The Trick or Treat Margarita

There’s a guy who lives about a block over who goes all out for Halloween — the one who puts cobwebs all over his front porch and hides speakers, so he can play moans, or the sound of clanking chains, or Alice in Chains, or something similarly unnerving. There will be fake gravestones all over his front yard, and maybe a mottled, fiberglass hand forcing itself out from the ground. This was the guy who rigged a 15-foot tube from his second-floor window last year to slide candy to trick-or-treaters.

That seems like it would be exhausting.

And there’s the family down the street who dress up in themed costumes every year. Dad might be Chef Boyardee, Mom is a sexy can opener or something, the toddler is covered in tangled yarn and is spaghetti, and the baby is a meatball.

Seriously, there’s not enough therapy in the world to make that worthwhile.

There are the kids in their 20s at work who have been spending the last few weeks putting together extremely niche costumes to wear to excessively hip parties:

“No, you wouldn’t have heard of her — she’s a really obscure secondary character from Hello Kitty, but the joke is, I’m telling everyone that I’m wearing Korean underwear, but I’m not actually wearing ANY underwear!”

Presumably there will be a lot of drinking and associated lifelong regrets involved. That sort of thing is behind you; you promised yourself, “never again” after the Battlestar Galactica debacle of 2010.

So, what’s your role in Halloween this year?

Judging a reality competition show.

What you will need:

• 2 lawn chairs

• a best friend

• candy

• raspberry margaritas (See below.)

The object of the game is to pretend each trick-or-treater is a contestant on a costume competition show. You are the judges and neither of you entirely understands the rules. You can greet each kid with a slightly bewildering compliment:

“Batman! The little-black-dress of the costume world! You pull it off effortlessly, darling!”

“Charizard! Pokémon is so last season, but you make it work. I choose you, Little Man!”

To a parent: “Are you her manager? Make sure she gets this outfit trademarked.”

To the teenager with a pillowcase and no costume: “I’m sorry, we’re going to have to send you home this week. The others just wanted it more.”

Will the children be amused?

Not even remotely.

Will you and your friend?

More with each successive margarita.

Raspberry Margarita

2 ounces blanco tequila – I like Hornito’s for this.

1 ounce fresh squeezed lime juice

1 ounce raspberry syrup (See below.)

Combine all ingredients over ice in a cocktail shaker.

Shake enthusiastically.

Serve in whatever glass you feel like, from a standard martini glass, to a rocks glass, to a vintage Flinstones jelly jar.

The beauty of this drink is that while it is blood-red and seasonally spooky-looking, it is a straightforward margarita. There are only three ingredients, and it takes about 30 seconds to make. The bracing, smoky, slightly musky taste of tequila is balanced by the sweetness of the raspberry syrup. The raspberry flavor gives this drink a fruity roundness, without ever making it candy-like. If you want candy, you’ve got a giant, plastic bowl of it next to you.

Raspberry Syrup

Frozen raspberries

White sugar

Combine a bag of grocery store frozen raspberries with an equal amount (by weight) of sugar in a small saucepan.

Cook over medium heat. As the berries thaw, the sugar will pull out a surprising amount of juice.

Bring to a boil. Boil for 15 to 20 seconds to make sure all the sugar has dissolved.

Let the mixture cool, then strain it through a fine-meshed strainer. It will keep in the refrigerator for a month or so.

Featured photo: The Trick or Treat Margarita. Photo by John Fladd.

Ribs and wine

Add a fire pit and you have a party

The color of fall is all about us. The sun is bright and the sky is blue. This weather welcomes fall sports and backyard gatherings and tailgating. Yes, it is cool, and sometimes a bit blustery, but we still welcome the opportunity to relax for an afternoon or evening with friends and great barbecue fare paired to robust wines.

This last week we hosted a very small group of friends in our backyard to relax and exchange stories of happenings since our last get-together a month ago. We told them all to dress warmly as we will gather around the table, lit by an old Coleman propane camping light, adjacent to the fire pit. It was great.

