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.
In an industry as fickle as restaurants, longevity is a rare prize. Most restaurants don’t last more than a couple of years – meanwhile, Mills Tavern is celebrating a full decade. Starting this month, the restaurant will mark this milestone with its new Spring Anniversary Menu, reintroducing some of the signature favorites from the past 10 years. Highlights include the “Mills Sandwich,” Hudson Valley foie gras with a black currant buttermilk biscuit and tea braised figs; Open Faced Braised Rabbit Ravioli with wild mushroom truffle cream sauce; and Beef Tartare Over Bulgur Wheat Salad with cornichon emulsion and sunny-side up quail egg.
Be sure to check Mills Taverns’ website for the date of its special anniversary dinner. In the last week of April the restaurant will host a special six-course tasting with wine pairings. Chef Ed Bolus will be in the kitchen with guest chef Jules Ramos of Eleven Forty Nine; Ramos was the first executive chef at Mills. Tickets are $150 per person, with $25 benefiting Festival Ballet.
The Garden City/Chapel View area of Cranston gained another attraction this month with the opening of Chapel Grille. The restaurant will feature a cathedral-like atmosphere reflective of the building’s history, with historic stonework and an ornate steeple, and will offer a panoramic view of the Providence skyline in the distance. The menu is built around Mediterranean-style hearth cooking with locally sourced ingredients, overseen by Chef Tim Kelly, formerly of Café Nuovo. The dramatic ambience is intended to convey grand ambitions and position the restaurant as credible competition to the Providence dining scene.
The semifinalists for the 2012 James Beard Foundation Awards (sort of like the Oscars of the food world) have been announced and three Providence restaurants are in the running. The Dorrance is up for Best New Restaurant, following on the heels of Cook & Brown Public House, which was nominated for that award last year. This year, Cook & Brown takes a nomination for outstanding bar program. Meanwhile, The Dorrance takes a second nod for Chef Benjamin Sukle in the Rising Star Chef of the Year category. Husand and wife duo Matt and Kate Jennings of La Laiterie are up for Best Chef: Northeast, a category in which they're seemingly perennial contenders. Finalists will be announced on March 19, and the awards ceremony takes place on May 7. Congratulations to all the contenders, and best of luck to the home team.
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 …
Jennfier Luxmoore of Sin Desserts – sort of like Providence’s version of Charm City Cakes from Food Network fame – has won our hearts over the years by making creative, delicious sweets like oatmeal cream pies with maple buttercream and bacon or chili pepper peanut butter cookies – and then periodically surprising us with a tray of them at our office. However, up until now, her business was almost exclusively special order out of her kitchen space on Allens Avenue. Well, she’s finally opened a proper retail/ café space on the street level of the Conley’s Wharf building (200 Allens Ave.) where she’ll be open daily selling more than just the custom cakes on which she made her reputation. The new café features coffee, cupcakes and “cupcake shots” (mini-cupcakes), bacon and cheddar scones and more.
Abyssinia opened on Wickenden Street last year as the first Ethiopian restaurant in Providence. Despite its popularity elsewhere in New England, particularly in Boston, the East African cuisine hadn’t yet taken hold here – and despite Abyssinia’s popularity, for many people it still hasn’t. (African food in general is sadly scarce in the Providence area. Elea’s in South Providence is a popular neighborhood spot for Liberian food. Village provides some Nigerian specialties in Pawtucket, and the excellent Senegalese restaurant Dakar was unfortunately short lived in Central Falls.) That’s why Ben Thorp, one of the proprietors of Abyssinia, is launching the restaurant’s food cart this month. It’s expanding on the business’ twofold mission: to help popularize the cuisines of Ethiopia and neighboring Eritrea in Providence, and to cultivate what Thorp calls a “social entrepreneur business,” which employs refugees and immigrants to use and share the culinary skills developed in their home countries. The modified hot dog cart will make many of the usual food truck rounds – special events, College Hill, farmer’s markets – serving a variety of Ethiopian specialties, with a focus on the wats, or stews, for which the cuisine is best known. The restaurant already has a loyal fan base, and the ability to go mobile will allow Abyssinia to bring what is arguably one of the world’s most underrated food cultures to more people in more places. It’s the first step in what Thorp envisions as a fleet of mobile eateries, all employing refugees to share the foods of their home countries, and he’s trying to secure nonprofit funding to establish training programs. Be on the lookout for it this summer, because if you’re one of the unfortunate souls who still hasn’t tried Ethiopian food, now’s the time to change that.
August 15 would have been culinary legend Julia Child’s 100th birthday, and in honor of that centenary her longtime publisher Alfred A. Knopf has organized Julia Child Restaurant Week.
From August 7-15, 100 restaurants around the country will participate by with special menus inspired by the woman who taught so many Americans how to cook. Among those 100 is our own Al Forno; proprietors George Germon and Johanne Killeen were personal friends of Child, and contributed recipes to two of her cookbooks. The a la carte menu will include two starters, two entrees, two desserts and a cocktail. Highlights include George’s Silky Peppers with Burrata, Osso Bucco with Orange and Lemon, and a Triple Citrus Tart.
Check out jc100.tumblr.com for info on the 100th birthday festivities.
While making an effort to keep cool this summer, you can support a good cause too. Alex’s Lemonade Stand Foundation is a charity committed to finding a cure as well as making a difference for children with cancer everywhere. The foundation also funds nursing grants in an effort to improve the quality of life and care of children who are living with cancer.
Old Navy in the Providence Place Mall will be hosting an Alex's Lemonade Stand next week, starting this Saturday July 21st until next Saturday July 28th. During regular mall hours you can stop in to Old Navy, located off of Francis Street, and grab a refreshing cup of lemonade from Alex's stand. Good lemonade for a good cause, why not?
Autumn’s New Crop
We always expect the end of summer/ beginning of fall to bring us a bounty from our farms and gardens, but this year the restaurant scene is also providing quite a harvest.
Ama’s, the little shoebox of a restaurant across from the Avery in Luongo Square, abruptly closed over the summer. In its place we have north (3 Luongo Sq.), which brings the considerable talents of Chef James Mark to bear. He was formerly of Nicks on Broadway, but also worked at the Michelin-starred Momofuku Ko in New York City. The opening menu looks impressive and ambitious, freely mixing regional, Latin and Asian influences into things like a Green Curry Lobster Roll or Pork and Clams with coconut milk and fermented shrimp. Check foodbynorth.tumblr.com for updates.
In other “tiny West Side restaurants with one-word names” news, Kitchen is open at 92 Carpenter Street, across from the Public Safety Complex. The recently renovated storefront will be serving breakfast from 7:30am-1pm, Tuesday through Friday, and 7:30am- 4pm on weekends.
Bayal Buffet (50 Ann Mary St., Pawtucket – in the former Shaw’s plaza), offers dishes from around Africa and the Mediterranean, but primarily focused on the cuisine of Senegal. We haven’t had the chance to try it yet, but based on previous experiences with Senegalese food, we expect a lot of rich, well-spiced curry-type dishes, heavy on fish, and bearing the distinct influence of French cookery.
Pawtuxet Village got a welcome addition in the form of the Elephant Room (2170 Broad St., Cranston), a teahouse and creperie. The focus is primarily on serving loose leaf teas from around the world, but there is also coffee, wheatgrass shots and “daily specialty waters.” Those looking for a bite to eat can choose from pastries, salads and crepes both sweet and savory.
The old Mile and a Quarter House at 375 South Main Street has been sadly empty since the beloved Barnsider’s …