Espresso martini

Editor’s note: Sometimes the essence of a drink can be summed up in short story. ‘Tis thus with this week’s cocktail.

Elizabeth closed her eyes and took several deep breaths, before opening them again and walking to the bar.

Friggin’ Sheila O’Brien

Elizabeth had spent the better part of a week making arrangements to get one evening to herself, to spend a couple of hours alone, drinking a glass of wine and reading. She’d grabbed a book from the middle of the pile on her nightstand. She’d even remembered an umbrella.

And then Sheila had been standing by the door inside the bar.

They’d gone to high school together; Sheila had always been able to smile and cut Elizabeth down with a sentence, to crush her effortlessly. From how easily she’d done it again tonight, it was almost like she’d been practicing.

But, Elizabeth thought as she settled herself at the bar, that was over for the moment. She caught the bartender’s eye. Raven, was that her name?

She started to order a glass of the house white, but Raven was a step ahead of her and deposited an espresso martini in front of her. This is absolutely not what Elizabeth would have remotely considered ordering, but it did look good…

It was dark and deep, and skull-shrinkingly cold. The coffee was rich and a little bitter, but there was a sweetness in the background that rounded it out.

Elizabeth looked up at Raven and started to speak, to thank her for reading her situation so well, but the bartender beat her to the punch.

“You have kind eyes, but I wouldn’t mess with you.” Then she walked away.

This was not what Elizabeth was expecting, but the more she thought about it, and the more of her martini she drank, the more she liked the sound of it.

She almost hoped Sheila was still by the door when she left.

Espresso martini

Ingredients:

2 ounces coffee-infused vodka (see below). Could you make this with regular, run-of-the-mill vodka? Yes, of course, but it wouldn’t contribute to the depth of the overall flavor. Using the infused vodka will deepen the finished drink.

½ ounce Kahlua

½ ounce simple syrup

1 ounce cold-brew coffee concentrate

Combine all ingredients over ice in a mixing glass and stir gently but thoroughly with a bar spoon.

Strain into a chilled martini glass.

If you are drinking this at a bar, make direct eye contact with yourself in the mirror.

There is a lot of reverse nostalgic snobbery associated with an espresso martini. It is often too sweet, or creamy, and it doesn’t tend to get a lot of respect. Made very strong, very black, and only a tiny bit sweet, it is a force to be reckoned with.

Speaking of snobbery — there are a lot of cocktail purists who, given the opportunity, will lecture you at great length about how you should never shake a martini. It “bruises the gin” apparently. It is incredibly galling to admit that they are right. This drink will taste noticeably different if it is made in a cocktail shaker than if it is stirred. It’s got something to do with science. It’s worth the extra minute or so to mix this gently.

Coffee-infused vodka

Ingredients

10 grams whole French-roast coffee beans

6 ounces 80-proof vodka, probably not your best vodka, but not the bottom-shelf stuff, either

Using a mortar and pestle, or cereal bowl and the bottom of a drinking glass, crush the coffee beans. You’re not trying to grind them into a powder, but break them up quite a bit.

Combine the vodka and crushed coffee beans in a small jar. Shake them together, then store somewhere cool and dark for 24 hours, shaking periodically.

Strain and label the coffee vodka.

Featured photo: Espresso martini. Photo by John Fladd.

The other flavors of Italy

A look at two lesser-known Italian wine styles

This week we will explore two Italian wines, both from the north of Italy, but decidedly different not only from each other but from other Italian wines.

One is from the Friuli-Venezia Giulia region in the very northeast of Italy, the other from the Piedmont region, the very northwest of Italy. Both regions are established producers of signature wines. The Friuli-Venezia Giulia region is well-known for producing pinot grigio and light-bodied rose wines. The wine we will profile in this column is not made from a grape that is well-established in this region, but instead is made from a French grape, a sauvignon blanc. The Piedmont is well-known for the production of nebbiolo wine, sometimes known as a barolo, but 55 percent of the grapes grown in Asti, a region within Piedmont, are barbera, a well-established, light-bodied red Italian grape.

What happens when you cross a large local vineyard operation owned by a well-known hotelier and restaurateur with a good amount of American capital generated by popular culture? Sun Goddess Friuli Sauvignon Blanc 2019, available at the New Hampshire Liquor & Wine Outlets and originally priced at $21.99 but reduced to $17.99.

Produced by the Fantinel Winery, managed by a third generation of owners of 450 acres, the wine transcends cultures. Spanning three denominations, or growing regions dictated by microclimates and terroir, the Fantinel family has planted several indigenous grapes as well as international varieties such as pinot grigio, sauvignon blanc, merlot and cabernet sauvignon. The terroir of this region is rich in minerals that enhance the structure and complexity of the wines. The region is characterized by cool nights and very warm days. This enables the grapes to develop a significant acidity, which in the glass reveals fragrant aromas that turn to citrus notes for the palate.

The Sun Goddess label comes from Mary J. Blige, American singer and actress. She was introduced to Marco Fantinel, through her love of white wine, to promote the vineyard in America through the Sun Goddess label.

