Simple gifts: Discovering what Canterbury has to offer
What do garlic, coffee, kielbasa, maple cream and corn pudding have in common?
What do garlic, coffee, kielbasa, maple cream and corn pudding have in common? We might not want them all in one dish, but we found them all in one weekend.
Because Canterbury has no B&B, we thought Shaker Woods Farm at Comfort Point, just north in Sanbornton, would be appropriate. The sustainability- conscious Shakers would have appreciated the solar panels that heat the inn's water and supply most of its electricity, along with the owners' clever garden methods that lengthen the growing season. After breakfast, we moseyed south, following Shaker Road into Canterbury.
Signs to Fox Country Smoke House lured us to a rustic shop filled with tantalizing aromas and their own smoked products: kielbasa, jerky, bacon, hams, duck, rainbow trout and almonds. Thinking that we might want to picnic under a blossoming apple tree on this fine May day, we bought big rounds of Thuringer, red pepper sausage and smoked provolone.
We followed some back roads (how would we travel without our DeLorme Atlas?) to Someday Farm, where we met dozens of friendly alpacas. Because we'd missed their festive Shearing Day, we'd called ahead to make sure the Farm Store would be open so we could see the knit and felted alpaca hats and purses, as well as jams, jellies, tasty dipping oils, herb vinegars and mustards (all made right here) and gloves, mittens, hats, scarves and yarn from Peru. I bought kits to learn spinning and felting with this soft appealing wool, along with mustard to go with the Thuringer.
It was far past noon when we reached Canterbury Shaker Village's restaurant, Greenwood's, for a late lunch – a good place to arrive hungry. After bubbling-hot Shaker Corn Pudding, we feasted on chicken pot pie – slow-roasted chicken and vegetables in creamy herbed gravy beneath a flaky crust – and a dish we'll certainly never see elsewhere: traditional Shaker Fish and Eggs, which is haddock baked with hard-boiled eggs, potatoes and cream. The dining room is simple, with beautiful wooden tables and tape-woven chairs.
Canterbury Shaker Village, designated a National Historic Landmark, is one of the oldest and best preserved of all Shaker communities. We'd forgotten its scope and size and realized there was more than we could possibly see this afternoon. Although never quick with math, even we could see the advantages of membership: discounts at the shop, a year's free admission, special events invitations and $8 savings on this weekend's admissions. Across the road at the Carriage House we learned about Shaker furniture design, watched brooms being made in the Carpenter Shop, then took a guided tour of the Schoolhouse, the town school for 60years. After admiring textiles in the North Shop, we moved on to the Creamery to learn that Shakers designed the cream separator and motorized ice cream freezer.
Having already eaten our main meal, we remembered the picnic makings and headed to the community-owned Canterbury
Country Store for more. Along with the expected groceries and glass-domed wheel of store cheddar, we found an amazing selection from local farms and kitchens, available here when their own farmstands and shops aren't open. We grabbed the remaining loaf of fresh-baked bread and the last coconut macaroons before browsing through maple products, whoopie pies, preserves, soaps and handcrafted gifts. And garlic – Canterbury has its own garlic farm, Two Sisters' Garlic, and we found garlic jellies that we couldn't resist adding to our picnic collection (and made a note to come back in September for garlic sets to plant). By now we weren't even surprised to learn that Canterbury has its own Fair Trade coffee, from Granite Ledge Coffee Roaster.
Picnic Dinner "at Home"
Our picnic turned out quite nicely with all these acquisitions, and we enjoyed it on the B&B's porch, looking out across Lake Winnisquam (where the Canterbury Shakers had their summer retreat), listening to the birds and enjoying life's simple gifts.
We returned to see the rest of Canterbury Shaker Village, including its highlights -the 18th-century Meetinghouse and Dwelling House. We marveled at the ingenious oven invented here by a sister in 1878, a rotating system that allowed 60 loaves of bread to bake at once. Necessity was the mother of invention, since nearly 300 Shakers lived here in the mid-1800s. We saw other traditional arts demonstrated, then browsed in the museum shop, where we found beautiful handmade round boxes, baskets, peg rails, brooms and furniture, along with Shaker-style fiber arts.
After sandwiches at Shaker Box Lunch, and a look at more local foods at the adjoining Farm Stand, we wandered a circuitous backroad route to enjoy the pink and white hillsides of apple blossoms at Hackleboro Orchards and elsewhere before driving home across the crest of Loudon Ridge, perhaps the straightest country road in the whole state.