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Report: Providence RI Shop 'n' Eat July 15


Chris Amirault
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Great turn out and time for the shop 'n' eat! As planned, we hit Compare Foods on Broad St, Sunny Market on Reservoir Ave (Rt 2), Sonia's on Park Ave at Rolfe St, and Chinese American Market on Park Ave at Rolfe St, before enjoying a great meal at Minh Hai on Park Ave:

  • goi ga: shredded chicken salad
  • goi bo: grilled beef salad (spicy)
  • goi cuon: fresh shrimp and noodle rolls
  • tom muc haoc ca xao lan: shrimp sautéed with noodles and coconut milk (spicy)
  • ca chiem mam me: fish in tamarind sauce
  • ca sate: fish in saté sauce (spicy)
  • bo hoac ga xao rau cai: beef sauté in oyster sauce
  • ga cuu long: marinated sautéed chicken with lemon pepper sauce (spicy)
  • rau cai xao lan: sautéed vegetables in curry and coconut milk
  • dau hu xao ca tim: tofu sautéed with eggplant in plum sauce (spicy)

What'd people think?

Chris Amirault

eG Ethics Signatory

Sir Luscious got gator belts and patty melts

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Thanks to Chrisamirault for organizing a fun event today in Providence/Cranston. Me and Julie had a great time and met some really nice people. I hope the success of this event will lead to more activities for the EGers in and around New England.

Today's event took us to several different ethnic markets. A brief recap:

We started in at a Compare Market, a Spanish/Latin supermarket on Broad Street in Providence. This was my favorite market stop of the day. They had great produce and a ton of different cuts of meat I'm not use to seeing at my local market. I'm going back tomorrow to do some more shopping :)

Next up was Sunny Market on Reservoir Ave in Cranston. This Asian market was definitely heavy on the produce. Many items I'd never seen before. They also had an area with fresh meat. Some very interesting stuff (Chicken intestines/pork bung!?.) They also had a TON of frozen fish/meats.

We all headed over to Park Ave in Cranston for the next couple of stops. Sonia's Middle East Market was a great find. The owners were kind enough to provide us with a feta cheese tasting. I had no idea how different domestic feta was from French or Greek feta. They had a nice selection of prepared foods, olives and sweets as well.

A few doors down is the Chinese American Market. This place is loaded with all things Chinese. Aisles of noodles, sauces, condiments and pickled everything. Not a lot of produce or fresh meat, but just about everything else.

Last but definitely not least was lunch at Minh Hai down the road on Park Ave in Cranston. I think we must have had 2 of everything on the menu. It was my first time eating Vietnamese. It won't be my last. The food was fantastic, but I especially enjoyed lunch because it gave everyone a chance to sit back and chit chat. It was really nice to get to know people a little bit. I'm really looking forward to more events like this in the future.

Thanks again to Chris for doing all the planning and coordinating. Things like this don't go this smoothly by accident!

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That was a perfect event. Good people, good places to explore, a good amount of time in each place, a delicious meal, fabulous ice coffee, even good weather. I am now convinced that Providence is the center of the food universe.

For those who didn't go--among the items I came home with are lilac-colored yam flour (from the Philippines), red pepper paste (from Bulgaria), dried yellow potato pieces (from Peru) . . . a rainbow of foods I'd never seen before.

Chris, we can't thank you enough. I'd be happy to help with the organization of another event.

One question: what's the best way to store fresh galangal?

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Galangal keeps like its relative, ginger, so you can store it at room temperature for a good week or two, in the fridge, or, if you're feeling like it's going to be a while before you use it, in some clean dirt (being, after all, a root!).

Chris Amirault

eG Ethics Signatory

Sir Luscious got gator belts and patty melts

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Alright, I'm in! Member as of today. The company was so fantastic, I had to join! (and Sonia's cegarets certainly didn't hurt the cause...)

When I got home, I passed out for a few hours due to acute food stuffage from the vast amounts of goodness I packed in...I'm sure I had dreams of skipping through fields of goi cuon and swimming in lakes of their iced coffee...does that make me weird or somethin'?

