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Our recent weekend at Nobnocket Boutique Inn on Martha’s Vineyard was full of delightful experiences all over the island, including lots of good food, drinks, and beer. We learned that winter on Martha’s Vineyard means some places are closed, but there is still plenty to see and do, all without the crowds of summer!

On our first night on the Vineyard, we came in out of the cold into the warm and glowing dining room of State Road in West Tisbury.

State Road MV

A favorite of the Obamas and Vineyard locals alike, State Road was cozy and romantic with a great wine list and a fun cocktail list using soft spirits. Restaurants currently can’t sell hard liquor, which instead of feeling like a limitation, actually played into their favor. The mixed drinks were like none we had before, in the best way possible!

State Road Martha's Vineyard

I kicked dinner off with a Respect, which was very similar to a Dark & Stormy.

cocktails

We were debating ordering the whipped lardo, when it was presented to us, compliments of the kitchen. I swear, Martha’s Vineyard just reads my mind!

lardo There is something about radishes + fat + salt that is incredible, and this rich, smoky treat made it even better. A little crunch, a little salt, a whole lot of decadence.

I’m usually good about skipping the bread, but not when it’s buttery, lightly sweet, house-made brioche with Foie butter. We could have happily existed on the lardo and bread/butter for the evening!

brioche We read about State Road’s burger night, which happens on Thursdays, so we had to add a burger to our order. A good burger and excellent fries is one of the ways we judge a restaurant, and we can say we will definitely try to come back for burger night!

State Road burger

farm salad

We also shared and devoured a farmhouse salad with an incredible buttermilk dressing (ranch-like, but fresh and way better) and the roasted Katama Bay oysters with a flavorful Gremolata. When on Martha’s Vineyard, you have to have oysters!

roasted oysters

We rounded out this freezing night with a perfectly tender beef short rib with farro and pickled mustard.

Oof, it was a lot of very good food!

short rib

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Because I wanted to try the entire cocktail menu, I went with a nightcap before heading back to our cozy home-away-from-home, where we enjoyed one of State Road’s famous chocolate bars. As we enjoyed our dinner, we saw people leaving with stacks of these chocolates, named for Martha’s Vineyard towns. They are one of the hottest and most delicious items on the island, an a must-taste souvenir.

State Road was the perfect spot to spend a winter evening, and I can just imagine how fantastic it must be in warmer weather as well. They generously provided a gift card toward our dinner; all opinions are my own.

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Tags: cocktails, dining, Food, Martha's Vineyard, Travel, travel blog

Truth be told, I wasn’t going to blog about our last visit to Ashford Castle. It’s a place I have had the true pleasure of visiting many times, and I’ve already blogged about it a couple of times.

But, truth be told, I am disgusted with the state of our country right now, and looking at photos of places I love is one escape that seems to lower my blood pressure and soften the rage at the people who have sold out our country to a maniac.

So, this Travel Tuesday, in my blog and in my mind, I am at the majestic Ashford Castle, on the shores of Lough Corrib in County Mayo Ireland. Both Ashford Castle and the little village of Cong where it is located are well-worth a visit if you ever head to Ireland.

On our last Ireland trip, we decided that a stop at Ashford on the way home from Achill Island would be a great way to break up the journey and give us a chance to have a snack and stretch our legs.

We arrived as the light of the day was starting to lower, casting a warm glow all over the castle and Lough Corrib.

Ashford Castle gin cocktail We were quickly brought to the lounge and seated with views of the lake, handed leather-bound cocktail menus to peruse.

My mother-in-law went with one of the castle’s imaginative gin cocktails, which had muddled blueberries, cracked black pepper, and grapefruit.

I have long been a fan of the Manhattan at Ashford, so I tucked in with one of those and a copy of The Irish Times. It was one of those lovely, cozy moments where we were all a little sleepy from Achill sunshine, so we just sat back and enjoyed the gorgeous surroundings.

Manhattan cocktail

Ashford Castle For lunch, the Smoked Salmon BLT was the obvious choice; I eat Irish smoked salmon and Irish bacon every chance I get, and this was one incredible sandwich.

 

smoked salmon BLT

Stuffed and in need of a bit of waking up, we did what we always do after a meal at Ashford; we took a long walk around the grounds. This is really one of my favorite things to do, and looking below, you can probably see why. Try to get there near sunset.

Ashford Castle Ashford Castle Lough Corrib

We didn’t expect to go to Ireland anytime soon, but it turned out the best rates to Italy this summer actually go through Dublin. This means I get to spend four glorious days in July in one of my favorite places. Having things to look forward to, big and small, are helping to keep me positive during these dark days.

Tell me, where do you go (even if just in your mind) when you need some uplifting?

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Tags: Ashford, Ashford Castle, castles, cocktails, Food, Ireland, luxury, luxury travel, Mayo, Travel

It was a cold but beautiful weekend to be in one of the most beautiful places in New England, the Portland, Maine area. We’ve made several trips to Maine in the past and always look for reasons to visit. . . we even have a trip to Camden booked for April. I am counting the days until it’s warmer!

