Saturday, April 27, 2013

First Spring Hike: Piper Mountain

Hiking is one of my favorite activities, so I always look forward to spring when the weather gets warmer and I can finally get back out on the trails. It's something I enjoy doing with my friends, family and our pets. 

The first couple hikes of the season can be a challenge as your body readjusts to the activity. My mom and I, joined by our two dogs, headed to Belknap Mountain Road in Gilford for our first hike of the season. The entire access road wasn't open yet, so we parked off to the side, headed down the access road past the gate. We headed up the Piper Mountain Trail off to the right, which leads to a summit a little over a mile up. Piper Mountain, part of the Belknap Range Peaks (12 total) is only 2,044 feet so it's a fairly quick and easy hike depending on your pace and the conditions. The trail starts out steep right away then winds nicely to the summit, where other trails can be accessed. 

Because it's spring, the terrain posed some challenges: ice and lots of mud. The ledges near the summit were slippery, especially on the way down, but should be clear within a few weeks. The day was clear though, so the view near the top and at the summit were great. Though the views are somewhat limited in my opinion, I like all of the interesting rock formations that have been built up there. 

While we used the trail from the access road, you can also get to the summit from the White and Old Piper Mountain trails. Further up Belknap Mountain Road, there are several trails leading to Belknap Mountain, on the backside of Gunstock. 

I'm looking forward to conquering some bigger mountains this summer, but I will always love the Belknap Mountain trails because they aren't crowded, don't take a whole day to hike and are easily accessible from where I live. 

Tuesday, April 23, 2013

Heaven in a Sandwich: Doug's Hoagies

I was in Portsmouth last week, joined by Tania from my office, for a professional development event that ended right around lunchtime. Tania is here from Portugal working with us for six months so it's been fun showing her around and rediscovering some of my favorite places in New Hampshire. We were near Dover so there was only one choice for lunch: Doug's Hoagies

You may have never heard of Doug's Hoagies before, a hidden gem off of Fourth Street in Dover next to the Dover Delite. It doesn't look like much from the outside, and even the inside set-up is fairly simple, but they make some of the best subs around. 

The prices are good for what you get too. If you leave Doug's hungry, there is something wrong with you. When I used to work in Dover, the only thing I wanted to do after leaving Doug's was take a nap. 

I pretty much order the same thing at Doug's every time: a small chicken salad sub with lettuce, pickles and tomatoes. I have tried other items as well, like the eggplant parmesan and a turkey reuben, but the chicken salad is my absolute favorite.

 The bread is fresh and fluffy, the chicken salad has just the right amount of mayonnaise without being soggy and is lightly seasoned. 

I highly recommend this sub shop, which now has a website, complete with an online menu.   Doug may even make your sub himself. 

Enjoying my sub!

Sunday, April 14, 2013

Farmers' Market Fun

Farmers' Market Fun

Cole Gardens Winter Farmers' Market
Yesterday, my friends and I went to Cole Gardens Winter Farmers' Market. It was my second time there and the last one of the season. I wish I had gone to a few more before they ended, although it's an easy place to spend money because there are so many local vendors selling great New Hampshire made products. There are similar markets around the state; I have always wanted to go to the winter market in Tilton but it's always packed and the parking situation can be tricky.

This market, while crowded inside, has ample parking in a convenient location. And while you are there you can peruse Cole Gardens items as well: flowers, herbs, gardening supplies and even wine!

Among the vendors there this week were Jewell Towne Vineyards, Jehu Hot Sauce, Nila's Chutneys and Surowiec Farm. I left with some Go Go Ginger Garlic chutney, fresh arugula greens and Marechal Foch wine. 

I had some of the arugula for lunch and it was so good compared to the store bought stuff I usually have. It's so simple too: a little olive oil, salt pepper and a little red pepper seasoning added a little kick. Arugula is good for you and even better when it's grown on a local farm in Sanbornton. Upon opening the bag, I realized there was a lot more in there than I originally thought so I will be enjoying this all week. 

I am looking forward to making something with the chutney-maybe the Go Go Ginger Garlic roasted vegetables using the Nila's recipe. I will share the results when I make it. 

I already know I like the wine because I have had it before. Jewell Towne, New Hampshire's first winery, makes some great wines and I am looking forward to making a trip there this summer. 

While it's easy to find great Granite State products at many area stores, the farmers' market brings everyone together and you can sample them before you buy them. The farmers' market now moves to downtown Concord, so I am excited to visit that one next. 

Wednesday, April 10, 2013

Sizzlin' in the Kitchen

Sizzlin' in the Kitchen with Sizzlin' Sauces

I recently wrote a story for the Hippo about New Hampshire companies that make hot sauce and salsa. There are more than I realized, offering great products! To gain some insight, I attended the Made in New Hampshire Expo at the Radisson Hotel in Manchester where I was rewarded with some fabulous samples. 

When I got home, I had an abundance of hot sauce and other items in my possession, including beef jerky, salsa, garlic relish and olive tapenade. I love hot sauce and spicy foods, but I wasn't sure what to do with all of these items at first. Then, I decided there was no better way to try them than by using them in recipes, based on the suggestions from the creators themselves. 
The result: delicious pizza!

I loved Mojo's Tapenade when I tried it at the Expo, and Chef Bud of Sizzlin Sauces was nice enough to send me home with my own jar. It didn't last long. I had some with crackers and the rest I used to make this DELICIOUS pizza. All I used was some regular wheat pizza crust, the tapenade, some chopped mushrooms, green onions and a little mozzarella. The tapenade is somewhat salty, so it could be cut with spaghetti sauce, additional vegetables or a little olive oil. I need to get another jar of this stuff soon. 

The day before, I roasted some brussel sprouts with his Razing Cane Garlic Relish and the dish was good out of the oven, but even better the following day after the flavors had time to really set in. This was just brussel sprouts, a little olive oil, some relish, salt and pepper to coat and then roasted in the oven for about 20 minutes or so. 

The Garlic Relish was good, but I really liked the tapenade and highly recommend it. 

I still have two different Sizzlin' Sauces I haven't tried yet. One packs a little more heat than the other, so I will have to figure out how to use them.

Stay tuned for more hot sauce creations!

Monday, April 8, 2013

Welcome to NH Wine & Dine

Welcome to my new blog! I am really excited to share my passion for everything New Hampshire with all of you. 

Hiking in the Lakes Region. Summer 2012. 
My full-time job is in public relations at a communications agency in Concord, NH, where I help promote a variety of clients, from non-profits, to tourism associations and more. I am also a wine columnist for the Hippo in Manchester, NH but I wrote some food articles recently. These experiences helped me discover everything the Granite State has to offer and I knew I had to find a way to share all of this great information. 

I hope you enjoy learning about New Hampshire as much as I do!