I’m Literally Screaming: The scoop on great Rhody ice creams

Summer is officially here, and that means it’s time to venture out after dinner and grab a scoop of ice cream! Oh, what? You don’t do after-dinner ice cream? You’re weak and I don’t want to be friends with you. For those of you who are strong enough to enjoy an apres-cookout nosh, here are some picks for the most fabulous frozen treats!

The Wright Scoop

Who could actually say no to ice cream so farm-fresh that you may potentially get to shake the hoof of the cow that produced it before you dig in? The Wright Scoop’s Insta-friendly vintage airstream trailers at the North Smithfield flagship and at Warren’s Blount Clam Shack turn out some of the most delicious scoops in RI (Black Raspberry Oreo, anyone?), but what really sets Wright’s apart are the mounds of homemade whipped cream that top these icy confections. I have been known to just get a bowl of this with toppings. Seriously. Run, don’t walk! #MooMoo

200 Woonsocket Hill Road, North Smithfield

335 Water Street, Warren

The Inside Scoop

Nothing says Americana like a good ol’ fashioned roadside ice cream shop, and The Inside Scoop in North Kingstown would fit right into a modern day Kerouac novel. Your head will actually explode over the dizzying array of over 50 house-made flavors, but my personal pick is the Cookie Dough Parfait, featuring layer upon layer of dreamy soft serve ice cream, cookie dough and whipped cream. With so much to choose from, you really can’t go wrong.

30 Ten Rod Road, North Kingstown

Sandcastles Sundaes

I have to admit, I was a bit skeptical the first time I visited Sandcastles — as a make-your-own sundae shop, I was like “there’s TOO much freedom here. This is basically a Chipotle for ice cream!” Boy, was I quickly proven wrong! Yes, there’s so much to choose from (Even bacon. Get the bacon.), but everything is super yummy. If you’re not in an adventurous mood, they have several handcrafted selections for sundaes and milkshakes (The Coffee and Donuts Milkshake is a whimsical riff on Rhode Island Coffee Milk), but make-your-own is the way to go. Be sure to snap a selfie with Chip, their costumed mascot, before heading out to people-watch on the patio.

225 Goddard Row, Newport

Cold Fusion Gelato

Mmkay, so gelato is not TECHNICALLY ice cream (it has less cream and more milk, resulting in a richer flavor – I think I just helped you win trivia — #You’reWelcome), but Cold Fusion has been a Newport staple since 2004, and as I always say, if you can survive the early 2000s, you can survive anything. Sure, all of the classics are present and accounted for (the stracciatella is particularly masterful, with a creamy base and dark chocolate flecks dotted throughout), but my new fave for summer is the bright purple Ube Gelato. This tuber is the new kid on the block in Newport (peep the Nitro Bar’s Ube Latte right across the street!), but is quickly becoming a fan favorite no matter in a cup, cone or sensible coffee beverage.

389 Thames Street, Newport

The Perfect Sweet Shoppe

I stumbled upon this actual hidden gem while on a pilgrimage to the adjacent Taco Box Truck, and it’s still one of my favorite foodie finds! Not only does The Perfect Sweet craft incredible desserts, such as actually the best cupcakes I have ever had (that buttercream frosting, tho) and French-style macarons, but they also have a year-round (!!!) Scoop Shop, so you can get your sundae fix even in the dead of winter. And you’ll definitely want to, because there’s a Macaron Ice Cream Sandwich, and what’s better than that?

16 Joyce Street, Warren

Monkeypox in RI: First probable case identified

RI has detected its first probable case of monkeypox virus. The state Department of Health (RIDOH) said in a statement that a male patient in his thirties who resides in Providence County is hospitalized in good condition after testing positive for an orthopox virus, which is a genus of viruses that includes moneypox. The case is awaiting confirmation specifically for the monkeypox virus from the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

The RI case is believed to be a result of travel to Massachusetts, where according to the CDC one case was previously identified. RIDOH said they are conducting contact tracing to identify individuals who may have been exposed to the RI patient while he was infectious, and contacts will be monitored for three weeks after their last day of exposure.

Interim RIDOH Director James McDonald said in the statement, “While monkeypox is certainly a concern, the risk to Rhode Islanders remains low – even with this finding. Monkeypox is a known – and remains an exceedingly uncommon – disease in the United States. Fortunately, there is a vaccine for monkeypox that can be given before or after exposure to help prevent infection. RIDOH continues to engage in active case finding and we have been communicating the latest information with healthcare providers so that they have the information they need to help us ‘identify, isolate, and inform.’”

States with cases of monkeypox as of June 8, 2022. (Source: cdc.gov/poxvirus/monkeypox/response/2022/index.html)

As of yesterday (June 9), the CDC had confirmed only 40 monkeypox cases in the United States. Worldwide there have been 1,200 cases across 29 countries primarily in Western Europe, including the United Kingdom, Spain, Portugal, and Germany, although 100 were in Canada. RIDOH said, “While anyone who has been in close contact with a confirmed or suspected monkeypox case can acquire monkeypox, people who have recently traveled to a country where monkeypox has been reported or men who have sex with other men are currently at a higher risk for monkeypox exposure. It is important to avoid stigmatizing any groups that may be considered at higher risk of exposure to the disease.”

