Chefs Collaborative 2018

It was another lovely evening spent eating like royalty. There on the banks of the pond at Schartner Farms, Portsmouth Abbey students kept company with many of the best chefs in Rhode Island, happily sampling their dishes and washing them down with Granny Squibbs Iced Tea–and they were thrilled to be treated to the drink by an Abbey alumna, Kelly McShane ’05!

Group Shot

It would be nearly impossible for me to pick a favorite dish from the Chefs Collaborative.Starting out with everyone slurping down an oyster seemed to be fitting for the event–trying out something together before embarking on our own personal food journeys. My food journey consisted of trying lots of things and finding three to four items that were mind-blowingly delicious. I actually had to look up a couple of words, which I love, because I wind up learning more about different foods.I looked up what Vermont Chevron, hubbard squash and chochoyote were. At first I thought that last one might have been a typo or something, but it is actually a small ball of corn dough, like a dumpling. The hubbard squashes looked very much like a cross between a melon and a squash, and a Vermont Chevron is a type of goat.

My favorite desserts were actually some of the first items I tried. One of them was the winter squash financier. There actually seemed to be a lot of dishes featuring squash, probably because the festival was focused on the fall harvest, which I enjoyed very much since I love squash. The winter squash financier   had some very subtle spices that gave it some warmth which was complemented well by the tangy, but sweet, cranberry and the crunchy pumpkin seeds on top. Then there was also a melon and sunflower seed macaron that was easily one of the best desserts I’ve ever had. In the past, I haven’t been much on a fan of macarons because of their chewy texture,but with these macarons, it fit well with the crunchy sunflower seeds. The macaron was sweet and fruity because of the melon, but had a little bit of a crunch and salty flavor from the sunflower seeds, which made them so tasty!!!

Lastly, I’ve always been a fan of croissants, so when I saw that there was a croissant sandwich, I was so excited. There were so many flavors and textures that all blended together so well. When I took a bite of it, I was surprised to taste warm spices along with a couple of other different flavors. Come to find out, there was a pumpkin butter on the sandwich that worked so well with the turkey breast and the crisp and refreshing celery root and apple salad. 

All in all, I was really excited to come to the Chef’s Collaborative, so it was really impressive that I got more excited after I started trying all the unique foods. My expectations were high to begin with, but this certainly surpassed them. I can’t wait to see what else we do during the school year for culinary arts club!—Sarah Costa ‘19

This past weekend Culinary Club traveled to Schartner’s Farm in Exeter, Rhode Island. They were hosting “The Chefs Collaborative” where various food and restaurant businesses came together o share their food, and drinks, with a vast group of people. The environment welcomed people from various backgrounds. I enjoyed how so many different people came together at Schartner’s Farm all due to their love for food. This experience allowed me to step outside of my comfort zone and try multiple food combinations that I would have never thought I would enjoy. My personal favorite was the Chez Pascal, a croissant sandwich consisting of pastured turkey breast, pumpkin butter, and celery root and apple salad. I finished the entire sandwich and even found myself licking the remaining remnants off my fingers. The Chez Pascal was the weirdest sandwich I had ever eaten, and yet it was one of the best I have ever had. This trip to Schartner’s Farm taught me to try new things, because surprisingly you end up liking most of the things you never believed you would. –Madison Burt ‘18

As soon as we passed the topiary arch, the energy of the event was evident. From the families playing field sports on the left to observers of the live band of the right, everyone seemed to be enjoying their time and at the centre of it all was the food. Set in the beautiful landscape of Schartner Farms, the Chef’s Collaborative was the opening event for the 2018-2019 Culinary Arts Club.Restaurants and chefs from all over Rhode Island gathered for this event, each offering an amazing dish. Every stand seemed to imbue their dishes own distinct taste and flavor: from classic to contemporary, everything at the event was meticulously prepared.

The event started with the initiating dish: the oyster. Greeting us at the entrance were two buckets teeming with raw oysters, the natural first dish people gravitated towards. Being an oyster lover myself, I found myself coming back for ‘just one more oyster’ several times throughout the night. Another standout was Durk’s BBQ Blackbird farm beef with smoked maitakes and onion top chimichurri over mashed potatoes. The charon the beef seemed to perfectly contrast the juicy inside and the classically done smooth mashed potatoes accompanied the meats perfectly. The maitakes also offered an extra texture the the overall dish and it was highly commendable how chef Jake Rojas was able to incorporate the mushroom into the dish so well.

Overall,the event seemed to foster an amazing sense of community over a shared love of food. From families, friends to even a bus full of school kids, the Chefs Collaborative created a truly special dining experience. –Jonathon  Susilo ‘18

For the three years that I have lived in Portsmouth, fall in New England has always passed quickly, but we always manage to bring extra festivity to the season of harvest. This year, we celebrated fall with the new Fall Fest at the Abbey, followed by a trip to Chef’sCollaborativ Harvest BBQ at the Schartner Family Farm.

Nothing brings people together like good food. From seafood taverns to coffee roasters, food makers from all sorts of kitchens stand behind their table covered with red-checkered tablecloths. Food lovers stand on the other side of the table, marveling at the creative dishes and trying to stuff more samples in their stomach. Like many of my friends, I enjoyed Nicks on Broadway’s beef sample. The dish was almost a fancier pulled pork (beef) sandwich, perfectly bringing out the theme of BBQ.However, my favorite table was Ellie’s Bakery, a certain supporting role in the event. Their plum & husk cherry galette was a dessert with unpretentious elegance—it does not look as pretty as a macaron, but I discovered its inner beauty under its humble appearance and ate four of them. Best galette ever!

When I held a New Harvest Coffee in my hand, stood by the fire, which was roasting a lamb, and looked out towards the peaceful pond, I wished I could live in that moment forever. Food,fire, and friends together make the most memorable Sunday afternoon in Rhode Island.—Evelyn Long ‘19

This is my second year at the Chefs Collaborative. As always, the food does not disappoint. Just entering the venue, the hardest decision comes already: a whole roasted Vermont Chevronby Tallulah’s Taqueria sizzling with melted fat dripping from perfectly caramelized lamb meat on the left and a whole series of delicacies featuring wood grilled scallops, Blackbird farm beef patties, and Hopkins Southdown lamb meatball subs straight ahead. Not without hesitation, I choose to go straight for the varieties first. Chez Pascal’s turkey breast sandwich is the first thing I take because the line is closest to me, but the food is already worth  multiple times the terrible traffic on the way. I continue my streak with Pastrami cured bluefish fillet pizza, cold fried chicken with smoked apricot drenched in buttermilk, and maitake mushroom panini. By the time I return to the entrance and take the left side this time, I already begin to feel the burden in my stomach. Gracie’s then finishes me off with its spiced lamb kabobs.

The food is comparable to a five-course meal with its delicate decorations and savory taste. Going above and beyond, I grab ten courses, in fact. However, what surprises the most is the raw oyster that we took in the beginning. In China, oysters are usually served grilled with garlic, scallion and rice noodle, with soy sauce topping the dish. Raw oyster is usually stacked in the fridge. However, Rhode Island has the natural geographical advantage and there is no need to transport the oyster in fridge. When eaten raw, oyster gives off a fishy smell and salty taste, very different from the Chinese cooked oyster. It is certainly the interesting to try the raw oyster. –Peter Liu ‘19

I had been to Schartner Farms quite a few times as a kid. Then, I mostly went on hayrides, picked out a pumpkin and indulged in the best pies I’ve ever had. This experience was an entirely new one. The second the bus pulled up and the whole lot of us marched out, my nostrils were filled with a smoky, savory and unforgettable smell. But before I could truly enjoy all the delectable food being offered, I had to jump the hurdle and eat an oyster. So, I threw that back without giving my tongue any time to process what it was tasting and got on with my day. 

The menus were full of tender meats, savory spices, and hearty broths. The real show-stopper of the day: the lamb meatball sandwich. Tragically, this was one of the last dishes I found so I experienced real difficulty in even eating half, but it was so good!Other fantastic dishes I had the opportunity to try were braised beef that just melted in your mouth, and wonderfully garnished lamb skewers. And of course, I had dessert, even if it was the second thing I ate. My favorite: the macarons that I had to force myself to put down. In the midst of this food frenzy, we were even able to meet an Abbey Alum! She was running the Granny Squibbs Iced Tea stand, graduated class of’05, and gave each of us our own bottle to take home.

The amount of food there was almost overwhelming—just almost. I moved from table to table, picking up endless amounts of plates. Once I actually registered what I was doing, I took a breath and really tasted the food. The event was filled with a myriad of cooking styles, flavors and recipes. Watching these dishes being crafted behind the beautiful backdrop was an unforgettable spectacle. –Abigail Gibbons ‘18

Tasty, delicious,palatable—none of these adjectives can sufficiently describe my ecstatic feeling after the first Culinary Art Club trip. As a new member of the club, I hastily rushed back from the fall fest and sprinted to the bus, immediately overwhelmed by warm welcomes from Mr. Calisto and my friends on the bus. 

            After a twenty-minute-drive across the beautiful Newport Bridge, we arrived at a bucolic farm to attend “The Chefs Collaborative” event.The relaxing music and alluring scenery awakened my appetite, and I tried almost all of the dishes in less than twenty minutes. 

            My favorite plates would probably be the grilled scallop and the lamb sandwich. The scallop, lightly grilled, blended perfectly with the seasoning and the sauce. The moment I swallowed it, I tasted the wild saltiness of the ocean, yet in a fresh and conserved manner. The textile of the scallop was also just perfect, neither too loose nor too elastic. The lamb sandwich captured both the freshness of spinach and the unutterable juiciness of the meat, enclosed by incredibly well-baked bread. Both of these plates demonstrate coordination of different taste and materials, blended together by fascinating culinary skills.

            I also loved the coffee and the ice tea they offered,taking several bags of coffee back into my room. After all, my feelings and intuition have prompted me to make a simple conclusion—I am incredibly fortunate to have signed up for this club. Typing the last sentence of my write up on my computer, I can already hear my anticipatory heartbeat that eagerly awaits for the next trip. —David Sun ‘18

Each October, as the leaves start to turn and the summer warmth fades, chefs and culinary aficionados from across New England gather at Schartner Farms in Exeter, Rhode Island for the Annual Rhode Island Harvest BBQ to share food and recipes in celebration of the autumn harvest. Although markedonly by a small folding sign tucked away at the side of the road, after passing through a gate of shrubbery I was amazed by the plethora of tables lining a pond invisible from the street. A single oyster was the first rite of passage for the Culinary Arts Club, a food which I remembered from childhood in a vaguely negative light.

“Sort of,” I replied uneasily, thinking of how I could escape.

“Is this your first time?”, asked the man behind the counter.

“Don’t worry,” he replied, “it tastes like the beach” only adding to my unease.

I found to my amazement, after slurping down the cold,slimy mass, that it did indeed taste exactly like the beach, down to the sand and seaweed. However, the experience was not as wholly unpleasant as what I had braced for. This first appetizer characterized the entire festival for me, and I resolved to taste everything, including things that I would not have dared try a few years earlier. One of my favorite dishes was a cut of beef with smoked maitake mushrooms garnished with a red onion confit from Durk’s BBQ, two out of three components of which I had no idea that I liked. A surprise of a different nature came from Granny Squibb’s Iced Tea, familiar to me from my home supermarket but which I never guessed was based in Rhode Island. The woman at the iced tea booth was not only a Rhode Island native, but a Portsmouth Abbey alumna as well. After the oyster and the tea, a few other club members and myself gathered around the enormous open pit fire at the center of the event, over which some manner of animal was roasting and creating an enticing smell. We soon began a lively debate over the creature’s former identity.

 “Judging by size, I’d think it’s a goat,” I finally declared.

“It’s a goat alright,” a woman to our left said, “It should be good too, I raised it myself.”

This conversation put the idea of the event, and the organization that sponsors it, Chefs’ Collaborative, into focus. Chefs’ Collaborative aims to promote a better food system of local and responsibly grown ingredients by cultivating a dedicated community of chefs and food lovers. The Harvest BBQ captured this principle excellently, not only because of its setting, but through the experiences brought about by the diverse flavors of the local culinary community.—David Sozanski ‘18

The Chefs Collaborative event drew together a crowd of food savvy people, hungry for fine cuisine and quality entertainment. Around 15 different chefs and eateries set up camp on the premises, each delivering a sample of their menu in convenient portions. The food consisted primarily of local New England based ingredients, including avast selection of seafoods. One dish in particular caught my attention, that of chef Rich Silvia of White Horse Tavern. His pastrami cured bluefish on a grilled caraway flatbread with house quick kraut, Swiss fonduta, and his own creation: “Thousand Island Powder.” I have never been fond of bluefish, however my first taste of Chef Silvia’s flatbread changed my mind and then some. His perfectly cured bluefish fillet along with the innovative “Thousand Island Powder” made for an array of tangy and smoky flavors. 

The event had a great showing, and I surely appreciated the wonderful atmosphere provided by Schartner Family Farms.It was an autumn evening for the books, and I couldn’t thank the Portsmouth Abbey Culinary Club enough.—Dan Teravainen ‘18

As I ducked slightly towalk through the bushy portal, a world of distinct scent, bustle, and an awesome whole-roast goat captured me. It was my first time at the Chefs Collaborative festival and I have never been to such a grand celebration of food and drink,but I immediately felt comfortable. Before I stood in line for the”mandatory” oyster initiation, I sauntered towards the Granny Squibb’s ice tea bar. With a cup of sweetened Mojito Lime on my hand, I began to explore the variety of New England’s best dishes.   

As a meat-lover, I loved the Durk’s BBQ. The texture of the beef aside, the flavor of smoked maitakes and chimichurri and the mashed potato made the dish perhaps the best. But as I was pondering a second (and probably third) plate, I reminded myself, “quality over quantity!” and forced myself away from Tallulah’s seductions.

Right next to Durk’s I saw White Horse Tavern’s Rich Silvia. I’ve been to White Horse Tavern with Sozanski and my parents before, so I was delighted to see an old friend– a very, very old friend (constructed in 1673). Maybe it was because of my high expectations,but I thought the fillet on flatbread that the house prepared was a little weaker than I expected. For me, the taste of fish was too strong, although the aftertaste of Thousand Island powder was delightful.

The people who were serving or running the festival were also enjoying the whole event, which made the festival far more interesting. The lady who was operating the ice tea bar turned out to be an alumna from the Abbey, and as we discussed the most memorable teachers at the Abbey like Mr. Hobbins and Mr. Chenoweth, I felt a bond, a feeling that could only be universal to Abbey students. Although I’ve never known her, it was like the Abbey experience had serendipitously united the past and future students together. Is this how it feels like to be an alumnus? Also, that she gave each of us a bottle of ice tea as we left was another perk of knowing people.—Jason Lim ‘18

As I crossed the threshold of the small opening between hedges, I was not sure what to expect of my first Chef’s  Collaborative experience. I was greeted with the wafting smoke of an entire goat being roasted on a spit over a fire of charcoal and sweet potatoes, the sizzle of truffle oil and butter being tossed together in a pan, and to my horror, the sound of the blade on an oyster shell as they were being shucked apart. In all of my seventeen years, I had never once so much as touched the rigged shells flecked with particles of silt, let alone prodded the gelatinous contents inside. My jaw dropped as Mr. Calisto and Mrs. Bonin announced our entry to delve deeper into the Collaborative all relied on whether or not we would throw one down the hatch. My palms began to sweat, and my heart pounded against my ribcage as I reached my hands into the ice to grasp the halved shell. I had confirmed my commitment to the Culinary Club and to myself on the 40-minute ride to Exeter, and there was no way I was getting back on that minibus before the time was due.

It took a bit of jumping up and down, and a quick pep talk from the other members of Culinary Arts before I placed a dollop of cocktail sauce upon the oyster meat and squeezed a cold lemon over top. As the oyster slid into my mouth and down into my stomach I had wondered what had taken me so long. The oyster wassalty, and the chilled briny and brackish water dripped down my chin. Combining the salty of the mollusk with the sweet and spicy from the horseradish based cocktail sauce, and the drops of acidic lemon, together all in one delicious bite, I was in heaven. That had been my first oyster, but it certainly would not be my last. I returned to the table a handful of times, and now I can confirm I am no longer a picky eater.– Tatum Bach-Sorensen ‘19

The smoked beef pork biscuit was my favorite at “The Chef’s Collaborative.” The chili vinaigrette sauce moderated the rich taste of the beef. The biscuits were perfect in between crispy and chewy. It contained different flavors, but they all combined really well. I recommend this because it fits most people’s tastes and cannot go wrong.

Durk’s BBQ was my second favorite. The meat was not overcooked at all and was really tender. The sauce was a little bit too rich and too salty. I finished all the mashed potato with half of the meat patty. The mashed potato was smooth and creamy and it complemented the meat very well.

The wood grilled Bomster scallops Hubbard squash, lamb pancetta with sliced apple was the most creative dish by Newport Vineyards. I was surprised the fishy taste and the taste of mutton did not contradict with each other and actually brought a magical chemistry effect. The sweet squash  made spices on the scallop milder while the apple slice (tasted a little sour) made the lamb less flavored. Although the unique taste was really creative, I am not sure if I want to order a whole dish of this. –Sylvie Qiu ‘19

Upon entering the farm, I was overwhelmed by the beautiful views of the pond and the smell of the nearby food cooking. We were greeted by warm conversation and a local band playing nearby.After we all lined up and inhaled a delicious oyster each, I bee-lined for the first table near me. I was incredibly hungry and the smell of the beef and pork fat-chili was calling my name. The little biscuit sandwich was topped with a chili vinaigrette that cut through the fat and added another depth of flavor. 

I was about to continue on eating my dinner until Ellie’s Bakery’s dessert table caught my eye.  I enjoyed the winter squash financier that had little cranberries, autumn olives, and pepitas on top. But I kept going back to their table for their sunflower seed and melon macarons. Not only were their macarons cold and slightly sweet, the shapes were perfect. That is something that I can appreciate because I have tried making macarons more than several times myself and have always made some small mistake with the finicky egg white and almond flour batter. 

