Archive for DESTINATIONS

Japan

photos: m&j

A whirlwind trip to Tokyo, Sendai and Ishikawa Prefecture to visit dear friends brought so much beauty, love and delight to our hearts and eyes.

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Mary Lous’s garden …

photos: m&j

In late summer with the sun beating down in St. Michael’s, we thought it would be the perfect time to take Mary Lou up on her offer to come harvest some fresh, ripe figs from the famously giant, old tree in her lovely garden. She wasn’t there and, unfortunately, neither were ripe figs (our bad timing had us there just between bumper crops), but we found some lovely pink flowers, instead and a little shed with an overgrowth of climbing hydrangea next to it that seems like a great place for a troll or hobbit to live – so charming. Thanks for letting us sneak around, ML and Bill Mac and can’t wait to come visit you both again (and to taste those delicious figs!) next summer!

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Paupack Blueberry Farm

photos: m&j

The season’s last harvest of tiny, juicy, dark and delicious berries.

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 Tuscany on the Eastern Shore

photos: m&j

A magical evening occurred last month on a beautiful farm by the bay in Wittman, Maryland – an al fresco dinner, to which a few of us lucky souls were fortunate enough to be invited. Both the meal and setting will be remembered for a long time to come. And even more impressive than the natural beauty of the site, the graciousness of the host and hostess and the many talents of those who caught, grew and skillfully prepared the bounty of sumptuous offerings we gorged ourselves upon was the company, itself. It’s hard to recall an evening coming together so perfectly. It was supposed to rain, but instead the sun came out and set with a lovely blush to match the delicate Charles & Charles and Sancerre Rosés. Some of us had not previously met, but we are now communicating regularly and planning future escapades. The event and, indeed, the menu was only casually discussed, but suddenly it all seemed to come together as if it had been planned for months.

This is one of those great evenings that we see in photos and wish we could’ve been a part of. And, delightfully, we were. And it all came together in a relaxed and flawless manner that is the hallmark of great entertaining – thanks to the deft hand and eye (and taste buds!) of delightful Carol Bean (our hostess, chef, stylist and farmer), her charming husband Mark Connolly (a third generation waterman, who, along with his brother, caught the delicious fish we ate), Rachel Vecchio (a super-talented baker and pastry chef who supplied the desserts) and Kathy Bosin (a local blogger who graced us with her presence and charming dinner company).

We began with the lovely wine and worked in some freshly pressed & chilled watermelon juice for pacing. Then came the Red Cloud goat cheese served with grilled French bread drizzled with extra virgin olive oil and Carol’s special, handmade “fish” crackers with sesame seeds and black lava salt. While the whole rockfish – stuffed with lemon, garlic & fresh mint and wrapped in fresh fig leaves from one of the farm’s three fig trees – was grilling along with eggplant brushed with olive oil & sea salt. The parade of delicacies began to emerge from Carol’s magical kitchen; quinoa cakes with slow-roasted heirloom cherry tomatoes, yogurt and finished with the tiniest micro-arugula we’d ever seen, fresh honeydew melon salad with blackberries and radish micro greens – tossed with a lavender white balsamic vinaigrette, barley salad with fresh, local raw corn, slow-roasted heirloom cherry tomatoes with fresh basil and fresh feta cheese, freshly grown and made chilled cucumber gazpacho “shooters” with a hint of lemon and garlic topped with beautiful, tiny micro greens – all fresh from the garden and Carol’s French green beans, pickled in her own chive flower-infused vinegar. As we ate, drank and enjoyed every nuanced bite of these super-fresh, simple yet complex culinary delights, the dessert table started to beckon …

Carol popped the cork on a bottle of Domaine Du Pre Semele and we started nibbling dates stuffed with mascarpone cheese, rolled in chopped, dark chocolate covered espresso beans, then fresh, local peaches, soaked in a lemon verbena simple syrup, dusted with fresh lavender flowers, drizzled with balsamic reduction which had been grilled on the fire and finally ripe brown Turkish figs fresh from Carol’s incredibly productive tree, sliced over the most delicate and decadent St. Angel cheese, drizzled with local honey. It cannot be stressed how delicious this cheese was (it will be eaten again. Soon!).  And then, just when we all thought things couldn’t get any better, Rachel brought out her now famous honeyed-thyme brown Turkish fig crostatas (made with local figs picked in nearby Neavitt and honey from Sand Hill Farms) served with homemade orange blossom whipped cream and an absolutely out-of-this-world rustic peach galette (made with peaches from Caroline County, and served with lavender-scented homemade whipped cream. Wow. Wow. And wow. We are still quite floored by it all and frankly, just longing for an encore! September, anyone?

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last giant magnolia bouquet

photos: m&j

We are so sad to report that Chelsea’s Landing, our beloved family home in St. Michael’s, MD is in the process of being sold. So this will be our last summer there. And, though the official sale is good news for the family, it is oh-so-bittersweet.  Afraid you’ll see a lot of posts from the fabulous 17 acre grounds and garden, waxing on with less-than-faint nostalgia about the last time we’ll see, smell and taste each ripe, gorgeous fruit, vegetable, crab and flower as the season progresses. This Memorial Day weekend, it was giant Magnolia blossoms – and how lemony and heady they were. After trucking them back to the city, the scent has delightfully filled the entire apartment. We will miss you in all your glory, enormous flowering tree ! More to come …

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flower foraging in Litchfield County

photos: m&j

We are hard pressed to imagine a prettier place on earth than Litchfield County, CT in springtime. And there’s no prettier spread in the county than our dear friend Alicia’s 1808 colonial with all its textured finery, abundant and truly special offerings. Thank you, A for the spectacular feast for our hearts, stomachs and eyes and for letting us take home a few flower-filled “doggie bags” for our week in the concrete jungle xoxo. p.s. the much-coveted arrangements include; double lilacs, pink weigelia, helleborus, “knockout” pink roses, lilies of the valley and stars of Bethlehem.

