Early. But Fabulous.

October 28th, 2019 § 0 comments § permalink

Gifted Daughter Lesley R., son-in-law Profesore Massimo; beautiful and brilliant granddaughters, Sofia and Arianna, celebrated HG’s 90th birthday with a two-day party that was a few weeks early. (HG suspects BSK was in on the planning). It was the most fabulous birthday celebration ever. The group assembled in Arianna’s loft apartment in Providence. Ms. A. has a talent for interior design. The apartment is super-chic and contains BSK paintings, photographs and a pot. Also some Fornasetti plates from HGBSK’s collection. Ms. A. has hung and lit everything perfectly. Brilliant. Vodka was provided for HG and there were moving toasts (and a witty poem from Lesley). HG’s eyes were moist. Then off to a birthday dinner at HG’s favorite Chinese restaurant in the USA, Chongqing House in Providence. Lesley did the ordering. Many favorites. Sliced fish in wine sauce. Cumin lamb. Eggplant with garlic. Wontons in chili oil. Tofu. Pea shoots. And, more. Much more. Lesley said she overordered. However, she didn’t reckon with family appetites. When the chopsticks (and HG’s fork) stopped moving, there was only a mini leftover for Arianna’s breakfast. Catering to HG’s love for Asian food, the birthday dinner on the following day was at Sakuratani Ramen and Izkaya in the lovely town of Bristol. Sweet service. Lovely food. HG relished shumai, a vast unagi don and a generous tonkatsu ramen. And, in addition to all the fun and feasting, HG was gifted with a beautiful cashmere scarf which will keep HG warm and fashionable. Sadly, SJ and family were in Tokyo (safe from the typhoon) and HG daughter, Vicki, was in Mexico. The Rhode Island family made HG’s 90th an epic, joyous best ever birthday celebration, Thanks to all.

Rhody Hits and Misses

January 28th, 2019 § 2 comments § permalink

HG has written often about the pleasures of eating in Rhode Island. Best clams in the world. Good (when in season) oysters. Squid. Hearty, cheap ethnic restaurants. And, of course, the cuisine of HG/BSK’s daughter, Gifted Lesley R. When in the Ocean State, don’t miss: Rhode Island clam chowder, clear, briny, full of clams and without the tomatoes of Manhattan style or the white glop of New England clam chowder; fried squid with hot peppers (official dish of the state); Del’s Frozen Lemonade, the ultimate antidote for heat and thirst. Lunch at rough and ready Flo’s Clam Shack. HG is ambiguous about New York System Wieners. These are short hot dogs, tucked in a steamed bun and topped with meat sauce, chopped onions and mustard. Interesting, but not as good as a traditional Katz’s (of New York) dog with sauerkraut. Clam cakes should be avoided (in HG’s opinion, they are nothing but lumps of fried dough with no discernible taste of clam), Stuffies are clams stuffed with bread crumbs and chopped clams. The bread crumbs overwhelm the clams. Far inferior to HG/BSK’s Clams Casino. Rhode Islanders love doughnuts (witness their waistlines) and consume more per capita than any other state. Seems there is a Dunkin’ Donuts shop wherever you look. The Dunkin’ Donuts sports stadium is known as “The Dunk.” They also love coffee syrup and use it to flavor milk, ice cream and milkshakes. HG/BSK thinks this is a bad dietary choice.

International Treats

January 2nd, 2019 § 0 comments § permalink

Tasty food evening. Started with Armenian and other Middle Eastern treats in the beautiful new kitchen of HG’s daughter’s close friends/neighbors. HG was introduced to a special caraway seed Aakavit. Pungent stuff. Then off to Cheng Du Taste, a hole-in-the-wall Szechuan restaurant in Pawtucket, R.I.. To get there, five hungry eaters had to follow a winding complex of streets from the Riva Rhode Island home. Well worth it (even with a 15-minute wait). Very flavorful food served swiftly and piping hot. Mo Po Tofu. Chicken with eggplant in garlic sauce. Sliced fish in chile oil. Pork dumplings. Soup dumplings. Pepper and salt prawns. There was divided opinion. HG raved but the others said that since the menu was so similar to the much more convenient Chonquing House in Providence, Cheng Du Taste was’t worth the longer trip. Who to trust? Choose HG since the senior gent has been consuming Chinese food in various locales for some 80 years. Experience counts.

