In moments of shock, elation, devastation, celebration, and change we must eat. Our local businesses and restaurants are institutions who need and deserve our support regardless of political affiliation. From small farmers, to successful restaurants, the common denominator in the Seacoast Food Scene is a love for local ingredients, artisans, chefs, and gathering places. This weekend marks the start of Restaurant Week in Portsmouth and surrounding restaurants.
A couple of times a year, a group of restaurants on the Seacoast gather to celebrate the seasons local ingredients in Prix- Fixe menus. Each menu offers three courses, most restaurants do dinner, and some, both lunch and dinner. This is fantastic way to discover a new restaurant and taste seasonal local bites from a variety of restaurants on the local scene.
Each season I study the list of Restaurant Week menus like a kid looking through the Toys R’ Us Christmas catalog. This season there are many trends within the menus including an overarching theme of “stuffed.” Yes, you will get “stuffed,” with three courses of reasonable size and reasonable price, but, you will also find a number of “stuffed,” items on the menu. At Brazo they are serving a Chorizo-Stuffed Roasted Pork Loin, and Stuffed Squash. Cure is serving a stuffed Delicata Squash and at Cava you will find stuffed Piquillo Peppers. Massimo has tortellini stuffed with Maine Jonah Crab, and the Rosa is offering Lobster and Crab stuffed shells.
Cauliflower is all the rage this restaurant week too. Black Trumpet Bistro, Louis, Massimo’s, Vida Cantina, among other popular spots are all featuring seasonal cauliflower on their menus. Guests will also find menus heavy with sweet potato, squash, and other New England fall seasonal produce. Cheesecake made with goat cheese is popping up on dessert menus at Anneke Jans, and Block Six and the cheese course is back!
The restaurant I am most excited to visit is Franklin Oyster House. They are offering a special alongside their Restaurant Week Menu called “Bubbles and Bi-values,” for $15 guests can add on six oysters and a glass of prosecco to their three-course feast. I am excited to try their Oyster Stew and Lamb Chops. My loyalty will also take me back to Black Trumpet Bistro where I have never had a bad meal. Chef Evan Mallet creates well thought-out, locally-sourced and masterful bites; I can’t wait to try their Salmon Brown Butter Rillettes, and Archer Farms Angus Brisket. I also may visit Moxy; their menu for restaurant week is a map of New Hampshire featuring 5-small courses representing “live free or die.” Courses include dishes on the theme of Space Travel, Politics, Education, Colonialism, and Granite. Finally, for a new restaurant I plan on visiting is Tinos in Hampton for modern takes on traditional Greek bites. For more information on Restaurant Week and menus visit: http://www.goportsmouthnh.com/where-to-eat/restaurant-week/
Other upcoming events:
What: Writers on a New England Stage: Mario Batali; discussing his new cookbook “ Big American Cookbook: 250 Favorite Recipes from Across the USA”
When: Sunday, November 20th 1pm
Where: The Music Hall, Portsmouth NH
More Info: http://www.themusichall.org/calendar/event/mario_batali
Winters’ Farmers Markets are popping up indoors, with fall local produce perfect for cozy dishes and Thanksgiving plates.
More info on locations and dates: http://www.nhmagazine.com/NH-Winter-Farmers-Markets/