Autumn Kickoff Weekend: Part 1

In New England, it seems to me that there is a definitive transition from summer to fall. Sure, there are some August mornings where you can feel a chill in the air, but it usually warms right up by noon. It appears to continue in this way until boom – all of a sudden you go to bed in your usual pajama shorts and wake up freezing, with the daytime temperature no longer reaching past the high 60s. Well, I think we’ve hit that period in the season. And I’m certainly not mad about it! Although fall doesn’t technically arrive until September 23rd, Mother Nature seems to have decided otherwise and this weekend was my official kickoff to autumn. I couldn’t have imagined a more perfect weekend if I tried! In fact, I did so many things that one blog post is just too long – so I’ve broken it up into two parts.

It all started on Thursday night when my aunt and uncle had me and Nick over for a home-cooked feast at their Boston condo. My uncle had gotten a new position at a company there, and my aunt recently joined him in the city permanently. I’m so thrilled to have her living in close proximity to me, so I can see her much more than before! This certainly made for a great celebration at the condo. I’m still dreaming of the beef teriyaki and burgundy kabobs. Nick and I had taken Friday off for our first anniversary, so we were able to relax and enjoy the night.

labellevieThe next day we went back to New Hampshire, as Nick had booked us one-hour relaxation massages at La Belle Vie Therapeutic Massage on Elm Street in Manchester. I had never been there before and I certainly had some tense shoulder muscles that could use relief from sitting at a computer desk all the time. I opened the door to a clean, relaxing environment and couldn’t wait to just unwind. Nick had met Sara, the owner of the business, through a professional networking group called BNI and she was wonderful! She was friendly and attentive to any areas that I told her were more knotted than others. I have to say, my favorite parts of the session were definitely the foot massage and the scalp massage – the latter made me feel as if I was floating on air, what with my super thick hair!

Following our massages, we had lunch at The Farm Bar and Grille (also on Elm Street). I ordered a Chicken Caesar Wrap and Nick had the Pulled Pork Sandwich which is the star of the menu, winning Editor’s Pick for Best in NH 2012 by New Hampshire Magazine. I could see why, as I stole a bite (or two, or three) myself. A quick tip: if you’re interested in trying the pulled pork sandwich, according to the list of specials found on their website, The Farm features them for $4.99 on Mondays.

We were feeling tired after lunch (massages actually wipe you out!) so we went home for a much-needed nap knowing our special day was certainly not over. Post-nap, we caught a bit of the football game between Manchester West and Merrimack Valley high schools. Nick was on the West team back in the day and coached there a couple years ago. They lost the day we watched, unfortunately. After the game, it was time for my most anticipated activity of the evening – dinner at High Street Farmhouse in Goffstown. Nick brought me there for my birthday last year and I have been hooked since.

Before we got to the restaurant, Nick made a pit stop for scratch tickets. He had won on one earlier, and went to buy some more with his earnings (gotta keep the lucky streak going, right?). He brought two back into the car and asked me to pick one. We both went ahead and scratched and won even more – I won $50! I was ecstatic, as I usually only win the $2 back that I spend. Altogether, we now had $90 to spend on our anniversary dinner. What luck!

waitareafarmhouseWe arrived at the Farmhouse and the parking lot was nearly full – the restaurant has a lot of fans, and rightfully so. If you’re a fan of downhome style New England comfort food that utilizes locally sourced ingredients, this is the place for you. In fact, the High Street Farmhouse won New Hampshire Magazine’s Best of NH 2014 Editor’s Pick Rustic Menu. As we walked up to the door, my mouth watered at just the thought of what I was about to consume. We stepped inside and I was transported back in time.

The Farmhouse is located in, well, an old farmhouse. The inside decor matched the autumn weather outside – think candles in mason jars, fall-colored ribbons and curtains and deep red walls. We hadn’t made reservations and the wait for the dining room was about 30 minutes, but we were told we could be seated immediately in the tavern area. We didn’t mind the tavern area at all, and were brought to a table that was actually in a cozy corner away from the bar counter.

barfarmhouse

The bar area of the Farmhouse

We started with drinks and an appetizer. Nick ordered an Emma Wood, one of the restaurant’s featured local beers from the Able Ebenezer Brewing Company out of Merrimack. I ordered a glass of Cabernet Sauvignon (I can’t remember which winery it was from, but it was out of California). I love wine, but I’m certainly not a connoisseur. I drink white wine in the warmer months, and red wine when it’s cooler. For an appetizer, I was craving a nice, steamy bowl of soup so I chose the Rustic Tomato Basil. Just one sip and I felt like I had melted into a pile of blankets and pillows, it was that comforting. The soup had a thickness to it that satisfied the appetite but didn’t make me feel too full for the main course.

chickenpotpieFor dinner, the meal that I had thought about getting was no longer on the menu. It was a superb Yankee pot roast, even better than my mother’s (though I dared not tell her that). No matter, as there were plenty of other options I knew I would be more than happy with. I chose Grandma’s Chicken Pot Pie and Nick ordered the Cajun Haddock Bulkie sandwich. The pot pie was packed full of big, juicy pieces of chicken, so when cut up I was able to get a piece of chicken in every bite, which I appreciated. No one wants to run out of chicken in a chicken pot pie during the first few bites! Mixed in were two of my favorite veggies, baby carrots and peapods, along with onions and buttery mashed potatoes. All of this goodness was topped with a big crescent roll biscuit. The portion size was large enough for leftovers (which I actually had for breakfast the next day, I couldn’t wait to eat it – don’t judge). Nick’s meal certainly fulfilled his hunger, as there was not a single leftover.

After finishing our meal, we stopped to talk to restaurant owner Jen. Nick had also met her through his networking group. Jen runs the restaurant along with her husband, and they do such a fantastic job. They are highly involved in every aspect, and Jen was working behind the bar when we were there. Stay tuned for a future blog post featuring an interview with her!

After our chat, it was time to leave but I was instantly trying to plan when my next visit back would be. I was tired again, but decided to make a final stop for a pumpkin beer at The Pint in Manchester on Elm Street. Nick and I enjoy the atmosphere of the pint because it’s not a rowdy crowd or too loud, and you can actually enjoy your drink and hold a conversation.

When we got back to my apartment, we were stuffed and couldn’t wait to go to bed as we had another fun day planned for Saturday. Nick was taking me to Plymouth, NH where he went to college. Check back tomorrow for part 2 of “Autumn Kickoff Weekend” to read about our Plymouth trip and more!

Places Mentioned (in order):

La Belle Vie Therapeutic Massage – 1001 Elm Street, Suite 105 C, Manchester, NH 03101
The Farm Bar and Grille – 1181 Elm Street, Manchester, NH 03104
High Street Farmhouse – 9 High Street, Goffstown, NH 03045
The Pint Publik House – 1111 Elm Street, Manchester, NH 03101

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