Day trip to Providence

It’s sad that Providence is only an hour from Boston, and yet up until last weekend, I had never been. Actually, quite a few people I talked to from Boston have never visited this, or any other “second-tier” New England capital, and after taking a day trip there, I must say I think we’ve all been missing out. It has a quiet persistence and battered about look that I’m taken with, the sort of place that’s been beaten down but that has managed to pull itself back up for another round. That’s my first impression, at least, and it makes me want to come back for more.

L and I left Beantown around 8am and got into Providence in time to break fast properly at Nick’s on Broadway. Nick’s came highly recommended by several independent sources, so we arrived early and hungry. It has the outfit of a retro diner, with its bright red walls, metallic tabletops, and locals with their spreads of newspapers at the counter. That said, it’s a diner for serious eaters. House-made sausage and pickles, frittata of seasonal vegetables, and house-baked brioche are on the locavore-loving menu, alongside more traditional diner fare like breakfast sandwiches, pancakes, and omelets.

Throughout our meal, we also noted the small touches that separate a half-decent restaurant from one you fondly remember. For example, these unusual (but 100% real!) flowers on display from the florist down the street:

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I think the waiter told us they were protea flowers. Flora are not my thing, but this one’s massive, hairy bulb and delicate, colorful tendrils (bracts?) caught my eye. Check out this one.

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When dreams come true

Recipe: banana granola pancakes

A lazy Sunday of cardigan weather, good food, and stimulating conversation. After securing the desired companionship, my imaginary pancakes of yesterday materialized today, imperfect but alive. I felt such delight in making them – an element of delayed gratification at play, methinks. These pancakes are hearty and playful, with the crunchy bits of almonds and oats lurking about. Great for a nippy fall or winter morning, especially with a dollop of cranberry sauce slathered on.

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Recipe: steamed bao

As a child, I was often nudged awake by the gentle, silky aroma of Chinese buns being steamed for breakfast.  While still curled beneath my covers, counting down the precious last seconds before dragging my feet to the bathroom, I could already picture the plush, white roll nestled in the palm of my hand, each bite melting luxuriously in my mouth.  I would take a moment to consider whether that morning was a peanut butter or plain butter kind of morning: whether I preferred the sweet nuttiness slathered in the middle or the velvety richness dripping into every nook and cranny.  Every so often, I would summon the audacity to have it both ways.  In any case, it was always washed down with a glass of cold milk and followed by a dash to the school bus.  Those days are long gone, but while life’s choices are no longer as simple as “peanut butter or butter”, my childhood appreciation for steamed bao remains.

Mixed baozi and hua juan crowd:

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Scrambled Sedaris and David Eggs

My hiatus from food blogging is over, and what better way to kick off the week than with a slow-cooked scrambled eggs and David Sedaris-combo platter?

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In a recent post, Mark Bittman writes, “When I think of those dishes that every home cook should have down pat, or would at least like to have down pat, tomato sauce is at the top of the list. (Roasted chicken and great scrambled eggs are a toss-up for second place…”  I couldn’t agree more with the inclusion of scrambled eggs.  Such a versatile dish that is open to endless variations.  This one here is loaded with onions and tomatoes and topped with a dollop of homemade cilantro pesto.  The kick from the pesto brought the eggs up a couple notches, even though they turned out slightly watery from the tomato juices.

Have a wonderful week.