O Dinis

May 30th, 2018 § 0 comments § permalink

Rhode Island is one of the great culinary destinations. Eccentric and tasty. HG has written about New York Specials (hot dogs drenched in an odd chili-tomato sauce); Dell’s icy lemonade, stuffies, calamari with hot peppers, clam bakes, grilled pizza, etc. A new discovery for HG yesterday was O Dindis. This is a plain spoken, authentic, family oriented Portuguese restaurant. Famished HG/BSK arrived in Providence ready for a hearty dinner. And, that was what O Dinis provided. First, a bottle of chilled Vinho Verde. Then, appetizers of little neck clams in a white wine and garlic sauce plus shrimps in a tomato based garlic sauce (with just a touch of heat). Thankfully, there was a platter of Portuguese bread to soak up the lush sauces. BSK and Arianna R. shared a giant serving of the house specialty: Clams and pork Alentajana. This is a stew of pork tenderloin and potatoes topped with steamed little necks in a pungent sauce.(Rhody clams are the best). HG ate a king-sized slab of nicely grilled red snapper with boiled potatoes. These potatoes were not mundane. Perfectly cooked and when slathered with the two sauces, onion and garlic, were heavenly. Drank a very good Portuguese cabernet (Portuguese reds have been underrated). Dessert was splendid flan. HG wants to go back to O Dinis with a crowd so the greedy boy can taste many things on the menu: Cod in a dozen varieties; bife a case (steak topped with a fried egg accompanied by rice, onion/garlic sauce, fried sliced potatoes); seafood stew (a Portuguese version of Mariscada); etc. And, the prices are very modest.


October 19th, 2017 § 0 comments § permalink

Before leaving Rhode Island for The Land of Enchantment, daughter Lesley R., son-in-law Massimo, granddaughter Arianna, gave HG/BSK a special treat: Jahunger. This is a lovely, small Chinese restaurant in Providence. The cuisine is Uyghur, Northern Chinese Muslim cooking. It’s similar to the popular dishes served at Xi’an Famous Foods in New York (Chinatown and Flushing). Jahunger specializes in cumin scented lamb and noodles. Wonderful food. HG/BSK and Family R. feasted on lamb skewers, Lamb on Dry Land (lamb stir fried with chunks of naan-like bread); Ding Ding Noodles (small, solid bits of pasta in a fragrant sauce of onions, peppers, scallions and lamb); Langjiman Noodles (long, springy noodles with beef and a sprightly sauce – similar to the national Uzbeck dish); Cold Chicken (this was HG’s favorite, down home shredded chicken in a very spicy, hot but delicate sauce). The group drank a not too sweet coconut beverage. Memorable meal. Can’t wait for next visit.

Los Andes Happiness

December 30th, 2016 § 0 comments § permalink

If you want to banish the blues, go to Los Andes, the bustling, delicious, affordable Peruvian restaurant in Providence. It was there that the F & R clan occupied a table for eight last night. Instant joy. You have to be a pathological depressive not to have a good time at Los Andes. Service is swift, smiling and efficient. Portions are generous. Pisco sours and red wine sangria are state of the art. The meal began with platters of ceviche—fish, shrimp, clams, mussels, squid “cooked” in lime juice, vinegar and assorted apices and peppers. Crisp fried calamari. Then on to wonderful short ribs and a big, mixed grill of chicken, beef and blood sausage. Fried rice laced with pork belly, mushrooms and eggs. Cheesy rice. Russian salad. Sweet potato. Fried yucca. A very distinctive Peruvian treat: Whipped potatoes with a topping of shredded chicken, vegetables, cheese and mayonnaise. Chocolate cake and Tres Lechese cake (with loads of whipped cream) were shared by the table for dessert. Another memorable family outing. Before bedtime, generous Massimo R. poured a glass of fine chilled grappa for HG. Slumber followed.


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 ??


