It’s blueberry season and I defy you to show me a better showcase for the sweet little indigo beads than La Myrtille, an ethereal French confection by the inimitable Belinda Quinn at Le Bec Sucré.
Before you say it, I know, I know! The tiny bakery in the Polo Plaza in Middletown can see three to four dozen or more pastry hopefuls in line by the time it opens at 7 a.m. “This line is practically to First Beach!” my boyfriend called to exclaim on a recent Sunday morning.
But it really is worth the wait. Try them on Wednesdays and Thursdays for the chance of a shorter queue. If you’re savvy, you’ll pre-order your patisseries a few days ahead, grab a cup of the best coffee on the island at Custom House Coffee, just up the road, and drive up to the LBS pick-up window for your order, skipping the line entirely.
La Myrtille is an open-faced croissant filled lightly with a blueberry coulis made from certified organic Maine blueberries, topped with more fresh berries, dusted with confectioners’ sugar, all set in a golden, crunchy salted caramel foundation. Need I say more?
The confection and its nod to berry season reminded me that here we are already, closing in on the end of summer. I need to grab all the berries from Sweet Berry Farm, all the corn from DeCastro’s in Portsmouth and all the tomatoes from Roots Family Farm and the Local Patch farmstands at the Aquidneck Growers Markets.
I also need to chow on many Abi rolls while I still can. With harvest’s end comes the looming, off-season closure of Clarke Cooke House’s next-level summer sushi bar. There are more than a dozen rolls offered, sushi and sashimi by the piece, and classic sushi bar starters like miso soup, edamame, and seaweed salad. Without fail, the fish here tastes like it just came out of the water.
While selections like the Dragon Eel roll, a shrimp tempura and avocado roll topped with eel, or the Green Tail roll, a spicy yellowtail creation with crunch, cucumber, and basil yuzu sauce, are rib-sticking, on a hot day, I’ll pair my roll of choice with the clean, fresh, umami packed Hamachi Jalapeno appetizer.
So simple, yet so flavorful, the dish arrives as its own little piece of art, with sweet, tender, uber-thin slices of yellowtail sashimi aligned atop a banana leaf, each carefully topped with a crunchy Jalapeno disk, a drop of Sriracha and a Ponzu dipping sauce. It’s an explosion of flavors, satisfying but light and perfect for the dog days of August.
Defying the seasons, a roasted chicken is perennial, and I’m so in awe of a version offered at Bar ‘Cino, I’m almost afraid to share, but heads up food-chasers, the following is my pick for the best, overall, four-season restaurant deal in town, bar none.
For starters, and as a Newport Restaurant Group patron (aren’t we all?), it’s worth repeating that ‘Cino continues to be a standard bearer for the brand. Not only is the food always on point, but the service and level of down-to-earth hospitality is unmatched.
I am an almost obsessive fan of their chicken Milanese, a juicy, crunchy cutlet topped with a salad of arugula, white beans, chicories, lemon vinaigrette, salsa verde and parmesan, while my partner can’t get enough of the rich and meaty rigatoni Bolognese. But on a night when you wish you had the energy to whip up a roasted chicken for two with trimmings, Bar ‘Cino is your salvation.
A roasted, lemon-scented chicken dinner for two is served on a board, bone-in, cut in parts, with EVOO mashed potatoes, garlic jus, and grilled seasonal vegetables. It’s one of two items in the “A Tavola” section of the menu and the price, for a whole chicken and the sides, is $35. For two.
While I’m sharing a few items from my list of prize morsels, here’s another that’s a year-round winner. Whether you’re building a meat and cheese board or a classic Italian sub for the beach, ask Bottega Bocconi (another spot that will benefit you beyond measure to oder ahead from) to throw in a pound of Golfetta, an oblong shaped pork salami whose cut makes it among the lowest in fat at just 11 percent, but with a flavor profile that begs to differ. It originates in the Parma region, best known for its prosciutto.
Bottega knows how to slice this beauty, creating layers of paper thin ovals on waxed paper. Good luck getting Golfetta transferred to your board without eating half of it. That’s why I suggest a pound.