Sunday, August 29, 2010

Travel Diary: Maine

We've been home for about two weeks and I am still thinking about our vacation.  Our trip to Maine was a great getaway and we enjoyed every minute.  This was meant to be a relaxing, sit-on-the-beach trip, but we definitely explored the area and found some really fun and interesting sights along the way.

Anthony and I left Connecticut around 6am on a Saturday morning and headed north.  There was little traffic and we got to Ogunquit ahead of schedule.  Instead of staying in a hotel, we rented a small condo for the week, and by 10:30am, we were in our temporary home, staring at the lovely in-ground pool right outside the slider doors.

We couldn't have picked a better condo to rent.  We were only two blocks away from the center of town and about six blocks from the beach.  There are adorable shops and restaurants on the main drag in Ogunquit and it was so easy to find a nearby place for breakfast or dinner.  And, of course, there was a Ben & Jerry's close by too. 

Some of our favorite moments from the trip:

On our first day, after a quick lunch, we headed right down to the beach.  Without our chairs or even our swimsuits, we took off our shoes and stood in the cold water.  There were tons of families enjoying the day and we sat on the sand for a couple of hours, taking in our surroundings and talking about plans for the rest of the week.  What a lovely way to spend an afternoon.

Kites flying above at the beach

The next day in Kennebunkport, we parked in a residential area and walked to the stores and restaurants by the water.  It was a breezy day and there were lots of bike riders and even horse-drawn carriages on the roads.  The homes in the area were just gorgeous and provided the perfect scenery for our walk. 


The Marginal Way in Ogunquit is a path that runs along the shore for over a mile.  We walked this one night after dinner in Perkins Cove, just when it was starting rain.  It's a twisty, hilly walk spotted with lots of wooden benches and little enclaves to stop off and take pictures--the views are unbelievable.  Perkins Cove itself is great with boats coming in and out of the port/dock and tons of restaurants.  We had lobster and fresh corn-on-the-cob at Barnacle Billy's and sat out on the deck for an authentic experience. 

Perkins Cove

When in Portland, we spent some time at the Portland Observatory, which is actually an old watch tower from the mid-1800's.  Captain Moody used to station himself at the top and use flags to signal to the town which ships were coming into the port.  Today, the Observatory is a national landmark and the views of the city (and the beautiful Casco Bay Islands) are breathtaking. 

View from top of Portland Observatory

And, of course, Anthony and I spent our last night in Maine (which was actually the night before our 6 year anniversary!) on the beach looking at the sky during a Perseid meteor shower.  It was so quiet and serene, and just the perfect way to say goodbye to Maine.

On the beach at night

We were lucky enough to have wonderful weather for almost the entire week of our visit.  The sky was picturesque and I couldn't stop taking pictures of the clouds. 

It's still summer but we are already talking about another visit to the Maine coast.  I wonder what Ogunquit's like in the fall...

Friday, August 27, 2010

Venn Diagram: Muppets

I absolutely love this breakdown of Muppet names, but where are Miss Piggy and Rizzo the Rat?!

Via Jezebel

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Bon Appetit Features New Haven's Caseus

I got my new Bon Appetit magazine in the mail yesterday and was really excited to see it was the 'Restaurant' issue.  Since Anthony and I are headed into Brooklyn in a couple of weeks, I thought that maybe I could find a new New York restaurant for us to try.  Flipping through the pages, though, I came across something even better.  There was an attractive picture of Arctic Char with Cucumber-Feta Relish along with these delicious-looking Jalapeno-Goat Cheese Hush Puppies.  Now, I'm not even sure what a hush puppy is exactly but they looked so good that I looked down to scan the ingredients and that's when I saw that not only is this a great-looking meal but it's also from one of my favorite restaurants, Caseus Fromagerie Bistro in New Haven, Connecticut. 

Caseus is located just a few blocks from my office and is such a great place for a meal.  The food is excellent (my favorites are the burger with blue cheese, the pomme frites and, of course, the cheese plate) and the atmosphere is so relaxed and welcoming.  The restaurant has the feel of a bohemian French bistro and I just love it.  Hopefully, with the spotlight on Caseus in this month's Bon Appetit, more people will discover the loveliness of this New Haven spot.

