Foodstuffs

A food blog from NHPR news, digital, & programming staff, exploring food & food culture around the state & the New England region. On-air features air Thursdays on All Things Considered and Saturdays during Weekend Edition.

Todd Bookman/NHPR

Nori and Sarah Kozuma opened up the Horseshoe Cafe on Newmarket’s main drag last year.

The Bay Area-transplants, married and heavily tattooed, divide the duties: Sarah handles the baking, including fresh breads, spreads, and a few pastries. Nori is the one-man coffee department, doing everything from importing to roasting.

“So I’m still baby roaster. We normally say about 10 years to be called a roast master,” Nori says with a laugh.

While he may classify a novice, Kozuma knows more about coffee than he’s letting on.

Leila Goldstein/NHPR

Imane Naji Amrani is in total party planner mode. She wears a pink dress and matching pink headscarf. Focused and firm, she tells a group of teenage helpers where food should go and hurries to get everything done before sunset.

Every night for the month of Ramadan, families at the mosque in Manchester take turns cooking for the Iftar, the evening meal where Muslims break their fast each night during Ramadan. Tonight is Naji Amrani’s night to cook.

James Napoli

Tad Montgomery can still remember when he first discovered morels.

He was five years old, working in the garden with his mom and siblings, when a thunderstorm suddenly rolled in. They all ran under some nearby trees for shelter.

“Mom, what are these things? They’re really weird!” exclaimed his sister, looking to the ground.

His mom had no idea what to make of the brown, brain-looking things emerging from the soil. But, being an amateur naturalist, she piled all the kids in the car and drove them, soaking wet, to the local library.

Peter Biello / NHPR

When he was a kid, Dan Walker lived in a house on Cottage Street, not far from downtown Littleton. Three doors up the hill from his house, in an old Victorian, was Bishop's Homemade Ice Cream. To young Dan, this seemed normal.

"I thought everyone had an ice cream shop a few houses away," he says, laughing.

Annie Ropeik for NHPR

Eating local in New Hampshire can mean more than just stopping by the farmers' market. For more adventurous residents, it means foraging for wild ingredients – like seaweed, straight from the Seacoast.

NHPR’s Annie Ropeik reports this old culinary tradition is getting a second life. 

Katherine Garrova

The trend of the speakeasy bar - drinking establishments that play with the history of our prohibition days - has taken off in big cities like New York and L.A. But New Hampshire now has at least a couple secretive watering holes of its own.

There’s a new place to grab a drink in Concord called Chuck’s BARbershop. Liu Vaine is the owner and he's started up a similar place in Nashua called CodeX.


Peter Biello / NHPR

In some countries in Europe, red wine is part of daily life. Not so in the US. And as a result, Americans may be missing out on the health benefit of a particular antioxidant found in the skins of grapes. Now a chemist at UNH is trying to get more of this antixodiant, resveratrol, into the American diet through coffee. 

Glen Miller is chair of the chemistry department at the University of New Hampshire, and a few years ago, he first got the idea of putting resveratrol into spring water. But when he did, he saw a huge problem. 

Peter Biello/NHPR

Last week the VFW Post 168's bar and banquet hall on Deer Street in Portsmouth was sold. Mounting costs and competition prompted the sale, leaving members of the VFW without a permanent home. 

The day after that sale, an NHPR producer and I went to Portsmouth to learn more about what this means for the veterans who used it, and what the new owner has planned. 

 

Peter Biello / NHPR

Making your own liquor at home is illegal under federal law. A bill in the New Hampshire House right now would legalize the distilling of a limited amount of alcohol in the same way the state regulates in-home production of wine and beer. One local entrepreneur who sells stills is hoping the bill will provide a boost to his business.

In a workshop off Depot Street in Manchester, foreman Jeremy Burrows rolls a beautifully-shined sheet of copper through a machine to emboss it.

Peter Biello / NHPR

When an elementary or middle school student can't pay for lunch, that student will run up lunch debt. Students with debt are sometimes given an "alternative meal" instead of a hot lunch, and that could lead to shame and embarrassment. Recently a man in North Haverhill launched an effort to wipe out kids' lunch debt in his local schools...and is now promoting what he calls "lunch equality." 

