by Anura Guruge
Paul Warnick of Gilford
We had an outstanding birthday dinner at Giuseppe’s, in Meredith, last night. It doesn’t get any better. Everything was perfect or close to perfect. That we had Paul Warnick providing the music was a bonus. I think Paul Warnick is THE BEST cover music performer in the Lakes Region. I have liked him for the very first time I heard him 6 or 7 years ago. That our table was right next to the stage made it even better.
I have been going to Giuseppe’s, regularly, since 1996, which is when I bought a house in Meredith, in what is now ‘Mile Point’. Giuseppe’s has been our ‘go to’ restaurant since then. In February 2007, when we sold our house in Gilford, we went to Giuseppe’s to celebrate (and left my credit card behind, the 1st time I had ever done so in over 30 years of having credit cards). Yes, I know the owner Julie Gnerre Bourgeois, her husband, Michael (a top rate musician), their son and her mother. The story of how I met Julie in 1997 is towards the bottom.
Yesterday was Devanee’s 12th birthday. When we asked her where she wanted to go for her birthday dinner she said, without any prompting from us, “Giuseppe’s”. When a 12 year old picks Giuseppe’s over all the other restaurants she knows in Concord, Manchester and Portsmouth, you know that it has to be special. And that it is.
Devanee and I are HUGE fans of the Giuseppe’s spinach rolls and calamari. The spinach rolls are unique. I can, as with apple fritters from Apple View, eat them till I explode. So can Devanee. There are times we order two servings, eat it all and then order two more to take home. They are never the same. The ratio of spinach to feta is a moving feast (and yes, I once told them to make a new batch with more cheese); and their crispiness varies. But, they are always irresistible. Their calamari has always been exquisite. Yesterday the girls had a large Pollo Florentine Alfredo pizza. It was good. Their pizza is always great. Divine. I had their prime rib special. That is the first time I have ordered beef at a restaurant in decades. I don’t eat that much beef. I just had a feeling that this was going to be good, because it was the special. Boy, was I right. The steak melted in your mouth. There was only a modicum of fat and it was easy to pare it away. Bravo. Thank you.
Dining at Giuseppe’s is a holistically satisfying experience. It isn’t just the food or that they have superb Italian wines. It is more than just the staff being delightful. The ambiance captivates you and the whole place has a buzz. The music is always a plus (and we remembered poor Giovanni, the late piano player, with fondness). It is the COMPLETE dining experience, sans par in the Lakes Region. You meet fun people from all over, around the globe. I have met Brits and folks from down under. Yesterday we met someone quite important in the entertainment industry from Boston. Yes, we swapped cards.
Don’t take my word for it. Ask others. Check it out on the Web. But, the fact that it was crowded on a Wednesday evening tells its own story.
So, the bottom line is we are HUGE fans of Giuseppe’s. Period. Whenever we don’t have major conflicts we try and attend the ‘all day’ annual music extravaganza, on Sunday in March, to benefit Julie’s father, Giuseppe Gnerre’s Music Scholarship Fund. I am sure I have been at least 10 times. That is how we got exposed to Paul Warnick and his hip hopping band. [Check out the Giuseppe’s web site for the March 2013 event. Make sure to get a reservation when Paul Warnick is playing. Those seats go fast. Paul is mega popular.]
Julie, got us a chocolate cake (with the Giuseppe’s musical motif, at my request).
Click the images to ENLARGE them to full size.
I know my chocolate cake. The reason I am so dark brown is all the chocolate cake I have eaten in my life since I was a baby. My mother, though she couldn’t cook, was a par excellence cake and dessert maker. She made the richest, cholesterol dripping (though we didn’t have any idea then) cakes, fluffs and puddings in the Louis XIV decadent style. This chocolate cake was on par with my mother’s, and there can be no higher praise, though I am sure this was considerably healthier than anything my mother aspired to. [If she was making a ‘small’ cake for say 12, she would use about 36 eggs and about 10 pounds of butter. Suffice to say people, the son in the lead, would rave about how good it was. And now doctors ask me why my cholesterol is so high and why I look like the poster child for ‘massive heart attack waiting to happen’.]
The cake was made by
Jennifer ‘the cake lady‘ J. MacDonald,
whose motto, per the sticker on the cake box is:
‘More than just a pretty cake!!‘.
We will concur. We don’t know her. Never heard of her. There was a small, hard to read phone number on the sticker. It is: 603-393-5847. The price was good too, thought that might have been a special for Julie.
We will definitely recommend her cake.
The sticker also says: ‘If you can dream it, I can bake it’.
I like that. I am not sure whether she knows that the Animal Planet show ‘Tanked’ has a similar tagline. But, they don’t make cakes.
When I was 6 or 7, my mother made a cake for my birthday, with each and every one of these buildings, in 3-D, standing up, all in cake, on top of a large cake base, exactly as they appear in the picture. She even built the arched bridge for the train.
I dream of that cake. Maybe I will get Jennifer to make me another.
I do have one complaint, albeit a small one and it has to do with how small the wine glass was.
I didn’t have my reading glasses, so I told the delightful young man serving us to get me a GOOD, Italian red house wine. He did. The wine, as I expected, was superb. Went down nicely. But, I was shocked. It was served in a small, rotund glass! They know their wine. You can’t properly drink red wine from a glass that doesn’t have a true female shape! For a good Italian red, you need a glass with some body, some fluting, some grace. I bitched to Deanna.
Yes, I could have told them to switch glasses. But, I didn’t want to be ‘fussy’.
I ordered a second glass, it was so good.
Yes, I appreciate that it could be a cost issue, but don’t short change red wine drinkers. Make the profits on the beer drinkers. Dilute the beer, give them smaller glasses. They won’t know any better. Red wine is a sacred thing, especially to an Italian (or for that matter a papal historian). Sorry, to bitch, but red wine is a VERY IMPORTANT part of my life.
How I Met Julie
I am only relating this here because it falls into that category of what people often tell me about me and my life: ‘it could only happen with you‘.
The above red building, which has always been red as far as I can remember it, was an electric lighting shop (i.e., lamp store), c. 1997.
I was in there one afternoon, midweek, browsing when I saw this young lady, with long black hair, buy a large, wrought-iron standard light and walk out of the door with it.
Me being who I am, and even though I was with folks, I immediately trotted after her, approached her from behind and said: ‘would you like me to carry that for you?‘
Now you have to realize that I was probably the ONLY non-white person within a 50 mile radius of Meredith that day in 1997; and I don’t exactly look like a banker. So, for all she knew, I could have taken her lamp and run off.
But, to her credit, she took a chance. She looked me over, handed over the lamp and said: ‘thank you‘. That was it. Nothing else. She walked across to Main Street and then started walking down it. I followed. Must have been quite a sight. She never said a word or looked back. She walked a few hundred yards. We came to a white apartment block on the right hand side of Main Street. She opened the door. Still no words between us. It was very formal. She walks in. I follow. She went up a flight of stairs (or two). I was right behind. She opened a door, turned around, reached for the lamp. I handed it over. She said: ‘thank you. That was very kind‘. I acknowledged her thanks, turned around and started walking back (aware that I had just walked out of the shop leaving folks behind). As I was about to descend the stairs she calls out: ‘do you know who I am?‘ I turned back and said I had no clue. She goes: ‘Do you know Giuseppe’s?‘. I tell her that I have eaten there. She adds: ‘Oh, I am Julie. I own Giuseppe’s. Next time you are around say “hello”‘. A few weeks later, when I was there I did just that. She remembered me. She has never forgotten me since.
Yes, when I started ‘Waiters on Water‘, WOW NH, Julie was one of the 1st to sign up.