Born to fun

Comic Cory Gee debuts at Headliners

When Cory Gee bounds onstage, he’s almost immediately mixing with the crowd. Learning who’s married, dating for the first time, celebrating a birthday. The rapid-fire back and forth helps the veteran comic size up the audience, but it’s not a call for conversation.

He’s setting up jokes, polished over time. Like the one about why asking a baby-faced cop how he caught him while riding a Big Wheel isn’t a good way to get out of a speeding ticket, or how single men shouldn’t plan bachelor parties, and the reason a VFW hall is a better venue for such gatherings than a strip bar.

Cory Gee really doesn’t want to hear about your day, but thanks anyway.

“In today’s TikTok era, crowd work is a necessary evil,” Gee said in a recent phone interview, noting that shutting down hecklers is a reliable way to get clicks. “I love to engage with the crowd, but what is frustrating for me as a comedian is when the crowd talks to me. Does that make sense?”

Sometimes, though, Gee’s high-wire act leads to comedy gold. “A perfect joke for me is the joke I never intended to do,” he said. Like when a random crowd remark sparks the memory of a long-unfinished bit. “You just start to work it, then it all starts to fall into place … and it’s like this moment. I was not meant to figure out that joke until just now.”

Gee will appear for the first time at Headliners in Manchester on Feb. 4. He’s talked for a while with promoter Rob Steen about playing there. “I pretty much know every headliner he uses on a regular basis, and they were all saying the same thing … ‘You’d do so well in New Hampshire, those crowds would really enjoy you.’ I’m really looking forward to it.”

He began doing comedy in 2002 at Comedy Connection in Providence, Rhode Island. The decision to become a standup was an evolution. He majored in theater in college, left early to find fame in Hollywood, but only got as far as his dad’s home in Georgia, where he got work in a professional theater company.

It didn’t last past a series of grueling rehearsals for Lips Together, Teeth Apart.

“I was just tired of saying other people’s words,” Gee explained. “In comedy, everything sits on you, all of the writing is you, all of the performing is you, every movement you make on stage is solely you, [and] knowing I was in complete control was probably the moment that I realized … this is what I want to be doing.”

It ended in 2013. His employer, a well-known nonprofit, gave him an ultimatum: jokes or a job. With two sons, Gee had little choice, so he quit, cold turkey. He didn’t write a bit, go to a show, or even think about comedy for five years. Then he got an offer at a new company. It was a lateral move; commuting costs actually reduced his take-home.

His wife had only one question. “She said, ‘Can you do comedy?’ I said, ‘Yeah, they told me they don’t care what I do.’ She was like, ‘We will figure out whatever financial impact this will have; you have to get back to comedy,’” he recalled.

He’s ever grateful for the boost. After shows, she helps him deconstruct and decompress. “I took it for granted the first time,” he said. “It has definitely added a wrinkle to our relationship from a support standpoint. Not that it wasn’t there before; I just I didn’t realize how important it was.”

Gee returns the favor by co-hosting a podcast with her. Ready, Set, Disney offers tips for visiting the theme parks. It helps that the manic stage prowler is already a big fan of Disney World. “If you’ve seen my act, you know I can’t stand still,” he said. “So the idea of a vacation in which I sit on a beach and just kinda throw my feet up would not work for me. When we go to Disney, I’m constantly moving.”

Cory Gee
When: Saturday, Feb. 4, 8:30 p.m.
Where: Headliners Comedy Club, 700 Elm St., Manchester
Tickets: $20 at

Featured photo: Cory Gee. Courtesy photo.

The Music Roundup 23/02/02

Local music news & events

Gothiversary: The enduring twice-a-month dance night Resurrection celebrates its 17th year with double bill of turntablists, including resident DJ Pet and Rev Benjamin Powers, who in addition to making crowds dance hosts a Twitch channel and is, according to his Twitter bio, a “pro wrestling sage” and “walking ball of millennial angst.” That’s perfect for the goth/industrial music event, which has Swedish mysterioso band Priest and similar fare. Thursday, Feb. 2, 6:30 p.m., Belknap Mill, 25 Beacon St., Laconia, $10 at the door.

Beachy keen: A mainstay at this Londonderry brewery, Slack Tide plays the sixth annual All Summer Long indoor party, laughing at the subzero temperatures. The jam band stretches the genre’s definition and is led by Berklee-trained guitarist Chris Cyrus, who grew up on Jack Johnson and Sublime along with psychedelic rockers like The Doors and the Dead. On Saturday, Supernothing and DJ Connexions finish the fest. Friday, Feb. 3, 6:30 p.m., Pipe Dream Brewery, 49 Harvey Road, Londonderry,

Double down: Boston soul powerhouse A Band of Killers completes a two-night run that features both versions of the group. The Friday night set has ex-Soulive leader Toussaint the Liberator; Tim Gearan is out front on night two, with the elegant duo Dwight and Nicole opening. The regional “all-star rock ’n’ roll soul circus” supergroup has been busy of late making new music, with two albums due out soon. Friday, Feb. 3, and Saturday, Feb. 4, 9 p.m., Stone Church, 5 Granite St., Newmarket, $20 at

Boys to men: In 1999,Making The Band created the formula for reality TV talent contests and gave O-Town its start. They rode the boy band wave until it crashed; along the way they fell in with serial crook/manager Lou Pearlman, who fleeced them just as he’d done to N’Sync and Backstreet Boys. That spurred singer Jacob Underwood to earn an MBA and get better at the music biz. In 2015 the act reunited, and they continue to tour. Sunday, Feb. 5, 7 p.m., Bank of NH Stage, 16 S. Main St., Concord, $35 at

Broadway folk: NYC-based singer-songwriter Eleri Ward blew up TikTok with her unique take on Stephen Sondheim, A Perfect Little Death, an album released in 2021. Critics hailed the effort; American Theatre called it “incandescent” and Forbes praised its “harmonious marriage of musical theater and indie folk music, with hauntingly beautiful arrangements.” Ward attended Berklee on her way to graduating with a BFA from the Boston Conservatory. Tuesday, Feb. 7, 8 p.m., 3S Artspace, 319 Vaughan St., Portsmouth, $20 at

The Thing in the Snow, by Sean Adams

The Thing in the Snow, by Sean Adams (268 pages, William Morrow)

In the windswept snow-packed emptiness of a place so remote it can only be accessed by helicopter is the Northern Institute, an abandoned research facility. Its staff has suddenly left under mysterious circumstances, requiring the employment of three caretakers tasked with keeping the six-story building functional.

Sound like your job? No? Keep reading. It will.

The light-hearted novel is a satirical take on the modern workplace, from the mind-numbing and largely unimportant tasks that can disproportionately consume a workweek, to the multitiered and often useless health plans offered by large employers, to mediocre supervisors obsessed with maintaining control.

The supervisor here goes by one name, presumably his surname, Hart. Like his two-person team, Gibbs and Cline, he seems to have come to his job with little information; he doesn’t even have a good sense of where he is, having fallen asleep during the helicopter ride.

All Hart knows is that provisions and instructions will be delivered once a week by helicopter, and that while the work is simple, he has a protocol to follow, and follow it he will, even though he often feels disrespected by underlings who aren’t appreciative enough that he provides them coffee and the opportunity for “light socializing” each morning before getting down to work.

