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Now Eating Rhode Island: 12/14

After hearing recommendations from every corner, I finally tried Los Andes the other night. What a place! There was a line almost out the door (Friday night at 7) so I was so happy our party of four had made a reservation. We were seated promptly, by a warm and friendly hostess. The atmosphere is perfect: warm, special-feeling, unstuffy, festive, but in no way too loud. The tables were clearly full of people enjoying themselves, but it was easy for our table of four to have long conversations.

We joked that they matched our waiter to our party perfectly-- we were four professional women on a girls' night out, and our waiter was handsome, chipper, friendly and knowledgable. We had a group swoon, I admit it.

He recommended the stuffed mushrooms as an appetizer to share, along with the calamari. Both were delicious-- very flavorful and well-composed. We had heard that the portions were enormous, so we shared two appetizers and two entrees. It was the perfect amount of food.

We had a lamb special and a fish dish-- both delicious and perfectly executed. This is not quiet, exquisite food. It's enthusiastic, jolly, celebratory food, made to be shared and enjoyed with friends.

We will be back, all four of us, both together, and with anyone else we can drag along. I've heard it's our mayor-elect's favorite restaurant, and I'm impressed and heartened by his taste. It's a well-run place, full of people who enjoy their work. What could be finer?

Dec 14, 2014
Tartinet in Southern New England

Now Eating RI Vol 2: 9/14

I had a great lunch at the Wurst Kitchen the other day-- their weisswurst (plus a plain dog for the little one). It's by far my favorite lunch place: reasonably priced for the excellent quality, friendly, and fast. Chez Pascal is a twice-a-year splurge for us, but I'm delighted to go to their Wurst Kitchen almost every time I go out for lunch (admittedly, not often).

The only thing that would make me a happier (and more frequent) customer would be if they offered one hearty salad or other vegetable-centric dish. But having said that, I can appreciate that they intentionally have an extremely focused menu and mission.

Sep 11, 2014
Tartinet in Southern New England

Quick's Hole Tavern [Woods Hole]

I second everything mvi said-- it's really good. In addition to the good tacos, I think they have the best lobster roll I've ever had. It seems like places that serve lobster rolls have one of three approaches: Cheapest in town, best in town, or only in town. Quick's Hole goes for that middle one, thankfully. Not cheap, but massive, fresh, and delicious.

Aug 12, 2014
Tartinet in Southern New England

Tallulah's Taqueria, Fox Point Providence

I think the black bean taco was vegan. They may have more choices now-- I think they're slowly expanding their menu during their soft open.

It's worth a call to check. I think this is their number:
(401) 272-8226

May 19, 2014
Tartinet in Southern New England

Tallulah's Taqueria, Fox Point Providence

I went to Tallulah's Taqueria for take-out yesterday-- they are still in their "soft opening" phase.

I had the black bean taco, the carnitas taco and the chicken taco. I probably should have stopped at two, but in the interests of research, I persevered. I'm glad I did, because the chicken was my favorite: smoky, tender, flavorful chicken, with a fresh crunch from pickled radishes and a nice salsa verde.

The carnitas taco was pretty greasy, but not in an un-delicious way. It's just not first-date clean-shirt food. I was surprised that the black bean taco included rice, but it was tasty. In fact, it was still good the next morning, cold from the fridge-- a fate no taco deserves.

My only real critique is that there was too much filling in each taco-- they were all ungainly to eat. They are hefty for tacos-- big hungry guys could probably down three or more, but I could have been done at two.

The shop itself is gorgeous-- clean, modern, no-nonsense design. Great crisp colors (safety orange, faint pale blue) and honest materials (live edge wooden bar, galvanized steel, cement block).

The food and the interior both agree: this is a confident place that cares about quality, attention to detail, and satisfying, no-fuss excellence.

Highly recommended.

Soft opening details (from a sign posted in the restaurant):

Thursday to Sunday
11am to 8pm
May 8 through May 26

Grand opening May 29 11am

May 12, 2014
Tartinet in Southern New England

PVD/RI 2013 - Your Favorites?

1) Favorite: an amazing salad at Chez Pascal. It included beluga lentils and harukei turnips. We made plans to go back a couple weeks later just to taste that salad again!

2) Overall favorite: I have to go with Pho Horns. Our favorite take out or eat in quick meal-- so delicious, so dependable, such friendly service.

