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Environmental initiative to create urban farms on vacant City land

wilmington-urban-farm

An urban farm in Wilmington, Delaware. Photo (cc) tcd123usa

Providence Environmental Initiative Will Transform Vacant City-Owned Parcels into Urban Farms

‘Lots of Hope’ program awarded $100,000 by Rhode Island Foundation and Florida-based Local Sustainability Matching Fund

PROVIDENCE, RI – The City of Providence, in partnership with the Southside Community Land Trust and the Rhode Island Foundation, is embarking on a new initiative to convert city-owned vacant lots into productive urban farms.

“Lots of Hope is an innovative new program that will help to build a more sustainable and healthy City for years to come,” said Mayor Angel Taveras. “Providence has a vital environmental community committed to helping make the city more sustainable. Together, we are moving forward to transform Providence into one of the greenest cities in the nation. I thank the Rhode Island Foundation, the Local Sustainability Matching Fund and Southside Community Land Trust for partnering with the City of Providence on this exciting initiative.”

The Lots of Hope program will enable Providence residents to access low-cost, underutilized public land from the City along with technical assistance and hands-on support from Southside Community Land Trust. The program is financed by a $50,000 grant from the Florida-based Local Sustainability Matching Fund and a matching $50,000 grant from the Rhode Island Foundation.

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Summer Solstice Celebration at Burnside Park, June 23

Summer SolsticeIt’s nearly time for the return of Burnside Park beer gardens, outdoor evening concerts and storytime mornings—along with a host of new programs starting this summer!

On June 23rd, 2012 Greater Kennedy Plaza and the Department of Art, Culture + Tourism are kicking off the summer season with the 1st Annual Summer Solstice Celebration On the Plaza! A FREE, all-day celebration including live art-making, family activities and performances, food trucks, the return of the Burnside Park Beer Garden and an evening of fun music! Details below!

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Providence Geeks, Special Location, October 19

AS220 Mercantile Block

Wednesday, October 19th, 2011, 5:30 – 8pm
AS220 Labs, Mercantile Building, 2nd Floor
131 Washington Street, Providence, RI
FREE (buy your own food and drink – it’s cheap)
RSVP at Facebook

This month, Providence Geeks is doing something a little different, and totally awesome.

We’re hosting the October Geek Dinner at the all-new AS220 Labs in the beautiful Mercantile Building.

Better still, in place of our usual presentation, we’ll be surrounded all evening by a group of select “Makers“, fresh off the Rhode Island Mini Maker Faire. They’ll be giving live, hands-on demonstrations of everything from 3d-printing to robotics building. And finally, food and drink will be available next door at the latest addition to the Downcity food scene – Mexico!

Please RSVP at Facebook.

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2nd Annual RI Kosher Chili Cook-Off, June 5

The Second Annual Rhode Island Kosher Chili Cook-Off
Sunday, June 5 • 11AM to 4PM
Jewish Community Center of Rhode Island • 401 Elmgrove Avenue, Providence

Second Annual Rhode Island Kosher Chili Cook-Off Scheduled for June 5

PROVIDENCE – The Second Annual Rhode Island Kosher Chili Cook-Off will take place on Sunday, June 5 from 11 AM to 4 PM at the Jewish Community Center of Rhode Island, 401 Elmgrove Avenue, Providence. Twenty teams representing different community organizations will once again compete for the title of “Best Kosher Chili in Rhode Island.” All chili will be glatt kosher, and there will be meat, turkey, and vegetarian options. Admission is $10 for adults and $5 for children with a max of $30 per family and includes chili tastings, voting tickets, live music, and children’s activities including bounce houses, a climbing wall, crafts, games and more. Expected attendance – over 500. An assortment of beers in a beer garden, soda and food concessions will also be available for purchase. All proceeds benefit family programming of the Jewish Alliance of Greater Rhode Island.

Elite panel of judges include:

  • Chef Nemo Bolin of Cook and Brown
  • Frank Terranova from Johnson and Wales University & Cooking with Class on Channel 10
  • Anne Marie Bouthillette of Blackbird Farms
  • Karl Guggenmos – University Dean of Culinary Education at Johnson and Wales University
  • Chef Walter Potenza of Walter’s Ristorante d’Italia

For more information, go to rikosherchilicookoff.com.

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Providence, third best pizza town in the country


Bob & Timmy’s Pizza. Photo (cc) spablab

I think a lot of these Travel + Leisure Magazine superlatives are getting a bit silly. The whole “America’s Favorite Cities” thing just seems like a whole lot of link bait to me (even if, according to my Facebook wall and Twitter stream, Providence seems to be doing pretty well in the rankings1).

