Category Archives: Book And Restaurant Reviews

Matunuck Oyster Bar Restaurant And Sustainable Aqua Farm

Photo of potter pond in east matunuck, rhode island from inside restaurant Matunuck Oyster Bar, for post by charis freiman-mendel, author of cook your way through the S.a.T., on restaurant review of Matunuck Oyster Bar

View of Potter Pond from our table at The Matunuck Oyster Bar

Oysters have always been a guilty pleasure of mine and The Matunuck Oyster Bar has only fueled my obsession. The restaurant is part of the seven acre Ocean State Aqua Farm  on Potter Pond in South Kingstown, Rhode Island.

Photo of oysters being shucked at oyster bar in Matunuck Oyster Bar, for a restaurant review by Charis Freiman-Mendel, author of Cook Your Way THrough The S.A.T.

Shucking oysters requires a shucking knife and, as my Mom says, insurance on your hands

MOB sells fresh clams and oysters every Wednesday and Saturday at our local farmer’s market. My Mom and I won’t dare shuck oysters ourselves, so we enjoyed fresh oysters at the market and brought home clams that my Dad used for an exquisite pasta and clams recipe he created based on a great meal we had in Sicily (recipe coming this summer!). There’s no farmer’s market in the winter, so we decided to try the restaurant.  We’ve now been there a bunch of times and it’s been a treat each and every time.

Photo of twelve oysters on a plate with lemon, horseradish sauce and cocktail sauce, an appetizer offered at Matunuck Oyster Bar, for a restaurant review by Charis Freiman-Mendel, author of Cook Your Way THrough The S.A.T.

Sustainable farmed oysters from Potter Pond and Ninigret Pond

Photo of rolls and olive oil dipping sauce at Matunuck Oyster Bar, for a restaurant review by Charis Freiman-Mendel, author of Cook Your Way Through The S.A.T.

The Matunuck Oyster Bar passed my restaurant "bread test"

Photo of bowl of New England clam chowder with oyster crackers at Matunuck Oyster Bar, for a restaurant review by Charis Freiman-Mendel, author of Cook Your Way Through The S.A.T.

Creamy New England clam chowder with oyster crackers

 

 

 

 

 

 

The fresh rolls were served warm, with herbed olive oil for dipping. The oysters were so good, I could have eaten all 12 of them by myself.

Photo of pistachio crusted atlantic cod loin with curry brown butter, saffron rice and braised kale at Matunuck Oyster Bar, for a restaurant review by Charis Freiman-Mendel, author of Cook Your Way THrough The S.A.T.

Pistachio crusted Atlantic cod loin with curry brown butter sauce served over saffron rice, with braised kale

Photo of Lobster Roll with house cut french fries at Matunuck Oyster Bar, for a restaurant review by Charis Freiman-Mendel, author of Cook Your Way THrough The S.A.T.

Lobster roll: chilled lobster claw & knuckle meat tossed with mayo & chopped celery, hand cut French fries

Photo of fried oyster po boy at Matunuck Oyster Bar, for a restaurant review by Charis Freiman-Mendel, author of Cook Your Way THrough The S.A.T.

Fried oyster po boy with romaine lettuce on toasted baguette, served with house made coleslaw and tartar sauce

We sampled a variety of the appetizers and main dishes, which were overall so good, we never had room for dessert. The menu is extensive and offers both healthy options and local favorites (AKA: fried). Despite my ALLEGIANCE to Rhode Island, I have to admit that the best fried oyster po boy I ever tasted was at Domilise in New Orleans. Still, The Matunuck Oyster Bar gets my highest restaurant rating and I recommend it without RESERVATION.

Photo of Matunuck Oyster Bar owner Perry Raso holding oysters in his palm while wading in Potter Pond, for a restaurant review by Charis Freiman-Mendel, author of Cook Your Way THrough The S.A.T.

Perry Raso, owner of Matunuck Oyster Bar and Ocean State Aqua Farm

Owner Perry Raso is an expert in sustainable shellfish farming. He buys 1 mm oyster seeds from Maine hatcheries, grows them to 20mm size, then sells some of them and farms the rest to maturity. Growing oysters to market size (2 – 3 inches) takes about 3 years.