The wine has a straw-yellow color with a slight greenish tinge. To the nose it has notes of tropical fruit, banana and melon. To the tongue it is rich in citric notes, first among them grapefruit, but with strong mineral notes. Its acidity will cut through creamy sauces to fish and poultry.

Our second wine is Tenuta Garetto Barbera D’Asti 2017 (originally priced at $33.99 at New Hampshire Liquor & Wine Outlets and reduced to $16.99). It is made from the hardy, non-fussy staple grape barbera. It is known as the wine of the working people. It is respected less than nebbiolo, its haughty neighbor, and was frequently shunted to less-desirable locations. However, it is now grown in California, where a warm climate has produced some well-balanced wines.

Tenuta Garetto winery is a relatively small winery acquired in 2017 by the Gagliardo family. It is in Agliano Terme, known for not only barbera vineyards but its popular thermal springs. Coming from vines planted between 1937 and 1950, vinification takes place in concrete and wood casks before blending and bottling. Its color is dark red, accompanied by cherry notes that carry through to a light, dry feel to the tongue. This is a wine to go with vegetarian dishes, fish or risotto but lacks the body to accompany red-meat dishes. However, it remains complex and is a “self-promoter” among wines. We had the wine with a cheese souffle (thank you, Julia Child, for the recipe!) with a side of wilted baby spinach. Outstanding!

Try these two lesser-known but distinctive wines, a real departure from “standard fare” and a real treat to your palate!

Featured photo: Courtesy photo.

Caramel apple scones

September is here, which means two things in New Hampshire. First, it’s back to school time. Second, it’s apple season. With so many apple orchards within a short drive, it’s a common weekend outing to pick (or at least buy) locally grown apples.

When you get home with all those apples, you may default to a classic treat, such as apple pie or apple crisp. Why not add another sweet treat to your repertoire, especially when it’s one that can be served as breakfast?! These caramel apple scones are a deliciously indulgent way to start your day. Tender scones filled with chunks of apple and caramel chips are the baked goods you didn’t know you needed.

I have two hints for making these scones. First, use an apple that is tart. The caramel chips add a good amount of sweetness, and a tart apple balances that out. Second, you don’t have to buy buttermilk to make these. You can make your own, using the directions at the bottom of the recipe.

Go get some apples, and then let the baking begin!

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.

Caramel apple scones
Makes 8

2 cups all-purpose flour
1/4 cup granulated sugar
3 Tablespoons light brown sugar
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
5 Tablespoons chilled unsalted butter, diced
3/4 cup caramel chips
3/4 cup peeled, diced apple
3/4 cup buttermilk*
1 large egg yolk
1 teaspoon vanilla
2 Tablespoons sugar

Preheat oven to 375 degrees.
Mix flour, 1/4 cup sugar, brown sugar, baking powder, baking soda and salt in a large bowl.
Add butter.
Combine dry ingredients using a pastry blender, two forks, or fingers until butter is reduced to the size of peas.
Add caramel chips and diced apple to the flour mixture, tossing gently.
Whisk buttermilk, egg yolk and vanilla in a 2-cup liquid measuring cup or small bowl.
Add liquids to dry ingredients; mix until dough forms a ball.
Place dough on a lightly floured surface and press into an 8-inch round.
Cut into 8 wedges. Sprinkle with 2 tablespoons sugar.
Transfer wedges to rimmed cookie sheet, preferably lined with parchment paper.
Bake for 15 to 25 minutes or until the scones are crusty on top and a tester inserted into the center comes out clean.
Serve warm.

Notes
Instead of using buttermilk, I often combine 1 tablespoon lemon juice and enough milk to equal 3/4 cup. (This can be done with either dairy or non-dairy milk.)

Photo: Caramel apple scones. Courtesy photo.

In the kitchen with Kristen Mader

Inspired by made-to-order tableside guacamole at his favorite Mexican restaurants, Gabriel “Gabe” Alpuerto of LKristen Mader of Pelham is the owner of Cakes 5th Avenue (cakes5thavenue.com, find them on Facebook), a homestead business she founded in 2008 that offers custom cake orders for several occasions from weddings to birthday parties. Originally from Georgia, Mader got her start in the industry working as a cake decorator for the former Breadbox bakery in Windham. Custom wedding cakes are at the forefront of her business, with all kinds of traditional and specialty flavors and filling options to choose from. Cakes 5th Avenue is also a featured vendor at the Pelham Farmers Market (Saturdays from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. outside the First Congregational Church of Pelham at 3 Main St.), where you’ll find Mader on select dates selling home-baked cookies, cupcakes, lemon squares and fruit-filled hand pies.

What is your must-have kitchen item?

A rubber spatula, because with the amount of cake batter I make, I am constantly scraping bowls all day long.

What would you have for your last meal?

I would like a perfectly cooked medium filet mignon, with a little bit of seasoned butter and some mashed potatoes with garlic and mascarpone. It’s one of my favorite meals.

What is your favorite local restaurant?

I have two. In Salem, there’s a place called Fuego Latin Fusion [Bar & Restaurant] that is great. They started doing family meals for curbside pickup last year during Covid that we took advantage of. … A longtime favorite of ours also is Scola’s [Restaurant] in Dracut, [Mass.].

