As luck would have it, the very first place we stayed for our week in Scotland together turned out to be the favorite of our Scottish accommodations. It also just so happened to be the bed & breakfast we knew the least about before our trip – what a delightful surprise!
Greystones, a boutique b&b on the Argyll coast in Oban was our first stop after Michael picked me up at the Edinburgh airport. We happened upon the Greystones website online when we were searching (and searching!) for a place to stay in between Edinburgh and Skye, and since it seemed like a decent fit, we booked their last room quickly as they were filling up left and right.
Consisting of five contemporary rooms inside a beautiful historic Scottish Baronial house overlooking the pristine Oban Bay and just a short walk to the water, Greystones perfectly blends the old and new. We simply adored our bright, spacious room (with its massively tall ceilings!), and couldn’t get over the views from the breakfast nook, where we enjoyed an exceptional meal each morning of our stay. Owners, Mark & Suzanne, were wonderful innkeepers and we so appreciated their calming, minimal aesthetic.
When the time came for us to head up the coast to Skye, we were terribly sad to leave Greystones. We found solace, however, in the fact that we could at least share this gem of a bed & breakfast with you all here, as we truly believe everyone traveling to the western coast of Scotland should make it a point to stay here.
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Meredith and I took last week off from Map & Menu in an attempt to try to pay attention to the beautiful days of summer while we still have them. Instead of evenings prepping photos and writing posts, we opted for home-cooked dinners on the patio and books in the hammock until the sun went down. We worked in the yard. We went for beach walks with Orvis. We did just about anything to minimize the non-requisite time spent in front of a screen… and it was delightful.
On Friday, we headed to the first Flea Bites of the season at the Portland Flea-for-All, where a number of the growing family of Portland food trucks were gathered together. We used the opportunity to sample the Good Shepherd Food Bank’s truck – one that’s on our radar since just after we wrote our last Portland food truck post. With a special guest chef like Damian Sansonetti of Piccolo, it’s hard imagine a better choice for dinner that evening, and we can’t wait to see more of the Good Shepherd truck around town in the future!
To cap an excellent week, Meredith and I threw what’s becoming an annual get together in our backyard to celebrate one of our favorite warm weather libations – rosé (or summer water as it’s quickly becoming known around these parts). A number of old friends and new gathered at our place to enjoy some laughs, some music, some World Cup soccer, some small bites, and plenty of that sweet summer water. Sadly, we didn’t take nearly enough photos of the party, but given the way the week started – somewhat free of Map & Menu – we could help but set the camera down and just enjoy ourselves.
Now we’re back, and ready to share some more trips, meals, and stories as we watch the rest of summer unfold. We hope you’ll follow along and share some of your own summer stories too!
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When we moved up to Maine from North Carolina six years ago, I remember how excited I was that we’d only be a few hours drive from so many New England destinations I’d always wanted to visit. The Berkshires were of course high on that list of places, and thankfully we’ve had a chance to visit this stunning region in western Massachusetts three times in the last couple of years. Until this most recent visit, our trips had always taken us to North County – North Adams & Williamstown, but as part of our trip to Hudson, NY we decided to take the opportunity to familiarize ourselves with the South County region, specifically the charming town of Great Barrington.
In general, it’d probably be fair to say that the years haven’t been kind to the mid-century Americana classic road-trip motel. Scattered along seemingly every state road, motels represent a time before big box “cookie-cutter” accommodations, where road trips were an integral part of vacationing and where you spent the night had a distinctly local feel. Now days, motels largely get ignored and have started showing their age, as was probably the case with the Briarcliff Motel property before husband and wife, Richard Proctor and Clare Weatherall injected it with a passion for service, a creative eye for design, and the desire to provide an affordable B&B-style accommodation in the middle of the Berskshires. I’d wanted to stay at the Briarcliff Motel since reading about the renovated 1960s motel turned bed & breakfast in this Food & Wine article. Not only is the Briarcliff incredibly dog-friendly, centrally located near a number of hiking trails and with a wall of past four-legged visitors, the rooms are comfortable and stylish, the breakfasts are delicious, and the co-owners and staff are extremely friendly and helpful. We couldn’t have asked for a better place to rest our heads at night during our stay.
