A Weekend of Food, Wine and Culture in Porto, Portugal

The Douro River

Not too long ago I was watching a travel show, Andrew Zimmern’s Bizarre Foods: Delicious Destinations, and the segment I caught was about Porto, Portugal. I knew nothing about Porto, in fact, I’ve never been to Portugal. But after viewing the show I said to myself, “I have to go there!” Not long after that I was contacted by our editor, asking me if I’d like to go to Porto. I kid you not. It took me two seconds to respond back with a resounding, “Yes!” and before I knew it I was on a direct flight from New York to Porto. There was going to be an intense itinerary to follow during this three-day trip to Portugal.

View of Porto from WOW

Imagine a destination situated on one of the most beautiful and renowned rivers in Europe, a place where in one area there are 7 museums and interactive experiences, 12 restaurants, 9 retail shops, a temporary exhibition hall, a wine school plus an events space and they are all housed in former historic Port wine warehouses. Now add to that a luxurious wine and spa hotel. Well, stop imagining, because it’s right here at WOW (World of Wine) Cultural Center.

WOW Cultural Center

Located on the South bank of the Douro River, the entire complex offers the most amazing views of Porto day and night. And it just so happens that every one of my days of the trip was filled with dazzling and gorgeous sunshine.

The Yeatman

I was fortunate enough to stay at the Yeatman Hotel. Technically, the property as well as the cultural center, are located in the town of Vila Nova de Gaia. (Rua do Choupelo, Santa Marinha, Vila Nova de Gaia +351 220 133 100) Locals affectionately refer to the area as “Gaia”. However, it’s a quick walk over the Dom Luís I bridge to reach Porto on the North riverbank but the Yeatman also offers a ferry service.

Inside the Yeatman
View Outside of My Suite

This wine hotel and spa which opened in 2010, offers jaw-dropping views of the UNESCO World Heritage city of Porto as well as the Douro River from every restaurant as well as every guest room. A member of the prestigious Relais & Châteaux collection of hotels, the stunning property offers 82 guestrooms, all with their own private terraces or balconies. I laughed to myself when I entered the Presidential suite, for the bed is appropriately built inside of a giant wine barrel.

The Presidential Suite

The Yeatman offers a substantial nod to the Port industry as well as Portuguese wines and her guests can enjoy a wine shop, wine cellars, wine dinners, master classes and wine tastings. There’s even a chic Caudalie spa on the premises! They have an indoor infinity pool as well as an outdoor which has become an iconic symbol of the area because it’s shaped like a wine decanter.

The hotel is situated on the top of a hill and when I first drove up to it, I thought the premises was all one floor/level. But upon entering the hotel, an enormous staircase surprisingly led downstairs. It’s then that I realized that there were six floors to the building and each level of the hotel cascaded down toward the river, mimicking the terracing of vineyards. Directly below her is the WOW - World of Wine - Cultural Center. What’s even more of a wow, is that the Center successfully opened in 2020 during the pandemic.

Port Upon Arrival

Upon checking into the Yeatman, I was generously offered my first taste of Port and I was completely surprised. As many of you may know, Port wine is only Port if it is made in the Douro Valley and its creation must abide by strict rules. The port I was offered is their Taylor Fladgate White Port Chip Dry. Being a Port virgin I was “wow”- ed by the fruity fragrance of which I detected apricot and citrus with a wisp of oak. It had a lovely crisp and dry finish. Not what I expected at all. This was going to be a fantastic visit!

Morning Cappuccino

Within the Yeatman you have several dining options. The L’Oranangerie is where I enjoyed breakfast every morning. In fact, they offer the best “hotel” breakfast I have savored in all of my international travels. Omelets made to order, traditional Pasteis de Nata (tarts filled with custard and ridiculously delicious), scores of baked goods, a cornucopia of fresh fruit, worldwide favorites like lox and bagels, any style of coffee, tea or fresh squeezed juice prepared for you. Plus the views!

