Willard Sky

Our hearts go out to those devastated by the disaster in the Philippines. Reading stories about lives, families, and homes lost really puts life in perspective and makes us want to cherish the moments we have all that much more. Our usual Weekend Reads just doesn’t feel quite right this week. Instead, please think about donating to the relief efforts in the Philippines. If you’re looking to donate, check out the Red Cross donation page and this Saveur article about restaurants around the nation holding fundraising events and other food relief charities.

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Sabattus Mountain View

One of the coolest parts about Maine is how varied the terrain can be within such a small distance. Meredith and I live on the coast, but less than an hour away is the picturesque Lakes Region, and just a little bit further, the spectacular White Mountains. Nestled in between the two is Sabattus Mountain, a short easy hike just outside of Lovell, Maine, with some of the most breathtaking views of the White Mountains and the Kezar Lake region. A few weeks ago, Meredith and I took Orvis for a day hike up the mountain, and although the trail itself is quite enjoyable, with some sections of colorful deciduous growth and others of needle-laden coniferous forest, the view from the top was simply amazing. The three of us spent a good deal of time enjoying the view before our hike back down, and still made it home in the early afternoon.

Sabattus Mountain Hike

Michael and Orvis at Sabattus

Sabattus Woods

Sabattus Mountain Maine

View from Sabattus Mountain

View from Sabattus Mountain Maine

Contact Information - Sabattus Mountain

Sabattus Mountain Road
Lovell, Maine 04051
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Piccolo Maine Brunch

Last weekend was definitely a busy one for us. On Friday night, we attended Might & Main’s Fall Classic cocktail party. The team at Might & Main does a lot of great branding work around town, especially in the food industry, and really know how to throw a fun get together!

Saturday morning we did some trail maintenance work for Portland Trails, a volunteer opportunity through our local composting service, Garbage to Garden. Michael was no stranger to trail work, but judging by my sore shoulders, I definitely have a newfound appreciation for the amount of effort it takes to care for the 60+ miles of trails in the Portland Trails network. Later that afternoon, we ventured up to Wiscasset to have dinner with my parents and let Orvis run on the farm with his pal, Mason. It’s always enjoyable to see the farm change with the seasons, and wonderful to have Orvis really stretch his legs. Michael even brought a couple of Heady Toppers to share with my stepfather, from his mid-week roadtrip to Vermont, which I’m sure was a highlight of both of their evenings.

We had the perfect start to Sunday morning at Piccolo for brunch with friends. We filled ourselves with all kinds of delicious Italian-inspired items from the menu and finished the meal off with some incredible zeppoli and a decadent baked stuffed pear from Ilma’s kitchen. Last night, we finally had a moment to relax and made ourselves a tasty steak salad and this apple oat crisp, which I’ve already caught Michael eyeing a few times this morning.

For anyone interested in volunteering with Portland Trails, click here for more information. 

Mason at Marianmade Farm

Orvis at Marianmade Farm

Heady Topper

Piccolo Brunch

Brunch at Piccolo

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Airstream

We love camping out in my family’s airstream in Wiscasset, so naturally this post from Lizzie of Tomboy Style caught my eye. Southern California friends – this looks like a must-try!

Seeing these photos from Sarah of Smitten Studio has me thinking about planning a trip to Wyoming to visit my family and show Michael where I was born.

Ever since browsing the 2007 J.Crew catalog shot on Isle of Skye, the Scottish island has been on my bucket list of dream trips, and thanks to their newest Style Guide, I’m now adding the Cotswolds to that same list.

Now that we’ve visited Sonoma, our next wine country must is Napa. Of course, I cannot imagine returning to Northern California and not visiting Scribe or the coast, but when we make plans to visit Napa someday, we’ll surely be consulting this city guide from Garance Doré.

It looks like this weekend is going to be pretty chilly for most of the country, so we hope you bundle up and stay warm, whatever your plans are. Maybe it’s a good weekend to make an apple pie and some hot cocoa… I know Michael’s hoping that we will!

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Piccolo

One of the most anticipated Portland eatery openings of the year, Piccolo fills the large shoes and small space that Bresca left vacant when Kristin Desjarles opted to close shop and pursue Bresca and the Honeybee last spring. Husband and wife co-owners Damian Sansonetti and Ilma Lopez are a wickedly talented duo, specializing in dishes inspired by the coastal and agrarian flavors of the central regions of Italy. Handmade pastas and fresh local ingredients prepared in authentic, yet original ways anchor a delicious menu and wine list. Be smart and save room for dessert, because Ilma’s master proficiency as a pastry chef shines through the wonderfully creative dishes she constructs – like the “wine and cheese”, layered red wine gelatin, vanilla and goat cheese mousse, topped with a fruit salad and red wine honey filled-puff pastries. With our first meal being so fantastic, we’re already planning to return for a Sunday brunch.

Piccolo Portland Maine Restaurant

Piccolo Portland ME

Piccolo Portland ME Photos

Piccolo Restaurant Portland ME

Piccolo Portland Maine Dinner

Piccolo Restaurant Pasta

Desserts at Piccolo Portland Maine

Piccolo Portland Maine Dessert

Contact Information - Piccolo

111 Middle Street
Portland, Maine 04101
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Orvis on Little Beach

Each year that we’ve lived in Maine, we’ve been fortunate to find that as fall fades to winter, there always seems be one last burst of warmer weather. We’ve come to savor these Indian Summers, and late last week turned into one of my favorites yet. In the few brief days of sun and unusual warmth, we crammed in as much time outside as possible. We enjoyed brunch in town, spent time in the yard with Orvis, grilled out, enjoyed meals on the patio, and went on numerous neighborhood walks to Orvis’s favorite secret beach. Even after the warm spell snapped, we kept the awesome weekend going with our favorite local dog-friendly race, the Bayside Trail 5k. This year, we were joined by a number of friends that bravely faced the cold wind, and afterwards, treated ourselves to some of the delicious treats served up by the Urban Sugar food truck (hopefully we’ll be returning for Map & Menu in the very near future). Now, as the colder weather begins to become standard, we’re turning our eyes toward planning winter adventures and looking forward to all of the fun yet another season will bring.