Lunch was the first thing on our minds when we arrived in Great Barrington, so we headed straight to Rubi’s for a couple of sandwiches. Known for the cheese-mongering in the next room, the list of sandwiches, creatively centered around their cheeses, was impressive. After finishing up our delcious lunch, we were eager to browse the selection at Rubiner’s Cheesemongers, right next door. It wasn’t easy to select one of their dozens of fine cheeses, but we ended up settling on the Goat Lady Gouda to share with our friends in Hudson, and we’ve been dreaming of finding it locally ever since.
Our brunch at the Prairie Whale, on the outskirt of Main Street in Great Barrington, was another pleasant dining surprise. We sat outside with Orvis and enjoyed a delicious and leisurely brunch of a burger and eggs in the warm sun. I had a second to peek my head inside at the bar, and only wished that we would have time to return for a drink later, which sadly didn’t play out. Next time, for sure – we enjoyed our meals at the Prairie Whale so much that we’re certain there will be a next time!
We had SoCo Creamery ice cream multiple times on our last trip to Williamstown, so when we found out that there was a SoCo location in downtown Great Barrington, there was no question as to where we’d be having an afternoon treat. Just as creamy and delicious as we remembered, SoCo ice cream is a Berkshires must for any ice cream lovers like ourselves.
Benedict Pond + Beartown State Forest
Richard & Clare made the fantastic recommendation to take Orvis for a hike in nearby Beartown State Forest. The loop trail meanders around the Benedict Pond, briefly overlapping the Appalachian trail, and afforded Orvis a couple of different opportunities to take a quick dip, which is always a highlight of any hike for us!
For our next trip: a hike up Monument Mountain and lunch at Bizalion’s, followed by dinner at Allium (the sister restaurant to Williamstown’s Mezze). Fingers crossed we don’t have to wait too long to plan another visit to Great Barrington!
All photos taken by Meredith Perdue for Map & Menu.2 Comments - Leave a comment
It seems like we’ve been popping in and out of k colette for beautiful gifts for others (and ourselves) since the day they appeared on Commercial Street, so when the opportunity arose to drop by before they opened one morning, take some photographs, and meet the team behind one of our favorite shops in Portland, we couldn’t resist.
Located in an old molasses storage space on Portland’s waterfront, the spansive exposed brick and beam storefront is something to behold even before you begin to take note of the incredible selection of artwork, textiles, and home decor items that have been carefully selected and displayed throughout the shop. Inside their doors, you’ll find some of our very favorite brands and designers, both from Maine and away – Coral and Tusk, John Robshaw, Brahms Mount, Sea Bags, Salt Furniture Co., and many more – every product with a “story tag” describing the artisan, the item, the process, and the location. These story tags are in part what help define the unique taste and selection of k colette. Their commitment to goods and artisans with a history of passion and craftsmanship is perfectly exhibited in their thoughtful selection.
On top of their brick and mortar storefront, k colette also has a fantastic online presence. Almost the entire selection of the shop is available through their online store, and their blog, The Revue, features visits to the homes and studios of a growing number of the artisans whose products they carry – reiterating their commitment to the stories behind the products they carry. As consumers, we love to see an emphasis placed on the well-designed, carefully selected, and thoughtfully produced, and the selection at k colette perfectly typifies this idea.
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Due to our work and travel schedules, this past weekend was the first one that we’ve spent at home together since early April, so we set out to take full advantage of what turned out to be a beautiful summer weekend. We kicked things off with a delicious dinner at our favorite farm, The Well, and spent the rest of the evening relaxing in our new hammock. Armed with breakfast from Scratch the next morning, we visited the Portland farmer’s market for the first time this season, where we happened to run into a few friends while picking up some of our favorite early season produce. Over the course of the day we spent plenty more time in the hammock and Michael worked in the yard while I snuck out for a bike ride. That evening we packed up a few more provisions from Scratch (that oh so delicious pulled pork sandwich), a bottle of wine, and Orvis for a picnic dinner by the water at Fisherman’s Point – one of our favorite ways to spend a summer night.