3) Favorite new place: I don't go out so often, so Broadway Bistro is my favorite new (to me) place.

4) Ken's Ramen! I cannot wait!

Jan 15, 2014
Tartinet in Southern New England

What to do with leftover broth/stock? Or ok/no guilt throwing it out?

If you really don't like to waste it, you could probably get away with using a smaller volume of stock to marinate the tofu-- cut the bouillon cube in half, use only one cup of water, and then marinate the tofu in a ziplock bag, with the air squeezed out (or sucked out with a straw) The tofu will still absorb what it needs, and you'll just have less left over at the end.

Or, you know, throw caution to the wind, use the whole cube, and pitch the leftovers. If half the broth gets used up, you're only pouring a quarter's worth down the drain. It's like trimming leeks. You use the part you need and toss the rest in good conscience.

Sep 04, 2013
Tartinet in Home Cooking

Too Much Cantaloupe

I often use extra fruit to make popsicles. If you have popsicle molds (or just popsicle sticks and paper cups), you can use any combination of puréed fruit, plus some yogurt if you like.

The only warning (from experience)-- think about color if you're combining fruits! No one likes a brown fruit popsicle. Cantaloupe would mix well with anything yellow, orange, red, or white. Nothing purple! You'd have to eat them blindfolded.

Sep 04, 2013
Tartinet in Home Cooking
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Wine and Bites-- what are your simple go-to combinations that make you happy to be alive?

I have often found myself with a delicious bottle of wine and a yummy cheese, only to find that they are fairly dreadful together.

Tonight, I lucked out with some Amontillado sherry, Uniekaas aged gouda, and some crisp, mildly sweet Belgian butter cookies. The combination is really delightful.

What are your go-to combinations? For either after dinner or before, but some combination of simple foods and specific wines that really bring out the best in each other. Bonus points for pantry items that can be brought out on a whim.

Aug 11, 2013
Tartinet in General Topics

Avenue N, good for casual occasion dinner?

I mostly agree with Rhody RedHen-- Avenue N is apt to be loud, and Gracie's is a real standout. They know how to celebrate. They're in a class by themselves, as far as I'm concerned.

I will stick up for the food at Avenue N and New Rivers, though. They are very different restaurants, and have different places in my heart, but I really like them both. Avenue N takes few risks, but turns out no stinkers (unfortunately a rarity these days). Everything I've had there has been competently cooked, and I can be a nitpicky customer. It's affordable, friendly, fun, and a good fit for the neighborhood. A ten-year-old would not be inappropriate there.

New Rivers is more thoughtful, more in love with their ingredients. Maybe I've just had better luck, but I've always walked away very happy, especially in seasons where local produce can really shine.

Aug 01, 2013
Tartinet in Southern New England

Trader Joe's Yay/Nay Thread - June 2013 [OLD]

YAY: Angelcot fresh apricots. So juicy and sweet!

YAY: Goat brie. So delectable. Good goaty funk, and that creamy, dense, slightly runny, almost sticky feeling of ripe brie. So much better than the bland, stiff, chalky supermarket stuff.

MEH: Gazpacho. Nothing special. With a fair amount of doctoring, it was good, but nothing great right out of the tub.

MEH/NAY: Trader Joe's Fresh Rice Noodles (refrigerated, product of South Korea). Following the directions, I cooked them in boiling water for slightly less than two minutes, drained, and rinsed with cool water, until the rinsing water was fairly clear. They were still soft, sticky, gummy, and somehow seemed both overcooked and undercooked. I love noodles of all kinds, and I was excited to try these, but no. I don't know exactly what this kind of Korean rice noodles are supposed to taste like, but I doubt it's this.

Thank you for this thread! It was so helpful in my trip to Trader Joe's this week!

Jun 29, 2013
Tartinet in Chains

Traditional Southern cooking - cookbooks?

My Virginia family has always had a copy of Maryland's Way in the kitchen. It was first published in 1963, but it's a collection of traditional recipes from cooks all over Maryland-- some from very old recipe books. Many are attributed to books from the 1800 and earlier, some just attributed to individual cooks from the area. It's both a great historical document and a usable cookbook. Published by the Hammond-Harwood House in Annapolis. There might be a fair amount of overlap between the traditional Maryland recipes and ones from the Roanoke area.

