Adventures in Cheese

Wherein an intrepid cheese-lover attempts several daring experiments with cheese that lead to delicious and unexpected results

Goat cheese, part 1

It was the thyme that pulled me down the rabbit hole.

I had always said that the title of my first cookbook would be I Don’t Have Thyme For This. Over the years, though, as I’ve done more and more cocktail recipe development, I began to suspect a better title would be, It’s Cocktail Thyme! It’s a great title — cheerful, to the point, a little stupid — in short, much like me.

As I honed my bartending skills and got a better sense for flavor combinations, one small but nagging problem kept raising its head: I had never actually developed a cocktail using thyme. To be fair, it always seemed a bit of a formality; thyme is delicious, cocktails are delicious, it shouldn’t be too tricky to bring the two of them together.

Eventually, I decided to tackle the project and looked up thyme in The Flavor Bible.

I tend to think of thyme as a pretty ubiquitous herb. I mean, I don’t really use it, but you see fancy chefs on TV using it all the time.

The Flavor Bible would beg to differ.

cover of the Flavor Bible
The Flavor Bible.

The Flavor Bible
The Flavor Bible by Karen Page and Andrew Dornenburg (Little, Brown, and Co., 2008) is an excellent handbook for anyone playing mad scientist in the kitchen. Essentially, it is the result of a very, very comprehensive poll of extremely thoughtful chefs of what flavors they like to pair with particular ingredients. This book gives you a good idea of what the professional consensus is about any given pairing. If, for instance, you wanted to use coffee in a dish, one or two chefs might suggest pairing it with barbecue sauce. Almost all of them, though, would suggest using it with chocolate. It gives you a sense of which combinations are classics and which are a little more avant-garde.

Overwhelmingly, the most popular pairing that chefs recommend with thyme is goat cheese.

Goat cheese.

How absurd. Clearly, that wouldn’t work in a cocktail. What kind of depraved thrill-seeker would drink a goat cheese cocktail? I would have to try something else.

What else do the chefs suggest to go with thyme?

Carrots, cod or eggplant.

So — goat cheese, huh?

One problem with using goat cheese in a drink is that you can’t just drop a dollop of it into a cocktail shaker and expect it to mix well with the other ingredients. The fat in the cheese would be reluctant to mix with the other liquids without some sort of emulsifier to help it along.

You’ve heard the expression that oil and water don’t mix. Not only is this true, but it can make life difficult for a cook. A good example of this is salad dressing. A classic oil-and-vinegar dressing does not want to mix and must be shaken together vigorously, and used immediately, before it starts to separate. An emulsifier is some ingredient that helps the oil play nicely with other liquids. The classic example is a beaten egg. The fat in a raw egg yolk will latch onto oil molecules readily, while the proteins in the egg white will provide a bridge to water-based fluids.

A goat cheese-based cocktail is a big ask to begin with, without bringing a raw egg on board.

Another approach might be to go in a milkshake direction — a sort of savory mudslide, perhaps. Unfortunately, I didn’t think of that at the time and got distracted by sort of a culinary sleight-of-hand: fat washing.

The basic theory behind fat-washing is that almost any compound that is fat-soluble is also alcohol-soluble. For the past few years, high-end bartenders have been using that chemical loophole to flavor bourbon with bacon, or rum with brown butter. The secret, apparently, is to mix an alcohol with a fatty food, then raise the temperature of the mixture to a couple of degrees above the melting point of the fat you are trying to liberate flavors out of. If you give the fat and alcohol time to get to know each other better, flavors can be exchanged. Goat cheese-infused alcohol is feasible, if you are patient enough.

After several spectacular failed attempts and panicked telephone calls to food scientists (I’m not kidding) I eventually cracked it.

Step 1: Choose a base alcohol

After a lot of thought, I decided to use gin for my experiment. It seemed like the herbal ingredients in a gin would complement the flavor of goat cheese and serve as a bridge to the thyme in a finished cocktail. But which gin?

I asked Andy Harthcock, the owner of Djinn Spirits in Nashua. He seemed a little confused when I told him that I wanted to infuse goat cheese into gin.

“Don’t you mean the other way around?” he asked. (Which actually sounded like a good idea, but I decided to focus on one dangerously ill-conceived project at a time.)

I assured him that I actually was planning to flavor gin with the cheese. He admitted that this was a first for him, but on reflection he had some thoughts about how to go about it.

“You probably don’t want a really high-end gin for this,” he told me. “Any subtle flavors are going to be totally blown out by the goatiness of the cheese.” He advised me to try a heavily botanical gin. “I think you’re probably going to have to eat a round of cheese with several different labels and see which ones stand up to ‘The Goat.’”

goat cheese gin in bottle, thyme, lemon, and goat cheese sitting on top of cook book
Goat Gin. Photo by John Fladd.

So, I did.

After comparing eight different gins, I discovered that Harthcock was right – the two most botanical gins held up to the flavor of the goat cheese the best; in this case, Djinn Spirits’ Original Gin and Drumshanbo Gunpowder Gin. The Djinn gin was extremely botanical and was able to meet the cheese on equal terms. The Drumshanbo isn’t especially botanical but has its own very forceful personality. Either of them would work well.

Step 2: Choose a cheese.

After some trial and error, it turns out that you will need the strongest, “goatiest” cheese available. In this case, I went with Bijou Crottin by Vermont Creamery.

Step 3: Combine the gin and stinky cheese in a zip-lock bag and smoosh it up — a technical term — until it is thoroughly combined. Grope it shamelessly.

Step 4: Heat the mixture to 120°F (49°C) — the melting point of goat cheese — and leave it at that temperature for four hours. A sous vide tank would make this much easier, but you can do much the same thing with a plastic cooler and a thermometer, replacing hot water every 20 minutes or so to keep the water temperature fairly constant.

cheese in a water bath
A water bath can act as a substitute for a sous vide. Photo by John Fladd.

