This week, I thought I’d share some quick observations as we all adjust to this post-Labor Day life here on the island.
While our hearts still yearn for those long summer eves, it’s time to turn to the cooler (and seemingly rainy) days of September. We still have a lot to do.
Next weekend, the Newport Mansions Wine & Food Festival is coming to town. For three days, foodies and oenophiles will enjoy showcase dinners and special seminars in the unique and inspiring setting of Rosecliff Manor.
With 24 tasting seminars scheduled throughout the weekend, highlighting everything from Irish Drumshanbo Gunpowder gin to Gran Reservas de Rioja, there is something special for every palate.
Plus, to help spread the celebration, restaurants in the area are also hosting dinner parties and wine tastings as part of the Festival. Giusto, Hotel Viking, 22 Bowen’s, The Vanderbilt, Beech in Jamestown, Midtown Oyster Bar, The Coast Guard House in Narragansett and Dive Bar each have something special planned as part of the weekend celebration.
This is truly one of the most unique weekends in Newport. The bad news is that many events have already sold out, but keep checking the Preservation Society of Newport County website to see if anything opens up.
If you get a ticket, raise your glass and enjoy. It’s a celebration unique to Newport.
Goodbye, peaches. Hello, apples.
Last week at the Saturday Growers Market in the Embrace Home Loans parking lot in Middletown, I heard some sad words. While picking up fresh peaches at the stall in the Barden family’s orchard, I was told it was the last of their peach harvest. My summer of sweet and juicy local peaches was over.
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But that’s what happens when you buy your produce from local producers – you can only get what’s in season. The message may be the end of summer peaches, but it’s really nature telling us to move on. The good news is that apples are coming, and they make a great snack too.
Ask your local producer what is good. They will guide you to the freshest seasonal fruits and vegetables. Another reason to support your local Farmers and Farmers Markets!
School cafeteria workers should be commended
Shout out to a group of food service workers who don’t get much respect – the school cafeteria workers. They are back in their school kitchens preparing and serving meals to hungry students across the island.
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It’s not easy to cook for hundreds of students, all with different dietary preferences and needs while adhering to nutritional regulations set by the Ministry of Education. These people aren’t there just to hand out Sloppy Joes. They are there to make sure no child goes hungry and to offer a quick smile to students looking for lunch.
It is a thankless job, but important. I hope they know their work is appreciated.
Football is back. Let’s eat!
This weekend also begins the new NFL football season. Even though we encourage different teams, we all encourage food.
Where will you watch the games? Ticket’s Bar & Grill? O’Brien’s pub? Clandestine bar-grill? Where will you go for the wings? Pay judgment? The pub at Two Mile Corner? Norey’s beer bar? Who has time for fantasy football?
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Let’s play the fantasy menu instead! I make the chili from Busker’s, the nachos from Brick Alley Pub and my number one choice? Becky’s ribs. Welcome back to football! We missed you.
Get your Starbucks to go
Random Question: Does anyone actually respect the reserved parking spots for curbside pickup at Shaw’s and Stop & Shop? And while we’re on the subject of parking lots, are we ready for a drive-thru lane at Starbucks in Middletown? It looks like it could turn an already crazy batch into a crazy batch of Grande.
When life gets hectic, let someone do the cooking
As we settle into our post-Labor Day routine and everyone’s schedules start to fill up, do yourself a favor and leave the cooking to someone else. You run around, you get calls, you drive the kids to games and practices, you have late meetings – it’s hectic.
Who has time to cook dinner? Who are your local restaurants? Just a reminder that going out for a midweek family dinner is an easy way to free up time for yourself and spend time together. When you’re rushing through the day, sometimes it’s nice to relax and ask someone to bring you food. They will even do the dishes for you.
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And if you can’t make it to the restaurant, you can always take the takeout home. When COVID returned in 2020, restaurateurs had to maneuver to offer their take-out menu in order to survive. Now that most restaurants are back to regular service, they continue to offer takeout.
It’s now easier than ever to order takeout from almost any restaurant. You are no longer limited to pizza or Chinese for takeout. Sky is the limit. So if you don’t have time to pack everyone in the car and go to a restaurant, you always have the option of driving it home. It’s not quite the same as eating in, but it’s still delicious and you still don’t have to cook.
“Don’t Abandon Ship”
One final thought: I don’t know why, but I find hope when I pass the ‘Don’t Abandon Ship’ message on the Nomi Park sign that still stands outside the burnt remains of the wayfinder hotel.
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I don’t think anything is going on in terms of construction there, but the sign still sends its message to everyone who passes by. Yes, even from the ashes, there is always hope.
Dan Lederer is a Middletown resident with 30 years experience in the restaurant industry throughout New England. He continues to work locally behind the scenes in the industry and remains a dedicated fan of all things restaurant and hospitality. His column appears on newportri.com and Thursdays in The Daily News. Cheers!