I keep coming back to this beautiful post by Meghan of Designtripper describing Maine as ‘her place.’ The picture above is a view from Kettle Cove, one of the scenes that makes it feel like Maine is our own special place.
Michael and I just stumbled upon Warby Barker and cannot stop giggling. The about video and ‘see these in action’ rollovers made our morning!
Michael and I visited Charleston, SC seven or eight years ago when we first started dating, but sadly we haven’t been back since. Hopefully we’ll have a chance to plan another trip soon, this time centered around the city’s amazing food scene, much like the recent trip of Lindsay at The Pursuit of Style.
It was fun to come across this local’s guide to Maine from Vogue‘s Home Editor, Mieke ten Have. An antiques-filled day trip to Wiscasset is now high on my list of things to do.Leave a comment
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.
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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.
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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.
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I happened to be scrolling through Twitter updates on Sunday morning and I caught a glimpse of a tweet about American Field, a pop-up market celebrating American-made goods in Boston’s SoWa Open Market in the South End. I just so happened to be heading down to the South End for a shoot that very afternoon and after reading about the market and the participating brands, I decided to leave an hour earlier so I’d have a little time to swing by the market. In hindsight, I should have left two (or three!) hours earlier – I could have stayed all afternoon!
Seeing the impressive list of participants definitely piqued my interest in attending the market, but reading the statistic that “if every consumer spent just 5% more on USA made goods, it would create nearly 1,000,000 USA jobs,” is probably what got me out the door an hour earlier on Sunday. I’ve always thought that I was pretty conscious about where the goods I’m purchasing are coming from, but in reality, I know I can be better. Hence the two-fold mission of the pop-up: inspire consumers to make these educated decisions about their spending and also introduce them to the quality American brands.
Visually, the market was inspiring. There were beautiful goods – clothing, footwear, home goods, and accessories – everywhere. I had a chance to see some items up close that I’ve long lusted after, like the blankets from Faribault Woolen Mill Co. from Minnesota or a Frank Clegg satchel. I was also introduced to countless new companies and even had the opportunity to speak with a number of the business owners themselves. I could have easily picked up nearly one of everything at the Almanac Industries table and I’m fairly certain Michael now needs a pair of New England Outerwear Company shoes. I bought a new camera strap from Hellbrand Leatherworks for my Mamiya and I desperately want to find the perfect watch from Throne. There were more than a few Maine-based business in attendance, and the L.L. Bean Bootmobile was even parked out front!
It was a pretty fortunate happenstance that I was able to attend this year’s market, but you can be certain that I’ll be paying attention to twitter for next year’s date, and will hopefully be making the trip back down to Boston with Michael in tow!
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It’s that time of year when Michael and I do our best to hit (nearly) all of our favorite spots with great outdoor seating options just one more time before it gets too chilly. So when planning my evening shoot up in Rockport a couple of weeks ago, I decided to allow enough time to take advantage of Salt Water Farm’s Happy Hour and grab a drink on the deck overlooking the harbor. While several of the drink deals caught my eye, I settled on the Watermelon Negroni and a plate of locally made Lakin’s Gorges Opus 42 cheese with buckwheat honeycomb. The sweet watermelon was a welcome contrast to the Campari, slightly cutting the drink’s traditional bitter taste. Sitting on the deck, catching the last hour or two of sun as it falls on the boats in the harbor, it’s hard to imagine a better place to enjoy such a fantastic happy hour experience.
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Orvis and I held down the fort here in Maine this weekend while Michael was in California for work, and I’d have to say that we managed to have a good bit of fun even though our trio was incomplete. I came back from our trip to Sonoma with an odd craving for Pai Men Miyake, so I treated myself to a solo lunch overlooking Longfellow Square on Friday. The next day included a stop at the farmer’s market, the garden center, and Longfellow Books where I fell in love with their shop dog, Eloise. Orvis and I ventured over to Cape Elizabeth for a walk in the woods before enjoying the last dinner of the season at my favorite restaurant, The Well at Jordan’s Farm. I had to be in Boston for work the next day, but I did manage to stop by American Field, a pop-up shop of featuring American-made goods from around the country. (More on that this week!)
Hopefully you all had a wonderful, crisp fall weekend as well!
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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 - Leave a comment
Meredith and I don’t often visit new restaurants in their first week of operation. We typically like to avoid the crowds and let the establishment work out the kinks, but after a few days of hearing and reading so many good things about the newly renovated, re-geared, and renamed Empire Chinese Kitchen, we decided that an early dim sum lunch was just a little too tempting to delay.
The new owners of Empire have done an awesome job with the renovation. Long before our meals had arrived, Meredith was happily snapping photos of all the details of the dining room and gushing about the natural light, open space, and relaxed feel of the room. We arrived right as the doors opened and were lucky to get a booth by a window before the room (and waiting list) quickly filled up.
We started with a couple of tasty cocktails (the Yellow Fever and the Dragon’s Milk) and ordered a handful of small plate and dim sum dishes which arrived in a slightly staggered fashion, leading to a leisurely tapas-style lunch. First up were the delicious peking duck buns (my personal favorite) and the har gow (one of a few of the gluten-free options on the menu). It’s a standard rule of thumb for me that pretty much anything served in a steamed bun will be awesome, and the savory peking duck didn’t disappoint – I’d highly recommend trying it. We also tried the lobster dumplings and the unique Empire egg roll, made with pastrami and asparagus and served with honey dijon. We thoroughly enjoyed each of the dishes we tried, and the three-count dumplings led to a number of small chopstick sword fighting battles.
All in all, I think we’re both glad that we ignored our recently-opened restaurant ban this time around, and can’t wait for a revisit to try the remaining items on the menu. Anyone want to join us?
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Reading Garance Doré’s post about All Good Things immediately reminded me of Melrose Market (pictured above) in Seattle. Hopefully we’ll be able to swing by on our next trip to New York and compare the two places. If only Portland had something like that…
I’ll be bookmarking this recommendation from A Continuous Lean for a meal at Geist if we’re ever lucky enough to visit Copenhagan.
We enjoyed reading about the Cape Town Love app that Megan and Mike of The Fresh Exchange created in less than 24 hours. While you’re on the site, be sure to check out their recent photos from their time in Cape Town.
Whipping up these peanut butter cookies will surely be a highlight of mine this weekend!
Happy Friday, friends! We’re looking forward to having dinner at this farm tonight, spending some time with friends tomorrrow, and watching Season 2 of Homeland this weekend. We hope you have a fantastic few days ahead!Leave a comment