Category Archives: For the Foodies
One of the most beautiful and underrated areas of New England is the area comprised of four coastal towns, Tiverton and Little Compton RI, Westport and Dartmouth MA. It’s pretty, pastoral and quiet, but chock full of things to do ….if you happen to like food, wine and art. A real tough sell, right? Every year I swear I’m going to make it to SouthCoast Open Studios Tour, and this year I finally did. The local artists open their studios to the public twice a year, and a map is provided to drive between them all. After spending the day at the beach, I hit four or five of them. But first, lunch. A local favorite is The Bayside. You’ll never catch me sitting inside for a meal in summer, but that often means compromising on the quality of the food. Not at The Bayside! I had a salmon burger with avocado and tamari aioli, washed down with a local brew (Grey Lady from Cisco Brewers on Nantucket). I could have stayed here all day.
A hub of activity in this area is the historic district of Tiverton Four Corners….lots of cute shops, a couple of options for eating, and lots of art and antiques. The vibe here – and throughout the SouthCoast region – is understated and casual, but with a certain elegance about it.
Act like a local – buy a used book at the library’s used book sale:
Farming is a big deal here, Westport even bills itself as a “Right To Farm Community”. It’s written right into their bylaws that farms shall be allowed “to function with minimal conflict with abutters and town agencies”. It’s common to see an unattended table at the end of a driveway, with a pile of corn or other produce, and a container to leave your money. One of my favorite stops is Westport Rivers Winery, specializing in sparkling wines. Like many businesses in this region, they’re closed on Sundays so plan accordingly.
The same family owns Buzzards Bay Brewing right around the corner…..don’t miss it. If you’re looking for more to see and do in this region (as well as addresses and a map), see my Jauntful guide.
I’m going to run for City Council. I’m going to run the concession stand at the high school football games. I’m going to start a Neighborhood Watch. I’m going to be all-in with this town. Seriously Portland, you had me at hello.
I expected to like Portland before I got there. On the drive up we got off the highway to cruise through Old Orchard Beach. I hadn’t been there since I was 12 years old but as soon as I drove into town I remembered the street where my mother bought a Ginsu knife from a street vendor. They meant it when they said those things were guaranteed for life…I still have that knife and use it daily. Not kidding.
From there we headed up Route 1 to the Portland Head Light, called the most photographed lighthouse in the world. Let that soak in. THE WORLD. How can they tell? I don’t know but I believe Them. It was pretty and I liked taking pictures of it.
A bit further north on Route 1 we drove into downtown Portland, which reminds me either of a larger Salem MA, or a smaller Boston. They seem to love pretty signage as much as I do.
I’ve always been pretty smug about Providence’s status as a foodie city but man, Portland has them beat. These people are obsessed (in a good way) with eating local. We had a fab dinner at Caiola’s in the West End, awesome brunch at East Ender (fried-chicken-and-waffles-with-maple-sour-cream-awesome!) and visited two breweries, Shipyard and Rising Tide. They had a wonderful farmer’s market but I didn’t get anything since I didn’t have a fridge and a kitchen.
The only downer was the heat & humidity – after a temperate summer, we had a couple of days of brutal heat & humidity that coincided with my visit. I still loved it, but I’d like to get back here in boots & sweater weather.
I’ve decided to “eat local” for one week. I’m still working out the details, such as….what’s local? I think 100 miles from my home sounds about right. Can I use anything currently in my pantry? I think so. And what sort of timing? I think the next few weeks would be my best bet; if my planned week fell during a time that blueberries, tomatoes & corn were all in season I’d eat well. Are you wondering why eating local matters? There are actually a lot of important reasons.
Sustainability – small scale local farms tend to focus on practices such as little or no pesticide use, crop rotation and other tactics to keep the soil healthy. And it’s not hard to figure out how it benefits the environment if you buy a head of lettuce from a farm 10 miles away, rather than one that was trucked 3000 miles from California.
Preserving open space – pretty simple, if a local farmer can’t make a go of it, he is likely to sell his land to developers. Do we really need another condo complex?
Biodiversity – this might be too big a topic for my little blog. I say either google it or tell me you want to know more.
If this topic intrigues you I highly recommend you read “The Omnivore’s Dilemma” by Michael Pollen. Yeah, I know you’re busy, but it’s important, and could possibly change your life. If you live in Rhode Island or nearby Massachusetts, a great resource is the website Farm Fresh Rhode Island. It’s an easy way to search out farm stands, CSAs, farmers markets and all things locavore.
This is a place I plan to try very soon: Blackbird Farm, grass-fed meats, raised right here in northern RI.