You may recall exactly a year ago from now when Dana Cowin, editor-in-chief of Food & Wine Magazine, included the Foie-Gras Banana Bread Terrine from Seasons at the Ocean House in Watch Hill, Rhode Island on her list of Best Dishes of 2011. While neither dish nor chef Eric Haugen can be found there anymore, the restaurant still exists and is one of several culinary facets that the New England resort is praised for today. Despite it being a year later and the restaurant having a new chef, the hotel still deserves the respected shout out, and its impressive cuisine can now be enjoyed through its newly published cookbook Ocean House: Living and Cooking Through the Seasons.
There’s a lot of things to admire about the book. For one, its exquisite beauty is enough to make anyone drop what they’re doing and travel to the idyllic seaside town of Watch Hill just to get a real life glimpse of the oceanfront property. Originating in 1868, the grand, yellow hotel closed its doors in 2003 and reopened in 2010 after going under major renovations, making it one of the most elegant hotels found in New England, and a receiver of AAA’s Five Diamond Award. When you’re not salivating over the exquisite food photography found throughout the cookbook’s pages, you’re fantasizing about the weddings you’ll host on the Ocean House’s grand terrace, or how you’ll spend your early retirement in one of its state of the art condos available for purchase.
More importantly, though, there’s the food. Divided fittingly into seasons (to go along with the resort’s culinary motto) each chapter of the book has five different categories to demonstrate the many different styles of cooking coming out of the Ocean House’s kitchen. The Bistro section represents their comforting, casual style recipes that they serve, while Seasons demonstrates the resort’s more elegant approach to dining. Recipes found under Gatherings were created for special, banquet-style events, and the baking and pastries section showcases part of the hotel’s culinary program which it is most particularly proud of.
Last but not least are the recipes found under Farm, which is a depiction of the farm-to-table style dining that the Ocean House stands by. The hotel goes above and beyond the usual standards of seasonal, local produce. Along with its very own herb garden on property, the resort also sources the majority of its produce from Avondale farms – a farm that supplied the hotel since its beginning – and through their Ocean House Food Forager, a liaison between the local farms found up and down the New England coast and the chef at the Ocean House.
Each and every recipe found in the Ocean House’s cookbook is simple and allows the ingredients to speak for themselves. They’re a representation of what the hotel and the dining found within it stands for: traditional and familiar New England style cuisine with a touch of sophistication. As chief proprietor Patrick O’Connell says, the cuisine at the Ocean House keeps “the best of the old and [adds] the best of the new,” and now not only can you enjoy it at the beautiful Rhode Island resort, but you get to take it home with you, too.
"At the Ocean House, we think meatloaf is the ultimate comfort dish. It has been a staple on dinner tables across the country for decades. Meatloaf is a very versatile dish, well suited to personalized variations such as topping with a barbecue sauce glaze of stuffing..."
"A traditional Jewish bread, challah is made from dough that has been enriched with high amounts of eggs, yolks, yeast and sugar..."
"For this recipe, we like to use Narragansett Creamery Yogurt, as it is slightly tangy and fragrant. When mixed with a variety of fresh herbs, it serves as a fresh marinade, brightening the flavor of the roasted leg of lamb..."
Anne Dolce is the Cook Editor at The Daily Meal. Follow her on Twitter @anniecdolce