Calling their tasks “work,” however, is a stretch. It is more like busy work — things given a person to do only so they have something to do. One week, for example, they are tasked with sitting in all the chairs in the building, ostensibly to test their structural integrity; another week, they measure the flatness of the tables by seeing if golf balls roll across them. The work is so boring, as are the surroundings, that Hart has trouble keeping up with the passage of time; he doesn’t know how long he has been there or what holidays have passed. The only remotely interesting thing that happens is when one morning Cline looks outside the window on a particularly windy day and spots it: “the thing in the snow.”

It’s unclear what the thing is as, like everything else, it’s covered with snow. But Hart, Gibbes and Cline all agree that it hadn’t been there before. And because of some mysterious “snow sickness” that had befallen former employees at the facility, they have been instructed not to go outside. So they have no way to check it out.

There is only one other person on the premises: Gilroy, a researcher who was part of the previous team and for reasons unknown got left behind to continue working on some project regarding “the cold.”

“Condescending, pretentious, and often outright batty, he’s the kind of person who eschews empathy with such vigor that distaste is not just warranted, it is the correct evolutionary response,” is how Hart, the narrator, describes him. Gilroy knows nothing about the thing in the snow, either.

Nor does the “health specialist” who arrives to administer the team’s regularly scheduled checkups (and haircuts) later. In one of the more hilarious sequences of the books, the health specialist informs them that they are all on the “basic” health care plan, as opposed to the premium or platinum. The eye chart, therefore, only contains five letters, whereas the premium plan has 15 and the platinum plan the whole alphabet. Also, “The thermometer’s readings come only in multiples of three, but we have the option to upgrade to the premium option of whole numbers or the platinum level, which includes decimals.”

But that is just a comic aside. The mystery before our caretakers, of course, is what the thing in the snow is, and how they can find out.

The limitations of the characters and their surroundings necessarily immerse the reader into the blandness of their days; we’re redeemed only by Hart’s occasional dry wit and sardonic observations. But then there are small, strange mysteries that unfold, like cryptic messages Hart and Cline find written under tables. It’s as if the most trivial dialogue from the Tom Stoppard play Rosencrantz and Guildenstern are Dead was inserted into the TV series Lost.

Meanwhile, because the Northern Institute was a thriving research facility at one time, surely it’s possible that the caretakers are themselves being studied as they numbly perform the assigned rituals this week. Maybe the thing in the snow is a test of their compliance? Or is it something more sinister?

It would be wrong to classify The Thing in the Snow as a mystery or a thriller; it’s much too sly for that, and the author, unlike his narrator, doesn’t seem to be taking any of this too seriously, even when he’s skewering the modern workplace.

What he does take seriously is the cold. A resident of Des Moines, Adams is as acquainted with the miseries of cold as New Englanders are. When at one point the characters are asked if they’d rather have a pay raise or the temperature in the building elevated a few degrees, they opt for the warmth, which is entirely plausible this time of year. The book is droll like that and doesn’t ask much of the reader but to come along for the ride — under a blanket, of course. It’s a pleasant distraction for a couple of winter evenings. B

At the Sofaplex 23/02/02

All Quiet on the Western Front (R)

A group of very eager, very naive school boys sign up to join the German army a few years into World War I in this most recent, German-language adaptation of the novel by Erich Maria Remarque. Paul (Felix Kammerer) and his buddies sport goofy grins as they listen to a local official charge them up, all fatherland this and manhood that. When Paul finds another man’s name on the uniform he’s handed, he accepts the army official’s story that it probably just didn’t fit that guy — even though we’ve seen, in one of the movie’s best sequences, that uniform go being worn by a young German soldier when he’s sent over the top of the trench to the laundry where his blood is cleaned out and the factory where bullet holes are patched up.

It’s telling to watch all the older soldiers just sort of “yep” with their eyes as these eager new soldiers get to the Western front, cheering and ready to shoot their French enemies. After about 24 hours — of mud, of shelling, of collecting the dog tags of freshly killed comrades — Paul seems to let go of his childhood ideas of military glory and adventure.

We catch up with him 18 months later as he and the friends he has left are just surviving in roughly the same spot where they’ve been dug in for years. Intercut with this are scenes of German officials (including one played by Daniel Brühl) trying to negotiate an armistice over the objections of the military.

This movie — nominated for Oscars for Best Picture as well as extremely well-deserved cinematography and score nods, International Feature Film, Makeup & Hairstyling, Adapted Screenplay, Visual Effects, Sound and Production Design — really does wow with its visuals. The trench warfare is an impressive blend of absolute horror and surprising beauty, particularly in the long shots of the forests and fields around the battlefield. The score is impressive too — there’s a kind of machine-like quality that helps underline the idea of the soldiers as just raw materials for industrial-scale killing.

I think the movie’s greatest strength — that it takes the time to show us the nature and the small details surrounding these men at war — can also be a weakness in that it leads the movie to underline and repeat itself on the futility of what’s happening. At two hours and 27 minutes, this movie could have afforded to slice some scenes and still get its message across. B+ Available on Netflix, where you can watch it in German with subtitles or with English dubbing.

Triangle of Sadness (R)

Woody Harrelson, Harris Dickinson.

Director and writer Ruben Ostlund, also known for The Square and Force Majeure, presents this satire of wealth, class and status with just a bit of gender roles and colonialism thrown in. It’s a lot. It’s a whole college freshmen discussion about “the system.” It can charm in moments but also wear on you. And there’s an extended puke and poo situation that is — well “on the nose” feels like a very “ew” way to describe it.

The movie takes a while to get going as we see models Carl (Dickinson) and Yaya (Charlbi Dean) and their relationship, which is at least 50 percent about building their social media presence. They go on a cruise — influencer perks — where all of their fellow guests are fabulously wealthy, sorta nuts and some kind of a caricature, such as the polite British couple named Winston (Oliver Ford Davies) and Clementine (Amanda Walker) who used to manufacture land mines but now focus on hand grenades. The crew, managed by Paula (Vicki Berlin), has been told to smile through all the insanity in hope of a big tip. But perhaps they should have “no, ma’am-ed” a request by Vera (Sunnyi Melles), wife of Russian fertilizer magnate Dimitry (Zlatko Buric), for all of the crew members, including the kitchen staff preparing the raw seafood, to go for a swim.

At one point, the ship’s oft-drunk captain (Harrelson) and Dimitry trade quotes about communism — the captain presenting himself as sort of a half-hearted Marxist and Dimitry as a capitalist. It’s cute, they have a chummy conversation as the guests puke and the ship is cast about on the waves; it’s also, you know, “yeah, OK, movie.”

And that for me was the movie — cute moments, some fun performances and a whole lot of “OK, calm down.” I get how this can be a better-than-OK viewing experience (except for the puking) but for me this wouldn’t have added up to Best Picture, Best Director and Original Screenplay Oscar nominations. BAvailable for rent or purchase.

Women Talking (PG-13)

The women of a rural fundamentalist community must decide to stay or leave in Women Talking, a captivating exercise of storytelling through conversation directed by Sarah Polley and based on the novel by Miriam Toews.

After years of the women of the colony, as they call their settlement, waking up to find themselves bruised and bleeding, the rapists who had been drugging and violently assaulting female community members (ranging in age from little girls to their grandmothers) have been arrested. They are imprisoned in the nearby town and all the men of the colony have gone to bail them out. The leaders have told the women that when the men — rapists included — return, the women must forgive them. The alternative is to be cast out — of the colony, of the religion, of the eternal kingdom of God.

