I checked out a few great places to eat while in Chicago for an extra-long weekend – here a couple of my favorites new finds.

FF: The Purple Pig

My first stop while waiting for my traveling companions to arrive in town by train, was The Purple Pig. I had seen stories and reviews of this place and had it on top of my list to try – heck, you have to love a place that has a whole list of cheeses and cured meats to choose from – and I was not disappointed.

About The Purple Pig:

“Since opening in 2009, under the leadership of Jimmy Bannos Jr., The Purple Pig has received numerous accolades, including being named one of 2010’s ‘10 Best New Restaurants in America’ by Bon Appétitmagazine; and a Michelin Guide Bib Gourmand recipient since 2011. Dubbed the ‘Prince of Pork’ by Dana Cowin (former Food and Wine Editor-in-Chief); Jimmy Jr. brings his love for Mediterranean food to the Windy City in fun, inventive ways – at this rustic sharable plate restaurant, conveniently located on the Magnificent Mile. Located at 500 North Michigan Avenue, the restaurant offers cheese, swine and wine, among other standout dishes, showcasing the flavors of Italy, Greece and Spain.”

I have been to Chicago many times since this place opened and I was sad that I had not found it until now – but I will be back. I went for a casual lunch, which was nice, but I plan to do a more formal dinner on a future trip.

Try the hummus – served with a soft-boiled egg and house-made pita – the perfect companion to a cheese and meat platter.

The Purple Pig is located at 500 North Michigan Avenue – the heart of Chicago’s Magnificent Mile.

FF: Il Porcellino

Once my traveling companions arrived and we enjoyed a cruise on the Chicago River, we settled in for a nice dinner at Il Porcellino. This was the perfect place to relax and enjoy each other’s company on the first night of our long Chicago weekend. The setting is fresh and lively with great décor and stunning lighting. And oh yeah, the food – Italian favorites with a modern twist – was great too.

About Il Porcellino:

“Il Porcellino, located in the heart of River North in downtown Chicago, is a neighborhood restaurant offering classic Italian-American comfort food in a casual setting. Our seasonal menu focuses on housemade pastas, vegetable antipasti and daily specials, all crafted with ingredients sourced from quality artisans, purveyors and local farmers. The fun and approachable wine program encourages sharing with selections from southern and central Italy.”

Il Porcellino is located at 59 W. Hubbard St. in the great city of Chicago, IL USA.

Every time I visit Chicago I am inspired to take tons of pictures, some of which have actually turned out pretty cool. However, I am not alone, the city has inspired millions of photographers over the years, including some of the best ever. Now, in Chicago: Classic Photographs, we are treated to some great images by great photographers beautifully curated by Richard Cahan and Michael Williams.

About Chicago: Classic Photographs edited by Richard Cahan and Michael Williams: “The city has produced some of the most important photographers of our time — Harry Callahan, Aaron Siskind, Art Shay — but has never before possessed a book packed with their most timeless work. This is the finest collection of its kind — 100 stunning images by the city’s most revered photographers that show the enduring and endearing aspects of Chicago and its landscape from the Loop to the city’s vast array of neighborhoods. Richard Cahan and Michael Williams, the foremost picture editors of the city, curate the book. Here they have chosen photos going back more than a century to show a city that is both well-known and surprising. This is a book for people who love Chicago and for visitors who want something special to remember her by. It is filled with classic photographs that defy time — timeless pictures of a changing city.”

What struck me most when flipping through this book is the timeless quality of the great city – which is ever changing, yet always classic.

Chicago: Classic Photographs edited by Richard Cahan and Michael Williams is available from Amazon and other fine book sellers.



I love this panoramic shot I took looking over AT&T Plaza and Cloud Gate sculpture (affectionately referred to as “the Bean”) in Chicago’s Millennium Park.

limapLast week, I was invited by a friend to take a trip out to Long Island for a short visit. I thought it would be fun, so we hit the road (and the water) to spend a couple of days visiting another friend who lives out on the Island.

Long Island, of course, is the big (long) island that spans from New York City across the full length of Connecticut (creating Long Island Sound), before it forks out towards Rhode Island. To access the island, you can drive over bridges that connect the island from Manhattan and the mainland on the far west end. But from northern New England (my home base) that involves driving southwest through New York City and the densely populated metropolitan area only to head back northeast once you are on Long Island. However, there are other options, including taking one of the ferries that cross Long Island Sound to connect to more eastern parts of the island. Since my private jet was in the shop, the ferry looked like the best option.