Festive Finale

June 5th, 2018 § 0 comments § permalink

Last meal in Rhode Island before setting off to Prince Edward Island. And, the finale was festive, full of culinary fireworks. The venue was Bristol Oyster Bar in the historic town of Bristol. They do a “buck a shuck” oyster night on Tuesday. Decided to do a reprise of the oyster feast HG/BSK (and Lesley R.) enjoyed during our Christmas season visit. Of course, this time HG overdid. Three dozen oysters, chilled, briny, nicely shucked. All from Rhode Island waters: Moonstones, Quonrie Rocks, Point Judith Salts and Aquidnacks. Then, on to a ceviche of fresh raw scallops with crispy potato chips, cucumber, lime, cilantro and ginger. Steamed “Drunken” little neck clams in a mind-blowing sauce of beer, onions, garlic (grilled bread to soak up the deliciousness). Cajun tuna (cooked rare) with potato crisps, parsnip chips, spicy New Orleans mayo and chimichurri cream. Mussels in a garlic and wine broth topped with salt and vinegar potato sticks gilded with a red pepper coulis. Fried oysters in a cornmeal crust with pickled red onions, lime and cilantro. Cajun pork belly confit on a bed of parsnip puree with an array of house made pickles. Fresh local green salad with goat cheese, parsnip chips and marinated vegetables. (Hey, don’t characterize us as gluttons. These are all modest small plate portions). To drink: Sancerre for BSK and Brilliant/Beautiful granddaughter Arianna R. Black and Tan (Guinness and IPA ale) for HG. Happy heads and tummies. Off to bed to get an early start on Canadian motoring.

The Italian Corner

June 4th, 2018 § 0 comments § permalink

This deli-bakery-grocery-sandwich shop (and restaurant on Saturday night) is an East Providence landmark. The Italian Corner features the best of everything Italian. Many varieties of prosciutto, porchetta, salume. Encyclopedic array of cheeses. Ravioli. Tortellini. Fresh house-made pasta plus the best of Italian dried pasta. Olive oil, vinegar, jarred condiments. Cookies, cakes, bread, etc. Huge list of sandwiches plus two soups, minestrone and tortellini in chicken broth. Everything can be consumed on the premises or brought home. For lunch, HG ordered a capicola, provolone and pepper sandwich. Plus a “cup” of minestrone. BSK chose a mozzarella and pepper. We specified the size of the sandwiches as “small”. Well, we got huge sandwiches. We presumed the “large” size consumed an entire baguette. The minestrone was almost a quart of goodness. Packed with fresh vegetable, beans and ditalini shape pasta. No room for the sandwich after the soup. BSK finished half of her sandwich. It was packed and put in the cooler for road dinner in Canada. BSK purchased olive oil, vinegar, amaretti cookie and other things for PEI consumption. Must get back to The Italian Corner for their Saturday night dinner. On the menu is octopus salad, linguine con vongole, zuppa of clams and mussels, zuppa de pesce. Plus rabbit, veal and chicken dishes. Due to a visit by Guy Fieri of Diners, Drive Ins and Dives, The Italian Corner is celebrated. Deservedly so.

Blount Fine Foods

June 1st, 2018 § 0 comments § permalink

This company is a Rhode Island star. State-wide polls reveal it to be one of the best places to work in Rhody. Very innovative. Not small. About 400 employees and 365 million in annual revenues. Blount sells a staggering variety of soups. Many versions of clam chowder (Rhode Island clear is the best). Everything is organic. There are all the standards (tomato, vegetable, pea) and some surprises like varieties of Vietnamese pho, an HG favorite. Blount soups can be found in many eastern United States groceries. Hey, Noo Yawkers and Brooklyn hipsters, you can find Blount at Fairway including SJ’s favored Red Hook location. The company also operates, on a seasonal basis, two “clam shacks”–one in Riverside, RI and the other in nearby Warren. They are very busy. Rightfully so, because the food they serve is way above standard roadside clam shack fare. Last night, BSK picked up a load of good things that were consumed on the scenic deck of the R. home. Watching boats glide by on Narragansett Bay, HG/BSK and Arianna R. dined on big, lush lobster rolls, fried cod sandwiches with sauce tartare, stuffies (clams stuffed with bits of chorizo nestled in a cornmeal mix), onion rings, French fries, cole slaw (among the best ever), pickles. Drank icy cold French rose’ and an Italian white. Dessert was Talenti Sea Salt Caramel gelato. Hey, Blount, send some of your good things to Whole Foods and Kaune’s in Santa Fe.

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.

