Category Archives: Dining

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.


International Cuisine

Many of our guests at the Ash Street Inn here in Manchester, NH are quite surprised to find out that even Manchester has international food – much less great international food.  If you love Asian food, we have many great restaurants to choose from but three really stand out as favorites of our guests.

For Indian food, the India Palace, at 573 South Willow Street, gets rave reviews from everyone.  Set in what looks like an office building along South Willow Street, the outside looks just a bit odd for a restaurant.  But once you are inside, the setting and decoration, not to mention the aroma, makes you forget where you are.  They have a varied menu from chicken to lamb to seafood to vegetarian to tandoori specialties.  All the ingredients are fresh and every thing is prepared on site.  Our guests love it and rate it highly.

For Thai food, Lakorn Thai, at 470 South Main Street on Manchester’s West Side, gets four stars from all our guests.  Set in a small, unassuming strip mall, Lakorn Thai is all about the food.  No fancy decorations – just great Thai food.  All of the dishes are authentic to the cuisine and can be ordered in your choice of spiciness.   We’ve been told to be careful how spicy you request because they will give you exactly what you ordered!  Simple surroundings, fantastic food and great prices have our guests going back for more!

Love Asian food and want a real treat?  Manchester is home to one of very few restaurants that feature authentic Nepali cuisine.  Café Momo, at 1065 Hanover Street, is a real gem.  Darlene is not a real fan of Asian food but we did visit Café Momo shortly after they opened and it was great!  We started with momos, which are small filled dumplings, and they were moist and sweet.  Darlene, who is also not much of a drinker but love cucumbers, tried the cucumber cooler which is lime juice, cucumbers and rice wine wants me to warn you that rice wine has a kick to it!  From there it was just a wonderful journey through to dessert where I ordered the rice pudding which was simple, and decadent, at the same time.  Both Darlene and I, and dozens of our guests, will assure you that Café Momo is a real find.  Lots of citrus, yoghurt and fresh fruits in amazing combinations.

In future posts we’ll talk about some of the other international restaurants that have sprung up in Manchester as the Queen city has grown and matured!


60th Birthday Dinner

On the occasion of my 60th birthday this past weekend, Darlene and I had the opportunity to go out to dinner at what is my favorite restaurant in Manchester, NH – Richard’s Bistro at 36 Lowell Street.  Richard himself has been part of Manchester’s culinary tradition for a very long time and his Bistro, now in it’s 15th year, has always been, as is still, absolutely amazing.  From the location to the atmosphere to the menu to the ambiance to the staff, every single detail is quite remarkable.  Richard, and his executive chef Matthew Provencher, continue to find tantalizing treatments to old favorites as well as new tastes to explore.  Having been there many times since we opened the Ash Street Inn 10 years ago, I can assure you that you are going to fall in love with Richard’s also!

Not that Richard’s is the only great choice to make when choosing a restaurant in Manchester.  I did have to consider Darlene’s favorite restaurant, Piccola Italia Ristorante, just down the street at 827 Elm Street. Giovanni and Rosa Paolini have done a fantastic job bringing authentic Italian cuisine to Manchester in a setting that truly brings the tastes, sounds and sights of Italy to everyone.  The menu is expansive and includes traditional and well as modern Italian favorites.  From the paintings and decoration to the wonderful aromas wafting from the kitchen, you are immediately immersed in a Mediterranean setting.  Everything is made from scratch and all the ingredients are the finest imaginable!  I tend to order the house risotto with gorgonzola and pears but everything we have ever tried is great.  Makes it hard to choose a place to eat.

But choose I did.  Our dearest friends from college days were taking us out to dinner and insisted that I choose my “favorite” place so Richard’s won.   And for someone turning 60, great friends, great drink and a great dinner are the makings of a meal of a lifetime!


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”!