Steele Hill Resort & A Wedding – Sanbornton, NH

Food Adventures, New Hampshire

Martin and I have this weird penchant for vacationing in cold destinations during inevitably inclement times of year. Winter break in the Pacific Northwest is a prime example, and this past week, we took some time off to journey to New Hampshire and Boston. Luckily, a (relatively) early spring had come to the East Coast just in time for Martin’s cousin’s wedding and for our subsequent adventure eating our way through Boston’s North End (more on that later). And so we were off!

Big white fluffy clouds... like whipping egg whites for souffle

Big white fluffy clouds… like whipping egg whites for souffle

First thing we did in NH - visit Dunkin' Donuts

First thing we did in NH – visit Dunkin’ Donuts, right in the airport terminal

Sleepy and exhausted, our eyes immediately lit up when we were greeted with our very first Dunkin’ Donuts sighting right in the middle of Manchester airport. Sure, there’s TONS of them on the East Coast – practically one on every block. But for us, the only location is locked away in Camp Pendleton… for now.

Two doughnuts, to go

Two doughnuts, to go

So we were pretty stoked to see our first DD. I grabbed a classic glazed and Martin got a chocolate glazed doughnut for the road. (This would be the first of three DD visits during our week-long trip.)

The View at Steele Hill Resort

The view at Steele Hill Resort

After a quick detour, we were off to the Steele Hill Resort, the site of the wedding ceremony and our home for the next few days. Thawing snow lay icy on the side of the winding road up to the resort, and the view of the Lakes was spectacular. We could see why people choose it for weddings – the view and the food!

Chocolate Martini

Chocolate Martini

Our first meal in NH was dinner at the resort’s Hilltop Restaurant. Friendly service (who turned out to be familiar faces throughout our stay), delicious food, well-stocked bar and cocktail list, we were pretty pleased with our meal.

They also warmed their dinner rolls - a nice touch!

They also warmed their dinner rolls – a nice touch!

The two appetizers our group ordered — the mozzarella sticks and the butternut squash ravioli — were completely inhaled before I could snap a photo. The mozzarella sticks were crunchy and oh so satisfying. The ravioli were al dente, although the maple cream sauce was a bit too sweet for me as I am partial to browned butter and sage.

Lobster Pie

Lobster Pie Special

Thursday night is Lobster Night so of course I had to order the day’s special — lobster pie. A gratin dish generously filled with succulent chunks of lobster meat swimming in a savory cream sauce and topped with a cracker crumb crust… I was in heaven. The lobster meat was moist and sweet, a great welcome to New England. The sauce drew its flavor from a seafood stock base, and I dipped everything in it – the side of steamed vegetables, the wild rice pilaf, even the sweet potato fries! Martin had the Hilltop Crab Cakes, crispy seared mounds so full of flaky, sweet crab that there was barely enough binding ingredients to hold them together. A good sign, for sure – he was ravenous and asked to devour them sans photo.


On to the wedding ceremony:

And of course, the wedding ceremony!


The brisk wind brought the wedding ceremony indoors to the Steele Hill West atrium, and it was absolutely lovely. Many tears of joy were shed. :3


On to the wedding reception:

Palate Cleanser: Fresh Fruit

Palate Cleanser: Fresh Fruit

A glimpse at the tropics, the palate cleanser of fresh fruit accompanied by my peach schnapps mimosa is missing only a cute little drink umbrella to complete the picture.

Caesar Salad

Caesar Salad

Classic caesar salad, flavorful albeit a tad overdressed.

Entree: NY Strip Steak

Entree: NY Sirloin

We were impressed by the gorgeous sear they were able to achieve on those steaks. The portion was generous and though we both prefer our steaks rare, the beef was tender and juicy.

Yes, that is a Companion Cube from the video game Portal

Yes, that is the Companion Cube from the video game Portal

The bride and groom are awesomely nerdy, so their wedding cake was Companion Cube and the cupcakes were decorated to resemble the infamous cake (as in, “The cake is a lie!”). Seriously, all we were missing was a pair of giant blue and orange ovals.

The cake is a lie!

The cake is a lie!

Too cute!


And the morning after:

Lobster Mac & Cheese

Lobster Mac & Cheese

The weekend brunch at the Hilltop Restaurant is pretty good if you know what to look for. We were advised that the scrambled eggs could be rubbery, so we avoided those and doubled up on the lobster mac & cheese. Described on the menu as cavatappi pasta tossed with fresh Maine lobster & a perfect blend of 5 different cheeses finished with seasoned breadcrumbs, I had been dying to partake and ended up having two helpings.