Because the risk of exposure is so low, precautionary vaccination against orthopox viruses is recommended by the CDC only for clinical laboratory workers or researchers handling animals susceptible to infection, but for anyone actually exposed “CDC recommends that the vaccine be given within 4 days from the date of exposure in order to prevent onset of the disease. If given between 4–14 days after the date of exposure, vaccination may reduce the symptoms of disease, but may not prevent the disease.”

Monkeypox and smallpox

Smallpox is another orthopox virus and until its eradication a half-century ago it killed about 30% of those infected. Monkeypox has a case-fatality rate of 3-6%, according to the World Health Organization (WHO), but there are two known variants commonly termed Central African and West African, the former about twice as deadly as the latter. Monkeypox typically causes death or severe injury through complications such as pneumonia, encephalitis, or sepsis, all highly amenable to effective treatment with modern healthcare, and death outside of Africa is extremely rare. Usually monkeypox patients recover on their own within two to four weeks.

It is believed those vaccinated against smallpox before routine vaccination for the general public ended in 1972 likely retain significant protection against monkeypox even decades later; the US military continued routine vaccination against smallpox until 1991. “Past data from Africa suggests that the smallpox vaccine is at least 85% effective in preventing monkeypox,” the CDC said, but also cautioned that “Smallpox vaccination can protect you from smallpox for about 3 to 5 years. After that time, its ability to protect you decreases.”

Monkeypox ways of infection and symptoms

Infection with monkeypox usually occurs either from direct contact with infected animals (blood, bodily fluids, or lesions), especially rodents, or from close contact with infected humans (respiratory secretions, skin lesions, or recently contaminated objects). “Transmission via droplet respiratory particles usually requires prolonged face-to-face contact, which puts health workers, household members and other close contacts of active cases at greater risk,” according to the WHO.

Monkeypox can spread “through contact with body fluids, monkeypox sores, or shared items (such as clothing and bedding) that have been contaminated with fluids or sores of a person with monkeypox. Monkeypox virus can also spread between people through respiratory droplets typically in a close setting, such as the same household or a healthcare setting. Common household disinfectants can kill the monkeypox virus,” RIDOH said. “Monkeypox is not known to spread easily among humans; transmission generally does not occur through casual contact. Human-to-human transmission occurs primarily through direct contact with body fluids, including the rash caused by monkeypox. Transmission might also occur through prolonged, close, face-to-face contact. The time from someone becoming infected to showing symptoms for monkeypox is usually 7−14 days but can range from 5−21 days. Infected people are not contagious before they show symptoms.”

“Symptoms of monkeypox include fever, headache, muscle aches, exhaustion, and swollen lymph nodes. Infected people develop a rash, often beginning on the face then spreading to other parts of the body, that turns into fluid-filled bumps (pox). These pox lesions eventually dry up, scab over, and fall off. The illness typically lasts 2−4 weeks. Currently, there is no proven, safe treatment for monkeypox, though the limited evidence available indicates that smallpox treatments may be useful. Most people recover with no treatment,” RIDOH said. “Anyone who has symptoms of monkeypox should call their healthcare provider before going to the office for an appointment. Let them know you are concerned about possible monkeypox infection so they can take precautions to ensure that others are not exposed.”

Don’t Cancel Your Summer Reading and Listening: Books that deserve some acclaim

Tempted to zone out on the beach and scroll through InstaFaceTwitTok? Step away from the phone and visit a different world…

The biggest danger of relaxing at the beach with a thick book used to be dozing off and getting bonked on the head by a heavy hardback. Now, with digital ebook readers and audiobooks, even that risk has been mitigated.

Buy them in our local bookstores. Get them from the library. Here are some of my readings and listening suggestions:

The Expanse Series (9 books plus bonus stories) by James S.A. Corey

Are you a fan of the TV show? Jim Holden is a peripheral character in a dead end job hauling ice in the asteroid belt, when he ends up in the middle of a deep space shooting war. After that, he and the crew of the Rocinante manage to get in the middle of just about everything that goes wrong inside (and outside) the solar system. 

The books are so much better than the TV series. Instead of frantically cutting from scene to scene, trying to both milk the drama and keep the story line intelligible, you’ll actually understand what’s going on. And Alex doesn’t die because the actor got canceled. Plus, if you’re a science geek, you’ll appreciate the plausible physics of space travel and battles. 

Be sure to check out the novellas that explain the origins of the near-light drive and all about Amos Burton. 

The Rivers of London Series (9 books plus comic books!) by Ben Aaronovitch, Narrated by Kobna Holdbrook-Smith.

Peter Grant is a black police bobby in London on his first days on the job, who happens to meet a ghost. Mayhem ensues. I’ll be honest, Aaronovitch, who wrote a few things for a show called “Dr. Who,” has created an entire parallel world where magic is real, and London is a place you definitely want to hang out in. 

I don’t want to read these books. I just want to listen to them. Kobna Holdbrook-Smith is the most amazing audiobook narrator on the planet. He breathes life with voice and accent into throwaway characters who appear in two paragraphs. 

