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Pickity Place in Mason, N.H.: 5-Course Lunch, Gift Shop, Colorful
Gardens, Museum at Little Red Riding Hood's Grandmother's House
and photos (unless otherwise noted) by
Eric Hurwitz. Page
created on 9/26/17.
Grandmother's House at Pickity Place in Mason -- the inspiration for
the 1948 version of "Little Red Riding Hood."
It would be safe to say that Pickity Place, in Mason, N.H.,
stands as the world's only destination where you can enjoy a
five-course gourmet meal, gift shop, greenhouse,
extensive gardens and Little
Red Riding House Museum.
Over the Souhegan River and through the woods in the scenic hills of
southern New Hampshire leads to the end of a dirt path where suddenly
scenes of rural isolation and lack of anyone in sight leads to a
population boom. A filled-to-capacity parking lot with crowds of people
one direction suggests something interesting could be happening down
Approaching the remotely located Pickity Place in Mason.
Something amazing is more like it. On first view, the sight of a
quaint, old red cottage juxtaposed with a huge white ash tree, colorful
flowers everywhere, lush green grounds and meandering paths justifies
the long drive, as well as challenging the GPS possibly unlike ever
arriving at a New England travel destination.
Pickity Place is simply a magical
place and one that represents the
best of quintessential New England travel. It is much more than a
restaurant and gift shop as that little red cottage dates back to 1786
and is best known as the model for illustrations for Elizabeth Orton
Jones' 1948 version of "Little Red Riding Hood" through Little
Golden Books -- a popular series of children's books. To see that red
house up front and close is just an amazing feeling as it connects a
beloved childhood book with an actual location. Although clearly a
fictional story, the presence of the grandmother's home seems so real
-- like the cartoon wolf is about to jump out, transform into the real
world, and do something nefarious. Interesting
anecdote: The white ash tree, which appears in Jones' book, is the
largest of its kind in New Hampshire!
Pickity Place main building and big white ash tree.
The first step into the red cottage takes one back to a simpler time
and place with its ancient wood design, a quiet nature with no loud
background music and tour guides with amped
up microphones. On the other hand, the sweet aroma of the refreshing
air permeates into the home where a lovely older woman named Roxanne
greets people like a grandmother welcoming in family. Virtually all at
once, she somehow
converses with customers, takes phone calls and writes down various
forms of administrative information while
maintaining perhaps the kindest personality for a hostess or greeter
that I have ever experienced in New England.
Roxanne handles a phone call at the waiting area.
A familiar scene immediately catches the eye to the left of the
reception desk: a wolf with grandma's laced cap tucked under the covers
in a big four-poster bed in the Little Red Riding Hood Museum room.
Red Riding Hood books, collectibles and a table (where a lucky guest
a meal) surround the room that wonderfully captures the spirit of the
17th century story and its many worthy contemporary versions.
Wolf at Little Red Riding Hood Museum at Pickity Place.
Collectibles at the Little Red Riding Hood Museum in Mason.
Many consider the five-course meal the highlight of the Pickity Place
experience, and that is certainly justified. Restaurant goers could
certainly pay more than $100 for an "upscale" meal and a heaping
side-dish of attitude in the city where, on the other hand, $21.95 will
get you friendly folks at Pickity Place serving you an absolutely
delicious meal based on what's available seasonally in the world of
locally-sourced foods, herbs and edible flowers (yes, edible flowers!).
Three sittings take place for lunch, and the waiting list can be long,
so it is best to call ahead.
On a summer-like September day, I thoroughly enjoyed a homemade
Caesar salad with shaved cheese and fabulous large crouton, fresh-baked
rolls with orange honey butter, fig stuffed
pork with applewood and brandy glaze with seasonal vegetables and, for
dessert, a peanut butter lava cake. Best meal I've had at a restaurant
in a long time!
Fig stuffed pork with applewood and brandy glaze with
seasonal vegetables at Pickity Place.