After an extensive tour of the hotel and grounds with the very entertaining and informative Rita Lima, I chose Dick’s Bistro for lunch. Located within the Yeatman, it’s a casual alternative with a very private club-like feel. The Bistro is named in honor of Dick Yeatman, a famous and much beloved local personality of the Port wine world. Local Portuguese declare that if you come to Porto you must order a Francesinha, at least once. The translation is little Frenchie and originally it was the Portuguese version of the French croque-monsieur. What’s in it? Here goes - layered between bread it is made up of beef steak, pork sausage, Linguica sausage, then ham covered with cheese and then smothered in a spicy tomato sauce and if that isn’t enough, it’s topped off with a fried egg.

The Francesinha

I had to order it. It comes with fries which I was instructed to drag through the sauce and for drink, a local draft beer. I managed to eat half of it and it was really very good. Thank goodness there was so much walking ahead of me, I could work it off.

For a more formal dining experience there is the Yeatman Gastronomic. The hotel’s stellar restaurant is a 2 Michelin Star eatery with Chef Ricardo Costa at the helm. The Gastronomic offers a tasting menu with select wines and Chef Costa’s contemporary interpretations of age-old traditional Portuguese recipes coupled with the most fantastic views of Porto, offer guests dining experiences they will remember for a lifetime.

Just steps and stairs away from the Yeatman is the WOW Cultural Center housed in renovated and restored Port lodges. The complex is amazingly expansive yet very intimate. There are 7 museums which are in depth but not over your head and often very hands-on and interactive.

View Over the Port Lodges

Offering a very comprehensive history of the city of Porto, I started my tour with the PRATA Museum. PRATA stands for Porto Region Across The Ages and the extremely knowledgeable guide I had was Teresa Coelho. When I first stepped into the museum I had a moment of “awe”. I was caught by the sheer beauty of the design itself as well as the vastness of space. And because of this, the museum never felt crowded even though there were quite a few visitors. It was fascinating to learn what has made Porto the dynamic, historical, resilient and beautiful port that she is. This exhibit will help you to understand Porto’s people, their ups and downs and what the future may hold for them. Teresa was a fascinating walking encyclopedia of everything Porto as well as Portugal.

Classic Building in Porto

Still digesting massive amounts of info from PRATA, I moved on to the next museum on my itinerary, The Wine Experience. Enter Manuel Santos. Manual, like Teresa, was another expert full of vast knowledge but had the ability to keep everything we discussed fresh and interesting. Here I discovered all the ins and outs to wine production, why the Douro region is so perfect for both the growing and producing of wine. There were even glass floors which housed different types of soil and terrain to demonstrate to us which vines grow best in which scenarios. I definitely left with a greater sense of wine knowledge and expertise.

Church Tile in Porto

With 12 restaurants and bars within the WOW campus, everyone can find something that they can enjoy. Each eatery has a varied terraced view of Porto and they range from vegetarian and vegan choices to steak houses and seafood restaurants. You can find simple bites to elegant dining experiences.

That night, I had cocktails with the marketing directory of Wow and the Yeatman, Richard Bowden at Angel’s Share Wine Bar. Passionate about his work, Richard is also a very humorous fellow. But let me first explain what angel’s share refers to. It’s the amount of an alcohol that is lost to evaporation when the liquid is being aged in porous oak barrels. When I walked through some of the - still operating - wine lodges, the huge oak barrels line up and down the aisles like patient little soldiers waiting for their orders and if you looked up, you could see the ceilings were blackened by the angel’s share. I just love the concept of the angel’s getting their own tasting of whatever goodness was ageing below.

Located in WOW’s central plaza, Angel’s Share is on the second floor and every seat has a phenomenal view of Porto across the Douro River. It was a very happening place and I’m excited to share that I’ve discovered my new favorite smart cocktail: Porto Tonico! All the credit goes to Richard for he suggested it. The drink is so simple and honestly, I didn’t think I’d like it at first but it won me over instantly. Fill a tall glass with ice and add one-part Port (whichever type you desire), to two parts tonic water. Add a slice of orange and if you like, a sprig of mint. Seriously, it’s delicious and refreshing. After a cocktail, actually two, we decided to head downstairs to the Golden Catch restaurant for dinner.

