Category Archives: Dining

Happy Oktoberfest und “Ein Prosit der Gemütlichkeit”

Chef Rob "Prosting" with beer and pretzel
Prost.

I originally posted this blog article in 2010 which was the 200th anniversary of Oktoberfest, but as today is once again the start of Oktoberfest, I thought I’d take poetic license and reuse.  Also  since then, we have become Innkeepers and we try to bring a bit of “Gemütlichkeit” to all of our guests. Not sure what Gemütlichkeit is?  Read on to find out.  But first some more about Oktoberfest. Continue reading Happy Oktoberfest und “Ein Prosit der Gemütlichkeit”

To AirBNB or not AirBNB, That is the Question.

Bumble Bee showing the buzzThe buzz in the Bed and Breakfast world lately seems to be whether or not one should consider using a short term rental service for your stay while traveling. While each traveler stay is different,  it’s all a matter of individual preference. I wouldhowever like to suggest some reasons why staying at a “Real BNB” is the better choice.

Although every Bed and Breakfast is unique, a RealBNB is usually a family owned and operated small business. It is not a part time job and the Innkeepers are professionals who know the hospitality business and put the customer first. Many Innkeeepers also have years of experience in the corporate world and understand the needs and wants of the business traveler, because after all we’ve “been there, done that”.Laptop at workspace with Ash Street Inn coffee mug and scones We  know what life as a road warrior consists of and how to address those concerns whether you are traveling for business or for pleasure. Innkeepers also know the local area and provide concierge services to let you enjoy sites off the beaten path,

RealBNBs are also insured, regulated and have fire safety codes that are above and beyond typical residential requirements. Many have mandatory fire safety equipment installed such as sprinklers or Fire Department connected smoke alarms. You can sleep restfully knowing that these systems are in place in case there was an emergency. Real BNBs also contribute to the local economy by paying local and state taxes.

And speaking of sleeping. A real Bed and Breakfast  is truly that.

Ash Street Inn coffee mug and plate of cookiesWhen you arrive, you may be greeted by fresh baked goods, you and are always provided with a comfortable room and bed , In many cases (ours included) the Bed and Breakfast  is in a historic building. (circa 1885 more on that in a future post) But in addition to the comfortable bed, upon awakening, you are treated to a wonderful, hot breakfast which is often prepared by a trained culinary professional.  

Let’s look at these two points individually. When you check into a RealBNB you will not find a sleeper couch nor Air mattress. Room 205 showing antique poster bed and stained glass windowYou will find a well appointed bedroom and comfortable bed and most, such as The Ash Street Inn, also have private en suite bathrooms. We also offer Queen sizes beds with triple sheeting and plush pillows. Many also have common areas outside the bedroom where you can sit and enjoy a cup of coffee and perhaps an outside sitting area too. Many of our guests sit on  our wrap around porch and often enjoy an adult beverage outside after a busy day of work, after visiting family or site seeing.

Then there is breakfast

Pancakes, maple syrup and fruit saladA RealBNB will of course have coffee, tea and juice available but also different hot and cold  options as well. Some may offer one main entree while others such as The Ash Street Inn offer cooked to order items ranging from pancakes to omelettes to weekend specials.  Most also offer dietary options such as Gluten Free or Vegan. I can speak from experience that my vegan banana walnut pancakes have made for some very happy guests! And BTW, we can also have vegan or gluten free snacks waiting if you tell us ahead of time.

With these reasons in mind, if you enjoy comfort, delicious breakfasts and taking the path less traveled. Consider a RealBNB, and as ShakespeareCartoon image of Shakespeare singing wrote in The Two Gentlemen from Verona enjoy “One Feast, One House, One Mutual Happiness.” or to paraphrase “One Breakfast, One Bedroom, and One Happy Time”

The 2017 Syrup is in.

Chef Rob holding Two Gallons of Maple SyrupSummer knocked on the door early this year, (we went from the mid 40’s to the mid 90’s in three days!)  I thought it was time to break out the 2017 harvest of Maple Syrup. The mixture of cold and warm days throughout early spring produced a wonderful harvest. As usual we placed our order with Fuller’s Sugarhouse up in Lancaster, NH and of course we order by the gallon.

