“New England has a harsh climate, a barren soil, a rough and stormy coast, and yet we love it, even with a love passing that of dwellers in more favored regions”

Henry Cabot

I’m sorry about the lack of entries I’ve written about what’s going on this week but I’ve been on a mini-life organization and that tends to take time out of my blog writing.- but no worries, I’m back with tons of things to write about!

I was on vacation a few weeks ago and in those 4 days I went to 5 states: New York, Vermont, New Hampshire, Maine & Massachusetts. My focus may usually be the 518 but sometimes you need to get away to somewhere relatively close and where to eat and what to see there as well. This way, I get to show you what I did and maybe give you some ideas if you need a trip elsewhere.

Our first stop was Hampton Beach, NH right at sunset time. Isn’t it beautiful? They were having a sand sculpture competition and the entries were really cool. By the time my mother and I visited, the winners were already chosen. That didn’t stop us from taking in the more culinary options of the boardwalk.

Luckily for us, my mother and I have family that moved to New Hampshire about 5-6 years ago, personal tour guides make for the best food on the block! Our first stop was Blink’s Fried Doe.

What was different about this “Fried Doe” over any others that I’ve tried is the options of flavors available. When I think  fried dough, I assume that I can only have powdered sugar, but for Blink’s this is not the case.

Some of the other flavor options includes Sauce & Cheese, Peanut Butter & Jelly, Garlic & Buttery, Pure Maple Sugar, Strawberry, Apple Cinnamon and the list goes on from there. Each of us decided to have the Cinnamon & Sugar Fried Doe. Though each of the options seemed delicious in their own right, we were looking for something sweet and sugary. Next time, I’ll be eyeing that Garlic & Buttery option- sounds right up my alley!

While on vacation, usually my health concerns fall by the wayside. What I mean by that is that if my vacation last 4 days, I’m not too worried about the nutrition facts of what I’m eating, a prime example of that is my dessert to this fried dough dinner- ice cream.

Those of you familiar with the 2010 US Winter Olympics team may know the name Scotty Lago when referring to snowboarding. He won the bronze in Vancouver. What you may not know is that his family owns an ice cream place in Lone Oak, NH ( & Rochester as well) called Lago’s Ice Cream.

What I’ve learned about New Hampshire ice cream is that you should NEVER order a large- their kiddie sizes leave enough to eat the next day. Bombarded with flavors, I figured I’d pick the one with the picture of cookie monster. Cookie Monster was great (I always seem to be attracted to blue ice cream when I’m in New Hampshire). I love homemade ice cream and as I mentioned, make sure you get a small!! I got a small and had plenty to eat the next day for dessert too.

The next day, my mother and I went to Maine to visit a friend of hers who lives there over the summer. To me, Maine means lobster.

This was the first year that I’ve gone on my yearly New Hampshire/ Maine trip the legal age to drink alcohol so I thought it’d be best to try new beers, somewhat local, instead of what I’m used to. When in Maine, I tried Shipyard Ale. I really enjoyed it. Though, I’m usually used to darker beers like Guinness and Murphy’s I’ve become more welcoming to lighter beers and I really enjoyed Shipyard Ale. I would compare it to the texture of Coors Light but with more of a taste of Budweiser. I would’ve liked it a little thicker, aka. more like Bud, but it was a nice opposite to the heavy soup was having.

After, we headed to York Beach, ME. A stop to York Beach means a stop to The Goldenrod for salt-water taffy made right in front of us. You’ll be able to find this candy store either by the big sign outside or the big crowd circled around the windows in amazement as sugar becomes tasty taffy or “kisses” as they call them. They sell many different types of candy and they have a restaurant to stop in for lunch. They have so many flavors to choose from such as vanilla, molasses, strawberry, peanut butter, etc. When you order a box, you also get to decide what flavors you want unless you’d rather an already pre-packaged box or a small bag with a taste of each flavor before you decide your favorites. I have to recommend the Maine Blueberry flavor. Make sure they put a lot inside the box because everyone is going to come back for seconds or thirds, that is, if you decide to share. Strawberry is also one of my favorites. I don’t find that it actually tastes like strawberry but the flavor is great as well.

