While seemingly the entirety of the blogging universe is in a post-New Year’s calorie-cutting frenzy, Meredith and I rocked this past weekend as we typically prefer to do – with good food and drink, and a few Orvis snuggles. After a dim sum brunch at Empire and a little wine perusing at Browne Trading Co. on Saturday, we spent a good chunk of the rest of the weekend in the kitchen, making new batches of sea salt chocolate chip cookies, buttermilk pancakes, chicken marbella, and buttermilk ice cream. With the changes we’ve been making to the kitchen and the warmth of the oven, it’s tough to drag ourselves to another room, but at least we were able to share some of our creations with friends at dinner last night.
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Neither Michael nor I have been to Savannah since we were children, so it’s high on our list of places to visit together someday, especially with reminders like these photos from Ann Street Studio.
I look forward to the yearly book recaps our friend Abby writes each January. She read 167 books last year alone!
Always looking for an excuse to turn on the oven during a cold spell, we whipped up these Salted Chocolate Chip Cookies last night – they were just as good as they sound. I also have my eyes on preparing these sweet potatoes from the same cookbook, Date Night In.
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Escaping to a warmer climate has been on my mind all week during this horrendously cold spell here in Maine. Since many of you in similar climates have braved the same temperatures, I thought revisiting last year’s Winter Getaway Daydreaming post and coming up with another list of warm destinations might be a welcome distraction from the cold.
El Blok, the newest hotel on the small Puerto Rican island of Vieques, is high on my list of places I would love to visit with Michael, namely to sample the cuisine of the hotel restaurant headed by James Beard nominated chef, Jose Enrique. Of course, the island destination and stylish design only adds to El Blok’s draw.
Belize’s Turtle Inn, owned by Francis Ford Coppola, keeps popping up on my radar these days. I could definitely get behind the idea of showering outdoors in a private garden, couldn’t you?
I’m not quite sure I can imagine a more beautifully luxurious escape than spending a few days at the recently re-opened and rebranded stunning Cheval Blanc property on St. Barts.
I hadn’t heard of Saba, a tiny island in the Dutch Antilles, until I came across a mention of the Queen’s Gardens Resort in an AFAR article. The island itself reminds me of the lovely, seemingly untouched Nevis we visited a few years ago.
Harbour Island has been on my travel bucket list for a few years now. If we ever make it down to this charming island in the Bahamas, known for its pink sand beaches, I’d have my eyes on The Landing, The Saltbox, or the soon to open Bahama House Inn.
What warm weather destinations are on your radar? We’d love to hear some of your favorite spots or dream-worthy vacations below!1 Comment - Leave a comment
A few weeks ago, Meredith and I found ourselves needing a good excuse to leave the house and do some last minute Christmas shopping, so we did what all food-loving Portlanders should and decided to make a brunch date out of it. We already have a number of go-to brunch spots in town, but given that every other experience we’ve had at Central Provisions – from drinks through dessert – has been outstanding, we thought we’d see if the same held true for my own favorite meal of the day, the coveted breakfast-lunch tweener spot. To be honest, it wasn’t even a contest. Warm and gooey skillet cornbread, crispy and savory scrapple, and a ham and cheese slider that absolutely blew my mind helped make our meal one of the best brunches I can remember, moving Central Provisions right to the top of our favorite Portland brunches, alongside Piccolo and a handful of others. Now, it’s only a matter of finding another flimsy excuse to return soon…
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Our Christmas celebrations this year were just as we prefer – low key & delicious. We took the opportunity to enjoy some tasty meals and catch up with some of our favorite people, but the highlight of our week was celebrating Orvis’s 8th birthday the day after Christmas. We began the festivities with a family run that ended at the beach and then hopped in the car to head up to the birthday boy’s favorite spot – our family’s farm in Wiscasset. We spent the rest of the day walking the property with Orvis and playing fetch with him, before taking a stroll around town.
With each year that passes, we realize how absolutely amazing our time has been with Orvis, and become sadly more aware of the finite amount of time that remains. Taking a full day to celebrate him – doing the things he loves most – fills our hearts with happiness, and we have to admit that after watching him gallop around the farm, he seemed more like an 8-month old puppy than the adult dog he is.
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We unintentionally ate our way through this past weekend, but I’d like to think it was just a decent warm-up for this week’s holiday feasting.
