Foodtripper

Eat: Saltwater Farm

Lincolnville, Maine
07.18.2011 | by: Meghan


I’ve looked at Saltwater Farm’s website so often, I feel like I’ve been there already. But I just recently stumbled across a post about their big summer foodie extravaganza on jauntsetter and was re-inspired. Not only is this place a farm overlooking the coast of Maine–with some of the coolest cooking classes out there–but they also round up a few chefs from Brooklyn every summer to do The Maine Event, at which they make cheese, forage for mushrooms, bake pies, and learn to preserve the bounty of summer. They also slaughter and butcher a chicken. While the timing isn’t quite right, I can’t stop thinking about trying to shoehorn one of their cobbler, buckle and grunts class into my trip to Maine next week. There are so many reasons to visit this beautiful state, but just in case you need one more, Saltwater Farm is as good of one as any.

I really love how thoughtfully designed the entire experience is. From their site, verbatim:
The space is designed around the concept of a summer kitchen. Native to the North, these kitchens are set away from the house, near the garden. They are a place where vegetables are gathered on tabletops, summer berries are preserved for the fruitless months of winter, loaves of bread are baked and set to rest, fish are filleted and smoked, tomatoes are left to warm in the sun and where a chef is free to cook as he/she pleases, undisturbed.

Classes are taught in a post and beam barn set on the oceanfront, in a farmer’s field. The kitchen is fully equipped with a wood burning brick oven, an open hearth for spit roasting, pastry ovens, a Wolf range top and a variety of specialty equipment such as deep fryers, sausage makers, pasta makers, an ice cream maker and more. An outdoor kitchen provides a wood burning grill, lobster burners and a smoker for meat and fish. A vegetable garden with over 100 seed varieties sits beside the barn, providing stock for the kitchen. A chicken coup beside the barn houses 8 laying hens, meat birds and 4 ducks, providing the kitchen with fresh eggs and meat.

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Stay: Lost & Found

Melbourne, Australia
06.06.2011 | by: Meghan


There’s a good chance you’ve heard about Melbourne’s bespoke titans, Captains of Industry–self-proclaimed “practical men of wide experience.” They’ve been getting a huge amount of well-deserved press for their rare, special attention to custom work, from handmade suits and shoes to barber shaves and sandwiches. They even hand-make the thread they use for tailoring. Tucked into a black-painted building, the masculine atelier/cobbler/cafe is pretty cool-looking (see Todd Selby’s photos for T magazine below). It makes sense that Lost & Found, an online newsletter dedicated to creative Melbourne and put out by Tourism Victoria, would open their temporary, one-room hotel upstairs. With raw wooden floors and a wall full of big windows, the light-filled space is outfitted almost entirely with local design: furniture from vintage seller Grandfather’s Axe, dinnerware by ceramicist Shelley Panton and cheese from Yarra Valley Dairy. I’m a very big fan of these micro-ventures that give guests an intimate experience, offering a hyper-curated glimpse into the local art, culture, food and design scene. Best part: If you get picked by ballot, you get to stay for FREE.

[Top four photos of Lost & Found by Warwick Baker courtesy Tourism Victoria via Skip Town; bottom two photos of Captains of Industry by Todd Selby for T via nytimes.com]

Round-Up: The Elevated Coaching Inn

05.11.2011 | by: Meghan

I love the very premise of the coaching inn: Stop at a welcoming inn for a night to lay your head, socialize and fill your belly. And while things have certainly progressed since the days of the horse and buggy, many of us are still seeking the same basic refuge–a couple rooms up the stairs from a cozy, intimate pub or restaurant. Although, the food has gotten significantly better. Some of my very favorite travel experiences are based on this model. And a couple years ago, when I interviewed Ilse Crawford about the design concept of the Olde Bell Inn, she summed it up perfectly: “We’ve re-invented the idea of the coaching inn. Not in an historic sense, but pinning down the essence and applying it. These are places that are warm-hearted and democratic without sacrificing quality. Food is central to the experience–good food cooked simply.”