But wait, there’s a bunch of side stories that happen in comic books… 

The Country Club Murders Series (13 books and audioboks) by Julie Mulhern, narrated by Callie Beaulieu

And now for something completely different. Ellison Russell is a Kansas City artist, born into a wealthy family and married to a real shithead. In the first book, Ellison accidentally swims into the corpse of one of her husband’s mistresses. She meets and (over the course of the next half dozen books) falls in love with police detective Anarchy Jones. Set in the 1970s, before cell phones and climate change, the series reminds us what roles women were forced to play not so long ago. The narration by CT narrator Callie Beaulieu is light and fun and completely engrossing.

The Entire Harry Potter Series (7 audiobooks) by J.K. Rowling, narrated by Jim Dale

Ok, so she’s been partially canceled. Set it aside. Put in the earbuds and enjoy the story of The Boy Who Lived. Follow Harry Potter, Ron and Hermione from their first year through their epic final battle. Jim Dale manages to distinguish all the different voices in an epic and flawless performance.  Yes, it’s better than the movies. 

The Groston Rules by Mark Binder

Yeah, I’m going to plug my own book in the middle here. (Hopefully the editor will let it slide) (He did) What happens when your school gets shut down due to climate change and you’re bussed to another community? Seven high school seniors get into and out of trouble in this fun and funny work set in a pre-pandemic of historical fiction (2018, gasp!). The first novel serialized on Spotify, and the first novel to include a Bollywood-style dance number.

Termination Shock: A Novel by Neal Stephenson

I’ve been a fan of Neal Stephenson since his first cyberpunk novel, Snowcrash. Then he went into a whole period of Steampunk, and now he’s back to the near future. It’s neither a cheery nor optimistic book. Climate change is real. COVID-19 is endemic. Great men (and women) are trying to do something about it. The book is interesting largely as a how-to manual on how to build a sulfur launch system to mitigate climate change. If the peripheral characters had more to do it would have been better.

Mark Binder is a former editor of Motif and the author of more than two dozen books for all ages, including It Ate My Sister, Izzy Abrahmson’s Village Life Series and The Groston Rules.

Tropical Summertime Spritz 

Summer is upon us (finally) again! And what better way to celebrate the hot weather than a new spritz in your cocktail repertoire? 

This month I made a coconut fat-washed Campari as a base for a unique, crushable spritz to liven up your warmer months. The most involved process is not that involved, so don’t get nervous. 

Get yourself some unrefined coconut oil and for every four and a half ounces of Campari, add two ounces of the coconut oil. I’d recommend starting small with four-and-a-half ounces of Campari in case you don’t like the final product. If that happens, you haven’t wasted much alcohol. 

First make sure the coconut oil is liquid, which just means submerging its vessel in hot water for about ten to fifteen minutes. Once the coconut oil is liquefied, marry it with the Campari. Seal the liquid in a glass jar and allow it to sit at least four hours at room temperature. Next, put it in the freezer overnight. The longer you allow it to freeze, the more the coconut flavors will pop. I personally recommend twenty-four hours in the freezer. 

When you remove the jar, you will see the coconut oil solidified on top of the Campari. Remove the coconut fat and fine strain with a mesh strainer or cheesecloth to make sure none of the coconut fat remains. The result is a coconut forward, slightly bitter Campari. Yummy! 

The rest is even easier:

Coconut Campari Spritz

4 ounces seltzer water 

1 ½ ounce coconut fat-washed Campari

¾ ounce pineapple juice

½ ounce simple syrup

1 orange wheel, sliced about ¼ inch thin

Add all ingredients but the orange wheel to a highball glass, top with ice and roll between glass and half a shaker

Garnish with the orange wheel pressed against the glass, held in place with a straw

The coconut fat wash really mellows the Campari’s natural bitterness, which is only further pushed to the end of the palate by the pineapple juice and seltzer. This is a subtle, tropical and ever so slightly bitter spritz. If you’re a fan of an Aperol Spritz or an Americano, I’d recommend trying this at home.

Happy fat-washing! 

Let the Foodie Festivities Begin: Tasty recommendations for summer food and drink events

RI stays true to its community-driven nature as events throughout summer celebrate the culinary wonders of the Ocean State.

Kristen Adamo, President and CEO of the Providence Warwick Convention & Visitors Bureau, says that RI, and PVD in particular, has built a reputation as a culinary capital, which reels in tourists and visitors. 

“Having events really helps us market the destination to people,” says Adamo. “We really are known as a culinary destination across the country.”

The lack of fast food restaurants, especially in the cities, speaks volumes to RI tourists and visitors about the eating habits of residents in the local area, says Adamo. 

This summer there are a slew of events you will want to add to your activities checklist. As the lists can sometimes get overwhelming, we decided to point out a few of our favorites for you.

Coastal Wine Trail’s Wine, Cheese & Chocolate Festival

At the Wine, Cheese & Chocolate Festival in Westport, MA, attendees taste their way through sweet and savory delicacies and try over 45 wines paired with cheese and chocolate. Visitors get to socialize with the vineyard owners and wine makers from the Coastal Wine Trail (which includes southeastern MA, coastal RI and coastal CT) as well as interact with local food artisans and fellow wine enthusiasts. 

