Chasing Fall in New England


Mist rolling over the hills in Pomfret, VT

“I’m so glad I live in a world where there are Octobers.”

 L.M. MontgomeryAnne of Green Gables


One of the most photographed farms in the US–Jenne Farm, Reading, VT

It’s October in New England and it seems that no matter where you are in the Northeast, you can find spectacular displays of fall foliage.  The fiery reds, warm golds and lush greens of fall are popping up everywhere from New York to Maine.  Not wanting to miss out on a fall that was already being described as “vibrant” and “neon”, I booked a weekend with friends recently to explore the back roads of Vermont, a state that I had only seen under the cover of snow.

We set off on our two-day quest for fantastic fall foliage and weren’t disappointed.  Neither the throngs of fellow leaf-peepers nor the forecast for rain slowed us down.  We only had time to explore a few towns and villages during our short visit.  But we were able to capture images of so many classic New England icons from stone walls and covered bridges to church steeples and village greens all in the stunning backdrop of Autumn’s eye-popping palette.

For my friends below the Mason-Dixon line who have a while longer to wait for their fall “peep shows”, here are some moments from my weekend in Vermont to hold you over.  Happy leaf-peeping!


Stowe Community Church, Stowe, VT


The sun going down on Lake Champlain, Burlington, VT



Barn in Woodstock, VT


Shops along the village green in South Royalton, VT


Woodstock Middle Bridge, Woodstock, VT



Taftsville covered bridge right outside Woodstock, VT


Reflections of autumn in the North Hartland Lake near the Quechee Gorge in Quechee, VT


One of the many stone walls found in New England. This one lines the walkway of the Vermont Law School in South Royalton, VT


The Quechee Gorge drops down165 feet where the Ottauquechee River runs through. The river originates in the Green Mountains and flows through Killington and continues eastwardly in the Woodstock, Pomfret, Hartford and Hartland and Quechee.


Vibrant foliage surrounding buildings on the Vermont Law School Campus, South Royalton, VT


Photos by Susan Scarborough

Music City Magic at Nashville Food and Wine Festival


Cooking is like love, it should be entered into with abandon        or not at all.  

-Harriet Van Horne


Music and food have always possessed the remarkable ability to take us back to a certain time or place. A single line of a love song from our youth can give us a rush of emotions. In much the same way, the smell of cornbread baking in your grandmother’s cast iron skillet can bring a wave of nostalgia so strong you’d swear it’s almost a religious experience.

So it is no surprise that two days of incredible music and food held in the beautiful city of Nashville, TN, made for a very cool weekend. Add the fact that the founders of the Music City Food and Wine Festival, the southern rock band Kings of Leon and world-renowned chef Jonathan Waxman, brought together not only the best chefs in the Southern culinary scene right now but also a superstar lineup of musicians who paid homage to country music’s classics at the Harvest Night celebration. The harmony of the two sent foodies and music lovers like myself over the top.

The two-day festival was held in Nashville, the city that has historically gained its reputation by being the Mecca of country music.  But what really makes Nashville the perfect backdrop for this festival is the reinvention of the city’s culinary scene. The city was featured by Food & Wine magazine recently for its “booming Music City food scene,” and is attracting a breed of young chefs who are breathing life into a tired food scene.  Their energy compliments the established chefs who are preserving their deep-rooted culinary heritage while embracing new culinary trends.

The mutual admiration between the culinary and music worlds was evident over the course of the festival. Panels of chefs shared their love of music and the role it plays in their creativity. The musicians returned the love by showing their support for the culinary arts.  You can get the impressive line-up of chefs and musicians at MCFW 2014 here.

The passion of which Van Horne spoke in the quote above was apparent in the work of the artists on display this past weekend. They all approach their respective crafts “with abandon” and are committed to preserving and improving these art forms so that we all can continue to be moved by their magic for years to come.







Chef Tyler Florence



Chef Tim Love from Texas teams up with Kings of Leon drummer, Nathan Followill, to talk about the art of burning food.



Sweet potato hummus with pecan sage pesto

Andy Ticer manning the birds.

Chef Andy Ticer manning the birds.

