Sorry, New Hampshire is NOT the Alabama of the North

portsmouth-harbor-view

(Obligatory disclaimer: I have never been to Alabama. Maybe it’s nice there, I don’t really know. But it makes a good stereotype.)


 

The New Hampshire primary was yesterday. Leading up to the event, there were a lot of articles on the state from various content sites. They talked about the “spirit” of the state or whatever, and reporters from a few of my favorite sources took pictures of small New Hampshire towns. Places way up there where around five people live year-round (not an exaggeration, places like this really exist, especially in Maine).

I was kind of taken aback by these articles. Most of them painted New Hampshire as some sort of “Alabama of the North.” The last refuge of Conservatism in the Northeast (but upstate New York certainly fits the label better). The Alabama of the North comment came from one of my professors last semester, who lived in Worcester for a few years, as if he knows. But I grew up less than 2,000 feet from New Hampshire. I know what it’s about.

New Hampshire is a conservative state… kind of. It’s New England conservatism. It leans more Libertarian than anything, a group of people who would rather be left alone than scream about anything. There are more Bible-pushing, anti-abortion maniacs within spitting distance anywhere in the South than in the whole state. Like just about every other place in New England, the majority of the population lives in the lower third of the state (for New Hampshire, this is Manchester and below), and that group is mostly liberal.

I will say that New Hampshire is the place where you can do anything. Fireworks? Yep. Adults still don’t need to wear a seatbelt, though there’s a handsfree law. Live free or die.

Up North things do get pretty scarce. In some places there is really shocking poverty. My dad spent high school in a town just North of Concord (the state capitol, which is not very north at all, but there’s not too many people in the White Mountains), Boscawen, where most of his graduating class didn’t go to college. Most of the kids didn’t graduate at all. Most of the state is either a state park or rural, blue collar towns, where all the conservatism comes from. But still, there’s just not enough people to outweigh the liberal south.

It gets compared to Vermont a lot, New Hampshire’s hippie little sister (which used to be the most conservative state in the country, until Evangelists took over the party). I personally don’t like Vermont– they don’t have Market Basket there, which I just don’t trust. Both states have a lot of old white people who just want to sit around the campfire and sign songs (my mother, New Hampshire native and member of the most liberal family on Earth).

What I’m trying to say here is that conservative is not the word I would use for New Hampshire. Case and point, all though Donald Trump may have won the primary, John Kasich came in second, beating Ted Cruz by 4 points. CNN ran an article this morning with the title “Who Is John Kasich?” I knew who he was, because my conservative friends on Facebook have been on about this guy for months. New Hampshire is a state about conservative reason. Republicans from New England don’t behave like the Ted Cruz’s of the world. Susan Collins (R), senior Senator from Maine would never (our junior Senator is another old white guy, Angus King (I). I love them both).

I’ve been trying to get people to think differently about Maine and New Hampshire for months now. Content sites, don’t ruin it for me now.

Seacoast Eats

white-heron-tea-coffeeThanksgiving is coming right around the corner, which means I get to go back home! If you ever find yourself in the Seacoast area, I’ve taken the liberty of compiling a short list of good places to get some food (there are many good places, but these are my favorites).

  1. Lexie’s Joint Islington Street, Portsmouth, New Hampshire

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

That’s right, this little hole in the wall, with six or so tables and a bar, located down on Islington in Portsmouth NH. It’s, in my opinion, the best burger place around, beating out the fancy Brgr Bar with its sixteen dollar fairs. Burgers here run on average six dollars each, more for a double. The fries are extra, but man are they worth it. They also give you little cookies with your check. For a long time I avoided telling people about this place because I didn’t want it to be so crowded, but the word as gotten out. But don’t worry, if the line is too long you can always order take-out and have it delivered to you by the Take-Out Guys.

o

Favorite Order: It used to be the Bistro burger, but that has since been removed from the menu. I now go for the Green Munster, Aioli fries, and either the coffee frappe or cucumber mint lemonade.

