Meredith and I are trying to get out and make a few more day trips to explore the many towns of New England that are within a few hours distance from Portland. So many times when we head south, we either stop in Portsmouth or Boston, but just between the two is Newburyport, MA, an awesome, historic colonial town set on the Merrimack River. Last weekend, we took Orvis along for a drive and tried to explore as much of the area as the day would allow. There was plenty of fun to be had for such a short drive, and the following are what we consider to be the highlights of Newburyport.
Just outside of Newburyport is this sprawling park on the site of an old local estate. There are miles of trails and carriage roads to hike, including the estate gardens, foundations of the razed homes, and views of the Merrimack River. Orvis loved playing fetch well off the path, and we could’ve easily spent the entire day exploring the different areas of the park, but our bellies were letting us know that there was lunch to be had!
Recently awarded Boston Magazine’s best new restaurant north of town, Brine is a delicious oyster and crudo bar (New England’s first) in downtown Newburyport. Brine’s cozy atmosphere and minimal branding make for a pretty cool setting. Some of the highlights of our meal were the tuna crudo with carrot, pistachio, burnt scallion, and mint, my oyster po boy, and of course, a few of the local Massachusetts oysters. Check out the Wine and Brine, where for $40/person you’ll be treated to a four course dinner and a bottle of wine.
Had we not just received the latest shipment of wine from our trip to Sonoma, we could’ve easily walked out of Grand Trunk Imports with a number of bottles of wine and delicious cheeses from their impressive selection.
Meredith had read about the hand pies from Buttermilk Baking Company in Boston Magazine, so when we passed by the bakery while walking around downtown, we couldn’t help but stop in for a mid-afternoon treat. The hand pies are indeed tasty, but I’m a particular sucker for cinnamon buns, of which they make a mean one.
For Meredith, it wouldn’t be much of a roadtrip without a little bit of antiquing. Oldies Marketplace has a huge selection of antiques and collectibles, but unfortunately I couldn’t convince Mere to bring the life-size statue of a bull home with us.
After we’d finished our walk around Newburyport, we drove further down the Merrimack River to Plum Island. The drive along the marshes of the river, and crossing onto the island reminded us of the beaches back down south. Although we didn’t have time to make it to the Parker River National Wildlife Refuge on the southern part of the island, Orvis had plenty of fun chasing his ball down the beach and splashing through the water. If the sheer amount of sand in my backseat was any sign, this was possibly Orvis’s favorite part of our trip.
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A few weeks ago, we took advantage of a wedding Meredith was shooting in New Orleans, and were able to tack on a couple of extra days to explore a city that neither of us had previously visited. The town of New Orleans is filled with an unbelievable amount of character, history, good drinks, and amazing food. We logged many miles exploring the neighborhoods, parks, and even a cemetery of the French Quarter, Uptown, and Garden District, and came away from our short trip with an even longer list of things to do and places to try on a return visit.
When we first arrived in town, we’d barely set our bags down before we were hopping back into a cab and heading over to Butcher for the perfect post-flight amazing bite to eat. Butcher is an aptly named butcher and sandwich shop, attached to the James Beard winning Cochon restaurant. Serving up a tasty selection of sandwiches and small bites, our pimiento cheese sliders, cucumber salad, and pork belly sandwich were just the kind of quick and delicious introduction we needed to the New Orleans food scene before we walked back to the hotel to crash from a long day of travel.
In her list of NOLA recommendations, our friend Helen, who went to college at Tulane, wrote that Camellia Grill was the “best breakfast in New Orleans”, and after eating there (twice!) we just might have to agree. Getting out to their original Uptown location proved to be a bit of a trek since the streetcar tracks were being worked on, dumping us somewhat abruptly in the middle of a taxi-free neighborhood; but the gorgeous homes and parks along oak-lined St. Charles Ave. made for a decent setting to be stranded in, and we were eventually able to score a cab for the remainder of the trip. After arriving at Camellia Grill, we settled up to the wall-to-wall counter between locals and tourists alike, and received a quick fist-bump “Hello!” from our waiter Marvin, making us feel like we were regulars in our neighborhood diner back home. Our awesome breakfast of a stuffed veggie omelette and pancakes set us up for a day of exploring, and when we needed a late-night meal back in the french quarter, the flat-top grilled burger, basket of fries, and large chocolate freeze at their second location on Chartres St. hit the spot.