Is it strange that I am surprised to read that Providence is the third best pizza town, after Chicago and New York? Sure we have a lot of Italians, and sure we invented grilled pizza and that weird cold pizza strip thing (which I refuse to embrace, sorry), and sure we have a lot of college kids. But are we really that good when it comes to pizza?2

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Taqueriagate

as220

OMG y’all! Did you hear about the dust up between AS220 and Taqueria Pacifica? No? You been under a rock or something?

I first saw one of my friends post about it on Faceplace, then it showed up on Daily Dose and UrbanPlanet. Apparently there is a huge heated thread about it on Lots of Noise. I’m a little late in the game posting about this obviously, I was kind of waiting to see if I would hear more info, but everyone else is running with it, so I want to be cool too!

Someone on UrbanPlanet going by the name of gopher.maps was kind enough to transpose this from Lots of Noise:

Tyler (owner of Taqueria Pacifica):
here it is, the official story of just what is going on with the taqueria. Zander and bert filed eviction papers to evict taqueria pacifica and all it’s employees on the 18th. the rent was due by the 15th, but instead of just picking it up like they usually do — we share an address — they waited for us to slip and nailed us. it’s all up to the courts but the bottom line is they are railroading small business because we don’t go along with their agenda — whatever the heck that is. this was made apparently obvious when zander refused rent yesterday. they just want us gone. too subversive, i guess. those rebellious burritos. whatever. the tp will most likely rear it’s head again, either here or not. but thank you to everyone who has eaten our food and supported us. tenants of theirs should beware. you could be next. — more later. aloha–

Xander (manager of AS220):
Hi all-
Firstly, I’d like you all to know that I respect the discussion that is happening in this forum. I fully recognize that AS220 and the Taqueria are part of all of our shared community, and that this situation affects many people in it. Your desire for more information, as well as your investment in this process, is valid.

Of course, there is another side I could add to Tyler’s assessment of the situation. However, I don’t think its in anyone’s best interest to get into a flame war on LON. We are maintaining a civil conversation outside of the limelight as this situation progresses. Until the next steps are firmed up either through negotiations or through a court agreement, I can only offer the following:

It was mutually agreed that the relationship between AS220 and the Taqueria was not working. This was addressed with good faith by both sides. It became clear that both sides felt they had expressed a desire to renegotiate, reconcile, or end the relationship in the past, but somehow these desires were never totally clear to one another. They violated the terms of their lease, opening up an opportunity for us to bring the situation out of the standstill that it had been in. In terms of refusing their rent yesterday, that was a matter of protocol and was on instructions from our lawyer. We have told them that we are willing to negotiate to make the transition work for them and their employees, who are certainly not being disregarded or thought of lightly through this process, and AS220 has every intention of returning their security deposit.

We have no intention of expanding the bar. There will be some kind of food offering available, however, there are no specific plans for this at this time…We’re working on it though! (I have to admit to laughing aloud at all of the things that Reposludegoblin had read about going into the space on the daily dose – none of them are true)

I totally understand that this action has an effect on many people and on many aspects of this community, and that there will be a variety of responses and complicated feelings about the issue. I appreciate that many of you want to have a better understanding of the situation before making judgments, and appreciate your understanding that the situation is more complicated than a single blog thread can make clear.

*NOTE: I have no reason to believe these two people aren’t who they say they are, but it is the internet, so keep that in mind.*

So there you have it, he said, he she said. Doesn’t get any clearer than that does it?

To be honest for a second, and please don’t hit me, I’ve never really been a Taqueria fan. Not having enough information here to take sides, I’m not going to, but I wouldn’t be too broken up if AS220 brought someone else into that space. At the same time, it sucks for the Taqueria peeps to be out on their ear all of a sudden, especially the employees, who presumably are just along for the ride and are suffering because the people in charge seemingly can’t get along.

If the Taqueria still has their truck, or can get a truck, I wonder if a place could be made for them in the Kennedy Plaza area. The Plaza needs more food vendors, the Taqueria needs a new home… see something happening here..?

Review: Luxe Burger Bar

Luxe Burger Bar

Where Citron used to be and before that, Brewed Awakenings used to be, we can now enjoy Luxe Burger Bar. Luxe is the latest creation from the Chow Fun Food Group who also operate Chinese Laundry, Rick’s Roadhouse, Cafe Noir, and other local establishments and ran Citron at this location prior.

