Maine

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2015 was a huge travel year for us, with a safari in Africa, three trips to Ireland, trips to Myrtle Beach, Chicago, and more. When 2016 rolled around, between being a bit tired and also getting a new boat, we wanted to spend more time staying local, and with the exception of a couple of trips, we did just that.

January – I got to travel to beautiful Hampshire County Massachusetts for work and to stay in Amherst, soaking up the quiet magic that is January in the region. It was cold, but we warmed up by the Lord Jeff fireplaces and with perfectly made craft cocktails. This was, as it is titled, a perfect Massachusetts getaway.

The Lord Jeffery Inn

 

February – A dreamy trip to Luquillo and San Juan, Puerto Rico was one of the highlights of the year, so much so that we might return again in 2017. 

Boats, beaches, seafood, rum, music, and lots of sunshine made this the perfect getaway, an easy and direct JetBlue flight from Boston.

Outdoor Adventures in Puerto Rico

Icacos sailing

 

AprilA much-needed getaway to Maine with friends included a stay at the beautiful Hartstone Inn, hiking to the top of Mount Battie in Camden, and shopping in Freeport. I heart L.L. Bean. Maine is just glorious, and our April 2017 trip to Camden is already booked!

16 Bayview Camden Maine

June – Sharing my June trip (and one of the best of 2016) is certainly bittersweet, as the amazing publicist who organized it recently passed away. Florence Tambone brought me along on the most wonderful day to the North Fork of Long Island on Cross Sound Ferry, along with other writers, and I just had the best time, visiting Long Island wineries, learning to shuck oysters, visiting a gorgeous farm, and laughing all day long.  Lavender by the Bay was perhaps the most breathtaking experience of my year. Thanks to Florence and Cross Sound Ferry, the North Fork is one of my favorite getaways, and I will always, always think of her when I visit.

lavender fields in Long Island

 

July – Another work trip to Hampshire County gave me time to stay at Hotel Northampton and visit a favorite, Black Birch Vineyard. I’m hoping that 2017 brings more opportunities to visit Western Massachusetts, both for work and fun!

Black Birch Vineyard

August – My cousin got married in Asheville, NC, so we got to visit this beautiful area for the first time. Outdoor time, beer tasting, and family time made it a perfect summer trip.

horses in asheville

September – We traveled just up to Ipswich, MA for the last weekend of summer and rented the most incredible little waterside cottage. We spent a ton of time on the screened in porch, went to the private beach in the Little Neck community we were in, explored Newburyport, Essex, and Ipswich, and ate a ton of seafood. This cottage is definitely in future plans. I love New England summer!

(I caught the sunrise on the first morning; magical.)

sunrise in Ipswich

October – We traveled to Chicago for the Chicago Marathon, which was a disappointing run for me but an amazing trip overall. We absolutely loved the Thompson Chicago, and WE MET EDDIE VEDDER. Maybe the highlight of my year.

image

 

November – Our annual trip to Ireland for Thanksgiving included time on Achill Island as well as plenty of time to wander around Galway, eating and drinking and being merry. We loved Tribeton for cocktails, and I have so many more Ireland posts to come!

wild atlantic way ireland

December – We rounded out the year with a trip to Maine to visit friends who just moved there. It’s great to have another excuse to visit Portland!

We had the most amazing dinner at Sur Lie in Portland, and despite bitter cold temperatures spent some time outside taking in the stunning coastal vistas and lighthouses. Vacationland for sure.

Portland Head Light

There were lots of weekends boating to the Boston Harbor Islands and other places in Massachusetts, along with other little New England trips here and there. Looking back on 2016, we actually traveled more than I realized.

In 2017, we’ll be going to Tuscany for a wedding in July, look forward to MANY more boating adventures, trips to Maine, and hopefully a warm weather getaway, possibly Puerto Rico again.

Cheers to a wanderlust-satisfying 2017 for all!

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Tags: Achill, blogger, boating, Boston blogger, Camden, Galway, Ireland, Long Island, Long Island wine, Luquillo, Maine, New England, North Fork, Puerto Rico, travel blog, travel blogger, travel planning, wine blog, wine country

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.

