Between Seasons Trip to Sandwich, NH
We catch Sandwich between summer and leaf peepers, for a weekend split between the arts and the out-of-doors
The historic Durgin Covered Bridge
photo by stillman rogers
We arrived in time for a late dinner at Corner House Pub, where we found live music: acoustic guitar and vocals by Janet and Phil Sanguedolce of the Sweetbloods. After mains of wild mushroom and sun-dried tomato pizza, and the Mediterranean burger with pepperoni, Greek olives, artichoke hearts, sun-dried tomatoes, banana peppers and fresh Mozzarella, we found room for hot apple crisp à la mode.
Awakening to the tantalizing fragrances of coffee and bacon, we were soon enjoying the full country breakfast at Jonathan Beede House B&B. As we ate, innkeepers Susan and John Davies told us a bit about the history of their 1787 center-chimney Colonial, once a stop on the Underground Railroad. Then we headed to the pretty village green where the Sandwich Farmers Market was in progress. From there we stepped inside Sandwich Home Industries, flagship gallery of the League of NH Craftsmen, to see beautiful handcrafted pottery and jewelry, hand-woven scarves, woodenware, graphic arts and fine furniture. We learned that several League members have local studios, including hand-papermaker and printmaker Peggy Merritt.
We walked to the Elisha Marston House, home of the Sandwich Historical Society, filled with cooking utensils of past centuries and collections of old tools, textiles and furnishings. Unfortunately, the Quimby Barn, housing a restored Concord Coach and other horse-drawn carriages, was not open.
At The Barking Dog Café, on the green, we ordered chicken salad with big chunks of white meat and a tomato-basil-cheddar panini. The juicy, sweet tomatoes must have come from that morning’s farmers market. We stayed to browse in the adjoining shop, filled with beautiful dishes and home accessories.
Inspired by the artistry at the League shop, we set out to find more, beginning with the Patricia Ladd Carega Gallery on Maple Street. The early 19th century barn makes a good gallery space for showing the works of sculpture, painting, photography and graphics. At Surroundings Art Gallery we found oil and watercolor paintings, along with woodcarvings, stained glass and folk-art-style painting. While wandering around the village, we couldn’t resist stopping in Willow Pond Antiques & Goods and Hill Country Books, where we found a copy of Elizabeth Yates’ classic, “The Road through Sandwich Notch.” On our way back to our B&B we stopped at Basket Street Papers, studio of Peggy Merritt, to see more of her handmade paper sculptures, wall hangings and greeting cards.
After relaxing a bit in the wicker lounges of Jonathan Beede House’s bright sunroom, we were beckoned by the beautiful evening, so headed out for a stroll on the nature trails of the adjoining Chapman Sanctuary & Visny Woods. Among the informational signs along the trail at was one pointing out a 300-year-old hemlock.
Dinner at the Corner House Inn
The candlelit dining room seemed a world away from the pub upstairs, as did the menu. But they pay the same attention to locally sourcing their ingredients. We began with the signature dish, lobster and mushroom bisque with lots of lobster and a nutty hint of dry sherry, and a sweet potato polenta with portabella mushrooms, roasted red peppers and cheddar. Chicken Oscar had more lobster chunks and asparagus in a tasty béarnaise sauce, and the Hunters’ Meatloaf is made with venison, beef and pork served with caramelized onions.
If Saturday was our arty village day, Sunday was to be outdoor, active day, as we headed out Sandwich Notch Road into the White Mountain National Forest. This unpaved road through Sandwich Notch, built in 1801 as a way for North Country farmers to get their produce and livestock to coastal cities, hasn’t changed much in the intervening centuries, although the once-bordering fields have long since grown to forest. We followed the short trail to Beede’s Falls, actually a series of waterfalls, we discovered as we followed the brook upstream. In the tumble of glacial talus deposited here as the glaciers melted is the shallow Cow Cave, named for a stray cow said to have taken shelter here for an entire winter. Well, maybe.
Farther along the road, Pulpit Rock rises on the right, used by a Quaker pastor in the days when these were cleared farms. Rock climbers were practicing on the ledges behind it, the only people we met on the entire trip through the notch to Waterville Valley. Nor did we meet Bigfoot, who has been reported here several times, with descriptions of an 8-foot-tall furry creature. Tracks — three feet long and with four toes — have also been documented.
The Sandwich Creamery
photo by stillman rogers
By this time it was well past lunchtime, so we stopped in the village for scones and sought out the remote Sandwich Creamery. Never ones to follow conventional food pairings, we bought chunks of slightly salty Welsh Caerphilly and delicate French Coulommiers. The former went well with the pecan scones, the later with the apples from yesterday’s farmers market. We finished lunch with a pint of black raspberry ice cream, one of more than two dozen choices. After finding Durgin Covered Bridge, a Paddleford truss built in 1869, we stopped at Stanton Brook Farm for veggies to take home and to see their Kiko goats.