THE LUXURIOUS AND ELEGANT BRIAR BARN INN IS OPEN!

Briar Forsythe, owner of the Briar Barn Inn, recently took me on a grand tour of her newly opened inn. I had visited several times while under construction and I have to say, now that it is open, the Inn is even more beautiful than imagined. Elegant, luxurious, serene, relaxing, and welcoming are just some of the many superlatives that come to mind. Briar Barn Inn is just off Route 1A in scenic Rowley, minutes away from Route 95, yet as you head down the long driveway, you feel as though you have entered another world.

Gerald Fandetti, architect; Charlotte Forsythe, artist and interior designer; and art and antiques curating firm Electric Iris, have created a stunning first-rate inn and special events venue. The interior rooms are an eclectic mix of contemporary art, the fine antique furniture once found in ship captain’s homes, curious collections, luxurious bedding and textiles, folk art, and Arts and Crafts period inspired furnishings.

I don’t want to give the impression that Briar Barn Inn is overly serene, because the spacious and welcoming public rooms are equally as suited for fun parties, elegant events, and wonderful weddings. Whimsical details in art and furnishings surround and natural light pours into every room.

Coffee and a light breakfast can be had in the common areas found on each floor. The gathering areas are furnished with comfort in mind (think down cushioned chairs and settees you can sink into). Did I mention every guest room and gathering area has a cozy working fireplace? No two guest rooms are alike and each one either faces into a lovely central courtyard or has a bucolic woodland view. It’s an easy stroll from the Inn to the restaurant, through the expansive terraced alfresco dining area, which surrounds a large fire pit.

The fabulous country barn restaurant, boasting stunning post and beam construction, is opening very soon. Breakfast, lunch, and dinner will be served to hotel guests, and to the public, seven days a week. I (and my husband) simply can not wait to experience the cuisine! Chef Ben Lightbody, Briar Barn Inn’s executive chef, has developed a reputation for the wonderfully delicious and seasonally fresh food served at Willowdale Estate. The Fandetti-Forsythe Family is renowned in the Cambridge area for their hospitality (The Kendall Hotel and The Mary Prentiss Inn). With Willowdale Estate, and now Briar Barn Inn and restaurant, I think you will see why.

The pool, spa, and art gallery are opening this summer.

Briar Barn Inn is located in Rowley on the Essex Coastal Scenic Byway at 101 Main Street (Route 1A). For more information about the Inn visit the Briar Barn Inn website here. To book your stay call 978-653-5323.

We’re Off to See the Wizard!

photo 2 My friend, Briar Fandetti Forsythe, is a not only a fabulous baker, but also a movie buff. In April she is attending the Turner Film Festival, Los Angeles, where a huge celebration is scheduled for the 75th anniversary of The Wizard of Oz (1939). In anticipation of her upcoming trip she’s combined two of her passions, whipping up a batch of cookies for her friends, featuring Dorothy, from The Wizard of Oz!

photo 2-1

See Briar’s Virginia Lee Burton Little House cookies here.

WIZARD_OF_OZ_ORIGINAL_POSTER_1939Early Wizard of Oz Poster

As you’ve read here in previous posts, Briar is the proprietor of Willowdale Estate. Several times throughout the year, Willowdale holds fun family nights (free) with screenings of classic movies. It’s a great way to see the Estate, sample Briar’s exquisite cooking, and experience Willowdale’s welcoming hospitality!

Willowdale Estate ©Kim Smith2013Willowdale Estate, Topsfield

Note ~ My daughter Liv read, and reread, L. Frank Baum’s The Wonderful Wizard of Oz, and the novel’s many sequels. It’s a fabulously captivating series not to be overlooked for your young reader!

Briar Fandetti-Forsythe cookie photos; The Wizard of Oz promotion posters courtesy google image search.

See more The Wizard of Oz original posters, lobby cards, and info about the 75th anniversary screening here: Continue reading “We’re Off to See the Wizard!”

“Little House” Cookies

Briar Forsythe Willowdale Cookies -6 ©Ki Smith 2013 .Don’t these cookies remind you of the Virginia Lee Burton children’s story The Little House?

Briar Forsythe Willowdale Cookies ©Ki Smith 2013

My friend Briar made this gorgeous gift of fabulously delicious baked treats for my family. The bursting-full-of-yumminess box contained gingerbread cookies, Willowdale signature cookies, pumpkin bread, and apple cake (her Italian grandmother’s recipe), which Briar enhanced to include cranberries.

Imagine, as the prorpietor of Willowdale (she employs over 100 local people), Briar still makes time to bake and hand decorate cookies and treats for her friends and family. Very fortunately for we, her friends, she bakes throughout the year, not just at Christmastime!Briar Forsythe Willowdale Cookies  -4©Ki Smith 2013 .

Briar Forsythe Willowdale Cookies -2 ©Ki Smith 2013 .

Briar Forsythe Willowdale Cookies -3 ©Ki Smith 2013 .Briar has perfected her gingerbread cookie recipe. The “Little House” cookies not only look amazing, they are actually super delicious as well (which isn’t always the case with gingerbread house dough).

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Several years ago, I took Briar to the Cape Ann Museum to show her the wonderful Virginia Lee Burton exhibit. I love Briar’s gingerbread house cookies and they remind me greatly of Burton’s extraordinarily beautiful children’s book The Little House. What do you think?

I imagine that if a local baker wanted to make the connection between Virginia Lee Burton, Gloucester, and Little House cookies, it would fill a terrific niche and they would have a ready made market!

IMG_3175What The Little House would look like on a snowy day just like today!

sun The Llittle HouseVirginia Lee Burton daisy sun detail.

The Little House images are courtesy of a google image search.