Sous vide
A sous vide water bath is a piece of equipment originally developed for use in scientific and medical labs. It keeps a tub or pot of water at an exact and consistent temperature. You could bathe a bag of lamb chops at 135º, for instance, and walk away secure in the knowledge that it would cook to a perfect medium-rare, and stay there.

Step 5: After a four-hour soak, remove the bag of cheese gin from its bath and put it in a bowl somewhere out of the way for 72 hours. Once or twice per day, you might want to smoosh the bag around in your hands to remix the infusion and keep the cheese in solution.

Step 6: On the big day, thank your bag of gin for working so hard for you, then strain it through a fine-mesh strainer. There will be a surprising amount of cheese solids — or casein — left behind.

Step 7: Filter the cloudy liquid through a coffee filter.

Goat Cheese Gin Recipes:

martini glass on plate on counter
The Relentless March of Thyme. Photo by John Fladd.

The Relentless March of Thyme


  • 2 ounces goat cheese gin (see above)
  • 1 ounce fresh squeezed lemon juice
  • ½ ounce thyme syrup (see below)
  • 2 sprigs of fresh thyme

Combine all ingredients, with ice, in a cocktail shaker. Shake brutally, until you hear the ice shatter.

Strain into a martini glass.

This is a goat-forward, thyme-y, martini-like cocktail. It has a bit of sweetness from the thyme syrup, but it has a clean, cold taste that picks up on the multi-stage nature of the gin and comes in waves.

Thyme Simple Syrup


  • 1 cup white sugar
  • 1 cup water
  • 10 grams / ⅓ ounce fresh thyme (about half a plastic clamshell package from the produce department at the supermarket)

Combine the sugar and water in a small saucepan, and bring to a boil. Let the syrup boil for 10 or 15 seconds to make sure that all the sugar has been dissolved into solution.

Remove from heat, add the thyme, and cover with a plate. Let the thyme steep for 30 minutes.

Strain into a bottle and store in your refrigerator.

Die Goat-erdämmerung


  • 2 ounces goat cheese-infused gin
  • 1 ounce thyme simple syrup
  • 1 ounce lemon syrup (see below)
  • Plain seltzer

Add gin, thyme syrup and lemon syrup to a cocktail shaker, with ice.

Again, shake brutally, until the ice shatters, or the world ends.

Pour, with the ice, into a tall glass and top with seltzer. Stir gently.

This take on goat-cheese gin is sweeter and more amiable than its martini-ish baby brother. Instead of shouting, “HEY!! GOAT CHEESE!!” at you, it soothes and persuades you: “Oh, this is lovely. Oh, there’s some lemon; you like that, don’t you? What’s that in the background? Thyme, you say? Oh, that’s perfect. You know, this is just goaty enough.” It is perfect for dedicating your first weekend of deck-sitting.

Lemon Syrup

Zest some lemons — any amount; don’t let some recipe order you around on this.

Juice the lemons into a small saucepan. Add an equal amount of white sugar, and bring to a boil.

Remove from heat, add the zest, and allow the mixture to steep, covered, for 30 minutes.

Strain, bottle and refrigerate.

“OK,” one might say, “so this whole goat cheese gin thing is very clever and sounds fun, but what if I’m in a cheesy mood, but don’t want to take a leave of absence from work and get a degree in Laboratory Science to make something? “

Ah! You’re in luck!

Goat cheese. part 2

One of my go-to sources for baking recipes is the King Arthur website. Every bread, brownie or pizza crust that they post a recipe for has been rigorously tested and is pretty much bullet-proof. One of my favorite aspects of their recipes is that the amount of each ingredient is listed by volume (cups, etc.) and by weight (ounces and grams). I find that weighing ingredients is easier and more accurate than scooping them with measuring cups.

One of their most recent projects has been something called a Basque cheesecake.

Cheesecake-making can be nerve-wracking. You want your cheesecake to be done all the way through, but not overly baked. You worry about it heating unevenly and developing a crack across the top. You worry about whether you should have used a water bath or not, and if you did, should you have heated the water up first? And then, when you finally finish baking, cooling, and depanning it, you will serve it to someone who shrugs and says, “Yeah. It’s OK,” because it doesn’t fit their mental model of what a cheesecake should be. And then you have to worry about hiding a body.

A Basque cheesecake, on the other hand, is meant to be rustic-looking. You are supposed to bake it at an unreasonably high heat, until the top is deeply, deeply caramelized; it’s supposed to look over-baked.

This makes its deliciousness somewhat surprising and gives it a bigger impact.

I’ve taken the original recipe and tweaked it to accentuate its cheesiness. I’ve replaced cream cheese with a mild goat cheese and dramatically reduced the sugar in this recipe by about a third, to make its tartness pop. It is easy. It doesn’t take long. It is a tremendous confidence-booster.

Basque Cheesecake

cheesecake on a plate
Basque cheesecake. Photo by John Fladd.


  • 24 ounces / 685 grams soft, mild goat cheese
  • 7 ounces / 200 grams white sugar
  • 5 eggs
  • 6 ounces /170 grams heavy cream
  • ½ teaspoon coarse sea salt

Heat oven to 500º.

Line a springform pan with parchment paper.

Combine all ingredients in a blender, then blend for five minutes.

Pour into the springform pan, trimming off any excess parchment paper.

Bake for approximately 45 minutes, until dark.

Cool for at least one hour, then remove from pan.

Eating this tart, crumbly cheesecake is a meditative experience. It is delicious. The sharp taste of the goat cheese provides a mouth-watering sourness that seems a little citrusy, but is also emphatically not. The pared-down nature of this dish makes it perfect for paying very close attention to every bite, and leaving you fully in the moment.

