Bringing the jokes home

Comic Koutrobis films special in Nashua

One of the reasons comics decide to make a special is inertia. Unlike the case for musicians who can lean on their hits forever, once a set of jokes is committed to video, a comedian needs to write some new ones. When Mike Koutrobis greets a hometown audience at Nashua’s Center for the Arts on March 21, he’ll say goodbye to his tight 60, ready to face the blank page.

It makes sense. When Koutrobis began standup 30 years ago, he was a single guy, and the laughs came from trying to remember who was in the photos on his girlfriend’s apartment walls and being stymied by one hung with a sample picture still in it, like some kind of weird test.

These days, he’s married and a father.

“The material’s writing itself now,” Koutrobis said in a recent phone interview. “My son just turned 5 and I’m turning 53. He’s getting more active; I’m getting less active. He’s learning new ways to do things; I’m learning new ways to cope with an injury.”

Entertainment is in his blood. In high school, Koutrobis worked as a professional clown, juggling fire and riding 6-foot unicycles. Upon graduation, “I literally joined the circus,” he said. “The day out of high school, I was a performing clown at York’s Wild Kingdom in Maine.”

At 21 he started hanging out at bars, and soon was hosting karaoke.

“I couldn’t sing, so I made it funny,” he said. “I love the attention — middle child syndrome. It just kept going, and I’ve never turned back. Anything to do with entertainment or being in front of people just attracts me.”

A booking agent pointed him to an open mic night at Stitches in Boston. “He says, you’re funny, do you write jokes? I go, ‘I don’t know … I’m just being myself,’” Koutrobis said. “I went down, and I was absolutely horrible; I still have it on tape, I’ll never get rid of it. I didn’t know what the hell I was doing.”

Rising to the challenge, he kept at it, studying other comics, looking for clues to their success. He recalls Boston comedy legend Patrice O’Neal complimenting him early on. “He goes … ‘I don’t know what the hell it is, but you have something.’ I thought, now I gotta figure out what the hell that is.”

Since then, Koutrobis has done a little bit of everything, appearing in movies and on television, promoting shows, teaching other comics, working as a DJ, and that’s for starters.

“I have 72 jobs,” he said. “I’m literally in a parking lot right now about to be a hospital clown at Tufts Medical Center … there’s not much I don’t do.”

When he quit his day job, Koutrobis realized that ubiquity was his key to success in entertainment.

“I need to be the guy where someone goes, ‘We need this for a party, let’s call Mike — either he does it, or he knows somebody that does.’ My business card says, and it’s my favorite quote of all time: ‘Eventually, you’ll hire me for something.’”

Koutrobis is excited to appear at the newest venue in the town he’s called home since he was a toddler. Advance sales for the show have been brisk.

“I’m already beyond what I was hoping for,” he said. “People from high school that I haven’t spoken to in years are messaging me, and they bought tickets. We’re already over 300 sold, [and] honestly, that was my number.”

A retirement party for material that long served him well had to happen, Koutrobis concluded.

“I got lazy with my writing, but when you put something out there it’s, ‘OK, that stuff’s done now.’ Look at Juston McKinney or Bob Marley, speaking of two local guys. As soon as they put out a CD, or Juston does his Christmas shows, it’s pretty rare you’re going to hear any of those jokes ever again.”

Mike Koutrobis Comedy Special
When: Saturday, March 23, 8pm
Where: Nashua Center for the Arts, 201 Main St., Nashua
Tickets: $27 at

Featured photo: Mike Koutrobis. Courtesy photo.

The Music Roundup 24/03/21

Local music news & events

Emerald Islanders: Keep basking in a green glow at an evening with Altan, a band considered one of Ireland’s finest musical exports. Their just-released album Donegal celebrates the county where they were formed. The new record is also their first with recently added fiddler and singer Claire Friel, who takes a lead vocal on “Faoiseamh a Gheobhadsa.” Thursday, March 21, 7:30 p.m., Rex Theatre, 23 Amherst St., Manchester, $35 and $45 at

Founding father: Richard Thompson has stayed a folk music force since he co-founded Fairpoint Convention in 1967. His memoir, Beeswing, was published in 2021, and he recently dropped “Singapore Sadie,” the first single from the forthcoming album Ship to Shore. Friday, March 22, 8 p.m., Tupelo Music Hall, 10 A St., Derry, $60 and up at

Helpful humor: Enjoy dinner followed by a free comedy show with Chris Tabb headlining. Presented by the charity-minded Comedy On Purpose, the night includes sets from Sara Poulin, Nick Gordon and Bill Douglas. Saturday, March 23, 7 pm., Stonebridge Country Club, 161 Gorham Pond Road, Goffstown, call 497-8633 for reservations.

Bluegrass power: A regional roots supergroup, Little Wishbone is the combination of Green Heron — married duo Scott Heron and Betsy Green on banjo and fiddle — and Old Hat Bluegrass Band, which has Steve Roy on mandolin, guitarist Whitney Roy and Amanda Kowalski on upright bass. The band plays an afternoon show at a barbecue restaurant run by another member of the bluegrass community. Sunday, March 24, 3 p.m., MrSippy BBQ, 184 S. Main St., Rochester. More at

Empire statement: Extending the program begun 30 years ago by Wynton Marsalis, Jazz at Lincoln Center Presents is a touring initiative currently featuring Bria Skonberg and Benny Benack III, the latter affectionately known as BB3. Both are trumpet players and singers, exploring the Great American Songbook. Wednesday, March 27, 7 p.m., Capitol Center for the Arts, 44 S. Main St., Concord, $43.75 and up at

Unshrinking, by Kate Manne

Unshrinking, by Kate Manne (Crown, 277 pages)

The national airline of Finland announced recently that it would ask passengers to step on a scale with their carry-on luggage in order to get an accurate assessment of the plane’s load and ensure a “safe takeoff.” It’s voluntary, inasmuch as is possible with the airline essentially saying we could crash if you don’t comply.

There was immediate backlash, with some calling the policy “fatphobic,” which is the popular catch-all term for any sort of perceived discrimination or cruelty against people with overweight or obesity (to use the preferred medical terminology these days). But it’s great timing for Kate Manne, a philosopher and associate professor at Cornell University, who has taken up the crusade against fatphobia in her third book, Unshrinking: How to Face Fatphobia.

