Tuesday, February 26, 2013

Dinner in Douglas, MA

Can you imagine a Sunday meal any more perfect than potato-leek soup followed by roast beef, twice baked potatoes and green beans?! (And where did Dorothy find such exquisite beans this time of year is beyond me!)
Dorothy's potato-leek soup made with the last of the leeks from last year's garden!

Monday, February 25, 2013

77 days to go

French Tarte February 23 and Dinner in Douglas

First there was Nemo and then an infected root canal, but after two weeks the French Tarte came roarin'back this past Saturday: a full table of goodies at 9am, by noon everything was gone; the croissants and pain au chocolate were gone by 10:15!

That evening, after a relaxing afternoon at home and amidst uncertain weather, we drove north to the wilds of Douglas, MA, for dinner with Dick and Dorothy. We even brought toothbrushes expecting freezing rain to lock us in for the night.

But the temperature remained steady and when we left for home it was just wet slush on the back roads until we hit route 146; the drive south to Providence was just rain.

On Sunday Susie taught a Financier and Madeleine class in the afternoon and I went to the RISD Museum for a piano concert in the grand gallery-- you can't imagine a more relaxing way to spend an afternoon. Sitting in the corner on a sofa, listening  to Benjamin Nacar work his magic and translate the wonders of Bach and Beethoven all the while letting my eyes wander across the paintings was truly a wonderful experience. And for Susie, her class is always enjoyable, helping others to find an outlet for their passion is one of the most gratifying things about being the French Tarte.

caramel nut tart

chausson aux pommes ready for the oven

bouchon, buttermilk cakes rolled in coriander-ginger sugar

apple cherry tart

sugar buns

chocolate ganache tart

lemon madeleines

pear-ginger financier

cocoa hazelnut financier
Can you imagine a Sunday meal any more perfect than potato-leek soup followed by roast beef, twice baked potatoes and green beans?! (And where did Dorothy find such exquisite beans this time of year is beyond me!)
Dorothy's potato-leek soup made with the last of the leeks from last year's garden!

Saturday, February 23, 2013

Chausson au pommes by the French Tarte

chausson au pommes, apple turnovers

Friday, February 22, 2013

Visual notes from Providence

Several times a week I break out of Davol Square around midday, grab the camera and head off downtown, usually stopping at the RISD Museum; a great place to lose oneself:
Juliette Recamier in the center -- Gaetan Vestris on the left side of the wall
Coincidence, perhaps but Juliette and Gaetan are buried just a few meters away form each other in Montmartre Cemetery, Paris.
Juliette Recamier at RISD Museum

European Room at RISD Museum

Jean-Jacques Rousseau

In the wake of Nemo. . . 

. . . we learn what the motto is of the city highway services

Thursday, February 21, 2013

Alsatian dinner at New Rivers

It's been nearly two months since we've eaten at New Rivers; and in fact, our last outing there was for New Year's Eve, a dinner that the four of us had somewhat mixed feelings about, if you must know.

That aside, we were looking forward to a return engagement and when I discovered on Tuesday last, quite by accident, that they were hosting an Alsatian dinner the next day, we had to snap up that opportunity.

 The party kicked off at 6:30 in the upstairs private dining room. We had no sooner gotten our coats off than we were handed a glass of tasty Cremant d'Alsace. (A "cremant" being any non-Champagne sparkling wine made in the Champagne style, so we were told.) It was a lively and friendly group of about 17 people seated around a u-shaped table. The wines for the evening were all white Alsatian (naturally) from Gerard Metz and presented by the wine rep, Steve Wynn of The Wine Bros. One fascinating aspect of the dinner was that such robust food was very nicely paired with white wines.