Before the men return, the women all decide to vote on what to do. Their options, as laid out with sketches for these women and girls who have never been allowed to learn to read and write, are to do nothing, to stay and fight or to go. “Do nothing” is a first-round loser but “stay and fight” and “go” are in a dead heat with a smaller committee of women being tasked with discussing the two options and deciding for all the women of the town.

All of the women are angry, a deep full-body anger. Salome (Claire Foy), mother of a 4-year-old girl who had recently been attacked, attempted to kill the accused men and vows that she will finish the job if she stays. Ona (Rooney Mara), pregnant from her attack, has some elaborate ideas about what a post-colony egalitarian community could look like but her ideas sound very pie-in-the-sky to Mariche (Jessie Buckley), who is stuck in an abusive marriage. Mariche is so rage-filled that she’s sort of firing indiscriminately at the other women and girls gathered in the barn, as likely to yell at a woman having a panic attack or wonder about whether really all the accused men are guilty as she is to rail against the injustice of what’s been done to them all.

At the beginning of the movie, a title card describes the story as a product of “female imagination,” which I think you can kind of take how you want in this movie written and directed by a woman based on a book by a woman and performed almost entirely by women — the only two non-female characters with significant roles are August (Ben Whishaw), the school teacher asked to take minutes of the meeting, and Melvin (August Winter), a young trans man who was also attacked. The discussion spreads out to all the edges of dealing with gender violence and with the general oppression under which the women have lived their lives. They come from a place of very strong core faith and an organization of their lives around God and it’s from that point of view that they argue about the right decision, what their duty is in terms of forgiveness, their duty to keep their children safe, their place in the community and what they deserve as humans. They worry about their sons — how do they keep them from becoming these kinds of men. In some ways it is a very stagy discussion and I feel like you have to decide to go with the conceit of what’s happening — what and how these women are arguing, August’s role as meeting note taker, the way we learn everybody’s stories. I could see this movie not working for some people (I read some commentary on Jezebel that seemed to suggest the staginess got in the way of the writer’s really enjoying it). But for me, this sort of bottle-episode thought-experiment worked — and was boosted by some extremely strong acting talent. Not only is Foy absolutely magnetic throughout, Mara gives what could be a drippy character some roundness and humanity. Judith Ivey and Sheila McCarthy, playing the mothers of Ona and Mariche respectively, are also great, showing us how these two people who haven’t been given much can use the tools that they have to fight for themselves and their children. And, for all that it dives in to some awful places, Women Talking is filled with some lovely imagery of the farmland where these women live and shot with faded colors that help to put you in this alternate reality.

Women Talking received Oscar nominations for Best Picture and Adapted Screenplay, both well deserved but I would have added more — a few supporting actress nods, definitely a directing nomination — to that list. A

Rated PG-13 for mature content including sexual assault, bloody images, and some strong language, according to the MPA on Directed by Sarah Polley, who also wrote the screenplay from the novel by Miriam Toews,Women Talking is an hour and 44 minutes long and is distributed in theaters by Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer Pictures.

Featured photo: Women Talking.

Album Reviews 23/02/02

Meg Baird, Furling (Drag City Records)

This singer and drummer is well-known in the indie/retro-folk scene, having helped to form the psychedelic rock supergroup Heron Oblivion after a several-album stint with Espers. The New Jersey-born, San Francisco-based hipster has other projects on her resumé, too, including three albums with her sister Laura as the Baird Sisters, and one with harpist Mary Lattimore, titled Ghost Forests, that reached No. 3 on the Billboard New Age chart. This one starts with “Ashes, Ashes,” an appropriately titled tune recalling Dark Side of the Moon-era Pink Floyd in its somber, piano-driven, slow-march-to-oblivion po-facedness; thankfully layered with cool things, it’s made quanta more fascinating through Baird’s use of ghostly, wordless warbling. “Star Hill Song” carries on similarly but on a more folk-pop bent; it’s here we first encounter her Joan Baez-ish soprano, a thing that’s about as folkie as it gets. This stuff is great Coachella bait, but it’s a lot more compelling that what one usually gets from that crowd. A+

Scott Crow, Of Everything and Nothing (Emergency Hearts Records)

This Texan is becoming something of a Hunter S. Thompson of the alternative politics scene. A long-time anarchist author and activist in the anti-fascist, environmental and mutual aid movements, Crow presents here a mishmash some of his first musical recordings since 1992, a collection of recent collaborations, some of which feature guest appearances from other artists and producers recorded in 2016 and up through the present. He’s had several projects over the years, ranging from darkwave to noise rock, but this one opens with a surprisingly melodic New Wave/art-rock tune, “Stardust Supernova,” that recalls New Order’s late-’80s recipe. “Crown Slow 2.0” is a dirgey drone-a-thon that’s more in a Swans vein; the very pretty “R34L Falling Into Sleep” is super-refined krautrock if you ask me. Really impressive, nearly all of this, save for several remixes tabled by Portland, Oregon-based producer Televangel, whose technique is a bit messy-muddy for my tastes, even if many would probably hear a lot of Throbbing Lobster in them. A


• It’s your boy here, takin’ a jaundiced look at the stinky batch of music CDs coming out on Feb. 3, regardless of whether or not they should! Red Hot Chili Peppers guitarist John Frusciante is releasing two albums, but it’s complicated, ready? The albums are different versions of the same album, one for vinyl and the other for CD and digital. The former, . I : (pronounced ‘one’), spans seven tracks, while : II . (pronounced ‘two’) spans 10. OK, did you get all that? He wrote the music while he was listening to experimental artists like Oren Ambarchi, Klara Lewis and Ryoji Ikeda, and the melodic parts take inspiration from John Lennon, David Bowie, Iggy Pop, Jimi Hendrix and Brian Eno. I say all this only for the interest of RHCP fans, who wouldn’t care if the tunes were all inspired by the background music to Pac Man Cereal commercials (did you know that one of the Batmans, Christian Bale, was in one of those?), because as long as it’s RHCP, with the real Flea actually playing bass and the music is sort of like Frank Zappa but not actually funny at all, forget it, it’ll be a huge album for RHCP completists to buy and put away carefully without ever listening to. Just my luck, of course, there are no advance singles to listen to, but it’ll be ambient stuff, according to what I’m reading on the internet, and it’s likely there’ll be some jungle rinseouts, because he’s into that kind of thing these days, literally for no reason whatsoever.

• So you thought Shania Twain had given up singing goopy Top 40 songs and retired to some 50-acre horse farm to grow petunias and count hundred-dollar bills, did you? Well you’re wrong, those petunias and horsies cost a lot of hundred-dollar bills, so she’s putting out a new album this Friday, called Queen Of Me! Her 1990s heyday is over, so she’s been playing at Caesar’s Palace for mobsters and all those kinds of people, then she went through a horrible divorce with her producer, Mutt Lange, so the producer for this album is not Mutt Lange. But before I run out of room, let’s go take a listen to “Waking Up Dreaming,” since it’s probably the push single, given that it already has 2.5 million YouTube views from bots and people who accidentally landed on the video while searching for “We Will Rock You” or whatnot. The song starts off with a “Footloose”-style drumbeat, and then Shania starts singing, sounding kind of bored, for which I wouldn’t blame her, because as feisty and catchy she wants this song to be, it isn’t, it’s just kind of phoned-in and limp, which means she’ll probably sing it on some daytime TV show, causing IQ levels to drop worldwide, and that’s the only time you’ll ever hear it again, not that the song is completely worthless. OK, it is, but where would we be with hilariously disposable pop art, you tell me.

