The Music Roundup 24/04/18

Local music news & events

Double: Fully recovered from a career- and life-threatening spinal cord injury, Patty Larkin shares the stage with Robbie Fulks for an evening of singer-songwriter music. Larkin was triumphant in last year’s On A Winter’s Night tour, and her guitar-playing is strong as ever. Fulks is also a gem; his song “That’s Where I’m From” is one of the finest summations of country living extant. Thursday, April 18, 7:30 p.m., Rex Theatre, 23 Amherst St., Manchester, $29 at

Rhythm: A trio of regional shows and Senie Hunt will head back to Nashville, though the percussive guitarist will be returning in June for another listening-room show in downtown Concord. . Friday, April 19, 9 p.m., Penuche’s Ale House, Bicentennial Square, Concord; see

Tribute: Gen X is feeling its age with the advent of tribute acts like Crush, a Boston-based combo that channels the Dave Matthews Band. The group primarily sticks to DMB’s first three CDs, Under the Table and Dreaming, Crash and Before These Crowded Streets, though some post-millennium hits do show up in their set. Yeah, H.O.R.D.E really is 30 years old; sorry if you’re buggin’. Saturday, April 20, 8 p.m., LaBelle Winery, 14 Route 111, Derry, $40 at

Reggae: Following a quick Southern tour sharing the stage with Mighty Mystic, Adriya Joy plays a downtown watering hole. Joy and Mystic paired for last year’s happy single “Hazel-Eyed Sunflower” and she frequently hits the road with the reggae performer; this show, however, will be with her nine-piece band. She cites influences from Rebelution and H.E.R. to Amy Winehouse and SOJA. Sunday, April 21, 7 p.m., The Goat, 50 Old Granite St., Manchester. See

Planet: Celebrate Earth Day in a bucolic setting with gospel-limned folk from MaMuse, the duo of Sarah Nutting and Karisha Longaker. The two multi-instrumentalists offer rich harmonies and inspired lyricism. Opening acts are singer and activist Nate Jones and HannaH’s Field, whose music is labeled “acoustic reggae wrapped in Mother Earth roots,” fitting given the occasion. Monday, April 22, 4:30 p.m., The Hive Farm, 62 Patten Hill Road, Candia, $44 at

Do the rock

Shaskeen show latest from busy promoter

An upcoming four-act show at Manchester’s hub for alt rock promises to be a raucous affair. Atop the bill is Wargraves, a punk rock powerhouse featuring members from gone but well-remembered area bands The Caught Flies and Ready Steady Torpedo. Building on the success of last year’s debut album One Last Look Upon the Sky, Dust Prophet will provide direct support for the headliner.

Opening the show are Conduit and ThunderHawk, the latter making its first appearance in a long time. A doomy, metal-edged quartet, they released an EP in 2014, Do Or Die with five originals and a faithful cover of Black Sabbath’s “War Pigs.” They haven’t performed since mid-2018, though their Facebook page shows they were in the studio later that year.

Otto Kinzel, front man of Dust Prophet, said that his band and Conduit have shared the stage before and have plans to hit the road together later this year. “They’re from the school of Tool in the Ænima era, very proggy but also very heavy,” he said in a recent phone interview. “We have sort of the same vibe as we’re also becoming much heavier.”

Kinzel continued that the self-described stoner rock band’s metallic shift began when he moved to lead vocals and Jason Doyle took over on guitar. They’ve written several songs that reflect this more aggressive sound, along with re-recording four tracks from the first record for a new EP. “The album was in drop C and now we’re playing in drop B,” he said. “It’s got a harder edge.”

The show is presented by Kinetic City Events, a Manchester-based promotion company that’s long hosted the semi-regular Live Free or Cry emo night at the Shaskeen. In recent months it’s expanded to new cities as well as genres. Live Free or Cry will happen at Tandy’s Pub in Concord on April 27, and a nu-metal show at Bank of NH Stage was just booked for late summer.

Kinetic City head Aaron Shelton said in a recent email that his company’s growth includes events in Lowell, Mass., which bodes well for the scene overall.

