Praise music

Faith-based acts play SNHU Arena

With soaring harmonies and epic instrumental breaks, it’s easy to mistake We The Kingdom for a Nashville pop act like Little Big Town or Lady A. Composed of brothers Ed and Scott Cash, Ed’s children Franni Rae and Martin, and Andrew Bergthold, a close family friend, the multi-generational group hits all the modern country cues.

Here’s the twist: We The Kingdom isn’t trying to be Fleetwood Mac with a pickup truck and cutoff jeans. They’re rocking for God, with lyrics pulled from a prayer book and delivered in ministerial fervor to born-again crowds. It’s a successful act; the group was named Contemporary Christian Artist of the Year at the 2021 Dove Awards, the genre’s Grammys.

They’re currently on the road with headliner Casting Crowns, part of an 18-city run stopping in Manchester on May 14.

When it was announced, WTK was third on a bill that included Hillsong Worship. They’re now providing lead-in, as the latter group, part of an Australian megachurch, withdrew from the tour last month. This came amidst allegations of sexual impropriety at the megachurch that led to the resignations of its founder and several leaders, and the closure of several church campuses.

In a phone interview from Moline, Illinois, Andrew Bergthold alluded to their own reckoning with church leadership. In 2015, an exposé in the evangelical magazine Christianity Today detailed accusations of sexual and spiritual abuse at the Gathering, a church in Franklin, Tennessee. Ed Cash, co-writer of the top worship song “How Great Is Our God,” was a Gathering member and had been sharing profits with its founder, Wayne “Pops” Jolley.

Ed and Scott Cash left the church soon after; Jolley died in September 2016. We The Kingdom formed two years later at a Young Life camp in Georgia. The first song they wrote together, “Dancing On The Waves,” was for a service there, and addressed what they were experiencing — in different ways — at the time.

“The band started in the midst of a time where we were all very shaken in our idea of faith and what church looked like,” Bergthold said. “You hear man speak about God and you build an idea of God — because you have to — around what man says about God. You learn from other people and you grow.”

Bergthold was heartened by the many fans who said “Dancing On The Waves ” had aided in dealing with their own crises of faith. “All the time people come up and say, ‘I was hurt by the church and this song helped me reconcile with the Lord.’ They know they’re loved by Him; it’s unbelievable.”

As to their music’s positive effect on others extending to Dove trophies, gold records and arena tours, Bergthold modestly demurs. “I think it’s really beautiful that the Lord would use our story,” he replied, waving off fame as fascinating but not much else. Above all, Bergthold and his bandmates want to elevate fans and help them find hope in their spiritual quest.

After standing at the crossroads of belief in mortals and faith in the spirit, Bergthold came out healed.

“The leadership of the church got very messed up, and we were left wondering what is actually the truth of God and what is a bit of the lies and manipulation of man; or even the good intentions, but misleading of man,” he said. “We started literally in the middle of us having to reconstruct a bit of our faith system in our love of the church and man. God’s really redeemed our story.”

A follow-up to their debut studio album Holy Water will arrive later this year, after being delayed by the pandemic. They expect to play a few selections from it at their SNHU Arena show, including “Miracle Power,” which Bergthold thinks may be the new record’s first single.

“It’s actually one of my favorite songs we’ve ever written,” he said, “so I think people will be pretty excited about it.”

Casting Crowns featuring We The Kingdom
When: Saturday, May 14, 7 p.m.
Where: SNHU Arena, 555 Elm St., Manchester
Tickets: $27.75 to $124.75 at

Featured photo: We The Kingdom. Courtesy photo.

The Music Roundup 22/05/12

Local music news & events

Songbird: Since her early folk singing days, Judy Collins endures as one of music’s finest interpreters, in many ways due to her impeccable taste. She was the first to cover songs by Leonard Cohen and Randy Newman, and her version of Joni Mitchell’s “Both Sides Now” was a breakthrough moment for that songwriter. So it’s significant that at 82 years old Collins has just released her first album of all-original songs, Spellbound. Thursday, May 12, 8 p.m., Colonial Theatre, 609 Main St., Laconia, tickets $29 to $79 at

Shredder: If contemporary praise is an indication, John5, performing with his band The Creatures, is a rock great. Slash called him “one of the most mind-blowing guitarists around” and Rob Zombie’s praise for him as a member of his touring band isn’t safe to print but is equally effusive. He’s written for everyone from Motley Crüe to Ricky Martin, and played with an equally diverse array of artists, from Rod Stewart to Lynyrd Skynyrd. Friday, May 13, 8 p.m., Tupelo Music Hall, 10 A St., Derry, $40 at

Singular: Formerly known as Ozzmosis, tribute act Blizzard of Ozz is led by convincing front man Mark Lavoie. Their upcoming show will include the first two albums of Ozzy Osbourne’s Randy Rhoads era, the singer’s most popular, played in their entirety, along with solo hits and some Black Sabbath favorites. The band is rounded out by drummer Mark George, Damiano Christian on guitar and bassist Paul Sylvia. Saturday, May 14, 8 p.m., Angel City Music Hall, 179 Elm St., Manchester, $10 at the door (21+).