 

One of the benefits of being the chef and owner of our B&B is being able to choose quality products and serve them to our guests as we like. Breakfast is ALWAYS cooked to order and in addition to eggs and omelettes, we always includes a choice between two types of pancakes, and typically french toast as well. On weekends, specials are offered rotating between sweet and savory options.

 

However, for now back to pancakes. Over the last couple of years, I have received many compliments on our pancakes. I must admit I may be able take credit for how they are prepared and served. Always made to order with buttermilk and eggs added just before cooking. Our pancakes batter is never made the night before nor frozen. That makes a difference.

But what I can’t take credit for is the syrup. Many guests have commented on how delicious the syrup tastes. They detect the nuances of true maple flavor which is totally different then the simple sugar taste of imitation syrup, (or as I like to call it caramel colored corn syrup).

We have the luxury of living in a state where over 90,000 gallons of maple syrup are produced a year (that’s requires about 3.6 Million gallons of tree sap!) and are proud to serve it to our guests. To us, that is just one part of what a TRUE Bed and Breakfast is, a comfortable bed and a delicious breakfast.  Over the years our guests have come to expect a wonderful room (bed) and tasty snacks and breakfast, and we will continue meeting those expectations.

I didn’t get a chance to talk about Maple Sugar this time, but that too is a wonderful natural product that deserves its own spotlight. But that’s a story for another day.

Dietary Needs While Traveling

A Vegan and Gluten-Free  Muffin Recipe from Margit’s Muffin Kitchen

A plate of Gluten Free Muffins and Cookies
GF and Vegan Snacks

We truly live in marvelous times that allow people with special dietary needs a worry-free travel. At The Ash Street Inn Bed & Breakfast, we have many guests with dietary restrictions or preferences, so we have Vegan, Gluten-free, Lactose intolerant, and Vegetarian breakfast options always available.

Not only do we  have non-dairy yogurt and dairy free milk in our fridge (in addition to our regular dairy products),  we also offer various dietary restricted, cooked to order breakfast items as well. (Rob’s Vegan Banana Walnut Pancakes are always a hit)

But what about afternoon (or after dinner, or midnight) snacks?

After our guests arrive and are settled in, they often enjoy a cup of coffee or tea (together with some freshly baked cookies, scones or muffins) in our parlor in front of the fireplace, or if weather permits, outside on our porch.

However, we want all of our guests to be able to enjoy those relaxing moments as well so we  will have some sweet delights waiting for them  according to specific dietary needs .  (DISCLAIMER for severe sensitivities – we do NOT have a certified gluten free or nut-free  kitchen).

That being said, I’d like to share a recipe for one of our guests favorite which happens to be both Vegan AND Gluten Free.

Banana – Raisin – Oatmeal Muffins

Dry ingredients

  • 1 ½ cups Gluten-free flour
  • ½ tsp Xanthan Gum
  • ¾ cup old-fashioned rolled oats (GF certified)
  • 1 tbsp baking powder (GF certified)
  • 1 tsp salt
  • ¼ tsp cinnamon

Wet ingredients

  • ½ cup packed dark brown sugar
  • 1 cup vanilla soy yogurt
  • 2/3  cup vanilla flavored non-dairy milk
  • 2/3 cup mashed ripe bananas
  • ½ cup vegetable oil
  • : 2/3 cup raisins (To fold in)

Preheat oven to 400 F.

  1. Mix together the dry ingredients and in a separate bowl the wet ingredients until well blended.
  2. Add the wet mixture to the dry and stir until just blended. Gently fold in raisins
  3. Divide in a 12-cup muffin tin, lined with paper liners and sprinkle with brown sugar.
  4. Bake in preheated oven for 25 to 30 min, (toothpick test should come out clean) let cool and enjoy!

For Vegan Recipe only, you can use regular flour and omit the Xanthan Gum from the recipe.

We hope you enjoy the muffins!