“New and developing relationships … should allow me to open up more opportunities for local bands,” Shelton said. “I’ve done shows in New Hampshire for over 20 years, but I’ve grown more in the last five than the prior 15 combined.”

It’s a welcome injection of energy for the underground music scene, Kinzel concurred.

“When we played Shaskeen this past November, he’s the one that booked it, and it was an awesome night,” Kinzel said. “Aaron is throwing some great shows; well-attended too, people are coming, and not just to drink, but to have a good time and be engaged with the music. Very enthusiastic and active crowds. It’s been fun.”

A problem that has beset local shows in the past, one band’s fans leaving as soon as their favorite finishes its set, seems less likely if Kinzel’s enthusiasm for the upcoming show’s line-up is any indication. He’s clearly a fan of Conduit but also of the other two groups on the bill.

ThunderHawk will “come out throwing haymakers in terms of getting the audience ready,” he said. “They’re a band that has a massive vibe, the rhythm is in the pocket, it’s tight; I think people are going to have their socks blown off by them. And then Wargraves is just super heavy; they’re going to just come out and annihilate.”

Shelton is equally energized by his latest effort.

“We’re very excited about the show, as it’s a collection of some of the best bands of this genre in the area,” Shelton said. “Not only are Dust Prophet, Wargraves and Conduit killing it, but it’s also the triumphant return of ThunderHawk.”

Wargraves, Dust Prophet, Conduit & ThunderHawk
When: Saturday, April 20, 9 p.m.
Where: Shaskeen Pub, 909 Elm St., Manchester
More: $10 and up at

Featured photo: Dust Prophet. Courtesy photo.

Help Wanted, by Adelle Waldman

Help Wanted, by Adelle Waldman (W.W. Norton, 274 pages)

When a manager in Adelle Waldman’s Help Wanted is transferred to a store in West Hartford, Connecticut, it’s a promotion and his colleagues are stunned and impressed.

Which tells you everything you need to know about Potterstown, New York, a once-thriving town that unraveled when its major employer left town, leaving behind people “who walked around with something of a shell-shocked look as if modernity itself had caught them unawares.”

For all its economic troubles, however, Potterstown still has Town Square store #1512, a big-box store full of “mass-produced knockoffs of trendy boutique-type items” that is a few steps higher on the big-box social scale than Walmart. And it is the “roaches” of Town Square — the hourly workers who come in each morning at 3:55 a.m. to stock the store, then scatter before opening time — that are the subject of Help Wanted, the latest in a genre best described as late-capitalism novels.

It is obvious from the first pages of Help Wanted that the flawed heroes of this story are the nine workers who comprise the department called “Movement,” and that their supervisor is the bad guy. “Movement” is the trendy upgraded name for the department that used to be called “Logistics” — despite concern in some quarters that it made it sound like “they worked for a yoga studio or laxative company.” At any rate, in the pecking order of Town Square employees, Movement is the department for workers who are seen as “not customer facing” or “ready for prime time” because their social skills aren’t up to par.

These protagonists include Nicole, a 23-year-old with $30 in her checking account whose main goal in life is to buy a car so she doesn’t have to drive her mom’s dented sedan, the Dingmobile; Diego, a Black man from Honduras who immigrated to the New York with his father as a teen and (whose phone is currently shut off for nonpayment), and Milo, a would-be comedian with a YouTube account dreaming of a girlfriend and a place to live that isn’t a friend’s house.

The one thing the Movement workers have in common beyond their financial misery is their dislike of their perpetually obtuse manager, Meredith, who regularly comes in late, denies leave requests and micromanages the team. And so when the store manager, Big Will, gets promoted to West Hartford, the Movement team spots a way out of their collective misery. If Meredith gets promoted to store manager, she will no longer directly supervise them. And there’s a chance that one of them will get her job.

