Roadside America: Lake Winnipesaukee, New Hampshire

Over a hundred years ago, my great-great Uncle Bob built a small cabin to relax overlooking New Hampshire‘s Lake Winnipesaukee, about two hours from Boston. Little did he know that the Lakes Region would later become a point of pilgrimage for thousands of bikers and gamers each year, as it hosts the annual Laconia Motorcycle week in June and arcade enthusiasts year round to the American Classic Arcade Museum. Like many other generations before me, I spent many summers playing skee-ball, building sandcastles, and angling for more money to spend on penny candy. Now that I’m old enough to have honeymooned at Uncle Bob’s old cabin and taken my own daughter there, I still love the old-school feel of the place and hope nothing changes by the time my grandchildren run out of batteries on their iPhone 25s and want some old-fashioned fun. Here are some favorite destinations that have been around for generations past and hopefully, more to come.

Old Country Store
(Moultonborough) – This store was ancient even when Uncle Bob was a tyke (possibly the oldest in the country), and still offers a range of penny candy, pickles from a barrel, and loads of maple and pine treats. You’ll also find kitchen utensils you didn’t even know existed, a map room (mostly New Hampshire/New England) and more moose-themed items than is probably necessary. Be sure to sit on the porch with the cigar store Indian, check out the museum upstairs, and spend a dime or two on the old player piano.

Funspot (Laconia) – Open 60 years this year, Funspot is the largest arcade in the world. It gained real fame when it was featured in the documentary “The King of Kong” for the annual video game tournament at the aforementioned arcade museum. In addition to video games, there’s bowling, bingo, and mini-golf. If you are not a parent or a kid at heart, you can chill out at the tavern with free Wi-Fi too.

Weirs Beach – The Weirs Beach website says they’ve been a place for family fun since the 1950s, but the history goes back much earlier. Weirs is at its peak in summer, where you can ride the waterslides, drive bumper cars, or just hang out on the beach. There’s even a variety of nightlife in season, with fireworks, live bands, and a host of bars.

Corner House Inn (Sandwich) – One of the few independent restaurants open year round, the Corner House dates back over 150 years. You can’t rent a room anymore (they need all the room for hungry diners), but you can enjoy the fire and food for dinner daily. Check out the site for special events, such as storytelling dinners in fall and Friday night music in the pub.

Ames Farm Inn (Gilford) – Open since 1890, the Ames Farm Inn is currently operated by the fourth and fifth generation of family. Choose from cozy rooms or lakeside cabins to stay, or stop for a country breakfast or early lunch in summer.

Castle in the Clouds (Moultonborough) – As a kid, I was a wee bit disappointed that there was no princess at the Castle in the Clouds, but I still enjoyed the nature walks, the views of the lake, and exploring the old mansion dating back to 1914. You can also go horseback riding and meet Zeus, the largest horse in the world. It’s open May to October, with some additional special events in fall for the holidays.

Half Moon Motel and Cottages (Weirs Beach) – Though my ancestor was once an owner of the grand old New Weirs Hotel, I don’t get any discount to stay at the Half Moon Motel and Cottages, built up from the 1930s tea room built on the former hotel grounds and family-owned since the 1950s. With probably the best location in the Lakes Region, every cottage and motel room has views of Lake Winnipesaukee and the mountains, and free Wi-Fi too.

E.M. Health (Center Harbor)- While you may not usually see a supermarket in a travel story, it’s even more rare to see a family-owned store not only survive six decades but thrive. As a kid, my family’s first stop would be at E.M. Heath for groceries, and it’s since expanded to include a hardware store, photo desk and other services, and it’s still true to its slogan: “Dealer in most everything.”

[Photo credit: timsackton via Flickr]

Photo of the Day – Barcelona jamon

photo of the day
The humble ham and cheese sandwich is a basic staple of the travel diet. In nearly every country I’ve traveled to, I can count on finding a cheap and tasty toasted ham and cheese at a snack bar or cafe while exploring a new city. With a nice glass of local wine or a cold beer, this simple sandwich can be sublime. The Spanish, however, have made ham an art form, noted by this display in Barcelona taken by Flickr user BaboMike. From the relatively cheap Pernil Bodega to the pricey (but worth it) Pernil Iberic de Gla, any of these would make a divine snack or a meal. Since I live in a Muslim country where pork is hard to find and expensive, I remember eyeing ham like this in Barcelona like a wolf in an old cartoon and contemplated bringing one home to be the envy of all my fellow expats in Istanbul.

