When shooting film you find that every now and then a forgotten roll surfaces, and if you’re lucky, when you develop it, some pleasant memories are uncovered. Finding this most recent roll filled with images we took during a Wine Time at Blue Spoon with Orvis was just one of those cases. While planning the details for our tiny wedding, we sat outside one of our favorite restaurants as fall settled in around us. We sipped the featured $2 glasses of wine and snacked on mussels, roasted fingerlings, and crostini, as Orvis made friends with people passing by. It’s amazing how these memories come rushing back now that we have the photos.
As it starts to (slowly) warm up around these parts, we’re looking forward to sharing many simple evenings outside with good food and our best friend.
All photos taken by Meredith Perdue for Map & Menu.2 Comments - Leave a comment
This past weekend, Michael and I had the pleasure of taking over the Down East instagram account for two food and fun-filled days in Portland and the Midcoast. We visited old and new favorites alike, sampling delicious dishes and drinks, while sharing the experience with Down East’s enthusiastic audience.
Here’s a sampling of our photos below, and make sure to follow Down East’s Instagram account for future takeovers!
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As we finish out this week on a high note with some gorgeous weather in Maine, we just wanted to quickly share one last part of our trip to Vermont and the Pitcher Inn that made the stay so unforgettable – their inn-dog-in-training, Maisy. When we don’t travel with Orvis, one of Meredith and my favorite parts of any trip is meeting an inn dog to take the sting away of not being with our own furry friend. So although Orvis loved meeting and walking with Maisy around Warren, we know that this beautiful golden retriever will bring plenty of smiles to many travelers for years to come.
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A winter drive along Vermont’s Route 100 through the Mad River Valley is a pretty spectacular road-trip to say the least. Set between snow-covered mountains, and following the icy river, narrow gorges give way to wide farmland valleys, filling the spaces between the small towns that make Vermont so amazingly authentic. Covered bridges, shops lining Main Street, people milling about – it can often seem like a page out of an old book, but the more time we spend in the Green Mountain State, the more we realize that it’s just another part of the Vermont way of life.
Just a couple weeks ago, Michael, Orvis, and I were fortunate enough to spend a number of days in Warren, right in the middle of the Mad River Valley, and while we barely scratched the surface of all the area has to offer, we made a valiant effort at exploring as much as time allowed.
Staying at the Pitcher Inn is really all about the experience. The property is so much more than just its Relais & Chateaux affiliation, or its eleven uniquely beautiful rooms – it’s about the people, the details, the food, and the character that really make your time here exceptional. Read more about our stay at the Pitcher Inn here.
When Ari, the manager of the Pitcher Inn, told us that he takes his sweet golden retriever, Maisy, on walks along the Bobbin Mill Trail most days, we quickly moved it to the top of our to-do list. Given its proximity to the inn and the fact that Orvis is always looking for a place to really stretch his legs, we ended up visiting the trail each morning we were in Warren. The meandering path follows the cascades that make up Lincoln Brook Falls, through open woodlands and past a number of swimming holes that we’re sure Orvis would love in warmer weather.
Dear friends of ours who have ties to the Waitsfield area put the Vermont Icelandic Horse Farm on our radar and we couldn’t be happier that they did. Although the farm was officially closed when we stopped by, the Winhold family quite literally opened their barn doors to us, introducing us to their wonderfully unique silkie chickens, their sweet donkey Callie, and their stunning Icelandic horses. Signing up for one of their summer or fall trail ride tours through the Mad River Valley is now officially on my bucket list.
Upon hearing that we wanted to visit a sugar shack while we were in Vermont during the very beginning of their spring maple season, Ari and Doug at the inn arranged for us to meet with a local sugar farmer at the Westhill Sugar Orchard. Glenn Cahilly-Bretzin has recently undertaken a passion project to revitalize the trees and sugar shack that neighbor his family’s property, and that morning he spent more than his fair share of time teaching us all about the sugaring process, telling us about his plans to keep the farm small and authentic, and letting us take some photos of his trees and sugar shack. We cannot wait to see their products in local shops on a future trip to the area!
