The Weekly Dish 23/02/23

News from the local food scene

African eats at the library: Join the Nashua Public Library (2 Court St.) for a Taste of Africa on Saturday, Feb. 25, from 2 to 4 p.m., featuring LaFortune Jeannette Djabea of Mola Foods. Attendees will have the chance to immerse themselves in African culture and cuisine, sampling small plates of food hailing from different parts of the continent while enjoying music and meeting Djabea. A native of Cameroon, Djabea founded Mola Foods in 2016, and expanded her brand of globally inspired spice blends and chili relishes in the form of a retail store front, tasting room and commercial kitchen, which opened at 9 Simon St. in Nashua in February 2021. Since debuting them last April, her Taste of Africa lunch and dinner series has been wildly successful, with events continuously selling out at her shop. The Feb. 25 event is free and sponsored by the Friends of the Nashua Public Library, but registration is required. Vegan options are also available for attendees. Visit

Almost time for ice cream: Brookline soft-serve ice cream stand Sundae Drive (346 Route 13) will hold its opening day of the 2023 season on Saturday, Feb. 25, according to a recent post on its Facebook page. Since 2018, the Route 13 ice cream stand near the Brookline and Milford town line has been known for its rotating flavors of soft-serve, in addition to its seasonally inspired themed sundaes — last year, for instance, they offered a special “red, white and blue” strawberry shortcake sundae for Memorial Day weekend, featuring vanilla soft-serve with fresh strawberries, blueberries, whipped cream and sprinkles. According to the post, Sundae Drive is also now booking events for the 2023 season, like birthday parties, weddings and work gatherings. Follow them on Facebook and Instagram @sundaedrivenh or call 721-5209 for details on their specials.

Drink wine, win a prize: There’s still plenty of time to participate in the New Hampshire Winery Association’s annual Wine Trail for a chance to win prizes. Through April, participants can visit 10 or more Granite State locations on the trail and collect “stamps” in their passports. Each year, the Association holds a drawing to select prize winners. Available prizes include a $250 gift certificate redeemable at any of the member wineries; a one-night stay at RiverCrest Villas in Epping, and two tickets to a wine tasting at neighboring Flag Hill Distillery & Winery in Lee; and a $50 gift certificate to Fire & Spice Bistro in Newfields. Passports are available at any of the wineries on the tour, or they can be downloaded at Mail them no later than May 15 at Squamscott Winery (P.O. Box 1050, Newfields) to be included in the drawing.

Finding her way

Hard work and tenacity define Jordan Quinn

Settling behind an electric keyboard to play covers for the dinner crowd at Fratello’s in Manchester on a frigid Saturday night, Jordan Quinn is logging a few more of the 10,000 hours that Malcolm Gladwell wrote about in his book Outliers. Since mid-2021 the 23-year-old singer has done more than 300 gigs, and her calendar remains packed.

Most sets are like this one, with lots of soulful ballads — Whitney Houston is a favorite. She’ll make multiple tables look up and take notice when she hits the key change on her rendition of “I Will Always Love You.” Quinn also can make a song all her own. Her take on Al Green’s playful “Let’s Stay Together” is reinvented as a plaintive plea to a distancing lover.

Occasionally, like during a recent set with her band at Hennessy’s in Boston, Quinn will dip into a growing catalog of originals that started with the easygoing “Dream World” about a year ago. Her latest, “Can We Become Friends,” shows Quinn’s growing maturity as a songwriter. It’s a response to the war in Ukraine, but addresses problems closer to home.

Inspired by Michael Jackson’s “Earth Song,” it’s boosted by an angelic choir that’s almost entirely Quinn. “I was supposed to have a few buddies in the studio to do the choir part and everyone canceled on me,” she said in a phone interview. “So it’s actually 13 tracks of just my voice, with the exception of one, which is my bass player.”

Quinn released the video for the song early, spurred by a recent shooting outside a Manchester nightclub; the victim was a casual friend of hers. “To just see that some random person was able to take his life so easily, it just really affected me,” she said. “This needs to be done, the whole violence thing … life is precious.”

The title cut of her debut album in progress is about striving to become and belong. Quinn wrote “Somebody” while in Los Angeles preparing to meet with a potential manager.

“I’ve had a lot of hard times with self-confidence, figuring out the path that I want to be on,” she explained. “This was a reminder to myself that everything will work out — you’re where you’re supposed to be, things will get better. Then I was like, why not share this message with other people? Because I know I’m definitely not the only person that feels this way.”

Quinn penned a lot of songs on that West Coast trip. She found being in a place where so many performers are looking for a foothold very inspiring.

“I definitely liked being out there and seeing all the talent and everything; it motivated me to just push,” she said. “All these people are trying to be somebody … it doesn’t need to be the entire world, where everyone knows your name. Just one little thing to make a difference.”

