Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Accursed Left Coasters

They may have stolen our URL, but they can't steal our 60 degree water: http://www.cooleratthecoast.com/

Friday, November 17, 2006

Sake Birthday

I was in the Sake in downtown Portsmouth this past week. Sake is the "other" Portsmouth Japanese restaurant. Most people think of Sakura when the subject comes up. Sake is located on Congress Street right near the corner of Middle Street. We had a good meal of sushi (for seven of us) and the environment was nice with okay service (we had to ask for plates for the platters of sushi, they had no idea what Dewar's scotch was). But the purpose of this post is not to review the restaurant, but to point out what will soon become THE PORTSMOUTH BIRTHDAY EXPERIENCE.

We had brought a cake with us because one of our party was celebrating a birthday and they didn't have any cakes at the restaurant. It was handed to the maitre de (anybody got that in Japanese?) with the request to "do something" for the celebrant.

We were sitting at the table, the plates had just been cleared when all of a sudden, the music came up real loud (I mean REAL loud) with the Happy Birthday Song being sung. However, it wasn't just your plain vanilla version. Though the song was in English, the singers had Japanese accents! I mean, loud Happy Birthday Japanese accents.

They brought in the cake, with candles on it, but nobody had to sing. Even if you had sung, it wouldn't have been heard. Besides, we couldn't sing because we were laughing so hard.

I recommend you try it.

Saturday, September 23, 2006

Paper Is Dead

Looks like the Dover Public Library has audio books now.

Tuesday, September 19, 2006

Dover Wine Company

I got an email the other day saying that the The Dover Wine Company will be opening on September 29th:

We wanted to let you know that the Dover Wine Company will be opening on Friday, September 29 at 10 am. On that day, we will be conducting wine tastings from 5-7 (as well as on Saturday from 2-4). Come on by and be amongst the first to enjoy Dover’s new wine and cheese shop.

Monday, August 21, 2006


Friday night I had the opportunity to do some boating at the ever beautiful NH seacoast. For only having 18 miles of coastline, a lot of it is sure pretty. Seven of us left Rye Harbour on two boats, both about 20 feet long. The idea was to fish off-shore, maybe on the way to the Isle of Shoals. However, with rolling waves on the seas running 3 to 4 feet, and with word from other boats that the fish just weren't out there, our plans were quickly modified. After pounding some waves, we entered the coast-line again at Newcastle next to the Wentworth Marina. While the sailboats moored in the harbor were mostly within the realm of "I'd like to own that boat someday", the powerboats were in the realm of "I'd like to own the not-so-little boats hanging off the back of that big one over there". Motoring past the marina and out into the Piscataqua, the tides were somewhat slack and the bouy's were mostly upright. This bodes well for a trip upriver, in that you aren't fighting the current the whole way. We went past a few landmarks, the republican hangout at Geno's, Prescott park where a stage version of "Oliver" was taking place, the dock scene off Bow Street and the salt piles. As we approached the Great Bay, the sun was low on the horizon and provided some spectacular sunset opportunities. The tides and the river spun us around and we headed back, this time out the mouth of the Piscataqua. Rounding the point and heading back to the Rye Harbor, the seas were still riding high, and we had great fun smashing through the chop. Looking over at our other boat, it was often airborne, as I suspect we were. We reached Rye Harbor again, where everything is calm after you pass the breakwater.

As a side note, if you get a chance to miss going to Saunders at Rye Harbour, consider yourself lucky. The deck scene was empty, no entrees are served on the bar side of the deck, and the appetizers that are served there are undistinguished. The only highlight was talking the solo guitarist into playing Madona's "Borderline".

Tuesday, August 15, 2006

Flag Hill

A search for some info on maple liqueur, a click here, a click there...

"Flag Hill proudly announces the official opening of our newest endeavor, the Ferguson-Davis Dining Room at Flag Hill. Our indoor dining facility, previously used for once monthly dinners and private events will become host to a regular schedule of dinners beginning in October of 2006."


Friday, August 11, 2006

19 Pounds

We headed to Brown's in Seabrook last night for another fabulous lobster meal. As we peered into the lobster tanks while waiting in line to order, I saw something I couldn't quite make out. It was smooth and curved and wide and looked nothing like the other lobsters in the tank. It wasn't until I stared for a little bit that I realized I was staring at a claw. It was huge and attached to lobster that was as big as any I have seen live. The lobster tender asked us not to touch it because it was already sold. No Problem! They didn't have a lobster band big enough for the claw so they used grey duct tape. 19 pounds....let's see....at $12.99 a pound, that's.....a lot of frickin' money. But it sure would be fun to see it on my plate.