Word around town was that Citron was not doing so well, I had enjoyed eating there in the past, but for whatever reason, it was totally off my Providence dining radar (maybe that says as much or more about adjacent Waterplace Park as it does about Citron). So Chow Fun closed down Citron for a few weeks (I noticed it was closed a couple weeks ago and meant to mention as much here), did a minimal renovation, and re-birthed Citron as Luxe Burger Bar. Citron already having a quite nice interior, Chow Fun was smart not to gut the place. Having been to Citron before I can still see it peaking through into Luxe, but they did just enough to change it (though they need to nix the orange and yellow umbrellas outside and see about getting some red and black ones, or just some new ones).

Luxe is a burger bar, it is all about the burger. You can build your own burger with a checklist at the table, or order one of their menu burgers. Other items include a nice selection of affordable appetizers, specialty sandwiches, “make your own” mac & cheese (which I will be trying on my next visit), an assortment of salads, and “haute” dogs. To wash down your meal, they feature hard shakes (the s’mores, burnt marshmallow, Bailey’s, Godiva chocolate liqueur, graham crackers, and vanilla ice cream, looked tempting, but I opted for a 22oz. UFO Hefeweizen), signature cocktails, wines by the glass or bottle, and a nice selection of beers both on draft and by the bottle.

I opted to make my own burger. You can choose your meat, I went with the house “Gold Label Beef,” but you can also choose from Kobe beef, chicken breast, ahi tuna filet, veggie falafel, or lean turkey. I chose my selections of cheese toppings, sauce, and bun and decided to go with sweet potato fries straight up. You can choose to “pimp” your fries as well with various toppings such as chili or cheese sauce.

My burger was served without undue wait just as ordered.

The staff was friendly and attentive without being overly so (which I hate). I found the make your own burger concept to be fun (I basically made a Trinity brewers burger, those who know me well would expect no less).

For dessert I had the teenie tiny chocolate mouse for $1.99. Really, my arm had to be twisted hard on that one.

Luxe Burger Bar

The Teenie Tiny Chocolate Mousse, photo by Jef Nickerson

Their menu appears to not be online yet, but they do offer daily specials. Tomorrow (Wednesday) may be a good day to check them out as it is Buy One Get One special night.

My dining partner has already declared this his new favorite restaurant in Providence. Burgers, 22oz. beers, and dessert for two came to $35.03 before tip.

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Tini

photo

I’m not really the restaurant reviewer, my reviews tend to be either, “I liked it, it was good” or “I didn’t like it, it was bad.” I’m not a big foodie, I like what I like and don’t like what I don’t like. I liked Tini.

Went to Tini last night for drinks and dinner and drinks and dessert and drinks. Tini is a bit esoteric for Providence, but I think we can handle it, it feels like it was transported straight out of Tribeca, and that’s a good thing. It is at 200 Washington Street (between Gracie’s and Bravo), most recently it was a wiener place.

The restaurant is it’s name, tini. There are perhaps 25 bar stool seats arranged in a U-shape and that’s it. The bartenders/waiters/servers (I’m not sure what you would call them, but they are very cute) stand in the middle of the U dispensing drinks, telling you about the menu, and bringing you your food. The menu changes frequently, at the very least weekly, with a few stand-by’s staying on week to week, such as the tini weenie (an homage to the space’s former tenant).

We arrived at 5:30pm and the place was pretty well packed with pre-show crowds on their way to Trinity Rep. I started with a cosmo (it just felt right to have a cosmo in such a New York feeling space), for my dinner I had a grilled oyster and chorizo jambalaya (a special in honor of Mardi Gras). It was delicious and served with Mardi Gras beads, yay! Dessert was a flour-less chocolate cake and I had another cosmo and a raspberry lime ricky in there somewhere.

The food was delicious (like I said, I’m no foodie, my review ends at “I liked it”), the space is warm and cordial (did I mention how cute the servers are?), and the prices were reasonable. Reservations are accepted early, but later in the night it is pile in and find a seat where you can. Sitting elbow to elbow you get to chat with other parties, something that is a little off-putting for a lot of us button down New Englanders, but nice once the ice is broken. We also had a fun James “ooh piece of candy” Woods spotting.

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Providence Restaurant Wish List

1cuisineAs we look forward to 2009, I thought I would chime in with my cuisine wish list for 2009. Unfortunately, my wish list tends to look the same from year-to-year except this year, two items shockingly came off the list: Authentic Japanese noodle shop (Ebisu, near the PVD/Cranston line, and Noodles 102 in Fox Point) and a dedicated bubble tea joint (Bubble Tea House, in the West End’s Canonicus Square).