We visited The Mad Taco’s Montpelier location during our August trip to Vermont last summer, so we were especially excited about revisiting some of their delicious tacos in the original location. Simply put, you can’t go wrong here – we devoured our Carnitas and Chile Colorado tacos in minutes.
Ari made sure to highlight The Sweet Spot, right in the center of Waitsfield, for a place to pick up a post-lunch treat. We followed his lead, and after browsing the nearby Artisan’s Gallery & 4orty Bridge Boutique, we popped inside for a cupcake and a macaroon. Their homemade ice cream looked good enough to lure us back for a summer getaway all by itself!
While Michael and I were eating breakfast at the Pitcher Inn one morning, we were fortunate enough to see something that is becoming somewhat of a common occurrence in Vermont. We watched as another guest of the inn got up, left breakfast, and hurriedly walked over to the Warren Store across the street. Shortly thereafter a number of cars started to pull up with people pouring into the store. It turns out that the Lawson’s Finest Liquids beer truck had made their scheduled Thursday morning delivery, and people were immediately lining up to purchase the in-demand beers. Although this was quite the site to see, the Warren Store (a sister property of the inn) is about much more than its beer. They have a wonderful wine selection (complete with an “Ari’s picks” shelf), plenty of local goods (including our favorite Vermont caramels), a clothing store upstairs, and a fantastic deli where Michael and I grabbed sandwiches to go for our trip back to Maine.
The same friends of ours who told us about the Icelandic horses also tipped us off to one of the best access points of the Mad River Path – the West Greenway. When it’s completed, the Mad River Path will be a continuous trail from Warren to Moretown, offering residents and visitors a way to experience the same beauty of Route 100, just by foot (or snowshoe, cross-country ski, etc.). For now, a number of individual sections of the path are available for public use, and Orvis, Michael, and I spent a lovely morning exploring a good chunk of it.
Set in a rustic mill quite literally on top of the river in nearby Waterbury, everything about Hen of the Wood seems classically authentic to the locally-sourced and chef-owned mission it’s based around. We enjoyed our meal this summer at Hen of the Wood so much, we’ve included it on both our Stowe guide and this Mad River Valley guide.
Even though we spent three nights in Warren, we still managed to run out of time to accomplish every item on our Mad River to do list. Next time we hope to visit the Mad River Distillers to sample their award winning rye whiskey, and dine at the original American Flatbread location, Mint, and Peasant. Of course, the next time we find ourselves in the area during winter, skiing Mad River Glen will be at the tip top of our list! Are there any Mad River musts we missed and should be adding to our list?
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In the center of the town of Warren, Vermont there’s a bend in the mountain brook that cuts perpendicular across Main Street. Nestled in that bend, you’ll find the Pitcher Inn, a grand white building, heavily-porched, with a character that defies its surprisingly young age. Meredith, Orvis, and I recently spent a few evenings at the inn, and to say that we fell in love would be an absolute understatement. With its staff, design, food, comfort, and personality, our stay here was easily one of the more memorable we’ve shared since starting our site three years ago.
In the mid 1990s, after a fire reduced the original Pitcher Inn (essentially a ski hostel) to little more than a footprint, a number of ideas were pitched for the property – even that of a nursing home or a gas station. Fortunately, the Smith family had the foresight to see the property’s importance to the character of the town and value as more than a pit stop, and thus began the life of today’s Pitcher Inn.
As the inn was rebuilt, careful consideration was placed on details to make it feel authentic to its New England roots. If you’ve ever spent time in an old home or building that’s seen years of stories, growth, and renovation, you know that floors are rarely level between additions and hallways aimlessly meander, connecting the dots between rooms. These details were carried over to the inn’s new construction, giving a historical feeling to your stay, while tucking away the modern conveniences to the peripheral. Although throughout the first floor, the inn follows the standard upscale historical Vermont hotel to which the exterior alludes, opening any given door of the eleven rooms of the inn, and you’ll find an eclectic collection of themes that represent some part of Vermont’s history. A colonial room decked in toile, an alpine cabin with actual signage from neighboring ski mountains, a river room with a fly-fishing tie table and canoe alcove, and Orvis’s personal favorite, the dog-friendly ‘stable’ (which happens to be the only surviving structure of the fire). The detail and craftsmanship of the rooms at the Pitcher Inn create a delightful feeling of playfulness while serving as a nod to that which defines the people and culture of Vermont. Our spacious room had a rustic character, accented with modern comforts, and would have been a perfect place to return to after a long day of exploring. While Orvis generally loves any trip to Vermont, I don’t think he’ll ever be quite as excited with our accommodations as he was to find his own Orvis dog bed and a pile of treats and toys upon check-in!