Caprese Salad

Caprese Salad

It’s okay. I balanced the stick-to-your-ribs comfort with some healthier selections, including the caprese salad. I love the combination of fresh creamy mozzarella, ripe sweet tomatoes, bright green chiffonade of basil, and a drizzle of vinaigrette, heavy on the balsamic vinegar. Yum!

If you’re on the East Coast and looking for a relaxing weekend getaway, the Steele Hill Resort just might be the right place for you. Be sure to check their website for packages and other booking specials – we scored 25% off our stay and a movie night bucket filled with boxed candy, microwave popcorn (for the in-suite kitchenette), and a 2-liter bottle of soda. Sweet!

P.S.: Please order the lobster mac & cheese so I can nom vicariously through you.


Check out Steele Hill Resort:

516 Steele Hill Rd
Sanbornton, NH 03269

See their Yelp reviews here!

Day One: Seattle – Elliott’s Oyster House

Food Adventures, Seattle

This year for our holiday vacation, the one time of the year when nonprofit and for-profit organizations alike are more generous with approving Paid Time Off, Martin and I decided to take a week off to travel north and really experience winter (we heard LA was having summer in December while we were gone – consider us a bit envious). Our first stop in our One Week, Three Cities series: Seattle.

Jason the Oyster Master of Elliott’s Oyster House

At the recommendation of my friend Rei who had lived in Seattle for a few years during her undergrad at UW, we made reservations for Christmas Eve dinner at Elliott’s Oyster House on the Waterfront. Whenever I dine at a seafood restaurant, my dad’s wise words of “Only eat oysters in months ending in -ber” ring in my head. Luckily for us, it’s DecemBER and we had ourselves an oyster feast!

We started with a sampler dozen – four each of the Chelsea Gems, Effingham Inlet, and Kusshi.

Clockwise from the lemon:

– Chelsea Gem Oysters: The menu says these are considered one of finest in world and we could see why. They were sweet and buttery, with just a hint of brininess.

– Effingham Inlet / Barkley Sound, BC: These were a good size and tasted briny and delicious. My favorite of the night, I dare say.

– Kusshi / Vancouver Island, BC: We came to the consensus that this one is like the awkward little brother that can’t decide whether to be sweet or briny.

The oysters come with the option of a traditional cocktail sauce or the housemade champagne mignonette, which I definitely recommend. Elliot’s serves it as a sorbet, so you get a fruity, icy element atop the briny bivalve. Yum! They also recommend pairing the oysters with the local favorite Chateau Ste. Michelle chardonnay, but I opted for the riesling from the same winery in hopes of a sweeter wine and it did not disappoint!

We also got some of the hot appetizers as well to round things out.

Top: Crab Cakes, Bottom: Fried Geoduck Strips

The crispy geoduck strips with poppy seed aioli were crispy and nicely fried, but the batter and cooking method drowned out the flavor of the geoduck. I think we’ll try the tartare, the other geoduck item on the menu, next time to get more of its natural flavor. Our other app was the dungeness crab cakes with sweet chili lime beurre blanc and chayote jicama slaw. The crab cakes were deliciously pan seared and consisted of so much lump crab meat that it fell apart for want of breadcrumbs or egg yolk. The sauce was reminiscent of the Asian chili sauce you eat with lumpia, so that was… interesting. The slaw was wonderfully crunchy and contrasted well with the fried dishes.

Round 2 – another half-dozen sampler ($17) – two each of the Totten Inlet, Penn Cove, and Snow Creek.

We couldn’t resist and ordered another half dozen oysters:

– Totten Inlet (WA): Martin described it as a slap in the face of brininess that eventually mellows out sweet.

– Penn Cove (WA): apparently a local favorite. We felt these were well balanced in flavor but they didn’t particularly wow me.

– Snow Creek: We didn’t know what to get for our third oyster so at the suggestion of our server, we asked the shucker to pick! These were a briny surprise from that night’s shucker, Jason. I think they were a bit too briny for Martin but I loved them. They left me with a lingering, ocean-y aftertaste. Mmm…

Sunken Chocolate Souffle

What’s a holiday dinner without dessert? We both spotted the sunken chocolate souffle a la mode and decided to go with that. I suspect they put “sunken” in the name in case it doesn’t rise like a “true” souffle, because our dessert turned out to be a delicious lava cake of sorts filled with dark chocolate ganache and topped with Madagascan vanilla ice cream. A decadent way to end our meal!

Elliott’s prides itself on serving eco-friendly, sustainable seafood. Food aside, the service was top notch, the decor was inviting, and the restaurant itself is easy to find right when you get to the Waterfront. I couldn’t think of a better place for us to celebrate Christmas Eve, and we will definitely come back next time we’re in town!


Check out Elliott’s Oyster House:

1201 Alaskan Way
(between Seneca St & University St)
Seattle, WA 98101

See their Yelp reviews here.