Stumbling into the Blue Room Tuesday morning, half asleep and desperate for coffee, I happened to run into Aaron Fitzsenry, Brown’s culinary manager of retail dining. You know him; he’s that smiling guy in the white chef’s coat that often greets you from behind the alluring display of butter rum muffins and blueberry scones. With experience in the fine dining and hotel businesses, Aaron’s definitely someone we can trust with our taste buds, and he’s proven this time and time again since assuming his role at Brown just over a year ago. He’s responsible for bringing us so many items we’ve grown to love, from Kabob and Curry in the Blue Room, to risotto in the Gate, and even gourmet tacos in Jo’s.
We got to chatting a little bit about food here at Brown, a frequent topic of conversation for me, and specifically what kinds of things the Blue Room offers that we as students might not be aware of. Yes, the Blue Room Lowdown. Some (hopefully) enlightening tips to satisfy your culinary cravings after the jump. (We know, we’ve changed your world.)
In the Deli Line:
–Gluten-Free Options: Although Aaron’s not totally satisfied with the gluten free wraps currently offered, he wants students with a gluten intolerance to know that these are available. Soon to replace these tortillas: Udi’s gluten-free sliced white bread, deemed “actually really good” by Aaron himself.
–Salads: Yes, it’s official. BUDS workers will no longer look at you as though you’re speaking a foreign language when you ask for a salad. For the same price as a sandwich or wrap, fill a plastic bowl (à la Jo’s salad bar) with veggies, meats, and cheeses of your choice. A major plus: there’s no limit to the number of ingredients you can include like there is at Jo’s, so fill the bowl to your heart’s content.
–Don’t be afraid of what you can’t see: Aaron wanted to remind people that all the options in the line are not always visible; there are a whole slew of options underneath the counter. Hidden gems include: arugula, basil, pickles, cucumbers, shredded carrots, banana peppers, prosciutto, salami, and goat cheese spread (good stuff to also keep in mind for that salad, too!).
– Fresh Fruit Smoothies: What began as a test run this summer for a replacement of “Freshens” in the Ivy Room has become a mainstay breakfast item in the Blue Room. From 8-11 a.m. every weekday, fresh, customizable smoothies are available. Choose from natural, local, and organic yogurts, fruits, and juices that are blended right in front of you. “If it fits in a cup, it’s yours,” Aaron noted.
–Adventurous Bagel Toppers: Forget just plain cream cheese, butter, or peanut butter, they also offer strawberry, chive, and low-fat cream cheeses. All you have to do is ask!
And what might he have in store for us in the coming year? Aaron did not shy away from excitement in mentioning new concepts and the return of old favorites to the Blue Room. First of all, that magical bread pudding we all remember will be back in upcoming Sundays, so stay tuned. Something else to look out for are more spontaneous, seasonal specials on the weekends. Aaron loves to offer these fun options on Sundays because meal credits can be used all day, ensuring that everyone, not just those willing to spend points or cash, can enjoy them.
Some mouth-watering specials to look out for:
–Apple Pie Floats: Think ginger ale + apple cider + caramel ice cream. Yes.
–Warm Apple Crisp à la Mode: for those who would rather eat their apple pie
–Naked Burrito Bar: Design your own burrito bowl with: yellow rice, pulled chicken, pulled pork, vegetarian chili, fresh corn and vegetables, pico de gallo, tomatillo salsa, and much more. Like Brown’s own Chipotle!
Something that Aaron said besides the word “burrito” that really got my attention was the simple idea that drives his culinary creativity: “Good ingredients make good food.” The smoothies are made with local Narragansett yogurt and fresh fruit. The egg-fritatta sandwiches (Aaron’s personal favorite item) are made with free-range eggs, organic vegetables, and La Salle croissants. Aaron is committed to maintaining the high quality of our food, and so encourages you to stop him any time to talk chow, give feedback, or just say hi. For all his delicious pursuits, our stomachs thank him.