Seven years ago a 1950s Plum Island inn was transformed into blue (lowercase “b”), The Inn on the Beach. General Manager David Geiger describes it as “a South Beach style boutique hotel with New England undertones.” Like its Floridian counterpart, Plum Island is a barrier island. Much of it is a nature reserve, known for its birds. Blue is open year-round, and is the only hotel on Plum Island.
Twenty years ago, in 1992, brothers Herman and Anthony Ejarque decided to temporarily change careers and open a bed and breakfast in Rochester. The early 1900s building had once been the home of New Hampshire Governor Huntley Spaulding. “When we started, we didn’t think we’d be here so long,” says Herman. “We thought it would be a fun project to get it going, then we’d turn it over to some couple who’d run it.”
Fudge shops and coastal locales seem to go hand-in-hand. And most seaside fudge I’ve tried is, well, fine. Roly’s English Fudge ($13/pound) is in a class by itself. It’s slightly dry, yet still has a creaminess, packed with buttery caramelized flavor that keeps you nibbling away.
Winter farmers’ markets are a fun place for food discoveries, and that’s where I met Tracey Brown and John Valdes, owners of Seacoast Butters in Amesbury. They were offering samples of their extensive line of compound butters, plain or spread on warm bread.
The Sise Inn is a just right balance between a bed and breakfast and a small hotel. The property looks like a Queen Anne mansion – which it was. John E. Sise (rhymes with “nice”), a 19th-century Portsmouth businessman, built the house around 1881. Just over a century later, the structure was renovated, expanded, and turned into an inn. Current co-owner Diane Hoden has been the innkeeper since 2002. “It’s a blend,” she says. “You get the feel of being in a more homey atmosphere with the personalized service of a B&B, yet we have all the modern amenities of a small hotel, and someone is here on site 24–7.”
I have a weakness for homemade preserves. Whenever I’m at a market, I check out the shelves for those local goodies, in search for something unusual. I hit gold when I discovered Amelia Maes & Co., with their line of hot pepper jams and jellies. Raspberry Thai Jam caught my eye – and my taste buds, since raspberry is a favorite in our house. It’s got the expected fruity sweetness of raspberry jam – and then a subtle kick from Thai and habanero peppers, plus a savory edge from red bell peppers.