Travel · Uncategorized

Out and About with Zoë: Downcity Food Tour

This past weekend, in between summer camp sessions, I took Zoë on a mini food adventure right in our own backyard!
Rhode Island Red Food Tours offers cultural walking & tasting tours thru Newport and downtown (or “Downcity”) Providence. I’m looking to be a tour guide so I took Zoë along with me to observe and experience a taste of our creative capital.

We met our host and guide Andrew in front of city hall where he gave us a brief but interesting history of Rhode Island, Providence and it’s founder, Roger Williams. We introduced ourselves as well. A great group of tourists from, New Jersey, D.C., Cape Cod and England. The day had begun with torrential downpours but by the time our tour started( they run rain or shine!), the rain was reduced to occasional sprinkles. Thank goodness.

We were developing quite an appetite while listening to Andrew. Luckily our first stop, Ellie’s Bakery was right around the corner. I missed the name of our host, but she was so welcoming while telling us about Ellie’s, Providence & RI. I was practically drooling staring at the crostini she was holding.
It was Ellie’s take on a Cuban Sandwich. Ham, Pickle, Cheese & Mustard. Yum.
We ended with a chocolate sweet treat.
That was just our first stop! Off we went to the next stop, but not without meandering thru some of the colorful alleyways of downtown Providence.
Zoë & I loved noticing nooks and crannies we had never noticed before despite having lived in Providence for 12years.

We popped into the as220 Printshop for a brief look around. Pretty cool to know you can take classes etc..I adore letterpress so I’ll have to keep that in mind in case I want to design my own letterhead.
Thankfully still hungry, we ventured on over to the downcity outpost of North Bakery. A “non-traditional” bakery where we enjoyed a fabulous potato-zucchini coconut curry hand-pie.

The bakery is next to The Biltmore Hotel. While Andrew told us some hotel ghost stories, we gobbled up our goodies.
Next on our stop was Rogue Island, a cool farm-to-table restaurant located in The Arcade, which is the oldest indoor mall in the country! At Rogue we enjoyed locally-sourced chicken wings & spicy wedge potatoes.
The owner came out and talked about their philosophy and the beers we were about to try.
Andrew, our guide must have known we needed a “pick-me-up” because he then walked us down the hall to New Harvest Coffee & Spirits. A Cafe and Bar. The bartender whipped up ( but not for Zoë of course!) a refreshing iced Irish Coffee for us.

They use their own locally roasted beans in their coffee. I loved this taste. I only wish I paid more attention as I’d love to make this at home.
Sufficiently “picked up” we walked on to
Tom’s Bao Bao, where we sat for a minute, got to know our fellow tourists and enjoyed a warm Bao: a traditional Chinese steamed bread roll filled with meat or veggies.
Zoë & I enjoyed the vegetarian Bao.
We walked a little further down Westminster St. to Providence Coal Fired Pizza
We gathered around the pizza bar staring into the super hot coal fired oven and chatting some more with our neighbors.
We all gobbled up our crispy chewy crusted slices of Margarita pizza topped with tossed arugula drizzled with a light lemon vinaigrette. Fantastic!
We ended our tour on a very high note. Around the corner from the pizza place is Gracie’s a long established, award-winning, upscale American restaurant.
We tucked ourselves into the cozy wine room.
The Sommelier came down to greet us and served us a refreshing glass of Soave.

We were so excited to meet Chef Matt Varga.
He talked about Gracie’s, their food, their rooftop garden(!!) and the fabulous crudo we got to try. The crudo featured heavenly Bomster scallops from CT and in season vegetables from Gracie’s own garden. The dish was stupendous. The scallops were tender, slightly sweet & creamy. The green beans were fresh & crunchy and the tarragon gave it all a herbaceous unique flavor. Zoë and I loved it.
To cap off the tasting and the tour, we finished with a famous Ellie’s Peach Macaron. Sweet and scrumptious.
Such a fun afternoon exploring downtown Providence and learning more about some of the great restaurants/cafes/bakeries we have here in our small city.
If you ever find yourself coming to Rhode Island for a visit, or if you live here and are looking for something fun, interesting & tasty to do, Zoë and I highly recommend you take a Rhode Island Red Food Tour.
You can start by visiting their site online(link above), call them; 866-736-6343 or e-mail:

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