No repeat weekend

RoC The Range offers full palette of jam acts

It’s been a long, strange trip for The Range, a Mason driving range, restaurant, and tiki bar that began offering live music outdoors just over a decade ago. The first foray lasted until 2014, when legal challenges shut it down for four years. In 2018 The Range rocked again with a show headlined by Badfish, Roots of Creation and a few area bands, and it has kept going since. With upgrades to the stage and sound, it bills itself as “the greatest live music venue you’ve never heard of in New Hampshire.”

Brett Wilson recalled his group Roots of Creation being the first to play there in 2011. The southern New Hampshire jam band called the event RoC the Range, a name that’s stuck through subsequent years and is back for an extended two-day run, on Friday, Aug. 26, and Saturday, Aug. 27. RoC will play three sets, one drawing from its Dead-inspired Grateful Dub records, and two of original music.

“When we first played the driving range, there was no stage, it was under a tiny little tent,” Wilson said by phone recently. “The next year, they bought a bigger tent.”

Badfish will headline Friday night, with RoC providing the lead-in and promising a full-length set of originals. “Like an hour and half, not a little opening set, because they’re our friends, and they’re cool letting us do that,” Wilson said, adding, “it’s kind of our branded event, but they’re closing it out.”

Saturday will feature a hybrid reggae/jam set, music that has them frequently called Bradley Nowell and Jerry Garcia’s love child, followed by another all-original performance. RoC recently signed with, a concert streaming site, and Wilson is keen to show their variety.

“I think a lot of the jam-band people don’t really know how much we jam and how we try not to repeat songs,” he said. “I was like, ‘We should go there and do three sets with no repeats.’ We have enough material.”

The RoC lineup for the festival includes Wilson and longtime members Tal Pearson on keyboards, and sax player/vocalist Andrew Riordan. Brendan Dillon is on drums and the newest addition is Mathew James, a 16-year-old bassist the group found on Instagram covering their videos. “He knows like almost every single one of our songs better than us,” Wilson said, “and his parents are freaking awesome, they’re Deadheads and supper supportive.”

When Badfish follows with its Sublime tribute, it’s likely Wilson will be back on stage. “They always invite me to jam,” he said. All of the weekend’s performers have more than a musical connection to the band, and that’s the point. Most of the tracks on last year’s Dub Free or Die, Vol. 1 featured guest appearances.

“At this point, I consider the band to be a collective,” Wilson said in an interview last year. Boston reggae star Mighty Mystic, who performs Saturday, appeared on four tracks, and Twiddle’s Mihali, also on the second day’s bill, was on “Arabia,” an instrumental inspired by Jamaican guitarist Ernest Ranglin.

So jamming is inevitable, “but let’s have something where it makes sense,” Wilson said. “I look up to my friends Slightly Stoopid; when I saw them in Boston, they brought up this rapper from Boston, Ed OG, that nobody knows about in the reggae rock scene, and Charlie Tuna from Jurassic 5 is on tour with them, and all the bands are jamming with each other. I like that kind of environment, when spontaneous things will happen that are just here and now to experience.”

Family friend Caylin Costello will open both nights on the side stage, and Wilson is excited the and up-and-coming singer-songwriter is included. “She’s another person that we can bring up and collaborate with in the moment,” he said, “It’s cool, like, she’s been coming to see us since she was a kid, so it’s awesome to see her.”

RoC The Range
When: Friday, Aug. 26, and Saturday, Aug. 27, 6 p.m.
Where: Marty’s Driving Range, 96 Old Turnpike Road, Mason
Tickets: $25 single-day, $60 two-day, $150 VIP at

Featured photo: Roots of Creation.

The Music Roundup 22/08/25

Local music news & events

Joke quest: Fresh from his annual Hampton Beach Comedy Festival, Jimmy Dunn spends the next few months in search of the next great standup bit. Think George Carlin’s “Seven Words,” Steve Martin’s “Excuuuse Me!” or Gary Gulman’s “State Abbreviations” for an idea of the iconic laugh he seeks. Dozens of comics will take their shot while Dunn, a regional treasure and McCarthys cast member, hosts. Thursday, Aug. 25, 8 p.m., Bank of NH Stage, 16 S. Main St., Concord, tickets $20 at

Farm fete: A weekly free concert series continues at a bucolic Lakes Region farm has Clandestine performing. Four UNH pals formed the improvisational funk, soul and jazz combo, which features sax, guitar, bass and drums. As students they appeared frequently at Stone Church, and they’ve recorded a few original tunes since graduating. The show offers wood-fired pizza and lemonade for sale. Friday, Aug. 26, 5 p.m., Beans & Greens Farm, 245 Intervale Road, Gilford,

