provreviewsandrecipes

Food Blog with delicious recipes and also reviews of Providence, RI restuarants

Local 121 Restaurant Review December 29, 2013

local121

Local 121 has become my fiancée and I’s favorite restaurant for a few different but mainly because the food is absolutely delicious. But more on that in a moment. We have been here multiple times and our most recent trip was by far the best. How often can a person say the food keeps getting better and better each time the go to a restaurant. In my opinion it is very few and far between.

The restaurant itself is located in downtown Providence, RI. When you first walk in you are immediately greeted with a warm smile by one of the hostesses. I have almost always made a reservation but the one time I didn’t they were more than accommodating to get us seated even though it was a busy night. Let me just say that my favorite part of their decor is the chairs they have at their tables.  These most comfortable chairs that I have ever sat upon in a restaurant. They are white leather and wide and extremely soft. This is one of those chairs that I would not mind sitting in for hours it is so comfortable.

The wait staff at Local 121 is always excellent. The waiters and waitress are always polite and know how to come over and check on you but not seem intruding on your conversation or taking away from you enjoying your mail. This most recent visit was no exception. Our waitress promptly came over with lemon flavored water for the table and asked us if we had any questions about the menu. We of course did not. The rest of the service was great. Even the back waiter when bringing out our food and clearing some plates took the time out to chat with us for a moment which goes to show that everyone on their staff is great and personable.

Now on to the food. We ordered the ‘Crispy Point Judith Calamari’ as an appetizer to share. The calamari came with bagna cauda, almonds, white anchovies and Picholine olives. The calamari was crispy and cooked to perfection. So many times I am disappointed with pieces of calamari on the plate that are chewy which means they were over cooked. That did not happen here. Let me say by taking a bite of the calamari, olives and a piece of anchovy together tasted delicious. I would never have thought the taste of anchovy would go with calamari but it does. I would highly recommend if they have this on their menu to get it. Now they do change their menu by what it is in season, so do not wait too long to go if this sounds like it would be right up your alley.

For our main dishes my fiancée ordered the ‘Grilled Hangar Steak’ and I ordered the ‘Pineland Farms Red Wine Braised Beef’. The steak dish came with fingerling potatoes, pearl onions, bacon lardons, chanterelles and sauce chasseur. He ordered it medium rare and it came out cooked perfectly, nice and red in the middle. The sauce that went along with the steak complemented it so well and the steak was melt in your mouth tender. The bacon lardons were crispy and added a richness to the steak. The fingerling potatoes (which our a personal favorite of mine) were cooked to perfection and seasoned perfectly. This dish was a strong dish and all the components worked together perfectly.

Now on to my dish. The description of ingredients was what intrigued me on the menu and made me want to order the dish. The braised beef was served with creamed sauerkraut, chioggia beets and pickled caraway. Let me start off by saying the beef was cooked until it was fall apart tender and I only had to use my fork to break apart bite sized pieces. The seasoning was perfect and the red wine that was used was a perfect complement to the beef without being overpowering. When I took a bite of the beef by itself at first it reminded me of a brisket. But however when I took a piece of beef and combined it with the creamed sauerkraut and the beets the dish took on a completely different taste. It was rich with a slight tang. The creamed sauerkraut added the tang and did have a slight creamy taste that I had never had before with sauerkraut and the beet added a slight sweetness to it. Those two components combined with the delicious beef made it the ultimate bite. This is one of the best dishes I have had this past year. I could not complement this dish enough as I was devouring it and when I say devour I mean I ate every last bite on that plate.

In summary I would recommend Local 121 as a must to try if you are in downtown Providence, RI. The service and atmosphere are great but the food is always exceptional. Not to mention they always have a past of the day dish and a vegetarian selection as well on their menu. The restaurant details are below.