So what is an appropriate menu for a fall backyard party? Something hearty like barbecued ribs with cornbread, along with sides of vegetable salads and pasta. Our recipe for ribs is a variation on the classic. In addition to the ketchup, brown sugar and Worcestershire sauce, we add ginger and lemon for a clean, tart flavor that is softened with the addition of orange juice. Our cornbread comes from a recipe of Blanchard’s Caribbean Cornbread a close friend found online. It is incredibly rich with butter, corn and cheese. This fare goes well beyond a summer barbecue menu. It is hearty and needs wines that will stand up to it: zinfandels and syrahs.

Our first wine is the 7 Deadly Zins, a 2017 old-vine vintage from Lodi, available at the New Hampshire Wine & Liquor Stores (originally priced at $18.99, reduced to $13.99). This wine is blended from seven Old Vine zinfandels. According to their website, the wine “was born from a Catholic school upbringing and the winemaker’s lust for a hedonistically seductive wine.” Seven specific vineyards were chosen for this wine, all located in the Lodi AVA (American Viticultural Area). The zinfandel grapes are blended with a touch of petite syrah, then aged in American oak for 11 months. The color is dark red to purple, with lots of rich, red berry fruit to the nose. The oak imparts a touch of leather or tannins to the tongue with layers of plum, currants and toffee, all ending in a long slightly spicy finish.

Lodi is in the northern reaches of the San Joaquin Valley, east of San Francisco. The AVA, of more than 500,000 acres, of which more than 100,000 acres are planted, is best known for its old vine zinfandel. However, with its warm “Mediterranean-like” climate of hot days and cool nights, Lodi also produces large quantities of merlot, chardonnay, cabernet sauvignon and sauvignon blanc.

Our second wine comes from “across the pond” in the Rhône River Valley of France. Jean-Luc Colombo 2016 Terres Brulées Cornas Syrah (available at the New Hampshire Wine & Liquor Stores, originally priced at $57.99, reduced to $29.99) has been given a rating of 95 points by Wine Enthusiast and 92 points by Wine Spectator. This is a wine that all but asks to be picked up now and cellared, because it will continue to improve for another five or more years. The color is a thick ruby black with purple hints. To the nose there is plenty of fruit that continues to the tongue with ripe cassis, or black currant, and black cherry notes. Just as with the nose, to the tongue the fruit is intense, a bit of vanilla, along with moderate tannins. This wine will age well into the future.

The winemaker team of Jean-Luc and Anne Colombo have a background in pharmaceutical science and a passion for the syrah grape. The wine is made from vines that are over 30 years old from 20 different vineyards. Aged for 21 months in oak barrels, the wine is fined with egg whites and bottled unfiltered.

So don’t put the yard furniture away just yet. We still have sunny days and plenty of opportunity to get together with family and friends to enjoy the cooler weather with hearty fare paired to rich, hearty wines. Grab a blanket and light that fire pit to enjoy the moment into the evening.

Featured photo: Photo by Fred Matuszewski.

Creamy carrot soup

Not only does this time of year mark the start of baking season; it also marks the start of soup season. While there are times that I want a soup that is quick to make, there are other days where I want a soup that simmers all afternoon. Nothing helps a day feel less chilly than something simmering on the stove, right?

This soup was created for the simmer-all-afternoon category. However, if you want to serve it on a weeknight, you can break the recipe into two parts. Do the slow simmering phase on a weekend day when you have some free time. Then, on the night it is to be served, simply take that broth you created and finish the recipe in under an hour. The most important thing is not to skip the slow simmering phase and replace it with store-bought stock. The stock that you are creating for this recipe is so flavorful that it is worth the effort.

Once you have your cooking plan ready, you can consider how you will serve the soup. I created this recipe with the thought that it makes a fine side-dish soup. Pair it with a sandwich (grilled cheese, chicken salad, or whatever you prefer) for something more filling, or a salad if you are eating lighter. However, it could become a main dish soup with the addition of some protein. Add some diced, cooked chicken breast or crumbled chorizo, and you have a fairly hearty soup.

