Posts Tagged ‘Rhode Island’

Every other year, the Master Gardeners of the University of Rhode Island host “Gardening with the Masters,” a tour which showcases over 2 dozen home gardens. Some big, some small, these gardens are the passion and obsession of 26 Master Gardeners in Rhode Island and nearby Connecticut.  This year, 14 gardens on the tour have never been on the tour before…including mine!

The Gardening with the Masters tour happens from 10AM to 4PM on June 24 and 25, rain or shine, so make plans to visit our area and get some great ideas and tips for your own home garden.

You’ve just got 2 weeks to buy your tickets online!

Your ticket to the event is a booklet that lists all the gardens on the tour, along with maps that help you get to each location. Tickets are $20 (good for both days) and can be purchased at: www.uri.edu/mastergardener up to June 15. They will be mailed out. Call 401-874-2900 for details.

I gave my garden the title of “Space, the Final Frontier,” because my particular garden challenges include managing an almost 2-acre yard backed by 6 acres of forest and protected wetlands. You’ll see stands of bamboo, fruit trees, native plants, a vegetable and herb garden, a greenhouse, and my wife’s art studio (http://farmcoast.com/blog/tag/bow-house-studio/) will be open to the public that weekend as well. We’re right down the road from historic Tiverton Four Corners, featuring shops, art galleries and restaurants.

URI Master Gardeners (and others who know their stuff) will be on site to answer questions about plants, composting, and good gardening practices.

Ask questions, bring your camera, bring a picnic lunch, take notes, but most importantly enjoy the beauty created in these gardens!

My garden and yard is accessible for the handicapped in most areas.

 

 

I’ve thoroughly enjoyed the dining experiences I’ve had at Persimmon’s former location in Bristol, RI. But it was clear that the place was too small. The opportunity to buy the former Rue de L’Espoire at 99 Hope Street on the east side of Providence came up, and James Beard nominee (for best chef Northeast) Champ Speidel and his wife, Lisa, went for it. It’s just what they (we) needed!

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The space holds almost 3 times more people, and the vibe is upbeat and exciting. The dining experience rivals the best of New York City. But there’s no stuffiness here. This is fine dining they way it should be: small plates with incredible flavors, all while you enjoy the company of friends in a casual atmosphere. The suits are here…but no one feels out-of-place in a pair of jeans.

Oysters 3 ways.

Oysters 3 ways.

My wife and I sat at the chef’s table (a front-row view of the workings of the kitchen) and enjoyed small plate after small plate of incredible bites: from deviled quail eggs with sturgeon caviar to crispy chicken skin. Oysters 3 ways: fried, raw, and chips were mind-blowing. Pasta carbonara with earthy black truffles was the carbonara I’ve always dreamed about. Tempura rock shrimp weren’t heavily battered, but lightly crisp with a highly addictive sauce. Boneless stuffed chicken wings, deconstructed, re-constructed and filled with Asian flavors, was an unexpected hit out of the park.

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Watching chef Champ at work was a real treat. It was great to talk to him, his wife, Lisa, and their enthusiastic staff. We learned a lot.
I’ve always told my friends that Persimmon in Bristol was Rhode Island’s best restaurant. Now, in its new Providence location on Hope Street, just a stone’s throw from Brown University, it has truly arrived. http://www.persimmonbristol.com

Nothing says summer here in New England like a lobster roll. But I don’t go to a clam shack to get one. The prices are ridiculous, the meat can be overcooked, and they often add ingredients I don’t want.

I start with fresh lobster. I get it from my lobster man buddy, Gary, just down the street at his dock in Tiverton, RI.

A view of the Sakonnet River from the back of Gary's lobster boat, the Edna Mae

A view of the Sakonnet River from the back of Gary’s lobster boat, the Edna Mae

The next step is to cook it right. I use sea salt in a large pot of boiling water. I make sure the water is at a rolling boil before the lobsters go in. And I cook them for no more than about 8 minutes.

Lobster catch LTL

After the lobsters have been removed from the pot and have cooled for a few minutes, I get to work: cracking the claws and tail and removing every bit of beautiful meat I can find. I even take the legs off and push a rolling pin over them to extract the meat inside. The tomalley (the green liver and pancreas) and roe (eggs) are delicacies not to be missed, but for the purpose of making lobster salad, I don’t use these parts. I save them for a separate treat. And I use the legs and cleaned empty shells to make lobster stock. Nothing goes to waste!