In Unshrinking, Manne brings a philosopher’s take to a subject that Roxanne Gay, Lindy West and other writers have tackled: the hardships and cruelties that people with large bodies suffer as they navigate a world that prizes thinness. The solution that fat people (her preferred term) are usually offered is the suggestion to lose weight. But Manne believes it’s the world that needs to change, not people who are overweight. People should have the right to be any size they choose without the expectation of discrimination or mockery, she says; in fact, she argues, being a hundred, or a couple of hundred, pounds over what the doctor says we should weigh is another form of diversity, like skin color or the shape of our nose.

While Manne has been a range of sizes over the course of her life — she says almost apologetically that she is not currently significantly overweight — she was overweight enough as a child to endure the frequent casual cruelty that can stay with a person for a life. She recalls, for example, the boy in fifth grade who said “Fat little Kate-lyn” to her in P.E. class and another boy who ranked her attractiveness saying her figure “left something to be desired.”

Internalized, these sorts of insults convince a person that their body is something to be ashamed of, leading grown women with graduate degrees and good careers to still feel inferior when it comes to their body.

“I have been swimming just once since the age of sixteen. (I wore leggings and an oversized T-shirt.) I haven’t been dancing since I was twenty. And nobody, save my husband and doctors, has seen the dimpled, stretch-marked backs of my knees over the same time period,” Manne writes.

It wasn’t that she hadn’t tried to lose weight, and at times, she had done so successfully — as when she developed an Adderall addiction and once didn’t eat for a week, causing her to nearly pass out during a doctor’s appointment. But her weight would go up and down, and when in 2019 she was offered an all-expenses-paid book tour in Europe in conjunction with the paperback release of her book Down Girl, she refused to be photographed. It was a time when her doctor’s chart categorized her as “severely obese” and she couldn’t bear for photographs of her at that weight to go out into the world.

Then came the pandemic, during which she began to imagine a world in which she didn’t always feel the need to hide. This did not involve a diet — Manne argues, with lots of science to back her up, that diets don’t work and instead inflict suffering. Instead she imagined a world in which the word “fat” is a neutral term, not an insult, and in which large bodies aren’t judged.

Fatphobia, Manne says, is a “feature of social systems that unjustly rank fatter bodies as inferior to thinner bodies, in terms of not only our health but also our moral, sexual, and intellectual status.” The book catalogs many of these from Jordan Peterson’s “Sorry, not beautiful” pronouncement about a Sports Illustrated swimsuit model to examples of professional women viewed as less intelligent than their peers because of their weight. In these sorts of stories, Manne has a slam-dunk case; there is no question that fat-shaming is one of the last kinds of shaming that are permissible and Hollywood has helped perpetuate this idea.

Manne also deftly pokes holes in the arguments that defend treating large people differently from others. Her fellow Australian philosopher Peter Singer, for example, argues that airlines should set fares based on the weight of the passengers. “In terms of the airplane’s fuel consumption, it is all the same, whether the extra weight is baggage or body fat,” Singer has written. Manne counters with a calculation that shows it would cost just a few dollars more in fuel to transport an overweight man than a thin woman. She is at her best with this kind of sparring, and Unshrinking is thoughtful and deeply researched, belying a cover that suggests otherwise.

Ultimately, though, this is not a book that solves arguments, but rather raises them. Obesity is surging not only in America but in other parts of the world, and health experts say that excess weight is a factor in many types of cancer and other diseases. Yo-yo dieting is certainly not the answer, and weight-loss surgeries and drugs carry risks, as Manne points out. She wants a society where there is no pressure for people to lose weight — even at the doctor’s office — and where we don’t have to feel shame for succumbing to our appetites, for choosing lasagna over grilled vegetables. But with mounting evidence that restricting calories improves health outcomes — even for people who are not overweight — it will be hard for some people to accept her defense of hedonistic eating. Grilled veggies are better for the human body than lasagna, and no amount of fat acceptance can change that. BJennifer Graham

Album Reviews 24/03/21

The Church, Eros Zeta and the Perfumed Guitars (Communicating Vessels)

Some things never change, especially when they really should, but different strokes and all that. I’ve never been big into this ’80s-born band, even if The Cure’s Robert Smith stole the dreary, depressing vibe for “Lovesong” from this band’s 1988 tune “Under The Milky Way.” These Aussies have always been a sort of middling punk-influenced rawk band, but despite that, they do try to innovate and otherwise keep things relatively lively. Their last LP, The Hypnogogue, was a concept thing aiming for epicness, which I thankfully don’t have to deal with here. “Pleasure” is pretty uneventful, the same flavor of Lost Boys soundtrack filler they’ve specialized in since the beginning: sparkly guitar, low-end-Bowie vocals, that sort of business. “Song 18” is confounding, a chill-down that nicks Bowie in spaceman mode (yes, there’s a discernible pattern here). They’ll be at Royale in Boston on June 21. A- —Eric W. Saeger

Sam Wilson, Wintertides (Communicating Vessels)

Professed to be a meditation on how landscape and environment inspire her tuneage through her love and empathy for natural places, this is a sparse, gentle release from the jazz guitarist, nestled into a trio setting touching on post-bop. This LP grew organically: In 2020 Wilson made the decision to move out to the rural community of Scotsburn, Nova Scotia. It was a change that would soon prove both trying and isolating as pandemic restrictions came into play — especially once she hit the province’s notoriously grueling winter season. Jen Yakamovich’s drums are smooth and sublime, delivered with a lot of brushed snare; Geordie Hart’s upright bass stretches out now and then for the sake of eerie acoustics. It’s all quite absorbing; the RIYL comparisons here would include Ralph Towner and Michael Hedges. A —Eric W. Saeger