While the White Horse Tavern made a unique dish–their pastrami cured bluefish and house quick kraut–others like Metacom Kitchen made dishes that seemed to lack the same amount of effort, which was a single cube of cold fried chicken on a plate.Another dish that made my night was the lamb meatball sub from The East End.The thick Parker house rolls were perfectly toasted and the cranberry chili added an interesting sweetness. On our way out of the farm, I spotted an unmanned stand that sold both hen of the woods and chicken of the woods mushrooms, which I later found out supposedly taste like chicken! I wish I had bought some so I could have tried it myself. Overall, the Chef’s Collaborative brought me new ideas and passion for creating something different in the kitchen, and I was also served the best meal of my life.  —India Roemlein ‘19

Chefs Collaborative 2018

Cheese Tasting with Cheese Monger Greg Blais

Lucky us, in that we were graced with a visit from renowned cheese monger Greg Blais, who also happens to be brother to Ms. Katie Blais and brother-in-law to our very own Dr. Marc Lavallee (and uncle to adorable Henry!).He has been interviewed for radio, tv, blogs, newspapers, and magazines, (including Vogue and Vanity Fair), and is also a highly sought-after judge for the more important cheese making contests. You can also listen to cheese notes on his podcast “Cutting the Curd” on the Heritage Network. If anyone knows cheese, Greg does.

Greg and Katie are planning to open Hope Street Cheese and Provisions, an artisanal cheese shop located in Bristol, Rhode Island.  The shop will carry an artfully sourced selection of cheeses from local New England farms as well as producers throughout the United States and Europe.  Alongside the cheese, the shop will carry a variety of accompaniments such as pickles, jams and spreads, fresh bread, and seasonal baked goods, all which will be carefully sourced and vetted to ensure the highest quality and most sustainable practices.  Custom catering and platters will be available for purchase and a variety of workshops and classes will be offered in and outside of the retail space. The store is expected to open in November.

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I love cheese. I may even qualify it as my favorite food (though ice cream is also up there). When I heard we had a cheese tasting today with a professional cheese monger I was very excited. Before today I had had few different cheeses outside of the normal cheeses you can get from the Stop & Shop deli. I had no idea how many different kinds of cheese there were, how many different textures, flavors, colors and techniques were involved in cheese. I didn’t realize the flavor could come from anything but age and additives. My favorite of the seven was certainly the Petit Basque. It had the perfect buttery taste and texture. I was at first wary when it was described as having sheep’s milk as I had never had any before, but I am so glad I tried it. It is also the only cheese I enjoyed alone. The soft cheese, Brillat Saverin and Humboldt Fog, were not my favorite. They both had a sour flavor and texture I didn’t love alone but were enjoyable spread on soft bread. The Taleggio was solid but rather soft as well. The rind was definitely the best part. It had the texture of a soft nut and the vague flavor of fruit. The Beemster had a stronger salty flavor, which was delicious on the hard crackers. I loved the unique crunch of the salt pieces created by its age. The blue Bayley cheese was also quite strong. Mr. Blais wisely advised us to try it on thin sweet crackers, which balanced well with the salt. Last, the Comte had an enjoyable flavor, but the texture had a sort of grainy feeling I didn’t like. I did enjoy it with a bit of apricot to mix with. I feel very fortunate to have had the opportunity to try so many new flavors and combinations I hadn’t known before. –Megan Madden ‘18

 

 

I was told to go to Mr. Calisto´s class, where I thought we where just going to wait until the bus got to the school. For my surprise, when I entered the classroom the whole room was decorated all fancy, with a center table full of plates with cheese ready to be tasted. We started taking some appetizers on our plates, that reminded me of all the Italian movies that I have seen which usually make me end up very hungry. Just before we started with the action, Adam poured water into Megan´s cheese, and I thought, “Oh she is going to kill him;” fortunately for Adam, Mr. Blais saved the day with another plate of cheese for Megan.

We started with Petit Basque, which is AMAZING! All the way from South France. It is pasturized, and buttery, around 3 to 12 months old. As they get older they get sweeter. I´m waiting to be 21 in the USA, so I will be able to eat the Petit Basque with some wine or good champagne. Secondly, the Brillat Saverin is slightly pasterized, about 45 and 60 days old, from Normandy. Mr. Blais told us that they call this type of cheese triple crème, because it contains 75% fat, which instantly made Sam put back the bread with the buttery cheese he just grabbed on the plate. But without a doubt, my favorite cheese was the last one, the Bayley, which has a strong flavor—a very savory blue cheese from Vermont. The second bite I took was with the pecan pistachio crisp, which was such a good mix of sweet and the saltiness of the cheese. My last bite of cheese was the same but with a little bit of jam. I think I could eat that every single day, it´s just too good. This cheese concert was awesome, and as they say: “full belly, happy heart.” –Gabi Lopez ‘18 

 

Today in Culinary Arts Club, we invited cheese connoisseur Greg Blais to our Art Building. Along with delicious appetizers, we tried seven different types of cheese.

Personally, I have tried various types of cheese without really knowing their names, but this was the first time where I actually ate them knowing the background of each cheese.

It was very interesting in a sense that there were such intricacies even in the plating of the cheese. They were laid out in a very specific order in terms of the flavor. The first cheese was mild, somewhat creamy, followed by a cycle of strong and mild cheese.  My personal favorite was Mr. Blais’s favorite, the Comte, also known as French Gruyere. It was somewhere between mild and strong, and the flavor was the most complex out of all the cheeses. I am very excited to try more types of cheese.  Culinary Arts Club ended on a very high note with one of the most important food items for a food connoisseur. I will miss this club dearly, and I might even enroll in another year at Portsmouth Abbey just for this. 🙂 –Adam Suh ‘18

 

 

 Growing up in an Italian family, with an Italian grandmother, I’ve had my fair share of cheeses. Almost everything I eat I tend to put cheese on; it’s better than salt. I used to be one that would be afraid to try new types of food because I was always afraid that I would not like it. I regret this because I’ve been missing out on a whole new world of food, particular cheeses. The first cheese that we tried was Petit Basque, which is buttery and rich. This particular cheese is a pasteurized cheese milk from France. The next two cheeses we tasted were Brillat Saverin and Beemster, both cow’s milk cheeses that are on the older side. Three of the last four cheeses were also cow’s milk cheese, which were all pasteurized and rich in flavor. My favorite cheese has to be the Beemster, which is from Northern Holland made from pasteurized cow milk and is roughly two years old. All great cheeses bursting with flavors of various countries ranging from France to the United States. Although these cheeses are not all from the same place, some of them contain similar flavors, and all age in similar but different ways. Trying each cheese without anything to compliment it, is the way cheese is supposed to be tried so the full flavor of the cheese can be experienced. As an Italian, I tend to eat everything with bread, so not eating cheese with bread was certainly a way of going out of my comfort zone. –Alex Sienkiewicz ‘18

 

For our last Culinary Arts excursion, we gathered in Mr. Calisto’s studio for a cheese tasting. As I entered the studio, a beautiful and expansive spread of fruits, nuts, breads, crackers, meats, and most importantly, cheeses greeted my eyes and nose. The spread represented so many cultures from around the world, from all corners of Europe and America. One of the points that Greg Blais made the most was the battle between cheese purists that are trying to preserve the unique nature of cheese making and those industrialists that try to mass produce cheese at the expense of the nuances that make the cheeses so great. Each cheese we sampled had something in its process that gave it a unique quality, and those qualities can’t be mass produced by an exploitative business force. The cheese industry’s unique qualities have been passed down over generations and, hopefully, will be upheld by a growing following. –Arthur Shipman ‘18

 

Having been informed about the cheese tasting today, I doubly cursed my congenital congestion, which would have disabled me from realizing the nuance in smell and tastes of the cheeses from around the world. So I ran to the infirmary and gulped down a handful of sinus decongestant and Claritin to maximize my tasting capacity. It turns out that the cheeses I tasted today were worth my initial desperate attempt.

Until today, I didn’t realize the difference between cow’s milk, goat’s milk, and sheep’s milk cheese. As a long-time fan of the Swiss Gruyère, I was delighted by the taste of Petit Basque and Comte, which both had the creamy and crunchy taste I love in Gruyère. I learned today that the crunchy texture is the result of the aging process, during which curds of the cheese lose its moisture, forming amino acids. The loss of moisture also amplified the salty taste in the cheese.

The Beemster, a Gouda-type cheese from Northern Holland, was very different from the typical cheeses I buy from Seven-Eleven and Whole Foods. It tasted so much more deep and chewy. Mr. Blais taught us that the cheese we call “Gouda,” which is a name of a town in the Netherlands, is not really Gouda. We call Gouda “Gouda” because unlike European cheese farms, United States does not have a law protecting the names of cheese ,like patents for inventions. Retailers can call it whatever they want. The name “Gouda” is merely a marketing tool used by cheese retailers because it is name familiar to customers.

The industrial food market of America may have commoditized cheese to a degree that people no longer know where their food comes from. I wholeheartedly agreed with Mr. Blais when he criticized the growing trend of food culture that completely ignores the origin of a food, such as genetically modified food. Now that I’m aware of that fact, I should take more time to recognize where my food comes from.–Jason Lim ‘18

 

It was one of the most memorable times for me to taste several different kinds of cheese at the same time with various snacks around. Seven kinds surrounded a plate in the shape of a clock. It was the order of the cheese that had to be tasted first for maximized flavors for each of them. I grabbed some cranberry pistachio crisps, salami, plain crackers and ground duck liver, and took a seat.

The first cheese in the order was Petit Basque, which directly means “little cheese from Basque,” a certain region from Southern France. Since it was made from sheep’s milk cheese, the flavor was soft but rich at the same time. It is a well-known kind of cheese wiith a buttery and rich texture. Also, it was really milky. The second one had a completely different shape. Unlike Petit Basque that was a firm solid, Brillat Saverin was almost a liquid form, having a different layer of a cover on top. It was a kind of cheese from a cow’s milk in Normandy region. It was even called “triple-cream” because of an excessive buttery texture. The tastes of the outside layer and inner layer were totally different. The inside was really creamery, almost like liquid. However, the outside surface was really solidified, rich and even smelt strong. It also has a slight taste of sourness.

The third one was definitely the best one. It was called Beemster, also well-known as “Gouda” in America. It was a cow cheese from Northern Holland, having some acidic, sour, and salty flavors at the same time. The crunchy texture was not expected from cheese, but it was my favorite part of Beemster.  Humboldt Fog is a goat’s milk cheese from California, fermented for 60 days. It had a strong goat smell and the flavor was really heavy; I thought it would go well with some plain crackers. Comte, raw milk cheese, had a clean, simple taste. The texture was not hard or soft, but can mostly be explained as hard. Taleggio was a cow cheese from Northern Italy regions which would, of course, go well with Italian wines. The last one was also my other favorite one, Bayley. It is well-known as Blue Cheese across the world, and the source was American cows from Northern Vermont.

The order of tasting was impressive; washing my mouth with some water when I moved from one cheese to another made me refresh my taste buds. The flavors were maximized, and I fully enjoyed the complete value of cheese, the oldest snack in the world. –Scarlet Shin ‘18

 

 

 

For our last event of the 2018 year, we were fortunate enough to have an amazing cheese tasting with cheese monger Greg Blais. We walked into a room full of breads, sliced meats, and fruits on display, and at the center table were plates of cheese. As soon as I saw those plates, I was so excited. I have always loved cheese but never experienced cheese any better than what you can buy from your average market. The tasting was set in a specific order so that we would have a rollercoaster of flavor experiences and would not get overwhelmed. We started with the Petit Basque, which was a pasteurized sheep’s milk from France. It was a light tan yellow color and tasted as it looked. It was a solid piece of cheese but was very creamy and smooth with a slight tang to it. The next cheese was Brillat Savarin from Normandy, France. Mr. Blais explained that it was such a gooey cheese because of its “triple cream,” which means that is made of 3/4 butter. Its rind was the only thing keeping the sour cheese together. Next we tasted the Beemster. It was a pasteurized cow’s milk cheese from northern Holland. I liked the cheese because of the crunchy tyrosine crystals that developed over time, but the cheese was also very tangy. I really liked the Humboldt Fog cheese, which was a pasteurized goat cheese from California. It was creamier towards the rind and then more crumbly towards the end of the cheese. It was very acidic and had a woody aftertaste. It was very good paired with the fig jam on a slice of bread. The Comte cheese was a French Gruyere and was our first raw milk cheese. It was a very compact cheese with mild flavor. I considered this to be the most “plain” cheese of all of them. Next was the Taleggio cheese. It was a pasteurized cow cheese from Northern Italy. Mr. Blais continued to tell us about the background of where the cheese was from. Lastly, we had the strongest tasting cheese, which was a strong and salty bleu cheese from Vermont. Mr. Blais explained that when making the cheese, they needle the cheese, which creates pockets of mold, which was fascinating. The cheese tasting was amazing because of how Mr. Blais presented and told us everything that we needed to know. –India Roemlein ‘19

 

Growing up in China, I never really tasted or loved cheese. As a matter of fact, my mom was so shocked that I started eating cheese in a chunk after I came to America. “How can you eat something so rich??!!” She turned her face away. Also, after last summer in Italy, I became absolutely obsessed with cheese tasting. But sadly, I only had access to cheese in the dining hall or on the plane. Thanks to the hospitality of Greg Blais cheesemonger to the stars, we Culinary Art Club members were blessed to taste delicious cheese.

Before the tasting started, I had roast beef on bread, prosciutto, crackers, paté, grapes, almond, and dried apricots. Among all, I love paté most. The tasting started with Petit Basque cheese, which is a three-month-old sheep-milk cheese from Southwest France. It is very buttery and rich. I loved the taste. Then, we moved to Brillat Saverin, which is a cow-milk cheese from either Normandy or Burgundy. It is named after a food philosopher. It is very liquefied and has 75% fat. There are curds in Brillat Saverin, and the cheese has been pasteurized for less than 60 days. There was even laws in the US regarding pasteurization time. Beemster is the next one that is two-year-old cow-milk cheese from northern Holland. According to Mr. Blais, it goes well with whiskey and beer (but, unfortunately, we could not have the pleasure). It is very firm because the older a cheese is, the more it shrinks and loses moisture. I could also taste salt chunks in Beemster. Then Humboldt Fog, the American cheese from California, is made from goat milk. The line of ash in the cheese resembles the horizon in Marin County, CA. I didn’t really enjoy the sour taste. Comte is my favorite. It is name-protected, unpasteurized French raw milk cheese. I love the sweet taste and firm texture. It melts well in the mouth very subtly. Molds grow on the skin of the Comte, which is 16 months old. Taleggio has a fruity flavor and jelly texture; I didn’t love the taste. The last one is Bayley, an American raw cow milk blue cheese from northern Vermont. It is needled to let oxygen in. The salty taste is neutralized with fig jam and sweet crackers.

After we finished the cheese plate in clockwise order, everyone was filled and satisfied. That was an amazing wrap up to all the food adventures this year at Culinary Art Club. –Elaine Jiang ‘18

Our Culinary Arts Club ended the season with an amazing cheese tasting event with Mr. Greg Blais, master cheesemonger. Walking into the room, Mr. Blais, Mrs. Bonin, and Mr. Calisto welcomed us with plates of various cheeses and selections of absolutely delicious appetizers, including roast beef, duck liver paté, salami, etc… Mr. Blais provided us with seven different selections of cheese (Petit Basque, Brillat Saverin, Beemster, Humboldt Fog, Comte, Taleggio, Bayley) and placed them clockwise in a favorable tasting order ranking from savory to creamy, etc… As we moved along the circle tasting all these different kinds of high quality cheese, Mr. Blais filled us up with information on each kind of cheese like how they are made, what they are made of, how they are stored, and all kinds of professional information about them. My favorite cheese of all was the Bayley blue cheese. It was the most salty one out of the seven. Combined with the fig jam and sweet crackers, the savoriness of the blue cheese balanced out perfectly with the sweetness of the jam and cracker, creating a harmonious, delicious combination delighting the taste buds. Due to Mr. Greg Blais’s generosity and patient explanation, this has been an unforgettable experience, and a perfect way to end our amazing Culinary Art’s journey. –Samuel Ding ‘18

I love cheese. I put cheese on my crackers, lay cheese between burger buns, and melt it in my ramen. However, I never got to know the different types of cheese; all I knew was cream cheese, cheesecake cheese, and cheese ball cheese. We tried seven kinds of cheese today, from the light buttery Petit Basque to the Bayley blue cheese that ruins your fridge. Each type of cheese comes from a specific group of cows or goats that live in a specific region. It is really great get to know the stories behind the cheese, like the one about crazy pastors that get you drunk as a frat-entrance drinking test before they sell you cheese from their shelves. Personally, my favorite cheese is Comte from France. It is an unpasteurized cow-milk cheese and it offers a special taste that resembles butter but is so much richer. I’m looking forward to Mr. Blais’s new cheese store in Bristol and getting some late night snacks from time to time. –Peter Liu ‘19

 

 I’ve never tasted this many cheeses at once, and it was definitely a memorable experience of the Culinary Arts Club. I thought I would like the more traditional cheese more but to my surprise, my three favorites were the Humboldt Fog, the Brilliant Saverin, and the Bayley. The Humboldt had a strong flavor of goat’s milk, which I really enjoyed, mixed with a light hint of saltiness. I also enjoyed the gooey texture of the Brillat Saverin, however, it was a little too salty. The only cheese I didn’t like too much was the Beemster, which had a firm and crunchy texture.

The appetizers were great combos with the cheese; the cracker with pistachio cranberry crisps went well with the jam and the bayley cheese, which is a strong blue cheese.

The duck liver pate had a taste of richness and went well with the little bread as well as the crackers.

It was fun learning facts about the cheese when tasting them, including learning about how name protection works on cheese and what parts of the world make great cheese.

I am very excited about the new cheese shop opening in Bristol and would love to try more of the Humboldt Fog at the store. –Katherine Wang ‘18

The aromas of the stinky, fruity, nutty, and cheesy cheeses wafted from our neatly organized plates. Faced with a wheel of seven different cheeses hand selected by the esteemed cheese monger Greg Blais, we dove head first. With Subway offering the most exotic selection of cheeses in my day-to-day life, this was a very eye-opening experience to the wide world of cheese. Petit Basque, Beemster, and Humboldt Fog hailing from all corners of the world offered new textures and flavor palates. My favorite would definitely have to be the stinky Bayley blue cheese from Greensboro, Vermont. The salty, overpowering flavor of this cheese rippled with blue veins paired amazingly with the sweet of the fig jam and cranberry pistachio crackers. The other hors d’oeuvres included the liver patê on a bread crisp paired with a salty, acidic dill pickle, which I ate way too many of. This tasting has allowed me to really appreciate all of the work, stories, and history that goes into the flavor of a good cheese. And in the future, I hope to be able to take Mr. Blais up on his pairing suggestions for wines and booze to go with the different cheeses. — Thomas Teravainen ‘18

 

 This Sunday, the 20th of May, we got to taste cheese from all over the world with Master Cheese Monger Greg Blais. There were seven different types of cheese: Petite Basque, Brillat Saverin, Beemster, Humboldt Fog, Comte, Taleggio, and Bayley.

