As soon as our lovely friend, Li Ward, released the coffee table book she created with her business partner, Brittany Bang, I bought two copies – one for our own collection and one for a giveaway. If you haven’t already heard about it on blogs like Design*Sponge (!), the book, Rescue Pets of Boston, is beautifully executed and features the most charming photos of rescue animals throughout the city of Boston. Michael and I are longtime fans of Li’s vibrant pet imagery & whimsical calligraphy, so it’s especially exciting for us to own a copy of the book that combines our friend’s talents. Boston is a city near and dear to our hearts, which makes us even happier to share the book with Map & Menu readers. Plus, 100% of proceeds from the book will be donated to animal-related charities – incredible, right?
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Last weekend, we attended our first of the annual Obscure Holiday Cocktail Party with a number of other food bloggers and friends in town. We had a fantastic time sampling six deliciously creative cocktails, getting to know some of our fellow Portland bloggers, and celebrating the season. Meredith and I created a “Holiday Julep” that we hope to be sharing with you in the next couple of days.
Saturday, we kicked the day off with a Small Axe and Tandem breakfast, and then a little bit of shopping around town. We dropped in to see the well designed and selected gifts at More & Co.‘s shop, followed by the Black Parrot holiday pop-up shop, where a handful of mid-coast vendors gathered to talk about their goods, brands, and inspiration. Meredith picked up a beautiful bag from Farrell & Co. and we found a few new colorful ornaments for our tree from Where Do You Go To (WDYGT). Afterwards, we grabbed our first White Hot Chocolate of the season from Bard and dropped in on our favorite ladies at 2 Note Perfumery for some general merrymaking.
In preparation for Sunday’s big snowstorm, we made our favorite loaded baked potato soup and spent Sunday inside, sipping on eggnog and watching movies. Although we didn’t leave the house on Sunday, we had plenty of fun playing with Orvis in the yard, and are looking forward to some snowshoeing at some point this week!
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We’re very excited to share our second Holiday Gift Guide, once again inspired by the places we’ve visited over the past year. Each of the shops featured has an online store, which we highly recommend perusing. Of course, don’t forget to take a look at last year’s guide as well – we’re still strong supporters of those fantastic merchants.
I’m in love with the Bywater Stripe scarf I picked up at their New Orleans shop and I’d be hard pressed to find someone on my list who wouldn’t love a bright, cheerful Peskir. Michael thought the texture and color of the Weaver’s Delight fabric would make a great blanket or throw. Each of the organic, handwoven pieces is gorgeous and unique, and will undoubtedly last for years.
I’d be content to receive anything from this darling boutique. (Ahem, Michael.) I loved the Margaret Elizabeth earrings I bought on our trip so much, I came home and ordered another color. And who wouldn’t love this Brass Elephant Ring Bowl?
A good bottle of wine is, in my opinion, one of the very best gifts one can give, and pretty much any bottle from Scribe would fit the bill nicely. We’d recommend one of their Pinot Noirs or the uniquely tasty Skin Fermented Chardonnay.
I’m really hoping Santa remembers to include a few (or a few dozen) of the Black and Tan Caramels in my stocking. It’s a big statement to make, but of all the sweets we picked up while traveling this year (and when you’re with me, that’s plenty) the creamy chocolate-dipped salted caramels from Tout de Sweets that we stumbled upon on our trip to Vermont were the very best.
Michael’s hoping to find one of the Tamworth Lyceum mugs under the tree this year from our delightful day trip to New Hampshire. He’s had his eye on similarly-styled mugs for a while (with the granite splatter), but with this mug, would have a story to share with his coffee. Although any item in their selection would be great, the Hella Slignshots and the Otter Messer knife stand out as unique items for the “backwoods gentleman” on your list.
The coffee at Tandem is about more than just a caffeine high (although it’s a big plus). Michael and I have begun to view a restaurant stocking Tandem as a sign of an establishment that knows how to pay attention to the details, and any bean from their selection is practically guaranteed to help you begin to really appreciate the flavors inside your morning cup of joe. A perfect stocking stuffer, no?
Chances are, if you’re reading this blog you would, like us, jump for joy at the thought of receiving any gift from Shed, the cafe & market in Healdsburg, CA that had me considering a cross country move mere minutes after walking through the doors. Bellocq Teas make for a lovely gift, but how awesome is the Mexican Olla De Barro for making frothy hot chocolate?
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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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Unfortunately, the weather last week foiled our plans to travel to North Carolina for Thanksgiving with our families, but with a few last minute adjustments and preparations, we were able to celebrate a wonderful holiday together, successfully filling out an unexpected weekend home.
Since we missed the chance to pre-order our usual Thanksgiving turkey from Whole Foods, Meredith and I read through some holiday issues of Food & Wine, Bon Appétit and Martha Stewart Living, and decided to try our hand at the New England Express punch, roasted acorn squash, carrots and greens with dilly bean vinaigrette, and rich and creamy mashed potatoes.We made our turkey from scratch, and after a brunch with good friends, we spent the day cooking, dancing, drinking, and eating – just the way every Thanksgiving should be spent! We even finished the day off with Meredith’s oh-so-delicious apple crisp, thanks to this recipe from Martha.