Photo courtesy of Bon Appetit

Sunday, August 22, 2010

Toronto's The Cookbook Store

When Anthony and I were in San Diego last summer, we explored some new areas of the city.  I had read about Hillcrest and Kensington, and was really anxious to see what was there.  There was supposed to be a store that only sells cookbooks and I couldn't wait to see what it was like.  The Cookbook Store is in a small plaza with carts of books outside the entrance and stacks of books covering every surface of the store.  We could hardly walk through the piles throughout the tight space but there was so much to look at that we barely noticed.  There were thousands of cookbooks, new and used, featuring every type of food, any type of drink and even cooking techniques.  I kept picking up books, flipping through them and falling in love.  For $12, we walked away with ten books, which included one of the best things I have ever come across: a two-inch thick spiral cookbook from the 1960's with recipes that were collected from home-economics teachers all over the country.  The teachers' names, schools and states are listed and the recipes in there are classic.  I had a hard time parting with it but I brought it back for my mother as a souvenir and hope she is putting it to good use. 

This article from The Star features another Cookbook Store, this one in Toronto.  It looks beautiful, nothing at all like the store in San Diego, but just as wonderful.  I'd love to visit some day.  They book well-known chefs for signings and in this feature, the staff offers dirt on some big stars.  Jamie Oliver acts fake and Martha Stewart has a surprising sense of humor. 

How lovely would it be to own one of these stores?  And does anyone else get as excited as I do about cookbooks?

Picture courtesy of Treehugger

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Gifts from a Far-Away Land

I love this article in the New York Times today about edible souvieniers.  I tend to agree with many of the people interviewed: certain things taste better when brought back personally from particular destinations.  Sure, you can probably order that buffalo sauce or those candy bars online and have them delivered right to your doorstep, but isn't it the journey to get it that makes it so special? 

I hate to admit this but so much of our travels revolve around food: where we'll eat, specialty stores, renown cafes, local cuisine.  When I was in San Francisco years ago with my mother, I packed two huge loaves of sour dough bread in my suitcase and enjoyed them slice by slice for a whole week after we returned.  Even when Anthony and I go to New York, we always take back a little something to enjoy later so we can hang on to the trip that much longer.  Last time, it was the cheese (more specific: a smelly, delicious type of goat cheese that I couldn't stop eating) and crackers from Murray's Cheese on Bleecker Street and red velvet cupcakes from Amy's Bread right next door. 

What are some of your favorite foods from far-away places?

Photo from Kitchener

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Did You Say Alpaca?

We spent our last day of vacation in Portland, Maine (I know, I know, I still haven't posted on the trip but it's coming!).  After a delicious late lunch of fried shrimp and scallops, we walked along the water a bit, checking out the boats and the beautiful views.  And that's also where we came across one of those displays with hundreds of pamphlets of area attractions that I can never pass up.  I'm sure Anthony inwardly groans every time I stop and start loading up on cards about hot air balloon rides and outlet shopping and wax museums.  This time, I controlled myself a bit since we were getting ready to head home to Connecticut leave behind all good things in Maine, but I couldn't help taking a pamphlet for an alpaca farm that was three hours north of Portland.  The farm itself looked gorgeous and the fluffy alpacas were adorable.  Maybe on our next trip, right?

Or maybe on our next "Exploring Connecticut" weekend.  Last year, we made a list of several things in Connecticut that we wanted to see.  There are so many things to see and do right in our own state.  A little searching led me to the Safe Haven Alpaca Farm in Hampton, Connecticut, just far enough for a fall day trip.  Now all I have to do is convince Anthony...

Photo courtesy of

Friday, August 13, 2010

Yummy Arcade Treat

This cupcake display that looks like the Pac Man arcade game is absolutely adorable and makes me want to create my own version.  Maybe something Tetris-related is in my future...

