Saturday, June 28, 2008

Providence Restaurant Weeks

It's back! Providence Restaurant Weeks is running from July 6-19th. Many Providence restaurants are participating, including Mediterraneo, Pane e Vino, Local 121, Hemenways... and many more! These restaurants are providing a three course price-fixed menu (lunch $12.95 and dinner is $29.95). Prices don't include tax, tip or beverages. This is a great way to get a sample of what the local restaurants offer. I know we'll be checking out some restaurants that are on our "to try" list!

Sunday, June 22, 2008

Green Your Fourth of July Cookout

Fourth of July Weekend is fast approaching. Are you having a cookout? Are you, like a lot of Rhode Islanders, beginning to seriously consider your own carbon footprint? Starting to think about how making simple changes to every day activities can make a big difference? Perhaps you've already made changes... discontinuing the use of plastic bottles, plastic bags, recycling more. Well good for you!

Here are some ways you can continue your good work into the summer while still enjoying your backyard holiday weekend barbeque:

  • Use a gas or electric grill. These two options are cleaner burning than charcoal. But if you must use a charcoal grill, try an eco-friendly option. You can find Cowboy Charcoal at your local Whole Foods, which uses no coal, fillers or chemicals.

  • Serve meals using reusable dishes and utensils. You can find inexpensive tableware at discount stores for under a dollar each. If you have a lot of cookouts, you probably use a lot of paper plates. For a small investment now, you'll end up saving - money and trees. Bonus: last minute cookouts won't be a hassle because you'll already be prepared - how many times have you had to run to the store for paper plates at the last minute? If your crowd is just too large, consider biodegradable tableware and utensils.

  • What are you serving? Support our local economy by using locally grown or organic food whenever possible. Check Rhode Island farmer's markets for vegetables, fruit, meat and poultry. Besides, the less time it takes to get from the farm to your table, the fresher it is... and the better it tastes. This is a picture of the delicious bounty Melissa and I picked up at the Aquidneck Growers Market one day last summer.

  • No bottled water. If you buy two PUR water dispensers, put one outside (in the shade - maybe on a tray of ice) and keep one in the fridge and rotate so you're putting cold water out each time. Keep a cooler filled with ice and an ice scoop so that your guests can help themselves.

  • Recycling. Make sure you have clearly marked recycling bins for soda cans, etc.

  • Bug Repellant. Make your own or use nontoxic, natural bug spray. Burt's Bees makes one using herbs - rosemary, lemongrass and citronella oil.

Enjoy your Fourth of July weekend!

Tazza Caffe and Providence Open Market

When I got home from my open house Saturday, we decided to head downtown and check out the Providence Open Market. The market is in its second year and includes art, food and antique vendors. I don't know if it's because we got there after 3pm or because setup for the PrideFest Providence Block party had begun, but there were many fewer vendors than I expected. We only saw one produce stand and the website advertises it as including a farmer's market. The spring series ends next weekend, and it returns in the Fall. I really had high hopes for this open market... we decided to give them the benefit of the doubt and try again in the Fall.

It was a warm day and we had skipped lunch so we stopped into Tazza Caffe for a drink and a late lunch. We were pleased with the service, prices, food and drinks. Melissa got a mojito, which had plenty of mint and lime. Perfect for a warm summer day. I got a nice cold Gansett and we both got the portabella mushroom, spinach and herbed goat cheese panini with sweet potato fries. Whenever we have something we really like at a restaurant, we try to re-create it at home. I know this will be one to try!