Category Archives: eats

El Tovar at the Grand Canyon

We started our Arizona trip with an excursion to the Grand Canyon. Originally we were going to visit for an evening and morning, but a flight cancellation meant we only had the morning to see the park.

So imagine our disappointment when we woke up, walked to the rim, and saw this – as captured by my phone:

What the Grand Canyon looked like

I especially felt bad for Jeremy, who hadn’t been before (I’d been about 20 years ago).

We made the best of the situation and had a leisurely breakfast at the El Tovar Hotel. I definitely recommend a breakfast there – the menu is great and surprisingly affordable for the quality. Apparently if you go on a clear day, they have quite a view. Given the conditions, we warmed up by the fireplace instead of requesting a window seat.

Sonoran Style Eggs

Jeremy had the Sonoran Style Eggs, described on the menu as “Served in a Tortilla bowl with Two Eggs any style, Chorizo, Natural Chicken, Black Beans, Roasted Peppers, Jack Cheese, Ranchero Sauce, Salsa, Sour Cream, Breakfast Potatoes and Flour Tortilla.” I’m glad it was big enough to steal a few bites for myself. I had the Wild Mushroom, Fresh Spinach and Smoked Gouda omelet, which was also delicious. The staff was friendly and super attentive – I don’t think I’ve ever had my coffee refilled so many times in one breakfast.

When we finished breakfast, the clouds had started to clear, leaving us with a dramatic snowy view.

Grand Canyon

Block Island

After almost 9 years of living in Rhode Island, I finally made it to Block Island.  We took an early ferry over on Sunday with our bikes.  The ferry tickets were a surprise gift for surviving the GRE exam on Saturday – I have an amazing husband!

The Taste of Block Island promotion was on, and we benefited with 2-for-1 lobster rolls at the Poor People’s Pub and a giant sundae at Aldo’s Bakery.

2 Lobster Rolls

The lobster rolls were great- we shared one warm with butter, one cold with mayo.  The spicy fried oysters, which were enormous, were also a must-have.   Ice cream is a great way to recover from biking all the hills.  I chose rum raisin and maple walnut topped with the usual, plus raisinettes.

Spicy Fried Oysters Ice Cream Sundae

Between the Dramamine (which I probably didn’t need) and the bike riding, I was exhausted and asleep embarrassingly early.   But I was dreaming about the beautiful shores and beach-rose scented sea air…

DC: Mitsitam Cafe

Thanks to Katy for telling me about the Mitsitam Cafe, a cafeteria-style dining spot in the National Museum of the American Indian. I’m glad I previewed the menu on their website – the food service area, which is divided by region, can be overwhelming to the indecisive.  The regions represented are Northern Woodlands, South America, the Northwest Coast, Meso America and the Great Plains.

The star of our meal was the Native Woodlands Mixed Grill, which consisted of two delectable appetizers:

  • Cast Iron Seared Breast of Pheasant, Dried Cherry Pemmican
  • Grilled Hardwood Smoked Venison, Wild Rice Pudding, Red Wine Cherry Reduction

This was up my alley – game is always tempting, I love the idea of wild rice pudding and I’m a fan of dried cherries. Both dishes had a good balance of flavors, and the meats were perfectly cooked.   This would be an inspirational addition to a game dinner menu.

Native Woodlands Mixed Grill

Next, we shared a 5 Region Sampler Platter with two extra sides.

  • Grilled buffalo strip loin
  • Cedar planked salmon
  • Hearts of palm salad
  • Wild rice and watercress salad
  • Black beans
  • Side of seaweed and musrooms
  • Three sisters salad (not pictured – giant beans, corn, squash)

5 Region Sampler Platter

Even though we were ravenous after a 5+ mile morning walk, this was a lot of food – maybe we should have just gotten the buffalo with a couple of sides.  The variety of dishes was irresistible, though.    I’ll be inspired to recreate some of these at home – I didn’t pick up a copy of the Mitsitam Cafe Cookbook during my visit because I was traveling light, but it’ll surely be a part of my next Amazon order.

