April 2, 2012
Liz - Writer and Editor - Chicago, ILThe place I always eat: Taco Veloz. It’s a bit gnarly-looking in there, but it’s the best real Mexican I’ve found.Where to stay for the night: If you can, stay with a friend or a friend of a friend. Chicago is very much about the people, and getting a room for the night in a hotel just isn’t the same.The one place I take everyone: The city is more or less split in two, North side and South side. There is a place on each side I never miss on trips back home: the Hideout and Maria’s.Best local product you should try: The art! Chicago has so much amazing art—especially music and photography… and graphic design, screenprinting, independent publication, even some local fashion that’s gone actual runway (look up Creatures of the Wind, who’ve stuck it out for YEARS in a city that has no garment district and is not hospitable to high-end ready-to-wear)…actually everything there is fantastic. Reasons why Chicago is so great for art: 1. The constant influx of kids who’ve escaped from their prisons of Middle-America normalcy who’re hungry for the opportunity to get weird in a big city (and believe me, they do). 2.  Unlimited resource. There is tons of room, everyday living expenses are reasonable, and people are constantly dreaming and scheming and opening new live/work/play spaces… there is access to materials, to land, to water. There is encouragement from the city to live modestly and sustainably, which, for anyone with imagination and curiosity, activates potential.  3. It’s not wrecked by outside influence. Chicago, ultimately, could care less about celebrity or trend—people are out there on their own trip. And the ingrained sense of blue-collar modesty (which can sometimes be a bit self-defeatist, or even outright hostile to ambitious types, to be honest) means there are no art stars, and it all stays pretty much local. Lots and lots of hidden secrets.4. The insane weather gives plenty of time for people to hole up, develop a vision, and get stir crazy enough to create something that serves as its own reference point. The 2nd best kept secret: Chicago has the best summers in the country. Residents wait so, so long for nice weather—and it’s fleeting—that they absolutely make the most of it. Towards the end of August, watch out—everyone’s blowing off the last bit of “yay! we have hot weather” steam, and it gets wilder and more debaucherous in some circles than you could ever, ever imagine.

Liz - Writer and Editor - Chicago, IL

The place I always eat:

Taco Veloz. It’s a bit gnarly-looking in there, but it’s the best real Mexican I’ve found.


Where to stay for the night:

If you can, stay with a friend or a friend of a friend. Chicago is very much about the people, and getting a room for the night in a hotel just isn’t the same.


The one place I take everyone:

The city is more or less split in two, North side and South side. There is a place on each side I never miss on trips back home: the Hideout and Maria’s.


Best local product you should try:

The art! Chicago has so much amazing art—especially music and photography… and graphic design, screenprinting, independent publication, even some local fashion that’s gone actual runway (look up Creatures of the Wind, who’ve stuck it out for YEARS in a city that has no garment district and is not hospitable to high-end ready-to-wear)…actually everything there is fantastic. Reasons why Chicago is so great for art:


1. The constant influx of kids who’ve escaped from their prisons of Middle-America normalcy who’re hungry for the opportunity to get weird in a big city (and believe me, they do).

2.  Unlimited resource. There is tons of room, everyday living expenses are reasonable, and people are constantly dreaming and scheming and opening new live/work/play spaces… there is access to materials, to land, to water. There is encouragement from the city to live modestly and sustainably, which, for anyone with imagination and curiosity, activates potential. 

3. It’s not wrecked by outside influence. Chicago, ultimately, could care less about celebrity or trend—people are out there on their own trip. And the ingrained sense of blue-collar modesty (which can sometimes be a bit self-defeatist, or even outright hostile to ambitious types, to be honest) means there are no art stars, and it all stays pretty much local. Lots and lots of hidden secrets.

4. The insane weather gives plenty of time for people to hole up, develop a vision, and get stir crazy enough to create something that serves as its own reference point.


The 2nd best kept secret:

Chicago has the best summers in the country. Residents wait so, so long for nice weather—and it’s fleeting—that they absolutely make the most of it. Towards the end of August, watch out—everyone’s blowing off the last bit of “yay! we have hot weather” steam, and it gets wilder and more debaucherous in some circles than you could ever, ever imagine.

March 26, 2012
Anika - Triple Threat minus the acting, sub the dancing for writing - Bismarck, NDThe Place I always eat:The Little Cottage Cafe.

If German pioneers started a diner, this would be that diner.

They serve up traditional German and Scandinavian food along with other comfort classics. Get the soup du jour, which 6 out of 7 times is Knoephla. It is a creamy soup loaded with potatoes, onion and carrots mixed in with fresh dough dumplings. Try the sour cream raisin pie.