Meredith read about the Uptown Hattie Sparks boutique on one of her blogs and insisted we stop by after our breakfast at Camellia Grill. After browsing the shop’s delightful selection, we had a chance to speak with the super sweet owner, Hattie Moll, who gave us a few other great NOLA recommendations, including our next stop – Loomed. Meredith found a number of cute items in the shop, and we ended up falling for one of our favorite paintings yet - a colorful, whimsical portrayal of a donkey by Tissa Osbourne, that arrived back in Maine shortly after we did, and brings a smile to our faces whenever we pass by it.
After seeing a few of their beautiful Turkish towels at Hattie Sparks, Meredith quickly rerouted our return trip to include a stop at Loomed NOLA on Prytania St. The selection and variation of gorgeous handwoven Turkish textiles, in seemingly every texture, pattern, and color was complete eye candy for the both of us and immediately had Meredith wondering how we could incorporate them into our home (these plans are still actively in the making). Meredith was delighted to pick up a new scarf before we left, and we just wouldn’t feel right without mentioning the smile that the shop dog, Alice T., brought to our faces.
Our only disappointment at this Garden District bistro was that we hadn’t timed our meals well and weren’t more hungry when we sat down for a small lunch at the bar, because after we finished up the two delicious small plates we shared (an unbelievable combination of fried gulf shrimp and Louisiana crab meat with heirloom rice), we were kicking ourselves wishing we’d saved Coquette for dinner that evening. On our next trip to New Orleans, Coquette will be near the very top of our dinner plans.
The new, seafood-centric sister establishment to the often-heralded Cochon, dinner at Pêche proved to be an excellent meal. Prepared over hardwood coals, Meredith’s baked drum with ginger, tomato, and crispy rice, and my smothered catfish and white beans and bacon were wonderfully fresh and simply, yet perfectly prepared. We spent the meal laughing and smiling, and after finishing it with the flourless madagascar chocolate cake, walked back through the Warehouse neighborhood (one of our favorites from the trip) to our hotel.
Keeping up our tradition of long breakfast treks, we decided to take a walk along the Mississippi en route to our meal at Elizabeth’s, only to have the stroll devolve into a 2.5 mile trudge in the hot New Orleans sun. You’ll have to take our word for it that the breakfast that followed was worth every step, so much so that after a scrumptious feast of bananas foster stuffed french toast and shrimp & grits, we opted to walk the entire way back (using a shaded route) to burn off a few of those calories.
In a city that welcomes almost 10 million visitors a year, we oddly enough bumped into Meredith’s aunt from North Carolina while waiting for a table for breakfast at Stanley off of Jackson Square. The odds are pretty outrageous, but we enjoyed an excellent meal catching up with family. Our meal of banana & walnut pancakes, which were topped with a scoop of vanilla ice cream(!), and the Stanley Classic (eggs, bacon, breakfast potatoes, and toast) was a great way to start the morning.
Although we came to New Orleans with a list of must-visit bars, our trip started to fly by too quickly, and before we knew it, we were scrambling to make sure we knocked at least one of them off the list. A sazerac from the Sazerac Bar in the Roosevelt Hotel across the street seemed like the perfect cocktail to try. The Sazerac Bar harks back to a different era with its elegant floor to ceiling wooden accents and murals, and bartenders wearing traditional white coats, and although they’re known for a number of drinks, the timeless sazerac they served up (by some accounts, the first American cocktail) was a delicious sampling of the non-slushy drink side of New Orleans.
It took me all the way until midnight on our last night to finally grab a plate of beignets and a cup of coffee from Café Du Monde, but that’s the beauty of a restaurant that never closes in a town that doesn’t seem to sleep. The cafe does two things, coffee and beignets, and boy do they do them well. I’m sure that any late night I face from here on out will be accompanied with a craving for those pillows of fried dough, beneath a mountain of powdered sugar.
