A Glorious Visit

December 31st, 2019 § 0 comments § permalink

HG’s wonderful daughter, Victoria Freeman, arrived in Rhode Island (via train) from New York for a brief, glorious visit. She has a demanding schedule running four restaurants with chef/husband Marc Meyer. (Cookshop, Rosie’s, Shuka, Vic’s). Adding to the pressure is the opening of a fifth restaurant, Shukette, in late January. On top of all this, Vicki and Marc hosted a Christmas dinner for 15 at their Hamptons home. However, Vicki managed to arrange her half-day visit with HG/BSK, Lesley, Massimo and Arianna R. (Sofia left for New York early in the day). So, there was time for a beach walk, conversation, laughter, pre-dinner drinks, Dad-Daughter bonding. Since Vicki doesn’t eat meat, the festive dinner was based on seafood from Tony’s Fish Market, excellent source for every variety of fish, shellfish, bivalves, crustaceans. Lesley did a tasty saute of plump shrimp followed by pasta in a delectable swordfish sauce. Joyous meal. Joyous reunion.

Simple and Good

December 30th, 2019 § 0 comments § permalink

Excellent simple dinner last night. Started with a plate of thinly sliced prosciutto, white anchovies, chopped tomato and olive salad. Loaf of good bread. Then, steaming bowls of chickpea soup garnished with bacon and topped with grated parmesan and a dusting of red pepper flakes. This ultimate comfort soup is Lesley R.’s happy modification of Marcella Hazan’s recipe. Soup was followed by a cheese platter and green salad. HG and Massimo R. were happy to share the last piece of Pretty Penny cheese encircled by a mottled, pungent rind. There was also a good Stilton from London’s Neal’s Yard and an Italian truffle cheese. Greek fig jam complemented the cheese and sliced pears. HG enjoyed a sweet finale: Red wine and a Loretta’s New Orleans praline. This is a very sweet praline and HG finds red wine moderates the sweetness. Some folks don’t like a sweet thing with red wine. HG finds the combination yummy.

Chonquing Rules

December 29th, 2019 § 0 comments § permalink

Happy treat for HG (and family): Annual holiday dinner at Chonquing House on Wickenden Street in Providence. The Chinese restaurant used to be located in a dingy strip mall in Seakonk, MA. (shopping area contiguous to Rhode Island and minutes from the Lesley/Massimo home). It has since moved to larger premises on a Providence street of restaurants and retailers. The food remains delicious. There’s a tendency to over order. This is what the table of six (HG/BSK; L & M; glorious granddaughters Arianna and Sofia–all hungry) ate with gusto. To start: Wontons in chili oil; fried pork dumplings. Seafood: Sliced steamed fish in wine sauce; large crisp-fried pepper and salt shrimp. Meat: Cumin lamb; stewed pork belly with chestnuts. Vegetables: Marinated wood flower mushrooms; peashoots; eggplant in garlic sauce; home-style tofu with vegetables. All accompanied by bowls of white rice. To drink: Tavel (HG’s favorite wine); Pinto Grigio; beer. Over order? Nothing left but a few scraps for a modest future Arianna lunch.

Succulent Sea Scallops

December 29th, 2019 § 0 comments § permalink

As noted in previous post, Gifted Daughter Lesley R. touted the frozen sea scallops bought at the Providence Farmers Market as “best ever.” As always, she was right. Dinner featured linguine with scallops, chopped tomato, garlic, parsley and herbs. A sublime pasta dish. The linguine was cooked to the perfect al dente point (probably too soft for Lesley’s Italian husband, Massimo R., who likes pasta that, in HG’s opinion, tastes like shredded plywood). The exemplary scallops were enhanced by their gentle saute in superior olive oil from Italy. HG, a lover of spicy heat, added a generous dusting of red pepper flakes. The big surprise of the meal was the cheese course. The feature was Pretty Penny cheese from Sweet & Salty Farm, a local Rhode Island operation. How to describe it? Edible rind. Soft, but not oozing. Taste was a blend of ripe brie and camembert with a bit of pont l’eveque or gorgonzola dolce tossed in for flavor. This was bought at the Farmers Market also. It’s HG’s favorite cheese now. HG finished remaining red wine with a slice of Moore’s Brandy Fruit Cake from England. Yes, there are folks who sneer at fruit cake. Obviously, they’ve been eating the wrong kind of fruit cake.

The Ultimate Christmas Dinner: Redux

December 26th, 2019 § 0 comments § permalink

Dear readers, go to hungrygerald.com archive (Dec. 30, 2018) and see HG’s appreciation of “The Ultimate Christmas Dinner”). This fabulous, sumptuous feast was repeated, step by glorious step, last night. Once more, it brought an Italian glory–osso bucco and saffron risotto–home to Rhode Island for a joyous family dinner. There were minor differences. This time, marrow was scooped from the veal bones and added to the lushness of the risotto. The flan got a topping of whipped cream (much to HG’s delight). Instead of Irish whiskey, HG’s finale was a glass of grapefruit limoncello from Rhode Island Distillery (a distiller of first rate vodka). And, yes, Massimo R.’s selection of Barolo and Barbaresco underlined the pleasures of the food and the company.

Feast of the Seven…Errr…Six Fishes

December 25th, 2019 § 0 comments § permalink

Christmas Eve. Following the tradition of many years, the meal on this auspicious night consisted of a variety of smoked fish, red salmon caviar, schmaltz herring with pickled onions, chopped liver. Plus bagels (of course), scallion and plain cream cheese; sliced onions, lemon wedges, salads, etc. Sounds Jewish. But, appropriate since Jesus was Jewish. The fish were: Nova Scotia smoked salmon, sable, sturgeon, whitefish salad, herring, caviar. Six fishes, not the obligatory seven as served in Italian homes. Everything was super delicious. Gifted Daughter Lesley R. made perfect blini and crepes for the first course of caviar. A warm Lesley blini (from a recipe by filmmaker Roger Sherman) topped with caviar plus sour cream and accompanied by a generous pour of champagne by Massimo R., is HG’s peek into heaven. The fish and caviar were ordered from Zabar’s, not Russ & Daughters. No discernible difference.