Are you a chef or entrepreneur looking to do something different in our city? Looking to stand out, get attention, and have absolutely NO competition? Here’s where to look:

TAPAS: Sure some people throw Cuban Revolution, Tini’s (possibly valid), or some local bars/clubs into this category, but there’s no restaurant (Spanish-influenced or otherwise) devoted to this genre, which has now been around so long that it’s mainstream in most cities (and bordering on passe in others, but has passed us completely). Best locations: Downtown or West Side.

ETHIOPIAN: This genre, favoring large groups dining together around large plates as well intimate settings with two people feeding each food over shared dishes, this tasty, often inexpensive cuisine would seem to be a slam-dunk in our college-dominated city. I think that if a restaurant opened near Brown or downtown near RISD/J&W it would mint money, but what do I know?

JEWISH DELI: While the local Jewish community is only modestly sized, i think a strong, authentic Jewish/NY themed eatery would have huge crossover appeal and do very well. Along the 95 corridor, there’s essentially none between the ones in Brookline and NYC (OK, there’s one in Westville, CT, but who’s going there?). Traditionally having huge portions at modest prices, it’s also economy friendly. Being truly Kosher would be a bonus, but might not fly economically (higher prices). Best places: Hope street retail area, Wayland Square, or Thayer. Wildcard location: Downtown either on Westminster or highway visible/accessible (service road, former RISD-Works) to get highway travelers if it’s going the Kosher route.

VEGETARIAN: I’ve long wondered how such a progressive, Earthy-crunchy, college-dominated city seemingly having as many vegetarians as it does could have only one dedicated vegetarian restaurant (Garden Grille, thankfully a great option for all). Thankfully, all restaurants now offer more vege friendly options, but I would still think there’s a market… Maybe not?

GREEK: Withholding comment on Andreas on Thayer, let’s just say that I think there’s room for another well done entry in the Providence market…

DESSERT RESTAURANT: I was sad to hear Finale reversed/held their decision on opening in the Waterplace Towers downtown (although I wonder if they would reconsider now that BCBS’s headquarters are being built there) since I think the Providence metro is more than primed and ready for an alternative to the outstanding (but tinny-tiny and conservative) Pastiche. The diminutive Federal Hill eatery may have the Italian after-dinner specialties perfected, but there’s far in the dessert universe that many crave…

What do you think of the list? Any other recommendations? Post on them in the comments section…

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Help Bring a Restaurant to PVD!

Some time before our current economic cataclysm kicked off, I had been in contact with someone representing a small chain of restaurants of a genre and type that we don’t have in the Providence metro area at all (sorry, can’t be more specific). This person was actually somewhat familiar with with the city and said they would consider a site here if they could find the following deal for a certain amount of space:

“If you have or know a real estate developer who is willing to front the money for the entire build out of the restaurant (approximately 5-6,000 square feet with a cost of approximately $300. per foot) and who is also willing to have that paid back as additional rent over the first ten years of the lease term [we would consider it]“

This would preferentially be East Side, although a downtown location would probably work too… Would anyone reading be able to offer such a deal or know of a someone who could? If so, then email me and I can provide more specifics. Help fill a restaurant space and make the Providence dining scene more interesting overnight!

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URBAN DINING: Ebisu

ebisu3My wife and I had a great meal at the newly opened Ebisu Japanese restaurant recently. Located in the space where the late (and missed) Lemi’s BBQ used-to-be, this restaurant does not focus on sushi but instead has a menu consisting of noodles, yakitori, and shabu shabu.

This alone would make it one of the most unique restaurants in the metro, but thankfully Ebisu has other virtues to back it up. The redone interior is restrained and tasteful, and the staff could not be friendlier. Overall, our food tasted fresh and light and was packed with flavors both subtle and overt. Only the dipping sauce for our vegetable tempura came across as somewhat bland and one-note. Particularly strong dishes were the Yasai Wonton Soup and the Yasai Yakisoba (which are pan fried yellow noodles with vegetables to which my wife requested they add tofu, which they did and which I thought made a great tasting dish even more interesting with the different textures involved).

They’re at 38 Pontiac Avenue in Providence, which is right off Route 10 and is where Pontiac Avenue takes off of Reservoir Avenue. Only a smattering of dishes break the $10 barrier and, by 4-cuisine Asian RI standards, the honest, down-home Japanese menu is a refreshing revelation.

My perfect dining trip to that area has now become a breakfast at the nearby Liberty Elm followed by lunch at Ebisu…

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