I’ve been to three out of four of these places, and I would go back to each in a heartbeat. They don’t have many rooms on the property, but if you’re lucky enough to snag one, you’ll stumble up to your bed at night, after an enlightening conversation with the friendly bartender and a few of the locals, with a full, grateful belly. But make no mistake, there’s a major difference between Then and Now: No one’s merely passing through anymore. These establishments have become the destination.

[Longman & Eagle; Olde Bell Inn; Lute Suites; and Casa da Luzi]

Pie Lab

Greensboro, Alabama
04.25.2011 | by: Meghan

One of the big reasons we decided to stop in Greensboro, Alabama (just after Magnolia trees) is the Pie Lab–part humble pie shop, part ambitious social change experiment. Started in Belfast, Maine two years ago by the design collective Project M, the Lab, which opened as a pop-up, has grown into a permanent fixture in this small Alabama town of 3,500.

It’s a hot, sunny day, and a Mason jar of sweet tea has never tasted so good. I tell the woman helping us that we drove all the way from Detroit to visit the Pie Lab, and she walks out from behind the counter to give me a hug. There’s a photo shoot underway in the back, and moveable, reclaimed wood-slab walls are covered with photographs by a local artist in the front. We get two slices of mixed berry pie with a scoop of vanilla bean ice cream and buy two whole pies for Easter dinner–the mixed berry and a coconut cream. All deliciousness aside, this place is every bit the community center it was intended to be. Folks walk in and out, and it feels like one, big ongoing conversation with different characters floating in and out. We were honored to be a part of it for a small slice of an afternoon. Special thanks to Marvin (below) for being so hospitable, making the most amazing sweet tea, and for having the idea of selling pecans to raise money for GED scholarships.

For more photos from the road, go to the Lincoln-Designtripper site!

[Disclaimer: Ford Motor Company is the paying sponsor of designtripper’s road trip to New Orleans, which also included a Lincoln MKX for the duration of the trip.]

Discovery of the Day: Hillbilly Tea

Louisville, Kentucky
04.21.2011 | by: Meghan


We made the fortuitous stop at Hillbilly Tea yesterday and cannot get over how perfectly Louisville the interiors felt–a city take on Kentucky Appalachian. Just the right amount of hipster hillbilly kitsch without being too theme-y. And the food–road kill stew (ok, a little theme-y), corn pone, succotash, white bean and sage fritters, and homemade vegan cookies–is exactly what it should be: good ole fashioned country cooking with local ingredients. And super reasonably priced. Even the kiddos were smacking their chops and licking their fingers. We just got to Nashville, and we’re already feeling all nostalgic about the place.

For more photos from the road, go to the Lincoln-Designtripper site!

[Disclaimer: Ford Motor Company is the paying sponsor of designtripper’s road trip to New Orleans, which also included a Lincoln MKX for the duration of the trip.]

Stay: Castello di Vicarello

Cinigiano, Italy
04.06.2011 | by: Meghan

This AD 1112 Tuscan castle, situated in an olive tree grove and endless gardens between the mountains and the sea, could not possibly be more revered among travel editors. I first read about it in Vogue, where Vicki Woods describes the fairytale spread as “a thing of vast antiquity and beautiful proportions that floats above the ancient hills.” Once it snagged my attention, it seemed to crop up everywhere (from Travel + Leisure to Remodelista; there are 18 pages of press clippings on the website). And for good reason. The castle was brought back from ruin by the owners, Aurora and Carlos Baccheschi, who found cows in inside the castle when they bought it a couple decades ago. Since then, they’ve slowly rehabbed Vicarello, decorating it with a charming mix of midcentury and Indonesian antiques, then landscaping the sprawling, cypress tree-lined grounds into some kind of epicurean fantasy–medieval courtyard, cobblestones, organic vegetable gardens, two freshwater pools (one that’s made of travertine and looks out over the lush Tuscan landscape, the other nestled in the olive trees), more than 1,000 rose bushes and a nearby forest where you can hike and forage for mushrooms.