Blinis with red caviar and sour cream

Exploring Providence

December 23rd, 2019 § 0 comments § permalink

Sunny and chilly day in Providence. Lots of folks out. Happy holiday sprits. Lesley R. and HG/BSK were off to the Saturday Farmers Market which occupies spacious ground floor venues in a refurbished loft building complex. Fresh vegetables and fruit. Superior beef, lamb, pork, chicken, sausages. Every variety of jarred pickles and hot sauces. Quality cheeses. Breads, pastries, syrups, honey. Chocolate, toffee. Prepared Middle Eastern food. Hot soups and bowls of exotic stews (cozy dining nooks throughout the market). Fish counter with squid, oysters and clams. Lesley R. picked out many good things for holiday family meals. Among them were sea scallops harvested and frozen in the most natural way. (Lesley is going to serve them with a dinner pasta and HG is looking forward). After the market, the trio visited the venerable Providence Arts Club. Brilliant (and beautiful) granddaughter, Arianna R., is on the staff of the Club (the manager assured the trio that Ms. A. is doing very good work and her colleagues are very fond of her). The Club is deceptive. At first glance, it seems to consist of one Tudor style building. The reality is the club consists of four (maybe five) buildings joined together and containing a warren of exhibition spaces, studios, lecture halls, classrooms and more. There’s a cafe and a very impressive bar in an antique setting of big, comfy well-worn leather sofas and chairs. Big Chinese rug. Massive oak chest as a coffee table. Fireplace and wood-paneled walls. (HG hopes to get back there someday and make a dent in the vodka supply). Though the atmosphere and furnishings of the club are antique (much of the art on walls is a century or more old) the Club exudes artistic vitality and creativity. The Market and Club explorations made the trio hungry. So, there was a visit to Hemenway’s Restaurant for superb Rhody oysters, clear Rhody clam chowder (the best), superior bread and butter plus a few glasses of wine. A perfect midday meal.

The Ocean State

December 22nd, 2019 § 0 comments § permalink

That’s what they call Rhode Island, that magical small state where HG’s beloved Gifted Daughter Lesley R., her brilliant husband, Profesore Massimo R. and equally brilliant granddaughter Arianna (lookalike Italian movie star) all live. Fabulous granddaughter Sofia lives and works in New York but will be in Rhody for holiday delights. Cuisine emphasis has been on the fruits of the sea. Tony’s Seafood is a treasure. For last night’s feast, Tony’s provided super Atlantic cod, Rhody clams (world’s best), exemplary snail salad, sublime smoked bluefish (even better than the Nantucket version). The salad and bluefish were the preludes and the main was Lesley’s superb codfish, clam broth, clams, potato, onion, garlic, herb stew. Oceanic delight. HG preceded this wonder with an ample vodka/Aperol cocktail and drank much Argentine cabernet with the main and the following cheese platter. Joy.

Airport Food Takes Off

December 21st, 2019 § 0 comments § permalink

Airports used to be culinary deserts. There were chains like McDonalds, Burger King, Panda Express serving the usual crap. There were a few sit-down places offering overpriced booze, beer plus unmemorable (and pricey) food. The only exception was The Newarker at Newark Airport. Created by Restaurant Associates (of Four Seasons fame) some decades ago, it was first-rate. Alas, had a brief life. But, things are looking up. Lefty’s (Denver International) has a very good Reuben sandwich. Midway in Chicago offers that city’s hot dogs (topped with sport peppers, chopped onions, mustard and more). Vancouver International has a lot of good things in its food court. Boston’s Logan Airport has Legal Seafood with its great oysters and clam chowder (the clear Rhody style preferred by HG rather than the creamy New England style). And, on the way to Providence (whose T.F. Greene Airport has a nice clam bar) there was a stopover in Baltimore where HG/BSK supped on some very good quesadillas at Zona Cocina. There’s Obrycki’s, an off-shoot of the famed seafood market, at that airport serving Chesapeake Bay crab cakes. Too far from HG/BSK’s departure gate. Will try it next time.

Rudy’s Brisket Paradise

December 20th, 2019 § 0 comments § permalink

HG/BSK are off to holiday festivities with HG/BSK’s wonderful Rhode Island family (and a possible post-Christmas Day visit from HG’s New York daughter, Vicki Freeman). Toby, The Wonder Dog, and HG/BSK’s New Mexico home are left in the care of good friend Vicki B. (Hey, there are a lot of exemplary ‘Vickis’ in HG/BSK’s life). Before checking into the Albuquerque Airport Holiday Inn Express, famished HG/BSK had a feast at Rudy’s Texas Barbecue. a Duke City treasure. Rudy’s serves true down home ‘cue to a raunchy down-home crowd. Few Fashionistas or Beautiful People. But, big appetites galore. HG/BSK devoured a pound of “moist” brisket and spicy pulled pork. Sides of cole slaw, potato salad, ranch beans, green chile stew. Everything was splendid, including icy bottles of ale. Standout was the brisket. Even better than Tyler’s, the barbecue shrine in Amarillo, Texas. Looking forward to Rhody seafood (clams!!) as prepared by HG/BSK’s Gifted Daughter Lesley R. washed down with wines selected by her husband, Profesore Massimo R. Culinary future looks Merry! Merry! Merry!.

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