Awhile ago, while still residing in Newport, I saw the Providence Flea promoted in a free paper. Weeks later, I’m just 20 minutes away, so it was easier for me to check it out yesterday with my children along for the ride. Parking was not the usual hassle, since it was Sunday, and the day was sunny and clear.
I hyped up the food trucks to my oldest child, who is almost five (“There are kitchens — IN THE TRUCK! You can buy food right from — THE TRUCK!”), so naturally he was hungry as soon as we arrived. After walking past almost half a dozen gastronome mobiles, we both agreed that a grilled cheese from Fancheezical would be best for him and his sister. After ordering one Old Skool for each kid and handing my credit card for payment, the cashier told me that the business didn’t accept my form of payment. Wondering if I would run into the same problem while ordering my lunch, I changed my order to just one grilled cheese. More than likely the sandwich was huge anyway. It was $5 after all. More than likely my kids wouldn’t finish a whole sandwich by themselves anyway. I also held off on the beveridges in case there wasn’t this problem at another truck; the truck that was capable would get most of my money.
My kids were being patient but the wait seemed long even to me. Graciously, I didn’t look at my watch but I noticed that people started browsing the tents rather than stand in line for their orders. After one customer received their order, it was another several minutes before the next order was up. Finally, our simple grilled cheese on white bread was ready. It was golden on the outside and melty on the inside and as it turned out enough for my restless children to split an ordinary grilled cheese but I was disappointed that it wasn’t special in any way. I could have made the same thing at home (on the menu it is described as “just like Mom used to make”), quicker and for much less the cost. It wasn’t really fancheezical, whatever that means, but I assumed it must have something to do with fantastic. If it was fast and cheap, it would have been somewhat fantastic.
The kids didn’t complain, though. Except for the crust. What else is new?
On the way to Fancheezical, I had already made up my mind that my lunch would be ordered at Plouf Plouf but I had considered a taco truck and the Lotis Pepper which serves up Vietnamese food. Plouf Plouf was an excellent choice. It is pricey at $14 a meal but it is organic French food in large portions. And I didn’t need to worry about having enough cash because it accepts credit cards. I told my son, “We’re going all out here. Everyone gets their own drink!” which meant 3 Perriers because it doesn’t serve anything else besides Coca Cola. I love white wine and mushroom sauce, so I got the Sauteed Chicken, Normandy style and added frites.
My order was ready as soon as I finished paying and before I had finished pouring our cans of Perrier into paper cups and grabbing the necessary napkins and utensils.
It was delightful, carrying that surprisingly heavy, hot take-out box to a seat by the river and opening it up to discover that a side of lettuce in red wine vinaigrette garnished my entrée. The chicken melted in my mouth, the frites were truly pommes frites and not chips, as some places are wont serve as “frites.” They were so crispy they seemed double deep fried. And the red wine vinaigrette was perfectly emulsified.
It was worth every dollar and every bite after I was satisfied.
After my son waited patiently for me to finish the last bite, we watched the ducks on the river for awhile and then browsed the tent wares. There were a few outposts of vintage goods and a lot of artisan jewelry. I stayed awhile at a couple of tents and got an early start on my fall birthday and Christmas shopping.
I could have stayed a just a few minutes longer, but my kids were getting bored and tired. It was almost a perfect two hours. The flea didn’t take all day, like some craft fairs do, and yet had enough of a variety to make it well worth the trip.
The Providence Flea is every Sunday 10-4, rain or shine, through September 15 on S. Water Street. I highly recommend spending a leisurely Sunday morning or afternoon here.