For starters, matched with a gewurztraminer 2010 (quite dry):

bouchee a la suppepaschete, puff pastry cups with pork, vegetables and cream

bibeleskas, fresh ripened cheese with bacon, potatoes, herbs on toast
Next up, with a pinot blanc 2011 (nearly everyone was amazed at what an incredible wine this was):

flammekueche, thin rich "pizza", topped with bacon, onions and cream

presskopf & spaetzle, crispy lamb shoulder rillettes and spaetzle
For the "entre," and matched with a delicious riesling (lots of residual sugar but very dry nonetheless):

charcroute garni, saurkraut with sausages, smoked pork, potatoes, onions and mustards
For the dessert course, kougelhopf paired with a late-harvest gewurztraminer done in a dry style:

Every now and then Beau Vestal, chef-owner, would drop by and chat about the food. And speaking of the food, it was well-presented, scrumptious and, with the exception of the dessert course, superb. (We thought it odd to offer a traditional breakfast bread for a dessert course, but then the wine served with it  was a bit on the odd side as well, far too dry for a "dessert" wine, in my humble opinion.)

The company was congenial, and, as I said lively. It was a most pleasing couple of hours sharing experiences and ideas about such wonderful food and wines.

Wednesday, February 20, 2013

Fish night at Broadway Bistro

We missed out on a long-overdue dinner at Chez Pascal thanks to Nemo and then missed a special Valentine's Day dinner at the Duck and Bunny compliments of a raging infecttion following a root canal.

So, last evening we picked ourselves up and drove over to Broadway Bistro to see what Pat had on the menu for the evening.

Now, we usually spring for the ribs n' grits at the very least, but this time we were both feeling a need for something aquatic. Starting off with a brace of proseccos, Susie and I split an app of seared sea scallops (from New Bedford) and found ourselves sopping up the residue with bread to get every last bit of flavor into our mouths.

I had the Hake with roasted fennel over a bed of pea tendrils and oregano mashies.

Susie had the special for the evening: seared salmon on a bed of garlic mashies.

Susie washed her fish down with a Gavi and I had a backup prosecco with mine.

The menu may sound pedestrian but believe me, if anything, the food was, as always, tasty, with robust flavors and hands-down simply superb. It's a broken record by now, but with Ama's gone, Broadway Bistro is the best value around: great food at a decent price. You can't beat that.

Monday, February 18, 2013

84 days to go. . .

Swan Point Cemetery in the winter, Providence

Saturday, February 16, 2013

Darius and Danielle launch the March Hare

Before Nemo smashed into the east coast, Darius Salko, formerly executive chef at Tini's one of our favorite hangouts in Providence and who's now into the farm-to-table movement in a big way, set  up at the Winter Farmer's Market. Joined by his partner Danielle,  they showcased their Pea Tendril Pesto and Pumpkin Butternut Squash soup, the first two products from this imaginative duo -- I can't wait to see what's up next! Partnering with Allen Farm in Westport, MA, Darius and Daniele call their new venture the March Hare. And if you ever tasted Darius' rabbit with gnocchi you'd know why!

In bocca al lupo!!
Darius Salko and Danielle setting up at the Farmer's Market

Thursday, February 14, 2013

Susie cuttin' wood

My favorite pastry chef cutting shelves for her shop at Hope Artiste Village last summer at Dick and Dorothy's house in Douglas, MA. Tune would be proud!

Monday, February 11, 2013

Sunday, February 10, 2013

Nemo comes calling

Well, we've had our first truly major snowstorm of the season and let's hope it's our last.

"Blizzard Nemo" blew past New England, rendering thousands of homes in eastern RI without power and leaving in his wake some two feet of snow. Now, two feet is beautiful in the woods or on the mountain tops but in parking lots and on city streets is a nightmare.

Still, lots of folks were out on Saturday once the storm subsided, dragging kids or sleds of both around the streets looking for that magical slope. Our plow guy came early Saturday afternoon and spent a couple of hours working to clean out our parking lot and free our trapped cars.

Since the governors of Massachusetts and RI called for a ban on travel for late Friday, on Thursday many business and schools were already planning to be closed; and so I had a day off on Friday. Susie decided to stay closed Saturday and eventually cancelled her class for Sunday. So the two of us spent our time watching the approaching storm from the comfort of a warm home.

the storm approacheth . . .  out of our third-floor window

aftermath . . . the back door to our condo building
that's our Mini on the left under all the white. . . 
. . . and after Susie dug the Mini out (she's a true Michigan girl!)
looking out toward Westminster Street
late Saturday afternoon