• British six-piece indie-rock band The Go! Team are releasing their newest full-length, Get Up Sequences Part Two, this week. The entire album is available to listen to on YouTube right now in one big lump without separation between song titles, and the first song is kind of dumb, like Flaming Lips but with a full brass band. I hate it, but your mileage may vary, lord help us.

• We’ll call it a column by checking out British pop songstress Ellie Goulding, whose new LP, Higher Than Heaven, has a single, called “Let It Die.” It’s an OK tune, like Avril Lavigne for soccer parents, not too energetic or listenable, just right for cranking in the minivan while you drop the kid off for practice, where the other kids will give you funny looks for being cringe.

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).

Zelda and the bison grass

I know that I don’t need to remind you of it, but Feb. 2 is National Tater Tot Day. I’m sure you’ve already put up the decorations and picked out your outfit, but I’m afraid I’m going to have to weasel out on you.

I was going to develop a Tater Tot-themed cocktail, made, of course, with potato vodka. I thought about infusing it with actual Tater Tots or french fries. I was working on some solid puns for names. I was even — and I admit this was a personal low point — considering using ketchup as the sweet element.

But ultimately I had to ask myself whether I wanted to subject you, myself, or even a good-quality vodka to this kind of gimmicky cocktail indignity.

So let’s take a big swing in the other direction and make an attempt at class and sophistication. I don’t know about you, but sophistication has proved somewhat elusive for me over the past couple of years. I’d like to explore a Zelda Cocktail.

You know, Zelda.

Zelda Fitzgerald.

The novelist, playwright and artist? She was married to F. Scott Fitzgerald?

No. Not the Legend of Zelda princess.

OK, when she’s remembered at all today, Zelda Fitzgerald is known largely for her struggles with mental health, alcoholism and a really dysfunctional marriage, but for a brief shining moment in the 1920s she was widely known as one of the most beautiful, brilliant and sophisticated women alive. And a cocktail dedicated to her is a little-known classic.

Like Zelda herself, this drink is delightful, with an unexpected challenge. In this case the challenge is bison grass vodka.

You might hear rumors about Żubrówka vodka being illegal — and it was, apparently, for several years — but it is available in liquor stores, if you look for it hard enough. If you aren’t up for a multi-state vodka quest, I’m going to make a substitution suggestion. If you muddle a sprig of thyme when you are muddling the mint for this drink, it will add a subtle herbal back-note that will make a guest stop and wonder what is going on.

Apparently the Zelda Fitzgerald experience was a lot like that — people would be overcome with delight in her presence, only to wonder, just a little, what they had gotten themselves into.

The Zelda

Several sprigs of fresh mint. (As I write this, I find myself writing the word “mink,” which I think would please Mrs. Fitzgerald.)

  • 2 ounces Żubrówka Bison Grass Vodka or the best-quality vodka you have, plus a sprig of thyme
  • 1 ounce fresh-squeezed lime juice
  • ¾ ounce orgeat (almond syrup)

Muddle the mint (and thyme, if you are including it) in the bottom of a cocktail shaker.

Add five or six ice cubes and the other ingredients to the shaker. Shake vigorously.

Strain into a coupé glass and drink while it is very cold.

Featured photo: The Zelda. Photo by John Fladd.

In the kitchen with Danny Pilsbury

Danny Pilsbury of Salisbury is the owner and executive chef of Alexandra’s Bistro (15 Village St., Penacook, 565-5066, find them on Facebook), which he opened in September, in the space long occupied by Donatello’s Pizza, with his business partner, John Brusseau. Pilsbury’s interest in cooking started while he was a junior at Merrimack Valley High School, where he enrolled in a two-year vocational program in culinary arts. From there he would go on to study at NHTI in Concord, and soon got his start as a prep cook and dishwasher at the Lake Sunapee Country Club in New London. He worked his way up the ranks in the industry, eventually becoming executive sous chef at The New London Inn and Coach House, just a few miles up the road. Named in honor of Pilsbury’s late wife, who died of cancer in December 2021, Alexandra’s Bistro is known for offering a lineup of locally sourced, scratch-cooked items like starters, sandwiches, pastas and other plated entrees, with seasonally inspired menu changes throughout the year. “People are definitely associating us, I think, with an anniversary [or] date night kind of place, which is great. That was definitely kind of my goal,” he said. “I’ve heard from a lot of customers too that, considering how small it is, we have a decent variety.”

What is your must-have kitchen item?

I cannot go without a marker. I have one in my pocket all the time. … I label things so much all day. We make so many things from scratch here in the kitchen, and so I don’t have things coming in with expiration dates on them. I’m making all of the labels myself.

What would you have for your last meal?

This one was a no-brainer for me. I’d get a nice, big juicy steak. Steak and potatoes, either mashed or baked, [with] some green beans and a nice big piece of garlic butter.

What is your favorite local restaurant?

The Millstone Restaurant. It’s right up on Main Street in New London. It’s owned by a previous manager of mine, Richard Stockwell, and he’s just got an unbelievable staff over there. … They have a really good burger there. I get it almost every time.

What celebrity would you like to see eating in your restaurant?

[I’ve] always been a big fan of comedies for sure, and I just think it would be really cool to have Adam Sandler in here.

What is your favorite thing on your menu?

On the rotation right now, we have a duck pot pie that is just out of this world. … I had never made it before — I had done some other pot pies, but one day I was like, ‘Oh, we should try it with duck,’ and oh my God, it’s amazing. We make the duck stock right there in house, and it’s just super rich and thick and dark, and it’s loaded with veggies and nice big puff pastries on top. … I think it might be one of the best dishes I’ve ever created.

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

I think the whole farm-to-table concept is making a comeback, finally. I think chain restaurants have been dominating for a long time now, I mean, they’ve popped up all over the place, and there’s just something boring and plain about those places that has formed over the years. … I think people like to hear where [their food is] coming from, and that it’s antibiotic free and hormone free. … Just that natural kind of fresh, local, healthy food.

What is your favorite thing to cook at home?

I like a good grilled cheese, almost always with some tomato soup, or I’ll just put the fresh tomatoes right in the grilled cheese. … For me, there’s just a lot of nostalgia behind it. It was one of my mom’s go-to lunches for us as kids. … It’s fast, it’s easy and it’s relatively affordable. You can’t go wrong.

Lemon basil pesto aioli
From the kitchen of Danny Pilsbury of Alexandra’s Bistro in Penacook

⅛ cup lemon juice
¼ cup basil pesto (store bought or made from scratch)
1 cup mayonnaise
2 teaspoons salt
1 teaspoon white pepper

Whisk all of the ingredients together. According to Pilsbury, the aioli can go well on everything from sandwiches and flatbreads to pasta salads, french fries or even fried calamari

Featured photo: Danny Pilsbury, owner and executive chef of Alexandra’s Bistro in Penacook. Courtesy photo.

Flavors of Puerto Rico

Salem’s Rice & Beans 603 gets new owner, menus

Last year was eventful for longtime Manchester-area food trucker Tony Elias. He became an official mobile food vendor for the New Hampshire Fisher Cats as owner of the Superstar Tacos trailer, while his other truck, The Spot To Go, was hired to cook on the set of Madame Web, an upcoming Marvel film shot just outside Boston.