Overall, my experience was a great one. The cheeses I tasted were out of this world. But there was one that was my favorite by far, Petite Basque. Even though this was the first cheese we tasted, I think that it was the best combination of smooth and sharp. On the outside, it appeared to be a thicker and more dense cheese, but once I took a bite I realized I was very wrong. This cheese was 3-month-old pasteurized sheep’s milk from Basque Country in Spain. I’d like to personally thank Mr. Blais for coming to the Abbey and giving the Culinary Club and myself a tasting we will never forget.~Daniel Sliney ‘18

For three summers, I spent my days behind the counter of Newport Gourmet’s cheese department. I also spent those first two summers lying through my teeth to tourists and regulars alike about everything having to do with the cheese we sold. I was pretty good, but for my third summer, I decided to become dedicated. I spent three months sampling, reading, and selling countless cheeses, and only picked up about ten extra pounds on the way. At today’s tasting with Greg Blais, we tasted seven cheeses that I thought I knew a lot about already. That was stupid of me. Mr. Blais knows Literally Everything having to do with cheese. From the flavor, to the pairings, to the science of actually making it–he knew every step in detail and had a story of his personal experience with each cheese to boot. It was really cool. I learned so much and realized just how much more there was to know. My favorites were the Beemster Gouda and the Bayley Hazen Bleu, but I realize it’s a bit pedestrian to love the Beemster as much as I do. Nonetheless, they’re just great cheeses. Mr. Blais really knew what he was talking about, and it was even better because he so obviously loved it, which made us love it. Thank you Greg Blais!!—Sydell Bonin ‘18 

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Dumplings

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This week, our Culinary Art’s club adventures into my own culinary culture of Chinese food. Thanks to the generosity and help of the Butler family and their exchange student, Stella, we were able to experience the full process of dumpling(饺子) and fried dough(麻花) making. Stella started off our dumpling session with the making of the flour dough. After seasoning the flour with salt and mixing it with egg and water, we gently kneaded the dough into a ball shape and repeated kneading until all the additional moisture of the dough was removed. After the fermentation of the dough, we shaped it into a long strand by slowly spreading our hands apart while rolling away from the center. We then divided it into individual chunks, patted them down and made them into a circular dumpling wrapper with a rolling pin. After preparing all the necessary material, Stella started her mind-blowing demonstration of dumpling making. Stella placed an appropriate amount of stuffing into the dumpling wrapper and sealed the wrapper with her magical hands, pinching and pulling at the same time, completing a fabulous looking dumpling. After a few disastrous attempts, I realized that the corporation of the two hands is absolutely crucial, the left hand pulling movement must match with the right hand pinching movement, which is extremely difficult. Stella placed her perfectly completed dumplings among my monstrous looking ones in a bamboo steamer and surprisingly sealed the steamer to the pan with a thin strand of excess dough in order to prevent the leaking of steam. The dumplings cooked perfectly. Despite some of their abnormal looks, the dumplings were packed with flavors and extremely juicy on the inside. After taking a bite, the delicious juice from the meat fillings flowed into my mouth, completely satisfying and warming my tastebuds. The meat fillings were extremely tender and had the perfect amount of saltiness accompanied by the dough. This delicacy that we created immediately brought me back to my native Chinese culture and made me feel like home. Using the excess dough and some food coloring, Stella then demonstrated us her way of making colorful and crunchy fried doughs. It was truly an amazing experience and it is exciting to know that I can make dumplings for myself anytime now!–Sam Ding ’18

For our first event of the Spring term, we did something a bit different than usual by gathering in the Butler’s home to make dumplings and fry dough. After learning that we would be paired up to do this, I was not overly-excited due to my previous-baking experience with a partner (sorry, Megan).

However, my attitude changed when I met Stella, a young exchange student who is living with the Butlers. She said how making dumplings and frying dough are two important traditions from China. The process of doing so was very concentrated as the dough required different ingredients, mixing techniques, and shapes before it was ready to be formed into a dumpling. I was surprised to hear from Stella that they do not measure while they are baking, instead, they taste while they cook to determine when the final product is ready. After the dumplings, we made the fried dough. My favorite part was using food color to dye our dough before frying it. My mix of yellow and red tasted just as good as it looked.

Overall, it was such a pleasure meeting Stella and learning about her culture through this dough and dumpling-making process.This was a very enjoyable and educational experience thanks to the Butlers and Stella. Thank you so much!–Michael Griffin ’18

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As a Chinese, one of the most memorable family foods for me is dumpling. Dumplings could be the entree on the New Year, and the leftover could be the breakfast for the following morning. There are innumerable types of dumplings:from meatlover to gluten-free. Although dumplings are everywhere in China, this is my first time actually making dumplings myself. Unfortunately, the majority of my dumplings came out to be disfigured and few of those survived the steamer.

Another thing we made was the fried bread. At first I thought the name meant you tiao: A traditional Chinese breakfast item resembling an elongated fried dough. So when we started to massage the dough with food coloring, I had to clarify to Mrs. Bonin that this was not you tiao. Pieces of painted dough were fried until they are golden-brown and they tasted even better than what they looked like. —Peter Liu ’19

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Last Sunday, on the 15th of April, the Portsmouth Abbey Culinary Club visited the Butler’s home in Bristol, RI. There we met Stella, a student who now attends Salve Regina University, but is originally from China. Stella showed us how to make traditional dumplings and Chinese fried dough. What I never realized until that day was how much of an art form cooking these two dishes really was.

My favorite part about cooking with Stella was learning the dumpling techniques which included making the dough, rolling and flattening the dough into small circles, and finally learning how to seal the dumplings so that the fillings would not fall out. After many attempts at trying to seal the dumplings, I had yet to perfect them the way Stella had done, but I definitely was on the right track! Thank you Stella and thank you to the Butlers for hosting us, we all had a great time. –Dan Sliney ‘18

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Fr. Francis and Japanese Milk Rolls

 

Sunday. What better day to bake and break bread than on a Sunday with one of our Benedictine  monks? That’s exactly what the students did under the guidance of Fr. Francis, newly arrived this year to the Abbey community, but bringing with him his impressive baking skills. Fr. Paschal joined the students to learn, and taste, alongside them.

On Sunday, the 21st of January, the Culinary Arts Club was hosted by the Dining Hall services at the Abbey. We learned how to bake Japanese Milk Bread with Father Francis, who resided in Japan for a long period of time, learning their culture and ways of cooking. Now an avid lover of food and exquisite baker, Father took time out of his day to teach the Portsmouth Abbey Culinary Club how to bake.

The ingredients we used in making the bread were fairly simple: garlic, water, milk, butter, yeast, salt, and a little sugar. The smell of the garlic and butter combination that we cooked off as the base for our bread was outstanding. My mouth watered as we went through the process. Even though it takes a fairly long time to complete the baking process, it was well worth the intense labor and wait. The smell of the bread coming out of the oven was so satisfying, and the first bite of the bread made my mouth tingle. I suggest eating this straight out of the oven. Overall, I found this a very fun project and something I will try to bake in the future. Thank you, Father Francis! Daniel Sliney ’18

Making the brownish gold color of melting butter was one of the most interesting but hardest jobs assigned for making Japanese Milk Bread! Putting one full and a quarter chunk of butter and divide those into half (one for melting on a pan and one for whipping in a bowl), I could already smell the sweetness and saltiness of the bread. Additional yeast, flour, water and a certain amount of salt at last led into the perfect form of dough – ready to be baked!

Father Francis was definitely a talented baker; it required significant energy to mix the dough evenly with different dry ingredients, and my group struggled to make a chewy chunk of dough. When Father Francis stood between Katherine and me, the sound of him beating the dough completely dominated the entire dining hall. With his several punches, the dough became uniform, resilient and chewy! It was on deck to be put in the oven.

Applying some butter, oil, and sea salt – the most important part – on the top of different pieces of dough, I was ready to be a gourmet. After about twenty minutes of baking, soft, oily bread was made! When I had the first bite of a warm piece, my tongue was first mesmerized with the taste of salt. Then, the rich taste of butter dominated the tongue and formed complete harmony with salt. The warmness of the bread was perfection.

When I put a piece in the microwave the day after, I could still feel the softness the same as the baking day. With the recipe from this baking session, I would like to try this back at home with my little sister! –Scarlett Shin ’18

My greatest fears were realized when we began Sunday’s culinary class: a group project. Partner work? In cooking? Wow, no thanks. I hoped this Japanese Milk Bread would understand that I had abandoned it for its own good. However, I was lucky enough to grab Tommy, and we set to work under Fr. Francis’s guidance browning some butter. After several attempts, we found ourselves with a saucepan of garlic butter and a “shaggy dough.” We floured our hands and got to work kneading, and ten minutes later we had a round ball of dough ready to rise. Within 45 minutes, we were sliding our pan into the oven and waiting not at all patiently for the timer. The second they were ready, and way too hot to eat, we dove in. They were fluffy and buttery and salty, and everything a good cheat day is made of. Thank you, Fr. Francis, for leading us to bread victory! –Sydell Bonin ’18

Not sure what to expect from a “Japanese Milk Bread” baking class, I was pleasantly surprised by these hot, buttery, salty treats. The recipe may have seemed daunting at first, but we quickly caught on to the multi-step process of browning butter, mixing multiple components, and a lot of dough kneading. Father Francis guided us through this process, a seasoned milk bread baker himself (yet another surprise from one of our newest monks) who has become a large presence on the campus in just a few months. The garlic butter-greased baking sheets were lined with the little buns that would soon rise into a conjoined sheet of golden brown morsels. With seven groups preparing their own mounds of dough, we were left with plenty of buns to enjoy. I even experimented with a sweet and savory combination, spreading some marmalade on one. Even though the smell of peeled garlic and butter lingered on my fingers for the rest of the day, I came out of this experience as a slightly more enlightened baker, although yeast still kind of weirds me out.–Tommy Teravainen ’18

I never imagined putting garlic into “Japanese milk bread” at first: it just sounded gross. Kneading the dough was even grosser; the egg mixture blends with the starch to create a sticky substance. However, when Father Francis punched down the dough by smashing it on the table, that just made my day. Our monolithic dough was then left to double, and we then divided into pieces. Father put the pebbles in the oven, taking the pan out from time to time to brush the garlic mixture and sprinkle salt on the breads. Twenty minutes later, the bread came out in one piece with a golden color. No longer smelling garlic, I took a bite and started to appreciate the garlic recipe. The bread convinced me, and next time I will definitely try putting garlic into my dish again.–Peter Liu ’19

I never thought I would have the chance of stepping into Stillman Dining Hall except when given the chance to cook for International Food Night, so when I heard about baking in Stillman, I was beyond excited. I knew that Father Francis spent years in Japan learning about its culture and religions, what I didn’t know was his passion about baking.

At first I thought the milk bread we were making would be sweet and soft, but when I saw salt and garlic on the ingredient list, I knew that they are going to add a different taste to the bread. The part that I enjoyed the most was mixing all dry and the wet ingredients together and kneading the dough. Although it took us a long time to make a perfect dough, the process of punching down and smashing the dough was a lot of fun.

I would definitely try this recipe at home, and I hope to impress my family and friends with the milk bread at parties.–Katherine Wang ’18

For our last culinary club meeting, we did something a bit closer to home. Instead of our usual long bus rides, we went up to the dining hall kitchen. Father Francis had planned to teach us how to make Japanese milk bread. As soon as we arrived, we were met with a warm kitchen and a long recipe that we were instructed to read very, very carefully.

We broke up into pairs to make our dough. I paired with India which was nice because she knew what she was doing. However, neither of us knew what butter was supposed to look like when it was browned, which was our first challenge. However, Mrs. Bonin and Fr. Francis looked over our shoulders while we were browning and helped us. Luckily, we didn’t burn our butter (like some people). The kitchen was already smelling good, even though tensions were running a bit high.

The rest of our prep process went pretty smoothly, although there was a lot of running around the kitchen since everyone kept moving all the ingredients. It got more exciting as we started to combine the dough and as Fr. Francis showed us how to properly get the air out of it and strengthen the gluten in it. This gave me a new appreciation for the people on the Great British Baking Show because I hadn’t realized how hard kneading dough is. After we kneaded our dough we left it to proof, which takes a pretty long time. We were then given Fr. Francis’s risen dough, which was huge! We then formed this into balls and put our garlic butter on top, then baked those. Soon, we got to enjoy the fresh milk bread. We later got to eat the ones that we made. I was really proud to have made them, because they’re different than what I usually make and tasted really good.–Ella Souvannavong ’18

This past Sunday we were welcomed into the Stillman kitchen, a whole part of our dining hall that I have never been before. Fr. Francis introduced us to Japanese milk bread, or Hokkaido milk bread, which is where the bread originates. Making bread on our own was a great way to directly learn about what we were doing. Adding grated garlic to the bread was an interesting addition I was not expecting but the taste worked really well. Seeing yeast raise bread will always be something that simply amazes me, how the size of the dough triples. Once we waited the long twenty minutes for the bread we baked, the result was completely worth it. There was an entire pan of soft buttery fragrant pieces of bread. The bread was much more savory than I expected for something called “milk bread” but it was very good.–India Roemlein ’19

I love bread! This was my exact reaction this past Sunday when the club, along with Father Francis, gathered in the dining hall for a rather new experience of baking bread. There, Father began to explain both the cultural importance and history behind making Japanese Milk Bread, a skill he acquired while living in Japan for ten years. Following this was the actual process of preparing the bread with my partner, Megan.

The instructions called for basic ingredients, such as milk, bread flour, eggs, butter (lots of butter). However, the actual baking was anything but basic. Admittedly, I was a little too confident about my baking skills after watching every season of Cupcake Wars and Cake Boss on TV and underestimated the amount of concentration required for this process. Thus, to no one’s surprise but my own, I burnt the butter two times, and Megan and I had to start over. Nevertheless, I soon got the gist of what the instructions were asking for. After a half hour, all the groups produced a thick, mashed-potato-like dough that had to chill and expand for around an hour. Thankfully, Fr.Francis had already made some earlier that we got to roll out and slam on the table— my favorite part of this day. After this, we separated them into around 12 rolls and put them into the oven. Again, thankfully, Fr. Francis had already done this step previous to our arrival so all the groups got to taste some rolls while our own were baking. Although not sampling any, they certainly smelled great, and from the look on everyone’s faces, they must have been absolutely delicious.

Overall, this hands-on experience truly put my knowledge of how to read directions, work as a team member, and bake to the test. I am very grateful for Father Francis’ guidance and friendliness that made this event very enjoyable. Just as Mrs. Bonin assured, this event was tasty, educational, and fun, but also… a little messy. Sorry, Megan!–Michael Griffin ’18

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Usually, going to the dining hall is not exactly an in depth experience. You get in line, pick whatever looks appealing to you, and sit down to eat. All in all there is minimal interaction with the food you are eating. This was not the case on Sunday, when Father Francis and the dining hall staff hosted the Culinary Arts Club to a demonstration on how to make traditional Japanese milk bread. We went behind the area where you just grab your food, and into the kitchen where it is made. We were given an in depth, step by step guide to making the bread, including preparing the milk, mixing the dough, and making the seasoning. After what felt like an eternity, the finished delicacies were removed from the oven, cooled on the counter, and then enjoyed in all their savory goodness.

This experience was a stark difference from the typical Abbey meal, in that I was involved in the production of the food I ate. I was immersed in the process of making my food, which made the end result that much more delicious.–Arthur Shipman ’18

Mamaleh’s Delicatessen

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The Crew

Upon arrival at this amazing deli and restaurant, Rachel Munser and staff received us with actual hugs, and food in the form of hugs. Led into our own space, imaginative drinks and platters of treats began arriving, filling tables and bellies with distinctly Jewish flavors in copious amounts. Just when the students thought the end had been reached, pastry chef Rachel Sundit brought out her impressive creations. Starved, hangry, or lonely? This is a home away from home where the people will take care of you as if you were family. 

Shalom! This past Sunday, the culinary trip ventured to Mamaleh’s Delicatessen and Restaurant in Cambridge, Massachusetts. Walking in, I knew this was going to be a stellar experience. All around I saw and smelled carved meats, fresh bagels, and various other typical Jewish dishes with which I’d soon familiarize myself. The restaurant area was very open and fluid, just like a Jewish deli. Within moments of arriving, we were greeted by Mrs. Rachel Munzer and Mrs. Rachel Sundet, two of the seven owners of Mamaleh’s. They both cordially introduced themselves and began to explain the mission and history behind Mamaleh’s, one of providing kosher cuisines with a modern-era spin on the classics. While they spoke, we were served our first platter of old-fashioned soda and egg creams, my favorite being the Dr. Brown’s cream soda. We were also presented with various Jewish plates that consisted of bagel chips, new pickles, latkes, tongue meat, chopped liver, salmon, pastrami, kreplach…the list goes on! My favorite dish was the mouth-watering latkes. I also enjoyed making my own sandwich with mustard, new and half-sour pickles, onions, pickled tomatoes, and lettuce. While waiting for the dessert, our club got the very unique experience of touring the kitchen, prepping areas, and even State Park— their sister restaurant. Mrs. Rachel Sunder, Head baker, gave us some very powerful and meaningful insight on the importance of loving one’s profession and shared her favorite aspect of the job: making bagels at 4:00 a.m., a testament to her dedication and passion for her work! Overall, I feel very fortunate for having the opportunity to not only taste delicious kosher dishes, but also, experience Jewish history and culture. This was certainly an amazing trip and one I will never forget. Gai Gesund!–Michael Griffin ‘18

Ever since I received Mrs. Bonin’s email on the next culinary art trip to Mamaleh’s Delicatessen, I could not stop looking up the menu and reviews of the restaurant from different sources, such as the restaurant website, Yelp, and Bon Appetit magazine. In the beginning, because I had not had any Jewish food before, I could only expected the Salmon bagel. However, I could not be more wrong on the variety of food selection.

On Sunday, December 3rd, we took an hour and a half bus ride to Cambridge, MA. Despite the long ride and an over-filled stomach from school brunch, I felt like I was so ready to learn and eat the Jewish food, including cow’s tongue. I am extremely fond of the decorations. The high ceiling and big windows create a welcoming feeling to the customers. Rachel, the restaurant owner, is so nice to arrange a more secluded area for us students to sit together and undergo the food-tasting.