Blast off: Expect fireworks and lots of music ending with a performance by Recycled Percussion at an outdoor concert dubbed Sky Show. The family-friendly event hopes to draw a crowd in the tens of thousands. Performers include all-female Aerosmith tribute act Rag Dolls, guitar hero Gary Hoey, Dancing Madly Backwards and Living On A Bad Name covering Bon Jovi songs. Saturday, Aug. 27, noon, Arms Park, 10 Arms St. Manchester, free, with $50 and $110 VIP tickets available at

Top floor: Ride to the top of the AC Hotel to enjoy live music from Bryan Killough & Chris O’Neill. The rooftop restaurant and bar offers sweeping views of the Piscataqua River, along with a nice variety of small plates and craft cocktails. Along with a busy solo schedule, Killough is known for his jazz band Zero Gravity, while O’Neill is a scene veteran who also plays Western swing with the Honey Bees. Sunday, Aug. 28, noon, Rooftop at the Envio, 299 Vaughan St., Portsmouth, $15 at

Fab faux: In a departure from many Beatles tribute acts, Studio Two sticks to John, Paul, George and Ringo’s rise to fame and all-too-brief touring years. It will feel like a black and white evening amidst the park greenery as the group rolls through hits like “Love Me Do,” “I Wanna Hold Your Hand,” “Hard Day’s Night” and “Things We Said Today” in their trademark suits and boots — they’re one of best around. Wednesday, Aug. 31, 7 p.m., Emerson Park, 6 Mont Vernon St., Milford. See

Return of the Artisan, by Grant McCracken

Return of the Artisan, by Grant McCracken (Simon Element, 207 pages)

Behold the Pop-Tart, the humble toaster pastry introduced in 1964. It’s pretty much the same product as it was when Lyndon Johnson was president, which is to say it was the epitome of unnatural food. Designed to fit a toaster, the Pop-Tart was, Grant McCracken writes, “the ultimate triumph of artifice.”

“You couldn’t tell where it had been farmed, who had farmed it, or what, indeed, was in it. Somehow Pop-Tarts existed sui generis.”

Pop-Tarts, of course, still exist, but the world into which they were first introduced is far different now. In the 1960s, Americans were still enamored with factories and assembly lines and the convenience foods that rolled off them. There were objectors, of course; they were called hippies. As McCracken explains in Return of the Artisan, the ideals of the counterculture granola-eating warriors would ultimately prevail. America, the author believes, is over its ill-advised love affair with the industrial production of goods, and we are finding our way back to a better way of producing and consuming. It’s still capitalism, but we’ve found a better way to do it.

The change has occurred in 10 waves that began with the opening of Alice Waters’ trendy Chez Panisse restaurant in Berkeley, California, in 1971, continuing with the tide of “foodie” cookbooks and the trend toward “slow” eating and natural foods, which naturally gave way to mixology and craft beer, and ultimately the rise of “fast casual” fare (think Panera and Chipotle) and, of course, Whole Foods. Incredibly, more than half of Americans identify as a “foodie,” someone who takes an inordinate interest in what they eat and how it is prepared. The trend is so significant that even the giants of mass production are trying to present themselves as artisanal; hence, the advent of Wendy’s “natural” fries and the blocks of “handmade” soap you can buy at chain supermarkets.

But this is not just about food. There are more craft fairs than malls these days, and many of the malls that exist are struggling to survive. Even if they don’t have the time and skill to make gifts themselves, most people prefer to give handmade gifts that have (and hold) value more than anything found in a big-box store. “Artisans make gifting easy,” McCracken writes. “Their creations are perfectly gift-proportioned: authentic, human scale, handmade, they are exactly the right size and shape, plus particular and personal in just the way a gift should be. They are Goldilocks valuable: not too precious, not too mere.”

The change to a society where artisans are valued more than industry comes with subtle shifts that are potentially radical. For example, McCracken says that in this new arrangement, the consumer isn’t king, as Charles Coolidge Parlin famously said. Neither are the Mad Men. The artisans, the ones who know what they’re doing, reign. Also, artisans aren’t in it for big profit, although they, too, need to pay their bills, and McCracken argues that the artisanal economy opens up opportunity for many 9-to-5 workers who have retired or lost their jobs, providing both income and community.

“Capitalism lives to optimize. … The artisan is inclined to make the product she thinks is most compelling, for a small audience, not with the cheapest method, but the most crafted one,” McCracken writes.

McCracken, who lives in Connecticut, is a cultural anthropologist with a Ph.D., and as co-founder of something called the Artisanal Economies Project he has skin in this game. He is not just observing changes in the American economy but advocating for them, elegantly and convincingly. This is a lovely collection of essays, reminiscent of the thoughtful reflections of Bill McKibben, Howard Mansfield and Alan Lightman.