Always creative and fun ideas pouring at the Tito's table.

Always creative and fun ideas pouring at the Tito’s table.



Hunter Hayes owning the stage.




Caleb and crew saying good night.


Photos by Evelyn Savage

Music City Believer



I’m so excited to be heading down to Nashville this weekend! My friend Evelyn and I are off to the Music City Food and Wine Festival to get our fill of great music and great food.  Famous for its legendary music scene, the city is also showcasing an exploding culinary culture by bringing in world-renowned chefs and up-and-coming stars in the food industry to the Food & Wine Festival. Even though Nashville’s festival is one of the newest on the scene, be assured the promoters (who happen to be none other than Kings of Leon band members), are going to set the bar high with their two-day celebration of Southern food and music. Check out how the Followills got involved in the festival in the most recent issue of Garden & Gun Magazine here.

Believe it or not, Nashville will be hosting two huge festivals at the same time this weekend. Along with MCFW 2014, the Americana Music Festival and Conference, which the New York Times is calling “the coolest music scene today,” is being held Thursday through Sunday.  Not only is it jam packed with some of the best musical talent from the South and beyond, it goes deeper by offering educational “seminars” from music industry insiders to give a leg up to aspiring musicians.  North Carolina natives, The Avett Brothers,are headlining the festival Saturday night but every day is filled with an unbelievable line-up of 160 artists performing in 11 venues around Nashville.

The Music City is going to shine this weekend and I can’t wait to take it all in!


Maine — The New England of Your Dreams


Bass Harbor Head Light- Sunset

Bass Harbor Head Light – Sunset

The breathtaking beauty of Maine is captured in these photos of rugged shores marked with classic lighthouses overlooking boat-filled harbors.

The photos were taken by my incredibly talented friend Katie O’Reilly on her recent weekend trip to The Pine Tree State.  The collection showcases how summer in New England can be the holiday of your dreams with a series of iconic photographs. From St. Ann’s Church near the Bush’s estate on Walker Point to the majestic vistas of Acadia National Park, Katie’s photos already have me planning my own weekend escape back to the rocky shores of Maine. You can see more from her trip at her website and on Instagram.  While you are there, check out stunning collections from her other travels.

On this summer night in New England as I tuck my exhausted but happy children into their beds, I am inspired  by these iconic scenes and can’t help but channel John Irving by saying, “Goodnight, you princes of Maine, you kings of New England.”

Portland Head Light

Portland Head Light

St. Ann's Episcopal Church, Kennebunkport

St. Ann’s Episcopal Church, Kennebunkport

Spring Point Ledge, Portland

Spring Point Ledge, Portland

Acadia National Park, Bar Harbor

Acadia National Park, Bar Harbor

Portland Head Light- Sunset

Portland Head Light – Sunset

Jordan Pond, Acadia National Park

Jordan Pond, Acadia National Park

Bass Harbor Sunset

Bass Harbor Sunset

All photos by Katie O’Reilly 

Waiting Is The Hardest Part

photo 1-2

Tomorrow is the first of March which means we are twenty days away from the vernal equinox–the first day of spring.  Not that anyone is counting.  And not that Mother Nature cares.  As we face another weekend of snow, my friends and I are wondering whether we will ever surface from this endless winter.

I  miss color.  I crave green grass and bright blue skies.  I want to see a vibrant color palette pop with the arrival of tulips, crocuses, daffodils and forsythia.

As I was looking out the window today at nature’s still white canvas, searching for any sign of the coming season, I thought about camellias.  In my mind I could see the iconic Southern blooms in a million shades of pink, white and red weighing down their lush evergreen branches. They could brighten even the dreariest of days.


Curious as to whether the cold-weather bloomer might be found in the Northeast, I Googled the camellia. Originally from Japan, these blooms made their way to Charleston in the 18th century and for hundreds of years, camellias thrived in Southern climates. But much to my surprise, I found they also had a home in New England for just as long.  I had no idea the flower could survive north of the Mason-Dixon line. But thanks to greenhouses and devoted caretakers,  they do. There is even a Massachusetts Camellia Society.  Who knew? The Lyman Estate in Waltham, MA has been growing varieties of camellias in their greenhouses since the 1800s.  Many of the Lyman camellias are over 100 years old. And across the Long Island Sound from my house, the Planting Fields Foundation has the largest collection of camellias under glass in the Northeast.   Who knows, with the cultivation of hardy hybrids and new growing techniques, I might even be able to have a touch of the South in my garden next winter.