Do you agree with the photographer that the Spanish out-do the Italians in the ham department? Where have you had the best ham? Upload your tastiest shots to the Gadling Flickr pool and we might salivate over them for a future Photo of the Day.

Taking Denny’s Tour of America

Denny’s – America’s Diner – recently introduced their Tour of America menu. The chain attempted to capture the essence of America’s diverse cuisines in seven dishes and three beverages. However, it’s not really a tour if you only order one meal. That simple thought led Gadling to send me to New Jersey with Erik Trinidad, food writer for the Huffington Post and creator of Fancy Fast Food, to sample Denny’s entire Tour of America menu. We ordered all ten items and took a trip around the United States without ever leaving our booth.

Were the dishes accurate representations of their regions? Does Hawaii deserve three dishes when it’s the 40th most populous state? Is eating that much food at Denny’s good for you?

Watch the video to see if we managed to answer any of these pressing questions and read on for more on the Tour of America.

%Gallery-129528%It’s hard to have high expectations when it comes to Denny’s. That said, we always have high expectations for America. This conflict was evidenced in the inconsistency of the dishes.

Philly Cheesesteak Omelette

There are certain things that you expect from a Philly Cheesesteak, not the least of which is the thinly shaved beef. The omelette, however, featured chunks of prime rib. That’s just not right. Add to that the noticeably modest amount of cheese (and it’s not even Cheez Whiz) and lack of bread and nothing about this was related to a Philly cheesesteak. It’s a good omelette, but it’s not a Philly Cheesesteak Omelette.

gadling denny's tour of america shrimp gritsSouthern Shrimp & Grits

Erik and I were nervous about this one. I mean, it’s shellfish…at Denny’s. That said, this was a delightfully delicious surprise. The grits were initially bland, but once you mixed them with the bacon and jalapenos, the dish really came to life. The Lowcountry would be proud!

Georgia Peach French Toast

The french toast was bland. The peaches were most likely from a can. Nothing about this was remotely good. You want to serve a Georgia breakfast? Give me a chicken biscuit and just back away.

Midwestern Steak & Potatoes Sandwich

My favorite dish on the entire menu. How can you go wrong with chunks of prime rib (the same cuts used in the Philly Cheesesteak Omelette, only this time much more appropriate), cheese, french fries, gravy, a cheese roll and a side of mashed potatoes with more gravy. Hearty, comforting and straightforward. Just like the Midwest.

California Club Salad

You don’t need to be from California or a member of any club to know that this is just a salad. A salad loaded with turkey, bacon and avocado, yes, but simply a salad nonetheless.

Hawaiian Tropical Pancake Breakfast

Only three pieces of pineapple? Seriously? The pancakes are bland (would it have killed them to mix some macadamia nuts into the batter?) and the coconut whipped topping is basically just cake frosting. Which is to say, we highly recommend eating the whipped topping and ignoring the pancakes, which are neither Hawaiian nor flavorful.

gadling denny's tour of america menu hawaiian pancake puppiesHawaiian Tropical Pancake Puppies

OK, we get it: pineapples are Hawaiian. As are the coconut shavings on the outside of these pseudo-beignets. But we’ve never seen these little bite-sized confections anywhere on the archipelago. However, they are delicious and most certainly the best sweet item on the entire Tour of America menu. What they lack in authenticity they more than make up for in crunchy goodness. Aloha!

Hawaiian Tropical Smoothie

Easily the most accurate of the regional beverages on the menu. You taste pineapple, banana and other tropical fruits and it seems like it was freshly made. If I closed my eyes and took a sip, I could almost feel like I was in Hawaii…or at least in a better restaurant than Denny’s.

Florida Orange Milk Shake

Quite simply, it tastes like an orange Creamsicle. That’s not a bad thing, but it’s also not a Florida thing. When I was a kid, my grandmother used to send us packages of oranges from Florida. We’d juice them and enjoy the fresh-squeezed citrus sensation. This drink was not fresh and it was barely orange.