His most powerful one comes at the end of the book, when he recounts how he came to discover a simple canvas wallet that had been made by his uncle’s mother 65 years earlier. “The wallet was what we might call, after Proust, a ‘Madeleine’ object: an object charged with meaning and power,” he writes.

That wallet “opened a cut on the surface of reality. Something dangerous came spilling into life. … Somehow it managed to be both personal and completely traditional. You could see that it conformed to a traditional pattern to which generations had contributed. But it was also the work of an individual in the throes of a terrible emotion driving the stitches in one direction and then another. There was craft here and there was something craft couldn’t contain.”

There are pleasures to be found in Walmart and McDonald’s, to be sure, but they are thin ones and they make us fat. The return of the artisan, as McCracken sees it, won’t solve all our problems and is a slow work that is still in progress; it took 60 years, for example, for people to start questioning the wisdom of Pop-Tarts and mass-produced boxes of cereal. But there is value in the process, and in simply paying attention to the choices we make, McCracken maintains.

“The artisanal community is a respite precisely in that it allows us to take refuge from the blooming, buzzing world out there. It speaks to us precisely because it is not distracted and complicated by a hundred points of view.”

It remains to be seen whether the premises put forth here are true, but it’s a testament to McCracken’s persuasiveness that we want them to be true at the end. See you at the next craft fair. A

Book Notes

In the publishing world, the most prestigious books are the hardcover ones, and that prejudice trickles down to the masses. It’s mostly hardcover books that get reviewed; some publications won’t even consider paperback books. (For the record, we do on occasion.) While many paperbacks are subsequent editions of hardcovers, plenty aren’t, which means a lot of books aren’t getting reviewers’ attention. According to Publisher’s Weekly, there were twice the number of paperbacks (both trade and mass market) as hardcovers last year.

All that is to say, it’s worth poking around “new releases in paperback” to find gems that were not previously published. One appears to be Animal Joy, A Book of Laughter and Resuscitation (Graywolf, 320 pages) by Nuar Alsadir. Alsadir is an Arab-American poet in New York City, and her first nonfiction book is a lyrical and free-form exploration of the importance of laughter and humor to the human animal.

Two other new paperback titles worth your attention as we approach the end of summer reads:

¡Hola, Papi! How to Come Out in a Walmart Parking Lot and Other Life Lessons (Simon & Schuster, 224 pages) is a collection of humorous essays by advice columnist and Substack writer John Paul Brammer.

The author has been called “the Cheryl Strayed for young queer people everywhere,” but I’ve read Strayed and Brammer appears to be much funnier.

Equally fun is the novel Love in the Time of Serial of Killers (Berkley, 352 pages) by Alicia Thompson, which is about a Ph.D. candidate obsessed with true crime who goes to Florida to clean out her childhood home after her father’s death and starts suspecting that the next-door neighbor is, in fact, a serial killer.

On a much more serious note, anyone who wants to show support for Salman Rushdie, hospitalized in critical condition after he was attacked during a presentation earlier this month, could purchase his Language of Truth, a collection of the author’s essays between 2003 and 2020, which was released in paperback in July (Random House Trade, 368 pages).

A past winner of the Booker Prize, Rushdie is the author of 14 novels, including The Satanic Verses, the 1988 novel believed to be blasphemous by many Muslims. Ironically, the subject on which Rushdie was speaking at the time of the attack was about how the U.S. is a “safe haven for exiled writers,” The New York Times reported, quoting the CEO of PEN America, who said, “we can think of no comparable incident of a public attack on a literary writer on American soil.”

In the wake of the attack, The Satanic Verses re-emerged on Amazon’s top 10 list of fiction; it’s No. 1 as of this writing. A paperback edition (576 pages) is available from Random House.

Book Events

Author events

SPENCER QUINN presents Bark to the Future: A Chet & Bernie Mystery on Sunday, Aug. 28, at noon at the Bookery (844 Elm St., Manchester,, 836-6600).

ADAM SCHIFF presents Midnight in Washington at Gibson’s Bookstore (45 S. Main St., Concord, 224-0562, on Tuesday, Aug. 30, at 2:30.

MINDY MESSMER presents Female Disruptors: Stories of Mighty Female Scientists at the Bookery (844 Elm St., Manchester,, 836-6600) on Wednesday, Aug. 14, at 5:30 p.m. Free; register at

PHIL PRIMACK presents Put It Down On Paper: The Words and Life of Mary Folsom Blair at Gibson’s Bookstore (45 S. Main St., Concord, 224-0562, on Thursday, Sept. 8, at noon.


OPEN MIC POETRY hosted by the Poetry Society of NH at Gibson’s Bookstore (45 S. Main St., Concord, 224-0562,, starting with a reading by poet Sam DeFlitch, on Wednesday, July 20, from 4:30 to 6 p.m. Newcomers encouraged. Free.