The Golden Catch

Calling itself a Premium Fish & Chips restaurant, the Golden Catch is a casually upscale eatery offering a very eclectic menu with more amazing views as well as outdoor seating. For an appetizer I ordered their delicious Scallops. The perfectly seared scallops were each topped delicately with orange foam and placed between dashes of fresh pea puree topped with orange slices, radishes and lemon. Superb!


For entrée I had their Lobster Fish & Chips. Sweet buttery melt-in-your-mouth lobster was deep fried just like your regular fish & chips would be. The tempura batter with so light and crunchy. Served with the fish were well cooked chips served in the empty lobster shell. And to top it all off, there was a tartar sauce in one dish and vinegar in the other. As a child, we always dipped our French fries in vinegar so this definitely brought me home.

Lobster Fish & Chips

My first day ended and I was so delighted that all I had to do was take a short walk to my luxurious room at the Yeatman. I collapsed into a deep sleep.

Bedroom in Yeatman Suite

The next morning, a fantastic breakfast at the L’ Orangerie and I was off to meet Ana Marques, my guide to The Bridge Collection - 9,000 Years of Drinking. With over 1,800 vessels and glasses on display (some dating back to 7,000 BC) Adrian Bridge’s extraordinary collection not only offers the beauty of the artifacts and items but also the history and often fascinating stories that accompany them.

The Bridge Collecion

It’s an enormous and unique collection put together lovingly by an absolute Renaissance of a man. After drinking in as much information as I could, the next step was to meet up with Bruno Almeida at Planet Cork.

This museum threw me for a loop, in a good way. I was pleasantly surprised at how much I related to it. Get this! Cork, in particular Portuguese cork, is used on spaceships! Manuel offered a wealth of information. Cork is used to surround and protect the astronaut’s capsule, keeping it from burning up during reentry. Whether it was the history of cork and how it is harvested or the very unexpected uses of it, I found this interactive museum to be a gem.

The Cork Museum

Lunch today was outside at V.P. Brunch and joining me was the very personable and professional Maria Delamain, part of WOW’s marketing team. Although V.P. serves brunch everyday all the time, you can also get some fantastic and hearty main entrées. On a very sunny afternoon on their deck, again with awesome views, I decided upon their Grilled Salmon served on a generous portion of asparagus risotto. It was perfection. Light but rich and delicious, the salmon was cooked to a medium rare perfection. The risotto was amazing and so flavorful plus it was a bit al dente giving it just a little bite, the way I love it.

Salmon at V.P. Brunch

Fascinatingly, while enjoying lunch, there was a young man standing nearby and suddenly he whistled - not loudly, he made kind of a sweet soft whistle sound - and out of the sky a hawk flew down and landed on his wrist. I turned to Maria and whispered, “A falconer?” She smiled and explained to me that they hire the young man and his hawk to keep the seagulls at bay. They feed the falcon enough so he won’t attack the seagull but not so much that he won’t do his job. So, when the falconer releases the raptor, just his presence frightens the gulls off, and away from stealing your lunch. It works!

After lunch it was the perfect time to explore The Chocolate Story. This is truly a chocolate lovers dream. I learned where chocolate comes from; its humble beginnings as a cacao bean to how it’s transformed into a yummy chocolate bar. And then devoured some in the café. With the timing of my visit I was lucky enough to attend a Chocolate Workshop headed by Fabia Ribeiro that was presented around Easter and offered history as well as pairing of chocolates with wines! WOW even has their own chocolate brand: Vinte Vinte.

The Pink Palace

And what better way to wash all that chocolate down but with a glass of rosé at the Pink Palace. This museum is not only an homage to Rosé wine, it’s also for the Instagrammers and Influencers at heart! The Pink Palace is a multi-sensory experience that immerses visitors into the world of Rosé. It’s put together in a way that entertains as well as informs. Each room in the Pink Palace is different and unique, creating photo opportunities to share while at the same time learning about Rosé wine. I tasted five different rosés: Quinta do Vale do Bragão Rosé, AIX Gran Vin de Provence Rosé, Mateus Rosé, Vértice Rosé Bruto and Croft Pink Rosé Port. The sparkling Vértice Rosé Bruto was by far my favorite.

