Palace Diner Tuna Melt

We’re finishing up our Best of 2014 posts with the most challenging to whittle down and write – our favorite food (and drinks!) from our home state of Maine. There are plenty of spots in Portland and beyond that we wish we could include on this list, these are simply the dishes and restaurants that stood out to us and kept us coming back for more in 2014. Of course, we’d love to hear about some of your Maine favorites in the comments below!

Cocktails

Michael: It’s going to take a lot to remove Hunt and Alpine from its seat of Maine cocktail supremacy in my mind,  and when you add the Deviled Smoked Trout to snack on, competitors might as well just throw in the towel.
Meredith: Lately, I’ve been a fan of the Fancy Gin Cocktail – Bread & Butter combination at the downstairs bar at Central Provisions – a prime place for people watching on the corner of Wharf Street.

Entree

Michael: The seasonal fall Roast chicken and pureed buttercup squash from Central Provisions is one of the better dishes I can ever recall – we order it every time we’re there and it’s on the menu (and sometimes more than once in a sitting).
Meredith: I’ve never met a rice bowl variation from Long Grain that I didn’t just love.

Small Plate

Michael: I’m going to go ahead and double up on the Central Provisions… try the spicy beef salad, the combination of flavors, spices, and textures is hard to beat.
Meredith: I was introduced to the roasted vegetable cassoulet from Lolita during a shoot for Down East this year and after sampling a bit (job perk number one!) I made it a priority to return to Lolita for one of my very own soon thereafter.

Dessert

Michael: Mmmm… donuts. The Urban Sugar food truck turns out bite-sized gourmet donuts with an assortment of creative toppings (like their Cap’n Crunch glazed, breakfast cereal variety) that are sure to impress the Homer Simpson in each of us.
Meredith: Four months later, I remember exactly how deliciously decadent the salted butter semifreddo was during our chef’s tasting menu dinner at Vinland this summer. Crunchy, sweet, amazing.

Bakery

Michael & Meredith: This one’s a toss-up between our tried and true neighborhood heavyweight, Scratch Baking Co., with its amazing bagels, cookies, and coconut creme cake, and the relative newcomer, Tandem Bakery, where every bite of the savory scones or sweet cinnamon rolls is better than the previous (it doesn’t hurt that they’re paired with the best coffee around).

Brunch

Michael: Taking the most classic of American dining styles and establishments, and then injecting an attention to detail and flavor completely foreign to the prefabricated diner world, it’s easy to see  why Palace Diner has caught the attention of so many. Get anything on the menu, it’s all amazing.
Meredith: There’s nothing cozier than ducking inside Piccolo on a chilly day for a tasty, comforting brunch that always includes the zeppoli.

Lunch

Michael & Meredith: This is one of our precious neighborhood secrets, but for the better part of two years, Scratch Baking Co. has somewhat quietly been producing some of the most consistently creative and delicious sandwiches that we can find anywhere – Maine or not.

Dog-Friendly

Michael and Meredith: We enjoy most any meal outdoors with Orvis by our side, but when the food is truly exceptional, the whole experience certainly stands out. This is why we make a point to visit The Well at Jordan’s Farm multiple times over the summer and early fall. It’s a must in our books – even if you aren’t lucky enough to dine alongside your dog – their farm-fresh ingredients and mastery of simple yet classic dishes makes The Well one of the best meals in Maine.

Food Truck

Michael & Meredith: Even though the truck is up for sale and they’re moving their business into a brick and mortar restaurant next year, the meals we enjoyed truckside from Small Axe – at Congress Square Park (or Tandem Coffee in the early days) – will always be some of our favorites from a food truck.

Experience

Michael: “Experience” seems like the perfect descriptor to define our Chef’s tasting menu dinner at Vinland late this past summer. Between courses and entremets, sixteen delightful dishes came together to create a truly outstanding experience.
Meredith: We dined at Nebo Lodge two nights in a row during our October trip to North Haven and both nights we could haven’t been happier with the flavor and atmosphere. To enjoy such quality food on an island thirteen miles from the mainland is truly exceptional, in my opinion. A meal at Nebo Lodge is well worth adding to your dining bucket lists!

