Over the weekend Michael and I had the extraordinarily rare opportunity to attend the wedding of two of our friends as guests – no cameras involved, and in the Florida Keys no less! This little glimpse into life as an ordinary wedding-goer was truly wonderful and allowed us plenty of time to explore the islands that make up the village of Islamorada. The following are a few of our Islamorada musts if you ever have the chance to visit this part of the Keys.
We read about M.E.A.T. in an issue of Travel + Leisure, but our friends also included it on their wedding website as well, so it seemed like a no-brainer. Our burgers (mine was topped with pimiento cheese and a tomato jam and Michael’s was stuffed with pimiento cheese and bacon) were delicious and the Nutella shake we shared for dessert sent us on our way, as happy as could be. The thought of squeezing into our swimsuits (in front of people!) after such a filling meal didn’t even matter – we were stuffed and pleased to be so.
The wedding festivities were all taking place at the Postcard Inn, so this was a natural choice for our weekend’s accommodations. This oceanfront resort had quite a bit of character and charm for such a large hotel. Recently renovated, it’s retro, cheerful decor was a pleasant place to rest our heads, whether in the room, or laying out at the beach.
On Saturday morning, we woke up in Islamorada looking for a small adventure, and decided to drive down south of Marathon for a walk on what was once considered the 8th Wonder of the World - the original Seven Mile Bridge to Pigeon Key. Read more about them here.
After our walk to Pigeon Key we were more than eager to enjoy a nice meal outside, complete with a couple of refreshing cocktails. We found the perfect setting at the Morada Bay Beach Cafe where we enjoyed a picturesque view, some of the freshest tasting mahi-mahi we’d eaten in quite awhile, and two perfect warm weather vacation drinks – a mojito and a rum punch.
While researching Islamorada in preparation for our trip, I kept coming across articles about Moorings Village and just had to see the cottages & bungalows that make up this idyllic property in person. After lunch at the Morada Bay Beach Cafe across the street (part of Moorings Village) we took a quick stroll around Moorings Village and onto their gorgeous stretch of beach. If we’d been able to extend our stay, a visit to Moorings Village would’ve definitely been in the plans.
We visited Anne’s Beach, a stretch of beach on Lower Matecumbe Key named for one of Islamorada’s most prominent environmental conservationists, at high tide the morning we left to head back up to Miami. The day before we happened to drive by the beach at a lower tide en route to lunch (hunger unfortunately prevented us from stopping) and caught a quick glimpse of the wide beach at low tide as well. Regardless of where the tide is when you visit, Anne’s Beach is simply stunning and worth a stop to experience (maybe even dip your feet in the warm water), even if you’re just driving down Highway 1 on your way from Miami to Key West.
Have you been to this area of the Florida Keys before? We’d love to hear any Islamorada suggestions you might have in the comments below!
Photos taken by Meredith Perdue for Map & Menu.Leave a comment
On Saturday morning, we woke up in Islamorada looking for a small adventure, and decided to drive down south of Marathon for a walk on what was once considered the 8th Wonder of the World - the original Seven Mile Bridge to Pigeon Key. The bridge was originally constructed in the early twentieth century as part of the Overseas Railroad, connecting Key West with the rest of Florida, and at the time was one of the longest bridges in the world. After a new modern bridge was constructed parallel to the original, “Old Seven” was converted to a pedestrian path and fishing pier connecting the mainland to Pigeon Key where the workers who built it once lived. The four mile round-trip stroll was that perfect mix of sunny & breezy, leaving us in the perfect mindset for a Jimmy Buffet singalong on the ride back to Islamorada.
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Michael and I had every intention of exploring Miami Beach on our way down to and from our friends’ wedding in the Florida Keys this weekend, but travel complications prevented us from seeing as much of the city as we’d hoped. Still, in our short evening there before our Monday morning flight back, we made the most of a city with so much to offer.
The highlight of our brief visit to Miami Beach was most definitely meeting our friend, Caro, for drinks at The Broken Shaker – the bar at the Freehand where we spent Sunday night. I haven’t come across an article on the Miami food scene in the last year or so that doesn’t include rave reviews for this James Beard nominated poolside craft cocktail bar – in fact, it’s the reason we decided to stay at the Freehand in the first place! The drinks certainly lived up to their reputation – my Guanabana Caipirinha was so tasty, it was impossible to not order two and Michael downed his London Calling.