What celebrity would you like to see trying one of your cakes?

Betty White. I would love to sit down and have cake and a vodka cocktail with her.

What is your personal favorite cake design that you’ve ever done?

My favorite was a four-tier cake I created back in 2013 for a cake competition down in Hartford, Connecticut. The reason that one sticks out is because I used different techniques that were unfamiliar to me and was just feeling very adventurous. … I won second place in the competition, so that one probably means the most to me.

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

If I had to pick one, I’d say farm-to-table [and] supporting local growers and ingredients.

What is your favorite thing to cook at home?

I would have to say homemade pizza. … We start with a garlic crust and we like to do a white pizza with a mix of mozzarella and ricotta, some seasoned shredded chicken and freshly sauteed spinach. That’s probably the most frequent one that we make and we never have leftovers.

Kladdkaka (Swedish sticky chocolate cake)
From the kitchen of Kristen Mader of Cakes 5th Avenue in Pelham

10 tablespoons salted butter
1⅓ cups sugar
2 eggs
5 tablespoons unsweetened cocoa powder
¾ cup all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
¼ teaspoon kosher salt

Preheat the oven to 325 degrees. Spray an eight-inch round or square cake pan with baking spray, or grease the pan with butter and dust with flour. Line the bottom of the pan with a round or square-shaped piece of parchment paper cut to the size of your pan bottom. Place butter in a medium-sized microwave-safe bowl and cover with a paper towel. Cook in the microwave on high power for 30 seconds at a time, stirring in between, until butter is melted. Add sugar to the bowl with melted butter and whisk to combine. Add eggs one at a time and stir well after each addition. Add the cocoa, flour, vanilla and salt. Stir just until all dry ingredients are incorporated. Transfer batter to the prepared pan and spread out to an even layer. Bake for 20 to 22 minutes, being careful not to overbake — the cake should be slightly firm on the outside with a delicate crisp top, but soft and sticky on the inside. Let cool in the pan for 20 minutes. To remove, run a thin-bladed knife around the outer edges of the cake. Invert the pan onto a similar sized cutting board or dinner plate and, holding them together, give it a good shake downward. If the cake does not release, go around the edges again with a knife and repeat with inverting cake. Once the cake is released, remove the parchment paper and invert again onto your serving plate using the same method. Dust with confectioner’s sugar or cocoa powder, or serve each slice with a dollop of fresh whipped cream or ice cream.

Featured photo: Kristen Mader. Courtesy photo.

Eclectic and elevated

SOHO Bistro & Lounge opens in Manchester

Chef Steve Shoemaker had already worked for some of the biggest names in South Florida’s dining scene upon arriving in New Hampshire to open Mint Bistro in the summer of 2011. Now, after other culinary stints at the 1750 Taphouse in Bedford and the Colby Hill Inn in Henniker, Shoemaker has returned to the Queen City to introduce an all new restaurant concept.

SOHO Bistro & Lounge features an eclectic menu of scratch-made items, with special attention to detail right down to every individual ingredient and an intimate dining experience to match. The eatery opened Aug. 20 in the former Whiskey’s 20 space on Old Granite Street, its name an homage to the elegance of the famous neighborhood of Lower Manhattan in New York City.

“We’ve implemented a menu where there’s something for everyone, [with] killer handcrafted food and an amazing cocktail list,” said Shoemaker, who is also a partner in the restaurant. “I was really happy to get back into the Manchester landscape because the age demographic is perfect for the hospitality industry here. … You have a great clientele of people from their late 20s to their 40s who love going out to eat and just enjoy themselves.”

Each of SOHO’s menu items is a new or elevated version of a dish unique to the space. The hard shell lobster rangoons, for instance, have been among the top-selling appetizers out of the gate, in addition to truffle fries with homemade oil from real truffles.

Entrees run the gamut, from elevated classics like steak frites with prime hanger steak, to options like a bourbon-brined half chicken, an heirloom vegetable risotto with roasted garlic pesto and a vegan pad Thai with rice noodles, crispy tofu and a coconut peanut glaze. There are also burgers and sandwiches with creative ingredients in their own right, like a crispy pork belly-wrapped tenderloin on focaccia, with lemon-dressed arugula and Grana Padano cheese.

“We have short ribs going throughout the night, and that produces our short rib entree and also the beef for our nachos,” Shoemaker said. “We also offer pork for the nachos, which is a classic old Mexican dish called cochinita pibil. It’s little known in the United States … We take seasoned pork shoulder and we wrap it in banana leaves and cook it throughout the night.”

Dessert options feature the opportunity to try something simple, like sorbet or creme brulee, or a bit more fancy, like the banana cheesecake spring rolls.

“We take fresh bananas and make sheet pans of cheesecake, then cut it up, wrap it in spring roll paper and deep fry it,” Shoemaker said. “We serve it with homemade caramel sauce and an eclair ice cream. … That’s probably our top dessert seller.”

