Well hello from warm Savannah, Georgia!
Usually I don’t blog while I’m actually on a trip, but I’m here for five days for the marathon, and judging from how much we’ve done on day one, I thought I’d start keeping a log here now, otherwise I’m never going to keep up!
Our flight was an otherwise smooth one from Boston, despite a little bit of turbulence. I happened to be sitting in a window seat, where both my front and back neighbors decided that the windows that shared a crack with their seats should be closed immediately, leaving me windowless for most of the flight. That left me with plenty of time to finish reading Laurie Colwin’s Home Cooking, and get started on a new book: Cowboys and Indies, a so far captivating history of the music industry.
We arrived to an airy southern airport, and shared at taxi to downtown. It ended up being a little steep $39 (they tacked on $5 for each extra person, and I wasn’t looking to haggle on my first day here.) We drove through strip suburbia, saw an air force base. When I travel I’m always on the lookout for interesting fast food chains, or other local specialties, but the ride from the airport wasn’t the most busy.
Instead of staying in a hotel, we decided to rent an apartment, which ended up being both more affordable, and really adorable! After getting settled, we immediately headed to our first meal of the day: Zunzi’s, a local sandwich shop with a following. (It’s one of the most reviewed places on Yelp in general, but several locals recommended it to me. After hearing the guy behind the counter selling the African tea to the woman in front of me, I accepted the sample … which tasted like sweet lip gloss. I actually really like sweet tea, but when you are expecting unsweetened, and you get what will put someone in a diabetic coma, it’s a shock to the system.
Rebecca had the falafel, Matt ordered a salmon sandwich, and I went with Oliver’s lunch: a bed of mashed potatoes with chopped grilled chicken, and chopped house made sausage and smoked sausage. And a roll. And a spinach salad that I ended up passing on. It was quite a meal to start the day! Here’s a close-up of Oliver’s Lunch:
After consuming much of the meal, we headed for a good long walk down Broughton Street, one of the main drives. We popped into a handful of shops, with so many cute details. Here’s one from a gift shop called Sylvester & Co that had a coffee shop in the back.
And here are a few photos from the lower level of Paris Market & Brocante, a shop primarily with gorgeous French housewares and gifts, with some delightfully bizarre decorations around each and every corner. I should have taken more photos, the place was gorgeous, but as usual, I’m drawn to the weird.
Near the end of Broughton, we stopped into Chocolat by Adam Turoni, seduced by the wafting scent of chocolate that they were tempering in house, and crafting into individual truffles. I absolutely loved this quirky looking chocolate shop, and will be heading back for more before I leave. I had a single blood orange Grand Marnier truffle that was the perfect bite.
Of course, by late afternoon, we needed to fortify ourselves again, so we headed to Leopold’s for some good old fashioned ice cream. Rebecca went for the historically significant “chocolate chews and cream” flavor, Matt got pistachio, and I had a perfectly done butter pecan. We then took ourselves on a walk, down by the waterfront, and then back up to Colonial Park Cemetery. I’ll take more pictures before we leave, but the cemeteries here are so interesting!
And then we did more walking, so we had to caffeinate. We stopped into The Coffee Fox, a coffee shop owned by a Texan (I couldn’t help but notice the kolache in the case). I drank espresso with milk, Rebecca had a cortadito (sweetened, cuban style), and Matt got the “eye-opener” nitro milk stout with a shot of espresso, yep, coffee and beer combined. Magic!
Finally, after resting for a few hours in our apartment, we headed out for a good Southern meal at The Olde Pink House. How could we not? I must admit, I was a little skeptical, but when good friends (including one who went to school in the south and hit up the Kentucky Derby this year) recommended it, I knew I’d have to keep it on my list.
The Olde Pink House is exactly that – but possibly it should be called The Olde Very Large Pink House with lavish rooms that made me feel like everything was magical.
We all ordered beers from Georgia, and gorged on their cornbread and biscuits. The room was lively, filled with people, and one of the hostesses was going from table to table, breaking into song.
Rebecca prudently started with a salad, while I went for the she crab soup, which was similar to a clam chowder, but smooth, silky, and rather elegant. To my utter delight, the waitress asked me if I’d like some sherry *sherry!!* to stir into my soup, to which I could not possibly refuse. It makes the crab sweeter – and she was so very right.
