The Hippo


May 28, 2020








Chef from Firefly American Bistro & Bar at Taste of the Nation 2014. Courtesy photo.

Participating restaurants

110 Grill (Nashua)
900 Degrees Neapolitan Pizzeria (Manchester)
Aynsley Place at Courville Communities (Manchester)
Bedford Village Inn (Bedford)
British Beer Company (Manchester)
Campo Enoteca (Manchester)
Canoe Restaurant and Tavern (Center Harbor, Bedford)
Castle Caterers (Manchester)
Cotton (Manchester)
Farm Bar & Grille (Manchester)
Firefly American Bistro & Bar (Manchester)
Fratellos (Manchester)
Granite Restaurant & Bar (Concord)
Hanover Street Chophouse (Manchester)
Ignite & Hooked Restaurants (Manchester)
Jake’s Old Fashioned Ice Cream (Nashua)
Michele’s Gourmet Popcorn (Epsom)
Mill City Roasting/Java Tree (Manchester)
Mint Bistro (Manchester)
New England’s Tap House Grille (Hooksett)
Pasquale’s Ristorante (Candia)
Shorty’s Mexican Roadhouse (Bedford)
Sub Zero Ice Cream/Yogurt (Pelham)
Sugar Hill Inn (Sugar Hill)
Restaurant Tek-Nik (Bedford)
The Common Man (Concord)
Waterworks Cafe/Bayona Cafe (Manchester)
Wild Rover Pub (Manchester)
XO on Elm (Manchester)
Participating wine & beer vendors
7th Settlement Brewery (Dover)
Bellavance Beverage (Nashua)
Boston Beer Co. 
Horizon Beverage 
M.S. Walker Fine Wine & Spirits
Milly’s Tavern (Manchester)
Perfecta Wine Company
Pine State Trading Co.
Southern Wine & Spirits 
Woodstock Inn Station & Brewery
Taste of the Nation Manchester
When: Wednesday, April 15, from 6 to 9 p.m.
Where: Radisson Hotel, 700 Elm St., Manchester
Cost: General admission costs $50. VIP costs $85 with entrance time at 5 p.m. 
Visit: or

One roof, many bites
Taste of the Nation returns to Manchester

By Allie Ginwala

 What started as a dinner in a home kitchen 27 years ago has turned into Taste of the Nation Manchester, an event featuring purveyors of specialty cocktails, signature dishes and gourmet treats from around the state. 

The annual event will be held at the Armory and salons at the Radisson Hotel in Manchester on Wednesday, April 15. 
“Since 1988, this has turned into the biggest and the best culinary event in the state,” Martha May Fink, hunger chair for Taste of the Nation Manchester, said in a phone interview. “We have 40 to 50 restaurants that come and have a table and they will prepare a bite of something,  one of their signature dishes or one of the customers’ favorite things. Under one roof you can try all these different things, all these different bites.”
A program of Share Our Strength No Kid Hungry, Taste of the Nation helps raise awareness of childhood hunger. Proceeds from tickets sales and the silent auction go to end childhood hunger with a focus on New Hampshire kids, Fink said.
Peaches Paige, co-owner and general manager at Cotton, has been involved with Taste of the Nation Manchester for the past 15 years, first joining in because of the event’s mission to end childhood hunger.
In its first years of participation Cotton served food samples, but six or seven years ago the restaurant decided to try drinks — mini martinis — instead. 
“We found a little niche with our martinis because no one does that. People are happy to come to our booth more than once,” Paige said. “We’re a very busy booth.”
For the event, Paige serves 2-ounce samples in little martini glasses.
“I do three, and I try to mix it up [with] different spirits, a vodka and a gin or a tequila and a rum,” she said. “I try to mix up the spirits because people like different spirits.”
The drinks she makes this year will depend on how she’s inspired for that day, though she’ll most likely draw from Cotton Cocktails, a book she and Cotton co-owner Jeffrey Paige wrote. 
While a number of restaurants and chefs return each year, new establishments like 110 Grill in Nashua, opened last December, will make their Taste of the Nation debut. 
“Typically most of our events have been in Nashua. … [We] heard of it [Taste of the Nation Manchester] and got some great feedback,” Ryan Dion, chief operating officer of 110 Grill, said in a phone interview.  “Definitely looking for some exposure north of Nashua.” 
The menu isn’t set yet, but Dion anticipates that 110 Grill will bring samples of three courses: a soup, appetizer and entree.
Though there will be plenty of food and drink to go around, restaurants and drink vendors aren’t the only ones bringing their best to Manchester. Michele’s Gourmet Popcorn will also be at Taste of the Nation Manchester for the first time, having participated in another Share Our Strength event last summer. 
“[It’s] one of the causes that’s near and dear to my heart,” owner Michele Holbrook said in a phone interview. “If I can help out people in those areas specifically, I feel good.”
Holbrook is thinking of bringing a couple flavors of her gourmet popcorn — perhaps something chocolate and something savory — to give guests a varied selection.
“We usually like to bring our buffalo supreme because it is popular. It’s spicy; it’s a good palate-cleanser,” she said. “Seeing as it is still close to maple season, we’ll probably bring our maple popcorn. Our New England maple is pretty popular. We do use real maple syrup.”
The event is in Manchester, but the money raised helps kids all over the state, Fink said, noting that New Hampshire Food Bank, NH Kids Count, NH Farm to School Program (a program of UNH’s Sustainability Institute) and the Boys & Girls Club of Manchester will all benefit. 
“People don’t realize that there are kids in New Hampshire that struggle with food insecurity. It’s very much an invisible thing,” Fink said. “It’s in our community; it’s right down the street from where you live. … I think getting the word out there that New Hampshire kids need our help makes people say, ‘Oh my gosh, kids aren’t getting food? Sign me up, let me know what I can do.’” 
As seen in the April 9, 2015 issue of the Hippo.

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