Freaky: Named after a pre-WWII Broadway musical, Hellzapoppin is a rock ’n’ roll circus sideshow aimed at mature audiences. The performance includes magic and illusion, acrobatic stunts, hand balancing, foot archery, sword swallowing, juggling, unicycling and bizarre, death-defying curiosities like a performer cut in half at the waist who walks bare-handed on broken glass while on fire. Sunday, May 15, 8 p.m., Wally’s Pub, 144 Ashworth Ave., Hampton Beach, $20 in advance at (21+).

Countrified: Performing at a newly opened night spot, Nicole Knox Murphy is a local singer-songwriter who wears hometown pride on her (record) sleeve. The ubiquitous performer plays regularly throughout the Granite State, and her song “My 603” lists the reasons she loves it, from Hampton Beach to Mount Washington Observatory. In 2020, NKM released an ode to her Vermont roots, “The 802.”Wednesday, May 18, 8 p.m., Hare of the Dawg, 3 East Broadway, Derry,

At the Sofaplex 22/05/12

The Bubble (R)

Karen Gillan, Pedro Pascal.

Also Peter Serafinowicz, Rob Delaney, Maria Bakalova, Leslie Mann, Iris Apatow, Keegan-Michael Key, David Duchovny, Fred Amisen, Kate McKinnon and so many more in this Judd Apatow-directed and co-written endeavor. Gillan, Mann, Duchovny, Key, Pascal and young Apatow play the central characters shooting the sixth movie of a dinosaur-based action franchise in a pandemic movie-set bubble at an English estate. Their time on the shoot begins with a 14-day quarantine wherein we watch actress Carol (Gillan) nearly lose her mind. Then the actors continue to drive each other crazy while they begin the movie itself, what with all the jockeying for a better lines, the various dramas of their personal lives and the cabin fever of being confined to a hotel.

Coming in at more than two hours, The Bubble very much feels like an extended director’s cut on a concept that was still being worked out even as the movie was being shot, with lots of flabbiness and seemingly every idea that anyone had depicted on screen. Particularly in the first half or even first two thirds, you almost feel like you’re watching a collection of sketches on a theme more than a straightforward narrative. The movie pulls itself together toward the end, finding a (relatively) tighter pacing and more laughs.

While I would be happy to never watch another pandemic-related bit of content ever again, The Bubble is more of a “movie set” movie than a “pandemic” movie and its affability builds as it goes along. And it helps that the cast is full of people who seem to understand the assignment and are having fun. It’s a perfectly serviceable bit of comedy to have on when you are looking to devote 40 to 63 percent of your attention to something. B- Available on Netflix.

The Outfit (R)

The Outfit (R)

Get ready for a bunch of talk about “craft” regarding the twisty suspense drama The Outfit starring that master craftsman Mark Rylance.

Transplanted Englishman Leonard Burling (Rylance) is a maker of bespoke suits in post-World War II (1950s-ish) Chicago, using heavy, ancient-looking shears, needle, thread and a precise eye to create perfect-fitting suits, a skill he learned on Savile Row, as he explains. His shop is simple, classic, peaceful and oh-so gentlemanly, with worn but polished wood furniture, a selection of impeccably folded pocket squares and a friendly assistant in Mable (Zoey Deutch). The shop, in its back room, also has a lockbox that men in hats with wide brims and overcoats that conceal gun holsters, men Leonard makes a point of mostly not looking at, drop off envelopes in. Of that group of regulars, the frequent customers include Richie (Dylan O’Brien), the son of the local mobster Roy Boyle (Simon Russell Beale), and Francis (Johnny Flynn), one of Roy’s top lieutenants. Francis and Richie have a bit of a rivalry — Francis being the more respected but Richie being Roy’s son and most likely successor. As we and Leonard learn, despite Mable’s oft-spoken desire to get out of Chicago and see the world, she is romantically entangled with Richie, the most of-the-neighborhood of guys. Though he doesn’t openly state his disapproval, Leonard’s fatherly affection for Mable has him wanting something better for her.