Peter Biello / NHPR

And now it’s time for Foodstuffs, our regular look at food and food culture in the Granite State.

A new beer on tap at Portsmouth Brewery does more than give you a buzz. It aims to ease the symptoms of menopause. It’s called Libeeration, and several years ago, when Joanne Francis pitched the idea to her colleagues at the brewery, the men didn’t get it.

"It was met with nothing short of disdain and horror," she says. "And I'm not exaggerating when I say that."

Peter Biello / NHPR

How do you get serious about baking bread? French bread, in particular, which takes hours to make and years to master.

For Manchester resident Benge Ambrogi, the path to becoming a serious baker began in the late 1980s, with a bad loaf made by someone else—the man who would become his father-in-law.

"It was terrible. Typical first loaf. Very heavy and monochromatic. Not a very interesting loaf."

"What did you tell him about his first loaf?" I asked.

Peter Biello / NHPR

Kevin Roark waits tables at the Barley House in Concord. On this day, he stands at the host's station, greeting guests as they walk through the door. 

"Two?" Roark asks a pair of women who have come in for lunch. 

These women don't seem to recognize Roark. But he has a reputation among the regulars here. You may have encountered a server like Roark at other restaurants. A little theatrical or over the top.

Cider Bellies Doughnuts; Facebook

A listener asked,  "Does New Hampshire actually have any signature foods?" The contentious consensus, covered by Word of Mouth, is traditional boiled dinner.

But for Foodstuffs, our regular look at food and food culture in New Hampshire, NHPR’s Christina Phillips offers her own suggestion, just in time for fall:  Apple cider doughnuts. 

NH Community Seafood

Last May, we reported on New Hampshire Community Seafood's effort to sign on at least 1,000 people for their community supported fishery, or CSF. A CSF is like a farm share, where subscribers can pick up seafood at various locations throughout the season. 

The push for new members was driven by a desire to support New Hampshire's ground fishermen. Their deadline was the end of summer, and with that now upon us, Andrea Tomlinson, manager of New Hampshire Community Seafood, joins NHPR's Peter Biello with an update.

Listen to their conversation right here:

Peter Biello for NHPR

For a half-century, UNH professor emeritus of plant biology and genetics J. Brent Loy has been in pursuit of genetically ideal gourd.

Loy, who is a researcher with the researcher with the NH Agricultural Experiment Station, has been using selective breeding techniques to create varieties of melons, pumpkins, and squash that satisfy the needs of commercial growers and gardeners alike.

Recently I stopped by UNH's Kingman Research Farm in Madbury to learn more about his work.

Jimmy Gutierrez for NHPR

For most of the year, residents of New Hampshire can struggle to find good, authentic Latin cuisine. But one summer day every year, St. Aloysius of Gonzaga parish in Nashua’s ‘Tree Street’ neighborhood makes things a little easier.

That’s when they hold their annual fundraiser – the Latino-American festival. The fest features foodie favorites from Mexico, Colombia, and El Salvador. The event celebrated its thirteenth year this past Sunday, and NHPR’s Jimmy Gutierrez went to grab a bite for Foodstuffs. 

Ben Henry for NHPR

For someone struggling to feed themselves or their family, it can be hard to eat healthy. Fresh produce is expensive. The offerings from food pantries or soup kitchens are often canned meals or bread items.

An incentive program in New Hampshire is working to change that, by helping low income individuals get their hands on fresh food at farmers markets.

The White House kicked off its Made in America Week on Monday with a showcase of locally-made products from each state.

There were well-known brands like Campbell’s Soup from New Jersey and Gibson Guitars from Tennessee.

And right there along with those bigger names was Cider Bellies Doughnuts. The Meredith-based company was chosen to represent the Granite State at the event.

Peter Biello / NHPR

At the long polished granite bar at Sushi Time in Plaistow, Beth and David Cacchiotti take their seats. The bartender puts two yellow drinks in front of them.