On Friday afternoon we snuck out of work for a cozy lunch at Bao Bao – our first visit to the new(ish) dumpling house in the West End. On Saturday, we made spritz cookies in the morning and then had friends over for an old favorite, shrimp & grits, followed by a very delicious bourbon pecan pie from Two Fat Cats. If that weren’t enough, we started Sunday with an incredible brunch from Central Provisions (more about that coming soon), and then a bit of half-hearted, overly-full Christmas shopping, before returning home to make a delicious (and light) ribollita from Green Kitchen Stories for dinner.
This week, we’re looking forward to our traditional seafood and pierogi on Christmas Eve, coffee cake and ham sliders on Christmas, and plenty of sweets and deliciousness in between. Do you have any Christmas eating traditions you’d care to share?
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We’re finishing up our Best of 2014 posts with the most challenging to whittle down and write – our favorite food (and drinks!) from our home state of Maine. There are plenty of spots in Portland and beyond that we wish we could include on this list, these are simply the dishes and restaurants that stood out to us and kept us coming back for more in 2014. Of course, we’d love to hear about some of your Maine favorites in the comments below!
Michael: It’s going to take a lot to remove Hunt and Alpine from its seat of Maine cocktail supremacy in my mind, and when you add the Deviled Smoked Trout to snack on, competitors might as well just throw in the towel.
Meredith: Lately, I’ve been a fan of the Fancy Gin Cocktail – Bread & Butter combination at the downstairs bar at Central Provisions – a prime place for people watching on the corner of Wharf Street.
Michael: The seasonal fall Roast chicken and pureed buttercup squash from Central Provisions is one of the better dishes I can ever recall – we order it every time we’re there and it’s on the menu (and sometimes more than once in a sitting).
Meredith: I’ve never met a rice bowl variation from Long Grain that I didn’t just love.
Michael: I’m going to go ahead and double up on the Central Provisions… try the spicy beef salad, the combination of flavors, spices, and textures is hard to beat.
Meredith: I was introduced to the roasted vegetable cassoulet from Lolita during a shoot for Down East this year and after sampling a bit (job perk number one!) I made it a priority to return to Lolita for one of my very own soon thereafter.
Michael: Mmmm… donuts. The Urban Sugar food truck turns out bite-sized gourmet donuts with an assortment of creative toppings (like their Cap’n Crunch glazed, breakfast cereal variety) that are sure to impress the Homer Simpson in each of us.
Meredith: Four months later, I remember exactly how deliciously decadent the salted butter semifreddo was during our chef’s tasting menu dinner at Vinland this summer. Crunchy, sweet, amazing.
Michael & Meredith: This one’s a toss-up between our tried and true neighborhood heavyweight, Scratch Baking Co., with its amazing bagels, cookies, and coconut creme cake, and the relative newcomer, Tandem Bakery, where every bite of the savory scones or sweet cinnamon rolls is better than the previous (it doesn’t hurt that they’re paired with the best coffee around).
Michael: Taking the most classic of American dining styles and establishments, and then injecting an attention to detail and flavor completely foreign to the prefabricated diner world, it’s easy to see why Palace Diner has caught the attention of so many. Get anything on the menu, it’s all amazing.
Meredith: There’s nothing cozier than ducking inside Piccolo on a chilly day for a tasty, comforting brunch that always includes the zeppoli.
Michael & Meredith: This is one of our precious neighborhood secrets, but for the better part of two years, Scratch Baking Co. has somewhat quietly been producing some of the most consistently creative and delicious sandwiches that we can find anywhere – Maine or not.
Michael and Meredith: We enjoy most any meal outdoors with Orvis by our side, but when the food is truly exceptional, the whole experience certainly stands out. This is why we make a point to visit The Well at Jordan’s Farm multiple times over the summer and early fall. It’s a must in our books – even if you aren’t lucky enough to dine alongside your dog – their farm-fresh ingredients and mastery of simple yet classic dishes makes The Well one of the best meals in Maine.
Michael & Meredith: Even though the truck is up for sale and they’re moving their business into a brick and mortar restaurant next year, the meals we enjoyed truckside from Small Axe – at Congress Square Park (or Tandem Coffee in the early days) – will always be some of our favorites from a food truck.
Michael: “Experience” seems like the perfect descriptor to define our Chef’s tasting menu dinner at Vinland late this past summer. Between courses and entremets, sixteen delightful dishes came together to create a truly outstanding experience.
Meredith: We dined at Nebo Lodge two nights in a row during our October trip to North Haven and both nights we could haven’t been happier with the flavor and atmosphere. To enjoy such quality food on an island thirteen miles from the mainland is truly exceptional, in my opinion. A meal at Nebo Lodge is well worth adding to your dining bucket lists!
