Tag Archives: Providence

Maker Faire is Coming to RI!

Makers, crafters, geeks, techies, artists, and pretty much everyone else… Maker Faire, held by MAKE Magazine, will be held in Providence this September! It’s very exciting news as something that has traditionally taken place in California (I think there were a couple in Texas as well). It’s great to bring an event held in such high regard to the east coast, and to Providence no less. Being a city of makers, this is the perfect location for this event.

The dates for the festival are September 12-19 with a special kickoff at the Rocktucket Block Party in Pawtucket on September 6.

Check the links for all the details. I’ll be attending most of the events (I’m not a maker, but I am a geek and find this stuff to be pretty cool). The best part is, aside from the fundraiser on September 12, it’s all free and open to the public.

Rhode Island Maker Faire and DIY Festival

Map of Location

If you’re on Twitter, you should follow @kippworks and @bjepson for info.

Hope Ales

I just learned of a new brewery starting up here in Rhode Island. It’s called Hope Ales. Apparently, they came from the west coast to open up a brewery in New England.

Let me just say that I am excited for this. It’s great news whenever a new company moves to RI. While I wish it was in Providence, it’s still good for the state. The RI business climate hasn’t been all that great lately and to have a new business come here, let alone a brewery, is just awesome.

It’ll give the few local breweries we have here some competition. I am, however, unsure how they’ll really do. With the craft beer trend moving towards different beers and extreme beers, a brewery that will only be making easy drinking beers will find a tough market with all the current breweries that make solid beers. They will have to make some seriously solid brews in order to succeed and at least last through this tough economic climate.

It looks as though their flagship will be Hope Amber Ale, with Prudence American Wheat Ale and Patience Condensation Ale (a California Common) also being offered. Their site also mentioned a Porter called Despair Porter, but there’s no description of that one.

I wish them the best of luck. I’ll be seeking out their beers once they’re available.

Good For The Jews

Every now and then I like to give some locals (or former locals) a free plug. I was tipped off to this by Brown grad Rob Tannenbaum.

Monday, March 9, 2009
9:00 pm @ Brown RISD Hillel
80 Brown Street
Providence, RI 02906
FREE SHOW! Tickets available at the door. For more information, please call (401) 863-2805 or visit www.brownhillel.org

More info on Good for the Jews can be found at their website or MySpace.

The music is pretty amusing. It’s Jewish comedy. I won’t be able to make the show, but I imagine it’d be pretty amusing.

Stouts and Porters Beer Dinner

It probably isn’t fair to be reviewing this one on the heels of the Nikki’s Beer Dinner from last month as that was a tough one to beat.  The Stouts and Porters Dinner at Julian’s on Sunday night was a great time and they did top it one way – entertainment.

In the middle of the dinner, they had a bunch of people from a Chinese dance school come in and do a little thing with a lion that ate and regurgitated some lettuce.  It was accompanied by drumming.  It was really fun and bought a nice new dimension to the dinner.  In addition, Brian from Julian’s also attempted to wear a different color ruffled tux shirt with each introduction for the courses.  Anyway, on to the review.

The first course found us drinking Buffalo Belgian Stout.  I had tried this once before from the bottle at a warmer temp and it was quite enjoyable.  It wasn’t nearly as good off the tap, unfortunately.  It was served with chestnuts and cranberries, which actually paired quite nicely.

The second course was a salad served with Avery The Czar.  The beer was awesome.  It was the first time I had tried it.  I found it a little odd that the strongest beer, at 12.2%, was served with the salad.  It had a lot of depth to the flavor with some dark fruit and anise.  The salad was greens, golden beets, herb encrusted pistachios, and crispy sweet potatoes.  It paired alright with the beer.  Neither over-powered the other, but I didn’t find them overly complimentary.  However, I also didn’t find them to be so opposite that they went poorly together.

The third course is honestly slipping my mind right now.  The beer was a whiskey barrel aged Ten FIDY from Oskar Blues.  This was quite tasty and added a nice dimension to the Ten FIDY without giving it a strong whiskey/bourbon flavor as happens too often when beers are aged in those types of barrels.

Following that was an intermezzo.  Again, the food is slipping my mind.  The beer was Great Divide’s Oak Aged Espresso Yeti.  This is easily one of my new favorite beers.  I managed to try some of this at Track 84 on Thursday.  It’s very tasty and has quite a bit of depth to the flavor.  The espresso is muted enough that it’s not overpowering, but strong enough to really complement the other flavors of the Oak Aged Yeti.  If you can find this, you need to try this beer.