That night I was very excited for I was to enjoy dinner with Adrian Bridges at Barão Fladgate. The restaurant is located just to the side of WOW within the Taylor Port Cellars. Under the watchful and creative eye of Chef Ricardo Cardoso this was a phenomenal meal.

Glass Floor with View of Wine Cellar at Barao Fladgate

As an appetizer I ordered their Watercress Veloute with smoked salmon, basil oil, ikura, crispy yolk and herbs, celery leaf and lemon rye bread lapel. The pops of ikura salmon caviar in your mouth are delicious and the lemon rye bread lapel is the perfect added texture and tincture of acid that the creamy and flavorful watercress craves. Beautiful.

For an entrée it was the Ribeye. Matured for 30 days, it was served with 12 months matured Manchego cheese shavings, quail eggs, rakott krumpli (a layered potato dish), Japanese aubergine, roasted broccoli, thistle arrows and green asparagus. The flavorful steak was cooked to my desired perfection, medium rare, and basically melted in my mouth. The surrounding accoutrements were welcome dancers at the party.


And dessert: Bosque - Red berry textures, pennyroyal (in the mint family), strawberry ice cream and sauce with an aged balsamic. The dish was scrumptious. The sweet and tart elements counter balanced the rich dinner and made my mouth sing!

And what made the evening sweeter was the fascinating company of Mr. Bridges. An avid photographer and mountain climber, he is not only the CEO of the Yeatman, but the entire WOW cultural center is his brainchild. His taste, education and passion has influenced all decision making of every aspect of the entire complex.

Wine Tasting Class

The next morning it was a Wine School presentation. A bit early in the day but hey, it’s “wine o’clock” somewhere in the world, yes? The wine school offers classes and tastings for the novice to the very experienced wine connoisseur. Covered are not only Port and Portuguese wines but also international varietals. In a very easy to understand approach, the class is not intimidating - it’s celebratory and I promise, you’ll feel much more confident about the wines you choose to experience after this class.

Fashion & Fabric Museum

And next on my schedule was a visit to the Porto Fashion & Fabric Museum. The fashion museum highlights Portugal’s history and influence on fashion and her talents for creating and producing textiles, jewelry as well as their masterful accomplishments in the world of filigree. Porto hosts Portugal’s Fashion Week which attracts worldwide attention and offers well deserved focus on local talents. The museum displays gorgeous designs as well as highlighting Portugal’s international influence on shoemaking.

With my whirlwind Porto extravaganza coming to an end, I could not travel all the way to the Porto region and not visit the city proper. As I mentioned earlier, the WOW center offers a ferry service to and from Porto across the Douro River. Even if it’s just for an afternoon, take the time to stroll the streets and staircases of Porto. The tile used to decorate the ancient houses, the gorgeous train station or even the local bookstore, is breathtakingly beautiful and something you’ll see nowhere else in the world.

Rabelo Boat

The old Rabelo boats used to carry barrels of Port down the Douro are still peppered along the river and the cafes and pastry shops where you can drop in and have an espresso and a bite to eat are numerous. Above the obvious beauty of the city, there is the kindness to the locals. The entire trip, from beginning to end, everyone was so polite and genuinely friendly. I can’t wait to return.

And I just want to share, that when looking up towards the Yeatman Hotel from the bottom of the WOW culture center, the way the hotel curves its outer parameters slightly inward, it looks as though it’s embracing the entire complex with warmth and security.

Whether you choose to stay at the Yeatman or not, WOW is a standout destination for everyone - for a day, a weekend, a week or more. There are endless opportunities to explore and enjoy.

Porto at Night

The White Mountains of New Hampshire

Eagle Mountain House and Golf Course, Jackson, NH Credit Tom Caughey

Winter, spring, summer or fall, the White Mountains of New Hampshire has something for everyone. Nearly 800,000 acres make up the White Mountain National Forest in the Northeast part of the state. The boundaries are roughly from the town of Berlin to the North, Franconia to the West, Conway to the East and the southern edge is Rumney. The White Mountains

All year round the area offers a multitude of outdoor activities as well as attractions and entertainment, plus the opportunity to admire the gorgeous vistas. When I was a youngster, my mom’s parents, Granny and Papa, would frequently pack us kids into the car during the summer months and travel up to the White Mountains. I think Papa really loved the Whites (which they are nicknamed) because it reminded him of his home country of Scotland. He was a professional soccer player and immigrated to America in 1920. Sixty million years ago Scotland was joined to America and Greenland, and it separated when the North Atlantic began to form. Hence, the White Mountain region looks amazingly similar to parts of Scotland. Papa must have felt right at home. 

