Friday, May 15, 2015

Insurance Assurance

LATE NEWS: This even has been cancelled.

Do you have problems with your health insurance? 
Is your car insurance too expensive? 
Will your insurance help if an older family member needs continuing care?
Does your company struggle with its group insurance plan year after year?

This Thursday you can share your concerns – and get some answers – when NH Insurance Commissioner Roger A. Sevigny holds a “listening” informational meeting at Inter-Lakes HighSchool in Meredith.

Sevigny and his team will be on hand to answer questions, listen to your concerns and get feedback that could improve things. They want to hear about problems you have with the state’s insurance system, including its rate review process and group plans.

The team will listen to your ideas about how the state can best respond to insurance problems, and how they can make sure everyone who needs to know about changes does know.

The meeting will be held this coming Thursday, May 21, in the Inter-Lakes High School Community Auditorium in Meredith, from 5:30 to 7:30 p.m. The gathering is open to the public so everyone – both individuals and company representatives – is welcomed to attend.

Tuesday, May 5, 2015

Green Times

This is the time when a young man's - or, to be more honest, an older man's - fancy turns to outside endeavors, including baseball and golf.

It's good to know that the Lakes Region has one of the best golf courses in the Granite State.

WBIN-TV recently posted info about the top five in New Hampshire, and the Owl's Nest in Campton was number three. That's not bad, considering how many courses we have per capita here. 

We've been to Owl's Nest, and it is a great spot - much better than those places with windmills that we usually frequent during the summer season.

BTW, you should check out the WBIN-TV evening news, at 5, 6 and 10 p.m. It's becoming a viable alternative to WMUR-TV, and they're sometimes days ahead of Tom & the gang on stories.

Meanwhile, the Sox are on TV right now...

Friday, March 20, 2015

"Still the Best"

Catching up with some WMUR's Viewers Choice winners which, as usual, includes plenty of Lakes Region representatives.

For instance, the state's Best Chocolates includes the famous Kellerhaus - which, incidentally is one of the oldest candy shops in New Hampshire.

 Cafe Monte Alto in Plymouth.

Their annual "best coffee" race, as usual, included a number of Lakes Region area spots including Cafe Monte Alto in Plymouth and Aroma Joe's, which has several locations including Laconia.

 Kathleen's Cottage Irish Pub & Restaurant.

The Best Irish Pubs include Patrick's Pub & Eatery in Gilford and - at number one -  Kathleen's Cottage Irish Pub & Restaurant in Bristol. (It also includes the Holy Grail Food & Spirits in Epping, which is notable because the owners are opening a new location in Laconia soon.)

Around the same time, folks were still in a St. Patrick's Day mood when they picked some of the best Corned Beef and Cabbage spots including George's Diner in Meredith and (again, at No. 1) Kathleen's Cottage - plus,  the Holy Grail.

You just can't keep a good Lakes Region spot down.

Sunday, March 8, 2015

Missing Eats

It’s called “You Know You’re from Laconia, NH, when…,” a Facebook group where you can discover a lot about the Lakes Region’s past.

For instance, members frequently reminisce about all kinds of businesses that no longer exist, especially food business: restaurants, bakeries, bars…

It was here that you learn about a short-order cook named Ken “Spider” Osgood. Later in his life, Spider was known for a large display he’d put up on his property facing Union Avenue, a conglomeration of various large gears interlocking… They were symbolic of the clock repair business he operated later.
But when he was younger, “Spider” was a local legend, a man whom could move with such speed and agility in front of his grill that he literally drew a crowd.
If the movie or the dance or the special event you went to that night hadn’t been as entertaining as you’d hoped, you could always count on Spider to provide a thrill or two as he musically and magically flipped hamburgers, rolled omelets, dolled out cutlery to customers, and replicated various waitresses’ orders without the benefit of pencil and paper.
Get a taste of what Spider Osgood was like by checking out the short film here.

Another thing you’ll learn from “You Know You’re from Laconia, NH, when…” is that some local favorite menu items are no longer available.
It’s an issue we’ve raised before. In this case, it’s dishes like "Mr. T's Fried Cheese" sandwiches.
The fried cheese sandwiches were a staple of a little eatery on Route 3 in Winnisquam named the Double Decker. Summer folks and local families would flock to place, filling its parking lot and enjoying all kinds of delicious foods – most of which we know now can kill you any second.

Yes, you can still find the fried onion rings and frappes at other spots, but those fried cheese sandwiches are long gone…  As are two popular counterparts: fried egg and fried bologna sandwiches.

Not long ago, we stumbled upon an aged menu from the famous Copacabana nightclub in New York City. When it opened in 1940, the “Copa” became one of America’s most exclusive nightclubs, a place where celebrities, politicians, and crime bosses could be seen among the wealthy and famous. (It was also the place where several prominent musical and comedy acts became famous, and it was not unusual in the 1950s to see record albums that had been recorded live at the club.)