Late one night when only Leonard, whom the mobsters call “English,” is around, Francis and Richie show up looking for speedy entry to his shop. Richie is heavily bleeding from a gunshot wound to the gut and Francis is carrying a case that he explains everybody, cop and criminal, wants to get their hands on. Leonard wants nothing to do with any of this but Francis tells him tough luck, you’re involved.

The movie starts with Rylance’s character cutting a pattern and then cutting the fabric for a suit that he’s making and I could probably watch an entire movie just of Mark Rylance sewing a suit while explaining the craft of it. Though The Outfit quickly gives us a story and action, it has a similar exacting, deliberate feel of the precise construction of a well-made suit, every moment giving us exactly the necessary information, every scene doing what it needs to do with no threads out of place. Rylance is an absolute master at this kind of character, someone who is placid to the point of outward meekness and polite while always seeming like there is glass separating his true self from the outside world. Figuring out what that man is, really, is always at least as much of the story as the events of the movie and, like Leonard slowly, carefully, perfectly folding a bit of silk, the movie shows us each piece of his character exactly when we need it and in a way such that we always feel like we are watching a fully formed, multilayered person, even as we keep learning more about him. A

Rated R for some bloody violence, and language throughout, according to the MPA on Directed by Graham Moore and written by Johnathan McClain and Graham Moore, The Outfit is an hour and 45 minutes long and distributed by Focus Features. It is available via Peacock and for purchase.

Featured photo: The Outfit.

What We Wish Were True, by Tallu Schuyler Quinn

What We Wish Were True, by Tallu Schuyler Quinn (Convergent, 187 pages)

After Tallu Schuyler Quinn was diagnosed with cancer in the summer of 2020, she started a journal on Caring Bridge, a website where people struggling with an illness (or their families) can share updates on their condition.

It’s hard to see how she had time — or frankly, the capacity — to write.

Quinn, who had just turned 40 when she became ill, was the leader of a nonprofit she had founded a decade earlier, the Nashville Food Project, and was married with two young children. Her diagnosis was stage IV glioblastoma, an aggressive form of brain cancer, and doctors removed a tumor “the size of a big meaty fist.” The surgery extended her life slightly but also knocked out part of her vision and some of the gray matter that processes words.

“Almost overnight I have had to let a lot of things go,” Quinn wrote. “I’m not cooking as much, I can’t drive any longer, my gardens are overgrown, I can’t really help my kids with their schoolwork, and my own writing comes with a new difficulty and requires a new effort.”

Her cancer battle was relatively short; Quinn died in February. Unlike another young mother and author with a stage IV cancer diagnosis, Kate Bowler (Everything Happens for a Reason, and Other Lies I’ve Loved), she didn’t get to see her finished book, which is a collection of short essays about her life, her work and her dying.

It’s a surprisingly upbeat book, given the subject and Quinn’s frank disclosures about her deteriorating condition and her profound grief. She believed in God and even had a master’s degree from a seminary, but was not willing to go gently into the dark night. But she found a way to be grateful for life even as she grieved how the tumors “mix me up in these sad and terrible ways.” She writes of wailing her thanks to God as salty tears poured into her mouth. Whatever the tumors took from her, they left the gift of poetry.

Although Quinn had earned a degree in papermaking and bookbinding, before cancer, she had not planned on being a writer. “After graduating from seminary, with a diploma in hand from a reputable institution, I did what any promising ministerial student would do: I moved to Boston with my friends and started working at a grocery store.” On the night shift, stocking shelves and throwing out aging meat, she started thinking about food waste and spent resources and the immorality of it all. These ideas would later percolate as part of her vision to feed hungry people in Tennessee, but first she spent six months working in Nicaragua, witnessing the kind of need that many Americans never encounter. She tells a wonderful story of a ride in a truck where they kept stopping to pick up people who asked if they could catch a ride, too. “If there’s only one thing I understand from living there, it’s that no expectation of how much I can carry or ask another to carry for me is too swollen,” she writes. It’s apropos of nothing, and everything at the same time.

This is stage IV brain cancer: Weight gain from steroids. Acne. Nausea. Nasal passages so dry they bleed. Constant bruising. Itchy skin. Sleepless nights. Lost words. Confusion. Prayers offered in tears instead of words. Yet still a primal urge to hold onto life. “I am sicker than I have ever been and am still faithfully, scrappily striving to heal. My lips hurt. My throat is dry. My skin is cracked. Come drink this broth with me and we can get quiet.”

Quinn writes that is incredibly lonely being so sick, but at the same time, she is ultimately sustained by the community that springs forth to help her. The quote she chooses for the beginning of the book is from Gunilla Norris’s Becoming Bread: “We become who we are, together, each needing the other. Alone is a myth.”