Born in Manchester, Quinn relocated to Connecticut with her mother while in fourth grade. “This whole time, my dad still lived in New Hampshire,” she said. “I would do the trip twice a month to see him on the weekends.” After high school, she went to South Carolina for a year, then returned to move in with him and enroll in the theater program at UNH.

Her father encouraged his daughter’s creative urges, taking steps to help her find her way.

“My dad is the sole reason that it all happened,” she said. “He knew [local musician] Chad LaMarsh and kind of took it upon himself to see what would happen if he introduced us…. I’ve been on this path ever since.”

She eschews many modern artists, calling her singing range similar to Ariana Grande’s, but adding that she’s not a fan of her music. “I used her vocals as influence for mine,” Quinn said, but “instrumentally, I’m really into rock like Queen, and then Michael Jackson and Whitney Houston. I try to incorporate their styles along with everyday pop.”

She’s sung “Somebody to Love” with tribute act Queen Flash on a few occasions, and will open for them later this year.

For now Quinn stays on her Gladwell path, night after night. “My goal is to continue to find myself,” she said. “Testing my abilities … seeing how far I can go. I don’t really have any career goals [beyond] improving who I am as an artist, and really seeing what I’m capable of.”

Jordan Quinn
Next show: Saturday, Feb. 18, 6 p.m.
Where: Homestead Restaurant & Tavern, 641 Daniel Webster Hwy., Merrimack
Full calendar:

Featured photo: Jordan Quinn. Courtesy photo.

The Music Roundup 23/02/16

Local music news & events

Border rock: One of the quirkier hits of the early 1990s was Crash Test Dummies’ “Mmm Mmm Mmm Mmm,” though it didn’t even make the top 10 in the band’s home country, Canada. Later, their cover of XTC’s “Ballad of Peter Pumpkinhead” was well-suited to the Dumb and Dumber soundtrack. They stopped touring near the end of the decade, returned to the road in 2018 and are releasing new music this year. Thursday, Feb. 16, 8 p.m., Tupelo Music Hall, 10 A St., Derry, $40 and $45 at

Helpful fun: The second annual Manchester Kiwanis Comedy Night is an all-local affair, with headliner Drew Dunn, Paul Landwehr and Ryan Chani providing the laughs. Dunn is returning from a month of touring, including a West Coast run with a stop in his old stomping ground, Seattle. Landwehr is a naturally funny comic who memorably proposed to his now-wife on stage, and Chani is a New Hampshire native. Friday, Feb. 17, 6:30 p.m., Backyard Brewery & Kitchen, 1211 S. Mammoth Road, Manchester, $25 at

Triple treat: An evening of song provided by tribute act Shades of Bublé answers the musical question of what would happen if Michael Bublé’s style were an elephant and three blind singers touched it from different places. There’s the pop hitmaker behind gems like “Haven’t Met You Yet,” the interpreter of rock and soul smashes — a tribute within a tribute — and, finally, a modern-day Sinatra, crooning the standards. Friday, Feb. 17, 7:30 p.m., Palace Theatre, 80 Hanover St., Manchester, $39 at

Horn kings: In the late 1960s a new breed of bands including Tower of Power brought brass front and center to rock music. Beginning with East Bay Grease and its single “Sparkling in the Sand,” the Northern California group was one of the genre’s defining acts, churning out hits like “You’re Still a Young Man” and “What is Hip?” Original members Emilio Castillo, Stephen “Doc” Kupka and David Garibaldi are still touring. Saturday, Feb. 18, 8 p.m., Colonial Theatre, 609 Main St., Laconia, $50 to $100 at

Stripped tribute: Every summer, Badfish – A Tribute to Sublime returns to Casino Ballroom, and Brett Wilson opens the show with his band Roots of Creation. Wilson is keeping the warm-weather vibe alive playing acoustic versions of Sublime songs around his home state, including a free show just a stone’s throw from the currently chilly coastal waters. He’ll tour with Badfish beginning in March. Sunday, Feb. 19, 8 p.m., Wally’s Pub, 144 Ashworth Ave., Hampton Beach, 21+. See

Magic Mike’s Last Dance (R)

Channing Tatum’s Mike takes his skills to London in Magic Mike’s Last Dance, a movie about abs.

Sure, there’s other stuff: A romance between Tatum’s character and Salma Hayek Pinault’s character that never has quite as much charm and chemistry as their little pre-movie “thank you for watching this movie” message. A plot that feels like somebody watched part of an early Ted Lasso episode and said how about we do a little of that, sorta. A show within a show, to give us the big dance finale we bought our tickets to go see. Some impressive biceps, some (clothed) butts. But, like, if I had to sum it all up: abs, this movie is about really chiseled abs.