There never seems to be enough time on our trips to cover all of the places we hope to, but with New Orleans, this held especially true. A number of friends and readers recommended an impressive list of places to try, and there just simply wasn’t enough time in the day, so for posterity’s sake, we’ll mention a few of the things that are high on our list for a return trip: drinks at Cure and the Carousel bar, and meals at Cochon, Mimi’s, and Bayona.
It’s hard to believe how quickly our time in Sonoma County blew by. We’d been planning the trip, reading about the restaurants, and dreaming about the wines for months, and then in a wonderful blink of an eye, we were back home in Portland. The wine was of course amazing, greatly aided by the winery employees that helped us understand what made each wine its own, and the food was delicious, leaving us with an even longer list of places to try on future trips than the one with which we started, but the natural beauty of the region, specifically the drives along winding vineyard-lined roads, the gorgeous views of Lake Sonoma, and the awe-inspiring time we spent at Sonoma Coast State Park were what really put the trip over the top for both of us.
A recent bride of Meredith’s who spent her honeymoon in Sonoma suggested we visit Shed and it just so happened to be our very first stop in Healdsburg. We ate a delicious lunch on the patio (a pizza for me and avocado & salmon toast for Meredith) before we explored the shop’s impressive (and beautiful) selection of speciality foods and kitchen supplies. Meredith was beside herself with excitement and insisted we stop in again on our last full day in town.
When Meredith asked the girl behind the counter at Moustache if she should be embarrassed buying a few macrons for herself, the girl replied “not at all – only if you ordered a few of the cupcakes for yourself”… so I did just that, and tried a few different flavors of the delicious (and well decorated) cupcakes on the spot.
It’s hard to think of a better place to kick off our Sonoma wine tour than the in-town tasting room of Banshee Wines. The branding caught Meredith’s eye while planning the trip, but the convenience of being able to walk there from our hotel and the casual, stylish, laid-back atmosphere once we arrived is what kept us there for a few hours. Far from wine experts, we were nervous about our first California tasting, but our tasting specialist, Zack, was extremely easy to talk to and incredibly helpful walking us through the basics. Of the wines we tried, we loved the Sonoma County Pinot Noir, the single vintage Marine Layer Pinot Noir, and the Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon, all of which were just delivered to our door in Maine this week!
With an appreciation for all things minimal & modern, we found our room at h2hotel to be absolutely perfect. We loved the bright, crisp interior and the warm wooden accents, not to mention the Heath Ceramics tile in the bathroom. We had a fantastic dinner at Spoonbar, the hotel’s restaurant & bar, where breakfast is also served each morning. With details like Eames-inspired bar stools and bicycles for the guests, it was hard to say goodbye when it came time to checkout.
After a long day of driving and exploring the area, we were delighted to be able to walk downstairs to Spoonbar and not feel like we were just settling for the ease of another hotel restaurant. In a similar fashion to the rest of the h2hotel, the space was really well decorated, and we were fortunate to sit at a slightly removed table for two beside the spoon ‘waterfall’ near the entrance. Our meal was delicious and we found ourselves constantly fighting the urge over the next few days to order extra servings of the smashed and crispy marbled potatoes with salsa verde through room service.
On our first full morning, we left Healdsburg early and made our way to the coast, watching the sun come up over the Russian River. We made it to the Goat Rock Beach portion of the park just as the morning fog was heading out to sea, and amazed by the sweeping views and pristine beauty, couldn’t help but pull over at one of the first trailheads. The view was amazing – dramatic cliffs over the pacific, rock formations jutting from the fields, deer waking up from their sleep – all in a massively expansive panorama in front of us. ‘Our’ section of the park was completely empty and we didn’t see another human in all the time we spent exploring the trails around the Sunset Boulders. It was a hike where we were both so in the moment that there were long periods of time where we didn’t say a word, but just smiled and took it all in.
Searching for some lighter fare, we grabbed sandwiches from the deli at Oakville Grocery one afternoon and enjoyed them beside the pool at our hotel. Reminding us of some of our favorite sandwich shop/markets back in Portland, we loved perusing their wine and cheese selections, and enjoyed our sandwiches so much that we returned on our final evening for sunset picnic fare.