It’s unclear how much help, if any, Quinn had in writing this book; it’s clear that she was rapidly deteriorating in her final months; she died in hospice and did not enter any new journal entries on Caring Bridge toward the end. The last two pages of the book are her imagining what death might be like, coming back as a leaf, a pelican, a star, a song or a quilt. It feels petty to ask for more from a dying woman writing a book, but I still wished for dates on the essays, some sense of when they were written, given the quick trajectory of her illness. And I also wished for a coda of sorts from her family. For a memoir as intensely personal as this is, Quinn departs too abruptly from it, as from her life. Still, it’s a deeply moving reflection on mortality, a snapshot of an ordinary person who was asked by life to endure something horrible and did so wreathed in courage. B+

Book Notes

New England is well-represented in publishing this spring, with a lovely new reflection from New Hampshire author Sy Montgomery, a smart thriller set in Vermont and a memoir from a former flight attendant who grew up in Rhode Island.

Montgomery’s latest offering is The Hawk’s Way(Atria, 79 pages). Props to her and her publisher for revealing on the cover that the narrative of the slim volume was originally published as a chapter in her 2010 book Birdology (Atria, 272 pages). It’s common for accomplished authors to present previously published material in a new book (as Ann Patchett did recently in These Precious Days) but unusual for this to be revealed right up front.

In this case, however, the repackaging makes perfect sense. The story is a taut and gorgeous telling of Montgomery’s friendship with a renowned local falconer and her own grappling of conscience with a majestic beast of prey and what they represent. (The falconer, Nancy Cowan of Deering, was founder of the New Hampshire School of Falconry and died earlier this year.) There are also 16 pages of color photographs. It’s a great gift for any bird lover in your life.

The novel is The Children on the Hill (Gallery/Scout, 352 pages) by Jennifer McMahon, which has been described as a modern take on Frankenstein. Fellow Vermont author Chris Bohjalian has called McMahon, the author of 10 novels, “a literary descendant of Shirley Jackson.” The story involves three children (two siblings and another child brought into the family by their grandmother) who are obsessed with monsters; one grows up to have a podcast called “The Monsters Among Us” and she returns to her Vermont hometown to investigate a crime and reported monster sightings. There’s buzz about a Gone Girl-worthy plot twist that makes this an especially satisfying read.

Finally, Fly Girl (W. W. Norton, 288 pages) is the book you want to read on your next flight in hopes of getting special attention from flight attendants.

Ann Hood, a native of Warwick, Rhode Island, went to work for TWA in 1978, when flight attendants were still called stewardesses and advertised as onboard “sex kittens,” she writes. Hood is an accomplished memoirist and author, but says when she meets people socially, they’re more interested in hearing about her years as a flight attendant than her writing. This is her answer to everything we want to know.

Book Events

Author events

DONALD ANTRIM Author presents One Friday in April. Gibson’s Bookstore, 45 S. Main St., Concord. Tues., May 17, 6:30 p.m. Visit or call 224-0562.

R.W.W. GREENE Author presents Mercury Rising. Bookery, 844 Elm St., Manchester. Fri., May 20, 5:30 p.m. Visit or call 836-6600.

TAMMY SOLLENBERGER Author presents The One Inside: 30 Days to Your Authentic Self. Bookery, 844 Elm St., Manchester. Wed., June 1, 6 p.m. Visit or call 836-6600.

PAUL BROGAN Author presents A Sprinkling of Stardust Over the Outhouse. Gibson’s Bookstore, 45 S. Main St., Concord. Thurs., June 30, 6:30 p.m. Visit or call 224-0562.

CASEY SHERMAN Author presents Helltown. Bookery, 844 Elm St., Manchester. Sun., Aug. 14, 1:30 p.m. Visit or call 836-6600.

Book sales

SPRING BOOK SALE Bag sale features thousands of hardbacks and paperbacks including fiction, nonfiction, mystery and a variety of children’s books, plus a large selection of DVDs, CDs and audio books. Baked goods will also be sold. Brookline Public Library, 4 Main St., Brookline. Sat., May 14, and Sun., May 15, from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m.


DOWN CELLAR POETRY SALON Poetry event series presented by the Poetry Society of New Hampshire. Monthly. First Sunday. Visit

Writers groups

MERRIMACK VALLEY WRITERS’ GROUP All published and unpublished local writers who are interested in sharing their work with other writers and giving and receiving constructive feedback are invited to join. The group meets regularly Email

Writer submissions

UNDER THE MADNESS Magazine designed and managed by an editorial board of New Hampshire teens under the mentorship of New Hampshire State Poet Laureate Alexandria Peary. features creative writing by teens ages 13 to 19 from all over the world, including poetry and short fiction and creative nonfiction. Published monthly. Submissions must be written in or translated into English and must be previously unpublished. Visit for full submission guidelines.