Another fantastic part of the Pitcher Inn is its food and drink. Each morning, the breakfast options would range from the classic bacon and egg staple, to pancakes and french toast with that oh-so-delicious Vermont maple syrup. Starting days with a filling breakfast is one of my favorite parts of travel, and the Pitcher Inn does it as well as anyone. Our one meal at the inn’s primary restaurant, 275 Main, was exceptional. Vermont is no stranger to fresh, locally sourced, delicious cuisine, but our dishes and wine that evening were easily one of the best meals we’ve had in Vermont, or anywhere for that matter. For a more casual atmosphere, we highly recommend Tracks, the relaxed tavern downstairs – the beer list and burger are worth it alone.
Before I wrap up, I feel a special need to highlight how exceptional the staff at the Pitcher Inn was during our stay. In our travels, Meredith and I have had all sorts of interactions with hotel employees. Ranging from rigid ruled courtesy to friendly casual conversation, we typically can guess how our stays will play out not too long after we arrive. Adding a large black lab to the mix can add a little bit of hesitation, but at the Pitcher Inn, there was absolutely zero hesitation and “friendly” would be an understatement. From the moment we checked in, we felt right at home amongst friends. Orvis was doted on and genuinely loved. From Siobhan at the front desk to Ari, the general manager, and everyone in between, we felt as though we were completely taken care of. Dinner recommendations were made from personal experiences, our names were used in passing “hellos”, and we felt like much more than just two guests passing through. I could write an entire post just about the people that make the Pitcher Inn so outstanding, but I’ll save the gushing… well aside from a special mention and thanks to Ari. His knowledge and personality added something to our stay that we’ve never quite experienced before. His commitment to the inn and to ensuring that each and every guest has an exceptional time is simply unrivaled in our travels, and suffice it to say, if every inn had an Ari, we might not ever return to our own home.
Staying at the Pitcher Inn is really all about the experience. The property is so much more than just its Relais & Chateaux affiliation, or its eleven uniquely beautiful rooms – it’s about the people, the details, the food, and the character that really make your time here exceptional. We missed the inn the very moment we pulled away, and cannot wait to revisit it often in the future.
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Hearing that Small Axe truck would be closing in favor of a brick and mortar location last year was a bittersweet moment for Meredith and myself. In their first year, a Saturday morning coffee from Tandem, breakfast at Small Axe, and a trip to the farmer’s market had become our norm, and in their second year, anytime we found ourselves remotely near Congress Square Park, you could guarantee we’d be stopping by. Their shrimp & grits and fried chicken biscuits at the Portland Flea-for-All was one of our favorite meals of 2013, and it seemed as though their breakfast and rice bowls could simply do no wrong. What would happen when they closed? Would the new restaurant deviate from the tried & true offerings that garnered - and deserved – national attention?
It turns out that all of our worrying was for naught because now that we’ve tried Karl Deuben & Bill Leavy’s reincarnation of the East Ender on our favorite block of Middle Street (read: one of the most delicious blocks in all of Portland), we realized that it’s not the truck that made the meal, but the chefs behind the grill.
Meredith and I are minimalists at heart, so the clean, open, light-filled interior of the new East Ender is a welcome sight. We stopped by for lunch this week and were happy to see familiar favorites like the cold smoked burger and the rice bowl, alongside new additions like the BLT and the fried chicken sandwich. On this trip, one of what will surely be many, Meredith ordered her beloved rice bowl with bok choy and potatoes and I went with the suggestion of our waitress – the BLT. Adding a little flavor and lair, my BLT was made with two thick pieces of pork belly in lieu of bacon, and finished with avocado and a miso mayo. I’ve been heralding the BLT at Blue Spoon as my favorite in town for years, but this one definitely gives it a run for its money. Ignoring our full stomachs, we even rallied and ordered the roasted pineapple hand pies with coconut sorbet – a delightful combination of tropical flavors not typically found in Maine.