  1. Black Birch Wallingford Square, Kittery, Maine

blackbirch

In my opinion, this is the nicest gastro-pub around (don’t worry, under 21’s are still allowed in the door). It’s a little on the pricer side, but that’s to be expected. Many of the places around are either casual or very fancy, and this place strikes a nice balance between the two. It’s also impossible to find. The facade of this building looks like a bank and when I worked in Wallingford Square I probably spent more time giving directions to Black Birch than I did serving customers. My mom also really likes this place.

This is what it looks like from the outside. I promise it’s nicer inside.

ls

Favorite Order: They change their menu quite frequently. Last time I went I got the mac and cheese and it was delicious. My mom said she likes the Oxbow Farmhouse Pale Ale.

  1. Ceres Bakery Penhallow Street, Portsmouth, New Hampshire

img_1871

This is admittedly totally biased but I worked here when I was in high school. Very important: there’s in a Ceres Street in Portsmouth but it is not there. It’s on Penhallow, this weird one way side street. That doesn’t change how good this place is. It’s a bakery in the sense they sell baked goods (all of which are yummy), but it’s also one of the cheapest lunch places around. And fresh bread everyday (if you know of Colby’s, they buy their bread from Ceres). There’s soup, a lunch special, and sandwiches made to order. I really encourage people to try the specials because a lot of work goes into them and I haven’t eaten one I didn’t like. If you’re genuinely looking for a small-town vibe, where everyone is having a good time and there are regulars with signature orders, look no further.

Favorite Order: Lemon Chicken Orzo. End of story. The Ceres brew tea is also yummy.

  1. White Heron Islington Street, Portsmouth New Hampshire

White Heron is everyone’s favorite tea supplier. If you order a chai tea latte at any cafe, chances are pretty good that they’re using White Heron’s stuff. You can also buy numerous other teas from them, loose leaf or bagged, in their location way down Islington, past Lexie’s by a whole lot. They sell adorable tea related items and tea shirts as well as delicious food and drinks. Plus free wifi and parking (if you can find a spot).

1b

Favorite Order: The Chai Tea latte (always); I’m always partial towards egg sandwiches of any sort but the tofu rice bowl is also really good.

  1. Loco Coco’s Route 1, Kittery Maine

locococos

Taking a stand on the burrito battle here. There are two main places to get burritos– Loco Coco’s in Kittery and Dos Amigos in Portsmouth. People get pretty feisty about which one is better. The parking at Loco Coco’s is so much better, and so are their chips (made in house). I also think their burritos are warmer? But that might just be me.

Favorite Order: I’ve literally never gotten anything else on the menu besides a burrito. My favorite is the chicken but the California one has french fries.

  1. La Festa Central Ave, Dover New Hampshire

l

The only place on the list located in Dover, which may be a little out of the way for tourists. It is, however, the best pizza place. Like burritos, pizza has a line drawn. There’s also Flatbreads in Portsmouth, but if you want traditional pizza La Festa is the place. They sell these cinnamon and garlic knots that are so cinnamony and garlicy they’re amazing.

Favorite Order: BUFFALO CHICKEN

  1. Seafood

This is potentially a very controversial topic, and there’s just no one option. Bob’s Clam Hut is the total tourist option, but it’s very expensive and I worked there once and absolutely hated it so I cannot in good faith recommend it. A higher end place would be any of the wharf ones on Bow Street, one of which is Surf, where my sister worked in the summer as a line cook. It’s very good and they have a raw bar, if you’re into that. Personally, my favorite seafood place is only open during the summer. It’s the Lobster in the Rough, the restaurant on the ground floor of the Weathervane Corporate headquarters on Badger Island. It’s very unassuming, there’s probably twenty seats total and even less items on the menu. It’s definitely a local place and where the Weathervane sends all of its favorite employees. Sure, I may see everyone I ever went to high school with when I go, but it’s worth it.


As always, if you enjoyed this post, please like and comment. Cheers!