Off the Beaten Path

Michael & Meredith: Brunch at Crissy’s in Damariscotta is part of every single weekend trip we make up to Wiscasset during the winter. We’re big fans of the huevos rancheros, the veggie hash’n’eggs, and the famous blueberry coffee cake, of course.

Overall Meal

Michael & Meredith: Central Provisions might seem like the popular choice for this one, but never before have we, time and time again, had meals where every bite of every dish is its own fantastic experience. It’s that simple.

The Portland Hunt and Alpine Club ME

Portland Hunt & Alpine Club

Fancy Gin Cocktail Central Provisions

Central Provisions Bread & Butter

Long Grain Camden Maine

Lolita Cassoulet

Vinland Portland, Maine

Lazy Sunday Morning

Palace Diner Breakfast

Palace Diner Biddeford

Zeppoli at Piccolo Maine

Piccolo Brunch Modesto

The Well at Jordan's Farm Cape Elizabeth

The Well at Jordan's Farm

Donuts at The Well

Urban-Sugar-Cafe-Portland-Maine

Small Axe Burger

Vinland Portland, Maine

Vinland Portland, Maine

Nebo Lodge North Haven Maine

Crissy's Damariscotta

Central Provisions Tuna

Central Provisions Portland

Central Provisions

All photos taken by Meredith Perdue for Map & Menu, Portland Hunt & Alpine Club, Down East Magazine, and Central Provisions.

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The Optimist Hush Puppies

Up next in our Best of 2014 are this year’s highlights from the meals and drinks we’ve enjoyed the most while traveling. (Our favorites for our home state of Maine will be up tomorrow.) It’s no easy feat choosing just one favorite from many trips that often revolve around eating, but here are some of this year’s standouts. We clearly enjoyed eating our way through the southeastern US this year, but can you blame us? There’s a lot of good food to be had down there these days. We hope this list helps with your own travel planning for 2015. We’d love to hear some of your favorite food destinations in the comments below!

Cocktails

Michael: Our drinks at the James Beard nominated, poolside craft cocktail bar, The Broken Shaker, certainly lived up to our expectations.
Meredith: I have the vanilla-infused spiced rum, and velvet falernum Sailor’s Delight from The Optimist to thank for my tiki cocktail craze this year.

Appetizer

Michael: We had a wonderful time sampling the Southern farm to table cuisine at Empire State South, but the “In Jars” selection of spreads (pimiento cheese, bacon marmalade, catfish rillette, and more ) was brilliantly delicious and a great way to show our friend from Germany a taste of the south.
Meredith: After polishing off the last one at The Optimist, I found myself wondering why all hushpuppies aren’t served “beignet-style” with cane syrup butter and powdered sugar.

Entree

Michael: The decadent braised short rib (with a side of the macaroni au gratin, of course) at Poole’s Diner in Raleigh, North Carolina was the ultimate way to end a fantastic day spent exploring the city.
Meredith: My friend, Betsy, prepares some of the tastiest scallops I’ve ever eaten in my life, and I’m positive even she would love the scallops at Empire State South just as much as I did this past spring.

Dessert

Michael: With deliciously creative flavors like Birch + Marshmallows and signature flavors such as The Milkiest Chocolate in the World, we were in heaven at Jeni’s Splendid Ice Creams – so much so, that we may have indulged two nights in a row…
Meredith: The famous ice cream sandwiches at Miller’s Union definitely lived up to the hype.

Brunch

Michael: What more could one want while vacationing in Vermont than a plate full of blueberry pancakes topped with delicious Vermont maple syrup? The pancakes at Topnotch were so good, I ordered them two days in a row.
Meredith: Our tasty post-hike brunch at the Prairie While this summer was, hands-down, my favorite of our meals in Great Barrington.

Lunch

Michael & Meredith: One of the many meals we enjoyed while eating our way through Charleston was lunch at Xiao Bao Biscuit. The casual ‘Asian soul food’ restaurant struck us with its bold style and amazing dishes.

Bakery

Michael & Meredith: Even after visiting three (!) other bakeries in Charleston, we still managed to return to Brown’s Court Bakery three times. Everything – the croissants, the sticky buns, the cinnamon rolls, the charming building, and the friendly staff – made Brown’s Court the perfect bakery experience.