Pacific Northwest Iced Coffee

Folks from Seattle and Portland take their coffee seriously. As such, they should be offended by this offering. It was quite possibly the worst thing on the entire Tour of America menu. It basically tasted like sweetened condensed milk with just a hint of coffee. People of the Pacific Northwest, write to your congresspeople….or to Denny’s. Just don’t drink this beverage.

Some hits, some misses. Overall, the spirit of America was felt (mostly in how this menu could make anyone morbidly obese). However, simply slapping the name of a place on a dish doesn’t make it authentic. Things like Philly cheesesteaks are best left to the experts. Or at least left as sandwiches.

Representatives from New England, New York, Texas (which is its own region and not simply a part of at the South) and the Southwest were sorely missed. Hawaii is over-represented and, if I was Alaskan, I would find that insulting. Seems like we could have had some sockeye salmon in there somewhere!

It was an interesting trip, though, and isn’t that all you can really ask for from any tour of America?

Ryanair passenger arrested over “rubber sandwich” complaint

When 52 year old Henrik Ulven ordered a “fresh made premium sandwich” on his Ryanair flight, he fully expected to receive just that. Instead, he described the food as inedible and “tasting like rubber” – so asked a flight attendant for something different.

According to Ulven, his request did not go down too well, and the flight attendant told him that if he didn’t stop complaining, she’d report him to the authorities.

Ulven thought she was kidding, but upon landing at Norway’s Rygge airport, local police boarded the plane and escorted him off. According to the police, he had given the cabin crew “a mouthful.”

So there you have it – if you fly Ryanair, you’ll eat what you are given, keep your mouth shut and refrain from complaining. Obviously there are always two sides to a story, but to have one of your customers arrested because he did not approve of the quality of your food takes “low cost carrier” to a whole new level.

[Image from: Corbis]

Road trip: Healthy snacks that satisfy your kids’ cravings

Taking a family road trip is one of the great experiences each summer, but when hunger sits in the car quickly turns from family fun to ravished scavengers looking for a feed. Thankfully, with a little pre-planning and preparation, you can avoid the fast-food rest stops and offer everyone in your car a fun and healthy snack to keep them satisfied on the road.

We gathered our Seed.com writers and asked them to submit their favorite road-trip snacks. Next time you head out on the road, consider one of these yummy treats that travel well, taste good and are a healthy alternative to greasy french fries and milkshakes (just don’t tell the kids).

Peppy Popcorn

12 cups air popped popcorn
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon chili powder
cooking spray

Mix salt and chili powder in small bowl. Spread popcorn out on large baking sheet. Spray lightly with cooking spray. Sprinkle with salt mixture. Stir popcorn to coat evenly. Scoop into sealable plastic bags. Makes 12 – 1 cup servings.

Not Quite Kettle Corn

12 cups air popped popcorn
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon powdered sugar
cooking spray

Mix salt and powdered sugar in small bowl. Spread popcorn out on large baking sheet. Spray lightly with cooking spray. Sprinkle with sugar mixture. Stir popcorn to coat evenly. Scoop into sealable plastic bags. Makes 12 – 1 cup servings.

Contributed by Mary Berg


Apricot Bars

1 tsp baking powder
1 cup whole wheat flour
1/2 cup brown sugar
1/2 cup uncooked quick oats
2 tablespoon sunflower seeds
15 dried apricot halves (diced)
2 eggs
1 tablespoon butter

Preheat oven to 350 Coat an 8 inch baking pan with cooking spary
Mix dry ingredients (wheat flour, brown sugar, quick oats, sunflower seeds)
Whisk in butter and eggs
Mix in diced apricot halves to batter
Pour into prepared pan and smooth the top
Bake 20 minutes or until bars are firm
Cool and cut into bar size of your choice

Contributed by Melissa Johnson


Peanut Butter Banana Tortillas

This easy to make recipe is both filling and nutritious. As an added bonus, you don’t have to refrigerate this snack since there are no ingredients that will spoil. Whether you’re planning a road trip for adults or your entire family, everyone can enjoy this fun snack.

Prep time: 10 minutes

Ingredients:
Flour tortillas
Peanut butter
Bananas
Crushed walnuts

1. Spread peanut butter on one side of a flour tortilla.
2. Chop a banana into thin slices and place the slices on top of the peanut butter.
3. Sprinkle crush walnuts over the bananas and peanut butter.
4. Roll the tortilla up like you would a burrito and store in a plastic bag.

