Find Skiing, Great Food, Local Art and More in Henniker
The weekend promised to be typically cold for January, so we went to the town Henniker to ski on some of the state’s sunniest slopes
The Colby Hill Inn Photo by Stillman Rogers
We saw lights on in the Preston Barn as we parked, and were lucky to find someone inside, at the New England College Art Gallery, even though it isn’t usually open late on Friday. This bright two-story exhibition space highlights emerging and established regional artists in changing exhibits.
We crossed the street to Daniel’s, where we ordered beer-battered fish and chips and chicken Napoli: roasted boneless chicken breast with artichoke hearts, Kalamata olives and dried tomatoes, served over sautéed spinach.
Wind howled around the Carriage House at Colby Hill Inn, swirling snow against our windows and encouraging us to turn off the alarm and enjoy our comfortable bed a bit longer. Later, as we enjoyed our French toast in Grand Marnier syrup in the inn’s dining room, we decided that instead of heading to the mountain this morning, we’d see what the town of Henniker offered for amusement.
We started at the Henniker Historical Society museum in the Old Academy Hall, built in 1836, where we learned a bit about the only Henniker on Earth since its founding in 1768. Especially interesting was the new exhibit on Ocean Born Mary and L.M.A. Roy. We knew the story of Mary, whose timely birth saved a ship and its passengers from a pirate raid. But we had never heard of photographer L.M.A. Roy, who owned the Ocean Born Mary House for many years and was the creator of the tales of its haunting.
Later, we browsed among the works of local craftspeople at The Kaleidoscope on Bridge Street, admiring woodworking and carving, silver jewelry, mosaics, organic soaps and hand-knit mittens and hats. Given the weather, the latter were particularly appealing, and I was inspired to get creative myself.
But St. George’s Café was right there, so first we stopped for a smoked turkey Reuben on 12-grain rye bread and a chicken salad sandwich with walnuts on garlic-herb focaccia, and lingered over cups of steaming cappuccino.
Still inspired to play with wool, I suggested The Fiber Studio, a short drive away on Foster Hill Road. Tim found a comfortable chair while I fondled wool yarns of infinite variety, played among the wooden and ceramic buttons, and finally left with enough colored fleece to make myself a hat. It was only a short distance to the Henniker Book Farm, New Hampshire’s oldest used bookstore, where we lost ourselves for the rest of the short January afternoon. We stayed so long that we almost didn’t make it to Henniker Brewing Co. before it closed. We left with a supply of Working Man’s Porter and The Roast, a robust stout brewed with coffee beans custom-roasted by White Mountain Coffee Roasters in Concord.
Dinner at Bartlett’s
Last spring the Colby Hill Inn rebranded their dining room as Bartlett’s, and we were looking forward to sampling the new menu. I began with a bowl of creamy butternut leek soup, garnished with strips of crisp fried leek. The salad of poached pear and gorgonzola in maple cider vinaigrette surprised us with its pleasantly spicy tang. For the main course we chose rack of lamb, served medium rare and accompanied by three varieties of roasted potato, and portobello mushroom Napoleon. This attractively presented entrée was a stack of grilled eggplant, roasted red bell peppers and roasted tomatoes on a meaty grilled portobello, topped with provolone and served over greens. Dessert was maple crème brûlée.
We didn’t make it quite in time for first tracks at Pats Peak, but we were close, heading up the triple chairlift to the new Cascade Basin trails. As the temperature climbed slowly into the teens, we were grateful for the sun on these east-facing trails. Most of the new terrain is geared to intermediate skiers, which suits me just fine. We always enjoy Pats Peak’s friendly, easy-going atmosphere, where total strangers may yell “well done” to a six-year-old carving a perfect turn.
After a full morning in the cold, we were both glad to warm up with bowls of Pats Peaks’ meaty chili. Tim stayed on to ski the afternoon, but I had other plans. I had reserved a spot in a class on machine embroidery at Quilted Threads in downtown Henniker and wanted to get there in time to browse first among the luscious fabrics and embroidery supplies. By the time the class began, I had amassed a bagful of hard-to-find threads and needlework tools. Between those and the wool from The Fiber Studio, I should keep busy until spring.