Piña Colada

A shockingly large percentage of 20-year-olds are convinced that they make an extremely good piña colada. They aren’t precisely wrong; a 20-year-old’s piña colada tastes really good — to a 20-year old. Fill a blender with ice, pour it about a third of the way up with pineapple juice, half a can or so of pre-sweetened cream of coconut — the one with the parrot on it — and an unconscionable amount of rum.

Grind, whiz, slurp, and you’ve got something that will be a big hit with other 20-year-olds. It’s perfect for a dorm room, or a secret party in your buddy’s parent’s garage.

Many of us go through our adult life still convinced that we make a really good piña colada, until one day, after years of not having one, we confidently blend up a batch and are confronted with the fact that like many decisions we made in our youth this one has not aged well.

Most blender piña coladas are too sweet, too slushy, and taste a little like chemicals. So what if we gave the blender a break and made one much less sweet, and not so redolent of polysorbate 60?

A Grown-Up Piña Colada

  • 2 ounces dark rum – I like Gosling’s or Pusser’s
  • 3 ounces pineapple juice
  • 3 ounces coconut milk
  • ½ ounce honey syrup (see below)

Honey and pineapple have a natural affinity for each other. The muskiness of the honey tempers the fruitiness of pineapple juice. Unfortunately, if you drizzle honey onto the ice cubes in a cocktail shaker, it will seize up and won’t mix with other ingredients very well. Most bartenders get around this by using honey syrup. It’s like simple syrup, but made with honey, instead of sugar. The water is like a cocktail for the honey, loosening it up and making it more likely to mingle with its new friends.

Combine an equal amount of honey and water in a small saucepan, and bring to a boil over medium-high heat. Stir the mixture to make sure the honey is completely diluted in the water, then take it off the heat to cool. Honey is antimicrobial, so this syrup should last indefinitely in your refrigerator.

Fill a cocktail shaker with ice (make sure that it is large enough to hold eight and a half ounces of cocktail). Add all the ingredients, and shake thoroughly. This is one of those times when it’s OK to shake until you hear the ice breaking inside the shaker.

Pour the chilled drink into a Collins glass or a mason jar, then top it off with more ice, and stir it. Theoretically, you could use a mason jar to shake it, then just remove the lid and add a straw. I’m old enough that it seems like it might be fun to hand out unmixed piña colada at a party and have everyone shake theirs at the same time, possibly while listening to KC and the Sunshine Band’s unlamented classic “(Shake, Shake, Shake) Shake Your Booty.” At the very least it would humiliate and drive away any children present, giving the grownups a little breathing room.

We’ve already established that honey and pineapple juice complement each other. Coconut and pineapple are both from the same neighborhood; they go way back. With actual coconut milk, the finished drink is silky and rich, rather than overly sweet. It goes without saying that rum is everyone’s friend.

Twenty-year-old you would not be impressed. Which is sort of the point.

Featured Photo: Photo by John Fladd.

In the kitchen with Addie Leader-Zavos

Addie Leader-Zavos, Pastry Chef and co-owner of Eden’s Table Farm and Farm Store (240 Stark Highway North, Dunbarton, 774-1811, facebook.com/EdensTableFarm)

“I grew up in the middle of Washington, D.C. I loved to cook from a really young age. I got this book called Preserving the Seasons for my birthday when I was 9. It was fantastic, and the author was making things like apricots in lavender syrup, or brandied pears, and talking about walking out to the patio and picking fresh herbs. I was like, ‘That’s the life for me!’”

After exploring several different careers, Leader-Zavos went to culinary school at the Cordon Bleu in Boston and worked in fine dining restaurants that focused on seasonal menus. After being sidetracked by a back injury, she moved into pastry and opened a custom pastry and catering business specializing in dessert buffets and bespoke wedding cakes. After the Covid-19 lockdown, she and her husband, co-owner Michael Williams, bought Eden’s Table Farm in Dunbarton to focus on local and seasonal produce, locally produced farm products, and fresh baked goods.

What is your must-have kitchen item?

A digital scale. I love to bake, particularly now … there is no better way to ensure high-quality results than to be precise and consistent with measurements.

What would you have for your last meal?

Definitely my grandmother’s slow-cooked brisket with onions. My grandmother made brisket for every holiday and my mom makes it for holidays and every time she comes to visit. It’s just that instantly comforting meal that’s made even better by all the memories attached to it.

