of chocolates. I find most of them have unappetizing gooey centers so the box ends up filled with half-bitten, abandoned blobs.

But not the Legendary Lovers collection. Each of these little morsels contains a perfect balance of soft interior with a thin crisp chocolate outside, such as the John & Yoko, a homemade pistachio marzipan enrobed in dark chocolate, or the Francois Bouche, a raspberry ganache and raspberry pâte de fruit enrobed in dark chocolate. Of course, expertly made chocolates like these come at a price — $26 for a box of 12 to be exact. The truth is we are lucky to have such an extraordinary chocolatier in our state — chocolate this good is hard to find at any price. It may seem expensive, but like fresh locally grown produce, there’s value in the real thing.

Yesterday, we stopped by their Central Falls location — a modest building with a miniature chocolate shop inside manned by chocolatier Andrew Shotts himself. They are typically not open to the public, but made an exception this weekend and will be open Monday, February 14 from 11 am-6pm, so there’s still time to taste for yourself (they also take online orders). Even better, he shared the news that he’s planning to open a shop in Providence. So I guess I’ll just have to go there myself when they open and eat more chocolates for yet another report.

Garrison Confections
72 Ledge Street
Central Falls, RI
www.garrisonconfections.com (see their Valentine’s collections)

Garrison Confections: Rhode Island’s Chocolatier

Garrison Confections produce delicious artisan chocolates right here in Rhode Island.

Yes, it’s true that I have a new cavity for the first time in decades, and I’ve found a reason worth making more – Garrison Confections. This artisan chocolatier in Central Falls, Rhode Island makes such excellent chocolate that it rivals the likes of Galler in Belgium. Their “turtles” – salty caramel covered with a sliver of dark chocolate and sprinkled with pecans – are definitely addictive. And their hot chocolate mix reminds me a bit of Burdick’s, which I also love (although, in my opinion, you only need 2 heaping teaspoons instead of a 1/4 cup for a steaming mug).

Tasty "turtles"

If you happen to be buying a present for someone with a sweet tooth, they have plenty of pretty designed chocolates in fancy boxes. As for me, I’m sticking with the turtles.

You can visit their factory outlet this month for the holiday season, or you can find them Saturdays at the Wintertime Farmers’ Market in Pawtucket.

Garrison Confections
72 Ledge Street
Central Falls, RI 02863

Top photo by roboppy.

Moondust Macarons

Crispy outside and soft inside, these macarons deserve their name.

I often wonder why so many of the tasty treats I’ve discovered in France seem to be either nowhere to be found back home or even worse, simply not so tasty.

That can no longer be said to be true of the macaron thanks to 2009 Bryant University graduate Stephen Fitch. He discovered the cookie during his study abroad in Paris and returned obsessed with the task of recreating what he calls this “culinary phenomena” in Rhode Island. His countless hours of baking and tasting have resulted in the Moondust Macarons collection of flavors (pistachio, lemon, coffee, chocolate, raspberry, and vanilla). Taste for yourself this Saturday at Providence Open Market at Lippitt Park. They are also sold at Eastside Market and through their website.

Moondust Macarons has a stand at Providence Open Market.

Moondust Macarons

Providence Open Market
Lippitt Park
Hope Street
Providence, RI
on Saturday, June 19, 2010