The first course was the Jewish Pu Pu Platter. The chopped chicken liver on bagel chips is a truly amazing combination. I also love the knish with meat stuffing. Then, I tried the latkes, which is similar to hash brown and scallion pancake, yet different as it is eaten together with apple sauce and sour cream. As a person with a sweet tooth, I could not stop myself from reaching for the blintzes with warm raspberry preserve. Next comes my favorite– lox on toasted bagel! I truly enjoyed the salty lox and fresh tomato on bagel with cream cheese. Just as I thought the tasting was coming to an end, a new selection of smoked beef and beef tongue with bread, pickle, sauces, cabbages, and Swiss cheese was brought to the table. The tongue was amazing to eat on its own and the salted beef went well on bread with cheese. As a matter of fact, the chicken liver and beef tongue reminded me of Chinese cuisine at home as I could never find such exotic cuisine at school. Then, we took a tour to the kitchen, the fridge, and the underground bar– which was of such a different style! When we came back, more food was awaiting– the raspberry walnut and chocolate rugelach were just beyond words, especially to someone like me who really loves crusty and crispy sweet food! – Elaine Jiang ‘18

 I used to follow an instagram account called “myjewishmother” that posted the completely stereotypical Jewish-mom things that this guy’s mom would do: send him boatloads of food, make his random friends matzo ball soup when they had a cold, email him links to law schools when he was studying English. Walking into Mamaleh’s, I realized that the stereotypes about massive quantities of amazing food were so accurate. My table managed to burn through not only our own “pupu platter” of knishes, gribenes, pickles, and kreplach, but Sam and I managed to finesse two other bowls of bagel chips and chicken liver and polish those off, as well. This was just the beginning. Next, the fresh latkes came and my verdict was finalized: latkes should have a generous portion of applesauce, and nothing else. Sorry, sour cream. Round three came, and I somehow was able to make room for the bagels and lox, but only because lox will forever be the key to my heart. Cream cheese, red onions, and lox on an “everything” bagel–you know the deal. And then, at long last, Boston Marathon-style heartbreak hill hit with the pastrami and rye platters. Sam and I rallied, built some heaving sandwiches packed with sweet, soft pastrami and tongue, Russian dressing, coleslaw, and tomato, and settled in to listen to Rachel talk more about the journey the owners took to owning this massive Jewish deli. We were wrong. We were immediately herded downstairs for a tour of the kitchen, and then shuffled along until we found ourselves in a dark, neon-lit bar also owned by Mamaleh’s. We confirmed to the bartender that we are all extremely underage, if they couldn’t tell from the fact that we were still covered in crumbs and sauce. We poked around the artistically kitchy bar until being sent back for dessert. The rugelah and the babka were the perfect cap to our visit. Thank you, Rachel, and thank you Mamaleh’s.

–Sydell Bonin ‘18

On Sunday, we went to Mamaleh’s Deli in Cambridge. I hadn’t really considered what we would be trying, but it definitely exceeded any expectations. First, they brought us a spread of the most unique drinks I had ever heard of. I was happy to recognize the Dr. Brown’s soda brand, although I hadn’t realized that it was so unique to Jewish restaurants. While it was sort of hard to really drink a couple of them, like the pickle soda, they were really surprising and fun flavors to try.

Then Rachel, the owner, brought out the ‘Jewish pu-pu platter’. I really liked the fried chicken skin (gribenes). The potato knishes were really nice looking as well, and I was surprised that they look visually similar to some Chinese meat buns that I’ve had before. We also had latkes, which I had never tried before, and I really liked them. We also had some really great desserts. I’m not really sure what they all were but I loved the cinnamon cake.

Rachel also told us about the history of Jewish delis and how they had faded but are now making a comeback. I have only been to one before in Indianapolis, and it was really cool to see the differences between that one and Mamaleh’s. We also got to see around Mamaleh’s kitchen and to their bar State Park. State Park had some taxidermy animals with party hats that I really liked. I was interested to see their kitchen and baking space as well, since it seems like they have such a great variety of food that they make. I really liked hearing about their head baker’s experience with working there and how even though she doesn’t like having to get there around four, the smell and satisfaction of making good food made it worth it.

The restaurant was both far more interesting and impressive than I would ever have thought, and I’m really glad we were able to try Mamaleh’s.—Ella Souvannavong ‘18

It was a quiet Sunday afternoon when we stepped into Mamaleh’s, their tables scattered with groups of young people taking a break to relax and eat a lox bagel. Rachel, one of the seven co-owners, greeted us brightly at the door and brought us through the modern-but-slightly-vintage style restaurant to our tables. We were immediately served an array of their specialty drinks, from egg creams to my favorite, the raspberry lime rickey. Over the next hour we were served different platters of Jewish deli favorites: knishes, pickles, latkes, and pastrami sandwiches, to name a few. Rachel explained each dish and that traditionally, many Jewish foods are fried in oil. The kreplach, or Jewish dumplings, were definitely my favorite.—India Roemlein ‘19

It was a strong start with special sodas: celery and pickle in the soda?! I could not imagine a sour taste in sweet soda. However, as I took a sip, I changed my mind. It was fresh – housemade on the spot – and I could feel the passion the bartender put in each flavored soda. Some sodas was comparatively flat, giving more space to taste the real flavor of the ingredient.

My stomach was already half-full from soda tasting, but there was one huge platter on its way to serve my stomach again. The platter consisted of different parts of chicken – chicken skin, liver and jus – and knish. I first tried fried chicken skin, which I could picture the taste of it before I put it into my mouth: it was crispy but not salty. It was not covered with extreme amounts of salt or different spices and perfect enough to feel the real taste of chicken skin. I dipped fried chicken skin into soft chopped chicken liver topped with schmaltz (goose or chicken fat). Kreplach, Jewish wontons filled with brisket, looked familiar for me, from an Asian perspective. One difference from Oriental dumplings was the shape and the fact that the wontons were dipped in sauce already. The flavor of sauce was soaked well into wontons as it was dipped in soup. Potato and meat knish was one of my favorites, topped with a harmonious Jewish mustard sauce. The outside was crispy, but the filling inside was tasty and soft.

Potato latkes topped with applesauce and sour cream was also my other favorite. The layer of potato was thick enough so that I could fully taste it and the skin was dipped-fried and crispy. As Rachel, one of the owners of Mamaleh’s, recommended, I put some of applesauce and some of sour cream at the same time, and it was heaven. Lox sandwich was also the best, topped with fresh cucumber, tomato and some savory capers.

I could not expect more from it. All different ways to cook chicken, fish and potato was satisfactory. However, there was a huge dish coming. Deli sandwiches, served with pastrami, corned beef and tongue from cows, was surrounded with purple cabbage coleslaw and sour white cabbage coleslaw. There were also two different kinds of bread, always freshly baked in the basement of the restaurant which was originally the bar. The pastrami was salty, going along with sour coleslaw and some Italian sauce – mixture of mayo, ketchup and other ingredients.

I could definitely say dessert was one of the best parts. Blintzes are a traditional Jewish sweet served during Hanukkah season; Mrs. Bonin especially requested for us to experience this tradition. The cream filling inside was warmer than I thought and warm soft filling went along with raspberry sauce on top perfectly. In addition, I also liked the full plate of rugelach with raspberry walnut flavor. It was small baked rugelachs shaped as croissant and in each layer, the chocolate and ground walnuts filled the center.

It was a completely new experience for me to try Jewish food in my life, and I feel thankful that I could find this taste at Mamaleh’s. It followed along with the origin of its name: “Mamaleh’s”, a little mama’s love towards their children through food. –Scarlett Shin ‘18

Ever since moving into a Jewish neighborhood, I have always wanted to try authentic Jewish food, and Mamaleh’s Delicatessen helped me tick that off my bucket list. After an hour drive, we finally arrived at Mamaleh’s, a small and delicious restaurant. We were first served special sodas, though the chocolate syrup one was my personal favorite; it was also a fun experience for me to try out the pickle and celery sodas. Then we were served the Jewish pu pu platter, of which the potato and meat knish was my favorite. The knish had the same idea of a traditional Chinese baozi, which has meat covered in round-shaped dough. The dough was very buttery and the meat inside very flavorful. The two desserts we had gave me lingering tastes. The raspberry and chocolate rugelach were crispy and sugary. The cake was warm and silky. I believe that Mamaleh’s is a perfect place for both a friends’ and family party; I will definitely visit again.—Katherine Wang ‘18

 I have drunk soda and eaten bagels before, but to infuse celery or pickle into sugar water and to fry bagels into chips were totally mind-blowing for me. Mamaleh’s was a heartwarming deli restaurant featured in Jewish cuisine. The food was so delicious and definitely filling. Unable to remember the names, the salmon bagel, deli sandwich and assorted drinks are all highly recommended. Sitting in Cambridge, I glance out the windows at the flashes of traffic and turn back to see the glittering of glasses and plates, and everything harmoniously combines. I can easily imagine Mamaleh’s being a gathering place for colleagues and families at dusk. –Peter Liu ’19

Another Sunday, another adventure. This time, our Culinary Arts Club went on a trip to discover the fascinating culture of Jewish culinary arts. After a hour and a half bus ride, all of us arrived at the Mamaleh’s in Cambridge MA, with a groaning stomach. Sprinting into the restaurant, we saw a number of customers relaxing and eating in this spacious yet warm dining space with joyful smiles on their faces. The owner of the restaurant, Rachel, brought us to our tables after giving us a big welcome, and she presented us with a number of colorful homemade sodas. My favorite was definitely the Raspberry Lime Rickey. This bright red homemade soda contains the exact right amount of both acidity from the lime and the fresh sweetness from the berries, refreshing your palate. Other sodes were the celery soda, chocolate phosphate and different flavors of Dr.Browns, which is a traditional deli classic in the Jewish culture. Moving on to the appetizers, Rachel brought us several beautifully presented platters. These platters consist of: Gribenes- fried chicken skin with onions, different kinds of delicious pickles; Kreplach- a Jewish wonton filled with brisket surrounded by a fragrant base; both meat and potato Knishes; and last but not least, some absolutely mind-blowing chopped chicken liver with crispy bagel chips. It was heaven on earth. Every single item was so flavorful that we devoured the platters clean with cravings for more. Following the appetizers, we had some amazing Dunia’s Potato Latkes, which was crispy and crunchy on the outside with a warm and soft inside; some fresh salmon sandwiches; and some crispy gold Minnie’s Blintzes that melt in your mouth. For the main course, we were served with a selection of beef tongue, braised brisket and pastrami, two different kinds of bread and some homemade pickles, coleslaw, lettuce, etc… The beef tongue was absolutely amazing; it was surprisingly tender and flavorful with the exact right amount of saltiness. After this luxurious feasting, Rachel kindly showed us behind the stage, where all the food is prepared and stored. It was super organized. Everything is freshly made and labeled, the kitchen floor is shiningly clean, and their operating system is the definition of sufficiency. After all, this restaurant’s food was definitely one of the best restaurants I have ever tasted, and the three hours bus ride was definitely worth the time. –Sam Ding ‘18

Mamalehs, an interesting name, especially for someone—me—who sticks to the basic, more well-known restaurants. Although I was a little reluctant to try out Jewish food (my only understanding of Jewish food was pastrami, corned beef, and lox), I did not let that stop me. The smell upon arriving at Mamaleh’s was amazing; I was intrigued right away just by that; various meats had been soaking for hours, some even days. Mamaleh’s isn’t just a deli, it is also a sit-down restaurant that offers your deli food and some more comforting sit-down meals. Soda flavors that I would never even think existed–like pickle soda celery soda, and an array of various cream sodas including black cherry—were all peculiar but excellent at the same time. These were drinks I would have never tried or wanted unless I had gone to Mamaleh’s. The food we were given was anything from different kinds of pickles to various meats, desserts, bagels, and fried chicken skin. Although there are no Jewish delis like this around here, I’m sure after my trip to Mamaleh’s I will look for them when traveling.–Alex Sienkiewicz ‘18

 Having never been to a Jewish Deli, I ventured to Cambridge, MA with an open mind and a hungry stomach. When we first arrived at Mamaleh’s, the aroma of Challah and fresh meat overwhelmed us. Sitting down in the side room of the deli, I was not expecting the feast that was being prepared for us.

One of the gracious owners of the restaurant, Rachel Munzer, explained the background of the deli and the food’s heritage itself. We were given four courses of exquisite Jewish cuisine. The aesthetically pleasing spreads were elegant and delicious. My favorite dish was the pastrami sandwiches. The slow cooked pastrami was juicy and delectable. I must have eaten at least three sandwiches before I had to take more pastrami from the other platter when I ran out. Normally, I would not buy pastrami at the grocery store, but after enjoying the delicious meat prepared at Mamaleh’s, I made it a priority to get some for my house now.

Unique to Mamaleh’s, their homemade seltzers were something I had never tried or thought of trying before. My favorite seltzer was the pickle seltzer as it had a distinctive zing to it and was quite quenching. We were allowed to try various seltzers prepared by the Mamaleh’s bartender such as pickle, vanilla, cucumber, etc. I would highly recommend trying these drinks, as they are very good.

After ravaging through countless rounds of lox and bagels, cow’s tongue, and homemade seltzers, I felt I could not possibly eat more. Then, the pastry chef Rachel Sundet came out with her prepared desserts, and my appetite grew again. She explained her love for baking and gave us an extensive tour of the kitchen and preparation of the foods. This was one of the most interesting culinary experiences I have had to date; we truly got a look into the Jewish heritage and the lives of the owners. Mamaleh’s is an exceptional restaurant, and I would recommend it to anyone travelling through the area looking for great food.—Spencer Kelleher ‘18

If you asked me to describe Jewish food in a Jewish style diner before Mamaleh’s, I wouldn’t have been able to do it. At first glance, Mamaleh’s looked like a fancier version of your typical American diner with old-fashioned posters, a classy bar, and sleek tables. The only Jewish food I knew was matzos with applesauce during Passover. To describe the overall food experience, it was the extended version of Passover food. From the applesauce to the pastrami, these were all foods I enjoyed, but I never knew they were popularized by the Jews.

While the smoky cow tongue melted in my mouth, and the flavors of the pickles spread, the most interesting item I had was the flavored sodas. The flavors of the soda were so unconventional, it reminded me of the jellybeans in Harry Potter. However, all of the sodas tasted exactly like what I expected, but better. It was something I’ve never experienced and whether it was chocolate, pickle, or celery, I managed to enjoy every single one of them.

Another interesting part about Mamaleh’s that I’ve never seen from a restaurant was its administrative aspect. A crew of us headed downstairs to the bathroom peeked into the kitchen initially. However, Rachel kindly showed us all aspects of the kitchen, whether it was curing of the salmon in the fridge or her daily routine. It made me realize there is more to restaurant than just the cooking. –Adam Suh ‘18

The owners of Mamaleh’s successfully use its space to shape the atmosphere and function of their restaurants. When you walk from the courtyard into the deli, the first thing in front of you is a glass deli counter displaying a smorgasbord of deli treats: at least three types of lox, house-made bagels, and an incredible variety of pickled things. Following the counter, there is seating for casual diners extending the length of the deli. While the finished products are displayed in the glass counters, the kitchens that produced them are tucked neatly and efficiently down below. Smoked and cured meats, as well as all of the baking components and house-made sauces, are made and stored down there, allowing the deli above to function so well in the space given. The layout of the restaurant allows for a range of services to be performed, from casual dining to hosting a large party such as ours, allowing for a successful and wonderful restaurant to continue serving wonderful food.--Arthur Shipman ’18

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The Simple Greek

 

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When the Culinary Arts Club students can engage in the food world with one of our own, it is an even better experience. On a beautiful Sunday afternoon, we visited The Simple Greek, a delightful restaurant owned by Tony DeSisto, an alumnus of Portsmouth Abbey and brother to a faculty favorite, Ms. Allie Micheletti, who teaches Art History here. It was all delightful, from the ever helpful and generous staff (Christina, Michaela, Don, and Brett) to the clean and modern surroundings to the fresh and fabulous Greek food. We can’t thank them enough for an excellent time!

On Sunday, we went right from church to The Simple Greek. I ate a Greek yogurt on the bus, but I wish I hadn’t, since even though the bus ride was long, the service was really fast. And debating the pronunciation of “gyro” in line made the wait seem even shorter. I ordered a traditional gyro on pita with tzatziki sauce. The woman I ordered from said for our first time she thought traditional–a mix of lamb and beef–was the best option if we wanted a true gyro experience. Since I could see and smell the gyro meat slow roasting behind the counter, I already knew that was what I wanted.

I had barely bitten into my gyro when they brought us steaming hot fries. I don’t even know what was on the fries but I couldn’t stop eating them. I could barely eat half my gyro because of how big it was and the amount of fries I inhaled, but the meat and tzatziki flavors were so impactful that I can remember how that first bite tasted, even now. As we ate, they brought around samples of Greek yogurt from their yogurt bar. The Greek yogurt I had on the bus paled in comparison. Their yogurt, combined with Greek honey, dark chocolate, or berries, was so rich and tangy that it surprised me. I had three of the samples, and my standards for Greek yogurt have been significantly raised.

After we ate, the employees showed around behind the counter. First, I was shown how they prepare and cook their steak and chicken. Then, we got to try and shave the meat off of the roasting spits. You could use a knife or an electric saw thing that was pretty sick. I cut the meat really unevenly, but I think the other students got it evened out. Then, we went around back and got to prepare fries. We peeled potatoes and used the fry cutter. I don’t know what the employees usually do to prevent this, but the peeled potatoes are very slippery, and we may have dropped several. Getting to see around the kitchen was fun, especially since the employees were so nice and welcoming. I especially liked going to a place like The Simple Greek because we were able to see techniques that we could easily do on our own—and get amazing food from it. –Ella Souvannavong ‘18

As a dedicated day student at Portsmouth Abbey, I spend a good portion of my life shuttling desperate boarders to and from Chipotle, Nacho Mama’s, and countless other places for quick dinners during our busy days. The first thing that I thought when we walked into The Simple Greek was “this seems just like Chipotle,” and the first thing I thought when we started eating was “but this is so much better.” Tommy and I both spent our whole time in line to order practicing how we would pronounce “gyro” without embarrassing ourselves completely, and by the time I was building mine, I had ordered every possible topping in a panic. This ended up not being a mistake. Everything was so fresh and so simple tasting together that I didn’t once regret the gyro I inhaled that was roughly the size of my head.