After the festival was canceled in 2021, the Coastal Wineries of Southeast New England are eager to get people out and connected for a day of fun. The event runs all day with tickets purchasable for two-and-a-half-hour time slots, giving ample time for attendees to talk with everyone there and taste each local wine. 

The event will be held on Saturday, June 25 from 11am to 8:30pm at the Westport Fairgrounds. Order tickets at eventbrite.com

Craft Brew Races

Who says you can’t have both work and play? Keep your muscles strong and your brew on for the 2022 Craft Brew Race. A pairing of exercise and beer for anyone who likes to run/walk and socialize. 

It’s a relaxed 5k race in Newport as you run or stroll through Fort Adams State Park, followed by a craft beer festival held inside Fort Adams. It features more than 30 breweries, food trucks, music and yard games, and is a 21+ only event, so adults can get a short break from parental responsibilities. For friends of parents, you can drag your pal out for the night and spend some quality time with them.

This event will be held on Saturday, July 16 and is located at Fort Adams State Park. It begins at noon and runs until 4 pm. Purchase tickets at eatdrinkri.com

Bartender’s Ball

Bartending is often an under-celebrated art form. Bartenders across the state are being recognized and awarded for their work, and invited to party like civilians on a weekend at this new industry event. 

Mike Ryan, publisher of Motif, says that Motif hosts the Bartender’s Ball as a chance to present awards to all the bartenders that spend their nights behind the counter, giving them a night to remember. “We are trying to celebrate a profession that brings so much joy to other people,” says Ryan. “We want to bring some joy to them.” 

The Bartender’s Ball will feature live music, food, drinks, arialists, cupcakes, giant puppets, dancing, axes, darts and multiple live-action events and competitions throughout the night. Bartenders will be awarded for a variety of categories – some voted up online in advance, some at the event. For bartenders, this night is also a chance to chat up people in the same profession that can relate on multiple levels. Feel free to get a little dressed up because after all, it is a ball.

Know any bartenders worthy of recognition? Bartenders can still be nominated for awards and voted on at motifri.com/2022-bartenders-ball/

The ball will be held on Monday, Aug 1 from 7 – 11pm at R1 Entertainment Center in Lincoln. For more information, go to motifri.com/2022-bartenders-ball

Food Truck and Drink Awards

Calling all food and drink lovers! For the 6th year, Motif celebrates a multitude of local food trucks and beverage makers at the end of the summer. The awards are a way to acknowledge these business owners and workers who pour their hearts into their business. 

Food trucks have become a vital instrument for social interaction and have exploded in popularity over recent years. Bradly VanDerStad, assistant editor at Motif, says the awards cultivate an atmosphere filled with celebration, community and appreciation for this element of the RI food scene. “It’s definitely a labor of love, so that adds a whole other layer of intrigue to this,” says VanDerStad. “It’s just people really doing this because they care about it.” Motif partners with FoodTrucksIn and R1 Entertainment Center to produce the event, as well as numerous local breweries which pour at the event and trucks which serve their delicious concoctions.

Last year, 35 food truck awards and 26 drink awards were presented to local entrepreneurs. The awards recognize it all, from favorite french fries to an all-weather-warrior, and from favorite porter to favorite drinking space. 

Attendees will walk into a gathering of people celebrating their community with an abundance of food and drinks to try. There will also be live music by local artists, hula hooping and other entertainment. 

The awards will be on Sunday, Aug 14 at R1 Entertainment Center in Lincoln. And don’t let the Sunday deter you – if you work in RI, you probably have the next day off! More at motifri.com

Recurring events

The Guild PVD Beer Garden – featuring locally brewed beer along the PVD Pedestrian Bridge. This new brew installation will also host numerous pop-ups during the season (including some by the artists of Field of Artisans …) theguildpvd.com

Wednesday & Thursday: 4 – 8pm

Friday: 2 – 8pm

Saturday: 12 – 8pm

Sunday: 12 – 6pm

Field of Artisans x Narragansett Brewery:

Monthly Series – visit various featured artists each month combined with a craft beer and food while you stroll around the brewery. fieldofartisans.com/gansett

Last Friday of each month through August at 4 – 8pm

Food Trucks on Fridays

Fridays have become THE day for food trucks, with new weekly gatherings by Ocean State Food Trucks at Mulligan’s Island in Cranston and the long-standing food truck extravaganza Food Truck Fridays at the carousel in Roger Williams Park, you can find dozens of different types of cuisine, a beer garden by Trinity Beer Garden, live music, dessert and lot of activities for the kiddos. Food truck events are a great way to sample different types of cuisine, find new types of food before they go mainstream and get a bunch of different people exactly the kind of food they want at one spot. Check the truck rosters online for these evening events, and maybe skip lunch to save room: foodtrucksin.com and mulligansisland.com every Friday this summer.

On A Clear Day, You Can See Forever: Dining on deck in RI

I am the first person to transform into an eye roll emoji when friends suggest outdoor patio dining during the summer. Sure, the people-watching is usually fire, but I am over trying to defend my well-earned fries against rogue seagulls. However, patio dining is an inevitable part of coastal living, and if you’re going to take the risk to dine at the mercy of our avian friends, it better be worth it!

Fish Co.