Margit

 

I’m not always in the kitchen

View of kitchen showing stovetop and stained glass windowA couple of weeks ago, we had the pleasure of hosting three recent graduates from Southern New Hampshire University class of 2015 (including one who had received her Master’s.) They were in town to attend the commencement celebration, as they were part of the online learning program and wanted to walk with the class.

This was a special weekend because although the guests did not know each other previously, they shared completing their degrees as adults and therefore shared a common bond.
This bond was evident by the time they spent sharing cabs, going out to dinner and of course breakfast talk. Margit and I could not help but be caught up with this special weekend and found ourselves joining in conversations more than usual, joking and sharing what the Bavarians (and Germans in general) call “Gemütlichkeit” which literally translates to coziness.

Although this weekend was special in many ways, the day to day operations was relatively the same as any other weekend.

Baked goods had to be ready for afternoon snacks, evening prep work had to be done for weekend breakfast specials and then the normal shopping and cleaning that also takes place behind the scenes.
This weekend seemed a little different since every time our guests returned from one event or the other, they found me in the kitchen.

This turned into a running joke until finally when several guests were returning from a celebration dinner (I think they were coming into the dining room for a late night snack) they saw me once again, and I finally had to tell them “I’m not always in the kitchen!”

This was indeed true as we then retreated to the porch for some late night conversation and a nightcap. Fun was be had by all and once more the saying came true: “Come as stranger, leave as friends”

Bed and Breakfast, what does that really mean?

The answer may be obvious but it may be worth reiterating, since today’s breakfast was a little different than the typical day.

A B&B should mean just that, a luxurious Bed and a wonderful Breakfast. It should be a place that feels a bit like home and provides a nice comfortable rest for the guest. While it may not feel like your home, it should have a “homey” feel. After all, it is your home away from home.

Breakfast should be another reason why you choose to stay at a B&B. Today we had a couple staying that follow a Vegan diet. They had informed us of this during the booking, and also took the time to call. We  reassured them that it would not be an issue and we would plan accordingly.

Their breakfast could have consisted of a few different options, the easiest would be to just supply fruit and perhaps some vegan yogurt and cereal. We feel however, that breakfast should be something that you remember as part of your stay at the Ash Street Inn. In this particular instance, I had emailed the guest and suggested vegan Banana Pecan Pancakes.  I heard back a couple days later that “The breakfast you have planned sounds fantastic!” so it was put on the menu.

Blueberry Muffins shown with large blueberriesMargit took this one step further and added a vegan Blueberry Muffin to the check-in baked goods, They were placed alongside Chocolate Chip Cookies and Apricot White Chocolate Chip Scones, both non-vegan.  Success, we were told the muffins served as an excellent after dinner dessert when our guest returned “home” and were looking for a snack.

The pancakes were well received in the morning and were served with warm NH Maple Syrup and earthbalance “butter”. There was of course fruit and soy yogurt as well. Upon checkout I was pleased to see a note in our guestbook that said “thanks for the beautiful room and  fantastic breakfast.” Mission accomplished!

Although we can not accommodate all dietary needs, we will do our best to have some options available. We do ask during the booking process, that if you have any allergies or dietary restrictions, please let us know,

What a fun Weekend!

Margit and I had the pleasure of hosting a bridal party this past weekend. What I mean by hosting is that the bride (Nicole) and her bridesmaids used our Inn as the venue to prepare for her wedding.  The entire Inn had been reserved for Saturday night as well.

Classic antique car parked outside the Inn

The bridesmaids arrived around 1:00 o’clock to kick things into gear.  There were the usual last minute snafus involved in many weddings, the bride’s dress was a no-show and someone had to drive to fetch it, the groom had a flat tire and the weather was iffy. Par for the winter we are having, it snowed in the morning but the Sun did  shine through as final preparations were made. Three Photographers arrived and the Inn became the backdrop of some wonderful photos that will be looked upon for many years to come.

 The Bridal party was whisked away in a pair of 1931 Packard Roadtsers and although still cold, the Sun continued shining.