Apr 24, 2013
Tartinet in Home Cooking

Rosemary Crackers for LindaMc

My dough resting experiments have come to a clear conclusion: A busy household at dinner- and bedtime is no place for the scientific process. I'm lucky if they get cooked and not burned. Science can wait, I'm just going to focus on making some crackers. :-)

Jan 18, 2013
Tartinet in Home Cooking

Rosemary Crackers for LindaMc

Using caloriecount.about.com, I analyzed the recipe, so I could see how it compares to commercial crackers. Here are the stats:

serving size: 28g
calories: 140
fat: 5g
sodium: 78g
fiber: 0.8g
sugars: 3.1g
protein: 2.5

Jan 18, 2013
Tartinet in Home Cooking

Rosemary Crackers for LindaMc

Thanks for this great recipe! I've been making these for a few months now, and wanted to share my tips and recipe tweaks.

Honey Wheat Crackers
1 cup white flour
1 cup white whole wheat flour
1/3 cup wheat germ
1 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
2/3 cup warm water
1/3 cup olive oil
2 or 3 tablespoons honey

Mix flours, wheat germ, baking powder, and salt. Combine water, oil, and honey, and mix wet ingredients with dry ingredients until smooth. I occasionally have to add another small handful of flour to get it to not be too sticky.

To roll, I've settled on this method: Divide dough into thirds. On an 11.5 by 16.5" (half sheet) silpat mat placed on the counter, roll a third of the dough out as thin as possible-- until it covers nearly the whole mat. Poke it all over with a fork, then cut into squares with a plastic pizza cutter (it doesn't seem to harm the silpat if you use gentle presure). Then put the silpat on a baking sheet, and bake at 400 degrees-- the ones on the edge will brown first, so I just take them out as they brown, and put the rest back in. I start checking at 10 minutes, and bake time is very dependent on thickness.

My theory is that if you let the dough rest after rolling, but before cutting, they will stay thin and won't shrink up as much, but I will continue my investigations...

I'm also working on a cheese cracker variation, with powdered cheese. Yummy, but I haven't nailed it yet. I'll report back when I do.

Thanks again for this easy recipe! I love not buying crackers!

Jan 14, 2013
Tartinet in Home Cooking

Great Fish Market near Providence?

How can this be? It's the Ocean State, right? Where is Providence's fantastic fish store? Whole Foods is expensive (and not always all that good) and the regular grocery stores have pretty scary fish counters, in my experience.

Where's the locally-owned fish market with good local fish? Or is there some grocery store tucked away that has a dependable fish counter? I am willing to pay for quality, and willing to drive half an hour or so (I am a Rhode Islander, after all-- I have my limits).

Nov 23, 2012
Tartinet in Southern New England

Wedding Venue/Resort Where Guests Can Stay Over?

Another pricy but gorgeous option is Ocean House in Watch Hill, Rhode Island.

Nov 14, 2012
Tartinet in Southern New England

Ever cooked a full Thanksgiving Dinner in your room at a Marriott Residence Inn?

I once cooked a full chicken dinner in a minimally equipped studio (a vacation rental). I second most things people have said here-- especially to bring/buy your own real roasting pan. I tried to use a disposable aluminum "roasting" pan, and it was dreadful-- the high, shiny sides kept it from browning much, there were hardly any "brown bits" to make the gravy with, and it was flimsy, slippery, and hard to wrangle in and out of the oven (I didn't have a cookie sheet to put under it). I almost ended up with a floor covered in grease and pan juices!

Nov 07, 2012
Tartinet in Home Cooking

Very Basic Chicken Liver Pâté?

This sounds great-- minus most of the spice mixture and brandy, I just made this. Thank you!

Nov 04, 2012
Tartinet in Home Cooking

Very Basic Chicken Liver Pâté?

Sounds perfect. This, I will try next time!

Nov 04, 2012
Tartinet in Home Cooking

Very Basic Chicken Liver Pâté?

I guess it's a combination of enjoying pâté, and not wanting to waste the liver that comes with the chicken-- my life is a little too harried at the moment for pâté-making to be its own independent agenda item! And I'm not sure anyone else in my family really likes it as much as I do-- so I think it's destined to stay a last minute cook's bonus, at least for now. But I'll keep it in mind ... Thanks for the tip.

Nov 04, 2012
Tartinet in Home Cooking

Very Basic Chicken Liver Pâté?