True to North Dakota tradition and expectation, every entree comes with a serving of bread.

Tip your waitress well so you can come back the next day for breakfast without the regulars giving you the staredown.





Don’t worry, it will come with toast.Where to stay for the night:When my parents want the evening to themselves, I usually go and kick it at the Fairfield Inn & Suites South.





Amenities include a Jimmy Dean Breakfast Sandwich and an indoor pool and spa. (Because you probably won’t be visiting during the 30 days that it’s appropriate to be outside in a less than long sleeves).The one place I take everyone:The Heritage Center.

An interactive museum that tells the story of the state. Upon entering, flip a light switch to summon the call of the canadian geese “flying above”.





Other museum treasures include: an enormous mastodon skeleton, tee-pees to cosy into, and the infamous box where you can experience a whiff of buffalo dung if you choose to be so adventurous.Best local product you should try:Fleischkuechle (translation: Flesh Pie)

It is a German-Russian traditional dish, which is much better tasting, than the name is appealing.

It’s a seasoned hamburger patty, which is then covered with a soft, tangy, slightly sweet dough and deep fried.




Yum.The 2nd best kept secret:The Lewis and Clark Riverboat 

Taking a boat ride down the Missouri River in a double decker olde-timey cruise ship akin to the trail that the explorers Lewis and Clark followed….is awesome.

Get married, have class reunions, or do a more personal tour.

Always include the sunset and a full bar.

Anika - Triple Threat minus the acting, sub the dancing for writing - Bismarck, ND

The Place I always eat:

The Little Cottage Cafe.

If German pioneers started a diner, this would be that diner.

They serve up traditional German and Scandinavian food along with other comfort classics. Get the soup du jour, which 6 out of 7 times is Knoephla. It is a creamy soup loaded with potatoes, onion and carrots mixed in with fresh dough dumplings. Try the sour cream raisin pie.

True to North Dakota tradition and expectation, every entree comes with a serving of bread.

Tip your waitress well so you can come back the next day for breakfast without the regulars giving you the staredown.

Don’t worry, it will come with toast.

Where to stay for the night:

When my parents want the evening to themselves, I usually go and kick it at the Fairfield Inn & Suites South.

Amenities include a Jimmy Dean Breakfast Sandwich and an indoor pool and spa. (Because you probably won’t be visiting during the 30 days that it’s appropriate to be outside in a less than long sleeves).

The one place I take everyone:

The Heritage Center.

An interactive museum that tells the story of the state. Upon entering, flip a light switch to summon the call of the canadian geese “flying above”.

Other museum treasures include: an enormous mastodon skeleton, tee-pees to cosy into, and the infamous box where you can experience a whiff of buffalo dung if you choose to be so adventurous.

Best local product you should try
:

Fleischkuechle (translation: Flesh Pie)

It is a German-Russian traditional dish, which is much better tasting, than the name is appealing.

It’s a seasoned hamburger patty, which is then covered with a soft, tangy, slightly sweet dough and deep fried.

Yum.

The 2nd best kept secret
:

The Lewis and Clark Riverboat

Taking a boat ride down the Missouri River in a double decker olde-timey cruise ship akin to the trail that the explorers Lewis and Clark followed….is awesome.

Get married, have class reunions, or do a more personal tour.

Always include the sunset and a full bar.

February 23, 2012
Alia - Writer and photographer - “Claymont Society for Continuous Eduction" in Charles Town, West Virginia
It’s hard to try and describe where I grew up and not use the word  “commune,” but the colloquial understanding of that word doesn’t fit  with the particular experience at Claymont. I like to simply use the  word community — it’s a few hundred acres of land owned and maintained  by a group who want a space in which to learn how to live more  consciously. Where the term “commune” often arouses scenes of drum  circles and free love, instead picture a place where hard work on  developing oneself and the community are the focus. Of course, my  understanding of the more spiritual focuses of Claymont are an adult  development; my childhood experience was one of playing in the forest  and going to school, of learning to cook and garden, and of climbing  tress and picking gooseberries. Going back now it’s mostly an experience  of working in the garden, and while we pull weeds, prune, and pick we  talk about ideas for projects, courses, and, not least of all, what’s  for dinner.
The place I always eat: There’s a little place called Shu Chen that’s  been around for decades. It’s a little out of place to see a very  traditionally decorated Chinese restaurant in the middle of a country  town. It’s nestled in between antique stores and hardware shops right  across the street from where John Brown was captured and tried before  his hanging. The food isn’t superb or anything but it was one of the  only restaurants in town when I was a kid and it was always a treat to  go out for dinner.Where to stay for the night: There are two major communal housing  spaces on the property, one is an enormous converted barn and the other  is a mansion built by Charles Washington. While I love waking up to the  sound of roosters over by the Great Barn, the Mansion is a historical  landmark and the only Washington estate you can spend the night in, so  it’s a pretty fantastic experience.The one place I take everyone: The widow’s walk on the top of the  mansion; to get to it you have to climb up to through a trap door in a  closet on the third floor in the old servants quarters. From up there  you can see hundreds of acres of forest and fields and nothing else —  it’s like being in a time machine and seeing America the way it was a  hundred years ago. Go in July when the fireflies are out in full force  and it looks like the fields are sparkling.Best local product you should try: Claymont’s community garden  has some of the best organic eggs and produce you’ll ever eat. Items  from the garden are used by my friend to make her wonderful skincare  products “Karebeh” — their contents are so natural you could literally  eat the products.The 2nd best kept secret: Anyone is welcome to come for the  harvest to help, an most excitingly to eat! This year Harvest Feast is  on September 10th… all it takes is an email to set up your visit!