In an attempt to work our way through our summer to-do list, we decided to hit the road Sunday morning and go for a hike in the lakes region of New Hampshire. The views of Lake Winnipesaukee and the surrounding area from the top of Mt. Major were stunning, and had us planning a return trip in the fall while we hiked back down. Afterwards, we wandered around Wolfeboro for awhile and took our to-go BLT sandwiches for a picnic by the lake. On the way back to Maine we spotted the perfect place for an impromptu swim in Lake Wentworth with Orvis, which was clearly the very best way to cap off one of the most enjoyable weekends we’ve experienced in New England thus far.
All photos taken by Meredith Perdue for Map & Menu.1 Comment - Leave a comment
So far, this week might have just been my favorite on record this year. The weather was beautiful every single day which allowed us to eat most of our meals out on the patio – my favorite part of summer. We made our first Pimm’s Cups of the year and hung out on the beach with Orvis (see above). Our peonies opened, strawberries appeared at a local farm stand, and we enjoyed a delicious meal at a new restaurant with a friend we hadn’t seen in a long time. Last night after a fun evening in town, we were finally able to watch The Grand Budapest Hotel – a visually inspiring way to cap off such a stellar work week. The following are a few links we found to be interesting this week – happy first official summer weekend, friends!
Both of us are obsessed with the calligraphy (and photography!) of our friend, Li. Check out the lettering she recently did for a Scotch tasting party.
If Montauk is on your summer travel bucket list, we found this guide from Domaine to be quite the resource. Someday we’ll make it down there…
I was happy to find my way to the Lombardi House, new beautifully-designed luxury vacation rental properties in Hollywood, by way of Amber’s blog. Now, I just need to find an excuse to plan a trip to LA!3 Comments - Leave a comment
On our recent trip to Scotland, Meredith and I spent a number of days exploring Skye – a place that both of us have desperately wanted to visit for as long as we’ve known each other. In all of our travels, I think it’s fair to say that the island is one of the most naturally beautiful places we’ve ever experienced, and it’s impossibly hard to put into words just how majestic Skye is – from its towering coastal cliffs, to its grassy spansive glens, and jagged mountainous center. In fact, I’ve never been more glad for Meredith’s photos, both to share some of Skye with you, but also to remember the beauty of the island for ourselves.
As the northernmost island of the Inner Hebrides of Scotland, Skye is accessible by both ferry and bridge, and given our journey up the Scottish coast from Oban, the ferry from Mallaig seemed like the slightly more picturesque (and maybe adventurous) way to start or time on the island. After a beautiful ferry ride full of panoramic views of both Skye and the mainland, we began our slow drive up the coast – slow, only in that we stopped no less than ten times to take in the views of the mountains, countryside, and maybe a Highland coo or two.
In the ensuing days, we covered a ton of ground on the island. We saw Kilt Rock, the Quiraing, and the views from Waternish (where our car was literally herded down the road by two sheep dogs!). We spent an amazing sunset at Neist Point, visited the cliff-shrouded beach at Talisker Bay, and went for a windy hike to Coral Beach. We saw animals galore – coos, horses, and sheep around every corner (did I mention we were there just a few weeks after lambing season, so every sheep had a playful and curious little lamb closely in tow?). We had one of our top all-time meals at Three Chimneys, stopped by the Talisker whiskey distillery, and met Roger, one of the co-owners of Skye Weavers, where he and his partner Andrea weave stunning woolen textiles and tweeds with natural dyes on their bicycle loom. To say that we kept busy would be an understatement, but given how delightful every part of our trip was, it blew by in the blink of an eye.