For dinner, Matt ordered the deep chicken pot pie, which came with a splendid buttery crust, and Rebecca had the sweet potato ravioli, with oyster mushrooms. For my meal, I knew I had to go bold, and not look back: deep fried chicken livers with grits and fried spinach. (Actual fried spinach!). It was rich. It was delicious.
I wish I could tell you of the pecan pie, or key lime we devoured after dinner, but wisely we decided to tap out early. We went for a very long walk to counter the meal, found everything closed (including CVS… they close at 9pm, apparently), and now we are back. Sleep soon, there will undoubtably be so much more tomorrow!
Here’s a photo essay of sorts – I’ve finally managed to organize and edit my photos from our trip to Mount Washington a few weeks back. Devon and his coworkers were on a random work assignment, and I was happy enough to tag along. It was the last weekend to drive up the Mount Washington Auto Road before it closed for the season, and even though I like to think of myself as an active and outdoorsy person, driving up Mount Washington seemed a lot more appealing than hiking it this time around. (To get to the summit you can hike, drive, or take the cog railway. For some reason, the idea of a train climbing up a mountain is even more terrifying that us driving it.) So what, exactly, does driving up the auto road entail? For about $27, and an additional $8 per extra passenger, you get admission to the auto road, a compact disc audio tour, and the infamous “This Car Climbed Mt. Washington” sticker. The drive to the summit is a twenty to thirty minute loop around the mountain. The road is narrow, there are no guard rails, and if you are nervous, I highly recommend that you don’t read Yelp reviews of the road before summiting. Of course I did, so I’ll share my favorite two here:
“Unless you like scuba diving to see great white sharks or bull fighting or have nerves of steel, trust me this is to be avoided at all costs!! This is a white knuckle ride to put it mildly!!”
“I’m not afraid of heights, but I am afraid of plummeting 7 miles to the earth below.”
Despite the warnings, the drive is actually quite safe. Best explained in the auto road website FAQ: “Be honest, how many people have died riding on the Auto Road? Over 150 years, there have been three fatalities on the Auto Road. In 1880, a stage overturned (in the hands of a drunk driver), and a passenger was killed. In 1984, a vehicle experienced brake failure about a mile up the road and was unable to make it down safely. Most recently, a motorcyclist suffered a fatal crash in 2009.”
So up we drove, through the auburn foliage, up past the tree line to the lunar-like tundra zone, and finally up to the icy cold summit. At the top, we got to say hello to the scientists working in the Mt. Washington Observatory, and say hi to Marty, who, I could have sworn was an animatronic cat, despite assurances from several people that he is in fact, alive.
While the drive up was fine, the drive down was slightly more disconcerting, and I spent much of it trying to avoid looking out of the window or nervously fidgeting.
This is what happens when you neglect the advice to shift into a lower gear and use the turnouts several times on the way down and not ride your brakes. (My assumption – that isn’t actually our car.)
The rest of the weekend was spent lounging around North Conway. I stopped multiple times at my favorite North Conway coffee shop Frontside Grind. I had my regular cortado (very good), and the Fog Lifter (espresso in coffee), and sadly forgot to refill my cold brew growler, which was forgotten not once, but twice in the car. We acquired lobsters at Hannaford (for 5.99/pound, you pick a live lobster and they’ll boil it for you in minutes), and got real fancy with lobster mac & cheese, and enough Trader Joe’s appetizers for eight people.
We watched hours of movies, ranging from great to terrible – starting with Toy Story 2, then Spaced Invaders, then The Ruins, which only served to make me feel terrible for both Jena Malone and Jonathan Tucker. Before heading back to reality, we took a drive up Cathedral Ledge, and reveled in the fall foliage. New Hampshire is a truly special place to be this time of year.
And because we are friends, here’s one last gem from the camera roll – in which I follow through with my resolution to spend more time in front of the camera. Vogue, my dears, vogue.