And now perhaps you’re thinking: “That does sound good, but my mother-in-law is famous for her cheesecake, and I’m afraid that if I made this, word would get to her, she would take it as some sort of criticism, and my quality of life would degrade significantly. Do you have something else?”

OK. As it turns out, yes I do.

Digital scale
Once you get used to it, a digital scale becomes an indispensable tool in your kitchen. When you need to add multiple ingredients to a bowl or a saucepan, for instance, you can put the container on the scale, then add each ingredient by weight, using the tare function to zero out the scale and avoid doing math. You stop having to wonder what “tightly” or “loosely” packed means in a given context. Your baking becomes much more consistent.

Smoked cheddar

One of my great passions is shopping at flea markets. I have a particular fondness for finding obscure cookbooks. Our kitchen shelves long ago ran out of room to hold all of them, and I am about three volumes away from filling a bookcase in the living room. Their mere existence is something of a trial for my wife, who feels that by taking up valuable space but never actually being cooked from, they are openly mocking her.

“Can we get rid of some of these?” she asks me two or three times a year. “Are you ever going to actually make any Bengali street food?”

“You never know, Baby,” I reply with an air of mystery. “You never know.”

And the scary thing for her is that she doesn’t know. She could be going through her day, not suspecting a thing, then suddenly catching a whiff of the exotic but slightly alarming scent of asafetida from the kitchen.

Last week’s purchase was the promisingly titled Adventures in Cooking by Rasmus Alsaker, M.D., published in 1927.

I was fully prepared to navigate old-fashioned recipes calling for vague measurements, like “a knob of butter, the size of a pullet’s egg,” or “a medium oven.” Doctor Alsaker was a man of science, though, and his measurements were precise. What I was not prepared for was his enthusiasm for pimientos. At a rough estimate, he calls for pimientos in approximately 5,000 recipes. I don’t know what was going on pimiento-wise in 1927, but I have used our own relative pimientolessness as license to modify his recipe for the very promising-sounding:

Cheese Crumb Pudding


piece of bread crumb pudding on plate with fork
Cheese crumb pudding. Photo by John Fladd.
  • 2 cups / 110 grams bread crumbs. (I feel like you could blitz Triscuits in the food processor in lieu of fresh bread crumbs.)
  • 2 cups / 250 grams shredded, smoked cheddar. I went with an Australian brand called Old Croc, and I was not disappointed.
  • ½ teaspoon dry mustard
  • ½ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 3 Tablespoons jarred salsa (This is playing pinch hitter for the pimientos.)
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 cup / 225 grams whole milk
  • ¼ teaspoon paprika

Heat oven to 375º.

Generously butter a 9×9” baking dish.

Mix the mustard, pepper and paprika together in a small dish.

Spread 1/3 of your crumbs over the bottom of the baking dish. Look at them critically. Do they look cold and lonely?

Cover them with a blanket of cheddar — half the cheddar. Sprinkle half of the seasoning on top of the blanket. You know — like a blessing.

Repeat, with another layer of crumbs, the rest of the cheddar, and the rest of the seasoning. Top with a final layer of crumbs.

Mix the milk, eggs and salsa; gently pour over the top of the guys you already have in the baking dish.

Bake for 30 minutes.

Allow to cool for 10 minutes before serving.

The center of this savory pudding is tender, custardy and smoky. The edges are where it really shines though. If you are, like all good Americans, a fan of brownies from the edge of the pan, the chewiness of the pudding border will be something of a revelation. You could describe this as being a bit like a very good macaroni and cheese without the macaroni.

Or, in the words of my own sullen teenager, “Why didn’t you ever tell me you could cook something like this?”

But perhaps you’re thinking: “I can’t make that. Mercury is in retrograde.”

OK, now you’re just messing with me, but I’m going to call your bluff.

Electric whisk
Most recipes that call for a custard will include very finicky instructions on how to temper beaten eggs with hot milk, then whisk the warmed-up egg mixture back into whatever you are cooking. Then comes possibly the most frustrating cooking instruction ever written: “cook, stirring constantly, until the custard coats the back of a spoon.” I don’t know what kinds of cooking prodigies can actually manage that. I’ve been trying to perfect that particular maneuver for over 20 years and I can still never tell when I’m closing in on “soupy scrambled eggs” territory.

The game-changer for me was finding a whisk with an integrated thermometer in it. Some research revealed that ice cream base should be heated to approximately 175º, so now I can just whisk my custard thoroughly until I hit that temperature.

Blue Cheese

Honey-Roquefort Ice Cream


  • 8 Tablespoons / 120 grams clover or wildflower honey
  • 4 ounces Roquefort or blue cheese
  • 2 cups / 500 grams half & half
  • 4 egg yolks
bowls of ingredient for honey-roquefort ice cream
Making honey-roquefort ice cream. Photo by John Fladd.

The brilliant thing about this recipe — aside from its unexpected excellence — is that it only has four ingredients.

Crumble the blue cheese into a bowl, in small pieces.

Combine the honey, half & half and egg yolks in a small saucepan.

Whisking constantly, heat the custard (because that is what this is — a loose custard) over low heat until it reaches 173º. (We’re actually shooting for 175º, but the temperature will continue to rise a few degrees after you remove it from the heat.)

Pour the very warm custard through a fine-mesh strainer, over the blue cheese.

Whisk until the blue cheese almost completely dissolves. It is OK if there are a few small, surprise pieces of cheese left in the mixture.

Chill the mixture, then churn in your ice cream maker, according to the manufacturer’s recommendations.