Marking a visit to Skye off of our list of places to see was one of the more fulfilling adventures we’ve been on since we started Map & Menu. For me personally, Skye had been a dream for a very long time, and I think that Meredith would agree that it lived up to every part of our lofty expectations. If Isle of Skye is on your own list of places to see, I sincerely hope you make it there, and until then, I hope that some of Meredith’s photos help to supply your Scottish daydreaming needs!
All photos taken by Meredith Perdue for Map & Menu.4 Comments - Leave a comment
Unlike many trips Michael and I take, our time in the Scottish Highlands didn’t quite revolve around food. Trying restaurants that we’ve read about is a huge part of the way we travel (see February’s trip to Charleston), but with Scotland we were more focused on experiencing the natural beauty and sights of the countryside. Outside of our meals in Edinburgh, many of the pubs or restaurants we happened upon were nothing extraordinary, which, combined with the plethora or gorgeous public areas, actually inspired us to have a few more picnic meals than we usually do. All of that being said, there was one meal, however, on Skye that we were really looking forward to – our lunch at The Three Chimneys.
We’d read about The Three Chimneys in both our Where Chefs Eat book and our copy of the NY Times 36 Hours in Europe, and after our deliciously memorable lunch there, we can easily see why the restaurant is consistently named by many esteemed food writers and respected publications as one of the world’s best restaurants. The setting – an old stone crofter’s cottage overlooking Loch Dunvegan – is idyllic, and the food – sourced primarily from the island and the surrounding Highlands – is nothing short of excellent.
The three course lunch menu allowed us to sample a variety of the restaurant’s modern Scottish fare. Michael opted to start with the Ham & Haddie Terrine with cucumber, apple, sorrel, and herring roe, while I began with the Russian Salad with roasted candy beetroot, asparagus, mustard leaf, and seeded praline. Up next – the Blade and Tongue of Black Isle Beef with puy lentils, celeriac remoulade, ramsons, and pickles for Michael, and the River Esk Sea Trout with anna potato, peas, radish leaf, and choron sauce. Our meal could have concluded here and we would have left the restaurant more than delighted, but thankfully we still had dessert! We shared bites of both the famed Hot Marmalade Pudding with Drambuie custard and the Dark Chocolate & Stem Ginger Ganache with malt ice cream. As we finished the final bites of our dessert course, we grinned in simultaneous conclusion that this truly was one of those once in a lifetime meals – one that we surely won’t be forgetting anytime soon.
All photos taken by Meredith Perdue for Map & Menu.2 Comments - Leave a comment
Naturally, we were quite sad when our dear friends, Darcy & Carolyn, told us that they were packing up their darling shop and sweet pups and moving down to Hudson, NY, but we knew that our friendship with the four of them was far from over – in fact, it’s arguably even better, now that they live in a fun new town with amazing shops & restaurants. If this past weekend that we spent with them in Hudson is any indication, the future of our friendship is looking bright, with all kinds of adventure, laughs, and of course, great food!
When we weren’t catching up with them in their stunning new apartment (see below for proof!) or walking our three dogs around town, we were falling in love with the quirky charm of Hudson. Some of our favorite food highlights from the weekend included takeout from Hudson Food Studio, a relaxed brunch at Cafe Le Perche, and the most delicious ice cream sundaes at LICK. The selection at Hudson Wine Merchants was also spot-on, and we’re already busy planning our next visit to include a stop at Bonfiglio & Bread, which was unfortunately closed this weekend.
The drive down to Rhinebeck for the Sunday farmer’s market was gorgeous and only made us more excited for future trips to explore the charming towns of the Hudson River Valley. Needless to say, there will be plenty of Map & Menu posts highlighting this beautiful area of New York (including one on Great Barrington in the very near future). And of course, we cannot wait to share some photos of the new 2 Note shop, opening at 255 Warren Street in mid-July. Until then, we’d love to hear any recommendations you might have for the Hudson area… because we simply can’t wait to go back!
