dine and dash, new england edition

Culinary travel is hotter than ever and New England in summer is one of the best places to do the surf and the turf. Here are just a handful of packages recently found via New England Inns & Resorts, a collection of nearly 250 aligned inns, resorts, and B&Bs. The website has a handy reservations widget so you can search availability across the collection – or download their free app to view info on each property and plan a vacation.

Farm to Fork Weekend (Nonantum Resort, Kennebunkport, ME) – As the farm-to-table movement continues to grow, this weekend showcases Kennebunkport’s best local purveyors. Begin with a meet and greet that includes demonstrations from Cabot Cheese, Urban Farm Fermentory, and Shipyard Brewing Co. Saturday starts with breakfast in 95 Ocean Dining Room followed by a customized Foodie Tour of the Kennebunks, a lobster boat ride on the Rugosa, cooking class with the resort’s Executive Chef and a private dinner featuring a “Farm to Fork” menu. The weekend ends with a sunset walk and a Jazz Brunch. Starts at $598 per couple.

Now We’re Cookin’ (Johnson & Wales Inn, Seekonk, MA) – This package includes overnight lodging for two in an executive suite, a $50 dinner gift certificate for Audrey’s Restaurant, a 3-4 hour recreational cooking class for two at the campus of Johnson & Wales University in Providence, RI, two Chef’s Choice aprons and breakfast for two at Audrey’s Restaurant. Starts at $369 per couple. Tax and gratuity not included.

Inn to Inn Culinary Herb Tour (Inn at Ellis River, Jackson, NH) – Visit 10 different inns for tasty herb treats, recipes, seeds or plants for the garden, and culinary lore. This package includes a welcome reception, herb-themed breakfasts, tours, and a gift from the inn from $249-$469 depending on room choice. A limited number of one night packages are also available for $159-$179 or stay a third night for an additional $99-$139.

King Arthur Flour Discount (Norwich Inn, Norwich, VT) –  Aching to get baking? Sign up for a class at King Arthur Flour’s Baking Education Center and take advantage of a 20% discount on accommodations at the Inn. Additionally, the Inn and King Arthur offer a 10% discount on memorabilia at the Inn and many items at the Baker’s Store (excluding Cafe and baked foods). Classes cater from beginners on up to expert bakers and include such favorites as Pizza Perfected, Bread: Principles and Practice, and Cake 101. This is a midweek-only deal available Sunday – Thursday. Rates at the hotel start at $129 per night.

Roaring Ramble Package (The Red Lion Inn, Stockbridge, MA) – Hit the road on your motorcycle with Executive Chef Brian Alberg for a freewheeling half-day ride through Berkshire farmlands and back roads before stopping at one of the chef’s favorite farms or a microbrewery.  Package includes a Sustainable Foods dinner for two at the Inn, overnight accommodations, and a sustainable breakfast the next day. Available from $525, including tax and gratuity, it’s available for overnights Sunday June 19 and Sunday August 21, with rides taking place the following day.

 

Share

top 100: the dutch

Of all the noisy restaurants in this abominably loud city to Andrew Carmellini’s The Dutch must go the dubious distinction of sporting the most inexplicably ear-splitting acoustics. While the decor is a pleasingly comfortable homespun ode to American earnestness, the decibel level makes it a little like dining on the verge of the BQE or trying to eat in the mosh pit of a rock concert: you live in fear of being bumped from all sides because honestly, there’s no way a group of ordinary humans could be THIS LOUD. I want to make the font larger, the bold bolder, the caps more capital to emphasize just how loud the hive is because even for a Saturday night in Soho it is VERY, VERY LOUD!  And that takes away from the food, I fear, which is pretty darn delicious from soup to nuts. As twilight gently envelope a momentarily quiet corner window table we start with Jersey asparagus because – smelly pee be damned – ’tis the season for asparagus. (In food fetish circles mid-May generally marks the time ramps relinquish their crown to the noble asparagi) Fragrant, toothsome, adorned with the slightest hint of tarragon and the buttery yolk of a fried – versus poached – egg, it’s like eating stalks of spring: verdant, earthy, and above all, vital. Steak tartare is equally alive, the beef tasting of its grassy diet and topped with white anchovy and a piquant dollop of caesar salad. A dozen New England oysters follow: meaty Massachusetts Peter’s Point and Rhody Matunucks thick with brine. Maybe it was the first round of cocktails – for me, The Last Oaxacan, a smoky mix of yellow Chartreuse and pineapple infused Mezcal; an aromatic blend of Thai basil, kaffir lime and vodka for my partner in crime, the Cassia Blossom – or the first bottle of Trimbach, but it’s at this point I notice we are speaking quite loudly while leaning in across the table to listen to each other. When main courses arrive we pay significantly more attention to our plates because it’s a losing battle trying converse at a sufficient volume while not shooting torpedos of food at the person across from you. It’s a taste-a-palooza, however, so we’re both happy to shut up and dig in. I’ve got five plump sea scallops glazed with bacon jam, jalapeno and kumquat. It’s a smoky-spicy-citrus trifecta that makes me want to shout “Yahtzee!” Across the table, my friend has a bowl of tarragon-roasted chicken with morels and charred leeks. The earthy smells perfume the table like narcotics and we happily pass plates back and forth in silence, like a joint shared at the beach – as oblivious to the noise as the crash of the surf. It’s a happy spell of satiety that’s cast, made even better by dessert – an ethereal banana cream pie that makes me yearn for summer. In fact everything this evening, save the noise, has been so seasonally focused that it has me looking forward to what might follow: summer corn, blueberries, and sea bass; autumn lamb, apples, and winter game. Chef Carmellini, you can cook for me anytime. But could you find a way to keep it down just a bit?