A seriously abridged compendium of recent and future CD releases

• Like every Friday, March 22 will be a day of new album releases, because we love our routines, oh lovely, I get to rant about Tool this week! Yep, look at this, folks, Tool’s singer, Maynard James Keenan, is putting out a new live solo album on Friday, called Cinquanta: A 50th Birthday Celebration For Maynard James Keenan. Cinquanta means “fifty” in Italian. Why did he do that? Well, I’m glad you asked. It’s because he turned the big five-oh and there was a celebration concert for it, and plus he posts about tacos a lot on Instagram, no, I’m not kidding, guys. When I turned 50 I quit butts for my vape. I can’t even believe what butts cost now, like 10 dollars a pack, that’s insane. But you know what else is insane is Tool fans, like, if you don’t like that dumb band, their fans shun you like you kicked their dog or something. Talk about a hilariously overrated band, but even worse is Maynard’s other band, A Perfect Circle, which I’d heard was supposed to be one of those cool goth-industrial bands like Collide, but when I tried to listen to one of their albums I was like, “What’s the big deal here,” and never really tried again. I mean, if you like them, all I have to say is “I don’t care!” the same way Tommy Lee Jones did in The Fugitive when Harrison Ford told him he didn’t moider his wife. Get what I’m saying, see, I’ve never heard a Tool song I liked, but I haven’t listened to all their albums, just the ones that aren’t anywhere near as good as any random Pendulum album, so if you like Tool and didn’t moider anyone, we can still be good friends, just don’t try to get me to go to a Tool concert, see, because I won’t go, even if it’s free, which is about the right price for a Tool concert ticket if you ask me.

OK so anyway, back to Taco Man here, and his new live album, do I really have to do this? Yikes, the cover is Maynard wearing a diaper and yelling in a crib, may I go now? OMG this performance is from 2014, and there’s a live version of Tool’s “Sober.” Huh, I always thought that song was by Live. I never liked it, probably because I’m stupid, right, Tool fans?

• All this yelling about Tool, leaves me barely any room to talk about Tigers Blood, the new album from indie-folk fixtures Waxahatchee. If you can picture Alanis doing a cover of a Bonnie Raitt song you’re in the ballpark with the latest single, “Bored,” a strummy, upbeat, listenable tune that I don’t detest in the least.

• Randomly famous Colombian person Shakira has a lot of fans and isn’t as annoying as P!nk, and that’s all I’ve ever really cared to know about all this. Her new album, Las Mujeres Ya No Lloran, is on the way. It has an old-school ’80s technopop beat punctuated with her hiccuppy singing and a millennial whoop chorus. It’s catchy.

• Lastly, it’s the one I’ve been waiting for, the new album from British art-rockers Elbow, Audio Vertigo! The band is led by singer Guy Garvey, a working[-class dude who nowadays is also a radio personality on BBC 6. I first got into them in 2011, when they released the LP Build A Rocket Boys; I’ve lost track of them the last few years, so it was nice to hear their new single, “Balu,” with its Coldplay-informed ’80s-goth-ish vibe. The spidery bass line is super-neat. Big ups to this. —Eric W. Saeger


The faded, stained recipe is in the back of a scrapbook where I keep recipes I’ve been meaning to try. The title on the top reads, “Juanita’s Cheesecake.” I barely remember who Juanita is — the sister of a good friend of my mother’s, and I probably only met her a couple of times in my childhood. But I distinctly remember my mother saying at some point that Juanita made the world’s best cheesecake.

Juanita’s Cheesecake


About 2 cups (9 ounces / 252 g) cookie crumbs – traditionally these would be graham cracker crumbs, but any crunchy cookie will work; for this cheesecake I used America’s most under-rated cookie, Vienna Fingers

½ cup (1 stick) butter

The Body of the Cheesecake

2 8-ounce packages of room-temperature cream cheese

¾ cup (148 g) sugar

4 eggs

1 teaspoon vanilla

The Topping

1 cup (8 ounces / 227 g) sour cream

2 Tablespoons sugar

1 teaspoon vanilla

Preheat the oven to 350ºF.

Grease the bottom and sides of an 8-inch spring-form pan. Line the bottom of the pan with parchment paper, which will stick, now that you’ve put a layer of fat down.

Grind your cookies into crumbs. Either use a food-processor, or use a zip-lock bag and a rolling pin. You’ll quickly find that it’s more a matter of leaning in and crushing the cookies, rather than rolling them.

Put your butter in a medium-sized plastic or glass bowl, and melt the butter in the microwave. Add the cookie crumbs to the melted butter, and stir until completely combined. Press the crust mixture into the bottom of your spring-form pan. Chill in the refrigerator until you need it. If you used the rolling pin method, this will look less like a conventional graham cracker crust, and more like somebody did something terrible to some Fruity Pebbles.

Mix the cream cheese at medium-high speed until it is light and fluffy. Slowly pour the sugar in, followed by the eggs, one at a time. Let each ingredient combine thoroughly before adding the next, then add the vanilla.

Scrape down the sides of your bowl, then mix again to make certain all the ingredients have been incorporated. Pour the batter into your prepared pan, and put it in the oven to bake. Juanita seems to suggest that this will take about half an hour, but she also suggested a shallower pan, which would speed things up considerably. In my experience, the cheesecake should bake for about 55 minutes. Don’t worry about using a water bath; any cracks will be covered by the topping layer.

Remove the cheesecake from the oven when it is lightly golden-brown and a toothpick comes out clean from the center.

In another bowl — or the cookie crust one, if you’ve stayed on top of your dishes — mix the sour cream, sugar and vanilla together with a spoon. Pour on top of your cheesecake, spread it evenly, and return it to the oven. Juanita suggests 10 minutes should be enough. My mileage says 25. This is a judgment call on your part. You just want to cook it until it is dry and solid-looking. I like it to have a little color, but that’s just me.

Leave the cheesecake on your counter for an hour or so to cool. Cover it with a large bowl if you have small children or cats. It will eventually contract, pulling itself away from the side of the pan. Remember to remove your parchment paper when you remove it from the pan.

If you’re used to today’s cheesecakes, which have strong flavors that knock you over the head with a club and drag you back to their cave, this cheesecake will be something of a revelation. It tastes exactly like what it is: dairy, eggs, and a little sugar.

This recipe did not deserve to sit alone and unappreciated since the Nixon administration.

Featured photo: Cheesecake. Photo by John Fladd.

In the kitchen with Steve Hardy

General manager and head cook at Yankee Lanes (216 Maple St., Manchester, 625-9656,

Steve Hardy at Yankee Lanes is working to change the perception of Bowling Food.“We’re trying to up the ante on our food preparation and service,” Hardy said. In spite of the casual atmosphere of a bowling alley, he tries to offer foods that appeal to a variety of palates, serving everything from fried pickles to steak tips. He takes even snack foods seriously. Case in point: his hand-cut french fries, which are soaked in cold water to remove some of the starch, then fried twice, once at a relatively low temperature to cook the potatoes all the way through, and then, after a rest, again at a high temperature to ensure a crisp exterior.