We first read about Scribe from A Continuous Lean, and when we left for California, it was the only reservation, restaurant or winery, that we’d made for certain. Set on a hillside overlooking the vineyard, our tasting ‘room’ consisted of a table under a shady oak tree, with one on one attention from a very friendly winery specialist, Trey. We had an excellent time talking with Trey about the history of the land, the adventurousness and passion of the knowledgeable vineyard owners, and of course, the oh so delicious wine. It was almost impossible to pick a favorite from the amazing wines we tried that afternoon, so we did the right thing and signed up for the Scribe Viticultural Society to receive new bottles every quarter. Meredith hasn’t been ashamed to admit that the SVS pickup parties are just another reason that we’ll be needing to return to the vineyard in the future.
On our way down to Scribe we passed right by El Molino and both immediately started craving Mexican food. Since we had reservations elsewhere that evening, we were hesitant to confess our cravings to each other, but we made it only a few more blocks down the road before we’d come clean and changed our plans. The extremely casual atmosphere was a welcome change of pace and we enjoyed an excellent meal outside under the sun.
Where we were instantly taken with h2′s bright, minimal guest rooms, we were just as drawn to the beautiful, lush grounds of Hotel Healdsburg. The entire property exuded such a lovely, soothing feeling that I didn’t want our time there to end. Meredith marveled at the soft mid-afternoon light by the pool, shaded overhead by olive trees nonetheless, and could have spent hours out there reading on the chaises. Our room at Hotel Healdsburg was quite spacious, yet cozy & comforting at the same time. A tasty breakfast the next morning by the hotel’s fireplace certainly cheered us up on what was our last morning in Healdsburg.
Recommended to us by a couple of different friends and recently featured in Food & Wine, Copain rounded out our winery experience with its breathtaking view and more formal tasting setting. In preparation for the trip, we’d picked up a bottle locally of the winery’s 2010 Tous Ensemble Pinot Noir, but our preferred wine from the tasting was the 2011 Tous Ensemble Chardonnay, aged entirely in steel. A highlight of our morning at Copain was most definitely our chat with the tasting lead, Phil, who gave us some great recommendations for restaurants to visit in San Francisco and others on Nantucket where he lived for 25 years.
Another recommendation from Meredith’s bride, who after our meal at Barndiva, we felt like hugging for giving us such amazing suggestions for our trip. Our lunch at Barndiva was a meal we’ll likely never forget. Rivaling our experience at Le Jardin du Quai, one of our all-time favorites in Provence, lunch at Barndiva was nothing short of extraordinary. The outdoor garden setting was the perfect place to take in the beautiful California weather. We shared the heirloom tomato salad with watermelon, avocado & mozzarella, Meredith had the raw yellowfin tuna on sticky rice with avocado and pickled jalapeno, I had the crispy duck leg with a panzanella salad, and we split the peach panna cotta for dessert – all of which were wonderfully well prepared and left us craving a return trip.
Although the deck at the Lake Sonoma overlook was quite possibly one of the windiest locations we’ve ever visited, we still managed to bundle up under a JetBlue blanket with a bottle of Copain’s French Laundry Pinot and a takeout pizza from Oakville Grocery (quite a scene), and enjoyed one of the most gorgeous, laughter-filled sunset picnics ever. With the lake directly below you and surrounded by mountains in every direction, the view would be captivating no matter the time of day, just make sure to take a jacket.
When we told our friends, Rachel & John, about our upcoming trip to Healdsburg, their eyes grew wide with excitement as they insisted we look into making a reservation h2hotel, one of the hotels where they stayed during their honeymoon in wine country. We came home from our lunch with them, eager to book our stay after hearing such an enthusiastic review, but found out that h2 was only available two of the three nights we were going to be in Sonoma. We went ahead and booked those first two nights and I then proceeded to research other hotels throughout Sonoma County for our final night in the area. While most of my research was pointed in other towns of Sonoma County, I kept coming back to Hotel Healdsburg, h2′s sister hotel located just down the street. In the end we decided it’d be rather fun to get a feel for both properties, comparing what seemed to be two vastly different hotel experiences.