Wine Shop

Michael: Wine Authorities is a comfortable neighborhood wine shop in Raleigh (and Durham) with a very knowledgeable staff and a great selection of estate wines based on an even greater concept – every bottle in the store is less than $50 because “wine should be enjoyed, not collected.” That’s a mission I can easily get behind.
Meredith: In the 30 minutes I spent in Kingston Wine Co., I witnessed a dozen or so people walk through the shop, eager to hear the opinion of co-owner Michael Drapkin about which wine they should select. It became immediately apparent just how much of a community Michael and his wife Theresa have created within their shop, a store that is undoubtedly worthy of planning a trip to Kingston, NY.

Dining with Orvis

Michael & Meredith: The fact that we could eat outside with Orvis at Topnotch during both breakfast and dinner easily secured many future visits to this fantastic dog-friendly resort in Stowe for our little family.

Experience

Michael: Food wasn’t the concentration of our time in the Scottish Highlands, but dining in the old stone crofter’s cottage overlooking Loch Dunvegan at the famous Three Chimneys restaurant on Isle of Skye turned out to be one of the more memorable dining experiences of my entire year.
Meredith: It’s hard to beat the combination of fresh fish tacos and a tasty mojito underneath the palm trees at Morada Bay Beach Cafe!

Decor

Michael: The food was so good that I ate at The Dogs twice during my relatively short time in Edinburgh (once with my co-workers and once with Meredith), but the unassuming, low-key feeling of this restaurant, tucked away in a loft, with its quirky dog-related art, is one of the reasons I insisted on bringing Meredith here for our single dinner together in Edinburgh.
Meredith: Stepping into The Ordinary is an almost surreal experience. The oyster hall on upper King St. has plenty of classic charm and many leftover details from its history as a bank, including the vault from which the raw bar is now served.

Food Destination

Michael: We ate and ate and ate (and ate some more) in Charleston and there wasn’t a single meal during our entire four days there that didn’t excite us. Since our February trip, even more amazing spots have opened up, making this a food destination to which I cannot wait to return.
Meredith: Tagging along on Michael’s work trip to Atlanta was one of the best decisions I made all year. While he was working during the day, I managed to go from restaurant to restaurant and somehow kept just enough room to enjoy dinner with him each evening. Everything was delicious!

Overall Meal

Michael: Set in a rustic mill quite literally on top of the river, everything about Hen of the Wood seems classically authentic to the locally-sourced and chef-owned mission it’s based around. Each part of my meal, from the heirloom tomatoes, to the bluefish toast, or slow-cooked rabbit was deliciously prepared and carefully presented.
Meredith: As if the multiple mentions on this decently short list weren’t enough of a hint, my dinner at The Optimist was easily one of the more memorable meals of my life, and reason enough for anyone to put Atlanta on their list for 2015.

Broken Shaker Miami Beach

The Optimist Cocktails

Empire state South pimento cheese

Poole's Diner Mac and Cheese

Empire State South Scallops

Jeni's Splendid Ice Cream Atlanta

Miller Union Ice Cream Sandwich

Prairie Whale Brunch

Topnotch Resort Stowe

Xiao Bao Biscuit Lunch

Xiao Bao Biscuit Charleston

Brown's Court Bakery Charleston

Wine Authorities Raleigh

Kingston Wine Co. NY

Topnotch Resort Stowe

Fish Tacos at Morada Bay Beach Cafe

Morada Bay Beach Cafe

Three Chimneys Isle of Skye

The Three Chimneys Restaurant

The Dogs Edinburgh

The Ordinary Charleston

The Ordinary Charleston

Pimiento Cheese Husk

JCT Kitchen Shrimp & Grits

The Optimist

Hen of the Wood Waterbury

All photos taken by Meredith Perdue for Map & Menu.

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The Marlton Hotel NYC

Recapping some of our best hotel stays each year is always an enjoyable experience reliving the memories, adventures, and meals of the past year. Here are some of our hotel favorites from 2014 that we hope will help you in planning your upcoming getaways.

Overall Aesthetic

Michael: From the moment we stepped onto the property at Charleston’s Zero George, I felt right at home with it’s classic Southern charm, style, and understated elegance. I’d be hard pressed to stay anywhere else in a town I can’t wait to return to.
Meredith: The Marlton’s rooms, restaurant, and branding are all packed with a quirky personality that perfectly balances style and expression. I loved every moment of my stay there this year.