What dish do you have to have on your menu?

Steak tips, I have a really good following for the recipe.

What would you have for your last meal?

Steak, definitely steak. I’m clearly a steak guy.

What is your favorite local eatery?

Stumble Inn, besides here of course.

Name a celebrity you would like to see eating at the bowling alley.

Gordon Ramsay.

What is your favorite thing on your menu?

Our burgers are GREAT! They’re half a pound and cooked to the customer’s specification.

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

Mexican and Asian-style food is on the rise here with some really great choices.

What is your favorite thing to cook at home?

Pot roast; it’s simple, easy and delicious.

Featured Photo: Steve Hardy, General manager and head cook at Yankee Lanes. Courtesy Photo.

SouperFest season

Concord event raises funds to fight homelessness

By Jill Lessard

Savor a cup of soup while contributing to a worthy cause at the 15th annual SouperFest on Saturday, March 23, from 11:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. at the City Wide Community Center, 14 Canterbury Road, in Concord. The event features a variety of soups prepared by area restaurants, and all proceeds from the fundraiser will benefit the Concord Coalition to End Homelessness (CCEH).

Participating eateries include Alexandra’s Bistro (broccoli cheddar), The Barley House (pumpkin apple bisque), Concord Co-Op (TBD), Flanagan’s South Ender (turkey pot pie), Karner Blue Cafe (chicken noodle), Maddy’s Food Hub (peanut soup), The Post Downtown (roasted garlic and Parmesan tomato bisque), Red Blazer Restaurant & Pub (turkey pot pie), Revival Kitchen & Bar (lemon chicken rice), The Works Bakery & Cafe (lentil) and more.

CCEH’s mission, as stated on its website, is to eliminate chronic homelessness; support and quickly re-house people who have recently become homeless; and build a system that effectively responds to the diverse needs of people experiencing homelessness. The organization’s SouperFest (originally called Soup Fest) started in 2009 as a modest church-based fundraiser and has grown into a major community event that raises tens of thousands of dollars.

“CCEH hopes to raise $75,000 from SouperFest, and to generate public awareness and support for CCEH’s work and ultimately end homelessness in our community,” said Kate Gallagher, CCEH’s Director of Development & Communications, in an email. “We anticipate roughly 200 people to attend, and we hope that families at the Community Center for their regularly scheduled Saturday activities will join us, as well as neighbors of the Community Center. This year we’re focusing on the soup and the community atmosphere. We’re also using SouperFest as the kickoff to our 15th birthday celebrations, so we’ll have a celebratory atmosphere happening as well!”

It takes a village for events like SouperFest to be produced, and Gallagher is grateful for the contributions of myriad community members.

“We have a wonderful group of business and organizational sponsors…. We also rely on the 12 area restaurants who donate the soup for the event,” she said. She also noted the volunteers who make it all work on the day of the event.

When asked about the current situation in the Concord region, Gallagher said, “CCEH has worked hard over the past few years … through our street outreach efforts and our ‘by-name list.’ Not only do we feel very confident in the numbers, we know the names of the individuals within that count.” She reported that as of the end of December 2023 there were 499 individuals experiencing homelessness in Merrimack County, 313 of whom had been without permanent housing for over a year, and each month on average 22 people become homeless and 12 people become housed.

The housing market has been rough, Gallagher noted.

“We are in a historic housing crisis, with rental vacancy rates in New Hampshire at less than one percent,” she said. “And while finding and securing housing for individuals remains difficult — for anyone, never mind someone who has no or poor credit, has an eviction on their record, has history with the justice system, or is holding a rental assistance voucher — CCEH helped 90 people secure permanent housing since January 2021.”

When: Saturday, March 23, 11:30am to 1:30pm
Where: Concord Community Center, 14 Canterbury Road, Concord
Cost: $5 for one 8-ounce cup of soup; $20 for a bundle of five cups. First come, first served.

For more information or to make a donation, visit

Featured Photo: Past SouperFest. Courtesy photo.

Ham & chocolate bunnies

Where to find your Easter eats

Compiled by John Fladd

It’s almost Easter and the time to place orders or reservations is fast approaching. Looking for food not made by you to enjoy over the weekend? There are many, many local restaurants, bakeries and specialty food businesses that are ready to take on some or all of the work for you. All dine -in options are for Sunday, March 31 (Easter) unless otherwise noted. Know of an eatery not mentioned here? Let us know at

110 Grill (875 Elm St., Manchester, 836-1150; 27 Trafalgar Square in Nashua, 943-7443; will serve special brunch menu features from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m., in addition to its regular menus. Options will include steak and eggs Benedict, chicken and waffles, crab cakes Benedict and several assorted brunch cocktails.

Airport Diner (2280 Brown Ave. in Manchester, 623-5040, will be open during its regular business hours on Easter Sunday (from 6 a.m. to 10 p.m.), serving its daily menus with specials.

Alan’s of Boscawen (133 N. Main St. in Boscawen, 753-6631, will serve a special Easter brunch buffet from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m., which will include fresh fruit, assorted cheeses and crackers, Danishes and breads, and carving stations featuring roast leg of lamb, sliced tenderloin and Virginia baked ham. After 3 p.m., an Easter dinner will be served, featuring roast spring leg of lamb, prime rib, and tomahawk swordfish chop. Complete Easter dinners are available for takeout.

Alpine Grove Banquet Facility (19 S. Depot Road in Hollis, 882-9051, will serve a special Easter brunch buffet from 10 a.m. through 1 p.m. Featured items include waffles with warm maple syrup and strawberries, scrambled eggs, bacon, sausage home fries, slow-cooked Virginia ham with bourbon New Hampshire maple syrup, Delmonico medallions, chicken piccata, ziti pasta with tomato sauce, and Lyonnaise mashed potatoes.The cost is $35 for adults, $30 for seniors, $15 for children ages 3 to 12 and free for children under 3. Reservations are being accepted online.

Angela’s Pasta & Cheese Shop (815 Chestnut St. in Manchester, 625-9544, is taking orders for Easter treats: breads by Iggy’s Bakery, pork pie, pizzagaina (a traditional Italian Easter pie with eggs, spinach, prosciutto, and four kinds of cheese), quiches, cakes, seasonal cookies and buns, and sweet pies, including ricotta pie. Order by March 20. Pickups will be on Saturday, March 30, from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m.