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

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.

GOFFSTOWN PUBLIC LIBRARY 2 High St., Goffstown. Monthly. Third Wednesday, 1:30 p.m. Call 497-2102, email or visit

BELKNAP MILL Online. Monthly. Last Wednesday, 6 p.m. Based in Laconia. Email

NASHUA PUBLIC LIBRARY Online. Monthly. Second Friday, 3 p.m. Call 589-4611, email or visit



Offered remotely by the Franco-American Centre. Six-week session with classes held Thursdays from 6:30 to 8:30 p.m. $225. Visit or call 623-1093.

Album Reviews 22/08/25

Hiss Golden Messenger, Wise Eyes: Live at The Neptune, Seattle, WA, 2/25/22 (Merge Records)

This Durham, North Carolina, quintet has been a part of the Merge Records stable since 2014’s Lateness of Dancers, after releasing pretty much all of their first six LPs on bandleader MC Taylor’s own Heaven & Earth Magic imprint. Often compared to indie-folk/alt-country acts like Will Oldham, these guys are fedora-rock all the way, appealing to Deadheads probably more than anything (in fact a cover of “Bertha” ends this 17-song live excursion with an appropriately hooting and hollering crowd response). This performance is said to be one of the best from the band’s shows so far, and I’ll take their word for it for now, as they now have something called the “Hiss Mobile Recording Unit” and this collection is the first in a series of live releases recorded on it (I told you they sound like the Dead, right?). Merle Haggard’s “Mama Tried” gets a hayloft treatment here, but other than that it’s the band’s own stuff, including deep cuts and as little as possible from their last full-length, Quietly Blowing It, which got a lot of negative press for its redundancy. B

Matthew Fries, Lost Time (Xcappa Records)

This jazz pianist’s journey started in Selinsgrove, Pennsylvania, his birthplace as well as the city where his father served as a piano professor at Susquehanna University. His deck fiercely stacked, Fries earned his Master of Music degree at the University of Tennessee and eventually won 1997’s Great American Jazz Piano Competition in Jacksonville, Florida. His output is moving into who’s-still-keeping-track numbers at this point, which does help to explain the rather remarkable level of expertise and deep musicality Fries not only wrings out of himself in this tinkly-adamant-tinkly set of originals, but also his two sole cohorts, drummer Keith Hall and bassist John Hebert. The occasion here is the death of Fries’ mother and stepfather (“not from Covid” I’m told), but sad passages are few and far between on this one; mostly it’s colorful, cohesive, upbeat; technically whiz-band. The title track is the one Fries dedicated to his mom; it does stick out as a rather sad but very artful, determined paean. B


• The next batch of CD releases drops this Friday, Aug. 26. Like every week, there will be albums that should be taken very seriously, albums that should be taken kind-of seriously and albums from bands like Muse, whose new album Will Of The People is on our docket today! Do you know anyone who loves this band and their sort-of-rock-but-come-on-that’s-not-really-rock music? Heh heh, the first time I heard them was way back in 2006, when they sent me their Black Holes and Revelations LP. Ah, memories, I had no idea what I was doing back then, like, I just wanted these famous bands to like me, if I recall correctly, so I was probably really nice to it when I reviewed it, even though its single, “Starlight,” was a ripoff of ABC’s hauntingly bad 1985 hit single “Be Near Me,” during the mercifully short era in music history when ABC and Spandau Ballet were trying to start a craze where yuppies danced waltzes to bad songs written in 4/4 (non-waltz) time. Music never really recovered from that catastrophe, obviously, and even worse, like we’re talking about, Muse never got the memo about never trying that nonsense. And so Muse went on to become a defective version of Killers, part rock band, part practical joke, and the only reason I’m talking about them at the moment is that there’s no way that they could still be that awful, it’s simply impossible. But now’s when we find that out for sure, as I’m at YouTube, about to listen to — well, I don’t know which song yet. The record company says “the album is not of a ‘singular genre,’” that the title track is a “glam rocker” and “Kill or Be Killed” is “industrial-tinged.” I suppose I’ll have to go with the latter, here we go. Yep, starts off kind of industrial-y, more like Korn-ish, but then it turns into a Raspberries-esque bubblegum-pop song from the 1970s or something, with whatsisname doing that dumb singing. Ha ha, what a weird and stupid band these guys are, seriously.

• One of the dumbest band names of the Aughts was Pianos Become the Teeth, the name of an alt-rock band from Baltimore. I hated those Aughts-era band names, because way too many times the bands were just as dumb, like Philadelphia band Clap Your Hands Say Yeah, South Dakota folk-pop crew We All Have Hooks For Hands and whatever others, sorry, I’m really trying not to think of them right now so I won’t get upset. The only good thing about those band names was that it let me know beforehand that the music was going to be really awful, and for that I sort of thank them. Aaaand we’re moving, one tune on their new album, Drift, is called “Buckley,” a rather cool jangle-drone thing redolent of, say, Jeff Buckley (oddly enough) meets chill-mode Smashing Pumpkins, I don’t mind it.