But until then, I have to remember spring will eventually make its way back to us and green sprouts will push their way up through the frozen ground. Tom Petty was right that the waiting is the hardest part, but there are few things more anticipated and appreciated than the first signs of spring in New England.

To help pass the time until those happy days wander our way, my friend Evelyn was sweet enough to shoot some pictures of gorgeous camellia blooms around Northwest Florida and sent them to me.  Hope you enjoy them as much as I did.

photo 2-4





Photography by Evelyn Savage

Cold Weather Blues


As I sit here watching the snow fall again in Connecticut, I am bracing myself for what is apparently going to be long, long winter.   New terms like “polar vortex” and “arctic front” are blanketing the headlines and The Weather Chanel is now christening winter storms with names like “Hercules” and “Janus”. 

As a Southern girl who didn’t see much snow growing up, I’m usually giddy when the first powdery flakes of the season start to fall.  It’s breathtaking. Especially during the holidays. Who doesn’t dream of a white Christmas?

But the decorations are put away and the joy of snow days is wearing thin. Theses short, dreary days are leaving everyone with a case of the cold weather blues. The one saving grace is  Shelley’s promise– if winter comes, can spring be far behind? Remembering that promise and living in the moment, I can find the beauty and serenity that comes with the quiet, gray days of winter.

So I’m going to light a fire, snuggle with my kids and share some moments of winter showing off in New England. 










Garden & Gun Jubilee 2013


This past weekend I attended the first ever Garden & Gun Jubilee in Charleston, SC.

G&G’s inaugural celebration of Southern tastemakers was a huge success.  It was held in Charles Towne Landing, a 663-acre state park which preserves the site of the first English settlement in South Carolina. The natural setting was the perfect backdrop for bringing the pages of the magazine to life with experiences such as fly-fish instruction, a litter of adorable Boykin Spaniel puppies and insanely good Rodney Scott BBQ.

For four years, the magazine has hosted a Made In The South competition, allowing many of the region’s most talented artisans to showcase their crafts.  This year, G&G brought the winners together to form a marketplace just in time for the holidays. From trunk shows featuring creative leather goods and one-of-a-kind sporting gear to tents filled with fascinating antiques and mouthwatering Southern-made foods, the folks at G&G set the bar high for next year.













Y56A2382 blog


Photography by Evelyn Laws

Why Charleston is America’s Favorite City


For the third year in a row, Charleston has been selected as America’s favorite city by the readers of Condé Nast Traveler.

In this month’s issue, Charleston native Christian L. Wright asks herself the same question I ask every time I visit the Holy City: why don’t I live here?

Backed by hometown credentials and an honest perspective, the author paints a beautiful portrait of this jewel of the South. You can check out the article here.

It’s a timely read as I sit on a runway waiting for my flight to Charleston.  My daughter and I are on the way to Garden & Gun’s Jubilee, a holiday event celebrating the best of the South. It will also be my daughter’s first time in Charleston. I’m so excited to be sharing this city that I love with her. And if she is anything like her mother, she will feel tugs on her Southern heart strings and start wishing she lived here too.












Photography by Evelyn Laws

In New Orleans, the More the Merrier

“New Orleans food is as delicious as the less criminal forms of sin.” Mark Twain


Photography by Evelyn Laws

The New York Times had a fascinating piece today on the ever-evolving culinary scene in New Orleans.  Nearly eight years after Hurricane Katrina devastated the Crescent City, the restaurant industry is booming and reflecting a richer city.  You can take a look at the article here.  And if you are making your way to the Big Easy soon, check out my list of favorites here as well as a list from USA Today of some of those new and notable restaurants.

