Best of NH 2007

The very best of New Hampshire for 2007.




Readers' Poll

Giorgio’s Ristorante
Appetizer
New Restaurant

707 Milford Rd.
Merrimack
(603) 883-7333
http://meze.giorgios.com

Chain: Applebee’s
Appetizer

applebees.com

KC’s Ribshack
BBQ

837 Second St. Manchester
(603) 627-7427
ribshack.net

Wings Your Way
Buffalo Wings

13 Jenkins Court Durham
(603) 868-2425
wingsyourway.com

Chain: Hooters
Buffalo Wings

Hooters.com

Fratello’s Ristorante Italiano
Caesar Salad
Fried Calamari

fratellos.com

Puritan Backroom
Chicken Tenders
Hard Ice Cream
Regional Restaurant – Manchester Area

245 Hooksett Rd., Manchester
(603) 669-6890
puritanbackroom.com

The Common Man
Crab Cakes
Comfort Food
Regional Restaurant – Concord Area

thecman.com

Newick’s Lobster House
Onion Rings
Fried Clams
Clam Chowder
Seafood Restaurant

newicks.com

Clam King
Fried Clams

791 Second St. Manchester
(603) 669-2868

Keene Fresh Salad Company
Salad

44 Main St., Keene
(603) 357-6677
keenefreshsalad.com

Chain: Olive Garden
Salad

olivegarden.com

You You Japanese Bistro
Sushi
Japanese Restaurant

150 Broad St., Nashua
(603) 882-8337

Tinker’s Seafood
Shrimp Cocktail

545 DW Hwy. Manchester
(603) 622-4272

Loaf and Ladle
Soup

9 Water St., Exeter
(603) 778-8955

Chain: Panera
Soup
Bagel
Bakery Bread

panerabread.com

Shorty’s Mexican Roadhouse
Chili

230 Rte. 101
W. Bedford
(603) 472-3656

Chain: Wendy’s
Chili

Wendys.com

Fritz Belgian Fries
French Fries

149 Emerald St., Keene
(603) 357-6393
fritzbelgianfries.com

Chain: McDonald’s
French Fries

mcdonalds.com

T-Bones
Hamburger
Casual Restaurant

t-bones.com

Margarita’s Mexican Restaurant and Watering Hole
Nachos
Margarita

margs.com

Seedling Café
Wraps

9 Water St., Nashua
(603) 594-4002
theseedlingcafe.com

Sal’s Pizza
Pizza

sals-pizza.com

Foodees
Thick Crust Pizza

2 South Main St., Concord
(603) 225-3834

Chain: Pizza Hut
Thick Crust Pizza

Pizzahut.com

Flatbread
Thin Crust Pizza

flatbreadcompany.com

Chain: Papa Gino’s
Thin Crust Pizza

Papaginos.com

Red Apple Buffet
Lunch Buffet

161 Loudon Rd., Concord
(603) 226-8866

Michael Timothy’s
Chef
Sunday Brunch
Fine Dining
Regional Restaurant – Nashua Area

212 Main St., Nashua
(603) 595-9334
michaeltimothys.com

Mary Ann’s Diner
Breakfast Place

29 East Broadway, Derry
(603) 434-5785
maryannsdiner.com

Cotton
Martini Bar

75 Arms St., Manchester
(603) 653-9000
cottonfood.com

Bagel Works
Bagel

120 Main St., Keene
(603) 357-9787

The Good Loaf
Bakery Bread

Amherst Indoor Market
Amherst Farmers’ Market
(603) 673-0471

Frederick’s Pastries
Cakes
Pastries

109 Rte. 101A, Amherst
(603) 882-7725
frederickspastries.com

The Pie Guy
Pies

74 N. Broadway, Salem
(800) 928-9743
pieguy.com

Bellows House Bakery
Brownies

117 Church St., Walpole
(603) 445-1974
bellowshouse.com

Van Otis Chocolates
Chocolates

341 Elm St., Manchester
(800) 826-6847
vanotis.com

UnWine’d
Restaurant – Best Wine List

865 Second St. Manchester
(603) 625-9463
unwined.net

C.R. Sparks
Restaurant – Hip Atmosphere

14 Kilton Rd., Bedford
(603) 647-7275
crsparks.com

Chen Yang Li
Chinese Restaurant

337 Amherst St. Nashua
(603) 883-6800

Vietnam Noodle House
Vietnamese Restaurant

134 Main St., Nashua
(603) 886-4566

Thai Garden
Thai Restaurant

114 Main St., Keene
(603) 357-4567

India Palace
Indian Restaurant

indiapalacenh.com

Piccola Italia Ristorante
Italian Restaurant

815 Elm St., Manchester
(603) 606-5100
piccolaitalianh.com

The Wild Rover Restaurant and Pub
Irish Pub

21 Kosciuszko St. Manchester
(603) 669-7722
wildroverpub.com

La Carreta Restaurante Mexicano
Mexican Restaurant

lacarretamexican.com

Alphorn Bistro at the Inn at Danbury
German Restaurant

67 Rte. 104, Danbury
(603) 768-3318
innatdanbury.com

Athens Restaurant and Greek Cuisine
Middle Eastern Restaurant

31 Central St. Manchester
(603) 623-9317

Surf
Seafood Restaurant

207 Main St., Nashua
(603) 595-9293
surfseafood.com

Tie:
Buckley’s Great Steaks
Steakhouse

434 Daniel Webster Hwy., Rte. 3, Merrimack
(603) 424-0995
buckleysgreatsteaks.com

Silo’s Steakhouse
Steakhouse

641 Daniel Webster Hwy., Merrimack
(603) 429-2210
silossteakhouse.com

The Meat House
Butcher Shop

themeathouse.com

The Market at Luca’s
Delicatessen

11 Central Square, Keene
(603) 358-3337
lucascafe.com

Black Forest Café and Bakery
Dessert Café

Cookies
212 Route 101, Amherst
(603) 672-0500
theblackforestcafe.com

Red Arrow
Diner

61 Lowell St.
Manchester
(603) 626-1118
redarrowdiner.com

Angela’s Pasta and Cheese Shop
Caterer

815 Chestnut St.
Manchester
(603) 625-9544
angelaspastaandcheese.com

Elm City Brewing Company
Local Microbrew

222 West St., Keene
(603) 355-3335
elmcitybrewing.com

Brewbakers Café
Cup of Coffee

97 Main St., Keene
(603) 355-4844
brewbakerscafe.com

Franchise:
Dunkin’ Donuts
Cup of Coffee

dunkindonuts.com

A&E Roastery
Local Coffee Roaster

135 Rte. 101A, Amherst
(603) 578-3338

Lull Farm
Farmstand

Route 130, Hollis
(603) 465-7079

Chalifour’s Flowers, Gifts and Gourmet
Florist

46 Elm St., Manchester
(603) 623-8844
chalifours.com

Barmakian Jewelers
Jeweler

300 Daniel Webster Hwy., Nashua
(603) 888-7800
barmakian.com

Jonathan’s Jewelers
Jeweler

460 Route 101, Bedford
(603) 471-2828
jonathansjewelers.com

Soleil Salon and Spa
Hair Salon

22 Haverhill Rd.
Windham
(603) 434-8233

Not So Plain Janes Salon and Spa
Hair Salon
Day Spa

155 Dow St.
Manchester
(603) 622-5971
notsoplainjanes.com

Papagallos Restaurant
Place for a Party

9 Monadnock Highway Keene
(603) 352-9400
papagallos.com

Bedford Village Inn
Romantic Country Inn
Romantic Restaurant

2 Old Bedford Way Bedford
(603) 472-2000

Verizon Wireless Arena
Large Venue

555 Elm St., Manchester
(603) 644-5000
verizonwirelessarena.com

Tupelo Music Hall
Small Venue

20 East Derry Rd., Derry
(603) 437-5100
tupelohall.com

Wally and Bernie’s
Cool Night Spot

20 Old Granite St., Manchester
(603) 641-2583

Fritz Wetherbee
New Hampshire Celebrity

fritzwetherbee.com

Mike and Nancy, WZID
H New Hampshire Radio Morning Show

wzid.com

WGIR
New Hampshire Radio Station – AM

wgiram.com

WOKQ
New Hampshire Radio Station – FM

wokq.com

NHPR – The Exchange
New Hampshire Radio Talk Show

nhpr.org

Manchester Monarchs
New Hampshire Sports Team

monarchshockey.com

Erin Fehlau, WMUR
TV News Anchor

wmur.com

Kevin Flynn, WMUR
TV News Reporter

wmur.com

Jamie Stanton, WMUR
TV Sports Anchor

wmur.com

Josh Judge, WMUR
TV Weatherperson

wmur.com


Favorite Regional Ice Cream Shops

SOFT ICE CREAM:

