Whitefield, Jefferson and Bethlehem
It was snowing lightly as we pulled up to the Mountain View Grand, looking very grand indeed, standing alone on its hillside with its welcoming lights reflecting on new-fallen snow. A bellman stowed our luggage into a vintage elevator, still hand operated and a reminder of the hotel's long history. We dined late, in the casual Tavern, enjoying both our seared wild sea scallops served over pasta with wilted spinach and roasted plum tomato beurre blanc, and lemon-pepper Atlantic salmon on a bed of greens with red pepper aioli. From the list of accompanying vegetables, we both chose delicious sweet potato fries.
We ate breakfast in the Tavern, choosing eggs over corned beef hash, and buttermilk pancakes served with baked apples and warm maple syrup from Fuller's Sugarhouse in nearby Lancaster.
We were curious to learn more about Muddy Paw Sled Dog Kennel, so instead of taking a dogsled ride with them here at the hotel, we drove to Jefferson to meet their dozens of Alaskan Huskies, Siberians and Malamutes. Muddy Paw rescues Alaskan Huskies and others in need of a home, giving them a lifetime job doing what these dogs love best – running with a team. This was clear from their excitement as they jumped and barked for our attention while we helped select and harness them ourselves, and settled into warm blankets for a ride through the glorious mountain scenery. As we traveled along an old rail line and across open meadows, the skies began to clear and sun sparkled on the new snow. Each of us got a chance to mush the team ourselves, a real treat.
For more mountain scenery, we took the long route back, and discovered that Santa's Village was open and aglow with holiday cheer. We regretted that we hadn't brought the girls, who would have loved the dogsledding too.
We had eaten at Grandma's Kitchen before so we knew we'd find the best BLT in the mountains there (they have a Best of New Hampshire certificate from this magazine to prove it). It's the generous strips of lean, smoky maple-glazed bacon and their own thick-sliced whole wheat bread (toasted, of course) that make the difference. The turkey club was just as good, made with equally generous slices of their own roasted turkey.
We hadn't seen much of Whitefield itself so we stopped on its main square and found The Old Mill Studio open. This combination art gallery and crafts studio also had some nice antiques. Instead of taking the more direct Rte. 3, we left the village on Rte. 116, past several imposing Victorian homes. That led us to a ridge, where we took Mountain View Road – as well named as the hotel itself – to approach the hotel from the opposite side.
The afternoon was young so we rented snowshoes (why did we not bring our own when we loaded the skis?) and hiked across the golf course and through the woods, finding a scamper of animal tracks in the new snow. After all this exercise, the Mountain View's spa was tempting, but instead we relaxed in the pool. It isn't big, but the beautiful murals that cover the walls around it made us feel as though we were outdoors, surrounded by summer flowers and woodland animals peeking from the forest.
We hadn't brought our ice skates either, but found rental skates at the clubhouse next to the rink. It's never been my best sport, and after a few spills I wondered if I wouldn't be safer wearing my ski helmet. But with the full moon rising over the scene it was too glorious an evening to stay inside. After après-skate hot mulled cider we went back to our room to change for dinner.
Saturday DinnerWe'd chosen the hotel's more formal Main Dining Room for a leisurely evening, and I was delighted to find Mulligatawny soup on the menu. Nothing warms quite like the combination of chicken soup and curry, and this version was made with free-range chicken from Vermont's Misty Knoll Farm, coconut, almonds and basmati rice. The stew of Maine lobster and diver scallops finished with chive oil was also excellent. Although both were hearty, we were in no hurry, so we shared the chef's signature charcuterie board, which included a variety of pâtés and cured meats, all made in-house. As entrées, we chose maple-cured Moulard duck breast with cranberries, lightly sauced in herbed Port wine and served with parsnips, organic barley and stir-fried kale and a rack of lamb with Swiss chard, potato and braised endive in a Cabernet glaze. Dessert was out of the question.
The Mountain View Grand faces Cannon Mountain, and the sight of the white lines of its ski trails was irresistible. So we left right after breakfast (French toast and Eggs Benedict this morning) and drove to the ski area. Evidently the news was out that Cannon had snow because we were not alone on the trails. But Cannon never has long lines and by early afternoon we were able to get in as many runs as our early-season legs should do.
After bowls of hot chili in the base lodge, we made a quick detour to neighboring Bethlehem to pick up a Christmas tree at The Rocks Estate before hitting I-93 and heading home.