Rhode Island Feature
The Lore of Rhode Island Johnnycakes
Among the Ocean State's handful of regional culinary treats, the johnnycake (often spelled jonnycake) has enjoyed prominence the longest, its legacy traced directly to Native Americans who inhabited the region centuries before Europeans arrived. Similar in appearance to pancakes, and also commonly served for breakfast, topped with maple syrup, honey, fruit, or powdered sugar, these skillet-fried discs are made with flour from stone-ground cornmeal. Traditionalists prepare johnnycakes to be roughly the size of silver dollars, with a thin, slightly crisp and crepe-like consistency.
Where to Learn More
Kenyon's Grist Mill. The West Kingston-area Kenyon's Grist Mill on the banks of the Queen's River is the oldest manufacturing business in Rhode Island and still grinds cornmeal for johnnycakes the old-fashioned way, with enormous granite millstones quarried from Westerly. Private group tours approximately 1 to 1½ hours can be arranged. The mill hosts an annual johnnycake festival every October. 21 Glen Rock Rd., Usquepaugh, RI, 02892. 401/783-4054 or 800/753-6966. www.kenyonsgristmill.com. Tour $6. April-Dec. Mon.-Fri. 9-4, Sat. and Sun. 11-4.
Where to Try Them
To sample fresh-made johnnycakes your best bet is to head to down-home diners.
Commons Lunch. In the sleepy coastal village of Little Compton, Commons Lunch has long served lacy-edged johnnycakes. 48 Commons Way, Little Compton, RI, 02837. 401/635-4388.
Bishop's 4th Street Diner. On the Newport Rotary close to Naval Station Newport, savor johnnycakes for breakfast at the stainless-steel-clad Bishop's 4th Street Diner. 184 Admiral Kalbfus Rd., Newport, RI, 02840. 401/847-2069.
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