The kitchen closes at 10 p.m. each evening, but Shoemaker said a late night menu of smaller, shareable options is in the works, featuring a combination of regular selections and other items. The cocktail menu is regionally sourced, too — one drink, known as the Bee’s Knees, features gin from Barr Hill of Montpelier, Vermont, which produces it from fermented honey.

Brunch offerings will likely be added to SOHO’s menu. Shoemaker said he also hopes to soon hold specialty wine events, or a Japanese-themed night with sushi options and saké pairings.

SOHO Bistro & Lounge

Where: 20 Old Granite St., Manchester
Hours: Tuesday and Wednesday, 4 to 10 p.m., and Thursday through Saturday, 4 p.m. to 1 a.m.
More info: Visit sohonh.com, find them on Facebook and Instagram @sohobistrolounge or call 232-4085

Featured photo: Courtesy of SOHO Bistro & Lounge.

Bacon up a storm

BaNH Bacon & Beer Festival returns

As the event’s name suggests, crispy, savory bacon and chilled brews are the stars of the NH Bacon & Beer Festival, returning to Anheuser-Busch in Merrimack on Saturday, Sept. 11, with live music, beer samples and bacon-infused eats from more than a dozen local restaurants, food trucks and other vendors showing off their culinary talents.

This is the first Bacon & Beer festival to take place since the spring of 2019, according to event organizer Jeremy Garrett. After multiple consecutive sellouts, Garrett said, the decision was made to increase the number of available tickets and the overall event time (by one hour).

About a week before the festival, more than 500 pounds of bacon provided by North Country Smokehouse are distributed among the food vendors, each of whom has the creative freedom to incorporate how they would like into their dishes. You’ll find everything from traditional candied bacon to deep fried bacon, french fries topped with bacon bits, and bacon grilled cheeses. Other options will include a bacon arancini from The Traveling Foodie Food Cart, and the bacon hot dogs from Dandido Sauce.

“You can sample while the supplies last. … We will have a couple of vendors who will be doing full-sized servings, which is brand new to the event,” Garrett said. “We just kind of figured [that] if you really liked that bacon sample you got, then maybe you’d want a full serving of it.”

Due in part to ongoing staffing challenges among restaurants, this year’s festival has one of the more diverse vendor lineups, which bring in food trucks and even some non-food companies.

“We have a company called Welbilt, and they actually produce equipment for the restaurant industry, so things like large commercial ovens and stoves,” Garrett said. “They are going to come out and use their equipment, and do at least one or two different types of samples.”

More than two dozen breweries will also be there, most hailing from New Hampshire or neighboring New England states. Attendees will be given a “brewery passport,” which they can use to sample three-and-a-half-ounce pours of up to 20 of the more than 100 beers and ciders. Garrett said samples will be served in disposable cups rather than take-home glasses.

Live music will be featured throughout the afternoon, including performances from Grayson Ty and Laura Buchanan, as well as American Idol finalist and Mont Vernon native Alex Preston.

While there won’t be outdoor seating, attendees can bring their own lawn chairs. The festival is a primary fundraiser for the High Hopes Foundation of New Hampshire, a Nashua-based nonprofit that provides life-enhancing experiences to chronically ill children.

5th annual NH Bacon & Beer Festival

When: Saturday, Sept. 11, 1 to 4:30 p.m.
Where: Anheuser-Busch Tour Center and Biergarten, 221 Daniel Webster Hwy., Merrimack
Cost: General admission is $60 per person (includes access to 20 beer tastings and food samples while they last); designated driver admission is $35 per person (food samples only)
Visit: nhbaconbeer.com
Event is rain or shine and is 21+ only. No children or pets are allowed. Masks or face-coverings are required for non-vaccinated attendees.

Featured photo: Photo courtesy of LuvLens, luvlens.com.

The Weekly Dish 21/09/02

News from the local food scene

PoutineFest is back: Save the date for the NH PoutineFest, returning for the first time since 2019 to Anheuser-Busch Tour Center & Biergarten (221 Daniel Webster Hwy., Nashua) on Saturday, Oct. 23. Tickets go on sale soon after Labor Day. The festival, hosted by the Franco-American Centre, features unique takes on the classic French-Canadian dish from restaurants, food trucks and other local and regional vendors. Visit nhpoutinefest.com for updates.

Through the grapevine: LaBelle Winery recently started planting a new vineyard at its Derry location. According to a press release, about 1,600 vines have been planted on three acres, adjacent to the future location of LaBelle’s sparkling wine production facility and tasting room. Grape varieties include petit pearl, Cayuga and Itasca, all of which are cold hardy and able to withstand temperatures as low as 25 degrees below zero. About 40 people, including winery co-owners Amy LaBelle and her husband, Cesar Arboleda, and multiple friends, family members, winery employees and vineyard club members planted the first vines in a single day in late June. Planting will conclude in 2022, with the first grape harvest planned for 2024 to make estate sparkling wine, including a sparkling rosé.