Local 121
121 Washington Street, Providence, RI 02903
Phone: 401-274-2121
Website: www.local121.com
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Figidini Wood Fire Eatery Review December 12, 2013

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figidiniWe went to Figidini Wood Fire Eatery the beginning of September and the weather was pleasant enough to be able to sit at one of the small tales outside on the sidewalk. This was great as it was not as tight and hot like inside the restaurant.

Let me start by saying that Figidini is great at pizza and at seafood dishes. Those are the ones that were delicious. Any of the other dishes we had were lacking. But more on both of that in a moment as I go into some detail.

The service was nice. Our waitress was prompt and sweet. Even though it was a busy Friday night she took the time to make sure we didn’t have any questions on any of the menu items and once our food arrived that it was to our liking and that we did not need anything. Which sometimes on a busy night in a restaurant is a hard thing to come by.

We ordered a few different small plates and a pizza for myself and my fiancee to share as we wanted to experience as many things off the menu that we could on this visit. First we ordered the ‘Speck’ which is smoked prosciutto and pickled vegetables. The proscuitto was good but of a lower end quality. The pickled vegetables for whatever reason did not taste well when eaten with the proscuitto but were delicious on their own. I just wish there had been more of them on that plate.

Next we had what they call the ‘Combo’ whcih is lamb and sausage with local herbs. Both the lamb and the sausage were cooked perfectly both were lacking in flavor.

My personal favorite dish that we had was the ‘RI Calamari’. This was a different take on the traditional calamari. First off they cooked the calamari in the wood fire item. Let me just say that the smoky woody scent and taste of being cooked in a wood fire item lends itself beautifully to calamari. It was cooked perfectly and was tender. It was served with chili pepper and chives. This dish worked on so many levels and I wish I had a wood fire oven at my apartment so I could make this dish to devour at least once a week. (Yes it was that good).

Finally we ordered the ‘Cremini’ pizza. This pizza has smoked mozzarella, truffle oil, cured olives local chives and delicious mushrooms. Thesse pizza are individual sized and if you were with someone else and were only ordering pizza you would each want to order one. This particular pizza had a crispy crust with just the right amount of sauce to toppings ratio. It was one of the better pizza I have had in a long time.

Here’s the restaurant’s info:

67 Washington Street

Providence, RI 02903

figidini.com

 

Tilapia ‘Stuffed’ with Asparagus and Onions served with Haricot Verts and Beet Salad July 15, 2013

tilapiaSo for health reasons and at the urging of my doctor I now have to avoid eating Gluten. Not good for someone who loves pasta and bread like I do. But I have been focusing on making delicious dishes that do not make me miss the gluten ridden items I had once enjoyed and devoured. This easy dish of fresh Tilapia and vegetables is delicious. Make sure you make extra as once you eat your first portion you are going to want seconds. Yes, its that good.

I had frozen asparagus spears on hand that I had picked up at Trader Joe’s. I pulled out the amount I needed and stored the rest of the bag back in the freezer. Its so convenient. I also had purchased beets that were roasted, peeled and ready to eat. Which saves time when whipping up the dish. The whole cooking time takes about 20 minutes from start to finish. While the fish was in the oven I made the salad. I had gotten Haricot Verts but green beans would work out just as well in the salad.

My recipe is for two as it was just my fiancee and myself, but the recipe could easily be doubled. Plus its a great dish to impress company. Here’s the recipe for the Tilapia and following that is the recipe for the delicious Haricot Verts and Beet salad I made to go along with it. I served mine with rice as well but it could be served with potatoes or just with the fish and salad.

Tilapia ‘Stuffed’ With Asparagus and Onions

Ingredients:

2 Tilapia Filets, about 6-8 ounces each

10 Spears of Asparagus, trimmed

1/2 White Onion, sliced

4 Slices of Lemon

1 Teaspoon of Salt

1 Teaspoon of Pepper

1 Teaspoon of Old Bay Seasoning

1 Teaspoon of Garlic Powder

Direction:

Pre-heat oven to 350 degrees.