What is your favorite local eatery?

The Nepalese restaurant KS Kitchen in Manchester. The food is super-flavorful, well-crafted and perfectly seasoned, just absolutely delicious. Plus, I cannot turn down any form of dumpling and their momo is out of this world.

Name a celebrity you would like to see shopping at your farm store or eating something you’ve prepared.

Pastry chef and author Claudia Fleming. I really admire her style of baking and pastry-making; it’s very seasonal, uses lots of fresh local ingredients, and incorporates salty/savory notes.

What is your favorite thing you make or sell at the moment?

Our chocolate chunk cookie because it has such a great homey taste and texture, big chunks of dark chocolate and a nice kick of sea salt. We’re using regionally grown, freshly ground flours, chocolate from New Hampshire bean-to-bar chocolate maker Loon Chocolate, and an apple brandy from Flag Hill Distillery for top notes. It’s a classic that’s distinguished by the local ingredients we’re using and I hope we’ll be making it for years to come.

What is the biggest food trend you see in New Hampshire right now?

I’m really impressed with how New Hampshirites are coming together to improve opportunities for small farms and home-based food businesses right now. Last year HB 119 was passed, making it easier for small farms to have certain types of meat processed locally. Just a few days ago HB 1565 was passed, which makes it possible to sell pickles made in a home kitchen. Now the legislature is considering HB 1685, which would open up even more opportunities for small farms and food entrepreneurs. This trend of creating more opportunities for people who want to participate in the local food economy really benefits everyone who loves good food, so I hope we’ll see more of it.

What is your favorite thing to cook for yourself?

When I cook for the enjoyment of cooking, I take a dish and make it over and over again until I get it exactly the way I want it. But when I cook to feed myself I tend to keep it very simple — a fresh-picked cucumber sliced up and served with some homemade dip, a big bowl of roasted zucchini with a little soy sauce, or maybe a cheese omelet with fresh herbs and hot sauce. We have access to so many fresh, flavorful ingredients on the farm and through our farm store that I really don’t have to do much to create something very satisfying and enjoyable.

Featured Photo: Addie Leader-Zavos. Courtesy photo.

Friday’s outdoor lunch plans

Food Truck Friday brings eats to Arms Park in Manchester

Every Friday throughout the summer, there will be food trucks in Arms Park (10 Arms St., Manchester) between 11 a.m. and 2 p.m. They set up at the far western end of the parking lot adjacent to Cotton Restaurant and the University of New Hampshire’s Manchester campus, overlooking the Merrimack River. (Arms Park is the riverside park with the brightly painted stairs leading down to the river.)

Food Truck Friday is the brainchild of Stark Brewing Co.’s Peter Telge. Stark Brewing, based in Manchester, recently completed a mobile kitchen in a food truck. Telge said he was inspired by what happened at the Tideline Restaurant in Durham, which allowed a pair of food trucks to use its parking lot on weekends.

“They started with two trucks just on the weekends,” Telge said, “and now it’s up to six trucks, Monday through Friday. It’s become a destination.”

Telge saw the same potential near his restaurant, in Arms Park. It is not as well-known as many of Manchester’s other parks, but customers frequently asked him, “Has this always been here? Why don’t people know about it?” Telge partnered with City of Manchester Parks and Recreation department to bring the project together.

“Because we’re working with the City,” Telge said, “we’ve been able to save money on fees and permits.” It also made it easier to expedite the paperwork.

Tim Cunningham is in charge of social media for Food Truck Friday. Like everyone involved in the project, he is confident that it will become extremely successful, once enough people know about it.

“Pretty much we’re just blasting out [social media posts] every week,” he said. “Every week we’re trying to post about it, get people out there, because Fridays, especially in the summertime down there, are beautiful down by Arms Park. There’s so many people in the millyard that will think Friday would be a great day for them to maybe not bring a lunch that day and go down to the park and support some local food vendors”

John Worthen is one of those vendors. He is the owner and operator of Purple Snack Shack (text: 818-9796, facebook.com/purplesnackshack), a mobile snack shack that is indeed painted purple. He sells mostly pre-packaged food and drinks.

“I have pre-packaged everything,” Worthen said. “… novelty ice cream bars, soda, Gatorade, candy bars, potato chips, things like that.” He’s waiting for more customers to learn about Food Truck Friday. The main problem he sees is the lack of foot traffic.