Weekend in Washington DC

We took a whirlwind weekend trip to DC.  The timing was perfect – leave at 6am on Friday, return late Sunday night.  The price was also perfect at $98 round trip!  It’s such a short flight from Providence, just a little over an hour.

Pink Puffy Flower Lights
Chinatown Gates The Silk Rainforest
Fairy Duster flower at the Botanical Gardens, lights at Birch & Barley (fantastic brunch)
Chinatown gate, The Silk Rainforest by Sheila Hicks at the Renwick Gallery

We walked at least 12-15 miles a day, visited every museum we could find, and ate some memorable meals (I promise you’ll see another post or two about those…)

The Whiskey Republic

The Whiskey Republic is a new addition to Providence’s bar roster.  Opened by Ken Casey, bass player and vocalist for the Dropkick Murphys, the bar “blends Irish roots with rock and roll style.”  I’ve had a soft spot for the band ever since I was lucky enough to catch them at a tiny American Legion hall in New Jersey twelve years ago – it was one of the most energetic shows I’ve seen.

Bar Food

We finally made it to The Whiskey Republic for a beer and a bite. The menu can best be described as creative bar food.  Instead of the usual buffalo sauce, their wings have a BBQ whiskey sauce.  I had a flavorful pulled pork sandwich with a spicy cumin  kick, and  J tried the chicken schnitzel sandwich, which was topped with a sunny side up egg.   Tasty food, nice water views, and of course a great playlist.

Hawaii: Lucky Farm B&B

We went on our honeymoon to Hawaii over a year ago, in January 2010. Here’s a little peek from our stay at the Lucky Farm Bed and Breakfast in Kona, on the Big Island.

This B&B is not what usually comes to mind when you think “farm” – there are no rows of anything… just a jungle-like lush property with fruits, macadamia nuts, and coffee growing everywhere.   Avocados the size of a shot put, trees dripping with starfruit.  From our bed, we could see tiny lizards playing on the yellow-green skins of ripening bananas.

Cannonball Avacoda _MG_1648
Coffee Growing Macadamia Nuts
Cannonball avocado and grapefruits, by Jeremy May, Coffee berries and macadamia nuts, by me

We stayed in the Coffee Barn, a private cabin with an outdoor shower, formerly used for drying coffee berries.  At breakfast we drank coffee grown on the premises, which blew my mind.  And the morning fruit plate, freshly picked…

Fruit Plate
Fruit Plate at Lucky Farm

Kansas Donuts

Just got back from a 5 day trip to Kansas, a brother-in-law richer (J’s sister got married).

While we were there, we ate more than our share of fried food.  I ate donuts three times, chili cheese fries twice, and two hot dogs (three if you count the A&W corndog bites).  That’s not to mention the nachos, jalapeno poppers…the list goes on.

Donuts from the Donut Whole

The donuts above are from The Donut Whole in Wichita.  It’s a cute shop with an Austin vibe.  Our flavors: triple chocolate, caramel sea salt, peanut butter cup, Homer J (mixed berries and sprinkles), chocolate cherry cordial, key lime pie.  The caramel was my favorite, and not only for the icing – the fresh, wholesome dough stood out.  Even though we ate almost three donuts a piece, these were almost healthy tasting and not heartburn-inducing like most of their fat-laden cousins.  According to the Donut Whole website, they’re made with Kansas buttermilk, flour and eggs.

Daylight Donuts

Earlier in our trip, we had these donuts from Daylight Donuts in Wellington, KS, a medium sized chain with 900 franchises.  My husband’s favorites are the chocolate Long John, the eclair-like creation on the left (but unlike an eclair, it’s not filled).  I had the pine cone, a clever creation which maximizes the donut surface area.  The giant strawberry fritter just right of center is apparently made from four smashed donuts – it’s a dense challenge to finish.  Except for the fritter, these donuts were sweet and fluffy.

Kitchen Nightmares

After a long break from blogging, I feel like I have so much to say, and I want to say it in more than 140 characters (sorry, Twitter).

Us on Kitchen Nightmares
In the photo above, my husband and I are the ones with our heads turned.