Oysters naturally inhabit BRACKISH ESTUARIES and are farmed in saltwater bodies such as Potter Pond or in man-made fish tanks. Oysters filter the water and help their ecosystem by controlling the phytoplankton, which helps keep the proper oxygen level in the water. Oysters raised in artificial habitats such as tanks are often given chemicals to speed growth and are treated with antibiotics to WARD off parasites. When eating farm raised oysters, make sure they are farmed sustainably, in natural habitats, such as those offered at The Matunuck Oyster Bar.

Charis

  • ALLEGIANCE = loyalty
  • RESERVATION = doubt
  • BRACKISH = slightly salty
  • ESTUARY = tidal mouth of a large river
  • WARD = protect

Restaurant Review “Osteria” Philadelphia

Charis Freiman-Mendel, author of Cook Your Way Through The SAT uses photo of Osteria Restaurant Philadephia Menu Appetizers for post on Restaurant Review Of Osteria Philadelphia

Unique appetizers are offered at Osteria in Philadelphia.

Osteria is one of a TRIAD of Philadelphia restaurants (Osteria, Amis, and Vetri) owned by chefs Marc Vetri and Jeff Benjamin. I enjoyed eating at the casual Vetri during a previous trip to Pennsylvania and looked forward to trying the upscale Osteria.

Osteria offers an extensive menu that includes both northern and southern Italian FARE. The restaurant specializes in offering SINGULAR combinations of ECLECTIC ingredients, such as:

  • chestnut tagliolini
  • wild bear bolognese sauce
  • huckleberry ravioli

Four of us shared the polpo pizza and a special vegetable antipasti platter to start. The vegetable antipasti was the highlight of my meal.

Charis Freiman-Mendel, author of Cook Your Way Through The SAT uses photo of polpo pizza for post on Restaurant Review Of Osteria Philadelphia

Polpo Pizza topped with octopus, red chili flakes, and smoked mozzarella

 

Charis Freiman-Mendel, author of Cook Your Way Through The SAT uses photo of vegetable antipasti for post on Restaurant Review Of Osteria Philadelphia

Vegetable antipasti included grilled Brussels sprouts, roasted red peppers, marinated beans, beets, mesclun greens, and caramelized turnips

For my main, I ordered gemelli pasta, my brother went for seppia (fish), and my parents shared a large cut of beef. My dad, the family OENOPHILE, complemented the wine selection. The meal was so filling, we had no room for dessert.

Charis Freiman-Mendel, author of Cook Your Way Through The SAT uses photo of gemelli pasta with octopus for post on Restaurant Review Of Osteria Philadelphia

The gemelli pasta was topped with "calabrese" style octopus

Charis Freiman-Mendel, author of Cook Your Way Through The SAT uses photo of Charis Freiman-Mendel, author of Cook Your Way Through The SAT uses photo of Seppia stuffed stuffed with sausage, heirloom bean guazzetto and wilted escarole for post on Restaurant Review Of Osteria Philadelphia for post on Restaurant Review Of Osteria Philadelphia

Seppia stuffed stuffed with sausage, heirloom bean guazzetto and wilted escarole

Charis Freiman-Mendel, author of Cook Your Way Through The SAT uses photo of  House aged rib-eye "fiorentina" for two with tri-colored cauliflower cooked in beef fatfor post on Restaurant Review Of Osteria Philadelphia

House aged rib-eye "fiorentina" for two with tri-colored cauliflower cooked in beef fat

The setting is traditional and the all-glass patio area distinguishes Osteria from many other restaurants. The patio provides diners with a quiet, less-formal AMBIANCE and overlooks a beautiful stone church. The service was excellent and the wait-staff were attentive without being overbearing.

The portion size passed the “Ross test.” My brother Ross is a bottomless pit and he left the restaurant very satisfied.

My only criticism, which is a very important one, is that the chef was heavy-handed with his use of salt. The excessive salt DETERRED an otherwise fine-dining experience, causing Osteria to merit 3.5 out of 5 stars.

As Italian restaurants go, I’d rather eat at the more pocket-friendly Al Forno in Providence. Stay tuned for that review!