A Delicious Celebration

June 9th, 2016 § 0 comments § permalink

Much to celebrate. Granddaughter Arianna’s graduation from Brown University. (See below for photo of the gorgeous young woman). Equally gorgeous granddaughter Sofia’s birthday and homecoming from France. BSK’s birthday (and the end of BSK’s maarathon feat of motoring). Daughter Lesley R., a creative dynamo in the kitchen (and in her professional career) was the majordomo of a sumptuous feast. A number of friends and neighbors were invited. All were dazzled by the buffet: Sliced Italian sausage; San Daniele ham wrapped around breadsticks; a room temperature salad of penne, roasted eggplant, tomatoes, anchovies and capers; mozzarella and tomatoes drizzled with extra virgin Italian olive oil; a cheese platter with grapes and superb Seven Stars bread. Pre-feast Tito’s vodka for HG. Prosecco, beer, white wine, red wine complemented the food. Lesley R. dazzled HG with Vietnamese Bahn Mi sandwiches. She marinated flank steak in Vietnamese fish sauce and other ingredients. Made a slaw of cabbage, pickled radishes in a Vietnamese dressing. Soft rolls smeared with Sriracha/Mayonnaise. Thin slices of the roasted steak. A layer of slaw. A sandwich that was a flavor explosion. Nearby neighbors (who are also close friends) arrived with their son and daughter. The lady is of Armenian extraction and a distinguished cook (among many other talents). She made two dishes that made HG wonder at the glories of Armenian cuisine: A savory dip known as “Muhammahrah” and a molded bulgur salad called “Ich” (Yes, the spelling is correct). Her son baked a great Key lime pie and another neighbor contributed a tasty strawberry rhubarb pie. Daughter made a big bowl of whipped cream. Husband? Supervised the music that enhanced the festivities. HG finished this perfect day of food, drink and love by watching the Warriors (HG is in awe of their ball movement) while sipping flutes of icy Limoncello. The painter and social figure Gerald Murphy (A friend of Fitzgerald, Hemingway, Picasso and other creative forces) said: “Living well is the best revenge.” HG presumes the revenge is aimed at the brevity of our time on earth and the inevitable pains and distresses of life. HG agrees. With aid of BSK and HG’s wondrous family, HG takes revenge daily.


Christmas and Family

December 28th, 2015 § 2 comments § permalink

Sorry to say, this was not the merriest Christmas for aged HG. Persistent pneumonia. Medical visits. Antibiotics that caused many unpleasant side-effects. No alcohol. Nevertheless, HG was heartened by the loving care and affection of HG’s unique family. The Big Guy In The Sky has blessed HG with BSK, an extraordinary woman of tenderness, strength, creativity and a sexiness that defies advancing years. Lesley R. and SJ are loving children and exemplary spouses and parents. The grandkids: Haru, Teru, Sofia, Arianna. No adjectives can do justice to their wonderfulness. Daughter-in-law Maiko Sakamoto. Son-in-law Massimo Riva. They bring to HG an abundance of intellectual and culinary delights. So, despite illness, HG did justice to the family’s Christmas Eve and Christmas Day version of the Feast of Seven Fishes. SJ visited legendary Russ & Daughters on New York’s Lower East Side and arrived in Riverside, R.I., with a bulging carton of good things: Red salmon caviar. Fresh Dutch herring. Sable. Three types of smoked salmon. Whitefish salad. Tobiko. Smoked tuna. Trout mousse. Cream cheese. Bagels. Bialys. Authentic Jewish rye bread. Lesley R. made her splendid crepes and blini. SJ created a big platter of his crisp, perfect potato latkes. There were bowls of sour cream, creme fraiche, capers, sliced onion, chopped onion, lemon quarters, celeriac salad, hearts of palm salad on the table. Savory abundance. HG could not indulge in HG’s traditional icy vodka and Bass ale. HG had to settle for Beck’s non-alcoholic beer. The family noted this was the first Christmas with a coherent and sober HG. Wait till next year.


Bad. Good. Best.

December 22nd, 2015 § 2 comments § permalink

Back in Rhode Island. Had to cancel planned visit to Arthur Avenue, the great Italian food destination in the Belmont neighborhood of The Bronx. HG’s sleep depriving cough necessitated a trip to the urgent care facility in Barrington. Bad news. HG’s pneumonia has recurred. Initial anti-biotic program didn’t work. New regimen promises a swift end to the pneumonia. However, more bad news. No alcohol for HG. A teetotal Christmas, alas. Good news. Beautiful granddaughter Sofia R. arrived home safely from France. The event put Pip, the excellent Family R. dog, into a state of ecstasy. The humans shared in the delight. The best news: Home cooking by HG/BSK daughter Lesley R.. Polenta with shrimp (clams for crustacean allergic BSK), chorizo, onions, tomatoes. Pure comfort. Some excellent cheese and grapes. HG finished with Pandoro (a yeasty Italian cake like Panettone but without the candied fruit). Herb tea. An HG evening without vodka, wine and grappa. Did HG miss these devil’s brews? A bit. But, water accompanied by happy family faces made the evening a joy.