Bathroom

Michael: The nod to Scotland’s own Sean Connery at The Balmoral in Edinburgh was a nice touch to an already classically cool bathroom.
Meredith: These days it seems as though my dreams are made of the marble sinks and brass Waterworks fixtures from The Marlton.

Dog-Friendly

Michael & Meredith: We loved everything about our time with Orvis at Topnotch – the dog-friendly green spaces, the access to trails, and the welcome package for Orvis – but getting to eat outside with him at each meal at the resort was easily the highlight of our entire stay.

View/Location

Michael: North Haven, home to the Nebo Lodge, is a picturesque and quintessential as a Maine island can get. Miles off the coast, exploring the island’s trails, village, and farms was an excellent way to spend a weekend getaway.
Meredith: Drinks atop the The Surrey in the hotel’s private garden is one of the very best views of Manhattan I’ve experienced thus far.

Breakfast

Michael: Eating pancakes and eggs on the patio by the pool with Orvis by our side at Topnotch Resort is just about the only way to unseat Hotel Fauchere from its breakfast throne.
Meredith: No other hotel breakfast has earned its own post on Map & Menu, or been the reason for a road trip detour. The breakfast at Hotel Fauchere is once again my favorite.

Hotel Restaurant

Michael & Meredith: The restaurant at Nebo Lodge is what brought us out to the island of North Haven in the first place, and after enjoying two fantastic dinners and two breakfasts there, it’s safe to say that the food was well worth the trip.

Amenity

Michael: A slightly unusual, but amazing amenity of Atlanta’s Stonehurst Place is its museum-quality art selection with works by names like Warhol, Picasso, and many others.
Meredith: The spa at the Woodstock Inn is right at the top of my list of reasons I want to return to this charming Vermont inn. I didn’t have time for a treatment, but a mere $25 gave me access to the beautiful facilities – an amazing value!

Interaction with Hotel Staff:

Michael: Maybe it was due to the fact that Orvis was their very first canine guest, but every member of the staff at the Woodstock Inn seemed to know us by name and be excited about Orvis. Everyone who knows us knows that the fastest way to our hearts is through our buddy.
Meredith: Inez, a co-owner of Table on Ten, made my trip to New York an absolute delight. She seemed to be involved in each and every part of the inn and restaurant’s operations – welcoming, cooking, etc – and her hard work and creative attention to detail was evident throughout my stay.

Overall Hotel Experience

Michael: I couldn’t have imagined a better way to kick off our Scotland getaway than by staying at Greystones in Oban. A modernly-renovated baronial home overlooking the bay, the boutique bed & breakfast was wonderfully comfortable, a short stroll into town, and served an outstanding breakfast on each of our mornings.
Meredith: Between the amazing meals, the lovely chats with Liz the manager, and the Angela Adams-clad modern cottage aesthetic of Nebo Lodge, it was easily one of the most enjoyable trips of my year. And the fact that the pups were able to join us on our adventures around North Haven made it even more memorable.

The Marlton Hotel NYC

The Marlton Hotel NYC

Table on Ten Room 1

The Balmoral Bathroom

Zero George Photos

Zero George Carriage House

Zero George Hotel Charleston

Zero George

Breakfast at Hotel Fauchere

Topnotch Resort Stowe

Topnotch Resort Stowe

Topnotch Resort Stowe

Nebo Lodge North Haven Maine

Nebo Lodge North Haven Maine

Nebo Lodge North Haven Maine

Stonehurst Place Art Collection

Stonehurst Place Art Collection

Woodstock Inn and Resort Vermont Dogs

Woodstock Inn and Resort Vermont Spa

Woodstock Inn and Resort Vermont Spa

Greystones Bed & Breakfast Scotland

Greystones Bed & Breakfast Argyll

The Surrey Hotel Rooftop

All photos taken by Meredith Perdue for Map & Menu.

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Fisherman's Point Elopement, Photo by Sarah Der

Over the course of the week Michael and I are going to be recapping some highlights of our 2014, and although sharing photos from our wedding, which was easily our favorite part of the year, would have been the perfect finale for this week’s ‘best of’ posts, we just love the images so much that we simply couldn’t wait until the end of the week. 