Off the Beaten Path
Michael & Meredith: Brunch at Crissy’s in Damariscotta is part of every single weekend trip we make up to Wiscasset during the winter. We’re big fans of the huevos rancheros, the veggie hash’n’eggs, and the famous blueberry coffee cake, of course.
Michael & Meredith: Central Provisions might seem like the popular choice for this one, but never before have we, time and time again, had meals where every bite of every dish is its own fantastic experience. It’s that simple.
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Up next in our Best of 2014 are this year’s highlights from the meals and drinks we’ve enjoyed the most while traveling. (Our favorites for our home state of Maine will be up tomorrow.) It’s no easy feat choosing just one favorite from many trips that often revolve around eating, but here are some of this year’s standouts. We clearly enjoyed eating our way through the southeastern US this year, but can you blame us? There’s a lot of good food to be had down there these days. We hope this list helps with your own travel planning for 2015. We’d love to hear some of your favorite food destinations in the comments below!
Michael: Our drinks at the James Beard nominated, poolside craft cocktail bar, The Broken Shaker, certainly lived up to our expectations.
Meredith: I have the vanilla-infused spiced rum, and velvet falernum Sailor’s Delight from The Optimist to thank for my tiki cocktail craze this year.
Michael: We had a wonderful time sampling the Southern farm to table cuisine at Empire State South, but the “In Jars” selection of spreads (pimiento cheese, bacon marmalade, catfish rillette, and more ) was brilliantly delicious and a great way to show our friend from Germany a taste of the south.
Meredith: After polishing off the last one at The Optimist, I found myself wondering why all hushpuppies aren’t served “beignet-style” with cane syrup butter and powdered sugar.
Michael: The decadent braised short rib (with a side of the macaroni au gratin, of course) at Poole’s Diner in Raleigh, North Carolina was the ultimate way to end a fantastic day spent exploring the city.
Meredith: My friend, Betsy, prepares some of the tastiest scallops I’ve ever eaten in my life, and I’m positive even she would love the scallops at Empire State South just as much as I did this past spring.
Michael: With deliciously creative flavors like Birch + Marshmallows and signature flavors such as The Milkiest Chocolate in the World, we were in heaven at Jeni’s Splendid Ice Creams – so much so, that we may have indulged two nights in a row…
Meredith: The famous ice cream sandwiches at Miller’s Union definitely lived up to the hype.
Michael: What more could one want while vacationing in Vermont than a plate full of blueberry pancakes topped with delicious Vermont maple syrup? The pancakes at Topnotch were so good, I ordered them two days in a row.
Meredith: Our tasty post-hike brunch at the Prairie While this summer was, hands-down, my favorite of our meals in Great Barrington.
Michael & Meredith: One of the many meals we enjoyed while eating our way through Charleston was lunch at Xiao Bao Biscuit. The casual ‘Asian soul food’ restaurant struck us with its bold style and amazing dishes.
Michael & Meredith: Even after visiting three (!) other bakeries in Charleston, we still managed to return to Brown’s Court Bakery three times. Everything – the croissants, the sticky buns, the cinnamon rolls, the charming building, and the friendly staff – made Brown’s Court the perfect bakery experience.
Michael: Wine Authorities is a comfortable neighborhood wine shop in Raleigh (and Durham) with a very knowledgeable staff and a great selection of estate wines based on an even greater concept – every bottle in the store is less than $50 because “wine should be enjoyed, not collected.” That’s a mission I can easily get behind.
Meredith: In the 30 minutes I spent in Kingston Wine Co., I witnessed a dozen or so people walk through the shop, eager to hear the opinion of co-owner Michael Drapkin about which wine they should select. It became immediately apparent just how much of a community Michael and his wife Theresa have created within their shop, a store that is undoubtedly worthy of planning a trip to Kingston, NY.
Dining with Orvis
Michael & Meredith: The fact that we could eat outside with Orvis at Topnotch during both breakfast and dinner easily secured many future visits to this fantastic dog-friendly resort in Stowe for our little family.
Michael: Food wasn’t the concentration of our time in the Scottish Highlands, but dining in the old stone crofter’s cottage overlooking Loch Dunvegan at the famous Three Chimneys restaurant on Isle of Skye turned out to be one of the more memorable dining experiences of my entire year.
Meredith: It’s hard to beat the combination of fresh fish tacos and a tasty mojito underneath the palm trees at Morada Bay Beach Cafe!