The next day, Sunday, HG was feeling good after a night of sleep undisturbed by coughing. HG breakfasted on Pandoro (golden bread) and cups of cafe latte. Professore Massimo R., authority on every aspect of Italian culture, explained that the word “Panettone” stems from the Italian “Tony’s bread.” It seems Tony, a Milanese baker, had to prepare a sweetish bread for some distinguished personages. Little time. Culinary emergency. Tony mixed some candied fruit in the bread. Legendary Panettone was born. Massimo commented on the glut of feel good Christmas TV shows and movies. The Professore said these are called “Cinepanettone”, kitsch you watch while eating Panettone. Professore Massimo’s friend and colleague, the distinguished University of Bologna academic, Giacomo Manzoli, has written a book on the subject appropriately titled “Cinepanettone”. HG continued to munch on Pandoro and tea as HG indulged in the guilty pleasure of watching pro football on TV. As a Rhode Island visitor, HG had to watch the Patriots cruise. HG gave up on HG’s boyhood favorite, the Giants, when they fell behind the Panthers and Cam Newton by a 35-7 score. Astonishingly, Manning, Beckham and the Giants made a gallant, exciting comeback before losing in the final minute. Much fun. HG will now watch the Denver-Pittsburgh game in order to hone dinner appetite. Refrigerator contains chilled nonalcoholic beer (oy vey!!) so the teetotaler will not be thirsty.


Providence Preservation

December 13th, 2015 § 2 comments § permalink

Economic doldrums can be healthy for architectural preservation. Two cases in point: Nantucket Island, Mass. and downtown Providence, R.I. When the whaling industry shifted from Nantucket to New Bedford, the island went into an economic depression that lasted for more than a century. The beneficial result is Nantucket’s beautifully preserved architecture. Nantucket Island retains a true 18th Century flavor (one of the factors contributing to astronomical real estate prices). Over the last 50 years, downtown Providence lost its vitality as a financial and retail center. Distinguished (and some flamboyant) commercial buildings were left untouched. There was no economic incentive to tear them down or “modernize.” Thus, Downtown remains virtually intact. It is now thriving. Its innovative shops, excellent restaurants and theaters, are luring thousands of visitors. The city’s various economic incentives seem to have produced beneficial results. HG has had long experience with Providence’s efforts at urban renewal. Some 50 years ago, HG was public relations counsel for the New York real estate investment group that developed a portion of Providence’s South Main Street with assistance from the city. A big success. The housing that was developed has been well maintained and, of course, has risen in value. The street is now lined with stylish shops, restaurants, hair salons, etc.. BSK had a splendid haircut in a salon yesterday and HG/ BSK strolled leisurely. (Very much beguiled by a curvy aluminum chair in an antiques shops window. More sculpture than seating, HG/BSK are debating a self indulgent purchase). Today, HG/BSK wandered through the downtown arts district. Bought a few modest Christmas gifts. Lunched at Ken’s Ramen on Washington Street, a small, very busy Asian restaurant. Besides the ramen which is served with chicken broth that has been simmered for some 30 hours, Ken’s offers pork buns, rice bowls topped with uni, spicy tuna or salmon roe; seared or braised pork bellies; pulled chicken, etc.. Ken’s was out of broth so HG/BSK had some big bowls of Tan Tan Mazeman. These were thick, wavy, al dente noodles mixed with pork bellies and a variety of vegetables. HG/BSK added sesame sauce and Ra-Yu hot sauce. The result was a spicy, hearty dish that was more Chinese than Japanese. Wonderful eating. HG wants to go back and sample some rice bowls and chilled sake. Be warned. Ken’s is cash only and deservedly popular. Be prepared to wait.


