Our friends, Brook & Daniel, along with a few other talented Portland creatives, opened the doors to Seawall, their shop on Wharf Street in the Old Port earlier this summer. We attended the opening celebration and immediately knew we’d be back to take some photos for Map & Menu – the shop is the perfect example of a curated collection of top quality New England-made goods, in a fantastic space.
Earlier this week, Seawall announced that they’d be co-hosting a Boast pop-up shop, until September 5th, with Portland Dry Goods & David Wood, so we figured that this would be the perfect opportunity to introduce Seawall to our Map & Menu readers!
The Seawall space has been completely transformed to feature a great deal of Boast’s newest line, including a collaboration with Minnie Mortimer. Old lockers adorn the walls, and since Boast gets its inspiration straight from the Ivy League tennis courts of New England, a table tennis top is now the focal point of the shop. I would definitely recommend stopping in to check out Boast’s line of polos, shorts, and tennis skirts, not to mention many of the ever-inspiring items Seawall typically stocks, and if you find yourself in the Old Port this evening, be sure to drop in for gimlets and a game of table tennis!
Portland, Maine 04101
When the time came to plan the details of my trip to North Carolina for a wedding in the mountains a few weeks ago, I decided to fly into Charlotte and take a quick detour to one of my favorite mountain towns – Blowing Rock. The town holds some very happy memories for me, as my family gathered there just a couple of years ago to celebrate the wedding of my sister & brother-in-law. I figured it was the perfect spot to spend a relaxing afternoon and evening, before a busy weekend of work!
As we’ve made sure to mention before, Relais & Chateaux hotels happen to be some of our very (very!) favorite hotels, so booking a night at the luxurious Westglow Resort & Spa seemed like no-brainer for me. I was fortunate to secure the last available room on the property, and even though it was located in one of the buildings across the street from the historic main inn, I loved everything about my quick solo mountain retreat!
Named by former owner, artist & writer Elliott Daingerfield, for the glow of the evening sunsets, Westglow was built in 1917 as Daingerfield’s summer home. Many of Daingerfield’s own paintings are displayed throughout the Greek Revival mansion, and almost 85% of the furnishings seen today are original pieces. One could completely lose track of time exploring the nooks and crannies of the mansion, and taking in the history of the property!
There are an abundance of beautiful, quiet spots around the property to curl up with a good book or simply take in the views of the majestic mountains all around, but the resort’s daily fitness activities and spa are not to be missed! There are guided three & six mile hikes each morning, daily yoga & pilates classes, tennis clinics, and other fitness classes offered on-site. Inside the Life Enrichment Center, you’ll find a rather extensive workout facility, a pool, group fitness classrooms, and, of course, the lovely spa itself. Although I didn’t have time to schedule a treatment for myself, I’ve heard nothing but amazing things from friends who’ve visited the spa before. Clearly I need to return and schedule my one hour Grandfather Stone Therapy, aptly named for nearby Grandfather Mountain!
Blowing Rock, North Carolina 28605
It’s inevitable that when guests come to town for more than just a couple of days, eventually there’s a night when everyone just wants to grab a slice of pizza. When the question arises for where to go for the best pie in town, Meredith and I always default to our two favorites – Flatbread and Otto. Frankly, we’re shocked how long it’s taken for us to cover either of these two locations because of the sheer number of times we like to have pizza & movie nights on our own, but recently, we took advantage of company being in town and finally got around to writing up Otto Pizza and it’s wine bar, Enzo, for Map & Menu.
You can order any of Otto’s flavors as entire pizzas, but one of the coolest parts of Otto is the ability to grab a few of their extra large slices and mix combinations. Like any pizza joint, Otto offers the standard pepperoni or cheese (and mighty fine versions of both), but where they truly excel is in the unique flavor combinations of pizzas like the bacon, mashed potato, and scallion (where the potato is the base), the four cheese tortellini and fontina, or the butternut squash, cranberry, and ricotta.