 

IMG_0690

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

Our weekend in Camden, Maine was one I would love to repeat over and over. It involved great food, gorgeous New England scenery, and fun friends. The Hartstone Inn was our home-away-from-home for the weekend and is the coziest little retreat for a relaxing weekend. Our friends have been going for a few years, and when they invited us, we jumped at the chance. We booked way back in September, and when the weekend finally came in April, we were so excited.

Hartstone Inn

We booked the Manor Suite, which was spacious and beautiful, with two bedrooms, a big Jacuzzi soaking tub, a fireplace, and a little foyer. It was in the same house as one of the couples we were traveling with, so we were back and forth all weekend, hanging out for snacks and drinks in the living room in their suite and enjoying their sunny balcony. 

Hartstone Inn

 

Hartstone Inn, Camden, Maine

Our room included a half bottle of wine and chocolates and some cute welcome literature like a recipe for one of the inn’s delicious cocktails.

Hartstone Inn, Camden, Maine

Downstairs, a sunny, enclosed porch welcomed us. Everywhere we looked there were beautiful little touches and cute details. I want the Hartstone Inn to come and decorate my house.

Hartstone Inn, Camden, Maine

 

Hartstone Inn, Camden, Maine 

The main house of the inn was home to reception and the dining room, along with some cozy little rooms for reading and relaxing. Our package included breakfast each day and a credit toward the tasting menu. Food is carefully prepared, creative, and focused on being fresh and local. And it was amazing.

Hartstone Inn, Camden, Maine

Happy Hour featured $5 specialty cocktails and small bites to get us ready for a feast.

cocktail hour

One at the table, we started with a little seared tuna amuse, which we paired with bubbly and a toast to the weekend.

tuna 

While others made some substitutions, I went straight off of the tasting menu.

MAINE SEAFOOD TIMBALE with  citrus aioli, pickled red onions, rye toast points
SWEET POTATO, RUTABAGA AND GREEN APPLE SOUP with maple cream
SORBET – Maine blueberry
PAN SEARED BISTRO STEAK with roasted fingerling potatoes, blue cheese butter
BLUEBERRY-ALMOND SOUFFLÉ with amaretto crème anglaise

It all looked so good to me, and I ended up devouring every delicious bite.

seafood timbale 

You can’t go wrong with Maine seafood, and I love pickled onions. Tart, tangy, refreshing, and light, this dish was a perfect starter.

 

sweet potato soup

Temperatures had dropped during our walk around Camden, and this rich and velvety soup was a yummy way to also warm up and get a dose of veggies. My eating has been terrible lately, especially when I travel, and I appreciate any way to eat vegetables that also tastes really good!

Maine blueberry sorbet

Maine blueberry sorbet cleansed our palates and gave us a taste of summer.

bistro steak

As it got darker, my photos did the food no justice. The bistro steak was perfectly cooked, and you really can’t go wrong with blue cheese butter and potatoes.

blueberry souffle

And then there was dessert. Swoon. The soufflé was hot and fluffy, and the decadent sauce poured over as the top was cracked open was just the icing on the cake, so to speak. Heavenly.

Hartstone Inn      

Breakfast at the inn was just as good. I only ate the first morning as I had some work to do the second day during breakfast hours. We started the morning with a cup of coffee in the parlor, enjoying the super cozy vibe. I rarely feel truly relaxed, and this was one of those moments.

Once at our breakfast table, I had a mimosa in hand and a fruity breakfast starter with a home baked scone followed by an egg strata with the best homemade chicken sausage ever.

breakfast

egg strata with homemade chicken sausage The Hartstone Inn Chef was not on property, but the food was some of the best I have had. I’ve heard that it’s even that much better when Chef is there. When not actually at the inn, you can find the Chef/owners leading culinary trips in Europe, which look like complete dream getaways.

If you’re looking for a lovely weekend away, I can’t recommend the Hartstone Inn enough. We’re looking forward to next year’s visit!

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Tags: Camden, Food, getaway, Maine, New England, Travel, travel blog, vacation

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