Airport Treasure & O Dinis

November 22nd, 2015 § 0 comments § permalink

Air travel has become more of a cattle drive than anything else these days and HG/BSK suffered mightily on route to Providence (and then to Paris). Un-explainable delays, arbitrary security issues and airports, like airliners, that usually represent the lower depths of cuisine. A delightful exception is Vino Volo wine bar which has locations in many US terminals. Delayed overnight in Baltimore, HG/BSK had a lovely casual meal at Vino Volo while awaiting a plane to Providence (and then to Paris). Had a flight of reds (Argentine Malbec, Spanish Tempranillo, Washington State Barbera) with a charcuterie/cheese/nuts/ dried fruit platter and a surpassing good bowl of cavatelli with a Mascarpone sauce and prosciutto. The Barbera was so good that it merited some full glasses. A Charles Smith product, HG will seek it in wine shops.

HG/BSK finally arrived at the welcoming Riverside, R.I. home of daughter Lesley R. and her husband, Massimo. All of the travel annoyances vanished as HG/BSK (and L and M) entered O Dinis for dinner. O Dinis is a homey, family run Portuguese restaurant in East Providence. Quirky decor highlighted by animal heads, cooking utensils and antique radios. Brisk waitpersons. Happy groups dealing with big platters of food. For HG, it brought back memories of the cheap, garlic fragrant eateries of HG’s young manhood in New York. O Dinis is a throwback, or as the late Yogi Berra put it:”Deja vu all over again.” Giant portions. Pungent sauces laden with loads of garlic. Very cheap. The quartet ordered two appetizers and two main dishes. A bottle of Vinho Verde. A bottle of Portuguese red. Four dishes. More than enough. These were the dishes: Big pot of steamed littleneck clams in sauce (garlic, parsley, clam broth); grilled Seppie in another fragrant garlic sauce; plump grilled sardines with boiled potatoes and salad; traditional Portuguese dish of clams, pork and potatoes. One dessert (a flan for HG). The cost for this feast (with wine and tip) was less than 25 bucks a person. An affordable fun feast.

The culinary redemption came to an abrupt halt upon entering the Air France airplane. Food was the usual glop. Not for the first time, HG wondered why airlines can’t serve cheese, fruit and crackers instead of mushy pasta or sad chicken. European carriers, whether French, German, English or Italian, share a common tradition: Disgusting food.


The Lobster Trail

September 21st, 2015 § 2 comments § permalink

Off on the long drive from Prince Edward Island to Riverside, R.I. (home of Gifted Daughter Lesley R. and family) with an overnight stop at the Senator Hotel in Augusta, Maine. BSK is the world’s best, most alert, most tireless long distance driver. Toby, The Wonder Dog, is a happy traveler, perched on the arm rest and watching the changing scenery with interest. HG is a contented, passive passenger. BSK drove for seven hours through changing weather. Sunny. Threatening clouds. Light fog. Dense fog. Comfortable, dog friendly room at the Senator. Nice area in which to walk Toby. Excellent Maine dinner at the hotel restaurant. A pair of Maine lobsters (modestly priced) for HG. (Since BSK is allergic to crustaceans, BSK’s Maine voyages have always been marked by watching, with envy, HG devour the state’s most famous product). HG/BSK had a platter of freshly shucked oysters from Maine waters. Splendid. Comparable to PEI’s Colville Bay product. HG/BSK, on the next day drive, were surprised by the heavy traffic. (Traffic is very light, almost non-existent, in PEI and New Mexico). Lunched at the Blount Clam Shack adjacent to the lovely Crescent Park carousel in Riverside. Savory Rhode Island “Clambake Chowder” and (for HG) a wonderfully generous lobster roll, sweet lobster drenched in melted butter). Warm reunion with the Riva family. The Riva gardens, home and water views are particularly beautiful in the early days of New England autumn. Lesley and Brilliant Granddaughter Arianna hosted a woman’s group of 14 for dinner while HG/BSK and Profesore Massimo R. dined at Sun and Moon, a delightful Korean restaurant in East Providence. Korean pancakes and other down home Korean cooking (some outstanding stir fried pork bellies). HG drank much Soju with beer chasers. With Toby at the foot of the bed, HG/BSK slept soundly after a long day of travel.


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