Have a taste of what New Hampshire has to offer with vendors like Alan’s of Boscawen and Flannel Tavern at the 18th annual Taste of New Hampshire event benefiting the Boys & Girls Clubs of Central New Hampshire at the McAuliffe-Shepard Discovery Center in Concord on Tuesday, Oct. 3, from 5:30 to 8:30 p.m.
“It started out as The Taste of Concord at the Capitol Center for the Arts and a few years later it got bigger and outgrew that space … and became the Taste and New Hampshire,” said Tanya Frost, Development Manager at the Boys & Girls Clubs of Central New Hampshire.
Since then, the event has expanded to include 25 to 35 restaurants and vendors like Granite State Candy Shop, M.S. Walker, Constantly Pizza, 70 North Kitchen out of Laconia, New Hampshire Distributors offering beer samples, and a few wine vendors.
“The funds from the event benefit the Boys & Girls Clubs of Central New Hampshire and the greater Concord area,” Frost said. “It can go toward programming, scholarships, whatever we can do to help keep our sites active and growing so we can keep a safe place for our members.”
According to their website, the nonprofit organization in New Hampshire started as a group exclusively for boys called the Addison Martin Boys Club in Concord, and the name later changed to the Concord Patrolman’s Association Boys Club. After catching on to the national Boys Club movement, it became the Concord Boys Club, which was one of the first groups in the nation to include girls in the program in 1983. The organization continued to grow and expand into surrounding towns, becoming the Boys & Girls Club of Greater Concord, which merged with the Lakes Region branch in 2015, officially becoming what is now The Boys & Girls Clubs of Central New Hampshire with more than 25 centers and 1,000 members.
“Our mission is to inspire and enable all young people, especially those who need us the most, to reach their full potential as productive, caring and responsible citizens,” Frost said.
Members of the Club will also be at the event selling baked goods. In addition to the food and drinks, there will be a raffle with prizes like golf passes, gift baskets, restaurant gift cards, brewery tours and art made by Club members.
“All of these restaurants that we have in our sponsors of the club as well, so it’s really great community engagement,” Frost said. “[We hope] to get as many people in and just enjoy a great night, mingle, have some great food … and just to have a really good time.”
Taste of New Hampshire When: Tuesday, Oct. 3, 5:30 to 8:30 p.m. Where: McAuliffe-Shepard Discovery Center, 2 Institute Drive, Concord Cost: $40, 10 tickets for $350, visit tasteofnh.com
Manchester shop brings Grecian goods to the Granite State
During a summer vacation in Greece, an American adolescent meets a Greek teen, creating a bond that will last a lifetime. It sounds like a movie, but it is in fact the true origin story of Taste and Art of Greece, an online shop that brings products made by small-scale Greek artisans to the Granite State with a new brick and mortar location on Hanover Street in Manchester, which was slated to open Sept. 27.
“Growing up Greek, we often went [to Greece] as children and I made some wonderful connections over the years, one particular person, Strati Vougiouka, who lives in the village where my father was born,” said Elaine Setas, who owns the shop along with Vougiouka.
After losing touch, the two reconnected as adults when Setas started regularly visiting Lesbos again with her husband.
“Strati started talking about a dream and a vision to open a traditional Greek store,” she said. “We did research for about a year and half, two years and what we saw were a lot of Greek shops … but they weren’t talking about what products meant, who is making the product or the meanings and traditions,” Setas said “So I said, ‘I don’t want to make a store that’s just selling products — let’s make something that tells a story.’”
At the time, Setas was working as an office assistant and thought this would be a great hobby to take on. The pair opened their online store, Setas handling the marketing and attending local Greek festivals, and Vougiouka working behind the scenes in Greece, dealing with the artists and organizing shipments. After a while, the business proved to be so much more than a side hustle, so when Setas was laid off from her office job, she jumped fully in and never looked back.
“We hear a lot at these festivals and things that we go to that we definitely stand out,” she said. “We’re not your typical Greek shop.”
The duo’s initial plan was to sell more food than they currently do, but they had to be selective with what they brought in due to the complicated nature of importing food into the States. As a result, they expanded the art side of things with blankets, clothing, jewelry, handbags and ceramics while also carrying pantry items like spices, infused honey and olive oil as well as chocolate.