We were married by the sea on November 1st, the date of our ninth anniversary. A tiny wedding ceremony down near the water at Fisherman’s Point, a spot we love visiting with Orvis, has been a dream of ours since moving to and falling in love with the Willard Beach neighborhood years ago, and earlier this fall we decided together to make that dream a reality. We set the date for a mere three weeks away, and thus began our whirlwind month of October. For the most part, we kept our plans fairly quiet, sharing them only with our immediate families and a handful of friends, and in many ways, the privacy with which we approached our wedding day made the whole experience seem that much more exciting and romantic.

Orvis, looking quite dapper in his gingham bow tie, was our Best Man of Honor, a title he wore with great dignity and a little bit of mischief. Our longtime friend, Julia, and our talented photographer and friend, Sarah Der, were our witnesses. Having a friend who we’ve known for our entire time in Maine attend and another with such a talented eye documenting the day meant so very much to the two of us. We’ve known for years that we’d someday ask Julia’s father, Steve, to officiate our wedding. His thoughtfulness, taste, and the admirable relationship he has with his wife, whom we adore, were an inspiration to us on our wedding day. We decided to write our own vows to each other, something that I was incredibly nervous about until I finally sat down to do so the day before. Listening to the vows Michael wrote for me was easily my favorite part of this most perfect day, and the fact that we both included Orvis in our vows to one another is something that will make me smile for years to come. It would feel funny not to mention the nor’easter that blew in, just in time for our wedding day, but to be honest, with a little bit of flexibility and with all of the happiness, laughter, and tears, I don’t even really remember the weather from a large part of the day.

With the talents of some of our favorite friends, we were fortunate to incorporate other details that are meaningful to us as a couple. A framed, calligraphed marriage certificate – an unofficial one that includes Orvis as a witness – from Li hangs in our home and brings us such joy each time we see it. In lieu of a wedding cake, our favorite bakery, Scratch, created a wedding cookie cake for us – nine layers of the chocolate chunk pistachio sea salt cookie that we absolutely love. Our sweet friend, Alison, who’s been cutting both of our hair for many years now, made me feel simply beautiful. A floral designer I’ve worked with closely and admired over the years, Emily Carter, created the most stunning bouquet for me to hold and the most original and charming boutonniere for Michael to wear. Although not friends per se, the staff at Folia, where we found our wedding bands, made the experience one we’ll remember fondly. Our rings bring us so much happiness, they’ve found two lifelong clients in us.

For the post-ceremony celebration, we chose to honor both our past and present, by having drinks with friends at our very favorite bar, Hunt and Alpine, followed by a cozy dinner at Ribollita, the first place we visited as a couple in Maine. Coming full circle, just the two of us, seemed to be the perfect way to end the happiest day in our very full lives, and even though we chose to celebrate our marriage in the tiniest of ways, we felt an overwhelming amount of love and support from our incredible friends and family.

The photos that our amazingly talented photographer, Sarah Der, took for us were more than we could have ever imagined. Braving the rain and wind with the biggest smile on her face, she perfectly captured so many special moments from the day that we’ll cherish for years and years. We hope you enjoy these photographs as much as we do.