“There’s not a lot of people walking here right now,” Worthen observed. “There’s a few that come by, you know, but it just doesn’t have the viewing. [The hot dog stand] up on Commercial Street — they set up up there, and they’ve got a whole ton of people. If it was busy here, it’d be great, but we’re not too busy yet.”

Joe Savitch is the owner of the Creative Kones food truck. This summer he is working with his daughter Isla. “I’m the Kid,” she said.

“Of Joe,” she clarified.

Creative Kones specializes in food in cones, but not just ice cream.

“We center around all kinds of things in cones,” Savitch said, “from snow cones to waffle cones where we put fun things like chicken and waffles. We have taco cones, which we did this year at the taco tour, and we also do a handheld Japanese-style crepe cone. We leverage creativity as much as we leverage the cones to have some fun with our food.”

“Hopefully all the businesses here, with the hotel and the mill buildings and stuff, word will get out that there’s something new for lunch.”

Food Truck Friday
Arms Park, Manchester
See the Stark Brewing Co. Facebook page for updates on Fridays about who is attending that week’s events.

The Weekly Dish 24/07/18

News from the local food scene

Cocktail recipes: James Beard Award-winning drink writer J.M. Hirsch will return to Gibson’s Bookstore (45 S. Main St., Concord, 224-0562, gibsonsbookstore.com) Thursday, July 18, at 6:30 p.m. with his new book of drink recipes, Freezer Door Cocktails: 75 Cocktails That Are Ready When You Are. He will discuss readymade cocktails for whenever you want them: batch drinks made directly in the liquor bottle and stored on your freezer door. Copies of his book will be available for purchase and signing. The Bookstore will accept online orders and signing requests on its website.

Beer and music: The Biergarten at Anheuser-Busch (221 DW Highway, Merrimack, 595-1202, budweisertours.com/mmk) will host a Brews & Blues event Saturday, July 20, from noon to 7 p.m. Bring a blanket or lawn chair and enjoy a day of summer sun, live blues music, and tasty brews. Tickets are $25 for adults, $15 for those under 21, free for kids under 12. Food will be available for purchase from Bentley’s Famous BBQ.

Lavender season: There are still a few days left to pick lavender at Pumpkin Blossom Farm (393 Pumpkin Hill Road, Warner, 456-2443, pumpkinblossomfarm.com). The lavender fields are open for picking until Sunday, July 21, 10 a.m. to 6 p.m., rain or shine. Lavender grows in direct sunshine, so comfortable shoes, sunscreen and a hat or umbrella are recommended.

Blueberry Pierogi


  • 1¼ pounds (or 567 g) (or 2 10-ounce bags of frozen) blueberries
  • ½ cup (99 g) sugar
  • ¼ teaspoon cinnamon – depending on how flavorful your blueberries are
  • 1 teaspoon fresh squeezed lemon juice
  • zest of 1 lemon


  • 2 eggs
  • 1/3 cup (79 g) water
  • 1 teaspoon kosher or coarse sea salt
  • 2 cups (240 g) all-purpose flour, plus more for dusting your counter when you knead and roll your dough, so it doesn’t stick


  • sour cream
  • lemon wedges
  • sugar
  • blueberries in syrup (see below)

Add all the filling ingredients to a medium-sized saucepan. Stir everything to combine it, and to make sure you don’t have a bunch of sugar at the bottom of the pot that might turn into caramel before the mixture comes together.

Cook over medium heat, until the berries give up their juice. This happens easily with frozen berries, because of the ice crystals inside them, but the sugar will pull juice out of the berries even if they are fresh. You know that word from high school science that you were supposed to remember, but never could — osmosis? That’s what’s happening here. Once there is some sauce, taste it. Blueberries are a flighty fruit; you never know how they’re going to taste. If these taste a little dull, they probably need another squeeze of lemon juice to brighten them up. If they are just not very flavorful, add the cinnamon. On the other hand, if the syrup tastes fruity and zingy and makes you want to do a blueberry dance, you should probably leave well enough alone.

Bring the blueberry sauce to a boil, and let it simmer for two minutes, then remove it from heat.

In a medium bowl, mix the dough ingredients, starting with the eggs and water, until it forms a shaggy dough. Turn it out onto a floured counter and knead it until it comes together and makes a smooth ball. Cover it and set it aside for anywhere from 30 minutes to an hour. While the dough rests, chill the blueberries in your refrigerator. You and the pierogi could both use a breather.