No matter how you make or serve this soup, it is bound to be a new fall favorite.

Michele Pesula Kuegler has been thinking about food her entire life. Since 2007, the New Hampshire native has been sharing these food thoughts and recipes at her blog, Think Tasty. Visit thinktasty.com to find more of her recipes.

New & improved creamy carrot soup
Serves 4

6 cups water
1 sweet onion, quartered
4 celery stalks, quartered
6 garlic cloves
4 large carrots, ends trimmed & quartered
2 teaspoons dried rosemary
2 teaspoons kosher salt
Ground black pepper
7 large carrots, peeled & cubed
½ cup whole milk

Combine water, onion, celery, garlic, 4 carrots, rosemary, salt and pepper in a large pot.
Bring to a boil; reduce heat to low.
Cover and simmer for 2 hours.
Strain broth with a fine mesh sieve, and return broth to pot.
Add 7 peeled and cubed carrots to broth, bring to a boil.
Reduce heat and cook for 10-12 minutes or until carrots are tender.
Allow broth to cool for 30 minutes.
Puree broth and carrots in small batches, or use immersion blender to puree.
Return puree to pot.
Simmer on low for 10 minutes.
Stir in milk.
Season to taste with additional salt and pepper, if desired.

Photo: New, improved creamy carrot soup. Photo by Michele Pesula Kuegler.

In the kitchen with Steve Burke

Steve Burke of Salem is the owner of B’s Grumman Grub (bsgrummangrub@gmail.com, and on Facebook @bsgrummangrub), a food truck offering comfort items like chili, burgers, wraps, subs, breakfast sandwiches, chicken finger dinners and more. An auto mechanic and garage manager by trade, Burke first got into the local food scene when he owned Steve’s Dirty Dawgs, a hot dog cart known for its loaded chili dogs. He found the truck that would become B’s Grumman Grub through a family friend, naming it after the Grumman vehicle manufacturer, and built it out over the course of a few years. The truck regularly appears at the Derry-Salem Elks Club (39 Shadow Lake Road, Salem) on Thursday evenings, and is available to book for private events of all sizes. Burke will also be attending the final date of the Pelham Farmers Market, on Saturday, Oct. 30, from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. outside the First Congregational Church of Pelham (3 Main St.).

What is your must-have kitchen item?

It’s got to be a spatula, because we’re always on the grill flipping burgers, steak and cheeses and things like that.

What would you have for your last meal?

A hot Italian sausage sub with onions, peppers and Tabasco sauce.

What is your favorite local restaurant?

The only restaurant we ever really eat at is [New] Chief Wok, right here in Salem. … I’ve got to have the egg rolls, and I really like the lo mein as well.

What is your favorite thing on your menu?

I love my chili, since that’s kind of what started it all. … I also really like the chicken fajita wrap, which was something that my wife came up with.

What celebrity would you like to see ordering from your food truck?

I’m going to say Adam Sandler. I just feel like he would be a food truck type of guy.

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

It’s obvious to me that food trucks are the thing right now. They are everywhere. … Even before Covid, they were just blowing up and you see them more and more. Now people want them at their weddings, their graduation parties, their birthday parties, you name it.

What is your favorite thing to cook at home?

I really like a good tomato grilled cheese sandwich with extra sharp cheddar, beefsteak tomato, mayonnaise, salt and pepper.

Homemade chili
From the kitchen of Steve Burke of B’s Grumman Grub in Salem

1 24-ounce can Hunt’s four-cheese sauce
1 24-ounce can red kidney beans (do not rinse)
1 12-ounce can baked beans
1 pound ground beef (cook and add with the fat; do not drain)
2 hot Italian sausages, cooked and sliced into half moons
2 medium white onions, cut into thin strips
1 red pepper, diced
1 yellow pepper, diced
1 green pepper, diced
1 chili pepper, sliced thin and diced
2 Tablespoons chili powder

Cook in a slow cooker on high to get it to temperature, then reduce to low and cook for six hours. Stir often and season to your liking. Add a pinch of garlic powder or Frank’s Red Hot to taste (optional). Add water if you like a thinner chili.

