Friday, February 26, 2010

Paragon and Viva!

Matt and I went out for dinner last night on Thayer Street, one of the best places to eat in Rhode Island.  We chose Paragon, a place I hadn't been to since high school, so I was looking forward to our visit.  We ordered Thai spring rolls with chili and ponzu dipping sauces to start - they were steaming hot and delicious but didn't last long.
As Matt ate the greens that were meant to be a garnish that he dressed with the leftover chili sauce, I endured an internal debate over whether to order the seafood risotto (lemon and herb with gulf shrimp, sea scallops, mussels, and asparagus tips) or the French burger (Black Angus beef topped with applewood smoked bacon and Boursin cheese).  Matt ordered handmade rigatoni tossed with tomato and Vodka cream sauce and topped with mozzarella and basil... so predictable, but also reliable.  I decided to go with the seafood risotto and was pleased with my choice - it was perfectly creamy and so rich I couldn't even handle dessert.  Well, not right away anyway.  
It was pouring so we hurried to the nearest doorway under the cover of my umbrella and ducked into the Brown Bookstore to browse for a while.  We hit up the travel section to begin planning our summer vacation but couldn't agree on a destination.  Decision tabled until further notice.  (My vote is for Yosemite National Park and then San Francisco but Matt wants to skip the city altogether... thoughts?)  I couldn't ignore my sweet tooth any longer so we headed back out into the rain and down the street to La Creperie.  When I graduated from high school my parents hired La Creperie to cater my graduation party and it's always fun to stop in to enjoy one of my favorite snacks.  I chose the Katy, a simple but delicious crepe made with only sugar and lemon.  It was ready in about five minutes and I think I ate it in even less.  It was the perfect ending to a perfect night.            

Thursday, February 25, 2010


Thirty-One is a six-year-old company known for their affordable and stylish gifts and accessories.  They offer a selection of handbags, candles, stationery, kitchenware, and have lines for babies, toddlers, and teens as well.  My friend Grace is thinking about joining the Thirty-One team and becoming a consultant so I'm spreading the word.  One of my favorite products is the Super Sassy Sac in Mod Dot - it looks big enough to hold all my school supplies including my laptop, and the graphic gray print is quite cool.  I'm also a fan of the Toddler Backpack in Criss Cross... I know, it's meant for a toddler but it has an owl on it and I can't help but love it.  Anyway, this month you can add an embroidered monogram, name, or phrase to any bag or accessory for $1.00!  Take a look at the Spring/Summer 2010 catalog - you're bound to find something you like. 

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

destination: Tiverton

Matt took some time off from work while I was on school vacation last week so we could do some exploring around Rhode Island.  We decided to take a drive to Tiverton Four Corners to do some antiquing, scout for pieces we might want to take home with us, and of course, eat.  We were greeted by two friendly faces and I knew the day was off to a great start...
After a quick photo documentation session of our new friends we were on our way.  First stop - Peter's Attic, which was chock full of antique furniture, although the proprietor was nowhere to be found so we browsed quickly and moved on.  We found Antiques II at Four Corners housed in the same building and it was stuffed with books, books, and more books.  After sifting through the shelves we discovered this fabulous set of English Cast Iron Circular Stairs in the back corner of the store.  I wish we could have taken the set home but even if we could have afforded the hefty price tag it never would have fit in our little car.  
On the next block we entered The Cottage at Four Corners, a home furnishings store which carries a line of Mitchell Gold furniture in addition to lines by Maine Cottage and Jim Stubblefield.  I've been searching for a corner hutch for our dining room for over two years without any luck, but one of Jim's cupboards just might do the trick.  I'm going to keep The Cottage in mind as I continue the hutch hunt.  The Cottage also carries elizabethW bath, body, and home products.  My favorite was this Sweet Tea candle - I'm a sucker for anything almond-scented.  
Next stop - Winter Flea, a consignment boutique that sells antiques, furniture, vintage clothing, and handmade jewelry.  We arrived just as the owner was setting out a pair of Hunter boots on an overturned wooden bucket.  Matt quickly located and immersed himself in an ancient book about photography while I drooled over old glass bottles and a pair of orange suede gloves that I regret not taking home.  Hunger began to set in and we set off in search of somewhere to eat, but while crossing the street we stumbled upon The Meeting House, a charming spot to have a shower, wedding, birthday party, or any kind of celebration.  A path constructed of weathered wooden planks leads to a winding trail of stepping stones and brings you past a small pond.  The meandering path, exposed beams, old barn doors, and lofty ceiling of the space contribute to the rustic look that Tiverton is famous for.  
Eventually we made it to the Four Corners Grille Restaurant.  I sat down to a steaming bowl of creamy mushroom soup and ordered a Reuben sandwich which came with homemade potato chips.  Matt had a sandwich called The Wampanoag which was stuffed with smoked turkey, cucumbers, and lettuce and came with hand cut fries.  We left thoroughly satisfied and ready for more exploring.

