Sep 012014
 

…the dumb quality of his love annoyed her. Many men had looked at her that way, and she was not flattered by it. They wanted to pretend, such men, that they were different, that she was different, and that what might happen between them would be different than it would ever be. They wanted to pretend that they wanted pretty dresses and smiles, when what they really wanted was for her to lay down under them. That was the real wish beneath all the pretty wishes men had. And when she was under them, they could look down and pretend something pretty was happening, but she would look up and only see a dumb face above her, strained, dishonest, and anything but pretty.

—Larry McMurtry, Lonesome Dove

Jul 212014
 

One of the nicest parts about living in Providence is the very high density of quality restaurants. Almost every intersection in town is within a few blocks of an excellent eatery. So Restaurant Week is something to look forward to. This year we got a bonus week, so I got to eat out a lot. My only regret is the three months of workouts I’ll need to compensate for my gluttony.

Best Appetizer: Wurst with warm potato salad and pickled mustard, Chez Pascal. A tough category here, but Chez Pascal has to take the win because this wurst was delicious (and a perfect portion size). What’s incredible is that it’s the second best appetizer I had at Chez Pascal–we also ended up sharing a savory bread pudding appetizer that may actually be the best thing on their menu. This one looks a little heavy for summer, but the small portion size and the acid of the mustard and slaw kept it light enough to appreciate.  Honorable Mentions: Tomato Tartare at Local 121, Arctic Char paté at New Rivers.

The wurst at Chez Pascal (photo by my friend Meng Choy)

The wurst at Chez Pascal (photo by my friend Meng Choy)

Best Entree: Slow-roasted pork shoulder, Chez Pascal. By far the toughest category. I didn’t have one entree all week that was a dud (though I could have used some bread with my bolognese at Rosalina). This pork shoulder topped my list, though. The pork was cooked perfectly, the accompanying vegetables were delicious, and it was all I could do to keep myself from licking the plate. Honorable Mentions: Duck confit sandwich at Cav, chili-brined hanger steak at Waterman Grille

Best Entree (supplement): Wagyu steak with mushrooms, New Rivers. Providence Restaurant Week allows a restaurant to charge extra in order to be more flexible in what entrees they provide. It would be unfair to put this straight up against the normal ones. But my god this was wonderful. Look at that damn plate. The mushrooms played off the steak so well, and the fingerlings were a good, robust vegetable accompaniment. What made the dish, though, were those tomatoes, which were perfectly dressed and provided a bright, acid flavor that highlighted the strengths of the other components. God damn that was a great dish.

Steak at New Rivers. Photo by Meng

Steak at New Rivers. Photo by Meng

Best Dessert: Chocolate cheesecake, Local 121. Dessert is the weakest category overall. Everything was delicious, but few things I had during the week really wowed me. I could ding this dish too: it’s a little heavy for lunch, a little stiff against a spoon. But this chocolate cheesecake, served as a small cake rather than a slice, had a great balance of sweet and salt, and would be enough on its own to get me back there. Honorable Mention: Cannoli at Rosalina.

Best Dessert (that someone else got): Cookies at New Rivers. This is unfair because ginger cookies are my weakness. Also the coffee at New Rivers was amazing (I believe it comes from New Harvest).

Best Service: Chez Pascal. This is a tough category to judge on Restaurant Week, especially in a college town, where summer is a slow season. The quick upswing in customers put several dining rooms under visible duress. At Chez Pascal our server was prompt, knowledgeable about the wine list, and efficient. He did make one mistake in taking down the order, but since it resulted in our table getting to share some amazing bread pudding for free I can’t really complain about it. Honorable Mention: New Rivers.

Price to Belly: Parkside Rotisserie. We went for lunch and while the seafood crepes I ordered were not petite, the roast chicken entree was half of an actual goddamn chicken. The food at Parkside was very good, but this was one place that definitely wasn’t stingy about what it gave you for the price point. Honorable Mention: Waterman Grille.

Best Overall: New Rivers. With a strong appetizer, excellent entree, and a decent dessert (with such great coffee) this would be tough to beat. But every restaurant I went to had a solid menu and good flavors. Thanks to CAV, Chez Pascal, Local 121, Rosalina, and Waterman Grille for participating in Restaurant Weeks. I’m pretty sure I’ll visit all of you again before this time next year.

Arctic char pate with pickled vegetables at New Rivers. Photo by Meng

Arctic char pate with pickled vegetables at New Rivers. Photo by Meng

September 20, 1863

September 20, 1863

Braxton Bragg spent the evening of the 19th being as useless as possible. Despite the confusion reigning in the woods that day, his men had done fairly well and pushed the Yankees back past the Lafayette Road. They hadn’t gotten north of the Union troops, but they were in a good position to attack and [...]

September 19, 1863

September 19, 1863

Although it was one of the bloodiest confrontations of the Civil War, and despite being a rare Southern victory in the western theater, the Battle of Chickamauga is mostly forgotten. The battle took place south of Chattanooga, close to the borders of Alabama and Georgia, but even in those states the Eastern battles are better [...]

The Man Who Lost Gettysburg

The Man Who Lost Gettysburg

Gettysburg plays a central role in the mythology of the Lost Cause. Two Confederate generals present on the battlefield, Isaac Trimble and Jubal Early, were among the myth’s first proponents, and adherents believe that if Lee had won there, the war might have gone differently. The Army of the Potomac might have been destroyed; European [...]