This fills members of the team, who, like caged birds, generally dwell in a state of learned helplessness, with excitement. Each one privately is hoping that they will be the person to be promoted and get a guaranteed salary and benefits, but they know that even if that isn’t the case, their lot would improve if Meredith disappeared. So they devise a furtive plan they dub “pro-Mer” — promote Meredith — in order to make this dream happen. Meanwhile, Meredith herself is ecstatically planning for her future promotion and getting the store ship-shape before the arrival of the Town Square executives who will conduct interviews and make the decision.

One by one, we learn of the circumstances of each worker’s life, and why the promotion — which is, frankly, not one that most people would write home about — is so important to them. Unfortunately, despite these asides into the team members’ lives, Waldman’s decision to make the story about all of them requires the reader to work hard to keep up with each of nine workers’ circumstances. While these circumstances are substantively different — one has a food stamp card that has not reloaded, one was evicted, one has an unexpected medical problem that consumes the money he’d planned on using for his child’s birthday party — they are all troubled by the same core problems: lack of education, lack of money, lack of opportunity, and a business that cares more about the bottom line than about them.

Most of the workers desperately want more hours (not all, because some have multiple jobs), and the store has plenty of work that isn’t getting done, but the company is content to sacrifice even customer satisfaction so long as sales keep steadily going up. In one example of corporate deceit, Town Square posts “help wanted” signs all over the store, even though they’re not hiring — the implication being that any lack of staff on hand was a function of the tight labor market and/or a lazy populace’s unwillingness to work service jobs.

At one point, when a couple of Town Square corporate executives meet with Big Will about his replacement, they wonder about the suspiciously excellent reviews that the Movement workers give Meredith. Is it really possible that this crew, some of whom didn’t finish high school, was smart enough to have planned a sort of coup? They think not. “It’s worth remembering,” one of the executives says, “that the people who work these jobs aren’t like you and me. We’re people who value stability, who worked hard to achieve it for ourselves.”

Having been primed for sympathy and affection toward the Movement team, it is a horrible indictment, not of the workers but of the executive. Still, in crafting this group of characters, Waldman did not venture far outside the box, giving us workers who have predictable troubles, like the shut-off electricity, the tendency to drink and the kid in jail. There is a sort of monotony to their lot that does not necessarily reflect the real world. Crummy jobs are held by all sorts of people, for diverse reasons.

Although in one of her funnier lines Waldman (who does have great comic timing) says that the ethnic diversity of Movement would make the dean of a private school proud, the team is not really that diverse except in age, gender and skin color. But the main problem with this story, dedicated to “all retail workers,” is its unnecessary complexity and its persistent gloominess. The novel takes place over just six weeks, but like a never-ending workweek, it feels like 600. C

Album Reviews 24/04/18

Chris Patrick, The Calm (self-released)

Reflective nine-track project from the New Jersey-born rapper, in which he pays homage to the authentic spirit of the mixtape era, with touchstones that include T-Pain, Earthgang, JID, Smino, and Isaiah Rashad. It sure sounds underground in comparison to today’s corporate hip-hop, and more realistic, too. Patrick spent the first half of 2023 in a really bad place; after losing most of his friends he found himself financially strapped, something most emcees would never cop to, you know how it goes, but his buddy Gutty sent him the desolate piano-driven beat for this mix’s closing track, “The Calm,” at which point this project took off. The tune itself is as real as these things get, inspiring and self-reflective, which was the whole point of this exercise. “Da Beam” is particularly cool, some low-end rubber-band-plucking tabling what feels like a dub/dancehall vibe for the ages. It’s not often you hear something so friendly yet distant in this genre. A+

Camera Obscura, Look to the East, Look to the West (Merge Records)

As you’d probably guess, I was never a big twee fan, or at least its biggest doe-eyed touchstones (Belle & Sebastian is what I mean of course, who recently did a set of cruise-ship shows with the fellow Scots in this band). I didn’t consider this crew to be overly twee and actually quite liked their way with reverb; there was a Cure angle to the beats, and who hates that? This one starts off annoyingly enough, though, with leader/singer Tracyanne Campbell tabling some harmless warbling over what basically amounts to a Postal Service afterthought. Funnily enough, this LP was recorded in the same room where Queen wrote “Bohemian Rhapsody,” which led me to suspect that there’d be more and bigger string and brass sounds and reverb so thick you could cut it with a chainsaw. But no, none of those things are here. The lead single, “Big Love,” reads like Natalie Merchant gone completely cowboy-hat, while “The Light Nights” evokes square-dancing and mimosas. It’s all a bit nauseating to me really. C