This was almost as fun as the trip we took behind the counter. Peeling potatoes and slicing them brought me back to my early days of picking thyme and peeling carrots at my summer job. My favorite part by far was learning how to shave the meat when it was on the rotating spits. This was no easy task, and it was more than generous for them to allow us to ruin several servings worth of food in the name of education. I don’t think that I have a future in that, but no worries; I know I’ll be back for the baklava and the rice pudding.–Sydell Bonin ‘18

On Sunday, the 29th of October, the Portsmouth Abbey Culinary Arts Club visited The Simple Greek restaurant in East Providence, RI. The Simple Greek serves a variety of fresh and healthy options that are not only good for you, but delicious to eat as well. From the juicy gyro cut straight from the vertical broiler, to the imported Greek honey, I had nothing short of one of the best meals I have ever tasted.

To start off my meal, I decided to have the traditional gyro on white pita bread. They put the tzatziki sauce on the pita bread first, and then added rice, which was a great choice on my part because it was very tasty. Next, I had the option to add almost any topping I wanted, so I chose the fresh garlic green beans, hummus, cucumbers, tomatoes, feta cheese, and lettuce. This sandwich was unlike any other. Even though I stuffed it full of toppings and made a little mess while I was eating it, it was all worth it. Next, we had the Greek fries, which were covered in feta, oregano, garlic salt, and red wine vinegar. Once again, I had nothing to complain about since I devoured them in a little under three minutes. Finally, they let us sample a few desserts, and my favorite by far was the imported Greek yogurt, topped with fresh blueberries and strawberries, with a hint of classic Greek honey. The blend of tartness from the yogurt, sweetness from the honey and freshness of the fruit made it the highlight of my visit there. Overall, my visit to The Simple Greek was a fantastic one, and I will definitely try to return there with my family or friends in the future. –Dan Sliney ‘18

The rich smells of freshly cooked gyro meat wafted from the unassuming The Simple Greek in East Providence. Walking through the door, two massive slabs of meat turned slowly on the flaming rotisseries. A case full of freshly cooked spanakopita lay in wait; I could not resist these delicious little pies of feta and spinach. But the line proceeded to a Greek “Subway” style set up. You selected what you wanted on your gyro. Nervous that I was going to mispronounce “gyro,” I asked for the “traditional”– meat piled high with tzatziki, Greek salad, feta cheese, and olives wrapped in a warm pita. This was followed up with Greek French fries with feta, alongside Greek yogurt, and baklava. Everything was delicious, but now it was time to work for our fill. We learned how to carve the gyro meat from the rotisserie, how they grilled it, and how they made their hummus and potatoes. This was truly heaven on Earth for anyone who is a sucker for some fresh Mediterranean eats.  —Thomas Teravainen ‘18

Greek. When I saw this word from the email about an upcoming event, I was curious. What about Greek? A Mediterranean style of food? Feta cheese? Olive oil? But what about “simple” Greek? Do they put just olive oil and feta on a gyro? I couldn’t stop asking myself questions. In order to figure out more about the restaurant, I searched the place on Google. When I looked at the images, the place seemed fairly small. There were 3-4 tables and some chairs around them. Then, the pictures of food attracted my attention; the main serving menu included bowls and gyros. A bowl for Greek food? That totally mesmerized me.

As soon as I entered the restaurant, I loved the atmosphere. It was small but cozy, and I love the bright lighting giving an impression as “pure and simple.” As I stood in front of the serving place, and asked for a bowl and looked at the toppings, I could not hide my excitement.

The marinated cucumber, tomato and cheese combination was my favorite, and potatoes went along well with the warm white rice. Also, the size of steak slices was huge but so tender that I could finish one slice as a bite. The topping sauce – olive oil and garlic cream – was perfect enough for me to feel Greek in Rhode Island. The reason behind this Greek feeling was that all the ingredients directly came from the mainland Greek; that makes the food totally fresh and authentic. As I went to the back of the kitchen and saw the process of grill and sauce making, I could totally see why the food was so clean and fresh: because they serve a proper amount of food every day and use fresh ingredients.

The desserts also mesmerized me into the Greek world for a while. Sweet Greek honey played a role as a perfect partner for sour and thick Greek yogurt. Pistachio on top of it pleased me as a decoration. Also, my favorite dessert was rice pudding. Cinnamon powder was perfect for scent and taste, and the fact that I could actually chew rice in the pudding was the best part.

Yes, I have never been to a Greek restaurant, but now I could definitely say I’ve felt genuinely Greek for about three hours in Rhode Island. –Scarlett Shin ‘18

After weeks of waiting in excitement, our Culinary Arts Club had finally organized another “adventure,” this time to a world of Greek food. Greek food has always been one of my favorites since it can offer an incredibly rich and unique flavor while using the simplest material. Luckily, The Simple Greek is a perfect representation of my type of Greek food.

As I walked into the restaurant, I was immediately hit by an irresistible fragrance coming from the rotating gyro grill. Their ingredient, or “build your own,” bar was filled with little sections of delicious ingredients that we could pick to create our own perfect meal. I had a regular sized bowl based with mixed greens topped with their special garlic green beans, chicken gyro, mixed vegetables, tzatziki sauce and two slices of wheat pita. It was absolutely delicious. The freshness of the mixed greens and the sweetness of the green beans formed a harmonious bond with the juicy and flavorful chicken gyro slices. After devouring the entire bowl, my stomach was completely satisfied and felt refreshed instead of burdened; the food wasn’t greasy and overwhelming, but delicate and healthily flavorful.

Next up, they offered us the opportunity to work on some food preparation; for example, slicing the gyro, grilling the steak, making their house-made hummus sauce, etc… I had the honor to be part of the gyro slicing team, waving the long cutting knife up and down the gyro as it rotates on the stand. As my knife slice through the steaming gyro, streams of flavorful juice flowed out from the cut into my little container, and the fragrance of the chicken burst out as the cut was revealed. To me, slicing the chicken wasn’t the hardest part but withholding myself from drooling all over was the real challenge; unable to hold back, I purchased two more bowls for take-out, which became my meals for the rest of the day. –Sam Ding ‘18

When we arrived at The Simple Greek, I could tell that it was a “healthy fast-food” restaurant because of the minimalistic design and food assembly line. The food was almost 100% customizable: choose your carb/salad, choose your vegetable, choose from hummus, tzatziki, and the rest of the whole array of sauces. The staff were all welcoming and answered my questions of what-was-what as the food was being made right in front of me. After we all started to eat our assortment of bowls and gyros, they shared samples of their Greek fries, rice pudding, Greek yogurt, and baklava. The fries were okay, the rice pudding was surprisingly good, and the baklava was a new dish I have never had. The Greek yogurt was great; it had a slightly tart taste, and their imported Greek honey balanced the flavors. Most of their dishes used minimal but fresh–and imported from Greece–ingredients.

We were invited into their open kitchen and experimented with cutting the gyro meat cones with a two-foot knife and the electric cutter. Both were hard to use, but the electric cutter was definitely more fun. Then we got to grill and butterfly chicken breasts, which had some beautiful char marks. Lastly on our tour of the kitchen, we were put to work peeling and cutting potatoes. I liked being able to see how people worked in these type of “fast casual” restaurants and use their fresh ingredients, especially how the meat was cut right off the spit. —India Roemlein ‘19

Chipotle on Sunday?? How about something lighter without the heavy sour cream and guacamole?? The Simple Greek Restaurant in East Providence certainly is one of those places you wish to be at after Sunday brunch. Similar to Chipotle, you pick your own food for your bowl; however, the restaurant is honest with its name—all of its choices from salsa to gyro have less than five ingredients and are all home-made. Having just had a bagel before going, I chose a regular salad bowl topped with grilled beef, cucumber, tomato, olives, and hummus. Surprisingly, I finished the bowl, even together with some Greek yogurt and rice pudding samples afterwards. Besides the food, the owner decorated the restaurant as simply as possible to emphasize the smell that suffuses the whole room when you come in. And the giant windows on the street side allow natural light in and customers to look out at the beautiful Sunday afternoon.–Peter Liu ‘19

On Sunday we went to the Simple Greek right after Mass, and I had the most refreshing “brunch” after so long. I have never tried Greek food before, but I’m always excited to try new food.

First, we all got to choose between a bowl or pita, and I chose the bowl with white rice, grilled chicken, hummus, Greek garlic dressing, olive oil, white bread, and potatoes. The rice had drops of cilantro flavor, which made the rice fresh the grilled chicken was just at the right temperature and very chewy. The hummus added the creamy texture to the chicken and the rice. The garlic dressing was similar to the flavor of ranch dressing except that it added more tartness to the smooth ranch. The olive oil served as the lubricant of all the ingredients in the bowl. After enjoying the favorable Greek bowl, we tried the Greek style French fries, different from normal fries; the Greek fries had garlic, lemon, feta cheese, and vinegar on them, which brought another layer to the taste. I was fascinated by the quality and quantity of the food of The Simple Greek, and I would come again! —Katherine Wang ‘18

What do the Greeks have for their meals every day? Before this trip to The Simple Greek restaurant in East Providence, RI, I had never known what Greek foods were besides the well-known Greek yogurt. After I stepped into The Simple Greek, I was first enthralled with the smell of the two huge spinning gyros. After a 10-minute-long debate about the menu, I decided on a white pita with traditional gyro with garlic cream for sauce and feta cheese, tomatoes, and cucumbers for toppings. After I took a huge bite into my pita, my face read “no way!” Although it is a chain restaurant in the U.S., the quality of the food is incredible. The fresh tomatoes and cucumbers balanced out the grease of the warm and delicious gyro slices. The warm gyro on pita was a pleasant treat to my taste buds. I tried others’ bowls, and I also liked the potatoes and the garlic green beans very much. What’s more, I love the Greek fries! Usually I was never a fan of French fries. However, the freshly cut fries with feta, oregano, garlic salt, and red wine vinegar were simply irresistible to me. For the sides, I did not love Dolmades, which is rice, beef, and herbs rolled in grape leaves, as it tastes kind of bitter with the grape leaves. For the sweet, the Rizogalo (Rice pudding) and Baklava (filo dough, walnuts, honey) were amazing! Although not looking very pleasing to the eye at the first sight, the taste was extraordinary. As for the Greek yogurt I was looking forward to, I did not think it was the best because it was too thick and not sweet enough—but very healthy and came in with cut strawberries and chocolate chips.

What was better than tasting all the food was actually trying to make it. It was my first time in the kitchen peeling potatoes—I was not the exemplary kid who did the chores at home. The potatoes slipped out of my hands several times. Though I was not very good at peeling potatoes, I was not bad with cooking steaks and chicken on the stove. I successfully butterflied a piece of chicken and used an advanced machine to read the temperature of the steak and chicken to check whether it was ready. The temperature was 145 for the steaks and 175 for the chickens. While I was slicing the chicken and traditional gyro on the rotisserie, the cone spun on me. Every slice I cut had some sort of geometric or aesthetic defection. But I treated myself with slices of gyros that I had cut anyway.

Overall, I really enjoyed it and would definitely go back for another taste of Greek in the near future!–Elaine Jiang ‘18

Greek food: pita bread, that mysterious gyro, an arrangement of vegetables, and tzaziki sauce. Picky eater that I am, I was worried that all of these peculiar items would not be for me. Once arriving at The Simple Greek, the smells of these various items reached my nose, and they were all pleasant; it all smelled like any other restaurant I’ve been to, except I knew it wasn’t. The Original Gyro tasted like a meatball but better, and with the combination of the Tzaziki sauce and the mixed vegetables, it made one amazing gyro. I recommend that for anyone who hasn’t had Greek food, they make their way over to The Simple Greek for some traditional Greek cuisine. –Alex Sienkiewicz ‘18

Opa! A usual Sunday, but not an ordinary culinary adventure. After an early Mass, we all loaded on the bus and traveled to The Simple Greek restaurant in East Providence, RI. Stepping inside, our noses were met with a very strong, yet satisfying aroma of what I would later discover to be a mixture of spicy hummus, olive oil, traditional gyro meats, and Lemonis potatoes. Inside, the restaurant was very modern with a large, glass counter that displayed fresh ingredients and a handmade process for each meal. I noticed three large vertical broilers with enormous slabs of meat on them. My inner vegan was afraid; however, I was pleasantly surprised to learn that there are a surplus of options. With a little help from behind the counter, I ordered an extremely delicious bowl made with lemon rice, wheat pita bread, lentils, garbanzo beans and a variety of Greek toppings. On the side, I was served a platter of traditional Greek desserts and fries seasoned with garlic and spices. My favorite of these desserts was the baklava, a sweet, flaky-bread crust filled with filo dough, walnuts, and honey. After, we all went into the kitchen to see how the food is made–such as the hummus–and make some of our own, too! Overall, our trip to The Simple Greek was phenomenal. Not only did I eat and help prepare amazing dishes, but I learned about Greek culture, what true Greek food means and tastes like. –Michael Griffin ‘18

Many people say the Simple Greek is to Greek food what Chipotle is to Mexican cuisine. This oversimplified thought does not do The Simple Greek justice, however. Both serve their food in a customizable, make-your-own fashion, and both offer a quick but quality and filling meal. However, The Simple Greek offers much more authentically Greek food than Chipotle does Mexican, with a wide variety of entrées and desserts made from authentically Greek ingredients. The salty and delectable feta cheese fries and spanakopita complemented my wholesome chicken gyro pita bread creation quite well. The meal you can create at The Simple Greek makes Greek food so much more accessible for the masses, even “feta” than Chipotle. –Arthur Shipman ‘18

I was very confused when I heard we were going to a Greek fast food restaurant. I always thought Greek food was little pockets of cooked food. When we arrived at the restaurant, I immediately thought of Chipotle. It had the same assembly line and tables around the floor. I read the menu posted up on the board. It was a choose-your-own-adventure. I picked a bowl over a pita because I was worried it would become messy. I chose white rice as my base. When I asked the staff member what “gyro” was, she explained that it was a mix of meats, and in the “traditional” can mean lamb, beef, pork or a mix of some. At The Simple Greek, their traditional gyro is a mix of beef and lamb. I like both, so I decided to try it. I then topped it with olive oil, sea salt, lettuce, feta cheese, cucumbers and chickpeas. I was nervous that I wouldn’t like one ingredient and then it would ruin the whole dish, but with my first bite I was in heaven. Everything was so fresh and the quality was amazing. Despite my bowl being the size of my head, I finished the whole thing. I was pleasantly surprised to learn that I like chickpeas and that lettuce can be quite tasty when consumed with the right counterparts.–Megan Madden ’18

 

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OPA!

Chefs Collaborative 2017

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2017-2018 Culinary Arts Club

Portsmouth Abbey embarked on another culinary adventure for the fourth year with what has now become a tradition: the Chefs Collaborative at Schartner Family Farm in Exeter, Rhode Island, run by creative and talented chefs Derek Wagner of Nicks on Broadway and Jake Rojas of Tallulah’s Taqueria. They set out on this venture with “a mission to inspire, educate, and celebrate chefs and food professionals building a better food system” alongside “local farmers, fishermen, brewers, vintners, musicians, and artisans” who share their vision of raising money to “make a positive difference by fostering positive change.”

Who doesn’t love food? Since the beginning of school year, my friends and I have been excitedly waiting for this year’s Chef’s Collaborative held at Schartner Family Farm on October 1. Reading the blogs from past years and drooling while clicking on the photos of food at night, we almost made a list of to-eat food at the event. The moment we got off the bus upon arrival, we rushed into the farm and went station to station, smelling the delicious food and seeing all the aesthetic delicacies prepared by chefs from the local well-known restaurants. With the band singing under the tent and the little kids playing near the lake, it felt like a food festival, in which not only people can enjoy a variety tastes of food, but also a good time with friends.

It was not until after I finished several plates before I remembered to actually inquire about the ingredients and the names of the dishes. Among all, my favorite is the smoked fish cake with napa cabbage slaw and sauce rouille prepared by Chef Matt Gennuso from Chez Paschal. Attracted first by its beautiful look with the appetizing fish cake in the middle and orange seasoning spread in a straight line across the plate, I was impressed after I took a bite—the fish cake was at the right temperature and the right size without stuffing the diners. Because I am not a fan of raw food but I love seafood, the smoked fish cake undoubtedly became my top one on the list. For the dessert course, I love all the pastries from Ellie’s Bakery. The apple and husk cherry pies and the honey-chamomile French macarons kept me wandering back to Ellie’s station for more—even after I had already gorged myself, there was always room for more good food. Elaine Jiang ‘18

Schartner Farms

As per usual, scenic Schartner Farms made the perfect backdrop for Chef’s Collaborative last Sunday. The scattered tables of restaurants and bars each serving their own food and drinks could easily have been overwhelming, but luckily, a year of experience eating at Chef’s Collaborative gave myself and my partner in fine dining, Arthur, preparation to tackle every bite. We purposely started out on the far end across the lake, first eating what ended up being my favorite dish: Persimmon’s marinated mussels that were somehow salty, tender, fruity, and fresh all in one. I was heartbroken not to see Chef Champe Spiedel behind the counter (I would consider myself a superfan of his) but despite his absence, Persimmon was lovely as ever. We moved on, strategically eating at the tables with plates in order to create a firm base on which to top our bowls of chili and pozole. After about an hour, we had sampled everything, from–another favorite–the lamb shoulder on polenta from Gracie’s, to a more innovative grilled cabbage and vegetable dish from Kingfisher. About thirteen plates down, we began our dessert course, starting from the top and trying Eli’s incredible apple cider donuts with a vanilla glaze, as well as honey-chamomile French macaroons that were light and airy. In traditional Italian form, we finished our feast with coffee: New Harvest Coffee’s nitro cold brew for him, and a maple latte for her. Thank you to the chefs and organizers who made those two glorious hours of food and music possible. Sydell Bonin ’18

What could be better than starting the month on a Sunday, and with fancy food? As a committed foodie, when the bus finally made its full stop at the Schartner Family Farm, I ran off like I was an invited connoisseur to this fancy party. As soon as I got my set of fork and knife, I began my journey hustling from station to station. On my first stop, I had the marinated mussels from Persimmon; the crispness of the peppermint leaf, the freshness of the mussels, and the tangy sauce mixed together made the dish favorable. Since I had already opened my appetite with a seafood dish, I then tried the smoked fish cake with napa cabbage slaw. I was first attracted by its appearance: a rich piece of fish cake placed on top of a round of cabbages, topped with spicy mayonnaise and sprinkled with paprika. After my first bite, I knew that it was already on the top of my list for the night. The fish cake was fat but not greasy due to the sour taste of the cabbage, and the sauce was right on the nose.