King Kone

Nashua

Cremeland
Manchester

Tie: HPiazza/Rick’s
both in Keene

Johnson’s Dairy Bar
Northwood

Arnie’s
Concord

Moo’s
Derry

HARD ICE CREAM:

Tied in Manchester:
Puritan Backroom

Manchester

Goldenrod
Manchester

Hayward’s
Nashua and Milford

Blake’s
Manchester and Milford

Jake’s Old-fashioned Ice Cream
Amherst

Kimball Farm
Jaffrey

Annabelle’s
Portsmouth

Favorite Regional Restaurants

Three Tomatoes Trattoria
Regional Restaurant – Dartmouth/Lake Sunapee Area

1 Court St., Lebanon
threetomatoestrattoria.com
(603) 448-1711

The Balsams
Regional Restaurant – North Woods

1000 Cold Spring Rd. Dixville Notch
thebalsams.com
(877) 225-7267

Canoe Restaurant and Tavern
Regional Restaurant – Lakes Region Area

232 Whittier Hwy.
Center Harbor
(603) 253-4762
eatatcanoe.com

Luca’s Mediterranean Café
Regional Restaurant – Monadnock Area

10 Central Square, Keene
(603) 358-3335
lucascafe.com

Old Salt
Regional Restaurant – Seacoast Area

490 Lafayette Rd.
Hampton
(603) 926-8322
www.oldsaltnh.com

Café Noche
Regional Restaurant – White Mountains Area

147 Main St., Conway
(603) 447-5050

Editor's Picks
Food and Drink


Bread and Dipping Oil: When you order an entrée at Giorgio’s Ristorante & Meze Bar in Milford (www.giorgios.com), you might want to take into account the delicious bread and dipping oil that comes to the table to tide you over until your meal arrives. It’s so good — the bread fresh and tasty, the dip chock-full of savory herbs and spices — that you might find yourself with a meal under your belt before dinner comes.

Seafood Pie: You might think something as pedestrian as Ritz Crackers wouldn’t belong on an upscale seafood pie, but you would be wrong. That topping on the seafood pie at R.A. Gatto’s Seafood & Pasta Restaurant in Peterborough (www.ragattos.com) is a rich yet familiar touch, providing a tasty entrance to the seafood sauce filled with fresh Atlantic sea scallops, Gulf shrimp, Atlantic haddock and Rock crabmeat (and for a bit more money, you can have lobster, too).

Buffet: No matter if the buffet is for breakfast, Sunday brunch or to celebrate the holidays, at the Wentworth by the Sea in New Castle (www.wentworth.com) you can count on long tables filled with enough options to make your taste buds spin. You have the standard chef-cooking-omelets and chef-slicing-a-round-of-beef, but you also have a panoply of other choices cooked up by the historic hotel’s award-winning chefs. Enjoy it all in an elegant dining room that takes you back to yesteryear.

Appetizer Platter: If you want a memorable Thai dinner, head to the Chiangmai Thai Restaurants in Portsmouth (433-1289) or Amherst (672-2929) and start your meal with a Siamese Platter for two (or one if you want to make it a meal). Three chicken satays, three shrimp satays, two golden puffs, four baby rolls and two “J” rolls — add it up and you’ve got a crispy-spicy taste experience you won’t forget.

Almond Crescent: The bakery at the Dirt Cowboy Café in Hanover (643-1323) knows its pastry arts, especially working with laminations — many layers of fine dough. The almond crescent is light and luscious and made fresh daily. By the way, their coffee (perfect with almond crescents) is also always luscious and fresh.

Vegan Carrot Cake: When a couple of “accidental vegans” — parents trying to find some good food for their kids who had decided to stop consuming animal products — couldn’t track down tasty vegan baked goods, they overcame the challenge by opening their own vegan bakery: Café Indigo in Concord (www.cafeindigo.com). Their guidelines are strict — no eggs, milk or other animal agents, but the tastes are lush and generous. Vegan or not, their carrot cake, with non-dairy “cream cheese,” frosting is simply some of the best you’ll ever taste.

Lakeside Bagelry: Hot bagels baked fresh by the cool lake, homemade cream cheese spreads, darn good coffee, a friendly hyper-casual ambience, Winnipesaukee Bay Gulls (253-3177) is one of those places that can set the mood for an entire day, especially if it’s a day of shopping in charming Center Harbor, cruising around in your antique Chris Craft or just dreaming on the shores of the big lake.

Iced Coffee: You don’t have to worry about the ice watering down your coffee at Luca’s Market (www.lucascafe.com) in Keene. The ice cubes are made from fine rich coffee, too, for a satisfying sip to the very last drop.

Egg and Cheese Sandwich: How tough is it to make a great egg and cheese sandwich? Well, if anyone could do it with ease, then you wouldn’t be so pleased when someone gets it just right. Ordway’s Market (228-8651) does so many things right, it seems appropriate to celebrate one of the most basic items on the extensive lunch menu of this great Concord neighborhood market (recently rebuilt from the ashes of last year’s fire).

Veggie Pocket: Veggie lovers will delight in Pauly’s Pockets (868-3110) Durham. Usually bustling with the hungry college crowd, the tiny restaurant offers a range of Greek and vegetarian choices. You can’t go wrong with the assortment of mostly healthy foods, but the real standout is the falafel. Sandwiches are made to order and for the meat eaters there are chicken and beef options as well. There are a few casual places to sit, but a Pauly’s pocket is well designed for the road.

Jazzy Burritos: Every Saturday at Armadillo’s in Keene (www.armadillosburritos.com) you can get not just great burritos, but great foot-tapping, finger-snapping jazz. The combination of the relaxed swinging music and the tingling, homemade hot sauce — which they promise can be added to anything — makes Armadillo’s a perfect way to ease into the weekend. The jazz brunch attracts the area’s finest players, who perform a variety of jazz standards, blues, ballads, bebop, Latin tunes and originals. There is no music charge, but donations are accepted. The acoustics are good, and the little stage is placed so that every seat offers a good view of the band.

Gnocchi: These little pillows of dough and potato are sieved and sieved again by Chef Mathew Minitski to create the lightest gnocchi around. Fans call in to find out when they will be on the menu at Nonni’s Italian Eatery (nonnisitalianeatery.com) in Hillsborough.

Hot Wraps: All the goodness is sealed in as the wraps pass through the griller at the Gourmet Grille (www.gourmetgrille.com) in Windham. One of our favorites is the Italian with all the meats and cheeses contained within the wrapper for a tidy eating experience. Another of our favorites is the meaty hot and creamy buffalo chicken wrap. And another is ... well, you get the idea.

Butternut Squash Ravioli: At Villa Banca (www.villabanca.com) in Nashua this appetizer is made with tender layers of phyllo dough and stuffed with seasoned squash. The Marsala chestnut Alfredo is a rich complement for a very satisfying start.

Avocado Appetizer: Mexican food does not have to mean beans and rice all the time. The flank steak avocado salad at the La Hacienda del Rio (www.lahaciendanh.com) in south Nashua has the flavors of the grill, crispy chips and smooth avocado with lettuce in one tasty dish.

Wine Selection: The Exit 6 State Liquor and Wine outlet (#69) (www.nh.gov/liquor) has the best selection of popular wines of all the stores in the state. Plus, a good deal of the inventory is on sale at any one given time. Check out the listings, articles and on-sale items in Celebrate New Hampshire, available at the stores, or sign up online for their e-mail notifications and stock up. Exit to the west on Exit 6 and take the second left onto Coliseum Ave.

Rosemary Olive Loaf: The cases at the Dutch Epicure Bakery (www.dutchepicurebakery.com) are lined with sumptuous pastries, but if you are willing to stick to your diet, look for their artisanal breads, some available only on specific days. Saturday is the day for the olive loaf, chock full of black olives and the aroma of rosemary.

Baked Buffalo Wings: If your idea of great wings does not include a boiling vat of hot fat consider the baked buffalo wings at Peter Christian’s Tavern (www.peterchristianstavern.com) in New London. The wings are served with their own chunky bleu cheese dressing.

Onion Rings: The savory rings at Buckley’s Great Steaks (www.buckleysgreatsteaks.com) are huge and the tasty fried batter sticks to the onion from presentation to destination.

Breakfast Bread: The homemade anadama bread (from “Anna, damn her,” as the legend goes) at The Friendly Toast is a savory and sweet combination of corn meal, oat and wheat that is the perfect complement for a breakfast or a late-night omelet. Feast your eyes on the kitschy décor and reminisce about the good old days of some alternative universe.