Polar Caves Credit Polar Caves Park

My most recent trip to the Whites afforded me the opportunity to revisit childhood memories, as well as make new ones. I stopped by Polar Caves located in Rumney, which we always went to first on our trips. There are nine granite caves that were formed during the last ice age, plus they have an animal park. As a kid I loved this place and I remember my favorite cave to push through was called The Lemon Squeeze, when I was a fraction of the size I am today. Well, having returned to Polar Caves as an adult, I have now renamed the Lemon Squeeze, the MRI. Still, it’s a great attraction and perfect for kids up to the age of maybe 10. Polar Caves


Presidential Range from Snow Village Credit Carrie Steeves

Traveling north you quickly reach the White Mountains. Folklore says that in 1524 a seafaring explorer on the Atlantic glancing towards the New Hampshire mountain range off in the far distance named them the White Mountains due to their snowcapped peaks. 

The White Mountains make up the Presidential range, which include Mount Madison, Jefferson, Adams, Clay, Monroe, Eisenhower, and the highest peak Mount Washington. The Whites are also part of the Appalachian Trail, offering 89.5 miles of phenomenal and diverse hiking and camping opportunities. Suggested months to hike the trails are May through October. There are easier ways to explore the range, in particular, Mount Washington. In 1861 the Mount Washington Auto Road opened up to the public. The route travels 4,618 feet from the base and reaches the highest point in the Northeast at 6,288 feet above sea level. You’re welcome to drive the route yourself or join a guided tour. Another way to discover the Mountain is aboard the Cog Railroad. Offering stunning views and operating from May – Oct, the trip is totally safe and exhilarating, if not a bit nail-biting. The views are utterly breathtaking. From November 1 to December 31 there are shortened one-hour trips to the Waumbeck Station. Cog Railroad

Cog Railroad Credit Mt Washington

The Cog Railroad is a three-hour round-trip excursion to the summit of Mount Washington. The excursion offers you more than enough time to explore the State Park facilities up top and to absorb the magnificent mountaintop panoramas. At times you’ll think you’re on the moon, but it always feels majestic. Seasonal and weather-related restrictions apply so always check their website to see what’s happening.

Cog Railroad Credit Mt Washington

A must do for every trip I make to the White Mountains is to travel along the Kancamagus Scenic Byway, which extends from the town of Conway in the east to Lincoln in the west. Running parallel and snuggling up to the highway is the Swift River. There are 5 scenic lookouts/stops you can make along the gorgeous drive. There are trails, waterfalls, watering holes, covered bridges, and much more to explore. On the west end of the Kancamagus in the town of Liberty is another iconic natural attraction, The Flume Gorge. The experience here is spectacular and includes waterfalls, a covered bridge, glacial pools, and an 800-foot gorge that extends from the base of Mount Liberty. It’s a two-mile trek and worth every step of the way. Just south of Liberty, for adults who enjoy their wine, there is the Seven Birches Winery at Loon Mountain. Seven Birches blends handcrafted classic European grape varietals with locally-sourced fruits to create their wines of distinction. It’s a full production commercial winery with a tasting room located within the grand new Riverwalk Resort at Loon Mountain. For beer lovers there is Tuckerman Brewing Co. Owners Kirsten Neves and Nik Stanciu opened Tuckerman Brewing Co. in 1998 and it is now one of the longest-running owner-operated breweries in the state. 