Narration — delivered by Zadie (Jemelia George), the bored teenage daughter of Maxandra (Hayek Pinault) — explains that Mike Lane (Tatum) lost his furniture business in the pandemic, which is why he is bartending at a fancy party in Miami. He runs into Kim (Caitlin Gerard), a woman whose bachelorette party he danced at back in the 2012 original Magic Mike movie. Now a lawyer for Maxandra, the woman throwing the fancy party Mike is working, Kim tells the divorcing and unhappy Maxandra about Mike’s past occupation. Max calls him into her house after the party and offers him $6,000 for a dance. He delivers and then some, which is how they end up in bed with Max offering to take him to London. She has a job for him — not that — that will require him for a month, after which she will pay him $60,000. He agrees, which is how he finds himself at a historic theater which has been presenting a fusty play.

Max got control of the theater as part of her divorce — mostly out of spite because her ex-mother-in-law loves it — and, after being danced on by Mike, decides that what she most wants is to bring the passion of that experience to the London stage. She asks Mike, with his male entertainer background, to direct this new production. She also declares that there will be no more romance between them; he declares that he will not dance in this production. Guess what happens!

The day I saw this movie, I consumed a fair amount of Magic Mike content. I finally saw 2015’s Magic Mike XXL and I listened to the This Had Oscar Buzz podcast episode about that movie (featuring hosts Joe Reid and Chris V. Feil with their Oscar-nominated buddy Pamela Ribon as guest). That episode was a delight, as was XXL — all goofy buddy energy and lots of dudes gyrating while trying to make flustered ladies feel sexy. It’s fun! It’s, as the podcast observed, all fun, with none of the more serious elements of the original movie.

I bring all this up because if that’s where you’re coming from, the “Woo-hoo! Pony!” vibe of XXL, Last Dance isn’t going to quite live up to that abs-tastic joyfulness, with Jada Pinkett Smith calling the female audience queens and Joe Manganiello being a loveable goof. The remaining Kings of Tampa are mostly absent in this third outing. Instead, we get a lot of relationship-building between Mike and Max, most of which happens with Mike talking and not dancing. There is also stuff about Max’s struggles to be a mother to Zadie and her difficult divorce — and, sorry to Hayek Pinault, but I didn’t care about any of that. Zadie, sassy teen, can be a fun balance to the sometimes kooky dreams of Max, and she and Max’s butler (Ayub Khan-Din) have a nice brothers-in-arms sort of friendship, but generally all of that stuff felt a bit like spinning our wheels waiting for dancing, which this movie felt rather light on. There is a cute sequence about halfway through that blends dance and caper, a director Steven Soderbergh specialty, and I wish the movie had done more of that, had more of that energy, lightness and general glee.

Overall, Magic Mike’s Last Dance is an OK amount of fun, a B maybe or a B- when compared to the top-notch “ladies make some noise” delight of Magic Mike XXL, which is a solid B+. And, for the record, This Had Oscar Buzz in general, and this episode in particular, are always an A+.

Rated R for sexual material and language, according to the MPA on Directed by Steven Soderbergh with a screenplay by Reid Carolin, Magic Mike’s Last Dance is an hour and 52 minutes long and distributed in theaters by Warner Bros.

Want more Magic Mike? The original movie is currently streaming on HBO Max, if we’re still calling it that, and is available for rent or purchase. Magic Mike XXL is also streaming on HBO Max and Hulu (where it’s labeled TBS on Demand) and is available for rent or purchase.

This Had Oscar Buzz is available where ever you get your podcasts and is an absolute must for movie nerds, especially during Oscar season.

Pamela Ribon, a one-time Television Without Pity writer, writer on a bunch of TV and movie stuff including Ralph Breaks the Internet and a co-host of the Listen to Sassy podcast (also excellent), is nominated for an Oscar in the animated shorts category for the movie whose title got a little moment when Riz Ahmed read it — starts with My Year of and if you Google it you can probably still find it to watch via Vimeo. Watch it, it’s great! (Decidedly not for kids but great!)

Featured photo: Magic Mike’s Last Dance.

Dinner with the President, by Alex Prud’homme

Dinner with the President, by Alex Prud’homme (Alfred A. Knopf, 400 pages)

Before this week, if you’d asked me to share a single detail of the presidency of William Howard Taft, I would have struggled to come up with anything other than that he was also a chief justice and was said to have gotten stuck in the White House bathtub.

The bathtub story isn’t true, so I only would have gotten one thing right.

But having read Alex Prud’homme’s delightful Dinner with the President, I can now riff on obscure presidents with the ease of Doris Kearns Goodwin. That’s because Prud’homme has figured out how to make American history fascinating: tell stories connecting it to food. If my old high school history textbook, The American Pageant, is still in use, Dinner with the President should replace it immediately.