• Australian indie rock singer-songwriter Stella Donnelly released her first album, Beware of the Dogs, in 2019 and a lot of people really loved it, including famous music critic Robert Christgau, who praised it as a “musical encyclopedia of [male jerks].” That’s all well and good, but her new full-length Flood will street on Friday, and the title track is like Lomelda but with a lot more “what me worry” charm and listenability.

• Finally let’s look at All Of Us Flames, the sixth collection of tunes from Ezra Furman, who came out as a transgender woman in late April 2021. The latest single is “Lilac And Black,” a droopy, woozy alt-ballad. No tour stops in our area from what I can see aside from Fete Music Hall in Providence, Rhode Island, on Sept. 19.

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).

Summer spritzers

Lighten up your wines with a little fizz

The kids will soon be returning to school, but that doesn’t mean summer is over! Summer is a mindset, and if we truly work at it, we can have summer last until the beginning of October. Let’s be realistic! This summer we have experienced some record temperatures and drought conditions. And there doesn’t appear to be an end in sight, anytime soon. What does this mean? We can continue to enjoy our patios and decks, and meals from the grill with ingredients that came from the farmers markets, such as zucchini, fresh corn, paired to fish and chicken. Or we can enjoy those fresh tomatoes in salads or gazpacho!

What better beverage to enjoy with these light meals than spritzers?

What are spritzers, and where did they come from, and what have they become? One story is that they originated with the mid-19th-century occupation of Venice by the Austro-Hungarian Empire. Troops stationed in Venice sought to soften their wine by adding a “splash or spritz” of recently invented carbonated water, or soda water. Venetians embraced this and substituted prosecco for some of the soda water, adding slices of citrus — oranges, lemons and limes. This was expanded with the introduction of Aperol to the mix. Whether or not there is truth in this historical account matters not. The evolution of this concoction continues, much to our delight, because no matter how you drink a spritzer, whether traditionally over ice, or as an Aperol Spritz, it a delicious way to cool off during the summer.

Our first beverage is a nod to what is traditionally thought of as the true spritzer: white wine, soda water, sliced citrus fruit, all served on ice. We chose the 2017 Bonny Doon Vineyard Le Cigare Blanc Beeswax Vineyard Arroyo Seco, available at the New Hampshire Liquor & Wine Outlets, originally priced at $26, reduced to $12.99. A blend of 55 percent grenache blanc and 45 percent roussanne, it has a lemon-yellow color with a slight green tinge. To the nose, one would expect citric notes, but this wine has herbal notes, as well. To the tongue, the wine maintains those citric rind notes but there is also the addition of quince with a slight nuance of melon. It is a wine that can handle the addition of orange and lime slices and has enough body to accept the addition of seltzer and still hold a presence. This wine hails from the Beeswax Vineyard in the Arroyo Seco region of Monterey County, east of the Santa Lucia Mountains and north of King City, California. The Santa Lucia Mountains shield this area from the cool Pacific Coast winds, resulting in vines with exceedingly deep roots, imparting a minerality to the wine not found in the grapes grown on the ocean side of the mountainous range.

Our second beverage is a novel creation, the Domaine Chandon Garden Spritz, available at the New Hampshire Liquor & Wine Outlets at $20.99. The wine is a blend of chardonnay, pinot noir and semillon grapes grown at an altitude of 3,000 feet at their estate in Mendoza, Argentina. It is made by the slow-ferment long Charmat method, trapping the naturally occurring carbonation in large steel tanks. Bitters made from the zest of Valencia oranges, steeped in grape brandy, to which Quassia amara, chamomile, cardamom, and black pepper are added, result in this delightfully unique and refreshing sparkling wine cocktail. Domaine Chandon is marketing this concoction as a spritzer. Perhaps a bit of a reach, it is nonetheless worth trying, poured over ice with a citrus garnish. At 11.5 percent alcohol, it is more alcoholic than the spritzer made with seltzer, resulting in a fuller feel to the mouth of its citric notes, spiciness and sweetness, along with the bitterness of liquor made from the oranges and amara. This is definitely a thirst-quencher that is summer “light and bright.” This is a creation that begs to be tried before summer leaves us and the air becomes crisp with shorter days and crisp nights.

So, personalize your favorite white wine by turning it into a summer-light spritzer, or try this industry pioneer, the Garden Spritz. After all, summer in New Hampshire is way too short to not enjoy it to its fullest with these wonders of the palate.

Featured photo. Courtesy photo.

