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Catch a Hilarious Holiday Play

Okay, so it involves a ride “all the way” up to Woonsocket. And yes it will be occurring during perhaps the busiest month of the year. That said, it’s still worth the effort to catch comedian-extraordinaire Frank O’Donnell’s annual holiday gift to Rhode Island. For the third year in a row, the talented Providence native will be writing, directing and producing an original holiday play that will be running at Theatre Works in Woonsocket on December 6, 7, 8 and 13, 14, 15. Called A Christmas Carmella, the play revolves around grandmother Carmella who is having trouble remembering the exact details of Dickens’ classic as she presents it to her grandchildren. The first two plays in the series were laugh out loud funny and broke all attendance records, we’re told. Special celebrity guests will appear in each of the performances. For tickets and more information about the play, call 766-1898.


Making a Difference, One Cup at a Time

While making an effort to keep cool this summer, you can support a good cause too. Alex’s Lemonade Stand Foundation is a charity committed to finding a cure as well as making a difference for children with cancer everywhere. The foundation also funds nursing grants in an effort to improve the quality of life and care of children who are living with cancer.

Old Navy in the Providence Place Mall will be hosting an Alex's Lemonade Stand next week, starting this Saturday July 21st until next Saturday July 28th. During regular mall hours you can stop in to Old Navy, located off of Francis Street, and grab a refreshing cup of lemonade from Alex's stand. Good lemonade for a good cause, why not?   More

An Hour in the Life of Artist Joseph Skorupa

Who: Joseph Skorupa

What: Artist & Founder of Owls to Athens

When: 1pm, Friday June 22

Where: His studio, Harris Ave, Providence

Why: The man is a modern day visionary

It’s a smoldering hot day in June, and I’m following Joe down a familiar hallway. I’d taken the same path through that same mill building hall back in December, when I’d come to talk with another Joe — Pretty Snake designer Joseph Aaron Segal. It was much colder then. “I just finished putting the air conditioner in a few minutes ago,” he says, looking back at me. Thank the Lord, I think.

Supporting himself entirely through his art, Joe is heavily involved with helping to grow the network of creative minds here in Providence. “My main priorities are to provide opportunities for emerging artists so that they won’t have to move elsewhere to make a living, and to establish a tight knit arts community in the city,” he says with a modest smile. “We need a pack of wolves around here.”

Easily, he’s leading the pack: Joe founded Owls to Athens with his friend Michael Spillane so that street and contemporary artists can share ideas and help each other grow. On May 17, Owls to Athens held a group art exhibition titled Spring Night Riot at E&O Tap. Art was hung, a DJ spun tunes, friends grilled food out back. It’s casual events such as this that make art accessible to those who may not normally seek out more formal gallery experiences. Joe gets it.

“Owls to Athens comes from an old expression used to denote a useless action – carrying owls to Athens. It’s a reminder to not take yourself too seriously,” Joe explains. “Obviously, I’m extremely passionate about what I do, but still you can’t take yourself too seriously – especially in the art world.” I glance again at his collection of work strewn about the studio; indeed his passion is …   More

An Hour in the Life of Jewelry Designer Jessica Ricci

Who: Jessica Ricci

What: Designer, Jessica Ricci Jewelry

When: 3:30pm, Monday, November 12

Where: Her studio at Hope Artiste Village in Pawtucket

Why: We have so much in common it’s sort of frightening

I first met Jess Ricci in April at TEDx Providence; we bonded over a shared love of innovative ideas and cute lap dogs. (Jess calls her Cavapoo the love of her life.) After doing some research I discovered a few other passions we share: traveling and writing. In fact, she built her wildly successful jewelry brand around the two.

After graduating with a master’s in journalism from NYU, she worked and lived in Manhattan. Seeking adventure, she moved to Italy to teach English and gain some creative inspiration. (Did I mention that I too used to be a teacher?) It was there in Rome that Jess discovered her passion for jewelry making.

I enter Jess’s studio to find her answering emails, a pup curled up on her lap. She greets me with a smile; Aggie greets me with a lick. The bright and airy studio inside Hope Artiste Village functions as both workspace and storefront. While Jess sometimes utilizes interns, her only full-time employee has fur.