The Whites are also an incredible location for birdwatchers. All Trails offers a terrific list of best bird watching trails. And there’s also great info from Audubon. An avid birder, photographer, and Jackson Village local, Tom Caughey, is my oldest friend. I asked him if there are areas that he finds himself gravitating to, for bird watching. Birding

Goldfinch Credit Tom Caughey
Eastern Bluebird Credit Tom Caughey

“I enjoy searching for unusual birds like the Indigo Bunting, Great Blue Heron, Green Heron, and migrating ducks. New Hampshire offers great opportunities for bird watching just off the road in marshes and small ponds.” This prompted me to ask, “You may not want to disclose this info, but are there parts of the National Forrest that only you know and love, far from the obvious tourist attractions?” “I am attracted to the rivers and streams in the mountain valleys. You can find many waterfalls not listed in the travel books just by studying the terrain. A change in elevation can be an indicator of a pretty falls and sometimes a great opportunity to swim au natural in remote pools. Although usually brisk!”

Ellis Falls Credit Tom Caughey

One such natural wonder that is in the guidebooks is Glen Ellis Falls. The 64-foot-high cascade is a perfect example of how beautiful the falls are in the White Mountain area. There are many villages that make up the region, each one offering a slightly different energy, but all are charming and unique. Jackson is in the heart of the White Mountain Valley and is well-known as one of the most scenic towns with some of the best vistas in the White Mountains. 

Ellis River Covered Bridge Credit Tom Caughey

You cross the famous Honeymoon Covered Bridge spanning the Ellis River when you enter Jackson. It’s referred to as the Honeymoon Bridge because of an early tradition of lovers kissing inside of it for good luck. It’s one of only 53 covered bridges left in New Hampshire. For Leaf Peepers, the area is unparalleled and their rather short peak foliage season is approximately from the end of September through the second week of October. North Conway has been voted the best and prettiest New England town, time and time again.   Main Street is peppered with charming pubs, restaurants, art galleries, as well as B&Bs and inns. For those who love to shop for a bargain check out Settlers Green where there are over 70 factory outlet and boutique stores with no sales tax! 

Crawford Depot Credit Joseph Sohm

You’ll also discover The Conway Scenic Railroad in North Conway. The beautiful train depot was built in 1874 in the Russian-Victorian style and was added to the National Register of Historic Places in 1979. They have several types of excursions, including shorter ones stopping from town to town in a vintage 1920s train, to a longer trip up into the Crawford Notch region which is phenomenal during peak foliage season. 

Covered Bridge along the Kancamagus River Credit Joe Bilous

Eaton is a quieter, less populated area and is the quintessential New England town with its vintage country store and the often photographed steepled white church, all embracing the central attraction, Crystal Lake. Traveling through this small village you will definitely feel like you stepped back in time. 

Tuckerman Ravine Credit Tom Caughey

Although there are no ski resorts located on any of the Presidential mountains per se, there is skiing on Mount Washington. Tom and I have climbed Tuckerman Ravine, which is a glacial cirque nestled into the southeast face of Mt Washington. The trek up with ski equipment is quite a journey in itself, but skiing down the ravine is thrilling.  Tuckerman Ravine

The White Mountain Valley area does offer 12 ski resorts with over 237 miles of slopes for downhill skiing and snowboarding, but the mountains are not just for skiing. Spring, Summer and Fall, each resort offers endless opportunities to explore and enjoy what the mountains have to offer, from zip lining to disc golf and water parks. Some have tennis camps others have artist retreats. Click through each resort’s website and see everything they have to offer. All Combined, the resorts here have a total of 79 ski lifts. Wildcat Mountain offers one of the most unique resorts and the ski trails literally face Mount Washington. You’ll find some of the most challenging skiing at Wildcat as well as the Polecat Trail, a beginner route and the longest ski trail descending from the summit to the base that is often described as “two- and three-quarter miles of sheer pleasure.” For thrill-seekers, hop on their four-person ZipRider zip-line, which operates in the summer months.