Blueberry pie parfait

Summer is full of all sorts of treats. Whether it’s a freshly made peach crisp, s’mores at the bonfire, or ice cream from the local stand, there are many delicious desserts to enjoy. However, you may be wanting something to satisfy your sweet tooth while also keeping your eating healthier. How about a blueberry pie parfait?

With blueberries and yogurt as the two main ingredients, you are off to a good start. A little bit of graham cracker crumbs adds some nice crunch and pie-like quality, and the sprinkles are pure fun. Feel free to skip the sprinkles if you don’t have any. As to the blueberries, wild blueberries are best, whether they are fresh or frozen. They are the most flavorful blueberry. If you can’t find those, regular blueberries make a decent substitute.

When making these parfaits, I wholeheartedly encourage you to use a half pint jar. They make the dessert look really appealing. If you don’t have any on hand, find a similarly sized container that will work for layering.

As the summer winds down in New Hampshire, so does the blueberry season. If you’re fortunate enough to have wild blueberry bushes nearby, go and pick some for this recipe!

Blueberry pie parfait
Serves 2

2/3 cup wild blueberries (thawed, if using frozen)
2 teaspoons sugar divided
2 graham cracker squares
1½ cups vanilla yogurt
Rainbow sprinkles

Place blueberries in a small bowl, and sprinkle with 1 teaspoon sugar; stir to combine.
Place graham crackers in a resealable bag and gently pound to make crumbs.
Add the other teaspoon of sugar to graham cracker crumbs.
Using two half-pint jars or similarly sized dishes, put ¼ cup yogurt in the bottom of each.
Divide graham cracker crumbs into two portions, and sprinkle evenly over each yogurt.
Top each parfait with another ¼ cup of yogurt.
Divide the blueberries and top each of the yogurts.
Top each parfait with ¼ cup of yogurt.
Finish each parfait with a shake or two of rainbow sprinkles.
Eat, or cover and refrigerate.

Featured Photo: Blueberry pie parfait. Photo by Michele Pesula Kuegler.

In the kitchen with Rachel Manelas

Rachel Manelas is the owner of Riverwalk Cafe & Music Bar (35 Railroad Square, Nashua, 578-0200,, which she purchased from longtime owners Steve and Jane Ruddock in April. A Pelham native, Manelas studied baking and pastry arts at Johnson & Wales University before going on to attend Italy’s Florence University of the Arts. Around April 2020, while working as a line cook at Windham Junction, she started an online bakery through Instagram called Life’s What U Bake Of It — that business has since evolved into a website ( with its own online ordering system for specialty cakes, freshly baked cookies, themed French macarons and more, all available for pickup at Riverwalk. Manelas’s plans as the storefront’s new owner include an expanded focus on scratch-made pastries, as well as an evening menu, all while continuing to offer fresh breakfast and lunch options and house-roasted coffees. A space adjoining the cafe that recently became available will soon be home to a larger kitchen.

What is your must-have kitchen item?

Definitely a spatula, a whisk and a scale. [For] all my recipes, I scale. It makes everything a lot more accurate.

What would you have for your last meal?

Chocolate chip cookies. I could live off of them — they are my weakness!

What is your favorite local restaurant?

I am a huge Italian lover. Tuscan [Kitchen in Salem] usually has a good menu. … Surf [in Nashua] is also really good, and then Pressed [Cafe] is another place in my realm. Watching them start in Nashua and grow has been really cool. … I really like Fody’s [Tavern] a lot too. I work late a lot and they’re right next door, so I’ll go and pick up some food there.

What celebrity would you like to see eating at Riverwalk Bakery & Cafe?

Massimo Bottura. He’s a three-Michelin-star Italian chef, and he just seems like the sweetest, most gentle soul. And his food is really delicious. … I ate at his restaurant, Osteria Francescana in Italy, for my birthday in 2020 and it was amazing.

What is your favorite thing on your menu?

I would say for lunch, the Southwest chicken salad wrap … and then for breakfast, it’s The Feta [sandwich] or the granola with fruit and yogurt, because we make the granola ourselves and it’s really yummy.

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

I would say avocado toasts and bowls have both been really popular. … I’ve added avocado toast here, and I definitely want to be able to do more things like that.

What is your favorite thing to cook at home?

I love to do homemade pastas. Gnocchi is probably my favorite thing to make, especially with potatoes.