Otto is standing room only, really meant to grab and go, but if you want to have a drink and stay awhile, I’d highly recommend the small New York pizzeria-style wine bar, Enzo, next door. Subway tile and dark wood give this small space an authentic feel, where you can order a glass of wine or a pint of beer, and a slice or a whole pie from next door, and enjoy the company of some friends.
It should be noted that Otto has a second, much larger location of the same format in the East End, and two new locations down in Boston, but we somewhat prefer the comfy space of the original on Congress Street when we’re not enjoying from the sofa at home. In fact, writing this post has me wondering if there are any good new movies to rent this evening…
Portland, Maine 04101
Michael, Orvis, and I spent the weekend in one of our very favorite destinations in New England – the northern part of Berkshire County. When I found out that I’d be shooting a wedding in the Berkshires, it took me all of two seconds to plan a quick getaway for the three of us at our beloved dog-friendly inn, Porches. During this second trip to the area, we spent a lot more time exploring the charming college town of Williamstown, and in true Map & Menu fashion, we had some pretty top-notch meals too! Of course, we’ll share details about all of our favorite spots from our weekend trip soon.4 Comments
I realize that this might be an incredibly bold statement, but I’m just going to go with it – Provence is my favorite place in the entire world. Honestly. I fell one hundred percent in love with the area, especially the hotel where we stayed, and started researching ways to return while I was poolside on the terrace, glass of rosé in my hand, looking at Mount Ventoux. ‘Magical’ was a word I used over and over again throughout our short time in Provence, but honestly, it’s the single best way I could possibly describe the region that completely stole my heart.
As a photographer, I’m always taking note of the light around me, and in Provence, it seems as though near-perfect light is never too far away. Open shade in the Provençal towns absorb just the right amount of light from the surrounding bright walls, that everything seems beautifully lit even when it’s shaded. It might have been some magical illusion, but the famed ‘golden hour’ that we experience just before sunset seems to last much longer than an hour in Provence – a photographer’s paradise, indeed. As if I haven’t come across as melodramatic (borderline crazy) enough already, the pastel colors of Provence absolutely transfixed me, and since returning home, I’ve found myself drawn to those same hues in an attempt to recreate my beloved Provençal villages and countryside.
Having a rental car let us experience so much more of Provence, and overall we were so grateful to have the flexibility to explore various towns of the Luberon. There were times, however, that Michael’s manual-driving inexperience (and the temper that followed) showed on the small hilly streets and I found myself wishing we were just on some sort of hot and cramped tour bus.
Although we missed the peak of the lavender season by mere days, we were lucky to experience many bits & pieces of Provençal culture that we now attempt to incorporate into everything we do. Rosé, as we noted to our Instagram followers, really is cheaper than water… and obviously much more delicious. My greatest sadness will come in a few short weeks when summer is over and it is no longer as acceptable for me to order a glass of rosé at dinner, or it’s too chilly to enjoy some Pastis with friends on the patio. For now though, we’ll take full advantage of the warm weeks we have remaining!
The food in Provence was outstanding, and returning home to Maine during the height of tomato season with roasted Provençal tomates fresh in our minds, has had a serious effect on our evening meals. In fact, the first weekend after we returned, we prepared a spaghetti & mussels dish featured in a recent Martha Stewart Living, and tried to create the tomates dish we had for lunch one day in Crillon le Brave (of course a bottle of Rosé made an appearance). We’ve even made plans to turn a neglected side garden of ours into a boules court for next summer (we just happened to pick up an issue of the British publication, House & Garden, during our trip that lays out the steps for such a project – fate is obviously on our side with this one).
Attempts to recreate our experiences in Provence will obviously pale in comparison to the time we spent there, but hopefully it won’t be long before we have the opportunity to return to revisit old memories and make new ones.