Because of the incredible power my sweet tooth holds over me, I came home with mainly desserts.....3 pastries from Sonia's plus a couple candy impulse buys at the register. I also grabbed some arepas at Compare Foods that I'm looking forward to stuffing later in the week. Which reminds me, I scoped out the queso fresco in Chris' cooler on the way out of the restaurant....whoever bought that, let me know how it is! I almost picked some up myself so I'm curious. Also on the cheese front, I'm sure I'll be back at Sonia's for more french feta. I guess it wouldn't hurt to also grab some pahklava, too....and chocoprinces...and a strawberry and nutella sandwich....and pistachio halvah.....

So thanks everyone for coming, it was great meeting all of you and I hope to see you all again on our next trip. And thanks so much to Chris for organizing this outing. No doubt the businesses we visited today will be very thankful to you as well...Steve and I already have meals planned around some of the beautiful ingredients we discovered today and are going back to pick them up surely within the week!

Edited by JulieTwoTimes (log)
"I haven't had enough of these muthaf'n steaks on this muthaf'n plate!!"
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Absolutely worth the drive from Boston! Chris was not only kind enough to arrange ahead of time for tours and lunch, but met us on his front porch with cold seltzer.

The Spanish and middle eastern stops were the most interesting to me, since Boston is lacking in choices there. Among other things, I came home with a big stack of corn tortillas (yellow and blue), bags of ridiculously inexpensive dried chilies, dried hominy, and tins of dulche de leche. I wish I knew more about how to use the many root vegetables that were in the produce section. I am thinking about fish tacos next weekend, with the dulche de leche finding its way into dessert. The chilis and hominy can wait for a nice fall stew or soup.

I've already started nibbling on my middle eastern (Lebanese, yes?) purchases--they're perishable, unlike those from the Spanish store, or at least that's my excuse. Not wanting much for dinner after our big lunch, this was perfect. Had a few spicy green olives and a chunk of feta with a glass of wine to start, then a small salad with one of their Lebanese "pizzas" that are delivered every Saturday from the Patisserie Armenia in Montreal. Delicious! I bought them expecting something entirely different, but am grateful for my mistake. Thin, thin, thin, silky tortilla-like bread, with a light but flavorful filling sandwiched between. If I lived nearby, these would be dangerous. Tomorrow I'll try the pastries. The samples at the store were fabulous. Nice people, too. They did an impromptu feta tasting that made us all very happy.

Maybe best of all was lunch. Excellent Vietnamese food and a chance to talk to many nice, interesting people. If anyone thought about participating in this event but did not, I'd encourage you to join in the next time something is scheduled in the area.

Thanks again Chris!


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Thanks Chris for organizing the awesome trip to all the ethnic stores and that great Vietnamese restaurant. We had a blast and would defiantly be willing to participate in more outings with egullet members. Jessica and I are defiantly going back to all of the places we went to, especially the restaurant. I look forward to being able to be more active in the egullet community.

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This was so much fun! Me and Patrick visit Sonia's and the Chinese mini-mart down the street all the time, but Sunny Market and Compare Foods were new. I couldn't believe how much produce there was at Sunny Market that I didn't recognize at all. There are so many leafy things...I ended up going home with a few things I've been meaning to go out and get but hadn't gotten around to it (like green curry paste and coconut milk) and some stuff I hadn't seen before (like those fried dough balls stuffed with bean paste - Chris handed me a piece of one to try and i LOVED it).

We also somehow ended up with most of the leftovers from lunch - not that I'm complaining. Breakfast this morning was the spicy tilapia and the spinach and chicken, and one of those bean paste guys. I can't wait to get back to that restaurant and try new things. I want coffee! and pho!

Seriously, while I expected to enjoy this, I didn't think a day spent with a bunch of strangers could be as much fun as this was. And I have so much stuff to eat and play with and I can't wait to get back down to Sunny Market to get some random leafy things to play with too, and some more of those bean paste buns. Is it completely weird how much i love sweet bean paste?

I'm excited for the next event! Maybe I can bring more people along, I've been trying to get people at school to get into eGullet for years, but no one seems as excited about it as I am...It was so cool to meet people in real life! :biggrin: My grandma was apprehensive ("you met these people on the internet?!") But she ended up enjoying it a lot too.

