6-8 fresh mint leaves
2-3 oz. bourbon
1 tsp. sugar
1 tsp. water
1. Muddle mint leaves, sugar and water in a glass.
2. Fill glass with crushed ice.
3. Pour in bourbon.
4. Garnish with a sprig of mint
I’ve been writing about food, restaurants and chefs for SO Rhode Island since this magazine made its debut in September 2007, and since 1998 for its parent company which also publishes Providence Monthly and The Bay. I figure I’ve written hundreds of articles and restaurant reviews during my career as a food writer, which began in 1983. During that time I’ve also written several books about Rhode Island, its wonderful restaurant scene and its many talented home cooks.
It has been a dream job, but now it’s time to slow down a bit, and this is my final column for SO Rhode Island. I’m giving up almost all aspects of my career as of this month. The only thing I’ll be doing from now on is writing cookbooks and restaurant guides. That will keep me more than busy.
In 2006 I wrote The Providence and Rhode Island Cookbook, which was published by Globe Pequot Press. Last year, my publisher asked me to update the book, and The Providence and Rhode Island Cookbook, Second Edition came out a few months ago. The 292-page book has been totally updated and now features 30 new recipes from some of the hottest restaurants in the area. The second edition also features new color photography that illustrates how beautiful our state is, and how appealing our delicious food is – from arancini to zeppoles.
The book contains more than 200 recipes that are unique to Rhode Island, especially from the southern part of the state. I write about our beloved johnnycakes, the thin variety from Newport County and the thicker version found in South County. I sing the praises of Allie’s Donuts, Block Island doughnuts, May breakfasts and the breakfast sandwich favored by local sportfishermen.
And then there’s our amazing seafood – real Rhode Island chowder with its clear broth, the red clam chowder we enjoyed at Rocky Point and the creamy scallop chowder from The Mooring Restaurant in Newport. So many of my favorite recipes are in …
The first EatDrinkRI Festival kicks off April 19-21, showcasing the best and brightest of the local culinary scene. The Sunday morning Grand Brunch features some of the area's best chefs, including James Mark from north, Jonathan Cambra from Tiverton's Boat House and Melissa Denmark and Danielle Lowe from Ellie's Bakery. Here, they share the recipe for their blue cheese and walnut scone.
1. In a large bowl, combine the dry ingredients. Using a pastry cutter or fork work the butter into the dry ingredients until the mixture appears sandy and the pieces of butter are slightly smaller than a pea.
2. Using a rubber spatula or wooden spoon, mix in the blue cheese and walnuts.
3. Slowly add the heavy cream. Fold everything together until the ingredients are almost fully combined. Be careful not to over mix, as this is what causes tough and chewy scones.
4. Remove the mixture from the bowl and place on a floured surface. Roll the dough into a rectangle (about 10” x 20”). Fold the left side into the center, and then fold the right side on top, like folding a letter to fit in an envelope. This is called a tri-fold.
5. Roll the folded dough out again to the same size rectangle and repeat the folding two more times. This technique is what creates flaky layers.
6. Once you have done three tri-folds, roll the dough to the same size rectangle and place onto a sheet pan and put in the freezer for 1 hour.
7. Once the dough is very cold and stiff, you can cut the scones into desired shapes. Use a knife to cut scones into squares or triangles, or use a circle cutter to make round scones.
8. Place onto a parchment lined sheet pan. Brush each scone with egg wash and a small pinch of sea salt. Bake at 350 degrees for about 15 minutes or until golden brown on the bottom.
This scone from Ellie's Bakery, will be served at the EatDrinkRI Festival's Grand Brunch at the on Sunday, April 21.
The season looks promising, with several new bars and restaurants in full swing. Probably the biggest news was the late March opening of The Grange, a vegetable restaurant from Garden Grille veteran Jon Dille. Much like its predecessor, The Grange’s plant-based cuisine is intended to appeal beyond the vegan/vegetarian set and attract all diners – even carnivorous ones. The Kyla Coburn-designed restaurant (she’s responsible for Loie Fuller’s, The Avery and several other restaurants that have caused you to comment on how gorgeous they are) occupies the fantastic space on the corner of Broadway and Dean Street that has sadly come and gone in various incarnations over the past few years. But judging by the work they put into it (the new façade is beautiful) and the early buzz, The Grange is here to stay.