After trying out the seafood and entrees, I decided to try out the desserts. I first went to Eli’s Kitchen and tried their amazing Apple Cider donuts with vanilla bean glaze, right out of the oven and drizzled with the glaze right away. I was not a big fan of Monrose Farms apple pie; it might be because the apples were too fresh and generated the tartness in my mouth.

Overall, I enjoyed the food and the view at Chefs Collaborative, and would definitely visit next year if possible. Katherine Wang ‘18

If you are looking for a place to test your diet—welcome aboard! Abbey Culinary Arts was the club that I wished to join ever since freshman year. So after a two-year wait, I could hardly wait when the bus roared into Schartner Farms. At first, I mistook the farm for an average countryside cottage: The ground was covered with gravel and a road hardly existed; the trees grew wild alongside, making me wonder at the presence of hundreds of cars on site. But a sniff of medium-cooked braised lamb dripping juice between two burger buns with spicy pickles conquered all doubts; and yes, it smells as it sounds, if not better.

A long line formed at registration, so I began to trace that magnificent smell. Fortunately and unfortunately, good food all has a common quality—you have to wait for it. So before the main course, I managed to grab some appetizers: Hopkins Southdown’s tomato barbecue pulled pork and Winner Winner’s harissa chicken wings exceeded my imagination of New England cuisine. But I was still mindful of my plan until I finally took up a braised lamb burger, or maybe two.

Skipping from booth to booth, I would call myself “gluttonous” after I stuffed myself on the second round. But right before I decided to settle down with a cup of maple latte, a glimpse of desserts from Ellie’s bakery gathered all my attention and I doubled down on the sweets. Honey chamomile macaroons and apple cherry hand pies were so fresh and delicious that they revived my tired palate.

After that high-calorie intake, I was more than happy when the group wrapped up and went back to the bus. But all in all, with appetizing food and live music playing, Culinary Arts Club definitely deserves the dedication of a whole Sunday afternoon and I look forward to its next event. Peter Liu ‘19

Culinary Arts Club went into the Schartner Farm through a gap in the hedges, entering into the crowd surrounding the bonfire by the pond. We walked through to one end of the tables. The first dish we tried was Persimmon’s mussels. This first bite was one of the best things I’ve ever tasted. After this, we moved through the tables. I ate oysters, shrimp, chili, lamb barbecue, scallops, and several other dishes. I had already had most of the things we ate, but many of them in interesting combinations. But I did try some new vegetables that I still don’t really know what they are and a really strong ginger soda (which sort of burned my throat, but it was still good). Then I sat by the pond as I waited to be able to eat more. When I could, I got back in line for oysters and scallops a few times. I was going to wait to eat dessert, but I saw fresh apple donuts and cider and got them at the same time I had a plate with an oyster.

It was really great to see everybody else so excited and happy to be enjoying the food and trying new things! Ella Souvannavong ‘18

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Schartner Farms Lake

I can’t think of a better way to spend a crisp fall afternoon than at the annual Chef’s Collaborative. Set before the picturesque backdrop of Schartner Farms in Exeter, Rhode Island, Chef’s Collaborative is a foodie’s afternoon in paradise. When you pass through the evergreen wall into the main event, you feel included in a select community of people who appreciate quality. There is not a bad sight, smell, or taste anywhere in the venue. I made my way from end to end, enjoying a lamb slider from the Beehive, Persimmon’s marinated mussels, and washing it all down with a nitrous blended cold brew from New Harvest Coffees. I particularly enjoyed the mussels, which artfully combined the smokiness of the mussels and sauce with light and zesty greens.

I took a break from the lines to enjoy our stake of land on the far bank of the pond. From there I enjoyed the view of the pond, watching as the children ingeniously hurled a retrievable brick into the pond, rather than using their exhaustible collection of suitable rocks. This atmosphere is a perfect place to relax, unwind, and enjoy yourself. Arthur Shipman ‘18

After a busy weekend, the Culinary Club embarked on a familiar ride over to Schartner Farms for the annual Chefs Collaborative. After stepping off the bus to the smell of sauteed dishes and sight of many people waiting to enter, I knew this was going to be an exceptional event.

The farm—where the event is held—is beautifully positioned behind a lush row of trees with a large pond in the middle. Though my second year in attendance at the event, I experienced many new flavors and satisfying dishes from some of the most well-known restaurants and cafes throughout the greater New England area. I had originally believed that it would be difficult to find some vegan options for myself since a majority of people I saw had meat, cheese or a combination of both in their hands. However, I was very surprised by the selection of vegan cuisines scattered throughout the location. One of these, being my favorite dish as well, were by far the caramel apple squares. These heavenly treats most certainly lived up to their name in flavor and presentation. On the side, warm apple-cider was served, a fun reminder of the changing season. Also, I was greatly pleased to connect my first smell of sauteed food to a presentation of sauteed squash, peppers, potatoes, and cabbage. This dish was wholesome and tasty. After a couple (or more than a couple) of these various dishes, I did notice a familiar face and cafe from last year behind one of the scattered-about tables. He was serving three different types of coffee, my preference being the pure-black shot of coffee.

Without a doubt, the annual Chefs Collaborative is my favorite culinary event from last year and so far, this year as well. It proved to be a tasty, pleasant and fun environment to welcome the new members to a hidden culinary gem and for us experienced foodies as well. Until next time, caramel apple squares. Michael Griffin ‘18

Heading out to the Chef’s Collaborative on a beautiful October Sunday, I honestly had no idea what to expect. But I was promised good food amongst good company, so what more could I ask for? Once our bus pulled up to the little nondescript farm location in Exeter, the walk through the tall hedges led to a culinary and cultural feast for the senses. We were greeted by hordes of people surrounding tables brimming with a tantalizing selection of eats and treats. I stared at the program in overwhelming disbelief, worried that I would not be able to gorge myself with every sample. I embarked on a journey of discovery when it comes to the limits of my stomach, and surprisingly my taste palate as well.

Diving headlong into this festival of food, naturally I sprang for the iced coffee. The New Harvest nitro cold brew offered a refreshing respite for my temporary awe. Just dipping my toes in, I grabbed a honey-chamomile macaron as well. I had never seen such a wide selection of lamb, and I was a fan. Besos Kitchen’s lamb sliders and Gracie’s lamb shoulder were both delicious, and the rich creamy polenta that I mistook for mashed potatoes paired amazingly with the tender hunk of lamb. Next on the agenda were the White Horse Tavern’s BBQ grilled oysters, which were an interesting twist on a New England classic. Being from Cape Cod, I am ashamed to say I have never had a raw oyster. Unfortunately to this day, this still holds true because by the time I had made it to the raw bar they had run out. Nonetheless, I am still determined to try an oyster someday.

But there were still many other delicacies to be had; I was not letting this minor hiccup get in my way. A few highlights for me included Eli’s Kitchen’s fall fusion of sweet and savory with their combination of squash, mushrooms, apples, and my favorite ingredient: a perfectly pungent goat cheese. The marinated mussels from Persimmon were a tasty, little briny morsel, and the fried apple cider donuts were to die for. Finishing off with some heat and sweets, the Harissa chicken wings from Winner Winner and chili from Mission spiced things up– and the chili came with cornbread, an additional bonus. To finish it all off were the salted caramel apple squares, which I could have eaten twenty of. Feeling twenty pounds heavier but enlightened in the culinary arts, I left the Chef’s Collaborative feeling full, and, well, very full. Tommy Teravainen ‘18

Last Sunday, on the 1st of October, the Portsmouth Abbey Culinary Club enjoyed tasting a variety of exquisite and unique foods at the Chef’s Collaborative. The event was located behind Schartner Farms, where restaurants from around the state, both known and unknown, came to give the people of the community a taste of their best dishes. They had everything you could imagine, from raw oysters to fresh fried apple donuts. The location of the event and the weather could not have been better either. Being right by a small pond, people crowded the coast and wooden dock to both sit, relax and listen to the live band play all afternoon.

Out of the many dishes I tried, from the White Horse Tavern’s oyster dish, to Chef Pascal’s fish cake, my favorite by far had to have been the cold brew coffee from New Harvest that I drank, along with the fresh apple cider donut I ate from Eli’s Kitchen. The dark roast iced coffee I had from New Harvest was one of the smoothest coffees I had ever tried. Even though it was on the stronger side, with a little milk and some sugar it really came to life for me. With my coffee in hand as I walked by the many stands, I smelled the scent of the fresh apple cider donuts from Eli’s Kitchen, and could not resist. I decided not to save dessert for later, and dug right into my hot, crisp and delectable donut. The vanilla bean glaze on top, along with the dash of caramel truly was “the icing on the cake” for me. Overall, my experience at the Chef’s Collaborative was one to remember, and it will definitely be an event I tell my friends and family about for next year.   Dan Sliney ‘18

This October 1st was completely different than any other October 1st I have ever had, and that day, the Culinary Arts Club attended the “Chef’s Collaborative” event at the Schartner Family Farm in Exeter, RI. Being a new member of the Culinary Arts Club and a lover of food, my heart was full of excitement and high expectations; however, when I first arrived at the farm, my heart stopped. Behind these walls of trees, I saw a brand new world filled with uplifting music played by the local band, delicious fragrances roaming around the field, and of course, the appetizing delicacies provided by the best restaurants from Rhode Island. It was heaven on earth.

After tasting a large amount of food, I finally found my favorite dish. It was the BBQ grilled oysters with sweet corn and tomato from the White Horse Tavern. Unlike the traditional way of eating raw oysters, the chefs at White Horse Tavern applied a little twist. They grilled the oysters with topping of sweet corn to merge their sweetness and sea-saltiness together, creating a perfect balance for the flavor. The genius use of grilling also caused the oyster to become incredibly tender and juicy, melting in my mouth and smoothly sliding down my throat. It was unimaginably flavorful and definitely heaven for taste buds. I went back a couple of times after eating something heavy to re-experience the warming, juicy oyster comforting my stomach. Besides White Horse Tavern, there were also other restaurants that captured my attention with their delicious cuisines; for example, the marinated mussels from Persimmon, the Harissa chicken wings from Winner Winner, and chili from Mission Burger, etc… After two hours of tasting delicacies, I reluctantly returned to my bus with complete satisfaction, extreme happiness, and a barrel-like stomach. Sam Ding ‘18

Surrounded with pumpkins and trees in the farm, I could feel the autumn in New England is coming. I started my pleasing journey of food at Chef’s Collaborative 2017 with marinated mussels. My tongue could feel the freshness of mussels collaborating with marinated onions and crisps on top. The oyster from White Horse Tavern was really impressive with an incredible idea putting BBQ sauce on top of grilled oyster. The warm oyster with heavy but tasty BBQ combined magically.

Grilled cabbage with onions and peppers was also new to me. Back in Korea, I have only seen cabbage in the form of Kimchi with some spicy red pepper sauce. The cabbage from Kingfisher Catering was sour; onions were chopped with cabbage and the sun-dried peppers invoked my appetite. I could feel the genuine texture of cabbage.

The breeze of the autumn ended with autumn sweets: honey-chamomile French macarons, warm apple cider and soft latte with maple syrup. I should say the best one was maple syrup latte. It was the best harmony of bitter coffee and sweet flavor of maple syrup. Scarlet Shin ‘18

I started out toward the farthest tables and figured I could work my way back. Running to the first table I saw, I picked up the closest dish without looking. I scanned for a sign and found one that indicated this was “Cabbage Salad.” I had the strong urge to fling it down and run away as my biggest hate in all food is salad. Cabbage and I in particular don’t get along. It ruins corned beef dishes for me every St. Patrick’s day. Yet I had determined that I would try everything at this event, and so I faithfully open my silverware set and picked up a large bite with my fork. The leafy pieces themselves were quite good but the dressing had a strong flavor that didn’t sit well with me. I had a few more bites to see if my aversion was merely shock, to no avail. I passed my plate to Adam who quickly finished it off for me.

Next, I had a mussel dish. Three oblong, orange meaty pieces sat at the bottom of a bowl in a salty marinade, garnished with little leafy bits. Over the summer I had gotten into a seafood mood but cooked mussels had not yet gotten crossed off my list. I think it’s the strange color, which had convinced me they would poison me. Despite this, I scooped one up with all the drippy sauce. It was less chewy than I expected and more tender. I did expect the delightful, salty flavor. After this, my pack moved to the lamb sliders. My family occasionally has lamb on holidays so I knew somewhat how it would taste. I was particularly fond of the pulled-apart texture.

As a sugar addict, I was quickly pulled off real food when I encountered a donut table in the middle of the section of dishes. I watched as the Eli’s Kitchen chefs fried, cooled and glazed the donuts right in front of me before putting them out to eat. No one could stop me from getting myself one of those. They were smaller but taller than anything you could get at Dunkin. They were fresh, hot and covered in melty glaze, aesthetically crisscrossed in caramel. I took a bite and the bread inside was dense. The center was still a bit undercooked in a mushy way. I nearly grabbed another but I knew there would be other desserts to try (though my dessert stomach never gets full). I promised the donuts I would return as I backed myself away from their table. Crossing to the opposite side,

I ran into a new dish, which I did not recognize. It was a small circular patty on a pile of slaw. The sign read Chez Paschal’s “Fish Cakes.” I had never had a fish cake before so I didn’t know what to expect besides some sort of fish. Before I could ask too many questions, I popped a bite in my mouth. It had some slaw on the bottom, which I had also never had before. The cake was sort of squishy with an expected fishy flavor. I couldn’t place which kind of fish it was but I liked it. I finished the rest of the cake and followed the pack onward towards the next section.

Walking through the music tent, we arrived at a new set of tables. Spotting Mrs. Bonin and Mr. Calisto, we joined them by a tray of White Horse Tavern oysters. To my surprise, the oysters were covered in bits of corn and barbeque sauce. I had never imagined oysters as being consumed any way but plain. It was a seasonal twist on a summery food. I picked one up and found the chef had already loosened it–slurps up! The oyster had a warm flavor and a more meaty texture. I only realized after that they were cooked. The sweet corn and BBQ complimented well with the warm salty juices. With all this salt, drinks were in order. We moved out to search for water. By happy accident, we found a table with flavored seltzer. In my many dislikes, I don’t really drink carbonated drinks. They usually make my mouth feel weird and I can never finish them. But these were fruity and in fun glass bottles so, what the heck, I got a grapefruit-flavored bottle. It was so goooood. The bubbles were light and the fruity flavor was refreshing. I was ready for more.

Across from the seltzer stand was New Rivers’ raw bar. This I had been excited for. I had a raw oyster once over the summer and quite enjoyed it. To ensure it wasn’t a fluke, I grabbed two from the bar. At the urging of those around me, I agreed to test a shrimp and raw scallops. With these, we decided to retire from the standing and head to our picnic blanket. We crossed the treacherous hill of doom (which threatens all those with a swim in the lake) and settled onto the blanket. I squeezed a bit of lemon onto each oyster and loosened it with my knife. The first went down fast and cool. It was just as pleasantly slimy as I remembered. I slurped the next one up. I am definitely an oyster girl. Now I turned to the small shrimp monster. It then occurred to me that the shrimp had a shell and small legs. I had no inclination to eat those and had a feeling you weren’t supposed to. Sam sensed that I was lost and shelled it for me, explaining that I did, in fact, only eat the inside. The first bite was different than I thought. The shrimp tore apart delicately and had a light taste. The scallops came next. I’ve only had them sautéed before but raw was a whole other animal. They were most definitely cold and chewy. They have a dense quality almost like a gummy bear, but of fish. It’s more appetizing than it sounds (I promise not to go into sales).

Last and BEST were the lovely desserts. I think apple desserts might be the best ever so I had a field day. I had already died and gone to heaven with the donuts but there was more. First I tried a snickerdoodle. It was most definitely above average. Less seasoning than I would’ve liked but a good amount of sugar, which almost made up for it. That was followed by Ellie’s Bakery pumpkin whoopie pie. In the past I have avoided whoopie pies because I often find the filling too light, but this one looked special. The pumpkin brought a nice twist and went well with the plain filling. The best of all, though, was the apple squares. The bottom half was a base of bread or cake and the top was oatmeal and sugary apple flavor. This was the crown jewel. All this was consumed and washed down by some wonderful, fresh brewed cider. After my fizzy grapefruit drink, I refilled my bottle a good few times with the cider at the dessert station. A lovely ending to a lovely afternoon. Megan Madden ‘18

Culinary Arts Blog The Culinary Arts club headed to Exeter, RI to attend the annual “Chef’s Collaborative.” As I arrived at Schartner Farms, I had no idea what to expect, as I had never been to an event like this before. Once I entered through the grassy foliage, I was awestruck at the festive fall atmosphere. Live music, a beautiful view, and local cuisine overwhelmed me. Sampling various dishes from local restaurants, my favorite dish was from White Horse Tavern. The BBQ grilled oysters were addictive. I must have had at least six or seven. At first, the two hours that were allotted seemed plenty, but at the end I knew I could have just sat there all day on the picnic blanket eating. The Chefs Collaborative is a great venue to experience new food that you haven’t tried and to scope out new local restaurants. After attending, I am determined to go to Winner Winner in Newport and experience their Harissa chicken wings again. While I am always in Newport and have driven past the restaurant before, never have I ventured inside and eaten because I just knew nothing about the food. The Chef’s Collaborative instilled in me a desire to go to the restaurant after eating their chicken wing sample, which was amazing. This elegant dish of chicken wings with a little spice in the Harissa sauce topped off with a garnish of corn and tomato made for an exquisite snack. At the end of the day, sitting by the water and enjoying delicious food and camaraderie with my peers was a nice change from the hectic world of school. It offered a place of peace and enjoyment unique to anything else I have experienced. I would highly recommend this to anyone who has any interest in food and wants to experience a combination of dining and fun. Overall, I am so pleased that I got to participate in the tradition of going to the Chefs Collaborative and hope to continue going to this wonderful event! Spencer Kelleher ’18

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End-of-year Dinner 2017: Jamestown Fish

IMG_8478The last dinner we share is always a little sad because we say goodbye to our graduating Seniors after this. That sadness, however, is tempered a bit by a fabulous meal–sharing good food together can only be a happy experience. This was provided by Chef Michael MacCartney of Jamestown Fish, whose menu delighted all present. It was a wonderful send-off to our two founding members, Kevin Jiang and Christine Gu, whose presence and participation will be sorely missed, along with the other Seniors: Johanna, Hannah, Amber, Anna, Matias, Jennifer, and Oliver. 

