Busting the Blues with Berries

Living the Ridgway by Tony Ridgway

This can be a roller coaster time of year. The ebb and flow of hurricane threats, the daily showers that can last for days play havoc with our attitudes and make us yearn even more for season. The European visitors who dined often this summer are fewer each day and priority number one is to prevent the gray sky malaise from winning.

At Ridgway Bar & Grill, we fight boredom by working on the myriad tasks still on our plates. Getting ready for season is exciting and fortunately counteracts the grayness and lack of customers. So we’re busting the blues by having the kitchen repainted and new carpet installed in the main dining room. We’re changing things around to make the Tony’s Off Third Courtyard Bar more appealing and more functional. A sure sign of our progress was realized, as the garden just received a major haircut. We’ll be weeding and getting ready to plant in early October. We’ve got lots to do and now not much time to accomplish all of the goals.

I am working on new menu ideas and drafting lots of memos for the kitchen staff, outlining the minute details necessary to help our cooks understand techniques and excellence.

Amidst all this, a quick trip with the family to Vermont will provide me with an opportunity to do some serious menu research. I’ll be trying out new dishes like Vetri’s Spinach Gnocchi, fresh ricotta with Piperade accompanied by well-grilled and slightly charred Crostini while looking out over Lake Champlain.

We'll be experimenting with cinnamon beignets, a fresh fruit compote and sauce anglaise. I will make a few large pots of chili for some colder days and to remind us that even in Naples we have a few chili days. And hopefully, my blueberry bushes were not ruined by Hurricane Irene because I love that first fresh pie with home picked berries. We'll pick fresh apples and create so many dishes with them too (apple pie first of course).

The dinner table, whether at home or in a restaurant, needs to be an integral part of life for everyone. Of course I'd like to see more restaurant diners! Sitting with family and friends and having serious discussions about serious subjects is one of the great luxuries in life. There are some luxuries that need to become more like staples and dining and talking, as a family, is certainly one of them.

We see so many families in our restaurant - it is joy to see the multi-generational groups interacting. It is not unusual to have three and even four generations at one table!

In recognition of this, we are offering a unique discount this week at Ridgway and Bayside Seafood Grill & Bar. Kids, 12 and under, get 1/2 off a dinner menu item with the purchase of a regularly-priced menu item for an adult. (cannot be used with any other offer or promo)

Can't wait to share my berry baking stories from Vermont. And a side trip with the family to a culinary favorite - The Hen Of The Wood in Waterbury. I’ll talk to you soon. - Tony

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