The Artisan Hotel (17 Via Toscana in Salem, 912-8450) will serve Easter brunch from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. Brunch items will include an omelet station, a smoked salmon display, a carving station, scratch-made desserts, a strawberry shortcake station and more. Tickets are $85 for adults and $25 for children, which includes gratuity, and are available online at

Assumption Greek Orthodox Church (111 Island Pond Road in Manchester, 623-2045, will host a walk-in Easter bake sale on Saturday, March 23, from 9:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. inside its church hall. Spinach peta, cheese peta, Greek cookie and pastry platters and tsoureki (Easter bread) will be available for sale in limited quantities while supplies last.

Atkinson Resort & Country Club (85 Country Club Dr. in Atkinson, 362-8700, will serve a special Easter brunch buffet from 8 to 10 a.m. inside its Legacy Ballroom. The menu will include chef-attended omelet and waffle stations, hand-carved prime rib, smoked ham, baked haddock, wild mushroom gnocchi, smoked salmon, and breakfast options, like scrambled eggs, bacon, cinnamon swirl French toast and more. The cost is $70 for adults, $30 for children age 3 to 10 and free for children under 3. Reservations are required.

The Bakeshop on Kelley Street (171 Kelley St. in Manchester;, 624-3500) offers pies, cakes and other pastries. Call to order.

Bearded Baking Co. (819 Union St. in Manchester, 647-7150, is taking orders for 8-inch cakes (carrot or lemon poppy), lemon dream cheesecakes (serves eight to 12 people), chocolate flourless Parisian slices, blueberry lemon or carrot cake vegan doughnuts, and Easter candy cupcake boxes, featuring assorted cupcakes topped with Cadbury egg pieces, Reese’s peanut butter cups and cookies and cream pieces. Order by May 23. Pickups will be on Saturday, March 30.

Bedford Village Inn (2 Olde Bedford Way in Bedford, 472-2001, will serve a special three-course prix fixe Easter dinner. Dishes will include New England clam chowder, braised lamb shank, grilled tournedos of beef, Nova Scotia halibut, crepes Suzette, and lavender creme brulee. Reservations are available from 1 to 5 p.m. The cost is $79 for adults, $42 for children under 10.

Belmont Hall & Restaurant (718 Grove St. in Manchester, 625-8540, will serve an all-you-can-eat breakfast buffet with seatings at 8:30 a.m., 10:30 a.m. or 12:30 p.m. The cost is $18.99 per person. Additionally, the restaurant will be open for walk-ins only that day — no reservations required.

Birch Wood Vineyards (199 Rockingham Road in Derry, 965-4359, will serve a special Easter Sunday brunch buffet with seatings at 11 a.m., noon and 1 p.m. Buffet items include made-to-order omelets, French toast with New Hampshire maple syrup, salmon and artichoke chowder, chicken piccata, a charcuterie display, crab-stuffed baked haddock, beef short ribs, and a carving station. Tickets are available on Birch Wood’s website and are $75 for adults, $30 for children 3 and up, and free for very small children. Each seating will last 90 minutes. Reservations must be made by Sunday, March 24.

Buckley’s Great Steaks (438 Daniel Webster Hwy. in Merrimack, 424-0995, will be open from noon to 5 p.m., serving its regular menu in addition to some chef specials. Call or visit the website to make a reservation.

Buckley’s Bakery & Cafe (436 Daniel Webster Hwy. in Merrimack, 262-5929, and (9 Market Place, Hollis, 465-5522) is taking orders for cakes, (including carrot, hummingbird, double chocolate caramel and Bunny Trail latte); 8-inch pies (including chocolate cream, Key lime, mixed berry crumble and lemon meringue); assorted breakfast and dessert pastry trays, Parker House rolls, cinnamon raisin bread and raspberry almond crumb cake. Order by Tuesday, March 26.

The Cake Fairy (114 Londonderry Tpke. in Hooksett, 518-8733, will be open March 30 from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. with Easter treats including eclair pie, cheesecake, cupcakes, pastry and more. All items will be available on a first come, first served basis. Check for the most up-to-date information.

Carina’s Cakes (14B E. Broadway in Derry, 425-9620, find them on Facebook @carinas.cakes) is taking orders for a variety of specialty cupcake flavors for Easter, like Peeps marshmallow, Andes mint, chocolate chip cookie dough, Oreo, Reese’s peanut butter cup, Funfetti, toasted coconut, carrot cake and more. Orders will be accepted through Saturday, March 23, or until the shop reaches capacity. The pickup date is Saturday, March 30. Order in person or over the phone 425-9620. No texts or messages via social media.

Caroline’s Fine Food (132 Bedford Center Road in Bedford, 637-1615, is taking orders for Easter dinners serving four or eight people, featuring your choice of maple-glazed pork loin, pan-seared lemon rosemary chicken breast or garlic and rosemary roasted leg of lamb. All entrees are additionally served with shallot whipped potatoes, lemon honey caramelized carrots and sauteed asparagus. Several items are also available a la carte, like prosciutto-wrapped asparagus, charcuterie platters, roasted summer vegetables with dip, baby greens salad with a red wine vinaigrette, ham, Swiss and spinach or Caprese quiches, and blueberry or lemon poppyseed scones. Please place your order by 3 p.m. on Monday, March 25. Order pickup is Friday, March 29, from 11 a.m. to 6 p.m.

Castleton Waterfront Dining on Cobbetts (58 Enterprise Dr. in Windham, 898-6300, is taking orders for a variety of to-go items for Easter, including dinner packages of spiral glazed ham or roast leg of lamb with herbs — each comes with its own sides, like vegetables, dinner rolls or carrot cake. You can also customize your Easter dinner with a la carte items, like main courses (tenderloin of beef, spiral glazed ham with pineapple raisin sauce, roast leg of lamb with herbs and roast pork loin with cranberry apple stuffing); sides by the quart (honey-glazed carrots, green beans almondine, tender spring peas with pancetta, au gratin potatoes, garlic and chive whipped potatoes, roasted rosemary red bliss potatoes, merlot sauce, mushroom demi glace, lamb gravy and pineapple raisin sauce); hors d’oeuvres by the dozen (scallop and bacon skewers, crabmeat stuffed mushrooms, asparagus and Asiago wraps, smoked Gouda macaroni and cheese bites, petite arancini, almond raspberry brie tarts and spanakopita); and baked goods (dinner rolls by the dozen, 10-inch carrot cake and 10-inch New York-style cheesecake). All orders must be placed by Friday, March 22, at noon. Pickups will be scheduled on Saturday, March 30, from 9 a.m. to noon. Email or call the sales office with any questions.

