Ahh, three days off in a row. Thanks to the restaurant being closed for Christmas, I was able to spend an idyllic holiday with my man at his parents’ home in Rhode Island. After loading some much needed laundry into the pickup truck, Boyfriend, Sadie (now 65 lbs.) and I squeezed into the cab and made our way through rush hour traffic through Connecticut. Poor Sadie couldn’t get comfortable and kept trying to push us out of her way so she could stretch out. It was a very trying and uncomfortable ride for all. Despite all our travel woes, it was well worth it to arrive in Barrington, RI that evening and find the little cottage by the shore and everything around it blanketed with nearly two feet of fresh powder white snow. Pulling some cold beers from the snow on the porch, we went inside to enjoy some hot D’Angelo’s sandwiches.
By the way, D’Angelo’s is a local sandwich store chain specializing in freshly grilled sandwiches, and definitely one of little Rhody’s best kept secrets. The entire ride up, Boyfriend was looking forward to having a large #9 combo – a generous helping of freshly grilled steak, peppers, and onions slathered in melted cheese in a 12″ sub roll. I would normally order a hamburger sandwich – grilled hamburger patties with all the fixings, also on a sub roll – and we would split each sandwich. We also picked up a meatball sandwich and an Italian sandwich (the real deal, complete with real prosciutto) for Mom and Dad to share. Also, if you are ever in town, don’t ever call it a hero or a sub. True Rhode Islanders eat grinders.
Christmas Eve morning was unusually relaxed. Absent was the usual buzz of activity. Boyfriend is the oldest of five children, and rarely a holiday is spent without it’s share of sibling drama. But this was our first Christmas at his parents’ with none of his siblings were around. One sister, my usual partner in crime in the kitchen, in years past would arrive with a few friends in tow, but was traveling to Alsace-Lorraine in France to meet her boyfriend’s family this year. Younger brother was also in Europe, having moved to Germany three years ago. Another sister was now living in Baltimore, MD, and was spending the holiday with her boyfriend’s family in Lancaster, PA. Finally, Boyfriend’s youngest sister was now living in Austin, TX and would be spending the holiday with her boyfriend’s family in the Lone Star state. Instead, the four of us simply putted around in our pajamas and consumed copious amounts of coffee into the early afternoon. It was a different kind of fun from years past, but I couldn’t think of a more perfectly lazy way to spend holiday.
Well, Boyfriend’s Mom admits to having no love of cooking, and it had been too long since I did any serious home-cooking, so I happily volunteered to prepare a simple menu for our little holiday party. For Christmas Eve, I decided on something easy, and made a simple pork loin roast with braised kale and risotto with peas. Christmas Day was only slightly more elaborate and included a roulade of chicken with corn bread and apple stuffing, creamy green bean with mushroom casserole, and pan roasted brussel sprouts with diced butternut squash.
I had ambitions of making pumpkin bread and apple pie, but they never materialized. Unlike the organized chaos of holidays past, with a sumptuous spread planned out days in advance, and two or three cooks scrambling for space in the kitchen to feed a table of 12-15 family, friends, and sig-o’s, I decided to take it easy. After all, this was my vacation. So this year, I took time to have lunch with the family at Newport Creamery, another Rhode Island institution, and topped off my meal with their signature coffee Awful Awful milkshake. I took the time to join Boyfriend at the beach for playtime with Sadie and the neighbors’ dogs. And…I made up for all those trips to the laundromat that we never made at home. In her infinite wisdom, Boyfriend’s Mom made sure we had a store-bought pumpkin pie, just in case I never got around to making dessert.
After eating, the four of us wound down our Christmas Eve with a few rounds of Clue, using an antique set from Europe, dubbed “Cluedo,” and Christmas night with a few rounds of a card game known as Pope Joan. We also have a tradition of watching Dad’s DVDs of Jeeves and Wooster every holiday. I tried stay awake for a few episodes – Oh how I wanted the holiday to last just a little longer! But alas, I succumbed to food (and drink) coma.
Then it was all over. The next morning it was back to reality and back to work. Not only was it a Saturday after the restaurant had been closed for two days, but in addition to my usual duties, I was helping out the pastry department while our pastry chef was on vacation (more on my new adventures in pastry later…). So at 6:30, in the dark of the early morning, we left a note for Boyfriend’s folks thanking them for another great holiday, and set out for for home. Until next time, Rhode Island. I’ll miss ya!