Playing with purpose

Billy Wylder rises to the moment

“Just hang on to the band,” Pete Townshend sang back when. “You can dance while your knowledge is growing.”

Decades later, this spirit is exuded by the band Billy Wylder and its leader Avi Salloway. Their songs are infectious, full of deep grooves, spirit and kinetic musicianship. At the same time, they evoke more purposeful movement. Salloway’s words inspire souls to stir as their bodies dance, delivering a fierce-hearted call to change.

A singer, songwriter and guitarist, Salloway honed his passion on the front lines of many world crisis points. He brings his activism to songs like “Painter,” which warns against the lure of social media (“We see the world scroll on by / are we demand or supply?”) and offers a call to battle on “Whatcha Looking For,” the title track of the band’s 2021 EP.

“With all this loss and despair, the struggle of the pandemic and the extremes of injustice, our climate crisis, all of these things, it’s a moment to zoom out a bit and really home in on what are we looking for,” he said in a recent phone interview. “What is it that we value? What are our ideals?”

He bemoans the “screen space mindset” and strives through music to “help people break out of this headspace, into their bodies, and reconnect with each other.” In “Santiago,” a slow tango with a nod to his personal hero Leonard Cohen, Salloway dives into the online darkness and declares, “we’re more like our enemies than we believed before.”

The observation comes with an admonition. “Finding that common ground is essential to building any kind of unity and coming together, which I think we’re desperately in need of right now,” Salloway said. “It takes a lot of willpower and creative imagination [but] I feel like people inherently are good. Yet the systems that are tying us together aren’t; they’re not serving their interests, or the eight million species that exist on this planet.”

Fortunately, rather than put their message in a dire toned musical box, Salloway and his mates — polymath Rob Flax and a rhythm section of Krista Speroni on bass and drummer Zamar Odongo — blast it from the cosmos. Salloway and Flax’s frenetic interplay on “Whatcha Looking For” suggests a meeting of the minds between Beck and Rahsaan Roland Kirk.

Flax, playing guitar, violin and keys, is “on a really cool personal exploration of soundscapes,” explained Salloway. “What he’s been able to do with the violin is groundbreaking … through different pedals, soundscapes, and also synthesizers; it’s been really fun to explore that together.”

Mid-decade, Salloway toured with Bombino, a guitarist often called “Hendrix of the Sahara.” The experience has followed him since. “I think one element that carries over is the force, and the deep, deep groove that was so central to the hypnotic music I played with Bombino, and at the same time, how heavy and dynamic it can be,” he said.

Salloway’s commitment to using art as a social tool continues to drive him.

“I’m trying to collaborate and be part of a revolution of transformation in how we exist and connect,” he said. “Organizing how we really bring more understanding with the way we live our lives, and more joy, and love and equality.”

The band just released “Flower To The Sun,” an upbeat, positive song that’s in many ways opposite to the often somber Whatcha Looking For. Appropriately, it came out as summer began in late June. It’s the first song from a forthcoming album, “release date TBD, but in the next five months,” Salloway said.

In the meantime, Billy Wylder has a busy schedule, a pleasing condition for Salloway.

“I believe in the power of humanity … being able to bring people together under one roof to experience something physical and emotional through musical performance,” he said. “I feel one of my main roles as a musician is to help people break out of this headspace and into their bodies, reconnecting with each other on a person-to-person level.”

Salloway reinforced his thought by quoting an old folk song made popular by the Grateful Dead. “The sun will shine on our back door someday,” he said, “but we have to show up to make that happen. I’m excited to be a part of it.”

Billy Wylder
When: Friday, Sept. 2, 8 p.m.
Where: Bank of NH Stage, 16 S. Main St., Concord
Tickets: $18 at

Featured photo: Billy Wylder. Courtesy photo.

The Music Roundup 22/09/01

Local music news & events

Joyful sound: A free after-work concert series in Manchester has Joel Cage performing, a singer, songwriter and Kerrville New Folk winner. At his last show at the venue, an audience member thanked him, saying she’d “needed some joy.” Upcoming are Kevin Horan (Sept. 8), Hickory Horned Devils (Sept. 15). Rebecca Turmel (Sept. 22 and Oct. 20)), Halley Neal (Sept. 29), Jessye DeSilva (Oct. 6), Paul Nelson (Oct. 13) and Joey Clark & The Big Hearts (Oct. 27). See Cage on Thursday, Sept. 1, 5 p.m., Currier Museum of Art, 150 Ash St., Manchester,

Al fresco: A multi-genre celebration of rising regional acts, the annual Saltwater Roots Festival offers The Ammonium Maze celebrating the music of Percy Hill, led by former member Aaron Katz, with his life partner Sarah Blacker, Chris Sink and Dave Brunyak of Pink Talking Fish. Also on the bill are harmony-rich River Sister, which grew out of a jam at Dolphin Striker, and blues singer Julie Rhodes. Friday, Sept. 2, 6 p.m., Prescott Park, 105 Marcy St., Portsmouth, table reservations $65 at

