Thursday, October 14, 2021

Hub Hall, North Station


We stopped by Hub Hall at North Station recently in search of a great roast beef sandwich or some seafood, just to check things out and see what was going on after the long pandemic shutdowns.  

It was a pretty active lunch crowd of local workers and tourist types.  Slightly disappointed that the promised Cusser's Roast Beef wasn't in the mix, we settled in for a fish sandwich from the Sullivan's expansion.  Bostonians will know what this means.  

Have to say it was good.  The menu is limited (no hot dogs) and the seaside feeling is not the same.  Verdict:  the jury is out on this one.  Guessing it's probably mobbed on game days.  Let us know your thoughts.

Sunday, October 10, 2021

Dining Digital: The Future


We have to adapt.  We have to change.  It's the only way to thrive.  So, it's going to take me a bit of time to get used to going to a restaurant or café where everything is digital.  

You can only make a reservation online.  Even if it's the hottest spot in town, knowing someone will not get you in.  No one will take your order, or even make eye contact with you.  The menu is a QR code.  Point and shoot at it for what you want and it will be served "within ten to fifteen minutes." 

You cannot pay with cash.  Everything is completely, coldly digital.  The servers look away, masked, as they drop the plate.  But I have an open mind.  Life is a scramble.  We got out our phones and figured it out and transferred the funds, more like a stock transaction than a dining experience.

The upside?  The place was quite comfy.  The food and coffee was great, no question of it.  The bathrooms were sparkling clean.  It was filled with interesting people.  (The couple at the next table, he in freshly-lacquered black fingernail polish, were discussing their next HBO series writing project).

The other side:  what about the people who don't have the latest iPhone iteration?  Or, older people who just want to stop in and pay in actual paper currency, including a generous tip?

I must admit it threw me.  But not for long.  Exclusive, yes.  It's now wrapped in limited edition sportswear worn by very wealthy international students and friends far more attached to their mobile devices than the people right around them.  Very nice space.  Freezingly polite.  Not a weary busboy or smiling server in sight.  And not a lot of laughter.  Interesting to find that it's a big, corporate chain, not a local coffee spot.

Harvard Square Oktoberfest 2021


It was a bit pared back this year but after being cancelled last year it was still a welcome event.  The Harvard Square Oktoberfest 2021 was once again filled with laughter, fun, some great street performers, food and live music.  The crowds were not overpowering but there was plenty to do and see and lots of fun people out celebrating.

Saturday, September 25, 2021

Easy, Delicious Fall Weekend Breakfasts


Scrambled eggs with Mediterranean Couscous.  SO, easy to make and an impressive breakfast or brunch idea.  You know how to make the eggs, couscous takes five minutes in a pot, chop some spinach, crumble in some feta cheese, drizzle that pesto, onion, whatever you like or have in the fridge.  I added the grilled sausage from last night's barbecue.  Served with fresh bread, pita or toast.  A mimosa and you are set to go.  

Friday, September 24, 2021

Wines Of Rioja At 22 Bowen's, Newport


We raced off to our second wine dinner of the night at 22 Bowen's, luckily just around the corner.  We arrived just in time, breathless, to have a Chilled Peach Soup appetizer and Olive And Anchovy Crostini.  We were seated at the head of a long table and surrounded by an older, genteel crowd of locals part of a group hosted by an apparently very successful financial advisor.  One runs into these things in Newport.  The conversation and stories of exotic world travels over the decades, often dangerous, was fantastic.  One even shared gossip about a certain food "celebrity" in Boston who trashed her rental property while on vacation.  Fun stuff.

This Mushroom Torta was our first course.  Served with an ice cold Viura, Malvassia, Blanco, Finca Allende 2015 from Rioja, our wine sponsor for the dinner.  Maybe it was because it was a warm, humid night and we just ran for two blocks but it was the most refreshing, delicious drink I've ever had.  I am a white wine guy and Rioja is famous for reds.  I loved this.  The torta was served with a manchego cheese and almond pesto.  We gobbled it up.

Braised Cod was our second course.  A creamy pimento sauce and littlenecks encircled it.  We sipped 2015 and 216 Reserva.

The third course was an aromatic Roasted Leg Of lamb which we all so devoured that the room was literally silent except for the sound of knives hitting china plates.  Yes, we didn't even get a photo of this one.  

But we did get several photos of the Fruit Tart dessert paired with a Satinela 2020.  Not one to complete a dessert plate and already overindulged, I savored every, last calorie.

22 Bowen's Wharf
Newport, RI  02840
Telephone:  401.841.8884

Wednesday, September 22, 2021

A Taste Of Veneto at Giusto, Newport Part II

Our first full course at Giusto was this Scallop Crudo.  Served with a sea urchin salsa peverada, n'duja and cucumber.  Absolutely delicious and stunning on the plate.

In fact, it looked so good that even the staff took a moment to get some pics.

The Crudo was served with this Masianco Verduzo Pinot Grigio.  I don't know about you but I am definitely a Pinot Grigio guy and this one did not disappoint at all.  It was a chilled, refreshing sip on a warm summer night.

Casunziei Ravioli With Beet, Ricotta And Poppy Seed.  Very inventive and a great combination of flavors, this was one of our top tastes of the night. 

Along with the red beets the red wine began to flow including Campofiorin Valpolicella 2018 and a Costasera Amarone 2015, both substantial, rich reds.

At this point I was one happy camper but due to time constraints we had to part at this point to make it to yet another event.  We will, however, be back for a dinner soon and no doubt that ravioli will be on our table!

4 Commercial Wharf
Newport, RI  02840
Telephone:  401.324.7400

We would like to thank the Newport Mansions Preservation Society, Giusto and Masi Wines for inviting us to this event.