“One of the biggest items with a story that resonates with many people [are the ceramic] pomegranates,” Setas said. “Pomegranates mean luck and prosperity in the home and at midnight on New Year’s Eve in Greece they step over the threshold of their door and smash a real pomegranate and the amount of seeds that scatter means the abundance of luck you’ll have.”
In addition, the shop also sells ceramic boats that symbolize charting a new path and honor the fishermen of the Greek islands, as well as hand painted, traditional sheep bells that Setas says carry a sense of nostalgia for summers spent in Greece. Each item comes with a card that explains its meaning.
“We have something for every person, every culture, every nationality,” Setas said. “Greeks are known in the world for their hospitality and our art and our culture and … our whole mission [is] to share that with the world.”
Taste and Art of Greece Where: 32 Hanover St., Manchester When: Wednesday through Saturday, 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. (Additional special hours will be posted on their website and social media pages.) Visit: tasteandartofgreece.com
Now is prime time for apple picking, but sadly this year’s crop is not the best ever. Due to the drop in temperature in May, many orchards suffered damage to their crops, with some being wiped out entirely. Fortunately some farms were able to make it through.
“We were very lucky our whole pick-your-own was not affected,” said Tim Bassett of Gould Hill Farm in Contoocook. “We have a pretty decent crop … so it does look like hopefully we will continue as a normal fall depending on what … Mother Nature does next.”
While the pick-your-own supply may be OK, the heirloom supply in the retail store won’t be as plentiful as it usually is, as these trees are at a lower elevation and consequently exposed to colder conditions than the pick-your-own varieties.
Circumstances were similar at Kimball Fruit Farm in Hollis. “The apples that are there are looking pretty good, at least at our farm because we’re kind of on a hill,” said David Wadleigh, owner of the farm.
“The stuff that was a little more uphill wasn’t quite as affected as the stuff more downhill [because] the temperatures are usually a bit warmer at the top of the hill and cooler at the bottom.”
At the time of the frost, Wadleigh said, apple trees on the farm were beginning to blossom, many having flowers and some already sprouting small cherry-sized apples. Some of these froze and rotted, while others were fortunate to skate by with only some russeting (rough brown spots on the outside). While there are measures to try to prevent such damage, they aren’t as feasible as for crops like berries and tomatoes, which can be covered with a protective barrier, according to Wadleigh.
“Strawberries are low on the ground, so we can just set up a couple of sprinklers in the field and it will cover the entire strawberry field … [and] we were putting a cover over [early tomatoes] to protect them,” he said. “I’m sure that would work for the apples too, but with the size of the trees it’s just not practical to do something like that.”
Fortunately for apples, they tend to be heartier than their berry counterparts, according to Wadleigh.
Aside from the frost, the weather since — including all the rain — has not been disadvantageous to the apples.
“[Rain] does help them grow a little larger in size on some varieties, so it hasn’t been detrimental,” Bassett said. “Our biggest problem so far has just been having customers come out because the weather hasn’t cooperated and given the nice-weather days that people enjoy being out there on the farm, so we’re hopeful that that will turn around and we’ll have some nice, sunny weather.”
Pick your own
Information comes from the orchards’ websites and social media. Most hours and events are weather permitting. Call in advance to make sure the orchard is open that day and to find out what varieties are currently available for pick-your-own.
Applecrest Farm Orchards (133 Exeter Road, Hampton Falls; applecrest.com) Daily, 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. On weekends through the end of October look for harvest festivals, which run Saturday and Sunday, 11 a.m. to 5 p.m., weather permitting. There’s also a corn maze.
Appleview Orchard (1266 Upper City Road, Pittsfield; applevieworchard.com, 435-3553) PYO apples Saturday and Sunday, weather permitting. Hours at the country gift shop are Wednesday through Sunday, 10 a.m. to 7 p.m.
Brookdale Fruit Farm (41 Broad St., Hollis; brookdalefruitfarm.com, 465-2240) PYO apples Saturday and Sunday, 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Farm stand is open daily 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. The farm also features an ice cream stand and a corn maze.
Carter Hill Orchard (73 Carter Hill Road, Concord; carterhillapples.com, 225-2625) September hours are 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. The country store is open during these hours with cider, baked goods, pumpkins and more.