A seriously abridged compendium of recent and future CD releases

• Our next Friday-full of CD releases is April 19, isn’t that the greatest? The first thing to come up is a discussion we’ve had before in these pages: Which is the signature band of the ’90s, the Red Hot Chili Peppers or Pearl Jam? I suppose the answer comes down to taste (oh, and forgetting to include Nirvana), but in my mind I associate the ’90s with grunge, that borderline-metal genre that tried to sound dark and important, which definitely leaves out the Peppers, a band I never really liked, mostly because they sounded too happy and content. This is all something we need to consider, of course, given that the ’90s are starting to come back with a vengeance (the ’80s are so 2015 these days, wouldn’t you say?), and wouldn’t you know it, Pearl Jam has a new album coming out on Friday, titled Dark Matter! It’ll be interesting to see if there are any lead guitar lines on this one; during grunge’s heydey, Nirvana’s Kurt Cobain called Pearl Jam a bunch of sellouts for having lead guitar parts on their albums, which was one reason I didn’t take Cobain very seriously, but whatever, why don’t I go listen to the title track from this album, yes, let’s. Well listen to that, it kind of sounds like Black Sabbath, but Eddie Vedder is singing on it, which automatically means that it’s too lyrically deep to be Black Sabbath-ish. But wow, this is pretty heavy indeed, and then suddenly it becomes Pearl-Jammy, with a throwaway bridge part that would have been expected on those old Sub Pop records when these guys were basically hopeless, but here it’s just kind of gimmicky. But mind you, I’ve only listened to it once, so maybe it grows on you, not that I’ll bother listening to it again of my own volition.

• Oh no, no, no, it’s Taylor Swift, with her new album, The Tortured Poets Department, will it ever end? Please lord, let there be something on this album that doesn’t force me to scramble for a “RIYL” reference to tell you guys what it sounds like, that’d be great. When last we left TayTay, she’d won the universe by winning some Grammys the same week her boyfriend Buster Magoo or whatever won that totally fixed Super Bowl by yelling at his coach like a feral lummox. Oh, I can’t riff on this much longer, all I really have to say about Tay is that her producers write all her Britney Spears-like hits because she can only write songs that sound like Jewel, and that’s all fine by me, who cares what I think, I promise not to start another 200-reply thread on Facebook just so people can yell at each other, despite how much fun it is. Alright, let’s get to the doings, I’ll just check out “Lavender Haze,” because it’s the first song on the album, it looks like. Eh, it’s OK, hip-hop-tinged afterparty vibe reminiscent of Alicia Keys and TLC, weren’t we just talking about a ’90s resurgence? She uses the S word a lot in this children’s song, should I even mention that?

• Roots-rock-blues-whatever musician T Bone Burnett is back with his first studio album in 20 years, The Other Side! You may recall that Burnett seemed to be under every rock you overturned a few years ago, producing famous albums and stuff, but here he is, leading a band again. The first single, “Waiting For You,” is a cross between Bon Iver and Simon & Garfunkel, mellow and bummerish and nicely done.

• Lastly it’s the Melvins, the mud-metal band that used to have Shirley Temple’s daughter on bass, with their newest full-length LP, Tarantula Heart. “Working The Ditch” is a really cool song from this album, featuring severely down-turned guitars and an attitude reminiscent of early Ministry. Who could hate that?

Lemon Cream Pie

We’ve all made impulsive kitchen purchases — exotic ingredients or fun toys — and then never used them. When faced with a new piece of kitchen fanciness, most of us are a little gun-shy.