Lobster roll LTL

Everyone has their own opinion about lobster rolls: what goes in ‘em…and perhaps more importantly, what doesn’t. I am no exception. For me, no veggies whatsoever: no chopped celery, no lettuce, no pickle. No paprika or Old Bay seasoning. A pinch of celery salt? Sure. Mayonnaise? Only Hellman’s. White pepper, not black, and just a touch. Salt? A pinch of Fleur de Sel. And the secret weapon to bring out all the flavors: the tiniest squeeze of fresh lemon juice…not enough to give it a lemon flavor…just to brighten the taste.

I prefer those long Martin’s potato rolls: straight out of the bag or lightly grilled with a little melted butter brushed on.

 

Nothing says summer here in New England like a lobster roll. But I don’t go to a clam shack to get one. The prices are ridiculous, the meat can be overcooked, and they often add ingredients I don’t want.

I start with fresh lobster. I get it from my lobster man buddy, Gary, just down the street at his dock in Tiverton, RI.

A view of the Sakonnet River from the back of Gary's lobster boat, the Edna Mae

A view of the Sakonnet River from the back of Gary’s lobster boat, the Edna Mae

The next step is to cook it right. I use sea salt in a large pot of boiling water. I make sure the water is at a rolling boil before the lobsters go in. And I cook them for no more than about 8 minutes.

Lobster catch LTL

After the lobsters have been removed from the pot and have cooled for a few minutes, I get to work: cracking the claws and tail and removing every bit of beautiful meat I can find. Lobster lovers will tell you that the legs have some meat in them and that the tomalley (the green liver and pancreas) and roe (eggs) are delicacies not to be missed. For the purpose of making lobster salad, I don’t use these parts. But I do save the tomalley and roe for a separate treat…and I save all the legs and cleaned empty shells for lobster stock.

Lobster roll LTL

Everyone has their own opinion about lobster rolls: what goes in ‘em…and perhaps more importantly, what doesn’t. I am no exception. For me, no veggies whatsoever: no chopped celery, no lettuce, no pickle. No paprika or Old Bay seasoning. A pinch of celery salt? Sure. Mayonnaise? Only Hellman’s. White pepper, not black, and just a touch. Salt? A pinch of Fleur de sel. And the secret weapon to bring out all the flavors: the tiniest squeeze of fresh lemon juice…not enough to give it a lemon flavor…just to brighten the taste.

I prefer those long Martin’s potato rolls: straight out of the bag or lightly grilled with a little melted butter brushed on.

 

I don’t let the crazy New England winter weather get me down! Spring is just a couple of weeks away! And that’s why I’d like to take you on a tour of my gardens. I hope you enjoy them!

My sitting area, where I can view several of my gardens, all from one comfortable seat!

My sitting area, where I can view several of my gardens, all from one comfortable seat!

 

The peonies and coneflowers will be up in no time!

The peonies and cone flowers will be up in no time!

I hear snow makes a great insulator. If that's the case, I've got an insulation bonanza!

I hear snow makes a great insulator. If that’s the case, I’ve got an insulation bonanza!

 

No garden is complete without compost bins busily cranking out that brown gold!

No garden is complete without compost bins busily cranking out that brown gold!

 

Asparagus, anyone?

Asparagus, anyone?

My guardian owl watches over the veggies and keeps the annoying critters out!

My guardian owl watches over the veggies and keeps the annoying critters out!

 

Thanks so much for touring my garden! It’s a lot of work, but it’s so gratifying!

Nothing says summer here in New England like a lobster roll. But I never go to a clam shack to get one. Their prices are ridiculous, the meat can be overcooked, and they often add ingredients I don’t want.

Lobster boat LTL

You have to start with fresh lobster. I get mine from my lobsterman buddy, Gary, just down the street at his dock in Tiverton, RI.

A view of the Sakonnet River from the back of Gary's lobster boat, the Edna Mae

A view of the Sakonnet River from the back of Gary’s lobster boat, the Edna Mae

 

 

The next step is to cook it right. I always use sea salt to salt a large pot of boiling water. I make sure the water is at a rolling boil before the lobsters go in. And I cook them for no more than about 8 minutes.

Lobster catch LTL

After the lobsters have been removed from the pot and have cooled for a few minutes, I get to work: cracking the claws and tail and removing every bit of beautiful meat I can find. Lobster lovers will tell you that the legs have some meat in them and that the tomalley (the green liver and pancreas) and roe (eggs) are delicacies not to be missed. For the purpose of making lobster salad, I don’t use these parts. But I do save the tomalley and roe for a separate treat…and I save all the legs and cleaned empty shells for lobster stock.