Egg Salad Sandwich: We don’t know their secret ingredient, but we can tell you Bread and Chocolate in Concord makes the best egg salad sandwich in New Hampshire. And if you’re in a rush you can even order your sandwich online — we recommend the egg salad on oat bread— just don’t think that by not going directly to the store you’ll be avoiding the temptation of their three-layer cakes or tarts. The Bread and Chocolate Web site (www.breadandchocolatenh.com) has plenty of mouth-watering pictures to tempt you and sweets, too, can be ordered from the convenience of your desk.

Chocolate Dessert: Serious chocolate lovers, beware. The decadent chocolate desserts at Bistro Nouveau (www.bistronouveau.com) in Grantham just might ruin you for any other dessert. Chef Doug Langevin won New Hampshire Magazine’s Chocolate Challenge back in February for one good reason –— his chocolate-and-maple confection could satisfy the most jaded sweet tooth out there.

Biscotti: Not just for dunking, the flavor-packed pistachio or almond anisette biscotti at Saladino’s Italian Market in Gorham (466-2520) are tender enough to nibble on as cookies. Flavors change at Michael’s whim, but might include lemon pine nut or pumpkin nut.

Breakfast-in-a-Box: Begin a day’s adventures in the Sunapee region with breakfast on top of Mt. Kearsarge with a boxed full breakfast from Jack’s of New London (www.jacksofnewlondon.com). With 24 hours’ notice they can pack your choice of day-starter sandwich, pastries, fruit and other options ready for pick-up at 7 a.m.

New Take on Tiramisu: No more same-old tiramisu at Lyon’s Den , overlooking the Glendale marina in Gilford (293-8833). The dessert menu features tiramisu cake, alternating thin layers of tender white cake with tiramisu, served with whipped cream and rum sauce.

Sunday Breakfast Buffet: First, abandon the pretensions of what makes a great Sunday buffet. It’s not about white tablecloths and fancy tea sandwiches. It’s about a great breakfast, all you can eat, fluffy eggs, savory potatoes, home baked beans, crisp bacon, strong coffee and an atmosphere that says sit a spell, digest and have some more. At $9.95 for all of this and more, Bradford’s Appleseed Restaurant (www.appleseedrestaurant.com) is as bright and bracing as a rooster’s crow to a country sunrise, but you can sleep in a bit for this wake-up call. They serve from 9 to noon.

Vegetables: No one has to admonish diners at Don Giovanni in Concord (www.dongiovanni.org) to eat their vegetables. Choose from more than a dozen Contorni — side dishes hearty and delicious enough to be the main course. (One of them — Insalata di Barbabietole — is roasted beets with olive oil, garlic, balsamic vinegar and red onion.)

Cherry Sorbet: Jake’s Old Fashioned Ice Cream in Amherst (www.jakesoldfashionedicecream.com) makes sorbet that tastes like home-made cherry pie — sweet, fruity and tangy all at once, and intensely cherry.

City Lunch: Lunch might be the most rushed meal there is. Usually we grab something quick and on the fly in order to get back to work and errands as soon as possible. The Bridge Café (647-9991) on Elm Street in Manchester is a great place to stop, take a break and enjoy a delicious lunch of gourmet salads, panini sandwiches and more. If you can’t take the time to grab a seat, takeout is always an option. Open from 7 a.m. to 8 p.m. on weekdays and 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. on weekends, it’s also a good place to enjoy coffee, breakfast or dinner.

Messy Finger Food: Betty’s Bourbon Wings at the family-owned Mulligan’s Restaurant in Northfield (286-9365) are sure to leave even the daintiest of eaters with a table full of soiled napkins. The wings are marinated in a secret sauce and cooked to perfection with plenty of bourbon. Mulligan’s offers a full menu of freshly-made mouth-watering food including their award-winning “chowda,” belly-filling burgers and the chicken and sausage parmesan. When you go, be sure to get an order of the wings!

’50s-style food: In Hampton a ‘50s-style restaurant is worth the visit. Called Fast Eddie’s (926-2314), this place is just plain fun. The booths are a shiny metallic red-and-silver vinyl. Tabletops sport the kidney shapes much loved in the ’50s, while the floor is a checkerboard of black-and-white vinyl squares. Classic Mobil and SkelGas (Pegasus) light fixtures add a nostalgic flavor as Rockin’ Robin (and other ’50s rock and roll tunes) plays in the background. The food is what you expect — and more. Fat, juicy hamburgers and 6 oz. Cokes in the old-fashioned green glass bottles — oh, and don’t forget the tater tots!

Meatloaf: The Old Salt in Hampton (www.oldsaltnh.com) has tender meatloaf with savory brown gravy and garlic mashed potatoes that are seasoned just right to complement the flavors and to add an extra dollop of pleasure to this most comforting of comfort foods. It’s only available as their Thursday night special, so this is a treat that requires a little planning ahead, but good things come to those who wait.

Lebanese Cuisine: Martha’s Restaurant in Hampton Falls looks pretty unimpressive from the road, and Lebanese cuisine may not be high on the list of requests for a date night, but stop in for lunch or dinner and you’ll be converted. The owners are charmingly evangelistic about the delights of taboule, hummus and chawarma (grilled shaved steak or chicken with diced onion, tomato, chopped parsley and tahini sauce) and the kabobs, falafel and Lebanese desserts are so plentiful and delicious that if you stop once you will have to find your way back.

Lunch Trailer: The Yum Yum Shack in Hillsboro (464-3047) looks like a mere concession trailer to commuters driving by on Henniker Street, but to those who have discovered its delectable fare it’s an oasis of fast, cheap, delicious comfort food. Hamburgers are fresh ground chuck. Onions are Vidalia. Wraps are low-carb wheat. The deep fat frying is without trans fat or cholesterol. Does that mean their signature taco dogs (a hot dog bun filled with taco meat, cheese and onions) are healthy? Good, cheap, fast food is always good for your mental health when you’re on the run.

Garlic Spreads: Chef Derek Sarno of Mizuna Café (436-4002) makes rich and garlicky spreads that are perfect with a bit of crudité, but they also turn sandwiches into culinary dynamite. The deli/cafe is on the corner of Rte. 33 and Portsmouth Ave. in Greenland.

By-the-Glass Wine: At O Steaks & Seafood within the Lake Opechee Inn (www.lakeopecheeinnandspa.com) you can be assured that wines served by the glass at this Lakeport restaurant will be fresh with their new state-of-the-art serving system. Open bottles are refrigerated and kept from oxidizing with inert gas and tubing. Wines are poured through a tap system with 25 bottles total available by the glass at any one time.

Fish and Chips: You will think you have been transported across the pond when you try the fish and chips at Peddler’s Daughter in Nashua (www.thepeddlersdaughter.com). They come wrapped in newspapery paper and with house-made ketchup and tartar sauce. The décor is full of Irish charm and dark warm woods, and weekend entertainment and outside seating make it a must-try.

Golden Triangles: Tofu never tasted so good. Siam Orchid in Concord serves up delicate triangles of fresh soy curd that make you think it would be a joy to be a vegetarian.

Seafood Cioppino: Go fish at Commercial Street Fishery (www.commercialstreetfishery.com), a new seafood restaurant and bar in Manchester. The cioppino is a fresh melange of scallops, shrimp and more in a delicate broth with a hint of cilantro. Open only in the evening, but the good news is evening starts at 3 p.m.

BLT: Maybe it’s all that rarified mountain air that makes the generous layer of lean bacon taste smokier, the tomatoes sweeter and juicier, and the lettuce crisper, but BLTs at Grandma’s Kitchen in Whitefield (837-2525) — order them on homemade wheat or white bread — are the tops.

Place to Take Visitors: The hidden location, charming grounds and seasonal menus at Pickity Place in Mason (www.pickityplace.com) are sure to impress guests as they dine in an antique cottage, stroll the gardens and pick up a few herbs or gifts.

Short Ribs: Eden Restaurant and Lounge in Salzburg Square in Amherst (www.edenrestaurantandlounge.com) is a romantic setting swathed in black and white set amidst greenery and gurgling fountains. You may not totally be transported back to the beginning of time, but rest assured, you will feel you are out of your workaday world. Try the Guinness and expresso braised short ribs for finger-licking succulence in either the appetizer or entrée size.

Wholesome Pancakes: Highways have a way of making you want to just “get there,” but there’s a spot off Rte. 93 in Sugar Hill that’s well worth a stop. At Polly’s Pancake Parlor (www.pollyspancakeparlor.com), you can feast on pancakes (wholewheat, buckwheat or cornmeal) that are as wholesome as the mountain air. The batters are made with organically grown grains, which are stone-ground by Polly’s people. If you want to be ultra healthy, the oatmeal-buttermilk batter is prepared with powdered buttermilk, canola oil and egg whites. No sugar added (unless you add syrup). Your server will make them fresh for you, three at a time, too.