We then had a chance to relax a bit and then I headed to the kitchen to do some prep work for Sunday’s breakfast.Layout of mis en place for Maple Pecan French Toast

I wanted to add something special to our regular menu so I decided to add a couple of extras. I was told that the groom (Tony) was a big fan of pancakes, so I decided to “Chef it up” a bit and besides our made to order buttermilk pancakes, we also had Maple Pecan French Toast. There was also a Southwestern Frittata for those who preferred something savory. along with our regular breakfast menu.

I headed up to our living quarters to get some sleep knowing that I had an early morning, only to have the doorbell ring a couple of times as keys were left inside rooms. (not a surprise at all considering it was a wedding party and I suspect they had quite a few other things on their minds). I suppose I should mention that one of the reasons they chose our Inn was because it was only a two block walk from the Currier Museum, which was where the reception was held. It was also a bit shocking to see that most of the Bridesmaids were not wearing coats and were still wearing their gowns, it had to be around 30 degrees when they returned! Some did however have their husband’s jackets draped over their shoulders.

The next morning the guests came drifting in in pairs, (some a little slower then others) and it was fun hearing the play by play review of the prior evening. There was plenty of coffee being drank and good food being eaten.

At around 10 o’clock guests starting leaving to either head home or to the hotel where other family members were staying. A subdued silence took over the Inn and Margit and I sat down, enjoyed a quiet coffee by ourselves and then kicked back into gear to reset the Inn for the next guests.

Was it worth it? Absolutely! It was also rewarding to receive this feedback  from one of the Matron’s of Honor, thank you Audrey.

The best bed and breakfast I have stayed in! I’m not sure what is better, the accommodations or the food (ask for the pecan french toast for breakfast!!) Impeccable service accompanied by a spotless room makes the Ash Street Inn a top notch pick!

 

Interested in booking the Inn for your own wedding party?

Email or call for details

 

Scones

Today I’m going to talk a little about scones. Not so much about scones really but how the scones at the Ash Street Inn got to be what they are today.  It was an interesting journey that ended with a great result!

Before we opened we had determined that we wanted to make cookies and scones, from scratch, every day, so our guests would be able to have a little snack in the afternoon.  So first we needed to learn how make scones.  After a bit of trial and error, we were making some great scones!  We made them the traditional way as a 10” round which we cut into 8 wedges and kept them out on the counter under a pastry dome.  Our guests oohed and aahed but rarely touched them.

“Maybe they’re just too big for snacking!” opined my wife, Darlene.  [She’s the real innkeeper – I’m just the cook…]  So we made them as drop scones and got 12-14 from the batch.  We still heard the oohs and aahs but no one touched them.  “Smaller still” says the innkeeper!  Now I’m down to a medium cookie scoop, about one ounce capacity, and a batch makes 26-27 small scones.

Out goes the plate with four each of four different varieties.  And they disappear!  The same guests who wouldn’t take one before now have two or three of the little scones and then come back for more.  We just can’t keep them on the plate!

So that’s how we learned to make little scones that our guests really love.  More importantly, that’s how we learned a lot more about guests and how to listen to all of the things that they don’t say so that we can make their experience here at the Inn the best that it can be.

 

Here’s one of the recipes that we use at the Inn.  Great with a hot cup of tea but just as good with coffee!

 

 

CHOCOLATE CHIP ORANGE SCONES

Chocolate and orange, a classic combination from the Ash Street Inn!

2 cups all-purpose flour                                     ¼ cup orange juice

1/3 cup granulated sugar                                     1 teaspoon vanilla extract

2 teaspoons baking powder                                grated peel from one orange

½ teaspoon salt                                                    ¾ cup miniature chocolate chips (semisweet or dark)

½ cup unsalted butter, chilled

2 large eggs

 

In a large bowl, stir together the flour, sugar, baking powder, baking soda and salt.  Cut the butter in ½ inch cubes and distribute over the flour mixture.  With a pastry blender, cut in the butter until the mixture resembles coarse crumbs.  In a small bowl, stir together the eggs, orange juice, vanilla and orange peel.  Add the egg mixture to the flour mixture and combine well.  The dough will be sticky.  With lightly floured hands, knead in the chocolate chips until evenly distributed.