Claw rock: An end-of-summer bash with a carnival atmosphere, Lobster Palooza includes a cookout, all-gender bikini contest, and music from five musical acts, all competing for something called the Lobster Belt title. Along with that meaty battle of the bands, the all-day event has an early Oktoberfest stein host challenge, plenty of swag to give away, and a 50/50 raffle benefiting Make-A-Wish. Saturday, Sept. 3, 1 p.m., Makris Lobster & Steak House, 354 Sheep Davis Road, Concord,

Fancy rascal: A former talk show host known for his empathy with guests, Craig Ferguson most recently emceed The Hustler. A clever game show that blended trivia questions with subterfuge, it only lasted one season. Now the Scotland-born comic is back doing standup, stopping by the Lakes Region to share his topical humor. Maybe he’ll comment on Britney Spears’ return — he stood up for the singer in her meltdown days. Saturday, Sept. 3, 8 p.m., Colonial Theatre, 609 Main St., Laconia, tickets $39 to $99 at

Roots ragers: Enjoy a Labor Day weekend double bill on a giant beach facing deck as Fear Nuttin Band brings its metal-infused reggae rock to Hampton. Mixing elements of reggae, hip-hop, dance hall, hardcore and heavy rock, they’ve shared stages with SOJA, Toots and the Maytals, Kanye West, Sublime, Steel Pulse and others. They’re joined by the equally explosive Cape Cod group Crooked Coast. The 21+ show is free. Sunday, Sept. 4, 7 p.m., Bernie’s Beach Bar, 73 Ocean Blvd., Hampton Beach,

Yokohama Kaidashi Kikou, Deluxe Edition 1, by Hitoshi Ashinano

Yokohama Kaidashi Kikou, Deluxe Edition 1, by Hitoshi Ashinano (Seven Seas Press, 450 pages)

Originally published in Japan starting in 1994, the manga series Yokohama Kaidashi Kikou (translated as Yokohama Shopping Log) follows the daily life of Alpha the android running her missing master’s coffee shop. Now the series has made it to the United States after a long wait, collected in this single volume, and publisher Seven Seas has done an excellent job preserving the style of the time in which it was originally published. Most of the pages are black and white with old-school screentones, but there are full-color images and panels as well, bursting with beautiful warm yellowish hues. Both aspects are preserved excellently with no apparent digital tampering. This desire to stay true to the original makes opening the book for the first time akin to rediscovering a long-lost favorite from your shelf.

Typical of manga created in the ’90s and early 2000s, the character designs are big and bubbly with round exaggerated features. There is less focus on realistically rendering the human face and more on amplifying expressions, making emotional beats more easily understood. Whether characters are enjoying a cup of coffee or asking for directions, the reader can get a sense of what they feel in quiet moments.

Yokohama’s art elevates itself past merely entertaining; two incredibly evocative scenes, one of dancing and the other of swimming, capture the nature of each specific movement. There’s a lightness in the renderings of Alpha’s dance at the Neighborhood Association party that shows a character free from worry or judgment by others.

The setting and background art contribute significantly to the reading experience as a whole.

The story takes place after some unknown large-scale ecological disaster, on a strange yet familiar Earth. Throughout the volume, whether Alpha is home or out traveling, there are only a few people, and nature has reclaimed much of the environment. The one local gas station with its single kindly caretaker feels lonely with a wide and empty lot, the asphalt cracked with fault lines. The roads, when they are not flooded, battle against ever-encroaching overgrowth. Flashbacks later in the volume depict the previous lay of the land, so we see how it has changed over time.

Another small but overarching detail is the way Yokohama implements shading in the panels. A chapter where a child plays outside would not be as vivid if the background art did not show the passage of time from a clear summer afternoon into dusk. Instead of using the setting as a vehicle to propel the narrative, it becomes a separate entity to care about all on its own.

There’s not a lot of plot in Yokohama Kaidashi Kikou. While there is the underlying thread of Alpha waiting for the cafe owner to return, it is rarely anything but an implication. Instead, the narrative is more of a series of vignettes with shared characters connecting them. Going with this larger, more unstructured narrative could have made the reading experience fragmented but, because of the work done in the setting, it is as if the reader is going alongside the characters throughout their day. Chapters consist of everything from trying to get rid of excess watermelon before it spoils to spending the day attempting to take a good picture. There’s the occasional mystery of the setting to ponder, like Alpha’s legendary neighbor the Osprey or watching the sky for a plane that never lands, but these things are passing curiosities, never resolved.