Battered French Fries: The Corner View Restaurant in the family-friendly south end of Concord (229-4554) is a classic neighborhood place and they serve all varieties of authentic American food in an unpretentious and almost unconsciously nostalgic atmosphere. Don’t miss a chance to order their fries (go ahead and order the hamburger, no one is judging you). They dip their hand-cut potatoes in a delicate batter to enhance them with seasonings and to establish the perfect texture for this all-American side dish.

Restaurant in a Laundromat: Franz’s Food (www.franzsfood.com) has a very unique atmosphere. There aren’t many places where you order your food to the humming and whirring of washers and dryers. Beloved by UNH students and Durham residents alike, this Main Street eatery offers everything from delicious breakfast sandwiches to “snotties,” Franz’s famous fries smothered in cheese. For the daring, don’t miss the “snotty mess,” or cheese fries with grilled onions and peppers tossed in. There are also healthier choices in salads, soups and vegetarian selections.

East Meets N.E. Restaurant: Owner Dave Chicane traveled through Southeast Asia and was impressed with the healthy cuisine of Vietnam. His Pearl Restaurant & Oyster Bar (924-5225) in Peterborough serves Asian-inspired foods using organic, locally-grown produce when possible. In addition to a selection of oysters, Chicane offers fresh seafood made with light sauces and noodles. Next door is his market where you can buy seafood and gourmet food items.

Best Wursts: Sausage Heaven on Elm Street in Manchester (www.sausageheaven.com) has 45 different kinds of sausage, most handmade by owner Marc Rousseau. From Greek to Italian, he has mastered the art of mixing meat with spices and stuffing them into entrails for a perfect link. This local source is a much better bet than the mystery meats you may find in the frozen food isle of your local supermarket. Try the bratwurst made with beef, real cream and eggs.

Bento Box: There is something nice about getting your lunch all neatly confined in a black lacquer box with divided sections for rice, meat for a perfect square meal. At You You Japanese Bistro (882-8337) in Nashua they have delicious grilled salmon or chicken with teriyaki sauce on the menu, but you will have to ask for a sushi bento.

Chicken Salad: Chef Wes Babbs at The Restaurant at Burdick’s Chocolate in Walpole (www.burdickchocolate.com) sticks to the fresh and local mantra for a bevy of tasty dishes for lunch, dinner and Sunday Brunch. A lunchtime favorite is the grilled chicken salad in aioli, topped with threads of fried potato for a bit of salty crunch.

Steamed Dumplings: Café Momo , (www.cafemomonh.com) with only 30 seats, must be one of the smallest restaurants in the state. The menu is relatively small, too, but it features the spices and cooking style of Nepal in all of the dishes. The Momos are steamed dumplings stuffed with minced vegetables and are a great way to start your world flavors trek. Try the spice tea made with cinnamon, cardamon and black pepper or the Gundruk soup made with cured mustard in the homeopathic tradition. Get it extra spicy and it will cure what ails you.

Local Soft Drinks: Not just locally bottled, Meetinghouse Soda captures the essences of New Hampshire (blueberries, maple syrup, rhubarb) and turns them into refreshing fizzy beverages.

Comfy Bar: The Library Lounge in Portsmouth (www.libraryrestaurant.com) was picked by no less an authority than Esquire magazine as one of the best bars in the country. We concur. Whether with a date or just out for a nightcap, it’s got the class and atmosphere to enhance a classic adult beverage.

Mac n’ Cheese: At Ceres Street Bakery (www.ceresbakery.com) in Portsmouth the cheddary macaroni and cheese is studded with broccoli for a touch of green.

Chocolate Turtle: Ava Marie Handmade Chocolates (www.avamariechocolates.com) takes chocolate and wraps it around sensuously creamy caramel and soft, rich pecans. Biting into a properly made turtle is like a moment of passion, full of energy, curiosity and satisfaction. Ava Marie provides a fulfilling experience with this confection. The chocolate comes in either light or dark, reflecting the two sides of passion, and the religious connotations of the maker’s name even adds a thrilling dash of guilt.

Dessert Tray: So, OK, you had a nice soup and light salad for dinner and you have earned the right to indulge in cheesecake and chocolate confection delightfully decorated and offered by servers at Speaker’s Corner in the Crowne Plaza (www.crowneplazanashua.com). Better yet, indulge on the large patio for a summertime treat.

Black Bean and Pumpkin Soup: The black bean and pumpkin soup is so delicious at the Moonbeam Café in Gorham that the recipe is a guarded secret and the café itself is a hidden North Country treasure. Stop in for breakfast and come back again for lunch.

Roman Cuisine: All roads might not lead to Lucia’s Tavola at Stoney Ledge Plaza in Brookline (249-9134) as they do to Rome, but this is the place to sample real Roman dishes. Try Abbachio Brodettato (lamb in a lemon-wine sauce), Suppli al Telefono (deep-fried risotto and mozzarella) or Zuppa Inglese (shown right) with lemon.

Escargot: Chef Zoltan Kosa at the French Bistro in Milford (www.thefrenchbistro.com) serves up snails in crispy vol-au-vent pastry for a fabulous way to start a great meal.

Melon and Shrimp: As tasty as it looks beautiful, the Walnut Shrimp in Honey Dew Melon at San Francisco Kitchen (www.sanfranciscokitchen.com) in Nashua is a savory experience that includes a bit of crunch with toasted walnuts embedded in a creamy sauce — all nestled in a fully ripe melon.

Edible Souvenir: Gourmet Granite (www.winsomeforge.com) is just that. Great-tasting chocolate covered with a candy coating that makes each nugget look like a rock! We like to scoop them in with a shovel.

Shops and Services

Baskets: The oldest basket making company in the United States also advertises five to seven times a year on QVC and sells its wares through a sophisticated Web site (www.peterborobasket.com). Made from the same wood as baseball bats and snowshoes, Peterboro Baskets epitomizes Yankee craftmanship, and it is no wonder that this family-owned operation has been turning out fine handmade baskets for nearly 150 years.

Hobbit Shop: Never again be stumped when buying a gift for that annoying person who has everything. Jackson’s Ravenwood Curio Shoppe (www.jacksonnh.com/ravenwood.html) is straight out of middle earth and is filled with gifts of whimsy. Be sure to venture behind the shop to experience the mazes of sculpture, ornaments and whatnots. Even a non-shopper will be enchanted.

Lip Balm: Pure natural ingredients, flavors we can live with (or no flavor at all), sun protection and a creamy lip-feel make Badger Balm, from Gilsum (www.badgerbalm.com), our favorite cure for chapped lips. And we can’t resist the cute little badger on the label, either.

Italian Cheese Selection: When you have Mary Ann Esposito choosing cheeses for the store you know you will find authentic artisanal cheeses from Italy. The Grate Expectations Cheese Shoppe at the Durham Marketplace (www.durhammarketplace.com) has a long case in the center of the store with a healthy section dedicated to cheeses that Mary Ann chooses.

Place to Pimp Your Ride: Want to take that classic Dodge Dart Swinger and add a screaming eagle bursting from a solar flare to the hood? Care to strip off the chrome and rubber door guards from your new Jetta and give it some real smooth lines? Maybe you are just a middle-aged guy sick of riding in the exact same Subaru Outback as 20 other commuters on I-93 and want an artsy touch to distinguish yourself. Fitsy’s Custom Paint (www.fitsyscustompaint.com) and Pento Motorsports in Allenstown has become the one-stop shop where you can go as far as your imagination will take you. They recently completed a tricked out Acura for a young man in the Make-a-Wish program.

Natural Dog Food: There’s a way to make sure your pet’s food is the healthiest it can be — buy it at Ciao! Bow Wow in Manchester (www.ciaobowwow.com). It’s all hand-made in small batches from a base of organic rice and grains and all-natural fruits, herbs, vegetables and meats (certified Angus beef is the most popular meat, with hormone- and antibiotic-free chicken next). They even do custom recipes for pets with special needs.

Store Window Art: Thanks to artists at Enhanced Image (www.eiairbrush.com) in Northfield, Swan Lake Natural Foods’ windows in Tilton have become a downtown landmark, where political satire meets Jefferson Airplane. It sure beats those big paper signs that read “Rump Roast–$2.99 a Pound.”

Rustic Furniture: At Northern Rustic Furniture in Colebrook (246-7025) the focus is on the design quality, not the kitsch factor in the log beds, tree-burl wastebaskets, Adirondack stick chairs, snowshoe mirrors and tables that show off the natural wood grains. Prices are what you’d expect in a bargain basement, not a fine furniture showroom.

