Hey All! I have just recently returned from a trip out to New Hampshire to see my Zachariah! I could go on and on about the beauty of New England, especially in the the Autumn, but for the sake of brevity I'll try and keep my amazement confined to the culinary :)
One of our favorite places in Keene, NH for a slightly upscale/celebratory but still totally relaxed lunch or dinner is Luca's Mediterranean Cafe'. As the name implies, their cuisine is largely inspired by Italy, Greece, Spain, coastal France, etc. The stucco walls, the candlelight, the soft music, and the consistently awesome service make for quite the romantice evening :) I'm sure Luca's would be great for larger group celebrations too. And, side note, they have great bathrooms! In the ladies room (which is immaculate) there are bobby and safety pins, hair spray, lotion, a brush and best of all, a little guest book people are encouraged to sign and leave their impressions of the restaurant :)
On this most recent visit, we had an appetizer of Pumpkin Ravioli with a Brown Butter Sauce and sauteed raisins and pumpkin seeds on top. Normally, I'm not a huge fan of raisins, but they TOTALLY worked here. For entrees, Zach had the Chicken Francaise, and I had the Three Cheese Ravioli with roasted tomatoes and artichoke hearts with a Lemon Arugula Pesto Sauce. For dessert, we shared NUTELLA GELATO! (*long wistful sigh*). I would love to show you the pictures of these beautiful meals, unfortunately, they are on Zach's camera, and he has yet to upload them, so, if you know Zach, get him to post them on FB and then you can see them :) Until then , here is a link to Luca's if you care to peruse :)
One of the other great culinary portions of the trip was an unplanned visit to Burdick's Restaurant in Walpole, NH. We had spent the morning picking Honey Crisp Apples at Alyson's Apple Orchard in Walpole, and Burdick's was the lunch recommendation of one of the locals. Being that Walpole is basically as "quaint New England" as it gets, I was expecting something rustic, charming, salt of the earth, you know, "New-England-ish" I was most certainly not expecting a beautiful French style Bistro/Cafe with a gourment chocolate shop attatched to it! Burdick's won massive brownie points with me when the waitress told us not only that almost everything in the store was locally sourced and organic, she could also tell us which farms the greens/meat/cheese had come from! It was even printed on the menu! The prices were totally reasonable, as were the portions. That is something we need to get the hang of here in the U.S. In a truly European style restaurant, you can go all the way from appetizer to dessert and coffee and still not feel stuffed, just pleasantly satisfied :) Luckily, I did have my camera with me this time :) Our first course was Crostini with local cheese, apples and homemade fig preserves. For the main course, Zach had the beef stew and I had the warm goat cheese salad with walnuts, honey and lemon dressing:) (*swoooooon*) Oh, and as a side note, can someone PLEASE teach me how to upload photos to my blog and have them appear within the text and NOT at the top of the page? How do I make it not do that?!?! GAH!
Lastly, after picking all those yummy apples, some pie baking was certainly in order :) We made four apple crumble pies and there were enough apples for easily eight more, but some, of course, must be eaten raw and fresh :) Enclosed please find pictures and the EASIEST apple crumble topping recipe I have ever found. I love the rich flavor that the brown sugar imparts. This topping could go on pies, crisps, crumbles, heck, mix it in with your granola, top oatmeal with it, sprinkle it on plums or figs and stick them under the broiler with a little goat cheese or creme fraiche or honey, whatever your little heart desires :)
- 1 cup brown sugar
- 1 cup all purpose flour
-1/4 cup (2 oz.) cold butter, diced
- In medium bowl, mix together sugar and flour. Mix in butter with two forks, pastry blender or stand mixer until crumbly. Sprinkle onto pie/crisp/etc, whatever you are baking.
This recipe makes enough for about one pie/crisp/yummy baked thing, and can easily be doubled, tripled, etc, to meet your needs :) And hey, I'll admit it, I snatched up a few handfuls and ate it raw.....what? *shifty eyes* It's butter and sugar, COME ON! *nom!*
Love to All :)