A passion for pesto

Assistant Chef Aaron Fitzsenry and Taylor Viggiano ’17 welcomed students to a pesto pasta cooking class in the Ivy Room on Sunday. 

(Photos courtesy of Taylor Viggiano, ’17, and recipes courtesy of Aaron Fitzsenry.)

Continue Reading

Chow Down Brown: Ch-ch-ch-changes in campus eateries


Can’t you smell them already…?

Let’s be honest – the thoughts that run through a college student’s mind often fall into a pretty specific set of categories. They may vary in content and percentage depending on the person, of course, but you can almost guarantee that they include the following: homework, romance, various forms of inebriation, and of course, food.

Brown University Dining Services therefore has ambitious tasks to accomplish in feeding Brown’s hungry students. Aaron Fitzsenry, culinary manager of retail dining and one of our favorite food authorities on campus, sat down with me to discuss some of the exciting culinary ch-ch-ch-changes taking place across campus this year.

The Blue Room will soon be introducing a Mediterranean Bar a few nights a week. Fitzsenry dreamed up this idea this summer while he was strolling down Thayer Street looking for inspiration in the existing business models. Featuring fresh and local ingredients such as hummus, tabbouleh, chickpea salad, fresh Narragansett feta, and Sam’s Bakery Syrian wraps, the Mediterranean Bar will be joining the ranks of student favorites Kabob and Curry and the Naked Burrito Bar. As the Herald reported, the Blue Room will also be serving savory pastries of the leek-and-parmesan and cherry-Greek-yogurt varieties. And don’t worry – those muffins and cookies you dream about will continue to be baked fresh daily. Rotating soup and meal specials can be found on the Blue Room’s website, in addition to any and all ingredient information about which you may be curious.

Continue Reading

Ch-ch-ch-ch-changes: Brown Dining Services edition

Ben Affleck Blue Room

You’re just getting back in the full swing of things here at Brown, yet your usual dining routine seems a bit off. Case in point: You go to the Ratty and see a fried crispy ringlet. You think to yourself, Must be an onion ring, right? You attempt to confirm by reading the description on the glass barricade, but it just simply cannot be: the description reads “Calamari.” The Ratty has… real food? Though I’m sure you’ve been craving Ratty food all summer, you couldn’t have imagined the glory and satisfaction that awaited you during your first meal back at Brown. This example is just a mere taste of all of the changes already in effect around campus. Brown Dining Services has made some inspired—if not revolutionary—changes to its food offerings. A run-down of these culinary ch-ch-ch-ch-changes:

Ratty and V-Dub: The Ratty and V-Dub now have a rotating 13-week cycle with several new gastronomical options. You probably have already had a chance to experience some of them. In addition to providing these new options, BDS has developed nutrition facts for all of the food it will be serving and will make this information available in both dining halls. Word on the street is that it’s also developing an app so students can quickly access nutritional information on the go. We’ll keep you posted on that. In the meantime, be sure to check out the menus on the Brown Dining Services website.
Continue Reading

Make me a smoothie: A quest for the perfect Ivy Room smoothie formula

Screen Shot 2013-03-11 at 7.57.10 AM

Almost a year ago, as excited as I was to become a Brown student, I had resigned myself to the fact that both the food and housing here could be a little better.

Coming in with lower than low expectations, I was pleasantly surprised during my first trip to the Ivy Room, where the pretty decent food is complemented by a full-service(ish) smoothie bar. But just as it was intimidating to navigate the open curriculum for myself, I found my autonomy in smoothie options overwhelming—how was I to know how guava juice or peach would affect the taste of my smoothie? Like anyone else, I just wanted to find a combo that worked and stick with it.

So, all in the name of my demonic food lust  love of investigative journalism, I decided to set out in search of the formula for the perfect Ivy Room smoothie. But, given the endless number of combinations, I knew I would never get there by myself.  So I decided to ask the people who know the ways of the smoothie best, the BuDS staff.

For five consecutive nights, I went to the Ivy Room and gave the person behind the counter the ultimate “that guy” request to make me his/her favorite smoothie. Check out what I found after the jump. Continue Reading

Chow Down Brown: Spring specials and a fried rice party


Something special is landing in the Ivy Room tonight. Because Aaron Fitzsenry “felt like Ivy Nights needed a little love in the Fried Rice department,” he decided to “make it a party.” You ready for this?

Existing items at the Fried Rice bar include: Peppers, carrots, tofu, egg.

New items to expect: Pineapple, green peas, mushroom, broccoli, sprouts, water chestnuts, baby corn.

Finishing sauces include: Sriracha, sesame Mirin sauce, sweet chili, wasabi/ginger, hoisin.

In other Brown Dining news, The Gate is going to see a “Gnocchi Gnight” sometime soon. Additionally, many of you may have noticed that Jo’s has started off the semester with a risotto bar. Design your own version—whether you add roasted red pepper coulis, basil pesto olive oil, or just have it straight up, it’s bound to be delicious. Follow-up specials will be loaded waffle fries and the crepe bar. Get excited, I know I am.

Mac and cheese returns to the Ivy Room (FINALLY!)

If you’re short on meal credits and have been avoiding the retail eateries for the past few weeks, it’s time to ditch your thriftiness and head to the Ivy Room.  After a far-too-long hiatus, Aaron Fitzsenry, the university’s culinary manager for retail operations, is back here in falafel-dom cooking for vegetarians (and general ‘Room connoisseurs, like this blogger).  And, yes, you guessed it: he’s cooking the cheese, pasta and vegetable bowls that grew enormously popular that fateful night several months ago.  And, if experience has taught us anything, the lines will probably be going out the Ivy Room door once the word spreads.  So, what we’re trying to say here is: get on over to the Ivy Room.  Like, right now. After all, is there anything that will cure the reading period blues like mac and cheese?  Is that even a question?