Mix together in a small bowl the salt, pepper, Old Bay Seasoning and garlic powder. Next take the Tilapia filets and sprinkle both sides of each of the filets with the seasoning mix. Lay the filets on a foil lined baking sheet.

If you are using frozen asparagus place in a microwave safe dish and add 1/4 cup of water. Cover and microwave on high for 2 and half minutes. Drain the liquid from the dish. Do not be worried if the asparagus pieces do not seemed fully cook after microwaving as we will be putting them in the oven. If you are using fresh asparagus you can of course skip this step.

Place 5 pieces of asparagus on one end of each of the Tilapia filets. Next place half of the sliced onions over the asparagus. Starting from the end which the asparagus and onions are on and roll each of the filets up. Mine did not quite want to stay together after I rolled them so I flipped them over so the two ends that were touched were underneath. They stayed and cooked together perfectly.

Finally place two slices of lemon on top of each filet. Place in the oven and cook for 15 minutes. Then because I wanted my lemons to get a slight char on it, I turned the broiler on for 4 minutes.

Take out the filets and serve immediately while they are still hot from the oven. Serve with the haricot verts and beet salad along with rice or another choice of side for a delicious dish.

Haricot Verts and Beet Salad

Ingredients:

1/2 pound of Haricot Verts, trimmed

1 Roasted and Peeled Beet, diced

1/2 White Onion, diced

3 Cloves of Garlic, sliced

1/4 Cup of Red Wine Vinegar

1/4 Cup of Balsamic Vinegar

1 Teaspoon of Salt

1 Teaspoon of Pepper

1/2 Teaspoon of Red Pepper Flakes (if you don’t like or are sensitive to spice, can be omitted)

Directions:

Boil 4 cups of water in a small saucepan. Once boiling add the Haricot Verts and cook for 4 minutes. Drain and place in a bowl.

Mix together the red wine vinegar, balsamic vinegar, salt, pepper, garlic and red pepper flakes in a small bowl and then pour over the Haricot Verts. Mix thoroughly. Add the beets and onions to the bowl. Mix again to make sure that all the ingredients are combined. Now it is ready to serve.

 

Shrimp Fra Diavolo May 20, 2013

Shrimp Fra DiavloNow I love spicy. This recipe was near my limit for spiciness but I enjoyed each and every mouthful that I shoved as quickly as possible into my mouth. I would say that I inhaled my first and second bowlful of this delicious dish. Now with that being said if you do not like spicy or enjoy a more milder taste, please use 1/4 of the recommended crushed red pepper flakes I have listed below. This dish is quick and easy to make. I like to serve mine with pieces of crusty bread to dip in the sauce and soak up all the delicious goodness that may have been left in the bowl. But serving it with rice or pasta would work as well. I like enjoying this with a glass of wine, usually some from the same bottle I used in cooking this dish, on a warm spring evening with the windows open and enjoying the fresh air blowing in.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Prep: 18 minutes

Cooking Time: 19 minutes

Total Time: 37 minutes

Servings: 6 adults as a main dish

Recipe:

1/2 cup of extra virgin olive oil

1 cup of white wine

2 Tablespoons of unsalted butter

1 pound of medium shrimp, shelled and deveined

1 Large Yellow onion, thinly sliced

6 cloves of garlic, diced

1 16 ounce can of diced tomatoes

1 1/2 cups of vegetable broth

3 Tablespoons of crushed red pepper flakes

1/2 Tablespoon of salt

1/2 Tablespoon of black pepper

1/2 Tablespoon of Old Bay Seasoning

Directions:

Heat the olive oil over medium heat. Add butter and half of the crushed red pepper flakes. Once butter has melted add onions and garlic. Cook for 5 minutes, but make sure the garlic does not brown. Add the white wine and tomatoes, salt, pepper, remaining half of the crushed red pepper flakes and old bay seasoning. Cook for 7 minutes. Finally add the vegetable broth and shrimp. Cook for 7 minutes longer or until the shrimp is just pink and cooked through. Remove from heat and serve immediately.