Monday, April 03, 2006

Not so cool

Hey all you 101 drivers out there, listen up. When someone is merging onto the highway from an entrance ramp to your right, and you're all alone in the right lane and there's nobody behind you, in front of you or next to you in the left lane, do a guy a favor and move to the left. Yes, I will slow down from my entrance speed and let you get by before I merge onto the highway, but for goodness sake, would it kill you to slide left? I guess the fact that you have Florida plates excuses you, dope.

Thursday, February 02, 2006

Green Monkey

I did it. I really did it. I paid $12 for a single bottle of beer. The name of the beer was "La Fin du Mond", which means the end of the world. And when you are paying $12 for a bottle, the end must be near.

The Green Monkey is a nice little restaurant on Pleasant Street in Portsmouth. When I called for a 7:00 reservation for four, the person on the phone said she had three parties coming in at 7, so would I mind 7:15. I should have guessed from this question that the place would be a little busy when we arrived.

We were seated at our table, a nice location about 1/2 way back from the front window. As I was sitting down, it was obvious from the noise levels of the other people there, that we weren't going to have an intimate dinner conversation. It felt kind of like that party where the volume keeps going up while each group raises its voices to be heard over the one next to them. After a while, though, the noise did seem to subside, or I just got used to it.

The first order of business was the adult beverages. The Green Monkey offers a small but effective list of martinis. I tried the Lavender Lust, which was not Lavender, but was tasty. Others in my party had a Cuban Martini (good, but valuable glass space taken up by mint leaves) and one who's name I can't remember but it had champagne in it and wasn't anyone's favorite. The fourth member of our party asked for a Monty Python's Holy Grail Ale, but was denied - they were out of stock. He instead had another beer who's name I forget (hmmm, I'm thinking now that the martinis were a little potent).

The second order of business was appetizers. The selection looked good. We went with the Wild Mushrooms Forestier, described as a sautee of wild mushrooms and fire-roasted tomatoes in a sherry cream sauce with grilled asiago bread, and the Lobster and Mango Spring Rolls, described as crispy spring rolls topped with a sweet and spicy chinese mustard sauce. Both appetizers were wonderful and gave us great anticipation for the dinner selections.

But before dinner arrived, we needed to reload our glasses. I went with the $12 Le Fin Du Mond from Unibrou. Turns out that the triple fermentation leaves a bitter finish to each taste. If I were any kind of a beer connoisseur, I'd probably have realized what I was getting into. Live and learn. Another member of our party ordered Unibrou's Maudite, another $12 bottle but a bit smoother on the way down. The good news about paying $12 for a bottle of beer is that you get a two beer bottle (22 oz.) and each beer was 8 or 9 percent alcohol - so you're getting the buzz equivalent of at least three regular beers for your money.

Two members of our party ordered wine. One was a wonderful cab/shiraz combination known as Mad Dogs and Englishmen (probably endorsed by Joe Cocker). The other was a white wine, some kind of chardonnay, I think. The wine was a bit evervescent, which was wrong, and there was some serious sediment in the glass, which was very wrong. Obviously we were getting the bottom of an old bottle. After pointing this out, our waitress rectified the situation with a glass from a fresh bottle that was very good.

For dinner, we had the following items (with menu descriptions in parenthesis): Wolfe's Neck Farm Bistro Steak (grilled bistro steak topped with seared fois gras, garlic scallion butter, pomme frites), Hawaiian Sea Salt And Peppercorn Seared Tuna (served rare over an Asian slaw and mashed potatoes with citrus butter and a sweet soy glaze), Macadamia Encrusted Mahi Mahi (served with a creamy tahitian vanilla bean risotto and papaya buerre blanc), and Wasabi Roasted Wild Salmon Mignon (served over a sautee of sweet corn, fire roasted peppers, leeks, crispy spinach and miso aioli). Two out of four met or exceeded expectations. The steak and the salmon were both nicely prepared and the combinations served with them complimented the main item. The tuna, on the other hand, was too seared on the one side that faced the fire - so much so that it took a knife to cut through the seared section; the act of doing so shredded the raw parts. And the mashed potatoes were just that, mashed potato, lacking in imagination. The Mahi Mahi was over-cooked and the nuts served to detract from the fish flavor, rather than enhance. In all cases, the food presentation was artful and creative, and I particularly liked the round plate with a flat side that matched the edge of the table - it helps you keep your food close.

Nothing on the dessert menu caught our fancy and the menu was somewhat limited with only 4 or 5 choices. And after the somewhat spotty nature of our meals, we decided to head up to Breaking New Grounds for coffee and dessert.

