United States

3 peppersYes I did sleep at the Farmer’s Daughter Hotel. I did not get to swim with the ducks but I will go back to do that! I decided to taste the new tempting summer creations at Tart restaurant and Chef Keith does not disappoint. I loved the grilled trout. I highly recommend it but honestly everything was wonderful. I loved the roasted eggplant and peanut puree, roasted farmers market eggplant and heirloom cherry tomatoes. The Pepper three ways looked like a traffic light with green, yellow and red peppers. It had grilled pardons with lime and salt, pickled farmers market peppers and stuffed sweet peppers with goat cheese, avocado honey, pecans and apricot. Truly fantastic.

I also loved the both salads I tasted: the Summer fruits salad has county line toy box melons, fresh figs, market plums, sprouts and herbs and chile lime vinaigrette and the heirloom tomato salad with gazpacho vinaigrette: shaved salted cucumbers, sourdough croutons and red watercress.

I did not save enough room for dessert but I will be back. Maybe this time I will stay in the No Tell Room! Or maybe I already did!

The Latest News ON TART!

TART Restaurant and Coolhaus Ice Cream are Mint for Each Other
TART Gets Fresh with Frozen Treats and Tantalizing Ice Cream Cocktail, Coolhaus Dirty Mint Chip Julep
LOS ANGELES – July 17, 2015 – TART — the unique, onsite restaurant nestled inside the iconic Farmer’s Daughter Hotel that serves comfort food with a twist — is celebrating summertime by collaborating with the architecturally-inspired and beloved, LA-based gourmet ice cream company, Coolhaus.
To kick off the cool-down, TART’s executive chef, Keith Shutta, has dreamed up a refreshingly naughty but n-ice cream cocktail, called the Coolhaus Dirty Mint Chip Julep ($13). Coolhaus’ fresh mint infused ice cream, chocolate chips and a hint of brown sugar make a sweet partner for the wickedly good blend of Four Roses Bourbon and Crème de Menthe, that make up this perfect treat to beat the summer heat.
TART’s summer dessert menu has two other delicious new recruits: Coolhaus’ Chocolate Chip Ice Cream Sandwich ($8) and the Snickerdoodle Ice Cream Sandwich ($8).
“Adding Coolhaus to the menu and creating a cocktail with its all-natural ice cream is something no one else has done before and we know our guests love those unique experiences,” said Keith Shutta, TART’s executive chef. “Partnering with a local and loved business that also uses locally farmed and sourced goods is the perfect match for TART,” added Shutta.
“This partnership is a meeting of the minds, and taste buds. Coolhaus and TART both blend unusual flavors that develop into famous favorites, and I know that the Coolhaus Dirty Mint Chip Julep will become another local celebrity,” added Natasha Case, CEO and co-founder of Coolhaus.
Coolhaus’ ice cream sandwiches and the Coolhaus Dirty Mint Chip Julep are available at TART now, for a limited time. TART is located at 115 S. Fairfax Avenue, Los Angeles, CA 90036. For reservations, call (323) 556-2608 or visit: http://tartrestaurant.com/

VIDEO: The Farmer’s Daughter and Tart Restaurant

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Adventure is a funny thing. We have heard the word used and over-used on so many occasions, but have you ever stopped to truly think about what it means? Adventure is the only thing that you can spend all you have, yet somehow make even more.

This summer I had the incredible opportunity to embark on a journey in which we visited thirteen states. “The Great Westward Adventure” changed me, and also my outlook on this beautiful nation I am privileged to live in.

The Pacific Northwest region is exquisite, somewhat uncharted territory. We left from Arkansas and visited Iowa, Minnesota, North and South Dakota, Montana, Washington, Oregon, Idaho, Wyoming, Utah, Colorado, Nebraska, and Missouri.

The trip was partially to help us find ourselves, but in ways we found so much than we anticipated.

We camped in a tipi in North Dakota, visited national parks in which we witnesses wild buffalo walking right beside our vehicle. In South Dakota we saw quaint small towns and of course the not so quaint Mt. Rushmore. After camping out, Montana gave a gorgeous display of God’s handiwork with cascading, snow capped mountains and crystal clear streams and rivers. The views were breath taking in every sense of the word. The majesty of the mountains took our breath away, as well as the hike up them.

Washington had a variety of activities from coffee and ferry rides in Seattle to awe-inspiring mountain ranges in Olympic National Park, Mount St. Helens and Mt. Rainer. Oregon might have put the icing on the cake of adventure for me. We stayed in downtown Portland the very same week as the Rose Festival, a carnival and Fleet Week. That being said, there were sailors in uniform everywhere we looked. That sight was almost as pretty as the mountain ranges.