CSFWe took the Cross Sound Ferry from New London, CT to Orient Point on the far eastern tip of the North Fork of Long Island. The huge ferry which moves people, cars, trucks and cargo across the Sound, was very comfortable and took a little more than an hour.

From Orient Point we drove west through the more sparsely developed part of the island, passing by some of the many vineyards and farms that grace the area. I made a note to come back to visit the vineyards in the future. (Read more about the Long Island wine region here.)

Likewise, passing by the charming community of Greenport Village, made me want to come back very soon to check it out.

About Greenport Village: “A working seaport since the 18th Century. The deep-water harbor in the village center includes a 60-slip marina for transient crafts. Strolling the sidewalks, you’ll find many unique shops, galleries, and museums, as well as a restored Art Deco movie theater, and an antique carrousel. Greenport’s restaurants offer a delicious variety from picnic fare to gourmet dining, complete with local oysters and Long Island wines. Our maritime haven is just steps away from the train, bus, ferry, and charming lodgings.”

I want to return for the Greenport Maritime Festival, September 20-22, 2013.

SAM_1067 (800x600)We drove an hour or so west taking in the scenery and met up with our friend. After a casual lunch we made our way to Sayville to catch another ferry, this time for the much shorter run out to Fire Island to spend the afternoon at the beach.

About The Sayville to Fire Island Ferry: “The Sayville Ferry began the Fire Island run in 1894. For over one hundred years, Fire Island – with its wide ocean beaches, natural forests, wetlands and lively downtowns – has been an attraction for people from all over the world. Fire Island’s central communities of Cherry Grove, Fire Island Pines, Water Island and Sailors Haven/Sunken Forest, a Fire Island National Seashore Park, are served by the Sayville Ferry, which is located on River Road in the South Shore hamlet of Sayville. Once on the island, the only means of transport is a hand-pulled wagon and the only rubber you burn is the soles of your shoes.”

We took the ferry out to Fire Island Pines, where there is a cluster of summer homes connected by boardwalks – meaning no streets, no cars and believe it or not, no bikes allowed.

SAM_1207 (800x600)About Fire Island Pines: “Fire Island Pines is located on the southern side of Long Island and boasts some of the most expensive real estate on all of Fire Island. Named from scrub pine trees in the area, Fire Island Pines was originally the site of a Coast Guard station. In 1952, plans were announced to sell 122 lots and build a private harbor for yachts. The 1960’s brought a new era to the Pines. Today, the Pines continues to be both relaxing and exciting. Whether you are looking to take the wagon down to the grocery store or attend one the more famous all night parties; Fire Island Pines has all that to offer and more.”

We made our way to the beach, part of the Fire Island National Seashore, and settled in for a lovely afternoon. The weather was perfect, the beach was wide open, and we had a great day. To top it off, we were treated to a stunning sunset on our ferry ride back to Sayville.

A collection of shells along the Fire Island National Seashore:

SAM_1160 (800x598)

Despite what the old adage says (red sky at night, sailor’s delight) we woke on our second and last day to overcast skies and the threat of rain. But that did not keep us from checking out Bayard Cutting Arboretum in Great River, NY.

SAM_1313 (800x599)About The Bayard Cutting Arboretum: “Bayard Cutting Arboretum was donated to the Long Island State Park Region by Mrs. William Bayard Cutting and her daughter, Mrs. Olivia James, in memory of William Bayard Cutting, “to provide an oasis of beauty and quiet for the pleasure, rest and refreshment of those who delight in outdoor beauty; and to bring about a greater appreciation and understanding of the value and importance of informal planting.” Utilizing plans conceived by the noted landscape architectural firm of Frederick Law Olmstead, arboretum development began in 1887. The site was originally wooded and many of the large oaks now seen were retained during the clearing of the land. With the cooperation of Charles Sprague Sergeant, then director of Boston’s Arnold Arboretum, Mr. Cutting several years later began to plant his conifer collection in the area just north of the Carriage House. Contained within the collection are several trees which, regionally, are the largest of their species. Also found are extensive plantings of dwarf evergreens, rhododendron, azaleas, hollies and oaks. Wildflowers and daffodils are featured in many native woodland locations. Combined with the site’s ponds and streamlets, these areas also provide opportunities to observe a broad range of land and aquatic birds and occasional glimpses of fox, raccoon and other small wildlife.”