Subtitled “Food, Politics, and a History of Breaking Bread at the White House,” this is really a foodie’s guide to American history, and despite the suggestion otherwise, it’s not all about the meals served at 1500 Pennsylvania Avenue. Instead, Prud’homme, the great-nephew of Julia Child (and co-author of her autobiography My Life in France) takes readers from George Washington spooning mutton stew into his almost toothless mouth in Valley Forge in 1777, to Rosalyn Carter getting tense Israeli and Egyptian diplomats to mingle at Camp David in 1978 by putting elaborate desserts in different rooms, to the hearty homemade soups that Ronald Reagan shared at his California ranch with Nancy.

“Hardly frivolous, a meal at the White House is never simply a meal: it is a forum for politics and entertainment on the highest level,” Prud’homme writes.

Smartly, Prud’homme begins at “the dinner table where it happened” — the famous repast Thomas Jefferson arranged to soften tensions between Alexander Hamilton and James Madison as they fought over the structure of the new government. The underpinnings of the Compromise of 1790 were already in the works, but Prud’homme describes in mouth-watering detail the fabulous meal that significantly contributed to saving the still vulnerable republic. (It wasn’t just “sausage being made” as the Hamilton musical says.)

Jefferson, Prud’homme notes, had been the ambassador to France and was “a skilled host who understood how to use food and drink to build political consensus.” He was both a foodie and an oenophile, and presided over a multi-course meal that included truffles simmered in chicken stock, white wine and cream; beef braised in wine, brandy, tomatoes and herbs; a green salad dressed in wine jelly; and vanilla ice cream (a rarity at the time) in puff pastry — and of course several bottles of fine wine and Champagne.

The men could “barely look at each other” when the night began, but they stood no chance of remaining angry after a palate cleanser of meringues and macaroons; really, who could? Similarly, nearly 200 years later, Ronald Reagan dined privately with Mikhail and Raisa Gorbachev to develop a friendly rapport two years before he said, “Mr. Gorbachev, tear down this wall” at the Berlin Wall and the two men signed the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces Treaty.

Not every administration gets the attention given to Reagan, Carter, Kennedy and the first presidents. Of 46 presidents, just 26 are featured, because they had the most compelling anecdotes, Prud’homme says.

And some who were included got short shrift: George H.W. Bush, for example, is allotted just four pages and a paragraph, some of it a tad disdainful, as Prud’homme chastises the elder Bush for his famous diatribe against broccoli (“Not only did Bush send a message to the children that vegetables are not important, but outraged broccoli farmers sent ten tons of their crop to Washington D.C. in March 1990”) and suggests his penchant for pork rinds and beef jerky might have been politically calculated to win working-class voters.

When researching this book, Prud’homme had ample resources, including his great-aunt’s 1968 TV special White House Red Carpet with Julia Child and detailed journals of the Founding Fathers. Curiously, it was more difficult to get information from recent White House occupants; no living president or former president or first lady agreed to talk about food, and Henry Haller, the chef for five presidents between 1966 and 1987, died while Prud’homme was writing the book, during the pandemic.

Regardless, the book is richly detailed all the way from Washington’s lodge at Valley Forge to Donald Trump’s 2019 fast-food banquet for the Clemson University football team, which won the NCAA championship that year and was fed Domino’s, Wendy’s and McDonald’s at the White House. While Trump was excoriated on social media, Prud’homme wrote, “The president had divined something primordial: we humans are wired to feel kinship with people who like to eat the same things we do.”

What then, should we make of Dwight Eisenhower, who once made a stew of squirrel meat, potatoes and beans on a camping trip; and Taft, who liked turtle soup and roasted possum?

Well, they were products of their time, and let’s be thankful that time has passed, and that the cold and hungry members of the Continental Army for the most part stayed loyal to Washington in that miserable winter of 1777 when they survived on something they called “fire cakes” — “patties of flour and water with a dash of salt, if they could find it, formed into sticky cakes, smeared over stones, and baked in glowing embers.”

The foodie history of America, in other words, wasn’t all wonderful when it came to the actual food. But Prud’homme’s account is as engrossing a history book as you’ll likely read. Also, there are recipes, including Andrew Jackson’s inaugural orange punch (which resulted in drunken revelers surging through his house), Woodrow Wilson’s morning health tonic (grape juice and raw eggs) and Abraham Lincoln’s gingerbread men, also called ginger crackers. Bon appetit. A+

Album Reviews 23/02/16

Dudes, Eternal Is The Fruit (Dudes Music)