Today’s recipe, while extremely simple to make, uses one piece of specialized equipment and one ingredient that you probably don’t already have in your pantry: a microplane zester and lemon juice powder. Should you have a grater to zest lemons with? (Yes, because it’s incredibly cool and makes zesting citrus, hard cheese or chocolate extremely easy.) Why in the world would you have a jar of lemon juice powder in your pantry? (Short answer: to make things taste lemony without making them wetter.)

You can totally get by without either of these — grate lemons with the side of your box grater with the tiny holes, and substitute lemon zest for the powder — but making a pie (this pie, anyway) will be easier and better with them.


  • ½ cup (175 g) finely ground cookie crumbs – these can be stale homemade cookies, crispy grocery store cookies or even graham crackers; your blender or food processor will do a good job of crumbifying them
  • 5 to 6 Tablespoons melted butter
  • 2 teaspoons lemon juice powder, or the zest of one lemon

Combine all ingredients in a bowl, then press into a 9-inch pie pan. Build up the sides of the crust if you can, but don’t let this stress you out.

Chill the crust in your refrigerator for half an hour.

Preheat your oven to 350°F.

Bake the crust for 15 to 20 minutes.

Set aside to cool.

As you pull your crumb crust out of the oven, there is a very good chance that the sides will have slumped down to the bottom of the pan and there is a giant cookie grinning up at you instead of a pie crust. This is where most of us will start second-guessing ourselves and wallowing in shame:

The thing is, it doesn’t really matter. Unless you are competing on a British baking show, nobody cares. The pie will still taste great. So what if it’s in layers? Pretend this is what you meant to do, and move on.

While the crust is cooling, make the filling:


  • 1 cup (200 g) sugar
  • ¼ cup (60 ml) sour cream
  • 4 eggs
  • zest of 2 lemons
  • ¼ teaspoon salt
  • ¾ cup fresh squeezed lemon juice, roughly the juice of 4 lemons

Add all the ingredients to a bowl, and mix thoroughly. If you are measuring your ingredients by weight, put the mixer bowl on your kitchen scale and add each ingredient, taring (zeroing out) the weight as you go. You’ll be surprised how relaxing this is.

Pour the filling into your prepared pie crust, and bake for 25 to 35 minutes, until the center of the pie is just a tiny bit jiggly.

Remove from the oven, and set aside to cool. Once it is cool, put it in your refrigerator.

Just before you are ready to serve, make the topping.


  • 1 cup (240 ml) heavy cream
  • 2 Tablespon sugar
  • 1 teaspoon lemon juice powder, or the zest of another lemon

Combine all ingredients, and beat until it makes whipped cream with medium peaks. Cover the surface of your pie with whipped cream, and garnish with even more lemon zest, if that seems like the right thing to do.

This pie has an incredibly high reward-to-effort ratio. It tastes juicy and lemony. The crumb crust with added lemonosity is a revelation. It is easy to make look pretty — just slather any mistakes with whipped cream.

Featured Photo: Photo by John Fladd.

In the kitchen with Maggie Prittie

Maggie Prittie calls herself a chocolate sommelier; “sommelier” in French translates to steward. She teaches people how to taste, pair and source fine single-origin chocolates, and teaches them the history, art, science and culture of chocolate. She has created, produced and customized chocolates for pastry chefs throughout southwest Florida. She has led more than 350 local wine and chocolate pairings. She has made chocolates for the directors of the Louvre Museum, the Salvador Dali Museum, the Ringling Museum, Sting, and Yo-Yo Ma, and on the set of a Food Network series. She studied under renowned chocolatiers Ewald Notter and Anil Rohira. She is a member of the FCIA (Fine Chocolate Industry of America). Originally from New Hampshire, she recently moved back to the state to share her knowledge as an educator, sales representative, and recipe developer with World Wide Chocolate in Brentwood.

What is your must-have kitchen item?

Aside from the normal appliances, a convection/toaster oven, wooden and rubber spatulas and parchment paper.

What is your favorite local eatery?

Totally depends on my mood. Never fast food!

