Happy Holidays from Rhode Island!

After rounding up and packing a whole lot Christmas gifts, traveling a total of 12 hours, and struggling through a few days worth of jetlag -- falling asleep at 6pm, waking up at 3am, the usual -- I am home in my home state of Rhode Island for the holidays. I've 100% enjoyed the break from my less-than-dream job, have relished sleeping far past my usual wake up time of 6am, and have loved spending time with my family, including my brother and sister-in-law who flew in from D.C. I'll be here in the states for another week or so, but in the meantime, here's what I've been up to -- with emphasis on the foodie highlights! -- to close out 2017. 

At the very top of my "To Do!" list when home was a visit to PVdonuts, the incredible donut shop in our capital of Providence, which, via its very convincing social media, inspired me to make my own donuts (these pumpkin donuts here). I'd attempted a visit when I was home in November, but showed up on a Monday, a day which PVdonuts is always closed. Determined not to make the same mistakes twice, we double checked the hours and on Christmas Eve, were sure to arrive a few minutes after the 8am opening time. Even with our early arrival, there was still a line out the door, but no matter -- PVdonuts works like a well-oiled machine, and we inside and placing our order in no time. The December menu was impressive -- donuts in flavors like gingerbread! tres leches! frangipane! -- and we admittedly got a little carried away, walking out the door with 13 donuts (for only 6 people). The verdict? Aside from the fact that each donut is a work of art (see photos below) they were positively delicious, hands down the best donuts I've ever had, and likely will ever have, pure donut nirvana. My top choice was the Coffee Milk donut -- which was, shockingly enough, on of PVdonuts's vegan options -- but the the Hot Cocoa and Eggnog Donuts were up there too. All in all, there wasn't a good donut in the box -- just all incredibly great ones. Bravi!!! 

Every Christmas Eve is spent with my paternal grandparents -- there's my Nonna Ada, who you may remember from this post, and my Nonno Jim, who you may remember from this post here. Both are from Calabria, Italy -- the tiny town of Grotteria, to be exact -- and immigrated to Rhode Island in 1934 (him) and 1953 (her) where they have lived ever since. The Italian tradition on Christmas Eve (La Vigilia) is to eat a dinner of all seafood -- 7 courses, traditionally -- and my nonna, even at 91 (!!!) never disappoints, whipping up some of the best food I've ever eaten. The most anticipated dish of the evening is pasta with squid sauce, where stuffed squid is cooked in the sauce, then removed and served separately, while the sauce is served over the pasta. For dessert, I made this ricotta pound cake using my ricotta from my grandfather's company, which you can read about here
On to December 25th! Christmas day celebrations are always hosted at our house, and this year we were a group of 8 -- the six of us, plus my grandmother Carol and Sangeetha, my brother and sister in law's friend from Singapore living in the U.S who has by now become an honorary member of our family (she even had her own stocking this year). Missing were my aunt and cousin Dylan were spending Christmas in Texas with Katie, the newest member of our family (remember Dylan and Katie's wedding in November?) but we were able to fit in a Facetime session with them (ah, the joys of technology). We started the day opening our presents -- particularly exciting in my haul was The Fearless Baker cookbook by Erin Jean McDowell and a signed copy of Smitten Kitchen Every Day by my hero, Deb Perelman (thank you Lakshmi!) As for what we ate? My mom and I always divide up the cooking, and this year our menu went a little something like this: prosciutto and parmesan palmiers and roasted grape and olive crostini to start; a lasagne alla bolognese, recipe to follow; spinach, strawberry, and pecan salad; roasted carrots; roasted potatoes; cranberry sauce with apples and orange zest; rosemary butter roasted beef tenderloin with horseradish sauce; and for dessert, this pine nut honey tart, plus another ricotta pound cake. It was a lovely day, complete with a fire in the fireplace, a beautifully decorated table and house courtesy of my mom, and even a little snow to make for a white Christmas. What more could you ask for?!

Because a large box of donuts and a Christmas Eve and Christmas feast wasn't enough -- here are a few more foodie highlights from my time in Rhode Island. We headed to T's Restaurant in East Greenwich, my home town, for the usual traditional American breakfast, always welcome when one lives in a country where a cornetto and a cappuccino are the typical early morning fare. I also cooked for the family one night, trying out this Spaghetti Pie with Pecorino and black pepper -- think of it as cacio e pepe, revisited -- from my beloved Smitten Kitchen blog. To top it all off, homemade hot chocolate with snowman marshmallows was our coziest way to end a day, usually while watching The Crown on Netflix. Doesn't get any better than that. 
That's about it for my time in Rhode Island! I'll be heading to NYC tomorrow for a few days, with a blog post -- expected to be very food oriented -- to follow next week. To close this post, here's our snuggly senior beagle Snoopy on Christmas, tired out from all the excitement and festivities. Have a very happy New Year everyone!

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