Make sure to serve with some crusty bread, rice or pasta. That is if you can make it that far without succumbing like I have before with this dish and just start dipping pieces of bread right into the warm pot and devour while standing over the stove top.

Buon appetito from my kitchen to yours.

 

Trinity Brewhouse Review April 7, 2013

trinity brewhouseNow I have gone to Trinity Brewhouse quite a few times before. The food is always good quality and even when the its busy the service is always friendly and prompt. On my recent trip I ordered a couple of my favorite standbys. They were all delicious and I will keep me coming back again and again.

Now first off let me start off my saying that I always order a beer or two when I go here. I mean how could you not since they make their own beer. Not to mention you can take a growler home if you so desire. I tend to stray towards lighter beers and I ordered a pint of the ‘Kolsch’ beer. It was delicious and light. I would highly recommend trying this beer if you are not sure of which one to order or if you are like me and tend to prefer lighter beers. Now I did order the ‘Hefeweizen’ which is a German style wheat beer. This was delicious and make my taste buds happy. This is a perfect beer to enjoy now that the weather is warming up.

calamariOn we go to the food. Now let me start off by saying that there are two things I always order as appetizers from Trinity Brewhouse. They are the calamari and the nachos. Starting off with the calamari, it is always good and has never come out tough/rubbery like some establishments do. Now the calamari has a nice golden crust when it comes out. The crust has a nice crunch to it. The calamari comes out with tossed with banana peppers. These banana peppers complement the calamari very well. There is a jalapeno sauce that is served on the plate for dipping the calamari in. The sauce taste delicious and is spicy by itself, dip a crunchy piece of calamari in it and you will be enjoying an amazing flavor combination.

The nachos at Trinity Brewhouse are a completely different story in and of itself. Let me just say that if there are just two of you and nachosyou order the nachos plus lunch or dinner, you will not have room left to enjoy your main dish after you devour the nachos. The serving that is brought out of the nachos is huge. They come out on smothered in blend of Monterey, Colby Jack and cheddar cheese. The toppings that come standard on the nachos are black beans, sour cream, salsa, fresh diced tomatoes and lettuce. All of these toppings and cheese are served on crunch deep-fried corn tortilla chips. Now I am somewhat of a nacho snob. I like to have all of the chips get cheese or toppings on them. I mean there is nothing worse than eating the chips that are at the top of the pile only to discover that the chips underneath didn’t get any of the delicious toppings. But this has never happened at Trinity Brewhouse. The nachos are delicious and I always devour half them myself, no matter how many people are there with me. The menu does indicate that you could add chicken, pulled pork, chili, guacamole, jalapenos or olives for two bucks extra each. I didn’t add any of the additional toppings on this recent visit because the nachos are good without the need to add anything else to them.

Finally, the main course. I ordered the ‘Cowboy Burger’. Let me just say this has to be one of the best burgers that I have had in a long time, if not in my top 10. The burger is black Angus beef, with a roasted garlic spread, caramelized onions, swiss cheese and Portobello mushrooms. I ordered my burger medium and it came out perfectly cooked. Now the burger is served on this great roll that is smeared with that delicious roasted garlic spread. The first thing you taste is the roasted garlic spread then you get a taste of the caramelized onions, Portobello mushrooms, swiss cheese and finally the delicious black Angus beef. The combination of all the flavors come together in such a way as to make you pause and chew it a few extra times to keep the flavors in your mouth for a few moments longer. I would recommend anyone going to Trinity Brewhouse to order this burger. The ‘Cowboy Burger’ is served with a side of french fries. The french fries are thing and come out warm and crispy. I guess you would probably refer to them as shoe-string fries. They are seasoned well and provide a great accompaniment to the burger.