Michael Cain, Photo by Sarah Der

Michael Cain, Photo by Sarah Der

Photo by Sarah Der

Meredith Perdue, Photo by Sarah Der

Photo by Sarah Der

Wedding Dogs, Photo by Sarah Der

First Look

Michael-Orvis-and-Meredith

Emily Carter Floral Design, Photo by Sarah Der

Map and Menu Wedding,  Photo by Sarah Der

Map and Menu Wedding,  Photo by Sarah Der

Orvis and Meredith, Photo by Sarah Der

Meredith Perdue and Michael Cain, Photo by Sarah Der

Willard Beach, Photo by Sarah Der

Fisherman's Point, Photo by Sarah Der

Elopement by the Sea, Photo by Sarah Der

Fisherman's Point Wedding, Photo by Sarah Der

Elopement

Elopement by the Sea, Photo by Sarah Der

Elopement at Fisherman's Point, Photo by Sarah Der

Emily Carter Floral Design, Photo by Sarah Der

Map and Menu Wedding, Photo by Sarah Der

Wedding Cookie Cake from Scratch Baking Co., Photo by Sarah Der

Julia, Photo by Sarah Der

Photo by Sarah Der

Li Ward Calligraphy, Photo by Sarah Der

Li Ward Calligraphy and Paloma's Nest,  Photo by Sarah Der

Elopement, Photo by Sarah Der

Cake Cutting, Photo by Sarah Der

Orvis, Photo by Sarah Der

Ceremony site: Fisherman’s Point. Photographer: Sarah Der. Flowers: Emily Carter. Hair & Makeup: Alison Bogannan. Calligraphed Marriage Certificate: Li Ward of Fat Orange Cat Studio. Wedding Cookie: Scratch Baking Co. Meredith’s Dress: J.Crew. Michael’s Suit: Joseph’s. Michael’s Tie: General Knot Co. Michael’s Shoes: Allen Edmonds. Orvis’s Tie: J.Crew. Rings: Folia. Earrings: Hyla DeWitt.

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Upper East Side Travel Guide

I spent a weekend this summer shooting in the Upper East Side and somehow it’s taken me this long to share some of the highlights from my solo trip to the city. Even though we now tend to gravitate towards many of the restaurants in Lower Manhattan on our trips down to New York, I’ve spent a great deal of our visits to the city (together or alone) in the UES, visiting my aunt or staying at her apartment while she’s away. The following are some of my favorite Upper East Side finds.

The Surrey

The hotel’s stunning rooftop garden is reason enough to put The Surrey high on your list of places to stay during your next trip to New York, but as it turns out, the rooms themselves also warrant a visit. Expecting a typical (almost uncomfortable) tiny New York hotel room, I was shocked with how spacious and luxurious my 330+ square foot “salon” felt. Read more about my stay at The Surrey here

JG Melon

We’ve enjoyed more than a few burgers at JG Melon over the years, and as Michael pointed out on one of our last visits, the burger “is every bit as good as its reputation.” The only thing I might add to this spot on remark of my husband’s is that the fries are also in a class of their own.

The East Pole

I bookmarked The East Pole well before my trip, while browsing Mackenzie’s blog, and I couldn’t have been happier that I took note of this eatery (partly owned by two of the partners behind The Fat Radish), for it was my favorite meal of my whirlwind weekend in New York. While there, I sipped a refreshing velvet falernum cocktail on the restaurant’s charming patio, and dove into the delicious fluke crudo and (as this was in August) heirloom tomato appetizers. This is exactly where Michael and I will eat on our next trip to the city together.

Maison Kayser

Had I not been alone, a leisurely brunch at Maison Kayser would have been a no-brainer for me, but on this Saturday morning as I prepared for a long day of shooting, I was happy to grab my croissant and tea to go. It’s maybe not fair to judge an entire boulangerie by a single croissant, but if mine was a sampling, the rest of the menu is definitely worth revisiting on a return trip.

Ladurée

It’s always a treat to be able to indulge in my favorite French treat stateside. A stop for pistachio & vanilla macarons at Ladurée Madison is a must for me whenever I’m in New York.

Joe Coffee

While I’m the tea drinker of our blogging duo, I couldn’t resist popping into the UES Joe Coffee to snag a bag for Michael, after reading about it on Find.Eat.Drink. His verdict? Excellent!

Museum Mile & Central Park 

A visit to the Upper East Side without a stroll in Central Park or a walk along 5th Avenue, home to the various institutions that make up the Museum Mile, is almost unheard of. On this visit, I popped into the Met (and the nearby Frick, which isn’t technically part of the Museum Mile, but well worth a visit regardless), but I would have loved to have spent an afternoon wandering the Guggenheim as well. A walk in Central Park is always such a welcome escape from the frantic pace of the city around me and something I look forward to on each visit.

Cafe Boulud

Daniel Boulud’s French bistro located in the bottom of the hotel where I was staying, Cafe Boulud has a reputation for excellence, and while I didn’t dine in the restaurant itself, the meal I enjoyed on the rooftop of The Surrey and my decadent room service breakfast, were both prepared in the cafe, , and were just as delicious as one would expect from the Boulud name.

