Newport is a favorite destination of mine. I love heading down to southern Rhode Island to walk along the water on Newport's Cliff Walk. A ticketed tour gives you a peek into the luxurious interiors and grounds of the “summer cottages” along Bellevue Avenue. And by "summer cottages", I mean gigantic, gorgeous mansions of the families of wealthy business tycoons like Vanderbilt and Berwind.
The International Tennis Hall of Fame & Museum on Bellevue Avenue is another treat to visit in Newport. Housed in the historic Newport Casino, built in 1880, there are 13 grass courts and lots of information on the history of tennis and the inductees.
What you may not know about Newport is that chefs are doing more than just serving up seafood. One chef who is doing truly innovative and creative preparations is Chef Jake Rojas of Tallulah on Thames. It's as if Chef Rojas gets bored with just preparing food that tastes amazing. He needs to challenge himself to deliver unique and fantastic preparations, which includes texture, color, and taste.
An additional challenge that Chef Rojas eagerly takes on in his restaurant is sourcing the best tasting and most local ingredients available. He purchases ingredients from more than 20 local farms to supply his kitchen. Chef Rojas has also utilized the restaurant's backyard as a garden and greenhouse space for fresh herbs and edible flowers to flavor and beautify his artfully inspired dishes.
In addition to the upscale Tallulah on Thames, Chef Rojas has revisited his El Paso, Texas and Mexican roots with a taco shack in Dutch Harbor, five miles away in Jamestown, RI. The line of patrons winds out the door of this tiny, spotless shack, and taco eaters can take their dishes to the nearby picnic tables to enjoy their lunch. I can't think of a better way to spend a sunny day in southern Rhode Island.
Neighborhood Kitchens airs on Saturdays at 4PM on WGBH 2.