5 Things You Have to Eat This Summer (And Where to Get Them)
Thursday, July 28, 2011
Have you ever tried to eat a hot dog in the winter? Doesn’t compute, does it? When we aren’t grilling them in our back yard, we head straight to Lippitt Park in Providence for the Hewtin Dogs Cart. The brainchild of our pals at Chez Pascal, the cart features all-beef dogs and other tasty treats Chef Matt Genuoso has cooked up, many featuring delightful takes on pork, and all with homemade condiments like sauerkraut and chili. When we’re in the southern part of the state, we make a beeline for Ben’s Chili Dogs in Newport for mouthwatering and inexpensive old-school dogs piled high with chili, onions, mustard and cheese, and we always find a way to work chourico into the mix. Chez Pascal Hot Dog Cart, Lippitt Park, Hope St, Providence, 421-4422, ; Ben’s Chili Dogs, 158 Broadway, Newport, 846-8206.
Native Sweet Corn
Rhode Islanders have long looked to Al Forno as the compass on seasonality in the food industry. After all, chef/owners George Germon and Johanne Killeen have been bringing farm to table for far longer than most.
Fresh Local Fish
One of the great ground roots movements started right here in Rhode Island is a group named Trace and Trust. Started by local chefs and fishermen, the group sought to bring transparency to the fresh fish market by allowing you to "trace" where your fish comes from and "trust" the men and women catching it and preparing it. Imagine getting a bar-coded number with your catch and being able to scan it with your phone and instantly know when, where and how your fish is caught. It is one of the great food/technology combos of all time. The chefs using this service are the best of the best in Rhode Island: Matt Jennings at Farmstead, Beau Vestal at New Rivers, Derek Wagner at Nick's on Broadway and Kevin Thiele at the Hotel Viking, among others. On a recent night we looked on Twitter to see that stripers had been caught that day by a local fisherman and some were headed to Nick's (before the RI striper season closed for many of the commercial fishermen). We headed down and enjoyed Chef Wagner's skillet-roasted wild bass with summer vegetables and tarragon. It was literally some of the freshest fish we've ever had. And we could prove it. www.traceandtrust.com, on Twitter, @traceandtrustNE
Few things spark as much of a conflict in a chef as does a tomato. Most diners want them year-round—they are a staple of the American diet, after all, used in myriad ways. But good chefs know that tomato season is short indeed, and there are few things a chef hates more than a less-than-stellar tomato. Two local chefs are celebrating the season with soups and salads. At Ocean House in Watch Hill, Chef Eric Haugen employs a food forager to ensure that he gets the freshest, local foods at the height of their flavor, and then he works his magic with an olive oil infused tomato soup. It is deep and soulful with locally made Atwells Gold cheese and caraway infused Pain Perdu, 8-ball squash (a round zucchini hybrid) and freshly torn basil from Seasons’ own garden. Over in the East Bay at Persimmon, Chef Champe Speidel features a cool salad of native heirloom tomatoes with cucumber sorbet, petite herbs, cow's milk feta and extra virgin olive oil. This beautiful salad tastes as wonderful as it looks. Ocean House,1 Bluff Ave, Watch Hill, 584-7000; Persimmon, 31 State St, Bristol, 254-7474.
Fresh Fruit Tarts
We like to balance our summertime fresh-fruit-eaten-whole intake with desserts. We rationalize the presence of fresh berries, lemons and the like will offset any calorie intake. It works, right? Exactly. Two recent tastings sent us into “Best thing I’ve ever eaten” mode: the lemon tartlet at New Rivers in Providence and the bing cherry tart for two at Bacaro, also in Providence. Chef Beau Vestal’s lemon creation is made to order and served warm with nothing more than a fresh-fruit garnish on top, and that is all it needs. The lemon custard is creamy and sweet with a refreshing tartness—nothing short of delightful. The tartlet crust is buttery and flaky perfection. Down the street at Bacaro, Chef Brian Kingsford creates a cherry tart for two bursting with giant, ripe, juicy bing cherries whose flavor is just-picked. The pastry dough is sprinkled with a fine dusting of sugar, which caramelizes as it bakes, creating a nice crunch to complement the tender cherries. New Rivers, 7 Steeple St, Providence, 751-0350; Bacaro, 262 South Water St, Providence, 751-3700.
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