Sweet potato gnocchi with butter and sage sauce
From the kitchen of Rachel Manelas of Riverwalk Bakery & Cafe in Nashua

For the gnocchi:
1 kilogram sweet potatoes
250 grams flour (preferably double zero pasta flour)
1 egg yolk

Bake or boil the potatoes until fully cooked (with a fork pierced through). If baking, 400 degrees for just under an hour, depending on the potatoes’ size, is recommended. Immediately peel the potatoes and mash them while hot. Let the potatoes cool. Once cold, add the yolk and then incorporate the flour. Working in pieces, roll the dough into logs about a half-inch long. Cut into rectangular pieces — ¾ inch to 1 inch — and roll each gnocchi until round. Once round, use a fork or gnocchi board to add texture. To cook the gnocchi, bring a pot of salted water to a boil and cook until the gnocchi floats to the top, which should take around a minute or two.

For the butter and sage sauce:
125 grams butter
5 sage leaves
Parmesan cheese

Melt the butter in a saucepan, then add in the sage and slightly fry. Add the gnocchi to the pan with a little bit of pasta water. Season with salt, pepper, paprika and garlic to taste. Remove from the pan and serve with grated Parmesan cheese.

Featured photo: Rachel Manelas, owner of Riverwalk Bakery & Cafe in Nashua. Courtesy photo.

Filled with deliciousness

Sunny Cafe now open in Manchester

Dumpling and pierogi bowls are the stars of the menu at Sunny Cafe, a new eatery in Manchester offering several signature options with a variety of toppings and sauces. The fast-casual concept, which opened last month in a newly developed unit on South Willow Street, also features sweet crepes, honey and waffle cakes and locally roasted coffees with all kinds of house syrups.

“This space itself, it gets a lot of sun in the afternoon, so that’s exactly where the name came from,” said Londonderry native Yev Makarov, whose sister Yelena owns the cafe. “We wanted to create a place with a very happy, sunny atmosphere for people to come to. That’s why it’s very airy and very open … [and] our logo is even a dumpling that looks like the shape of a sun.”

Makarov, whose sister finished culinary school about a decade ago, said that food has always been her passion and that starting her own business was something she had always wanted to do.

“She has always been big into baking, cooking and preparing food,” he said. “Dumplings and pierogi go way back in the Slavic culture — of course, my grandparents were eating them. … We love to go out to eat and there’s just nobody around that serves our style of dumplings, or pierogi, especially in a bowl the way we do them with all these different toppings and sauces. You can obviously get them plain if you want, but then we have signature bowls for the dumplings and signature bowls for the pierogi that we’ve customized the way we like them.”

Dumplings can be filled with beef and chicken or beef and pork — ordering a regular-sized bowl will give you 20, Makarov said, while a large bowl has 25. Specialty bowls include the Shakin’ Bacon — topped with bacon, cheese, green onion, ranch and sour cream — and the Kickin’ Pepper bowl, which has banana peppers, cheese, green onion, red pepper and spicy mayonnaise.

Pierogi, which are potato-filled, are slightly smaller in size, giving you 15 for a regular bowl and 20 for a large. Those include a mushroom cheddar bowl with caramelized onions and sour cream; and a loaded mashed bowl with cheese, bacon and green onion. Of course, if you just can’t decide, you can completely customize your dumpling or pierogi bowl to your liking.

Sunny Cafe even has sweet pierogi bowls that are cherry-filled, as well as a few traditional baked options like honey cakes and waffle cakes. Crepes, meanwhile, run the gamut on their sweet offerings, from the cafe’s signature chocolate strawberry crepe with Nutella and bananas to a cinnamon swirl crepe with brown sugar and a white chocolate sauce. The cafe partners with Hometown Coffee Roasters of Manchester to feature hot and iced coffees and a full line of espresso drinks. Black and green teas sourced from Numi Organic Tea were also recently added.

Makarov said additional baked items are in the works, while savory crepes — such as a tuna salad flavor and other options — are likely to be added to the menu too.

Sunny Cafe
When: 50 S. Willow St., Manchester
Hours: Monday through Saturday, 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. (7 a.m. to 7 p.m. starting Sept. 6) Closed on Sundays.
Cost: Free admission; food is priced per item
More info: Visit, find them on Facebook and Instagram or call 935-8658

Featured photo: Courtesy photo.

From Rio to Nashua

Brazil Fest returns to Greeley Park

A large one-day celebration of Brazilian culture with authentic food options, live music, samba dancing and an inflatable soccer tournament, Brazil Fest has grown significantly since its inaugural event in 2016. The free event returns to Greeley Park in Nashua on Saturday, Aug. 27.

“Last year was huge. I think it was probably our biggest year yet,” said Mariana Silva, who co-organizes Brazil Fest with Bruno D’Britto. “It’s like a day in Brazil, you know, the whole experience [is] like people going to spend a day in Rio without having to travel there.”