As summarized on the back of the book, the story presents itself as Alpha the android watching the end of the human world, but such an unstructured narrative, focused on the day-to-day, presents more a paring down of the world. What if money stopped mattering? What if there were no job to wake up early in the morning for, and no fear of losing shelter or health care? What would people care about and what would they value? Yokohama Kaidashi Kikou is a fantasy of kindness, where what matters most to the characters is connecting with others and the environment they live in. For them, there is time to contemplate who they are and what they want to become, and even how they want to experience the world around them.

For a work of fiction to gently remind the reader to open their senses, whether to a swirling storm of clouds or an expansive endless blue, and commit to memory the day that is given, truly is a treasure. A+ — Bethany Fuss

Book Events

Author events

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

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

SUSIE SPIKOL, a naturalist at the Harris Center for Conservation Education in Hancock, will discuss her book The Animal Adventurer’s Guide: How to Prowl for an Owl, Make Snail Slime, and Catch a Frog Bare-Handed, on Saturday, Sept. 17, at 11 a.m. at Toadstool Bookshop (12 Depot Square in Peterborough;, 924-3543).

JOSEPH D. STEINFIELD presents Time for Everything: My Curious Life at Gibson’s Bookstore (45 S. Main St., Concord, 224-0562, on Tuesday, Sept. 20, at 6:30 p.m.

BOB BUDERI author of Where Futures Converge: Kendall Square and the Making of a Global Innovation Hub will beat the Bookery (844 Elm St., Manchester, 836-6600) on Wednesday, Sept. 21, at 5:30 p.m. for a discussion with special guests C.A. Webb and Liz Hitchcock. Free admission; register at

SUSIE SPIKOL, a naturalist at the Harris Center for Conservation Education in Hancock, will come to Gibson’s Bookstore (45 S. Main St. in Concord;, 224-0562) to “teach your kiddos how to find critters in their neighborhood” on Saturday, Sept. 24, at 11 a.m. with her book The Animal Adventurer’s Guide: How to Prowl for an Owl, Make Snail Slime, and Catch a Frog Bare-Handed, according to a press release. The book, which is slated for release Sept. 13, features “50 hands-on activities and adventures that bring you closer to wild animals than you’ve ever been,” the release said. Spikol will also bring supplies to do one of the crafts from the book.

MARGARET PORTER presents The Myrtle Wand at Gibson’s Bookstore (45 S. Main St., Concord, 224-0562, on Wednesday, Oct. 12, at 6:30 p.m.

Book Events

CAT KID COMIC CLUB: COLLABORATIONS CELEBRATION Toadstool Bookshop (Somerset Plaza, 375 Amherst St. in Nashua; 673-1734, will hold a party to celebrate the release of Dav Pilkey’s newest Cat Kid Comic Club book (Nov. 29) on Saturday, Dec. 3, from 1 to 4 p.m. The afternoon will feature games, puzzles, goodies, raffles and more, according to the website. The book is available for preorder now.


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.

MARTHA COLLINS and L.R. BERGER hosted by the Poetry Society of NH at Gibson’s Bookstore (45 S. Main St., Concord, 224-0562, on Wednesday, Nov. 16, from 4:30 to 6 p.m.

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 22/09/01

Mary Onettes, What I Feel In Some Places EP (Labrador Records)

Glad I decided to clean out my pathetically overstuffed excuse for an emailbox, because this one had gone in one eyeball and out the other back in June and I’d totally forgotten about it. This Swedish band would belong in the same section of your Spotify as Raveonettes, Jesus & Mary Chain, et al., i.e. they’re a shoegaze/dream-pop crew, one of the few genres I still get excited about: Usually noisy but pretty, it’s been around forever now; you always know what you’re going to get out of these records. The tradition continues here with this three-songer’s title track, a stunningly pretty, sunburst-y mid-tempo tune that has more ’80s-synthpop than any casual fan of Stranger Things could ever hope for. It tugs at the hormonal angst area of the brain with the best of them, and then comes “Mind On Fire,” a vision of Sigur Ros reborn as a radio-pop band. Great stuff. A+

Boris, Heavy Rocks (Relapse Records)

We last left this Japanese experimental metal/stoner trio way back in — wow, January of this year, with their count-em-27th album, W. That one included material that was on a Portishead/My Bloody Valentine tip, and like always there was nothing wrong there other than yet another return to a more ambient approach, but after 30 years in business and that many records, these guys are holding a golden ticket, able to do pretty much whatever they want. Lucky for their metalhead fans, what they usually want to do is spazz and rock out; which is what they do on this one, again. To me, their essence is that of a wind-up toy, sort of like those plastic teeth that would walk around chattering crazily until they ran out of steam: Like they’ve done plenty of times, this LP finds them wound all the way up and throwing cartoonish but thoroughly listenable wackiness at the listener, starting with opener “She Is Burning,” a cross between AC/DC and Hives if I’ve ever heard one, and I sure haven’t. Is it awesome? Yes, it is, and fun fact, this is the third time they’ve put out an album titled Heavy Rocks. No, I’m serious. A+


