From New Hampshire to Vermont, via Sugar Hill (New England)
16 Oct, 2012 - New Hampshire. Through Kancamagus Highway’s winding turns through state parks and past gushing gorges, with every road qualifying as a scenic byway. It was time for us to leave this magical state and head to Vermont for our two night stay in Stowe. Known as the oldest and prettiest village in New England, we couldn’t wait to acquaint ourselves with Stowe’s artisanal cheddars, try out some of its restaurants famous for their seasonal and locally sourced cuisine, and check out the Austrian style Trapp family Lodge (of Sound of Music fame).
Vermont via Sugar Hill:
Trying to locate Sugar Hill, our GPS took us on a wild goose chase and landed us in Lisbon, where the most scenic sight was the local church and a handful of quaint houses. Where were we? Spotting a UPS delivery guy, he set us straight and we were in Sugar Hill in no time.
We owe a debt of gratitude to however suggested that we visit Sugar Hill en route to Vermont. One of the smallest and most delightful little towns outside of Bethlehem, we scored big time in terms of rural hospitality, warmth, and small-town charm. In Sugar Hill, you can’t go past the trifecta of Harman’s Cheese & Country Store, Sugar Hill Sampler, and Polly’s Pancake Parlor.
Harman’s Cheese & Country Store - Known for having the “World’s Greatest Cheddar Cheese” (the French may have something to say about that), this institution Peter’s version of Mecca. Established by former New Yorkers, John and Kate Harman in 1954, Harman’s now sell over 12 tons of their “Really-Aged Cheddar” every year. You’ll find all their Cheddars out on the sample tray on a table as you walk in the front door. I dare you not to buy a block after sampling a few. We can personally vouch for the Smoked Cheddar, which is out of this world. You’ll also find a wonderful selection of all-time delicacies on offer, such as jams, marmalades and spreads, Vermont maple syrup (the real thing!), and little gift items you can take to your loved ones back home. Harman’s is a real country store in the real sense of the word - they only accept check or cash. Sorry, no credit cards. 1400 Route 117, PO Box 624, New Hampshire. www.HarmansCheese.com
Sugar Hill Sampler - Set on the crest of a hilltop meadow that offers a magnificent mountain view, Sugar Hill Sampler is a combination of a gift shop and Museum. Housed in an old colonial barn, its first settlers in the 1790’s would have used this 4,000 square feet structure to store hay and keep their farm animals. Visitors come to this store from far and wide each year to browse, sample their homemade products, and explore the museum and photo gallery of Sugar Hill’s history and lore. NH 117, Sugar Hill. www.sugarhillsampler.com
Polly’s Pancake Parlor - Located in the White Mountain within the confines of Sugar Hill, Polly's Pancake Parlor serves up the best pancakes you will eat anywhere, any time. You can also get waffles, french toast, sandwiches, homemade bread, soups and other homemade dishes. As hokey a place as you can possibly get, we absolutely loved the vibe and the quality of the food. Established in 1840 by Polly and Wilfred “Sugar Bill” Dexter, it started its days as a tearoom, offering pancakes, waffles, and french toast - “All You Can Eat” for 50 cents - to show how delicious maple syrup in all its different forms can be. The home and farm have been continuously occupied by the same family since it was originally settled somewhere between 1798 and 1819. But back to the present, we hear that Polly’s is so popular that the line of customers can extend right out the door during warmer months. Thank goodness that the autumn chill had started to settle in and we were able to find ourselves a table straight away. While we didn’t have the pancakes - I know, I know, but Peter had been OD’ing on maple syrup and the sugar was playing havoc with his digestion - their lentil soup (both of us), Reuben Sandwich (Peter’s) and Tuna Sandwich made from home made bread were sensational. It was extremely affordable and the staff were friendly and attentive. But the highlight of the day for us was meeting Nancy, the original Polly’s daughter, who is now in her late 80’s. Going from table to table, meeting and greeting her customers, this octogenarian, with her clear blue eyes and sparrow like figure, told us “My father always told me that I was too shy and I had to go out and talk to customers more.” And she’s been doing it ever since. Good on you, Nancy! 672 Rt.117, Sugar Hill, NH. www.pollyspancakeparlor.com
Our B&B: Three Bears At The Fountains B&B
Pulling into the driveway of our B&B, we were a tad worried. It was just off an extremely busy Route 100 just outside the village of Stowe, Vermont, and one thing we don’t tolerate too well in any of our accommodation is noise and a hectic vibe. However, the moment we stepped inside Three Bears At The Fountains and the front door closed behind us, we were embraced by tranquility and warm-as-a-grandmothers-hug interiors. I had chosen for our room the Queen’s Apartment, a separate annex of the B&B which had its own sitting room and kitchenette. With an uninterrupted view from the back of our room of fields and the mountains beyond, we knew that we would love our time here. Unfortunately, we also found out from innkeeper Steve and Sue that the property had been sold and that the business would be closing down in 12 days. While we can no longer recommend Three Bears At The Fountains B&B to our travelers, we congratulate Steve and Sue for leaving their business on a high and wish them every success for the future.