You may have heard that some avant-garde chefs have been experimenting with savory ice creams. This is not one of them. This is a fully sweet dessert ice cream that just happens to be blue cheesy. The honey provides a muskiness that complements the earthy, salty flavor of the cheese. It is possibly the most creamy ice cream you have ever tried.

Do you have to be stout of heart to try it? Do you have to look Adventure in the eye and shake its hand?

Yes, and yes. But you will enjoy this, and you will come out the other side of the experience slightly changed.

But you know what would make this honey-ish, cheesy ice cream even better?


Consulting The Flavor Bible again shows that a great many chefs like the combination of apples with blue cheese. Who am I to argue with a great many chefs?

Apple Bundt Cake


  • 3 Granny Smith apples, peeled and diced — about 440 grams
  • 3 cups / 360 grams all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
  • ½ teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg. If you’ve never grated your own nutmeg, try it. You’ll never go back to pre-ground again.
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • 1½ cups / 360 grams sour cream
  • 1½ cups / 275 grams white sugar
  • ½ cup / 64 grams brown sugar
  • 3 eggs
slice of cake on plate with 3 small scoops of ice cream
Apple bundt cake. Photo by John Fladd.

Heat your oven to 325º.

Paint the inside of your Bundt pan with Cake Goop (see sidebar)

Whisk together the flour, baking soda, cinnamon, nutmeg and salt.

In another bowl, mix the sugars and sour cream. Mix in eggs, one at a time.

Mix in the diced apples by hand.

Pour mixture into your pre-gooped Bundt pan. Lift the pan and bonk it on your counter 10 times.

Bake for 70 minutes or until it reaches an internal temperature of 200º F.

Remove from the oven. Let it cool for 20 minutes, then remove from the pan.

This is an outstanding Bundt cake. The apples are tart and still a tiny bit crunchy. The cake itself is rich but not too sweet. The nutmeg and cinnamon shine through.

And it is extremely good with blue cheese ice cream.

But still, perhaps, you say: “That does sound good. Unfortunately, I’m not allowed in the kitchen since the Lasagna Incident.”

I hear you; we’ve all been there. I’ve got you covered.

Bundt cake
Bundt cake might be the Cake Lover’s ideal cake. At its best it is moist, flavorful, not too sweet, and free of frosting distractions. That goodness comes at a cost, however; it presupposes that you can get your cake out of the pan. There are few heartbreaks in life on a par with inverting a Bundt pan only to find that you’ve left half a cake in it.

This can, happily, be avoided. For months, I have been hearing rumors online about “Cake Goop.” It is a mixture of equal parts solid shortening, vegetable oil and flour. Word on the street was that if you paint the inside of your Bundt pan with this stuff, your cake won’t stick.

It’s true.


There is a Greek sheep’s-milk cheese hidden away in the specialty cheese section of your supermarket called haloumi.

charcoal grilled haloumi on plate with lemon and parsley
Charcoal-grilled haloumi. Photo by John Fladd.

In many ways, it is much as you’d expect it to be — salty, mild-flavored and fairly modest. If you taste a little, it might seem a little chewy, but not outrageously so. If it were a person, it would be named Melvin.

You wouldn’t suspect him of hiding a superpower.

Haloumi has an extremely high melting point. Oh, you could force the issue and make it melt, but you would probably need a blowtorch to do it. At temperatures that would frighten other cheeses out of the room, haloumi hums softly to itself and minds its own business.

So nicely in fact, that you can charcoal-grill it.

Charcoal-grilled Haloumi

1. Light the charcoal in your grill.

2. Thoroughly grease a grill pan. Use an oil with a high smoke point. This means one that won’t catch on fire when things get serious. Use any oil you would fry with. I like ghee — clarified butter — but shortening or peanut oil would also work really well.

3. Open packages of haloumi and cut it into finger-sized pieces.

4. Make a cocktail and go back outside to watch the coals.

5. When the coals are red and white and feeling all right, grill the haloumi over them in the pre-greased grill pan. Turn the cheese frequently with tongs. It will only take a few minutes to char-grill them beautifully.

6. Serve with a fresh parsley and a squeeze of lemon juice. A salad would be nice, too.

When I was a kid, once a year — usually on July 4 — my church would hold a big auction. It was the church’s big fundraiser for the year. One year my mom gave me $3 to bid with and I won a mystery box of books. There were a couple of really great pulp adventure novels from the ‘30s in it, as well a truly unexpected piece of literature that I’m pretty sure my mom wouldn’t have approved of, that was extremely educational. It was the high point of my summer.

The men of the church would man the grills — giant 50-gallon barrels split down the middle with industrial grating thrown over the top. They would risk serious burns and smoke inhalation to grill hot dogs, burgers and quarter-chickens. The smoke, barbecue sauce and the constant threat of danger made that the best chicken I ever had.

What does that have to do with grilled haloumi?

Not much, except that this will also make you very, very happy. The smoke and salt and mild char on the cheese will be a bit of an epiphany. The acid from the lemon juice will add just the tang it needs to put it over the top.

It might even get you kitchen privileges again.

At last, you might think, “I’m feeling a bit overwhelmed. All this cheesiness is just a little exotic for me. I’ve had a rough week and I’m feeling a little fragile. You said ‘grilled cheese’ and you got my hopes up.”

I understand completely.

You know that blowtorch we talked about a couple of minutes ago? It turns out that a plumber’s blowtorch is the perfect tool for lighting charcoal without leaving a lighter-fluid taste behind.


Do you know who else does?

Marcie Pichardo, the owner of Prime Time Grilled Cheese,a restaurant in Manchester specializing in grilled cheese sandwiches. She spends a lot of time thinking about cheese — according to her, approximately 18 hours a day.

Cheese might be the glue that keeps society from splintering apart, she says. “Cheese holds things together. In the house I grew up in, cheese is the thing that held us together as a family. It’s the glue that holds a recipe together.’