OK, so I wasn’t even aware there was any such thing as a “Scandirock scene,” which is no surprise, given that I’ve never been to any of those countries. But it’s a thing, at least to those people, and a little digging reveals Norwegian glam-punk band Turbonegro as a leading light of this nonsense, fronting their classic hit “All My Friends Are Dead” as the sound’s gold standard (it’s like Kiss meets Anthrax, but emo, and with blazey guitar solos). These guys (Dudes) are heavy into that band and, they claim, The Hives, but this is a different kind of spazz-rock, like AC/DC welded to Animal Boy-era Ramones. I mean, these guys really want their minions to break stuff, as they bring a sense of eastern-European folk-metal into the mix but leave a Hives element in there to make it more or less dishwasher-safe. American bands should really be doing this kind of thing, given the dystopian circumstances, let’s be real. A

Florencia & the Feeling, Birthday (self-released)

Pop-funk fusion with four-part harmonies, hints of jazz, and Latin roots is the skinny on this one, released by a five-piece band led by singer-guitarist Florencia Rusiñol, who was raised in East Tennessee by Argentine parents who “instilled in her a love of Latin American music from an early age.” Comparison bands include Vulfpeck, Stevie Wonder and Steely Dan, the latter of which is definitely the closest as far as what I heard; there’s a lot of gently tendered, lazy syncopation over which Rusiñol practices her vaguely Natalie Merchant-ish mid-range-soprano, to no really thrilling effect, not that it’s bad or anything. The rub is that these jumpy songs were written while Rusiñol was working through a nasty breakup, which results in an odd combination of lines like “I can erase your pictures from the internet but not from my head” being sung over phoned-in Spyro Gyra semi-jazz. Best case, they wind up opening for some 70-year-old superstar in Las Vegas, is what I think. B


• Friday, Feb. 17, is on the way, and so is a plethora of new music albums, which I only mention because I’ve never used the word “plethora” in the multiple-award-winning column prior to today! In hot news, Dallas, Texas-based alternative rock bros Secret Machines are releasing their fifth studio LP, The Moth, The Lizard, And The Secret Machines, this week, and it will probably be big in the U.K., because that’s where they’re really popular, which explains why you’ve never heard of them. Actually they’re more of a progressive-ish rock band, not wildly technical but just enough to impress Kerrang! writers, you know, how bands like Marillion used to get popular for being sort of like Genesis, like, not really progressive but not fun bands like Slade and all those guys. But here I am droning on about something I know nothing about, because, like you, I know these guys exist but for all I know they play nursery rhymes on kazoos. So the task at hand is to try to find out what they sound like, and we’ll do that right now by surfin’ over to YouTube to give a listen to the band’s new single, “There’s No Starting Over.” It’s really slow and draggy, but somewhat interesting. OK, you know what this song is, it’s something that was inspired by M83 when these fellas went on tour with them. Like, the tune is epic in some ways and just awkward and weird in others, and the synth layers give it a good amount of heft. Matter of fact, after it gets going it’s pretty good, with some big vocal layers, some noisy percussion and such and so, but the bottom line is that it’s totally like M83, kind of “Kim and Jesse”-ish. Nothing wrong with that, other than the fact that a lot of writers who are much meaner than me will write it off as derivative. Anyway, OK, very good, moving on.

• One pop diva I’ve never really paid any attention to is P!nk, mostly because she makes me think of lady wrestlers. Her new album is Trustfall, her first since 2019’s Hurts 2B Human, but she’s apparently pretty busy all the time, doing non-diva stuff like writing music; for example, she wrote the songs “I Walk Alone” and “Lie to Me” for Cher’s 2013 album Closer to the Truth, which I didn’t know, did you? Anyway, her new single “Never Gonna Not Dance Again” sees her entering the out-of-ideas phase of her career; the tune is a half-formed bubblegum radio bit that everyone will think is Kesha probably, and the hook sucks. Other than that I love it.

• According to this web thingie here, Anna B Savage is a London singer-songwriter whose songs are “stark, skeletal paintings of moods and reflection, using a palette of mainly voice and guitar. Most prominent is her voice — strong and sonorous, yet with a vulnerability that feels as if she’s in the same room as you.” What does this mean in actual words? Well, to me it means she’s more annoying and unintelligibly hyperbolic than Ani Difranco, meaning no, I don’t own any of her albums by choice. Her second album, in|FLUX, follows her 2021 debut, A Common Turn, and the title track is crummy Nintendo-techno with her creepy voice singing creepy words about sex. I really dislike it.

• And finally we have funny-looking Canadian folk-pop dude Ron Sexsmith, hawking his 17th full-length, The Vivian Line. In 2010, Paperny Entertainment made a documentary about this guy, called Love Shines, about his attempt to gain worldwide fame for an album that was produced by Bob Rock; apparently it didn’t work because this is the first I’ve heard of him. “Diamond Wave” is a good song, ’70s-radio-ish a la Jim Croce, something like that. It’s decent.

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).

The remedy for February

“Hi,” the lady in the apron says to me.

I look up from a pile of tangerines. “Hey. How are you?”

“I’m good. You?”