Visiting L’Isle-sur-la-Sorgue on the Sunday market day couldn’t have set a better tone for our Provençal adventure. Meandering through the streets along both sides of the Sorgue river, popping into various antique shops, and picking up a few items here and there from visiting street vendors, really was the perfect way to start the second half of our trip to France. Of course, we were already as happy as could be after finishing what was quite literally the best lunch of our lives, but this charming little village, bustling with Sunday vendors and shoppers, completely topped the cake. My heart broke a little more each time we visited an antique shop and I was forced to part with an item that simply wouldn’t fit into a suitcase. It was during our short time in L’Isle-sur-la-Sorgue that I selected no less than 17 bistro style chair variations that we just had to have for our home. I can only imagine how dangerous a town with the offerings of L’Isle-sur-la-Sorgue would be if we actually lived in France!
I’m a fairly upbeat, glass-half-full kind of person, but I remember walking out of Le Jardin du Quai, our very first stop in Provence, as happy as I’d been in a long, long time. View pictures and read more about Le Jardin du Quai.
When I think of the tiny Provençal towns of the Luberon, the hilltop village of Gordes is precisely what comes to my mind. It was our next stop after lunching and antiquing in L’Isle-sur-la-Sorgue, and the first glimpse we saw of the village was just as awe-inspiring as I’d imagined. With stunning views of both Les Monts de Vaucluse and the Calavon valley, the stone houses and buildings of Gordes seemingly grow out of the Plateau de Vaucluse. After visiting villages like Gordes, I can now see why the Luberon has served as inspiration to artists for centuries – being there for just a short time myself has had an impact on me as a photographer and how I see certain colors. I look forward to returning to as many Provençal towns throughout my life as I possibly can!
If we absolutely had to choose, Roussillon might have been our very favorite excursion during our drive through the Luberon. The village, known for its colorful ochre-stained buildings, can be spotted from miles away. Not only were we drawn to the rich, warm colors of the building, but also the contrast that was created with various pastel-colored shutters & doors. Not photographing every new and inspiring facade was quite the challenge! We could have walked the winding, hilly streets of Roussillon for hours, taking in the colors and beautiful views from the hills, but we were too excited to get to our final destination – Crillon le Brave!
If Meredith’s constant exclamation of “Magical!” wasn’t enough of a sign of how much we enjoyed ourselves at Hotel Crillon le Brave, the severe cloud of gloominess that settled on our car as we drove away from the town surely made us realize how important it was to return one day soon. View pictures and read more about Crillon le Brave.
Really, this post could be summed up in about six short words – the best lunch of our lives. Seriously.
I’m a fairly upbeat, glass-half-full kind of person, but I remember walking out of Le Jardin du Quai, our very first stop in Provence, as happy as I’d been in a long, long time. How could I be anything but? I’d just experienced the best lunch of my entire life, (if not one of the best meals) with Michael in what is seriously the most picturesque setting imaginable. It was the first of many times while we were in Provence that I described our experience as ‘magical.’
We’d read about the Sunday market in L’Isle-sur-la-Sorgue while preparing for our trip, and thought it would be the perfect first stop for our Provençal adventure. It wasn’t until later that I happened to see that our hotel listed Le Jardin du Quai as a must when visiting L’Isle-sur-la-Sorgue, so when we walked right by the entrance to the restaurant, we decided to give it a go before exploring the antiques shops and Sunday market – this was quite possibly the best split decision of the whole trip.
With the menu set for us, we had only one decision to make – our drink – and seeing as though we were lunching underneath a vine-covered pergola in a stone garden in Provence, drinking rosé was the obvious choice. (Actually, every lunch & dinner we had in Provence after this first meal involved at least one glass of rosé for each of us. Quand en Provence…)
If I were the type of person that could successfully play it cool in extraordinary situations, I would have calmly enjoyed my glass of rosé, amidst the peaceful and relaxing outdoor-terraced setting, while waiting for the first course. Not me. I was much too excited and couldn’t wipe the giddy smile off my face as I kept remarking to Michael how ‘perfect’ or ‘amazing’ this place was! By the time our meal arrived, I had officially moved past cloud nine and was somewhere around fourteen or fifteen!
