My husband and I spent Memorial Day Weekend at a gratefully cool remove from our steamy New Orleans home base. In Vermont, I signed “But Mama Always Put Vodka in Her Sangria” at Manchester’s excellent Northshire Books wearing a turtleneck cashmere sweater. Boston required long sleeves and a pashmina. I’m on a plane headed back to NOLA as I type and I’m pretty sure I’ll be rolling up my sleeves as soon as I land.

But the weather isn’t the only reason I was sad to leave. In addition to being green and beautiful, Vermont turned out to be a bit of a foodie mecca. On our first night we dined at Abby and Rogan Lechthaler’s, fabulous Downtown Grocery in Ludlow. Abby is a fellow Mississippi girl and an old friend (as well as a new mom to the adorable Mason). Rogan, a native Vermonter, is an exceptionally gifted cook who has worked at some of my favorite haunts (Blackberry Farm, Boston’s Mistral, Oxford, Mississippi’s late lamented L&M). Together they run the Grocery, which, on the night we dined, featured: an amazing flatbread with ramps, local cheese, and Rogan’s house-cured bacon; ricotta gnudi with lobster and morels; perfect soft shell crabs with lemon butter and capers; and an astonishingly delicious—and decadent—“Late Night Breakfast” consisting of French toast with buttermilk bacon ice cream and local maple syrup. The blackboard of daily specials is long and ever-changing and I can’t wait to return before summer’s end to see what’s on it.

In Boston, we stayed at my favorite Lenox Hotel, where the world’s most helpful concierges are also unrepentant gourmands. We spent an entire afternoon at Coppa, where the chief concierge’s husband happens to be chef, and where the outdoor terrace is almost as crowded with loveable mutts as people. While our neighbor’s poodle mix drank lustily from the ice bucket containing a flight of Miller ponies (what an inspired idea!), John and I shared a pitcher of refreshing Aperol spritzers and ordered a succession of small plates, including the best steak tartare I’ve ever tasted and a sublime squid ink pasta.

Best of all was seeing Boston’s Boylston Street, site of the Marathon bombings and home to the Lenox (which became police and FBI headquarters for a week), crowded  with people, countless Boston Strong banners, and an extraordinarily moving make-shift memorial at Copley Square.

Next week I’ll be signing at another of my favorite bookstores, Sundog Books in Seaside, Florida, where the weather will be decidedly warmer.  That’s okay. I’ll be whipping up a few pitchers of sangria to cool off the crowd—and looking forward to my next trip to the cool north. In the meantime, cheers!

About Julia Reed

Julia Reed is a columnist at Garden & Gun magazine and a contributing editor at Elle Décor. She also contributes to The Wall Street Journal, Architectural Digest, and The New York Times, and makes frequent appearances on MSNBC. She is the author of five books, including But Mama Always Put Vodka in the Sangria, Adventures in Eating, Drinking and Making Merry and One Man’s Folly, The Exceptional Houses of Furlow Gatewood.

5 Comments to “Notes from the Road”

  1. David Trigiani says:

    J,
    Looking forward to having you in Jaxon…….let’s do something to perhaps generate another article…. :)
    David

  2. I am going on a road trip and want to take THIS lady along. Well written and I could almost taste those soft shell crabs and “late Night Breakfast” – my kind of writer, my kind of foodie companion! Best, Jessica

  3. Yes, Miss Julia is quite a witty Foodaphile! Love reading her take on anywhere she goes!

  4. I “met” you, Julia, at the KWLS-2011-Food as Muse. You made me laugh and inspired me. Two days after I got back from my workshop with Porter Shreve, one of my “mates” clued me into your Fetch magazine posts. I have all your books, and read you wherever I can find you. The seminar was an epic moment in my life–I went to meet the elite and to find out if my writing “sucked” (sorry, just no other way to say it succinctly). It seems it doesn’t–I published my book Above and Beyond Wellfleet: A memoir about welcoming life after loss last year. So far–so good. Thanks for playing an important part of my life–even though you didn’t know it.
    Connie

  5. Julia,
    I love your name and I thoroughly enjoy your writing!!
    Best regards,
    Julia

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