What celebrity would you like to see eating your food, and why?

Giada De Laurentiis. She is genuine and not pompous.

What is your favorite thing to make?

I love challenging myself with developing new recipes all the time, like Pistachio Spaetzle or developing a good espresso chocolate chip cookie recipe.

What is the biggest food trend in chocolate right now?

The biggest trend presently is just acquiring cocoa. The prices are skyrocketing and will keep rising. Single origin, farmer awareness, craft chocolate seems to be on the radar and hopefully will be more trendy.

What is your favorite thing to cook at home?

Grilled domestic lamb with pistachio spaetzle. For dessert, Ritz Carlton chocolate cake with chocolate panna cotta frosting and a drizzle of bourbon caramel sauce.

Espresso Chocolate Chip Cookies
From the kitchen of Maggie Prittie

Wet ingredients
1 cup browned unsalted butter
½ cup dark brown sugar (firmly packed)
¼ cup light brown sugar (firmly packed)
¾ cup granulated sugar
2 Tablespoons vanilla paste (Prova)
2 room-temperature eggs
2 Tablespoons Prova Arabica Colombian Coffee Extract

Dry ingredients
2½ cups plus 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon cornstarch (adding cornstarch helps to make chewy cookies)

Chocolate chips
2½ cups Domori 75% Venezuela Wafer
Mix dry ingredients in a bowl and whisk to combine them.
Brown butter, then let cool to room temperature (I let it cool in the bowl of the KitchenAid mixer).
Using the whipping utensil of the mixer, whip butter until soft, almost fluffy.
Slowly add all wet ingredients, adding separately, add eggs one at a time. Whip until well-mixed and almost fluffy.
Slowly add dry mixed ingredients into wet ingredients. I add them ¼ cup at a time.
Add chips once all dry is incorporated. Do not overmix.
(Adding the wafers while mixing does break some of them up.)
Bake on parchment paper-lined cookie sheet at 325°F for 10-12 minutes.
Let cool on rack.

Featured Photo: Maggie Prittie. Courtesy photo.

Taste of the Towns

Nashua Center fundraiser with food

Nashua Center will present its 21st Taste of the Towns event at the Sheraton Nashua on Thursday, May 2, at 6 p.m.. Eighteen area restaurants, caterers, brewers and distributors will present food and drink as varied as Thai food, baked goods, Mexican dishes or vodka.

Taste of the Towns is the Nashua Center’s signature fundraising event of the year. Proceeds go to support the Center’s mission to provide high-quality specialized care and support to small children and young adults with developmental difficulties in the greater Nashua area.

“Everyone involved in the event is very proud,” said Nashua Center’s Director of Development, Maryanne Gordineer. “We’re so proud of the vendors who come back year after year, and for them this is a way of connecting with the community and giving back.”

Gordineer described the event as a way for like-minded people to network with each other and chat in a relaxed, celebratory atmosphere.

“It’s a memorable experience,” she said. “It’s just fun!” Gordineer said there are usually more than 300 guests who attend the event and circulate around, socializing and tasting samples from the participating vendors: “I like to think of it as dinner by the bite.”

In addition to its role as a fundraiser, Taste of the Towns is a way to bring attention to the Nashua Center and the work it does for the Nashua community. Established in 1973, the organization helps people build fulfilling lives as part of the community. In the case of very young children, this can take the form of early intervention services to help families identify developmental challenges and give them support. For young adults with special needs, it might be helping them experience post-secondary education, whether it’s attending classes, getting vocational training, or just experiencing an aspect of college life like using a school’s gym facilities or cafeteria. The Center helps provide adult day services or residential services for other clients.

“It’s all about inclusivity,” Gordineer said. “We facilitate independence and community participation.”

Tickets for Taste of the Towns cost $75. They usually sell out quickly, Gordineer said.

For Gardineer, who started with the Nashua Center shortly before last year’s event, it was an introduction to New England foods. “I’d never had a lobster roll before!” she said, adding that it was a revelation.