Book Clubs

BOOKERY Monthly. Third Thursday, 6 p.m. 844 Elm St., Manchester. Visit or call 836-6600.

GIBSON’S BOOKSTORE Online, via Zoom. Monthly. First Monday, 5:30 p.m. Bookstore based in Concord. Visit or call 224-0562.

TO SHARE BREWING CO. 720 Union St., Manchester. Monthly. Second Thursday, 6 p.m. RSVP required. Visit or call 836-6947.

Album Reviews 22/05/12

Slow Crush, Hush (Quiet Panic Records)

Honestly, we may as well just forget genre-pigeonholing at this point; it’s as if all history has been forgotten, not that that’s the most horrible thing. This Belgian, female-fronted shoegaze band managed to latch onto an opening slot on tour with straight-ahead metal band Pelican, which, to me, is a ridiculous combination, but who knows, indie bands gotta do what they gotta do these days; pretty much all their money comes from shows now, so, oh well, carry on. My Bloody Valentine is probably the most common RIYL bullet point with these guys, although album-opener “Drown” is more along the lines of a Lana Del Rey bedroom warmup, but from there the proceedings do commence, with the apocalyptic “Blue,” which does have a mud-metal tint to it a la No Joy, Ringo Deathstarr and whatnot. “Swoon” is a speedier little joint; imagine an insanely sexy stab at a James Bond movie-title-theme that’s about five years ahead of its time. No new ground broken, but nothing wrong either. B+

HeatWave International, We Won’t Be Silent (Give/Take Records)

This goth-techno maxi-single — basically one tune and two remixes thereof — was presented to me as the work of a supergroup of sorts, one led by Baja, California,-based Mario Alberto Cabada, chief of the No Devotion Records imprint (and probably Give/Take Records as well, which put out this record). He’s obviously big into Depeche Mode and the zillion other bands that claim to be DM disciples but which always seem to sound a lot like this stuff, typical Metropolis Records gruel that evokes latter-day Gary Numan as interpreted by Germans, like BackAndToTheLeft and whatnot. I applaud the effort if not the result so much, and oh, I forgot to mention that the other “superstar” band members on board for this joint are sometime Ministry keyboard guy John Bechdel, Panoptica’s Roberto Mendoza, and Ant Banister from Sounds Like Winter. I’ve been under a rock as far as being aware of the latest and greatest latex-club bands, so it’s not wildly surprising that I’ve never heard of any of these guys, but either way, the song and its reiterations are neo-Bauhaus-y but, in the end, nothing I’d whole-heartedly recommend. B


• May 13 is the next traditional day for album releases, because it is a Friday. Yes, a Friday the 13th in the Age of Apocalypse, I don’t know about you, but I can’t wait to see what will happen! Whatever else is in store, we’ll see the release of the album These Actions Cannot Be Undone from Gentle Sinners, a one-off project by singer James Graham of post-punk/indie rock band The Twilight Sad, and Aidan Moffat of Arab Strap. Both of those gentlemen are from Scotland, but I know what you’re thinking: What care I about The Twilight Sad? The answer is nothing at all, because I’ve never heard of them, but I’ve definitely heard of Arab Strap; they’re sort of a post-indie deconstructionist project, which is fancy-speak for “They’re kind of rad and creepy,” something like that. I haven’t particularly liked anything I’ve heard from Arab Strap, but the dude sings with a Scottish accent, as does James Graham, if I’m reading this promo sheet correctly. That’s sort of annoying, because any voice teacher will tell you that people’s accents tend to disappear when they’re singing, but I’ve told you that before already, so let’s dispense with the preliminaries and waddle over to YouTube, so I can be annoyed by whatever Gentle Sinners have put up as far as advance music for this album. There’s a bunch of songs to choose from, and I randomly selected “Face To Fire (After Nyman),” which starts with a typical AC/DC guitar line except it’s being played as a bagpipe sample (remember, they’re from Scotland). Then the muddy, no-wave guitar line comes in and the whole thing just starts getting worthless, like a cross between Violent Femmes and Melvins. Would you listen to something like that for an entire album? If so, why would you?

