Whether you’re touring local oyster farms, tasting your way through Federal Hill or learning how to cook from culinary greats, one thing is certain: autumn is the most delicious season. Here’s how to savor every bite.
When you think of delicious restaurants in Rhode Island, you probably think Providence, Newport, Bristol. Your first thought isn’t likely Blackstone Valley in the northern part of the state. Blackstone Culinaria Food Tours wants to change that. There are two tours scheduled for September and one in October. On October 14, enjoy a culinary demonstration by Pho Horns on delicate yet delicious Vietnamese cuisine. They will be preparing vermicelli with grilled shrimp followed by a party style buffet of Vietnamese specialties.
Once the tourists have cleared out, sail back to Block Island for the Taste of Block Island, happening September 25-27. While purchasing a button gets you discounts at restaurants all over the island, there is a lot more to do than just eat. Planned activities include wine and beer tastings, paddleboarding, kayaking and taxi tours of the island. Stores along Water and Dodge Streets will be having sidewalk sales, with deep end-of-season discounts. The same goes with hotels, because you’re going to want to make a weekend of it. www.blockislandchamber.com/taste-block-island
Learn the Italian culinary tradition at Chef Walter’s Cooking School, taught by world renowned chef Walter Potenza in the heart of Providence’s Federal Hill. Spend an evening learning Italian basics like sauces and soups, or bring a group to cook a multi-course meal that you all enjoy together afterwards. Chef Walter also offers tasting evenings of flights of cheese, olive oil, cured meats and more; pre-college culinary courses and a 300+ hour chef training program for serious foodies. For the ultimate immersive experience, travel to Italy with the chef on a culinary excursion – those trips happen annually.
286 Atwells Avenue, Providence. 401-273-2652, www.chefwalterscookingschool.com
Get a taste of the Gilded Age at the Newport Mansions Food and Wine Festival, September 25-27. For three days, the mansions become a foodie’s paradise. The grand tasting presents over 200 wines on the lawn of Marble House. Chef’s dinners ensure you’ll be well-fed between all of that tippling. The Wine & Rosecliff Gala is a delicious celebration in Newport’s most beautiful ballroom. Couple that with celebrity chef demonstrations – this year’s headlining presenter are none other than Martha Stewart and Jaques Pépin – and you’ll think you’ve died and gone to gourmand heaven.
Get a true taste of the Ocean State at the Bowen’s Wharf Seafood Festival. The 25th annual event is happening in Newport on October 17-18. Admission is free to this gathering of delicious local restaurants, which are selling tasting portions of fresh preparations of the ocean’s bounty. Live music and beer and wine tastings make it the kind of thing you want to spend the whole afternoon enjoying. Bands this year include the Atwater-Donnelly Duo, Abbey Rhode and the Big Cat Blues Band.
13 Bowen’s Wharf, Newport. 401-849-2243, www.bowenswharf.com
Get your food straight from the source on a Matunuck Oyster Farm Tour. The farm, which is part of Matunuck Oyster Bar, produces some of the state’s best bivalves. Begin your tour in the restaurant, where owner/farmer/chef Perry Raso will give an informational talk on aquaculture in East Matunuck Barrier Beach, Succotash Salt Marsh and Potter Pond Estuary. Then, head out on the boat to see the oysters growing yourself. The tour ends – how else? – with lunch at the restaurant.
629 Succotash Road, Matunuck. 401-783-4202, www.rhodyoysters.com
Beer aficionados flock to the Great International Beer Festival on October 24. Now in its 22nd year, this event at the Rhode Island Convention Center brings in thousands of people to sample craft brews and eat delicious food. While there will be a strong showing from local brewers like Foolproof, Grey Sail, Bucket Brewery and Narragansett, there will also be beers from around the country and around the world.
1 Sabin Street, Providence. www.beerfestamerica.com
You don’t need to be a matriculating student to learn from the culinary greats at Johnson & Wales University. Their Chef’s Choice cooking classes are one-time, hands-on demos for culinary dabblers. JWU professors regularly offer chef’s basics like knife skills and pastry skills, but there are classes in Wine and Cheese Pairings, Autumn Appetizers, Macarons, Beer Appreciation, Ethnic Vegetarian and Spanish Tapas.
333 Shipyard Street, Providence. www.jwu.edu
Sure, you like wine. But if you love wine – really love it – then the Ocean House Wine Camp Weekend is for you. From October 30-November 1, get an immersive wine experience from the gourmands at Watch Hill’s most opulent hotel and the wine-makers at Jonathan Edwards Winery in Connecticut. Arrive on Friday night for a wine and cheese tasting, then depart early Saturday morning for the vineyard. At Jonathan Edwards, you’ll see the grape harvest first hand, and then spend the day blending your own case of wine, complete with a custom label. Enjoy a picnic in the field before departing to Saltwater Farms Vineyard for a tasting, then back to the Ocean House for a wine dinner at Seasons where, if you choose, you can share your wine with others. If you don’t want to, we don’t blame you.
1 Bluff Avenue, Watch Hill. 401-584-7000, www.oceanhouseevents.com
Ring in the holiday season at Sweenor’s Chocolates Holiday Open House. On the first Sunday in December, head to the Wakefield chocolate shop for a candy making workshop, where your little Christmas elves can hand-roll candy canes the old-fashioned way.
21 Charles Street, Wakefield. 401-783-4433, www.sweenorschocolates.com