Michael: The food was so good that I ate at The Dogs twice during my relatively short time in Edinburgh (once with my co-workers and once with Meredith), but the unassuming, low-key feeling of this restaurant, tucked away in a loft, with its quirky dog-related art, is one of the reasons I insisted on bringing Meredith here for our single dinner together in Edinburgh.
Meredith: Stepping into The Ordinary is an almost surreal experience. The oyster hall on upper King St. has plenty of classic charm and many leftover details from its history as a bank, including the vault from which the raw bar is now served.
Michael: We ate and ate and ate (and ate some more) in Charleston and there wasn’t a single meal during our entire four days there that didn’t excite us. Since our February trip, even more amazing spots have opened up, making this a food destination to which I cannot wait to return.
Meredith: Tagging along on Michael’s work trip to Atlanta was one of the best decisions I made all year. While he was working during the day, I managed to go from restaurant to restaurant and somehow kept just enough room to enjoy dinner with him each evening. Everything was delicious!
Michael: Set in a rustic mill quite literally on top of the river, everything about Hen of the Wood seems classically authentic to the locally-sourced and chef-owned mission it’s based around. Each part of my meal, from the heirloom tomatoes, to the bluefish toast, or slow-cooked rabbit was deliciously prepared and carefully presented.
Meredith: As if the multiple mentions on this decently short list weren’t enough of a hint, my dinner at The Optimist was easily one of the more memorable meals of my life, and reason enough for anyone to put Atlanta on their list for 2015.
All photos taken by Meredith Perdue for Map & Menu.2 Comments - Leave a comment
Recapping some of our best hotel stays each year is always an enjoyable experience reliving the memories, adventures, and meals of the past year. Here are some of our hotel favorites from 2014 that we hope will help you in planning your upcoming getaways.
Michael: From the moment we stepped onto the property at Charleston’s Zero George, I felt right at home with it’s classic Southern charm, style, and understated elegance. I’d be hard pressed to stay anywhere else in a town I can’t wait to return to.
Meredith: The Marlton’s rooms, restaurant, and branding are all packed with a quirky personality that perfectly balances style and expression. I loved every moment of my stay there this year.
Michael: The nod to Scotland’s own Sean Connery at The Balmoral in Edinburgh was a nice touch to an already classically cool bathroom.
Meredith: These days it seems as though my dreams are made of the marble sinks and brass Waterworks fixtures from The Marlton.
Michael & Meredith: We loved everything about our time with Orvis at Topnotch – the dog-friendly green spaces, the access to trails, and the welcome package for Orvis – but getting to eat outside with him at each meal at the resort was easily the highlight of our entire stay.
Michael: North Haven, home to the Nebo Lodge, is a picturesque and quintessential as a Maine island can get. Miles off the coast, exploring the island’s trails, village, and farms was an excellent way to spend a weekend getaway.
Meredith: Drinks atop the The Surrey in the hotel’s private garden is one of the very best views of Manhattan I’ve experienced thus far.
Michael: Eating pancakes and eggs on the patio by the pool with Orvis by our side at Topnotch Resort is just about the only way to unseat Hotel Fauchere from its breakfast throne.
Meredith: No other hotel breakfast has earned its own post on Map & Menu, or been the reason for a road trip detour. The breakfast at Hotel Fauchere is once again my favorite.
Michael & Meredith: The restaurant at Nebo Lodge is what brought us out to the island of North Haven in the first place, and after enjoying two fantastic dinners and two breakfasts there, it’s safe to say that the food was well worth the trip.
Michael: A slightly unusual, but amazing amenity of Atlanta’s Stonehurst Place is its museum-quality art selection with works by names like Warhol, Picasso, and many others.
Meredith: The spa at the Woodstock Inn is right at the top of my list of reasons I want to return to this charming Vermont inn. I didn’t have time for a treatment, but a mere $25 gave me access to the beautiful facilities – an amazing value!
Interaction with Hotel Staff:
Michael: Maybe it was due to the fact that Orvis was their very first canine guest, but every member of the staff at the Woodstock Inn seemed to know us by name and be excited about Orvis. Everyone who knows us knows that the fastest way to our hearts is through our buddy.
Meredith: Inez, a co-owner of Table on Ten, made my trip to New York an absolute delight. She seemed to be involved in each and every part of the inn and restaurant’s operations – welcoming, cooking, etc – and her hard work and creative attention to detail was evident throughout my stay.
