Lake Winnipesaukee and Meredith
Friday Evening Dinner at Camp
We like the casual atmosphere here, as well as the summer camp theme, but mostly we like the food. Tonight we decided to order only those starred items on the menu, indicating that they are the chef's "Pride & Joy" and began with fried smelts with a citrus dipping sauce, and Camp Crackers: toasted flatbread topped with mozzarella, gorgonzola, garlic and scallions. For mains we chose grilled marinated pork tenderloin with fresh herb chimichurri sauce and crispy fried onions, and Camp's version of Steak Oscar – pan-seared tenderloin medallions with Maine lobster meat, asparagus and béarnaise sauce. Of course we couldn't leave without sharing one of their s'mores, made with Common Man-made ice cream.
We retired to our room in Church Landing at Mill Falls, directly on Lake Winnipesaukee, although the view over the lake from our balcony would have to wait until morning light. Our room's rough-stone fireplace and peeled-log beds recalled an early 20th-century fishing camp, but with 21st-century upscale details.
While we believe firmly that ice cream has no season and applaud Kellerhaus for offering their Ice Cream Buffet year-round, we knew the weekend had a lot more food in store, so thought it prudent to visit for their waffle smorgasbord breakfast instead. We watched them make candy using the same techniques and equipment they've used since 1906, and left with a supply for Christmas stockings and a box of my favorite: butter crunch, a luscious combination of almonds, milk chocolate and crisp toffee.
Just down the road at Funspot, we found the American Classic Arcade Museum, an amazing collection of coin-operated arcade games, from pre-electric to the invention of the pinball machine in 1931 to its demise with the popularity of more violent games in the late '80s. The games are all playable, and the coins go to preserve the collections.
Before lunch we detoured up Rte. 104 to Annalee, where it's always Christmas, and shelves of Santas and impish-faced elves grinned at us from every side, based on designs made famous by local artist Annalee Thorndyke.
Hart's Turkey Farm is another New Hampshire tradition, and we stopped for chili made with their roasted turkey and a sandwich of grilled turkey cutlet, tart apples and melted Brie with cranberry chutney.
Returning to Mill Falls, we browsed in the Marketplace, and after looking through Country Carriage and Lee's Candy Kitchen on the upper floor, I descended to find Adornments & Creative Clothing Co., where I could have spent the afternoon trying on the beautifully designed jackets, blouses and dresses in glorious colors and fabrics and wrapping myself in the collection of scarves. I left a bag there to be picked up on my way back to our room and headed to Main Street, stopping in Once New Vintage Wares & Salvage, where we found an iron door latch we'd been searching for. After a stop for coffee at Kara's Café and Cakery, we browsed in Waukewan Antiques and admired the art in Gallery 51. I knew if I stepped into Innisfree Bookshop it would mean the rest of the afternoon, so we returned to the car and headed to The Old Print Barn. As much art museum as shop, this Civil War-era barn contains over two thousand original works of art covering all forms of printmaking, as well as oil and watercolor paintings and photography.
Cascade Spa at Mills Falls is thoughtfully open until 8 p.m. on Saturday, giving us plenty of time to relax with a 25-minute Focused Zen Massage. Advertised as "Focused on the places you need it most" – which for my camera-toting partner meant his aching neck – this was a leisurely interlude between a busy day and dinner.
Dinner at Lavinia's
Intrigued by last year's article in New Hampshire Magazine on abolitionist John Coe and his son, we'd reserved a table at Lavinia's, in John Coe's former home just up the road in Center Harbor. We began by sharing an appetizer of New England seafood cakes. For our main course we ordered a grilled veal chop with mushroom demi-glaze, and Statler chicken pressed with granite brick (this is NH after all!). Desserts were spiced apple cobbler and a cinnamon cannolo with Kahlua ricotta.
Located in the same building as our hotel room was another of the Common Man restaurants (in the summer there are four in Meredith), Lakehouse, where we decided to eat late, at their Sunday brunch buffet. All the egg dishes are made from local organic free range eggs and among these were shirred eggs baked with butter, cream and aged Cheddar. Also offered was the full selection of Benedicts that their breakfast menu is known for, including Bay Point Benedict with Maine lobster hash and Hollandaise.
Three days of dining out called for some exercise, and since the day was sunny we decided to climb Red Hill. On our way through Center Harbor we stopped at Keepsake Quilting to admire the gallery of dozens of finished quilts for sale, in original and traditional designs.
The trail up Red Hill follows an old road, and although it's less than two miles to the top, it climbs a fair bit to get there. At the summit we climbed the stairs of a fire tower for a 360-degree view of the Ossipee and Sandwich ranges, Lake Winnipesaukee and Squam Lake.