Local Ralph Lauren: He’s a soft-spoken adventurer type, a clothing designer with a grand sense of style and an entrepreneurial vision. Kenny Fabrikant understands that fashion, food and decor are all parts of a greater whole, an art of self-expression that is all-consuming and revealing and ultimately contagious. His multi-level creation in Hanover, Rosey Jekes International Style and A European Café (643-3693) is much more than just a chic clothing store with a tiny restaurant; it’s the projection of the heart and sensibilities — the soul, if you will — of its founder. Fabrikant’s clothes are not cheap, but they are so attractive that some locals choose to leave their wallets in the car when they shop, to at least delay the impulse to buy a whole new wardrobe.

Tea Road Show: The Cozy Tea Cart (www.thecozyteacart.com) is a small shop in Brookline, but owner Danielle Beaudette takes her teas and expansive tea knowledge on the road to host tea parties for birthdays, luncheons, etc. Beaudette is well steeped in the culture and science of tea and recently returned from a two-week visit to the tea plantations of China.

Candle Maker: The candle is an ancient technology, but it’s still in practical use every time the snow takes down a powerline. But for the most part candles are used for setting moods. Marklin Candle Design (746-2211) knows about the power of candlelight, having hand made and hand decorated them for churches since the 1980s. Each candle they sell is a work of human touch and artistry, so they glow all the brighter whether illuminating an altar or lighting up a home.

T-Shirt Company: There are bigger T-shirt companies with Granite State roots (Life is Good, Coed Naked) and lots of little ones nibbling at their heels, but in a state that is famous for clever entrepreneurs and pithy slogans Liv’n Out Loud (www.livnoutloud.com) is the rising star. Their cool combination of contemporary style and timeless affirmations makes an irresistible package, which might explain their growing popularity with everyone from the no-nonsense folk of New Hampshire to the trendy Hollywood elite. (What does Helen Mirren have in common with Alec Baldwin? Both are on record as fans of Liv’n Out Loud.)

Extreme Store on a Main Street: Ralph Farnsworth has turned shopkeeping into a new kind of extreme sport His business, The Board Room (543-9800), sells snowboards, skateboards and apparel in Claremont. The walls are hand painted with edgy murals. Broken skateboards hang from the ceiling and at one end of the store is the back half of a Cadillac with the trunk full of merchandise, while the tail lights flash to the rhythm of the heavy metal beat pulsating throughout the store. Ralph knows his audience and seeks the best products at the lowest possible cost. “I can sell these sneakers here about 20 percent lower than the competition,” says Ralph. “I want the kids to be able to have nice equipment without breaking their parents’ backs.”

Gift Shop: You’re Fired is a glaze-your-own pottery studio which accommodates everyone and has a lot more flare than the average. The do-it-yourself place where you can have fun while producing a personal keepsake gift for friends or family is a trend that’s been around a while, but not everyone has experienced it. Locally owned (but soon to be a national franchise if the owner’s vision comes to pass) You’re Fired actually fires up the imagination and is a good reason to stop putting it off.

Country Road Pastry Shop: At Love Bites in Moultonborough (476-5722), owner and pastry chef Donna Love runs an immaculate but richly fragrant bakery attached to her home on Ossipee Mountain Road. Her wares are as beautiful as they are delicious and vice versa — Sans Rivals almond meringues, French macaroons, mascarpone cheesecake and her special Moose Cake — layers of pistachio cream and chocolate mousse between moist slabs of dark chocolate cake.

Doggie Treat: Axel’s Food and Ice Cream in Merrimack (429-2229) offers a cup of vanilla soft serve with a biscuit to your pooch while you enjoy their human-oriented treats.

New Garden Center: Cole Gardens at the far end of Loudon Road in Concord (229-0655) has been making its mark as the best new purveyor of plants, starts, garden supplies and good advice (they specialize in organic starts for the serious organic gardener). Everything is beautiful and it’s a great (and vast) place to wander, just to get in the mood. Speaking of moods, they are open year-round and they welcome anyone with seasonal affective disorder into their giant greenhouse during the dreary months of winter.

Classic Barber Shop: American Barber Studios (225-3052) is so close to New Hampshire’s center of political power that sometimes the gleam from the Capitol dome turns the sidewalk gold. You have to walk downstairs at the corner of Park and Main to find this outpost of masculine barbering in a world overrun by uni-sex stylists. Big swivel chairs with leather upholstery, the odor of talc and astringent, and a huge porcelain sink all declare this to be “the place” to get a real haircut. And plenty of men (including not a few presidential candidates) have walked down those stairs and reaffirmed their guyness by just breathing in the history while listening to the drone of the electric clippers as they create the perfect taper on the back of the neck. It’s also one of the few places in the state (in the country for all we know) where you can still get a straight-razor shave. It’s $25 and includes lotions, salves, hot and cold towels and, if you’re 21, a beer.

Bargain Store: It’s like a cross between Building 19 and the Christmas Tree Shop, but it’s also like no place else. It’s Eno & Dave’s Seacoast Bargains in Hampton Falls (929-1146). From incense to knock-off “Crocs” to school supplies to Indian souvenirs to roadside flares to CDs by obscure artists. You didn’t know you wanted it? They probably have it. The place used to be pink and was dubbed “the Pink Store” by locals as a convenient shorthand. They’ve repainted most of the exterior but the charming name stuck. Ask anyone in town and they’ll point you to the Pink Store.

Best Archery Store: One of the largest selections of archery-related gear for hunting and sport, Big Al’s Archery in Seabrook (474-3575) also has the rustic charm of a backwoods camp. The guys behind the counter know their stuff and offer a full-service pro shop. Upstairs is a “Techno hunt” video archery range for training and fun.

Hidden Shopping Center: Like some exotic colorful crustacean it started in a small shop near the beach and then outgrew that shell and selected another: an old three-story peach barn in Rye. Christine & Co. (www.christinescrossing.com) now offers a lovely array of fashion, folk art and furnishings — new and antique. It’s worth a drive and a little search to find this hidden shopping treasure of the Seacoast.

Gourmet Dog Treats: Happy Paws Pet Boutique (672-7297) in Milford bakes up éclairs and cupcakes; the kind of thing you would like to treat yourself to, but these are nutritious, homemade treats for Fido.

Beach Wear: At the north end of Hampton Beach is a place called Cinnamon Rainbows Surf Co. — a little concrete block shack with some surfboards leaned up outside. Looks like it might be a place to buy some sunscreen or talk about gnarly waves. Step inside and the place accordions into one of the largest and most elaborate collections of upscale beachware and equipment you’ll find in the state. From sunglasses to bikinis to wet suits, they have what you need and what you desire. Oh, and you can get sunscreen and talk about gnarly waves, too. Cinnamon Rainbows even points a Web cam at the beach so you can see what the waves are doing from hour to hour. (www.cinnamonrainbows.com)

Salad Enhancer: A loosely packed baggie of the stuff is not cheap, but it’s powerful. Just a dash will turn an ordinary day into something fresh and zingy. And it’s completely legal, although the packaging might cause flashbacks for members of the Woodstock Generation. It’s the “Micromix” from New London’s Spring Ledge Farm (www.springledgefarm.com). This farmstand and garden center has lovely hanging baskets, annuals and perennials, and they sell a great variety of fresh local produce in season.

Fun and Adventure

Balloon Artist: When looking for the absolute pinnacle of balloon buffoonery, go no further than Mo the Clown (www.motheclown.com). If you thought this denizen of the Clown Cave in Campton is just for the kids, think again. Mo the Clown is a New Hampshire Justice of the Peace and will happily preside over your nuptials. Mo is also well trained in the more traditional clown arts, especially entertaining and balloon twisting.

Nature Center: Set in the spectacular Crawford Notch, the Appalachian Mountain Club’s Highland Center (www.outdoors.org/highland), a four-season lodge and outdoor education center, is the perfect spot to wean yourself from your BlackBerry. The center is an ideal starting point for day hikes, paddling, snowshoe treks and longer backcountry trips in the White Mountains.

Big Brewery Tour: Experience counts when it comes to making beer and to giving tours. Anheuser-Busch in Merrimack has plenty of experience in both. Complimentary tours include a visit to the Clydesdale Hamlet, home to the world-famous Budweiser Clydesdales. At the end of each tour, guests 21 years of age and over can sample their favorite brews.

Microbrewery Tour: Tucked on a Conway side street, getting to Tuckerman the brewery (www.tuckermanbrewing.com) is a lot easier than getting to Tuckerman the ravine. Saturday afternoon tours of the grassroots mom and pop operation are low key, informative and start with a tasting instead of waiting until the end.

Breakfast and Movie: How about a breakfast date? Conway’s Majestic Theatre and next door’s Conway Cafe (www.conwaycafe.com) are the place for breakfast and a movie. Bring the breakfast tray right in to the theatre , though a breakfast sandwich is easier to handle by the glow of the light from the big screen. Typically two shows per morning.