As soon as we dropped our bags in our room at h2 and had a look around, we understood exactly what Rachel & John were talking about – the hotel really was everything they’d said it would be. With an appreciation for all things minimal & modern, Michael and I found the room to be absolutely perfect. We loved the bright, crisp interior and the warm wooden accents, not to mention the Heath Ceramics tile in the bathroom. We had a fantastic dinner at Spoonbar, the hotel’s restaurant & bar, where breakfast is also served each morning. (Thanks to the brightly colored Eames-inspired bar stools, I was one happy photographer as I snapped the photos below.) On our last morning at h2 we took the hotel bikes out for a spin in a nearby residential neighborhood and, big surprise, picked out no less than 10 homes where we could imagine ourselves living. When the time came for us to check out of h2, I wasn’t in the least bit sad because I’m absolutely positive we’ll be back… hopefully again and again!
The benefit of staying at two hotels during one trip is you get to experience that initial thrill of excitement upon checking in a second time. Where we were instantly taken with h2′s bright, minimal guest rooms, we were just as drawn to the beautiful, lush grounds of Hotel Healdsburg. The entire property exuded such a lovely, soothing feeling that I didn’t want our time there to end. I marveled at the soft mid-afternoon light by the pool, shaded overhead by olive trees nonetheless, and could have spent hours out there reading on the chaises. Our room at Hotel Healdsburg was quite spacious, yet cozy & comforting at the same time. A tasty breakfast the next morning by the hotel’s fireplace certainly cheered us up on what was our last morning in Healdsburg. We bade farewell to the friendly staff who’d made our short visit so sweet and began plotting our return trip to Healdsburg on our ride down to the airport.
There’s no denying that Sonoma county is known for its wine, so much so that when we asked the front desk at our hotel for some hiking recommendations, they were somewhat vaguely given to us on a vineyard map made for tourists. Still, between tastings, Meredith and I made a point to schedule some time to see some of the natural beauty of California and to hike at the awe-inspiring Sonoma Coast State Park.
On our first full morning, we left Healdsburg early and made our way to the coast, watching the sun come up over the Russian River. We made it to the Goat Rock Beach portion of the park just as the morning fog was heading out to sea, and amazed by the sweeping views and pristine beauty, couldn’t help but pull over at one of the first trailheads. The view was amazing – dramatic cliffs over the pacific, rock formations jutting from the fields, deer waking up from their sleep – all in a massively expansive panorama in front of us. ‘Our’ section of the park was completely empty and we didn’t see another human in all the time we spent exploring the trails around the Sunset Boulders. It was a hike where we were both so in the moment that there were long periods of time where we didn’t say a word, but just just smiled and took it all in.
In my honest opinion, our trip to Sonoma would have been nowhere near as amazing as it was without this short morning away from the vineyards and eateries.
Jenner, California 95450
Meredith and I were very excited when The Guardian reached out to us to write a brief piece about ten of Maine’s best places to stay. Meredith practically had the list formulated before we finished reading the email. We aimed to give readers a wide selection of different Maine regions and think that we were able to come up with a pretty decent list.1 Comment
Meredith and I often post about summer “blowing by” or life feeling too rushed and busy, so in an attempt to slow things down a bit, disconnect for just over a day, and take advantage of some of the precious remaining summer, we recently took a somewhat impromptu overnight trip to southern Vermont. The trip was just what we were looking for, and in under 30 hours, we had the chance to visit some picturesque New England towns, try some unbelievable meals, cheeses, and desserts, and relax by the pool on a Vermont hillside – not too shabby!
L.A. Burdick Chocolates
While technically not Vermont, the town of Walpole is a quaint hamlet just over the border in New Hampshire. Meredith and I made the slight detour to sample the chocolates and cuisine (pretty much in that order) of L.A. Burdick, which clients of Meredith’s had introduced her to in Cambridge. Lunch was delicious – paired with Vermont cheeses and beers – and with a cooler full of chocolates we happily headed on our way, but not before we spent a few minutes walking around the town square and popping into the Artisan Cooperative.