Straight out the ‘90s, this perennial PVD favorite has been wowing visitors for years with fabulous marina views and squad-friendly menu options like bottomless mimosas and sangrias, loaded nachos and wings tossed in a variety of sauces and rubs (love the Sweet Thai Chili paired with Passion Fruit Sangria — yum!). Now reopened and under new management since 2020, Fish Co. is ready for a new generation of revelers. In addition to the crowd-pleasing menu and spacious patio, don’t miss DJ Ken spinning tunes on the weekends. 

Don’t call it a comeback — they’ve been here for years!

Fish Co.
15 Bridge Street, PVD

Waterdog Kitchen + Bar

City sophistication meets small town charm at Waterdog Kitchen + Bar, a cute li’l spot in the heart of Warren’s waterfront. The globally inspired menu features eclectic bites like the Octopus Taco, spiced up with piri piri seasoning, and the Street Corn Crab Dip, which gives a south-of-the-border twist to a local seafood fave. Locals roll out of bed for the hearty brunch offerings on Saturday and Sunday mornings – nothing beats a hangover quite like the brioche WD French Toast or the massively delish Bom Dia Burger, topped with Shrimp Mozambique Rangoons, fried egg and creamy garlic aioli.

Waterdog Kitchen + Bar
125 Water Street, Warren

The Coast Guard House

Trying to impress that special someone? If your personality isn’t on point, never fear! You’ll have plenty to talk about when you dine at the Coast Guard House, with expansive views of the Narragansett Bay serving as wonderful conversation fodder. The menu is equally memorable, featuring the bounty of the daily catch, such as a gorgeous roasted Branzino with local RI-foraged mushrooms, scallops with a sweet bacon jam and creamy polenta and of course, a classic New England-style lobster dinner. Hey, even if the date sucks, the food doesn’t have to!

Coast Guard House
40 Ocean Road, Narragansett

Iggy’s Boardwalk

What better way to kick off the summer than at Iggy’s Boardwalk, which serves up iconic doughboys and chowder, plus boasts one of the most underrated sunset-watching spots in RI? Honestly, these sweet yet salty fried dough morsels hit different on a warm July evening, paired with a housemade Iggy’s Raspberry Lime Rickey soda. When you’re done with your doughboy feast, scoot next door for a sundae at the Creamery — everyone knows that if you can’t handle after-dinner ice cream in summer, you’re weak and I don’t want to be friends with you.

Iggy’s Boardwalk
885 Ocean Beach Avenue, Warwick

Newport Lobster Shack

Kudos must be given to my favorite neighborhood hidden gem — the Newport Lobster Shack. Nestled among the schooners and megayachts of the Newport Shipyard, this unassuming takeout window whips up the freshest lobster rolls in town. Prices fluctuate daily based on supply and demand (sad trombone), but two things are certainly reliable: the top notch quality of the succulent lobster and the million-dollar views of the Newport Harbor and Pell Bridge – make sure to induce the FOMO of your uninvited friends by snapping as many photos as humanly possible – you’ll be glad you did.

Newport Lobster Shack
150 Long Wharf Trailer, Newport

Grill Daddy Summer: The basics

Picture this: a hot summer day cools down and happy hour begins. You have some steak and vegetable kebabs seasoned and ready to cook for the squad. There’s a certain confidence that comes with working the grill, but not everyone is born with an understanding of the nuance of good grilling.

There’s a simplicity and satisfaction to cooking with a breathing fire, live coals or even some got-dang propane. Summer grilling is one of those nostalgic experiences that brings together friends, families, and even communities!

If you’re in Japan, the grills burn fiery-hot white charcoal, and at some traditional restaurants, most products are never even touched by a grilling surface. Skewers of all varieties are slowly rotated and cooked while brushed by a flavorful soy-based ‘tare’ sauce. ‘Tare’ means barbeque and plays into the word for skewered ‘Yakitori’. Check out my ‘Izakaya Grilling Guide’ on ForgetoTable.com/blog if you’re interested in learning more about this style of grilling. 

There are some chefs who swear by open-fire or open-ember grilling where the fire is the star. I recently ate at a James Beard Award-winning restaurant, The Dabney, in Washinton DC, where chef Jeremiah Langhorne crafts all kinds of southern-inspired fare over open embers and hearth. Cooks carry fans to feed the flames more oxygen when the embers cool down, and use the live flame to get a hard sear on locally-raised lamb loin while using the smoke to gently cook scallop-stuffed morel mushrooms. 

For the majority of us that aren’t James Beard-awarded chefs at home or traveling to Japan, there’s usually charcoal grilling or propane grilling. Debates over which one is superior usually come down to what you’re trying to cook and how much time you want to spend cooking it.

Propane and natural gas burn relatively cleanly, while solid fuel like charcoal produces a cocktail of flavor compounds, which can land on food and give it a smokier flavor. But this smoky flavor takes time and makes sense for low and slow items like ribs or whole chickens. For quick-cooking food like fish, vegetables or hamburgers, it isn’t quite necessary and doesn’t impact the flavor much, if at all. 

I use a propane-burning grill because it’s the most convenient for me to crack a cold one, light up the grill, cook, eat and clean up. Mad respect to those who swear by the coals, though! (Please still invite me to your barbeque!)