• It’s over, baby, the summer’s over, I can’t even stand it, the next bunch of albums will be out this Friday, Sept, 2. Where did it go, the lovely summertime, with its beach trips and the occasional visit to the Goldenrod ice cream place in Manchvegas? That’s actually a nice place, for ice cream, I had a chocolate frappe there, and Petunia had some sort of vanilla caramel ice cream thing, you should try it while there’s still time, before it’s freezing and insane, you betcha. Oh sorry, yes, new albums, yes, let’s talk about them. Hopefully you remember when I was throwing all sorts of shade on dumb aughts-era band names, right? Well I really didn’t have room in that mini-rant to cover all the bands with “Club” in their names, like New Young Pony Club, which was a new-rave sort of band, and also Ireland’s Two Door Cinema Club, billed as a post-punk revival band, which, can we be real for just once, is basically the same thing as new-rave. In a way. Or maybe not. Oh whatever, Two Door Cinema Club releases their fifth album, Keep On Smiling, in just a few hours, and it’s all sort of auspicious, given that their last album, 2019’s False Alarm, actually made it to No. 11 on the U.S. indie charts on the strength of the Simple Minds-influenced single “Talk” and a few other tunes, and so I must take them seriously, and so away I go, off to listen to the new single, “Lucky.” Wow, it is totally ’80s, pretty much like A-ha and whatnot, music to roller skate through malls to and all that stuff. If you’re a Gen X-er, you’d probably love these guys.

Yungblud, the pansexual British alt-pop singing dude who was the momentary boyfriend of Halsey, is up to three albums this week, as his new self-titled album is on the way! When it gets here, you’ll be able to thrill to the emo-rawk strains of “The Funeral,” in which our hero dabbles with My Chemical Romance sounds whilst playing around with the Adam Lambert aesthetic he had to steal just to get on the map in the first place. Cool goth jewelry bro!

Sawayama Rina is a Japanese–British art-pop Lady Gaga-wannabe singer-songwriter and model who’s set to make her film acting debut in John Wick: Chapter 4, but then again, isn’t everybody? She’s obviously sort of a manufactured person, molded out of plastic, bearing random messages about — well, nothing really, something-something sexuality, and she did a cover of “Enter Sandman,” probably because she noticed that Miley Cyrus had done some heavy metal cover songs. In other words she’s basically a trite contrivance and you shouldn’t let your kids listen to any of her music, not that you’ll be able to stop them. Mind you, the above is all based on prejudices I held prior to listening to her new album, Hold The Girl, so why don’t I just go and check that out right now, that’d be great. So the video for the album’s title track starts off with a visual based on Walking Dead-style imagery, a random house in the flatland countryside that’s sort of randomly menacing, but then we get a shot of Rina sitting in one of the upstairs bedrooms and then she’s singing exactly like Gaga and you realize she’s destined for obscurity in the not-too-distant future because there’s already a Gaga, so why would anyone care about this album? Why do people even do stuff like this, honestly?

• Let’s wrap up the week with a cursory listen to the new album from arena-thrash band Megadeth, The Sick, The Dying… And The Dead! The tire-kicker advance tune “The Dogs of Chernobyl” sounds exactly like what you think it sounds like: Metallica with a really low budget but totally killer double-bass drums. (People still use “killer” as an adjective, right—?)

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).

Gins and tonic

I remember the first time I drank a gin and tonic.

It was my first week at college. There was some sort of reception with an open bar. (The drinking age in Vermont was 18 at the time — a fact that led to a great many questionable decisions over the next few years.) Being 18, I had never actually ordered a cocktail from a bartender before, and I was flying blind. At some point, I had heard someone mention something called a gin and tonic, and it sounded like something a grownup would order, so that’s what I ordered.

It was cold and clean and tasted like pine needles and magic.

Gin is like that. It is so aromatic that it easily evokes sense memories:

That time you were invited to a party on a yacht. The sound of soft music and clever conversation.

The smell of cigarette smoke and your uncles accusing each other of cheating at poker every Christmas.

Sitting on the veranda of the officer’s club in the jungles of Burma after playing a few chukkers of polo in the tropical heat, hoping to stave off malaria.

Well, your memories will be specific to you, obviously.

But most gin and tonics taste pretty much the same, right? We all have our own individual memories, but they’re all centered on more or less the same taste, yes?

That would be true, if any two gins tasted the same. There are some that are close in flavor, but others are staggeringly different. Gin is a neutral grain spirit (vodka, in other words) that has been infused with botanical ingredients — think herbs, roots, flowers, etc. The most common of these is juniper berries — that’s where the pine taste comes from — but different recipes might have very different supporting botanicals, and a few omit the juniper altogether.