Grafton, VT and Grafton Village Cheese Company
While on the topics of New Enlgand quintessential townery and Vermont cheeses, our next stop was in Grafton, VT. At some point in the past couple of years, Meredith and I started religiously purchasing the 2-year aged Grafton Village Cheese cheddar for afternoon wine hours and our favorite pimiento cheese recipe, and in large part due to our affinity for this cheese, we added Grafton to our list of stops (even though the cheddar is now produced just outside of Brattleboro). The town itself seems to be a Rockwellian throwback to a different era – whitewashed colonial homes, shops, and galleries hidden beneath large shade trees, and a creek running through the center of town complete with covered bridge. It took just a few minutes to walk around the downtown area and play in the stream, but given the time, Grafton could be a serious weekend relaxation stop. We have it on good intel that Grafton at christmas is practically a cuteness overload. If you can’t make it down to Brattleboro, definitely stop into the Grafton Village Cheese shop as we did and try your hand at some of the different varieties of cheddar they offer. I’ll be surprised if you leave without making a purchase.
Windham Hill Inn
The Windham Hill Inn was an ideal destination to disconnect and relax. Set far enough off the beaten path that cell phones aren’t even really an option, we were able to completely unwind in the warm afternoon sun by the pool overlooking the rolling Vermont hills. There were tennis courts that we were just too short of time to take advantage of, but the well-maintained, fern-clad hiking trails were a major enjoyment and the perfect way to start our morning before we returned home.
SoLo Farm & Table
Always save the very best for last. Food is easily one of our favorite means of relaxation, so in typical Map & Menu fashion, one of the biggest reasons we chose to visit southern Vermont for our getaway was to try a dinner at SoLo Farm & Table in South Londonderry. The exquisite food from SoLo is far from a secret, but it’s enough off the beaten path that you’ll almost have to make it a destination dinner. That being said, you’ve got to believe me when I tell you that I would easily double the hour-long roundtrip we made from our inn to the restaurant to enoy another meal from SoLo. Every part of our meal, from the heirloom tomato salad, to the salmon, to the roasted suckling pig was fresh, locally sourced, creative, and perfectly prepared. Everything down to the drinks – Meredith’s cocktail and my Heady-Topper imperial IPA – was just right, and I have to say that they’re something pleasantly surprising about a white-tablecloth establishment that doesn’t shy away from serving a delicious canned beer. We strongly recommend making reservations (ours landed us an awesome table in the enclosed porch), and a little pro-tip would be to purchase a bag of the Tout de Sweets Black and Tan caramels that come with your check – they almost didn’t make it the entire way home!
We unfortunately didn’t have the time to visit any vineyards during our spring trip to Charlottesville, but we made sure to grab a few bottles to enjoy post-trip.
It’s only taken a year, but Michael & I finally have the opportunity to take advantage of his pretty amazing work travel schedule. (This year, he’s already been to Hawaii and Italy, and will make it to Seattle, San Francisco, Santa Cruz, and London before 2013 is over!) In September we’re squeezing a trip to Sonoma in the week between his travels to Seattle & San Francisco! It will my first trip to Northern California and our very first wine country experience, and we’re clearly very excited about it. After finishing this book the other night, I stayed up way past my bedtime researching vineyards, and my dreams that night were filled with all kinds of wine-related adventures.
So far, we’re hoping to visit a number of these Sonoma wineries:
Ridge Vineyards – Recommended to me by the father of a recent bride (who lives in Northern California and visits Sonoma often) as his favorite! Ridge is also mentioned a few times in Eric Asimov’s book, How to Love Wine.
Copain Wines – Another recommendation from Rebecca (the bride from above who happens to be a Map & Menu reader!) who is spending her honeymoon in Sonoma this week!
Peay Vineyards – Mentioned in Asimov’s book, I love the private nature of the winery, which is only open to mailing list members who make purchases.
Arnot-Roberts – Another mention in How to Love Wine. I’m really not ashamed to admit that their branding is one of the main reasons this winery is on our list.
Are we missing any must-visit Sonoma wineries? Do you all have any tips for first time wine country goers? Do we have our sights set on too many? We’d absolutely love to hear about your past trips to Sonoma County or any vineyards you’re dying to visit someday.1 Comment
Last week, after we returned from Snug Harbor Farm in Kennebunk, Michael admitted that he had incorrectly thought I was being a little melodramatic when I came home raving about my first visit to the farm last spring. I think I recall touting it as “pretty much the most amazing place ever”, to which Michael smiled but took with a grain of salt. (If you’ve read this blog for more than a few posts, you know that I can get a little excited about some of the places we visit.) I must admit though, it was exceptionally nice to hear Michael show almost the same enthusiasm after he’d had a chance to experience the farm last week on our day trip down the coast.