Overall Hotel Experience
Michael: I couldn’t have imagined a better way to kick off our Scotland getaway than by staying at Greystones in Oban. A modernly-renovated baronial home overlooking the bay, the boutique bed & breakfast was wonderfully comfortable, a short stroll into town, and served an outstanding breakfast on each of our mornings.
Meredith: Between the amazing meals, the lovely chats with Liz the manager, and the Angela Adams-clad modern cottage aesthetic of Nebo Lodge, it was easily one of the most enjoyable trips of my year. And the fact that the pups were able to join us on our adventures around North Haven made it even more memorable.
All photos taken by Meredith Perdue for Map & Menu.Leave a comment
Over the course of the week Michael and I are going to be recapping some highlights of our 2014, and although sharing photos from our wedding, which was easily our favorite part of the year, would have been the perfect finale for this week’s ‘best of’ posts, we just love the images so much that we simply couldn’t wait until the end of the week.
We were married by the sea on November 1st, the date of our ninth anniversary. A tiny wedding ceremony down near the water at Fisherman’s Point, a spot we love visiting with Orvis, has been a dream of ours since moving to and falling in love with the Willard Beach neighborhood years ago, and earlier this fall we decided together to make that dream a reality. We set the date for a mere three weeks away, and thus began our whirlwind month of October. For the most part, we kept our plans fairly quiet, sharing them only with our immediate families and a handful of friends, and in many ways, the privacy with which we approached our wedding day made the whole experience seem that much more exciting and romantic.
Orvis, looking quite dapper in his gingham bow tie, was our Best Man of Honor, a title he wore with great dignity and a little bit of mischief. Our longtime friend, Julia, and our talented photographer and friend, Sarah Der, were our witnesses. Having a friend who we’ve known for our entire time in Maine attend and another with such a talented eye documenting the day meant so very much to the two of us. We’ve known for years that we’d someday ask Julia’s father, Steve, to officiate our wedding. His thoughtfulness, taste, and the admirable relationship he has with his wife, whom we adore, were an inspiration to us on our wedding day. We decided to write our own vows to each other, something that I was incredibly nervous about until I finally sat down to do so the day before. Listening to the vows Michael wrote for me was easily my favorite part of this most perfect day, and the fact that we both included Orvis in our vows to one another is something that will make me smile for years to come. It would feel funny not to mention the nor’easter that blew in, just in time for our wedding day, but to be honest, with a little bit of flexibility and with all of the happiness, laughter, and tears, I don’t even really remember the weather from a large part of the day.
With the talents of some of our favorite friends, we were fortunate to incorporate other details that are meaningful to us as a couple. A framed, calligraphed marriage certificate – an unofficial one that includes Orvis as a witness – from Li hangs in our home and brings us such joy each time we see it. In lieu of a wedding cake, our favorite bakery, Scratch, created a wedding cookie cake for us – nine layers of the chocolate chunk pistachio sea salt cookie that we absolutely love. Our sweet friend, Alison, who’s been cutting both of our hair for many years now, made me feel simply beautiful. A floral designer I’ve worked with closely and admired over the years, Emily Carter, created the most stunning bouquet for me to hold and the most original and charming boutonniere for Michael to wear. Although not friends per se, the staff at Folia, where we found our wedding bands, made the experience one we’ll remember fondly. Our rings bring us so much happiness, they’ve found two lifelong clients in us.
For the post-ceremony celebration, we chose to honor both our past and present, by having drinks with friends at our very favorite bar, Hunt and Alpine, followed by a cozy dinner at Ribollita, the first place we visited as a couple in Maine. Coming full circle, just the two of us, seemed to be the perfect way to end the happiest day in our very full lives, and even though we chose to celebrate our marriage in the tiniest of ways, we felt an overwhelming amount of love and support from our incredible friends and family.
The photos that our amazingly talented photographer, Sarah Der, took for us were more than we could have ever imagined. Braving the rain and wind with the biggest smile on her face, she perfectly captured so many special moments from the day that we’ll cherish for years and years. We hope you enjoy these photographs as much as we do.
Ceremony site: Fisherman’s Point. Photographer: Sarah Der. Flowers: Emily Carter. Hair & Makeup: Alison Bogannan. Calligraphed Marriage Certificate: Li Ward of Fat Orange Cat Studio. Wedding Cookie: Scratch Baking Co. Meredith’s Dress: J.Crew. Michael’s Suit: Joseph’s. Michael’s Tie: General Knot Co. Michael’s Shoes: Allen Edmonds. Orvis’s Tie: J.Crew. Rings: Folia. Earrings: Hyla DeWitt.17 Comments - Leave a comment