Elsewhere on the West Side, enigmatic restaurateur Mike Sears (Lili Marlene’s, Ama’s) has opened Justine’s, his newest cocktail lounge, in Olneyville Square. The speakeasy style bar is squarely aimed at appealing to women (and by extension, of course, men): you enter it through a curtain in the back of a lingerie shop, and the “ladies’ lounge” (read: bathroom) has its own bar inside. There is a well-curated selection of classic cocktails that are shockingly only $5, and some light snacks. There is, of course, no website and I’m not going to tell you the address because Sears is probably already upset just that this is appearing in print. You’ll have to ask around and find it yourself.
After a long delay, Nami is finally open on Federal Hill, serving sushi and other Japanese fare in a handsomely renovated space. Moving Downtown, Bodega Malasaña is the new wine bar from the …
The Proof is in the Coiffurium
In our cover story this month you get to see how Hope Street is adding to the life and economy of Providence. Another layer for not only the neighborhood but the country as a whole, is having one of the establishments nationally recognized. Elle Magazine has ranked the Coiffurium as one of the top 100 salons in the country. And really, are we surprised? The Coiffurium is a little gem that continues to add to the vibrancy of Hope Street. Hope Street is doing something right, and they continue to prove it.
The Big Picture
RISD is once again hosting its Big Draw event, this year on May 19. The family-friendly event involves people of all ages coming to the RISD Museum to make art, and thereby connect them to the fine art in the musuem’s collection. The event is free and open to the public, and is part of the international Big Draw campaign that happens at over 1500 locations worldwide.
South Main Street is bringing back its Spring Festival on May 18. Participating merchants along South Main will offer in-store treats and special shopping deals. “I’m going to do wine and treats,” says Natalie Morello of Shoppe Pioneer, “other people are doing treats, there will be shopping promotions.” In addition, the Wild Colonial Tavern will be hosting an outdoor beer garden. The all-day event happens from 11am-7pm, and Bin 312 will be doing wine tastings all day. “We did it for the holidays and it was really nice,” Natalie says.
Sharpening Their Swords
Three Wheel Studio has been a great addition to Wickenden Street’s artsy vibe. The ceramic studio and gallery showcases fun, decorative and often whimsical works from a variety of artists, including proprietor Dwo WenChen. But now his work about is about to get a big boost beyond Wickenden – namely, Boston’s Huntington Avenue. He has been asked to contribute pieces to the Museum of Fine …
Some of you may know Stephanie Obodda as the foodie behind our monthly chef interviews, but she also does quite a bit of writing on her own about food and travel. She recently took a trip to the Galapagos islands, during which she kept a really cool illustrated travel journal. Now she's posted it on her website as an interactive flipbook, so we can all enjoy her experience. Read on and satisfy your (vicarious) wanderlust.
It hasn't been April Fool's for Providence Mayor Angel Taveras – in fact, only two days in the month has already been kind to him. First, there was some major national press from the Washington Post (by way of the AP) highlighting his accomplishments thus far. The article spotlights his efforts to "walk Rhode Island capital back from the brink of bankruptcy," citing his aggressive approach to the $110 million deficit he inherited, his spending cuts, his negotiations with the nonprofits, and his dealings with unions. It's sure to fuel further speculation about his potential run for governor next year.
In more good news, Providence will receive a sculpture from famed artist Olafur Eliasson (see below), a bonus that comes along with last month's grand prize win in Bloomberg Philanthropies' Mayors Challenge. The artwork will be on display at RISD – more details to come.