Featured photo: Steve Burke. Courtesy photo.

The Weekly Dish 21/10/28

News from the local food scene

More drive-thru Greek eats: If you missed the gyro and baklava pop-up at St. Philip Church in Nashua last week, Assumption Greek Orthodox Church (111 Island Pond, Manchester) will hold its next drive-thru food fest on Saturday, Oct. 30, from 11:30 a.m. to 2 p.m. Orders are being accepted for dinners of either dolmathes (stuffed grape leaves) with avgolemono sauce, or baked penne Parmesan, as well as cheese or spinach petas, baklava and koulourakia. This event is online pre-order and pickup only (stay in your car; no walk-ins). Order by Oct. 28. Visit foodfest.assumptionnh.org or call 623-2941.

Fall, food and flannel: Throw on your favorite flannel shirt and head to The Barn at Bull Meadow (63 Bog Road) for the fourth annual Fall Festivus, a sampling event happening on Thursday, Nov. 4, from 6:30 to 10 p.m. One of the main fundraisers for the Junior Service League of Concord, Fall Festivus features a wide variety of craft beers, appetizers and desserts from area breweries and restaurants. Both sweet and savory items will be on the menu, from Buffalo chicken bites, brisket burnt ends and macaroni and cheese to mini cannolis, apple cider doughnuts and more. An evening of live music is also planned, in addition to a silent auction with a chance to win all kinds of prizes. Tickets are $35 per person at the door (event is 21+ only), with proceeds going to the Junior Service League of Concord, a volunteer organization supporting women and children in crisis. Visit jslconcord.org/events-cfvg, or, for more details on the event, check out our story on page 30 of the Hippo’s Oct. 21 issue.

Holiday feasts: Join LaBelle Winery for its next “cooking with wine” classes, which will specialize in Thanksgiving recipes. Classes are scheduled for Wednesday, Nov. 3, at the winery’s Amherst location (345 Route 101), and Wednesday, Nov. 10, at its Derry location (14 Route 111), from 6 to 7 p.m. each evening. Participants will learn how to make a variety of seasonal items perfect for a holiday feast, including cranberry cocktails, spiced cranberry sauce, apricot sage stuffing and autumn dessert favorites, and will also learn how to wet and dry brine a turkey. Wines will be either paired or prepared with each food item. Admission is $32.70 per person, including taxes, and pre-registration is required. Visit labellewinery.com.

Greek eats and ABBA: Get your tickets now for a Mamma Mia! Greek dinner party, happening at Chunky’s Cinema Pub in Pelham (150 Bridge St.) on Sunday, Nov. 14. The doors will open at 6 p.m. with a five-course meal of authentic Greek options from Ya Mas Greek Taverna & Bar, whose chef will be taking over the kitchen for the evening. The eatery, which opened last year just down the street from the movie theater, imports about 40 percent of all of its foods directly from Greece, and also partners with local farms to offer its unique menu items. Following the meal will be a screening of Mamma Mia! The Movie at 7 p.m. Tickets are $75 and include the dinner and the movie. There will also be vegetarian and VIP wine pairing options. Visit chunkys.com/film/greek-dinner-party-mamma-mia.

Ancient Fire closing: After nearly four years in business, Manchester’s Ancient Fire Mead & Cider will be closing its doors by the end of the year. “The pandemic ultimately got us,” read a recent statement from owners Jason and Margot Phelps on Ancient Fire’s website and social media pages. “The pandemic has been tough on everyone financially and psychologically … but the timing and sustained challenges have created a much riskier future proposition for us and our fledgling business, more risky than we have the appetite for right now.” According to the statement, Ancient Fire’s tap room hours will stay as they are into November, with the goal to complete table service and retail sales before mid-December. Ancient Fire opened in March 2018, offering a rotating lineup of ciders and draft and dessert meads. Visit ancientfirewines.com to read the full closing announcement.