It’s important to have the right setup when grilling, meaning – have all the tools and ingredients that might not be listed on your Bon Apetit recipe printout. Essentials include tongs, non-stick cooking spray, dry cloth towels or oven mitts, a grill scraper, a thermometer (better safe than undercooked) and a clean platter or cutting board for cooked food. 

Delicious and successful grilling can be broken down into three key elements: heat, fat and seasoning. 

Before cooking, it is vital to preheat your grill. Place all burners on high heat and close the grill lid for at least 10 – 15 minutes. The grill will get ripping hot, burn away any grease or sediment stuck on the grill grates and make cleaning the grill much more pleasant.

Whether cooking over direct heat or indirect heat, try to keep the lid closed as much as possible. This concentrates the heat when searing foods like steak or tofu and keeps the temperature steady. This will make sure everything is cooked through at relatively the same time. Nobody likes medium-well chicken.

With the lid on, the temperatures above the flames soar into the 600–650°F range. Grilled oysters are one of the easiest to make on the grill since they just pop right open– especially served with garlic lemon butter. 

Fat is the key to making sure that your food gets a beautiful brown crust versus a dry black char. Fat like non-stick cooking spray, olive oil, or even bacon fat helps create a barrier to protect whatever is cooking and helps the heat transfer more evenly. 

Some foods need more help in the fat department than others. Chances are, your NY strip steak only needs a few seconds of grill spray to lube it up enough before the grill, compared to some vegetable kebabs that might need a modest dousing in extra virgin olive oil. If you’re just starting to get the hang of grilling, I recommend following some recipes to get comfortable.

What is a piece of grilled meat or vegetables without any seasoning? Any barbeque master will always have a variety of rubs for any application, some being as straightforward as salt and black pepper. I moderately season my food before grilling, As some is bound to fall off between the grates or burn away, I usually season again once it’s off the grill, to taste. You can always add seasoning, but you can’t take it away. 

Marinades are also a powerful tool to add flavor if you plan a few hours ahead of time. I love large shiitake mushroom caps marinaded in soy sauce, sriracha, a pinch of sugar, vegetable oil and a splash of sake before lightly charring on the grill. Chopped parsley, cilantro, garlic, a splash of lemon juice, extra virgin olive oil, salt and pepper make a classic herb marinade for chicken, skirt steak or tofu. If you don’t want to get too cheffy, quality Italian salad dressing makes an incredible all-purpose marinade for chicken, vegetables, pork chops or shrimp skewers.

Never forget, every grill daddy was once just a grill baby. Start simple and cook what you enjoy eating. Now get your playlist ready and let the good times roll off the flames!

Stop at the Sign of the Lemon!: RI frozen treats to cool you off this summer

Whether you call it a slush or frozen lemonade, it’s impossible to call it anything other than delicious. 

It’s impossible to think of a RI summer without sipping a Del’s. Del’s has been a state staple since 1948, becoming a must-have for locals and tourists alike, making the green and yellow cup with the lemon logo as recognizable as the Big Blue Bug. With storefronts located throughout the state and trucks filling the gaps in between, you can’t go far without running into this iconic company.

As popular as it is, Del’s isn’t the only place in town to enjoy a frozen beverage. There are many local places to feed that frozen beverage urge; we encourage you to try all the ones below, just not all at once for risk of a brain freeze!

Helger’s Ice Cream Shoppe in Tiverton has been family-owned and operated since 1989. They have everything you would expect from an ice cream shop, but it’s their inclusion of “Snowballs” on the menu that really makes them stand out. 

A little thicker than other frozen beverages, the Snowball is meant to be eaten with a spoon and feels similar to biting into freshly fallen winter snow, but with delicious syrupy flavors, watermelon being owner Maryellen Helger’s personal favorite. “It cools you off fast,” she shares.

Helger’s Ice Cream Shoppe is located at 2475 Main Rd in Tiverton. Call 401-624-4560 or check out their Facebook page for more information.

Lemon King is a “Royal Treat” on Plainfield St in PVD. Their menu offers hard ice cream, milkshakes and other quick frozen treats in addition to an assortment of frozen beverage flavors. The frozen beverage features a thicker ice, which adds a fun crunch. 

Lemon King is under new management and is coming up with creative treats and listening to customers’ feedback. This led to the addition of tables and chairs for people to sit and enjoy their snack.

Lemon King is located at 616 Plainfield St, PVD. Call 401-654-5214 or visit their Facebook page for more information.

Mr. Lemon has been refreshing customers since 1974. Located on a side street off of Admiral St, it is a hidden but popular gem in PVD. Run by “Mama Lemon” and her family, they use a family recipe for their flavor syrups. There are staple flavors (lemon, watermelon, vanilla) as well as featured flavors, which they announce on their Facebook page and sell until gone. The flavors can be combined into a variety of custom flavors, which are always a treat.

The texture of a Mr. Lemon frozen beverage is much finer than its peers: Think sand at the beach fine, which makes the drink go down with extreme smoothness. This gives a better taste of the flavors, with no chunks of ice getting in the way.