Contributed by Wendy Rose Gould


Tart Cherries and Chocolate Trail Mix

A well-designed trail mix combines nuts, dried fruit ,and maybe just a taste of chocolate to satisfy the palates of children and adults. Dried cranberries and raisins are common ingredients in many traditional trail mix recipes. In our family favorite mix, we substitute dried tart cherries for the cranberries for a delightful change of pace. The dried cherries are larger and chewier than dried cranberries or raisins.

This is a heart healthy, low-sodium trail-mix packed with protein, healthy fats, and anti-oxidants.

Ingredients:
2 cups roasted, unsalted almonds 2 cups roasted, unsalted peanuts 1 cup dried tart cherries (Montmorency cherries are great-find them at Trader Joe’s among other places) 1 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips

For an extra layer of flavor, substitute 1/2 cup of roasted, unsalted cashews for 1/2 cup of peanuts.

Contributed by Doug Donald


Strawberry and Cream Cheese Sandwiches

1 tablespoon of reduced-fat cream cheese
1/8 teaspoon freshly grated orange zest
2 slices of whole-wheat sandwich bread
2 medium strawberries, sliced

Combine cream cheese with the orange zest in a bowl. Spread bread with the mixture. Place sliced strawberries on 1 piece of bread, top with the other.

Contributed by Dana Hiles


Road-trip Pizza

2 flour tortillas (white or whole wheat)
2 TBS. pizza sauce or thick marinara sauce, or 1TBS. prepared pesto sauce
1 oz. shredded or crumbled cheese (mozzarella, feta, blue, etc.)

Optional ingredients: mushrooms, olives, peppers, pepperoni, thinly sliced cooked chicken, ham, sun-dried tomatoes, pine nuts or whatever else strikes your fancy — be creative!

Directions:

Heat a large non-stick skillet on medium. Spread your choice of sauce on one tortilla and place it in the pan, sauce side up. Sprinkle the cheese on top, and then add optional ingredients. Sprinkle on the rest of the cheese and cover with the second tortilla. Cook until the bottom tortilla begins to brown and the cheese begins to melt. Carefully flip the pizzadilla over, and cook the other side until lightly brown. Place on a cooling rack and cook the rest of the pizzadillas. When thoroughly cooled, cut the pizzadillas into quarters, place in storage bags or containers, and refrigerate until ready for the cooler.

Contributed by Julie Thompson


Pumpkin Muffins

These pumpkin muffins are a healthy version of a delicious treat that my mom and I developed while doing weight watchers, so they are family friendly and heart healthy.

1 1/2 cups of ground oatmeal (a blender will grind it into a fine powder
1/2 tsp of pumpkin spice
1/2 tsp of baking soda
1/2 tsp of baking powder
1/2 tsp salt Combine these ingredients, sift well and set aside to begin working with the ingredients below.

1 cup of Fat free plain yogurt
1/2 tbsp of vanilla extract
3/4 tbsp of splenda (you can use real sugar here, we use splenda because it has no calories)
2 large egg whites
1/2 cup splenda
1 cup canned
100% pure pumpkin (no sugar added)

Instructions:
1. In a large bowl combine yogurt, egg whites, 3/4 tbsp of splenda, and vanilla and beat with whisk until thoroughly blended. 2. Add pumpkin and 1/2 cup of splenda whisk to blend.
3. Stir in oatmeal mixture and mix well. (Note: if the batter is too thick add 1-2 tbsp of water and 1-2 tbsp of yogurt until smooth batter forms.)
4. Spray a mini muffin tin.
5. Cook at 350 degrees for 8-15 minutes depending on the oven. Watch closely. 6. Refrigerate after cooling for 5-10 minutes.

Contributed by
Jessica Meschke


Foraging for Berries

1 1/2 cups of blueberries
1 1/2 cups of strawberries
1 1/2 cups of red raspberries
1 1/2 cups of blackberries
1/2 tsp. of ground cinnamon

Wash and drain all the berries. Slice the strawberries in half. Place all your berries into a bowl and add the 1/2 tsp. of ground cinnamon. Mix gently and let stand for 30 minutes.