Service was polite and timely, and our waitress was just the right amount of conversational. The prices were typical for Portsmouth, between $24 and $28 for the entrees and about $12 for the appetizers. All in all, I'm glad I went but I will probably try other restaurants before returning.

Wednesday, January 25, 2006

Whiter at the coast

You would think that in a state as small as NH, you could pretty much expect similar weather everywhere. I mean, at the thick southern part of NH, it only takes about 3 hours to go side to side and the north south route isn't that much more. But there we were this morning, driving in a blinding snowstorm at the coast and worrying that we'd have another killer commute like we did Monday; by the time we got to Raymond, the sky was blue. We're talking all of 20 miles. Weird how that happens.

Tuesday, January 03, 2006

Hello??? They've Only Been Saying It For Months

WMUR > Confusion Takes Toll After Highway Tokens Terminated
Confusion took its toll on drivers on Interstate 93 at the end of the New Year's holiday weekend, a day after the state stopped accepting discounted highway tokens.

Southbound traffic backed up two miles behind the Hooksett toll plaza late Monday afternoon during the final phase of the transition to E-ZPass transponders.

Friday, December 23, 2005

Log Jam

WMUR > Starbucks Bets On Growing Demand For Drive-Throughs
The world's largest specialty coffee chain once shunned the drive-through concept, fearing it might alienate customers who like to come inside and sip their lattes while listening to music in cozy chairs.
Starbuck's future neighbors don't seem to keen on this trend.

Kendall Pond Pizza

This past Sunday we checked out the new Kendall Pond Pizza that opened next to Janetos. While it wasn't bad, and this is my fault, I was really hoping that it would be New York style and not like the other pizza joints in town (very similar crusts to the "Houses").

Verdict: I didn't love it but I would go back... after all they have slices which is a staple on "Bachelor" nights. I will say that they really put money into remodeling the place, and it shows, very nice. Also, very clean, like "wow, they must scrub this place every twenty minutes" clean.

Rant: Can someone please offer NY style pizza in Dover? I should have to travel down to Ken's West End Pizza for my fix.

There Is A Tea Shop In Dover?

The Dover Community News >Tea shop owner touts beverage’s benefits
MacDonald carries 110 varieties of loose tea in her recently-opened medicinal and quality teas shop, which is located in the newly renovated Franklin Galleria at 453 Central Ave. She said all types of tea come from the same plant, Camellia Sinensis. What makes each different is where it is grown and how it is processed.

Tuesday, December 20, 2005

New Hampshire Blogs

Your cover might have been blown.

Come On!?!

Fosters > Toll plaza lanes won't change anytime soon
"The toll plazas will continue to have 'Exact Change' lanes on the left side of the toll plazas. Just how many of those lanes are at each toll facility will be dictated by how many drivers choose to throw coins in the buckets rather than convert to E-ZPass.
I bet these people don't even use the tolls.

Tuesday, December 13, 2005


Fosters > End nears for using N.H. highway tokens
As tokens come into the tolls now, they are seized and stockpiled in 'an undisclosed location.' Transportation Commissioner Carol Murray said she's keeping the location of the 9.5 million cache of tokens secret because they are still worth a pass through the toll plazas and she doesn't want anyone trying to loot the stash.
Call Nicolas Cage, I smell a sequel.

Wednesday, December 07, 2005

Idea Pool

Install WiFi into every copy of Wired, make the cover some sort of e-paper, and embed software that will change the title from "Wired" to "Tired" or "Expired".

Then, when you are looking through all stacked up Wireds you still haven't read yet, you could just look at the cover to see if the tech/ideas in the articles are outdated and worth skipping.

Wednesday, November 30, 2005

Hotter at the Coast

There seems to be a recent outbreak of lawless firedancing in Portsmouth. It would be one thing if the dancer were in a fire retardant suit, but apparently she's a belly dancer. And the lawlessness doesn't just end at playing with fire. Apparently first amendment rights are at stake. Hide the children.

From the Manchester Union Leader, November 30, 2006:

Fire dancer tells her side of story

Portsmouth - Lara Rines never meant to be a lawbreaker. She never meant to startle pedestrians or violate whatever city ordinances dictate fire dancing on the streets.
She just wanted to dance with fire and dazzle the holiday shopping crowd enough to earn a little holiday cash.

But last week, when she found a vacant patch of brick in front of North Church on Market Street and began twirling flaming sticks to music, she was promptly shut down by police, who charged her with reckless conduct and failure to have a permit.

Rines, of Dover, said she tried to get a permit, but got no clear answers from city officials. "Nobody knew exactly how to answer my question. I tried the fire department first and eventually spoke with (Deputy Fire Chief Stephen Griswold). I explained that I would be in control of the fire, and that it wouldn't be a large fire," Rines said.

