Tuesday, September 24, 2013

Honoring A Legacy of Tradition

Greetings, Blog Friends near and far! Well, another summer is "in the can" and this Innkeeper-Chef is gearing up for the exciting colors of Autumn to arrive at his Maine door (this is where I will switch into talking in the first person). There are not many days at the Inn at Long Lake where there are no guests on the reservation books. I was, however, able to get away for a few nights of camping over in my home state of New Hampshire. By the by, for those of you who are well aware of geography, Maine abutts New Hampshire but the small Southeastern part of the state I grew up in (Atkinson, New Hampshire) is referred to as "down there." Parts higher up and to the west are referred to as "OVER there." Mind you, the entire State of New Hampshire is gorgeous and always does my heart good to "go home." I digress.....) The destination for my quick getaway was the small town of Washington, New Hampshire. In that town a small campground that allowed my faithful companion, Sebastian the Dog, passage to spending time with his dutiful bone supplier (me). Sebastian is over 16 years old now. I adopted him during my days of living in New Orleans. Every day I spend with him is truly a treasure. But enough about getting there....I am here to talk about a glorious find in an unexpected place. After checking in to the campground (and once Sebastian had his share of sniffing around), I drove to nearby Hillsboro, a lovely town 10 minutes from Washington (which is about 20 minutes from Keene State College). I was hungry from the 2-hour car drive and I spied a pizzaria called "Yanni's" on the main drag. I had purchased a couple of his CD's (only because his girlfriend was on Dynasty) and found them pretty good so I gave it a whirl. Not being a local, I nervously entered and read the menu. Strangely, no pianos were playing and there were no signs of luxurious-haired Greek men. What I did find was a lovely raven-haired owner ready to take my order. She had stepped from the kitchen, a little worn by the usual heat of a 450 degree pizza oven, but willing to "get her game on." "What is good on the menu?" I asked. "Our pizzas are good and they are big," she smiled. Her Greek accent was as beautiful as her Mediterrean features. Now, I know from experience that BIGGER does not always mean BETTER. I queried her more: "Are your meatballs homemade?" Looking like she might beat me with a sauce spoon, she replied with conviction and pride: "Of course they are!" Too often I have found the old frozen meatballs, devoid of soul and steamed to flavorless death, dotting the pizzas of most "pizza joints" outside the realm of true Italian or Greek tradition. This promised to be more than a vacation for my head. My stomach happily jumped a quick beat. I could only hope....but was the brochure as "good as the scenery??!" The proprietor stepped to her podium back in the kitchen and put my slip up with those of the other patrons waiting to eat in the immaculately cleaned diningroom. A large box was presented 15 minutes later and she opened the box to reveal A REAL GREEK PIZZA, handcrafted with the heritage of her family (many of whom were smiling down from Heaven with love). "Thank you....Thank you for keeping your tradition alive" I said. "You're felcome," she replied Greek accent and a proud smile ("f" intentionally placed). With Sebastian smiling and sniffing beyond the cardboard from the back seat of my caR("r" intentionally added for reader understanding), we drove, pressing all speed limits, back to the campground. It was worth the drive no doubt! "Luscious, delicious, perfect" was the review I uttered under my chewing as I shared my treasure with the other campers, all smiling over my take-out gift to them. So, moral of the story, if you are in the Western New Hampshire area, please visit Yanni's Pizza on 260 West Main Street in Hillsboro. You'll feel transported, understand what home cooking is made of, experience a bit of Greece without the expensive travel bill, and your tummy will definitely be happy, happy, happy! Until next time, Keith A. Neubert Innkeeper-Chef www.innatlonglake.com

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