As tasty as Mr. Lemon is, the service is even better. Customers are always greeted with a smile and friendly welcome. Staff always take a few seconds to talk to the customer and make sure they’re aware of how appreciated they are.

Mr. Lemon is located at 32 Hawkins St in PVD. Follow their Facebook page for updated flavors and other information.

New England Frozen Lemonade has become a local institution of refreshment since first opening in 1960. Their philosophy of providing the highest quality product with professional and courteous service continues to this day, now with the third generation operating this family-owned business. 

New England Frozen Lemonade prides itself on using only real lemons when making their frozen beverage. “Our product is truly the only 100% natural product in the local market,” Owner Bob Lombardi says.

In addition to lemon, watermelon and cherry flavors are also popular. Cherry is a personal favorite of mine because it tastes like a blended cherry popsicle. New England Frozen Lemonade has two brick-and-mortar stores to go along with a large fleet of trucks and over 50 mobile units. They plan to be all over RI this summer.

“We have always worked close in the community supporting all causes: sporting programs, non-profits, school functions and all kinds of local community events,” Lombardi says of giving back to those that have supported New England Frozen Lemonade for so long.

New England Lemonade is located at 280 Douglas Ave in Providence. Please call 401-274-3255 or check their Facebook page for more information.

Ice is Better in Drinks Than On Injuries: How to handle a summertime burst of physical activity

Summer is here and it’s time for fun. The last thing you want to do is put yourself on the sidelines by getting injured early in the season. Dr. Michael Zola, a chiropractic physician on the East Side of Providence who has been in practice over 30 years, has some tips on how to stay in the game.

Cathren Housley (Motif): Are there any unusual problems this year due to the pandemic?

Dr. Zola: Masks were important in helping to control COVID-19 transmission, but people shouldn’t be doing strenuous activities with their masks on. We rebreathe the carbon dioxide that we are exhaling and when this goes back into the blood, it shifts the pH to become more acidic. This affects every other function in our bodies. People aren’t protecting themselves by using masks during exercise – when we’re outside in open space there is no danger of spreading COVID-19.

CH: What are the most common mistakes that people make early in the season?

Z: Going too aggressively at the beginning – if you take up where you left off last year, you’re overdoing it. If you’ve led a sedentary life over the cold months, you really need to start again as if recovering from an injury because you are, in fact, recovering from deconditioning. 

Extra weight, another common by-product of winter inactivity, can also make you more prone to injuries. There’s more stress on the feet, knees and hips, and the arch of the foot is more likely to collapse.

CH: Even the most careful exercise enthusiast can get unexpected injuries. What then?

Z: First – you don’t always know that you’ve injured yourself when you cause the actual injury. It can take a day or so before you realize that serious damage has set in. 

CH: How do we tell if there’s a serious problem?

Z: Look at the injury – is there rapid onset of swelling or bruising? That’s when you see a medical professional. You can walk off plain old sore muscles, but if the symptoms go on, there is a problem.

CH: What is the best immediate treatment after any injury?

Z: Make sure you stay hydrated. Then, ice is good in the initial stages of an injury, but you’re only going to apply it for 10 minutes at a time. This prevents cells that were injured from dying off too fast. Afterwards, soaking in Epsom salts dissolved in warm water can be very effective in promoting healing.

CH: What about getting back on track?

Z: The old way was “you get injured, you rest.” Now we know that activity gets your heart pumping and the immune system circulating through your entire body. This actually helps the healing process.

CH: But what if something is torn or broken and cannot be moved at first… how do you know when to start moving, and how much?

Z: If you need emergency medical care, afterwards it’s best to put yourself in the hands of a chiropractor, physical therapist or trainer.

CH: That brings up the question of soaring medical expenses. They do so many tests just figuring out what is wrong that you can end up going bankrupt from a sprained ankle.

Z: A faster and cheaper way to find out what’s wrong is to see a doctor of chiropractic medicine. You can get a faster diagnosis – and get out of pain sooner.

CH: How can we manage recovery on our own?

Z: If you’re ambulatory, you don’t want to rest completely, but it’s best to start with short intervals of activity. You are going to have to go by what your body tells you – do an activity and then see how you feel in a day or two. It can take that long to realize you’ve aggravated something more. 

CH: What about using medication to reduce inflammation?

Z: NSAIDs such as ibuprofen and acetaminophen can inflame the GI tract and cause other serious problems. They actually delay healing by keeping inflammation down. Inflammation is a natural part of healing. Whenever there is an injury, inflammation reaches a certain point, then begins to resolve. 

Pain has a purpose – it’s intended to warn us when there is a problem.

CH: What else can speed healing? 

Z: Lifestyle is the biggest deciding factor. You want to rebuild yourself with the best materials. When you’re sedentary and eat crappy food, you are building with sub-par materials at a much slower pace. 

CH: We usually don’t see how that impacts our health until we’re older.

Z: From about birth to 34, 35, people seem immortal. Professional athletes retire by then – they can’t recover from injuries quickly enough to stay competitive. But the time to think about prevention is when you are young. Once people have decades of abuse piled on, it’s much harder to change. That’s why holding onto good habits in your 30s and 40s is so important.

CH: Any last words of advice?

Z: Prevention is the best protection. A healthier lifestyle – good nutrition, stress management, quality sleep and movement – is health assurance you can afford.