According to Pichardo, the key factor to consider when you are putting together a grilled cheese sandwich is consistency. “That’s the most important reason why we choose a particular cheese for a sandwich,” she says. “Think of a pizza. If you put cheddar on it, it would taste good, but it would go everywhere! That’s why you go with a mozzarella.”

She agrees that the Platonic ideal of a grilled cheese sandwich involves (1) white sandwich bread, (2) American cheese (“It’s gooey in the middle and crispy on the outside.”) and (3) being grilled in butter. “That’s the benchmark,” she says.

She’s not wrong.

Platonic ideal
The concept of a “Platonic ideal” states that for every concept, there is a perfect theoretical example of it that all real world examples are measured against — the most perfect blue sky, the most exquisite jazz trumpet solo and the most grilled-cheesiest grilled cheese sandwich.

And yet, I’d like to submit an idea for your approval:

A grilled colby-jack on pumpernickel, with caramelized onions.

You know how to make a grilled cheese sandwich. I know you know. You know that I know that you know.


grilled cheese on pumpernickel on plate with chips
A grilled colby-jack on pumpernickel, with caramelized onions. Photo by John Fladd.

Butter one side of each slice of pumpernickel generously with softened butter. It’s tempting to just drop a dollop of cold-from-the-fridge butter in the pan, melt it, then swirl the sandwich around in it, but it never works out as well as buttering the bread itself.

Assemble the sandwich completely before putting it in the pan. It is always tempting to put the first slice of bread in by itself, then add the cheese and the other slice in stages, as you finish them, but your finished sandwich will be cooked evenly on both sides if you observe traditional grilled-cheese protocols.

Watch the sandwich with a jaded, suspicious eye. The pumpernickel will try to fool you about how grilled it is. Do not fall for its tricks. Because the bread is so dark to begin with, you cannot rely on color to let you know when to flip it.

Flip the sandwich experimentally, and gently tap the surface of the bread with the edge of your spatula. When it feels grilled, it is grilled.

Do not make the omelet mistake of waiting until the cheese is thoroughly melted before removing your pan from the heat; your sandwich will be overcooked. Take it out of the pan as soon as the bread is ready. The grilled bread will be warm enough to finish melting the cheese on its own.

We should throw a grilled cheese party. We could all wear t-shirts that read “Proud to Be Crusty.” We could rig up a cheese piñata full of Baby Bells. June 4 is National Cheese Day.

There is still time.

Featured photo: Die Goat-erdämmerung. Photo by John Fladd.

This Week 22/05/19

Big Events May 19, 2022 and beyond

Friday, May 20

Beaver Brook Nature Center (117 Ridge Road in Hollis; will hold a Lilac Walk today from 1 to 3 p.m. (for adults). Walk around Beaver Brook’s Shoen Meadow to learn about the area’s lilacs, according to the website, where you can register for $20 per person.

Saturday, May 21

Inventor Ralph Baer, father of the video game console, has a statue in his honor in Arms Park in Manchester (he was born in Germany and he moved to the Queen City in 1955; he died in 2014). A celebration of the centennial of his birth will be held today in Arms Park starting at noon (with a food truck social hour). At 1 p.m., speakers and presentations will discuss Baer and his legacy in video games and local innovation and there will be an unveiling of a new plaque for his sculpture, according to, which also lists the schedule of events at SEE Science Center in downtown Manchester (where entry will be free starting at 2 p.m.) celebrating Baer.

Saturday, May 21

Another plant sale Saturday: The Bedford Garden Club will hold its May Plant Sale today from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. at the Bedford Village Common (15 Bell Hill Road in Bedford). The sale will feature perennials, annual, herbs and ground cover as well as the presence of master gardeners who can answer questions, according to

The Goffstown Community Garden Club will start its Plant Sale on the Common today at 8 a.m. Find more about the club on their Facebook page.

Saturday, May 21

The Manchester Choral Society and Orchestra will put the cap on their 61st season with a performance tonight at 7 p.m. at Ste. Marie’s Parish (378 Notre Dame Ave. in Manchester). The presentation will include a performance of “Lobgeang” (Song of Praise) by Felix Mendelssohn and will feature the Queen City Youth Choir, a choir featuring kids in grades 3 through 6, according to a press release. Tickets cost $30 for adults, $25 for seniors and admission is free to all students from kindergarten through undergraduate, the release said. Call 472-6627 or go to to purchase tickets in advance; they may also be purchased at the door.

Saturday, May 21

The New Hampshire Renaissance Faire begins its second weekend today. The fair is open from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. today and tomorrow (Sunday, May 22) at 80 Martin Road in Fremont. In last week’s (May 12) issue of the Hippo, Meghan Siegler talked to some of the performers and organizers about getting ready for the Faire and what attendees can expect. Find the e-edition of the issue at; the story is on page 10. Or go to

Sunday, May 22

The James Montgomery Band will perform at the Rex Theatre (23 Amherst St. in Manchester; today at 6 p.m. Tickets cost $29. Find more concerts this weekend and beyond in our concert listings on page 42.

Save the Date! Thursday, May 26
Next Thursday is the first home game of the season for the Nashua Silver Knights, described on their website as a “wood-bat baseball team competing in the Futures Collegiate Baseball League of New England.” The Silver Knights will play the Pittsfield Suns on Thursday, May 26, at 6 p.m. See for tickets and the season schedule and the promotion schedule (Thursday’s game will feature a magnet giveaway).

Featured photo from Brian Caton of the Brotherhood of the Arrow and Sword. New Hampshire Renaissance Faire. Courtesy photo.