All in all I would say that my most recent visit was a great one. Now there is upstairs seating to the left and right of the main bar and also seating downstairs. I recommend sitting at one of the tables to the left side of the bar and closest side to the hostess stand. The reason why is the great mural on the wall. It is a painting that includes famous musical artists have a ‘last supper’. You and anyone you are with will have a fun time discussing who each of the musical artists are in the mural. Now I’m not going to spoil it for you who they all are, but let me tell you that a couple of them are hard. If you get stuck make sure to ask your server as they will be able to tell you or settle any dispute amongst the table.

Here are the restaurant details. Locate at 186 Fountain Street, Providence, RI. Open Monday-Thursday from 11:30am-1:00am, Friday 11:30am-2:00am, Saturday 12:00pm-2:00am and Sunday 12:00pm-1:00am. They serve lunch and dinner daily. It is handicap accessible, but there is limited street parking in the area. You might have better luck parking at the Providence Place Mall and walking over or opting to park and pay in one of the lots around the area. Check out there website at http://www.trinitybrewhouse.com/ and plan your visit. You will not be disappointed.

 

My Top 5 Weekly Round Up of Articles I Enjoyed This Past Week

newspaperSo I try and read a lot of articles from many different sources and on a wide range of topics. Since this is a food blog I’ve decided to include my top 5 that I enjoyed or caught my attention from the past week. Check them out and let me know what you think. The articles that I’ve listed below are in no particular order.

Here’s one that I thoroughly enjoyed from the greatist.com. I have been trying to be conscious myself and to incorporate more vegetarian dishes into my weekly diet. Now that the weather is warming up I cannot wait to taste all the fresh fruit and veggies that will be available at my local farmer’s market. The reason why I like this article is that not only does it talk about different types of alternative proteins but it gives a description of each, storage tips and preparation methods. But one thing that really sold me on the article was all the recipes that were linked to the article for each of the proteins mentioned. Now I am familiar with almost all of the proteins but was unfamiliar to Natto until reading this article. Natto is derived from fermented soybeans and I am going to be looking for it on my next trip to the Asian market by my house. Make sure to check out this article as it will inspire you to try some meat alternative proteins.

http://greatist.com/health/7-alternative-proteins-meatless-mondays/

Now the next article that I enjoyed this week comes from saveur.com and  has to do with a martini. The ‘St. Dill Martini’ to be exact. Now I love extra dirty martinis on occasion. They are my favorite thing to treat myself to one when out for a drink with friends. Now when I stumbled across this article I was thoroughly delighted at the prospect of having a new martini to try. Not to mention I love pickles and dill. The recipe ingredients contain vodka, mustard seeds, a fresh sprig of dill, pickle juice and speared kosher dill pickle. That all together sounds interesting and delicious in my opinion. I am going to be making this drink this upcoming weekend. Make sure to check this one out.

http://www.saveur.com/article/Wine-and-Drink/Friday-Cocktails-St-Dill-Martini

This articles comes from bonappetit.com. It make me chuckle at the way it was written but also slightly jealous at the jobs that not only these people left but now the cool jobs that they have obtained at different publications relating to very specific food topics. Maybe I need to become the go to person on a very specific area of the food world. Hmmm…..Well anyways I also liked this article as it talks about New York Systems that is an institution here in Rhode Island. They have two locations one in Olneyville and the other location is around the corner from my apartment on Smith Street in Providence, RI. I have gone once or twice for a late night fix. Check out the article and maybe you didn’t realize that you may be able to parlay your life of a specific type/area of food into a job.

http://www.bonappetit.com/blogsandforums/blogs/badaily/2013/03/barbecue-editor-texas-monthly.html

Dry age beef. Most of us have at it at some point and I have personally enjoyed it. Now when I see that dry aged beef at the meat counter at my local grocery store I am always tempted to buy it but cannot justify the cost. This particular article comes from www.seriouseats.com and talks about dry age beef in general, what the process is and how it affects the meat. Finally it talks about how to do this process at home and give very specific instructions and pictures. This article intrigued me and I don’t know if I have the proper setup, time or local butcher to provide me with the cuts of beef needed, but now I am tempted to try to dry age beef at home. Check out this article. Has anyone tried to dry age beef at home with success like this article indicates you will if you follow the instructions?