• But wait a minute, the whole slate isn’t stupid this week, because look over there, guys, it’s the Pride of Akron, Ohio, The Black Keys, with a new LP titled Dropout Boogie, here to save the day! You know this indie-rock band from hits like “Tighten Up,” which won a Best Rock Performance Grammy in 2011; with its megaphoned vocal and sloppy not-quite-muddy guitar, it was the perfect throwback-blues/Spoon-wannabe tune for the Molson beer commercial it soundtracked. That’s how things work these days: band makes halfway decent song; band gains street cred; band blows all their street cred by selling their song to some corporate guy with a duffel bag full of money; music bloggers pretend not to notice; band gets away with it. As for Dropout Boogie, the single is “Wild Child,” a ’70s-rock-radio-style tune that sounds too much like Joe Walsh’s “Funk #49” for my taste, which means my haters will think it’s the best thing since sliced olive loaf. Bon appétit.

• Sacré bleu, what in tarnation could possibly be next up, gang? Wait, I know, it’s someone I’ve never heard of, named Yves Jarvis, whose new album, The Zug, is here, on my hallowed docket! Can’t believe I have to do this stuff for you ingrates [incoherent grumbling] — OK, this human is actually Jean-Sébastien Yves Audet, a Canadian experimental musician who used to call himself Un Blonde. So, the single, “Bootstrap Jubilee,” is actually really cool, a gently hip 12-string loop bopping along underneath a breezy but sturdy vocal line. I looked into this a bit more, and he’s kind of like Donovan reincarnated for Generation Ringtone, definitely worth a check-in, folks.

• We’ll pull up the stumps on this week’s nonsense with former Woods singer-guitarist Kevin Morby and his new LP, This Is A Photograph. The title track is a Woodstock-tinged folk-stomper, very fun, really cool stuff.

If you’re in a local band, now’s a great time to let me know about your EP, your single, whatever’s on your mind. Let me know how you’re holding yourself together without being able to play shows or jam with your homies. Send a recipe for keema matar. Message me on Twitter (@esaeger) or Facebook (eric.saeger.9).

Amarone amore

A look at the wine made from dried grapes

Wine made from raisins? Some credit this technique to the Romans, while others say it originated in the medieval period. Matters not; it is an ancient technique of the Verona Province in the Veneto region of Italy.

The wine known as Amarone della Valpolicella was assigned a “designated controlled area” or Denominazione di Controllata (DOC) status in 1990, with both the Villa Vetti and Secoli Amarones being promoted to the status of Denominazione di Origine Controlla e Garantita (DOCG), “a guaranteed designated controlled area.” Impressive credentials!

According to the Wikipedia entry on Amarone, the grapes for Amarone wine are harvested ripe in the first two weeks of October, by carefully choosing bunches having fruits not too close to each other, to allow air to flow through the bunch; the grapes are traditionally dried on straw mats. This concentrates the remaining sugars and flavors, Wikipedia said.

After drying, usually for around 120 days, the grapes are crushed and go through a dry, low-temperature fermentation for another month or two, then are aged in oak barrels for 36 months before bottling. Wikipedia notes that this traditional method of drying grapes for Amarone can lead to variations in the wine and therefore the bulk of modern Amarone is produced in special drying chambers under controlled conditions to minimize handling and prevent the onset of fungus. The quality of the grape skin brings the tannins, color and intensity of flavor to the wine, the entry said.

Our first wine is a 2016 Villa Vetti Amarone Della Valpolicella (originally priced at $59.99, reduced to $29.99 at the New Hampshire Liquor & Wine Outlets). It has a rich red color, with berries to the nose and initially to the tongue. The taste develops into residual notes of raisins and figs, along with some spice, lingering and subsiding gradually. There are tannins, which subside with decanting. This is a dry wine to pair with rich foods, due to the strong flavor profile and high alcoholic content at 15 percent.

Our second wine is a 2017 Secoli Am rone Della Valpolicella (originally priced at $49.99, reduced to $22.99 at the New Hampshire Liquor & Wine Outlets). Like the first wine, this has a deep red color, but with plum and black cherries to the nose and tongue. These are joined by notes of figs and rich dried fruit, along with chocolate. The tannins of this wine, coming from the grape skins and reinforced by three years of aging in oak, subside with decanting. This is a wine to be enjoyed with beef, lamb, game or robust cheeses, such as a rich, creamy blue cheese. The alcoholic content is not given for this Amarone, but its dry notes and strong “legs” on the side of the glass imply it’s at least 14 percent.

Good Amarone wine has a reputation for aging. While these wines are five and six years old, they have only been bottled for two or three years. Cellared properly, these wines can age another 10 to 15 years.

So try something different, a new, old-fashioned wine — one made from raisins! You will enjoy it!

Featured photo. Courtesy photo.

Rhubarb margarita

When you were in school, did you ever have one of those teachers who always went off-topic?

You know the type: He was supposed to be lecturing on the Dewey Decimal System or something, and he would tell the class a story about a haberdasher he used to know in Cleveland, who had nine fingers and a dog named Sylvia.

