Oceanic Delights

January 3rd, 2017 § 0 comments § permalink

Rhode Island is called (rightfully) The Ocean State. Lots of shoreline and lots of splendid, fresh fish, squid, oysters and clams. HG/BSK and Lesley R. lunched on sea treats at Hemenway’s, the very good seafood restaurant in Providence. Rhody clams and oysters are among the world’s best, so that was the first course. BSK and Lesley R. do not share HG’s love of raw clams on the half shell so HG had all of the delectable little necks while a variety of oysters from the Rhody shores (plus a few from Massachusetts and Connecticut waters) were shared. All were delicious and briny, full of sea pleasure. On the table were giant shrimp and a half lobster, not local but perfectly sourced and cooked. BSK had a big bowl (a small cup for HG) of Rhode Island clam chowder. This is the best chowder, relying solely on an abundance of chopped clams and clam broth (plus potatoes, onions, bacon and herbs). No tomatoes as in Manhattan clam chowder or cream as in New England clam chowder. Simple, pure clam goodness. Clams Casino and a bottle of chilled Muscadet completed the meal. No room for a Rhody specialty: Fried squid with hot peppers. Next time.


Appetizing Providence

June 11th, 2016 § 0 comments § permalink

HG/BSK love Providence and Rhode Island. A major reason,of course, is that it’s the home of Gifted Daughter Lesley R. and her multi talented, beautiful family. Providence is rich in history, art (home of famed Rhode Island School of Design); 18th Century architecture (Benefit Street) and higher education (Brown University). Son-in-law Massimo is a distinguished Professor at the University and Brilliant Granddaughter Arianna graduated a few days ago. HG/BSK visited the Brown campus today with Granddaughter Sofia. All were moved by a powerful sculpture of chains and words that acknowledges — in a forthright and honest manner — the University’s founding was financially aided by more than a century of profitable participation in the slave trade. HG/BSK were on campus to view an exhibit at the Haffenreffer Museum of Anthropology curated by by Arianna. Brilliant exhibit. The subject was beer and its importance (religious, cultural and culinary) in a variety of cultures ranging from the Andes to Africa. There was eloquent prose by Arianna plus striking displays of brewing and drinking artifacts. (Hey. If there are some museum administrators among HG’s followers, HG counsels the hiring of Arianna immediately. The young woman is destined to have an outstanding curatorial career). Leaving culture and family love behind, HG must mention that HG’s affection for Providence and its environs is based on food lust. Lesley R. is an outstanding cook and Profesore Massimo is a knowing selector of cheese, bread, wine and other good things. Yes, home eating is a pleasure and dining out is rewarding. HG has written about oyster feasts at Hemenway’s; grilled pizza, clams and sausage plus other wonders at Al Forno.. And there are clam shacks, Peruvian, Portuguese, Korean and Italian restaurants. All serving abundant, savory and affordable food. Today, HG/BSK, Arianna and Sofia lunched at Haruki East, a very good Japanese restaurant near Brown. Great lunch specials of Maki rolls (spicy tuna, tempura shrimp, eel and avocado;yellowtail and scallions; crisp fried Gyoza; a green salad with Japanese dressing; lusty Miso soup; green tea. HG spotted a young man at the counter devouring a K Dinosaur Roll. This is a monster (Priced at $19.75, more than a foot long and combining a lengthy list of ingredients including salmon, tuna, eel, cream cheese, avocado, asparagus, etc. etc. This is an HG must try. For dinner, Avenue N American Kitchen in the Rumford neighborhood of East Providence. The restaurant is, to put it simply, wonderful. Inventive, perfectly prepared food from local sources. Handsome, nicely lit room (It replaced a group of artist studios). Deft service. Lively atmosphere with a buzzing bar scene. Modest prices. Small plates. Big plates. And, pizzas. Dinner for five (HG/BSK; Lesley, Massimo and Arianna R.) as a continuing celebration of Arianna’s graduation from Brown University. Shared three small plates (Quite generous in size): Fried oysters with horseradish and mustard sauce; Point Judith calamari with pickled peppers, citrus butter and spicy remoulade; Smothered Duck Purloo (lush sauce of okra, corn, preserved tomatoes, short grain rice, andouille butter). All were splendid. The lavish duck dish was a revelation. Shared big plates: Swordffish Schnitzel with turnips, burdock root, pickles, chile aioli; Braised Berkshire Pork Shoulder with gruyere polenta, chard and a rich brown sauce. Before the feast began, all got tastes of the Roasted Sweet Corn Soup ordered by Miss A. Drank two bottles of Oregon wine–a pinot grigio and a pinot noir. HG had his usual alcoholic cocktail (This time it was an icy vodka and grapefruit concoction) plus a glass of California cabernet to accompany chocolate mousse cake. (The sweet goody was to be shared but greedy HG ate most of it). Arianna R. is slim, sleek, soigné and shapely. But, the lady can sure pack away the groceries. Magic metabolism ??