Chez Vachon (136 Kelley St. in Manchester;, 625-9660) will be open on Easter; it’s regular hours are 7 a.m. to 2 p.m.

The Coach Stop Restaurant & Tavern (176 Mammoth Road in Londonderry, 437-2022, will serve a special a la carte menu for Easter with two seatings, at noon and 3 p.m., featuring items like spinach and artichoke dip, French onion soup, bacon-wrapped scallops, roast prime rib of beef, veal Oscar, lobster macaroni and cheese, baked lamb or ham dinners, baked haddock and more. Reservations are accepted via phone.

Colby Hill Inn (33 The Oaks in Henniker, 428-3281, will serve a special three-course prix fixe menu for Easter with seatings from noon to 5 p.m. The meal will include your choice of a first course (lemon chicken noodle soup, mushroom and buttermilk soup, spring greens and Easter radish salad, baby mizuna salad or red beet deviled eggs); a main course (Greek-style roast leg of lamb in oregano and garlic, maple and cider mustard-glazed ham, prime rib smoked with pink peppercorn and rosemary, day boat scallops, rabbit pot pie or carrot spaetzle); and a dessert (Meyer lemon and raspberry chambord sorbet duo, lavender crème brûlée, strawberry rhubarb pie with ginger ice cream, maple walnut carrot cake, or an Easter chocolate trio featuring Belgian chocolate mousse, white chocolate Easter bark and a chocolate peanut butter egg). The cost is $79 per person and reservations are required.

The Common Man (25 Water St. in Concord, 228-3463; 304 Daniel Webster Hwy. in Merrimack, 429-3463; 88 Range Road in Windham, 898-0088; 10 Pollard Road in Lincoln, 745-3463; 21 Water St. in Claremont, 542-6171; 60 Main St. in Ashland, 968-7030; will be open from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. at each of its locations, serving their regular menus with Easter specials. Call for reservations.

Crosby Bakery (51 E. Pearl St. in Nashua, 882-1851, is taking orders for 8-inch or 10-inch pies (apple, blueberry, banana cream, butterscotch-pretzel, chocolate cream, coconut cream, lemon meringue and strawberry cream), cakes, quiches, Easter rolls and pastry platters. Order by March 27.

The Crust & Crumb Baking Co. (126 N. Main St. in Concord, 219-0763, is taking orders for a variety of specialty items for Easter, including Shaker squash or butter rolls, vanilla-glazed cinnamon buns, pecan sticky buns, sour cream or raspberry lemon coffee cakes, hot cross buns, choreg (seeded Armenian Easter bread), quiches (ham and Swiss, asparagus and goat cheese, or bacon, broccoli and cheddar); French Canadian tourtiere; pork pie with apple, rosemary and sweet potato); sweet cakes (blueberry lemon mousse, raspberry coconut layer cake, flourless chocolate torte and others); and 6-inch or 9-inch pies (apple streusel, forest berry crumb, maple bourbon pecan, lemon meringue, blueberry crumb, Key lime, chocolate cream, maple cream or coconut cream; the latter four can be ordered with graham crusts or gluten-free almond oat crusts). Call or stop in to place your order. The Crust and Crumb will need your full name, phone number, and approximate time for pickup along with your selections. Orders must be placed and paid in full by Friday, March 22, for pickup on March 30.

The Derryfield Restaurant (625 Mammoth Road in Manchester, 623-2880, will serve a special Easter brunch with seatings from 10 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. The meal will feature an omelet station, a carving station with slow roast prime rib and oven-baked ham, a bread station with items like muffins, croissants and rolls, a salad station and a dessert station. On the main buffet table there will be French toast, scrambled eggs, corned beef hash, bacon, sausage, fresh seasonal fruit, pancakes, baked beans, seafood Newburg and more. The cost is $36.95 for adults, $34.95 for seniors over 65 and $21.95 for children under 12. Reservations are being accepted via phone.

Firefly (22 Concord St. in Manchester;, 935-9740) will have an Easter brunch from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. and an Easter dinner from 4 to 8 p.m. with Easter favorites in addition to the regular menus.

Flying Goose Brew Pub & Grille (40 Andover Road in New London;, 526-6899) will have brunch specials from 11:30 a.m. to 2 p.m. and dinner specials from 2 to 8 p.m., with the regular menu also available all day.

Fratello’s Italian Grille (155 Dow St. in Manchester, 641-6776, will serve a special Easter buffet with seatings at 11 a.m. and 2 p.m., featuring an omelet station, a carving station, a waffle bar and more. The cost is $42 for adults, $18.95 for children age 4 to 11 and free for children ages 3 and under. Reservations are required.

Frederick’s Pastries (109 Route 101A in Amherst, 882-7725; 25 S. River Road, Bedford, 647-2253; is taking orders for an array of specialty sweets and treats for Easter, like bunny cookie kits, speckled robin cakes, sheep cakes, baby chick or Easter basket-shaped cupcakes, carrot cake cheesecake cups, carrot cake cupcakes and more. Advance online ordering is recommended.

Gauchos Churrascaria Brazilian Steak House (62 Lowell St. in Manchester, 669-9460, will serve a special Easter brunch buffet from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. featuring rodizio meats carved tableside, along with an all-you-can-eat selection of pastries and fresh fruit, and the restaurant’s famous chocolate fountain. The cost is $39.99 for adults, $14.99 for children ages 6 to 10 and free for children ages 5 and under. Reservations are recommended.

Giorgio’s Ristorante & Bar (270 Granite St. in Manchester, 232-3323; 707 Milford Road in Merrimack, 883-7333; 524 Nashua St., Milford, 673-3939; will be open from 11 a.m. to 6 p.m., serving its regular menu with chef-inspired specials. Reservations are being accepted via phone.