Our episode of Kitchen Nightmares aired last week – we were diners on the show at DownCity in Providence.   Filming was a fun experience.  We dined on re-opening night, so we didn’t experience quite as much drama as diners on earlier nights.  

You can watch the episode on Hulu – most of our footage was about 37 minutes in.

We celebrated the airing last Friday with a little viewing party. A few of us brought food inspired by DownCity’s menu – we chose to recreate the truffled goat cheese dip, probably my favorite dish of the night.  Ours was tasty too but sadly lacked the homemade potato chips for dipping.

My interview with Abby (the co-owner of DownCity) can be found in the latest Providence Monthly.

Cafe Polonia

You’re about to read a tale with a tragic ending, but a very delicious beginning.

It happened two Fridays ago.  For Christmas, I had given Jeremy tickets to Beer Advocate’s Night of the Barrels, a sampling of wood-aged beers in Boston.

Trips to Boston are always a good excuse to explore a slightly different culinary landscape.  Rhode Island is lacking in European restaurants (except, of course, Italian), and cold weather is the perfect time for potatoes and sausages.  So Cafe Polonia seemed like a great dinner choice and was even convenient for travel (right off the Andrew T stop).

We planned to get enough food in our system that the beer wouldn’t go to our heads – what we didn’t expect was eating such delicious and plentiful food that we’d hardly have room for beer.  That, my friends, was the tragedy.

Cafe Polonia
Tripe soup, the Polish Plate, and a Gypsy Pancake at Cafe Polonia

When we saw the menu, we couldn’t help ourselves. There were so many choices I’ve never seen on a US menu, even in Polish restaurants.  We started with soup – tripe (me) and forest mushroom (Jeremy), and had to share the blood sausage appetizer,  and of course it was impossible not to get two entrees.  Jeremy got the Polish Plate, a good sampler with kielbasa, stuffed cabbage, hunter’s stew and pierogies.  I was intriuged by the Gypsy pancake, described as a potato pancake stuffed with goulash. The menu did say “giant”, but I didn’t expect the two dinner-plate sized potato pancakes with goulash.  It was so delicious I finished half (which is probably twice a normal dinner portion), and was pained that I didn’t live close enough to take home a doggy bag.

You can imagine how full we were when we got to the beer tasting.  But would you have been able to resist?

Cafe Polonia
611 Dorcester Ave.
South Boston, MA

Things to Look Forward To

I have a lot to say about all the great food I ate over the holidays. But I also have a lot to look forward to in the beginning of 2009, and I can’t help sharing.

1. Night of the Barrels @ Extreme Beer Fest (via Beer Advocate) – I bought my boyfriend and I tickets to this as a Christmas present.  I’m happy about my timing, they’re sold out already! 50+ wood-aged beers will be there for the tasting.

2. A 3-session sewing class. I know the basics but would love learn some tricks, and how to care for my machine.

3. A 2-session Veggie gardening planning class – I can’t wait to get a jumpstart on the garden.

4. Making ice cream – Jeremy got me an ice cream maker for Christmas, and I made key lime pie sherbert last night. Maybe this year I will have that ice cream social I threatened to have last year.

5. A winter weekend – last year we went to Maine in February and it was cold, but great. This year I would love to see some maple sugaring.

6. A spring getaway – somewhere warm but not too far away.

7. Using my restaurant gift certificates – I just got $230 in restaurant gift certificates for $25, thanks to a deal through Borders Perks &  We’ve been trying to stay on budget and cook at home, so this should give us an excuse to venture out more often.

8. Putting local events on my calendar -There’s always so much going on, and we all need an excuse to leave the house in the winter.

9. Watching Netflix on demand – I hook my laptop to the TV with an HDMI cable, and have 12,000 movies at my fingertips.  I find this much more worthwhile than a cable subscription.

10. Knitting during lunch – my coworkers have a 1x a week knitting group.  Maybe I’ll attempt my first sweater?

11. Walking to work – this will be so great once it’s not a skating rink out there. Yesterday, I took the bus. Yuck.

12. Cast iron – my parents gave us a griddle and large cast iron skillet.  Time to cook up that thick bacon that’s been waiting patiently in the freezer!