News Bites: ISCO Releases Blue Velvet Straight Bourbon / Hope’s Harvest Recovers One Millionth Pound of Food / Suya Joint Coming to Providence

by David Dadekian

Current news releases—Eat Drink RI is not the source for these items—please follow any links for more information.


The Industrious Spirit Company Announces Upcoming Iteration of Hit Blue Velvet is Officially a Straight Bourbon

The Industrious Spirits Company's Blue Velvet Bourbon

Today, The Industrious Spirit Company (ISCO) announced that their smash hit 100% Blue Corn Blue Velvet Bourbon, has been aged for more than two years, giving it the designation of a “straight” bourbon. It joins their mainstay spirit line up of Ostreida Oyster Vodka, Structural Vodka, Ornamental Gin, Patina Bourbon Barrel Aged Gin and Gemma Crystal Vodka. Because ISCO makes its spirits from scratch, creating Bourbon takes time. Blue Velvet is just the start of a number of bourbons that are beginning to come online after nearly four years in business. 

“Blue Velvet has been such a special project for us over the years and now it has earned the distinction of being aged long enough to officially be called a ‘straight’ bourbon” said Dan Neff and Eric Olson, Head Distillers at ISCO. “From a distillery that cares deeply about spirits’ and the relationship to agriculture, we follow the flavor directly from the field to the barrel. By using corn that has been grown for nutrition and deliciousness as opposed to yield, we give ourselves a leg up on spectacular flavor. Intentionally youthful, this straight bourbon still drinks “wise beyond its years”. 

Blue Velvet boasts aromas of toasted brown sugar that give way to warm baking spices with subtle notes of chocolate and pepper, followed by a rich, robust caramel and roasted blue corn chip finish. Bottled at 90 proof or 45% alcohol by volume, the spirit will retail for $54.99 at select bars, restaurants, and liquor stores in Rhode Island this fall. It is best sipped neat, over rocks or in a Manhattan. 

A launch party will be held at ISCO on November 9th starting at 5pm. The first 20 attendees to arrive to the party will receive a special gift – blue velvet clip on bow ties, to help with the festive and fancy vibes! In addition to pours and cocktails, the evening will feature delicious bites prepared by No Rules, No Worries Experience, a food project that harnesses global flavors from local purveyors by Chef Mark Lawless and ISCO’s very own Tasting Room Manager Makayla Habershaw!

Blue Velvet is a unique marriage of cultures and places. The blue corns in the mash bill are sourced from the Midwest and Mexico, marrying an organic strain of indigo with a single origin and non-GMO landrace blue variety sourced from independent farming communities. After being cooked and fermented (fun fact: blue corn turns PINK when you ferment it due to a pH change that affects the anthrocyanins, the naturally occurring dyes with antioxidant properties that give blue corn its color!), the bourbon is carefully distilled in small batches before it rests in charred new oak barrels for at least two years—ISCO’s goal is to ensure the corns’ flavors remain the stars of the show.


One Million Pounds Saved from Local Farms to Feed Hungry Rhode Islanders

Hope's Harvest Volunteer Gleaning Leeks
Hope’s Harvest Volunteer Gleaning Leeks

Providence-based nonprofit local food hub, Farm Fresh RI is excited to announce that its Hope’s Harvest program has just recovered its one-millionth pound of food from local farms to feed Rhode Islanders struggling with food insecurity. Hope’s Harvest mobilizes volunteers to harvest surplus fruits and vegetables from local farms, contracts with the growers, and pays them a fair price for this otherwise wasted produce. The program then distributes the fresh food to hunger relief agencies across the state. Nearly half of the million pounds recovered came from a process called “gleaning,” when surplus produce is gathered from local farms and orchards for feeding community members in need. The rest of the million pounds for hunger relief was recovered through surplus purchasing and contracting with local growers. 

“Gleaning is an efficient and effective solution to the twin challenges of food waste and hungry people,” explained Farm Fresh RI’s Director of Value Chain Strategy and founder of Hope’s Harvest, Eva Agudelo. “Recovering food in this way strengthens our local food system and makes our communities less dependent on commodity food shipped from thousands of miles away instead of what’s in our own backyard.”

The one-millionth pound mark was reached on November 9th as Hope’s Harvest volunteers visited Wishing Stone Farm in Little Compton, RI, and filled bins of freshly picked leeks. Those 345 lbs of leeks were then distributed to St. John’s Lodge Food Bank in Portsmouth, RI; East Bay Food Pantry in Bristol, RI; and East Bay Community Action Program in Newport, RI. This impressive achievement is the result of five years of hard work by Hope’s Harvest and its 1,325-plus volunteers, who since 2018 have engaged in over 9,000 hours of labor to glean produce from 56 local farms. During this time, the program has provided this fresh produce to 53 hunger relief agencies in RI — serving approximately 35,000 food-insecure Rhode Islanders every month.

