I did a little leaf peeping up in New Hampshire on Wednesday, although I can’t say as I got any good pictures to post. It was a gloomy day, and the colors aren’t anywhere near peak yet. I was up there on some sort of business anyway, peeping was secondary. I know it’s confusing. It’s usually pleasure before business with me.
I had dinner in Portsmouth. Every time I visit I like it a little more. It’s a quaint, pleasant little place. Picturesque. The people are friendly. What a strange phenomenon.
Market Square, Portsmouth
It was still early. We ordered their beer sampler…
He said maybe it took them longer to do the jambalaya than the steak. But that’s not likely, since the beauty of jambalaya is it just sits there in a big ol’ pot, and all you do is add rice. I tried a little of his steak with a wild mushroom demi glace, and I thought it was tasty, too, myself.
Black Cat Stout
Bottle Rocket IPA
Old Brown Dog
Smutty Portsmouth Lager
Smutty Shoals Pale
and Barley Wine
Wine’s another thing people start talking crazy about (Fran Lebowitz once said, “great people talk about ideas, average people talk about things, and small people talk about wine”). I went to a tasting with a friend last summer at Downtown Wine & Spirits, and realized pretty quick I was in way over my head.
I mean, they’d come around with the bottle and pour you some, and you’d sniff it and swish it around and all that, and then they’d be like, “so, what did you think?”
And my friend would say something like, “Hmm, a bit flabby, far too chatty, and rather jejune, if I may say.”
“Mmm, yes, I found it long-winded and digressive…”
“… downright turgid at times.”
“With a hint of wet dog,” my friend would conclude (he tacked that on to the end of every wine).
And I’d just nod, swishing the sample around in my mouth, hoping that they wouldn’t interrupt my tasting to ask me my opinion. But sometimes they called my bluff.
“And what did you think?”
“Mmm,” I’d swallow. “Me? I like the hair, but too much makeup. And, um… stripes and plaids don’t go together…”
I’d clarify: “Um… I’m definitely getting a wet dog in the distance, howling…”
Was that a nod from my friend?
Emboldened, I’d continue: “It’s a full moon… It’s cold out–October–and the woods are dark… and, and… the wolves are on the prowl!”
Back to quizzical looks.
“And,” I’d conclude, holding the glass to my forehead like a fortune-teller, “the number 23, for some reason. Does that mean anything to anyone?”
I had no idea.
So to be honest, I don’t even try anymore. Wine is fine, but liquor’s quicker. You know what I’m saying?
Back in Portsmouth, after we finished our beer sampler, the place suddenly filled up with dads and their toddlers. It was something you wouldn’t see in Boston. It must be some kind of club. They were everywhere. Some cute ones, too. Dads, I mean. And toddlers, as well, but in a different way.
So we split. Went for a stroll through the streets of Historic Portsmouth, dropped into Breaking New Grounds in Market Square for a cup of coffee before getting on the road back to Boston. BNG is a lively little place with a warm atmosphere, and coconut macaroons, which my friend is especially fond of, for some reason.
I also want to plug what has long been my hands-down favorite restaurant in Boston, Neptune, in the North End. I dropped in for dinner earlier this week. It’s a great little spot, the atmosphere is always inviting, and odds are you’ll find Jeff Nace, the proprietor, hanging out trying a new wine, his wife and daughter in tow.
Neptune is really what restaurants were meant to be. A great menu, good wine, and a genuine neighborhood feel. It really is all that, and totally unpretentious about it. But you will end up spending no less than thirty-five bucks apiece for lunch, and at least fifty each for dinner. All I can say is, it’s good to have friends with money.