Baseball and beers

There’s something about fall ball

“Are you OK?” my wife asked.

I was gripping — white-knuckling — our living room coffee table as the Red Sox clung to a slim lead in the eighth inning of Game 4 of the division round of the Major League Baseball playoffs.

I was not OK. While I’ve increasingly become a fair-weather Red Sox fan as the game has evolved to be (too) heavily focused on analytics, rather than the good old-fashioned eye test, this was still the playoffs and this was still the Red Sox.

I took a pretty hefty swallow of my beer, in this case a Patina Pale Ale by Austin Street Brewery in Portland, Maine, and took a deep breath. It didn’t help, as the Sox quickly gave up three straight hits to allow the Tampa Bay Rays to tie the game. By now you know the Sox ended up winning so all’s well that ends well. But you get it. Things were dicey in the moment.

There is something about the flow of a baseball game that lends itself to drinking. It’s actually not that complicated. In addition to inning breaks, there’s a little mini break after each pitch that begs for a sip of beer.

If you do like baseball, fair-weather fan or not, there is something truly special about October baseball. It is so intense. The game hangs in the balance on every pitch. Beer does help with calming the nerves for overly intense viewers like myself.

Now that said, in a close playoff game, you’re not going to be paying close attention to your beer. I don’t think pulling out the most coveted can or bottle in your beer fridge is a great move in the middle of the game — you’re just not going to be able to appreciate it as much as you should because your attention is going to be on the game. (Save it for the post-game celebration.)

That’s not to say I think you should drink something lousy either. I’m just suggesting you choose something you don’t have to think about as much.

Super-hoppy beers are great but they tend to be high in alcohol and I feel the need to remind you that baseball games can run very, very long. The team needs you there for the ninth inning.

Big stouts and porters can be a nice choice but I wouldn’t bother with overly complex brews — again, you’re just not going to be able to take the time to pay attention to layers of complexity.

For game time, I’m looking for something simple. I’m talking Pilsners, pale ales and dry stouts. Maybe toss in an amber ale or something along those lines. I still want the beer to taste good but I don’t want to contemplate its nuances.

Here are three New Hampshire beers that I think pair quite well with October baseball.

Auburn American Red Ale by Able Ebenezer Brewing Co. (Merrimack)

The pour on this is quite dark but don’t let that fool you: This is about as sessionable a beer as they come. The brewery describes it as “smooth, crisp and satisfying” and I can’t do better than that.

Hank’s Pale Ale by Throwback Brewery (North Hampton)

This has a nice backbone of grapefruit in a very crisp and dry package. You’ll want to have a couple of these, regardless of how the game is going.

Dirty Blonde Ale by Portsmouth Brewery (Portsmouth)

Take a sip, don’t think about it and repeat. This light-bodied ale is a perfect choice when you just want a beer that tastes like a beer.

What’s in My Fridge
Pale Ale by Navigation Brewing Co. (Lowell, Mass.)
First, we should talk about the fact that I love that this brewery just left the name as “Pale Ale.” I love the simplicity. I enjoyed the beer right in its taproom, which is a neat spot in an old mill building. The beer was fresh and clean and featured some light grapefruit notes — very sessionable. Cheers!

Featured photo: Beer and Red Sox playoff baseball. Courtesy photo.

Savory Parmesan biscotti

Homemade biscotti have been in my baking repertoire for ages. However, the majority of my biscotti baking has been focused on sweet baked goods. More recently I have come to discover the delightfulness of savory biscotti.

This is the perfect time of year for an introduction to these savory biscotti. With cooler weather arriving, fall is practically begging you to turn your oven on and create some baked goods. Plus, this season usually heralds the returns of soups and stews, which are even more enjoyable when served with a carb-centric side. But forget cornbread and biscuits next time and try biscotti instead.

