Saturday, April 26, 2008

The Innkeepers Go Exploring…

There is no lack of variety of things to do and places to go in New England! In less than an hour or two from where we are in Peterborough, you can drive to parts of all of the other New England states, visit the mountains or the shoreline, the city or the countryside, and get a taste of what this part of the country is all about.

Last weekend, we had an opportunity to do just that. In the name of travel "research", we set out on two different day trips, each just about an hour and a half's drive away.

Our first destination was northwest to Norwich, Vermont, home of the King Arthur Flour company's flagship store, The Baker's Store, and Baking Education Center. If you've ever spent hours poring over the King Arthur Baker's Catalog, wondered where to get that hard-to-find ingredient or tool, or even just like trying new foods, then this is the place to go! The store boasts over 4,000 square feet of space, but in person it seems a little small when you first walk in... that is, until you start really looking at all of the items on the shelves. They have every kind of flour imaginable, multiple varieties of baking cocoa, vanilla, sugars and sweeteners, nuts, ingredients for special diets, mixes for muffins, scones, and breads, professional baking tools, appliances... and so much more! The people that work there are incredibly helpful. And if all of your shopping makes you hungry and craving a little something, they've got a bakery on-site with a delicious selection of breads, cookies, cakes and pastries. While I checked out every item on every shelf (twice, so I wouldn't miss anything), Rob got caught up in a video demonstration on bread baking. In the end, we left with bags of baking ingredients to work into our breakfast offerings!

Just after leaving The Baker's Store, we crossed the Connecticut River and found ourselves in Hanover, New Hampshire - home of Dartmouth College. It was a beautiful spring day and the campus was buzzing! If we had a little more time, we would have loved to stop and explore the town and campus. But at this point, it was early evening and we were on our way to one of our favorite restaurants in West Lebanon called Lui Lui's, famous for pasta and brick oven pizza baked in their tomato-shaped oven. On the way however, we passed Lui Lui's sister restaurant named Jesse's - Steaks, Seafood & Tavern and decided to give it a try. The tavern was warm and cozy and the food was delicious! A wonderful end to a great day.

Our second day trip took us east to Portsmouth, New Hampshire. We had never really been to Portsmouth before, but we had heard wonderful things about it. Still, we were thrilled to discover it's charming downtown with interesting shops and a great variety of restaurants, including several waterfront dining options. We had a late lunch at The Friendly Toast, with a very funky and eclectic style and menu (the food was good, but the service was a little slow), then set off to check out the shops on Congress and Market Streets. It was a Sunday afternoon/evening, so as the stores were beginning to close, we hopped back in our car and made the short drive over to Kittery, Maine to check out a couple of the outlet stores and the Kittery Trading Post before they closed.

Although both of our trips were only really half-day trips, we easily could have spent much more time exploring each of the destinations. In the Norwich-area we want to visit Quechee Gorge Village in Vermont which is home to Cabot Cheese, a winery, Danforth fine pewter and many other shopping attractions. And since Portsmouth sits at the most northern point of 18 miles of New Hampshire coastline, to the south there are sandy beaches and many other attractions worth returning to see. We'll be back!

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