Lucy’s Canvas Keeps It All In The Family


I love it when I stumble across creations that fall right in the heart of southXnortheast.   Daily Candy recently showcased this collection of adorable preppy canvas bags made right up the road in Massachusetts.

The brother-sister team at Lucy’s Canvas is doing great work while keeping it all in the family by carrying their mom’s craftwork into the 21st Century.   Whether in the Disco Days of the 1970s or the vintage revival of 2000’s, these bags are always in style.


Lucy’s Canvas nostalgic bags  appeal to the 80’s prep in me but also transcend generations by drawing in customers like my 10 year old daughter, Kate, whose favorite bag is Purple Passion.


This awesome “dream team” product not only spans eras: its handiwork crosses into my two favorite regions. Their bags are made with canvas from Big Duck Canvas out of Winder, GA and the webbing comes from All Island Webbing in Huntington Station, NY.  And all bags are made by hand in Everett, MA.  It is truly a SXNE creation that is perfect for a day on the beach or a day around town!


Photos by Lucy’s Canvas

Athens, GA – All Grown Up Now

gatheatretscemail The Athens of my college days brought R.E.M., the B-52s and Georgia Bulldog football but a renaissance in one of America’s quintessential college towns is now more likely to highlight great southern chefs like Hugh Acheson and host a Southern C summit to celebrate southern food and music. IMG_0921 Today, the New York Times has its own take on a downtown revival I can’t wait to see for myself. Check out the piece here. For additional help planning your trip, visit Southern Living and Garden & Gun to get their lowdown on this great little Georgia town.

Go to Jackson, MS to “get a helping of all things Southern” and where “the servers are as sweet as the tea.”


Photos by James Patterson for The New York Times

In today’s travel section of the New York Times, Laura Tillman takes us through Jackson, MS in 36 hours . She highlights the cultural, historical and culinary richness of the City of Soul.  June is the month you can celebrate the life of civil rights hero Medgar Evers with a historic tour and film festival. Or pay homage to Jackon’s literary heritage by visiting Pulitzer Prize-winning author, Euroda Welty’s house and by heading up to Lemuria Books, a Jackson institution for over 38 years.

And of course, the Old South’s traditions always seems to return to the table.  The Times piece celebrates Jackson’s eclectic food scene in a city landscape that combines old-school soul-food diners with impressive new restaurants that highlight sophisticated Southern cuisine.

Check out the entire feature on Jackson here.

Screen Doors and Sweet Tea


The long, cold New England winter has made the first taste of spring all the sweeter. Of course, spring did not come to me. I had to chase it down in Northwest Florida. And that was no easy task. But three cancelled trips, a stomach bug and ear infection later, I am sitting on the back porch listening to the waves crash on the Gulf of Mexico.

Heading home to the panhandle of Florida has not just warmed my body, it’s warmed my soul. I have soaked up every last ray of sunshine and love during this vacation. I’ve missed the slower cadence, laughter with family and friends, sugar-white sands, fresh Gulf seafood, eye-popping azaleas, slamming screen doors and sweet tea. (Thank you Martha Foose for the best cookbook title ever.)

The down-home feel and sense of belonging when I come home is not exclusive to the South. Beachside villages and towns along the Atlantic seaboard from Sag Harbor, L.I. to Bar Harbor, Maine have been calling families back to the New England coast for generations. Clam bakes, oyster roasts and days spent on the water around weathered cottages remind me of days and nights along Gulf Coast beaches like the one that is framed by Highway 30-A.

Southerners have been flocking to South Walton for one hundred years. My own family has been going there now for over three decades. The tradition continues again this year as Kate and Jack celebrate their spring break from school along the same stretch of beach highway their parents did before the first Seaside cottage was built.

I have no doubt that a generation from now, their children will be slamming screen doors, gulping sweet tea and playing in the same snow-white sands.




Beasts of the Southern Wild

The Oscars have arrived and all the excitement and anticipation of Hollywood’s red-carpet event will be played out tonight.

It’s not surprising the biggest box office year in history brought with it some great Best Picture nominations. Lincoln, Argo, Zero Dark Thirty, Les Miserables, and Beasts of the Southern Wild have grabbed headlines and made millions.

