Sunday, January 29, 2012

New Hampshire in January

Last week, I went on my very first business trip ever. As someone who likes to travel, this trip excited me. As someone who hates winter, I was dreading it. We went to New Hampshire. In January.

In all fairness, we completely lucked out in the fact that NH has had roughly the same mild winter we've been experiencing here in KC. There was almost no snow on the ground and the temperatures were in the high 30s and low 40s. I even considered for a brief moment bringing a jacket instead of my wool coat. At the end of the day, my fear of the cold overtook my desire to pack lightly and the coat made the journey.

The first night we arrived in Manchester, my coworkers wanted seafood. I haven't learned to like seafood since last week when we ate at Le Fou Frog, but I am completely understanding of the fact that seafood in NH is far fresher and better than anything you can get in the midwest, and therefore understood their desire to eat it. Our hotel recommended a place called Hooked in downtown Manchester.

Hooked was a small restaurant and it was completely packed. We were surprised at how busy it was for a Tuesday night. Luckily a table was just leaving as we were arriving so we only had to wait a few minutes for them to clear the table. Hooked and the restaurant next door to it, Ignite, share the same owner. I was impressed by the service at Hooked, as when my manager asked if they had anything non-seafood on my behalf, the waitress immediately offered to bring over a menu from Ignite. I actually ended up ordering off the Hooked menu, but appreciated the gesture.

For my entree, I had the Fins and Feathers. This was a penne pasta with a very light wine and butter sauce. The pasta included bay scallops, sundried tomatoes, pancetta, grilled chicken and a little bit of cheese. The lack of flavor in bay scallops make them one of the seafood items I can and will eat. I ate pretty much the entire dish.

On Wednesday, we went to dinner at XO on Elm, also in downtown Manchester. I was starving by the time we arrived at dinner and was in need of food and water badly. The service was wonderful, bringing out bread with butter and dipping oil right away. The only downside to this meal was that I ate so much in such a short time that I had a glucose spike and was uncomfortably full the rest of the night.

For an appetizer, we had Stuffed Dates. The waitress assured us this was somewhat of a signature dish for them and they did not disappoint. How can you go wrong with a date, stuffed with chorizo sausage and cream cheese and wrapped in pancetta bacon?

I ordered pumpkin bisque as a second appetizer...I'm sure there's a technical name for this? Course 2. We'll call it course 2. The pumpkin bisque was very good, but just a little too sweet to eat before dinner. It would have made a nice pre-dessert course maybe? Look how pretty it was though.

My main entree was Braised Beef Ravioli. At this point in the meal, I'm ashamed to admit how much I had already eaten. The ravioli was definitely my favorite part of the meal, so tender and juicy. Unfortunately, I only made it about halfway through the plate before developing an overwhelming desire to unbutton my pants. Since this wasn't exactly an option, I had to do the next logical thing and just stop eating.

We were all too full to even consider dessert, but the waitress did bring us all a Lemoncello, compliments of the house.

I would highly recommend Hooked and XO on Elm to anyone in the Manchester area. You should probably make reservations though, because both restaurants were extremely busy during the middle of the week.

Regarding New Hampshire as a whole, I would really like to go back with C sometime. As much as I hate winter, a part of me was slightly disappointed in the lack of snow. While I didn't want it to snow while we were there, I was sort of hoping to see the place covered in white. It would have been gorgeous, I'm sure. Every road we drove on was lined with trees, which I'm sure are also beautiful in the fall. Overall it seemed like a really nice area with a lot of charming shops and small towns.

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