Granite State Candy Shoppe (13 Warren St., Concord, 225-2591; 832 Elm St. in Manchester, 218-3885; is offering a wide variety of pre-arranged Easter baskets available in three sizes each, featuring white, dark or milk chocolate selections. Other available items include milk chocolate peanut butter or marshmallow eggs, foiled chocolate eggs, chocolate-dipped marshmallow Peeps, pastel malted milk eggs, caramel quail eggs and more.

The Hills Restaurant (Hampshire Hills Athletic Club, 50 Emerson Road in Milford, 673-7123, will serve a special Easter brunch buffet on Sunday, March 31, from 9 a.m. to noon, featuring French toast, waffles, muffins, scrambled eggs, bacon, sausage, yogurt, brown sugar Easter ham and more. The cost is $25 for adults and $12 for children, and reservations are being accepted online.

The Homestead Tavern & Restaurant (641 Daniel Webster Hwy. in Merrimack, 429-2022, will serve a limited menu for Easter, accepting reservations from 11:30 a.m. to 5 p.m. They will not offer brunch.

Jamison’s Restaurant (472 Route 111 in Hampstead, 489-1565, will serve a special Easter brunch starting at 11 a.m., with items that include slow roasted prime rib au jus, oven-roasted turkey breast, pesto-crusted lamb leg, stuffed haddock and glazed spiral ham. Reservations are being accepted via phone.

KC’s Rib Shack (837 Second St. in Manchester, 627-7427, will serve its annual all-you-can-eat Easter buffet from noon to 6 p.m., featuring starters like bacon Sriracha deviled eggs and fruit salad; meats, like smoked pit ham, beef brisket, pulled pork, spare ribs and smoked chicken; sides, like green bean casserole, mashed potatoes, baked beans, macaroni and cheese, corn casserole, cole slaw, applesauce and cornbread; and a variety of desserts. The cost is $32 for adults, $15 for children ages 5 to 10 and free for children under 5. The buffet is by reservation only, and the regular menu will not be available.

LaBelle Winery (345 Route 101 in Amherst; 14 Route 111 in Derry; 672-9898, will serve a special Easter brunch buffet at both of its locations — seatings are at 9 a.m., noon and 3 p.m. at each. The buffet will feature an omelet station, a pancake station, and a carving station featuring ham, sirloin and smoked salmon. The cost is $85 for adults, $35 for children ages 3 to 12 and free for children ages 2 and under. Reserve your table online.

Lago (The Inn at Bay Point, 1 Route 25 in Meredith, 279-2253, will be open from 11 a.m. to 9 p.m., serving its regular dinner menu with Easter specials. Reservations are being accepted via phone.

Lakehouse Grille (Church Landing at Mill Falls, 281 Daniel Webster Hwy. in Meredith, 279-5221, will be open serving breakfast from 7 to 10 a.m., followed by its dinner menu with Easter specials from 11 a.m. to 9 p.m. Reservations are being accepted via phone.

Makris Lobster & Steak House (354 Sheep Davis Road in Concord, 225-7665, will serve a special family-style Easter brunch buffet from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m., featuring items like fresh fruits and cheeses, a salad bar, a carving station with prime rib and applewood-smoked ham, and other main-course dishes, like maple Dijon glazed salmon, lamb souvlaki and pasta primavera with a garlic wine sauce. The cost is $36.99 for adults, $31.99 for seniors and $14.99 for children ages 12 and under.

Mike’s Italian Kitchen (212 Main St. in Nashua, 595-9334, will be open from noon to 5 p.m., serving its regular menu in addition to some chef specials. Call or visit the website to make a reservation.

Mile Away Restaurant (52 Federal Hill Road in Milford, 673-3904, is taking reservations now for Easter, featuring dishes including roast leg of lamb, honey-glazed ham, sugar shack pork, maple salmon, chicken piccata, and a baked eggplant Parmesan tower. All dinners are $49 and include an appetizer, an entree and a dessert. Call for reservations.

Mr. Mac’s Macaroni & Cheese (497 Hooksett Road in Manchester, 606-1760, accepts orders for both hot-and-ready and take-and-bake trays of macaroni and cheese, as well as macaroni salads, assorted green salads, desserts and more. Placing orders at least 24 hours in advance is appreciated.

Nelson’s Candy & Music (65 Main St. in Wilton, 654-5030, is offering all kinds of specialty sweets and treats for Easter, like hand-poured chocolate mold bunnies, chocolate bunny pops and family-sized bunny boxes, which include assorted themed chocolates, jelly beans, molasses peanut butter zippers, chocolate-dipped Peeps, foiled chocolate eggs, fruit slices and caramel- or chocolate-covered popcorn.

The Puritan Backroom Restaurant (245 Hooksett Road in Manchester, 669-6890, will be open from 11 a.m. to 9 p.m., serving its regular menu in addition to some Easter specials, like baked ham, roast turkey and roast lamb. Reservations for parties of six or more are being accepted. Walk-ins are welcome, but between noon and 4 p.m. there will not be room for any large parties without a reservation.

Queen City Cupcakes and Giftshop (816 Elm St. in Manchester, 624-4999, is offering a special Easter menu of seasonal cupcakes for pre-order. This year’s Easter cupcakes include Cadbury creme, strawberry shortcake, pistachio, carrot cake, and robin’s malted egg. Please order by Wednesday, March 27. Orders will be available for pickup on Saturday, March 30, from 10:30 a.m. to 3 p.m.

The Red Arrow Diner (61 Lowell St. in Manchester, 626-1118; 137 Rockingham Road, Londonderry, 552-3091; 112 Loudon Road in Concord, 415-0444; 149 Daniel Webster Hwy. in Nashua, 204-5088; will be open during its normal hours on Easter Sunday at all four of its locations, serving a special pit ham dinner with mashed potatoes and carrots.

The Red Blazer Restaurant and Pub (72 Manchester St. in Concord, 224-4101, is offering pickup service for Easter holiday meals, featuring their famous egg lasagna. All orders need to be placed by Tuesday, March 26, by 2 p.m. and picked up on Saturday, March 30, between 10 a.m. and 4 p.m.

Simply Delicious Baking Co. (176 Route 101 in Bedford, 488-1988, will take Easter pre-orders until Saturday, March 23. Pre-order from Simply Delicious’ seasonal staple menu or Easter specials, which include lemon blueberry scones, banana bread, lemon bars, strawberry rhubarb pie and a new crushed cookie cake. The seasonal staple menu includes a wide selection of scones, quickbreads, cookies, pies and cakes. Pickups will be on Saturday, March 30, during shop hours 8 a.m. to noon. When placing your pre-order, please choose a time during those hours that is most convenient for pickup.

