Gifts from the kitchen at this time of year are always welcome, and if it’s someone else’s kitchen (a miller, a mapler, a biscotti-baker), so much the better! From farm and field, from jam-pots and jelly-jars, products born or bred in Rhode Island can be festive (and delicious) holiday treats to bring to family and friends.
Taylor Noey at Sakonnet Vineyards
Some of the following suggestions are appropriate for introducing people to Rhode Island foods; others are pure nostalgia fare for expatriate Rhode Islanders. Still others are just too good to not share with friends. Mix and match to your own preferences. It’s all about personal taste, after all.
To begin the morning with a bang, try one of the locally roasted coffees. Majik Coffee (7726 Post Road, North Kingstown, 401.295.6575, www.majikcoffee.com) roasts the same day you purchase the coffee, and they make magical mixes of beans, such as Kenya AA, Tanzanian Peaberry and Ethiopian Yirgacheffe (“African Elements”) or Jamaican Blue Mountain, Hawaiian Kona Fancy, Puerto Rican Yauco Selecto and two secret varietals (“Earth, Air, Fire, Water, Spirit”). They also offer a French roast, an Italian roast and a “pure alchemy” blend, among many others.
Ocean Coffee Roasters (259 East Avenue, Pawtucket, 401.724.6393,www.oceancoffee.com) also does small-batch roasting, as does New Harvest Coffee Roasters (310 Bourne Avenue, Rumford, 866.438.1999, www.newharvestcoffee.com) which focuses on organic and fair trade coffee beans. Coastal Roasters (1791 Main Road, Tiverton, www.coastalroasters.com) also does small batches and seeks out fair trade beans (check out the Costa Rican decaf). They also offer organic, hand-blended teas (the “dancing gypsy,” with marionberries, blueberries, raisins & hibiscus sounds intriguing). Newport Coffee Traders (10 Blackstone Valley Place, Lincoln, 401.333.3300, www.newportcoffeetraders.com), a division of Autocrat, does medium-roast blends with a gourmet touch.
From coffee, it’s only a glide to coffee syrups to make your own coffee milk, the “state drink” of RI. The syrup first went commercial in the early 20th century in northern Rhode Island, and it is still favored primarily by Rhody natives. For decades Eclipse competed with Autocrat (and you’ll still find both bottles), but in 1991, Autocrat bought Eclipse’s name and recipe and now makes both (www.autocrat.com). A new local coffee syrup, made in nearby Dartmouth, Massachusetts, calls itself Morning Glory Old Fashioned Coffee Syrup, uses sugar instead of ~ corn syrup and is offered in a decaf version (www.morningglorysyrup.com). Like Autocrat and Eclipse, it is available at many local markets.
What you might want with that cup o’ jive is a homemade muffin, some pancakes or quintessentially Rhode Island jonnycakes. Cindy Elder, of Bristol Harbor Homemade (1282 Hope Street, Bristol, 401.396.9033,www.bristolharborhomemade.com) has created dry mixes than just need water (or beer) and either butter or oil to make up carrot muffins, English muffin beer bread, biscotti or scones. Kenyon’s Grist Mill (Old Usquepaugh Road, South Kingstown, 800.7.KENYON, www.kenyonsgristmill.com) also has muffin mix (corn), brown bread mix, six kinds of pancake mixes and many stone-ground flours and meals, including the traditional jonnycake meal from white flint corn. There are recipes on the small bags of meal and flour, as well as on the website. Gray’s Grist Mill (Adamsville Road, Adamsville, 508.636.6075,www.graysgristmill.com) also has a pancake/waffle mix and jonnycake meal. My personal favorite for stone-ground jonnycake meal and yellow cornmeal is Carpenter’s Grist Mill (354 Moonstone Beach Road, South Kingstown, 401.783.5483), usually found in South County specialty stores.