Once you pass underneath the gateway arch at the foot of Federal Hill, you’re in Providence, Rhode Island’s Little Italy. Classic red sauce restaurants—some of which date back a century—line Atwells Avenue. In between, there are Italian specialty shops where dried sausages hang in the windows while songs by old crooners are piped out into the street. There are bocce courts, and an Italianate fountain in DePasquale Square with twinkling lights hanging overhead. This time of year, there’s also a huge Christmas tree illuminating the piazza. If you can catch it during one of the season’s first snowfalls, you’re not likely to find a more magical scene.
When I first moved to the South years ago, one food item stood above the rest as an introduction to my adopted new food culture: Grits. Though not commonly spotted on Northern menus, grits are a standard feature on Southern menus, from humble eateries to fine dining establishments. Grits are a humble ingredient and can be prepared a number of ways, from thick and creamy to light and fluffy, from runny to firm cakes. In skillful cook’s and chef’s hands, grits are treated to such inventive uses that the more I discovered about grits the more my infatuation with them grew.
It’s no secret: Burnsville, Minnesota is home to some of the Twin Cities metro area’s best independently owned and operated restaurants. These five eateries are truly one-of-a-kind and worth the trip, whether you’re coming down from the Boundary Waters, up from Iowa, or over from wherever you happen to define yonder. The chefs and owners at these restaurants all know that quality ingredients make the difference between ho-hum and yum. To ensure freshness, their menus feature seasonal, local ingredients as much as possible. They blend tradition and innovation to serve up a scrumptious range of dishes from comfort foods to genuine surprises. Come belly up to a table in Burnsville and bite into bliss.
All of us here at Foodie Travel USA wish everyone a very happy Thanksgiving. We’d like to take this opportunity to say a simple “thank you” for reading our posts. We hope you enjoy reading it as much as we enjoy putting it together and digging into flavors from coast to coast. While gearing up for the holiday, some of us stopped to reflect and share memories, insights and even some home-cooking tips from past Thanksgivings.
Is it a cookie? A cake? A pie? A dessert sandwich? When it comes to the Maine whoopie pie, the answer is all of the above. In its most basic form, a whoopie pie is made up of two dark chocolate cake discs about the size of a hamburger bun with a layer of sweet, creamy, thick white frosting sandwiched between them. While the origins of the treat are up for debate, Maine claims to be the birthplace of its invention: The first whoopie pies came out of a Lewiston, Maine bakery in 1925.
One ingredient with mysterious origins pops up in dishes across St. Augustine, Florida. In the early 1500s, Spanish explorer Juan Ponce de Leon sailed his Spanish galleon through choppy coastal waters in search of the legendary Fountain of Youth. Ponce de Leon was the first documented European to explore Florida’s northeast coast. In 1513 he traveled to a territory inhabited by Seminole Indians. After the Spanish settled what is now the city of St. Augustine, the oldest continuously-inhabited city of European origin in the United States, along came the French, English and free Africans. During that migration, at least one ship contained what has become St. Augustine’s favorite pepper: the datil.
I’ve been happily munching on Pennsylvania Dutch food for almost 50 years. My parents, and their parents before them, and on back, were born in central Pennsylvania, more or less ground zero for the cuisine. But trying to classify it isn’t easy, even for me. To begin with, the name is a misnomer: Pennsylvania Dutch fare has spread to Maryland, Virginia, Ohio and the Midwest. Tomake it more confusing, it’s not Dutch, either. The term evolved from the word “Deutsch,” the German word for German, which referred to German-speaking settlers who immigrated long ago to the Keystone State.
In today’s crowded restaurant scene—where traditional favorites are joined by new dining venues almost constantly—it can feel like you’ll never get to every hotspot you want to check out. In such a market, it’s easy to imagine that chefs would foster a spirit of competition, thinking that somebody else’s restaurant has to fail in order for his or hers venture to succeed. Fortunately, in many communities and for many chefs, that is not the situation: Chefs often feed their creative souls through collaboration and cooperation which best shines through during special dining events that showcase the talents of all involved.
Dressing or stuffing? Pumpkin or sweet potato pie? Brine, baste, roast or deep-fry the bird? What you consider to be the “correct” answer to these and other culinary questions about our nation’s annual Thanksgiving feast depend largely on where you live.
Food authorities rank Chicago restaurants atop the nation’s best: Bon Appetit named Chicago the “2017 Restaurant City of the Year.” The James Beard Foundation moved its awards event from New York to Chicago. Zagat and Conde Nast echoed the accolades in 2018.