Snug Harbor Farm is far from your average nursery. Perhaps it’s the rows upon rows of beautiful topiaries, or the seemingly endless supply of the most gorgeous and unique succulent arrangements (a number of which can now be found around our house). Maybe it’s the delightful collection of home & garden goods in the shop, the wonderfully kept old farmhouse property, the gorgeous terra cotta pots (yes, even the pots are awesome), or even the adorable farm dogs that might just follow you around while you browse – believe me when I say that there is just something special about this farm.
Kennebunk, Maine 04043
Michael and I had the opportunity to visit New York recently to attend Alt Summit, and were fortunate to spend our time almost exclusively in lower Manhattan – in some of the neighborhoods we’d flirted with and loved on past visits. Here are a few of our favorites from this most recent trip.
After reading this glowing review of the Mondrian SoHo on the Elements of Style blog, my mind was made up and we happily scored a pretty good deal via Jetsetter. We loved the crisp, bright, clean nature of our room & bathroom, and the chic details (like the arched ivy entrance pictured above) carried throughout the hotel. Had we known that we needed to make reservations at the rooftop bar, Soaked, I’m sure we would have raved about it as well!
We have a running list of restaurants in Manhattan to try, but Back Forty West was not one of them; we simply happened upon this SoHo restaurant while hungry, were drawn to the branding, and popped inside for a quick bite to eat. Our cocktails and order of spring mussels were one of the tastiest reminders that a little spontaneity is can be a welcome, relaxing change to all of the planning that goes on behind the scenes for Map & Menu.
Friends, Helen & Ken, live near and know the owners of this Lower East Side French-American restaurant, and have more than once raved about it to us. After spending an evening there ourselves, we’re now great fans too! My tuna tarar & red snapper, and Michael’s onion soup & wild boar were deliciously prepared, and the cozy atmosphere was the perfect setting to step away from the crazy hustle and bustle of New York.
For me (and I assume Michael too), no trip to New York is complete without a meal at Peels in the East Village! Our leisurely al fresco southern breakfast (shrimp & grits for me, biscuits & gravy for Michael) left us pleasantly stuffed, ready to tackle another day in the city.
The branding of The Butcher’s Daughter was what first put this cafe & juice bar on my radar (it definitely seems to be some sort of Pinterest/Tumblr sensation), but this post from The Fresh Exchange cemented our plans for a breakfast visit. Our Brazilian Blast & Brass Monkey smoothies were delicious & refreshing, but the highlight of the meal was spending time in the beautifully decorated space – a must see for pretty much anyone who takes the time to read Map & Menu!
I feel the same way about this darling Elizabeth Street shop as I do Peels – having discovered it on our last visit, I don’t think I’ll ever be able to visit Manhattan without a stop at Haus Interior. We had the most delightful chat with the manager, Meghan, who happened to recognize the name of our blog from our December trip and picked up a Cassandra Smith dipped monkey’s fist knot for our living room wall!
We were familiar with the Saturdays Surf brand from their collaboration with J.Crew, so we were happy to pop into the coffee/surf shop located just a block or two away from the Mondrian. I picked up a copy of Saturdays Magazine for the Eric Cahan feature and Michael grabbed a cup of their tasty coffee.
Michael enjoyed browsing the decoupage collection in John Derian’s East Village shop, while I loved seeing the work of Hugo Guinness in person. Had we been allowed to take photos in the shop, there would be plenty to share here!
Michael & I could have spent hours at the MoMA Design Store in SoHo. We browsed the massive collection of art books and tested out various Eames chairs (can’t hurt to dream!), but Michael ended up walking away with something from his pinterest wish list – the Obsessive Chef Cutting Board.
Meghan at Haus recommended stopping by here for coffee, so while I was away, Michael made sure to grab a cup from this awesomely-branded coffee shop.