RVing Spot: Retirement isn’t just about gated communities. The AARP set stays mobile, and the Bluffs at Danforth Bay in East Madison (www.nhrvresort.com ) is designed for adults, 50 and over. They feature wi-fi, a fitness center, heated pools and tennis courts. In short, it’s a great place to hide out while spending your kids inheritance.

Place to Float your Boat (as in a kayak or a canoe): This is a tough one, because there are so many great places to get onto or into the water. But the 10-mile trip on the Upper Connecticut from West Stewartstown to Colebrook is hard to beat. Put in on the west side of the River in Canaan, Vt. The landmark known as Lunch Rock, a massive ledge that juts into the river from the Vermont side, is only an hour or so down river, a nice place to eat and fish. There are rips and rapids, but nothing anyone with average skills can’t handle. Budget six to eight hours.

Place to Watch the Stars: The celestials, not the celebs, shine bright through the skylights of the Evans Suite at The Notchland Inn, Crawford Notch (www.notchland.com). The queen-size sleigh bed is turned for a clear look at the stars through the glass ceiling of this corner suite.

Place to Hang Glide: At Morningside Flight Park in North Charlestown (www.flymorningside.com) you can see the Connecticut River Valley from the sky on a joy ride or learn serious sky skills from top-flight instructors — or is it top flight-instructors? Either way, it’s fun.

View of Mt. Washington: From the four-passenger Wildcat Express Gondola, at Wildcat Mountain in Pinkham Notch (www.skiwildcat.com), the eastern slopes of Mount Washington are so close you can watch hikers climb the trails. And on a clear day the sun looks near enough to touch.

Rolling Polka Party: Eastern Sound Orchestra’s Bus Trips (642-4134) offer a consummate polka experience for a single reasonable cost per person. Enjoy round-trip bus transportation, beer, wine, soda, snacks, six full-course meals, contests, night owl pajama parties, a bocce tournament, cash prizes, make your own ice cream sundae nights, bingo and, of course, Polka music galore. The next tour is to the Villa Roma Resort in Callicoon, N.Y.

New North Country Spectacle: RiverFire Festival in Berlin. The Androscoggin River is illuminated by bonfires in a miniature version of the Providence, R.I., WaterFire display. It’s just one of a number of efforts to draw new interest in the City Built by Trees, the base of viewing is at the Northern Forest Heritage Park just north of downtown.

Fireworks Show: You wonder why it’s in August, what with the celebration of the 4th of July being a month earlier and all. Maybe it’s because the Atlas Fireworks Show (www.atlaspyro.com) at the Jaffrey Airport is so spectacular that it literally and figuratively stands alone. Carloads of people come from far and near each year to see the beautifully choreographed display of colorful (and loud) chrysanthemums, peonies, waterfalls, roman candles and who-knows-what-all explode against the night sky. This is no town-budget-constrained display. Prepare to be amazed.

Legal High #1: If you’re afraid of heights or fear planes, then skydiving is probably not high on the to-do list. At SkyVenture in Nashua (www.skyventurenh.com) you can experience the sensation of flying without having to toss yourself out of a perfectly good plane. In SkyVenture’s vertical wind tunnel you can float, flip and fling yourself through the air without the sensation of falling.

Legal High #2: Sure, hiking through the forest is a great way to experience nature, but why walk when you can fly? Actually, with Alpine Adventures Outdoor Recreation in Lincoln (www.alpinezipline.com) you’ll technically be zipping over the treetops, but it sure will feel like flying. The two-hour tour gives you a bird’s eye view of Franconia Notch from bridges, tree platforms from 15 to 65 feet high and seven zip-lines totaling over 2,000 feet.

Street Fair: Once there was a time when a town pulled out all the stops for their festivals or old home days. Now most small town fairs have a clubby attitude and the booths and shows are as predictable as the seating arrangements in the community church. The Newmarket Heritage Festival (www.heritage-festival.org) breaks with that tradition and goes for eclecticism and exuberance. It’s plenty of fun for the flinty traditionalist or the sparkly New Ager. Now that’s cultural diversity.

Christmas Kitsch for Kids: There’s something for every age at Santa’s Village in Jefferson (www.santasvillage.com), where the excitement of Christmas goes live in July. Kids love this seasonal time-travel with reindeer, rides, treasure hunts and low-key games, and parents can have fun there, too.

Train Ride for Kids: The Hobo Railroad, North Woodstock (www.hoborr.com) proves that the fun is in the journey, not the destination. The views may not be mountain panoramas, but kids (and the young-at-heart) will love the ride, complete with an on-board clown that doubles as crossing guard when the traffic on the Kancamagus stops to let the train go through.

Deal in the Mountains: White Mountains Value Pass, from the White Mountain Attractions Association (www.visitwhitemountains.com), cuts the cost of admission to the most popular attractions — from Story Land to the Cog Railway — in half.

Dinner and a Movie: Why settle for popcorn when you can enjoy an Angus beef burger, BLT or steak tips while watching the latest releases. The new Chunky’s Cinema Pub (www.chunkys.com) has eight theaters in the former Penny’s Catalog Outlet off of Exit 6. Each room has long tables with comfortable seating made from the car seats of Lincoln Continentals. They roll and recline for easy access and comfort. Waitresses bring your food and drink, whether it is a pitcher of beer of glass or wine. If the show is sold out, you’re invited to go into the next showing early and relax and order food while the kids play in the huge game area. Oh, they do have popcorn, too, if you just want a snack.

Place for a Picnic: Beaver Brook Falls, on Route 145, about 2.5 miles north of Colebrook. One of the largest waterfalls in the state, it plunges over bedrock outcroppings to frothing pools below. A trail on the right takes you to a ledge where, on a hot day, you can sit and let the water cascade right on your head. Picnic tables and shelters complete this idyllic scene, a great place to enjoy good food and listen to the sound of the water.

Hike with Aesthetic and Aerobic Reward: A former ski hill in Brookline has been transformed into a world-class sculpture park by John Weidman on behalf of property owner Paul Andres. Each summer an invitational symposium brings artists from Europe and beyond who create works for specific spots on the hill. Now, more than 40 works are sprinkled along the road and hiking trails of Andres Institute of Art (www.andresinstitute.org). Park your car at the bottom off Route 13 and look for trail maps to guide your visit.

9-hole golf: At Brookstone Park (www.brookstone-park.com) in Derry you not only get to play in top-notch conditions on well-kept greens, but owner Harold Brooks has peppered the fairway with bronze sculptures by one of his favorite artists. The park includes a driving range, miniature golf course, a great restaurant and a refreshment stand serving Richardson’s award-winning ice creams.

Arts and Entertainment

Hidden Treasure: The Art Gallery at UNH (862-3712), tucked out of sight in Durham, includes in its permanent collection of more than 1,500 paintings, prints, drawings and sculpture works by Abbott Thayer, Frank Shapleigh and other White Mountain artists as well as those by Durer, Hogarth, Corot, Hiroshige, Daumier, Homer, Lotte Jacobi, Whistler, Miro, Roualt and Klimt, not to mention pre-Columbian and African art.

Reason to Take a Brown Bag: The Bach’s Lunch Series, free twice-a-month lunch-hour lectures and concerts, is one of the many (200 each year!) innovative programs the Concord Community Music School (www.ccmusicschool.org) offers. Cool Jazz Pioneers, Percussion Primal to Modern, and Old and New Music from Brittany are the kinds of programs you’ll enjoy as you nibble on your egg salad sandwich. The mission of the Music School, one of the largest of its kind in the country, is to foster a sense of community through music by providing the fullest possible array of musical experiences for people of all ages, abilities and backgrounds.

Opera at Dinner: Once a month, at Opera Nights in the Inn at Crystal Lake in Eaton Center (www.innatcrystallake.com), opera-themed menus combine with live performance and insight into a popular opera.

Quirky Museum: Frog puppets, frog pencil sharpeners, frog banners, frog jumping jacks, frog whistles, frog whatevers — if it depicts a frog, it’s at The Foolish Frog in North Stratford (636-9843), a museum with a gift shop for frogthusiasts.

Reason Not to Roll up the Sidewalks in Concord #1: It had to happen. After years of nightlife in Concord being a largely underground affair, confined to the basement floors of restaurants and pubs, The Draft Sports Bar and Grill (227-1175) opened with a bang, offering three levels of revelry, a 21-seat bar, pool tables, retro pinball machines, plasma TVs and a 15-foot movie screen surrounded by plush couches and party-minded college-age kids — all above ground and a bit in your face. Sure, there is a little tension with the neighbors as a youth culture emerges in the Capitol City, but sometimes a city has to get younger to grow up.