But tonight SXNE will cheer for Beasts of the Southern Wild, the breathtaking work inspired by Southern screen-writer, Lucy Alibar, who co-wrote the screen play.

Lucy was raised in Monticello, a small town in the Florida panhandle. Her fundamentalist Southern roots provide the flavor of this Southern folklore masterpiece. The story portrays and the strained relationship with her ill and sometimes abusive father. It’s also about her struggle to survive in a storm-ravaged community in the Mississippi Delta. The tale includes fantastical ancient beasts, “aurochs”, and hardships and heartbreak visited on a six-year-old girl.

Ms. Alibar’s own story has taken a remarkable path, too. After high school, she moved to New York, studied at NYU, and struggled as a starving artist. The big break came as her screen play was nominated at Sundance. Now, Lucy Alibar is basking in the success created with her long-time friend, co-author and producer, Behn Zeitlin. I think Alibar is the sentimental choice of ex-pat Southerners everywhere who will cheer for this fellow southXnortheasterner tonight…and for a long time to come.

Winter Shows Off in Woodstock

“You can’t get too much winter in the winter.”

Robert Frost

The beauty of nature is so easy to capture in Vermont. I love the simplicity and strength seen in the barns and buildings scattered over the countryside.

The layers of weathered wood and chipped paints on the structures have many stories to tell but they all seem to reflect the strength and perseverance of the people and region.

I can’t imagine there being a bad season to photograph Woodstock, but winter seems to be the season made for showcasing its loveliness.

Robert Frost and Suicide Six

The perfect composition of winter whites in Woodstock, VT is one reason this New England town keeps topping our winter travel list.

This quintessential Vermont hamlet, founded in 1761, is right out of a Robert Frost poem. From quaint shops and scenic covered bridges all the way to the slopes of Suicide Six, it’s one of the best small towns New England has to offer.

Suicide Six, a ski resort founded in 1934, sounds ominous by name butnhas great slopes for skiers of all levels. And, the staff are the friendliest lot of people you will find north of the Mason-Dixon line.

We discover more with every visit to Woodstock, and it’s for more than those just interested in winter sports. There’s something for the antique shopper, the bibliophile, the nature worshiper, and the small-town lover in all of us.

If you’re a foodie, you have to try the Mile-High Apple Pie from Mountain Creamery. Three pounds of apples in each pie! Amazing!

Robert Frost said you could never get too much winter in winter. I agree and have learned you can never get too much of Frost’s favorite season in this corner of Vermont.

Photography by Susan Scarborough, Joe Scarborough, and Clayton Collins.

Happy Super Gras!

The Big Easy has never been one to shy away from a party. Or two. That’s why it comes as no surprise that Super Bowl XLVII is sandwiched in the middle of Mardi Gras. Some are even dubbing it “Super Gras.”

No doubt in my mind, New Orleans is capable of juggling both. The city spent three years prepping for what might be the largest tourist event in the history of NOLA. They are expecting nearly a half-million visitors. And I think each will be pleased with what they find considering the Crescent City was voted “Best American City to Visit” by Travel + Leisure magazine.

So, good luck my friends in NOLA and Laissez les bons temps rouler!

Photography by Evelyn Laws

Music to Your Mouth


Whoever first coined the phrase “you can’t go home” was probably in the middle of a long weekend at Palmetto Bluff, the setting for the 6th Annual Music to Your Mouth Festival (MTYM).

MTYM is a food festival to end all other food festivals.

It’s hard to explain the first time you enter the 20,000 acres that is Palmetto Bluff. The vast beauty of the conservation preserve filled with spanish moss and 32 miles of riverfront is breathtaking. Without a festival to attend, one could still get lost for days in the beautiful residential community with a resort spa and Jack Nicklaus signature golf course. And if being pampered or hitting the links is not your thing, there’s always kayaking, biking, and fishing.

Adding a weekend of culinary indulgence to this serene environment, and you’ll think you’ve gone to heaven. It’s hard to name another event that features so many of the South’s finest chefs in such a relaxed, approachable setting.