On Loon Mountain, the skiing in winter is fantastic as are their mountain bike trails in the warmer months. They also have an 18-hole alpine disc golf course, but it’s their spectacular gondola ride in the fall during foliage season that attracts visitors from far and wide. Loon Mountain

Waterville Valley Credit Waterville Valley Resort

I must admit, my all-time favorite ski resort is Waterville Valley. Waterville Valley  As a teenager, Waterville was my go-to ski resort. I really enjoyed the range of trails it had to offer. Simple, open and wide paths, which allow you to feel like your gliding down the mountain, flying like a bird. But they also have extreme headwalls if you want to navigate down a deathdefying cliff. (Experienced skiers only, please.) Waterville also offers some beautiful accommodations. My dad would drive up with me for ski weekends. Although he didn’t ski, he was a voracious reader. All day long as I’d ski down the mountain as many times as I physically could, Dad would be devouring books fireside in the lodge. When the lifts would close for the day, we’d meet up for big steak dinners with overstuffed baked potatoes followed by cheesecake. It was actually a terrific bonding between father and son. One night, Tom and I were discussing best venues for après-ski cocktails and Wildcat Inn and Tavern turned up as number one. 

Goat Cheese Pillows at Wildcat Tavern Credit PQ Productions

Located in Jackson, it’s a homey country inn with its own tavern. Executive Chef Bryant Alden offers up an eclectic menu and the number one item that patrons are gobbling up are their Goat Cheese Pillows (phyllo dough wrapped goat cheese oven baked and drizzled with balsamic reduction served with blueberry compote). Caution: they are addictive. They also produce The Garden Stage Dinner Concert Series during the warmer months outside in their garden. On their website you can find their entertainment schedule throughout the year. Wildcat Tavern

When it comes to fine dining, The Wentworth Inn is at the top of the list. Also in Jackson, the stunning Wentworth is owned and operated by Ellie Koeppel. It has 51 elegant guest rooms and a charming dining room. Plus, they have easy access to 98 miles of cross-country ski trails in winter. The Wentworth can also accommodate weddings and meetings, and although it is a separate entity, there’s an exceptional 18-hole golf course, the Wentworth Golf Club. I had the pleasure of chatting with Ellie who immigrated to America from Ireland 31 years ago. I asked her what was so special about The White Mountain Area. “I simply just think we are so lucky to live in Jackson. In all the years that I have lived here, certainly there has been much change, but the sense of peace I feel as I enter through the covered bridge is always present.”

Wentworth Inn Credit Wentworth Inn

People travel from all over to dine at The Wentworth Inn and enjoy Chef Brian Gazda’s culinary creations. Ellie added, “Brian has been steadfast in his commitment to producing exceptional food and making The Wentworth the hotel that it is today.” And what she shared next, I think is just phenomenal. “Staffing continues to be our biggest challenge and annually I bring in young culinary interns from around the world to spend a year doing a culinary internship in our kitchen. I see them as they arrive, some with barely basic knife skills, and watch them develop through the year under Brian’s patient tutelage to become accomplished young chefs with bright futures ahead of them.” I had to ask her what was the most popular item was on the menu, and I was a pleasantly surprised at Ellie’s response. “The vegetarian dish, Crispy Italian Herb Eggplant which is served with a creole sauce, garlic spinach, on a bed of soft ricotta coulis and garnished with pine nuts, basil pesto and aged parmesan. I have guests that order two, one to enjoy that evening and one to take back home for lunch the following day.” The Wentworth

Another terrific restaurant and accommodation is Max’s Restaurant and Pub at Snow Village Inn, in Eaton. Speaking to events coordinator Carrie Steeves I discovered that people come from miles away to enjoy Chef Josh Burkett’s rack of lamb, pork dumplings, daily fresh fish, and short ribs. Snow Village Inn

New Zealand Rack of Lamb, Snow Village Inn Credit Carrie Steeves

I congratulated her on their breathtaking setting. “We truly have a spectacular location. Guests are mesmerized as they walk into the Main Inn. Our view of Mount Washington and the entire Presidential Mountain Range is unrivaled.”