Greek eats to go: The next boxed Greek dinner to go, a drive-thru takeout event at Holy Trinity Greek Orthodox Church (68 N. State St., Concord), is happening on Sunday, Sept. 12, from noon to 1 p.m. Now through Sept. 8, orders are being accepted for boxed meals, featuring pastitsio (Greek lasagna with ground meat and bechamel sauce), a side of Greek salad and a roll for $15 per person. The event is drive-thru and takeout only — email ordermygreekfood@gmail.com or call 953-3051 to place your order. The church is planning a similar event for Sunday, Oct. 10, which will feature a meal of half lemon roasted chicken. Visit holytrinitynh.org.

Food trucks roll in: The Factory on Willow (252 Willow St., Manchester), a newly unveiled apartment complex renovated from an old shoe factory in the Queen City, has announced plans for a food truck park and residency, according to a press release. The pilot program began on Sept. 1 with up to four rotating food trucks, with opportunities to add more in the future. According to the release, the food truck park will operate as a year-round facility and include more than 40 permanent outdoor picnic-style seating areas, as well as a heated indoor space with beer garden-style tables and access to a full bar. Various programming is also planned for the space, from private events to live music, outdoor party games and scary movie nights. Visit factoryonwillow.com.

Hike Happy

Heading into fall is the perfect time to go for a hike, with less heat and humidity, fewer bugs, and views that turn even more picturesque as the leaves start to change. All of this, along with the physical and mental health benefits, is a recipe for hiking happy. Find out how to do it safely, plus check out four southern New Hampshire hikes that prove you don’t have to hit the White Mountains to get in a challenging — but doable — climb.

Hiking well

Hit the trails for a healthy body and mind

by Angie Sykeny
asykeny@hippopress.com

From building muscle strength to lowering stress levels, hiking can have all kinds of benefits for your physical and mental wellness.

“Whether it’s daily, every other day or even just once a week, it’s really worth it for your health to go hiking regularly and spend some time out in nature,” said Lucie Villeneuve, outdoor guide and owner of outdoor guide service Outdoor ESCAPES New Hampshire.

Traversing a mixed terrain of rocks and boulders, tree roots, hills, streams and other natural landscape elements requires a variety of movements, Villeneuve said, giving you a unique full-body workout that you can’t get on an exercise machine or uniform walking surface.

“You’re using pretty much all of your muscles,” she said. “With every step, you’re twisting your ankles in different directions, and you’re putting the brakes on and off with your legs when you’re going uphill and downhill.”

For the same reason, hiking can lead to better balance, stability and coordination, particularly if you’re hiking a mountain where you may need to do some climbing.

“When you’re going up from one piece of rock to the next on your hands and feet, you’re essentially using your whole body, which really improves your balance,” said Conor Benoit, New Hampshire outdoor guide and owner of CMB Guide Service.

Hiking can also be a great workout for cardio and weight loss, depending on your pace and how rigorous the trail is. You could burn as much as 3,000 calories in a day of hiking, Villeneuve said, not only from the physical exertion but also from your body’s work to regulate your body temperature.

“If it’s hot or cold out, your body is going to burn more calories,” she said.

If you wear a backpack to carry some extra water, snacks and emergency supplies which you should that will also enhance your workout, Benoit said.

“A few pounds on your back may not sound like much, but by the time you [finish the hike] you’re definitely going to feel it,” he said.

Unlike working out on an exercise machine that you can turn off at any point, “you can’t just quit halfway” during a hike, Benoit said, which can help you push yourself to new physical limits. Setting a goal with a tangible reward, like reaching an interesting landmark or a place with beautiful scenery, can also motivate you to keep going.

“I’ve seen people consistently impressed with how far they are able to make it,” Benoit said. “When you make that commitment to yourself and have the mindset of ‘I’m so close; just a little farther,’ you see that you can accomplish more than you originally thought was possible.”

Hiking is good not just for the body but also for the mind, Villeneuve said. To get the most out of your hike, she recommends making a conscious effort to “be in the present moment,” push away thoughts about what you’ve got going on back home, and home in on your natural surroundings.

“You need to practice having awareness,” she said. “Use all of your senses to take it in: smell the fresh air; feel the temperature of the air; see the views that are right in front of you.”

Conversely, you could use hiking as an opportunity to “reflect [on] and process” things that have been on your mind, away from technology and other distractions, Benoit said, so that you can return to your home and work life with renewed energy and focus.

“That physical and mental exhaustion really sets you up to be more clear-headed throughout the week,” he said. “You leave [the hike] with less than what you carried in, feeling mentally lighter.”

Fall in line

Hiking safely as summer winds down

By Matt Ingersoll
mingersoll@hippopress.com

Photo courtesy of Jake King of Thrive Outdoors in Manchester.

Crisp weather and colorful foliage are great reasons to hit the hiking trails this fall — as long as you’re prepared for a change in the seasons that will bring shorter days and cooler temperatures.

“Fall is my favorite season to hike in behind winter. You don’t have to worry quite as much about sweating and losing all of your moisture,” said Jake King of Thrive Outdoors, a team-building and leadership assessment organization based in Manchester. “At the same time, fall nights get much cooler. … So if you’re stuck, any perspiration or moisture you have is now going to be used against you, whereas in the summer it really does help you cool off.”

