Archive for the ‘New Hampshire’ Category

Plan now for inn-to-inn Spring Herb Tour

May 2, 2010

The Admiral Peary House, in Fryeburg, is participating in the Spring Herb Tour. (Admiral Peary House photo)

The Country Inns in the White Mountains‘ second annual Inn to Inn Spring Herb Tour is slated June 5 and 6, with 13 inns in Maine and New Hampshire participating. Each inn will focus on one herb, and tour guests can sample fare made with that herb and collect a recipe or two. The tour is split, with seven inns highlighted June 5, and the remaining six on June 6.

Lodging packages are available, with rates beginning at $99/double, for one night, $178 double, for two nights, including herb-themed breakfast and tour tickets. Some packages also include a five-course herb-themed dinner.

Tour-only tickets will be sold May 11-25 and are $20 per person.

Saturday, June 5:

Bartlett Inn in Bartlett , featuring rosemary

Inn at Ellis River in Jackson featuring oregano

Inn at Jackson in Jackson featuring tarragon

The 1785 Inn in Intervale featuring mint

Glen Oaks Inn in Intervale featuring basil

Wildflowers Inn in North Conway featuring parsley

Old Red Inn & Cottages in North Conway featuring chives

Sunday, June 6:

Admiral Peary House in Fryeburg, Maine featuring hops

Eastman Inn in North Conway featuring lavender

Darby Field Inn in Albany featuring caraway

Riverbend Inn in Chocorua featuring cumin

Inn at Crystal Lake and Pub in Eaton featuring sage

Brass Heart Inn in Chocorua featuring lemon thyme

Did somebody say, cookies?!

November 8, 2009

Peary-webhSure, you can spread holiday cheer, enjoy glad tidings and ring in the New Year, but if you want to do so in a way guaranteed to make family and friends smile, ply them with home-baked cookies. Homemade holiday cookies go beyond the usual butter and sugar confections, they’re often made with more precious ingredients and always include an extra dose of love.

Now family recipes deliver cookies with a story, but if you want easy-to-make, crowd-pleasing goodies, ask the pros: New England’s innkeepers. Welcoming guests with cookies and a warm drink is part of the New England hospitality tradition. It’s a tradition that goes hand-in-mitt with Christmas.

Every December, the Country Inns in the White Mountains, hosts an Inn to Inn Christmas Cookie Tour, and a few years ago I participated. Fueled by butter and sugar and cider and tea, I nibbled my way through the Mount Washington Valley, taking time to tour the inns, all of which were dripping with garland and ribbons, wrapped-up for the season like holiday presents.

I sampled, I tested and I came home with recipes guaranteed to please anyone who knocks on the door or drops down the chimney during the holiday season.

indexhousew1Fryeburg’s Admiral Perry House (left) is one of 15 inns participating in this year’s tour (top photo: blueberry shortbread cookies). For the best deal, book a package that includes lodging, breakfast, and event tickets. One night rates are $189-$221. Even better, make a weekend of it. Two-night packages are $327-$391.

If you just want to make a day of it, event-only tickets are $27. Advance purchase is available Dec. 1-8, 2009 by calling 800-233-8309 or 603-383-9339.  Any unreserved tickets available (they are limited) can be purchased at the Admiral Peary House or New Hampshire’s Notchland Inn and Riverbend Inn.

The Balsams: A New Hampshire grande dame gets a facelift

February 19, 2008

An overnight at The Balsams, one of New Hampshire’s original grand resort hotels, was too little time to absorb this sprawling, historic hotel snugged in craggy Dixville Notch, N.H. You know the name and the place: It’s the site of first-in-the-nation voting during every national election; the tiny town where everyone shows up in the Ballot Room and votes at midnight. Don’t miss a peek into the room, lined with photos of many of the candidates who show up to schmooze local residents.

About three years ago, The Balsams came under new management. I last visited shortly after the new team took over, and frankly wasn’t impressed. Well, things have changed, and the old gal is looking mighty fine indeed. Many of the improvements have been for safety issues, such as most woodburning fireplaces converted to gas, but the public rooms have been given a face lift. They’ve been lightened and brightened, without losing the weight of history, grandeur or elegance.

Rooms, too, are getting new bedding and updated bathrooms–an ongoing process, with the 1917 “New” wing next in line. Management plans to convert the former Tillotson residence, on the lakefront, to a full-service spa–but that’s perhaps a year or two down the road.

What hasn’t changed is the old fashioned family emphasis. Only a handful of rooms have TVs, and there’s only one public room with TV. Instead of being plugged in, kids play games with adults–cards or board games in the public rooms; pool, Ping-Pong and video games in the game room. There also are organized activities, movies, kids programs, and, of course, the alpine ski area, cross-country and snowshoe trails, ice skating rink and, well, truly it’s hard to get bored here. In summer, add a pool, lake, golf, hiking and more. For parents looking to reconnect with their kids, it’s a Godsend.

I wish I could report that the dining room continued the excellence established under Chef Learned, but while the service is still top notch, we found the food had slipped. Not that it’s bad, not by a long shot. It’s reliable and good, just not fabulous–some dishes were over-salted, others bland. I had the sense that the kitchen wasn’t as picky about ingredients as it previously had been. Still, if you didn’t have the fortune to experience The Balsams dining room under Chef Phil Learned, than you likely won’t be disappointed. Just don’t forget that the dining room is somewhat formal–men must wear a jacket, women tend to dress up.

If you’re fortunate enough to have Sherm as captain of your dining room team, ask him if he can give you a tour of the kitchen and public areas. His passion for the place comes through as he relates its history along with a few tales and some trivia. He’s just one of the wonderful people that make this place special.

Bottom line: Go.