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I’m sure the salty, classically Newport patrons of Jamestown Fish were confused seeing a group of twelve totally-not-related kids coming in to enjoy an afternoon meal on a Sunday afternoon. However, after sitting down with our carefully selected menus and plenty of warm bread, it felt like we were the only people on this culinary craft headed to flavor town. Sorry! That’s where we went. Surrounded by ocean-y blues and port windows, our table seemed to turn into a gently rocking schooner. Our voyage started with three fresh oysters, which were perfectly sweet and absolutely not as many as I could’ve eaten. Next, the Peekytoe crab salad arrived and took me completely by surprise. I had been expecting an overpowering crab flavor, but was instead faced with sweet shredded crab that perfectly played with the tart Meyer lemon and some biting fennel. Needless to say, this didn’t last long on any of our plates. The risotto primavera was a very aesthetic green, thanks to a subtle basil pesto and Carnaroli rice that didn’t at all suffer the biggest risotto risk: sticky gumminess, which was certainly the result of a hefty amount of stirring. After this, the black sea bass in a pleasant vegetable dashi broth was served. The morel mushroom reminded me at first of small, squishy brains, but they weren’t! The turnip was a nice balance to the strong earthiness of the morels and the fresh simplicity of the sea bass. Finally, our last stop on the journey: a smattering of desserts we reluctantly shared. My favorite by far was the chocolate cake with the ganache and vanilla ice cream, which was dessert-y but not at all cloying, and the ice cream was smooth and not your average grocery-store scoop. Sadly, we set sail back to port, and abandoned the galley for our red minibus to carry us swiftly over the Jamestown Bridge and back to Portsmouth Abbey. –Sydell Bonin ’18

Salt pond oysters were the best dish to start off the meal. I used to eat Yuzu back home frequently, but I never expected a combination of yuzu and oyster. The sweetness of yuzu made the salty and fishy smell go away. I wish I could have tried more than just three, but three were enough for other dishes were coming. Peekytoe crab was decorated nicely with green and yellow sauces on it: Meyer lemon, fennel and arugula tasted delicious with the crab. When I first got the risotto primavera, I was kind of shocked by the color. Because it was just full of green, I–who really hates vegetables–was afraid to taste it.  I never had a dish that was so tasty made just out of vegetables! The rice was really soft and went well with basil pesto. The sauce tasted amazing, and it was some kind of sauce that I have never tasted before. Morel mushrooms with the black sea bass was a new experience for me. I usually love mushrooms, but this was a new type of mushroom that I tasted. It was really delicious to take some piece of fish, the mushroom, and drink the soup together. The best part of the meal was the desserts. Even though we all had different kinds of desserts, I was glad that we all enjoyed sharing eachother’s. As we tried each other’s desserts with bright smiles, I realized that I will never forget this moment where we shared our happiness with great food and amazing people. As James Beard quotes, “Food is our common ground, a universal experience.” –Jennifer Park ‘17

For what was sadly our final Culinary Arts trip of the year, we went to Jamestown Fish for a truly beautiful five-course meal, centered unsurprisingly around seafood. Though I have tried oysters in the past, those experiences were not particularly enjoyable, so honestly I was a little disappointed when I saw that the first item on the menu was “Salt Pond Oysters” with yuzu and caviar. When the oysters arrived, they were plated beautifully with ice on a sea glass dish, and I decided that there was no way that something that looked so good could taste bad. When I tried the first one I found that they tasted a bit like ocean water, but had lovely, light citrus notes from the yuzu. My second favorite part of the meal was the highly anticipated “Selection of Desserts;” as soon as we saw the menu we started speculating about what these desserts could possibly be, and when they were finally presented, they were far and above more delicious than anything that we imagined. I was given a little round golden brown cake topped with toasted almonds, and a scoop of vanilla ice cream. The cake itself had a mild almond flavor and the outside of the cake was almost crunchy with caramelized sugar like a brulée. Though the cake was dense, it was absolutely heavenly and is one of the best things I have ever eaten. Thank you so much to all the chefs who taught us and made this such a fun year, and to Mrs. Bonin and Mr. Calisto for coordinating everything and driving us to all our culinary adventures. –Hannah Banderob ‘17

I spent the past week in a fever of anticipation regarding our Sunday trip to Jamestown Fish. I visited the restaurant previously with my family, and I went into this Sunday with high expectations. Those expectations were met, and exceeded, by the work of Chef Matthew MacCartney.

After our drive into scenic Jamestown, we entered the quaint restaurant, introduced ourselves to the chef, and sat down to a five–count em’, five–course meal. Firstly, we were treated to a serving of Salt Pond Oysters on a bed of ice, topped with Sturgeon Caviar. Right from the start, I could tell that the restaurant regarded presentation of their food equal to the taste of their artistry. The dishes the oysters were served in were exquisite, to go along with the oysters themselves. The next course, Peekytoe Crab, was my personal favorite. The zesty lemon complemented fresh, springy crab to create a beautiful taste. Needless to say, that plate went back just as white as it came. Afterwards, a course of Risotto Primavera with basil pesto came out. The full flavor of the pesto covered the taste buds and left me craving more. However, my appetite was soon satiated by the main course, Black Sea Bass with morel mushrooms in dashi broth, on a bed of turnip, garnished with a sprig of sage. Everything about the dish, the perfect char on the bass to pair with the earthy mushrooms, and the pretty little sage leaves came together to exemplify everything about the restaurant, and the effort the Chef and his staff put into their craft. –Arthur Shipman ’18

The Portsmouth Abbey School’s Culinary Arts Club visited Fish restaurant in Jamestown last weekend. The food was fantastic, starting with the Salt Pond oysters, then having the Peekytoe crab followed by the Risotto Primavera, the black Sea bass, and finally an excellent selection of desserts. My favorite stood out as the Peekytoe Crab, consisting of sweet rock crab from Maine. This was absolutely delicious as it tasted incredibly fresh and had a very pungent taste of lemon. Additionally, it was served with a few pieces of decorative and tasty arugula, which is my favorite type of lettuce. The restaurant is a beautiful place and excellently located, and one that I would love to return to this coming summer. –Matias Wawro ‘17

 

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Culinary Arts Club 2017

Hope & Main: Meet Your Maker Sunday

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The Crew

On occasional Sundays outside of summer (when it happens every Sunday), this culinary hotspot in Warren, RI invites the public to check out their facility and taste the products of their vendors. Hope & Main is a “culinary incubator,” where anyone who needs a commercial kitchen can rent one in order to prep and package their edible creations. Music plays, samples are offered, tours are given, and food trucks provide lunch, if you wish. Lisa Raiola and her husband Waterman Brown, founders of Hope&Main, gave an informative tour of the former school building; their passion for what they do is evident. We send our thanks for a wonderful experience! Hope&Main has lots of events, so if you are interested, look them up at https://makefoodyourbusiness.org/

Under the sign of Savory Fare, small samples of salmon cakes and chicken pot pie caught my attention. The vendor dressed in a dark purple sweater and wore a welcoming smile. The cooked salmon gleamed light orange, appropriated decorated with green Italian spices. Luckily, by the time it reached my palate, the temperature still remained high. Some white macaroons sat in plastic cases, shaped like pointy garlics (shocked by that too!). I grabbed one from the tip and took a bite, expecting it to be harder like iconic French macaroons, but the creamy filling almost spilled out of the crispy thin crust. A wondrous encounter.
My personal favorite among all the stations would be the two buckets of raw cold-pressed juice. To sum up their taste in one word — fresh. Two words? Add healthy. I sampled the “Green Lemonade,” a juice mixture of green apple, cucumber, spinach, lemon and celery. Trust me when I say it tasted amazing — anyone who has ever seen me eat knows that I avoid vegetables at all cost. It was a bit sweet, tasty just like the juices from the supermarket but without the killer additives. The juice appeared in an emerald color while the top of its surface lingered air bubbles, screaming for freshness. The other option was “Get Your Glow,” composed of local carrot, green apple and beet. I bought a cup of Green Lemonade, and actively told myself to resist the urge of slurping till the bottom too fast. It was just too good, what can I say. —Amber Liao ’17

It was a sunny Sunday morning, and all members of Culinary club radiated hunger and anticipation as we rode in the iconic, red Abbey bus to Hope and Main.

Hope and Main, perfectly nestled in the heart of Warren, RI, is a three-story, brick building with large windows neatly surrounded by lush, green areas in an urban-esque space. From the outside, this building looked anything but busy, with only a single food truck and some passing pedestrians in sight. However, after walking inside, the dynamic immediately shifted. Entering Hope and Main was like walking through the gates of Disney World as a child. In the single hallway with five or so adjacent doors, there were rows of countless, colorful booths stationed with eager vendors ready to sell their food (and some dog treats) to the crowds of hungry people.

I made it my mission to explore and taste from all these booths. Although tasting an influx of many different flavors, from spicy red salsa to ‘green cleanser’ juice to ricotta cupcakes and large doughnuts, I had my fill of fine dining (or so I thought).

After receiving a tour of the inner-workings of the building, we went outside to eat from this lonely, red food truck. I was hesitant about the food due to my inexperience with “Pan-Mediterranean” flavors, and the high prices. Nonetheless, I somehow found (or forced) hunger, and ordered a full roasted chicken sandwich with an accompaniment of a large side of garlic fries. Jokes aside, this was by far the best meal of the day, the week, and the month, etc. The chicken sandwich spewed flavor and the garlic fries were beyond delicious.

I very much enjoyed this Culinary trip to Hope and Main. My favorite part of the trip was sitting outside with the group while we ate our hand-made decadence. I truly Hoped for some great food and found it in a little brick building on Main. —-Michael Griffin ’18

Hope and Main in Warren, Rhode Island is a culinary incubator, starting up and producing business for local companies. The building is an old elementary school that had closed down. They are a nonprofit that rents out spaces for the small businesses, which ranged from the sale of desserts to beverages, and even included dog treats. The companies that really stood out to me included Popette of Pendulum which sells organic candies including lollipops infused with flavors like raspberry and lemon, but they also had hard candies infused with espresso and white tea. Another wonderful company was Borealis Coffee Roasters, which included cold brew and hot coffee. I was able to try one of my favorite drinks, cold brew. Their cold brew was really amazing and their company goes to show that you don’t have to be a big brand to have delicious products. My favorite company at Hope and Main was probably D’licious Desserts. They had many cupcakes with a large assortment of flavors. There were fruity ones and also flavors most people wouldn’t expect, for example Irish Coffee Walnut. They opened up in Hope in Main in November 2015, and are a very good small business with little cupcakes are extremely cute.

I really enjoyed getting the opportunity to see Hope and Main because I did not know what a Culinary Business Incubator was until the trip. It was very inspiring and interesting to see how they work in their space and to see the kitchen was very cool. Their organization and technique to keeping open and helping these businesses was so awesome to see. Mrs. Lisa Raiola’s hard work is very obvious and it has definitely paid off to not only the people working in Hope and Main but also is an inspiration the community of Rhode Island. Anastasia Dwyer ’17

This past Sunday, April 10th, we Culinary Arts Club went on an adventure to Hope and Main in Bristol. There were a lot of food vendors promoting their own products, including little cupcakes, donuts, sauces, and so on. My favorite vendors were definitely the coffee station and the food truck outside.

I am a coffee person. Cold brew coffee with a little bit of milk, no sugar of course, is always a great way to start a cozy and sunny Sunday. Before I had my first sip of the Borealis Coffee, I could already smell its aroma, relaxing my senses. After the first sip, however, the caffeine and its taste immediately awakened my sensations. Different from the coffee in the dining hall, it has a thick soothing taste mingled with a little bitterness and sourness. I absolutely loved it.
I am actually also a sandwich person. The Cubano sandwich from the Red’s food truck was simply fantastic and delicious. Judging from the its mere appearance, it had no particular speciality or difference from regular sandwiches. Nonetheless, upon the first bite, my sensations were amazed again.The sauce and the cheese together generated a strong milky, sour, and spicy taste while the pork loin and the bread were so soft and well cooked that the sandwich immediately melted inside my mouth with a long lasting aftertaste. After finishing the entire burger, I honestly couldn’t be more satisfied.
(Rosie, thank you for all the great memories we made together at Culinary Arts Club; there will always be a spot for you here and you will always be missed.)
Kevin Jiang ’17

The Meet your Maker Market is a wonderful melting pot of tastes and smells with inspiration from widespread and far reaching culinary traditions. Walking through the market, it was incredible to see the variety of culinary products that had been incubated under a single roof. The makers of Oso Canyon came only 5 months ago from New Mexico, bringing with them the flavor of that region to New England. From Spanish, the word “Oso” translates into bear. They make all of their products using green chili as one of the ingredients, and their salsa tasted incredibly fresh with a hint of spice from the green chili. Anchor Toffee specializes in one item, their almond butter toffee, which they have perfected down to a science. The toffee is crunchy yet remain succulent and has an incredible rich texture singular to great toffee. Finally, The Backyard Food company makes a delicious Hot Relish. Sourcing all their ingredients from a local garden, The Backyard Food Company makes anything from apple butters to prepared jalapenos. I was given taste their Hot Relish, which complemented the hummus on cracker and made a delicious sweet yet spicy Hors d’oeuvre. —Oliver Ferry ’17

A typical thing one would say to compliment his or her friend’s culinary success would be “You would make big bucks by selling that. Open a restaurant please.” In reality, that is simply phatic—the food business is much more complicated. One might know how to make the best salsa in the entire world, but does not have any idea how to make it commercial.

Hope & Main, a non-profit incubator program in Warren, kindly gives those who want to start a restaurant an opportunity to do culinary startups in the right way. On the tour of the facilities, we saw the working process of the kitchens they rented out. Some kitchens are for pastries, some are for gluten-free food, and some are for vegetarian purposes. These culinary incubators are incubating dreams of those who wanted to step into the world the food business.

Interestingly, Hope & Main helped to start the amazing restaurant that we visited our last stop, Tom’s Baobao. Tom and his team had the skills for making Bao, and had a lot of chain restaurants in Shanghai, but no experience in the American market. At Hope & Main, they ran research and development operations. And it was with the help of Hope & Main’s board member that Tom’s Baobao started to release local-flavored Baos such as the Thanksgiving Turkey Bao to attract more customers.

Before visiting Hope & Main, I have never heard of anything similar to the idea of food incubators, renting kitchens to those who want to start restaurants in order to help the local food economy. It is like a school, not for humans, but for food companies. Christine Gu ’17

My favorite food at Hope and Main was the coconut cookie from Savory Fare. They also had different kinds of dishes such as chicken and chocolate cookies. The coconut cookie was a new experience for me because I usually really hated coconut in general. However, this dessert was not too sweet, but very delicious, which made me want to try more coconut foods later. There were various dishes, but the dessert sections grabbed my attention more than other things. The cookie with jasmine and rose scent was not too sweet, but had a great fragrance that made me try it for second time. The strawberry cheesecake cupcake was one of the favorites because of the softness and the sweetness at the same time. Besides various desserts, various topping including ranch, salsa and tomato sauce pizza dough also attracted my attention. It was really easy to try it and able to enjoy it because we can try different sauces. There were other dishes such as Mexican food, teas, chocolates, and candies on this culinary trip. But the most unforgettable dish was the actual lunch; the  cubano sandwich was the best sandwich I ever had in my life.–Jennifer Park ’17

Rhode Island has quickly become a hotspot for restaurants and creative, food-based businesses, in part due to support from institutions like Hope and Main. Hope and Main is a culinary incubator with multiple commercial kitchens that comply with all the regulatory codes that allow small culinary businesses to have an opportunity to produce their food without having to equip their own kitchens. One of the companies using this space is Anchor Toffee. Peter Kelly started out making toffee for a friend from culinary school who wanted to start a candy store, but had no background in candy making. Even after moving away from the candy store, he continued making toffee in his basement to give to family and friends. After the birth of his daughter, Kelly, his wife decided to turn the toffee into a family business that they could pass on to their daughter one day. Anchor Toffee makes toffee the same way it has been made for over 100 years, with real butter and almonds, and stirred by hand in huge copper kettles.

The quality of this toffee is absolutely apparent in the contrast between sweet and salty, as well as the crunchiness of the almond and toffee with the creamy chocolate. Hope and Main and the culinary incubator concept allows people to have access to delicious, well-made food that would not be available otherwise.–Hannah Banderob ’17

Most mornings, my first stop at the dining hall is the coffee station. Today at Hope & Main was no different; however, this was no Stillman coffee. My first (of many) purchases was a cold brew from Borealis Coffee Co., a roaster in Riverside, Rhode Island. Borealis brews their iced coffee for 12 hours, enough time for the cold water to bring the sweetness out of the beans. The vendor and I agreed that anything longer than that is really just a cry for attention, because 12 truly is the magic number for cold brew. Coffee in hand, I moved on to Anchor Toffee: their signature Almond Butter Toffee was easily one of my favorite samples. It was perfectly sweet and savory, and didn’t have the fatal flaw of being sticky and cement-like in your mouth. Add two bags of toffee to the list of purchases. Halvah Heaven offered my first taste of halvah, a tahini based snack that can take on any flavor you choose. I tried the classic vanilla, but my favorite was definitely the Silk Road, a cinnamon, ginger, and anise flavored bar that evokes the taste of warm spice cookies. After a palate cleansing fresh salsa from Oso Canyon, I made my final stop at KNEAD Donuts, which I had been looking forward to all day. It was a painful few minutes trying to narrow down which six types of fresh donuts would make the box, but I settled on an eclectic group including passion fruit, chocolate, and brown butter toffee. They will not last long.–Sydell Bonin ’18

Last Sunday, the Portsmouth Abbey Culinary Arts Club went to Warren, Rhode Island to tour Hope and Main. The site featured a food truck outside and stands inside for sampling the various products that the companies were trying to sell. This is a place where food that people would buy at a supermarket–like frozen pizza dough and pre-packaged salsas–are developed for production.

As you walk into the former elementary school, you turn left into a hallway that branches out into a series of connected rooms. This space houses the stations of aspiring food vendors giving out samples for potential customers. One of my favorite vendors was a company selling salsas and different types of chili jams. Their salsa was average heat, with diced tomatoes, peppers, chilies, and cilantro. It went well on the Tostitos scoops it was on, but it was nothing special. Their real hard hitting commodity was their green chili jams, made from New Mexican chilies for a real South-Western taste. They served them on small, oblong crackers, which allowed the full flavor of the jams to permeate your mouth. The two employees behind the table let the product speak for itself, even though they seemed completely knowledgeable on their subject.