“Aggie comes here every day with me,” Jess says as she stands up from her chair. She lovingly pets the tiny hypoallergenic pooch that’s now nestled in the crook of her elbow while I browse her meticulous display cases. I notice there’s nothing I wouldn’t myself wear. Everything is so chic, so global. There’s a reason for that.

While in Italy, Jess was mesmerized by found objects such as coins and keys. “Back then I had no real jewelry making experience except for stringing beads. I thought it would be amazing if I could figure out a way to turn the antiques into jewelry.” It wasn’t an easy task, but the results of her work are impressive.

Pieces from Jess’s collection have been featured in magazines including InStyle, O, Real …   More


Indie Pop Comes to PVD

Forget the usual Tuesday routine and do something memorable tonight: two indie pop bands are playing a double bill at Lupo's. You've probably heard Fitz and The Tantrums's "Out of My League" on WBRU recently, and you've heard "Safe and Sound," the breakout hit by Capital Cities, well, everywhere this summer. The night’s ear-ringing insanity is only the second concert of the duo’s cross-country Bright Futures Tour.

And the evening’s eclectic love affair includes another: acclaimed mashup artist DJ Ear Worm, who created a new track, “Kangaroo League,” specifically for the tour. The track creates a terrifyingly delicious threesome of Fitz and The Tantrums’ “Out Of My League” and Capital Cities’ “Safe and Sound” and “Kangaroo Court.” It’s bound to be unbelievable.

Doors open at 6:30pm and the show starts around 7:30pm. Tickets are $25 at the door. Get on it now if you want to get in. 79 Washington Street, Providence. 401-331-5876. Purchase tickets online.   More


A Fond Farewell

I’ve been writing about food, restaurants and chefs for SO Rhode Island since this magazine made its debut in September 2007, and since 1998 for its parent company which also publishes Providence Monthly and The Bay. I figure I’ve written hundreds of articles and restaurant reviews during my career as a food writer, which began in 1983. During that time I’ve also written several books about Rhode Island, its wonderful restaurant scene and its many talented home cooks.

It has been a dream job, but now it’s time to slow down a bit, and this is my final column for SO Rhode Island. I’m giving up almost all aspects of my career as of this month. The only thing I’ll be doing from now on is writing cookbooks and restaurant guides. That will keep me more than busy.

In 2006 I wrote The Providence and Rhode Island Cookbook, which was published by Globe Pequot Press. Last year, my publisher asked me to update the book, and The Providence and Rhode Island Cookbook, Second Edition came out a few months ago. The 292-page book has been totally updated and now features 30 new recipes from some of the hottest restaurants in the area. The second edition also features new color photography that illustrates how beautiful our state is, and how appealing our delicious food is – from arancini to zeppoles.

The book contains more than 200 recipes that are unique to Rhode Island, especially from the southern part of the state. I write about our beloved johnnycakes, the thin variety from Newport County and the thicker version found in South County. I sing the praises of Allie’s Donuts, Block Island doughnuts, May breakfasts and the breakfast sandwich favored by local sportfishermen.

And then there’s our amazing seafood – real Rhode Island chowder with its clear broth, the red clam chowder we enjoyed at Rocky Point and the creamy scallop chowder from The Mooring Restaurant in Newport. So many of my favorite recipes are in …   More

Taking Their Show On the Road

One of our former "10 to Watch" honorees and a former "Most Eligible Singles" cover girl respectively, performers Kristen Minsky and Miss Wensday are heading out on tour. Their adventures in vintage jazz will take them from Providence, through Pennsylvania, New York, Maryland, DC, North Carolina and back home, picking up cleverly stashed-away members of their band, The Cotillions, along the way. Of course, with the price of gas these days, it can be tough for a gal to make a living. That's why they've started a Kickstarter campaign to get their show on the road. In exchange for a little travel budget, they're offering everything from autographed prints to show tickets to command performances. We love to see PVD performers going out to conquer the world (or at least the mid-Atlantic), so check them out before the deadline on August 31.   More