Currier Orchards (9 Peaslee Road, Merrimack; currierorchards.com, 881-8864) Tuesday through Sunday, 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. The farm stand sells baked goods, farm-made jelly and other items.
DeMeritt Hill Farm (20 Orchard Way, Lee; demeritthillfarm.com, 868-2111) The farm stand is open weekdays 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. and weekends 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. Call to find out the pick-your-own status on any given day. The farm has weekend fests through the first weekend of October and then Haunted Overload and Enchanted Storybook Hayrides.
Gould Hill Farm (656 Gould Hill Road, Contoocook; gouldhillfarm.com) PYO apple hours are Saturday and Sunday, 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. The farm store is open Tuesday through Sunday from 10 a.m. to 5:30 p.m., featuring apples, ice cream and more. The Contoocook Cider Co., offering hard ciders, is open Saturday and Sunday, 11 a.m. to 5 p.m.
Hackleboro Orchards (61 Orchard Road, Canterbury; hackleboroorchard.com, 783-4248) Daily from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. Look for hay rides, apple cider, apple cider doughnuts and more.
Hazelton Orchards (280 Derry Road, Chester; find them on Facebook, 235-3027) PYO is open, weather permitting, most Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays, usually 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Call or find them on Facebook to check the current status.
NH Kimball Fruit Farm (Route 122, on the Hollis and Pepperell, Mass., state line; kimball.farm, 978-433-9751) PYO is open Saturdays and Sundays, 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. Check out the Tuesday children’s programs.
Lavoie’s Farm (172 Nartoff Road, Hollis; lavoiesfarm.com, 882-0072) Daily from 8 a.m. to 7 p.m. The farm’s stand sells fruits, veggies, baked goods and apple cider and you can also pick your own pumpkins. A corn maze is open daily. On the weekends find hay rides and a corn boil from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m.
Lull Farm (65 Broad St., Hollis; livefreeandfarm.com, 465-7079) 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. on weekends and 7 a.m. to 6 pm. Monday through Friday. The Daily Haul fish market is on site on Saturdays (pre-order at thedailyhaul.com) from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m.
Mack’s Apples (230 Mammoth Road, Londonderry; macksapples.com,432-3456) PYO open daily 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. at Station 3 on Pillsbury Road, next to the Londonderry United Methodist Church, according to the website. The corn maze is open Friday, Saturday and Sunday from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. at Station 2 on Adams Road. Pears are also available for picking. The farm market is open 9 a.m. to 6 p.m.
McLeod Bros. Orchards (735 N. River Road, Milford; mcleodorchards.com, 432-3456) PYO hours are Monday through Friday, 1 to 5:30 p.m., and Saturday and Sunday, 10 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. The farm stand features apples, pumpkins, jams, jellies, maple syrup and more.
Smith Orchard (184 Leavitt Road, Belmont; smithorchard.com, 387-8052) Daily 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.
Stone Mountain Farm (522 Laconia Road, Belmont; stonemtnfarm.com) Daily 10 a.m. to 6 p.m.
Sunnycrest Farm (59 High Range Road, Londonderry; sunnycrestfarmnh.com, 432-7753) Daily 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. The farm also offers pick-your-own raspberries and flowers and the farm stand offers produce, baked goods and more.
Washburn’s Windy Hill Orchard (66 Mason Road, Greenville; washburnswindyhillorchard.com, 878-2101) Monday through Friday, 10 a.m. to 5 p.m., and Saturday and Sunday, 9 a.m. to 6 p.m.
Photos courtesy of Fresh Chef Press.zxFor Clifford Passero, head chef and kitchen manager at Patty B’s, an Italian American restaurant in Dover (34 Dover Point Road), cooking food is like building a house. “I take the knowledge I have learned, I use the tools I have, I start at the foundations and put things together until I have a finished product,” he said. Growing up in Portsmouth, he was influenced in the art of cooking by his mother and grandmother. His time in the food industry started with serving ice cream and busing tables and for the past nine years he has been at Patty B’s, where he says he has learned a lot and continues to be inspired.
What is your must-have kitchen item? All my staff and a good sauce pot.
What would you have for your last meal? Homemade buttermilk biscuits and gravy with a poached egg (medium) and delicious home fries with ketchup.
What is your favorite local eatery? Sara Thai in Dover.
Name a celebrity you would like to see eating in your restaurant? Giada De Laurentiis. I love her.
