A Walkable Weekend in the Town of Littleton
We wondered if we could spend a weekend in Littleton without ever moving the car
Exit 42 from I-93 put us directly on Main Street, where we saw Beal House Inn at the beginning of the business district. Aromas from its dining room drew us to a table as soon as we’d dropped our luggage in our first-floor room, Mrs. Beal’s Suite. The Mediterranean Chicken, sautéed with artichoke hearts, spinach, roasted red peppers, garlic and Kalamata olives in Sauvignon Blanc sauce, was redolent with fresh herbs. I chose Steak Imposter, a vegetarian option of two balsamic-marinated grilled portabella mushrooms in Marsala butter sauce, topped with sautéed baby spinach, tomato, garlic, shallots and melted mozzarella.
“See any ghosts last night?”
“Not even a creaking floor.”
It was breakfast table conversation with fellow guests over English muffins and coffee our first morning at Beal House Inn.
Nobody, it seemed, had experienced anything paranormal, which was fine with us. Not that the Beal House ghost is mischievous; by every report, whatever it is, it’s just there.
Christmas list in hand, we walked the short distance to where the shops begin. We stopped first in Little Village Toy & Book Shop, where we found quality toys, games and children’s books, as well as an excellent selection on the local area and White Mountains. The window at Sterling Works stopped us with a display of beautiful little gold-, silver- and copper-dipped maple leaves on delicate chains. Never ones to pass a bakery, we savored tender cheddar scones at a café table in The French Sisters Bakery and left with a bag of mixed cookies.
At ReMatch Sports, a consignment store specializing in outdoor gear and sports equipment, we found girls’ figure skates without a scuff and in their original box (and made note of where to bring them when they were outgrown). In The Artworks we admired paintings and glassware in the gallery and bought colored pencils for our own budding artist.
We carried our packages back to the inn, knowing that right next door was Screaming Boar Smokehouse, where we ordered sandwiches of smoked brisket and smoked Cajun meatloaf to fuel our afternoon explorations.
The Littleton Area Historical Society Museum is open Saturdays in November, so we headed to the Town Building, where the former fire station shows a surprisingly large display of local history. Bob Nunes showed us through, with engaging insights into collections ranging from local celebrities (Bette Davis summered nearby) to a nicely displayed collection of old kitchen utensils. We were fascinated by the beautifully detailed and furnished model of Evans House, which once stood beside the railway through Crawford Notch.
Along Mill Street, a block down the steep hill toward the river, we found One Stitch, Two Stitch with quilting supplies and fabrics and Avery’s Garden with silk flowers and arrangements by designer Emily Herzig. The Gallery at the Nest shows paintings and photography along with pottery, furniture, wood turning and jewelry. The League of NH Craftsmen Gallery showcases the state’s leading craftspeople, with beautifully displayed jewelry, hand-weaving, pottery, blown glass, quilts, woodworking, metal works, prints, photography and baskets.
What could be more convenient? Across the street from these galleries we spotted Schilling Beer Co. in the former mill, where they brew European-inspired lagers and ales. We were more than ready to relax in their convivial atmosphere over glasses of Rustic Belgian.
Dinner at Chang Thai Cafe
Its plain interior may not be much for ambiance, but we have never had better Thai food. We began with Crispy Tofu topped by crushed peanuts, and Golden Bag — crispy wontons of herbed chicken — both served with sweet plum sauce. The Pad Thai contained all the usual ingredients but transcended any same-old Pad Thai with its subtle flavors and contrasting textures. Beyond delicious was my Massamun Avocado Curry. Half a perfectly ripe avocado lay in a fragrant curry broth, topped by Black Tiger shrimp and toasted cashews. Around it, each bite flavored by the broth, were crisp broccoli, snow peas, zucchini and carrot rounds. When I’d finished every bite, I savored the remaining broth with jasmine rice.
Today we wanted a hearty breakfast, so walked to the Littleton Diner. Nostalgic for the Littleton Grist Mill, we were delighted to discover that they not only serve pancakes made from their buckwheat, but also sell the pancake mix. We left with bags for everyone in the family. We’d picked up a walking tour of historic buildings brochure, so followed it to learn more about these beautiful brick mercantile buildings along Main Street. Yesterday we’d resolutely bypassed Just L Modern Antiques, knowing it would mean at least an hour. This combination consignment shop and memory-lane trip is the place to look for a sectional sofa, weird lamps, a novelty butter dish, kidney-shaped coffee tables, a chips-and-dips set, nesting Pyrex mixing bowls, an orange shag rug, Danish Modern chair or kitchen utensils from the ’40s, even vintage romance novels.
At the museum, we’d been reminded of Littleton’s Horse Cemetery, so decided to pay a visit. This short foray from Main Street put us in the right place for late lunch/early dinner on Brazilian and Latin American cuisine at Little Grille at the Depot. My Tequila Lime Chicken was served on a bed of sautéed vegetables and topped with fresh salsa, served with rice and beans. The Brazilian Pork was equally authentic, marinated and grilled, served sizzling with zesty vinaigrette beside fried bananas. The drive ahead meant forgoing a Caipirinha, the real thing made from imported Brazilian Cachaça.