And yet — somehow — he would end up circling around and making an important and pertinent point about the actual subject. Anyway, this is one of those stories:

My teenager and I had just finished our Taekwondo class and were driving home. The Teen asked if we could stop at our favorite convenience store, because if she didn’t eat some chocolate-covered pretzels immediately, she would die, messily in the passenger seat.

I grabbed a diet orange soda and was waiting at the front counter, while The Teen gave the variety of pretzels the intense scrutiny they required.

Two clerks were on duty. I know one of them pretty well — I’m a regular customer — but the other was clearly new. I nodded at each of them.

We had just come from martial arts class, and it was a sparring week, so not only was I in uniform and unpleasantly sweaty, but I had also just taken a beating.

“Rough week?” my regular clerk asked.

“Man!” I replied. “I dropped some bad powdered unicorn horn over the weekend. The guy said it was pure, but I think it was cut with some of that South Korean stuff….”

“I hear you,” my friend said.

I continued. “I’ve got a cousin who managed to score me some pixie dust on Monday, and that helped a little, but I kept floating a foot off the couch, and I couldn’t play XBox properly.”

“We’ve all been there,” Clerk No. 1 said, comfortingly.

At this point, Clerk No. 2 was extremely confused.

“I mean,” I said with real frustration in my voice, “I’m just trying to stop the tentacles. You know what I mean?”

Clerk No. 1 nodded understandingly and patted my shoulder. Clerk No. 2 started to say something, then thought better of it. The Teen found her snack. I paid, and we left.

As we walked out the door, I heard Clerk Number Two ask, “Is he always like that?”

“Yeah, pretty much,” said his colleague.

This is my point: It’s been a rough week and you could use a pretty pink drink.

Rhubarb Margarita

  • 2 ounces blanco tequila — I like Hornitos.
  • 1 ounce fresh-squeezed lime juice
  • ¾ ounce rhubarb syrup (see below)

Add all ingredients and 4 or 5 ice cubes to a cocktail shaker. Shake vigorously.

Pour unstrained into a rocks glass.

Regardless of how you start this drink, it will have an effect on you. I am a grumpy, walrus-like man in late middle age. By the time I finished shaking this, I found myself wearing a tutu and sparkle-shoes.

This is a tart, refreshing take on a traditional margarita. The lime juice and tequila are the dominant tastes, but there is a tart fruitiness in the background that you would not be able to identify if you were drinking this blindfolded — which, for what it’s worth, sounds like a really great way to spend a weekend, making new friends. That’s the rhubarb. It’s delicious but prefers to stay in the background, steering this cocktail in delicate and happy directions.

Yeah, that’s really pretty and all, but I’m not the world’s biggest fan of tequila.”

Fair. Replace the tequila with white rum, and you’ll have something we might call a Blushing Daiquiri.

What if I’m 9 years old?”

You’re not supposed to be reading cocktail columns. Have Dad replace the alcohol with club soda. It will be the Very Prettiest Soda.

Rhubarb Syrup

Combine equal amounts of frozen diced rhubarb and white sugar in a saucepan. You will be afraid you have made a major miscalculation — it will look like a lumpy pile of sugar. Be stout of heart.

Cook over medium heat. As the rhubarb thaws and cooks, the sugar will draw out a surprising amount of liquid. Bring the mixture to a boil and let it cook for 30 seconds or so.

Remove from the heat, and let it steep for half an hour or so. Strain off the syrup into a bottle for use. Do not discard the rhubarb; it is the base of a superb compote. Squeeze a little fresh lemon juice into it and you will have a fantastic topping for toast or ice cream.

Featured photo. Rhubarb Margarita. Photo by John Fladd.

Caramel apple biscotti

We are at the midpoint of a biscotti binge. Last week’s recipe for strawberry biscotti got me thinking about other flavor combinations that could work. This week I am focusing on a sweeter biscotti, and next week I will round out the series with a spicier biscotti.

Caramel apple biscotti are the perfect treat for when you are craving a candy-like dessert. The coating of caramel gives a nice boost of sweetness. Even better, these are a neater way to eat than a regular caramel apple. All of the flavor, a lot less mess!

Just like last week’s recipe, you need to use dried fruit when making these. I have made these with regular apples, and the results are mediocre. With fresh apples, you need to bake the biscotti for almost 8 minutes longer, which results in a cookie that is on the verge of being burnt.
Make a batch as a belated Mother’s Day gift, or keep them for yourself. They’ll be enjoyed either way!