Quality of Life 22/05/19

Red and blue go head to head

The New Hampshire Legislative Softball Classic that pits Republican lawmakers against Democratic lawmakers is back after a two-year pandemic hiatus. According to a press release, this is the fourth charity game in the series, which was established in 2017 after the shooting of congressmen who were practicing for the annual Congressional Baseball Game in Washington, D.C. The Granite State version of the game will take place Sunday, May 22, at 2 p.m. at the Anheuser Busch Softball Field in Merrimack. The three previous games raised approximately $30,000 to assist the homeless, the release said. This year, the nonprofits that will benefit include Liberty House in Manchester, which helps homeless and transitioning veterans; Haven, which supports victims of domestic violence; and the Nashua Center, for children and adults with disabilities. Contact Rep. Peter Somssich at or Rep. Tim Lang at for more information about the Classic or on how to donate to the charities.

Score: +1

Comment: The Republicans have won all of the state’s Legislative Softball Classics thus far, the release said.

Increase in overdoses linked to fentanyl

Last week, state officials issued warnings about the recent increase in fatal overdoses in Manchester and Nashua that appear to be primarily due to easy access to cheap, potent fentanyl and fentanyl being mixed with other substances such as cocaine, methamphetamine and marijuana. According to a press release, fentanyl is about 50 times more powerful than heroin and 100 times stronger than morphine, and drugs may have deadly levels of fentanyl that can go undetected because it can’t be seen, tasted or smelled. “Fentanyl is by far the most common drug implicated in overdose deaths in New Hampshire,” Dr. Jennie Duval, Chief Medical Examiner for the state, said in the release. “It is a highly potent opioid drug that may be fatal in very small amounts, alone or in combination with other drugs, medications or alcohol. Our investigations often suggest that the decedent may not have even known they were using fentanyl.”

Score: -2

Comment: The state is also reminding residents that The Doorways is available to help access any level of treatment by calling 211, the release said.

Manchester-Nashua area rent up 13.4 percent

A new report from Stessa, a digital platform that allows property investors to manage the performance of real estate assets, shows that median rent in the Manchester-Nashua metro area is now $1,571, compared to $1,385 in 2019 — an increase of 13.4 percent. According to the report, which calculated the percentage change in median rent from 2019 to 2022 in metro locations throughout the country, Manchester-Nashua had the 33rd highest increase in median rent out of 96 midsize metro areas.

Score: -1

Comment: It could be worse; the median rent in San Jose, Calif., is $3,161, the report said, and closer to home, the median rent in Boston-Cambridge-Newton is $2,308.

New businesses struggle in the Granite State

New Hampshire ranks 6th in the country for the highest percentage of businesses failing in their first year. According to a LendingTree analysis, 22.9 percent of new businesses fail in the Granite State before they make it to their one-year anniversary. On average, 18.4 percent of private-sector businesses in the U.S. fail within the first year; after five years, 49.7 percent have failed, and after 10 years, 65.5 percent have failed, the report said.

Score: -1

Comment: New Hampshire’s business failure rate after five years is 53.5 percent, while its failure rate at 10 years is 67.9 percent, the report said.

QOL score: 80

Net change: -3

QOL this week: 77

What’s affecting your Quality of Life here in New Hampshire? Let us know at

Celtics move on to Round 3

In a week with the Bruins going out in a Game 7 loss to Carolina, Tom Brady getting a record deal to become a game analyst for Fox Sports if he ever does retire, the Patriots finally getting hit with a really tough schedule in 2022 and the Red Sox showing a little life, the surging Celtics continue to be the big local story after knocking off the defending champion Bucks in Game 7 on Sunday.

By the time you read this Game 1 vs. Miami will be history, with Game 2 coming up Thursday. So here are some things to think about as Miami, Boston, Golden State and Dallas battle it out over the next 10 days.

While acknowledging Khris Middleton was a big loss for the Bucks, remember the Celtics won Game 2 without Marcus Smart and Games 4, 6 and 7 without lob-it-to-Rob Williams.

OK, after a rough couple of early Round 2 games, Jayson Tatum’s impending Hall of Fame induction is back on track.

How anyone could think Brooklyn would be a tougher opponent than Miami is beyond me. While they don’t have Kevin Durant, they have more good, tough-minded players, a better point guard and one of the best coaches in the NBA, and everyone plays D to the max. Plus while Jimmy Butler is a bit nuts, he’s a real leader.

I’ve got Dallas in the other series. They had a near duplicate of the season turnaround the Celtics had and own the league’s best record from January after Boston. They also beat the Celtics at the Garden in late March. Plus they have Luka Doncic. I hate to think how good he’s going to be if he ever realizes he’s got to work on his body. Because he’s wreaking havoc right now looking like the Pillsbury Doughboy.

At the beginning of the year I thought this might be the last stand for Golden State’s mini-dynasty. But I’m not so sure now. Jordan Poole has come out of nowhere to be a pretty good player to make Andrew Wiggins a possible trade chip and they have the potential of James Wiseman to move, which they should do quickly before he turns into the bust I think he’s going to become.

It’s hard to make the all playoff awards team before the playoffs even start, but Bucks coach Mike Budenholzer did the impossible this year. It’s getting a lot of play now, but remember who said a month ago in my NBA Notebook before the playoffs started that Budenholzer had already won the award for most idiotic move by a coach for tanking his final game of the year to hand the Celtics home court advantage when/if they met in Round 2. He gets bonus points for the message he sent to his team about being afraid to play a team as feeble as the Nets.

Plus not making any adjustments to his “dare you to beat us with 3’s” strategy as Tatum, Grant Williams, Payton Pritchard and company were raining 3’s on the Bucks all through Game 7 boarded on coaching malpractice.