It’s Thursday already, and I feel like the week is escaping me. I’ve spent a lot of time thinking about writing and running – and how it helps to break up both into small increments, and it’s better if you only write a paragraph or run a single mile than none at all. On the running front, I’ve started a new 28 day streak to kick off the beginning of a long race season. At the beginning of summer I did a streak from Memorial Day to the Fourth of July, and I made it to the penultimate day, after which I pretty much sat on rear unapologetically. I find that it’s a heck of a lot easier to head out when I know that I “have to”. Before we discuss this week’s meal plan, here are some photos from a few weeks ago, from my trip out to North Conway. It was especially beautiful out there.
For nearly four days we were surrounded by mountains, rivers, and streams in Hale’s Location. (The smallest town in New Hampshire, and the first town to vote in the national election!) Alison and I hiked through the woods, headed up Cathedral Ledge, looked over to Echo Lake. We went on long drives, took photos of trains, visited popped into the wacky Zeb’s General Store, and browsed the shelves at White Birch Books. I had a great Cortado at Frontside Grind – a new coffee shop of note in the area. And we shopped at the outlets, which, I should let you know, includes a Brookstone outlet. I had to hold myself back from emptying my entire wallet. Those massage chairs at steep discounts? Mhmm? You know the ones. The men, on the other hand, were cooped up in the house recording all weekend. They did manage to accompany us one evening to the Ben & Jerry’s in North Conway, where we pulled up at the same time as a summer camp bus. The Coconut 7 Layer Bar Ice Cream was worth the annoyance. Also. Middle Schoolers these days. I think I’m old, because seriously the short length on those kids was scandalous.
And then, of course, there was food. Massive, massive amounts of food. I took very few photos of food, possibly because we were surrounded by it constantly, and health went out the window. At some point I became deeply ashamed at how many Trader Joe’s mushroom turnovers and mini pot pies I consumed. There was Sicilian pizza from Elvio’s, croissants for breakfast, and elaborate sandwich spreads for lunch. Saturday we made dinner on the grill – hamburgers, hot dogs, baby potatoes, asparagus and corn. We made s’mores in the fire pit, and then the next morning there was warm fresh cornbread, biscuits, bacon and eggs. Monday morning we had pancakes, waffles, more eggs, ham, and bacon. And then there were pounds of food left, and we ate leftovers for days.
Coming home, I was craving kale like nobody’s business, and I’ve been stuffing myself with nutrient-packed meals for the past few weeks to recover.
This week’s meal plan includes home cooked meals every day this week, in preparation for a weekend in New York for the wedding (including three separate events!). Of course, Monday, our “home cooked meal” ended up being takeout Vietnamese food from Pho So 1 Boston in Randolph, after having to make a late night trip to IKEA to purchase three ceiling lamps for the electrician to put in the kitchen. Wait, that’s right, I now have THREE lights in my kitchen. That, I swear, is momentous. Not only can I take photographs of food at night now that don’t look horrific… I can probably have guests. Before now, the table in the kitchen was pretty much in darkness past 6 p.m.
:: Turkey Kofte (Turkish meatballs), with a big green salad with tomato, cucumber and avocado. Usually Sunday night is my seafood night, but my planned crab salad went out the window when the grocery stores were seemingly out of everything.
:: Orange-Mustard Baked Chicken Thighs. Loosely adapted from ‘Dinner, a Love Story‘, by Jenny Rosenstrach. Chicken thighs baked with a sauce of marmalade and mustard. Served with steamed broccoli.
:: Cumin Lamb Chops with Carrot Salad and Stewed Zucchini. Well, it’ll be cumin if I feel like it. The other option will be just lightly seasoned with salt, and topped with a vibrant salsa verde.
:: Wednesday Beans and Greens. I like the idea of having stand-by theme nights such as “taco night”, or “fish night” (Sunday) to help take the stress out of constructing a meal.
:: Creamy Tomato Chicken with Basil. Another dinner adapted from ‘Dinner, a Love Story‘, by Jenny Rosenstrach.
:: Crab Salad with Avocado, Tomato, Basil and Lemon Vinaigrette. This was supposed to be Sunday’s dinner – I even got a perfectly ripe avocado for the occasion, but alas I was thwarted. We usually have Friday night dinner out, but we will be staying in this week.