According to Silva, the event was originally started as a way for Brazilian people in the area to come together and get to know one another. In 2017, Brazil Fest happened to fall on the same weekend as the Nashua Area Artists’ Association’s annual Greeley Park Art Show, with each event taking place on one side of the park. Many art show attendees since then have returned to Brazil Fest each year, Silva said, turning it into a celebration for the entire community.

meat and hard boiled eggs on a bed of shredded greens
Feijão Tropeiro, a traditional dish from Sabor Brasil in Nashua, one of this year’s returning Brazil Fest vendors. Courtesy photo.

At least 12 area restaurants and community members selling different types of authentic Brazilian dishes are expected to attend, Silva said, the largest number of vendors in the event’s history. Gu-La Haven and Sabor Brasil, both of Nashua, are two of the returning eateries, as well as Delicious Bites. Options will include pastel fritos — which Silva equated to Brazilian empanadas — and acarajé, a dish made from peeled beans deep fried in palm oil.

“Acarajé is very unique because you can only find it in the state of Bahia in Brazil,” Silva said. “Not everybody loves it, but the people who do will travel for it. Last year, I had people travel for like an hour and a half just to eat the acarajé, because you can’t really find it anywhere.”

If you attend the festival during lunchtime hours, Silva said, there will be opportunities to order to-go boxes of traditional Brazilian-style barbecue with rice and beans. Coxinhas, which feature fried dough filled with shredded chicken, sauce and vegetables, and molded into the shape of a teardrop, are another featured option commonly consumed as a snack. For sweeter indulgences, there will be brigadeiros, or traditional Brazilian chocolate truffles.

“The brigadeiro is very, very famous,” Silva said. “Every single birthday party as a child in Brazil, you know, you needed to have that. That was more important than the cake itself.”

In addition to the food, there will be an inflatable soccer tournament, plus several live performances on the park’s stage throughout the day. Two DJs and a group of Brazilian samba dancers, dressed similar to those who famously perform in the annual Rio Carnival, will be there.

Capoeira, a traditional Brazilian-style martial art with dance elements, is also part of this year’s performances. Silva said door prizes like gift certificates to participating businesses will be drawn during the afternoon, which all attendees will have a chance to win.

Brazil Fest
When: Saturday, Aug. 27, noon to 6 p.m.
Where: Greeley Park, 100 Concord St., Nashua
Cost: Free admission and parking; foods are priced per item
More info: Contact event co-organizers Mariana Silva at 438-4263 or Bruno D’Britto at 760-848-4797

Featured photo: A samba dancer (left) at last year’s Brazil Fest in Nashua. Courtesy photo.

The Weekly Dish 22/08/25

News from the local food scene

Birthday brews: Join Great North Aleworks (1050 Holt Ave., No. 14, Manchester) for its seventh birthday bash on Saturday, Aug. 27, from 1 to 7 p.m. The afternoon will be filled with new beer releases, a “kitchen takeover” from chefs with the New Hampshire Food Bank, games, and live music from Alli Beaudry, Kevin and Paul Nelson. No tickets are required — all proceeds from food sales will be donated back to the New Hampshire Food Bank. Visit

NHLC opens Concord outlet: The New Hampshire Liquor Commission opened a new 12,000-square-foot NH Liquor & Wine Outlet store in Concord on Aug. 11, at Exit 17 of Interstate 93, according to a press release. The new store features more than 4,000 sizes and varieties of wines and spirits. According to the release, the store also has special sections devoted to premium and ultra-premium spirits and wines, along with new LED fixtures and oversized aisles, similar to those of other recently built outlets. Since 2012, the New Hampshire Liquor Commission has renovated, relocated or constructed new Liquor & Wine Outlets in more than 30 communities. New outlets in Manchester and Nashua are on the way next. Visit

QC Cupcakes on the move: Manchester’s Queen City Cupcakes will be moving its operations a few doors down to join forces with its sister gift shop, Pop of Color (816 Elm St.), according to a recent announcement posted to its email newsletter. “Pop of Color started as a couple of shelves inside of the cupcake shop until we outgrew the space and moved Pop down the street,” the announcement reads in part. “Many of you see our crew running back and forth on a daily basis to cover both shops. Although a great way to get steps in, not always the most convenient for coverage.” Construction is underway on a large back room that, according to the post, was “under-utilized.” The goal is to complete the move by the end of this year, or by January 2023. Visit for updates.

LaBelle Winery recognized: LaBelle Winery has earned several awards in this year’s Eastern States Exposition (“The Big E”) Wine Competition, according to a press release, including in the categories of Best New Hampshire Wine and Best New Hampshire Grown Wine. LaBelle also received a gold medal in the competition for its Shimmer sparkling wine, as well as several silver and bronze medals for many of its other products. Wines that are awarded medals are displayed inside the Wine and Cheese Barn during the course of The Big E in West Springfield, Mass., which, according to the release, is the sixth-largest annual agricultural fair in the United States. This year’s event will take place from Sept. 16 through Oct. 2. Visit

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