Jan 1, 2012

New Year's 2012

Today I write to you from Rhode Island.  Providence, Rhode Island, to be exact.

It is New Year's day, and Nick and I thought it would be a grand idea to spend the holiday weekend out of town.  We had been to Providence a few years ago for Valentine's Day, and enjoyed ourselves immensely. Given our prior experience, the central location and proximity of Amtrak, lodgings, entertainment and food, and a good deal on travel and hotel meant that 1) we're in Providence and 2) we're enjoying ourselves immensely.

Friday we wandered downtown a bit, after being transported to our hotel by a very chatty (and very entertaining) shuttle driver.  In our wanderings, we discovered that downtown is much more compact than we realized, which has greatly facilitated our ability to get around.  In addition, we (re)discovered several potentially interesting shops and restaurants ...some of which, unfortunately, were closed.  Anyway.  Last time around, we ended up at this fantastic burger place called Luxe that had gorgonzola tater tots.  NATURALLY we wanted to return on this trip, and did so for dinner.

They were out of tater tots.  This turned out all right, however, because in our hour-long wait for a table, we sat at the bar, where Nick and I enjoyed onion rings and alcoholic beverages prepared by a very friendly pair of bartenders ... who generously allowed us to sample the excess of some of the other drinks on the menu.  

Once we were finally seated, Nick proceeded to order the spiciest burger he could concoct, and I opted for the mac n' cheese, which was delivered to our table still bubbling from the oven.

When we awoke Saturday morning, we decided it would be a good idea to make our dinner reservation ... as it turned out, the only available times at the restaurants on our list were 5pm and 10:30pm.  You all know me, so guess what time we picked?   (the later time .... obviously!)

Because this was a quasi-working vacation, I settled in the lobby after breakfast to work on a paper, while Nick explored the Brown University neighborhood (just across the river from us).  For lunch, we ended up at a brew pub called Trinity Brewhouse and Restaurant.  They brew their beers on-site.  Nick thought his beer was quite good, and the place was very atmospheric with dark wood paneling and the deepest-fried fish I've ever had.  Seriously.

After lunch, we ventured to the mall, where we discovered that 1) at least half of Providence had a similar thought, and 2) that we like the idea of being at the mall much more than actually doing so.  We had planned to see a movie on this trip, but by the time we arrived at the theater (located on the top floor of the mall) to investigate, the next series of showings were an hour later.  Back to the hotel we went, where we proceeded to watch television and surf the internet until dinnertime.

For our late dinner, we went to Capriccio's, an Old World European restaurant that has been a fine-dining experience in Providence for years.  It was definitely old: the brick floors were slippery from age, and the median age of the waitstaff was 40.  Our own waiter, Lou, was probably in his 60s, and really amazing at his job.  The restaurant felt like something out of a gangster movie--more authentically Italian than even some of the Italian places I've been in New York!!  We also got to watch the flambe guy, Gino (who is apparently a legend), maneuver his large cart over the uneven floor and around tables.  We also watched him flambe a steak and make dessert crepes, which was truly something to behold.   The food was magnificent--my appetizer included the best fresh mozzarella I've ever had, and I also tried truffles for the first time in my entree.  Nick enjoyed a seafood chowder to start, and capellini cardinale (angel hair pasta with fresh lobster in a pink brandy sauce) as his main course.  For dessert, we were served eggnog cheesecake and some of the best chocolate mousse Nick and I have ever tasted.  Just before midnight, the waitstaff passed out party hats and noisemakers, and the commotion at midnight was ... well, unforgettable.  Definitely the best New Years' Eve on record.

Today Nick and I slept in, and then attended a matinee showing of the Sherlock Holmes movie.  It's quite good, and I look forward to watching it again when it comes out on video.  Tonight we'll be dining at Fleming's before packing our bags to return to the City tomorrow.

January should be a busy month for us: Nick is teaching a three-week night class five evenings a week, and I'll be trying to crank out grades by Friday's deadline ... and also probably addressing student complaints over said grades!!  Later in the month, I'll begin preparing for the spring semester, both the classes I'm taking and the one I'm teaching.

A happy and fulfilling New Year to you all!