Classic Rhody Lunch

December 10th, 2015 § 0 comments § permalink

HG/BSK treated themselves to a classic Rhode Island lunch at Hemenway’s, the very good, very comfortable seafood restaurant in downtown Providence. Hemenway’s has a handsome, snug oyster bar; a cocktail bar and nicely spaced tables for family dining. HG/BSK have dined there many times and have found the service to be warm, friendly and efficient. A very well run establishment. On this cold grey New England day, HG/BSk made themselves comfortable in the oyster bar. Three Cape Cod oysters for BSK. Excellent, judged BSK, but not as superlative as the big, lush, briny meaty oysters HG/BSK recently devoured during their recent stay in the beautiful French city of Reims. HG took pleasure in six cherrystone clams on the half shell. Perfectly chilled and shucked, HG judges Rhode Islanders to be the best clams in the world. This is not a superficial judgment: HG’s first job (73 years ago at age 13) was as a clam and oyster shucker at Harbor Rest Inn in Rockaway Park, N.Y. HG devoured scores of clams. Then went on to clam gluttony at such clam-on -the-half-shell shrines as Lundy’s at Sheepshead Bay, Brooklyn, and Nathan’s of Coney Island. Plus there were decades of clam gathering and eating during Fire Island summer vacations. The clams were dug from the bottom of Great South Bay whose shores bordered Fire Island. (Joseph Mitchell, the late New Yorker writer who wrote about clam gathering and eating, would have called this massive clam ingestion a Mess o’ clams.). HG/BSK continued their Hemenway’s lunch with Rhode Island-style clam chowder. This is a clear chowder (no cream or milk as in New England-style or tomatoes as in Manhattan-style). Hemenway’s version emphasizes strong broth, lots of clams, smoky bacon. a bit of onion and celery, potatoes. Perfect. To complete the lunch, HG/BSK shared a portion of Rhode Island’s official appetizer: Fried squid with hot peppers. A don’t miss dish. Ordinarily, HG/BSK would have accompanied their meal with a bottle of cold Muscadet. But, since HG is limiting his alcohol drinking, the duo had to be satisfied with a bottle of San Pellegrino sparkling water. Surprisingly, the wine wasn’t missed.


Back To Rhode Island

December 5th, 2015 § 0 comments § permalink

HG/BSK are in Rhode Island. Daughter Lesley R., son-in-law Massimo R. and granddaughter Arianna are besieged by work and academic pressures. (Lesley is also rehearsing with a gospel choir for a forthcoming holiday concert). So, BSK is doing the cooking. Dinner is in good hands. BSK is relying upon BSK’s kitchen classics — “Green soup”, a savory puree of broccoli, parsley and assorted greens; chicken curry; mapo tofu. These are dishes that span cultures and continents. They are welcome at the end of chilly December days. Massimo has enriched the cuisine by bringing home excellent prosciutto di Parma and ripe cheeses from an Italian grocery shop. When workloads lessen, HG is looking forward to oyster (and little neck clam) feasts at Hemenway’s in Providence and the Bristol Oyster Bar in Bristol. See how the Rhody bivalves compare to the wonders HG devoured in Reims recently. HG is sure the Rhody clams will be outstanding (HG has never had a tasty French clam. French bivalve cultivation genius has focused on the oyster). While in Rhode Island, HG will be sure to eat plenty of the Rhody specialty: Fried squid with hot peppers. The squid hauled in off Port Judith are incomparable.


Unlucky Gardens and Delightful Hemenway’s: A Tale of Two Rhodey Restaurants

January 1st, 2014 § 0 comments § permalink

HG here wishing all of his readers and followers a Happy New Years!! HG would like to extend his hopes that everyone has a 2014 filled with delicious edibles and wonderful memories!

Some time ago, HG wrote about good restaurants in unlikely places. One of those was Lucky Garden, a very nice Chinese restaurant located in a mundane strip mall in gritty North Providence, Rhode Island. It was an obligatory venue for a happy family dinner during the Christmas holiday. Since HG eats no Chinese food in Santa Fe (where all that exists is corn starch heavy, sweet, tourist cuisine of the PF Chang variety), HG insisted (though it’s a shlep) on a visit to Lucky Gardens. An error. Management had changed. Interiors had been expanded and renovated. Unfortunately, the cuisine had taken a toboggan slide downhill. Worst dumplings ever. Unfortunate pork belly. Pallid eggplant casserole. Cold tripe that made HG long for a bowl of New Mexico menudo. Passable chicken and chive blossoms did not compensate. SJ and EM, Asian food mavens, were not among the dinner party. Lucky them. Un-Lucky Garden is to be avoided.