Snow Village Inn Credit Carrie Steeves

Only a few of the Grand Resorts still exist and one of them is the Eagle Mountain House and Golf Club with a 9-hole course located in Jackson. Built in 1879, Eagle Mountain House has continuously welcomed generations of vacationers year-round for over a hundred years. Eagle Mountain House

Eagle Mountain House and Golf Course Credit Tom Caughey

The following day, I asked Tom if there were any gay bars in the White Mountain Valley area and he said, “All of the local pubs and taverns are very gay friendly, staffed by gay people usually. So, it’s not just a neighborhood where you’ll find a gay bar. It’s too mainstream to need a gay bar.” On that note, I was pleasantly surprised to discover that 3 successful Inns: Notchland Inn, Cranmore Inn, and Inn at Crystal Lake, are all gay owned and operated.

Notchland Inn Credit Will Zimmerman

The owners of the Notchland Inn are Ed Butler and Les Schoof. I asked them what it was about the White Mountain Region that they were drawn to. Ed replied, “In our explorations of the Mount Washington Valley, before becoming residents, we felt comfortable and welcomed.” When searching for the right Inn, the men said, “Notchland ‘sang to us’ as we drove up the drive!” Ed continued, “We wanted a structure with land around it. Notchland, when we bought it, had over 300 acres! It is in the smallest town in New Hampshire, Hart’s Location, with current census of 46 residents. And we are in the middle of Crawford Notch State Park and the National Forest. So, the goal of having space around us was achieved! And Les has used some of that space to create wonderful gardens.” Notchland Inn

Notchland Inn Credit Cheryl Kerr

Eddie Bennett and Christopher Bellis are the innkeepers of the Cranmore Inn in North Conway. Along with their children, David and Sherie, they have a passion for travel, food, and people. I asked them where their travels have taken them. “We do love to travel and often mix up our travel destinations from visiting family in Napa, CA, Seattle, WA, South Florida and Austria to exploring new and familiar areas. In Europe; London, Paris, Italy, Switzerland, Germany, Belgium, Czech Republic, Barcelona, and also relaxing in the sun at Caribbean locations including Grand Cayman, St. Maarten, Puerto Rico, Mexico, plus others.” The Cranmore Inn

Cranmore Inn Credit Cranmore Inn

I mentioned to Christopher that I was surprised at how gay friendly the White Mountain area is. “Yes, it is and I am President of the local Pride group, White Mountains Pride, and continue to work to promote the area as an inclusive place to live, work, and play not only for LGBTQIA+ people, but all people.”

Inn At Crystal Lake Credit Tim Shellmer

When I stayed at the Inn at Crystal Lake in Eaton, it was challenging to fall asleep the first night because it was so quiet. Bobby Barker and Tim Ostendorf have been owners of the 11-room Inn since 2001. Bobby is the chef for the main dining room and their Palmer Pub, and Tim is bartender and sous chef. As Tim says, “We’re very hands on.” Tim is a classically trained singer and on designated nights they offer Opera/Musical dinners. Concert style shows are accompanied by four course dinners tailored to the show that evening. When talking to the couple they shared a rather moving story about their gay pride flag. “When we first moved in we promptly put out our rainbow flag, but after a few years it got quite tattered and worn, so we took it down and didn’t replace it right away.  Inn at Crystal Lake

Inn at Crystal Lake Credit Inn at Crystal Lake

A wonderful older Eaton resident called up to ask where the rainbow flag went; she was concerned that perhaps we weren’t feeling welcomed. We assured her that we didn’t take it down as any sort of statement, it simply got worn out. Unfortunately, during the pandemic when things were heightened, and emotions running high, a local man started flying the Confederate Flag. Another local man tried to off-set that by handing out as many rainbow flags as he could and he subsequently confronted the man flying the Confederate Flag explaining the offensiveness of that flag. His response was he wasn’t taking down the flag until all the “fag flags” came down. So, we went even further by hanging a 12’x18′ rainbow flag from the front balcony. It almost touched the ground!! I don’t want to give a bad impression of Eaton, though. Overall people have been extremely supportive, but maybe it’s a good reminder that the fight against discrimination is far from over.”

Whether it’s an exhilarating winter day of downhill skiing, a gorgeous spring morning of birdwatching, a warm summer day of hiking, a stunning afternoon of fall leaf peeping, or maybe an evening of fine dining and live entertainment, the White Mountains of New Hampshire has it all.  

View of The Presidential Range from Snow Village Inn Credit Carrie Steeves