I fall back on my stock answer when I don’t really want to think too much about how I actually am: “You know how it is — the power, the money, the respect, the women. Frankly, it would crush a lesser man.”

“I can imagine. Are you finding what you want?”

And that’s when it hits me: What do I want? I have no problems that a rational man would complain about. And I realize that she’s almost certainly talking about my produce needs, not my emotional ones.

And yet—

What do I want?

I’m overwhelmed by an image. I’m on a bamboo veranda, overlooking the dark cyan* waters of the South China Sea. (*I looked it up later on a paint chip.) An overhead fan whooshes. A gentle breeze carries the scent of salt and white ginger. I’m reclining on something made out of teak.

This is all a bit much to lay on my new friend of 35 seconds, so I ask her where the macadamia nuts are.

Sill distracted by my tropical vision, I end up buying pineapple juice and paper umbrellas. It’s February. It’s time for pancakes and tiki drinks.

The pancake part is easy.

Pancake batter should be thinner than you think, as should the pancakes themselves. Fluffy pancakes are a false standard put forth by Big Pancake; go with the thin ones. You absolutely will not regret it.

The syrup is up to you, but there should be a small pitcher of melted butter. As for the cocktail —

Singapore Sling

  • 2 ounces dry gin
  • ½ ounce kirsch (cherry brandy)
  • ¼ ounce cognac
  • 2 ounces pineapple juice
  • ¾ ounce fresh squeezed lemon juice
  • 1¼ ounces cherry syrup from a jar of maraschino cherries
  • 1 to 2 dashes Peychaud’s bitters
  • 1 to 2 dashes orange bitters
  • 2 ounces plain seltzer

Add all ingredients except the seltzer with ice in a cocktail shaker. Shake until the ice starts to break up.

Pour, with your now-cracked ice, into a tall glass — the type is up to you. A tiki mug would work well. So would a Pilsner glass. You could make a case for a clean peanut butter jar.

Top with the seltzer and stir gently. Garnish with at least five maraschino cherries.

The first sip of a proper Singapore Sling is deceptive. You will wonder if you forgot an ingredient. Considering the pineapple and cherry juices, you’d think it would be sweeter. Should it be this pink?

Do you know what puts negative thoughts like that in the front of your brain?

Stress and anxiety. Also, February.

By your third sip, do you know what are losing their grip and slipping down your cerebral cortex? The Negativity Triplets.

This is what you need.

Featured photo: The Singapore Sling. Photo by John Fladd.

In the kitchen with Justin O’Malley

Justin O’Malley is the chef de cuisine of Greenleaf (54 Nashua St., Milford, 213-5447,, a seasonally inspired farm-to-table restaurant that opened in May 2019. O’Malley grew up in Lowell, Mass., getting his start in the restaurant industry at age 16 as a dishwasher. It was while working at Papa Razzi in Burlington, Mass., that he first met Greenleaf owner and founder Chris Viaud. After graduating from the Culinary Institute of America — and completing an externship cooking in the owners’ suite of Fenway Park in Boston — O’Malley worked at North Andover Country Club for about a year before coming to New Hampshire to join the staff of Greenleaf in August 2021. There he worked his way up the ranks, assuming the role of chef de cuisine in January.

What is your must-have kitchen item?

It’s probably the Vitamix [blender], with all of the purees and different things that I like to do.

What would you have for your last meal?

I would go with a traditional omakase, which is basically like a chef’s table for sushi.

What is your favorite local restaurant?

Probably the Nashua Garden. Every time I’ve been there, they make a solid sandwich.

What celebrity would you like to see eating at Greenleaf?

Kid Cudi [rapper Scott Mescudi].

What is your favorite thing on your menu?

Duck in general is one of my favorite things to mess around with. It goes really well with sweeter flavors.

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

I think I’ve seen a short rib [dish on] every menu [at every restaurant] that I’ve been out to.

What is your favorite thing to cook at home?

Usually something pretty simple. Fried rice is always nice — it’s quick and easy, it’s just kind of tossing everything in a pan.

Roasted garlic mashed potatoes
From the kitchen of Justin O’Malley, chef de cuisine of Greenleaf in Milford

For the roasted garlic:
1 bulb garlic
1 teaspoon olive oil
1 pinch each salt and pepper
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Cut the top off the bulb of garlic, exposing the cloves. Place the bulb on a sheet of aluminum foil and season with olive oil, salt and pepper. Wrap the bulb tightly in foil and roast in the oven until soft and well browned (about one hour).