As 2022 came to an end Elias announced his newest venture: his first brick-and-mortar restaurant. He’s the new owner of Rice & Beans 603, which reopened Jan. 14 on Route 28 in Salem with his menu of scratch-cooked Puerto Rican street foods.

Elias said he met the eatery’s former owners last year while he was a vendor at Tuscan Village.

“They had a growing family, and I mean, in the restaurant business, it just requires you all the time, 24/7,” he said. “So in their eyes, it became kind of selfish to their girls. But they called me up one day and said, ‘We’re thinking about selling, would you be interested,’ and I mean, I just couldn’t let this opportunity go.”

A native of Philadelphia, Elias got his start in the food truck world when he launched the Made With Love 603 trailer in Manchester in 2014. He’s known for items like beef and chicken empanadas, as well as combo plates with pork, rice and beans, and Puerto Rican jibaritos, or fried plantain sliders with pork, cheese, lettuce, tomato and mayo ketchup. Elias’s Puerto Rican tacos and canoas (roasted yellow sweet plantains sliced down the middle — like a canoe — and stuffed with beef, melted cheese, cilantro and an aioli) are also huge hits.

These are among the many items Elias is now also offering at Rice & Beans 603, although he did decide to keep some staples the former owners had, like rice bowls and fried and stewed chicken.

“I’m keeping a good amount of the stuff they previously had, [but] just doing my flavors and interpretation of it,” he said. “The menu has a lot of stuff from the food truck that I’ve integrated, so I’ve kind of combined both of them. … The rice bowls, though, ended up becoming their biggest hits, so I mean I figured I’d be stupid to take those off.”

Elias said he intends to continue slinging tacos at Fisher Cats home games once the 2023 season begins in mid-April. As for his larger, drivable food truck, the plan is for him to reserve that one for larger events and bookings — he usually gets hired by Recycled Percussion, for instance, during the band’s annual round of shows.

A professional wrestler in his former life — a member of a two-man tag team called The Big Islanders — Elias said his experience with the Fisher Cats has even unexpectedly brought him out of retirement.

“The [front] office people at the Fisher Cats are actually fanatics of wrestling,” he said. “So when they found out I was a wrestler, that was kind of the cherry on top for them. They ended up doing Wrestling Nights at the stadium. … What gets me is that I caught the itch for it again, so now I’m actually doing a seven-city tour that I got to fit into my crazy daily schedule.”

Rice & Beans 603
Where: 288 N. Broadway, Unit D, Salem
Hours: Tuesday and Wednesday, 11 a.m. to 6 p.m., and Thursday through Saturday, 11 a.m. to 8 p.m. Closed on Sundays and Mondays.
More info: Find them on Facebook and Instagram @riceandbeans603 or call 890-1626

Featured photo: Photo courtesy of Tony Elias of Rice & Beans 603 in Salem.

Love bites

Celebrate Valentine’s Day with a special dinner or sweet treat

Valentine’s Day is almost here, so if you’re looking for a local spot to dine out with your special someone (or get your meal to go), or you want to give the gift of gourmet chocolates or sweet treats like chocolate-dipped strawberries, check out this list of New Hampshire businesses working hard to help you mark the occasion.

Since Feb. 14 falls on a Tuesday this year, several local eateries are electing to celebrate Valentine’s Day the Saturday or Sunday before. Others are choosing to offer special menus on other days throughout the preceding week and weekend, or are opening their doors on weekdays they’re usually closed. Where applicable, we’ve indicated the exact dates for each. Chocolatiers, candy shops and bakers with special offerings of their own have also been included — just be sure to contact the establishment directly for the most up-to-date availability. For Seacoast-area venues, see the end of the online version of this round up at

Did we miss any local restaurants offering special Valentine’s Day dinners that you know about? Tell us about it at and we can include a mention in the next issue.

603 Charcuterie ( is taking orders for a variety of specials for Valentine’s Day, including three-tiered charcuterie boards of New Hampshire-made cheeses and other products; four-, nine- or 18-sized packs of chocolate-covered strawberries; personalized heart-shaped wooden charcuterie boards, and do-it-yourself Valentine’s cookie kits. Pre-order online for pickup at The Factory on Willow (252 Willow St., Manchester) on Saturday, Feb. 11, from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m.; Sunday, Feb. 12, from noon to 3 p.m., or Monday, Feb. 13, from 5:30 to 7:30 p.m.

All Real Meal (87 Elm St., Manchester, 782-3014, is taking orders for romantic five-course dinners for two, complete with reheating instructions, to be delivered to your door on Tuesday, Feb. 14. Included items are fresh baked rolls with lavender honey butter, butternut squash and bourbon bisque, winter salad with organic greens, spinach and berries, tender slow-cooked roast beef, Marry Me chicken, cheddar mashed potatoes, roasted veggies and red velvet cake and creme brulee cheesecake for dessert. The cost is $95 and orders are being accepted on a first-come, first-served basis.

Alpine Grove Banquet Facility (19 S. Depot Road, Hollis, 882-9051, will host a special Valentine’s Day candlelight dinner and dance on Saturday, Feb. 11, from 6 to 10:30 p.m. The five-course dinner will include assorted hors d’oeuvres, a seasonal house salad and strawberry lemon sorbet, followed by your choice of an entree (Champagne airline breast of chicken, duet of filet mignon and lobster tail crown cabernet sauvignon demi glace, scallops and shrimp in a savory white wine cream sauce, cedar plank-glazed Norwegian salmon or butternut squash ravioli with a Frangelico cream sauce) and dessert (petit fours or chocolate-covered strawberries). Along with the dinner, there will be a cash bar, and music and dancing beginning at 8 p.m. The cost is $160 per person before Feb. 5 and $180 after Feb. 5. Reservations are required.

Atkinson Resort & Country Club (85 Country Club Drive, Atkinson, 362-8700, will hold a special Valentine’s Day Masquerade Ball on Saturday, Feb. 11, from 7:30 to 11:30 p.m. featuring a prime rib dinner buffet and live music by the Brandy Band. Tickets are $70 per person general admission and $175 VIP admission, which includes a complimentary bottle of Champagne and chocolate-covered strawberries. You can also order a Valentine’s package for $350, which includes a private table for two, an overnight stay at the resort and a complimentary breakfast for two at Merrill’s Tavern the next morning. Valentine’s Day specials at the restaurant will also include scallops and bacon, arancini, confit duck leg, veal osso buco, filet and lobster, profiteroles and raspberry and blood orange sorbet garnished with fresh mint.

Averill House Vineyard (21 Averill Road, Brookline, 244-3165, will host a special Valentine’s celebration featuring a five-course chocolate-infused dinner with wine pairings. Two nights are available — Saturday, Feb. 11, or Tuesday, Feb. 14, at 6:30 p.m. — with party sizes of up to three indoors or four to eight out on the vineyard’s gazebo or inside one of the igloos. Courses will include smoked salmon tartar, beet and fried goat cheese salad, lobster-stuffed ravioli, coffee and chocolate-crusted grilled petite sirloin and strawberry shortcake mousse for dessert. Tickets are $89 per person (event is 21+ only) and reservations are required.

The Bakeshop on Kelley Street (171 Kelley St., Manchester, 624-3500, is taking orders for milk, white or semisweet chocolate-dipped strawberries, cherry chocolate cheesecake, chocolate molten lava cake, crispy cream puffs with fresh fruit, chocolate mousse gâteau, shortbread hearts, cupcakes (Champagne, chocolate raspberry, red velvet, chocolate truffle and merlot) and more. They’re also offering Valentine’s samplers, featuring truffles, cannoli and dip, chocolate-dipped strawberries, heart-shaped shortbread cookies, mini chocolate cupcakes with whipped cream dip and roses. The shop is normally closed on Tuesdays but will be open on Tuesday, Feb. 14, from 7:30 a.m. to 1 p.m.

