Journey alongside the Souhegan River and down winding country lanes in the tiny town of Mason in southwestern New Hampshire (pop. approx. 1,150) and soon enough you’ll arrive at Grandmother’s House. Well, sort of. Technically, it’s a wonderful gourmet luncheon spot known as Pickity Place, with a greenhouse, gardens, and gift shop all tucked into a rustic little 225+-year-old dwelling. Let me explain.
In the 1940s, the Caldecott Award–winning illustrator and writer Elizabeth Orton Jones (1910–2005) bought herself a little cottage in Mason with the proceeds from her first book, Twig. When she was called upon by Little Golden Books to illustrate the 1948 edition of Little Red Riding Hood, she drew inspiration for the art from the nearby red Cape-style house that is Pickity Place today. Knowing that, the owners have fun with the property’s brush with fame. Peek into “Grandmother’s Bedroom.” It’s decked out like a page from the storybook. The “wolf” in residence may look ferocious, but the resident cats know better, and often curl right up with him in the bed.
Pickity Place is open year-round, and every day except major holidays. In the summer, bees, butterflies, and birds zip from blossom to blossom, and the meandering brick pathways connecting the extensive gardens and open lawn are filled with visitors enjoying the surroundings. In the winter, fresh tracks in the snow indicate that only the deer have been investigating the grounds. But the stillness in the air is refreshing, and you may find yourself speaking in a whisper as you walk from building to building, just to preserve the quiet.
The herb shop is chock-full of gift items, aromatic scents, baking mixes, kitchen accents, gourmet goodies, and treats for your pet.
Purchase a few well-priced spices or pick up a hostess gift for your next evening out, and then make your way over to the dining entrance to take part in one of three daily luncheon seatings. (Even on a Monday in January, the restaurant had several guests. Reserve in advance, no matter the time of year.) The five-course meal is an inventive menu, and each month offers something new, depending on what’s in season. Herbs and seasonings grown right on the property enhance each entrée.
The January menu begins with a smoked paprika spread and crackers, followed by piping-hot, creamy broccoli soup, alongside honey–molasses bread with ginger butter. Next up, a colorful Southwestern-style toasted-corn salad. Select either baked and stuffed chicken saltimbocca or butternut-squash lasagna for your entrée, and top it all off with the delicious crème caramel.
Courses are presented at a comfortable pace. Sample it all, and if you clean your plate, make like Rosemary, one of the resident cats …
… Head home, curl up in a warm room, and take a nap.
Want a special treat? Reserve a table at Pickity Place’s upcoming event: a Valentine’s Day dinner by candlelight.