There are so many reasons to pair these biscotti with your soup or stew. As they are twice-baked and crunchy, they have the perfect consistency for dipping in the broth. Plus, biscotti keep really well, so you can make them when you have a little bit of time and store them until you need them.

Ingredient note: If you don’t have Parmesan on hand, any other hard cheese could be used as a substitute, such as romano or asiago.

Michele Pesula Kuegler has been thinking about food her entire life. Since 2007, the New Hampshire native has been sharing these food thoughts and recipes at her blog, Think Tasty. Visit thinktasty.com to find more of her recipes.

Savory Parmesan biscotti
Makes 24

1/3 cup salted butter, softened
3 Tablespoons sugar
2 eggs
2 cups all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
3/4 cup shredded Parmesan
1 teaspoon dried oregano
1 teaspoon dried basil
1/4 cup shredded Parmesan (for sprinkling)

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
Beat butter and sugar in the bowl of a stand mixer on speed 2 for 2 minutes.
Add eggs, one at a time, beating until each is incorporated.
In a separate bowl, stir flour, baking powder, salt, 3/4 cup Parmesan, oregano and basil together.
Add flour mixture to wet ingredients and mix on speed 2 for 1 minute..
Divide dough in half.
Shape each half into a 10″ x 3″ rectangle, using floured hands.
Set loaves 2″ apart on a parchment paper-lined baking sheet.
Bake for 30 minutes or until the dough is set.
Leaving the oven on, remove the biscotti loaves and cool for 15 minutes on baking sheet.
Using a butcher’s knife, cut the loaves into diagonal slices, 3/4″ thick.
Place slices on cookie sheet with the cut sides down.
Bake for 8 to 9 minutes.
Turn over slices, and sprinkle with remaining 1/4 cup shredded Parmesan.
Bake for an additional 8 to 9 minutes.
Remove biscotti from oven, and transfer to a baking rack to cool completely.

Photo: Savory Parmesan biscotti. Courtesy photo.

In the kitchen with Leo Short

Leo Short and his wife Shannon of Milford are the owners of Sammich NH (sammichnh.com, and on Facebook @sammichnh), a food truck specializing in made-to-order hot and cold sandwiches they launched late last month. Popular sandwiches include the house pastrami Reuben with Swiss cheese, sauerkraut, spicy bread and butter pickles and Russian dressing on marble rye; the Speziato, featuring Italian cold cuts, mozzarella, pickled red onion and hot cherry peppers on focaccia; and the hickory smoked pulled pork sandwich, which has freshly sliced jalapenos, cilantro and a spicy barbecue aioli, served on a ciabatta roll. Soups, chili and other comfort foods will soon be added to the menu as well. Originally from Connecticut, Leo Short has decades of industry experience, most recently as the chef of St. Joseph Hospital in Nashua for nearly five years. Find Sammich NH at 589 Elm St. in Milford every Monday through Friday from 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. and on Saturdays from 7 a.m. to noon, for breakfast sandwiches and other items.

What is your must-have kitchen item?

A good, sharp knife.

What would you have for your last meal?

It would be vanilla Swiss almond ice cream from Kimball [Farm] in Jaffrey.

What is your favorite local restaurant?

Here in town, it would be Union Street Grill [in Milford]. Fantastic breakfast and fantastic people.

What celebrity would you like to see ordering from your food truck?

Danny DeVito.

What is your favorite thing on your menu?

My personal favorite is our chicken cutlet, [which has] roasted peppers, provolone cheese, greens and prosciutto. It’s a twist on a sandwich I had at a deli down in my old stomping grounds in Connecticut, at a place called Gaetano’s.

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

I think it’s finding a niche or something that’s missing, not necessarily a specific type of food. There’s a lot of good stuff out there, and a lot of people who do something outside the box or reinvent the classics.

What is your favorite thing to cook at home?