Find out more about Dr. Zola at drmichaelzolaonline.com 

Reel Talk: This summer in film

The film festival: a veritable treasure-trove of aspiring talent looking to gain exposure in one of the hardest industries to crack. 

Traditionally, festivals are designed to celebrate the voices of independent filmmakers, acting as the proverbial catapult to stardom. In reality, the major fests have often leaned towards celebrating the celebrity and, in many cases, left the door closed for truly independent creators. So, that leaves the local festivals to carry the burden of finding that next darling of the cinema firmament. And there are a few happening this summer right here in RI. 

Even before the pandemic, the film fest was becoming a bit of a tough sell. With the pervasiveness of the medium, access to content is easier now more than ever. So, what’s the draw of a live event? What can pry droves of starry-eyed souls off their couches to the local parks and auditoriums to view independent films with hardly any explosions? For a few local groups, the answer lies in creating meaningful programming that relates to their community. 

The folks at FLM FWD, pronounced Film Forward, set out to create festivals that tackle themes that are, according to festival President Lisa Lowenstein, “pressing subjects of our day as well as transversal subjects of interest to many people in our community.”  These issues: empathy and environment, are, according to Lowenstein, “urgent.” Hence the choice to brand the festivals in shorthand and, since their mission is focused heavily on community building, they’ve also removed the “I” from film, “because it is about a community-wide festival. Not an individual initiative.“

The organizers have re-envisioned the area where Barrington’s Town Hall and Library sit to form a temporary “village” that offers food, drink, live music and children’s activities as well as an area of information booths for local organizations to go with the film screenings. This will mark the inaugural year for their Environment Festival, happening June 24 – 26, and the second for their Empathy Festival, Aug 26 – 28. The Empathy Festival will also feature a section devoted to  the military, veterans and their families. 

What’s more?This year we are adding an alcohol-free after-party dance event just after the film screenings, with a DJ behind town hall,” said Lowenstein. “It will be held in the area we call ‘The Boulevard’ that is set up to resemble a European café-lined street with its mood lighting. It should be a blast!”

This is a free event. Follow FLM FWD on social media @flmfwdfestival.

The Block Island Film Festival, founded in 2018, is a non-profit event designed around the Block Island community. Like FLM FWD, BIFF’s organizers are focused on important cultural and environmental issues, as well as opportunities for young filmmakers through their student filmmaker competition. Founder/ Executive Director Cassius ‘Cash’ Shuman is truly excited about this. “The students get to network and learn from other filmmakers at the film festival,” said Shuman. “Education is a central and important part of our mission.”

The fourth BIFF, Sep 7 – 10, features film screenings, spotlight programs, tribute and award ceremonies, question and answer forums and nightly social mixers; most take place in their new venue, the Block Island Maritime Institute.  Shuman said, “It is located right at the edge of the Great Salt Pond, so it should be a spectacular setting for the film festival. We have some terrific documentaries that we are screening, and spotlighting in partnership with BIMI and its mission.”

Shuman is no stranger to Hollywood as, according to the BIFF website, he is an award-winning screenwriter, journalist and filmmaker, but BIFF organizers choose discovery over celebrity, focusing on the quality of the films rather than using energy to attract Hollywood A-listers. Even still, BIFF does attract some attention this year with the Terence Howard, Jeremy Pivens film The Walk.

The organizers are truly about making their community better and it shows. Any proceeds from the festival are donated to an Island nonprofit. Past beneficiaries include Friends of the Island Free Library and NAMI-Block Island, an advocate for those with mental health issues. 

Finally, perhaps the biggest and certainly the longest-running film fest comes from Flickers. Their Rhode Island International Film Festival™ (RIIFF) will take place at venues throughout RI, Aug 8 – 14, and features a hybrid event with a drive-in, outdoor and online screenings, filmmaking workshops, meet-and-greet industry events and seminars. 

Says Festival Director Shawn Quirk, “We make it our goal to highlight films of all shapes and sizes with the goal of appealing to the largest range of audience members possible.  Some will come to discover a collection of international shorts, others will come to support a local filmmaker or see an industry celebrity speak… RIIFF serves as an ideal meeting ground for both the film industry and audience members.”

Quirk is excited to have visiting filmmakers share space again – “RIIFF brings the world to Rhode Island every year, and we’re looking forward to celebrating Flickers’ 40th anniversary with everyone in August.” 

RIIFF also prides itself on connecting future auteurs with established makers. In recent years they’ve showcased films directed by William Fichtner, Karen Allen, Brad Hall, Denis Villeneuve, Bob Balaban and others. Says Quirk, by “placing newly discovered filmmakers in the same context as some of Hollywood’s leading talents, we can empower the next generation of filmmakers. Last year we had the pleasure of featuring the US premiere of You’re Dead Helen. The film was later short-listed for the Oscars and purchased by TriStar Pictures.” A feature version of that film is in the works with Sam Raimi as producer and the original director, Michiel Blanchart, at the helm.  

Learn about this year’s lineup – and the local film night on Wednesday, Aug 10 at Dusk (cosponsored by Motif, Dusk and R1 Entertainment Center) – at film-festival.org