Carpenter and Main

Carpenter & Main (Norwich, VT)

After our recent whirlwind trips to Michigan and Alaska, it was nice to be back at home in the Upper Valley for a bit. We used it as a good opportunity to meet up with friends and check out one of our local places we hadn’t visited in a while: Carpenter & Main, in downtown Norwich across from Dan and Whit’s.

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Han Fusion

Han Fusion (Hanover, NH)

In my 20 years of living in the Upper Valley, 3 Lebanon Street (the “Hanover Park” building) has had a succession of Chinese restaurants in the basement: when we first arrived, it was Panda Garden, and then after that it was Orient, and then in 2019 it changed to Han Fusion. I hadn’t been too much of a fan of either Panda Garden or Orient in general, since they mostly seemed to serve fairly generic Americanized Chinese food, and I originally hadn’t expected Han Fusion to be much better. However, I started to hear some good things about Han Fusion from several people in the Upper Valley who I actually trust with Chinese food (such as Chris Ng, who runs the local Upper Valley Foodie Group), and looking at their menu, found several menu items that I really like (soup dumplings, dry-fried chicken, and rice cakes). We had vowed to finally get out and try them… and then the Pandemic hit.

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Tia's

Tia’s Gourmet (Anchorage, AK)

When we first arrived in Anchorage, we walked around the downtown area checking out a few art galleries while waiting for lunch. It’s a bit of a touristy area, with more than a few places hawking tourist trinkets, fishing expeditions, and the like. And one thing you can’t miss while walking around the Town Square Park or Old City Hall Park is a rather large number of street carts serving up…. reindeer sausages. We originally opted not to indulge on our first visit since we had lunch plans, but as we wrapped up our short trip to Alaska, we drove back into downtown Anchorage to turn in our Turo rental car, pick up a few items from a nice little art gallery, and stop by and check out one of them: Tia’s Gourmet Hot Dogs and Alaska Reindeer Sausage.

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Spoonline Bistro (Girdwood, AK)

While most of my breakfasts in Girdwood involved getting sourdough pancakes at The Bake Shop, we did go branch out and try some of the other places in town. In particular, Spoonline Bistro over in “downtown” Girdwood generally had a quite a following as well, with most mornings having a line almost as long as The Bake Shop. So we decided to check it out.

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The Bake Shop (Girdwood, AK)

Our home base in Girdwood was a small studio condo at the base of the Alyeska resort ski slope, and even when we first checked in, there was a noticeable pleasant aroma of baking bread and spices. On our first trip back out to the parking lot to get the rest of our luggage, we immediately discovered why: the front door to the condo building exits pretty much directly into the outdoor dining patio for The Bake Shop, one of the primary breakfast joints in Girdwood.

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Girdwood Izakaya (Girdwood, AK)

For most of our stay in Alaska, we were staying at an AirBnB condo in Girdwood, Alaska, a small resort town located in a valley east of Anchorage along the Turnagain Arm. Girdwood is primarily known for the Alyeska Ski Resort that actually constitutes the majority of the town. Aside from the resort itself, Girdwood is actually a pretty small town, but it has a handful of restaurants, a few smaller stores, and a brewery: Girdwood Brewing. Girdwood Brewing is just a small craft brewery without its own food service (unfortunately, that means that the brewery itself has to close at 8pm due to liquor laws, which in July in Alaska is ridiculously early). Instead, Girdwood has a rotating selection of local food trucks set up shop in their parking lot. During our visit, on Wednesdays and Thursdays, the rotating food truck was Girdwood Izakaya.

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49th State Brewing (Anchorage, AK)

After a mere five days of rest and relaxation at home, we again headed back to the airport, and headed back out on another vacation, this time, to Anchorage, Alaska, to attend a wedding of two former coworkers. After a rather complicated day involving canceled flights, maintenance problems on the rescheduled flights, and an extended delay at Newark Airport (home of some of the most ridiculously overpriced food ever), we finally arrived in Anchorage at the airport, 24 hours after starting our trip. We simply headed to our hotel, and called it a night. The next morning, after taking care of rental car arrangements, and some light exploration of downtown Anchorage, we met up with a local Anchorage friend and headed out for lunch at 49th State Brewing.

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The Ruck (Troy, NY)

As I mentioned back in the review of Manory’s, while I’m often traveling through Troy for both work and pleasure, I almost always seem to drive through town in either mid-morning or mid-afternoon, neither of which is ideal for mealtimes. And, being only about 2 hours from our house, if we’re heading home, it’s usually easier for us to continue on home. But our driving schedule on our last day of vacation actually had us arriving in Troy slightly later than usual, around 3:45 pm, and after a short hike checking out one of the waterfalls in town, it was 4pm, which was pretty reasonable for dropping by another perennial entry on Offbeat Eat’s “should visit” list: The Ruck, in downtown Troy.

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The Poked Yolk (West Seneca, NY)

After almost three weeks of traveling through the Midwest, mostly exploring NE Minnesota and northern Michigan, it was time for us to head home. While in normal years we’d debate the merits of the Canadian and domestic route options, pandemic restrictions resulted in us having to take domestic routes home due to border closings. When it comes down to it, there’s basically two efficient ways to cross New York, going through Buffalo via the Thruway, or taking the Southern Tier/I-88 route across the southern part of the state. We ended up doing the slightly more efficient Thruway route after overnighting in Erie, PA, which left us looking for breakfast around Buffalo. We here at Offbeat Eats have a lot of favorite spots in and around Buffalo, but since we’re usually hitting Buffalo mid-afternoon instead of morning, we’re still working on the breakfast scene. Looking at the options, I decided to try out a new place a bit off the beaten path: The Poked Yolk.

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Suomi Home Bakery & Restaurant (Houghton, MI)

After three days of hanging out in the Keweenah Peninsula, it was time for us to start heading home, with a stop to visit with Carol’s family in the Lower Peninsula. As we worked our way back toward the Mackinac Bridge, we decided to stop for breakfast in Houghton and check out one of our favorites from a previous visit, Suomi Home Bakery & Restaurant. Located on Huron St just a block away from Portage Lake (which separates Houghton from the sister town of Hancock), Suomi. My previous review of Randall Bakery discussed the mixed Cornish and Finnish culinary heritage of the Upper Peninsula’s copper country, and Suomi Home (for those not fluent in Finnish, ‘Suomi’ is the Finnish word for Finland) is nod to the area’s Finnish-American Heritage, and is a well-known favorite for both Finnish-style breakfasts and Finnish-style pasties. On this visit, we were hoping to score a bit of both, stopping in for breakfast while grabbing some pasties to eat as a picnic on our way south.

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