We love to cook breakfast, be it hash and eggs, bacon and eggs, or baking scones. … My wife is the baker in the family, and she’s tremendous.

Bacon and cheddar scones
Courtesy of Leo and Shannon Short of Sammich NH, sammichnh.com

1 stick cold unsalted butter
2½ cups flour
1 Tablespoon baking powder
1 teaspoon salt
¼ cup sugar
½ cup milk
¼ cup chopped cooked bacon
¼ cup shredded white cheddar cheese

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. Combine butter and flour until the butter is the size of peas. Incorporate the baking powder, salt and sugar into the flour and butter mixture. Add milk, bacon and cheese to dry ingredients and mix gently until incorporated. If sticky, add another tablespoon of flour. Fold dough over twice and cut into approximately eight pieces. Bake on parchment paper or a lightly oiled cookie sheet for 12 to 15 minutes.

Featured photo: Leo Short. Courtesy photo.

Drive-thru Greek eats

Nashua church to host gyro and baklava pop up

It’s been a full year since St. Philip Greek Orthodox Church in Nashua has had any type of food festival or takeout event, but the demand for more has never gone away. On Saturday, Oct. 23, the church will welcome foodies back for a one-day-only drive-thru gyro and baklava pop-up.

“We know just from conversations with our friends and neighbors here in Nashua that this is something that has really been missed in the community. It’s very much a tradition for people,” said Christina Eftimiou, who is co-chairing the pop-up with fellow parishioner Tina Alexopoulos. “This is our first foray into co-chairing an event like this, and so far the support has been great.”

Unlike at other pandemic-era Greek food events you may have attended, this one does not require any pre-ordering. Visitors can simply arrive at the church between 11 a.m. and 7 p.m.

“It’s going to be like ‘Welcome to St. Philip, how may I take your order?’” Alexopoulos said.

On the menu will be gyro sandwiches, featuring a combination of lamb and beef, homemade tzatziki sauce, lettuce, tomato, onion and crumbled feta cheese wrapped in pita bread. Each gyro order also comes with a bag of chips and bottled water, Coke, Diet Coke or Sprite for a drink.

Sold separately will be a four-pack serving of baklava made using an old church recipe.

“We don’t purchase anything and bring it in,” Alexopolous said. “We’re known for offering everything homemade and fresh, so the baklava is all being prepared by us within a week [of the pop-up], and the gyros are made on the grill right then and there.”

In preparation for the pop-up, Eftimiou said she and Alexopolous looked at gyro and baklava sales from St. Philip’s previous festivals, and they also also reached out to other local church communities that have put on similar takeout events with success.

“We saw how they were run and knew that we could take them on as well,” she said.

Plans are still up in the air to have St. Philip’s Greek food festival return to its traditional in-person format in May 2022, but Eftimiou said another pop-up featuring Greek cookies and pastries is already in the works, likely to take place near the holiday season.

“Beyond just baklava, we’re hoping to also have a few other pastries available for people who want to have a plate of them around their Christmas or Hanukkah tables, or if they want to ship them to a loved one,” she said.

Gyro & Baklava Pop Up

When: Saturday, Oct. 23, 11 a.m. to 7 p.m.
Where: St. Philip Greek Orthodox Church, 500 W. Hollis St., Nashua
Cost: $10 for a gyro sandwich with chips and a drink; $12 for a four-pack of baklava (drive-thru only; no pre-orders necessary)
Visit: nashuagreekfestival.com

Featured photo: Courtesy photo.

Local bites and brews

Junior Service League of Concord presents annual Fall Festivus

After its cancellation in 2020, Fall Festivus returns in a new location to showcase an array of craft beers, appetizers and desserts from local breweries and restaurants.

The event, a fundraiser for the Junior Service League of Concord, is coming back for its fourth year on Thursday, Nov. 4, this time at The Barn at Bull Meadow. Originally planned as a much smaller gala, the Fall Festivus has consistently grown over its short lifespan, first taking place at the warehouse of Lakes Region Tent & Event for two years before moving to the Eagle Square Atrium in downtown Concord in 2019.

