LAST LEG OF THE ROAD TRIP: PROVIDENCE & LITTLE COMPTON.
here we go for the last installment of the rhode island road trip… from sketchy somerset to providence, in search of a good meal. dick did a good job getting to the city and we were there in no time. a lesson in massachusetts and rhode island geography for sure. once in providence, heading towards the mall, we started to notice quite a bit of activity. sure, it was a saturday evening, but there were street vendors and banners and media all around. moments later, i looked at the river and knew what was up… waterfire!
i had heard about the waterfire display in providence before, but never knew when it was or really what it entailed. what luck! it pays to go where the wind takes you. waterfire, for those who aren’t familiar, is an art exhibition where 80+ bonfires are lit on the three rivers in providence and the event was started to revitalize the city’s downtown area. there are music and performances, and it has grown so that the fires are lit every couple of weeks throughout the summer. the lighting of the fires typically occurs at sunset and lasts until midnight (at least that’s what i told a couple who suspected that i was from the area and inquired about the details).
once we parked, we wandered around the river, over the many staircases, in search of some grub. crossing the river, we glanced at some menus and ended up at a pub called union station brewery. looking at the coasters later, i learned that it’s owned by the same people who run john harvard’s brew house in cambridge, ma. they have some darn good beer, so i hoped we had done well with this choice. we started with some calamari, as well as white sangria for jordan and red ale for me. two thumbs up on the beer and the seafood, but the sangria was full of ice and not a lot else (aka fruit & alcohol). it was the entrée that did me in though. maybe it was because i hadn’t had a decent burger in awhile, but my smokehouse burger was fan-freakin’-tastic. smoked tomato mayo, smoked gouda cheese, bacon and beer braised caramelized onions. artery-clogging good. i almost made it through the whole thing, plus some seasoned steak fries. the best part about it… it was cooked to my specifications. the last time i asked for a medium burger, it came out hockey puck style. barf. mmm, mmm, mmm, i was full. now bring on some fire on the water.
it wasn’t time for the exhibition to start, so we went took a few self portraits and went shopping at the providence place mall… not that we were complaining.
we only made it through one level, but we did well. and i noticed my lobster red skin starting to show after a passing glance in the dressing room mirror. i’m pretty much a walking advertisement to wear sunscreen.
making our way across the street, we nabbed a spot on the bridge just as things were getting crazy… well, as crazy as it gets in providence over a summer art display. what was supposed to be a lighting at 8:30pm was more like 9:00pm. i was getting impatient. but finally, finally – fire!
it had been a long day, so once the fires were lit, we got the car out of the garage then got lost (dick, what are you doing??), but finally made it back to our hotel. donning pajamas and settling in for some wine and tv, we soon realized we didn’t have a way to open the wine. packing fail. a call to the front desk gave us this option: walk across the parking lot to the bar next door and tell them you’re staying here, they’ll open it for you. and so we did. in our pajamas. and yet none of the bar patrons thought this was weird. the man who appeared to be the owner rolled his eyes, but we rolled our eyes too when the waitress couldn’t figure out how to use the corkscrew… definitely a budweiser kind of place. crisis averted, we poured some wine into solo cups and i reached for the package of wine crackers that i had brought along. could it be? you guessed it, they were nuggets! all is right with the world. with a sunburn and a long day of adventure, sleep came quickly after that.
we slept in a little the next morning, checked out, asked for directions to the nearest dunkin’ donuts, and hit the road for our last destination: sakonnet vineyards in little compton, rhode island. again, another scenic route past the water and a lot of hydrangeas to get there, even though the weather wasn’t as nice as on saturday. this place had been the most suggested by those i had asked for recommendations of things to see on our little trip. pulling up to the main building, the grounds did not disappoint. with a little sun, i could have spent hours walking around or having lunch at one of the picnic tables. a few photos later, we made our way to the tasting room.
the interior was just as gorgeous as the exterior. tasting glasses in hand, we found a spot at the bar and began selecting our six wines. i tried the vidal blanc, cock of the walk white, pinot noir, petite red, rhode island red and sirius. of the whites, i actually liked one of jordan’s selections best: petite white nv, a mix of vidal blanc and gewurztraminer. the pinot noir was pretty tasty, although it was a french style wine and not the full-bodied pinot noir that i would have been looking for. the rhode island red was also very good, but it was the sirius that surprised me the most. although i enjoy riesling, i typically can’t stomach super sweet dessert wines (like the winterwine ice wine that jordan tried), but sirius was like nothing i had tasted before. it was sweet, but not too sweet. you could drink it for dessert, but maybe a glass with a meal. i loved it… and bought a bottle on the way out. the woman conducting the tasting was informative and helpful (apparently we drink too fast, but that didn’t change our style), so we learned quite a bit too. the tasting list was a little heavy on the reds, so if you’re a white fan like jordan, it may not be your cup of tea, but we both agreed that the setting was great.
after roaming around a bit and getting a map from the man inside (coincidentally, a concierge at the marriott copley place in boston at one point in his life), we entered the address for four corners grille into the gps, bringing us just a few minutes down the road to tiverton, rhode island. lunch was yummy and inexpensive, with good service to boot. try the crab cake sandwich or the lemon chicken salad wrap. the area also featured some small boutique shops, many out of our price range, but we took a look around before hopping in the car to start the trek northward to boston. bye bye rhode island, it’s been fun. with some tunes from the ipod and a quick pit stop at target in stoughton, we were back in boston in no time, dragging my bottles of wine and other purchases up the apartment building’s stairs around 3:30pm.
so there you have it, a road trip in 31 hours. what a great one it was, full of fun, relaxation, wine, and surprise destinations. if you go where the wind takes you, you never know where you might end up. and does it really matter as long as you have a friend by your side?