After we finished our drinks with Caro, we took her advice and grabbed a cab down to Pubbelly for some unforgettable Asian-inspired tapas. Each plate was fantastic, but we’re still talking about the two highlights of our meal – the Miso Butter Toast & the Kimchee Fried Rice with porkbelly & pineapple – two days later. So very delicious.
Although our time at the Freehand itself was short, it was a pleasant experience with more than an abundance of visual details to photograph. The Sydell Group (the company behind Ace Hotels, The NoMad, etc.) has done an outstanding job incorporating such vibrant style & Art Deco personality into a hostel setting. If you want to be right in the middle of the fun, you definitely can’t go wrong with the Freehand.
Are you headed to Miami soon? Here are a few places we were hoping to try, mostly suggestions of our friend Caro – a girl whose culinary taste we wholeheartedly trust: My Ceviche, Khong River House, Yardbird, Panther Coffee, Charlotte Bakery, Huahua’s Taqueria, and Joe’s Stone Crab Takeaway for a picnic on the beach! What are your favorite Miami Beach spots? We’d love to hear your suggestions!
Contact Information - Broken Shaker & Freehand Miami
Miami Beach, Florida 33140
Looking back on our recent trip to Charleston, I’m quickly blown away by the town, the history, the culture, the architecture, the drinks, and that oh-so-delicious food. Charleston is one of those cities that you could see yourself visiting often and staying for a very long time. The town holds a special place in Michael and my hearts, as it was the destination of one of our first trips as a couple, but in the 7 years since then, so much has changed that we found ourselves repeatedly saying “this definitely wasn’t here before” throughout our stay. Obviously the neighborhood South of Broad is still chock full of colorful, grand Charleston single houses (think long row houses with full-length porches to relax on in that hot Southern sun) that will make your jaw drop, and East Bay still has its fair share of tourist-packed storefronts and restaurants, but now areas like Upper King, Elliotborough, and Cannonborough are seeing an explosion in unbelievable eateries, craft bars, stylish shops, and scrumptious bakeries. Charleston has always been a town with plenty of culture, but this new-to-us side of Charleston makes us want to stay awhile.
We were there for four full days of eating, drinking, and exploration, but we feel like we only scratched the surface of what Charleston has to offer. Have a read through some of our favorite parts of Charleston, and please don’t hesitate to let us know if we missed anything that should be added to our list for our next return trip – there will definitely be one.
Simply put, staying at Zero George was an absolute delight. It is the perfect mix of classic Southern charm, style, comfort, and convenience. Our room was perfect for the two of us – just the place we couldn’t wait to return to between meals and meandering expeditions through the city. View pictures & read more about Zero George.
We came to Charleston to eat – no question about it – so we hit the ground running by trekking up to Butcher & Bee for our first meal together. I’d read about the sandwich shop in numerous publications, so there was really no question of whether or not we’d swing by for what promised to be an amazing lunch. Michael devoured his roast beef sandwich, and my carrot salad was pretty scrumptious, but the real show stopper was the bowl of curried brussels sprouts. We ate more than a dozen meals in Charleston that week, but my mind keeps coming back to those perfect brussels.
After seeing that The Rarebit made Thrillist’s list of The Best New Bars in America, I immediately put it on our dauntingly long list of places to try. Thankfully we were able to make it there on our first night. We had quite a few cocktails in Charleston, but those first two – an Aviation and a Corpse Reviver – certainly stand out as some of our favorites. Our meals that followed – the country fried steak and the vegetable rarebit – hit the spot for the casual comfort food we were craving.
We could lie and tell you that we only visited Brown’s Court once during our short stay in Charleston, but then you might not believe just how much we loved it. Even after visiting three (!) other bakeries in the city (go ahead and judge – we kind of deserve it.), we still managed to come back to Brown’s Court 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.
I dare you to walk by Mac & Murphy and not stop in. It’s that adorable. Michael and I are suckers for a creative selection of paper products, and Mac & Murphy and its friendly staff does not disappoint.