Tuesday, September 21, 2021

A Taste Of Veneto At Giusto, Newport

 The Newport Food And Wine Festival was different this year.  Gone was the always very crowded Grand Tasting and replaced with a number of smaller events and seminars that sold out quickly. The silver lining was a great restaurant program offering more intimate wine dinners sponsored by some fantastic wineries.  We attended one of them at Giusto sponsored by Masi, a family-owned, centuries-old winery just outside Venice, Italy.  And although we love the Grand Tasting, you know what?  We liked this program even better!

First of all, it's a limited number of participants.  Rather than fight the crowds ten deep at the popular restaurant and vintner's tables and guard a choice seat with a vengeance, it allowed for a much more gracious and relaxed atmosphere.  Giusto pulled out all the stops.  

The restaurant is fairly new and offers a prime location right on the water.  The sleek, contemporary design with both indoor and outdoor seating, plus a covered outdoor area where the event was held, proved to be a very coveted spot on this last weekend of summer and one that had many other events bringing in thousands of visitors.

The service was impeccable, the food a bright and inventive take on Italian cuisine and the crowd and atmosphere festive.  This is as good as it gets for late summer dining (and wining) experiences.  The young, friendly yet very professional staff was a welcome relief in these days of covid woes hitting the hospitality industry hard on the service front.

We were greeted with ice cold glasses of Santa Margherita Sparkling Rosé, a perfect choice.  Our first passed appetizer taste was this Fritelle.  The ricotta, honey and truffle in a fried crust was sublime, both rich and airily light at the same time, just packed with flavor.

Next was The Scotch Meatball, a menu staple.  Tomato, egg and salumi in, again, a perfectly crispy, not overly heavy, crust.  What a great start to the evening and a prelude to the four course dinner paired with some great wines!

Circle back later this week for A Taste Of Veneto, Part II.

Giusto at Hammets Hotel
4 Commercial Wharf
Newport, RI  02840
Telephone:  401.324.7400

Monday, September 20, 2021

The Newport Sweet Shoppe

Yes, we took Newport by storm last weekend along with thousands of others seeking to squeeze in one last weekend away before summer ends.  Our very first stop in town was The Newport Sweet Shoppe.

Their handmade chocolates, cookies and cupcakes are legendary ... and delicious, always fresh and one of our top New England favorites.

We snagged several chocolate cupcakes, some cookies dipped in chocolate and, of course, the Milk Chocolate Cashew Turtles which are always extraordinary.

Next time you're in Newport stop by on this little side street just off Bellevue Avenue for some nice, sweet surprises and some cool party ideas.

The Newport Sweet Shoppe 
82 William Street 
Newport,  RI  02840

Telephone:  401.619.4600

Thursday, September 16, 2021

Newport Mansions Wine and Food Festival 2021: Preppy Central

Preppy Alert:  We'll likely be touring Chateau Sur Mer in the early part of the day, then onto a light lunch on Thames before heading to the 22 Bowen's wine dinner presented by Ana Fabiano, author of "The Wine Region of Rioja". Looking forward to meeting up with all the preps Saturday, September 18.

Monday, September 13, 2021

Newport Mansions Wine And Food Festival 2021


The Newport Mansions Wine And Food Festival 2021 will look a little different this year but, as always, promises to be the social event of the Fall season.  Although many of the seminars are sold out and there is no Grand Tasting, there is an expanded restaurant program this year at some of Newport's hottest spots including Zelda's, Gurney's, The Grill at Forty North and Cara at The Chanler.  Hope to see you there!  For a full listing click here.

Sunday, July 25, 2021

Prospero. Caliban. Ariel.

(l) John Douglas Thompson as Prospero and John Lam as Ariel.

It's my favorite Shakespeare play, The Bard's last work, mystical, whimsical and magical, a word I rarely use.  The Commonwealth Shakespeare Company's new production of THE TEMPEST currently playing under the stars on Boston Common is a sheer summer delight you do not want to miss.

Like in the play itself, nature conspired and conjured up a respite of perfect weather for this classic tale on the night we attended.  How could one go wrong?  A stunning night in Boston, a quiet crowd munching on beautiful picnic spreads and all in anticipation of escaping this past year with friends and art-lovers of all ages and backgrounds.  And if that wasn't enough how about our friend John Lam, cast in his first dramatic role (he's principal dancer of The Boston Ballet) sprinkling that magic dust all over the stage?

Siobhan Juanita Brown as Gonzala.

We so loved this production that as we departed the Common we asked ourselves:  How lucky are we to be here?  Take your children.  All young people should be exposed to live theater even if they don't quite understand the synopsis.  It's not an overly lengthy play at about ninety minutes.  They'll love the costumes and the staging and the music.  Take the grandparents and the rest of your family and all your friends and all their friends, too.  We have already vowed that we will be back again with a new crew to experience it through their eyes.  There is nothing like it in Boston right now and we are sorely in need of it.  

We recommend that you do reserve space in advance as it is limited and the crowds can be large.  We sat in "the wings" but there really is not a bad spot for viewing.  (I walked around and checked).  A blanket and sumptuous picnics are allowed (no tables or large chairs) and we do suggest renting a beach chair in advance at a nominal fee of $10.00.  The production is free.  Bravo!

Saturday, July 10, 2021

Where are we?

Lazily cruising in a sunny port in Italy?

Yacht relaxing in sunny Spain?

Strolling Downton Abbey?

 Exploring the public art in Paris?

Nope.  We are in Newport.  It's a great place to explore and filled with lots of photo ops and people from all over this world.  New friends.  Great food.  What could be better?