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Being a Maine-iac

This week, Anthony and I are on vacation in Maine.  So far, it's been low-key, relaxing and so enjoyable, just as we imagined.  I was here only once when I was fourteen with my family and Anthony's never been to Maine so it's been fun to explore the area together.  We've spent time near the water (the condo we are renting is just a few blocks from the Ogunquit beach) and stopped at the outlets for some shopping.  My favorite parts so far have been our sidetrips to check out local treasures like the Goldenrod in York Beach (you can watch salt water taffy being made!) and Flo's Hotdogs, which has been featured on tons of Travel Channel shows and even the Food Network for the best hot dogs and special relish. 

We still have a few days left here in Vacationland but I'm already dreading our departure.  Still up on deck: another day at the beach and a highly anticipated trip to Portland!

View from the Marginal Way, Ogunquit, Maine

Friday, August 6, 2010

New Guilty Pleasure: Bethenny Getting Married?

I have successfully avoided watching any episodes of the Real Housewives series on Bravo television.  As far as I can tell from the commercials, there are like 5 or 6 variations of this show now and they all look horrible to me--screaming, yelling, fancy dresses, women with big hair talking about how stressed they are.  Not my kind of show at all. 

Last week, as I was waiting for another show to start, I caught the last 15 minutes of a rerun of Bethenny Getting Married.  It was the episode when she gets married at the Four Seasons while 7 months pregnant.  As I watched her squeeze into a tight, strapless dress, snap at her wedding planner and pee in a bucket before the ceremony, I was captivated.  I didn't know much about Bethenny but she was honest, funny and obviously at a very exciting time in her life.  I was surprised that I didn't hate the show.

Skip forward to yesterday.  I was home sick with the worst migraine and I just couldn't fall asleep.  With the blinds closed and a pillow over my head, the hum of the air conditioner was really bothering me so I turned on the television and turned the volume down.  As I slipped in and out of sleep, I kept hearing bits and pieces of the programming, which just happened to be set to Bravo.  When I finally felt a little better around 2pm, I got up, made some tea and for some reason (obviously laziness), I never looked for the remote, resulting in an entire afternoon of watching Bethenny Getting Married?

In 6 hours, I watched the entire series and really loved it.  Bethenny Frankel is hysterical, even when she is being unreasonable.  It's funny to watch her interactions with others, and her constant pop culture references are great.  And her wedding planner, Shawn, is someone I recognize from my other guilty pleasure, Whose Wedding Is It Anyway? on the Style Channel.  Without sounding ridiculous, I kind of understood this woman and her new husband, Jason.  She's always been on her own and now she is becoming part of this unbelievably warm and loving family.  She's a first-time mother dealing with work and the overwhelming love that she is feeling for her new family.  Bethenny demands a lot of herself and a lot of the people in her life, but can make fun of herself too.  Of course, I haven't forgotten that despite her complaining, she has a hired car and a live-in nanny to help ease the burden. 

Perhaps the most interesting part of the show for me is Bethenny herself.  She's a chef and a well-known Manhattanite.   She's written several books that are New York Times Bestsellers.  The city really plays an important role in the show too, always shown in the background.  And it was particularly touching to see her bonding with Jason's parents, her new in-laws.  She has problems letting people get close to her but she invited her future mother-in-law with her to shop for wedding dresses, and really connected with this woman.  Another part that actually made me tear up was when Bethenny and Jason introduced their new daughter to his parents, naming her Bryn after Jason's brother, who died years ago.  The reaction of all four adults is heart-warming and as real as any moment on any reality show.

So I hopped on the bandwagon just in time for the season finale last night.  Maybe there will be another season and I'll get to check out Bethenny and her life again.  I may have given in to this Bravo show but I won't be tuning in to the Real Housewives of New York any time soon.

Tuesday, August 3, 2010

While I was gone...

I just got back from a short vacation to Niagara Falls.  Even though I was only gone a few days, I feel like I missed so much.  I was fine without a computer but the fact that so much of my knowledge of current events comes from the internet now was surprising and it was unnerving how out of it I felt. 

But here I am, promising a post about my trip to Niagara, complete with photos.  And perhaps a short post on Chelsea Clinton's wedding.  Maybe I'll even include a link to a really cool feature in New York magazine on indie bookstores.  Of course, now that I'm home and caught up on all the blogs and sites I read, I feel overwhelmed with information--there's never a happy medium.