Although it sprinkled a few time while we were walking around the Arboretum, the rain held off until we were finished and it ended up being a lovely morning. The Arboretum is full of interesting trees and plants and includes several trails that span from the main house down to – and along – the waterfront and through various groves. Walking around the Arboretum is a treat for any nature lover or photographer.

Another visitor to the Arboretum checks out the summer flowers:

SAM_1278 (800x599)

We made time to tour the sprawling Manor House, which includes the Hidden Oak Café, where we snacked out on the veranda overlooking the great lawn that leads down to the water. The Hidden Oak Café also host formal Victorian tea parties, which I am sure is quite popular in this perfect setting.

Too soon, it was time for us to leave the Arboretum and head back to Orient Point for a ferry back to the mainland.

The quick trip to Long Island was just scratching the surface and I am looking to return soon to check out all the places I already have listed in my notebook. BTW, I am still waiting for my invitation to one of the great summer events in the Hamptons. Stay tuned.


PORTSAL1My friend Lynda recently made the trip from her lovely home south of Boston to New Hampshire to visit me. We had planned a day to go kayaking on lovely Lake Chocorua, but when the weather did not cooperate, we decided to take a daytrip to Portland, ME instead.

The idea came from a post I made a couple of months ago about wanting to take to the road to visit Portland Architectural Salvage, a large warehouse of all manner of fixtures and other relics of old buildings.

PORTSAL3So we hit the road and made the scenic 60 mile drive due east of the NH homestead to Portland. Our plan was to stop along the way at the many antique shops that dot the road (Route 25) between Kezar Falls and Standish, ME in what is known as one of Maine’s “Antique Allies”, and hit Portland in time for lunch.

By the time we made it to Portland, the rain had stopped which made walking around very comfortable. We found Portland Architectural Salvage and from the time we walked through the front door of the large historic building, we were in love.

Everything we had hoped to find at Portland Architectural Salvage was there and more. There were all the things you would expect to see at a “salvage” store – things like window frames and bath fixtures – but there was so much more, including furniture and large collections of “smalls” from bottles to cameras. Just very cool, and very overwhelming.


Portland Architectural Salvage is definitely worth the trip just to be awed by the inventory – but if you are looking for just the right decorative (or functional) piece for your home, even better.

FFA,2Adjacent to Portland Architectural Salvage, we spotted the Portland Flea-for-All, a weekends only flea market and art shop – which from peering in the many well curated windows, looks amazing. Of course we made a note to return to check it out some time in the future.

About the Portland Flea-for-All: “The Portland Flea-for-All is a vintage, antique and artisan marketplace located in the heart of Portland’s Bayside neighborhood. With a rotating cast of vendors, everything from antique furniture to vintage clothing to handmade jewelry to classic vinyl is on display. Whether or not you have a special item in mind, chances are you’ll find something at the Flea.”

After touring around Portland Architectural Salvage and scoping out the Flea-for-All, we made our way over to Portland’s Old Port District, a charming area of unique shops and restaurants amongst the old world charm of Portland’s historic waterfront. We found a lot of great things in the Old Port – a few of which will be featured in this week’s Friday Finds. So check back then.

In the meantime:

Learn more about Portland Architectural Salvage here.

Learn more about Portland Flea for All here.

Start planning your own trip to Portland, ME here.

yeoFor some reason I really want to take a road trip to Tennessee and Kentucky. I have blogged about this before and when I see places like Yeoman’s in the Fork in Franklin, Tennessee, I want to jump in my car and start my trip today.

Yeoman’s in the Fork, the self-proclaimed “Small Town Bookshop with Uptown Books” looks like just the type of place where I can hangout for a long time.

