We’re back from New England! Not to be confused with Old England, as the accent differs slightly. If this blog had audio, you could really appreciate actual quotes like this one, heard during a discussion of pros and cons of Logan (Boston) versus Warwick (Rhode Island) airports. They are an hour apart, and while Warwick is closer, flights into Logan are cheaper.
"Don’t even batha with Wahwick! Bahbra’s a travel agent and always uses Logan!" (Incidentally, Aunt Barbara and her husband, Uncle Mel, just returned from Flarider.) (Florida)
Anyway, we had a pretty great trip. We saw many relatives, attended a wonderful foreign film that alleviated my resentment at leaving Madison during the Wisconsin Film Festival, and of course we ate a lot! All eating, and no exercise…. not a good combination, but that’s the way it goes!
We ate out twice, once with Uncle Harold, Hilary and Neal, and once with Zayde and Carolyn. Uncle Harold took us to an Asian restaurant in Providence called Apsara Palace. They had Vietnamese, Thai, Cambodian and Chinese food. We had vegetarian dumplings (really good) and at Hilary’s suggestion I ordered steamed tofu and vegetables, which tasted like…. steamed tofu and vegetables! Papa had a ginger-garlic-tofu stirfry, which did taste good (the bite I had) but lately I’ve decided you can’t be too sure about sauces and in the end plain was fine with me. (I did use the dumpling dipping sauce and the Sriracha on the table to enliven things, though!)
Delicious (and plain) steamed vegetables and tofu at Apsara Palace
On the night we went out with Zayde and Carolyn, we had just lived through a monsoon of a day… we think RI got at least 3" of rain. It was a cold and crummy night and we wanted some comfort food but weren’t even sure we wanted to go out for it (even though we promised). For a short time we entertained creating a "miscelleanous stuff in a pan" dish with stuff in the house, going into nearby Garden City to Applebee’s (where one can get a darned good salad, I’ve discovered), or calling out for more Chinese food. In the end, we just had to pile into the car and drive back into East Providence and the Garden Grille Cafe, best place in Rhode Island and possibly the world. As we were chilled to the bone, Papa and I both ordered miso soup, which somehow got confused in the server’s mind, because she brought lentil soup. We ate it anyway, and it was delicious, served with a drizzling of fresh basil puree and some bread. Zayde, always cautious, stuck with his familiar veggie burger. Carolyn had something with portobello mushrooms and cheese that she loved, and Papa got squash and bean quesedillas. As for me, I couldn’t resist the vegan, gluten-free mac and cheese with broccoli. I know it was made with nutritional yeast, but it tasted better than any other I have made or tried.
We were out there for the beginning of Passover, and as Anty had initially thought we wouldn’t be going to a Seder, she invited people for a simple "mini-Seder" the night before the first night. When it turned out we had been invited to an actual Seder, it turned into a great dinner event with Passover overtones instead. For instance, Anty made matzah balls and chicken soup, leaving some chicken-fat-free balls for us, which we ate with her homemade minestrone soup. Probably one of the tastiest matzah-ball-soup experiences we’ve ever had! Passover is my once-a-year egg-in-the-matzah-ball experience, if that’s how it’s made, and I’m sure it was…
Anty wanted to plan a meal we could eat (minus the chicken soup and gefilte fish!), and so the two main dishes were vegan. The first, a garlic-ginger-vegetable stir-fry with udon noodles, was a huge hit with everyone. The second, made ahead and forgotten in the multitude of dishes (salad and dessert too!) was something she makes that I really like. It’s just cooked plan lentils mixed with sauteed onions and seasonings. Because it was overlooked during the dinner, we took it home with us and ate it at the airport for lunch before boarding. Lucky us! When Anty isn’t entertaining, Lilli is her dinner companion…. as she was when we were there on our first night.
On the first actual night of Passover, we went to my step-cousin David’s house. I see him only every few years, but he and his wife, Elizabeth, graciously included us with Zayde and Carolyn. In addition to the four of us, Aunt Barbara and Uncle Mel were there, plus many family friends. Elizabeth had the whole event catered, and knew ahead of time vegetarians were coming. I didn’t bring my camera …. but there were several vegan appetizers, including stuffed mushrooms and mock chopped liver. For dinner, in addition to the meat dishes, there were roasted potatoes, a sweet potato kugel, and separarately roasted vegetables. Finally, there was lots of fruit and non-dairy chocolate items for dessert. (Because it was a MEAT meal, according to Kosher laws there couldn’t be any MILK in the food, but there could be eggs. The nice caterers assured me there weren’t eggs in what I selected.) The highlight of the evening was a performance of piano duets that Carolyn and Elizabeth had been practicing for weeks. Elizabeth has a gorgeous grand piano and we all sat around and had a wonderful concert!
Back at the ranch, we had our belated vegan Passover with Andrea and family, and Betsy and family. I’m hoping Andrea will post some pictures because hers are always better than mine. I made a sweet potato kugel, the charoset, and not one but TWO apple crisps…. one with matzo meal and one with oats for Eli. As Andrea went out of her way to make her entrees gluten-free for Eli, there really was lots for him to eat…. we all ate a ton…. and (this is sort of sad) (but a testimony to how grown up all the children are) I only half-hid the afikomen, and nobody even looked for it!