"Did you just order?" I ask Beth, pointing to her drink.

"I didn't need to order," she replies. "He just knows." 

On this Saturday afternoon, it's a Mai Tai. Other days, it's a martini. "I could go either way," she says.

Behind a cracked parking lot and below a yellowed sign sits the Hill Village Store. It’s right off the single road that cuts through Hill, New Hampshire, and it's the only store in town that sells food.

This week, after 17 years under one owner, it's closing and going up for sale. For Foodstuffs, our regular look at food and food culture in New Hampshire, NHPR’s Ben Henry went to Hill to find out what the loss of the store means for the town.

Ben Henry

In a plant-filled apartment in Lebanon during the heat wave this week, Helen Brody drank iced tea and recalled the rise and fall of the New Hampshire Farms Network (NHFN). She launched the website in 2008, to nurture local food culture at a time when “local food” was barely a thing.

For the past decade, the NHFN website had been a source of in-depth profiles on New Hampshire farmers and their families. This April, it closed down, although the New Hampshire Historical Society recently made plans to acquire the profiles.

Peter Biello / NHPR

It started one June night a few years back. Rita and Mark McCabe were sitting at home after a long day of work. Mark turned to Rita and said: "Hey, is anybody at work talking about some show called 'Shark Tank'?"

"Shark Tank" is the TV show where entrepreneurs try to sell shares of their business to investors.

"I said no, I'd never heard of it," Rita McCabe says. "He said, 'Well, let's put it on.' And Jerry and Naomi Hancock came on."

Paul Lally

New Hampshire is home to the long-running cooking show Ciao Italia. The program is produced in Dover and has aired on public television stations nationwide since 1989. 

At a recent taping of the show in Windham, a television crew transforms a kitchen into a television set. They erect umbrella-shaped lights, while a woman standing nearby introduces herself as Mary Ann Esposito, the show's host.

Peter Biello / NHPR

Commercial ground fishermen on the east coast are struggling--so much so that there's concern about whether they, and not the fish they catch, are an endangered species. An organization called New Hampshire Community Seafood is launching an effort to get more Granite Staters interested in eating local seafood, with the hope that it'll provide a boost to fishermen. For our series Foodstuffs, NHPR's Peter Biello reports. 

Foodstuffs: A Mud Season Meal

Apr 6, 2017
Virginia Prescott

I’m in a food rut. I really do love to cook, and love the idea of eating locally-sourced food, but by mud season my culinary motivation—and taste for squash and potatoes—grows stale.

'Restaurant Week' Showcases New Hampshire's Foodie Finds

Mar 24, 2017
"NH Restaurant Week" website

Many New Hampshire restaurants will be offering new dishes as part of this year’s “Restaurant Week.”

Courtesy

The best weather in all of New England right now is inside LEF Farms new $10 million greenhouse. It’s 75-degrees, August-level humid, with fans pushing out a soft breeze.

Operations manager Bob LaDue points out the beneficiaries of this artificial climate.

“That’s mezuna and cress,” he says, naming two of LEF Farms seven varieties of baby greens. “This is part of our spice mix.”

New Hampshire is a rural state, which is great for recreation, but not so great if you are a foodie, at least when it comes to shopping for gourmet ingredients.  

But some savvy shoppers have discovered that fancy food can also be found at  couple of accessible and unexpected emporiums: Ocean State Job Lots (“Home of Adventure Shopping”) and Marshalls  (“Your Surprise is Waiting”).  

Shelby El Otmani / NHPR

If you’re in Concord and in the mood for some homemade Korean food, you might be able to find exactly what you’re looking for in the same place you get your late night snacks and drinks.  Go Food Basket is more than a corner store.  It’s also where you can get a jar of kimchi or a warm Korean meal on the go.

The woman behind this kimchi goes by the American name, "Helen." 

"My Korean name is Hye-Sook," she says, "but when I tell my costumers my name is Hye-Sook, they say 'Hye- what?'  So my husband made me an easy, American name: Helen."

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