While the ultra-serious Ime Udoka is not exactly a barrel of laughs, the more I see the more I like. The latest example was, with Derrick White and Daniel Theis repeatedlythrowing up bricks, the coach searching out a hot hand by running in the up and down Pritchard right after Tatum picked up his fourth foul in the third quarter. It yielded four 3’s and 14 points along with a couple of scrappy, big rebounds. One of which was kicked to Smart in the corner, who buried it as the lead grew with Tatum on the bench.

Udoka also gets credit for not ducking Brooklyn in Round 1 to earn home court on Sunday.

Fans at the Garden certainly have been on their game the first two rounds. They were loud and energized in Round 2 vs. Milwaukee and totally in Kyrie’s head vs. the Nets in Game 2 of Round 1.

I dig the Van Gundy brothers. So I’m hoping Mark Jackson gets one of the head coaching jobs he’s rumored to be in contention for and that ABC steals Stan from TNT to pair the Van Gundys with Mike Breen. Together they’d be a hoot.

Not sure this means anything, but the Top 5 playoff leaders in rebounds, assists and steals are all on vacation, while three of the top scorers (Doncic, Butler and Tatum) remain. Ditto for the 3-point leaders (Tatum, Steph Curry, Klay Thompson).

Forgot to mention this last time. Of course the New York Post had the best headline after Tatum won Game 1 vs. Brooklyn with a shot over Kyrie at the buzzer. That came not too long after Kyrie had flipped off the fans several times at the Garden. It read “Bye, bye birdie” over a picture of Tatum with his arms raised in jubilation as Kyrie walks by with a look of disgust on his face.

Chris Paul came up small in the playoffs again. This time by scoring 5, 7, 13 and 10 in his last four games vs. Dallas, which included a shocking 33 Game 7 drubbing. My question to those giving the “the playoffs grind is tough, he’s 37” excuse is yes, that may be so, but what’s the excuse in his first 16 years when his personal record in the playoffs is under .500? He may have been a better regular-season player, but give me a prime-of-life Rajon Rondo in a big game any day, any way.

Am I the only one who sees the irony of so many treating Kyrie leaving the Celtics as a calamity, while the Nets were anointed as sure to be champs when he and KD hooked up in Brooklyn?

Know why that didn’t happen? ’Cause, repeat after me, he ain’t that good.

Setting the stage

Peacock Players welcomes new director

Meet Elle Millar, the new executive director of Nashua-based youth theater company Peacock Players.

What is your background in this kind of work?

I’m currently a middle school teacher in Nashua, and I’m also the drama club director there, so I already have a connection with a lot of the young people … in Nashua. I’m also a performer and have performed with … different companies in southern New Hampshire. As a kid, I [performed with] Andy’s Summer Playhouse.

What will your job as executive director entail?

The big things that I’m figuring out right now are what productions we’re going to be putting on next year, and identifying the people who will be doing the music, directing and choreographing. It’s a lot of organizing and planning and figuring out the logistics of how to make everything happen.

What do you hope to accomplish?

I have big plans to expand our programming over the next calendar year. … The board and I have talked a lot about expanding [theater] beyond the stage to bring it to the kids in elementary schools, middle schools and high schools in Nashua. We’re also working on some programming for preschool and early elementary school kids, and some adult arts education opportunities, as well. … We’re working on bringing some fresh theater to Nashua, ‘fresh’ meaning [shows that are] less-done, but still beloved.

What do you expect to be some of the biggest challenges?

With the isolation of the pandemic and the stress of being out of school and out of their routine, kids are really struggling with how to communicate with each other in healthy ways. There’s a lot more arguing and a lot more drama. … We’ve been talking about how we can help our kids put themselves into other people’s shoes and understand healthy, positive ways to interact with each other, resolve conflicts and broach difficult topics with their friends. We’re looking at some different sorts of social-emotional learning and relationship-building and empathy-building exercises [using theater] that we could potentially bring into the schools. … I’m certainly not an expert in the field, but I plan on doing an immense amount of research over the summer and reaching out to experts who have done this kind of work before.

What unique qualities or perspectives do you bring to this position?

I’m the first woman to have this role; I’m, I believe, the first openly queer person to have this role; and I’m also, I believe, the first certified teacher. It’s these personal and professional experiences that allow me to bring in an entirely different perspective. … My goal is to make Peacock Players feel like Peacock Players, but also bring my own perspective and experiences and education with me so that we’re building something new while honoring what has always been.

What are you looking forward to most?

Theater is a learning experience for everyone involved; whether you’re the director or the stage manager or a performer, you are learning. You’re learning about how to work with others; about their strengths and where they need support; about how to create a piece of art together; about how to take direction and how to give direction; about how to be a leader and how to be a follower in appropriate ways. That type of learning is just so incredibly valuable. I’m really excited to take … my experiences as a teacher in the classroom and facilitate a totally different type of learning.

Featured photo: Elle Millar.

News & Notes 22/05/19

Covid-19 update As of May 9As of May 13
Total cases statewide 314,533 316,691
Total current infections statewide 3,902 4,527
Total deaths statewide 2,488 2,500
New cases 3,389 (May 3 to May 9) 2,158 (May 9 to May 13)
Current infections: Hillsborough County 1,148 1,243
Current infections: Merrimack County 364 417
Current infections: Rockingham County 817 1,058
Information from the New Hampshire Department of Health and Human Services.

Covid-19 news

State health officials announced 585 new positive cases of Covid-19 on May 13. The state averaged 524 new cases per day over the most recent seven-day period, an 8 percent increase compared to the week before. As of May 13 there were 31 people being treated for Covid in state hospitals.