One of the most important things to keep in mind when hiking in the fall is that the later in the season, the quicker it will get dark out. With however many hours of daylight you have, King said a good rule of thumb is to give yourself a third of it to get in and two thirds to get out.

“Always give yourself that extra time on the way out,” he said. “A lot of people will like to split it 50/50, thinking they’re going to get out just as quickly as they went in, but then if something goes south, you have no time to play with. … Remember that it’s going to get darker sooner, and then as soon as it does it’s going to get cooler.”

Rick Silverberg, chairman and leadership training coordinator of the Appalachian Mountain Club’s New Hampshire chapter, said the differences in elevation also play a role, as you’re more likely to encounter exposed areas above the trees.

“As soon as you get into those higher elevations, the temperatures get colder … [and] you have a lot more wind,” he said. “In the fall it’s much more dramatic.”

You don’t always have to start your hike dressed in layers. In fact, King said it’s much easier to control your body temperature level by layering up rather than down.

“You should always have a base layer … that sits up against the skin but isn’t too tight, and then a mid-layer and top layer that is wind- and water-resistant,” he said. “Don’t start with all of them on, though. Even if it’s a bit chilly, don’t start warm, because you may find that you’re overheating and once you start sweating, it’s too late. … You’ve broken that seal, so to speak.”

Early on in the fall, you won’t typically encounter a lot of frost. But as the season gets deeper into October and November, morning frost on certain surfaces has the potential to be hazardous.

“A frosty rock can be slippery,” King said. “The other thing to remember is if it starts to warm up during the day, then frost is going to turn into moisture, which is what you want to avoid.”

It’s good to remain mindful too of when specific trails or parks close for the season, which can be any time from mid-September to November depending on where you go.

If you’re heading out for views of the foliage, Silverberg said peak times of the year will differ in the state — far northern areas will usually see their peak a few weeks earlier than those in the south. It will also get colder at night much faster after all the leaves fall from the trees.

Tough but doable

A few challenging, family-friendly hikes

By Meghan Siegler
msiegler@hippopress.com

If you’re not ready to tackle the state’s 4,000-footers but want to take a real hike — as opposed to a walk on a rail trail that you could do wearing flip-flops — here are a few peaks in southern New Hampshire.

Mt. Monadnock. Photo courtesy of Matt Ingersoll.

Mount Monadnock, Jaffrey

There are a few ways to get to the top of Mount Monadnock, which stands at 3,165 feet — and none of them is a walk in the park. According to nhstateparks.com, “all routes to the top are steep and rocky.” There are three main access points. Monadnock HQ (169 Poole Road), which provides access to the main trails and is the most direct route to the top, and Old Toll Road (9 Halfway House Road), which provides access to many side trails and alternative destinations, are both 4-mile hikes that take approximately four hours to complete. Gilson Pond (585 Dublin Road) is a longer, less populated trail for hikers who are looking for solitude; it’s 6 miles and takes about six hours.

What it’s really like: “I was probably 12 or 13 years old the first time I climbed Mt. Monadnock, but I’ve seen kids and adults young and old successfully scale it. It’s a perfect moderately challenging day hike that will take you no more than a few hours each way up and down. What’s great about it is that, unlike having just one route to the top and one back down to the bottom, there are multiple inter-connecting trails of varying difficulty that you can take, all of which are very clearly marked and easy to follow. The shortest and simplest ones are probably either the White Dot Trail or the White Cross Trail. The White Dot has a very gradual level of steepness that starts to get a bit rockier near the top, but once you reach past the treelines, the views on a clear day are breathtaking. Personally, I like to go up via the White Dot and down via the White Cross, because the latter trail is a little bit steeper and will make for a quicker descent.” — Matt Ingersoll

If you go: Reservations are strongly recommended in order to secure a parking spot at any of the three trailheads. Visitors who do not make a reservation will be admitted on a first come, first served basis. Reservations can be made prior to arrival and no later than 3 p.m. that day at nhstateparks.org. The parking pass costs $15 and includes admission for six people in one vehicle.

Mount Kearsarge, Wilmot & Warner

To get to the summit of Mount Kearsarge, which stands at 2,937 feet and features a fire tower and bald face that offers 360-degree views, there are a few options. From Winslow State Park in Wilmot, there are two trails: the 1.1-mile Winslow Trail and the 1.7-mile Barlow Trail. The former is the more challenging option, while the latter is a more gradual climb and offers vistas of the Andover area, Ragged Mountain and Mount Cardigan. The trailhead has a good-sized picnic area and a playground for kids. The Rollins Trail begins at the picnic area in Rollins State Park in Warner and follows the route of the old carriage road for a half mile to the summit. You could also start at the Lincoln Trail at Kearsarge Valley Road, a 5-mile trail that climbs to the Rollins picnic area.