The Classical High School Alumni Association will be hosting its 7th Distinguished Awards Dinner at the Providence Marriott on Monday, April 22. The organization will be recognizing the achievements of six distinguished individuals. Recipients include:
Raymond Armstrong (Class of 1942) Armstrong has made his mark in American history, being handpicked to manage The Presidential Blind Trust during Ronald Regan’s presidency.
Clark Sammartino, D.M.D. (Class of 1955) Having developed one of the largest oral surgery practices in New England Sammartino also serves as President of Bluefin Capital.
Robert E. Wittes, M.D. (Class of 1960) Gaining industry knowledge as the former Physician-in-Chief of Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer, Dr. Wittes is now the Editor-in-Chief of the Journal of the National Cancer Institue and Onology.
Susan West Kurz (Class of 1967) This environmentalist is the founder of the Bee Conscious organization, which advocates for the restoration of the honeybee population.
Shelley Woods Whiting (Class of 1987) This alumni now resides in Georgia where she serves as the Director of Commercial Development, Marketing and Sustainability for Georgia-Pacific Chemicals.
Angel Tavares (Class of 1988) Once the judge of the Providence Housing Court, Tavares made history as the first Hispanic mayor for the City of Providence.
Louis Toro (Honorary Alumni Award) This honoree is currently the Director of Guidance at Classical High School. He has been making his mark in the Providence school system for 38 years.
Tickets for the event are $75. All proceeds will go toward improving educational programs at Classical High School.
Daniele Foods and ourselves, are sponsoring this month’s EatDrinkRI Festival. The three-day event (April 19-21) is the brainchild of local foodies David Dadekian, who runs the website EatDrinkRI and is the restaurant reviewer for our sister magazine, The Bay, and Brendan Roane, Director of Marketing and Events at Gracie’s. Key events include Friday night’s Cocktail Couture, an exclusive cocktail and fashion event produced in concert with StyleWeek Northeast at the Biltmore; the Saturday night Grand Tasting (also at the Biltmore), featuring over 40 food, wine, beer and spirit exhibitors, as well as cooking demonstrations from chefs like The Dorrance’s Ben Sukle and Persimmon’s Champe Speidel; and a Sunday morning Grand Brunch at Gracie’s, featuring chefs from Nicks on Broadway and north on the West Side, Warren’s The Sunnyside, the Boat House in Tiverton, and more. Tickets range in price per event, or you can attend the whole festival, including several smaller events and panel discussions, for $200 (standard) or $250 (VIP).
You might have seen the pickets or read the articles in the paper. East Siders are incensed over the firing of the Rochambeau Community Library's well-loved head librarian, Tom O'Donnell. At a meeting on Monday, March 4, the library's community room was packed with residents urging that the library re-hire O'Donnell.
Author Ryder Windam, organizer of the "Friends of Tom O'Donnell" protest movement (and Facebook page), explained that Tom had been out of the building at an early morning meeting on February 15 when library officials came into his office and took his computer. When he returned to Rochambeau, he was told he had been let go. "It's probably legal," said Gil Mason, long-time Friends of Rochambeau Board Member. "But it's one hell of a way to do business at this library."
The reaction to an email and letter circulated by former Rep. Linda Kushner was greeted with dismay. Her assertion that the decision to fire O'Donnell, "was reasoned and made with the best interest of PCL and the Rochambeau library in mind. " set off alarm bells in readers. Was O'Donnell going to get a fair shake?
As the evening went on and segued into the monthly Friends meeting, one after another people spoke on Tom's behalf.
He led a reading group for teens… He programed myriad free arts and cultural events at the library… He worked closely with volunteers… He even read stories to the preschoolers.
The firing was so poorly done that, as Windham pointed out, the next day remaining librarians didn't have the combination to the safe to make change for fines. Even the reservation of the room for the protest was a mystery, because Tom had taken care of that, too.
"Tom hasn't put us up to being here at all," Windham said. "We think he's entitled to his job back."
In addition to the picketing, Friends of Tom is urging concerned residents to contact the Mayor's office's Maria Radcliffe (email@example.com or 421-2489). There is also an online …