Providence's Ethiopian Ambassador Takes It Outside

Abyssinia opened on Wickenden Street last year as the first Ethiopian restaurant in Providence. Despite its popularity elsewhere in New England, particularly in Boston, the East African cuisine hadn’t yet taken hold here – and despite Abyssinia’s popularity, for many people it still hasn’t. (African food in general is sadly scarce in the Providence area. Elea’s in South Providence is a popular neighborhood spot for Liberian food. Village provides some Nigerian specialties in Pawtucket, and the excellent Senegalese restaurant Dakar was unfortunately short lived in Central Falls.) That’s why Ben Thorp, one of the proprietors of Abyssinia, is launching the restaurant’s food cart this month. It’s expanding on the business’ twofold mission: to help popularize the cuisines of Ethiopia and neighboring Eritrea in Providence, and to cultivate what Thorp calls a “social entrepreneur business,” which employs refugees and immigrants to use and share the culinary skills developed in their home countries. The modified hot dog cart will make many of the usual food truck rounds – special events, College Hill, farmer’s markets – serving a variety of Ethiopian specialties, with a focus on the wats, or stews, for which the cuisine is best known. The restaurant already has a loyal fan base, and the ability to go mobile will allow Abyssinia to bring what is arguably one of the world’s most underrated food cultures to more people in more places. It’s the first step in what Thorp envisions as a fleet of mobile eateries, all employing refugees to share the foods of their home countries, and he’s trying to secure nonprofit funding to establish training programs. Be on the lookout for it this summer, because if you’re one of the unfortunate souls who still hasn’t tried Ethiopian food, now’s the time to change that.    More


Restaurant News That Will Make Your Mouth Water

Remember Marley’s on the Beach in Warwick? Well, while they’ve kept the name we’ve all come to know, thanks to the transformative efforts of Spike TV’s Bar Rescue it’s under gone a major overhaul. Bar Rescue features world-renowned food and drink industry consultant Jon Taffer, who has in his career flipped or owned over 800 nightclubs and bar establishments. A hulking man with jet black hair, Taffer exudes the authority and know-how to kick failing establishments from the depths of bankruptcy despair to the models of profitable success, with the help of updated industry technology and experienced chefs and mixologists. With new food items like Grilled Swordfish Kebobs and specialty cocktails like The Beachcomber, which features Smirnoff Watermelon, blue Curacao, cranberry and lime juice, with an orange garnish, it seems “out with the old and in with the new” is just what this place needed. Episode airs Sept. 15.

Rocco’s Pub and Grub, the small jewel of a pub, is also enjoying a bit of a change now, with new Chef Matt and Bar Manager Bruce Livingston, who are sure to bring an innovative twist to the loved pub. And while no mention of menu changes are in the works, surprises are sure to be just around the corner.

Quench Your Thirst

Some say that change is good, but new is better. Nay & Poppy is a new operation that seeks to promote healthy living through its locally made, organic, vegan artisan teas. With tea names like Hibiscus Sunshine, a fruity flavored tea boasting ingredients like hibiscus, rosehips, orange peel, lemongrass, rose petals and spearmint it’s not hard to see how this bunch is popular among tea lovers and newbies alike. They even feature a tea for expectant moms, cleverly named Juicy Goddess, that uses raspberry leaf, alfalfa leaf and fenugreek, packed with vitamins, to promote milk production and anti-inflammatory properties. Items can be found on their website or …   More

A Cool, Refreshing (and Healthy) Treat

With last summer’s opening of Pinkberry in Garden City qualifying as Probably the Best Thing to Happen in Cranston Ever, the popularity of urban/Asian-style frozen yogurt shops continues to rise. There are already Juniper and Froyo World on Thayer Street, and now the north side of town is getting in on the action with the opening of Hot & Cold at 895 Smith Street, a combination coffee and frozen yogurt shop (hence the name). Open since the spring, Hot & Cold maintains the tradition established by operations like Pinkberry of offering healthier, more thoughtfully sourced treats. In addition to high quality frozen yogurt, a more waistline-friendly alternative to ice cream, they feature fresh fruit toppings that are replenished throughout the day, as well as organic coffee. Co-owners Vicky Fernandez and her brother were inspired by their time living in New York and California respectively, and their goal is to bring a product that is better for you and better for the environment to the neighborhood – which, considering the shop’s proximity to LaSalle Academy and its popularity with the students, qualifies as both a smart plan and an admirable one.   More

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