Wednesday, February 27, 2008

Two food blogs in Providence

There are probably hundreds, maybe thousands of food bloggers gliding through cyberspace, and the number is probably growing each day. Everybody has an opinion and frankly some of them stink. But, and this is a very big but, more often than not I find food bloggers to be thoughtful, detailed, focused and lively in their prose as they skip around town or city, state or region looking to explain the latest culinary find or just simply help the rest of us find a decent place to eat.

Two such blogs worth checking out are maintained right here in Providence. Tomato soup and Stephanies Does. Both of these focus on eating and primarily eating in Rhode Island -- Providence being the lynchpin of course. Still, their entries make for entertaining reading and I find their prose straightforward and spirited.

If the links above don't work, hey just copy and paste!

Ciao for now,


Nick's on Broadway, second time around

We caught up recently with our friend Rosemary -- the three of us spent some quality time together at Gerrish's in Winter Harbor last summer, Rosemary coming from several years working at Oleanna in Boston and Susie coming from working at Pascal's in Paris. Anyway, between the two of them they prepared some of the finest food the folks in Winter Harbor had seen in quite some time.

Rosemary was in the neighborhood working on setting up her bike tours of farms and vineyards of southeastern Rhode Island and so she zipped over in her zipcar to say hi.

The three of us chatted for a little while and then grabbed our coats and walked the three blocks or so to Nick's on Broadway for dinner. (Susie and I had eaten brunch there a couple of Sundays ago.) The place was virtually empty when we arrived -- although by the time we left it had started to fill up nicely.

We each had a glass of prosecco and continued our Gerrish talk -- and, as we usually do, just talked about food in general: how to make it, where to get it, that sort of thing. The wine list was short but well-priced, with a good selection by the glass and half-bottles; we settled on a half bottle of King Estate Pinot Gris in fact. Very nice touch indeed.

And speaking of food, Susan had the salmon, which looked luscious and delectable (it was) while Rosemary and I each had the scrumptious roasted sea scallops on butter squash/sweet potato puree:

For dessert Susie and Rosemary split the trio special: sorbet, a bread pudding and chocolate pudding-thing quietly hiding under a massive layer of whipped cream:

The service was friendly, the food very good and the walk back to our flat bracing -- the night was crisp, clear with a nearly full (?) moon.

Tuesday, February 26, 2008

Food seen through a Macro lens

I've put together some of the better (!) food photographs I took recently at Gracie's restaurant in downtown Providence. It was an excellent opportunity to put my new macro lens to the test. Here ya go!

Thursday, February 14, 2008

Nicks on Broadway and the Phoenix Dragon

Two new restaurant reviews you might be interested in, if you're in West Providence.

Nick's on Broadway (500 Broadway in fact) is already pretty widely known throughout the city -- the chef-owner came off a major success at the Westin apparently and bought the old Nick's diner, turning it into one of the city's funkiest, upscale restaurant with a downtempo feel. We went there this past Sunday for brunch.

It was a gorgeous morning -- this being Providence that would of course change soon -- so we strolled the four short blocks up Harkness Street to Broadway turned left and voila! there was Nick's and a half hour wait. The place was packed, as in sardines. It has an open kitchen layout facing a counter and a long row of tables, bistro-style against the far wall.

I had a scrumptious omelet, made to order. You can choose from a long list of ingredients, like constructing a pizza. Susie had a half order of French Toast: massively thick slices of bread cooked right in front of your eyes, with several different freshly made toppings to choose from.

The other place is the Phoenix Dragon, at 256 Broadway, a few blocks closer to downtown than Nick's. We had often talked of eating there and since I ran late last Monday night after shooting an event downtown (the Ronald McDonald House Wine and Chocolate charity gig at Gracie's if you must know), I called Susie and said I'd stop there to get some takeout.

Service was very friendly, quite clean inside with a nice size sushi bar as well. They serve both Chinese and Japanese cuisine and their menu is extensive (although one young woman sitting at a nearby table was clearly disappointed when she was told, "no, sorry, but we don't have mashed potatoes.") The food was reasonably priced and very tasty too I might add.

Thursday, February 7, 2008

New Year's Eve at Gracie's in Providence

The folks at Gracie's were kind enough to invite to come by this past New year's Eve and take some photos and shoot some video of their new pastry chef at work. So I did.

Wednesday, February 6, 2008

"Art of the Tart" at Gracie's

No, this isn't about a cheap woman who paints. It's about food. Really good food. Last Monday night, 4 February, Susie and chef Joe Hafner gave a class in the kitchen at Gracie's, "The Art of the Tart," or, how to make great tart dough. (photo: Joe, Susie and Cara gearing up or the tart demo!)

When I learned about the class I asked Joe if I could take a few photos and he was kind enough not only to allow me to intrude on this very personal evening but he fed me as well!

Joe and Cara had everything prepared for the savory portion of the evening's class, and Brendan had chosen the wines for the evening.




Susie demonstrated how to prepare two different dough recipes: a chocolate dough, followed by her personal favorite, a pate sableƩ with almonds (d'amandes). Using these two basic doughs she prepared three desserts for the evening's presentation: a chocolate ganache tart, a lemon-lime tart, and a pear-almond tart.

The class was small, only five people, but they were clearly a dedicated group of serious cooks, and the questions flew fast for most of the session.

"How do you. . . ?"

"Why do you . . . ?"



These folks came to Gracie's that night for two reasons: to learn how to make good food better and then eat it. They certainly got what they bargained for.

After the demonstration, Joe and Cara fixed a delicious traditional quiche filled with bacon, leek and gruyere followed by a breast of duck cooked to perfection -- and believe me it tasted as good as it looks.

Brendan, the wine master at Gracie's paired a Ramey chardonnay with the quiche and then a Malbec from Argentina with the duck. With dessert we had a tokay from Hungary.

Everyone had a wonderful time and you can tell that Susie has, as Joe pointed rightly out, "hit her stride."

Wish you had been there!