Rhode Island potluck

Providence- food stories

The potluck in Rhode Island almost didn’t happen.

We had a venue set up weeks in advance, a farm whose work we admire, connected through a friend of ours who seems to know everything about food and drink in Rhode Island. We couldn’t wait.

But the day before the potluck, as we were traveling down the road in our blue minivan, I received an email from David. The owner of the farm had a terrible family emergency on her hands and she wouldn’t be able to host us the next day. What should we do?

Danny and I thought and thought. We could have easily just canceled it. After all, we had been on an incredible journey —— New York City, Pennsylvania, Hudson Valley, Vermont, and Maine, plus a day in Cape Cod with good friends —— and we were feeling mighty tired. Maybe, given the circumstances, we should just cancel.

However, in February of this year, we flew to Providence for the wedding of a very dear friend. We flew in a few days early to experience the place, which, in most cases in our lives, means eating. Oh, the eating! Providence has some of the best, most genuine restaurants I have ever dined in. We didn’t want to miss this place.

So I threw up a question on Twitter and Facebook, the constant companions to the three of us on the road: Anyone know a place in Providence where we could have a potluck?

Within a few moments, someone wrote to say: Sure! Come to my home.

I’m telling you, people. There’s such goodness in the world. We drove toward Rhode Island, toward a party that night.

Providence- meat pie

And what a party it was.

People brought homemade baked goods, spicy soup, custards and cupcakes, and clam cakes. There was so much food we needed a table in the kitchen and a table in the dining room to hold it all.

For the first time, there was an equal amount of gluten food to gluten-free food. Good! We wanted to see it. Danny ate this meat pie, a specialty of Rhode Island, and pronounced it delightful. I took photos.

Providence- clam cakes

These are Rhode Island clam cakes, which someone bought from Iggy’s Doughboys and Chowder House. According to Danny, they are a batter like a fritter —— not light like tempura — with some clams, deep fried. He’d put more clams in them. And we might have to make them with Dungeness crab, to put a Pacific Northwest spin on them. But eating these helped him to understand how we will make this recipe right.

Providence- fried dough

And these? Well, these are fried dough. As I wrote in the post about Maine, Americans love their fried dough.

These are doughboys, which seemed to be a white bread dough, deep-fried, and covered immediately in sugar. You probably don’t want to check the nutritional information on these. And you probably shouldn’t eat them more than once or twice a year.

But oh, Danny made happy sounds when he ate them.

Providence- lemon rasberry cake

There was plenty of gluten-free food, however. This was a lemon-raspberry cake. Delicious.

Providence- gluten-free pies

And these are homemade gluten-free apple pies.

Look at the lattice on that crust!

Providence- coffee cream custard

Rhode Islanders, you are more passionate about your local foods than any of of the other places we visited. I’m not kidding. There were fierce discussions of the correct kind of coffee syrup to make coffee milk. Coffee milk! I swear I had never heard of this before we sat around the table with a wonderful group of vociferous people, interested in capturing the best of Rhode Island. Some of them claimed the only coffee syrup to use is by Autocrat. Others stated firmly that the far more artisan brand —— the one with fewer preservatives and more Brazilian coffee —— named Dave’s Coffee is the only one to use.

I only know that I must make coffee milk a thing on Vashon. I mean, come on. We swim in our coffee here. We debate it and expound on it and sigh happily after that first sip every morning. But we’ve never seen a single glass of cold sweet milk with the taste of coffee in these parts. Time to make that situation right.

Thank you to the wonderful woman who brought these coffee milk custards to give us a proper taste of the official drink of Rhode Island.

Providence- the lovely family

Thank you, most of all, enormously, to Brandy and her marvelous family for letting us hang out in your home for the evening. Brandy’s husband had been gone on a business trip until 2 am the night before. Brandy had to work all day. Her aunt cleaned her house, made three dishes —— all delicious —— and bought the two foods from Iggy’s. Her uncle turned out to be a middle-school teacher, long ago, of our friend David, and they have all stayed friends ever since. David thought Brandy came forward with the offer because of their friendship. It turns out she’s a reader of this site and didn’t know our connection to him.

I’m telling you. This trip has only strengthened my belief in the goodness of humanity.

Thank you, Brandy. It was such a wonderful evening in your home.

We want to send out a huge thank you and acknowledgment of the good companies that have come forward to sponsor this American Road Trip Potluck Tour for us all. 

Jovial Foods makes incredible gluten-free pastas, organic tomatoes, and some of the best olive oil we have ever tasted. They make simply great food. 

Attune Foods makes some of our favorite foods in the world, including their new quinoa-chia cereal, which we will be debuting on this tour. They do things right. 

Bakery on Main makes great gluten-free foods, including good granolas and bars. We’ll definitely take some of their instant oatmeal packets with us, for a good breakfast on the road.  

KitchenAid makes some of our most essential kitchen appliances. They are giving away one Diamond blender at every potluck we are holding!

