I love it when cities offer a "taste around" event where you can buy one ticket and visit a variety of restaurants. You get little bits and bobs to taste at each one which gives you a feel for what the restaurant offers. But more than that, it ends up feeling like a party. You walk, you talk, you stop for a drink, you walk again, take a bite here and there. You make friends. You move on.
The other night I was invited to a Taste of Manchester, which is one of New Hampshire's largest cities and one that has a vibrant restaurant scene and nightlife. Appropriate for the current economy, most of the restaurants are affordable and casual. If you find yourself in New Hampshire you may want to save this list.
So where did we start?
At 900 Degrees, a very cool laid back Italian Neapolitan thin crust pizza place tossing pies into a wood fired oven. They are known for importing the flour that they use for their pizzas from Italy.
Outside, they were serving up small meatballs that were light as air and full of flavor.
Now here comes the treat. Our next stop on the restaurant crawl was Mint Bistro.
We sampled the sushi they were offering to Taste of Manchester participants, and they were so good that we moved further into the restaurant to claim a seat at the bar. We wanted to sample more! We were so glad we did. We had a truly fantastic sushi roll called The Boss Ichiban.
Inside, fresh tuna and tempura shrimp. Outside, a thin veil of avocado topped with spicy tuna with three kinds of carviar toppings. We paired this with a just about perfect Sake Martini. Amazing.
Very happy, we split another dish, the Truffle Honey Glazed Salmon with Orange Infused Quinoa, Steamed Asparagus, and Oven Dried Tomato-Fennel Butter. Yum!
For dessert they had a Creme Brule cradled in a crispy tuille…..
Afterwards, we walked across the street to Thousand Crane and joined the line for a plate of noodles and tea stained eggs.
Then down the street to Z, where we sampled their Chicken Mole Tacos.
………to X on Elm for Fried Pumpkin Polenta with just a hint of cinnamon and then on to Piccola as the sky darkened for their popular Caesar Salad and Eggplant Della Nonna……
You guessed right. We were getting full! So we slowed down, talked to some people my friend knows, had another drink, and got back into the action! As a band began to play Russian love songs we drifted across the street again towards more food.
Manchester is the home of Segway and you see them zipping about everywhere. This event was no exception.
Manchester also has some great crafts shops. This was taken through a hand blown plate in a store window. I'll have to come back! It was such a beautiful huge plate.
We scored some little tuna tartare cups at our next stop at the historic Palace Theater from a restaurant called Ignite….
……they also served us some scrumptious traditional Chicken Picatta, redolent of lemon and capers…..
…….then after an end of the night drink at Hooked where I fell in love with this fish on the ceiling….
…..and another martini, another taste of food, another round of saying hi to friends, we both took our leave.
Driving through the night with a full moon overhead, I realized yet again how the bringing together of people, food, and music brings a culture alive. A celebration of all good things, a celebration of life.