When you’re pretty sure the dough has rested enough, flour your counter again and roll the dough out as thin as you can. Don’t go overboard and try to read a newspaper through it or anything, but if you can get it as thin as a penny, you’re probably in good shape. Use a drinking glass that is 3 inches across to cut as many circles as possible out of the dough.

Take the blueberries and sauce out of the refrigerator, and strain it, saving the syrup.

Set a large pot of water on the stove to boil.

Now, this is the part of the procedure that requires confidence. Do not let the pierogi dough intimidate you. Making sure your counter is still dusted with flour, take a dough circle, and put a small amount — one half to a full teaspoonful — of the blueberries in the center of it. Fold it in half, to make a moon shape, then crimp the edge with a fork, to seal the berries inside. Keep doing this until you’ve used up all the circles, then roll the leftover dough out again and repeat, until you use it all.

Boil the pierogi, six or seven at a time, just like you would ravioli. Make sure none of them stick to the bottom of the pot, and fish them out when they float to the surface of the water.

Eat these warm, garnished with sour cream and a sprinkling of sugar. If they need some more brightness, another squeeze of lemon juice will do that for you. If they don’t taste strongly enough of blueberries, drizzle some of the blueberry syrup over them. These will chew like pasta, taste like summer, and give you some well-deserved emotional validation.

Featured Photo: Photo by John Fladd.

In the kitchen with Griffin Starr

Bartender, 815 Cocktails and Provisions (815 Elm St., Manchester, 782-8086, 815nh.com)

“I’m 24 years old, born and raised in Manchester, New Hampshire,” Starr said. “I got the opportunity to start working at 815 Cocktails and Provisions in 2022, where I began learning the trade of being a bartender. Through this and the help of some of the loveliest people I’ve had the opportunity to work with, I’ve had the pleasure of serving some unique drinks. Being able to make cocktails is great, but really the best part is the experiences you share with new people every night and I’m glad I get to do it.”

What is your must-have kitchen/bar item?

I feel like good glassware is a must. I’m always hunting around second-hand shops, trying to find good coupes or a new tiki mug. Who doesn’t love having a funky little cup to drink out of?

What would you have for your last meal?

Scallops with risotto was always a special treat growing up, so if I’m going out I’m going out thinking about all the good scallops I’ve had. The pizza they eat in A Goofy Movie is my backup option.

What is your favorite local eatery?

This is a really loaded question, but Alley Cat Pizzeria has always had my back through thick and thin. Whenever I come back from a trip, I go and get a pie as a way to bring on that feeling of being home.

Name a celebrity you would like to see drinking one of your cocktails.

I feel like getting to serve David Byrne would be a once in a lifetime experience. His music has been a part of my life for so long that it would be such an honor to create something for someone who has unknowingly created a lot of memories for me. Finding a glass worthy of his style would be the hardest part.

What is your favorite drink on your menu?

‘Tacos Sold Separately’ is a drink we launched earlier this year that was a lot of fun coming up with. It’s a tiki drink with Myers’s Rum, Cynar, orange juice, lime, coconut, vanilla and nutmeg. I just love the melody of flavors that goes on with the fruits and spice while the dark rum kind of guides you through.

What is the biggest drinking trend in New Hampshire right now?

There’s been an increase in people who have been hopping on the mocktail train, which has been cool to see. I think what a lot of people are looking for today is a way to have that fun experience of going out without dealing with the side effects that alcohol can bring. I have definitely seen bartenders around the state upping the quality and care they put into their mocktails, because everyone deserves to have a good time out.

What is your favorite thing to make at home?

I’m pretty boring when it comes to making myself drinks, to be honest. Usually I just sip some rum or mezcal over ice. What I really love doing after a shift is making nachos with whatever random ingredients I may find in my fridge. No recipe, varying results, always a good time.

Classic Daiquiri
from Griffin Star
With the rapid rise in temperature I think everyone should know how to cool off with a basic daiquiri:

¾ ounce fresh lime juice
¾ ounce simple syrup (I really prefer demerara or a brown sugar syrup)
2 ounces of your favorite rum
Shake that up with some ice and strain into a chilled coupe.

Featured Photo: Griffin Star. Courtesy photo.

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