Taste of the Towns
When: Thursday, May 2, at 6 p.m.
Where: Sheraton Nashua, 11 Tara Boulevard, Nashua
Tickets: $75 at
Participating vendors:
Bellavance Beverage Co.
Bistro 603
Friendly Toast
From the Barrel Brewing Co.
Graceful Baking
Imported Grape
K’Sone’s Thai Dining & Lounge
Liquid Therapy
Live Free Distillery
The Peddler’s Daughter
Prestige Beverage Group
Shorty’s Mexican Roadhouse
Smokehaus Barbecue
Tara House Grill
Thon Khao
Tito’s Handmade Vodka
You You Japanese Bistro
Woodman’s Artisan Bakery

Featured Photo: Courtesy photo.

How do you blend spices?

Derry company shakes up flavor combos

The name of the Sal Terrae Spice Company came from owner Meredith Touma’s daughter, who was studying Latin at the time.

“It means ‘Salt of the Earth,’” Touma said. “To be the salt of the earth means to be excellent; to try your hardest, but not to be perfect.”

Derry-based Sal Terrae (, 548-1490) specializes in producing spice blends made from ingredients sourced from around the world. As an example, za’atar, a traditional Middle Eastern mixture, has sumac as a core ingredient. Sumac, a deep red, intensely tart spice, is extremely popular in other parts of the world but difficult to find and source here in the United States.

“My husband is Lebanese,” Touma said, “and I send him home several times a year to bring high-quality sumac back with him.”

Touma started her business during the Covid lockdown. She said it was an outgrowth of her personal values. At the time, she was a stay-at-home mother of four and had made a commitment to always serve homemade meals.

“I wanted to teach my children to not be scared of new cultures or flavors,” she said. “During shut-down, [a lot of] people were eager to explore new things while they were stuck at home. Suddenly, there was a market for new flavors for them.”

The spice blends Sal Terrae sells vary from the traditional, like za’atar, to new blends that Touma has developed herself.

“The Beach Blend is the most unusual blend that we make,” she said. The blend, which includes smoked paprika, oregano, ginger and cloves, was developed with seafood in mind.

“It was partly inspired by Old Bay,” she said. “It’s a classic, but it seemed like it was missing something. It needed some smokiness and depth.” The smoked paprika adds a bittersweet quality that complements the savory flavors of fish, like salmon.

“It [Beach Blend] has a little sourness to it,” she said. “That acidic quality helps bring some of the more subtle flavors to the surface. That’s why they always tell you to cook your salmon with slices of lemon on top.”

That sourness plays a background role in some of Sal Terrae’s other spice blends, such as, surprisingly, the Sugar and Spice blend. Because it has a similar color to the “warmer” ingredients, it’s visually appealing and rounds them out. Traditional baking ingredients like ginger and cloves make sense. Three types of cinnamon are exciting to spice nerds and seem like a natural in this kind of blend. The cardamom is a little surprising, but welcome. And then there’s the subtle background sourness from the sumac, which brings the other flavors into sharper focus.

According to Touma, turning the traditional concept of “warm” or “cool” spices on its head provides her a lot of room to introduce her customers to different ways of cooking and new flavor profiles. Indian and Middle Eastern cooking traditionally use mace, cinnamon and cloves in savory dishes, while most American cooks use them in sweet applications. By focusing on what sorts of profiles she wants to create, Touma puts together nontraditional combinations that give her customers new ways to appreciate their favorite foods.

“Even as the owner, I’m still learning something all the time from my own spice blends,” she said. “None of our blends are going to be completely perfect for everyone, but everyone can find one that is perfect for their taste.”

Touma said today’s cooks have resources that allow creativity that past generations couldn’t take advantage of. “They were largely limited to cookbooks or word of mouth,” she said. Today, if someone wants to try a new ingredient or to cook something completely new to them, they can look up options on the internet. This is exactly the role she hopes that Sal Terrae’s spice blends will play — being able to play with food traditions, without being locked into them.

Featured Photo: Courtesy photo.