The Details
Prices start at $500 a night, meals included. All seven rooms are different. The kitchen is all about traditional Tuscan fare, and much of the ingredients are grown on site, using traditional growing methods and organic guidelines. They offer cooking classes, and there’s also a spa. Book it at Welcome Beyond.

[Photos via Remodelista and Castello di Vicarello]

Eat: A-Frame

Los Angeles, California
02.02.2011 | by: Alexandria

Here’s a case of reuse gone right. When restaurant owner David Reiss took over a defunct IHOP location in Culver City, California, he decided to go with the architecture instead of fighting it. He enlisted Venice Beach-based Sean Knibb of Knibb Design to make its high-pitched roof a major selling point, and Reiss even named the small-plates eatery A-Frame. Knibb sand-blasted the original Douglas fir roof and then clad the walls in knotty pine to give the space a sense of retro-rustic, under-polished warmth. Add to that strong-lined furnishings, big pops of color in small places and some way out-there details (the exterior lights are made out of retrofitted hoop skirts!) and it creates a laid-back lodge vibe in the middle of L.A. Chef Roy Choi (of the city’s cult-followed Kogi trucks) has crafted a menu that he dubs “modern picnic” fare that includes a global mix of small plates: Peruvian-style crispy beer can chicken, Korean-style BBQ lamp chops, carne asada tortas. And for those who are jonesing for an IHOP-style glucose overdose, A-Frame’s fried apple pie a la mode is one of the tastiest sugar rushes in town.

Foodtripper: La Colline du Colombier

Auberge, France
01.12.2011 | by: Alexandria

Michelin-starred chef Michel Troisgros and his wife Marie-Pierre have taken an ancient farm in France and turned it into La Colline du Colombier, a stunning hotel/restaurant. But the kicker is that they managed to incorporate all of the modern elements and clever design statements without detracting form the location’s true star: the countryside setting overlooking the Loire. A weathered old stable has been converted into the restaurant where stone walls, original beams and huge, hanging glass lanterns contrast with Eames chairs and an industrial-looking, open kitchen that turns out Troisgros’ innovative take on rustic, French food. Think golden pan-fried veal sweetbreads with spicy yuzu. The fare changes with the seasons and even includes—shocker—a kids menu.

If you’re looking to stay at La Colline, the options include two original farmhouses where sensitive upgrades pair modern comforts with original details. The most innovative addition to the property, however, is a series of three “cadoles.” Designed by architect Patrick Bouchain, these futuristic looking cabins are made of wood, glass and steel with curved zinc roofs. Huge windows are aimed at prime bucolic vistas. Inside, the cabins are tricked out with quiet, modern furniture and straight-from-the-earth materials like sheep’s wool, felt and braided hemp.

[From Meghan: I am thrilled to introduce our new contributing foodtripper editor, Alexandria Abramian-Mott, who comes to designtripper as a nationally recognized interiors writer for House BeautifulWallpaperThe LA Times, LA Interiors and as the former cooking columnist for House Beautiful.Welcome, Alex!]

Check In: Lute Suites

Amstelveen, Netherlands
12.20.2010 | by: Meghan

These days, Dutch design superstar Marcel Wanders is the name behind massive hotels like the Mondrian in Miami and Germany’s Kameha Grand Bonn. But I actually prefer his first overnighter, the Lute Suites–a pinprick of a project in comparison–that he designed in a bucolic little village outside Amsterdam five years ago. A massive undertaking of unnerving scale and audacity, the Mondrian lets Wanders’ show off his design chops with rooftop topiary cabanas and a laser-cut spiral staircase, but the Lute feels more intimate and personal and accessible. Scuffed-up luxury–the kind of place you go to eat, hide and relax, not see and be seen. Plus, I like the backstory: After dining at Peter Lute’s famed Lute restaurant on the Amstel River, Wanders was so inspired, he asked the chef to collaborate on the neighboring row of 18th-century worker cottages.