Assouline at The Mark

While searching for bookstores on Google Maps during breakfast, I was happy to see that there was an Assouline shop at the nearby Mark Hotel. While the shop itself was tiny, the selection of big, beautiful design books was anything but. My coffee table book collecting heart melted.

Gagosian Shop

Part gallery, part store, the Gagosian Shop is located just a couple doors down from the esteemed contemporary art gallery for which it is named. Browsing the impressive collection of art books, limited editions, and gifts is, in my opinion, an ideal way to spend a slow morning in Manhattan.

The next time we find ourselves in the Upper East Side, we’re headed straight to Bemelmans Bar for a drink – I’ve always wanted to go here. The Penrose, JBird, and Tori Shin are on our list, but what else should we add? We’d love to hear about your UES favorites! 

The Surrey Upper East Side

The Surrey

The East Pole NYC

The East Pole NY

The East Pole New York

The East Pole Upper East Side

Maison Kayser Breakfast

Gagosian Shop

Gagosian Shop NY

Assouline at the mark hotel

Assouline at the Mark

Joe Coffee NYC

JG-Melon

Museum Mile

The Met

The Frick

Untitled at the Whitney

Guggenheim Museum

Central Park

Upper East Side

Laduree

All photos taken by Meredith Perdue for Map & Menu.

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Gluten Free Christmas Cookies - Vanilla Sticks

While whipping up a batch of pecan Mexican wedding cookies last weekend, Michael and I were both reminded of the holiday treats we’d bake with our grandmothers as children. As kids, we both preferred anything sugary, sprinkled or iced, but this year, our rediscovery of certain nut-based cookies (sometimes with that glorious icing) has us beaming with holiday cheer. As I recounted these holiday baking memories with my mother, she reminded me of a family recipe she loved baking as a young girl with her grandmother – vanilla sticks.

While they may not win any awards for the best looking holiday treats, these chewy almond cookies are so good and dangerously easy to make. The meringue icing adds a sweet crunchiness, and could definitely be used on any number of cookie bases, and the fact that they’re gluten free is just another bonus, making them a fantastic cookie to add to your holiday repertoire if you’re baking for a wide array of friends. We hope you enjoy them as much as we do did!

Vanilla Sticks

1 lb. shelled almonds
1/2 tsp. vanilla
4 egg whites
1 lb. powdered sugar, plus more for rolling
small handful of flour (gluten-free or all-purpose) for rolling

Grind almonds to a fine consistency using a food processor and set aside. Beat egg whites on high to a stiff froth, about 10 minutes. Add powdered sugar and vanilla to the egg whites and beat for another 15 minutes on medium-high. Set half of this sugar-egg mixture aside and mix the other half with the ground almonds, rolling out on a flour-powdered sugar mixture. Cut dough into 1″x3″ strips and lay on a greased cookie sheet. Ice each strip with the sugar-egg mixture and bake at 325 for 12-15 minutes.

If you’re really wanting to treat yourself, enjoy these with a holiday milk punch – it’s what we refer to as grown-up milk & cookies! Adulthood, for the win.

Gluten Free Christmas Cookies - Vanilla Sticks

Gluten Free Christmas Cookies - Vanilla Sticks

Gluten Free Christmas Cookies - Vanilla Sticks

Gluten Free Christmas Cookies - Vanilla Sticks

All photos taken by Meredith Perdue for Map & Menu.

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Weston Farms Magnolia Wreaths

Owning a magnolia wreath from Weston Farms has been a holiday daydream of mine for a few years now, especially since I continue to see these stunning wreaths featured on the pages of our favorite Southern magazines each holiday season. So when our plans took us to Raleigh for the day during a recent trip down to North Carolina, I made returning to Maine with our very own magnolia wreath the highest of priorities.

On our way into the city, we visited the Weston Farms booth at the State Farmer’s Market, where we were able to see a sampling of the various freshly-cut magnolia wreaths (including this year’s Garden and Gun Tapestry pattern), garlands, and arrangements that Erin Weston and her team create. The magnolia from her family’s farm has been specially cultivated to produce shiny green leaves with soft dark brown backs throughout the tree – giving her wreaths a brilliant color contrast that allows them to age beautifully for years. At their market stand there are plenty of wreaths to choose from, but even if they run out (which I’m sure happens quite frequently), or if you’re looking for a slightly different pattern, they can always make wreaths to order, and even do a number of custom home trimming projects each year.