“We are in awe of the many, many people who have come together to do such good for their community,” Agudelo said. “We’re honored that our farmers, agencies, and volunteer partners have contributed their time, resources, and hard work to ensure our neighbors have access to fresh, nutritious, locally grown food.”

Rumford-based hunger relief agency, We Share Hope, has been a partner of Hope’s Harvest for many years, providing fresh produce for their school-based food pantries, partner meal sites, and community distributions. 

“Hope’s Harvest’s focus on fresh, local produce fills a huge gap in our efforts to provide our clients with food that is not only filling, but nutritious. Fresh produce are often priced higher than shelf-stable bulk items and our dollars don’t go as far,” said We Share Hope’s Executive Director Johanna Corcoran. “Thanks to our partnership with Hope’s Harvest we can ensure that folks experiencing food insecurity have their nutritional needs met in a dignified way.”

Hasbro Children’s Hospital has been another strong and valued partner of Hope’s Harvest for several years. The hospital offers a free farmers market for patients and their families that brings nutritious food to approximately 100 participants each time it’s held. Dr. Celeste Corcoran, Hasbro’s community outreach program director and a champion of bringing fresh food to Hasbro’s patients and families, said: “We here at Hasbro Children’s Hospital are so indebted to the Hope’s Harvest team for the wonderful fresh foods that we have been able to share with our families. They are thrilled with the food. One young patient of mine summed it up: ‘DELICIOUS.’”

Local farmers are also key beneficiaries of the Hope’s Harvest program. Patch Tseng Putterman, farm team member and organizational development strategist at the Tiverton-based Movement Ground Farm, explained: “Growing exactly the right crops and quantities to supply our customers while minimizing food waste is an excruciating puzzle. Hope’s Harvest is an amazing outlet to absorb a lot of the crops we otherwise couldn’t sell.”

Hope’s Harvest is busy gleaning on Rhode Island farms every spring through fall, with activities in the fields slowing during deep winter months. Anyone interested in getting involved as a volunteer, farm, or agency partner can learn more about the program at farmfreshri.org/hopesharvest or reach out to Hope’s Harvest Operations Manager Shannon Hickey at HH@farmfreshri.org.


Chef and Owner Cecilia Lizotte Brings Acclaimed West African Restaurant Suya Joint to Downtown Providence

Cornish Associates is pleased to announce the opening of Suya Joint at 320 Westminster Street, on the ground floor of the Kinsley Building in downtown Providence in the spring of 2024. The restaurant, owned by Chef Cecelia Lizotte, will serve Nigerian cuisine and will include a vibrant bar and cocktail program highlighting flavors from West Africa.

Lizotte opened her first location as a catering business in the Roslindale area of Boston in 2012. The original Suya Joint relocated and expanded in 2016 to a larger footprint in the Roxbury neighborhood. Today, Lizotte continues to operate the Roxbury location and has added a popular food truck which serves Suya Joint menu favorites in and around Boston. Lizotte has received a number of accolades since opening the restaurant in 2012: the most recent was awarded by Boston Magazine in 2023, naming Suya Joint the Best West African restaurant in Boston. The new Providence location will bring the West African cuisine Lizotte is well known for in Massachusetts to downtown Providence.

“We’re so fortunate to have crossed paths with Cecilia in her initial visits to Providence,” says Joanna Levitt, Cornish’s Director of Commercial Leasing and Marketing. “Her food is delicious, which will be warmly welcomed here in Providence–and beyond the menu–we connected immediately on the importance of community that Cecilia embodies in her cooking.”

Suya Joint’s menu highlights the cuisine of Lizotte’s native Nigeria, with favorites including Jollof rice and beef Suya, a Nigerian meat skewer and the restaurant’s namesake. Other well known dishes include Nigerian stews offered with a choice of protein alongside a choice of fufu, a dumpling made with pounded grain. Since the entire menu is dairy-free, Suya Joint’s offerings will be a popular option for those with dietary restrictions; much of the menu is gluten-free and vegetarian as well. Adding to the mouth-watering menu selection, the new restaurant will also offer a bar and cocktail program highlighting West African flavors.

“I’ve spent a good amount of time seeking locations for the next Suya Joint,” says Lizotte. “When I saw the Westminster space, I knew it was right. I can’t wait to open and share my food with the Rhode Island community.”

The new location in Providence will serve guests seven days a week, for lunch and dinner, from 11 a.m. to 10 p.m. Takeout and delivery will also be available. Construction is underway and the anticipated opening is Spring 2024. For updates on Suya Joint’s Providence opening, visit their website and follow on Instagram.

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