"We were farm-to-table before anyone knew about farm to table," said
Keith Grimes, who with his wife Kim, have owned Pickity Place for many
years. "We are the original farm-to-table
The dining room soothes and relaxes the dining patron with a few
dimly-lit, charming dining rooms (one with Little Red Riding Hood's
cape hanging on the wall, and the fireplace that appears in Jones'
book), a sunny side
room overlooking gardens, and even a table at the Museum (just don't
"wolf" down your food, though!)...
Dining room at Pickity Place.
Sunny side dining room overlooking gardens at Pickity Place.
Dining table at Little Red Riding Hood Museum.
Keith and Kim purchased Pickity Place from its previous owner in 2000
after Keith had served as chef there since 1995. With that experience,
as well as culinary training from Johnson and Wales College in
Providence, R.I., and meaningful employment at the famous, former
Pillar House in Newton, Mass., Keith leads the culinary vision today at
Pickity Place, while Kim does the purchasing. Together, their bond as
loving husband and wife along with a love for the place they own and
its customers create the magical fabric that brings people from all
over the world to this hilltop hideaway at the end of a "winding dirt
Kim and Keith Grimes, owners of Pickity Place.
"It is a destination," said Kim, of Pickity Place. "People come here
for us as there's not a lot to do in the area. We see a lot of people
from Connecticut, as well as Boston. We do get visitors from
places as far away as Germany. This is where they want to be when
visiting the region... the food, the gift shop, gardens, or just to
relax for several hours. They don't want to leave."
Kim added, "We are reaching more millennial too, and people are not
afraid to come out here in the snow."
Keith, a Watertown, Mass., native and Kim -- a former teacher with
mid-western roots -- have such passion for their business and
its idyllic location that they soon plan to build a home on the
"I don't miss the noise, the neighbors, everything on top of you in the
city," said Kim. "It is just so lovely out here."
The short commute will fit in with their long-time love for the
property and business, according to Keith.
"It's what I do, what I love and never really call it work," said
Keith, of Pickity Place. "I love creating food. It's just as hard to do
something crappy as to do it well. I choose to do something well.
Everything on the menu that you eat was made today or last night."
Keith working in the kitchen at Pickity Place. Photo credit:
Pickity Place web site.
The kind of wonderful meal you can expect from Pickity Place.
Photo credit: Pickity Place web site.
The Pickity Place gift shop comprises about half the business,
according to Keith, and offers an inviting, rustic post-and-beam look
with herbs and spices, herbal blends, beverages, dips, books including
cookbooks and Little Red Riding Hood, and a nice variety of other gifts.
Gift shop at Pickity Place.
Seasoning blends from the Pickity Place Gift Shop.
A nice rustic gift shop scene at Pickity Place.
Just down the path from the restaurant and gift shop is a drying shed
for herbs, as well as a greenhouse with an impressive array of plants.
Drying shed at Pickity Place.
Inside the Drying Shed at Pickity Place.
Greenhouse at Pickity Place.
While the restaurant and gift shop create the majority of the business
side of Pickity Place, it is the surrounding gardens and other scenic
expressions that offer an oasis that is often so hard to find in an
amped up, fast-paced world. It is no wonder people stay for a while,
and then some...
Flowers lining alongside a path at Pickity Place.
One of the many gardens at Pickity Place.
Fall scene at Pickity Place.
Butterfly garden at Pickity Place.
The Butterfly Garden at Pickity Place offers some nice design
A nice way to relax and commune with nature at Pickity Place.
Place surely brings one
back to when times were simple, and the feeling is overwhelmingly
heartwarming and memorable. If
I had to choose one small business travel destination in New England
that visitors could see to truly appreciate the region, it would be
Pickity Place. It's hidden, welcoming, traditional, historic, scenic,
relaxing, rustic and with delicious foods and wonderful regional gifts.
Those unforgettable elements at Pickity Place certainly represent the
best of New England travel.
Pickity Place is
located at 248 Nutting Hill Rd., Mason NH. Tel. 603-878-1151. Web Site:
fan page: https://www.facebook.com/pickityplace
Need a place to stay not too far from Pickity Place? Check out the Benjamin Prescott Inn in Jaffrey, N.H.
Pickity Place sign. Photo credit: Pickity Place web site.
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