Lupines, pancakes, mountains and more.Spikes of blue (and occasionally pink, white and yellow) lupines paint dooryards, meadows and roadsides all over this hilltop town during their annual Fields of Lupine Festival.Saturday MorningBlue sky showed through the upper windows of our cathedral-ceilinged Dream Cottage at Sugar Hill Inn, a good omen for a day amid flowers and mountain scenery. We looked out at the mountains from our window table as we savored warm cream scones, artistically arranged fresh fruit and French toast with lightly poached apples and applewood bacon.We grabbed cameras and headed up to Sunset Hill Road to capture the fresh blooms still sparkling with dew. The meadows were almost solid blue, and every step framed a fresh composition - close-ups with mountain skyline blurry in the background, wide mountain shots above a sea of blue, a butterfly poised on a perfect spike. We strayed across the road to Sugar Hill Sampler for fudge (a festival special at 20 percent off) before heading up Route 117 to look for more lupine-framed views. At the historic meetinghouse we found the open air market, where local craftsmen demonstrated spinning and paper cutting and were pleased to see several NH Made members there.LunchIt had been hours since that bountiful breakfast, so we backtracked to Polly's Pancake Parlor to order Pancake Samplers (blueberry, whole-wheat walnut and oatmeal-buttermilk) with ham and a slathering of maple syrup.Saturday AfternoonWe arrived back at the meetinghouse in time for a concert by the Back Shed String Band, a happy mix of bluegrass, Irish and folk. At the Sugar Hill Historic Museum we admired the well-preserved Cobleigh Tavern Kitchen and exhibits illustrating the town's history, grand hotels and illustrious visitors. Among these was Bette Davis, whose sleigh stands in the Sleigh Shed. That, of course, reminded us of the Sugar Hill Inn, where the actress often stayed. It would be a shame to let that Finnish sauna in our cottage go unused ...Dinner at Sugar Hill InnAlthough our table overlooked a vista of mountains bathed in rosy alpenglow, from the moment the amuse bouche - a morsel of savory braised beef brisket with rabbit confit - appeared it was clear that all four courses would deserve full attention. A trio of soups served in espresso cups included a richly flavored seafood bisque, and the signature Caesar salad was served in a fluted bowl of grilled Parmesan. My roasted lamb rack was complemented by rosemary maple sauce and the potato croquette was crusted in toasted almonds. We finished with luscious orange marmalade ice cream before returning to snuggle in front of the fireplace in our cottage.Sunday MorningHaving taken pictures yesterday, we lazed in this morning, lingering over breakfast and enjoying the view. After stopping at the lovely little St. Matthew's Chapel, not far from the inn, we headed for Harman's, which claims "The World's Best Cheddar Cheese" - immodest maybe, but true. We sampled the store's locally produced goodies and left with an armful.We paused at nearby Sunny Side Cemetery to ponder one of Sugar Hill's more bizarre events, on October 22,1844, when the Millerites came to this spot to await the end of the earth. They were greatly disappointed. In respect to Robert Frost, another local visitor, we couldn't pass up a road we'd never taken, so we turned down Pearl Lake Road to follow it - with and without pavement - past more lupines and into Lisbon.
This article appears in the June 2011 issue of New Hampshire Magazine