 

Use a medium cookie scoop and place the scones on a baking sheet covered with wax paper. Freeze for several hours.  Then place in a zip-lock bag.  Scones will keep for 2-3 weeks.

 

To bake, remove from freezer and place on a baking sheet.  Bake at 375 degrees for 13 to 14 minutes until just lightly browned.

 

Great Irish pubs

This week I want to talk a little about “pubbing” in the Manchester, NH.  I’ve talked about some of the dining but we also have our fair share of Irish pubs.  The Irish have always played an important part in Manchester’s history and the tradition continues.

First, we have the Wild Rover at 21 Kosciuszko Street.  Since it opened in 1990, it has been billed as the only Irish pub on a Polish street in a French city.  It has won awards for serving the best pint of Guinness in the city and was voted the “Best of the Best Pub” by the Hippo magazine’s voter’s awards in 2010.  (More about the Hippo coming soon!)  With it’s 100 year old oak floors and brick walls, it is as comfortable and cozy as a pub can be.  The food is great from Bangers and Mash to the Irish Mixed Grill to the Lobster Mac & Cheese, there’s always something for everybody.  Lots of live entertainment every night and Thursday is Irish sing-along every week.  Less than half a mile from the Ash Street Inn, a lot of guests go there just to relax and have bit of pub food.

Second we move down on to Elm Street for The Shaskeen at 909 Elm Street.  Since 2005, the Shaskeen has been providing Manchester with Irish music 7 days a week.  Fits well since the pub is named after a famous, traditional Irish folk dance called the Shaskeen reel.  There is always something new to hear and lots of old favorites to remember.  The food is great here too!  From the Beer-battered Fish and Chips to the Guinness Beef Stew, the food will warm you up as the draughts cool you down.  The Shaskeen is part of a family of pubs owned by music loving folks of Irish descent who make the music as important as the food, drink and atmosphere.  The Shaskeen is less than ¾ of a mile from the Inn.

The Ash Street Inn is lucky to have two great Irish pubs within walking distance.  Many of our business travelers find them to be a great change from the usual fare they have available to them when they are on the road.  We’re glad they’re here – just another reason to stay at the Inn!

 

Manchester, NH – the “center of the universe”?

You might say we’re biased but, yes, we do see it as just that.  From the Ash Street Inn Bed and Breakfast, so many places are so close and easy to get to.  You can visit any of the New England states on less than one-half tank of gas.  Mystic, CT; Newport, RI; Portland, ME; Montpelier, VT and Provincetown, MA are all less than 175 miles away.  And with the easy access to all the interstate highways, you can get there quickly.  Or, if you prefer, there are lots of choices for “the road less travelled” that might get you there more slowly – or might not get you there at all.  It’s so easy to get sidetracked along the way that some guests never get where they were originally going at all – and don’t mind a bit.

Closer to home, there are still lots of choices when looking for great things to do in and around Manchester, NH.  Within 45 minutes in any direction, you can experience the wide range of choices that New England has to offer.  Head south and you can be in downtown Boston, MA with all that it has to offer – from the arts to sports to history.  Head east and you can experience all 13 miles of New Hampshire’s scenic coastline from the sandy beaches of Hampton Beach along the rock-strewn cliffs to Portsmouth.  Head west and you will be in the Monadnock range where picturesque little towns like Peterborough and Dublin home of Yankee Magazine, can be real “finds”.  Head north and you will discover Lake Winnipesaukee and Franconia Notch in the White Mountains, home to our beloved Mount Washington.

And, without even leaving Manchester, there are so many exciting things to do.  There is hiking, fishing and mountain biking around Massabesic Lake and the Audubon Center.  In season, you can ski and “tube” at McIntyre Ski Area. Minor league hockey and baseball are always great fun.  We have several venues for concerts and performances by artists from the world over.  The Currier Museum of Art and several other galleries and museums can make even a rainy day a great time.  With all the great restaurants and clubs in the city, everyone can find something that suits their style and have a remarkable day doing just about anything at all.

In future posts, we’ll talk in more detail about all the things to do in Manchester, NH and you’ll see why we like to think of it as the “center of the universe”!