Sean Brock, Drew Robinson, Hugh Acheson, Chris Hastings, John Currence, Allan Benton, and Ashley Christensen were just a few in the all-star lineup. The James Beard Foundation and Southern Foodways Alliance were active participants with awards and showings of short films showcasing the legendary bourbon-maker, Julian P. Van Winkle, III and the godfather of pork, Allan Benton.


Two days of bluegrass music created the perfect soundtrack to this Southern foodie weekend. But the best part, for me, was walking from table to table sampling the best in culinary creations while listening to interviews by John T. Edge and demonstrations by some of the finest chefs of the South.

Limited tickets meant no long lines, which is a good thing when you are transfixed by the smoked ham and cast iron skillets of bacon on Allan Benton’s table. Or when you’re being served a plate of Jim ‘n Nick’s perfectly smoked pork on white bread drenched in BBQ sauce and a couple of their divine cheese biscuits. Hungry yet? And since there was only a small band of Southern food worshipers,  finding a spot at fire pit to roast your gourmet s’mores was easy.

The MTYM folks got it right even more by donating a portion of every ticket to Second Helpings, a local organization set up to fight hunger.

From the potlikker block party to the oyster roast, the event was Dixie at its best. After all, a festival which sports a Bacon Forest and Game Day Beer Garden just takes things to another level, right?



I survived the weekend of indulgence. My waistline wasn’t so lucky. But I have a year to work off the damage before next year’s Music to Your Mouth Festival!

Photography by Evelyn Laws


After spending a night in The Big Easy getting acquainted with the interesting cajun concoction that is boudin, and basking in the glory of the historical and iconic Roosevelt Hotel, Susan and I were ready to get out and explore the visual and culinary richness on the banks of the mighty Mississippi.

I’m not really sure if there are enough words to describe this city in the fall….the fabulous food, introducing Susan to her first “Second Line” experience, the colorful architecture that seems to hold so many untold stories, and the joie de vivre attitude mixed with the cooler weather that lured me in, hook, line, and sinker!

Many a paragraph could be written about our 48 hours in the French Quarter, but suffice it to say we left feeling full in more than one way and refreshed beyond belief. The discussion on the way home, as you can imagine, surrounded talk about the next NOLA/South Louisiana escapade. Lucky for me, I’ll never run out of reasons to pass up a trip to this southern city, or run out of restaurants and festivals to write about.

Photography by Evelyn Laws

Ole Miss Homecoming, Day 2

Before heading over to the Grove Saturday morning, we stopped by Bottletree Bakery.  We were warned that this popular pastry shop would be packed with locals and out of towners who all seemed clued in to what an amazing place this was. We were lucky to get a table but to be honest, I would have taken a to-go box of pastries outside to the curb.


The apple brioche was to die for. And while the chocolate croissant was a fav with the kids, we all agreed the cheddar cheese biscuits filled with homemade sausage was worth every bite of cheesy, calorie-laden goodness. And don’t get me started about the famed strawberry humble pie.


Service was fast and friendly from our groovy waiter. Really wanted his t-shirt.


Knowing tent after tent of deviled eggs, BBQ and sweet tea would be greeting us in a couple of hours, walking around the Square, as a little shopping seemed like the thing to do.

We stopped in at Square Books’ main store and their two outposts, Off Square Books and Square Books, Jr., which are all located within a couple blocks of each other. I’m not surprised that three bookstores anchor the Square given the literary history of Oxford.


By the time we made our way to the Grove, a sea of blue and red had already been pitched and BBQ filled the air. Game day television was on and the Ole Miss band was marching through on their way to the stadium. Winding our way through the crowd, we ran into Senators, old friends from Florida and legendary authors like Curtis Wilkie.

As if we hadn’t eaten enough already, my friend Evelyn and I couldn’t resist trying another of Chef Currence’s establishments, Snack Bar.


Snack Bar has a much more relaxed vibe than City Grocery. In fact, it’s located in a strip mall. But once inside, the food and influence of @BigBadChef (John) takes over and you get lost in another culinary trip of unexpected twists on Southern food.  An unlikely combination of flash fried okra, peanuts, garlic and Indian spices was impossible to to stop eating.