While preparing for our trip, this men’s shop popped up on our radar from their mention in Kinfolk and we couldn’t wait to see their collection in person. Of course upon walking inside, I immediately wished they had an equally well put together shop for women, but I happily settled on shopping for Michael. The store showcases some of our favorite brands – General Knot, Makr, Jack Rudy, Raleigh Denim… the list goes on – and does it all in a visually beautiful setting. Michael picked up a sweatshirt from Saturdays Surf that I’ve contemplated borrowing for myself, and after a helpful conversation with the owner Brett, we headed out to try some of the suggestions on our quickly growing list.
If you’re a fan of sweet confectionery bakeries like Michael, Sugar Bakeshop should catch your eye (if the large blueberry cupcake painted on the building doesn’t). After a number of people recommended it, we stopped in to try their deliciously sweet lemon curd cupcakes and ginger molasses cookies. A new friend from our trip pointed out that their mini cupcakes make the perfect pick-and-chose party treat, and if you’re having a hard time making a selection, do as we did and ask the extremely helpful bakers behind the counter.
The few blocks encompassed by Cannon, King, Spring, and Rutledge are home to a number of very cool shops, bakeries, and restaurants that are somewhat off the beaten path. We spent a chunk of our first full morning in the area, and found ourselves returning for one thing or another each day. One of those very delicious ‘things’ was Xiao Bao Biscuit, where we met one of Michael’s coworkers for lunch one afternoon. The casual ‘Asian soul food’ restaurant struck us with its bold style and amazing dishes. My paratha and Michael’s bo bo ji were creative, flavorful, and fresh, and the cocktails we washed our meal down with left us with smiles on our faces as we walked the streets back down to our hotel.
Food Is Good. The restaurant says it in the name, and sticks to it with their cooking. While Charleston has no shortage of great restaurants, FIG was the one that seemed to always be first on the mind of every Charlestonian we spoke to. Their reputation was well-earned, as our meal here – a gracious gift from some close friends in Maine – was easily one of the best we had on our trip. Our friendly waitress pointed us in the right direction with every course selection, and between the drinks, handmade gnocchi (aptly described as pillows of heaven), and fresh local seafood, we left that evening in a flavorful stupor of smiles.
While Michael was in Charleston for work the week prior to our trip, he went to The Gin Joint with coworkers to fulfill their search for a proper southern mint julep. Michael enjoyed his drink (the Beauregard) that evening so much, that he was insistent that we return once I arrived. We enjoyed an evening of tasty drinks with family in the comfortable space on East Bay Street, and if you were wondering, Michael reports that their Julep is done right – bourbon, fresh mint, and plenty of crushed ice in a silver julep cup.
It was a great sign when we told the barista at Black Tap that we were from Maine, and he immediately asked us if we were familiar with Tandem Coffee Roasters. Unbeknownst to him, we had left our hotel that morning in search of the “Tandem of Charleston,” and we’re pretty sure we found the closest thing to them in Black Tap. The space was beautiful and lively, and although they don’t roast their own, the coffee was delicious. If we were lucky enough to live in Charleston, this spot would be in our regular rotation.
Our time at the Old Road Mercantile and its sister shop, Lily, couldn’t have been more pleasant. We spoke with the shop owner, Kevin, for quite awhile and probably could have kept the conversation up for another hour. (Charleston business owners might just be the friendliest of any city we’ve ever visited!) The shop’s tagline – The World’s Smallest Department Store – is an apt description of this awesome collection of goods. We both gravitated towards their selection of cocktail mixers (from Charleston’s own Bittermilk), and more than a few of the home goods caught my eye.
We passed goat.sheep.cow during one of our many walks south of Broad Street and admittedly decided to stop in simply because of their branding. It didn’t take us long to strike up a conversation with the sweet shop owners about cheese – something we love dearly, yet know little about. After we’d sampled a few of their favorite selections and heard about their go-to restaurants in town, we left with great big smiles on our faces and a package of the best comté we’ve ever had.
Husk is a restaurant that Michael and I have wanted to visit for years – ever since they started making headlines in just about every national publication for their creative new American take on classic Southern cuisine and their ultra-local menu (essentially nothing on the menu is from further than 2 states away). Michael was lucky enough to get to visit Husk twice during his stay in Charleston, once for dinner with coworkers and once for lunch with me (dinner reservations were hard to come by and our list of restaurants was far from short). While he had plenty of good things to say about his slow cooked heritage pork dinner, we couldn’t have been happier with our lunch. My wonderfully savory and creamy shrimp and grits made for one of my favorite dishes from the week.