The Barn at Bull Meadow is only a year old — the 7,000-square-foot wedding and event center was built from the ground up and completed last fall. Attendees of this year’s Fall Festivus are encouraged to wear their favorite flannel to go with the center’s rustic barn setting.

“The venue itself is gorgeous,” JSL special events co-chair Sarah Vaida said. “I think it provides us with a lot of room. … Nobody will have to leave one section to go to another. They’ll be able to hear the bands and be near the food all at the same time.”

Both sweet and savory items will be on the menu to try. Georgia’s Northside of Concord, for instance, will have macaroni and cheese, brisket burnt ends and chicken, while the Washington Street Cafe will offer a hummus and pita tray. The Common Man will have assorted dips and crackers, and Live Juice is expected to bring a few types of salads.

Great Events Catering of NH, the parent company of Fratello’s Italian Grille and The Homestead Restaurant & Tavern, is serving Buffalo chicken bites and mini cannolis. Other offerings will include fresh apple cider doughnuts from the New Hampshire Doughnut Co., a sampler tray of desserts from The Cannoli Stop at The Candy Shop, and hot mulled cider from The Works Cafe.

As for the beers, Vaida said nearly a dozen Granite State beverage purveyors will pour samples during the event, like Lithermans Limited Brewery of Concord, Out.Haus Ales of Northwood, Rockingham Brewing Co. of Derry and others.

“They typically will bring a bestseller from the brewery and then maybe one other [beer] that they are trying to advertise,” Vaida said. “We will have a cash bar as well, so if people aren’t finding something they like, they can get whatever they want to drink there.”

Flag Hill Distillery & Winery of Lee will be there too, as well as Cathedral Ledge Distillery, an organic distillery and tasting room that opened in North Conway last year.

Local bands Sunday Ave and David Shore’s Trunk of Funk will each perform sets. A silent auction is also planned, featuring a chance to win a variety of items from gift certificates to day passes and tickets for all types of venues across New Hampshire.

Proceeds benefit the Junior Service League of Concord, a women-run volunteer organization now in its 91st year supporting women and children in the community in crisis.

Participating local food and beverage vendors

• Aissa Sweets (Concord, aissasweets.com)
• Backyard Brewery & Kitchen (Manchester, backyardbrewerynh.com)
• The Cannoli Stop at The Candy Shop (Concord, thecannolistop.com)
• Cathedral Ledge Distillery (North Conway, cathedralledgedistillery.com)
• The Common Man (Concord, thecman.com)
• Concord Craft Brewing Co. (Concord, find them on Facebook @concordcraftbrewing)
• Flag Hill Distillery & Winery (Lee, flaghill.com)
• From the Barrel Brewing Co. (Derry, drinkftb.com)
• Georgia’s Northside (Concord, georgiasnorthside.com)
• Great Events Catering of NH (greateventsnh.com)
• Lithermans Limited Brewery (Concord, lithermans.beer)
• Live Juice (Concord, livejuicenh.com)
• New Hampshire Doughnut Co. (Concord, nhdoughnutco.com)
• Out.Haus Ales (Northwood, outhausales.com)
• Rockingham Brewing Co. (Derry, rockinghambrewing.com)
• Spyglass Brewing Co. (Nashua, spyglassbrewing.com)
• Washington Street Cafe & Catering (Concord, washingtonstreetcatering.com)
• White Birch Brewing (Nashua, whitebirchbrewing.com)
• The Works Cafe (Concord, workscafe.com)

4th annual Fall Festivus

When:
Thursday, Nov. 4, 6:30 to 10 p.m.
Where: The Barn at Bull Meadow, 63 Bog Road, Concord
Cost: Early-bird rates are $25 per person or $80 per four. Tickets are $35 per person at the door.
Visit: jslconcord.org/events-cfvg
Event is 21+ only. Flannel attire is encouraged.

Featured photo: Courtesy photo.

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