Now onto the main course.  As with all the Julian’s beer dinners, there were 2 options.  Luckily, this time Susan and I picked different options.  I opted for the crab corn butternut squash ravioli, which came with an oak aged Smuttynose Robust Porter.  It turns out that this is actually called “JD” Oak Aged Robust Porter, the JD presumably standing for Jack Daniels.  Boy was that beer strong with the whiskey flavor.  Luckily, some of that flavor died off as the beer warmed, bringing out more of the porter flavors.  The regular Robust Porter is one of my favorite porters.  It’s very flavorful and has a great body.  This rendition of it wasn’t really up to my liking as I’m not big on strong whiskey flavors.  The meal was perfect, though, again, it wasn’t a perfect pairing.  If anything, the strong flavors of this beer took a little away from the food.  The other option was a roasted duck dish served with Hoppin’ Frog’s B.O.R.I.S. the Crusher, an oatmeal Russian imperial stout.  I found my dinner to be better and the beer to be different enough that I was really glad I chose what I did.

Finally, we made it to dessert, which was also a choice of 2 options.  I opted for a pumpkin creme caramel with a ginger cookie.  The beer was Meantime Coffee Porter.  This was the best pairing of the night.  The beer is excellent, and the dessert had just the right flavors.  It had a great consistency and the mix of pumpkin and ginger went well with the coffee flavored porter, which has a nice coffee flavor that is not overwhelming.  The other option was a float made with Young’s Double Chocolate Stout.  Again, I’m glad I chose what I did.  It was the better of the 2 options.

Overall, this wasn’t the best pairing, but the beers were fantastic and the evening, as always, was a ton of fun.  Many thanks to Brian, Mike, and the rest of the great staff at Julian’s.  I wish I remembered those other 2 dishes, but I just can’t.  If someone reading this remembers, feel free to post it in the comments.

Next month’s beer dinner is curated by JB Masters from Tigris Beverages.  I won’t be able to make this one or even the following one, which will be curated by Dave from Track 84.

Nikki’s Liquors Beer Dinner

In mid-November, I went to the Nikki’s Liquors beer dinner at Julian’s on Broadway in Providence.  The beers were chosen by Mike from Nikki’s.  I just wanted to write a little review of it, mainly because there were some interesting beers served.

First, in general, the beer dinner was a huge success.  The pairings with the food were spot on (thanks to Mike the chef from Julian’s), the delivery of the courses and the beers were quicker than the last beer dinner I attended there (the Dogfish Head one over the summer).  Finally, the pairings were better than those at the DFH dinner.  They’ve done several since the DFH dinner.  I imagine they got used to pairing with beer and were fixed any mistakes to streamline the process.

Now, the beers.  The first beer was Traquair Jacobite.  This was an excellent Scotch Ale with some nice dark fruit flavors that paired nicely with the cheese and raspberry starter plate.  The second beer was Tripel Karmeliet, an awesome Belgian Tripel that went perfectly with the salad.  The third pairing was a bit odd, but the beer is worth mentioning.  It was Baron’s Black Wattle Superior Wattle Seed Ale.  This beer is like nothing I’ve had before.  It’s almost like a Brown Ale, but it’s not.  The wattle seed comes from a tree in Australia.  It gives the beer a nutty chocolate flavor.  The beer is lighter in body, but big in flavor.  If you see it, it’s a must try.  It was paired with samosas, which were fantastic.  The fourth dish was a choice as it was the entree.  I got the Old Rasputin with the steak.  The beer was on nitro-tap, giving it an awesome creamy mouthfeel that enhanced the beer a bit.  The other option was Southern Tier Unearthly IPA with escolar.  Dessert was my favorite part.  We also had a choice.  I got the De Dolle Oerbier Special Reserva 2006, which came with an orange cream tartlette.  The beer was easily one of my favorite beers.  It was funky and slightly sour with a nice fruity flavor.  The other option was Oude Beersel’s Oude Kriek Vieille with a chocolate covered vanilla bean cheesecake.  Finally, there was a finishing dish, which was a truffle paired with Xyauyù, a strong English style barleywine from an Italian brewery.