A few past Maine blog posts:

Freeport and Camden Maine

Hartstone Inn, Camden, Maine

Our friends recently moved to Maine, which gives us an important reason to visit. After our second annual Halfway to Dot Day 5k race (which was absolutely bloody freezing) we hit the road, stopping for lunch in Portsmouth and then heading on to beautiful Cape Elizabeth.

My first order of business was a New England-y photo shoot for Nautical Gin, a brand I have been working with this year. Our friends brought us to Kettle Cove, which was a stunning location and a place I would love to visit again when it is warmer than 10 degrees.

Kettle Cove Maine

After some snacks and relaxing, we headed to downtown Portland for drinks at the Top of the East in the Westin Portland Harborview.

Eastland Portland Maine The views and Christmas decorations were gorgeous, and the cocktails delicious. It was definitely the perfect place to kick off our night out in Portland.

Eastland 15th floor Portland

After our round of drinks, we headed to the main event, dinner at Sur Lie, where we had one of the best meals we’ve enjoyed in a long time and ordered half of the menu.

Cocktails Sur Lie Portland

First, more cocktails: Forest Moon of Endor {Four Roses bourbon, Applejack, Kina, pecan orgeat, lime, sassafras bitters}

This definitely had a nice, warming autumnal feel and taste; it was reminiscent of apple pie but not too sweet.

Fried Milk Braised Cauliflower

{Fried Milk Braised Cauliflower, honey soy glaze} – Sweet, with little kicks of spice, earthy, delicious, the way cauliflower should be

Smith's Log Smokehouse Sausage

{Smith’s Log Smokehouse Sausage, orange peel & honey pork sausage, house pickles, roasted garlic} I had heard great things about Smith’s meats, and they were confirmed when I had this sausage. Melty roasted garlic and paper thin slices of bread paired deliciously with it. ,

chicken croquettes

{Chicken Croquettes}

I was a huge fan of these when I was a kid, and this more gourmet version was even better.

 

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Pink bubbles go with everything. I am loving Franciacorta lately and Italian bubbly in general. This was the perfect choice for pairing with so many different dishes and for celebrating new beginnings.

the best scallops ever

{Seared Scallops, white sweet potato puree, pickled red onion, pineapple mojo, lime}

We agreed that these were some of the most perfect scallops we have ever had.

 

Captains' Cut Cod*

{Captains’ Cut Cod*, butternut squash purée, pecan, apple, maple syrup}

I normally wouldn’t think of cod and autumn flavors like these going together, but this dish was amazing. The fish was cooked to perfection, and everything just worked so beautifully.  This dish made me want to experiment with fish more at home.

 

 Panko Crusted Pork Cutlet*

{Panko Crusted Pork Cutlet*, L.P. Bisson & Sons pork loin, chicken gravy, Whatley Farm organic duck egg, house pickles}

We couldn’t decide between the two pork dishes so we ordered both. Again, cooked to perfection, and the meat was paired with seasonal, creative flavors.

 L.P. Bissons Smoked Pork Chop

{L.P. Bissons Smoked Pork Chop, carrot-cream cheese puree, walnut, torpedo onions, fennel, brown butter}

The contrast of flavors between the rich pork and carrot-cream cheese and the crunchy, tangy onions made this one of my favorite dishes of the night.

  apple cider donut {House Apple Cider Donut, apple cider donut, pecan maple syrup, pumpkin gelato}

Chocolate Pot de Creme

{Chocolate Pot de Creme, espresso gelato, orange laced madeleines}

Heavenly desserts could not be passed up, and we couldn’t get over how delicious both of these were. Every bite of this meal was so well-planned and thought out. The perfect ending to the night was a visit from the chef to see how things were. Between the service, the wine pairings, the ingredients, and the cozy, simple decor, Sur Lie quietly and understatedly outdid itself.

NespressoSunday brought a nice lie-in, Nespresso (which I hadn’t had in awhile. . . oh how I love it!), and a walk around Portland Head Light, which was decorated for Christmas and looking like a picture perfect New England scene. I love Maine.

Portland Head Light

Portland Head Light

 Portland Head Light  

Before we reluctantly made our way back to Boston, we stopped for brunch at The Porthole, a hidden-away diner-type restaurant and bar that we try to visit every time we are in Portland. Their brunch is great, and in warmer months, the patio is the place to be for live music and local Portland beer.

I had to go for the Lobster Bennie when in Maine!

lobster benedict

the porthole portland maine

It was an excellent weekend, and while we were sad to see our friends move away, they couldn’t have picked a better place for us to visit! I look forward to discovering more of Portland and the surrounding areas in the future, especially when the weather is better!

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Tags: blogging, brunch, cocktails, dinner, Food, Maine, ME, New England, Portland, Travel, travel blog, travel blogger, wine

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