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May Supper Club!

photos: m&j

On the evening of May 17th, we joined our new friends at the wonderful Haven’s Kitchen, as well as our beloved, old friends (and some friends we, delightfully, had yet to meet) to celebrate the sustainable, seasonal, local and truly world famously amazing food of extremely recent (this very month!) James Beard award winning “Best Chef” – Chef Michael Anthony of the famed Gramercy Tavern, as well as the very special birthday of our dearest pal, Mr. John McGinn. And what a fabulously delicious, festive, heart-warming, unique and inspiring evening it was!  Can each Haven’s Kitchen Supper Club possibly continue to be this special and magical? If we’ve learned anything at all from our experience here, we are thinking “absolutely!” If there is such a thing as a dinner party fairy, she has sprinkled her magic dust on this place – the exceptional food and wine pairings are guaranteed to delight the most buzz-killing food & wine snobs, and yet, the vibe is just about the most relaxed and congenial we have ever experienced – let the good times roll!

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pickled asparagus and more!

photos:  m&j

One of the highlights of our recent trip to Maryland was our visit to the farmer’s market in St. Michael’s on Saturday where we ran into our friend, the lovely Carol Bean and her wares from local Pot Pie Farm. Carol always makes everything look lovely, but she really took our breath away with the pickling liquid for her asparagus demonstration at this week’s market, which was made with simple apple cider vinegar and fluffy, fresh chive flowers, which, to everyone’s absolute delight, turned both the vinegar and asparagus mixture a blushing shade of pink!  We are so charmed by everything Carol touches and can’t wait to see her storied Pot Pie Farm in person later in the summer – we’ve been excitedly planning a food shoot there in July with Carol and her husband who’s a local fisherman. Stay tuned …

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April Supper Club!

photos: m&j

On April 24th, we had the complete pleasure of joining a group of close friends and even a few adventurous family members (go A. Wright & Patsy!) along with our dear new friends at Haven’s Kitchen for their second ever Supper Club event. With food imagined and prepared by husband and wife chef team Andrew Lentz of Lincoln and Shaunna Sargent of Indie Food and Wine and Betto – we knew the evening was going to be something special. And it was that and so much more. The festivities began with a signature negroni cocktail downstairs in the cooking school kitchen with passed hors d’oeuvres, including miniature lobster sandwiches, chicken liver mousse on crisped toasts and fried fresh pea risotto balls – yum!  Then the forty of us headed upstairs for a rustic Italian meal prepared with organic and locally sourced sustainable fare and wine parings that had our mouths watering from the instant we sat down. The Antipasti was a fantastic panzanella of young beets, celery, charred onion petals, tender herbs fresh as fresh can be, house made mozzarella and Barolo vinegar with an Anselmi II Ceppo Prosecco NV. The Primi consisted of one the best raviolis we’ve ever tasted – blushed with fresh beet juice, these delicate pillows were stuffed with silky potato, pecorino romano and spicy black pepper, dressed with a lovely charred asparagus and paired with a 2010 Ocone “Flora” Falanghina. Secondi was a particularly well cooked pollo fra diavolo with braised radiccio and escarole salad and a 2008 Occhipinti “Siccagno” Nero D’Avola. And, finally, we stuffed our last bit of room with a lovely Dolci – rhubarb torta with ricotta gelato – wow! Another stellar evening burned into our tastebuds and our memories – which would be a bit nostalgic and bittersweet to look back on now if we weren’t already gearing up for the next Supper Club on May 17th (with chef Michael Anthony of Gramercy Tavern fame – can this honored new tradition possibly get any better?) … keep you posted!

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Grimaldi’s

photos: m&j

It’s been too long since the last time we walked across the beautiful Brooklyn bridge for pizza at the legendary Grimaldi’s (since before both kids were walking, actually!). The bridge was as lovely as ever – framed with purple flowering trees on the Brooklyn side that seemed to underscore a phenomenal spring day. We got mango “flowers” on sticks as our appetizers on the way over, which added to the otherworldliness of Brooklyn on one of the season’s first really warm days with everything fully laden and bursting with blooms. And we’re pleased to report that Grimaldi’s is as good as ever in its new digs down the street – perhaps even better. The crispy coal-fired brick oven crust with its giant, delicate air bubbles rivals the best Roman fare. The guys in the kitchen – like dancers – move in prefect harmony as they pat, sprinkle and toss. And the coal fired brick oven is like an amusement park ride for foodies (the first coal fired brick oven in America was at Grimaldi’s, back in 1905, and today, this kind of cooking is truly a dying art). They moved down the block to their new space a few months ago (with barely a down day in between) and the new high ceilings, giant windows and tons of natural light really set the stage for the pizza cooking show for all patrons to see. It doesn’t hurt that the new merry-go-round is right around the corner, overlooking the water. And the fact that we got to take the ferry back to Wall street was a real cherry on top of a great weekend day for all that attended, especially those 5 and under! NO CREDIT CARDS – NO RESERVATIONS – NO SLICES – NO DELIVERY and worth every minute of the 45 min wait with two hungry kids.

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