Reason Not to Roll up the Sidewalks in Concord #2: After years as a pipe dream, then as a plan, then as a mission, the vision of Cinema 93’s Barry Steelman is finally (in October) coming to pass: a real downtown repertory cinema in Concord. Red River Theatres (www.redrivertheatres.org) will anchor the basement level of the new Capitol Commons and offer two movie screens and a video screening room. The road to fulfillment had been long and grueling so Steelman picked the theatres’ colorful name from a Howard Hawks/John Wayne western about a last-gasp cattle drive. Perhaps he should have named it after a certain Biblical epic by Cecil B. DeMille, since Steelman, like Moses, led the way but was not allowed to enter the holy land. In a controversial move, the Red River board turned down his request to be hired as a creative director for the theatre.

Decade of Music: The legendary Seacoast band Dreadnaught (dreadnaughtrock.com) has released “High Heat and Chin Music,” a two-disc set with selections from their catalogue covering virtually every genre imaginable besides polka and Tuvan throat singing. Ten years of Dreadnaught equals a lifetime of creative output for any other band and this CD writes the book on steroidal eclecticism.

Shakespeare Company: Too often when Shakepeare is performed by local companies it is, to quote the bard, “a tale told by an idiot, full of sound and fury, signifying nothing.” But Shakespeare done right actually channels the fantastic plots of the Earth’s greatest playwright with clarity, meaning and humor intact. The New London-based NorthEast Shakespeare Ensemble (www.nesetheatre.org) is such a group, and they extend this mission to programs which introduce school kids to the plays of Shakespeare in a way that is similarly relevant. Their production of King Lear, one of the bard’s most challenging works, is at the Lebanon Opera House from June 21 to 30.

Shakespeare Company for Kids: Extending the joys of Shakespeare to the next generation is a bit like that old saw about the weather: Everyone talks about it but no one does anything about it. Enter My Act (www.myact.org), a children’s theatre troupe that takes the bard seriously and has a ball doing it. They use such classical works as “The Tempest” and “Tweflth Night” to engage students up to high school age in all the theatrical arts, both on and behind the stage, and an incredible pool of volunteer talent from parents and local experts ensure that the productions, costumes and other technical matters are as bright and beautiful as the glowing faces of the young actors.

College Band: A group of Concord school chums who liked to jam together went off to UNH together and somewhere along the way they became a hot band. Now famous for their performances around their hometown and Durham, they are contemplating the next step. This would sound like the story of a thousand other rock ‘n’ roll wannabees, but AM/PM (www.myspace.com/ampmband) has that je ne sais quoi that makes you believe they could really go places. Complex lyrics, good hooks, strong melodies and driving beats — they sound like other groups (Coldplay? Radiohead?), but mostly they sound like themselves, and in the rock game, that’s the sound you want to have.

Commercial Radio Talk Show: The Woody Woodland Show on1590 AM, Nashua has a blend of public service and peculiar points of view that is just what the doctor ordered in an age of cookie-cutter national gabfests. The jovial Woodland gives both the already famous and the permanently obscure their 15 minutes of celebrity. Regular callers include the Commissioner of Conspiracy and some character who claims to be President of the United States ("Commander Guy").

Fair and Balanced Interview Program: The Exchange with Laura Knoy weekdays on New Hampshire Public Radio, WEVO, 89.1 FM in Concord (and too many other stations to list here) is interesting and informative with guests on every topic imaginable and some you probably couldn't have imagined. Fox News executives should give a listen so they'll know what “fair and balanced” is.

Sports Radio Station: WTPL (The Pulse) 107.7 FM in Concord features Red Sox, Bruins as well as network Game of the Week broadcasts. (Yes, they have sports talk shows, too, but you can’t win ’em all.) Where else you gonna find Sunday Night Baseball on the radio?

Church Organ: In an era where the guitar and the “praise ensemble” are rocking out during most worship services, it’s good to see a little decorum has survived. The Abbey Church at Saint Anselm College in Goffstown features a great organ, played well, with good acoustics and a peaceful monastic environment. One drawback: Brother Andrew does not take requests.

Dream Farm Come True: Dream Farm Café (www.thedreamfarm.org) is a vision of a vibrant and contemporary arts center in a rural setting come to life. What began as some musicians getting together in a historic barn in Hollis has become DreamFarm Creative Arts (an N.H. non-profit organization) hosting the Dream Farm Cafe and related events. Remarkable talent has literally come out of the woods to participate in the energy, creating a cultural nexus in the region.

N.H. History Blog: We live in a history-drenched part of the world, but Cow Hampshire (cowhampshire.blogharbor.com) is much more than a tour of the New Hampshire “Memory House” (thank Howard Mansfield for that excellent term). It’s a look at the state’s past and present through the eyes (and words) of a true Granitophile. Janice Brown digs through the stories of New Hampshire with an amazing knack for pattern recognition, finding the connections and the nuances that make the dustiest of footnotes into something relevant and entertaining.

Local Blog: She’s a prolific local freelancer with a reporter’s eye for the big picture and the gossipy granularity of a nosy neighbor. Amy Kane chronicles her life in a seacoast community on her blog Atlantic Avenue (www.amykane.typepad.com), writing about what’s growing in her back yard, tackling news stories when they appear (like the recent floods) and sometimes just posting updates on her current reading and favorite ice cream flavors. It’s great blogging, superbly written, extensively linked and très local.

North Country Arts Center: It’s always worth noting when a real cultural center emerges in a remote area, and Berlin is probably as remote a city as we’ve got. The St. Kieran Community Center for the Arts (www.stkieranarts.org) program has been around since the turn of the century (21st century, that is) but they’ve improved their communications and outreach in the past year or so and are effectively drawing in corporate sponsors and enticing visitors from all over. When they hosted “The Nutcracker Ballet” last Christmas it sold out a week in advance. In May the National Marionette Theatre was presented to about a thousand school kids. Possible partnerships with the Northern Forest Heritage Park and the local French-Canadian community will only grow the center’s influence.

Literary Irony: Writer Jane Wingate is an artist who works with a weird blend of the sensitive and the coarse. Her writings (which have appeared in our magazine) are imbued with a dreamy naturalism. Her opinions are strong and often curtly delivered, and her photography is both horizon-encompassing and flower-petal incisive. Her latest “book” (a CD of essays and other writings, actually) is packed with pure Wingate in all its many expressions, but the packaging may be a bit confusing. Titled “The Toilet Papers: Pieces Just the Right Length,” (janewingate.com) the cover is a crudely drawn illustration of a roll of bathroom tissue. It seems the wi-fi revolution may have reached its nadir if people are now expected to tote their computers to the john for their morning constitutionals, but it’s good reading, wherever you choose to peruse it.

Rockin’ Music Teacher: Anyone who ever dreamt of playing cool guitar in a hot band, probably also awoke to the fact that the guitar is easy on the eyes but hard on the fingers. George Westbay knows how hard it is to get past the blisters and the bad chords and actually make a guitar make music. He's not only taught guitar and bass at Manchester's Ted Herbert School of Music for nearly 15 years, he plays cool guitar in some very hot bands. (georgewestbay.com)

Outdoor Sculpture Gallery: Owner Pam Tarbell has converted the lovely setting of her home in Concord into gallery space, both inside and out. Each summer she hosts a sculpture art invitational and by June the back lawn of the Millbrook Gallery (www.themillbrookgallery.com) is filled with stone, metal and mixed media three-dimensional art — both traditional and far out.

Down-home Rock Star: Josh Logan (www.joshloganmusic.com) was already famous on his home turf when he was plucked by the starmakers to appear on the rock ‘n’ roll reality show “Rockstar Supernova.” He got voted off, but gained millions of fans during that run. Josh is young but wise enough to know that fame is fleeting and fans can be fickle. He took some months off to get his bearings and now he’s making his move with a tight band, a sharp look and that same sweet sound of soul-influenced rock. He’s got the sound and the moves. All he needs is another break.

Birthday of the Arts: The New Hampshire League of Craftsmen (www.nhcrafts.org) is celebrating its 75th anniversary this year at its annual craft fair in Sunapee. The fair — where artists and artisans display and sell their juried wares — is the oldest craft fair in the country and extra festivities are planned for this August.

This and That

Guardian Angels: There are perhaps no children more traumatized, more needing protection than those who are victims of physical abuse, sexual abuse, neglect and abandonment. Unfortunately, state child protection and justice systems are overburdened and not able to provide services to the 1,500 N.H. kids who are in court at any one time. Fortunately, CASA of NH (www.casanh.org) has 400 volunteers who do.

100 Years of Hiking Advice: The one book no hiker or climber leaves at home turns 100 this summer with the publication of its 28th edition. The Appalachian Mountain Club’s first White Mountain Guide was published in 1907, and its subsequent editions have been steering hikers to the right trails for a century.