Charis

  • TRIAD = threesome
  • FARE = food
  • SINGULAR = unique
  • ECLECTIC = varied
  • OENOPHILE = wine lover
  • AMBIANCE = atmosphere
  • DETERRED = hindered

Vocabulary Tip: Read, Circle, Lookup

Photo of dictionary opened to the word "success" for post on S.A.T. gourmet by Charis Freiman-Mendel, author of "Cook Your Way Through The S.A.T.", on tips for learning vocabulary such as read, circle, look up

Read, circle, lookup is a recipe for vocabulary success

“Read, circle, lookup” is a tried-and-true method for learning vocabulary. During my 7th and 8th grade home school, I read the classics, such as To Kill A Mockingbird and MacBeth. My “fun” reading almost always involved books that had to do with food, cooking, restaurants and travel. Both types of books really helped me with my vocabulary. As I read, I circled words I didn’t know or wasn’t sure of, and looked them up, page by page. It slowed down my reading but it really helped me double check words in context. I definitely recommend this method to help with standardized test prep. Learning words is easiest when you read something you’re interested in, especially if it’s about an activity (for me, cooking and dining) that you really enjoy.

Photo of front cover of book "Garlic and Sapphires" by Ruth Reichl for post by Charis Freiman-Mendel, author of "Cook Your Way Through The S.A.T.", offering tips for learning standardized test vocabulary such as read, circle, lookup

Garlic And Sapphires, by renowned food critic Ruth Reichl, has lots of vocab because the author is very descriptive in her writing. The book tells the story of how Reichl intentionally disguised herself to experience the typical food and ambiance of restaurants she was reviewing for The New York Times. She describes a very different dining experience when she visited  Le Cirque as Molly, a retired mid-Western school teacher, than when she came as Ruth Reichl, the NY Times food critic. Her stories are kooky and fun, because each disguise caused her to undergo both a physical and emotional transformation. Reichl “became” the woman she was impersonating. The book is a composite of disguise stories, restaurant reviews and some of her favorite recipes.

Photo of "Garlic and Sapphires" opened up with words circled, and resting on a copy of "Cook Your Way Through The S.A.T." by Charis Freiman-Mendel for a blog post on SATgourmet about tips for learning vocabulary such as read, circle, lookup

A bunch of words I circled in "Garlic And Sapphires" ended up in "Cook Your Way Through The S.A.T."

Here are a few of the words I learned using “read, circle, look up” with Reichl’s book:

  • “Do you think we could come up with a EUPHEMISM that would make grilled tripe enticing to an American audience?” (p.68)
  • “Claudia shakily navigated the narrow steps that lead to 21, and she walked through the door with uncharacteristic DIFFIDENCE.” (p.84)
  •  “‘Wonderful, wonderful,’ he CROONED as we ate.” (p. 278)

Looking up words in the dictionary helped me understand NUANCE, even when I knew the PRIMARY definition. I recommend “read, circle, look up,” which I still use while reading.

Charis

  • euphemism = polite term
  • diffidence = shyness
  • croon = sing softly
  • nuance = subtle difference
  • primary = main

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Baton Rouge Advocate Review

Charis of "Cook Your Way Through The S.A.T." map of Baton Rouge, Louisiana for post on review of book in the Baton Rouge Advocate newspaper

Cheramie Sonnier, a food editor for the Baton Rouge Advocate, just reviewed “Cook Your Way Through The S.A.T.” Her team actually tested some of my recipes, which was really cool. She published my “Meal In  A Pita Pocket” and mentioned that my “Orange Tea Infused Hot Chocolate” was too chocolatey.

Recipe for "meal in a pita pocket" from "Cook your way through the S.a.T."

Cheramie’s review made me look back at my old photos and remind me of the great time I had the last time I visited Louisiana. My family traveled through Baton Rouge last March and we ate at a truck stop. Our trip was about having my brother Ross look at colleges in the south. I just focused on the food.

photo of lining up at Domilise restaurant waiting to eat po-boy sandwich in New Orleans, part of post about Baton Rouge Advocate review of "Cook Your Way Through THe S.A.T"

The sandwich was worth waiting for.

On the way to Tulane, we lined up at Domilise, a famous po-boy restaurant in New Orleans to experience an authentic taste of Louisiana. Po-boys consist of either fried chicken, fish, octopus, or other meats and seafoods that are served on a baguette with lettuce, tomatoes, mayonnaise, and sometimes pickles. They are a guilty pleasure and should not be eaten that often, but, if you are in the mood for one of these delicious sandwiches, Domilise is the place to go. My Mom and I split a fried oyster po-boy and it was awesome.

Thanks to Cheramie and the Baton Rouge Advocate for checking out my book and giving me some great memories.

Charis

For more recipes and vocabulary, order “Cook Your Way Through The S.A.T.”

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