Ah Rhode Island, such a crazy little pocket universe, with its own little mafia, dialect, cuisine (can you say coffee milk?) and fascinating lack of interest in the rest of the world.
They say quahog (pronounced co-hog), like everyone in the world knows what that is.
It's a large, meaty clam.
Quahog’s also the Rhode Island town where The Family Guy takes place, but unlike South Park, which really is a town in Colorado, there is no Rhode Island town called Quahog.
That Family Guy fact is one of the many things I learned at the Beard House last night, where Joseph Hafner of Gracie’s in Providence was cooking. A couple of kids from Star Chefs were at my table, too, and Michael Goldman, the publisher of HauteLife Press, which does custom publishing for restaurants etc. It turns out that Michael is a neighbor of mine and holds similar disdain for the haters at the Park Slope food co-op and the smug people at the Grand Army Plaza Greenmarket who will buy whatever garbage the farmers put in front of them. In fact, we both believe that the farmers, not being stupid, have figured that out and save their worst produce for that particular market.
Except for the grape people. I love them. And Evolutionary Organics — hate the name, love the greens.
I sat next to Gracie’s publicist, Ann Martini, whose main job is actually producing firefighter calendars for charity. She taught me how to pronounce her native state’s name properly (Ruh-DYE-lund).
What I ate and drank:
Foie gras and duck heart mousse with red onion marmalade
Point Judith bluefish rillettes and tomato crumpets
Mayonnaise biscuits with salty ham, red pepper jelly and Grafton cheddar
Gazpacho with Jonah crab and tiny tomatoes
Champagne Duval — Leroy Design Paris Brut, NV
Tuna Niçoise terrine with haricots verts, golden wax beans, triple cooked potatoes, Re Manfredi first press olive oil, tomato water and Eva's pea tendrils
Domaine de l'Hortus Rosé de Saignée, 2007
Brown butter-and-potato gnocchi with provolone mandarone, summer truffles and herbs
Joseph Drouhin Beaune Clos ds Mouches Blanc, 2005
Crisp softshell crab with salad of nasturtium flower and leaf, heirloom tomatoes and Rhode Island corn agnolottie
vPaslcal Jolivet Château de Noizay Sancerre, 2006
Intermezzo: Frozen Cherry Lemonade
Veal Two Ways: Grass-fed veal roulade with country bacon and sage, and crisp sweetbreads with peppadew gastrique and creamed garlic fondue
Louis Latour Château Corton Grancey Grand Cru, 2003
Dancing Cow Farmstead Sarabande with figs and Ken's honey
Lustau Solera Reserva dry oloroso Don Nuño sherry
Baked Rhode Island: Coffee milk rocky road ice cram, Kenyon's Johhncake and marshmallow meringue
W & J Graham’s 40-year-old tawny port