All photos taken by Meredith Perdue for Map & Menu.10 Comments - Leave a comment
When my two London-based teammates and I were planning our next team meetup last January, Scotland seemed like a natural location… of course it didn’t hurt that both Meredith and I have wanted to visit the country for as long as we can remember! We worked from Scotland’s capital city, Edinburgh, for a week, eating, drinking, and exploring or way through town when we weren’t working, and then Meredith joined me for a week to tour the Highlands and Isle of Skye (more about those to come), followed by one final evening back in Edinburgh before the two of us flew out.
Edinburgh is a fantastic city, full of history, architecture, natural beauty, and delicious food, and although Meredith’s time there was sadly short, we were still able to see, do, and eat plenty. The following are a few of our favorite parts of the city, both from my week working and then our day together. If you’re visiting Edinburgh, we highly recommend that you check out these places!
We decided to splurge a bit on the final night of our week-long trip to Scotland with a stay at The Balmoral, the historic landmark hotel located right in the heart of the city. Aside from the fact that JK Rowling finished writing the Harry Potter series at The Balmoral, the highlight of our brief visit was the nod to Scotland’s own Sean Connery in the bathroom (see below) and our warm welcome from Richard the oft-photographed kilted doorman.
The views of Edinburgh and its neighboring towns from the top of Calton Hill are truly unforgettable. The hill itself is home to various monuments and historical buildings, including the headquarters of the Scottish Government. It even overlooks Arthur’s Seat, rumored to be one of the possible locations of the fabled Camelot.
It’s hard to imagine a more quintessential castle than that of Edinburgh’s. Set at the end of the ‘Royal Mile’, on top of a wall of cliffs that rise almost from nowhere in the center of town, it’s a focal point of the city and a constant reminder of the history of the place. Home to the Crown Jewels of Scotland and some more fantastic views of the city, the castle is worth a tour if you don’t mind the touristy rush. However, if you’re in the mood for something a little quieter, spend some time walking through the Princes Street Gardens below the castle.
Water of Leith & Royal Botanical Garden
If you’re like us and you feel a little overwhelmed by the crowds of the Royal Mile and Princes Street, head north and get lost in the New Town neighborhoods between the Queen Street Gardens & the Royal Botanic Gardens. A leisurely stroll along the Water of Leith only adds to the serenity of this quiet city escape.
I enjoyed my first meal at The Dogs with my teammates so much, that when faced with only one dinner in Edinburgh once Meredith and I returned, the choice was fairly obvious. The Dogs is wonderfully low key, with its sparse second story flat and eclectic collection of tables, chairs, dishes, and cutlery. In fact, the most uniform part of its design is its homage to the owner’s dogs (which made Meredith and I feel right at home). During both trips, our meals were fantastic, concentrating on flavor and taste over presentation or formality, and leaving us in the perfect mindset for a leisurely stroll back to our hotel.
Easily some of the very best Indian food we’ve ever had, Khushi’s was another find from our trusty Where Chefs Eat book (where we discovered essentially all of the places we ate in Edinburgh). We were ravenous after the long drive from Skye and noticed that the only conversation we shared during our lunch were the proclamations of how amazing our meals were. If Indian cuisine is in your plans for a trip to the UK, Khushi’s should be your destination!
One day for lunch, my teammates and I decided to spoil ourselves with a prix fixe meal at chef Tom Kitchin’s namesake, The Kitchin. Concentrating on locally-sourced ingredients (to the extent that they provide a map with your meal’s sources around the United Kingdom), the restaurant executed every part of our meal to an exacting precision. Three delicious courses later, we plopped ourselves down around the comfy bar to have some coffee and reminisce about the tasty meal we’d just devoured
Sadly, Leo’s Beanery didn’t open early enough for Meredith and I to stop by before our flight out of town, but my breakfast here the week before was tasty enough that we figured it deserved a mention. A New Town neighborhood eatery, tucked away in the basement of one of the neoclassical city blocks, I recommend that you stop in for a traditional Scottish full breakfast (bacon, eggs, black pudding, beans, mushrooms, sausage, and tomatoes), or some lighter bakery fare.
All photos taken by Meredith Perdue for Map & Menu.4 Comments - Leave a comment