I had been looking forward to visiting the Milk & Honey Bazaar since I read an article about it in Rhode Island Monthly.  With over eighty local and international cheeses, the Bazaar has a selection that will please even the most epicurean cheese connoisieur.  My favorite was the Dill Havarti which I can't wait to devour with crackers for an after-school snack one day this week.  We also bought some Pecorino Romano which I used Monday night to make a rendition of Real Simple's spaghetti with sweet potatoes and ricotta.  In addition to cheese, the Bazaar offers a selection of olive oils, honey, crackers, and much more.  The owners keep a tasting box full of index cards on the counter where customers (many now friends) can record their favorite cheeses and thus easily remember which ones they like best.  Matt and I left with our purchases in hand and made our way back to the car, which was in the parking lot of Gray's Ice Cream.

Sadly, after my soup, Reuben, and cheese, I had no room left for a stop at Gray's.  I had been looking forward to a cone of their homemade Oreo ice cream since we arrived that morning, but I suppose we'll just have to head back to the Four Corners in the summer time, which is fine by me!

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

what's for dinner?

Matt and I went to Tiverton Four Corners on Friday (more about that tomorrow) and visited this great specialty food store, Milk and Honey Bazaar.  We sampled and bought a hunk of Dill Havarti and also took home a slab of Italian Pecorino Romano, our favorite cheese for grating over salads and pasta.  Pecorino Romano is hard, dense, and has a wonderfully salty flavor.  It crumbles easily and is great for eating by itself or with crackers and Italian cold cuts.  I think it may be my favorite cheese, although ask me on a day when I'm salivating at the thought of a chocolate and brie panini and I may have a different answer for you, but I digress.

Anyway, tonight last night I decided to make an old recipe, spaghetti with sweet potatoes and ricotta, using the fresh-off-the-boat Pecorino Romano rather than the Parmiggiano Reggiano from the local grocery store that I usually add.  The combination of herbes de provence and the Pecorino Romano ensured that it turned out deliciously!  I can't wait to have a second helping for lunch tomorrow.

Monday, February 22, 2010


There are ideas, images, and individuals waiting to be discovered everywhere.  Charming antique shops, fine art museums, hip clothing boutiques, quaint caf├ęs, and creative design workshops can be found on nearly every corner in Rhode Island and I intend to inspect them all.  You’ll learn about my findings here.  My name is Tara and I’m a teacher and event stylist in this tiny state.  Traveling, baking, sewing, decorating, and planning parties are five of my most favorite things (numbers six and seven might be eating ice cream and reading, and of course there's always my husband!) so you’ll hear a lot about them here, too.  This blog will serve as a way to chronicle my quest for all places interesting in Little Rhody, my exploration of the world of design and adventures in culinary arts, fashion finds, and general creative endeavors.  Feel free to get in touch with me via comment, email, or facebook with questions or suggestions.  I’d love to hear what you think! 
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