When you think of delicious restaurants in Rhode Island, you probably think Providence, Newport, Bristol. Your first thought isn’t likely the Blackstone Valley, in the northern part of the state. Blackstone Valley Food Tours wants to change that. There are three tours scheduled for September, and more announced frequently. On September 10, visit The Bread Lab in Pawtucket for a lesson in preparing Beer Battered Crepes, and then a meal of Beer Battered Crepes with sirloin, arugula, goat cheese. September 17 brings culinary adventurers to Taqueria Lupita in Central Falls for a Mexican sauce demo, and a dinner of Mole Poblano served with chicken. On September 24, Village Restaurant in Pawtucket will teach patrons how to make Chicken with Plantains, and then how to eat them (though you probably al- ready know that part).
Sure, you like wine. But if you love wine – really love it – then the Ocean House Wine Camp Weekend is for you. From October 31-November 2, get an immersive wine experience from the gourmands at Watch Hill’s most opulent hotel and the winemakers at Jonathan Edwards Winery in Connecticut. Arrive on Friday night for a wine and cheese tasting, then depart early Saturday morning for the vineyard. At Jonathan Edwards, you’ll see the grape harvest first hand, and then spend the day blending your own case of wine, complete with a custom label. Enjoy a picnic in the field before departing for Saltwater Farms Vineyard for a tasting, then back to the Ocean House for a wine dinner at Seasons, where (if you choose) you can share your wine with others. If you don’t want to, we don’t blame you. 1 Bluff Avenue, Watch Hill. 584-7000.
Learn the Italian culinary tradition at Chef Walter’s Cooking School, taught by world renowned chef Walter Potenza in the heart of Providence’s Federal Hill. Spend an evening learning Italian basics like sauces and soups, or bring a group to cook a multi-course meal that you all enjoy together afterwards. Chef Walter also offers tasting evenings of flights of cheese, olive oil, cured meats and more; pre-college culinary courses and a 300+ hour chef training program for serious foodies. For the ultimate immersive experience, travel to Italy with the chef on a culinary excursion – those trips happen annually. 286 Atwells Avenue, 273-2652.
Ring in the holiday season at Sweenor’s Chocolates Holiday Open House. On the first weekend in December, head to the Wakefield chocolate shop for a candy making workshop, where your little Christmas elves can hand-roll candy canes the old fashioned way. 21 Charles Street, Wakefield. 783-4433.
Sure, you eat local. In Rhode Island, where farm-to-table dining happens at every restaurant worth its salt, it’s easy to do. Maybe you even hit up a few farmer’s markets during the summer. But there are different levels of being a locavore, and The RI Fruit Growers Association wants you at the top. To get you there, they’ve made eating local a little more compeititve with their 2014 Farm Scavenger Hunt. The game brings you to nearly 30 Rhode Island farms and vineyards. If you collect enough stamps, you’re entered into a drawing to win big prizes. Download your game board at.
Get a taste of the Gilded Age at the Newport Mansions Food and Wine Festival, September 19-21. For two days, the mansions become a foodie’s paradise. The grand tasting presents over 200 wines on the lawn of Marble House. Chef’s dinners and winemakers brunch ensure you’ll be well-fed between all of that tippling. The Wine & Rosecliff Gala is a delicious celebration in Newport’s most beautiful ballroom. Couple that with celebrity chef demonstrations – this year’s headlining presenter is none other than Martha Stewart herself – and you’ll think you’ve died and gone to gourmand heaven.
Get a true taste of the Ocean State at the Bowen’s Wharf Seafood Festival. The 24th annual event is happening in Newport on October 18-19. Admission is free to this gathering of delicious local restaurants, which are selling tasting portions of fresh preparations of the ocean’s bounty. Live music and beer and wine tastings make it the kind of thing you want to spend the whole afternoon enjoying. Bands this year include the Atwater-Donnelly Duo, Abbey Rhode and the Big Cat Blues Band. 13 Bowen’s Wharf, Newport. 849-2243.
Once the tourists have cleared out, sail back to Block Island for the Taste of Block Island, happening September 26-28. While this is technically a food event – purchasing a button gets you discounts at restaurants all over the island – there is a lot more to do than just eat. Planned activities include wine and beer tastings, paddleboarding, kayaking, taxi tours of the island. Stores along Water and Dodge Streets will be having sidewalk sales, with deep end-of-season discounts. The same goes with hotels, because you’re going to want to make a weekend of it.
Get your food straight from the source on a Matunuck Oyster Farm Tour. The farm, which is part of Matunuck Oyster Bar, produces some of the state’s best bivalves. Begin your tour in the restaurant, where owner/farmer/chef Perry Raso will give an informational talk on aquaculture in East Matunuck Barrier Beach, Succotash Salt Marsh and Potter Pond Estuary. Then, head out on the boat to see the oysters growing yourself. The tour ends – how else? – with lunch at the restaurant. 629 Succotash Road, Matunuck. 783-4202.
Beer aficionados flock to the Great International Beer Festival on November 8. Now in its 21st year, this event at the Rhode Island Convention Center brings in thousands of people to sample craft brews and eat delicious food. Music this year will be performed by Steve Smith and the Nakeds, and Young Neil and the Vipers. While there will be a strong showing from local brewers like Foolproof, Grey Sail, Bucket Brewery and Narragansett, there will also be beers from around the country and around the world. 1 Sabin Street, Providence.
You don’t need to be a matriculating student to learn from the culinary greats at Johnson & Wales University. Their Chefs Choice cooking classes are one-time, hands on demos for culinary dabblers. JWU professors regularly offer chef’s basics like knife skills and pastry skills, but there are classes in Wine and Cheese Pairings, Autumn Appetizers, Macarons, Beer Appreciation, Ethnic Vegetarian and Spanish Tapas. 295 Harborside Boulevard, Providence.