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Concluding an Idyllic Spring-time Weekend in New England

5/01 - 5/02/10 - Providence, RI, Attleboro, MA & Narragansett, RI

Continuing to enjoy a perfect spring weekend by celebrating at the wedding reception of Ben and Melanie, spending a final evening in Providence and a final morning down-state

Saturday proved to be yet another beautiful spring day; you simply couldn't ask for a better day to celebrate a wedding!  Ben and Melanie's formal reception at the Highland Country Club started at noon, so on Saturday morning we had time for coffee, a quick walk and a bagel before we needed to get dressed and drive to Attleboro in the fabulously fuel-efficient Yaris.  Again, we were some of the first to arrive so after signing the guest book and locating our table cards we headed back outside into the gorgeous spring sunshine to wait for additional Brookses to arrive.  We weren't sure quite what to expect, what with the small, family-only ceremony taking place on Friday and the reception beginning at noon the following day, but it proved to be quite an elegant, well-thought out and well-orchestrated affair.  The reception began with drinks and passed hors d'oeuvres served in the sunlit bar area adjacent to the dining room, after which we were seated in a spacious, light-filled banquet room for a sit down, family-style lunch of chicken Florentine, roast beef and stuffed shells, green beans and mashed potatoes.  Both the bride and groom have an interest in all things Japanese (being black belts in karate) and they tastefully carried a Japanese theme throughout the reception from the table cards, simple yet elegant flower arrangements, and tiny origami swans decorating the tables to the lovely (and tasty) cake, adorned with tiny pink-icing cherry blossoms.  Aside from the the happy and glowing newlywed couple, the highlight of the reception was definitely the 18-piece swing band of which Melanie is a member, the Beantown Swing Orchestra, featuring the incomparable vocals of John Stevens, who was an American Idol top 10 finalist back in 2004.  The band was simply fantastic and we danced like we haven't danced since our Arthur Murray days back in Michigan leading up to our own wedding in 1998!  Caroline ended up with four blisters, scuffed shoes and many sore muscles but it was more than worth it.  She only hopes that all the other guests enjoyed themselves as much as she and Scott did!


As nothing specific was planned for Saturday evening after the reception, we joined Scott's parents and Michigan aunts and uncles, Janet, Lou, Walt & Sandy for a margarita  and a round of Wits and Wagers (Scott won by a wi-iiii-ide margin and Caroline followed him with far fewer points in 2nd place) at their hotel in Massachusetts, before heading back to Providence to sample two more of the local specialties: New York System hot wieners and WaterFire, a multi-sensory art installation on the rivers of Providence.  Upon reading a description of these hot dogs prior to our trip, they sounded very similar to Detroit's famous Coney Dogs which Caroline still misses very much so we had to check it out.  Olneyville New York System is an old-school diner-style place located in one of Providence's less savory neighborhoods and quite hidden to the typical visitor; we were glad we looked it up and had our trusty GPS with us.  Oh, but worth the effort!  While not identical, these delicious little hot wieners are extremely similar in taste to Caroline's beloved Coney Dogs, with the primary difference being that the spiced ground beef is dryer, less saucy, but that only made them easier to eat.  And the fries tasted identical to National Coney Island's - yum yum!  The old-school atmosphere and tattooed but friendly and patient-with-us-novice-wiener-orderers staff only added to the experience and we highly recommend a visit should you happen to find yourself in the area. 


With our bellies full once again (ugghh!), we changed into warmer clothes (and flat shoes!) back at the hotel and eagerly headed out on foot to see for ourselves what WaterFire was all about.  As we departed our hotel and approached the river, we could smell the delectable scent of wood-smoke.  And then we saw them: dozens of wood-burning bonfires nestled in artistic metal baskets set atop the water's surface, burning brightly in the dark night sky.  Beautiful music played, coming from an unidentifiable direction, and enveloping the whole scene.  As we walked along the paved pathways following the river, we could just make out small boats in the darkness carrying passengers adding logs to the braziers to stoke the fires.  On occasion we saw a gondola giving passengers rides among the fires.  Hundreds (thousands?) of spectators of all ages had come out to enjoy the season's first lighting of WaterFire and we felt fortunate that the timing of our trip allowed us to be among them.  It was truly the experience it's been described to be and proved to be a rewarding way to spend our Saturday evening in Providence.


Although the weekend had already been satisfyingly full, we were loath to leave our new friend Rhode Island and on Sunday morning we set off for one final  adventure before heading to the airport for our 2pm flight.  We drove due south down the 'scenic coastal' road (according to our map, anyway) leading to the seaside resort town of Narragansett and home of Iggy's Doughboys and Chowder House for our final Rhode Island culinary experience (we've gotta eat, ya know!).  The drive was unimpressive (yes, Christopher, the drive to Bristol was far more scenic just as you suggested - thanks for the tip!), the sky overcast, with the sun peeking out on occasion just to tease us, and Narragansett was pleasant enough but seemingly past it's big-New-England-resort-heyday.  Oh, but Iggy's did not disappoint!  Famous for their hole-less donut-like creations of fried dough (go figure, it's Rhode Island, the land of fried dough) called doughboys, we just had to try some.  We ordered 6 of them (the minimum) and  rounded out our meal with a pint of fried whole clams, which we enjoyed at one of their picnic tables on their lawn to the side of the building, just before the stroke of noon.  The doughboys, covered in cinnamon and sugar and served to us piping hot, were indescribably good and we scarfed every last one in a matter of minutes.  The clams, too, were very good but could've been even better if Rhode Islanders knew what cocktail sauce was (do they have another name for it??); when we asked for it, they gave us a small container of warm  marinara sauce!


Fully sated (when were we not on this trip?), to say the least, we boarded our plane back to New Mexico, already dreaming of our next visit to New England!

Scott is ready for a toast!


The Bride & Groom at their romantic head table-for-two


The couple's first dance to Rainbow Connection


The awesome band, featuring the amazing vocals of John Stevens, of American Idol fame


 The Groom and his father, in a celebratory mood


Melanie cuts a rug with a very energetic guest


Olneyville New York System Hot Wieners gets a thumbs up from Scott


WaterFire - our view as we approached on foot from our hotel




Stoking the fires at WaterFire in Providence


Iggy's Doughboys in Narragansett, RI - a real crowd pleaser!


Jerusalem, RI


Fishing boats moored in Jerusalem, RI

A pre-reception pose in front of the Highland County Club golf course


In front of the Highland County Club golf course with Scott's parents


Last-minute preparations in the parking lot at the Country Club


Scott's family enjoying some Brooks banter between dancing tunes


Scott admires the origami table decorations


The Brooks Family table at the sit-down lunch reception


Ben & Melanie make their grand entrance, pints in hand!




The couple's first dance to Rainbow Connection


Time to cut the cake!


Melanie cuts a rug with a very energetic guest


Olneyville New York System Hot Wieners!


Olneyville New York System Hot Wieners!


WaterFire in Providence


A gondola plies the water during WaterFire in Providence


The Narragansett Pier


Jerusalem, RI


Jerusalem, RI