Child care

The Department of Health and Human Services will use an additional $29 million in American Rescue Plan Act funding to support child care providers, families and businesses impacted by the pandemic, making the total amount of funding that has been invested in the state’s child care sector more than $142 million since the beginning of the pandemic. According to a press release, plans for improving child care in the state include strengthening the child care workforce; partnerships with businesses and employers; a child care capacity building; and equitable access to affordable, quality child care. “Access to quality child care has been a critical touchpoint during the Covid-19 pandemic,” DHHS Associate Commissioner Christine Santaniello said in the release. “Since March of 2020, we have worked … to keep child care centers open so that parents can continue to work and maintain their families’ financial stability. Making continued investments will help us build a better child care system, allowing more families to afford quality care, and ensuring equitable access to child care for all New Hampshire families.”

Primary deadlines

The deadline to change your party affiliation before the New Hampshire state primary election is May 31, according to a press release from New Hampshire Secretary of State David M. Scanlan. Voters who want to change their party affiliation can do so by contacting their local town or city clerk, or at any scheduled meeting of their local supervisors of the checklist. Voters can check their status on the Secretary of State’s Voter Information Lookup page at if they’re unsure of their party affiliation. Voters who have not declared a party affiliation may vote in the state primary, which will take place Sept. 13, but they must choose either a Republican or Democratic ballot on the day of the election and will remain a registered member of that party unless they submit a signed request to the supervisors of the checklist to return to an undeclared status before leaving the polling place, the release said.

Scanlan also issued a reminder that the filing period for candidacy for the state primary election and general election is June 1 to June 10. Those who want to file for office but aren’t registered voters in their town must register no later than May 31, and registered voters who want to file for nomination must be registered as a member of that party, the release said. For more information on the filing period, candidacy fees and qualifications for office, visit

Apprentices & LNAs

ApprenticeshipNH, the Community College System of New Hampshire, Catholic Medical Center and Elliot Health System have collaborated to launch a registered apprenticeship program designed to cultivate talent in nursing, tech and support roles at The Elliot and CMC. According to a press release, the “earn while you learn” approach will give participants a chance to engage in classroom learning and on-the-job training while being in a paid position. “I can’t recall a point in my career when it has been this challenging to fill these positions,” Karen Schoch, Director of Organizational Development at Catholic Medical Center, said in the release. “A program like this not only helps us place people in critically important positions, it also removes barriers for people who want to pursue a health care career.” A Healthcare Career Fair at Manchester Community College will be held Thursday, May 19, from 1 to 6 p.m., and anyone interested in entering the health care workforce through a paid registered apprenticeship program is encouraged to attend.

Meanwhile, the New Hampshire Needs Caregivers! initiative has launched Healthcare Heroes in the Making, which will recruit, train and place high school students across the state as licensed nursing assistants to fill critical in-demand positions. According to a press release, the program pays for training and licensing costs and requires 110 hours of time and is open to high schools across the state; so far, 16 schools and 72 students have been approved to participate.

Earlier this month, John Askew of Derry won the 2022 9-Ball Shootout Pool Championship — and a cash and prize package worth $10,000 — in Las Vegas. According to a press release, Askew was one of nearly 6,000 pool players in the country who attempted to qualify for the American Poolplayers Association’s 9-Ball Shootout and one of 518 who advanced to the national finals. Askew is a member of the local APA League, the release said.

The Goodwill store on John E. Devine Drive in Manchester celebrated its grand re-opening on May 14. According to a press release, the store has been renovated to include smoother checkout lanes, a Handpicked Boutique where shoppers can find quality merchandise and more items for sale. The nonprofit’s revenues go toward its mission to support those in need.

The new school superintendent who was selected by the Nashua Board of Education is not able to be certified in New Hampshire as was expected, and he will not be able to serve the district, according to a press release. Stephen Linkous is certified as a school superintendent in Kansas, and it was assumed that there is reciprocity between Kansas and New Hampshire, the release said, but there is not, and Linkous can’t be certified in New Hampshire. Linkous had already started transitioning to the role, and the Board of Education voiced its appreciation for his efforts.

Reflections on a gentleman

With age come certain changes, one of which is that I find myself attending more memorial services than weddings these days. This week, it was to attend virtually the Celebration of Life for the actor Emilio Delgado. While all services for the departed carry the deep sorrow of loss, they also offer those so gathered an opportunity to reflect on their experiences of having been part of the late person’s life. The collective remembrances of those times not only console; they also inspire those of us who remain behind to assess our own place in the world.

As did so many others, and as a parent, I first came to know Emilio as Luis, the Fix-it Shop owner on the children’s television series Sesame Street. (He played the same role on U.S. television longer than any other Mexican-American actor.) My wife and I were sparing in the time we allotted our two children to watch TV and so Sesame Street became a special fixture in their early lives and the program inspired their love of Spanish. Many have extolled the early childhood education philosophy that informed the creativity of the program and noted its appeal to not only children but their parents as well. For our family, however, the character Luis was a standout for his gentleness, self-deprecating humor and optimism.

Many years later, when we lived in Ashland, Oregon, our family became friends with Emilio, his wife, Carole, and their daughter Lauren. For several years, it was our good fortune to encounter this wonderful person in real life as well as on the TV. There simply was no difference between the lovable character in the series and the man in our living room or at the supermarket. His kindness was contagious, his optimism uplifting, and his generosity exemplary. On those occasions when we were with him and a stranger who recognized him approached, we saw not only the genuine affection the person had for him but his for one of his admirers. It was never ego-driven, but a true encounter of mutual respect.

As the many speakers at Emilio’s memorial service shared their recollections, the rest of us learned even more of his insatiable curiosity, his love of books and learning, his musical accomplishments, and his deep and long-standing commitment to social justice. On that latter point, one friend cited Cornel West, who wrote, “Justice is what love looks like in public.” His life of activism was exemplary of that value.

Through his life and the character of Luis, Emilio Delgado brought the best to children and adults alike. His passing challenges those who remain behind to carry on those values.

You can contact Steve Reno at

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