Two Ways to Rock Your Picnic Basket
by Paula Marcoux
As you plan your summer excursions, consider that assembling picnic supplies can be an adventure in itself. For example, your visit to the extraordinary Fuller Craft Museum in Brockton, can be an excuse to stop in and stock up at Vicente’s Tropical Supermarket, a locally-owned, full-sized grocery store. Vicente’s serves a broad clientele the mainstream of which is Cape Verdean, with strong currents from Brazil, Jamaica, Dominican Republic, Ecuador, and Haiti.
Shop the store before putting together a truly unusual ‘to-go’ meal from the extensive lunch counter—a freshly-cooked savory array from traditions that could perhaps be described as eclectic tropical Atlantic. First hit the produce section to ogle the fruits and tubers and perhaps acquire a huge papaya or a four-foot-long fresh sugar cane for the ride. Peruse the aisles for hard-to-find items like isinglass and kola nuts, shop Vicente’s tremendous array of dried corn and beans, and select from every form of processed coconut known to humanity. (Sure, Jamaican margarine can be no more edible than the usual junk, but it is more, well, interesting!) And, wow! A full-service meat and fish counter, featuring live butchers and fish-cutters, both endangered species at many supermarkets today.
Vicente’s Tropical Supermarket
160 Pleasant Street
Brockton, MA 02301
fb:Vicente’s Super market
Headed to the South Coast? Let’s say you need a picnic for a day at Horseneck Beach. Try Portugalia Marketplace, a stylish addition to the already rich Portuguese market cohort in our region. Just a couple blocks from Fall River’s City Hall, in a repurposed mill building, this terrific emporium redefines the “ethnic grocery store” using a Whole Foods aesthetic, but, happily, the result is anything but generic. The focus remains pointedly Portuguese—a vast and unfailingly interesting wine section, a great selection of cheeses and cured meats cut to order, and—wonder of wonders—a huge, glassed-in, salt-cod mega-counter. Plus, a housewares aisle just packed with gorgeously utilitarian ceramic and cast iron cookware. Best of all, a knowledgeable, friendly staff, willing to guide you through unfamiliar wine territory, explain the difference between the 6-month and 9-month Sao Jorge cheeses, and expound upon the Norwegian versus the Canadian bacalhau.
489 Bedford Street
Fall River, MA 02723
Paula Marcoux hates shopping unless it has very high entertainment value.
by Tatum McIsaac
Photos Courtesy of Simmons Cafe & Market © Jennifer Marshall Grantham
LOCAL HOTSPOT BRINGS PEOPLE, MUSIC, AND LOBSTER TOGETHER.
Little Compton, RI is a hidden jewel on the South Coast. Nestled between the towns of Westport and Tiverton, the winding country roads where flowers for sale adorn the ends of driveways and farm stands, and quaint downtown shops add to its quintessential New England charm.
Charm is not the only reason to visit Little Compton this summer! Friday nights through September 16th, Simmons Cafe & Market transforms when live music is served up alongside a fresh, clambake-style lobster dinner. Served in the café garden from 5:30 pm to 8:00 pm, meals are $24.95 per person (reservations required). “Lobsters are ordered Friday morning for that night’s dinner,” according to owner, Jen Marshall Grantham. “I love these types of events, because they provide another venue for local resources, and help drive the local economy,” she added. The lobsters are delivered to Simmons ocean-fresh from Sakonnet Lobster in Little Compton.
“Simmons is a staple for us,” offers Chris Brislin, who lives in North Attleboro, MA, and spends summer weekends in Little Compton with his wife Lindsay and their four young children. “The local and organic produce sold at the market is great. We are there at least once a week for groceries and to grab something from the prepared food section. It makes for a nice dinner on the beach or an easy meal at home.”
Whether you stop in for their local produce and housemade baked goods, locally sourced ice creams (Acushnet Creamery), or visit for a Friday night lobster dinner you’ll quickly realize Simmons has forged a strong connection with their community that goes beyond food. From promoting local events on their Facebook page, to featuring what’s likely the most chock-full bulletin board in town, this hotspot foodie-haven is a great place to start (and finish) a visit to Little Compton.
Simmons Cafe & Market
78 Crandall Road
Little Compton, RI
facebook: Simmons Cafe and Market
Tatum McIsaac lives on the South Shore in Kingston, MA with her husband and two children. During the summer, she likes to explore the South Coast shoreline. Day trips often take her to Newport, Westport, or Little Compton.
A Rising Star in Taunton
Located off Route 140 in Taunton, a small diner sits aglow in the center of a massive, well-lit parking lot. Shining like a star atop a holiday tree, the neon sign sits high, heralding those hungry for a nostalgic dining experience to the Star Drive-In.
Inside, the walls are covered in brightly colored retro art. The décor, combined with scents of French fries and fried clams, makes the Star Drive-In feel like a flashback to the 1950’s. The menu features first-rate varieties of seafood, like lobster rolls, fried fish, and clam cakes—all locally sourced according to owner Erika Madden, who says she proudly purchases all fresh seafood from Mike Carver’s Seafood in Middleboro. The fish is served crisp, large portioned, and perfectly cooked. A Star Drive-In signature burger is another prominent menu item.
Dessert options are almost as mouthwatering as the entrées! A vast selection of ice cream flavors, both soft and hard serve, with numerous toppings to choose from and three types of cones make it possible (heck, desirable even!) for a patron to skip dinner altogether on a warm summer night and simply enjoy a dish of, say, New England’s own Grape- Nuts ice cream. Just as the meals are generously portioned thankfully, so is the ice cream.
Dinner and dessert are not the only reasons to venture out to the Star Drive-In. Special events are hosted throughout the summer, including a classic-car Mustang show in August. Regularly occurring “Cruise Nights” are held each Wednesday evening when buff , vintage autos fill the parking lot, and chrome gleams under the lights. DJ Johnny Angel spins dance tunes to complete the classic drive-in atmosphere of a good old-fashioned summer evening with dining, dancing, glitzy cars, and 5 star food and fun.
205 Myricks Street (Rte. 79)
East Taunton, MA 02779
Facebook: The Star Drive In
Devin J. Irving is a freelance writer and a Seekonk native. Despite his insatiable sweet tooth, he enjoys organic food the best and will travel most anywhere to try something new!