A Charleston-based photographer whose work I’ve followed for years, Olivia Rae James, listed The Belmont as one of her favorite spots for a good drink in town, and after passing the Carolina blue building more than dozen times during our walks up and down King Street, we knew we had to give it a shot. We stopped in for drinks before dinner one evening, and weren’t disappointed in our choice. The bar has an unbelievably cool vibe, and the bartender masterfully whipped-up two drinks for our pre-meal pleasure.
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). With its spacious interior and timeless style, it’s no wonder that The Ordinary seems to be the place to eat in Charleston right now. Run by the same people as FIG, another Charleston icon, the food is not something to overlook. We loved our cocktails, oysters, shrimp hushpuppies, blue crab toast, and Wednesday evening lobster roll meal (eaten by the non-Mainer of course), and every few minutes, my eyes stumbled on some other unique detail to photograph. In a town full of tasty, stylish, and well-branded restaurants, The Ordinary has to be near the top of the list.
There were plenty of reasons for us to be excited about lunch at Two Boroughs, but after discovering that the owners incorporate their corgi, Walter, into their branding, we knew that this was the right restaurant for us. Michael’s Bowl-O-Noodle, served with pork conﬁt, a soft egg, and pork broth, sent him into a pleasant food coma, and thanks to a tasty kale salad with egg & boquerones, I discovered that I did, in fact, have an affinity for anchovies after all. Not only does Two Boroughs serve up deliciously flavorful food, they also feature a wall of carefully selected tableware, specialty food items, craft beers, and good wine available for purchase. And while you’re there, see if you can possibly resist picking up some of that adorable Walter paraphernalia – I know we couldn’t.
Believe it or not, by our fourth night in Charleston, we couldn’t bring ourselves to get excited about another filling, delicious meal. We had five or so restaurants we were considering for this final night of our trip, but after a sunset walk along the Battery we decided to grab a couple of tasty sandwiches from Ted’s and shared a picnic on the porch of our hotel. Made even more scrumptious by the rest of our cheese from goat.sheep.cow, this low-key dinner was the perfect ending to a food-filled few days, and one I honestly wouldn’t do over if I had the chance.
I ordered Michael a few bars of chocolate from the Charleston-based Sweeteeth for Valentine’s Day a couple of years ago. Picking up a few bars of chocolate on our trip was as high on my list of things to do as sampling the shrimp & grits at Husk. We ended up grabbing more than a few bars at Ted’s and have been nibbling on them since our return last week.
Meredith and I visited a bunch of restaurants during our stay in Charleston that would typically fall under the classification of “new American, Southern-inspired” – not the vegetable plates and fried chicken that your grandparents served up in the South, but rather new takes on older dishes and flavors. Don’t get me wrong, they’re delicious, but every now and then I just want a plate of fried chicken or catfish, shrimp and grits, and some collard greens with fatback. When that urge strikes, I’d highly recommend Hominy Grill, where tradition is strong, the food is delicious, and the biscuits come with honey :).
Of course we weren’t able to make it to every place on our list in the four short days we were in Charleston. Had Drayton Hall been open, we probably would have rented a car to visit the 18th century plantation, and while we were at it, we surely would have driven out to Sullivan’s Island for a walk on the beach. We were sad to miss out on the experience of drinking a glass of wine at Bin 152 or sharing a meal at The Grocery – both recommended to us by many of the friendly shop owners we met. Next time we’ll also be sure to grab some breakfast at Martha Lou’s and enjoy an Italian dinner at either Trattoria Lucca or Indaco. Can you think of anything else we might have missed?
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Most of the time, when travel plans go awry due to weather, and trips have to be extended, it can be a cause for headaches and stress, but when a winter storm threatened our return trip from Charleston to Boston, we could barely contain our excitement at having the opportunity to prolong our stay at Zero George Street, and quickly rescheduled our flight, even before the original had officially been canceled.