Tilt’n Diner (61 Laconia Road n Tilton, 286-2204, will be open during its regular business hours on Easter Sunday (from 6 a.m. to 9 p.m.), serving its daily menus with specials.

Tuscan Market (9 Via Toscana in Salem, 912-5467, is taking orders for a variety of items for Easter, including family-size dinner packages, each serving six to eight people and featuring your choice of bone-in spiral ham, carved roasted turkey breast or boneless roast leg of lamb. A variety of specialty options are also available a la carte, like half trays of scratch-cooked lasagna, pizzagaina (quiche-like ricotta pie with Italian meats), pecorino-stuffed artichokes, risotto and sausage-stuffed bell peppers, chocolate chip ricotta pie, 8-inch carrot, chocolate or strawberry cakes, tiramisu squares and Italian Easter breads with two or three eggs. At least a two-day advance ordering notice is preferred. Pickups will be on Saturday, March 30, from 10 a.m. through 5:45 p.m.

Van Otis Chocolates (341 Elm St. in Manchester, 627-1611, is offering pre-arranged Easter baskets available in small or large sizes and featuring items like chocolate bunnies, Evangeline’s caramel corn, chocolate-dipped Peeps, foiled Oreos, jelly beans and Easter egg foils. Most of those items are also available to order a la carte, in addition to other Easter-themed goodies, like milk or dark chocolate Swiss fudge eggs with or without pecans, dark chocolate coconut cream fudge eggs, Easter-decorated chocolate-covered Oreos, and edible baskets made with chocolate and filled with foiled candies.

Ya Mas Greek Taverna & Bar (125 Bridge St. in Pelham, 635-4230, will serve a special Easter grand brunch buffet with three seatings, at 10 a.m., noon and 2 p.m., featuring Greek and American specialties. The cost is $55 for adults and $35 for children. The restaurant will also hold an Easter grand dinner buffet with seatings at 4, 6, and 8 p.m. also featuring Greek and American specialties. $75 for adults, $35 for children. Tickets are available on

Yankee Farmer’s Market (360 Route 103 East, Warner, 456-2833, is taking orders for holiday meats while supplies last, including pastured pork tenderloin roast, boneless leg of lamb and smoked ham roast. Order online for pickup the week of Easter Sunday.

Featured Photo: Courtesy photo.

The Weekly Dish 24/03/21

News from the local food scene

Truffle class: On Thursday, March 21, from 5:15 to 7 p.m., Dancing Lion Chocolate (917 Elm St. in Manchester;, 625-4043) will hold a class called Down and Dirty Truffles. Participants will make chocolate ganache for truffles, temper chocolate for enrobing, scoop and decorate finished truffles. The class costs $125 per person; register on Dancing Lion’s website.

Trivia at the tavern: The Barley House Restaurant & Tavern (132 N. Main St. in Concord-, 228-6363) will host Geeks Who Drink, a two-hour trivia competition, on Thursday, March 21, from 7 to 9 p.m. There will be seven rounds of audio, visual, and live-hosted trivia. Teams are limited to six people.

Win candy: Chunky’s (707 Huse Road in Manchester; will hold a family-friendly theater candy bingo night on Friday, April 5, at 6:30 p.m. Reserve a seat for $10 each, which also gets you a food voucher for that night and a box of theater candy to go in the pot.

Learn how to pair wine with cheese: On Wednesday, March 27, at 6 p.m., LaBelle Winery (345 Route 101 in Amherst;, 672-9898) will host a Wine and Cheese Pairing class. Sommelier Marie King will lead participants through a tasting of five LaBelle wines, each paired with a cheese. She will discuss why certain wines taste better with some cheeses and not with others. Participants will leave the class with a beginning knowledge of how to make pairings of their own. Registration costs $40.

Pair wine with cookies: Wine On Main (9 N. Main St. in Concord;, 897-5828) will hold a spring cookie decorating session with Kate Pop from Confections by Kate on Wednesday, April 3, at 6 p.m. Learn techniques for piping icing and more and taste wine while you work, according to the website, where you can purchase tickets for $65.

On The Job – Cathy Hilscher

Owner of Cats Kingdom

Cathy Hilscher is the owner of Cats Kingdom (679 Mast Road in Manchester,

Explain your job and what it entails.

I am the owner of Cat’s Kingdom. I am all about the food and holistic care. I am passionate about what I bring into the store and what I sell to people. I help people on an individual basis when they have problems with their cats because a big portion of it has to do with the foods that they eat.

How long have you had this job?

Nine years.

What led you to this career field and your current job?

Pierre, one of my cats, got sick from kidney disease and I realized there wasn’t a lot of education out there for cats and supportive food measures, and here I am nine years later.

What kind of education or training did you need?

I come from a background of retail. I’ve owned a few small businesses and I kind of put them together and collectively came up with this.

What is your typical at-work uniform or attire?

You’re looking at it. Tie-dyed, sweatshirt, casual.

What is the most challenging thing about your work, and how do you deal with it?

Money coming in and money coming out and keeping things going is challenging. That’s the biggest thing. And getting noticed. Whatever you say out there, get me out there. Getting noticed and getting recognized online.

What do you wish other people knew about your job?

How much goes into keeping a store in a state in a small environment with everything that is going on in the world. Keeping it afloat and getting the support locally to keep things afloat.

What was your first job?

A diet aide at a nursing home in New York, which is where I come from.

What is the best piece of work-related advice you’ve ever received?

Don’t take things so personally.

Zachary Lewis

Five favorites
Favorite book: I don’t do a whole lot of reading. I don’t really have one.
Favorite movie: I am a sappy person, so anything Lifetime.
Favorite music: ’70’s genre all the way.
Favorite food: Probably Italian
Favorite thing about NH: It is very similar where I come from, a small town in central New York, outside of Albany. Small, quaint – I am not a big-bustling-type person, so it’s perfect. Love the seasons. Everything.

Featured photo: Cathy Hilscher. Courtesy Photo.

Stay in the loop!

Get FREE weekly briefs on local food, music,

arts, and more across southern New Hampshire!