The recipe for a classic gin and tonic is deceptively simple: 2 ounces of gin, 4 or 5 ounces of tonic water, ice and a squeeze of lime. Boom! About as easy as it gets — no shaking, no mess, 30 seconds or so of concentration, and you’re ready to build some new neural pathways in your hippocampus.

But four different gins might give us four different pathways into the forests, deserts and Victorian lilac gardens of your mind.

Gin No. 1 – Uncle Val’s Botanical Gin

I don’t know who Uncle Val is, or even whose uncle he is, but he knows how to make a gin. There are two varieties of Uncle Val’s, a botanical one and a “restorative” one. I eagerly anticipate trying the restorative one — I could frankly use some restoration — but we are talking about the botanical variety right now.

Earlier this year I got to check off a bucket list item and went to an actual fancy speakeasy, where extremely talented bartenders will talk to you very earnestly about strange and exotic cocktails.

“What am I tasting?” I asked. “The rosemary? Is it the beets?”

“Well, I hope you can taste those, but it’s the gin.”

“No, I think it’s the rosemary.”

My new friend didn’t bother arguing but poured about a quarter of an ounce of Uncle Val’s into a cordial glass and slid it across the bar to me.

He was right. It was the gin. It is very good gin.

In a gin and tonic, Uncle Val’s has a round, floral taste. There are times when you get a G&T in your hands, it is gone in two or three minutes, and your wife has switched you over to diet soda. With this gin, you find yourself sipping enthusiastically but slowly. It is complex enough that even if you aren’t a gin snob you will spend a very long time trying to identify the background flavors.

Good luck with that.

Gin No. 2 – Drumshanbo Gunpowder Irish Gin

A few months ago I went to an event hosted by the Irish Whiskey Council that presented a bunch of New Hampshire liquor people with five or six Irish alcohols. While not a whiskey, this gin was far and away my favorite part of the presentation, with the possible exception of taking a morning off from work to drink Irish alcohol in the first place.

Drumshanbo has a sharper, slightly more medicinal flavor. There are definitely some background flavor notes, but it has a crisp, dry taste that plays really well with the lime. This is the gin and tonic to seal an important business deal.

Or maybe to propose to someone.

Gin No. 3 – Djinn Spirits Distilled Gin

I stumbled across this local gin — it’s made in Nashua — almost completely by accident. I was looking for a gin to pair with a really aggressive flavor — goat cheese, in this case — and this was recommended to me. The theory was that it had so many exotic ingredients that at least one or two of them would pair with whatever you might try to build a flavor bridge to.

It makes a truly excellent gin and tonic.

This is another one of those gins that you might find yourself sipping slowly and thoughtfully, as you try to identify the background flavors you are tasting. A friend and I put a solid half-hour into it and finally — after detouring into some increasingly bizarre stories (including one about Elias “Lucky” Baldwin, the man blamed with introducing peacocks as an invasive species to California. A fascinating man. Look him up.) — decided that maybe maybe we were tasting green apples. This isn’t to say that this gin actually has any green apples in it; that’s what we thought we tasted.

Gin No. 4 – Collective Arts Lavender and Juniper Gin

Let’s say you’ve had a rough week. Not terrible — no literal fires or death or actual hair pulling — but a real grind to get through. Let’s further say that you’ve decided that you would benefit from a little self-care — a small moment of grace and kindness to yourself.

This is the gin and tonic that will help center you before a weekend of mowing or back-to-school shopping or intramural lacrosse.

What makes it so special? The lavender.

I know: Lavender is tricky. Not enough of it, and it hides in the background and doesn’t bring anything to the party. Too much of it, and suddenly you’re at a fancy-soap-in-your-grandmother’s-bathroom party. This gin gets it just right. It’s soothing, civilized and — kind, if that makes any sense. It takes you by the hand and lets you know that you are strong and attractive enough to handle whatever is waiting for you after dinner.

Featured photo. Gin and Tonic. Photo by John Fladd.

Fully loaded Tater Tot waffles

Summer is winding down, which means many things. First, school will begin soon or already has. Second, football season (a.k.a. snack season) is almost here. Third, cooler temperatures will arrive, which means, most importantly, it’s time for more cooking and baking.

This perfect-for-fall recipe is a combination of comfort food and indulgence. Many of my recipes are about being healthy, but this one focuses on filling your stomach in the most delightful way. It also is centered around pre-made ingredients, making it a simple way to snack.

When shopping for ingredients, there are a few notes. A leaner ground beef is key to a less greasy snack. The marinara can be whatever type you prefer — plain, meat sauce, veggie-filled, etc. For the mozzarella, part skim or whole milk both work. I didn’t set an amount because everyone has their own amount of cheese they prefer. The last two ingredients are optional, but they do add nice notes. The sour cream provides a bit of acid, and the scallions are a hint of freshness for a heavier snack.