What is your favorite thing on your menu? Eggplant Parm and Patty’s Bolognese.
What is the biggest food trend in New Hampshire right now? Asian fusion. Hot pots and noodle bars.
What is your favorite thing to cook at home? It’s really tough to say what my favorite is, but I love grabbing stuff from my garden and getting creative.
Creamy Marsala with mushrooms From the kitchen of Clifford Passero.
7 cloves of chopped garlic 1 teaspoon salt 1 teaspoon pepper 6 medium sliced shallots Cremini mushrooms 1 cup of Marsala wine 4 Tablespoons of butter 1 quart of light cream ½ quart of heavy cream mascarpone cheese 1 teaspoon of Essence seasoning ½ pound of cream cheese 1 Tablespoon of olive oil ¼ cup of locally foraged mushrooms Grated pecorino Romano Pasta (penne or cavatappi is recommended)
In a large sauce pot take 5 cloves of chopped garlic, 1 teaspoon of salt and 1 teaspoon of pepper, and 6 medium sliced shallots, cook until shallots get soft. Add in sliced Cremini mushrooms, cook until browned. Add 1 cup of Marsala wine, cook to reduce, remove from heat. In another pot, melt 4 tablespoons of butter and sweat 2 cloves of chopped garlic. Add 1 quart of light cream and half a quart of heavy cream. Whisk until cream rises.
Add half pound mascarpone cheese and 1 teaspoon of Essence to the cream mixture. Add half pound cream cheese to cream mixture, melt and stir until smooth (do not boil). Combine all into one large-size pot and reduce over medium-low heat for 30 to 45 minutes.
To serve: Heat 1 tablespoon of olive oil in a sauté pan and add a quarter cup of locally foraged mushrooms. Cook until browned. Add cream mixture; cook until thickened. Mix in your favorite cooked pasta (penne or cavatappi is recommended). Finish with grated pecorino Romano.
Featured photo: Clifford Passero, head chef at Patty B’s. Courtesy photo.
On April 25, 2022, Abbey Morrison transitioned her meal prep business from Fresh Chef Meal Prep to Fresh Chef Press, a cafe on Canal Street in Manchester, with her friend and business partner Shauri Gilot-Oquendo. The cafe serves smoothies, salads, bowls, coffee, toast and sandwiches all made with local organic ingredients.
“We were doing [meal prep] … before we got presented with an opportunity to open a cafe on Canal Street,” Morrison said. “We didn’t really have this [plan] that we were going to open a location in this amount of years. It kind of just fell into our lap [from] hard work [and] after a while people see that you’re committed to the cause.”
Morrison’s interest in food and nutrition can be traced back to when she was diagnosed with high cholesterol at age 7. She began seeing a nutritionist to change her diet and learned about what food can do for your body in the process, an avenue she continued down at Johnson & Wales University.
“I wanted to do the same thing for other people, so I went down the route of culinary nutrition and worked with different chefs around the world to see how they do it,” she said. “I got to experience everything and bring it back to my home city and help people here.”
After running Fresh Chef Meal Prep for 3 years, Morrison got presented with the opportunity to fill the space that formerly housed Green Bike Smoothie Bar. She decided to go in along with Gilot-Oquendo to open Fresh Chef Press with the aim to serve food that is both nutritious and delicious while also helping local businesses and the environment through the use of reusable and biodegradable materials.
“We try to locally source as much as possible to help our local farms and support small businesses,” Morrison said. Such businesses include McQuesten Farm and Charmingfare Farm, where they get their produce, Amherst Garden, where they get honey, and Hometown Coffee.
Their commitment to offering local and healthy food extends beyond the doors of their cafe with their POS fridge where customers can buy peanut butter, honey and oat power ball energy bites, a variety of hummuses, dressings and pesto, the same that are used in the cafe and all made in-house.
“It kind of plays off our meal prep,” Morrison said. “We try to make it as easy as possible for you to be healthy at home too.”
In addition to providing nutritious food for people, they feed their furry friends with pup-sicles and excite bites.
“A lot of the same things that are really good for people, like blueberries, they have a lot of antioxidants and cancer-fighting stuff in them, are really good for dogs,” Gilot-Oquendo said. “All clean and organic stuff for our pups as well.”
