There's very little "new" in New England and that's just the way we like it. We're proud of our history in this little corner of the country, including home to some of the oldest ski resorts in the nation. After all, we're the hearty bunch who still cherishes the single chair at Vermont's Mad River Valley. Yes, we'll happily embrace the new heated bubble chair at Okemo this winter, but we like our predictability.
This is especially true of the après-ski scene, where we've been going to the same bars and restaurants for years, if not decades. That's why it's always a surprise when a new restaurant comes on the scene and creates a buzz in town. This is exactly what happened in Stowe this past March when the small eatery Plate made its debut. Los Angeles natives Jamie Persky and Mark Rosman create a Californian mix of salads made from local produce and meat dishes like a pork belly and egg appetizer. Local microbrews like Lost Nation Brewery from Morrisville are on tap and their signature dessert, the banana pudding, is already receiving rave reviews.
Plate's success follows another intriguing Stowe offering, The Roost, located inside the newly renovated Topnotch Resort & Spa. Just off the lobby, the casual setting features an indoor fireplace, outdoor fire pit, and 16-foot long shuffleboard table. The multicultural menu features appetizers such as crispy pork egg rolls, a braised beef short rib taco, and kale salad topped with local goat cheese, diced apples, and a warm walnut vinaigrette. Then move on to the day scallops, paired with spaetzle and smoky bacon, or the Cavendish quail.
Just outside North Conway, near the ski resorts of Cranmore, Attitash, and Black Mountain is the Snowvillage Inn in Eaton Center. Perched on a hillside with glorious views of the surrounding valley, the B&B has been welcoming guests since 1948, but it's their new chef Brian Anderson that has created a stir. Start with a pint of Moat Mountain Iron Mike Pale Ale on the patio, looking out past the apple trees to the snowy peaks. Then head to the dining room to sample tasty fare like fresh johns river oysters or lobster fettuccine. Breakfast (included in the room price) is also a treat with blueberry pancakes, genuine maple syrup, and homemade sausage.
In Maine, one doesn't think of Camden as a winter retreat, yet the charming coastal community is home to Camden Snow Bowl. The smell of early morning powder is overpowered by a blast of salty mist from the sea at the only ski area in America where you can carve your turn and look at the expanse of ocean. The Snow Bowl is best known for its 440-foot long ice coated toboggan chute, in operation since 1936.
When it comes to dining, Camden is known for its ethnic flare, especially the beloved Thai restaurant, Long Grain, which opened in 2010. New last year is the 20-seat Comida Latin Kitchen. Expect such specialties as pumpkin and lager soup with roasted hatch chiles, cod with coconut milk, and flank steak with red mole. That should warm you up after a day on the slopes.