Delicious Escapes ANYTIME!
Valentine’s Day is on Wednesday.  The organized among us may have their plans and gifts arranged, but there are many of us who could still be contriving, concocting and hatching our loving schemes.  Many a restaurant will offer a Valentine’s Day special; yet I must admit that some of these past dinners left me feeling ‘gently bilked’-that is to say, a mighty high price paid in return for valentine mania and its commercial clutches, not an especially fulfilling meal.

So as the week begins, I wondered what some of the cozy inns were offering and then decided that Wednesday’s lovers could come and go, but an overnight with your favorite spouse, friend, family member or beloved person in general would be a wholly satisfying expression of fun, adventure and affection.

What first caught my eye was The Norwich Inn.  This staple on Main Street is sometimes our go-to for weekend brunch and a visit to their website reveals classic, cozy, inn-style rooms either in the Main Inn, The Walker House or in The Ivy Lodge.  
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It just so happens that they are featuring a delicious looking menu for Wednesday.  Unique selections include a shrimp chowder with tortilla and avocado, oysters on the half shell, a roast fig and goat cheese tart and for the main courses seared lobster cakes or a creamy risotto with honey-coated roast beets, lemongrass, pistachios and mascarpone.  Other entrées include beef tenderloin with black truffles and bordelaise sauce and a delicious-sounding New Zealand rack of lamb.  Most of the lamb that is not local here is usually from Australia.  In Montreal, where I grew up, the imported lamb was from New Zealand, and it always was much finer than its Aussie neighbour.  The inn is offering a Valentine’s package for two that includes a 2-course meal with a glass of champagne each, a box of those famous My Brigadeiro chocolates and a one-night’s stay.
Click here for the special.

Last week we drove north in true polar weather to reach The Lyme Inn.  It was heartwarming to approach with the glow of its golden lights calling to the brave and hearty this particular night.  Jack Elliott, innkeeper, and his family welcome guests year-round to this establishment of nine rooms and five suites, located on the Green in Lyme.  Each of the accommodations includes a complimentary light  breakfast  in the tavern. 
Locals know the trek is well worth the frigidity, squeaky tires and crunchy snow and this is because Ariana’s has moved from its previous Orford location into the inn.  There are several dining rooms from which to enjoy Chef Martin’s exquisite dinner fare.  We chose the Back Room and sat down to enjoy yet another feast of sumptuous creations: the steamed pork dumplings, the mushroom crêpes, seared scallops with orange chili butter, the filet mignons accompanied by a mushroom and leek tart, and the Asian-spiced white tuna with an orange-pineapple chili glaze.  It never ends; it never disappoints.  We always loved Martin’s bar in Orford and this new locale has bar seating in an equally appealing setting-though without the front seat to searing and slicing and whisking and glazing.
Click here for The Lyme Inn and Ariana’s.

Omne trium perfectum: Good things happen in threes...And so we arrive just west of Woodstock at The Jackson House, where Rick and Kathy Terwelp reign over their kingdom of inn preeminence and refinement. When a member of our family stayed here a while back, we dreamed about the hospitality and breakfasts for months to come.  The Jackson House does not do dinner; however, they do breakfast for their overnight guests. They also prepare cheese and treat platters, if requested ahead of time, and a selection of wines to purchase as well. 
Come morning, Rick is the artistic culinarian whose sources for ingredients are an amalgamation of local and sometimes other topnotch organic farms. I remember bacon from the state of Kentucky, crisped to perfection on the occasion that we had joined this person.  If you click here, you will be taken to the breakfast gallery where Welsh rarebit, pear and almond challah toast, or a soft bread pudding with berries reign alongside the peace and tranquility that the inn bestows.
Click here for The Jackson House.

One-night adventures wrapped in delicious food are a lovely way to break up the week’s routine with their ease of planning, as opposed to a whole week or several days away and the intricacies of scheduling.  It does not have to be for the fourteenth of February, but perhaps the timing might inspire the concept.

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