“Since we’re in downtown Manchester, a lot of people are walking with their dog,” Morrison adds. “The fact that they can come down and grab something for them and their pup I think is what separates us.”
Celebrate the cultures that make New Hampshire special through food, music, dancing and art at the Concord Multicultural Festival on Sunday, Sept. 24, from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. at Keach Park.
The free festival began in the mid 2000s when many refugees were coming to the capital, as Concord was a refugee resettlement city, according to festival director Jessica Livingston.
“It was created as a way to introduce the community to the new community members who were being settled here from other countries,” she said. “A group of community leaders … decided to create a festival that would help connect people.”
The festival has expanded over the years. In the international flag parade that was added to the festival around six or seven years ago, 40 countries were represented at first; the number is now over 70
More than 70 vendors will be at the festival selling crafts like African baskets, jewelry, wood carvings, instruments, clothing and shoes, and running activities like face painting, coloring and painting kindness rocks. The overall favorite, according to Livingston, is the food, with community members making Mexican staples like tamales and horchata, dishes from Afghanistan like pashto samosa, and restaurants like Maddy’s Food Hub, with African, Caribbean and Italian food and Batulo’s Kitchen.
“[Batulo’s] specialty is sambusa … but this year since she has her own restaurant she’s now going to branch out and do a little more,” Livingston said. “She’s [making] rice plates with veggies or chicken …, home-baked bread, yellow split pea soup … fried potatoes [and] mandazi, which is an African fried dough.”
After the flag parade and opening ceremony, there will be live performances throughout the whole festival, with Japanese drumming, Hawaiian hula dancing, Nepali and Hindi folk and classical music, Irish dancing performed by In the Field Irish Dancers, and a Brazilian carnival performance by SambaViva.
“Our mission is about creating a welcoming community for everybody who is here regardless of where you’re from or how long you’ve lived here,” Livingston said. “It’s about bringing people together over shared love for food, music and art and connecting as a community [to] get to know each other in a fun way.”
Andres Institute of Art holds international sculpture symposium
Three artists from different parts of the world will have three weeks to craft a sculpture along the 12-mile trail of the Andres Institute of Art in Brookline for the annual Bridges and Connections Sculpture Symposium. There will be multiple events at the Institute throughout the artists’ residencies, including dinners with the artists and a closing ceremony on Sunday, Oct. 8, when attendees can view their sculptures.
The Andres Institute of Art was established by Paul Andres and John Weidman in 1998 and has been holding the symposium since 1999, according to Gail Bloom, the president of the Institute.
“This year we’ve added [events] because we’re celebrating the 25th anniversary,” she said. “We have the opening ceremony, there will be a meet and greet with the artists … a showcase … [and] during the course of the three weeks we’re going to have two dinners.”
There are currently 98 sculptures throughout the sculpture park. This year’s symposium artists who will be adding to the collection are Ivona Biocic Mandic, from Croatia; Renubala Kashyap Rajput, from India, and Finn Cossar, from Australia.
“I’ve always created things whether it be sculptures or playing around with bits of wood,” Cossar said. “I’ve always been drawn to certain materials like rocks or metal or copper.”
After high school Cossar studied screen and media to pursue a career in film. When the film industry shut down due to the pandemic, he used the time to focus on his passion.
“Since there was no work for film I thought why not have a crack at doing the sculptures, which is what I always wanted to do … [and] I’ve always loved doing,” he said.
During the pandemic, Cossar made two large works, including a stone and metal tensegrity sculpture, which he says were very well-received.
“Ever since then I’ve been trying to push myself and create better and better works,” he said. “I think I really found my feet over the last couple of years and I’ve become more confident making large works, entering them into festivals, being recognized by local councils and meeting new artists, so I think I really found something that resonates.”
While camping, Cossar was contacted by the directors of the Swell Sculpture Festival in Australia, who told him about the sculpture symposium at the Andres Institute of Art.
“Immediately I jumped in my car and drove down to the town, where I had internet, and quickly filled out my portfolio,” he said. “I think it was two days later I got a call from Natasha, who’s the creator of Swell, and she said, ‘Pack your bags, you’re going to America,’” he said.
For Cossar, an artist’s residency and America are both new experiences.