Bearded Baking Co. (819 Union St., Manchester, 647-7150; 580 Lafayette Road, Hampton, 601-6878; is taking orders for 4-inch bento box mini heart cakes for Valentine’s Day (serving two — flavor options include chocolate, vanilla or red velvet) in addition to chocolate-covered strawberries in quantities of six or 12. Order by Feb. 7. Pickups will be on Saturday, Feb. 11. Both locations will also have a variety of seasonal grab-and-go items in store starting Feb. 11, like cupcakes, red velvet whoopie pies and red velvet cheesecake brownies.

Bedford Village Inn (2 Olde Bedford Way, Bedford, 472-2001, will serve a special four-course prix fixe menu for Valentine’s Day on Tuesday, Feb. 14, with seating times from 5 to 9:30 p.m. The meal will include your choice of an appetizer (New Hampshire oysters, pancetta and pea arancini, steak tuna tartare miso butter poached hake or cauliflower bisque); a salad (Lola Rosa or Boston bibb); an entree (savory lobster risotto, grilled filet mignon, Dunk’s mushroom and spinach lasagna, New England seafood “Thai hot pot,” Vernon Family Farm chicken statler or herb-crusted lamb rack); and a dessert (red velvet cake, coffee creme brulee, lemon semifreddo, galette frangipane, chocolate financier, a sweet and salty dessert board for two, or the Inn’s famous sweetheart chocolate bag to share). The cost is $125 per person and reservations are required.

Birch Wood Vineyards (199 Rockingham Road, Derry, 965-4359, will hold a special Valentine’s Day four-course dinner with wine pairings and a cocktail reception on Saturday, Feb. 11, from 5 to 9 p.m. Courses will include tomato basil soup, baby field greens with Craisins, candied walnuts, goat cheese and a raspberry honey vinaigrette, your choice of an entree (a duet of beef Wellington with baked stuffed shrimp soubise potatoes and lemon Parmesan asparagus, or eggplant Napoleon with quinoa salad, marinara, balsamic reduction and basil pesto), and dessert du jour. The cost is $90 per person ($115 per person with the wine pairings) and a cash bar will also be available. Reservations are required — tickets will remain on sale through Feb. 5.

Bistro 603 (345 Amherst St., Nashua, 722-6362, will serve a special features menu for Valentine’s Day from Friday, Feb. 10, through Tuesday, Feb. 14, during which the eatery’s regular menus will also be available. Reservations can be made online or via phone.

Bite Me Kupcakez (4 Mound Court, Merrimack, 674-4459, is taking orders for a variety of specialty items for Valentine’s Day, like dairy-free breakfast in bed platters, featuring two Belgian waffles, two cinnamon buns, two doughnuts and fresh fruit available for waffle toppings. Also available to order are six-pack Valentine’s Day cupcakes, chocolate-covered strawberries or heart-shaped whoopie pies, cookie boxes, mini heart-shaped cakes, and an “ultimate Valentine’s Day” box, featuring two chocolate-covered strawberries, two cookies, two heart-shaped whoopie pies and two Valentine’s Day-themed cupcakes. Order by Feb. 3.

Blue Bear Inn (534 Mountain Road, Francestown, 808-0174, will serve a special five-course dinner with wine pairings for Valentine’s Day on Tuesday, Feb. 14 — courses will include marrow toast, oysters on the half shell, pasta nero di seppia (pasta with squid ink), braised beef short ribs and creme brulee. The cost is $135 per person and reservations are required.

Buckley’s Market & Cafe (9 Market Place, Hollis, 465-5522, find them on Facebook @buckleysmarketcafehollis) is taking orders for heat-and-eat Valentine’s Day takeout dinner boxes for two, featuring a shrimp cocktail, a surf and turf entree with pan-seared filet mignon and crab cake, roasted potatoes, spinach, tomatoes, Madeira demi-glace and remoulade, chocolate and raspberry mousse cups garnished with fresh berries, and a bottle of Prima prosecco. The cost is $140 per box, or $125 without the bottle of wine. Order by Feb. 8. Pickups will be on Monday, Feb. 13, or Tuesday, Feb. 14, after 10 a.m.

Caroline’s Fine Food (132 Bedford Center Road, Bedford, 637-1615, is taking orders for romantic dinners for two, featuring your choice of an entree (beef tenderloin with a port demi glace, roasted duck breast with a cherry gastrique or horseradish-encrusted salmon), along with your choice of pot de creme or baby lemon cake for dessert. Sweet and savory dessert boards are also available to order a la carte. Order by Feb. 10.

Chunky’s Cinema Pub (707 Huse Road, Manchester, 206-3888, is teaming up with chef Keith Sarasin and his team at The Farmer’s Dinner for a five-course kitchen takeover dinner and screening of the 1998 Adam Sandler film The Wedding Singer, happening on Tuesday, Feb. 14. As of Jan. 24, tickets were still available — VIP ticket holders arrive at 5:30 p.m. for a “secret chef appetizer” and complimentary craft beer or wine. Non-VIP purchasers arrive at 6 p.m., with the movie starting at 7 p.m. Before the movie begins, Sarasin will speak about the locally sourced menu. The cost is $75 per person and includes both the dinner and the movie. Vegetarian and wine pairing options are also available.

Colby Hill Inn (33 The Oaks, Henniker, 428-3281, will serve a special three-course prix fixe menu for Valentine’s Day on Sunday, Feb. 12, with seatings from 4 to 8 p.m. The meal will include your choice of a first course (coconut curried squash soup, New England seafood chowder, heirloom beet salad, organic frisee salad or potato, roast garlic and goat cheese pierogi or Dutch meatballs); an entree (roasted hen in citrus and bay leaves, Burgundy-braised lamb shank, seared tenderloin, heirloom squash and goat cheese maultaschen or pan-roasted Faroe Island salmon); and a dessert (chocolate fondue for two, chocolate trio, passion fruit panna cotta, caramelized pineapple brown butter cake or sorbet duo). The cost is $85 per person.

Copper Kettle To Go (39 Main St., Wilton, 654-2631, will serve a special four-course meal for Valentine’s Day on Tuesday, Feb. 14, from 6 to 9 p.m. Courses will include minestrone soup, arugula winter salad, your choice of an entree (braised short ribs with mashed red potatoes and carrots, or homemade ricotta gnocchi with scallops in a lemon butter white wine sauce with capers); and two options to choose from for a dessert. The cost ranges from $64.95 to $68.95 per person (depending on which entree you choose), and specialty drinks can also be purchased at the time of seating.

Cotton (75 Arms St., Manchester, 622-5488, will be celebrating Valentine’s Day with some seasonal specials on Tuesday, Feb. 14, and Wednesday, Feb. 15, from 5 to 8:30 p.m., in addition to its regular menu on both of those nights.

The Cozy Tea Cart (249-9111, will hold a Valentine’s Day afternoon tea tasting on Sunday, Feb. 5, from 1 to 3 p.m. at the Gatherings at The Colonel Shepard House (29 Mont Vernon St., Milford). In addition to a selection of fine quality teas, there will be assorted tea breads, sandwiches and pastries, as well as chocolate-covered strawberries. The cost is $39.95 per person and reservations are required.