Two summers ago, I dedicated three hours of a perfect sunny afternoon to a seven-course lunch on the outdoor patio at the Lute, and afterwards, I was lucky enough to score a tour of a few of the cottages. It felt like walking through Marcel Wanders’ design psyche. Filled almost exclusively with Wanders (and Moooi) furniture and accessories, there’s hardly a square inch that isn’t touched by his kooky-playful-yet-somehow-still-startlingly-beautiful aesthetic–custom wallpaper, floor stencils, Bisazza mosaics, textiles, and even a loft-style sleeping cocoon made from an iron flower pattern of his own design. All seven suites are completely different, and while they look super slick and over-perfect in photographs, they have a sort of rustic/old-meets-new/cozy vibe in person. Bonus for foodies: breakfast is delivered from the restaurant every morning.

Check In: Longman & Eagle Inn

Chicago, Illinois
12.03.2010 | by: Meghan

In Chicago’s Logan Square, this neighborhood inn sits on top of one of the city’s coolest, most unpretentiously delicious restaurants, Longman & Eagle, where everything in it was designed and built by the owners with help from their friends/family. The four owners, who are also behind the indie music venue Empty Bottle, opened a bar so they’d have a place to hang out in a neighborhood they love, but the place has far exceeded expectations, recently nabbing a Michelin star for a menu they call “kind of an afterthought.” The much-anticipated inn opens in a week or two. I was there on a photo shoot Monday for a story in CS Interiors, which will delve into the impeccable, clever design of the place. Like the all the local art (including screen-printed wallpaper by a local collective), pendant lights fashioned from lizard lamps, locally designed bedding by Unison, and all the glorious woodwork by owner Robert McAdams’s woodworking company, Mode Carpentry. Once the six rooms are ready, reservations won’t last long. It’s one of the only lodging options in Chicago that manages to capture the creative spirit of this city: hardworking and a little masculine, edgy but still down-to-earth, and fiercely local, local, local.

Eat: Roberta’s

Brooklyn, New York
11.19.2010 | by: Meghan

In an industrial patch of Bushwick, in the midst of some warehouses covered with graffiti, stands one of the most ambitious, creative restaurants I’ve ever been to. The food is fantastic—pizza topped with seasonal produce grown out back and in rooftop gardens started with Alice Waters seed money. We ordered one with squash and chili peppers, another with crispy brussels sprouts and pancetta. They also have more interesting and unexpectedly fine-ish dining options for such a laid-back, unpretentious (and reasonably priced) spot: bone marrow, foie gras, oxtail orecchiette, and a grass-fed hunk of steak that everyone agreed was the most delicious piece of meat they’d ever tasted. But just as inspired is the sprawling, unconventional space Roberta’s inhabits. While there’s definitely a hipsterish anti-decor sentiment going on inside the restaurant—wood paneling and painted cinder block walls, mismatched chairs and granny light fixtures—that doesn’t mean the place hasn’t been designed. Thoughtful adaptations, using simple, crude materials, make sure that every nook and cranny is well used, particularly outside. The outdoor area is a labyrinth of growing containers, DIY-built bars, tool sheds, ad-hoc wooden benches, and their own radio station (made from shipping containers) with a glass viewing window and audience picnic tables. There’s even a makeshift cider tent set up on the patio during the chilly months.

And if the entire operation wasn’t impressive enough, they started sending out plates of food when they found out we were from Detroit. Kindred spirits?