Share

at the theatre: happy birthday

Broadway’s Helen Hayes Theatre turns 100 today. The smallest of Broadway’s venues – just 583 seats are sold for the current tenant, the Tony Award-nominated musical Rock of Ages – The Little Theatre was officially renamed the Helen Hayes Theatre in 1983 to honor America’s “first lady of the stage.” It was a fitting tribute given that the first theatre bearing the name of Helen Hayes, on West 46th Street, had in 1982 – along with the Morosco Theatre - been torn down in an act of vandalism to make way for the ungainly Marriott Marquis Hotel. I’ve always had a bit of a sentimental bent for this theatre.  It was at The Little where I saw one of my first Broadway shows: Harvey Fierstein’s breakthrough Torch Song Trilogy with Estelle Getty, a very young Matthew Broderick, and Harvey himself.  Later, I spent almost a decade toiling in the neighboring Sardi’s building, at the Eugene O’Neill Theater Center. Walking daily past what had since become the Helen Hayes I never failed to be fascinated by the ever-changing marquee which heralded the parade of plays and musicals that attempted to settle in and call it home.

Borrowing from Playbill’s “At This Theatre” (Louis Botto and Robert Viagas’ history book of Broadway venues on sale at PlaybillStore.com) here’s a very abridged look at the early years of the old theatre, as well as the all-too-common fate of its passionate producer:

A century ago, The Little Theatre was built by producer Winthrop Ames. An aristocratic New Englander, Ames rebelled against Broadway commercialism and built the Little, then with only 299 seats, as an intimate house for the production of noncommercial plays that were too risky to stage in large Broadway theatres. The New York Times admired the theatre’s red-brick, green-shuttered exterior, its Colonial-style lobby with a fireplace, and the auditorium, which had no balcony or boxes and was built on an incline that afforded an unobstructed view of the stage. Ames’ policy — to produce “the clever, the unusual drama that had a chance of becoming a library classic” — continued to be reflected in the Little Theatre’s fare. Among the early productions, all financed solely by Ames, were George Bernard Shaw’s The Philanderer (1913); Prunella, a fantasy by Laurence Houseman and Harley Granville-Barker, starring Marguerite Clark and Ernest Glendinning (1913); and Cyril Harcourt’s comedy A Pair of Stockings (1914). By 1915 Ames was having financial problems with the Little. Because of his theatre’s small seating capacity, the impresario was losing money, even with hits. On March 11, 1915, The New York Times reported that Ames was in danger of losing his house. To prevent this, Ames planned to increase the seating capacity to 1,000, add a balcony, and make the stage larger. In 1920 Burns Mantle reported that the Little had been remodeled and the seating capacity was now 450 seats.

The true purpose of the Little Theatre, to present new playwrights and experimental dramas, was fulfilled by its next two bookings. In January 1920 Oliver Morosco presented Mamma’s Affair, a first play by Rachel Barton Butler that won a prize as the best drama written by a student of Professor George Baker’s famous “English 47” class at Harvard. Morosco presented a cash award to the author and mounted her play successfully with Effie Shannon. The other drama was Eugene O’Neill’s first full-length play, Beyond the Horizon, which had been playing matinees at other theatres before it was moved to the Little. It starred Richard Bennett and won the Pulitzer Prize. The Little next housed one of its gold mines. The First Year, by actor Frank Craven, who starred in it with Roberta Arnold, proved to be a sensation. It opened on Oct. 20, 1920, was produced by John Golden and ran for 760 performances. Brooks Atkinson reported in his book “Broadway” that by 1922 Ames had lost $504,372 on the Little Theatre. His other theatre, the Booth, which he built with Lee Shubert in 1913, was a commercial house and is still successful today. When Ames died in 1937, his estate had dwindled to $77,000, and his widow was forced to move from the sprawling Ames mansion to a small cottage on their estate.

Share

Proudly powered by WordPress
Theme: Esquire by Matthew Buchanan.