He told her she didn't need a fire permit, but should find out if she needed a permit to dance for donations.

So Rines called City Hall. She said after explaining the nature of her fire dance, she was told she should check with the fire department. "They were fuzzy. Nobody seemed to know what kind of permit I needed."

Portsmouth Mayor Evelyn Sirrell said the procedure for anyone interested in performing is to write a letter to the city manager. She said the fact that Rines was performing with fire had nothing to do with why she was arrested.

"She could've scared somebody to death," Sirrell said. "In most cases, we're very open. I'm not sure what category her entertainment fits into, but she would likely have had to hire police as well, for safety issues."

When Rines stands before a judge on Dec. 12, she said she will not be standing alone as one fire dancer interested in her own freedom of expression.

She will be standing up for all those street performers who believe their First Amendment rights are being jeopardized by what, she says, are the city's inconsistent laws governing street performers.

"I believe performance artists are the heart of a community - growing up, I loved going into Boston. Without that, it's just another place with big buildings and noise," said Rines.

David O'Connor of Barrington, a longtime political activist and fellow street performer, said the city's insistence on regulating artists is a form of censorship.

"The concept that a government body or group needs to be consulted for you to express yourself freely is clearly covered in the First Amendment," O'Connor said. "We as performers are dealing with the precedents set around the country, invariably in favor of performers."

O'Connor says cities set up ordinances with good intentions that fall flat in the arena of personal freedom.

"These shotgun blast sort of ordinances are set up with the perception of protecting the flavor of the city or ambiance of the town. But they cannot, nor do they, override our First Amendment rights as performers," O'Connor said.

On that point he has the backing of Massachusetts-based Community Arts Advocates Inc. - a street performance rights organization.

"Street performance has been well-established in this country - Ben Franklin sang on the streets, as did Sam Adams. It's part of the cultural heritage of humanity - and most definitely part of our culture here in New England," said Stephen Baird, executive director and organization founder.

He's done his legal research and has amassed a pile of documented cases where, time after time, street performers - often called buskers - have won their right to sing, whistle, dance, wax poetic, juggle and make magic on city streets across the country.

A street performer himself, Baird said he's in the midst of a lawsuit with the city of Boston over his right to play the hammer dulcimer.

"What Lara Rines is going through is a typical issue for buskers. In her case, my feeling is the city should be advocating for and supporting street performance. Clearly, she tried to get a permit and couldn't get accurate information. At best, it's a matter of poor public policy," Baird said. "But just as clearly, it's discrimination against the artist, which is illegal."

O'Connor said Rines no longer has the choice to simply walk away from Portsmouth and take her fire dance elsewhere.

"She has to go to court now - and I'm with her. We're not the only ones, either. There are others, street performers waiting in the wings, ready to make a stand," O'Connor said. "The importance of doing this is in the effort of resistance. It's the only way a free society remains truly free."

Monday, November 07, 2005

Fat Belly's

I had the chance to experience Fat Belly's in Portsmouth last week. For a small space, they maximize the experience with multiple fat screen TV's and pretty decent beer list. Even more decent was their celebration of some anniversary (one year in business, I think) where they were selling 14 oz drafts for $2. All night. Nothing like a Smuttynose IPA for $2, except two Smutty's for $4 and so on. Also nice was they kept the smoking upstairs, so you could enjoy your meal without second hand smoke, if you wanted.

Speaking of the meal, the menu was full of bad for you things, which meant it was good. I chose the chili burger with a side of onion rings. The burger was cooked the way I requested (medium) and the chili was quite good tasting, although I would have enjoyed it a fire alarm or two more hot. The onion rings, smeh, not so good. Big think coating with soft onions that slide out on the first bite. I'm more a devotee of a lighter crisper coating, such as is found at Brown's Lobster Pound.

I also sampled in on some wings that a compatriot had ordered. We got them at medium heat and at first dip, they were SMOKIN! After the burning feeling had left my lips, I was able to enjoy them, but I didn't find them to be special. But how can the thinest boniest part of a bird be special, anyway?

I realize I'm not cut out to be a restaurant reviewer. After few Smutty's all the descriptive words leave my head and I'm left with, "mmm, food good".

Monday, October 31, 2005

Brown's or Mark's

If you're going for Lobster in Seabrook, there are two lobster pounds that live across the street from each other, Mark's and Brown's. I have to confess, I've never been to Mark's, but it is as crowded as Brown's every time I go by.