Melissa’s Produce is providing us with great fresh produce for every potluck. We love their fruits and vegetables! 

Thank you to these companies for their sponsorship of this tour. 

13 comments on “Rhode Island potluck

  1. Barrie

    You brought back such memories! My NYC born mother used to make us coffee milk when the adults were enjoying their cups of “grown-up” coffee. I can see the shape of the bottle in my mind’s eye, but not the name. It was more sweet than coffee tasting, but it gave us the feeling that we were doing something naughty.

  2. Carol

    Wish we had known that you were so close by!
    Connecticut says a warm “Hello, G-Free Girl and the Chef!”
    New fans, over here. Thank you so much for your running narrative on life that is so full of the joy of living and enjoying of people, as well as darn good food that is also safe food! God Bless and have a safe journey home…………

  3. Carol

    Ooopsie – I see that you DID come to CT! Um, like I said we are very new fans. Sorry to have missed you. Hope you’ll come again soon!

  4. GinnyBee

    I would love to know how to pull off a GF pie lattice. Beautiful. I am currently (the butter cubes are chilling) making your pie dough right now for the umpteenth time (sweet potato), but haven’t made a pretty lattice since my gluten-baking days.

  5. Rebecca Tien

    Lovely. Your spontaneous RI party makes me smile at the graciousness of strangers sometimes. I got my hands on a copy of your new cookbook and it’s been my bedtime reading all week. My three year old has been having in depth conversations with the photographs of your family in the book all week (Yeah Penny De Los Santos! My favorite food photographer from Saveur) and wants to know if we can have you over for dinner. I wish! If you ever want to do a potluck in Columbus…..
    My son and I made your butternut squash and black bean chili yesterday and it was amazing. He got to use the vegetable peeler for the first time which he was very excited about and had fun using a butter knife to chop the squash and practice his “bear claw” technique. Thanks for bringing so much happiness and good food into our homes this week. I read your first book as a newlywed a few years back, then discovered your blog and have been hooked ever since. Thanks as always for putting yourself out there with honesty and an open heart.

    1. shauna

      Rebecca, this made us both so happy to read. You give your little guy a big hug for us and tell him that Lucy would love to meet him someday. Yay for cooking with your son!

  6. Stephanie

    Your post on purple cauliflower is closed to new comments, and I’ve made food with cauliflower for the last 2 nights that has turned out so incredibly well I had to share!
    The last 2 weeks, there have been STUNNING, LARGE cauliflowers at the farmer’s market. This Tuesday, I bought a romanesco.
    Half of it was used in a pasta dish: sauteed onion and a bit of a hot pepper from our CSA, added the romanesco florets, some white wine and water (all in a wok). Into that went preserved lemon peel, chopped capers,leftover roasted tomatoes, garlic. Brown Rice Spaghetti and a bit of pasta water got added, then crumbled goat cheese when I turned off the burner. I only wish I’d had fresh cranberry beans, but I hadn’t had time to stop at the one place that sells them.
    Last night, another quarter of my monstrous romanesco and the remainder of last week’s 5-pound purple cauliflower went into a big cast iron pan with whole cumin and black mustard seeds & olive oil. Into the oven to roast while I made brown rice and a garlic-lime-yogurt sauce.
    Again, needed a drop of protein, and I am going to buy lentils! But I think it was the most delicious thing I’ve ever eaten.
    I wish I could have shared this meal with everyone at the Massachusetts Potluck!

  7. Mercy

    I just discovered your blog today and I’m so happy I did. Since going GF a few months ago, I’ve been experimenting with different flour blends. Cakes have come out well, but bread has been dry and crumbly. I was ready to begin baking wheat flour bread with yeast and was looking for recipes when I came across your post on making my own AP flour blend. Talk about a lifesaver! And the whole grain one too. And discovering that I won’t ever have to use xanthan gum. Yay! I’ve spent my evening pouring over your posts on GF baking and all those tips have me excited. Now I just need to replenish my flour stock so I can make up some blends and see if I can’t come up with a great bread.

  8. katherine

    I grew up spending summers near the shore in RI, and went to URI for college. One of the few foods I’ve ever been tempted to eat knowing I would be sick are clam cakes and doughboys! Please include thee in your book! (Oh, and I’ll go with autocrat over daves! I have it shipped to the south or pick it up when I’m home for the holidays!)

      1. katherine

        The other thing that’s very RI is zeppoles! They’re out of season (made for St. Joseph’s day), but would also be amazing! I’m glad you’re working on the clam cakes- I’ve tried to duplicate them several times and the clams seem to do something weird to gf batter that cooks right otherwise.

  9. Patricia

    Wish I had been at the Rhode Island potluck! It’s home for me, and the ONLY thing I miss after being gluten-free for 3 1/2 years is clamcakes. Not fritters, and not with crab or anything else. Clamcakes. More specifically, clamcakes and chowda. That is how it’s done in Rhode Island! Just bought a little fryer to start experimenting with clamcake recipes, can’t wait to see yours.

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