On the opposite end of the spectrum is Hemenway’s . For years, an HG visit to Rhode Island has always included a stop at Hemenway’s with its big windows overlooking some fine 18th and 19th Century architecture and a pretty little park in downtown Providence. The food, the service, the friendly welcome, the oyster bar and the comfortable dining booths are all splendid. HG/BSK had lunch in the oyster bar with SJ and Gifted Daughter Lesley R. Two dozen local oysters and six Rhode Island clams. plus crisp fried calamari with hot Greek peppers ( a Rhody specialty). Everything fresh and sparkling. It was so good that SJ and HG came back the next day. They were accompanied by Exquisite Maiko (who had been troubled with an unpleasant cold). EM had two of her favorite comfort foods: Clams Casino and French onion soup. HG/SJ knocked off Hemenway’s versions of a French brasserie “Plateau de fruits de mer.” Hemenway’s version had a bunch of New England’s finest: Oysters and clams plus a one half Maine lobster. There were also some very good jumbo shrimps from southern waters. A Delightful, and more importantly, a consistent dining experience.


Eating Classics at Home

October 31st, 2013 § 0 comments § permalink

Some 35 years ago, HG/BSK were ambling about the right bank of Paris near the Place de Victoires when they were seized with midday hunger. They entered a likely bistro, Chez Georges. Very plain spoken. Motherly waitresses. Lots of mirrors. An old fashioned, down home place filled with delicious aromas and absolutely jam packed with happy Parisians. HG/BSK had no reservation but the boss made us welcome: He installed us near a corner of the serving bar and poured some glasses of excellent Brouilly. Five minutes later, HG/BSK were seated and happily devouring a Salad Frisee. First time ever. A lush salad of crisp frisee with plenty of lardons (crisp bits of fried salt pork) and topped with a runny poached egg. An oil/vinegar/mustard dressing. Oh, my. Chez Georges is still in business serving bistro classics. Unchanged (though under new ownership). Prices, of course, have quadrupled. BSK reproduced this salad for dinner last night. Substituted good bacon for the salt pork. The salad was better than Chez Georges. Maybe it was the freshness of the greens. Maybe it was the perfection of the poached egg. BSK followed this with another classic, not from Paris but from Rhode Island: Squid with spicy vinegar peppers and garlic. HG first ate it at Hemenway’s in Providence. Hemeway’s version features breaded, deep-fried squid. BSK just gives the squid a quick saute in a super hot pan. BSK’s version is better and lighter. HG is a very fortunate fellow.

Frisee aux Lardons 212 - Version 2

An Indulgent Lunch

June 17th, 2011 § 0 comments § permalink

Have to mention the tasty lunch HG and BSK shared with La Famiglia following the graduation of granddaughter Ms. A., a young woman who has been showered with more than a score of academic awards. The ceremonies under the stately elms of the Moses Brown preparatory school had dignity, style and a certain bit of reserve that is uniquely New England.

Reserved yes. Short, they were not. Suffice it to say, La Famiglia had much appetite by the time all were seated at Hemenway’s, HG’s favorite Providence seafood restaurant. Chilled Muscadet with an array of good things from the sea: fried oysters with a garlicky mayonnaise, Rhode Island’s special fried squid with hot peppers and clams casino. Then, great seafood salads. The very freshest garden greens. Big, plump shrimp. Chunks of Maine lobster. Maryland lump crab meat. Hard boiled eggs and tomato wedges. All were served with a flavorful dressing that didn’t overwhelm the very generous helpings of crustaceans. Tart key lime pie for dessert. HG and party truly feasted on fruits de mer. Clinked glasses and wished enchanting Ms. A. a brilliant future.

Ocean State Lunch

June 10th, 2011 § 0 comments § permalink

A respite for Gifted Daughter LR and Profesore/Dottore MR. These busy professionals never have time for restaurant lunches. HG (resident in landlocked Santa Fe) often dreams about freshly shucked oysters and clams freshly dug from the seashore. The solution: Monday lunch at Hemenway’s, a bright, lively restaurant overlooking the river in downtown Providence. A few dozen oysters (from the shores of Rhode Island, Connecticut, Long island and Rhode Island). A few dozen little neck clams from Rhode Island (known as Quahogs in New England). All sparkling with freshness and full of briny flavors. Then a lobster salad with big chunks of juicy Maine lobster. A platter of fried squid with hot peppers (a Rhode Island specialty).

With sun pouring through big windows and a reasonable amount of Murphy-Goode Fume Blanc being poured, this was memorable New England dining.

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