Side note: While reading about Indian Summers, I saw a reference to its British equivalent – All-Hallows Summer – which seemed fitting given that the warm air blew in this year on Halloween.

Sills Brunch Portland ME

Digging

Orvis and Michael

Fall in South Portland

Bayside Trail 5K

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Tumbledown Brook Trail

In an attempt to take advantage of the beautiful, but all too-short, fall season in Maine, we decided to take a day off from work and try a new hike with Orvis. After giving it some thought, we chose Tumbledown Mountain via the dog-friendly (and less strenuous) Brook Trail. The drive up to Franklin County during the foliage-filled first week of October was gorgeous. We drove through new towns we’d never visited and enjoyed some of the prettiest vistas of colorful, rolling mountains.

Visiting the trail on a Monday, we ended up having the whole hike to ourselves, and Orvis was as happy as could be as he ran free ahead of us. Though we didn’t stay too long at the top because of the chilly temperatures & high wind, Orvis didn’t seem to mind the cold a bit and ended up taking a dip in the picturesque Tumbledown Pond. We continued to laugh at our semi-spastic hiking partner the whole way down the mountain as we vowed to return in the warmer months of the summer when we, too, might actually want to go for a swim in the pond.

Tumbledown Maine

Michael D. Cain

Orvis at Tumbledown

Tumbledown Pond

View from Tumbledown Pond

Orvis Meredith and Michael at Tumbledown

Orvis

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Moustached Pumpkin

We hope your Halloween is off to a great start and that your evening is filled with all kinds of sweets and fun costumes! Here is a peek at the pumpkins we carved this year – click here to see the rest. Cheers!

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Kabaj Amfora

Last week, Meredith and I were fortunate to be invited to attend the most recent wine tasting collaboration between Rosemont Market Productions, Tandem Coffee Roasters, and a featured wine producer – this time with Slovenian winery, Kabaj, and its winemaker, Jean-Michel Morel. In a recurring series hosted at Tandem, a vineyard selected by Rosemont’s Joe Appel is paired with regionally-inspired cuisine by chef Brad Messier and coupled with an evening of good conversation and company. If the event that we attended was a fair sampling, these pairings should be a must-try for anyone interested in wines that are slightly outside of the mainstream, great food, and a fantastic weeknight away from the Netflix queue.

The vineyard of the evening, Kabaj, has been garnering a good bit of praise from the wine-loving community recently. With mentions by the New York Times, The Art of Eating, and Wine Enthusiast, the vineyard was named one of Wine & Spirits‘ 2013 Wineries of the Year, and its complexly delicious “orange wines” have had Meredith and I popping into different Rosemont locations in search of a few bottles ever since the event. The wines get their color from the varying amounts of time that they’re left to ferment on the grape skins, creating a savory selection that age well and can be sipped over the course of an evening. I won’t pretend to be an expert, so suffice it to say that we truly enjoyed the contrast of the Kabaj wines against the Sonoma County varietals with which we recently fell in love. The winemaker, Jean-Michel was one of the most genuinely affable people I’ve ever had the pleasure of meeting. You’d think that being a world-renowned winemaker could go to one’s head, but in a room full of interested oenophiles, he took the time to speak to each of us, sharing his winemaking passion and methodology, and his awesomely positive outlook on life – reminding us that good wine connects people and pursuing one’s passion can be wildly fulfilling.

Throughout the evening, Brad Messier was quickly serving up Slavic dishes to pair with our wines. Learning a new cuisine in the weeks leading up to the event proved to be an easy task for the talented chef, and we were fortunate to enjoy meats that he had cured himself, a regional bean, pork, and cabbage soup, potica nut rolls, and a tasty salted bread that accompanies many Slovenian meals. The night was capped off with an optional cup of the best espresso in town, and as Meredith and I made our way home that evening, we couldn’t help but think of what an enjoyable date night these pairings might make in the months to come.

Tandem Wine Pairing Rosemont Market

Tandem Pairings Rosemont

Kabaj Wine Tasting

Rosemont Productions

Kabaj Merlot

Kabaj Wine

Tandem Pairings with Rosemont Market

Merlot

Contact Information - Rosemont & Tandem Pairings: Slovenia Rising

122 Anderson Street
Portland, Maine 04101
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New Orleans LA

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.

Butcher

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.

Camellia Grill

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.

Hattie Sparks

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 Osborne, that arrived back in Maine shortly after we did, and brings a smile to our faces whenever we pass by it.

Loomed NOLA

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.

Coquette

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.

Pêche

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.

Elizabeth’s

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.

Stanley

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.

Sazerac Bar

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.

Café Du Monde

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.

Jackson Square

Camellia Grill New Orleans

New Orleans Travelogue

French Quarter New Orleans

Butcher NOLA

Cochon Butcher NOLA

Butcher New Orleans

New Orleans Cemetary

Jackson Square NOLA

Ritz Carlton New Orleans

New Orleans Louisiana

New Orleans City Guide

Peche New Orleans

Flourless Chocolate Cake

Elizabeths New Orleans

Coquette

New Orleans Streets

Sazerac Bar

Hattie Sparks New Orleans LA

Hattie Sparks NOLA

Hattie Sparks

Loomed NOLA

Loomed NOLA shop

New Orleans Downtown

New Orleans LA Photos

New Orleans Travel Guide

New Orleans at night

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