The highlight of our first year as Portsmouth Abbey’s Culinary Arts Club was spent at Persimmon Restaurant in Bristol Ri. Owner and Chef Champe Speidel, along with his wife Lisa, who runs the front of the house, provided the students with an unforgettable taste experience. We sat down, and beautiful surprises in the form of appetizers started appearing on the table: deviled quail eggs with caviar; beignets with truffle aioli and celery leaf; crispy chicken skin on house-made ricotta, sherry pearls and a daylily vinaigrette; and cool salad of poached, raw and cured native shellfish including clams, lobster, sea scallops, and oysters with citrus, shaved fennel, avocado and shellfish aioli . Entree tastes included local sea scallops with Carolina rice in a saffron butter emulsion; 28-day aged beef with crispy potato and pearl onion and sauce bordelaise. The salad course tasted of spring:Warm salad of mixed petite vegetables, pickles, herbs and flowers with vegetable crisps and creamy herbed buttermilk vinaigrette . Desserts were multi-coursed: coconut lime sorbet with a white chocolate powder, yuzu pudding and finger lime; ricotta fritters in citrus veloute; Warm vanilla pound cake with fresh strawberries and rhubarb, ginger granita, wild sorrel; Dark chocolate semi-freddo with dark, caramelized and white chocolate textures; ‘Cheesecake’ with Florida citrus, olive oil cake crumble and walnut cream; and a plate of mini treats of meringues, calamansi lime gelee, tomato tart, and a chocolate hazelnut bite.
Chef Champe Speidel is an artist. This is why he has been honored as a three-time semifinalist for a James Beard Foundation Award, Best Chef: Northeast, and Persimmon has been recognized by the Foundation as a semifinalist for Outstanding Service.
Lucy Ferry–Rounding off the end of the year with a trip to Persimmon was a fine treat. I had been to the restaurant multiple times before and was never disappointed with the quality of presentation and food laid before
me. I was eagerly looking forward to the tasting menu which spared me from arduous decision making, I could concentrate on other elements such as the good company, environment, and build-up of courses. The night started off with multiple rounds of mocktails; was the first time I had tried a virgin mojito (as recommended by Kevin) and was wowed by the intense punch of mint. The ice cubes gave a sharp tingling sensation to my teeth as my ears picked up the bartender’s vigorous shaking of our next set of drinks.
In the entrée segment my favorites were the truffle beignets and the seafood salad. Culinary Club has really advanced my interest towards truffles as the soft doughy
shell of the beignets burst forth with flavor heaven. The seafood salad was especially memorable because it did remind me of sushi, but with a more hearty twist. The accompanying edible flowers beautifully finished the dish.
Skipping to dessert I was pleasantly surprised with the copious amounts of chocolate
and salt combinations. As Sofia Vergara said on “Modern Family,” “the salt truly brings out the flavor in the chocolate bringing it to another level of sweetness.”Thank you Mrs. Bonin for organizing such a successful and enduring year of food. Within these short few months I could feel my taste buds (and stomach!) growing and developing after every meeting. I cannot wait for next year and new culinary adventures added to the table.
David Ingraham–It takes awful food to ruin a small waterfront restaurant, but wonderful food to create Persimmon. Exquisite plate after exquisite plate rested before me without my demanding them. At Persimmon, Speidel knows precisely what you desire before you desire it. The head chef at this Bristolian eatery uses his magic ball to see into yo
ur inner soul and serve just what you covet before you can say, “more food.” He could be utilizing the chemistry of the kitchen and the palate, but the accuracy of it all seems magical. N
o palate cleanser is necessary, for each course enhances the experience and runs your taste buds berserk. After the fifth course, my taste buds and stomach disagreed on their satisfactions. Hunger and contentment fought, for the minuscule but flavor-packed portions caused much internal strife. I was very much content with the overwhelming taste of the food, but I hungered for more; thankfully, the final course ceased this contention.