Simply put, staying at Zero George was an absolute delight. The property consists of a number of early 19th century buildings (two original to the land and two painstakingly relocated from the area), in the beautiful, historic, and conveniently-located Ansonborough neighborhood. It is the perfect mix of classic Southern charm, style, comfort, and convenience. The buildings are positioned to form a peaceful enclave around a central courtyard, and from the moment we first walked through the entrance gate, we knew that we’d made the right decision with our reservations. Our room was perfect for the two of us – just the place we couldn’t wait to return to between meals and meandering expeditions through the city – and the location is a quick stroll to the French Quarter, South of Broad, and Lower and Upper King neighborhoods. The staff was extremely friendly and accommodating, and the details of the inn gave Meredith plenty of photographic inspiration each day. Staying at the hotel was more than just the necessary lodging detail of our trip, it became a highlight, even serving as a evening porch picnic destination after countless Charleston dinners had finally taken their toll on us.
We count ourselves very fortunate to have been able to make Zero George part of our Charleston getaway, and can’t wait to one day return.
Contact Information - Zero George Street
Charleston, South Carolina 29401
If you’re at all a person who likes to spend hours walking the streets of a city you’re visiting, daydreaming about which house you’d choose to live in, then Charleston is, by far, the perfect destination for you. Michael and I did just that on our trip to there last week – exploring miles of the peninsula on foot – selecting no less than thirty-four charmingly historic homes we’d love to someday call our own.
Together we picked our favorite neighborhood (Ansonborough), our favorite street (Church Street), our favorite color palette (see the first image below), and, because we missed Orvis so much, we even chose our favorite neighborhood dogs (not pictured, as we feared that might be a tad bit weird).
The time we spent strolling through the streets of Charleston was easily the highlight of our trip. Don’t get me wrong, the shrimp & grits at Husk and dinner at FIG were just as amazing as I’d heard, but discovering a city through leisurely walks so enjoyable that you lose all sense of time (and almost miss your reservation for said shrimp & grits because of it) is a truly extraordinary experience. We fell in the love with this sweet southern city on these walks, just as we’ve fallen for the Charlottesville countryside during our drives through the Shenandoah Valley or the villages of Provence we strolled through the summer before last, and can’t wait for many future return trips.
We have lots more to share from our trip to Charleston this week, but I’m curious – are there other cities we should visit for this same type of dream-filled meandering? We’d love to hear your suggestions if you have them.
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We realized the other night that of our six winters in Maine, this one is almost certainly the coldest – not the snowiest, just the bone-chilling coldest. Brutally cold weather is no match for a less than well-insulated 18th century house like ours, so on days like today (with negative wind chill temperatures) we stay bundled up inside as well. With the help of hot tea (I swear I drink gallons this time of year), my favorite wool throw, and a stack of travel magazines, I’m able to keep warm while daydreaming about escaping on a sunny, tropical, winter getaway of my own. The last time Michael and I went on a vacation such as this was our trip to the island of Nevis (pictured above). What I wouldn’t give to be back in a lounge chair by that pool at Montpelier Plantation, fruity drink in hand!
Here are a few other sunny spots I’ve had my eye on recently that fit the bill for a warm week far away from frozen snow & polar vortexes.
The stunning clifftop villas & bungalows of Secret Bay on the island of Dominica first caught my eye in an issue of Travel + Leisure, and I’ve seen them pop up a few times on Jetsetter since. The Secret Bay experience seems like something out of a dream to me!
The fourteen cabanas that make up the vineyard escape of Cuatrocuatros look like the perfect place from which to explore beautiful Baja California.
Set on a nature preserve in coastal Western Uruguay overlooking the Rio de la Plata, Hotel Casa Chic in Carmelo looks as though it’d be the perfect place to spend a relaxing week with my camera.
What other warm weather destinations should be on our radar? We’d love to hear about your favorite spots!Leave a comment
Seeing that we’ve shared a number of memorable meals over the past year, we decided to break up our favorites of 2013 with those we ate while traveling and those we ate at home in our own hometown of Portland, Maine. While it’s nearly impossible for us to select just one dish or dining experience per category, we managed to create the following list of the best food (and drinks!) from our travels we had in 2013. Hopefully the selections below will come in handy when planning your own upcoming culinary adventures!
Michael: It’s pretty hard to beat America’s oldest cocktail from a bar named after the drink, in its own hometown. Having a Sazerac at the the Sazerac Bar in the Roosevelt Hotel in New Orleans seemed to be about as authentic as one can get.
Meredith: Our friends Samantha & Graham surprised us by calling ahead and purchasing our drinks for my birthday at Lantern in Chapel Hill. The Junebug I ordered was not only a delicious Pimm’s cocktail, it was one of the more meaningful drinks I enjoyed all year long.