Our meal was a deliciously creative set of courses consisting of dishes and ingredients that I honestly would have never ordered had I been left to my own devices (note to self – think outside your usual veggie standards once in a while!). We started with a white bean salad, topped with bacon, herbs, and a poached egg, then quickly moved on to monkfish with roasted vegetables. Both were unimaginably tasty and impeccably well prepared. Our dessert was a scrumptious apricot sorbet and cake, complete with a whipped mint topping. To say that I was searching my plate for crumbs, when I finished, would not be much of an overstatement.
What a meal, what a setting, what a perfect beginning to the second half of a delightful trip!4 Comments
Meredith and I are firm believers that it’s hard to go wrong with a Relais & Châteaux property, and Hotel Crillon le Brave is far from an exception to the rule. With sweeping views of Mt. Ventoux, luxurious rooms, a warm and friendly staff, delicious food, and an unbelievable amount of Provencal charm, the hilltop property quickly climbed to the top of our favorites list, alongside quite a few of its sister properties. If Meredith’s constant exclamation of “Magical!” wasn’t enough of a sign of how much we enjoyed ourselves at Hotel Crillon le Brave, the severe cloud of gloominess that settled on our car as we drove away from the town surely made us realize how important it was to return one day soon.
It’s impossible to describe Hotel Crillon le Brave without mentioning its namesake town – the seven buildings of the resort make up a sizeable portion or the extremely small village. The town of Crillon le Brave has a lengthy history that dates back to the Roman Empire, but after both World Wars decimated its population, was little more than an abandoned ghost town by the end of the 1950s. Parts of the town were condemned and later demolished, and were it not for the impeccably well-constructed 16th-18th century stone buildings in the center of the village, we might not be writing this post. Fortunately, sometime in the 1970′s, people began to realize the value of a Provencal village at the southern foot of Mt. Ventoux, and slowly but surely the town began to be repaired, rebuilt, and updated.
Hotel Crillon le Brave began as a small property in the Maison Roche building in the center of the village, but quickly expanded to encompass six neighboring properties. In a style that only a 16th-century Provencal village could pull off, the resort is a pseudo-labyrinth of overlapping buildings, hidden pathways, seemingly-floating terraces, and private gardens, nooks, and crannies. We stayed in the original building, and enjoyed views of Mt. Ventoux from our window (but I’m pretty sure it’s much more rare to find a spot at the hotel that doesn’t show off the breathtaking panorama). Breakfast (both in the room and on the terrace) were in the typical, tasty French fashion – breads, butter, jams, fruit, etc. – and it’s hard not to enjoy a lazy fromage, charcuterie, and provencal tomates lunch above the pool with a glass (or two) of rose to wash it all down. Our dinners in Crillon le Brave were amazing. We spent our first evening enjoying the casual comfort of Petite Crillon, and our second evening with an outstanding meal of local fresh ingredients on the terrace at the hotel.
The quiet town is the perfect place for a short walk – Meredith and I discovered a wonderful hidden spot, beside a small church in town, where we would daydream about return trips to the village. We didn’t have the time, but the hotel also offers bicycles for those looking to explore the surrounding area. For us, it was hard to imagine a better use of our time than basking in the sun beside the fantastic pool. What a way to spend a few days – a person could get used to it.
Our time at the hotel and in the village came all too quickly to a close, and I’m beginning to realize that one of the hardest parts of Map & Menu is recounting our adventures, all the time knowing that it might be months or years before we have the chance to return. If that’s the case with Crillon le Brave, it’ll truly be a sad interim… now if only we could find a way to comfortably transport Orvis to France. Any ideas?7 Comments