These waffles can be sliced into quarters and shared. Alternatively, each waffle can be an individual serving for a snack of supreme indulgence. If you opt to serve them whole, be careful when removing them from the baking sheet. The waffles require two spatulas to transfer them without breaking.

Fully loaded Tater Tot waffles
Makes 2

½ pound 90% lean ground beef
1½ cups marinara
4 cups Tater Tots, defrosted
shredded mozzarella
sour cream, optional
scallions, optional

Cook ground beef in a large nonstick frying pan over medium heat.
Remove from heat and drain on paper towels.
Combine marinara and cooked hamburger in a saucepan over medium-low, stirring occasionally until warm.
Preheat broiler, move one rack to highest position.
Spray the bottom of a rimmed baking sheet with nonstick spray.
Preheat waffle maker according to directions.
Place approximately 2 cups Tater Tots in waffle maker, dispersing evenly.
Cook following manufacturer’s instructions until crispy.
Transfer Tater Tot waffle to baking sheet.
Repeat with remaining Tater Tots.
Divide sauce and meat between the two waffles.
Sprinkle with as much cheese as you like!
Broil for about 1 minute, keeping a close eye to avoid burning.
Garnish with sour cream and/or scallions, if desired.

Featured Photo: Fully loaded Tater Tot waffles. Photo by Michele Pesula Kuegler.

In the kitchen with Leah Borla

Leah Borla of Weare is the owner of Sweet Love Bakery (20 Main St., Goffstown, 497-2997,, which opened in early May. The small-batch bakeshop offers a daily assortment of fresh items like muffins, cinnamon rolls, doughnuts, cookies, cupcakes and cheesecakes, and also accepts specialty cake and cookie platter orders for weddings, birthday parties and all other types of events large and small. In addition to its sweet indulgences, the bakery partners with A&E Coffee & Tea to feature a lineup of coffees and specialty hot and iced teas. Espresso drinks and freshly baked breads are among some items Borla said she hopes to add to the bakery’s menu soon.

What is your must-have kitchen item?

My KitchenAid. I call her Big Red. She’s my sidekick — I couldn’t do it without her.

What would you have for your last meal?

Anything that is a carbohydrate — a bread or a pasta. … I am a penne person, because it holds on to the good stuff.

What is your favorite local restaurant?

Stark House Tavern in Weare. They have the best wings.

What celebrity would you like to see ordering from your bakery?

Because my husband is a Seattle native, and I spent 27 years out there, I’d have to say Dave Grohl. He is just the nicest guy and he’s really down to Earth.

What is your favorite thing on your menu?

My cheesecake, definitely. Basically, if you can think of a flavor, I can put it in a cheesecake. My favorite flavor is lemon.

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

I do see an uptick of food trucks, which I think is great, because out on the West Coast they’ve been doing them forever.

What is your favorite thing to cook at home?

Pasta. I love the versatility of it. My kids will disagree with me, but I think you can have pasta every night of the week and it’s never the same.

Easy homemade scones
From the kitchen of Leah Borla of Sweet Love Bakery in Goffstown

2½ cups flour
1 Tablespoon baking powder
6 Tablespoons butter
1 egg
¾ cup sugar
½ cup whole milk, buttermilk, half-and-half or heavy cream

Combine flour, sugar and baking powder. Cut in butter and egg until incorporated into the dry mix. Add whole milk, buttermilk, half-and-half or heavy cream just enough to wet the dry ingredients. Pat into a circle and cut how you like. Bake for 20 to 28 minutes. If adding fruit like berries, use less liquid so it’s not too gooey and hard to work with.

Featured photo: Leah Borla, owner of Sweet Love Bakery in Goffstown. Courtesy photo.

Burgers, Tots and beyond

Woods Grille opens in Northwood

When The Stand Cafe closed its doors in Northwood earlier this year so its owners could pursue a coffee roasting venture elsewhere, Heather Heigis and her husband, Pete — the owners of the property since February 2021, which includes Heather’s real estate brokerage upstairs — saw a unique opportunity. For about five years before that, the restaurant space operated as Umami Farm Fresh Cafe, a spot lauded in the community for its creative burgers and cozy atmosphere.

“This is a building that we’ve loved since we were going to college at UNH,” said Heather Heigis, adding that her family has lived in Northwood since 1999. “We were common customers when Umami was here. It was always a great place to see our neighbors and bump into friends, and have a good meal. It was something that, when it went away, I think our town really missed.”