Place in sandwich bags for individual treats.

Contributed by Patricia Mason


Sesame Coconut Bars

3 cups sesame seeds
1 cup unsweetened shredded coconut
2 tablespoons peanut butter
2 tablespoons honey
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon vanilla extract

Preheat oven to 300 degrees. Spray a baking sheet with non-stick spray. Mix all the ingredients in a large bowl. It will seem dry. Do not add water! Empty onto the prepared baking sheet and press the mixture down evenly. Bake for 30 minutes or until browned. Let cool and cut into bars. Wrap individually in plastic wrap, or place in a covered container to take on the road.

Contributed by Sylvie Branch


Ham Scoopers

6 Kaiser Rolls
2 cups of cubed ham
1 cup of shredded cheddar cheese
1/2 cup of chopped black olives
1/2 cup of mayonnaise
1/4 cup of mustard

Directions:

Mix together all ingredients except for bread.
Store in a container and place in the ice cooler.
Cut off the tops of rolls.
Hollow out the rolls, keep bread in plastic bag for freshness.
When ready to eat, scoop the ham mixture into the bread and enjoy.

Contributed by Eve Gandy


Spicy Sugar Nuts

This easy recipe provides the perfect road trip snack. With nuts as the primary ingredient, this on-the-go munchy includes protein, fiber and healthy fat. Bake the entire recipe in one shot and then divvy it all up so passengers have their own serving. Or to put it another way, they don’t have to share. Since the finished product lasts five days, assuming you don’t polish it off before the first toll, you can get a few miles if not states out of it.

Ingredients:
1 egg white
1 tsp water
3/4 cup of sugar
1 1/2 tbsp of cinnamon
1 tbsp of cayenne
4 cups of roasted salted nuts

Instructions: Preheat oven to 250 degrees.

In a large bowl, whisk egg white and water together. Continue until consistency is frothy. Fold nuts into egg white/water mixture. Add all remaining ingredients and stir until nuts are well coated. Pour mixture onto a large sheet pan and bake for 50 minutes. Let cool before using a spatula to release the nuts from the pan. Store in a sealed container to maintain freshness.

Contributed by Paige Levin


Oatmeal Bars (with a twist)

Ingredients:
2 cups of old fashioned oats
1 cup of skim milk banana
1/2 cup of unsweetened applesauce
1/2 cup of Splenda
1/2 cup of eggbeaters
1.5 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 teaspoons ground cinnamon

Cooking Directions Preheat oven to 325. Spray an 8×8 baking dish with baking spray. Combine all ingredients in a mixing bowl and stir until well mixed. Pour the batter in the baking dish and bake for roughly 45 minutes. Allow to cool completely and cut into 8 equal pieces.

Contributed by Benjamin Williams


Apple Sandwiches

I’ve served these apple slice sandwiches to my daughter’s classroom and my ladies’ dance class. Everyone thinks it’s a platter of cookies until they notice they are apples. It’s a tasty, easy, surprise treat that everyone likes. One apple makes about 3 sandwiches. I like to use Braeburns or Granny Smith varieties. If you have peanut allergies or prefer not to use the peanut butter, the apples sliced and dusted with cinnamon are great all by themselves.

To make:

Use an apple corer to remove the center of your apple/s.
Next slice the apple (leave skin on) horizontally into 1/8″ rounds.
Dunk the slices into a mixture of water and lemon juice so they won’t turn brown.
Pat dry and spread a layer of your favorite peanut butter on one slice, add some raisins or dried cranberries if you like.
Top with a second apple slice and sprinkle lightly with cinnamon.

Looks like a cookie, but oh so much healthier! Store in an airtight container.

Contributed by Jane Nichols


Happy Trails Hummus

2 15-oz. cans garbanzo beans
1/2 cup tahini (sesame seed paste)
3 to 4 tbsp fresh lime or lemon juice
3 tbsp olive oil
1/8 teaspoon curry powder
Salt & pepper to taste

1. Drain garbanzo beans, reserving liquid.
2. Combine beans, tahini, lime or lemon juice, curry powder and olive oil.
3. Process in a food processor until smooth.
4. Add enough of the reserved bean liquid to make desired dip consistency.
5. Add salt and pepper to taste.

Contributed by Nanette Wiser