What it’s really like: “I’ve climbed Kearsarge several times with people of varying levels of fitness. I like that you can go up one main trail and down another so you’re getting different views throughout the hike, and saving your knees from the steeper Winslow Trail if you tackle that first and come down the gentler Barlow Trail. My teenagers both enjoyed this hike, though my daughter kept leaving my son and me in the dust, both on the way up and the way down, and we weren’t exactly taking our time. It definitely feels like a workout on the way up, and I’ve stopped for a few quick breathers no matter who I’ve hiked with. The view at the top is nice, though not quite as spectacular as Mount Major’s, in my opinion.” — Meghan Siegler

If you go: Reservations are strongly recommended and can be made online at nhstateparks.org. Parking is limited, but walk-in spaces are available on a first come, first served basis. Admission is $4 for adults, $2 for children 6 to 11, and free for kids 5 and under and New Hampshire residents who are 65 and older.

Mount Major, Alton

The 1.5-mile Mt. Major Trail begins at a parking area on Route 11 in Alton. The trail ascends a steep, severely eroded section and has some steep scrambles near the top. At 1.3 miles there are two alternate routes, one that forks to the right and climbs up steep ledges (potentially dangerous when wet or icy), and a detour that diverges left. The Brook Trail is 1.7 miles and begins at the junction of Mt. Major Trail and Belknap Range Trail. Aptly named, this trail features two brook crossings in higher water where “some very creative rock hopping is required to keep your feet dry,” according to belknaprangetrails.org. From there on the grade alternates between easy and moderate. The Boulder Loop Trail starts at the trailhead parking area on Route 11 and offers a somewhat gentler climb, with portions of it being part of a snowmobile trail. It features large boulders that you pass by and sometimes go through. At the summit, you’ll find the remnants of the George Phippen hut built in 1925.

What it’s really like: “First, the views at the top are amazing, looking out onto Lake Winnipesaukee, so it’s a well-worth-it reward for a hike that’s particularly tough at the end. I’ve done this one a few times, and my kids have been there more than once for summer camp field trips. There are moments during the climb where I wondered how kids managed to make it to the top; it’s certainly not easy. But it’s also a pretty popular hike — during the summer the parking lot is almost always overflowing, with cars parked along the main road, so if you’re not a fan of crowds, try to save this one for a weekday.” — Meghan Siegler

If you go: There’s no fee to climb Mount Major or to park; just be prepared to walk quite a ways from your car to the trailhead on a nice summer day when cars spill out onto the road.

Mount Sunapee, Newbury

The summit of Mount Sunapee, with an elevation of 2,743 feet, can be reached via ski trails or a number of hiking trails, including Summit, Lake Solitude and Newbury. According to mountsunapee.com, you can also hike any of the ski trails during the summer. Summit is a 2-mile trail at the lodge at Mount Sunapee. The Lake Solitude trail starts east of the summit, and it’s about a mile to White Ledges, which overlooks Lake Solitude. From there, Lake Solitude is a 0.6-mile hike from the overlook. The 2-mile Newbury Trail continues from Solitude Trail and does not return to the ski area base. The trailhead is near the southern end of Lake Sunapee off Route 103 in the village of Newbury, approximately 3 miles from Mount Sunapee Resort.

What it’s really like: “I just hiked Mount Sunapee for the first time a few weeks ago, and I’m not sure what took me so long to get there. Summit Trail is beautiful, although after all the rain we’d had earlier this summer, there were quite a few muddy spots. There were also some steep-ish ascents that had my quads burning, but those were nicely balanced with less intense stretches of trail. When we crested the summit, the view was a little underwhelming, and the ski lodge seemed out of place (I don’t ski and apparently had no idea what happens at the top of a ski mountain). However, a little exploration led to a gorgeous view of Lake Sunapee and the quaint little towns around it. I do wish we’d had enough time to check out Lake Solitude, but it gives me a good reason to go back soon.” — Meghan Siegler

If you go: There are no parking or hiking fees here, and parking at the resort is plentiful for an easy in, easy out day hike.

Treks and Trails

Jake King of Thrive Outdoors in Manchester shares some of his favorite hikes to take during peak fall foliage season.

Manchester Cedar Swamp Preserve (Country Side Blvd., near Waterford Way, Manchester)
Massabesic Audubon Center Trails (26 Audubon Way, Auburn): “For people who haven’t really gotten out into the wilderness a lot, it’s a good starter experience. It’s flat and easy.”
Nottingcook Forest (Woodhill Hooksett Road and South Bow Road, Bow)
Uncanoonuc Mountains (Mountain Road, Goffstown): “On Uncanoonuc North, you can see bits and pieces of Manchester surrounded by trees, and in the fall, it’s a beautiful sight.”
Welch-Dickey Mountain Trail (Orris Road, Thornton)

Featured photo: Mt. Major in May 2017. Photo courtesy of Matt Ingersoll.

Everyday IPAs

Some IPAs now are borderline crushable

IPAs are king. But they’re also super confusing.

You’ve got American IPAs, New England IPAs, West Coast IPAs, session IPAs, double IPAs, Imperial IPAs, triple IPAs, oat IPAs, East Coast IPAs, Belgian IPAs, British IPAs and so on and so forth. And I didn’t even say anything about double, single or triple dry-hopping. And I definitely didn’t say anything about different hop strains.

It’s just a lot. My head is spinning.