The Crown Tavern (99 Hanover St., Manchester, 218-3132, is taking a limited number of reservations for Valentine’s Day on Tuesday, Feb. 14, when it will serve its regular menus. The restaurant is also adding an additional day that week, and will be open regular hours on Monday, Feb. 13.

Cupcakes 101 (132 Bedford Center Road, Bedford, 488-5962, is celebrating Valentine’s Day with a variety of seasonally inspired items available for order or for pickup, like cake pop bouquets, chocolate-covered strawberries, chocolate-dipped Oreos, chocolate-covered pretzels, hot cocoa bombs and more. Call or email to place an order.

Dancing Lion Chocolate (917 Elm St., Manchester, 625-4043, will hold a special Valentine’s edition of its “down and dirty” chocolate class for couples on Tuesday, Feb. 28, at 5 p.m. As of Jan. 25, signups were still available. Participants will get to taste chocolate during this hands-on class, learning tips and tricks about making chocolate ganache for truffles and taking home what they make. The cost is $350 per couple.

Frederick’s Pastries (109 Route 101A, Amherst, 882-7725; 25 S. River Road, Bedford, 647-2253; is celebrating Valentine’s Day with all kinds of seasonally inspired sweets and treats, like Champagne tortes topped with chocolate-covered strawberries, as well as cookie kits, assorted heart-shaped cookies, Champagne cake truffles, chocolate lover’s cheesecake cups and more.

Granite Restaurant & Bar (The Centennial Hotel, 96 Pleasant St., Concord, 227-9005, is accepting reservations for Valentine’s Day on Tuesday, Feb. 14, from 5 to 8:30 p.m., during which it will be serving its regular menu with some “romance-inspired” specials. Reserve online through OpenTable.

Granite State Candy Shoppe (13 Warren St., Concord, 225-2591; 832 Elm St., Manchester, 218-3885; is celebrating Valentine’s Day with all kinds of seasonal sweets and treats, like assorted chocolate heart boxes, freshly dipped strawberries in white, dark or milk chocolate, rose- or heart-shaped chocolate pop molds and more. Strawberries are available to order for in-store pickup only — they’ll be available for pickup on Monday, Feb. 13, or Tuesday, Feb. 14, after noon and should be consumed within two days.

Greenleaf (54 Nashua St., Milford, 213-5447, is celebrating Valentine’s Day with a special five-course prix fixe tasting menu from chefs Chris Viaud and Justin O’Malley, which will be available on Friday, Feb. 10, Saturday, Feb. 11, Monday, Feb. 13, and Tuesday, Feb. 14. Menu courses will include spiced hamachi with cranberry ponzu and sesame puffed rice; beet gnocchi with duck confit, mushrooms, spinach and a whipped lemon ricotta; chicken milanese with arugula pistou, mache, pickled fennel and spiced pistachios; grilled New York strip with potato croquette, Gruyere cheese, carrot, parsnip, romaine and a beet foam sauce; and red velvet cake with pink peppercorn meringue, passion fruit, semifreddo spiced chocolate and cocoa lace tuile. The cost is $125 per person, or $155 with optional wine pairings. Greenleaf’s regular a la carte menu will also be available on Friday, Saturday and Sunday, although on Tuesday, Feb. 14, only the prix fixe Valentine’s Day menu will be served. Reserve online through Tock.

Hanover Street Chophouse (149 Hanover St., Manchester, 644-2467, may be fully booked on Tuesday, Feb. 14, for Valentine’s Day, but they have added an additional day — Monday, Feb. 13 — when a limited amount of reservations are being accepted. Reserve online through OpenTable to see the most up-to-date available times.

The Hills Restaurant (Hampshire Hills Athletic Club, 50 Emerson Road, Milford, 673-7123, will host a special Valentine’s Day dinner and dance event on Saturday, Feb. 11 — a three-course meal will be served from 5:30 to 7 p.m., followed by dancing and lessons from 7 to 10 p.m with the Royal Palace Dance Studio. Dinner courses will include smoked sugar beet and heart of palm with scallion, arugula and a charred citrus vinaigrette; your choice of an entree (red wine-braised pork osso buco, or roasted root vegetable tart); and vanilla bean cheesecake with red berry coulis and blush chantilly cream for dessert. Tango and bachata performances and lessons will follow, in addition to some time for open dancing. The cost is $80 per person ($75 for Hampshire Hills members). Reserve online through Resy.

LaBelle Winery Derry (14 Route 111, 672-9898, will host a special Valentine’s soiree dinner and dance party on Saturday Feb. 11, from 6:30 to 9:30 p.m. The evening will include a three-course dinner featuring a green salad with roasted root vegetables and a molasses red wine vinaigrette; your choice of an entree (chicken cordon bleu with mustard and Gruyere cheese, herbed duchess potatoes, braised kale and lemon veloute, or za’atar dusted cauliflower steak) and chocolate pot de creme with whipped cream and a chocolate-covered strawberry. Jazz cover group the KTO Band will perform live, and the dance floor will be open during the evening. A full bar will be featured, with wine, cocktails, beer and non-alcoholic beverages available for purchase. Tickets are $80 per person (event is 21+ only) and reservations are required.

Luna Bistro (254 N. Broadway, Salem, 458-2162, will serve a special Valentine’s Day four-course dinner with wine pairings, live music, comedy and dancing — it’s all happening on Tuesday, Feb. 14, from 6 to 9 p.m. Courses will include grilled hearts of romaine with chilled crab meat, Parmesan wafer and passion fruit vinaigrette; pappardelle with guanciale, shallots, roasted garlic cognac cream sauce and grated Parmesan; Tuscan pork skewers with zucchini, squash, bell pepper, red onion and tomato and mushroom polenta; and chocolate lava cake with fresh whipped cream and chocolate-covered strawberries for dessert. All courses will be accompanied by Banfi wines. The evening will include live music by Joey Canzano, singing love songs from Elvis, Neil Diamond and others, along with comedy from Jason Merrill and magic by Phil Volonino. The cost is $125 per person.

Michaela’s Sweets Gluten Free Bakery (Hooksett, is taking orders for several specialty items for Valentine’s Day, including cupcakes and whoopie pies (strawberry, red velvet, Valentine funfetti, chocolate-salted caramel and white chocolate raspberry); cake pops, available by the dozen or two dozen (chocolate, vanilla, strawberry, red velvet, Valentine funfetti and white chocolate); and brownie bites, available via half- or full-sized trays (chocolate fudge, Valentine funfetti, white chocolate chip and chocolate raspberry). All of their treats are produced in their celiac-friendly home kitchen — you can order by filling out a form online through the website or requesting items via phone. A 48-hour ordering notice is appreciated, and local pickups and deliveries are available.

Mola Foods (9 Simon St., Nashua, 877-593-8157, will hold a special Taste of Africa Valentine’s Day celebration on Tuesday, Feb. 14, at 6:30 p.m. — as of Jan. 25, tickets were still available. Guests will be treated to a culinary tour of Cameroon, Ethiopia and Morocco, and the dishes will be paired with wine from Brookline’s Averill House Vineyard. Live music will be provided by Rabihah Shabazz. The cost is $50 per person and the dress code is semi-formal.

Pearls Candy & Nuts (58 Range Road, Windham, 893-9100, is celebrating Valentine’s Day with specialty sweets and treats like gourmet chocolate heart boxes, conversation hearts, red- or silver-foiled milk chocolate hearts and more.