It was an excellent night of beer and food.  The pours were small enough so no one got too drunk, unless they were ordering other beers in between courses, which some were.  Julian’s is doing a stouts and porters beer dinner on Sunday, which I will be attending.  I’ll write a review shortly after, rather than waiting a month.

Review: Cafe 412

Last night, after spending a couple hours at Nikki’s for the Thursday night beer tasting, I headed over to Cafe 412 at the suggestion of Mike (the beer guy and owner of Nikki’s).  I had known of the existence of this bar/restaurant, working for Providence College and all.  One of my former student employees, Jenny, had talked about this bar quite a bit as I believe she is friends with the owner.  So we headed over to this little bar on Douglas Ave and walked inside.  It was about 9:00 pm and the bar was completely empty.  It’s a small room with a U shaped bar and a couple of bar-height tables around the edge.  There’s a little nook with an ATM machine (that is “free”, in that they’ll take a dollar off your purchase for using it and paying the dollar fee) and a bathroom in the back corner.  In the middle of the bar are the taps and a row of bottles beneath displaying the beer.  There are 2 chalkboards hanging on the walls on either side of the bar displaying the beer list.  Behind the bar is a big reebar (sp?) rack to hold wine bottles with a neat arch made of tab handles for various beers.

The beer selection last night was pretty impressive, especially considering this is a college bar.  They had the following on draft:

  • Allagash White
  • Stone Ruination
  • St. Bernardus Abt 12
  • Victory Prima Pils
  • Ipswich Ale
  • Rogue Dead Guy Ale
  • Left Hand Milk Stout
  • Flying Dog In Heat Wheat
  • North Coast Red Seal Ale
  • Thirsty Dog Hoppus Maximus

In addition to that, they also had one tap that wasn’t being used.  Their bottle list was a little less impressive, though the standouts were Haverhill Leatherlips IPA and Whittier White, Long Trail Double Bag, Samuel Smith Oatmeal Stout, Thirsty Dog Siberian Night, and Left Hand Sawtooth Ale.  There were probably about 25-30 bottled beers in total.   The beer was served colder than what would be ideal, but with a little time, it warmed up.  The Abt 12 was served in a St. Bernardus chalice, which was a nice touch.

Our waitress, Audrey, was fantastic.  She didn’t know a whole lot about the beers, but she seemed very willing to learn, and had informed us she was planning a trip to Nikki’s to mix her own 6 pack this weekend.  We also ordered some food.  I had heard their pizzas are really good.  Those who told me weren’t lying.  It’s a grilled flatbread pizza.  I got a margarita (fresh tomato and basil) on their whole wheat crust.  It was awesome, rivaling Bob and Timmy’s (though this was a little different from Bob and Timmy’s grilled pizza).  Everyone else also seemed to enjoy their meals (I don’t remember what people got, other than Susan who got nachos that looked fantastic).  We left around 11:30 and there were still only a few other people in the place.  I’m going to assume that because they actually card, it’s not a big hot spot for the students.

If you’re looking for a great low key bar in Providence that serves great food, Cafe 412 is worth a visit.  The beer selection, while not over-the-top, is great, the food is awesome, and the service is fantastic.  Check it out, have a beer or two, and enjoy their awesome prices (my pint of Ruination was $4 and the Abt 12 was $5).  Chatting with the waitress, it sounded like the owner wasn’t too sure how much longer he’d be able to carry some of the beers because they’re not big sellers and because of their high price.  We actually suggested to her that the owner should raise his prices on some of these beers (Ruination usually goes for $5-6 for a 10-12 oz. pour and Abt 12 is usually around $7-8 for a smaller pour as they filled it above the fill line on the glass).  I’ll definitely be going back, especially if I end up moving back to the neighborhood.

You got the mother and the kid…

… you got the guy and his date.

So sang the Violent Femmes back in the 1980s.  Well, I’ve been taking the bus to and from work for the past week or so.  I’ve been kind of anti-RIPTA in the past because it isn’t overly convenient for me.  However, with 4 new employees in our department and more people using our parking lot outside the building (because the faculty are still too lazy to walk across campus), I have to get up around the same time to get to work early and get a parking space.  So instead of driving, I’ve decided to take the bus.  I get on the 92 Green Line trolley with Susan (she takes it all the way to work) and get off at Kennedy Plaza and wait for the 55 Admiral St./Providence College bus that comes at 8:15.  It gets me right at the Huxley gate at 8:30.  In the past, I never got to work until like 8:35-8:40 (because I’m slow and lazy).  Now I get to work right on time.  The bus is quite relaxing.  I don’t have to deal with idiots on the road and I can just sit and watch the scenery go by on my way to work.  It also puts me downtown more often, which I’ve been wanting to do.  I now get to see the progress of the current projects down there.