Painless Education Program: You can learn plenty at an amusement park, mostly about human behavior in crowds and the effects of mixing carbonated drinks, hotdogs and cotton candy while being twirled in the air. But for real education, you gotta bite the bullet and hit the museums, right? Not anymore. Salem’sCanobie Lake Park (www.canobie.com/educational.php) is taking advantage of their giant moving laboratory (i.e. Tilt-a-Whirls and Ferris wheels) to teach the laws of physics. A variety of shows take place throughout the summer.

Antique Appraisals: There are so many things going on at the N.H. Antique Co-op in Milford (www.nhantiquecoop.com) — lectures, workshops, exhibits, demonstrations — that it’s a wonder the owners have time to have free expert appraisal days, too. But the Hackler family manages it somehow, with father Sam and son Jason doing the honors in June and October. They’ll tell you what your treasures are worth — and provide fiddle music and cider, too. Check out the room-after-room of antiques while you’re there.

Prettiest Common in Summer: The Milford Common (locals call it the “Oval” because the rotary around the common is oval-shaped) is an eye-catcher all year long, what with its out-of-the-past latticed bandstand (where they really have band concerts), the walks of engraved bricks donated by citizens and the bronze sculpture of kids on a bench reading. But in the summer the expertly planted and tended flowers and grasses add such appeal, you just want to stop and sit a bit.

Podcast: It’s a bit like having an encounter with that strange old uncle you’ve never met and finding out that he’s actually a transdimensional tourist who has stories pouring out of his head like ticker tape. Listen to Sherwin Sleeves: Atoms, Motion and the Void (www.atomsmotion.com) and be transported to a drawing room at the edge of the universe. Writer-performer Sean Hurley has been getting some national attention with his alter ego. XM Radio jocks Ron and Fez even hired him for some voice work. On the local front, Portsmouth-based The Players Ring has booked a stage performance of “Atoms, Motion and the Void” for the end of this year. (Go to www.playersring.org for details.)

Underground Newspaper: The underground press was once the tool of Marxist radicals and flower-power Merry Pranksters seeking to start a revolution. Now, with many of those hippies and radicals wearing business suits and running for office, a new underground press is emerging. Its goal is not overthrowing the government but bringing it back to its constitutional foundations. The Keene Free Press (www.keenefreepress.com) is a great local example. There’s still a touch of the radical and irrational in its pages, and founder Russell Kanning learned well from old-school street theatre and passive resistance tactics. He spends a lot of time in jail when he’s not walking into public buildings carrying a pitchfork.

Beloved Waitress: Helen Ayotte has been a waitress for 30 years, the past dozen or so at Andy’s and before that at Chez Vachon and the Queen City IHOP. In other words, if you are from around these parts, chances are she’s served you coffee and eggs. And if you ever gave her your name, chances are she remembers it, and how many kids you have, and what event you were celebrating last time you dropped in. Helen counts just about everyone as a “regular” and treats them all like friends and family. She takes time for kids even when she’s busy. “She emits sunshine,” says one of her regulars.

Non-commercial Place to Go for Lunch: Lake Massabesic in Manchester is a great spot for lunch. No, there’s no concession stand there, though there is a lunch counter at Sandy's Variety at the nearby traffic circle. And you can always try to catch a fish for lunch. But it’s better just to pack a pail and enjoy the park and the lake. It beats waiting for a table somewhere or standing in line at a deli behind people ordering 20-question sandwiches.

Place to Fish From the Sidewalk: It’s not uncommon to see people fishing from the sidewalks of Laconia’s downtown (524-1308 for the Main St. Program), where the Winnipesaukee River runs alongside some of the state’s historic mill buildings. A favorite sight is seeing businessmen after work exchange tying neckwear for tying flies.

Tribute to African American History: The Harriet Wilson Statue displayed in Bicentennial Park on the edge of the Milford Oval. The statue recognized the contributions of Harriet Wilson, the first African American novelist in the U.S. Wilson’s book, originally published in 1859, chronicles her life as an indentured servant while living in the Milford community. The installation of the statue of Wilson in a Milford park is one step towards recognizing the history of African Americans in New Hampshire and is the first public statue for a person of color in the state.

Hardest Working Man in Show Biz: Just about anything interesting going on in the entertainment world of central New Hampshire has the name Jim Roach (396-4220) attached to it in some way, or else he’s just backstage making sure things are running smoothly and on time. This former promotional director for WZID promotes, proclaims, encourages and “mother-hens” all variety of local acts and is the go-to guy for anyone wanting to tap into the institutional memory of the local entertainment business.

Old Time Airfield: If Hampton Airfield (www.hamptonairfield.com) in North Hampton brings to mind the days of biplanes and barnstormers it could be because, on this classic privately owned grass airfield, those days never entirely went away. In fact a biplane stands by to give sightseeing rides for $65 per person. The current owner is a former Delta pilot who saw the beauty in keeping things in tune with simpler times. “Our business plan is to keep it fun and active,” says owner Mike Hart. “We’re a private airport and free to try different things.” At one time they even offered bungie jumping from hot air balloons, but he says the vibe they try to create is that of a 1940s airshow.

Farm Report: The Communicator of the N.H. Farm Bureau (www.nhfarmbureau.org) is lively, colorful and chock-full of news. It even has some wonderfully alliterative headlines (“Friends Farm While Fractured Femur is Fixed”). You don’t have to live on a farm to enjoy the stories, and the Farmers’ Market classifieds come in handy if you ever want to buy a used manure spreader, a single treadle spinning wheel or some miniature donkey foals.

City on the Rise:As the paper mill that dominated city life for decades comes down piece by piece, the prospects for the North Country’s Berlin (www.ci.berlin.nh.us) are on the rise. Rallying to take advantage of what the city has always had — beautiful surroundings and a tight-knit community — businesses are starting to move in. One online company hopes to facilitate the start-up of virtual businesses. In the new age of Internet commerce, a town like Berlin could have a natural advantage: a healthy and serene place to live while the down and dirty of business takes place in virtual worlds like the cyber-environment “Second Life” — two words which could very well become the city’s new motto.

Historic Gardners: Mark and Pam Boutilier of Appledore Arbor (www.appledorearbor.com) not only run a sweet little floral design shop in the 1863 building which once housed Dow’s First General Store in historic North Hampton. They have taken on the job, more like a calling, as summer caretakers of Celia Thaxter’s garden on the Isles of Shoals — located in the Atlantic about six miles off the North Hampton coast. Thaxter was a famous poet and gardener who held court on the Isles back in the mid-19th century. The Boutiliers boat out to her island home every Tuesday from May to September and keep some beautiful history alive — literally.

Best of New Hampshire 2007 Seven Natural Wonders of NH Photo Contest

Photo Contest! Visit all seven natural wonders this summer and have a photo taken of you or your family. Send all seven photos to us (jpegs via e-mail are best) and we’ll pick our favorite explorers to feature in New Hampshire Magazine. We’ll give out prizes to the top seven entries. Visit our Web site, www.nhmagazine.com for details. Click on the “Seven Natural Wonders of NH” button.

Much of New Hampshire's topography and geology was the work of glaciers: glacial caves, glacial erratics, glacial talus. Whatever the ice left behind is still here, leaving us with some impressive natural wonders. Here are the top seven, according to our experts.

Polar Caves: A mountainside of glacial debris — huge boulders form caves, which you can explore via subterranean stairs and narrow passageways. Look up to see the overhanging cliff these boulders fell from. ( www.polarcaves.com)

Lost River Gorge & Boulder Caves: What else can you ask for? Waterfalls, caves, creepy passages to wriggle through, plus a geology lesson and a wildflower garden. (www.findlostriver.com)

Loon Mountain Glacial Caves: Ride the gondola to the little-known talus field at the top of Loon Mountain (www.loonmtn.com), where wooden stairs lead almost straight down into a jumble of house-sized boulders. You can simply look at the boulders or join the kids wiggling through the small spaces.

The Flume: One of the White Mountains’ most beloved attractions, in Franconia Notch, a giant split in the rock with a river tumbling through. (603-745-8391)

Sabbaday Falls: A one-mile round trip trail walk from the Kancamagus Highway, this waterfall begins by dropping into a rock bowl, which spills into a 20-foot plunge that makes a right-angle turn and drops another 15 feet before reaching the pool at its base.

Sculptured Rocks: Immense potholes in the river gorge look as though a giant ice cream scoop had been at work in the rocks. This spot in Groton is a nice one for a picnic.

Madison Boulder: The mile-deep ice cube that once covered the White Mountains scraped off their tops and pulled away pieces to take with it. This is one of the world’s largest of these glacial erratics, at 83 feet long, 37 feet tall and about 5,000 tons. It probably came from about four miles away, in Albany.

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