Michael: The Lousiana crab with heirloom rice at Coquette turned out to be one of my favorite dishes from our entire trip to New Orleans. Simple ingredients with powerful flavor put Coquette at the top of our dinner list for any return trip to the area.
Meredith: Eating heirloom salads during the height of summer is one of our favorite patio pastimes, but doing it with the style, creativity, and flavor that SoLo Farm & Table adds to the equation made me forget the comfort of our own backyard and savor every bite.
Michael: While planning this list, it surprised me how quickly the traditional assortment of nigiri and one tekka roll from Rockland’s Suzuki Sushi came to mind. We enjoyed a number of fantastic meals this year, but sushi from Suzuki was wonderfully fresh and perfectly prepared – opening my eyes to a while new level of sushi addiction.
Meredith: Not only was the raw yellowfin tuna on sticky rice with avocado and pickled jalapeno I had at Barndiva my favorite entrée of the year, it was easily the best dish I ate all year long. Quite a statement given the list of places we visited, but absolutely true!
Michael: This was a toss-up between two dishes from the same lake-side location. My apple cranberry pie and the sizable portion of Meredith’s almond and berry boo cake (that I commandeered for the betterment of Map & Menu) from Bresca and the Honey Bee were two of the tastier sweets from our non-Portland travels this year.
Meredith: We stopped by The Blue Pig twice in three days – once on our way into New York City and once on our way home to Maine. The creative homemade flavors of ice cream served inside this whimsical blue cottage were a memorable discovery for the two of us!
Michael: Eating pancakes and doughnuts like a local at Camden’s Boynton-McKay harks back to a small-town simpler time that anyone in their right mind could easily get used to.
Meredith: A meal at Peels has become somewhat of a regular thing for us when we’re in New York and I couldn’t be happier about this little unintentional tradition of ours. During our most recent trip I sampled the shrimp & grits for brunch – another delicious dish at the southern-inspired favorite.
Michael: Durham sure has changed in the 5 years since we graduated from school in the area, and nowhere is that more evident than Mateo Tapas downtown. I can’t imagine that you could go wrong with any item on the menu, but a lunch of tapas including the huevo diablo spanish deviled egg was a pretty excellent meal.
Meredith: I liken our lunch experience at Barndiva to our meal at Le Jardin du Quai in Provence – there’s something so luxurious about enjoying a leisurely lunch outdoors while traveling.
Michael & Meredith: Meredith seemingly fell in love with the town of Healdsburg as soon as we drove into it, but my feelings weren’t a lock until after a tasty lunch at Shed followed by an awesome cupcake (or two) and some macarons from Moustache Baked Goods.
Off the Beaten Path
Michael: When Meredith suggested a walk along the Mississippi to breakfast, I don’t think either of us had the 2.5 mile trek in the hot New Orleans sun that it took to get to Elizabeth’s in mind. That being said, our breakfast was well-earned and delicious, and the food and quirky decor of Elizabeth’s is more than worth the visit – just take our advice and grab a cab.
Meredith: Driving in and out of Clifton, we kept passing by a darling ivy-clad little market at an intersection in the country. It immediately piqued our interest, and it wasn’t long before we stopped into the well-branded Salt Artisan Market to see what this market was all about. They had literally just opened the doors for business and we had the chance to talk to one of the owners quite a bit about her plans for the market’s future. Salt is a perfect place to grab a sandwich or salad to go, or pick up a cheese plate for a picnic on one of the many hiking trails.
Michael: On our final evening in Sonoma, Meredith and I grabbed a tasty pizza to-go from Oakville Grocery in Healdsburg and then headed to the overlook at Lake Sonoma for a picnic. Although it was a little windier than we anticipated (almost knocking us over a few times), the laughter-filled meal, gorgeous sunset, great pizza, and delicious wine easily made this my favorite meal of the year.
Meredith: Shed was so much more than a delicious lunch in an inspired setting – the people who work there seemed to genuinely love both what they do and the food they serve. I was impressed with everyone we came into contact with while there, and of course browsing the beautiful collection of specialty food items and kitchen wares after a tasty meal only added to the Shed experience.
