Category Archives: Dining

Dietary Needs While Traveling

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

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

kitchenA 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.

bb1aMargit 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.

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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.toast2

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

 

Late summer at the Inn

Here we are in the middle of September wondering how the 4th of July got to be so long ago.  It was a long, hot, dry summer – now there’s a nip in the air every morning and the colors are starting to show on the trees.  Fall tends to be a long season here in northern New England and that’s just fine with us because there’s always a lot to do, things to see and great food to sample.

The downtown area on and along Elm Street will be busy tonight because it’s the night of the 7th Annual Taste of Downtown event from 5:00 to 8:00 PM.  Participants will be able to wander form shop to shop and sample culinary delights from 21 downtown restaurants.  It’s a great opportunity to see what the shops, new and old, have to offer and try some of the newest dishes from local restaurants.

This weekend will feature the 1st Chase event for the NASCAR crowd at the New Hampshire Motor Speedway (NHMS)in Loudon, NH.  Always a great event that draws huge crowds to the area, this will be the last year that NHMS hosts the first of the Chase.  Next year the first event will be in Chicago but NHMS will still have the second event of the Series!  After a couple of years of cold and sometimes rainy weather, it looks like we should have great weather for the main race on Sunday.

By the first of October, it gets even busier!  The World Championship Chili Cook-off (see my earlier blog for the details) will be in downtown Manchester from October 1-3.  The Deerfied Fair, which is one of the oldest, largest and most exciting fairs you could ever attend, takes place in nearby Deerfield from September 30 through October 3.  And the Fall colors will be coming out in full splendor around us while all these other events are taking place.

How are the colors going to be this year?  You can ask 100 people how the colors are going to be this year, or any year for that matter, and get 101 answers.  The bottom line is that they are always breath-taking.  The real beauty is that it isn’t just one day – it’s a whole season unto itself.  By the end of August the “swamp Maples”, maples near the bogs and swamps with their endless supplies of water, have already started to change to bright red and orange.  As time moves along the colors spread up the hillsides and across the forests starting with the softer birch and maple and moving slowly towards the harder ash and oak.  By the end of October, we are left with the soft, warm shades of brown that mark the end of Fall and the prelude to Winter.  Many oak trees will keep their leaves into, or even through, the winter so the foliage season just seems to keep on going.

Time to make your plans to come to northern New England to see all that we have to offer.  We’ll be here at the Ash Street Inn to help you enjoy it all.

 

Top 10 Cities to Live In

I know I talk a lot about Manchester, NH being a great place live in and visit.  Some folks might just shrug that off and attribute it to the fact that lots of people think they live in a great place.  If they didn’t think it was that great they would probably move to another place that was better!  But Manchester has received a bunch of accolades from several sources so I thought I’d pass them along to prove that I’m, at least somewhat, impartial.  And I’m not a native of New Hampshire either.  My wife and I are both from Massachusetts, what they call Flatlanders up here, so that’s not just being idyllic about home-sweet-home.

Portfolio.com, which is the online presence of the now-defunct magazine, recently named Manchester, NH the 10th best mid-size place to live and start a business.  They found that Manchester has a healthy economy, moderate cost of living, light traffic, robust housing stock and top-notch educational system!  As innkeepers here at the Ash Street Inn, we are more interested in what might drive visitors to Manchester than what might make them want to live here but it turns out that they overlap quite well.  A good economy, light traffic and great schools in the area mean that we get lots of guests who are looking for a chance to relax and enjoy themselves and want to spend that time in a vibrant community with other folks who are doing the same things.  Works for us all.

One award however does not a trend make.  It would be much more meaningful if there was some independent corroboration.  So here we go.

In May of 2010, Forbes Magazine named Manchester, NH to their Top 10 list of livable places based on the last five years of economic growth, cost of living, current unemployment rates and crime rates.

In 2009, CNNMoney.com named Manchester, NH 13th on their list of the best places to live and start a business in the United States.

Also in 2009, Kiplinger’s named Manchester, NH the second most tax friendly city in the US, second only to Anchorage, AK.

Last, but not least, also in 2009, Forbes magazine put Manchester, NH #1 on it’s list “America’s 100 Cheapest Places to Live”.

It’s great to see that, for the criteria that were the basis for these surveys, Manchester, NH is doing well and has been for some time.  Of course, if you were to change the criteria, Manchester’s ranking might well be different but to find a thriving, active, fun community that can change with the times and isn’t just about the hype of the current fads, these criteria work just fine.

