The Hungry Diner in Walpole, NH

My family is on an ongoing quest to find great burgers.

We were originally inspired by Shake Shack in NYC, where we shared a single, revelatory burger, eaten standing on the sidewalk on a cold February afternoon. It exploded with beef-salt-cheese umami, and we passed it around until it was gone much too soon.

For a while, Brattle Burger in our hometown of Brattleboro, Vermont, was a decent stand-in for our Shake Shack needs. And the fries at Brattle Burger were far superior. But then... they closed.

Recently we headed north to the Hungry Diner, about 20 minutes away in Walpole, New Hampshire, to try out their burgers.

The Hungry Diner takes farm-to-table very seriously, being founded and owned by a farming couple in the Walpole area. All of the beef, pork, chicken, turkey and eggs served at the diner come from their farm. Produce is also sourced locally as much as possible. The owners both happened to be there on the Friday night we stopped by, so we got to chat a little bit. 

Inside, the diner is a lovely, bright space with blond reclaimed wood and plenty of tables. You order at the counter and go find a seat, then your food is brought to you when ready.

There's also outdoor seating for nice weather, so we picked a picnic table. Cornhole toss and swingsets add to the family-friendly atmosphere.

I am obsessed with pickled foods right now, so had to order the "Pickle Jar" appetizer. This is a rotating assortment of seasonal pickled veggies & fruits. Look, we got pickled GRAPES! There was also that big jalapeno, red onions, beans, and cauliflower in the jar. Fabulous starter to get your digestive juices flowing.

As a teetotaller lately I got a botanical soda--yummy with a unique sweet-bitter taste. My partner's flight of craft beers is behind. The diner has 16 beers on tap.

Now to the burger. IT WAS DELICIOUS. It's 100% local beef, as mentioned, served with pickles, onions, special sauce, lettuce, and friiiiieeeees. The bun was also delightful, with nice substance but not bready. The burger, cheese & sauce made for that rich taste-bomb that I look for in a burger, with just the right balance of cooling pickle and lettuce. I definitely recommend this burger (I ordered the Hungry Burger, $15). They also have Lil Hungry Burgers for kids, that come with a juice box and local milk Soft Serve ice cream. These got thumbs-ups from our younger diners.

My partner ordered a Three Little Pigs, which is a pork burger with bacon and bacon-jam (all local). The ecstatic look on his face while eating told me this is also an excellent choice.

If for some reason you don't want a burger, The Hungry Diner serves mac & cheese, fish & chips (with fish from Maine), a chickenwich, pork or fish tacos, and Korean BBQ Beef Salad with housemade kimchi. I'll add that locally grown food, made from scratch with love and care, is not cheap--but it is SO worth it for a tasty, low-key outing. If you're ever near Walpole, check it out!

Cape Cod Vacation 2018

I once wrote on this blog that we had become the type of New England family that vacations regularly in Maine. We tried various summer spots, including Wells, Old Orchard Beach, and further north near Bath. 

But 3 years ago we switched to New England's OTHER favorite holiday destination: Cape Cod. A family member has access to a roomy house there and we all descend upon it for a week. Here are some snapshots of our time there this year.

"Cape Cod State Flag" framed postcard in the bathroom

Nautical needlepoint in our bedroom

I had my very first Buffalo Cauliflower (this being Cauliflower with Buffalo sauce on it, similar to the famous chicken wings).

I had my required lobster roll—this one is from Arnold's Lobster & Clam Bar in Eastham. If you get a kid's meal there it is served on a frisbee.

Like last year, we hauled our bikes with us and biked part of the Cape Cod Rail Trail (CCRT).

We picked up the CCRT at Nickerson State Park in the town of Brewster, and took it east toward Orleans.

Brewster-Orleans line. It's very dry and pine-y in this area.

We stopped at the Hot Chocolate Sparrow for lunch, then pushed onto get a bit further than we did last year.

On another day I fell into a low-tide reverie. I went far out to where the ankle-deep water was, amongst seaweed and mussel shells and tiny submarine snails undulating slowly in the hypnotic sparkle and lap of the water. 

I got close up to a certain beach rock that, at high tide, was mostly submerged. At low tide it is an encrusted symphony of barnacles and snails.


Closer still. A white peony bed, a surplice riot, a drawer of folded ladies' gloves.

Imagine the gentle swish and sigh of the water around your ankles.

Suspended world of snails and sea vegetables, always in motion.

Back on land, the sun-baked roses perfume the afternoon of summer's first full day.

For those who know Cape Cod as the land of JAWS, we also saw this startling sign on the Atlantic side (we went there to take a look around, not to swim. Good plan.) Note that the sign doesn't say great white sharks feed near Cape Cod, or on this side of Cape Cod. It says great white sharks feed AT THIS BEACH. Shudder!

Have you been to Cape Cod? Ever fallen into a reverie contemplating nature close up... and closer still?