“I have no idea what to expect,” he said. “[When] putting yourself in a completely new creative biome [I think] something amazing will come of it. … When you get creative minds together and share their creativity and create something beautiful that lasts for lifetimes, I think that’s extremely special. I’m extremely appreciative and I’m very much looking forward to it.”
Bridges and Connections Sculpture Symposium at Andres Institute of Art
Symposium artist showcase When: Saturday, Sept. 23, 3 p.m. Where: Andres Institute of Art (106 Route 13, Brookline) Welcome Center Cost: Free
Dinner with symposium artists When: Friday, Sept. 29, 6 p.m. (doors open at 5:10 p.m.) Where: Andres Institute of Art (106 Route 13, Brookline) Welcome Center Cost: $38
Cedi’s Tasty Treats Food Truck and music by kNowhere Kids When: Saturday, Sept. 30, 4 to 7 p.m. Where: Andres Institute of Art (106 Route 13, Brookline). Music in the Welcome Center.
Panel discussion: Art in the public sphere When: Saturday, Oct. 7, 3 p.m. Where: Andres Institute of Art (106 Route 13, Brookline) Welcome Center Cost: Free
Closing ceremony When: Sunday, Oct. 8, 1 p.m. Where: Andres Institute of Art (106 Route 13, Brookline) Cost: Free.
From Friday, Sept. 15, through Sunday, Sept. 17, the Egyption Food Festival will return to St. Mary and Archangel Michael Coptic Orthodox Church in Nashua.
“It’s an outreach to the community to tell them who we are,” said Kyrillos Gobran, the church’s priest. “The church is a historic place that lots of people in the neighborhood have some kind of relationship with, so it’s good to come and have a tour inside the church … [while] fundraising … and supporting the church … at the same time.”
According to Gobran, the church building itself, which he says is one of the tallest buildings in Nashua, dates back about 140 years, the congregation having taken it on in 2008. The food festival, which includes music, a bazaar and activities for kids, has become a popular event, with about 1,500 to 2,000 people attending each year.
“We have people that have been with us from the [beginning] and they come every single year [to] have a good time as a family and enjoy the food,” he said.
On the menu are various Egyptian meals, sandwiches, sides and desserts. Options include shish kabob platters with a skewer of either beef or chicken marinated with salt, pepper and Mediterranean spices and grilled with onions and green peppers. There is also a kofta platter, which includes one skewer of ground beef seasoned with parsley, chopped onions, salt, pepper and Mediterranean spices. Each meal comes with rice pilaf, salad, tabbouleh and hummus. Skewers can also be ordered by themselves.
“We have vegetarian food as well with lentils … and pasta with sauce on top,” Gobran said.
Desserts include baklava, fried dough and kataif, which is a pancake-like batter filled with raisins, coconut flakes and walnuts and covered in a light syrup.
Egyptian music will be played by a DJ throughout the festival and there will be a kids’ corner with a balloon station, face painting, ice cream, popcorn and cotton candy in addition to the market.
“If you’re looking for something expensive [and] handmade or something a little bit cheaper, you’ll find a different variety there,” Gobran said.
Items for sale include jewelry, T-shirts, Egyptian gowns and pharaonic souvenirs.
“We’re looking forward to welcoming everybody,” he said, “It’s good to see old friends and we welcome people that haven’t been, [or haven’t] tried Egyptian food before or see the Egyptian culture, to come out and enjoy.”
Egyptian Food Festival When: Friday, Sept. 15, 4 to 9 p.m.; Saturday, Sept. 16, 11 a.m. to 8 p.m.; Sunday, Sept. 17, noon to 6 p.m. Where: St. Mary and Archangel Michael Coptic Church, 39 Chandler St., Nashua Admission: Free
What is your must-have kitchen item? Dandido Hot Sauce.
What would you have for your last meal? Rib-eye steak medium, mashed potatoes and mixed vegetables.
What is your favorite local eatery? Bond Brewing and Barbecue.
Name a celebrity you would like to see trying your hot sauce? The Rock.
Which hot sauce is your favorite? Our original Dandido Hot.
What is the biggest food trend in New Hampshire right now? I think it’s a toss-up: Those acai bowls are big right now and also, like we have at Bond Brewing and Barbecue, the Chipotle-style bowls and burritos.
What is your favorite thing to cook at home? Traditional breakfast. Eggs, bacon, sausage [and] toast.
Chunk Chili From the kitchen of Ed Barooney.
