Great Skiing and Food Await in Lyme
A February snowstorm suggests a weekend of village pleasures and skiing at the uncrowded Dartmouth Skiway
Lights reflecting off the new snowfall lighted Lyme’s pretty common as we pulled up for dinner at The Lyme Inn. Choosing a table near the fireplace, we began by ordering Maplebrook Farm burrata served with arugula pesto, tomatoes, balsamic syrup and pine nuts, and a salad of greens with ginger-roasted pears and gorgonzola. For mains we chose pan-roasted cod with mascarpone fregula (Sardinian pasta we’re pleased to see on menus here) and smoked bacon, and penne with tiger shrimp, andouille and grilled chicken in a creamy tomato sauce.
We awoke to a sweeping view of the frozen Connecticut River and were grateful for the heated floors and gas fireplace in our second-floor room at Breakfast on the Connecticut. Guestrooms at this B&B in two buildings — the main house and the attached 12-sided building inspired by Shaker barns — feature Shaker-style and antique furniture and the entire place glows with hospitality. Scents of brewing coffee lured us downstairs to a breakfast that began with hot scones and fresh fruit as a prelude to cinnamon French toast. The syrup was from the Carlisle Trophy-winning Sunday Mountain Maple Farm in nearby Orford. We didn’t quite make it to Dartmouth Skiway in time for first tracks, but there was plenty of fresh snow left. I’ve always liked this friendly area, where I’m skiing alongside (if only briefly, as they ski a lot faster) future ski legends. As Dartmouth’s training mountain, the Skiway has been home to nearly 100 Dartmouth All-Americans and more than 30 national champions. After a warm-up on 1.25-mile Papoose from top of Holt’s Ledge, we rode back to the top for a couple of intermediate runs before heading over to Winslow’s “blue” trails.
We barely made it across the river for late lunch before Isabell’s Café (Rte. 5, East Thetford, Vt. 802-785-4300) closed, but luckily they hadn’t run out of the house-made hearty chicken-vegetable soup that warmed us to our toes. It was a toss-up between blueberry pie and their famous cookies, so we ate pie and took cookies with us. While on the other side of the Connecticut, we followed our innkeeper’s suggestion to nearby Lake Morey, named for New Hampshire inventor Samuel Morey, who launched the first steamboat on this lake almost 20 years before Robert Fulton’s. Morey went on to invent the internal-combustion engine, which he did get the credit for. Lake Morey was a beehive of winter activity, with a large area cleared for skating and a pond hockey game in progress. The longest skating trail in the United States makes a 4.5-mile loop around the lake. We had our own skates, but those who want to try Nordic skating can rent the right skates at Lake Morey Resort (Fairlee, Vt.).
Dinner at Stella’s Italian Kitchen
When we arrived at the 1780s building overlooking Lyme Common, the popular dining room was far from empty. Stella’s menu is definitely Italian, but not entirely — we began by sharing an appetizer of local smoked trout and salmon served with onion cream, capers and grilled pita. Good thing we didn’t order the lamb sausage and polenta too, as we were served bounteous portions of zuppa di pesce and Stella’s signature bucatini Bolognese. This localvore’s dream included pork sausage from Robie Farm, grass-fed beef raised in Lyme and Thomas Dairy heavy cream with Stella’s marinara. The zuppa di pesce was a savory mélange of shrimp, calamari, mussels and clams simmered in saffron-tomato broth with fennel, leeks, garlic and fresh herbs, served over capellini.
Our server told the chef of our 7 p.m. hockey game at Dartmouth’s Thompson Arena so we could finish our dinner leisurely and drive 10 minutes south to Hanover. We were in our seats for the pass back, but spent most of the rest of the game standing amid the fans cheering Dartmouth on to victory over Cornell. Back home, we relaxed skating and skiing muscles in our double whirlpool tub.
After a busy Saturday, it felt good to sleep late and linger over our farm-to-table breakfast of apple-cheddar bread pudding. Edgell Covered Bridge is less than a mile from the B&B, a nice walk on a clear morning. The 1885 lattice truss bridge was built on Lyme’s copious town common and pulled here by oxcart. Chatting over breakfast we’d learned more interesting history, including that the Balch House in Lyme was an Underground Railroad safe house on a route across to Vermont and on to Canada. We’ve always loved the lowlands in the Connecticut’s fertile floodplain with their beautiful farms, so we followed River Road south until it met Rte. 10 again.
Goose Pond Road took us along the shore of Goose Pond into Canaan, where we found Seal Cove Journeys. After visiting their kennel of 35 Alaskan huskies, each a jumping, barking ruckus in hopes of being selected to pull us across the snow, we helped harness the lucky winners to a sled built by Kip Bartlett, who partners with Christine Richardson to offer sledding experiences. Trips vary from an hour (with tea and homemade cookies) to 2 ½-hour runs through the woods and across snow-covered meadows. The ultimate is a hands-on experience learning to handle the team. The drive home began through one of New Hampshire’s prettiest village centers, Canaan Street, a lakeside historic district of Greek Revival and Federal buildings.