The Weekly Dish 24/04/18

News from the local food scene

By John Fladd

Paint and Sip Night: Paint and drink wine in a relaxed, convivial atmosphere. Wine on Main (9 N. Main St., Concord,, 897-5828) will host Paint and Sip events with art facilitator Andrea Stetson on Thursday, April 18, and Friday, April 19, at 6 p.m. These events are open to adults 21 and older. Every $50 ticket includes all materials, instruction and wine tasting. Register via Wine on Main’s website.

Springfest: To Share Brewing Co. (720 Union St., Manchester,, 836-6947) will hold its second annual Springfest celebration Saturday, April 20, from 1 to 9 p.m. The brewery will observe the arrival of spring and the release of its Festbier Spring Lager with bratwursts, sauerkraut and more. There will be stein-holding competitions at 2 and 6 p.m., and live music with Upright Dogs from 5 to 7 p.m.

Foraging: Learn how to identify select wild edibles — mushrooms, berries, greens or even trees — via a slideshow and in-person samples to see and feel. The Hooksett Library (31 Mount Saint Mary’s Way, Hooksett,, 485-6092) will host “From Field to Table: Foraging and Identifying Wild Edibles,” a presentation by Emily Makrez, owner of F-Word Farm and educator on all things fermenting, farming and foraging-related, on Wednesday April 24, from 6:30 to 7:30 p.m. Admission is free, but registration is required via the Library’s website.

On The Job – Charles Keith

CO-Owner of The Rugged Axe

Charles Keith co-owns The Rugged Axe (377 S. Willow St. in Manchester) with his wife, Melinda Asprey.

Explain your job and what it entails.

I am the owner and operator of The Rugged Axe. We have private parties, scheduled parties, we do events here, so day-to-day operations. I also do the back-of-house inventory, accounting, scheduling, all that stuff.

How long have you had this job?

We opened almost three years ago. In June it will be three years. My wife and I built it ourselves. I have a daughter that works here full-time, another son that works here part-time, and I have my mother coming in, doing some of the artwork.

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

I sold computers and software for 18 years for a local IT company, sitting in a cubicle, on the phone all day long. My son was in the Coast Guard at the time. We went down to Florida to visit him. He wanted to go ax throwing, I had never done it, he’d never done it. So we spent a couple hours throwing axes and as I’m doing that I’m quickly realizing, doing the math in my head, this is a pretty decent business to be in. On the flight home I wrote a business plan, told my wife all about it … I had to present that a hundred times to her. On the 101st time she said, “either do it or don’t,”… so we found a spot, we built it out and within about five months we were open and going.

What is your typical at-work uniform or attire?

Logo T-shirt and jeans. So pretty casual, comfortable.

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

Probably coming up with innovative ideas to attract the customers in the door.

What do you wish you had known at the beginning of your career?

How many hours I was going to work. You always think, well, you know, I can get this done, we’re only open 40 hours a week, a few hours in the back of the house, rest of the time I’m on the floor working with customers. It slowly turns into all the time. You work all the time. I didn’t quite realize that at first. After three years you really get a handle on it, you can manage your time a little better.

What do you wish other people knew about your job?

Most of the time people just think you’re talking to customers, throwing axes and having a good time. I’m an accountant, I’m an advertiser, I’m a builder, I’m an artist. … I don’t think people realize going into business for yourself you’ve got to be a jack of all trades.

What was your first job?

I stocked beer and wine and bread and milk for my dad at a supermarket. Him and my grandfather owned a supermarket, a small one.

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

Don’t give up and you are only as strong as your weakest link. — Zachary Lewis

Five favorites
Favorite book: Cujo from Stephen King
Favorite movie: Rocky
Favorite music: Led Zeppelin, all day long
Favorite food: Hamburgers
Favorite thing about NH: You get a little of everything in New Hampshire. I like that. You get the mountains, the ocean, the fall, good summers, the beaches. I think the diversity of things to do in New Hampshire, I like that, yeah….

Featured photo: Charles Keith and Melinda Asprey. Courtesy photo.

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