If you ever have the opportunity, you should spend a few days in Manchester, NH and see for yourself what a great place it is.

 

Great new restaurants in Manchester, NH

While there’s certainly no shortage of great places to dine in Manchester, we have some great new spots that deserve some attention.  While Darlene and I have not yet been able to visit these spots, the guests at the Ash Street Inn have given us some great reviews.  So we thought we could pass along some great new ideas to our readers.

XO on Elm, at 827 Elm Street, calls their style “metropolitan nouveau cuisine with a unique New England flair.  Our guests call it fresh, unusual and exciting!  Lots of different mixtures of flavors in some new twists on old favorites makes for an interesting experience whether you go for tapas and cocktails or for dinner.  There is always lots of excitement with a new place and the service has always been quick and professional.  I’m looking forward to the jumbo sea scallops frilled with a maple bourbon glaze and accompanied with pumpkin risotto!

Ignite Bar and Grille, at 100 Hanover Street, has been around a bit longer than XO on Elm but it is still quite new.  In a very short time it has become a favorite spot for local professionals after a hard day’s work whether it’s just for a quick drink and some appetizers or a leisurely dinner with friends.  Lots of great menu items and some really interesting takes on some things.  Ever had fried pickles?  One of our guests said that a deep fried sliced dill with ranch dip is awesome!  And the Asian BBQ Ribeye Steak is made with real Asian BBQ sauce.  I’m going to have to try that one just to see what it is.

Firefly American Bistro and Bar, at 22 Concord Street, has been around well over a year but they still have that “new spot” feel.  They have won several awards through our local “underground” newspaper’s reader’s poll (I promise to write about the Hippo soon!) including 2010 awards as the “Best Date Place” and the “Best Cocktail” for the Firefly Dirty-tini!  One cold, raw day last winter, Darlene and I stopped in for an early dinner and a wonderful time.  It was just noisy enough to put some life into a dreary day and the chowder was perfect for warming up the insides too!  I’m already planning to go back for their Sea Scallops Casino because I’m dying to try scallops with smoked bacon, spinach and feta cheese.  Might have to get back there soon!

We’re really blessed to have great little spots like this so close to us at the Ash Street Inn.  These three are all within a three-block area (little city blocks – not NY blocks) and just over a half mile from the Inn.  We’ll keep talking about all the fine dining that’s available here in Manchester.  Sooner or later we know you will find a reason to some stay with us at the Inn and indulge in some fine dining of your choice.

 

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!

 

Chili Cookoff comes to Manchester, NH

I know I’ve said before that there is something for everyone here in Manchester, NH.  Over the last few weeks, I’ve just gotten started going through some of them in more detail to give you all an idea of how many diverse activities coexist here in northern New England.  In fact, just last week, I dedicated my post to talking about how New Hampshire is the host of not one but two NASCAR events every year.  Who would have thought about New Hampshire and NASCAR at the same time?

Well, this one may be even better.  From the 1st through the 3rd of October, 2010, Manchester, NH will be the scene of the 2010 World Championship Chili Cookoff (WCCC).  Yes, that’s right – chili in New Hampshire.  And not just chili – World Championship Chili!  The event is sanctioned by the International Chili Society which is a non-profit that sanctions chili cookoffs all year leading up to the WCCC.  Last year, they sponsored over 200 events that raised over $1m for charity.  Some of their more illustrious members include Carrol Shelby (think Cobra/Mustang) and Robert Petersen (think Hot Rod magazine/Guns and Ammo).

Now we all know that early in October New Hampshire certainly can get “chilly” but we usually warm it up with “chowdah” rather than chili.  Not that we don’t like chili here because we certainly do.  But we locals are a lot more familiar with clams, cream and onions than we are with beef, beans, chili powder and cumin.  So it will be exciting to have some of the greatest chili being prepared, and enjoyed, right in our own backyard.

The event will take place at Veteran’s Memorial Park in downtown Manchester on Elm Street between Central Street and Merrimac Street.  The venue is less than a mile from us here at the Ash Street Inn and it’s a pleasant 15 minute walk through a beautiful part of the city to get there.

The combination of the world’s greatest award winning chili and the world’s greatest Fall foliage is going to be hard to resist.  Being able to meld these two into one great weekend could be the opportunity of lifetime.