We went to Brown's again this Sunday with friends from Goffstown. We're all experienced Brown's customers, so we know to bring the cooler of beer and wine, cheese and crackers and other assorted add-on's. As we hit the door, one of us peels off to order the steamers (different counter than the lobster), two of us head for the lobster counter, and the fourth rolls the cooler to a table of choice. At the lobster counter this week, it looked like tourist season again. Although we were the third set of customers in line, the first set were the stereotypical Japanese with cameras. They took pictures of the guy taking the orders, the guy fishing the lobsters out of the tank, the lobsters in the tank, the lobsters on the scale and so on. The second set were obviously Brown's rookies, not knowing what to order and with lots of questions. Our turn finally came, and we have our order ready and our cash out.

The lobsters were wonderful, and their fried foods (mmm, onion rings) are good too. I especially like their cole slaw, which is fresh without being overwhelmed with sauce. Nothing better than washing down a large lobster with some chilled beers and onion rings.

After lobster, we went to Hampton Beach. Recent storms have left a large amount of sand on the sidewalks and parking areas. It's kind of nice - the beach just keeps on going. If it could blow all the way to Exeter, the only thing I'd be lacking are the sound of the waves.

Tuesday, September 27, 2005


If it's a beautiful fall Saturday on the coast, there can be no finer event than a tailgate for UNH football. We did this last weekend and we had a great time. There were 10 of us, mostly UNH grads, although Johns Hopkins and Marquette were representin'. We had two grills, lots of chairs, a "tent" and more beer than 10 people could drink in one afternoon (although we gave it a good try). Burgers and wings were our hot meals, with veggies, potato salad, chips and cookies to round it out. Unfortunately, it was a noon game, so we really didn't see the beginning of the game as we quaffed beers and ate food. The radio blasting from our truck kept us appraised of the game progress as UNH whupped up on Dartmouth. We went in at half-time and here's a clue - don't bother buying tickets if you're going to spend the first half tailgating. We did get to see enough of the third quarter to realize that the tailgating was way better than the football. So, bring friends, a spare football or Frisbee and enjoy the fun that is tailgating. Out there in the fields below the stadium, there's a kind of insanity that can only be attributed to folks having too much fun with alcohol.

Rays or Petes

When you're cruising down A1A, you have a number of choices for which clam shack you're going to eat at. In Rye, there's Ray's and Pete's. We (my SO and I) gave Pete's a try a few weeks ago. Even though it was a mid-week Wednesday after Labor day, there was still a wait. You could get seats in the bar, but it was a bit smoky (get with it NH, follow MA and go smoke free), so we waited for a table in the main dining room. It was a bit noisy, but service was rapid and they did have Isle of Shoals Pale Ale on tap. For appetizer, I had their clam chowder, which turned out to be a good basic chowder, without an emphasis on spices (targon or anything) and with plenty of clams. For the main course, we went fried, because what else are you going to have at a clam shack? The fried shrimp (small) and scallops were good, although the shrimp had little flavor. They were served on a big pile of fries, cut from fresh potatoes. One meal would have been plenty for the two of us (especially after soups) and we took some home. We also ordered onion rings, which were sweet and tasty. All and all, Pete's provided a middle of the road clam shack experience. Next stop, Rays.

Sunday, September 11, 2005

Free Tolls

The Union Leader > Toll-booth loophole: E-ZPass law gives a free ride
State officials last week said it appears police cannot ticket and fine motorists who don't pay tolls on New Hampshire turnpikes, thanks to an oversight that took place when E-ZPass was written into state law. This would mean that any non-camera lanes — the coin-basket-only lanes — are essentially free ride lanes.

Saturday, August 27, 2005

Jenness State Beach

Monday, August 22, 2005


Fosters > Rochester commuter stuck with tokens explores options
Siegfried Watson of Rochester thought it made sense to stock up on $300 worth of tokens instead of buying a roll at a time for his daily commute to North Andover, Mass.

But when he began working in Portsmouth at a new job, his token usage was cut in half and he now has more tokens than he can use.
Man, it is bad enough being stuck behind someone asking for directions.

Sunday, August 21, 2005

N.H. Turnpike Timeline

Nashua Telegraph > N.H. Turnpike Timeline
Aug. 20, 1955: Completion and official dedication of the Nashua to Manchester segment of F. E. Everett Turnpike; Thornton’s Ferry Toll Plaza opens at today’s Exit 11 in Merrimack, featuring the first automatic toll-collector machines in the world. Toll is 25 cents per car; Highway officials introduce toll tokens, providing a one-third discount.
Old skool E-Z Pass.

Monday, August 08, 2005

Not so cool tonight. Steamy, hot, humid. Ick. Definitely not cooler at the coast.