The vision of Woods Grille, now open in an all new revamped, rustic setting, is all about bringing back that vibe. The Heigises have recruited their own team that includes Mike Brieger and Lola Lamb, both of whom have a hand in creating the eatery’s final menu. Brieger, who serves as Woods Grille’s general manager, is a longtime friend of the couple with more than three decades of experience in the restaurant industry. Lamb, meanwhile, was a former employee of The Stand Cafe with a few additional years of her own spent working as a private chef.

With an interior space decked out in everything from the Heigises’ own former living room furniture to makeshift bar tops and tables using repurposed wood from downed trees in their backyard (caused by a microburst), Woods Grille is a restaurant literally built for comfort. A local artist was even brought in to paint a mural on the wall of shadowed trees under a blue sky.

“I wanted it to be warm and cozy, and the kind of place that somebody felt like they could have a beer and sit down and talk to their friend, and not feel like they’re trying to flip the table really fast,” Heather Heigis said, “and so, we were really going for that ski lodge, barn type of feel.”

Among the highlights of Woods Grille’s menu are the “gourmet grille-wiches.” They feature a total of nine signature sandwiches, all of which you can choose your own protein for, from a beef burger patty or grilled chicken to a veggie burger or portobello mushroom. If you simply can’t choose a specialty option — the “Woods-wich,” with blue cheese, bacon, sauteed mushrooms, caramelized onions and avocado, is a favorite of Lamb’s — you can build your own. All of the burgers and sandwiches have the option to substitute a gluten-free bun at no extra cost.

Woods Grille is also unique for not offering french fries — in fact, they don’t even have a frialator in their kitchen. Instead, they offer baked Tater Tots, complete with up to five signature dipping aiolis to choose from. You can order them as a side to your burger or sandwich, or on their own to share. Aioli flavors include basil, garlic, barbecue, chipotle and honey Dijon.

“I almost feel like we have gourmet Tater Tots now,” Heather Heigis said. “We find that people are coming back for them and they want a different aioli with them than the last time.”

Other items include house salads — with the option to turn each into a wrap — and tacos, which are filled with either grilled chicken or blackened mahi mahi in addition to cheese, shredded cabbage, diced tomato, pickled onions and avocado. Those come on either flour or corn tortillas.

Brownie ice cream sundaes and crustless cheesecakes with a berry sauce are among some of the featured desserts, and you can also fruit smoothies or milkshakes in a variety of flavors.

Woods Grille is currently open for lunch and dinner just from Friday through Sunday to start, but the goal, Heigis said, is to eventually expand the hours. They’re also working on building out the outside seating space directly adjacent to the restaurant.

Woods Grille
Where: 284 1st New Hampshire Turnpike, Northwood
Hours: Friday and Saturday, 11:30 a.m. to 9 p.m., and Sunday, 11:30 a.m. to 8 p.m. (extended hours likely coming soon)
More info: Visit, or find them on Facebook and Instagram @woodsgrille

Featured photo: Photo courtesy of Woods Grille.

Ryes to the occasion

Bread Makery now open in Salem

Andrey Bredstein found success in New Hampshire with his Russian baking business, Hidden Berry Cakes & Breads — he was perhaps best known for his rustic roadside trailer near the intersection of Routes 102 and 121 in Chester, where he lived until 2018. Now, after a short stint spent baking down in the Austin, Texas, area, Bredstein is back in the Granite State with an all new brick-and-mortar spot offering his own authentic Russian breads, tea cakes and pastries.

The Bread Makery, which opened last month in the nearby town of Salem, features all of the same menu items Bredstein has perfected over his years as a baker, from multiple types of freshly baked rye breads to traditional Russian baked goods like rum balls and wizard cakes. Breads are made fresh daily, and Bredstein even uses old Soviet-era standardized recipes. His bread baking journey began in 2002, when he moved to the United States from Moscow and found himself looking for a quality product that reminded him of home. Living in Texas at the time, when he couldn’t find a good loaf of bread, he began experimenting in his own kitchen.

“We started looking for options in baking ourselves. I don’t have any formal training as a baker. … I read books, I watched videos … [but] mostly I relied on my memory of taste,” Bredstein said. “I started making my own steps, and finally I was able to get a loaf that I like. Then our neighbors started asking, you know, ‘Can you bake me a loaf or two?’ And so we did that.”

Bredstein’s product lineup includes a white sandwich loaf, as well as three types of rye breads — a traditional Russian rye, a Jewish rye and a darker “special rye” made with rye malt called Borodinsky — that are unique for containing rye flour and using sourdough starters.

“The white bread we make early. I come in here at 6 [a.m.], so [by] 11-ish, we have a fresh white bread ready,” Bredstein said. “A rye bread we make later in the day, closer to the evening. … Until it’s cooled down inside, it’s not considered ready. So normally it’s ready at 11 at night and then we sell it the next morning. Its shelf life is long — it’s four or five days.”