There is a downside to the bus.  There’s nothing convenient to bring me back to Federal Hill at the end of the day.  I have to stay about 15 minutes late to get the bus at 4:47 or leave early around 4:20.  I stay late, it’s not bad and lets me get some more things done.  I get home a lot later than I used to.  When I drive and leave at 4:30 (or even 4:45 or closer to 5:00), I am always home no later than 5:10.  However, I now get home around 5:30.  Generally, I make the hike from Kennedy Plaza to Federal Hill.  The bus I would take is the 27 or 28.  They’re always over crowded and standing room only (and there are always way more people waiting).  So instead of waiting 5-10 minutes in Kennedy Plaza, I just walk.  It’s been good for my legs and weight.

I’m going to continue taking the bus until it snows.  It’s an easy and relaxing way to get to and from work.  I’m just tired earlier at night though.  I wake up about 45-60 minutes earlier because I need to get in the shower first (Susan wasn’t willing to change her schedule to accommodate my new mode of transportation).  I feel good doing something for the environment, and I’m saving us money at the same time.

Julian’s Rocks

I know I’ve written about Julian’s before, but I had to write about them again.  Susan and I went there for dinner last week.  We wanted to go for a walk, but didn’t want to cook.  Julian’s had some healthy stuff on their summer menu, so we stopped in for dinner before going for a walk.  Susan got the tuna steak (ew because it’s rare, though she likes that kind of thing) and I got their mussels special, which was awesome.  Anyway, that’s not why I’m writing (though the food was excellent and certainly healthy).  I’m writing because they had a freaking keg of freaking oak-aged freaking 120 Minute IPA on tap.  Yeah… it was freaking awesome.  Susan ordered it while I got the Avril, which was also on tap.  That restaurant is full of surprises and totally worth your time.  The Avril was fantastic on tap (often saisons are not very good on tap, but this one was) and the 120 was phenomenal, though I would have preferred it as a dessert beer because it was so sweet (it’s on the sweet side to begin with and the oak aging added a sweet vanilla note to it).  So we got the beers with the highest ABV and the lowest ABV that night.

Go to Julian’s.  Drink lots of good beer.  Eat lots of awesome food.

Visit their MySpace page for updated food and drink/beer menus.

Tina’s Jamaican Caribbean Restaurant

Tonight, Susan and I decided to try something new for dinner and ended up at Tina’s Jamaican Caribbean Restaurant in the middle of Providence’s Little Italy (which is actually simply becoming the dining district with all the great food of various ethnicity).  I had heard their food was good, but it’s always empty.  I think they do a lot of take out business.  The waitress was really nice.  We started by splitting the coco bread (bread made with coconut milk) and a beef patty.  They were both excellent.  I ordered the curried goat and Susan got the curried chicken.  Both meals came with vegetables (which was cabbage and peppers and some other stuff), rice and peas (peas are actually red kidney beans), and fried plantains (which were quite delicious).  Both our meals were excellent.  The chicken and goat were so tender, there was no need for a knife.  I had never had goat before, but it was like a greasier lamb.  It peeled right off the bone and was very tasty.

The only thing I didn’t like was sorrel, which is like a berry wine with rose petals (it’s not alcoholic).  The rose petals added too much perfuminess to it that made it a bit unbearable, but it still tasted good.  We both left very satisfied and Susan even took some home.  I think we’ll be going back there again.  It’s definitely worth a visit.  Don’t let the lack of customers deter you, the food is awesome.

Providence #4 Hard-Drinking City in USA

According to Forbes, Providence is the fourth “hard-drinking” city in the country.  It seems they get their rankings by taking the percentage of residents who had at least one drink in the last 30 days, the percentage of men who had at least two drinks per day and women who had a least one drink per day, and the percentage of residents who had five or more drinks on one occasion.

I don’t know why I care, but I like seeing Providence ranked high on lists.  We were beat out by Austin, TX; Milwaukee, WI; and San Francisco, CA.  The only other area city on the list was Boston, which came in ninth.  Keep drinking Providence!