Sunday Snapshots

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From left to right: 1) Exploring the scenic beauty of Albany, New York’s state parks. 2) Wearing your sweater backwards, Monday mishap or sartorial statement? 3) Scoping out the Albany art scene. 4) Only a few more days to see The Artist’s Museum at the ICA.  5) Fascinating panel on dance and race at the Jose Mateo Ballet Theatre. 6) More nature cause upstate New York.

Ogunquit Travel Guide:                     What to Eat

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In this second installment of my Ogunquit Travel Guide (see the first here), I’m covering where to eat on the road to the seaside city, and once you’re there.

On the Way Up:

The route up from Boston takes you through one of my other favorite seacoast spots, Portsmouth, NH. I recommend stopping for lunch at Row 34. Nothing gets you into the vacation spirit like their unparalleled raw bar. The restaurant started out in Boston and let me tell you, that location is still impossible to get into. The Portsmouth location is much more accessible, but no less delicious.

Row 34 is best known for the aforementioned raw bar that allows you to build your own seafood tower, and their extensive craft beer collection. I also recommend giving the clam chowder a try (they use bacon fat to make it, it’s unbelievable) and perusing their cocktail list.

In Kittery, just down the street from the outlets, you’ll find Robert’s Maine Grill, a charming, local restaurant that achieves both the serenity of the Oceanside and the convenience of a main route. I recommend the lobster roll. Robert’s lets you choose whether you want it with butter, mayo, or half and half. It’s hard to get this New England classic right but they’ve got it down to a science here. Light on the condiments, heavy on the lobster meat. 

They also offer their desserts in regular and “bite sized” portions. Perfect for when you just need a little something sweet.

In and Around Ogunquit:

For classic, no-fuss local fare, Bull & Claw in Wells is a must. Daryl Tudisco has been running the local favorite for 42 years and has never compromised on quality or price. In addition to the perfectly cooked lobsters and steaks, Daryl dishes up some incredible stories. Back when he first opened the restaurant, he would wake up at 4am and go fishing, then they would serve fresh blue fish all day. Originally the restaurant was named “Bull and Bear” (and they literally sold bear meat, because Maine). As interest in bear meat declined they began to incorporate seafood. Daryl embodies the hardworking, no-nonsense Mainer spirit. His salad bar is housed in a re-purposed 19th century fishing boat that a friend was planning on bringing to the dump. He’s a certified plumber and electrician and the resident IT guy. Whether it’s cooking on the line, answering the phone, or fixing up light fixtures, Daryl does it all.

As I mentioned in Ogunquit: Where to Stay, Meadowmere Resort set up a few dinners for us. Our first night we dined at Clay Hill Farm and it is not an experience to be missed. Nestled in the woods, set back from the road, the beautiful property feels like another world. Fridays through Mondays they have live music playing to add the ambiance. On top of the idyllic scenery, the food is incredible. Until I came to Clay Hill, the best duck I’d ever had was in a tiny bistro in Paris. This was better. Perfectly cooked with interesting but subtle flavors. The vegetarian option, a butternut squash risotto had all the delicate intricacies of a culinary Mona Lisa. With the Meadowmere package each person receives one of each generous course (4 in total per person). We had so many leftovers I got to re-live that magnificent meal all week.

Our second dinner in the Meadowmere package was at MC Perkins Cove. My friends familiar with Maine had raved about this place, and it didn’t disappoint. Large form windows offer a stunning panoramic view of the cove for a scenic dinner no matter where you sit. The food incorporated a variety of international flavors, bringing some diversity to the seafood-centric locale. 

I recommend skipping the oysters for the mussels which come in a tangy roasted red pepper sauce with a moist chickpea cornbread. Their fish of the day is brought in fresh every morning and their famed trout dish, made with dark beer, Xiao Xiang wine, and ginger, comes  with the head on for a dish that’s both delicious and Instagram friendly.

For a more casual atmosphere, head to Cornerstone for handcrafted pizza and an extensive local beer list. Cornerstone owner Mike does not take the moniker “artisanal” lightly. Every pie on the list is uniquely crafted with fresh ingredients and avant garde flavors. I tried one of the most-loved dishes, the mushroom truffle pizza and I’m still dreaming about it. The creamy cheese and mushrooms were divinely balanced by fresh arugula and a generous dose of truffle oil.

Even better, Cornerstone sits smack in the center of downtown Ogunquit with a spacious open patio, perfect for summer day drinking before heading back to the beach.

The New England seacoast is a foodie paradise. Whether you’re looking for traditional beach grub, a romantic dinner with a view, or bold culinary creations, you can find it here.

Please note: I was provided with complimentary meals at the above locations, however all opinions are my own.

Sunday Snapshots

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From left to right: 1) Living for that Row 34 raw bar. 2) Snow day essentials. 3) Can’t recommend Top Dog/Underdog at the Huntington Theatre Company enough. 4) Stay tuned for seacoast art recommendations this week. 5) Can’t go to Maine without getting some lobster. 6) Basking in this semi-spring weather.

Ogunquit Travel Guide:                    Where to Stay

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Last weekend I spent three inspiring days traveling the seacoast of New Hampshire and Southern Maine, investigating the art scene. I spoke with seasoned creators, tasted some jaw-dropping cuisine, and relaxed in a beautiful resort. Over the next week I’ll be breaking down my trip with tips on where to stay, what to eat, and where to see art.