On Saturday, we took a day trip to New Hampshire (more to come), where we did some shopping and hiking with Orvis, and on Sunday we braved the rain to make a trip to our local Christmas tree farm to partake in one of my favorite new holiday traditions. After we dried our tree out, we decorated our home for the holidays, aided by some holiday tunes from James Taylor, Ella Fitzgerald, and Elvis Presley. Afterward, we cozied up on the couch under the tree and watched Meredith’s favorite holiday movie – Love Actually.
It’s crazy to think that last week our plans for the holiday and weekend were completely different than how they played out, but after a weekend of laughter, adventure, good food, and good company, it’s hard to imagine a better way to spend a few days away from work.
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Design*Sponge shared a roundup of their favorite winter city guides, including two of our favorite winter towns in the west, Aspen & Jackson Hole. While Burlington is on the list, we think Stowe would make a perfect addition. Read more about last year’s trip to Stowe with Orvis here.
In an attempt to inspire people to “celebrate the stuff [they] already own,” Patagonia has launched their Worn Wear campaign today, highlighting the quality of their clothing and the stories those clothes tell. If you have a chance over the holiday weekend, give the Worn Wear film a watch – it’s definitely worthwhile, especially on a weekend largely devoted to buying new things.
We think these bacon chocolate snacks from Jennifer Chong are pretty brilliant.
I was already planning on including these photos from Loch Creran, Scotland by Vanessa Jackman in today’s Weekend Reads, but seeing the black lab mid-way through the post sealed the deal. Seriously, how amazing does Scotland’s Argyll county look?
Another one of my favorite photographers, Jen Huang, recently shared the photographs she took from her honeymoon in Ireland. Breathtaking.
Happy Thanksgiving weekend, friends! We hope you’re still eating lots of delicious food and taking it easy with the people you love.Leave a comment
Last week, the first shipment (of hopefully many many more) from the Scribe Viticultural Society arrived. Scribe was one of our favorite wineries from our recent trip to Sonoma, and although we had other bottles shipped home, the Viticultural Society was the only ‘wine club’ we joined. We loved Scribe for its setting, its story, and of course, its wine, and since it’s impossible to find their wines anywhere near home, we jumped at the opportunity to have six of their pinots, cabernet sauvignons, chardonnays, and limited production bottlings shipped quarterly to our front door. Another perk of the Viticultural Society are the pick-up parties they throw, where members are invited to the winery to enjoy an evening of food, fun, and libation (check out this cool video from a past pick-up party). Meredith has been daydreaming about a return trip out to California for one of these parties, so I’m sure it’s only a matter of time before we share some more Scribe pictures.
Since the weather this week has canceled our travel plans for Thanksgiving, we’re looking forward to popping open our first Scribe bottle tomorrow. Surely it will be a hit.
We hope you have a wonderful holiday with plenty of good food and drink! If you have any suggestions for your own favorite Thanksgiving bottles, we’d love to hear them.
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Orvis & I were left to our own devices this weekend while Michael was in London for a work trip. Despite missing him a great deal, we managed to have quite a fun little weekend. It started off with a cozy Friday night dinner at Petite Jacqueline with my friend, Betsy, followed by a fantastic hike in Robinson Woods the next morning with our pal, Julia. I used Saturday afternoon to get a jump on my holiday shopping, purchasing gifts for family members from three of my favorite stores in the Old Port – Folly 101, 2 Note Perfumery, and Blanche & Mimi. Later that afternoon I put our eucalyptus branches to good work, sprucing up various parts of the house, including the mantel of our newly wallpapered fireplace.
Although I considered not running Sunday’s Turkey Trot when I woke up and saw that it was five degrees with the wind chill, I’m so glad I didn’t listen to myself – it was easily one of the chillier runs I’ve ever experienced, but nothing compares to the high of finishing any type of race. Plus, I used the run as an excuse to indulge in my new favorite winter lunch – tomato cognac soup from Aurora Provisions with bits of toasted bread and globs of pimiento cheese from Scratch Baking Co. So good.
We’re off to pick up Michael from the airport soon – have a wonderful week, friends!
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Back in August, Meredith and I posted about 10 of our favorite Portland plates. The post was pretty popular, with plenty of great feedback and future suggestions, and it immediately inspired us to begin thinking about our next Portland, Maine in 10 Bites post. Since a good brunch is by far my favorite meal, it seemed that a brunch post would be an easy decision, but it actually proved to be quite the opposite. In a city full of amazing brunches, we could only pick 10, so we set out to try some of the most well known dishes, revisit some of our old favorites, and find a few new ones to settle on our 10 top choices – tough work, we know. What we came up with is 10 great brunches to start any lazy Sunday in Portland or the first brunch dishes to try when you’re visiting town. These dishes are standards at each of the restaurants, and are almost always available. Since food trucks and bakeries hold a special place in our own food world, we decided to save those for a future post, so the following are meals to sit down and enjoy with friends.