As I said before, Maine to me means lobster and I wasn’t going home without fresh lobster. I joke with my mother that I’m spoiled when it comes to lobster because the only time I’ve had it is fresh out of the ocean and you can’t go back from that. Usually we buy the lobster and cook it where my mother’s friend lives but this time we picked them up already cooked.

Fresh lobster is one of the best things I’ve ever tasted. The best part of eating fresh lobster is that it’s so sweet and delicious that butter isn’t even necessary. I’ve learned over our yearly trips to Maine how to properly get all the meat out of the lobster. My favorite new tool is the lobster fork, makes life a lot easier. If one is not available to you, here’s a tip* break off the tail and take your fork through to push the meat out- the best part, all in one shot (unless you’re a claw person).

After filling ourselves with about 2-3 lobsters a piece, we headed back to New Hampshire. The next day we went to Portsmouth, Maine (very close distance to NH) one of our favorite places to visit. My family is Irish so usually our routine involves stopping at the two Irish stores in town but this time we added Ri Ra, an Irish pub/restaurant for lunch.

I could always order a Guinness or a Smithwicks but I wanted to try something new and I was told that a Shandy is so good it’s almost dangerous. I ordered a Smithwicks Shandy which is a mix of  beer (this case, Smithwicks) and a carbonated beverage (this case, Irish Red Lemonade). FYI* I purchased the Irish Red Lemonade from Ri Ra and it was more expensive than the bottles I found elsewhere in the town so if you want some, look around first.

What adds to the experience is the building that it’s in. The bar, an old bank lobby, the bathroom is through a bank safe or you can ask for a table where you sit in the old bank safe.

Spicy Chicken Sandwich & a Shandy

The building is beautiful and the food fantastic so there’s no reason to not stop here for a bite to eat if you find yourself in the area. I ordered the spicy chicken. For those of you who don’t enjoy red-hot sandwiches, this would not be the choice for you, one bite brought tears to my mother’s eyes. The sandwich buns were very small compared to the size of the chicken but it was very good. I enjoyed the sauce much better than most spicy wing sauces that I have. The plus side, this restaurant has locations all over the eastern side of the US, so look at the website to see if there’s one in an area you may be traveling.

To end our trip, what else? Ice Cream at Annabelle’s Ice Cream. Annabelle’s is known for its all-natural flavors as well as fresh ingredients. Their dairy-free options are also very tasty which is sometimes hard to come by. This time, I tried Wild Berries & Cream which they describe as “Our Lowest Fat Vanilla Yogurt with Swirls of Fresh Red Raspberry Sorbet.” You can add gummy bears, hot fudge, M&Ms, etc to any flavor but I usually just like to keep the ice cream plain so I can taste the flavors (though the hot fudge is fantastic!). The difference with this and the other ice cream places we’ve encountered is that a small is a small and a large is a large so order your usual. They also have sandwiches to order that all sounded fantastic so definitely try one if you can.

The next day, just as we thought our trip eating through New England was over, my mother made one more stop- ice cream at Johnson’s. Johnson’s is notorious for their large sizes so order a kiddie or a small if you need to. We also ordered a lobster roll meal because I was more hungry than ready for ice cream. The meal came with french fries and a drink. I don’t remember the price exactly but I remember it being between $10-15. The fries weren’t that great so in my opinion, I would just order the lobster roll instead of the meal, it’s a little cheaper. It may be hard to find so look for the lobster!

This trip to New England is a fresh change from the 518 and it’s not that far away. Instead of a weekend, I would recommend a 3-4 day weekend or spend the week there exploring the many beaches and different seafood restaurants. There isn’t seafood like that which is fresh out of the water! On the way home, I recommend taking the back roads as long as you’re leaving during the day. Instead of just seeing the names of the towns as exits, it was a nice drive to experience them for the short drive through them, gave me ideas of places to visit in the future. Who knows it may be an entry down the road. Enjoy your trip!!