Michael: Eating outside at Barndiva seemed like the perfect blend of California and a garden in Southern France. From a small café table under the arbor, we enjoyed a delicious meal in the perfect California climate.
Meredith: I fully expected to love everything about The Butcher’s Daughter before we even walked through the door, after seeing the branding of the juice bar & cafe all over Pinterest was what first put The Butcher’s Daughter on my radar. What’s not to love about a bright white interior accented by punchy colors and eclectic furnishings?
Michael & Meredith: Driving almost an hour away from our hotel was an easy decision to make when the destination was South Londonderry’s SoLo Farm & Table. Pretty much the sole impetus for our entire overnight trip to Vermont, each course of our meal left a large smile on our faces. Fresh, local, seasonal, and prepared just-right, I think we’d both make the trip again in a heartbeat.
We’d love to hear some of your stand-out dishes or dining experiences from 2013 in the comments below. In the past, your suggestions have certainly steered us in the right direction while planning our own trips.
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I’ve been looking forward to sharing our Best of 2013 posts since we published the previous year’s last January! Here’s a glimpse as to what helped make 2013 such a memorable year of travel for the two of us. Thank you all for following along with these adventures of ours. We hope they come in handy when planning your own future trips.
Michael: I think that both Meredith and I would agree that Provincetown’s Salt House Inn was one of our favorite surprises of this past year. Every detail of the inn seemed to be carefully thought out, and there was hardly an inch of the property that didn’t adhere to it’s creative, yet minimal, cottage aesthetic.
Meredith: While I find myself increasingly drawn to modern design (see bathroom pick below), the classic country feel of the Bedford Post Inn with touches like its clawfoot tubs, exposed beams, vine-covered pergolas, & flagstone walls embodies nearly every aspect of my dream home.
Michael: The soaking clawfoot, room-sized walk-in shower, and heated marble floors at the Bedford Post Inn top my list. It’s no coincidence that Meredith is now coveting many of the same features for our own bathroom down the road.
Meredith: Maybe it’s because we live in such an old home, but I’m always fond of staying in hotels with super modern, minimal bathrooms – it feels so luxurious to me. The bathroom at h2hotel in Healdsburg fit the bill perfectly with clean lines, wooden accents, and subtle colors.
Michael & Meredith: More often than not, I forgo packing away the leftover toiletries from our travels, but there was hardly a second thought to scrounging up every last item of the Malin Goetz rum products at the Mondrian Soho in New York.
Michael & Meredith: Hands-down, our experience with Orvis at the Clifton Inn in Charlottesville was one of the highlights of our travels this year. After a long drive down from Maine, Orvis couldn’t wait to stretch his legs on the property’s wooded trails and take a quick dip in the lake. The staff seemed to genuinely love his presence, and staying in one of the cottages on the property dissuaded any fears of Orvis disrupting other guests (or possibly the other way around). The town of Charlottesville and its surrounding area was also pleasantly dog-friendly, with plenty to do for our entire family.
Michael: A colonial estate, set on 100 acres in the Blue Ridge Mountains, during a springtime visit to Charlottesville made the Clifton Inn one of the more enjoyable settings from our travels this year.
Meredith: The expansive coastal views from the Ocean House are pretty tough to beat – even during a cold New England winter, the beach was stunningly beautiful.
Michael: I almost couldn’t believe it when Kevin, the innkeeper at the Salt House Inn, told us that the breakfast included in our stay was of his own creation. The spread could’ve easily rivaled any of the breakfast or brunch restaurants we visited this year, and items like the zucchini, tomato, basil, goat cheese, and onion frittata, the strawberry vanilla waffle trifle, or the bourbon caramel-glazed pineapple upside down cake almost singlehandedly convinced us to stay another night.
Meredith: Regrettably, there are times we drive right past the exit for Hotel Fauchère en route to North Carolina, but we’ve never once driven through Milford, Pennsylvania without daydreaming about the breakfasts at Hotel Fauchère. I emailed Michael a photo of the homemade yogurt when Orvis and I stayed there in May while he was in Italy, and believe it or not, he was the one.
Michael & Meredith: Although not the primary restaurant of the Ocean House, our back-to-back meals in the property’s cozy Winter Garden were two of our favorite meals of the year – hotel or no hotel. While all of our dishes were fantastic, the pièce de résistance was somewhat surprisingly the Caesar salad, a menu item that we’d typically overlook, but enjoyed so much that we’ve ordered more than our fair share since returning to Maine in hopes of finding one only half as delicious.