For the mashed potatoes:
2 pounds russet potatoes
¼ cup unsalted butter
2 cups warm milk
1 bulb roasted garlic
Salt and white pepper to taste

Peel the potatoes and cut them into 1-inch pieces. Place the potatoes into a pot with enough cold water to cover. Season the water with a heavy pinch of salt and place on the stove set to high heat. When the water starts to boil, reduce the heat to medium. Simmer until soft (about 15 minutes). Strain the potatoes and return them to the pot. Place the pot back on the stove over medium-low heat to dry the potatoes (about one to two minutes). Add the butter and roasted garlic. Mash using your favorite method (a potato masher or fork will work). Slowly add the milk until your desired consistency is reached. Season with salt and white pepper to taste. Serve immediately.

Featured photo: Justin O’Malley, chef de cuisine of Greenleaf in Milford. Courtesy photo.

Local pours

Mardi Gras wine festival returns to Derry

Early in the fall of 2021, the Rev. Chris Gaffrey of St. Thomas Aquinas Catholic Church in Derry attended a wine tasting at LaBelle Winery — and he left feeling inspired.

“The next day I was talking to some parishioners about it and one of them said, ‘Oh, we should do a wine tasting here,’” Gaffrey said. “I said, ‘Even better: why don’t we get a whole bunch of wineries [to] come together and do a wine tasting here? We can turn it into a fundraiser.’”

The idea sparked so much interest among the church community that they would end up celebrating Mardi Gras the following February with an inaugural wine festival. The event was a resounding success. Two of the five participating wineries, Gaffrey said, would sell out of product before the night was even over.

“Every one of the vendors said to us afterward, ‘Are you doing this next year? Please invite us,’” he said. “We had food, music, prizes [and] games. … Everybody seemed to have a good time.”

Indeed, the festival, set to return for a second year on Saturday, Feb. 18, will feature all five of the wineries from the first event, in addition to a few new faces. It’s happening inside the church’s Aquinas Center and will include a night of wine sampling along with a variety of home-cooked food options, raffle and door prizes, games, live music and more.

“It’s just a great wholesome cultural event … that also highlights our blossoming New Hampshire wine industry,” Gaffrey said. “I’m really excited that it’s basically a pretty good cross-section of New Hampshire winemaking. … We’ve got two from the Lakes Region that are coming down and then one that’s coming from the White Mountains.”

Tickets are available both in advance online and at the door. If you buy them online you also have various add-on options, from Mardi Gras beads and masks to up to four wine glasses. If you like what you try during the evening, there will also be the option to buy bottles of it on site.

“The attractive thing about this for the wineries … is that unlike [at] some other fundraisers or church events, we’re actually able to offer them the capacity to sell,” Gaffrey said. “So if somebody makes a purchase in the wine festival area, either one of the wineries will have a runner or we’ll have somebody helping out to take the purchased bottle to a table … for pickups at the end of the evening or when people leave.”

As for food, Gaffrey said several church members are contributing everything from assorted meats and cheeses to Italian wedding soup and some Cajun dishes like jambalaya — he himself is planning to cook a shrimp gumbo. Frank Howard of the church’s Lazarus Ministry of Praise will provide live music, and attendees will have the opportunity to purchase raffle tickets for a chance to win special baskets that the participating wineries are putting together.

Proceeds from the festival, Gaffrey said, benefit some ongoing church renovation projects, in addition to some outreach programs and initiatives, like its food pantry.

Second annual Mardi Gras wine festival
When: Saturday, Feb. 18, 6 to 9 p.m.
Where: The Aquinas Center at St. Thomas Aquinas Catholic Church, 26 Crystal Ave., Derry
Cost: $40 per person, or $70 per couple; tickets are available at the door or in advance online
More info: Visit or see “A Mardi Gras Wine Festival” on Facebook
Event is 21+ only. Smart casual or business casual attire are recommended. Mardi Gras masks are optional.

Featured photo: Last year’s Mardi Gras wine festival at St. Thomas Aquinas Catholic Church in Derry. Courtesy photo.

From the heart, for the heart

Crafts, Drafts & Barrels tasting benefit returns to Concord

February is American Heart Month, a time to raise awareness of cardiovascular health nationwide. In New Hampshire it also marks the return of a special tasting benefit for the cause.

The fifth annual Crafts, Drafts & Barrels, happening on Friday, Feb. 17, at the McAuliffe-Shepard Discovery Center in Concord, will bring together local restaurants, drink purveyors and other organizations together for a night of bites, pours, live music, raffles and a silent auction, all to raise funds for Concord Hospital’s Cardiovascular Institute.

The event had previously taken place in March, according to Concord Hospital Trust philanthropy officer Moriah Billups, but the decision was made to move it up by a month this year to take advantage of the Valentine’s Day holiday the same week.

“It’s a great opportunity for attendees to taste beer, spirits or wine, but there are also a lot of other things to do,” Billups said. “I think, with it having a lot of opportunities for so many attendees, we thought it would be a good way to pair it with Valentine’s Day. … You can go out with friends or family. It doesn’t have to be a spouse or a loved one. It can be anyone.”