In addition to his breads, Bredstein offers a selection of traditional Russian sweets regularly stocked in a pastry case. Among them is a wizard cake, a white cake with a custard filling and a chocolate glaze he equated to a Boston cream pie — it’s sold either by the slice or as a whole. You can also try rum balls, or bite-sized cakes that are mixed with cream, coated with cocoa butter and hand-shaped into the shape of a small potato. Tea cakes, the first product that Bredstein offered when he originally launched his business, are also regularly available at the Bread Makery. They feature dried fruit — traditionally raisins, although Bredstein admits he likes to fill his with dried cranberries — and are commonly enjoyed with a cup of hot tea.

A small retail area of the shop offers various items, like rye crisps — Bredstein slices down extra loaves of his Russian rye bread and slowly bakes them at a low temperature. They result in a crunchy snack that he said pairs well with beer or your favorite dipping sauce. Bredstein also sells three-pound bags of rye flour; imported bottles of kvass, a fermented drink popular in Russia and Ukraine; and cans of smoked sprats, small fish he said are similar to sardines.

“It’s made in the Baltic area, so Latvia, Lithuania [and] Estonia,” Bredstein said. “It’s [in] an oil, so when you put it on bread, it will soak a little bit in and it becomes a nice sandwich.”

In many ways, Bredstein is simply picking up where he left off a few years ago in Chester. In fact, he’s already seen customers walk through the door who ordered from him during his days on the trailer. Others are being introduced to his breads for the first time. But no matter who comes in to visit, Bredstein said he’s happy to back baking in the Granite State.

“Tastes are very different. When we lived in Chester, I would say maybe 80 percent of what we made was bread,” he said. “In Texas, nobody wanted bread … but they liked our pastries very much. Personally I’m most interested in making bread, especially rye bread.”

Bread Makery
Where: 115B Main St., Salem
Hours: Tuesday, noon to 6 p.m., and Wednesday through Saturday, 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Closed on Sundays and Mondays.
More info: Visit, find them on Facebook or call 912-7677

Featured photo: Borodinsky, or Russian “special rye” bread (right). Photo courtesy of Bread Makery in Salem.

The Weekly Dish 22/09/01

News from the local food scene

Get your Greek feast: Join Holy Trinity Greek Orthodox Church (68 N. State St., Concord) for its next boxed Greek dinner to go, a drive-thru takeout event, on Sunday, Sept. 11, from noon to 1 p.m. Now through Wednesday, Sept. 7, orders are being accepted for boxed meals featuring dinners of Greek pork roast, spinach pita, roasted potatoes, carrots and a roll for $20 per person. The event is drive-thru and takeout only — email or call 953-3051 to place your order. The church is also planning similar takeout and pickup meals over the next few months, including meatballs with rice on Oct. 9, stuffed peppers on Nov. 3 and cheese pitas with a Greek vegetable medley on Dec. 11. Visit

Fresh from the market: The third and final scheduled Mums Pop Up Market, a small pop-up farmers market presented by Manchester Grows in partnership with other local nonprofits, is happening on Thursday, Sept. 8, from 4 to 7 p.m. Local vendors selling art, freshly grown produce and other items will be set up by the intersection of Union and Spruce streets in the Queen City. Similar markets were also held on Aug. 11 and Aug. 25. Email for more details on vendors, or visit

Celebrate with lobster: Makris Lobster & Steak House (354 Sheep Davis Road, Concord) is planning its first annual Lobster Palooza on Saturday, Sept. 3, from 1 to 10 p.m. The end-of-summer celebration will take place in the eatery’s backyard beach and tiki area, featuring a wide array of lobster and beer specials, along with live music, giveaways, a 50/50 raffle, and a Sam Adams Oktoberfest stein hoisting challenge at 7:30 p.m. Visit or check out the Facebook event page for more details.

Hot sauce fest a success: More than 2,000 “fiery folks” attended the first annual New England Hot Sauce Fest at Smuttynose Brewery Co. in Hampton on July 30, which collectively raised nearly $10,000 for its two beneficiary organizations, according to a press release. The event featured more than 25 craft hot sauce companies from across New Hampshire and other New England states, along with several food trucks and craft and specialty vendors. Canadian celebrity competitive eater Mike Jack of Mike Jack Eats Heat even consumed 60 Carolina Reaper peppers (the world’s hottest pepper), beating his own personal record. “Our goals were to raise money for our local ocean-conservation beneficiaries, and to put New England on the map as an up and coming spicy region,” event organizer Gabe DiSaverio of The Spicy Shark said in a statement. “We are so thrilled to raise money for Blue Ocean Society and Seacoast Science Center, each receiving $4,417.” Plans are already underway for the festival to return for a second year, on July 29, 2023. “We plan on keeping the same formula that made Year 1 such a success, and we’ve got a bunch of new spicy surprises in the works as well!” DiSaverio said. Visit

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