In the end, our mission was accomplished, and we couldn’t be happier with the classic magnolia wreath we selected. Letting the color of the magnolia do all of the work, it compliments our overall minimal aesthetic, and fits nicely atop our newly stained door on our simple little cape. It’s a fun nod to our southern roots, and has the added bonus of being largely unique on the streets of Maine… although since the farm ships all over the country, I can’t imagine it’ll stay that way for many more years.

Weston Farms Magnolia Wreaths

Weston Farms Magnolia Wreaths

Weston Farms Magnolia Wreaths

Weston Farms Wreaths

Weston Farms Magnolia Wreaths

Weston Farms Magnolia Wreaths

All photos taken by Meredith Perdue for Map & Menu.

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Paloma's Nest Ornaments

In what I would consider a very quintessential December holiday weekend, Michael and I managed to squeeze quite a bit of festive fun into just a few days. On Friday evening we started out with drinks (and of course, the bread & butter!) at Central Provisions before heading up to the MECA holiday sale. It’s been really fun to watch that sale grow over the years and to see so many members of Portland’s community out supporting the school and the artists.

On Saturday morning we did some work around the house before venturing out into the rainy weather to take care of some holiday errands around the Old Port. We came home craving Christmas cookies, so we decided to whip up these delicious (and easy) Mexican wedding cookies to snack on while we watching Scrooged on Netflix. The majority of our Sunday was spent researching and shopping for a new refrigerator, which is very overwhelming and not nearly as exciting as it might sound. We did, however, manage to salvage what was mostly a meh day by breaking out our new Kitchenaid pasta attachment and trying our hands at rolling our very own farfalle with a tasty butternut squash sauce. It was the perfect meal to enjoy while watching my favorite holiday movie.

Central Provisions Maine

Mexican Wedding Cookies

All photos taken by Meredith Perdue for Map & Menu.

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Boxwood Christmas Wreath

This year’s holiday windows at Bergdorf Goodman – always amazing!

An artist I’ve enjoyed following on Instagram for awhile now, Alexis Walter, just released some of her smaller paintings for sale online. I snagged one this morning and couldn’t wait to spread the word about the sale.

I cannot get enough of these behind the scenes photos from the recent J.Crew Norway shoot.

It’s mostly holiday tunes around here these days, but when I need a break from the James Taylor Christmas album Michael seems to have on repeat, I’ve been mixing it up with this playlist from Note to Self.

These yurts at Treebones in Big Sur look amazing, and are now pretty high on our travel bucket list.

I recently pinned a half dozen recipes from the latest Food & Wine, including what appears to be the most delicious smoked trout dip.

What are you guys up to this the weekend? There seems to be quite a bit of festive fun happening in Portland this weekend. We’re planning on attending the MECA Holiday Sale, hopefully swinging by the holiday party at More & Co., and probably picking up more boxwood wreaths from Fiachre – I’m obsessed. 

Photo taken by Meredith Perdue for Map & Menu.

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Dog Friendly Relais and Chateaux

With family holidays, weddings, and other work-related projects taking us down south, Michael and I make the drive down to North Carolina and back at least 2-3 times per year, leaving us very well-versed in the distance in between. We now know where the best rest stops are for dogs, which exits have a Panera close by, and which dog-friendly inns to visit along the way. Depending on the route we choose – the latter is typically either the Inn at Perry Cabin if we’re sticking to the coast, or Hotel Fauchere if our plans take us further west.

Lately, the westerly route always seems to win out for us. The driving is less stressful and much more scenic through the countryside of Pennsylvania, Maryland, and Virginia. Plus, if we time it right, we can walk around Milford with Orvis before it gets too late, pop into Upriver Home, and enjoy a bite to eat at Bar Louis, all before partaking in our favorite breakfast the next morning.

Each time we stop in Milford as a family, we make new memories together, and this last time was no different. Here are a few new photos from our stay.

Sleepy Orvis

Hotel Fauchere Wine

Hotel Fauchere

Hotel Fauchere Breakfast

Hotel Fauchere Milford

Upriver Home Milford PA

All photos taken by Meredith Perdue for Map & Menu.

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