Organizers are taking over the entire space of the Discovery Center for the duration of the event, giving attendees full access to all its exhibits with the exception of the planetarium. Billups added that, weather permitting, the center’s observatory will also be open for viewing.

Admission also grants attendees access to all of the food and beverage samples provided by the vendors. Those who purchased VIP tickets can get into the event an hour earlier than general admission ticket holders — at 6 p.m.

“We try to make sure that every group brings something a little different, so that there aren’t three tables with the same thing,” Billups said of the benefit’s participating vendors. “I’m very excited about Live Juice — they’re going to be bringing some vegan and heart-healthy options. They’ll have a curried chicken salad, some cheese and cracker samples and then a vegan dessert option. … They’ll be located in an area of the Discovery Center that will be focused on hydroponic growing … so we’re doing that to just kind of bring awareness to eating your vegetables and making sure that you’re doing what you can to keep your heart healthy.”

Other eateries will include The Common Man, which will have their house-made chips and French onion dip; O Steaks & Seafood, serving their own macaroni and cheese; and Bone Daddy’s, a Bedford-based barbecue competition and catering team that will serve pork sliders. As has been the case during previous years, Billups added, all attendees will receive a $15 gift card to T-Bones Great American Eatery and a chocolate chip cookie.

Wine and spirits will be provided by Martignetti Companies of Northern New England, with craft beer coming from New Hampshire Distributors — both will offer a diverse range of selections, Billups said. New this year will be mocktails offered by Wood Stove Kitchen, a producer of small-batch all-natural drink mixers in a variety of flavors.

Libation Education ticket holders will attend a special 45-minute class beginning at 5:30 p.m. that will be taught by representatives of Martignetti Companies and Concord Craft Brewing Co. The theme is “He Said Beer, She Said Wine,” and the class will focus on different food pairings for beer and wine. Billups said those who participate can then join VIP attendees around 6:15 p.m.

Live music will be provided by The Lone Wolf Project during the tasting, while a silent auction will be available to all attendees. Billups said most of the prizes are experiential — there will be chances to win everything from four tickets to an upcoming New Hampshire Motor Speedway race in 2023 to a four-course chef’s tasting with Corey Fletcher of Revival Kitchen & Bar. Bidding begins at 6 p.m. and continues until about 8:20 p.m., in order to give general admission ticket holders enough time to see all the available items.

“We have a sparkling raffle which is called ‘Date Night for a Year,’ and so it includes essentially 12 different date night ideas … or they could be during the day too,” Billups said. “Some of those include a one-night stay at the Hotel Concord and some ski passes to Pats Peak.”

Crafts, Drafts & Barrels raised nearly $85,000 last year. Billups said the goal is to at least exceed that amount this year. All proceeds benefit the hospital’s Cardiovascular Institute, a one-door access service combining cardiac and vascular care that’s also available at Concord Hospital’s locations in Laconia and Franklin.

“Cardiovascular disease is the leading cause of death for both men and women, and so we aim to bring awareness to the cause as well as raise funds,” Billups said. “Last year we raised funds for a new operating room … dedicated to the cardiovascular suite. … So it [supports] different resources and equipment for our doctors … and also just programs that help our patients live a better life.”

Fifth annual Crafts, Drafts & Barrels
When: Friday, Feb. 17; general admittance is from 7 to 9 p.m., and VIP admittance begins at 6 p.m.
Where: McAuliffe-Shepard Discovery Center, 2 Institute Drive, Concord
Cost: $75 per person general admission; $125 VIP admission and $175 Libation Education admission, which includes access to an exclusive 45-minute beer and wine food pairing class with Concord Craft Brewing Co. and Martignetti Companies of Northern New England, beginning at 5:30 p.m. Tickets are available both in advance online and at the door the night of.
More info: Visit, find the event page on Facebook @craftsdraftsbarrels or call 227-7162
Event is 21+ only. Each attendee also receives a $15 gift card to T-Bones Great American Eatery and a chocolate chip cookie. All attendees will receive access to exhibits at the McAuliffe-Shepard Discovery Center. Depending on weather conditions, the center’s observatory may also be open for viewing.

Participating food and beverage purveyors

• Bone Daddy’s Competition BBQ (@bdbbq)
• Coca-Cola (
• The Common Man (
• Concord Craft Brewing Co. (
• Concord Food Co-op (
• Concord Hospital Catering Services (
• Gibson’s Cafe (
• Granite Restaurant & Bar (
• Live Juice (
• Martignetti Companies of Northern New England (
• New Hampshire Distributors (
• New Hampshire Doughnut Co. (
• O Steaks & Seafood (
• T-Bones Great American Eatery (
• Wood Stove Kitchen (

Featured photo: Scenes from NOFA-NH’s annual winter conference. Courtesy photos.

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