In retrospect, we realize our lamenting over Small Axe’s closing was a little ill-founded, and now that we’ve fallen for their new menu, we couldn’t be more excited to taste what Karl & Bill cook up next at the East Ender.
All photos taken by Meredith Perdue for Map & Menu.3 Comments - Leave a comment
On our way back from a spectacular few days in Vermont’s Mad River Valley (so much to share soon), we passed through Woodstock to revisit parts of our post-wedding getaway. Our first stop was the beautiful Farmhouse Pottery studio and shop – always an absolute delight for your eyes – and as part of a new tradition for trips to Vermont, we picked up another piece to add to our growing collection. Afterwards, we walked Orvis through town to see how it looked in the winter while reliving memories of our fall visit. Vermont is becoming such a very special place to the three of us and we can’t wait for our next return to the state.
Photos taken by Meredith Perdue for Map & Menu.3 Comments - Leave a comment
One of the best parts of all the snow we had this winter was the amount of time it afforded us to spend at my family’s farm in Wiscasset. While the farm is shut down for the season, it becomes our snowy getaway. A short drive up Route 1 and we’re settled in Wiscasset, ready for a weekend of cozy dinners by the fire, snacks from Treats, brunches at Crissy’s, and so much snowshoeing with Orvis on the farm and around the river. As the weather warms up and the melt begins, we love looking back at some of the memories made at the farm this season.
Photos taken by Meredith Perdue for Map & Menu.3 Comments - Leave a comment
If it wasn’t too long, this post could be more accurately titled, “That Time We Went to Kauai and Only Took Three Photos of One of the Most Beautiful Places We’ve Ever Visited”. Quite a mouthful, right? In truth, we took a few more than three – some of which include awkward beach timer photos that will never see the light of day on this blog – but how we took so few photos on what many, including me, consider to be a once in a lifetime trip to a beautiful tropical island is well beyond me.
I guess “once in a lifetime” only applies when your employer doesn’t fly you around the world though, and last month, Michael made his second trip back out to Kauai for work since the trip we took with my father and stepmother in 2009. While he was away “working”, and I was stuck buried under a few feet of snow, I dug back through my archives and found these three photos of our trip that I felt were good enough to share on the site. Initially, I berated myself for taking so few photos during our trip to this magnificent island – really, what kind of photographer am I? – but then I realized that the number of photos I took didn’t equate to the quality of the trip and the memories I made. On the contrary, I was simply taking in all of the wonders of Kauai – experiencing every moment and activity – the way I sometimes forget to with a camera around my neck.
There are no photos of the time we zip-lined through the jungle canopy, or the small boat ride through massive surf at the Na Pali coast. We have no instagrams of the cocktails we sipped by the pool, or the mornings we spent watching the sunrise from the cliffs. We simply have these three photos (and those awkward beach selfies), along with a handful of truly amazing memories – memories that we made without a camera or a phone in front of our faces. This way of travel seems a thing of the past, but I think that going forward on our tips, I’ll try to make the conscious effort to better balance camera time with real life time.
Photos taken by Meredith Perdue for Map & Menu.1 Comment - Leave a comment
When it comes to sprucing up a bathroom, I’m finding that there are so many decisions to be made – paint colors, the style of light fixtures, etc. – and sometimes putting together a consistent look in all the different resources can be a challenge, so I decided to take a cue from our travels and pull some of my favorite bathrooms from the places we’ve stayed as inspiration. While the tiled walls and brass fixtures of The Marlton (pictured below) is closer to my idea of a dream bathroom, the style of the Bedford Post Inn (pictured above) sans soaking tub, might be more approachable with our current space and budget.
Do you have a favorite source for bathroom inspiration? I’d love to hear any suggestions you all might have!
All photos taken by Meredith Perdue for Map & Menu.2 Comments - Leave a comment