Lobster roll LTL

 

Everyone has their own opinion about lobster rolls: what goes in ‘em…and perhaps more importantly, what doesn’t. I am no exception. For me, no veggies whatsoever: no chopped celery, no lettuce, no pickle. No paprika or Old Bay seasoning. A pinch of celery salt? Sure. Mayonnaise? Only Hellman’s. White pepper, not black, and just a touch. Salt? A pinch of Fleur de sel. And my secret weapon to bring out all the flavors: the tiniest squeeze of fresh lemon juice…not enough to give it a lemon flavor…just to brighten the taste.

Measurements are really up to each person’s personal taste.

I prefer those long rolls from Martin’s potato rolls: straight out of the bag or lightly grilled with a little melted butter brushed on.

 

Here in New England, it’s time to seriously think about what to plant in your garden. I’ve already sowed peas, arugula, radishes, broccoli raab, and turnips back on St. Patrick’s Day. They can be sown in the garden now, as soon as the soil is workable. Simply, that means you take a handful of soil and squeeze it. If it stays in a hard, wet clump, it’s too wet and not ready. If it crumbles apart, get gardening!
That doesn’t give you a green light to plant all your veggies, however. Many need to wait until temperatures get much warmer.
I’m currently taking courses at the University of Rhode Island to get my certification as a URI Master Gardener. Gardening can be as simple or as complicated as you choose to make it, and if you’re starting out, the task of deciding where to put your garden may not seem like an easy one. It varies with every home, every yard. But there are some basic things to keep in mind, and all of it is common sense. Do you have any common sense? Good. Then you should be fine…
Greenhouse greens

Greenhouse greens

You want your garden to have all the benefits possible for the best chance of success. Just remember this easy acronym: LSSDA. OK, it’s not that easy, but I couldn’t figure out how to spell anything with those letters.
Location: You need to decide if your garden is going to be something you want to see every time you look out your window, or view from your deck as you smoke your cigar at the end of a satisfying gardening day…or something that is more practical than beautiful, and therefore something that you might want to have on a side of the house where it doesn’t block an already enjoyable view.
Sun: Where you put your garden must depend on the sun. You may think you have the perfect place for a garden bed, but if it doesn’t get a full day’s sun, you can pretty much forget about growing those amazing tomatoes you drool over when you go to the local farm stand. You can always shade your garden if there’s too much sun…it’s highly unlikely you’re going to set up a bank of klieg lights if you don’t have enough.
Size: In the beginning, this may be tougher than it seems. If you’ve got an old-fashioned garden envisioned in your mind, with long rows of veggies 2 or 3 feet away from each other, you’re going to need a huge space, which means huge work. If you go with the method that I suggest: small (8-foot by 4-foot) raised beds with intensive planting, not only are you going to need a lot less space, you’ll find that you’re requiring a lot less work to get the same results. I use the Square Foot Gardening method originated by Mel Bartholomew many years ago, and I’ve never had a reason to change. I get the most food in the least amount of space. (www.squarefootgardening.com)
Distance: This means the distance from all those tools and your water source. Sure, you may be pretty damn excited about your garden in the beginning, and you’ll happily drag water 400 feet to your remote garden location…until about June. Then you’ll start making every freaking excuse under the planet to avoid watering or working in your garden…and that kind of defeats the idea. Unless you have some motorized means of hauling all of your tools and buckets out there, try to locate your garden near a garage or shed and a water source so you spend more time in your garden and less time going back and forth to your garden.

Access: Make sure you pick a place that you can easily get to. If your garden requires that you go through an archway or similar structure, you may not be able to fit certain tools, bags of peat moss, wheelbarrows, or even your own fat ass at certain times.

These are the basics to setting up properly. I have 6 raised beds that measure 8-by-4 feet, giving me a total of only 192 square feet, and yet I grow more veggies in that space that my family of 3 can possibly eat. The idea is to get more vegetables per square foot of gardening space, not per plant. When you plant things closer and more intensely, you will get better results with less work and cost. And if you can time it so that you have new plants ready to take the place of those that have been harvested, you’ve got more harvests in even the shortest of seasons. But that’s a discussion for another time.

“The Wave” needed a little warmth!the wave

Join me on Saturday, March 29th for “The Rescue,” now in its 7th year. Great drinks, tasty food bites and auctions all to help the Providence Animal Rescue League. The VIP Reception features a bourbon tasting this year. And the food bites are provided by some of the best restaurants in Rhode Island.

 

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PARL does great work, and they need your help. All the details of the event are here:

http://www.parl.org/news-events/rescue