Vignola Cinque Terre’s Poached Eggs
The first time we visited Vignola Cinque Terre for brunch, we simply wanted to spend a Sunday morning in the sunlit space. The next 4 or 5 times were to share the awesome food with friends! Vignola is the only place to have two dishes on the list, and for good reason. They serve some of the best poached eggs I’ve found in Portland (or anywhere else for that matter) – perfectly prepared with a savory assortment of accompanying items (ham, porky belly, tomato conserva, pesto, hollandaise, just to name a few). We’ll save the other reason for a little further down in the list.
Caiola’s Warm Lost Bread
Caiola’s was possibly one of the first brunches we had upon moving to Maine. Thanks to our friends Darcy and Carolyn, we’ve never had a brunch here that wasn’t accompanied with the warm lost bread. From our first Map & Menu visit to Caiola’s: “Simply, the Lost Bread is the Caiola’s version of pain perdu, or frech toast, but to belittle the delightfully soft chunk of bread, drizzled in butter and warm Maine maple syrup, and topped with a generous helping of fresh fruit, to a meal that anyone with a frying pan and some day-old bread can whip up is an insult that I cannot bear. Every bite will leave you wanting another, and when it’s finally gone from the plate, you’ll find yourself wondering just how silly you’d look licking your plate clean in front of the other patrons. Seriously, try it.”
Pai Men’s Okono Miyake
This savory Japanese egg pancake with plenty of Miyake flair is far from your typical butter and syrup flapjack. With farm pork, cabbage, scallions, ginger, fried egg, kewpie mayo, and tonkatsu sauce, you might feel a slight bit of hesitation before your first bite, but once you blink and your plate is clean you’ll wonder why you don’t see more pancake variations on menus around town.
Gather’s Homemade Veggie Hash
A meal that Meredith has been craving since she last tried it months ago, the Homemade Veggie Hash at Gather is one of those dishes that leaves you (very) happily satisfied without the typical guilt that accompanies such a delicious meal. So much so, that we cheated a little and expanded our brunch map radius to Yarmouth to include it on our list.
Silly’s Egganator Scramble
This dish could dominate even the most hearty of brunch goers. An overflowing plateful of eggs mixed with tasty applewood smoked pork, cheddar cheese, tomato, jalapeños, scallions, and barbecue sauce will have you rolling out the door with a gigantic silly smile on your face. Hint: the sweet potato upgrade is totally worth it.
Blue Spoon’s Yogurt with sliced fruit
I’m a huge proponent of the heavy, extra-savory or super-sweet brunch dishes. Paired with a few cups of coffee, they’re hard to beat, but every now and then, I don’t want to put my stretchy pants on and I like to switch it up with something healthy, light, and flavorful. There are plenty of tasty brunch items on the menu at Blue Spoon (if the fiery eggs were more standard, they would’ve easily made the list), but the yogurt with fresh, seasonal sliced fruit is pretty hard to beat in terms of making you smile and leaving you guilt-free.
Vignola Cinque Terre’s Cinnamon Brioche Stuffed French Toast
Countering the savory side of Vignola’s brunch menu is the sweet, dessert-like cinnamon stuffed french toast. Meredith was fortunate enough to have it with filled with apples, but since then we’ve seen friends order a strawberry-filled version too. No matter what fruit this decadent treat is stuffed with, the results are the same – one blissfully stuffed patron with a great big smile on their face, undoubtedly wondering how they got away with eating such a guilt-inducingly sweet treat for breakfast.
Petite Jacqueline’s Croque Madame
Ham, cheese, and a fried egg would equate to winning in just about any book, but Petite Jacqueline’s Croque Madame easily crushes any ham and cheese you or I would make in the skillet at home with thick buttery toast, melted gruyere, and a savory mornay sauce. One bite and I’m instantly transported back to a cafe on the streets of Paris.
HotSuppa’s Corned Beef Hash
This was a tough one, since New Englanders are passionate about their corned beef hash. We’ve received plenty of recommendations for the best plate in town, and although my taste buds love you and your suggestions, my quickly growing belly does not. Although you might have your own go-to in town, the corned beef hash I tried at HotSuppa was my favorite, by far. Wonderfully crispy on the top side and soft underneath, this hash doesn’t need the eggs, toast, or grits to make it the best in my book, but who am I to complain?
Brand new to town, it didn’t take Piccolo long to register on our brunch favorites list. We haven’t visited enough to know our favorite entrees from the menu, but if you don’t order the zeppoli or bombolini to start or finish (or both), you’ve made a tragic mistake. Ours were served with a bowl of melted chocolate, but however they’re being served, they’d probably make our top 5 donuts list for Portland if we had one (why don’t we?).
Last time, we got some great recommendations (like Whitney’s suggestion to try Pai Men’s Hamaiyake), so please leave us some more below – not only is it helpful for us, but it’s also useful for others who come to the post looking for even more great brunch recommendations.
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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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