Dandido Hot Sauce onion peppers (bell peppers or hot peppers) 2 to 3 Tablespoons flour stewed tomatoes (14.5-ounce can) beans (optional) steak tips (or ground beef or other meat)
Cut steak tips into medium-size chunks, season with salt and pepper and put in a bag. Add 2 to 3 tablespoons flour. Shake bag to fully coat the chunks. On medium heat in a medium to large pot, add 3 tablespoons of Dandido Hot with a chopped onion. Cook the onion down until golden/brown.
Once the onion is browned, add the steak chunks into the pot. Brown the outer parts of the meat, careful not to cook the meat all the way through. Once browned, remove the meat and add in a can of stewed tomatoes, add desired seasoning to taste and add half of the can filled with water.
Once rendered down and simmering, place steak back into the pot, adding beans (any choice of beans), peppers and one to three bay leaves.
Cook for 1 hour until the meat is tender. Top with cheese and/or sour cream if desired. For a thicker chili we recommended our Dandido Black made with the Carolina reaper.
We all are likely familiar with a variation of the saying “the truth will set you free.” What they don’t tell you is how hard it can be to set the truth free. For Nashua author Melanie Brooks, it was a process a decade in the making, described in her memoir, A Hard Silence, released on Sept. 12. Brooks will be at the Bookery in Manchester on Thursday, Sept. 14, at 5 p.m. for a book reading and signing and at Gibson’s Bookstore in Concord for a reading and conversation on Wednesday, Sept. 20, at 6:30 p.m.
When Brooks’s father was infected with HIV in 1985 after undergoing open heart surgery and receiving contaminated blood, her family decided to keep it a secret.
“It was right at the height of the AIDS epidemic and there was so much ignorance and stigma surrounding the disease,” Brooks said. “There was a lot of prejudice and homophobia that was surrounding it and so my dad decided to keep it a secret, not expecting that it would be a 10-year secret. He was a doctor and he expected he would be dead in months.”
Originally from Canada, Brooks moved to New Hampshire 26 years ago after completing undergraduate studies. While pursuing a Master of Fine Arts degree, she started the process of writing about her experience, which would result in her memoir.
“It was really difficult. It felt like I was breaking rules even though the rules weren’t there anymore,” Brooks said. “The secret of his illness was known before he died, but I kind of carried that silence really closely and I didn’t talk about it to a lot of people. … When I finally decided I was going to open that box and look at what was there, it was pretty difficult because it was really the first time I was acknowledging a lot of trauma and pain that resided in that experience.”
While working on her thesis, she had an additional project she needed to complete for her MFA for which she decided to interview other memoirists, like Andre Dubus III, Abigail Thomas and Kyoko Mori, who had written about their own difficult experiences. This resulted in Brooks’s first book, Writing Hard Stories, published in 2017.
“That book [was] actually kind of the book I needed to write to finish writing the current book,” Brooks said.
While the context of her memoir is her father’s illness, the book tells the story of her own experiences.
“The memoir’s really about what happens when we’re forced to stay silent, the things that are impacting our lives and the consequences of secrecy,” she said. “It chronicles my journey to come to that place of being able to tell this story and my experience.”
Brooks says it took a while to find a publisher willing to take a chance on her story, as many people feel that HIV/AIDS is less relevant today.
Just as the memoirists she interviewed for Writing Hard Stories helped her tell her own story, she hopes her memoir can do the same for her readers.
“I started to recognize that this is a story that’s about more than the HIV/AIDS epidemic,” Brooks said. “Whatever the secret and silence is [that] people are carrying, I think they need to recognize that it doesn’t have to be an experience that they hold in isolation. …. I hope [readers] will see that even in the most difficult circumstances, speaking those circumstances brings a level of relief.”
Book launch and conversation When: Tuesday, Sept. 12, at 6:30 p.m. Where: Nashua Country Club (25 Fairway St. in Nashua) RSVP: Via balinbooks.com/events
Book signing and reading When: Thursday, Sept. 14, 5 p.m. Where: Bookery, 844 Elm St., Manchester, bookerymht.com
Reading and conversation about writing stories of health/illness When: Wednesday, Sept. 20, 6:30 p.m. Where: Gibson’s Bookstore, 45 S. Main St., Concord, gibsonsbookstore.com