:biggrin::biggrin:

Bagel?
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Breakfast was pastry from Sonia's with my morning coffee--the ghatas, which are a rich but still light and flaky sour cream dough swirl of pastry. wonderful. but in the end, I think my favorite was the unnamed current-studded cake that we sampled in the store. Others bought much more pastry than I did--any other must try sweets from Sonia's?


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Breakfast was pastry from Sonia's with my morning coffee--the ghatas, which are a rich but still light and flaky sour cream dough swirl of pastry. wonderful. but in the end, I think my favorite was the unnamed current-studded cake that we sampled in the store. Others bought much more pastry than I did--any other must try sweets from Sonia's?

"The pastry which goes unnamed" was also my favorite...it was dense, which I love, but still held it's moisture. I also got a ghata which was delicious but reminded me of other pastries I can't quite place. Would still pick a couple up, no question. The cegaret was veerrrrry good as well...that was the one he was describing as the candy in the middle surrounded by walnuts and such, the long one that looked like, obviously, a cigarette dusted in powdered sugar. If I was just munching a snack, I'd take the cegaret, but if I was sitting down for a cup of tea, I'd take the ghata (though I'd take the entire pan of that currant cake and skip town if I had the chance).

"I haven't had enough of these muthaf'n steaks on this muthaf'n plate!!"
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This was a great event. Thanks Chris. I think all the posts above capture my feelings about the day. I appreciate all of the sites we visited and I enjoyed making the acquaintances of such a diverse group with similar and disparate tastes.

I visited Sonia's today and purchased two large bags of deli items. Gregory was very helpful and provided advice and assistance with my selections.

As this is not food post, but an event post, I would like to comment on Chris' open mind and sense of community. Whatever there is to be found in Providence, he has found it and loves to share his knowledge and experience with anyone who expresses an interest. He seems to have explored every square inch of food related emporiums and not just for shopping there, but also for establishing relationships. I am looking forward to another event.

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Paul and I had the arepas for dinner last night, stuffed with some refried beans I had in the refrigerator and some cheese. The arepas were nice change from tortillas, with their sweetness. Julie, I haven't tried the queso fresco yet, but I'll let you know. (How would you use it?)

My one regret about the day is that I didn't bring bags. I'm feeling very guilty about the number of plastic bags I ended up with. My bad.

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Paul and I had the arepas for dinner last night, stuffed with some refried beans I had in the refrigerator and some cheese. The arepas were nice change from tortillas, with their sweetness. Julie, I haven't tried the queso fresco yet, but I'll let you know. (How would you use it?)

My one regret about the day is that I didn't bring bags. I'm feeling very guilty about the number of plastic bags I ended up with. My bad.

Well, because I admittedly have a problem controlling myself around food, I would have probably hung out on my couch with half the wheel of cheese and a spoon....(that being said, I do respect food, honest!) However if someone's got even a smidgen of dignity, queso fresco would be good in a salad if you wanted to keep it cold and light on a hot day...but they definitely would have gone great in the arepas with your refried beans...I bet that would have been fantastic. I wouldn't know....I left my arepas in the car overnight in the heat!

Speaking of which...the tamarinds were also in that bag. I know they usually thrive in that kind of weather (when they're not picked) but does anyone know if they're still fine? We haven't dealt with whole tamarinds in our own house...how do you know if they've gone bad? I'm sure it's one of those things where if you looked at it, you'd know, but we haven't opened the box as of yet.

"I haven't had enough of these muthaf'n steaks on this muthaf'n plate!!"
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Thanks, again, everyone, for the kind words.

I've already started nibbling on my middle eastern (Lebanese, yes?) purchases--

Armenian, primarily. Sonia and family are Armenian, though the shop features products from throughout the middle east.

We haven't dealt with whole tamarinds in our own house...how do you know if they've gone bad?

If you bought a block of the fruit, they keep for a very long time; the fruit in pods keep for months, especially under refrigeration.

Chris Amirault

eG Ethics Signatory

Sir Luscious got gator belts and patty melts

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kkeym,

I know that me and Julie are really hopeful that these events will become a regular occurence. We both had a blast. We were all discussing what kinds of events people would be interested in attending. Chris had a great idea for a farm tour. I'd love to see if we could convince a some of the local food artisans into giving workshops to a group of EGers. It might also be fun to put together a New England dining club.

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