Alia - Writer and photographer - “Claymont Society for Continuous Eduction" in Charles Town, West Virginia

It’s hard to try and describe where I grew up and not use the word “commune,” but the colloquial understanding of that word doesn’t fit with the particular experience at Claymont. I like to simply use the word community — it’s a few hundred acres of land owned and maintained by a group who want a space in which to learn how to live more consciously. Where the term “commune” often arouses scenes of drum circles and free love, instead picture a place where hard work on developing oneself and the community are the focus. Of course, my understanding of the more spiritual focuses of Claymont are an adult development; my childhood experience was one of playing in the forest and going to school, of learning to cook and garden, and of climbing tress and picking gooseberries. Going back now it’s mostly an experience of working in the garden, and while we pull weeds, prune, and pick we talk about ideas for projects, courses, and, not least of all, what’s for dinner.

The place I always eat:

There’s a little place called Shu Chen that’s been around for decades. It’s a little out of place to see a very traditionally decorated Chinese restaurant in the middle of a country town. It’s nestled in between antique stores and hardware shops right across the street from where John Brown was captured and tried before his hanging. The food isn’t superb or anything but it was one of the only restaurants in town when I was a kid and it was always a treat to go out for dinner.

Where to stay for the night:

There are two major communal housing spaces on the property, one is an enormous converted barn and the other is a mansion built by Charles Washington. While I love waking up to the sound of roosters over by the Great Barn, the Mansion is a historical landmark and the only Washington estate you can spend the night in, so it’s a pretty fantastic experience.

The one place I take everyone:

The widow’s walk on the top of the mansion; to get to it you have to climb up to through a trap door in a closet on the third floor in the old servants quarters. From up there you can see hundreds of acres of forest and fields and nothing else — it’s like being in a time machine and seeing America the way it was a hundred years ago. Go in July when the fireflies are out in full force and it looks like the fields are sparkling.

Best local product you should try:

Claymont’s community garden has some of the best organic eggs and produce you’ll ever eat. Items from the garden are used by my friend to make her wonderful skincare products “Karebeh” — their contents are so natural you could literally eat the products.

The 2nd best kept secret:

Anyone is welcome to come for the harvest to help, an most excitingly to eat! This year Harvest Feast is on September 10th… all it takes is an email to set up your visit!

January 26, 2012
Vivien - Writer - Montreal, QuebecThe place I always eat: In the summer, Orange Julep, 7700 Boulevard Décarie  Where to stay for the night: Upscale boutique design hotel Hotel Gault, 449 Rue Sainte-Hélène
The one place I take everyone: La Buvette chez Simon, 4869 Avenue du Parc, MontrealBest local product you should try: Get yourself to a classic Quebecois casse-croute for an “all dressed” cheeseburger, hot dog “toasté” and a side of poutine.The 2nd best kept secret: Visit Montreal’s Olympic Stadium (the world’s tallest slanted structure) – remember to bring your swimsuit so you can jump into the pool from the high diving board!

Vivien - Writer - Montreal, Quebec

The place I always eat:

In the summer, Orange Julep,
7700 Boulevard Décarie
 

Where to stay for the night:

Upscale boutique design hotel Hotel Gault, 449 Rue Sainte-Hélène

The one place I take everyone:

La Buvette chez Simon, 4869 Avenue du Parc, Montreal

Best local product you should try:

Get yourself to a classic Quebecois casse-croute for an “all dressed” cheeseburger, hot dog “toasté” and a side of poutine.

The 2nd best kept secret:

Visit Montreal’s Olympic Stadium (the world’s tallest slanted structure) – remember to bring your swimsuit so you can jump into the pool from the high diving board!

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