The menu holds obvious pop culture historical significance, but it also provides some insight into what people were eating at one of New York’s toniest eateries more than 60 years ago.

And some of it, like the fried cheese sandwiches, is just no longer available in most places.

For instance, the Copa’s appetizers included a serving of Genoa salami, half a grapefruit and assorted canapés. (You may remember canapés from long ago: they were small pieces of bread topped with a tasty topping, anything from meat to jellies. You rarely see them – or the world “assorted” – on menus anymore.)

For dinner, you could choose chicken a la king on toast, calf liver with bacon, calf sweetbreads or Long Island duckling with apple sauce.
Or the baby lamb stew. Why identify the meat as coming from “baby" lambs? Did that somehow make it sound tastier? Today, you'll find lamb stew on menus but it’s unlikely it will be labeled as made from “babies.”

There was also a special section on the menu offering various kinds of “rarebit." Welsh rarebit, Long Island rarebit, Golden Buck rarebit, Yorkshire rarebit….  What’s rarebit? According to the Food of England website, it’s grated cheese blended with beer (or milk and butter) and served with seasoning (usually mustard) that's spread over hot toast, and then grilled.

It was not too long ago that small San Francisco café became famous for serving toast  – basic, warmed-up bread. (You can read the startling story about the founder here.) The phenomenon has grown, and now in almost any big urban center in America you can find a place specializing in toast – all kinds of breads with all kinds of spreads.

Why not get one of our local great restaurateurs to open a Lakes Region rarebit restaurant?
That would be new – in an “retro” kind of way.
If mac-and-cheese can make a comeback, rarebits are sure to be successful.

Friday, January 30, 2015

Country Cow Makes Boffo Showbiz!

You may recall a while back when we announced that the Country Cow Restaurant in Campton, a local favorite, was going to be featured on a Food Network television series called Restaurant: Impossible.

The premise of the show is that a once-successful restaurant has fallen on hard times. At its lowest point, Chef Robert Irvine and his team of specialists show up to "save the day."  It usually makes for high drama and an engrossing rise-from-the-ashes story.

We drove up to the Country Cow a few days after Irvin and his team were scheduled to be there but the restaurant had closed and there was no signs of life. We weren't sure what happened. We had heard that there were restaurants that Irvine worked with that were deemed "too broke to fix". 

But we'd eaten at the Country Cow, which sits next to the Blair Bridge. The food was very good and if the palce didn't seem to quite match the romance of its surroundings, we didn't think a smart restauranteur couldn't make it work. 

Well, apparently, Irvin's visit was a success and the episode of the show with the local eatery was shown this summer.

Thanks to our friends at BusinessNH magazine for filling in the details.

Friday, January 23, 2015

Nice Nachos!

Thanks again are due WMUR-TV for coming up with another "best of" list.

It's not scientific, but it's still fun to see how folks rate things - like the recent sample of the state's best nachos - and, as usual, several Lakes Region places came out strong.

For instance, the Crazy Gringo in Weirs Beach - a traditional Bike Week favorite, and known as "the Best Adult Daycare in the Lakes Region" -  made the Top 10 - as did Patrick's Pub in Gilford.

Cactus Jack's, which has a restaurant in Laconia as well as several other places around New Hampshire, also made the cut.

But the No. 1 spot went to our friends at the Panther Pub in Plymouth.

It's hard to argue with any of the winners but we are a little surprised that Burrito Me, which as spots in both Laconia and Plymouth, didn't win a nod.

We'll just keep it our little secret.

Monday, January 19, 2015

Romantic Rondevouz

It's hard to think of a sweeter place to dine with your sweetie than here in the Lakes Region of New Hampshire.

And that's not just our opinion.

Not long ago, WMUR-TV asked its viewers to name the Best Romantic Restaurants in the state.

And, no surprise to us, local places were prominent among the top ten identified. In fact, four Lakes Region restaurants made the list.

Fratello's Italian Grille in Laconia won accolades, maybe as much for its wondrous white tablecloth dining room and its flavorful antipasto salad as anything else.

The Italian Farmhouse in Plymouth was also named. Its joyous, casual atmosphere and rich variety of pasta makes it a great spot for a date. And it's  one of the Common Man Family of Restaurants, which was founded by Alex Ray of Ashland.

Finally, Frantello's around-the-corner Lakeport neighbors, O Steak and Seafood, was mentioned. O, which is located in the Lake Opchee Inn & Spa, is known for its dreamy setting and excellent menu, including breakout items like lobster mac-and-cheese. And O is part of another great Lakes Region chain: the Magic Foods Restaurant Groupfounded by Chef Scott Ouellette includes other stellar entries like Canoe and the North End Restaurant, both in Center Harbor.

That's three out of ten for the Lakes Region when it comes to the most romantic dining spots in New Hampshire.

So, eat your heart out, you Portsmouth food snobs. 

Or, better yet, bring your sweetheart to one of our places for a great meal.