http://www.seriouseats.com/2013/03/the-food-lab-complete-guide-to-dry-aging-beef-at-home.html?ref=pop_serious_eats

The final article that I enjoyed this week comes from a fellow food blogger, http://cookingstoned.tv/.  I saw the title of the recipe in this article ‘Chocolate & Balsamic Roasted Beets’ and was immediately intrigued. The recipe sounds delicious and I cannot wait to personally try it this upcoming week. I had never thought of combining beets, balsamic vinegar and chocolate. Now I like the nice, clear and easy instructions in the article for making the recipe, but what makes it one of my favorites is that the author of the blog, Jerry James Stone, includes a video of himself making the recipe. I found the video great. I am now a fan of his blog and will be perusing the rest of it and wanted to make sure that I shared this gem with others. Make sure that you check out this recipe and the rest of this great blog.

http://cookingstoned.tv/recipe/chocolate-balsamic-roasted-beets/

 

Halibut with Pea and Ricotta Sauce April 6, 2013

fish and ricotta pureeSo I made this delicious recipe a few months ago and kept forgetting to post it. My fiancee can be kind of picky when it comes to fish but this recipe was a big hit with both of us. It is a quick and simple dish to put together on a busy week night. Its also very healthy. Now that the weather in New England is starting to warm up, all I want to enjoy is the warm weather with some delicious seafood. Now I bought organic carrots for this recipe because I did not feel like having to peel them. If you do not buy organic, which by no means you have to, then I would peel the carrots. I also served mine with some roasted chickpeas that I had made, but this would be fine served all by itself or served with rice.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Ingredients:

1 Bunch of Carrots, cut in half lengthwise

1 Large Red Onion, sliced very thinly

1 Lemon, juiced

1 Pound of Halibut Fillets, cut into 4 pieces

4 Tablespoons of Olive Oil

1/2 Teaspoon of Paprika

1/2 Teaspoon of Red Pepper Flakes

2 Cloves of Garlic, finely diced

2 Tablespoons of Salt

2 Tablespoons of Black Pepper

1 Package of Frozen Peas, 10 ounces

2 Tablespoons of unsalted butter

5 Ounces of Ricotta Cheese, about half of a small container

 

Directions:

Preheat broiler to high.

Take a baking sheet and line it with tin foil. Place the baking sheet in the oven and heat the pan for 5 minutes.

While the pan is heating in the oven, take 2 tablespoons of the olive oil, 1 tablespoon of salt and 1 tablespoon of black pepper, 1/2 the lemon juice, diced garlic and mix together in a bowl. Take the carrots and red onion and place in the bowl with the olive oil mixture and toss to coat all the pieces completely.

Next take the Halibut and brush the top and bottom of each piece with the remaining 2 tablespoons of olive oil and the remaining lemon juice. Take the remaining tablespoon of salt and black pepper, the paprika and red pepper flakes and mix together in a small bowl. Take the seasoning mixture and sprinkle it over each side of the Halibut pieces.

Remove the baking sheet from pre-heating in the oven. Take the Halibut pieces and arrange in the center and spread the red onion and carrot pieces all around the fish. Place the pan back in the oven and broil for 8-10 minutes. The fish should be evenly cooked through and have a golden brown color to it. Set aside.

Next, combine the frozen peas and 1/4 cup of water in a bowl and microwave 4 minutes. Next take the peas and put in a food processor along with the ricotta cheese, the butter and small pinch of salt. Pulse the mixture until it is evenly blended but still retains a slightly chunky texture.

Finally spread the pea and ricotta sauce evenly on four plates. Place the one of the Halibut pieces on top of the pea and ricotta sauce. Place the carrot and red onion slices next to the fish and enjoy.

Let me know what you think of this recipe. Any suggestions for substitutions, comments or questions I would greatly appreciate and will reply to any and all of them.