Now, of course, there’s quite a bit of overlap within those categories and styles and every brewer is putting his or her own twist on all of their brews, not just IPAs, so every West Coast IPA is going to be a little different — maybe even a lot different. So I’m not sure it’s really worth trying to break it all down. And I’m not sure I even could.

Across the board, IPAs are incredibly flavorful and frankly exciting brews. They are bursting with hoppy flavor.

But, as I’ve written many times, they can be a bit much. Sometimes you want to have a few beers, and double IPAs that come in with an ABV of more than 8 percent are not conducive to drinking multiple beers. And beyond the alcohol, IPAs can just carry a little extra heft that can bog you down a little bit.

I’ve been pleased to see and taste a “new wave” of IPAs that are what I like to call “tweeners.” They’re not quite session IPAs, which I think can sometimes drink more like hoppy light beers than actual IPAs, but they’re not quite your standard IPA, at least in terms of drinkability. These are IPAs coming in at about 5.5 percent to 6 percent ABV but still offering plenty of hoppy, citrusy, piney goodness, but with a little less heft.

I’m not sure if it’s actually a new wave or just coincidence — or if it’s all in my head — but I’ve had several lately and if it is an actual trend I think it’s a good one.

Here are three IPAs to whet your whistle that fall right into my tweener category.

Glory American IPA by Wachusett Brewing Co. (Westminster, Mass.)

I realize it’s obvious that this brewery has a special place in my heart but I really think it’s with good reason. Glory is incredibly easy to drink but doesn’t sacrifice flavor. You’ll definitely pick up plenty of tropical fruit notes, coupled with bright, pleasing bitterness. Plus, the can design, featuring some red, white and blue action, is a winner.

Angelica Hazy IPA by Lord Hobo Brewing Co. (Woburn, Mass.)

The brewery website says this brew was “designed to be a one-of-a-kind showcase for the magnificent Mosaic hop, bringing forth strong citrus flavors.” It also notes the “color, haze and taste are as if you’re drinking a freshly squeezed glass of orange juice with full mouthfeel.” I’m not sure I’d go that far and I don’t mean that as criticism. This drinks much lighter than that to me, and pleasingly so. There’s definitely plenty of fresh citrus flavor and the color is definitely reminiscent of a glass of OJ — and at 5.5 percent, you can have more than one. ​

Matchplay IPA by Smuttynose Brewing Co. (Hampton)

Formerly named the “Backswing IPA.” I haven’t tried this one but this fits the bill to a tee. I’m not sure if you caught what I just did there. The brewery says this is “soft and refreshing, yet packed with bright and bold hops.” Seems well worth a try to me. Smuttynose also brews a Backcheck IPA that is a little higher in ABV.

What’s in my fridge?

Little Choppy Hoppy Session Ale by Mast Landing Brewing Co. (Westbrook, Maine)
Speaking of sessionable brews, Little Choppy is about as crushable as it gets at 4.3 percent ABV. This has a pleasing and somewhat surprising bitterness, coupled with a nice combination of citrus and pine I think. I liked it more and more as I worked my way through the can. Cheers!

Featured photo: Courtesy photo.

Snickerdoodle muffins

Isn’t it every child’s dream to be able to eat cookies for breakfast? Actually, don’t a lot of adults have that dream? While I can’t fully endorse cookies for breakfast, I absolutely can support making and eating muffins that taste just like a cookie!

Snickerdoodles have been a regularly made cookie in my home, both as a child and a mom. The combination of sugar and cinnamon plus an interesting hint of tartness makes them a “hard to eat just one” cookie. Turn them into a muffin, and they’re a delicious way to start the day.

Most of the ingredients in these muffins are pretty straightforward and probably are items that can be found in your refrigerator and pantry. The one ingredient you may not have but absolutely need is cream of tartar. You’ll find it in the spice section in the grocery store. Although you need only a small amount, it gives these muffins that special something. As for the milk in the recipe, use whatever you have: plant-based, whole milk, skim. It really doesn’t matter.

Now, for serving them, I highly recommend eating them warm, sliced in half and topped with a little bit of butter. They are so delicious they might be called “hard to eat just one” muffins.

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.

Snickerdoodle muffins
Makes 12

Muffins
1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
3/4 teaspoon cream of tartar
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1/2 cup milk
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 large egg
1/3 cup unsalted butter, melted

Muffin topping
1/2 cup sugar
2 teaspoons cinnamon
2 Tablespoons unsalted butter, melted

Muffins
Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
Spray a muffin pan with nonstick spray.
In a large bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder, cream of tartar, salt and sugar.
In a large measuring cup whisk the milk, vanilla and egg together.
Add the milk mixture and 1/3 cup melted butter to the flour mixture.
Stir just until flour mixture is fully moistened. It may be lumpy.
Fill each muffin cup 3/4 full.
Bake for 14 to 16 minutes.
Cool muffins in the pan for 5 minutes.

Topping
In a small bowl, combine the sugar and cinnamon.
Remove the muffins from the pan.
Brush the tops of the muffins with the melted butter.
Generously sprinkle the tops with the cinnamon-sugar mixture.

Photo: Snickerdoodle muffins. Courtesy photo.

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