Michael: We enjoyed the art at the Ocean House so much that we saw fit to git it its own post. Although it’s probably not a typical ‘amenity’, exploring each floor and the gallery downstairs was a delightful way to pass the time when the weather outside wouldn’t cooperate.
Meredith: Hotel bikes are some of the most fun perks of any hotel, and I particularly enjoyed exploring the town on two wheels with the bicycles from our hotels in Healdsburg.
Interaction with Hotel Staff
Michael: The staff at the Clifton Inn was delightfully welcoming and helpful. When we found ourselves looking for suggestions of different places to eat and things to do in town, they spent a considerable amount of time walking us through their own favorites. And as I mentioned above, they seemed to really take to Orvis (a lot easier said than done when you’re worried about what a 90lb. dog could do to your guestroom), and obviously one of the best ways to get on our good side is through our furry friend.
Meredith: From the time we arrived, through the correspondence we’ve shared with them after our visit, the innkeepers at the Salt House Inn were absolutely wonderful. One of my favorite memories from our short trip to Provincetown was when we ran into Kevin, one of the innkeepers, at the Canteen (his recommendation) while we were eating dinner. Another guest from the inn stopped by to chat with us as well – a true testament to Kevin’s infectiously warm & friendly personality (and great taste in food)!
Michael: Our entire trip to Sonoma was one of the more memorable adventures we’ve taken together, and the two hotels where we stayed (from the same family), h2hotel and Hotel Healdsburg, greatly added to that experience. Set in downtown Healdsburg, they were the perfect jumping off points as we explored the town and the rest of wine country, and splendidly comfortable places to rest our weary wine-filled heads at night. The contrasting style and elegance that both properties offered were a delight, and I don’t know that any other hotels quite accented our travels from the year in the way that these two did.
Meredith: Every single aspect of our (all too short) stay at the Salt House Inn was truly fantastic. We found ourselves constantly impressed by Kevin & David’s attention to detail, which both minor and major, were certainly what made the inn stand out in my mind months after our summer visit.
Daydreaming about a future trip yet? Check out our 2012 Best of Hotels post for more travel inspiration, and if you’re planning a trip to Maine, don’t forget to take a peek at 10 of our favorite inns published in the Guardian this fall.
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Since our travel plans for Thanksgiving were cancelled due to the weather, Meredith and I found ourselves with an unexpected free weekend and thus, an opportunity for another Map & Menu day trip! So when the people at the Tamworth Lyceum reached out to us about visiting their shop, we did a little research about the store and the area, and felt that it would be the perfect fit for a Saturday drive. It’s rare that Meredith and I take a trip, however short, that doesn’t revolve around food in some way, but the opportunity to visit the Swift River with Orvis and get some holiday shopping done at the same time felt like the perfect way to spend the day.
The Tamworth Lyceum isn’t exactly what you’d expect to find in a small rural New England town like Tamworth. Its branding, aesthetic, and highly curated selection of foods and wares seem fit for a shop in Brooklyn, but after watching numerous people come filtering in to grab a coffee, running into friends, and staying to chat for awhile, you realize that it’s less about the products they carry and more about the community space they’ve created. Don’t get us wrong, the selection of American-made home goods, outdoor gear, and specialty foods (many sourced locally) are more than worth the trip (as evidenced by the bags in our living room), it’s just that you could fit right in with nothing more than a cup of coffee and some time to kill.
Hemenway State Forest
The folks at the Lyceum recommended that we take Orvis to the fire tower on Great Hill for a short hike with an awesome vista reward. We didn’t realize it at the time, but the trail to the fire tower and the Big Pine Natural Area that we had already planned to visit are simply two halves of the same park – Hemenway State Forest. If you just want to visit the fire tower and take in its breathtaking panoramic views of the region (the tower itself is open to the public), park on the west side of the forest at the intersection of Great Hill and Hemenway Roads, and make the short trip up the backroad to the tower. Although the views from the tower are hard to beat, the grandeur and power of the Swift River and gigantic white pines on the other side of the park offer another spectacular setting. It’s hard to believe that both are just minutes apart, and even in winter, both delivered amazing natural beauty and have us wanting to return again once the weather gets warmer.
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