I hate throwing away the liver when I cook a whole chicken (I add the other giblets to stock). And I love a nice chicken liver pâté, but I never remember to plan ahead, so I don't have any specialty pate ingredients on hand, just a chilly, jiggly liver waiting for me to figure it out. One liver doesn't make a tremendous amount of pâté, so it would end up being a casual kitchen snack anyway-- for me and anyone who's helping.

So, what's the basic formula for liver pate? Butter, garlic, black pepper? Fry, then mash? What do you do with one lonely chicken liver?

Nov 04, 2012
Tartinet in Home Cooking

Peppermill

I have 2 Vic Firths, and love the mechanism. So far, almost 10 years of heavy use and they're going strong. My one gripe is that I'm having a fair amount of paint chipping off the colored one (the natural wood one looks even better than when I bought it). The problem areas on the painted one are the top edge and the bottom. I keep meaning to sand those areas down to at least remove the paint uniformly, but haven't gotten around to it.

So, treat your painted mill gently-- no wild gesticulations in the kitchen (I'm a bit of a frenzied cook sometimes)!

Nov 03, 2012
Tartinet in Cookware

PVD/RI * November '12 * Open/Closed/Coming Soon

Stock is apparently opening on Monday, in the old European Market location on Hope St, near the Ivy Tavern. It's going to have kitchenware (new and vintage), and I think maybe some fancy ingredients and cooking demos? I'm not sure. But I'm very excited-- this will really help me in my goal of never going to the mall ever again!

Nov 02, 2012
Tartinet in Southern New England

Have I ruined my cast iron? (Sad)

Once you get your pan back in usable shape, what you might consider is to put it in "cast iron rehab" for a while, before you ask too much of it. So, use it for frying bacon, frying breaded fish or meat, frying almost anything really. Give it a break from deglazing, acidic ingredients, cheese, searing, or other lower-fat operations. In my experience, this kind of treatment will give it a chance to really establish a good season. Good luck!

Nov 01, 2012
Tartinet in Cookware

Have I ruined my cast iron? (Sad)

The thing to remember is that you're dealing with two entities: the seasoning of the pan, which is a little delicate (no soap, etc) and the pan itself, which is nearly indestructible. You can always burn off the seasoning (and any mishaps that may have damaged it) and start fresh with bare cast iron. Reseasoning is not a quick job, but neither is it complicated. I once stuck a 40-year-old pan in the fire until it glowed red, let it cool in there, and then reseasoned it. No problem.

Having said that, it sounds like you could try a few less drastic fixes first!

Oct 30, 2012
Tartinet in Cookware

Iceberg Lettuce Recipes?

I once ordered Noodle Soup with Vegetables at a Chinese restaurant, where the noodles were straight-up spaghetti, the broth was not much more than salt and water, and the sole vegetable was iceberg lettuce.

I was appalled. I think it prompted me to write my first-ever online review of a restaurant, way back in the early '00s.

But I do admit to enjoying iceberg in tacos, salads, spring rolls, etc. Nothing else has that sweet, juicy, nearly-flavorless crunch! :-)

Oct 29, 2012
Tartinet in Home Cooking

braising greens

Too late for that batch of greens, I know, but for next time...

I don't like to pour off the cooking liquid, because I think you lose some vitamins (and/or flavor) that way. If my greens are done, but still too soupy, I scoop them out with a slotted spoon and set them aside, then I can reduce the liquid at a fast boil. When there are just a few tablespoons of liquid left, you can taste (you never know what you're concentrating!) and then add the greens back in.

Oct 26, 2012
Tartinet in Home Cooking

Do you use the skin for your chicken stock?

I never remove fat or skin when I make stock. As far as I'm concerned, I get two valuable products: rendered chicken fat and stock. I store them separately in the freezer, and I use the chicken fat for roasting vegetables and instead of oil in curries. Makes a wonderful flavor!

Especially if I'm paying a premium for organic or pastured chicken, I don't want to throw out that lovely fat, and then turn around and pay another premium for organic butter and oil. Not that butter and oil don't have their uses, but chicken fat is just fine in many applications.

I did have a problem with the fat emulsifying once-- but I was trying to reduce the volume of the stock before I skimmed it, so it was boiling violently. As long as I keep the stock at a simmer before I skim the fat off,I don't have a problem with it clouding up.

Oct 24, 2012
Tartinet in Home Cooking

Fear of a Roast Chicken

Thanks for your help! Next up-- finally learning how to toss pizza dough in the air... ;-)

Oct 18, 2012
Tartinet in Home Cooking