Holidays are wonderful. ‘Round this time of year, they give us a friendly reminder of the things that matter: friends, families, buckets of food to render us comatose, and the rituals that define who we are. Two Thursdays back was our one day of the year in which we’re explicitly instructed to take a step back and count our lucky stars.
We did. But we also noticed some major mixed messages in the hours that followed our day of appreciation. It spoke in a cold, commanding voice and said: You haven’t got enough. It’s commercial name is Black Friday, but this year it was much more than that. It was Black Thursday evening, a weekend of continued sales, and of course, Cyber Monday. With a stinging white noise, it permeated through our restful time together. And the sound of Christmas bells rose over it, clanging with a cloying “Don’t forget to Christmas Shop, Cheapskate!”
We needed an escape. Then came a simple suggestion:
“Let’s go somewhere.”
We took to our computers, then found it: an affordable place in Concord, NH. A few clicks and we were off.
The hotel had everything we could want. The space was open, the beds comfy, and there was a pool and jacuzzi right down the hall. Truthfully, there was only one catch: a heavy-footed neighbor in the room above us. It persisted with such regularity, we deemed the stomping beast “The Gorilla.”
A quick ear-plugged rest and we were ready to explore. Our dinner destination: The Red Blazer.
The Red Blazer is a Siamese-twin-of-dining-enjoyment. The entrance was in the middle and the dining room to the left included real crackling fire, a beautifully trimmed tree, lighted garland and linens with all the sit-down luxuries needed for those that might be celebrating or what-have-you. At the right – a sports pub – two levels, vibrant crowd, attentive staff and just the energy that we were looking for on a romantic, low-key evening. Once seated, we read through the listing of specials and found ourselves in our somewhat usual “One of everything, please!” conundrum. We never really opened the multi-paged menu. What to do? What to do? Well. We. Hemmed. Hawwed. AND we brought in the expert witne—, errm…”Waitress!?!” She lured us back from the edge of foodie anxiety and made some great suggestions. The special pizza, a side salad and two cups of soup. Thanks be to goodness that she was working, Rachel saved us from wasting a lot of food. These are our notes:
- Cup of Chowder – thin broth, very flavorful, bacon, potato and a good portion of clams. In it’s class, “A” rating.
- Cup of Sausage and Bean Soup – fresh and plentiful, flavorful, a little saltier than others enjoyed in the past. All said and done it was house-made and AJ would go for it again.
- Rolls and Butter – two kinds: Parmesan & Garlic and Oat-Wheat with plain butter and house made honey-cinnamon butter. Whoa! Good thing there was two of each…uneven distributions could have ended in a fist fight. 🙂 AJ was very grateful for honey-cinnamon. Maple and Brown Sugar is the usual and prohibited chance encounter with fancy butter.
- A Side Salad. Fresh, crisp, cold, delicious, dressed well. Plate-licking good.
- Taco Pizza (shared) – standard sized small pizza, soft delicious base, topped with chicken taco medley spiced enough to totally be a soft-shelled taco experience. We struggled through half of it. The other-half was the late night snack of “the other half” [The foodie ate the rest of the pizza while the movie lover dreamed of King Kong Attacks from Above. Possibly coming to a hotel pay-per-listen, near you!]
The service was exceptional, we actually had a team of 4 helping us through the experience. We felt a little like Kings visiting from a far off land. This joint is a shirt and tie quality experience with a sweater and comfy jeans appeal, especially in the pub side.
To close out our driving tour of downtown Concord, NH we had a chance to stroll through a location of the soon to be extinct Blockbuster Video. The last open-to-the-public location in NH, to be extra special about this honorable mention. As usual, we found nothing we wanted to see. We did meet a kind and helpful team of movie lovers…we saw our people, people. It was a memorable point of remembrance as children, who in times-past lived in a land of families where one entertainment set-up was all that a family owned. How did we ever make it to this day? Children of tomorrow will likely never know the sweet joy of settling for options like we did in our younger years.
The second day of our adventure, we bid adieu to our stomping overhead friend and delightfully toured around in the car and shopped at the beautiful and well-equipped Mall of New Hampshire area of Manchester, NH. Lunch was at Masa Japanese Steak and Sushi. Our meal was a share and share and ooo and aaaah!!! These are the sushi rolls and the General Tso’s Chicken we enjoyed. The quiet lounge of this trendy-night spot was perfect for our lunchtime pit-stop and the food was awesome. See it?…Are you drooling? Uh yep, you are. Riiight below your lip. You might want to get that before someone sees.
From top-to-bottom, Spicy Tuna Gyoza, Dos Sushi Rolls (Tuna Avocado and Spicy Tuna), and our dramatically delicious denouement, the General Tso’s chicken. Just LOOK at that broccoli. AJ’s getting pretty good at his part-time gig as a food photographer, no?
Whatever your Holiday Plan…Plan to Enjoy it. Life is grand. Don’t rush, savor it! And if you feel the impulse to pack up your bags and get away for a moment, go for it. Just remember not to let a Gorilla ruin your good time. Happy Holidays, Friends!!