Your menu at the Beehive Cafe reflects an appreciation for organic, local and fair trade foods. What inspired this?
Our menu and commitment to hand-made, locally-sourced food cooked in season was inspired by [owner] Jen’s upbringing in rural England and France, as well as my own experience growing up in my mother’s seafood restaurant (Phoebe’s Fish + Chips). My mother was cooking local fish and produce back in the ‘80s and ‘90s, far before it was mainstream. She had an organic vegetable and herb garden behind the restaurant.
Where do you get your best produce?
Our most consistent and reliable local food sources are Aquidneck Farm in Portsmouth, Baffoni’s Poultry Farm in Johnston and Arruda’s Dairy out of Tiverton. Aquidneck provides us with grass-fed beef year round. All of our eggs and chicken come from Baffoni’s. All of our dairy comes from Arruda’s. We source through Farm Fresh RI’s market mobile program year round. I also make regular trips to Four Town Farm in Seekonk for berries – best strawberries in New England – and their butter and sugar corn.
What are some of your favorite dishes this summer?
For breakfast, Brioche French Toast with summer berries and locally made lavender creme fraiche; for lunch, Arugula Salad with strawberries, goat cheese, dried apricots, honey roasted walnuts, red onion and lemon-basil vinaigrette; for dinner, Locally-Sourced Fish Sandwich with sliced tomato, arugula and tarragon aioli on a homemade potato roll.
What are some ways to include locally grown food into my cooking?
Whenever people tell me that they can’t cook or they don’t have the time, I always say the same thing. Go to a farmer’s market and buy a few heirloom tomatoes, some organic basil and some locally made mozzarella. Make a simple tomato, basil, and mozzarella salad and drizzle it with some good extra virgin olive oil, sea salt and fresh ground pepper. That’s a wonderful meal without any complicated cooking or time involved.
I love the Beehive Barter. Can you tell me more about it?
A few years ago, I had a small plot at a community garden on the East Side of Providence. Much to my dismay, I watched helplessly as unused tomatoes and other produce went to seed or rotted on the vine. I realized at the time that people tend to grow more than they actually consume. I thought, why not barter with our customers for their “extra” tomatoes and other produce. That way, nothing goes to waste and we get delicious produce at a fraction of the cost.