Hope and Main allows aspiring business chefs to develop their product in the sanctuary of their industrial kitchens. They help their clients to connect with potential business partners, and seeing that process opened my mind to the expansive nature of the food industry. The industry doesn’t only include restaurants; it also encompasses all the farms, supermarkets, and places of production involved in putting a standard meal on a table. The work done at Hope and Main streamlines the process for many new and quality products to get from an idea to a table.–Arthur Shipman ’18

Ohmygoodness I just LOVE SUNDAYS! One reason might have to do with the fact that we don’t have school, but the other has more to do with the fact that Culinary Arts trips tend to be on Sundays. I digress. I remember waiting anxiously on the bus, asking about a million questions regarding the “Meet Your Maker” excursion. Sure enough, we arrived to Warren in one piece and got straight to work, walking in before hastily ambling over to the various decorated tables in front of us.

The first table I encountered featured Just Like Nana’s raspberry and apricot rugelach, a traditional Jewish pastry. Admittedly, I had never heard of it before, but I was pleasantly surprised when I bit into the crumbly, fruity sweet. For a tiny little thing, it sure had a lot of flavor. I then made my way over to a biscotti station, where I spoke with the loveliest lady who explained her baking process. She featured an arrangement of different flavored biscotti, some traditional orange tang, some chocolate chip, some walnut and pecan (I favored the chocolate chip, by the way). Over the next hour, I tasted everything from sweet tomato salsa to cream cheese/passion fruit cupcakes—all local and handmade. However, I must admit the only table I actually bought from was Anchor Toffee, where I might have gotten a bit too carried away with the crunchy, buttery goodness. I have definitely found a new love for chocolate almond toffee.

Finally, after it was all said and done, the lot of us went outside and ordered a massive amount of food from Red’s food truck. There were only two guys on duty and those poor fellas didn’t expect a mob of hungry teenagers to bombard them with orders. I, for one, ordered my very first Cubano sandwich, consisting of roast pork, glazed ham, Swiss cheese, dill pickles, and yellow mustard. I regretted nothing. What a way to end a Sunday afternoon.–Maya Wilson ’17

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Tom’s BaoBao in Providence

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BaoBao!

As a way to honor the founding Chinese members of the Abbey Culinary Club, we went to Tom’s BaoBao in Providence to learn the art of making “bao,” these delicious dumplings, and to then eat the interesting variety offered at this amazing restaurant. Under the instruction of Jeremiah Tracy (Vice President of US Operations) and the watchful eye of Rosamond Lu (Chief Operating Officer), students made dough and shaped it into the small round spheres that, ideally, would be filled with assorted meats and vegetables. Jerry and Rosamond, along with their staff, were generous with their time and patient with our efforts, and they could not have provided a nicer—and tastier—experience for the students. And they got the ultimate seal of approval from those who would know.

I grew up eating Bao-zi. When I hear “Bao,” I picture my grandmother’s powdery hands, the large stainless steel bowl filled with dough, the smell of the ground pork stuffing, and the wate rdrops rolling down the steamer. When I learned about the trip to Tom’s BaoBao, I was so excited, as I never imagined experiencing the familiar taste in a foreign land. When we stepped into the shop in Providence, I immediately went ahead and chatted with the CFO of the company, a nice lady from Suzhou. Aside from the general lecture, she satisfied my curiosity with more information on the chained enterprise. I enjoyed seeing such a diverse group of customers walking into the store and experiencing the cuisine that I had thought I so loved exclusively.

My favorite kind of Bao at the store had a chicken stuffing, which was not so quite traditional in my opinion. We use pork more often back home. However, chicken, cabbage, carrot and bean sauce–the combination surprised my palate. The steaming aroma flew up my nose and tingled my senses. The chicken was well cooked, not too dry after a thorough job of marinating. I also tried the curry beef and carrot stuffing — also quite delicious. In China, we usually put only two kinds of items in one Bao, two veggies, or a meat and a veggie, but the bigger array of combinations here opened my eyes.

It was an absolute joy to visit Tom’s BaoBao in Providence. I hope more people can try the Bao, one of the most authentic Chinese foods around the New England area!–Amber Liao ’17

Nestled in the heart of Providence, Tom’s BaoBao stands out from most other storefronts. Rather than mannequins dressed in this season’s latest, Tom’s BaoBao displays its workers crafting Bao, a traditional Chinese dish. To the uneducated eye, “bao” is simply a pocket of dough filled with something. Juicy pork, beef, and chicken are served, along with a sweet potato filling and a vegetarian option. Tom’s BaoBao also offers seasonal fillings and specials, like lobster and even peanut butter and jelly. Their bao is both innovative and traditional, and a welcome change from typical street food.

It is exceptionally clear. It goes through a ridiculously meticulous process in order for bao to meet their standards. Starting with the ingredients, Tom’s bao is made from a special blend of many types of flour and baking ingredients. Their filling consists of ever-changing options, but consistent in their freshness. However, the ingredients only come together with the help of a trained “baoist.” Workers train for at least three months before they can make, measure, and craft the bao dough and ingredients to the standards of Tom’s BaoBao. Workers have to be able to separate dough balls so they weigh within two grams of 60 grams, and the dough and filling together have to weigh within two grams of 100 grams. Very precise! Their baoists have to master how to pinch and fold the dough to make it appeasing and tasty.

The bao cooks with steam, in steamers exclusively shipped from a remote village, with provincial grass mats and handcrafted bamboo steamers. A sticky outside and a juicy inside of the bun make a bao perfect. Tom’s BaoBao combines traditional bao-making techniques and innovative ingredients to make perfect, fresh bao for their customers.—Arthur Shipman ’18

Having read multiple posts on Chinese social media about Tom’s BaoBao’s old location in Harvard Square, the Culinary Arts Club’s first visit to a Chinese restaurant made me thrilled days before the trip. Like many of those posts said, I was curious how this kind of bao–which is more like a street food in China (unlike its cousin, the juicy pork dumpling)–can impress picky American taste buds and receive waves of good reviews. And of course, the answer could only be in the bao itself.

Not very long after we entered the restaurant, I found the answer to my question: their work ethic. Not only do they measure the weight of every finished bao to around 100 grams, but they also strive to find the finest ingredients. From the meat and flour of the bao, to the Oolong Tea from Wuyi Mountain, all the ingredients are top-notch and authentic. Interestingly, Tom’s Baobao makes bao with a “twist.” They love to experiment with flavors that are completely new: Reuben Bao, Chocolate Bao, sweet potato Bao etc.

What I also loved about the place is that it serves comfort food associated with home cooking. Westminster Street is my go-to place for lunch before shopping in Providence Place, and it is heartwarming to see Tom’s Baobao there. To sit down in Tom’s Baobao Providence and to eat a couple of baos feels just like home.–Christine Gu ’17

Baozi is among the oldest dishes still served in Chinese cuisine, first appearing in the 3rd Century AD. At Tom’s BaoBao we were led through the lengthy processes of mixing and kneading required to make baozi, and it truly gave me a sense of appreciation for what it takes to make Baozi. Tom’s BaoBao sources their specialty flour straight from China where the chain originated, and handmakes their Baozi as opposed to using a factory system for the strenuous kneading and mixing process. Whether this extra attention to detail really make a difference is unclear to me, however, there is no denying that the final product is absolutely delicious. Tom’s BaoBao serves a Juicy Pork Baozi which, coupled with vinegar, is a succulent Chinese classic. They also serve a more unconventional Curry Beef Baozi which puts a spiced twist on the baozi. While the menu is rather limited, Tom’s BaoBao makes up for that in the quality of the dishes they serve. Being able to find baozi of this quality in the U.S. is truly remarkable.–Oliver Ferry ’17

Before arriving at Tom’s BaoBao in Providence, the extent of my knowledge of bao was that I would be eating it in the next hour or so, hopefully sooner. Usually, that’s more than enough information to make me eat something. However, Jeremiah and Rosamond totally schooled us on bao: how to make it (from hand forming each bao to filling them); how to cook them, artfully and uniquely, in their bamboo steamers; and how to eat them, piping hot, with your hands, and happily.

We started out in the training room, each getting a chance to tear off–following a technique I couldn’t seem to master–exactly 60 grams of the dough. Despite the 2-gram error margin allowed, I left this job to the others. My skills were better suited for rolling the dough out into a disk and pinching the dough into a little dough-pocket-vessels of deliciousness. In the restaurant, I ordered the pork, the curried beef, the chicken, the sweet potato, and the vegetarian bao–literally the whole menu. Paired with the local soy milk, they reminded me of a Chinese empanada: doughy but not gummy, and filled with any arrangement of interesting flavors that didn’t overpower each other. I officially “bao down” to Tom’s in Providence. –Sydell Bonin ‘18

As a Chinese student, I used to hate Chinese food when I was little and preferred McDonalds and KFC to rice and dim sum. However, after I came to America for high school, everything changed. Chinese food gradually replaced French fries, burgers, and steaks’ place in my heart. The older I get, the more I love Chinese food, with its diversity and delicacy, and the more I realize that Chinese food is much more than just food–it’s a spirit and a lifestyle.

Led by Mrs. Bonin and Mr. Calisto, the Culinary Arts Club went on an adventure to Tom’s Baobao in Providence. As soon as I heard we were going to taste bao and learn how to make it inside the store, I couldn’t stop talking and thinking about it. Back home, bao is definitely one of my favorite breakfast foods. I would eat it almost every morning and still never get tired of it. Bao is a kind of big dumpling made up of dough and vegetable or meat. The dough is carefully shaped into a cone with a hollow center while the vegetable or meat fills the center space. The dough basically seals up the ingredient inside, and this action of “sealing” is translated as “bao” in Chinese, giving this Chinese dim sum food its name. There are many different kinds of bao, differentiated and categorized by what’s inside the Bao, the most common two being vegetable and pork bao. However, aside from these two, there are so many other kinds, including mushroom, beef, lobster, and so on. The interesting thing about bao is that you never know what kind it is because they all look the same outside until you take a bite and taste the inside ingredient.

The store is decorated and furnished in a modern Chinese style, fashionable and yet traditional. It has a big kitchen with transparent glass so that the customers can see every step in bao production. We were soon invited into a room at the back of the store to learn how to make bao. After all these years of eating bao, I thought the process of making it would be simple, but little did my naïve self know. The shaping of the dough proved the most challenging because the wall cannot be made too thick or too thin, while the seemingly simple folded pattern of the dough on the top rendered virtually impossible to accomplish. Time passed quickly as we culinary arts members worked together and laughed at our production. After our attempts at making bao, our favorite part–the tasting part–arrived. I chose three kinds of bao, including curry beef bao, pork bao, and vegetable bao. Upon the first bite, the thin wall of the bao tasted extremely soft while the ingredient inside gave bao its exquisite taste, a little saltiness accompanied by a little sweetness. A lot of people like the ingredient part the best because it gives bao its taste. However, my favorite part is actually the part where the dough wall meets the inside ingredient. Cooked and accompanied by the juice of the inside ingredient, the dough wall gives a light but satisfying flavor. It’s the taste of home! I felt as if the cozy environment and delicious bao brought me back to China, to those relaxing mornings, and to those sweet memories at home.–Kevin Jiang ‘17

Our Culinary Arts Club recently visited Tom’s BaoBao in Providence. While Providence is one of their only two United States locations (the other being in Harvard Square), they have many restaurants open in different locations across China. We were able to learn about the process through which bao is made, and even tried making some of our own, which gave us an appreciation for the artistic and cultural aspects of bao, a food that has been around for 1,200 years. The bao they make at Tom’s BaoBao is authentic, too, and they steam it in handcrafted bamboo baskets. We were able to try some bao at the end of our trip, and you can definitely taste some of the flavor notes from the bamboo. Bao is made to appeal to many of the senses, not just taste. Before even biting into the bao, you can smell the savory aroma and feel the pillow-like dough. That dough dissolves in the mouth, giving way to the delicious fillings. They offer several different varieties of bao, including pork, curry, chicken and vegetable. My personal favorite was the vegetarian, which was filled with bok choy, shittake, and smoked tofu. It was just the right balance of savory. All in all, are trip to Tom’s BaoBao was a huge success, and I hope to go again soon in the future!—Johanna Appleton ‘18

Tom’s Bao Bao is a restaurant that I would have been very unlikely to eat at if it weren’t for our Culinary Arts Club trip there. It was incredible getting to make the bao using practice dough because it was not only fun but gave me a respect for the art of making bao. I ordered chicken, pork and sweet potato bao, all of which were earth-shatteringly delicious. For a drink I got soy milk which I don’t usually like, however, it paired well with the warm dough – a drink I would certainly order again with bao. Since the Culinary Arts Club trip to Providence I have gone an additional time. While parking can be a bit of a hassle, I can definitely see myself making an effort to eat at Tom’s Bao Bao when in the Providence area.–Mattias Wawro ’17

Recently, the Culinary Arts Club went to Tom’s Bao Bao in Providence, Rhode Island to learn about the process of making bao. Before this trip, I had never heard of bao, and this experience was something extremely different from what I have done. Our guide and the vice-president of the company brought us to a large room where we were shown how the dough was made and shaped. We learned about sizing the dough and the technique of how bao should be rolled then shaped. As we worked on pinching the specific weights, he told us more about the company on a larger scale and its location in China. Afterwards, we were able to eat some different types of bao. The delicious bao assortment included chicken, veggie, beef, and pork. We left the training room to sit in the restaurant and wait to order our bao. When we received our bao, they were in perfect little spheres with a twist at the top, far different from what I was trying to make in the training room. The bao was warm and soft, and both fillings were very flavorful. I ordered the vegetarian and pork bao. The pork bao was gingery and tasted great. The vegetarian consisted of bok choy and tofu which made it much more earthy. The variety of food and atmosphere of the restaurant was so refreshing and inviting. Tom’s Bao Bao is truly a great restaurant, and its urban and bright ambience brings something new to the table. Next time I am in Providence, I would definitely go back to Tom’s Bao Bao.– Anastasia Dwyer ’17

Tradition and modern culture rarely fuse together smoothly, but Tom’s BaoBao in Providence manages be a part of the spunky hipster scene while still retaining the essential traits of this age-old Chinese practice. This dynamic was unique, lively, and fitting for the growing city of Providence, a town of immigrants and young innovative people. Tom’s BaoBao uses bamboo baskets to steam their glorified dumplings (“bao”) filled with stuffing from pork to lobster. These bamboo baskets are taken from a small village in the mountains of China, and it is the last place on earth where the making of these baskets continues. The global exchange and painstaking process of getting the baskets can be tasted in the final product. Mastering the Art of Bao takes years of intense training and discipline. The training time combined with the trans-global exchange puts a lot of pressure on a small niche restaurant in Providence. After the trip I went on with the school, I visited two more times, each one just a tasty as the last. I hope to see this quirky restaurant excel and prosper, because they honor quality craftsmanship above all, and that is a fleeting trait. –David Ingraham ‘17

Thrilled. Delighted. Ecstatic. Starved. All words I could use to describe my anticipation for this trip. One Sunday morning, the lot of us took the rickety Raven Bus over to Providence, where we stopped at none other than Tom’s BaoBao. Not really knowing what to expect, we all shuffled into the cozy yet modern-looking restaurant. Glass windows allowed for customers to watch the employees work their magic and create delicious bao. Soon enough, we would be making our own.

We were herded into a back room, where the resident manager told us about the history of bao and how it used to be served only to royalty, seeing as it was an entirely handmade process. Then it was our turn to try our hand at the craft. Many failed attempts and bruised hands later (rolling pins are more brutal than you think), some of us managed to make perfect little dumpling shapes out of our makeshift dough. It was deeply satisfying, to say the least. In all honesty, it wasn’t far off from our kindergarten years playing with Play-Do.

The next part was my absolute favorite: the eating part. Fidgeting impatiently while waiting for my food, I remember nearly drooling at the sight of my friend’s food—these dumplings were certainly fit for royalty. I decided to order one juicy pork bao bao, which was seasoned with a rich wine sauce, and one chicken bao bao, mixed with cabbage, onion and bean sauce. Not gonna lie, that chicken bao bao was to die for. I definitely plan on taking my friends to Tom’s in the near future.–Maya Wilson ’18

Recently, our Culinary Arts Club made the journey to the highly-praised Tom’s BaoBao nestled in the heart of Providence, RI. While only offering two locations in the United States with the other in Cambridge, Tom’s BaoBao did not lack character nor great food culture, truly satisfying any avid foodie and aesthetic person alike. Directly inside, our group was greeted with bright red walls layered with traditional Chinese lettering, a wide variety of unique specialty drinks, and a massive glass wall that provided an unobstructed view into the art, or rather magic, of making bao.

Our group was offered a unique opportunity to make our own bao in a special training room located off of the main dining-area. The head bao artist, along with other key members, gave us sample dough and stations while they began to explain the process and the history of the bao, originating in China many centuries ago. With each meticulous step leading to the finished bao (such as the precise weight for each dough-ball and the exact dough shape that must be formed in the palm of one’s hand) combined with our own haphazard attempts, many of the members in our group showed some doubt and hesitation towards the final product. However, this reluctance did not stop our attempts. No matter if our dough-balls looked like a child’s messy play-doh or if the weight was 30 clumpy grams over, the bao artists appreciated our efforts.

Now for the real magic—eating the bao (but not our own). The bao artists presented a variety of flavors, my favorite being the seasonal squash-filled bao. With taking my first succulent bite, I was immediately given divine knowledge and gave all five-APA’s. Each bite more flavorful than the last, my taste-buds fell in love with this magical bao. Although ordering three more bao of equally amazing yet differing flavors, I left hungry for more. This trip to Tom’s BaoBao offered a thrilling look into the culture behind a little ball of dough. I truly had bao’(d)own. –Michael Griffith ‘18

 When I first heard of the word “Bao,” I knew that it was going to be something about Chinese dumplings. I’ve always tried different kinds of dumplings from Korea and America, but Tom’s Bao Bao’s baozi was totally different from what I’ve tasted before. When I smelled the dough, it was the typical smell of the flour but slightly different to what I usually smelled. Even though I came from the culture familiar with baozi, I couldn’t be more surprised by the process and the taste of authentic Chinese baozi. Having Chinese friends on this trip made me more excited and enthusiastic about dumplings in China.

This authentic Chinese baozi was special in several ways. It was not as greasy as normal dumplings, and there were many choices for inside instead of just meat. Having choices like beef curry, pork, chicken and vegetables were a huge difference to me. Pork and vegetables were somewhat familiar to me, but when I had the first bite of the curry beef baozi, I could not hide by astonishment. It was the best combination of the perfect dough and delicious curry. This trip was more interesting because everyone could participate and learn about the new culture. I would recommend this place to all of my friends, not only because of the baozi, but also because of amazing people who welcomed us with bright smile.–Jennifer Park ’18

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