Sweet Things

December 28th, 2017 § 0 comments § permalink

No, HG is not referring to HG’s glorious, beautiful granddaughters, Teru F., Sofia and Arianna R. The reference is (no surprise) to matters culinary. This Christmas holiday at the R. home in Rhode Island, HG is being deluged (happily) with cookies, cakes, pies and desserts. In the morning there are perfect companions for mugs of steaming coffee: Italian Panettone and Jewish Babka. Afternoon tea is enhanced by cookies baked by Lesley and Massimo R.’s neighbors. There are wonderful choices for dinner desserts. Magnificent Key Lime Pie baked by Raphie, a young neighbor. (Thoughtfully, he provides an ample amount of lush whipped cream). Lucy, the R.’s once-a-week housekeeper, calls on her Portuguese heritage (she’s from the Azores) and gifts the family with a giant mound of home made Flan. This is the best Flan ever. Rather than the smooth, almost gelatin-like nature of most flans, this flan has a somewhat grainy texture that adds a toothsome quality to its not-too-sweet taste. Yes, HG is having a high calorie time in Rhody.

Robust. Delicious. Sublime.

December 27th, 2017 § 2 comments § permalink

HG has run out of adjectives. It is silly to try to label a work of art. You’ve got to look at it, hear it, experience it. In terms of food, taste rules. For Christmas dinner, Lesley and Massimo R. collaborated in producing a work of art that met the highest standards of of taste and visual appeal. The prime ingredient was veal shanks–osso buco. Lesley simmered big, meaty shanks in a mix of carrots, celery, onions, garlic, tomatoes, red wine and chicken stock. The pot bubbled gently for some hours until the shanks were fall off the bone tender and the sauce had thickened into a pungent and fragrant essence. Meanwhile, Massimo gave painstaking attention to a pot of arborio rice, creating a risotto that was exemplary in texture, fragrance and lushness. As a side, Lesley R. braised fennel in butter and stock. The suave licorice taste of the vegetable proved to be a worthy counterpoint to the veal and risotto. Generous Massimo decanted wonderful Italian wines: Barolo and Barbaresco. HG will say no more. Don’t want you to go mad with envy.

New England Delights

December 25th, 2017 § 0 comments § permalink

There is something magical about New England at Christmas time. The light. The domestic architecture (much reaching back to earlier centuries). The decorations that don’t rely upon plastics. And, of course, the many feasts of the HG family. We started with a New York night in Rhode Island. Zabar’s pastrami, corned beef, cole slaw and potato salad. Plus authentic Jewish rye bread. Lesley R.provided pickles, Russian dressing and her own splendid cole slaw. Using an electric press (for Cubano sandwiches), Gifted Daughter Lesley made toothsome Reubens with an appropriate balance of corned beef, sauerkraut, swiss cheese and Russian dressing. HG preceded the meal with vodka, moved on to beer, drank Beaujolais Nouveau with cinnamon babka from Kossar’s Bakery in New York. Sipped grappa while watching “Kedi”, the endearing documentary about the cats of Istanbul. Pip, the super smart R. dog, watched the film with the family group. When will they do a film about the doggies of Rhode Island, she barked softly?

The next day HG reveled in Rhode Island’s blending of many cultures: Portuguese, South American, Italian, French, Lebanese, Syrian, Asian. HG/BSK and the R. family, decided to focus specifically on Lebanese, Portuguese and Peruvian Food. A morning visit to Fall River, Mass. (short drive from Rhode Island). Fall River was once a center of textile manufacturing and scores of the old mills have been retrofitted for new uses. It’s a great foodie town. First stop in Fall River was Sam’s Bakery. This is a tiny, busy spot that prepares spectacular Lebanese sandwiches. A fresh from the oven pita is folded over a savory spread: spinach and cheese; eggplant; lamb; etc., etc. Extraordinary tastes. Then on to Portugalia. This is a market that occupies the refurbished first floor of an old mill. It is vast, beautifully organized and a wonderland of Portuguese food. Probably the nation’s best source for chourico, linguica, salt cod, tinned sardines and tuna. Plus Marcona almonds, fava beans, Portuguese cheeses and breads. The wine selection is large with many values. As expected, there is a huge variety of Ports. Lot of tempting sweets including crystallized fruits (a BSK fave). HG/BSK left Portugalia with many bags of good things. Alas, HG did not indulge, as he did the year before, in the Chop Suey sandwich that still lingers on at a few of Fall River’s old time Chinese restaurants. However, maintaining a tasty tradition, dinner was at Los Andes, a Peruvian restaurant in Providence. HG has written about Los Andes many times. Check the HG archive for “Los Andes Happiness”, Dec. 30, 2016. The experience depicted was repeated with the same wonderful results.

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