Like Hansel and Gretel we were off to follow crumbs through the forests of New Hampshire. The 10th Annual Inn to Inn Holiday Cookie Tour involves following a trail map from one highly decorated inn to the next, sampling each one’s favorite cookie recipe, and at the end, voting on your favorite.
After climbing into and over the White Mountains on twisty roads gentle lights peeked through the snow covered trees, the first lights we had seen for miles. This magical oasis in the darkening sky was the Notchland Inn. Walking from our delightful cottage to the inn for dinner we took in the brilliant decorations, crackling fireplaces and the glorious scent of real pine trees ornately spruced up which thoroughly infused us with holiday ho-ho-ho.
Here was the perfect blend between elegant European style, a casual new england atmosphere and the squeaky wooden floors of a very old mountain lodge. The dining room was large, cozy and filled with inviting aromas. From the fresh spicy soup, to Uncle Gordy’s (very best ever) Pate, to the seared duck breast to creamy chocolate truffle torte it reminded us why dining is something to linger over and savor.
The following snapping clear morning, map in hand we walked back to the inn. Perhaps the chef thought his guests might drive off the edge of the fragile paper maps for the tour and get lost in the mountains, so he better feed them up. Breakfast was hot, fresh, rich and huge!
Still tasting sweet maple syrup we headed down into the valley in search of cookie gold. For two days we found our way from inn to inn, each one carefully decorated for the holidays, and loaded with seasonal treats. I was impressed with the artistry and creativity of the presentation that went into each inn’s signature cookies. At each stop our little maps were stamped by the inn, and most gave us a bag of the house specialty cookies to take as a reminder of our visit.
We slowed down our ‘sugar buzz” with lunch on Saturday at a wonderful small Spanish pub all decked out in cut tin ornaments and red chili ristas. Full of margaritas and poppers we forgot that you can do a lot of damage to your master plastic in North Conway, the outlet capital of New Hampshire! But we got some wonderful deals on Christmas presents and a few things for ourselves and so it wasn’t all bad.
Sunday morning we visited the remaining inns on our map and Sunday afternoon the entire cookie tour met for tea at the Notchland Inn. Almost a hundred visitors who had been staying at the various participating inns handed in maps stamped by all the inns. For this we were given a very handsome brass wooden soldier Christmas ornament.
We also voted on the best three stops on our tour. I really can’t imagine how anyone could choose! It was so hard with each place having worked so hard and created such holiday spirit around the event. Eventually first, second and third prized were issued to the winners, but as near as I could tell, we, the people who followed the cookie tour all weekend were really the winners.
Over the weekend we had a real acceleration in to the holiday spirit, got lots of our Christmas shopping out of the way at great prices, dined very well and grazed on hand made sweeties all weekend. We all agreed it was a grand (if fattening) start of the holiday season.
Information on the Notchland Inn http://www.NotchlandInn.com/
Inn to Inn Cookie Tour – December 9 & 10, 2007 http://www.countryinnsinthewhitemountains.com/cookietour.htm