Stay: Sai Beach House / Trout Point Lodge

Nova Scotia, Canada
11.08.2010 | by: Kelly

Immediately after our backyard wedding, I slipped out of my dress, packed a to-go box of the leftover Sucre macaroons and homemade melomakarona (Greek honey cookies) from the reception and grabbed my suitcase for our epic honeymoon adventure in the Maritimes. After a one-night stopover in a small Bar Harbor B&B, we boarded the Cat Ferry, car and all, and headed across the Atlantic to the rugged shores of Nova Scotia. The ferry landed in Yarmouth, where we grabbed a buttery lobster roll before driving along the misty, lush southwestern coast to our modernist beachfront cottage designed by Halifax-based McKay-Lyons. The Sai Beach House sits on top of a hill overlooking a private white sand beach nestled in a cove framed by pine trees and granite boulders. A perfect blend of glass, concrete and stone, the house made us feel like we were living in the landscape–but with really nice furniture. My favorite example is the window headboard–a 12-foot horizontal piece of glass–giving us long, rectangular views of the lichen and moss covered rocks, trees and wildflowers every morning. A week of admiring the coast from our glass perch and taking day trips, and it was off to the Keltic Lodge, a grand Canadian resort on the precipitous cliffs of the Cape Breton Island. After exploring and hiking the Cabot Trail and taking in some fiddle and folk music, we left the Scottish roots of Nova Scotia and headed west towards the French Acadians.

The Trout Point Lodge is part organic garden, part cooking school, part nature retreat–the dream setting for three Louisiana restauranters that wanted to find the roots of Cajun cuisine. Their search landed them in western Nova Scotia, where the French Acadians were eventually exiled from the island by the British, many ending up in New Orleans. Beyond the obvious nature stuff–canoeing, fishing and hikes through the woods–this place is all about the food. Candlelit dinners in the lodge with meals made from primarily all on-site ingredients, from fresh seafood (salmon, sole, lobsters, mussels) to baked-daily breads, organic produce grown in the gardens, even wild chanterelles foraged in the forest.

Stay/Eat: Home and Casa Felix

Buenos Aires, Argentina
11.05.2010 | by: Meghan

Two of my closest friends recently went to Buenos Aires and stayed at Home in the vibrant, laid-back neighborhood Palermo Hollywood. They called the hotel—close your eyes—“kick-ass”: spacious, wallpapered rooms with mid-century vintage furniture and zero pretension. Even though it’s in the city, the outdoor spaces (where they were just as comfortable with a book or cocktail) are secluded and unexpectedly lush, filled with trees, ferns and jasmine. All 17 rooms are different, including the two apartment-style lofts with kitchens.

My super discerning pals also rave about Casa Felix, just a few blocks from the hotel. As in “I want to eat there every night” raving. It’s not a restaurant—more like an underground dinner party with friendly strangers. San Francisco expat, chef Diego Felix, and his photojournalist girlfriend Sanra host a dozen or so people in their home—an intimate, modest space and quaint, enchanting outdoor patio—for locally sourced spreads spanning five courses, many hours and lots of Argentinian wine. The pescetarian dinners draw on indigenous South American herbs and produce, and are prepared from whatever he picks up at the market that day—say, pink oyster mushrooms or oca.

Eat: ClandesDine

Detroit, Michigan
10.13.2010 | by: Meghan

 

Even though ClandesDine is a one-time dining event you can’t replicate if you visit Detroit, the experience is worth sharing. It really captures the creative spirit of this city. The location–this time, an old Cadillac body service building by Albert Kahn–was revealed an hour before dinner. Upon arriving, we drove into the garage and up a circular, unlit ramp to the rooftop, where everyone was immediately handed a glass of champagne to sip as the sun set. Down a flickering candlelit staircase, the rough-hewn dining room was somehow beautiful despite (or maybe because of) the peeling plaster, broken tiles and bright turquoise trim. The only decoration was an oversized American flag, which draped over a great plywood expanse of boarded-up window. Volunteers buzzed between the three room-length tables, serving five courses (butternut squash arancino with duck prosciutto; spinach and lamb ravioli; and braised pork belly with lentils and fennel), prepared by local chefs in a makeshift kitchen next to piles of building scrap and detritus. And it was better than any dining experience I’ve ever had at a proper restaurant.