Caramel apple biscotti
Makes 30

1/3 cup unsalted butter, softened
1 1/4 cups granulated sugar
2 eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1 1/2 cups diced dried apples
1 cup caramel baking chips
1 teaspoon shortening

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
Beat butter and sugar in the bowl of a stand mixer on speed 2 for 3 minutes.
Add eggs one at a time, beating until smooth.
Stir in vanilla extract.
Slowly add flour, baking powder, salt and cinnamon, mixing until combined.
Stir diced apples into dough.
Divide dough in half.
Shape each half into a 10″ x 4″ rectangle, using floured hands.
Set each loaf 3″ apart on a parchment paper-lined baking sheet.
Bake for 30 minutes or until the dough is set.
Leaving the oven on, remove the baking sheet from the oven, and cool biscotti loaves for 15 minutes on the baking sheet.
Using a chef’s knife, cut the loaves into diagonal slices, 3/4″ thick.
Return the slices to the baking sheet with the cut sides down; bake for 9 minutes.
Turn slices over, and bake for 9 minutes more.
Remove biscotti from oven, and allow them to cool completely on a baking rack. (Do not discard the parchment paper.)
Combine caramel chips and shortening in a small bowl.
Microwave on high in 15-second increments, stirring after each, until fully melted.
Using a spoon, coat one side of biscotti with caramel.
Return biscotti to parchment paper to allow coating to harden.
To quicken the hardening of the coating, place the biscotti in the refrigerator.

Featured Photo: Caramel apple biscotti. Photo by Michele Pesula Kuegler.

In the kitchen with Joe Bernier

Joe Bernier of Weare is the owner and pitmaster of Angry Hog Barbecue Co. (, and on Facebook and Instagram), a mobile food trailer specializing in various smoked meats like beef brisket, pulled pork and St. Louis-cut ribs, along with burgers, hot dogs and scratch-made sides, from coleslaw and baked beans to macaroni and cheese and jalapeno cornbread. Other unique options he’s dabbled in have included smoked bologna sandwiches, barbecue “sundaes” in a cup, and “hand grenades,” or bacon-wrapped stuffed jalapeno poppers. Bernier’s barbecue venture started out in 2011 when he was making and selling his own line of specialty sauces and rubs. In 2018, he operated a seasonal barbecue restaurant on Weirs Beach in Laconia before later transitioning into a food trailer after the pandemic hit. Find him at Laconia Harley-Davidson (239 Daniel Webster Hwy., Meredith) on Saturday, May 14, and at TMS Diesel (83 Rockland Road, Weare) on Saturday, May 21, for its second annual Dyno Day. From Memorial Day through Columbus Day, Angry Hog Barbecue Co. will have a permanent location six days a week at Hermit Woods Winery (62 Main St., Meredith).

What is your must-have kitchen item?

My digital thermometer.

What would you have for your last meal?

A really good marinated steak tip, right off the grill.

What is your favorite local restaurant?

The Stark House [Tavern] in Weare. … It’s not a large space, but it’s a cool little vibe with really good food.

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

Adam Sandler. … I can see him shouting out to somebody, ‘That food is wicked good!’

What is your favorite thing on your menu?

I have a burger called the Sasquatch burger. … It has pickled jalapeno, Swiss cheese, onion and my Hellfire barbecue sauce. It just catches all of the right notes that food should. You get both the savory [flavor] from the beef and the spice from the jalapenos.

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

I think it’s flights and sliders. … Just any small amount of something that’s served on one plate. You’re seeing a lot of that now — burger flights, taco flights, you name it.

What is your favorite thing to cook at home?

A nice huge lasagna. A big batch can feed the family for three days.

Angry Hog “hand grenades” (bacon-wrapped jalapeno poppers)
Courtesy of Joe Bernier of Angry Hog Barbecue Co.

1 cup pulled pork
¼ cup habanero jelly
¼ cup pineapple chunks
jalapeno peppers
applewood bacon
cream cheese
barbecue sauce

In a bowl, combine pulled pork, pineapple chunks and habanero jelly. Place the bowl in the refrigerator to chill. Slice jalapenos the long way and remove the pith and seeds from inside the peppers. Fill the now hollow part of the pepper slices with cream cheese. Place three of these halves in your hand and spoon some of the pulled pork mixture into the middle, then encase the pulled pork with the cream cheese-filled peppers. Wrap with a slice of applewood bacon. Place the jalapenos in the freezer for around 15 minutes to allow them to stiffen up. In a smoker — or on a grill indirectly — cook until the pepper sweats (it should appear wrinkly). Place on direct heat, turning once or twice to crisp up the bacon. Place on a plate and drizzle with your favorite barbecue sauce.

Featured photo: Joe Bernier. Courtesy photo.

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