And Fitness? This week I’m going to be kicking it up into gear. I have several fall races coming up, including a 200 mile relay in less than three weeks, and I haven’t been doing a lot of running in the past three weeks, so I’ll be adding back in my daily mile, at minimum. This is a good excuse to build on my running. [The three miles of walking on weekdays is my usual their and back commute walk.]
Monday: 3 mile walk + mile run
Tuesday: 3 mile walk + evening stroll/mile run
Wednesday: 3 mile walk, CrossFit Olympic Lifting Class + mile run
Thursday: 3 mile walk + mile run
Friday: 3 mile walk + running
Saturday: Off – Mike + Keren’s Wedding (although, I’ll be walking in New York)
Sunday: Off – Mike + Keren’s Wedding
I’ve been thinking about what to post all week, and finally decided to pull together some photos from the fourth of July weekend. “Thinking about” is not “doing”, and lately I’ve tried to re-commit to “doing” in all aspects of my life.
This week my focus has been on photography. It was one of my summer to-do’s, and just the act of writing out that I wanted to improve launched me into doing something about it. I upgraded to the new Lightroom (I was working on version 3, and it was slow loading), and invested in two Creative Live courses (50% off sale!) Food Photography with Andrew Scrivani, and Food Photography with Penny De Los Santos. I watched the majority of these courses when they were free (Creative Live airs all of their courses free while live), and the amount I learned in less than a few days of class time was priceless. A few years ago I also had the incredible privilege of taking a real live in person class with Penny, and it was thrilling. I wish I had been even a tiny bit more knowledgable about manual shooting at the time – I would have gotten so much more out of it on top of the massive amount that I learned.
A few weekends ago, Devon and I drove up to Byfield to spend the weekend with our friend Alison for the 4th of July. It was just the three of us – her family was in North Conway, mine was at a very crowded house in Maine, and we decided that we’d make a go at a bit of a quieter 4th. On Wednesday we drove up late, after getting in my mile run at 8:45 at night, the earliest that I found it bearable in the heat wave. We arrived to air conditioning, and promptly passed out. We spent the next two days eating, sitting, talking, laughing, and trying not to pass out from the heat. We went to Newburyport to the record store, and to Jabberwocky, and T.J.Maxx. Here are a few of my favorite shots from the weekend.
:: Stephanie’s Village Pancake House, in Rowley, for some down home comfort. I’m not quite what happened with the focus or the white balance in this photo. I’m evolving, but still trying to get a hang of my camera.
:: The Farm: after breakfast we headed over to Tendercrop Farm, to pick up some staples for dinner – hot dogs, potatoes, corn, green beans, tomato – and say hello to some farm friends.
:: And then there was ice cream. As a teenager, Alison worked at Bensons, hulling buckets of strawberries every day for their famous native strawberry ice cream. We picked up a half gallon of strawberry, another of mint chip, and would have called it a day, but after stuffing ourselves to the gill at breakfast, we couldn’t help eating just a little bit more. I think it’s how it ends up going on vacation. I went with a New England classic – Grapenut ice cream. It’s what you think it is – cream infused with the classic cereal, and then studded with it. (The New England version of Momofuku’s cereal milk soft serve…)
:: Dinner. I wish I had a picture of dinner – but we ate it in the dark, on the porch, with the mosquitos, until the mosquitos drove us inside to sit around the table off the kitchen. After dinner we watched hours of Boston’s Finest, and followed it up with Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil.
:: Breakfast. Alison is a delightful hostess. Freshly baked beer bread muffins… and cornbread. Clearly I need to be on top of my breakfast game.
:: And sunset. I could deal with this view every day of my life.
Here’s to setting intentions, and doing more “doing” than “thinking”. What are you going to be doing the rest of this summer?
Some very sad news sent us driving down the coast today in the afternoon, just any direction that the car would take us. Four hours later we ended up at the tip of the Cape, at Race Point Beach, right after the parks service had finished taking fees for the day, so parking was free. The ocean was so very blue I could barely believe it. I promised myself that I’d shoot something beautiful today, and I think this counts.
We fortified ourselves with Ben and Jerry’s in North Eastham (I had White Russian and Coconut Seven Layer Bar in a waffle cone), headed back north, and now we are home.