About Yeoman’s in the Fork: “As our name implies, we feel that we have an incredible responsibility to the land, our families and all of those who believe that hard work and history can lead a man to the riches we all strive for. These riches can be a glass of lemonade in the shade or the comfortable feel of a chair when you just started the sixth chapter. As our name implies, we feel we have gone against the grain and carved our own path. The way of the yeoman is not always the easiest, but the path teaches you lessons along the way. Luckily for us, those lessons have shown the way to the historic community of Leiper’s Fork and to those fellow yeomen who believe buying and selling rare books and documents is an interesting way to make a living and a great way to help save them for future generations to enjoy!”

I love old books and I like people who appreciate them and understand that their preservation is vital to our culture. I can’t wait to explore Yeoman’s in the Fork and admire their treasures.

Learn more about Franklin, TN’s Yeoman’s in the Fork here.

santafeI am literally marking my calendar right now for next July, I really want to experience The Santa Fe International Folk Art Market.  The Santa Fe International Folk Art Market is a once a year event held in Santa Fe, NM and has become the single largest fair of its type in the world.

My love of markets and handcrafted artisans makes the idea of attending The Santa Fe International Folk Art Market a slam dunk, and I am going to do it.

About The Santa Fe International Folk Art Market: “The Santa Fe International Folk Art Market is a results-oriented entrepreneurial 501(c)3 nonprofit organization that provides a venue for master traditional artists to display, demonstrate and sell their work. By providing opportunities for folk artists to succeed in the global marketplace, the Market creates economic empowerment and improves the quality of life in communities where folk artists live. It is now the largest international folk art market in the world, and its success led to Santa Fe’s designation as a UNESCO City of Folk Art, the first U.S. city named to UNESCO’s prestigious Creative Cities Network.”

If you are planning ahead like me, The Santa Fe International Folk Art Market’s dates for 2013 – 2015 are:

  • 2013 July 12 – 14
  • 2014 July 11 – 13
  • 2015 July 10 – 12

I am going to make a visit to this Market the centerpiece of my long-await southwestern adventure, and of course I will tell you all about it here.

Now the song “Santa Fe” from the cult movie, now a huge hit show on Broadway, Newsies, is in my head!

Find out more about the Santa Fe International Folk Art Market here.

well.12.1Well, I am back at home in New Hampshire following my late-summer vacation to Wellfleet, MA on Cape Cod. It was a great week with perfect weather and many good times. 

Alas, upon my return to New Hampshire the seasons have definitely changed – with temperatures expected to dip into the 30s tonight.

In the coming days I will share some of my experiences and “finds” from my vacation.  In the meantime, it is only fitting to show a couple of pictures of sunsets from Wellfleet – a visual example of my vacation – and indeed summer itself – coming to an end…



PINBALL2It may or may not come as a surprise to my readers that I am a huge fan of pinball machines. I spent many hours mastering PinBot in the late 80’s when all my little friends had moved on to video games.  I love the look, the feel, and mostly the sounds of the good old-school pinball machine as the balls careen from bumper to bumper.

I still pop into arcades every now and then to seek out a vintage machine – which thankfully can still be found – and within a few seconds of testing the paddles, I am a kid all over again.

I have never been to heaven, but were I to picture it, I would think it would look a little like the Pacific Pinball Museum of Alameda, CA.

About the Pacific Pinball Museum of Alameda, CA:  “The Pacific Pinball Museum (PPM) is a non-profit organization dedicated to the promotion and preservation of one of America’s great pastimes. We do this by: Operating the Pacific Pinball Museum a beautiful selection of 90 fully playable, historic pinball machines; Hosting the world’s largest pinball show, the annual Pacific Pinball Expo; Creating traveling pinball art exhibits; and, Creating traveling science exhibits communicating the basics of physics and electricity using pinball.”

I am definitely putting this museum on my list should I ever be nearby Alameda – and I hope it will be someday soon.

Read more about the Pacific Pinball Museum of Alameda, CA here.

…quaint little villages here and there –

You’re sure to fall in love with old Cape Cod!

Well, it is finally here – my annual late summer vacation on Old Cape Cod.  Today, I am off to the seaside village of Wellfleet, MA for rest and relaxation.

I look forward to sharing my experiences visiting galleries, touring around and other “finds” in this wonderful place.

In the meantime, I can’t think of any better way to kick off my Wellfleet vacation than sharing some vintage postcards of the town.  It is amazing how little Wellfleet had changed over the years, which makes it the perfect holiday location.  Cheers!


(Click on the thumbnails below for a larger view)

Next Page »