Presto Craft Kitchen (168 Amory St., Manchester, 606-1252, is taking orders for four-course Valentine’s Day dinners for two, featuring charcuterie boxes of domestic and imported cheeses, Italian meats, berries, crackers and other accompaniments, along with your choice of a salad (Caesar, field green with vinaigrette or caprese with balsamic Greek); an entree (sirloin Marsala over penne, chicken Parmesan over penne, heart ravioli with vodka sauce, shrimp scampi over linguine, roast filet with mushroom risotto and roasted Brussels sprouts, or cranberry cornbread-stuffed chicken and gravy with roast potato and carrots); and two desserts (triple chocolate cake, tiramisu, red velvet cake, Snickers cheesecake, chocolate-covered berries, lemon mascarpone cake, pistachio cake, macaroons and strawberry New York cheesecake). You can also order some a la carte desserts, like jumbo chocolate-covered strawberries, giant breakable chocolate hearts filled with desserts and candies, mini red velvet cake, Oreo cheesecake truffle pops and chocolate-covered Oreos. Order by Feb. 8. Pickups will be on Friday, Feb. 10, or Monday, Feb. 13.

Rambling House Food & Gathering (57 Factory St., Suite A, Nashua, 318-3220, is hosting the second installment of its Legends & Lore Storyteller Series, “Legends of Love,” on Wednesday, Feb. 15, from 6:30 to 9 p.m. The evening will include your choice of selections from the eatery’s full winter dinner menu, followed by a special appearance from humorist and author Simon Brooks, beginning at 8 p.m. Tickets are $40 per table for two and reservations are required.

Ruby Cakes (Milford, is taking orders for specialty flavors of cakesicles, including red velvet cake with a cream cheese frosting and chocolate cake with a chocolate frosting, as well as “hot choc-sicles” (milk chocolate shells filled with hot cocoa mixes and mini marshmallows — simply stir into a cup of warm milk). Orders can be placed through Feb. 13 and are available for collection between Friday, Feb. 10, and Tuesday, Feb. 14 — select your pickup date and time during the checkout process. Alternative pickup dates and times can also be arranged via the contact page (the order confirmation provides the address for pickups).

Sweet Treats by Emilee (Milford, find them on Facebook and Instagram) is celebrating Valentine’s Day with a variety of specialty sweets and treats available for preorder, like heart-shaped decorated and bagged sugar cookies, milk chocolate saltine toffee, brownie or chocolate chip cookie dough-flavored cakesicles, Oreo cookie chocolate-dipped lollipops, traditional or heart-shaped hot cocoa bombs, jumbo breakable hearts and more. Order by Feb. 7. Pickups will be available at the Manchester Craft Market (inside the Mall of New Hampshire, 1500 S. Willow St., Manchester) after Feb. 9. See for a full list of offerings.

Van Otis Chocolates (341 Elm St., Manchester, 627-1611, is taking orders for milk, white or dark chocolate-dipped strawberries (available for in-store pickup only — ordering at least 48 hours in advance is required and consuming within 24 hours of pickup is recommended). The shop is also celebrating Valentine’s Day with items like assorted chocolate heart boxes, jumbo marshmallow hearts, “I Love You” chocolate-dipped Champagne bottles, black forest Swiss fudge, strawberry Swiss fudge and more. Order by Monday, Feb. 13, at 10 a.m. to ensure local delivery on Tuesday, Feb. 14. To arrive within New England, order by Feb. 7 at 10 a.m. To arrive outside of New England, order by Feb. 2 at 10 a.m.

Vine 32 Wine + Graze Bar (25 S. River Road, Unit 107, Bedford, 935-8464, is offering a special Date Night package for guests on Tuesday, Feb. 14, or Wednesday, Feb. 15 — reservations for 5:30 or 7:30 p.m. are available for those two dates. The package includes two $25 wine cards (to access the onsite self-serve wine bar), along with a five-item cheese and charcuterie board, and a chocolate fondue or chocolate chip cookie skillet. The regular menu will also be available for add-ons.

Wolfe’s Tavern (The Wolfeboro Inn, 90 N. Main St., Wolfeboro, 569-3016, is celebrating Valentine’s Day with a special three-course prix fixe menu on Tuesday, Feb. 14. Courses include your choice of Caesar salad or tomato boursin soup, along with an entree (filet mignon or pan-seared chicken) and dessert (chocolate lava cake or raspberry creme brulee). The cost is $55 per couple. Reserve online through OpenTable.

Seacoast Valentine’s Day Places

• CR’s The Restaurant (287 Exeter Road, Hampton, 929-7972, is taking reservations for Valentine’s Day on Tuesday, Feb. 14, serving their most popular menu items with some specials. Local musician Bob Tirelli will be playing in the lounge starting at 6 p.m.

• Epoch Gastropub (The Exeter Inn, 90 Front St., Exeter, 778-3762, is accepting reservations for Valentine’s Day on Tuesday, Feb. 14, from 5 to 8 p.m., during which it will be serving its regular menu with some specials. Reserve online through OpenTable.

• Fresh AF Bakeshop (34 Church St., Kingston, 642-8609, is taking orders for a variety of specialty items for Valentine’s Day, including sweetheart cakes (strawberry crunch, red velvet berry or triple chocolate); 6-inch double-layer strawberry shortcakes; 6-inch deep-dish pies for two (chocolate pudding, banana pudding, classic cherry, half baked or caramel apple crumb); macarons, by the dozen or half-dozen (chocolate-covered strawberry, Boston cream, chocolate brownie, red velvet Oreo, raspberry cheesecake or chocolate-salted caramel); and other treats, like chocolate-covered strawberries (available by the dozen or half-dozen); cherry cordials, flourless chocolate tortes and strawberry shortcake-stuffed doughnuts. All Valentine’s Day items are available through Feb. 12, for pickup in store during normal business hours, or third-party delivery through DoorDash, UberEats or Postmates (subject to availability).

• Huckleberry’s Candies (293 Lafayette Road, Hampton, 926-5061, is celebrating Valentine’s Day with seasonal sweets and treats, like milk chocolate foil hearts, jelly bean hearts, conversation hearts, specialty boxed truffles and more.

• La Cascade du Chocolat (109 Water St., Exeter; 214 State St., Portsmouth; 777-5177; is celebrating Valentine’s Day with heart-shaped bonbons, available in eight-, 16- or 21-piece quantities and a variety of flavors (passionfruit and coconut, strawberry and dark chocolate, cinnamon hot chocolate and more); milk, dark or white chocolate “el-love-phants”; dark hot chocolate hearts for two; and limited-edition roses-and-strawberries dark or white chocolate bars.

• Street Exeter (8 Clifford St., Exeter, 580-4148, will serve a special five-course prix fixe dinner menu for Valentine’s Day on Tuesday, Feb. 14, in addition to its regular menu. Courses will include whipped feta with roasted beets, walnuts, olive oil and a warm pita; arugula salad with fennel, citrus, pine nuts and a blood orange vinaigrette; arancini mushroom risotto with provolone, mozzarella and a red sauce; house-made sun-dried tomato pesto pasta with Parmigiano Reggiano and Italian bread crumbs; and chocolate panna cotta with raspberries and whipped cream for dessert. The cost is $65 per couple and reservations can be made via phone.

Featured photo: Cakesicle from Ruby Cakes.

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