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NewEnglandville | The Town of Our Dreams

by in Jan 2013
NewEnglandville | The Town of Our Dreams
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We’ve all seen those “Best Places to Live” and “Best Places to Retire” stories; they almost always focus on abstractions that you can’t truly touch: crime rates; per-capita income; employment rate, and so on. No doubt important factors determining where people live–but that’s not what we went looking for when we created the town where we want to live forever. Per-capita income doesn’t make your heart beat faster when you crest a hill and see your hometown in the near distance. No, it’s because of the people who live there, and what you do with loved ones and friends. And at no other time do we wear our towns so snugly as we do in winter, when so many of us choose to stay close, to create our days and adventures within the familiar boundaries of home. So we’ve built a new hometown for all of us, a place for all seasons, but especially suited to winter. Nearly everything we’ve created here comes from small New England towns and villages: a place where children grow up skiing on a mountain close to the town center; a place with a warm and inviting bookstore, a cafe tucked inside; a department store so steeped in a distant era that shopping there will make you realize what we lost when we turned away from downtown in favor of sprawling malls. Our town is filled with places to stop for conversation, for hot drinks and comfort food, but also for a special night out. It’s a town blessed with beauty and a sense of belonging, and when you do need to leave, returning becomes all the richer. To visit, all you need to do is step across the covered bridge. Here, nobody is an outsider. Nobody is from away.

Morning Treats

Good Buns: The Foothills of Warner
It starts with the little things: a friendly greeting as you walk in the door; a sunny dining area, made cozy by the light of copper fixtures and white window shutters; and a quality cup of steaming coffee. Then there are the big things, such as the oversized cinnamon bun, substantial enough to feed an entire troop of Boy Scouts. And the soft, thick slices of homemade bread. It’s a tough choice, selecting from a big menu offering eggs made to order, the house’s own biscuits and gravy, hand-cut home fries, berry-filled muffins, fluffy pancakes, and more. A hearty plateful is often under $7–but bring cash; no credit cards accepted. 15 East Main St., Warner, NH. 603-456-2140;

A Slice of Paris: Le Rendez Vous
Bien sur, every village should have its own French bakery/cafe–unless, of course, you have an objection to the buttery smell of warm, flaky croissants (plain, raspberry, chocolate) begging to be peeled apart and savored. Or traditional baguettes marching alongside walnut, sourdough, and fragrant herb breads, the aroma alone enough to make you fou with desire. For an authentic French experience this side of the Atlantic, certified bakers Verlaine Daeron and Marc Ounis bring steamy warmth and a little slice of their native Paris to the North Woods of New Hampshire. Beret optional; madeleines required. 121 Main St., Colebrook, NH. 603-237-5150;

The Perfect Buzz: Dave’s Coffee
Nowadays you can’t hoist a cheese wheel without knocking into an artisan, but the true proof of craftsmanship is still in the taste, and nowhere is that more supremely important (sorry, cheesemakers) than in the buzzy world of coffee. Dave’s is hand-roasted in a small, gas-fired unit, certified organic, and carefully monitored for perfection. When this family-owned business cranks up to full speed, it can roast about 700 pounds of caramelizing goodness, more than enough to wake up most of NewEnglandville and still serve up a mean brew at the on-site espresso bar. 5193 Old Post Road (Route 1), Charlestown, RI. 401-322-0006;

Lunchtime Fare

Goodness in a Bowl: Napi’s
Crazy-good soup is always on the menu at Napi’s, but if you can drag your gaze away from the ridiculously hearty Portuguese soup brimming with kale and spicy linguica long enough to scope out the equally outrageous decor, you’ll get a double treat. Part salvage extravaganza, part Key West funk, and 100 percent Provincetown–delectable all around. 7 Freeman St., Provincetown, MA. 508-487-1145;

The Slice: Parker Pie Co..
Debate rages over which is best–puffy or lean–when it comes to pizza crust. For us, though, this is what’s important: to walk to the back of Lake Parker Country Store, enveloped in a cocoon of wooden beams and brick. You feel warm just ordering a “Bangkok Disco” thin-crust pie, washed down with crispy Unified Press Vermont hard cider. 161 County Road, West Glover, VT. 802-525-3366;

Comfort Food: The Red Lion Inn
Who wouldn’t want to lunch at an aristocratic grande dame like The Red Lion Inn, dominating the center of town with its good looks and feisty history? On a wintry afternoon nothing could be kinder than to shake the snow from your shoulders, slip into Widow Bingham’s dark and cozy tavern, and tuck into a steaming chicken-and-vegetable pot pie–a winter tradition in the making. 30 Main St., Stockbridge, MA. 413-298-5545;

Hoist a Pint with Dickens: The White Horse Country Pub & Restaurant
Our favorite pub plunks us down in Merry Olde England, courtesy of owner/renovator John Harris, a Brit who’s steeped in history like an Earl Grey teabag. With 16th-century artifacts scattered about–and a bill of sale signed by Charles Dickens for 160 bottles of 1834 port mounted by the bar–this pub-slash-museum mixes memorabilia with traditional and less-likely pub fare (lobster pot pie!). The huge, welcoming hearth would make “Boz” feel right at home. 258 New Milford Turnpike (Route 202), Marble Dale, CT. 860-868-1496;

Evening Comfort

A Place to Roost: Hen of the Wood
If you think that eating (mostly) local in New England in January means turnips baked and boiled, chef Eric Warnstedt will coax you out of your stupor with duck sausage over creamy polenta, salads of shaved Brussels sprouts with apples, and a Vermont cheese plate worthy of hosannas. 92 Stowe St., Waterbury, VT. 802-244-7300;

Casual Elegance: L. A. Burdick
Don’t get us started: If lounging is a profession, then this is where we want to do it. Brilliant Sunday brunches that encourage you to linger with the New York Times; bowls of piping-hot chocolate, thick enough to spread; dinners where herb-crusted cod rubs elbows with a Gruyere omelet. It’s so casually elegant you might think you’ve drifted off and woken up in Brooklyn’s Williamsburg neighborhood. But no, you’re right here where you belong, in the heart of a country village, with snow falling softly on the nearby town green. 47 Main St., Walpole, NH. 603-756-9058;

Gracious Living: Inn at Weathersfield
Eating and sleeping, two of our favorite occupations–and this elegant 1792 white-clapboard inn elevates both. It regularly makes Bon Appetit’s “Hot 10 Culinary Inns” list, with locally inspired cuisine such as boiled cider pie, and its 12 fresh rooms include a renovated hayloft. It’s frequently named one of New England’s best historic inns–or most romantic. 1342 Route 106, Perkinsville, VT. 802-263-9217;

Please Note: This information was accurate at the time of publication. When planning a trip, please confirm details by directly contacting any company or establishment you intend to visit.

Updated Friday, December 14th, 2012

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