Tuesday, September 01, 2009

Good Things Come in Small Packages Part 1

Edit: This post was written for the wedding blog but I posted it in the wrong place. Since it is so photo heavy, I am having trouble moving and don't want to start over but thought I should explain the RI/wedding references. Apologies for the confusion. I just found this link via a Tweet and it inspired me to start posting about RI. If you have not been to RI, and I know this includes about 10% or so of our guest list, hopefully you will learn a little bit about the smallest state in the nation.
The focus of this post, in case you haven't clicked on that link is food. Particularly RI specialties. Let's take a bit of a culinary photo tour featuring the foods I grew up on and nicely compiled in the link above, shall we.
Starting with what I like to call cold pizza. This culinary delight is a native Rhode Islander, best from Crugnale's bakery or any bakery in Cranston. Sometimes it is referred to as bakery pizza (because you buy it at a bakery, not a pizza shop) or party pizza (aou will find it at EVERY party). Since I just told you you can find it at every party, I guess this should be on our wedding menu, maybe the caters will let us bring some in. In looking for a photo, I found some cute commentary, you can read about cold pizza from a fellow transplanted Rhode Islander. I loved this quote, "...you can find it here and there in the Northeast. But Rhode Island owns the niche."

Moving on, you will need a nice refreshing treat and you MUST have a Del's soft frozen lemonade while in RI. Pictured is the watermelon and lemon variety. As a kid, we only had the lemon, followed by lemon lite and then watermelon. Last May, I went to Del's and found a whole selection of new flavors but I still prefer the original. Mr. Lemon in Providence is rumored to be better than Del's (which is a BIG statement to make in RI) but I can't sing their praises since the one time I had it, ended in a car accident (I was sitting in the back seat). Del's is a must "eat" while in the ocean state and available at several Del's shops, trucks and carts.

Photo Source

Now that we left the snack food behind, let's talk main dish in the form of a Lobster Roll (the picture here looks so delicious but was too big for my blog and I couldn't do the necessary resizing right now). The lobster roll is the ultimate in fancy meets casual. You can get one of these babies at a clam shack or a formal restaurant. In the right area, you can even buy one from McDonald's during the summer. Think lobster tail chopped up with a dressing in a toasted hot dog style bun with a pickle on the side, nom nom nom. I was never a fan of the lobster roll, until I tried one (in 2006), unfortunately I'm not in RI during the summer enough to tell you where to eat my favorite but I'm sure you could find one on your own. I have never had the McD's version but would not make that your first.

For a seafood treat that I am a lot more familiar with, try some clam cakes and chowder (say: chow-da). The basic ingredients in clam chowder are clams, potatoes and onions, often other ingredients are added and every chef has his or her own twist. There are three main types of clam chowder available in RI.
For the purists, there is the ever elusive, RI chowder, sometimes referred to as quahog chowder. When done right this is super delicious but not on many menus.
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The always available and my choice is New England or White clam chowder. I love to drop in oyster crackers or dip my clam cakes! I am trying really hard to get this on the wedding menu. If you want an upscale version, try the Blue Fin Grill in the Providence Marriott, they serve New England clam chowder year round, clam cakes are not on the menu but the calamari appetizer is pretty good too if you are looking for a pairing but be sure to share, the chowder is filling.
The third type of clam chowder is Manhattan or red, which is the favorite of my mom, a non seafood eater. This is also easily available at most clam shacks or seafood restaurants. Typically it is more of a soup and less clammy than the others (which naturally explains why mom likes it so much).

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You MUST pair your chowder with clam cakes. These deep fried little guys are not light and I would not recommend more than 3 per sitting, your stomach will thank you later. The ones pictured below are from what is quite possibly, my favorite clam shack by the beach, Aunt Carries.

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All of this delicious RI food is making my mouth water and my stomach grumble so I am going to stop daydreaming and think about a more realistic dinner. Don't think that's all RI has to offer, I will be back with more temptation from the smallest state.

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