The first part of every trip is the hotel. Since I was traveling off season and couldn’t hit the beach, I wanted a place that offered enough amenities to keep me relaxed and occupied on those cold March nights. Meadowmere Resort sits in an ideal location at the center of town (literal minutes from some of the area’s best restaurants) and has more activities than I knew what to do with.

The rooms at Meadowmere are spacious and comfortable. For a little extra you can get an in-room jacuzzi, a family suite with adjoining rooms, or a honeymoon suite with private fireplace and sitting area. My room was quiet, despite being street facing, and the beds were very comfortable (a must on my resort list).

But the true hallmarks of Meadowmere can be found outside the rooms. They boast an indoor and outdoor pool, a Roman Spa, an outdoor jacuzzi, a game room, a cozy pub, and on-site spa treatments. It’s an ideal setup for a large group with varied interests, or for an off-season visit when many of the outdoor attractions are closed.

The Roman Spa was a personal favorite. Though not as steamy as a tradition hot tub, it offered a relaxing soak in a more adult environment.

The folks at Meadowmere were kind enough to set me up with a few meals from their Romance Getaway Package. Included with the price of your stay are breakfast, complimentary wine and cheese at the resort’s pub, and dinner at your choice of restaurant off a list of the four best in the area. The package ranges from $249-$449 depending on your length of stay, and it’s a great price for all that’s included.

Aside from the incredible food and service (stay tuned for restaurant reviews) the convenience of having your meal paid for makes it that much easier to enjoy the evening. Meadowmere makes all the reservations and arrangements for you, all you have to do is show up.

Often times I find that large resorts lose the personal touch of smaller hotels. Meadowmere manages to merge the service and attention to detail of boutique lodging, with the amenities and capacity of a bigger institution.

Please note: I was provided with a complimentary stay at Meadowmere, but all thoughts reflect my honest opinion.

Determined Damsel

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I’ve had this vintage Prada bustier for years and have always styled it with edgy outfits. In this look I play on hard and soft with the dominatrix top and the princess tulle skirt. It would pair well with a leather jacket and a fur stole alike. Rebecca and I have a history of shooting fairytale looks (remember, this?) and this one is perfectly in line with my “what would Cinderella wear to a rock concert?” theme.

Skirt: Goodwill, Top: Prada, Shoes: H&M

Photos by Rebecca Gatto.

Black Girl Magic

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New York-based photographer Linda Nieves-Powell grew tired of being wedged into Puerto Rican stereotypes during her childhood in white, suburban New Jersey. Years later, she turned her frustration into images. Inspired by a 1954 Life magazine cover photo of Rita Moreno, Nieves-Powell began recreating iconic images of Afro-Latina trailblazers, and debuted the series in honor of 2017 Black History Month.

“One of the things I’ve always done in my work is highlight the Latina American community, and the diversity in it,” says Nieves-Powell. For the artist, diversity doesn’t just mean race, but spirit, strength and personality. As she began the series, she found that the musicians she’d selected had a more shared sense of style and attitude than the actresses. She began to focus on talents like bassist Esperanza Spalding, singer-songwriter Irene Cara and contemporary musician Amara Le Negra.

“What I love about Amara is that she embraces her black roots unapologetically,” says Nieves-Powell. Indeed, the photo of Inés de la Cruz as La Negra is one of the most striking of the series. Cropped from the waist up, she has one hand in her afro, the other holding a scarf against her printed top. She looks directly to the viewer with a cocked head and a fierce but disinterested stare. She’s at once a warrior and not in the mood for foolish pigeonholing.

In the studio, both the photographer and model channel the life of the artist they’re depicting. When Desi Sanchez came in to depict Lisa “Left Eye” Lopes, she had done research. She’d read up on Lopes, she’d dug through her own wardrobe and found similar pieces, and she’d studied the movements and mannerisms of the TLC singer. Nieves-Powell encourages her models to think about what was going on in the musician’s life and react to what she may have been feeling.
Although the project initially was inspired by famous images of icons, Nieves-Powell doesn’t see it as a re-creation project. In fact, she wants to expand it in a very different direction. “I want to play with the meaning of ‘iconic,’” she says. The photographer wants to portray Afro-Latina single mothers dressed as lavish, regal queens. Though they may not be famous, these figures have incredible fortitude to raise children alone in a world so skeptical of their worth.

For Nieves-Powell, the project is a matter of representation. While she was being teased in school all those years ago, the photographer wasn’t seeing many Afro-Latina icons on television or in the media. This made her think she should aim to be lighter, that she should distance herself from her heritage as much as possible. Now she wants to highlight the success, talent and heroism of Afro-Latina performers for the next generation. “Because we have a new administration that’s doing their darnedest to make people of the color the enemy, now more than ever we artists need to take control of our projects.”

See the published article in The Bay State Banner.

Photos by Linda Nieves-Powell.

Reading by the Seine

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I often find the simplest outfits are the most stylish. Here I paired my favorite pair of black leather pants with a simple v-neck grey sweater, a gold chain, and a hat my friend picked up for me in Panama. The look has muted colors and emphasizes texture and detail to distinguish itself. This feels like something a chic Parisienne would wear while reading or painting by the Seine.

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rebecca-isenhart-trends-and-tolstoy-beach-2-19-17-7Rebecca and I shot this look on a particularly warm day. Sitting outside taking pictures and reading was a pleasant reminder of the Boston that doesn’t rush you home with frostbitten hands.

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Sweater: Primark, Leggings: Aritzia, Hat: gifted from Panama, Shoes: Nine West

Photos by Rebecca Gatto.