My RI Life: Exceptional Baker, Cook & Crafter Leslie Tente

Who Is She?

My name is Leslie Tente, and I am a wife, mother of a teenage daughter, and serve as a volunteer for several local fundraising projects in Rhode Island.

I have a passion for cooking, baking, entertaining, finer arts, Nantucket, basket weaving, and reading!

I love reading “My Rhode Island Life”, on, so I was beyond thrilled when Patty asked if I would like to share some of my Rhode Island favorites.

Shopping & Style

I love shopping small local businesses for all of the unique things they have to offer, and of course, to support the local economy. Here are some of the ones that I frequent often…just ask my husband!

Kate and Company (301 Hope Street, Bristol): Located in scenic downtown Bristol, this cozy and eclectic shop is one stop shopping at its best! While tiny in size, Kate and Company manages to be filled with great items for the home, including: Thymes candles, Stonewall Kitchen items, glassware, the best (and some hilarious) cocktail napkins, throws, chocolates, and unique jewelry (including RI’s Kiel James Patrick designs). You will also find a great selection of fashion forward and contemporary clothing and accessories perfect for everyday or a special occasion. And there are “Rhode Island” themed gifts too! Can you tell this is one of my favorite shops?!

The Green Door (130 Main Street, East Greenwich): Like downtown Bristol, East Greenwich is another charming place to shop. If you're looking for the perfect hostess gift, bridal gift, as well as locally designed jewelry, fashion accessories and home décor, you will find it at The Green Door. Shop owner and visual display artist, Susan Swanson, also creates one-of-a-kind silk floral designs for the home. She will even visit your home to help create the perfect custom design. Further, during her visit, Susan will provide decorating tips using decorative items that you already have on hand. So much fun to reimagine your living space with someone like Susan!

Prima Donna (1680 Cranston Street, Cranston)Located in historic Knightsville, Prima Donna has one of the largest selections of costume jewelry and accessories in Rhode Island. Owner Stephanie Rossi, an interior designer by trade, has an incredible talent for putting together the perfect ensemble whether it be casual or full out glamour! Stephanie provides individualized attention to each and every customer. There is a wide array of jewelry for brides and bridal parties too! Stephanie’s eye for color, and knowledge of fashion has been a real lifesaver on more than one occasion.

Food & Restaurants

It's no secret that Rhode Island is home to so many fantastic restaurants. I love sharing my family’s favorites, located here in Rumford (a special place indeed!).

Avenue N American Kitchen (20 Newman Avenue, Rumford): Creative American cuisine, using local and seasonal ingredients makes this our go to place! Whether you're looking for casual dining at the very large and comfortable bar or would like to experience more formal dining, Avenue N covers it all. It is a sophisticated restaurant but it always feels warm and inviting. The craft cocktails are creative, delicious and ever changing. They also have a wonderful wine list. Chef owner Nick Rabar (who recently made an appearance on Beat Bobby Flay) and Tracy Rabar are also the kindest people you will ever meet!

The Pantry At Avenue N (20 Newman Avenue, Rumford): Located right next door to Avenue N is The Pantry. If you're looking for delicious prepared food to take home after a long day, this is the place to visit. Just like Avenue N, each dish is creatively prepared with local seasonal ingredients. Additionally, 95% of all food items sold are from local vendors. You can stop by to purchase an entire meal, or just pick up some homemade soup, a sandwich, Yacht Club Soda, Munroe Dairy Milk or local eggs. There is also local honey, soaps, and candies, and condiments for purchase too. There's always something new and exciting from a local business being sold at The Pantry!

As I prepare to New Year’s Eve, I will most definitely be making a trip to The Pantry at Avenue N for some fabulous side dishes to compliment my dinner!

A NYE Recipe

Speaking of New Year’s Eve, here is a favorite appetizer recipe from the Barefoot Contessa that I will be making on December 31st. Give it a try, it really is a crowd pleaser! This dip is based on the classic onion soup and sour cream dip that many of us grew up with. It's great served with thick-cut potato chips, vegetables or pita chips.

Barefoot Contessa’s Pan-Fried Onion Dip

2 large yellow onions

4 Tablespoons unsalted butter

¼ cup vegetable oil

¼ teaspoon ground cayenne pepper

1 teaspoon kosher salt

½ teaspoon freshly ground pepper

4 ounces cream cheese, room temperature

½ cup sour cream

½ cup mayonnaise


Cut the onions in half, and then slice them into 1/8-inch-thick half rounds. You will have about 3 cups of onions.

Heat the butter and oil in a large sauté pan on medium heat. Add the onions, cayenne, salt, and pepper and sauté for 10 minutes. Reduce the heat to medium-low and cook, stirring occasionally, for 20 more minutes, until the onions are browned and caramelized. Allow the onions to cool.

Place the cream cheese, sour cream, and mayonnaise in the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with a paddle attachment, and beat until smooth. Add the onions and mix well. Taste for seasonings.

Serve at room temperature.



*Recipe is courtesy of The Barefoot Contessa Cookbook by Ina Garten.

Photo Credits: All photos are courtesy of Leslie Tente.