Sunday, October 16, 2011

Vegan MoFo Day 16: Newport's Breakfast of Champions

For my second Rhode Island-themed post, I want to take a trip back to my hometown. I was born and raised in Newport, "the city by the sea" of about 25,000 people (and approximately 400,000 tourists. Just kidding. Not really). Though I haven't lived in Newport for the last 11 years, I still consider Newport home. (Newporters are funny that way. Many locals wear shirts with "Native Newporter" embroidered on them.) When people ask me where I'm from, I say Newport. I don't say the town that I've lived in for the last 7+ years. My current town is sorta vanilla. But Newport? It's Salted Caramel-Dulce de Leche, baby.

Newport has a deep, rich colonial history. Founded in 1639 by English settlers, Newport grew into one of the most important ports in colonial America, rivaling Boston and New York. Though many of Newport's original homes were destroyed by British troops during the Revolutionary War, there are still some houses and buildings that date back to the late 1600's. Newport is home to the oldest tavern in America (The White Horse Tavern, established in 1673), the oldest surviving synagogue in America (Touro Synagogue, completed in 1763), and....whatever the heck this thing is:

Whether you call it the Newport Tower, the Viking Tower, or the Old Stone Mill (that's what I've always called it), it's a big stone behemoth in Touro Park that was built either sometime before 1492 (Christopher Columbus) or sometime around 1670. Was it a windmill? A Viking church? A watchtower? Who knows for sure. All I know is, I played sports for the city's only public high school, Rogers High School, and our mascot was a Viking. I'm going with the Viking theory.

One of my favorite buildings in all of Newport is the Colony House, the fourth oldest statehouse still standing in the United States. It was built in the 1730's and sits proudly at the top of Washington Square.

I remember visiting the Colony House many times as an elementary and junior high school student in Newport. I really appreciate how our teachers made sure we got to enjoy and learn about the treasures in our hometown. We would go to see historical reenactments of important events, or just tour one of the mansions that dotted historic Bellevue Avenue. When out on field trips, we'd sometimes stop and eat our bag lunches in Queen Anne Square, gazing up the hill at the majestic Trinity Church:

Or, just as often, we'd turn in the other direction and just watch the pedestrians strolling along busy Thames Street and America's Cup Boulevard:
Of course, no visit to Newport is complete without a trip to the beach:
I'd recommend going in the summer, and not on a cold, windy day in October, just FYI :)

There are so many cool things about Newport, and this is just a small taste of my hometown. And speaking of small taste...(nice segway, no?)

...One of my favorite food memories of Newport is going to Brick Alley Pub, a Thames Street-institution popular with both tourists and locals alike.

I'd pretty much only order one thing when I went to Brick Alley Pub, and that was their "breakfast of champions." I'm not talking about pancakes or Wheaties, my friends. The "breakfast of champions" is a platter of their Ultimate Nachos, a heaping helping of tortilla chips covered with cheese, refried beans, salsa, tomatoes, guacamole, sour cream, scallions, olives, and jalapenos. In fact, these nachos and my Auntie Beth are forever tied together in my mind, because I remember going there with her countless times as a kid and just gorging myself with nachos and Coca-Cola. Ahhhh, those were the days!

In honor of my favorite Newport treat, I created my own platter of nachos, which I proclaim as the "Dinner of Vegan Champions."

Blue corn tortilla chips were sprinkled with Daiya vegan cheddar cheese and then baked at 350 for about 5 minutes. I took the chips out and then topped them generously with some salsa, Tofutti sour cream, black olives, tomatoes, scallions, diced cucumber, guacamame, and a new recipe from Appetite for Reduction, Unfried Refried Beans. The toasted and crushed coriander seeds really elevated the flavor of the beans to something extraordinary!

Along with a nice cold beer, these nachos were a special treat for a Sunday evening dinner. Nachos, beer, and football - what could be more American than that?!


Sarah said...

I miss RI tons lately - especially ocean drive. Alas! (I grew up in Mystic)

Bethany said...

Hi Sarah! Mystic is such a cool place, too. I remember going to the Seaport and Aquarium when I was little!

Hannah said...

Such idyllic scenery... Especially that stone tower, that's simply beautiful. I've actually never been to RI (that I can recall, at least) so now I want to take a mini-trip and check it out!

Bethany said...

Hi Hannah - somehow I suspect you'd remember a trip to RI. We're kind of unforgettable in that way ;-D LOL Newport is a photographer's paradise - at least for scenery. Providence is great, too. I hope you get a chance to visit!

Auntie said...

I want to come to Coventry and have ur nachos and cold beer!! I want to start a new tradition and new memories!!xxoxoxo

Bethany said...

Yessss! That sounds fantastic, Auntie!! It's definitely the time of year for yummy comfort food, too. Beer+nachos=awesome! xoxoxo

Kelly said...

Good ol' Newport! Thanks for the virtual trip back. :)

Bethany said...

Hi Kelly! Sending some Rhody love your way! xoxo