When we departed the city we drove to Multnomah Falls and Oneonta Gorge. The waterfalls were lovely to say the least. The last sight of Oregon we took in was the incredible coastal region. Thor’s Well, The mighty waves and even the fog struck wonder into our hearts.

Unfortunately our trip was cut short in Idaho when we were involved in accident. We were driving at about eighty-five miles an hour when we unexplainably lost control and began spinning toward oncoming traffic. We flipped three times. The vehicle came to an abrupt halt, landing upside down leaving us having to crawl out of the driver’s side window. My friend and I walked away from that horrifying accident with only some bruises and scrapes. During the petrifying events, I never had one of those “life flash before your eyes” kind of moments. In an unexplainable sort of way, I knew that everything was going to be all right.

After our hospital stay and one night’s rest, We finished the trip in a rental car hitting Wyoming, Nebraska, Utah, Colorado and Missouri. Even though the accident took place, this trip was indeed the best one of my life.

We saw gorgeous views, met great people and more than anything, we made memories that will last a lifetime.

I am well aware that this piece was meant to highlight Independence, or a place that makes me feel free to be myself. If you really think about it, that is exactly what I have done. You see, there is not one specific place I can pinpoint that gives me this feeling, but rather the open road itself. It is there that all distractions seem to dissipate and the journeys begin to unfold. In between the white lines on the road is wherethe stories are made.

The beauty of adventure is also found here. I can choose anywhere I want to go, drive anything I want to drive, see anything my heart and eyes desire, and ultimately, expand my horizons and discover things I have never seen before. Travel is the most enlightening forms of independence. It is freeing and it is wide open. The road is waiting, where will it take you next?

About the Author:

Rachel is a writer for a youth magazine and also has a bi-weekely blog. She is a recent graduate of Ushan College and an avid traveler and adventure seeker. She enjoys photography, nature, painting, reading and exploring.

Thank you for reading and commenting. Please enter the Independence Travel Writing competition and tell your story.

the little doorI loved celebrating at The Little Door in Santa Monica! The setting is beautiful and relaxing. Sul and the entire team took great care of us. I cannot wait to return and try more wonderful choices. The gluten free chocolate souffle was a real treat at the end of this fantastic meal.

We ate:

ZUCCHINI CARPACCIO, BABY KALE, BABY ARTICHOKES, CHERRY TOMATOES, FETA CHEESE & DILL

Lemon and Extra Virgin Olive Oil, Toasted Pine Nuts

FRESH GOAT CHEESE LAVENDER TART, TRIO OF ROASTED BEETS

Frisée and Radicchio, Lemon and Extra Virgin Olive

GRILLED MARINATED WHITE MEDITERRANEAN SEA BASS, SAFFRON ESPELETTE SAUCE

Haricot Vert, Roasted Mini Peppers and Basil Pesto Fingerling Potato Mash

 VIDEO: Dine at The Little Door Santa Monica

Celebrating at @thelittledoorsm the atmosphere is inviting! I love the decor!

A photo posted by Lisa Niver (@wesaidgotravel) on

Is #glutenfree #chocolate 🍫 soufflé delicious? @thelittledoorsm it smells heavenly and tastes even better

A photo posted by Lisa Niver (@wesaidgotravel) on

Stellar service @thelittledoorsm from the entire team and especially Sul! Thank you!! A photo posted by Lisa Niver (@wesaidgotravel) on

 

ABOUT THE LITTLE DOOR SANTA MONICA:

From the same ownership group behind Acabar, The Little Door, and The Little Next

Door, partners Frederic and Nicolas Meschin have teamed up with Paris-born Marc-

Antoine Rambaud, to open The Little Door Santa Monica in September 2014.  The

Little Door has been a fixture of West Hollywood since 1996 and continues to uphold its

longstanding tradition as one of Los Angeles’ most romantic restaurants.  With Executive

Chef T. Nicolas Peter bringing authentic Mediterranean cuisine and charming intimacy to

the denizens of Santa Monica, the new Westside locale captures the spirit of the south

of France with its rustic charm and enchanting ambiance. Bartender Michael Gannon

leads the cocktail program with locally sourced, seasonal ingredients to create farm-to-

glass beverages that compliment Chef T. Nicolas’ menu. Guests are invited to escape

the outside world to a dining sanctuary in which the atmosphere is as divine as the food

and drink.

I loved my visit to NYC in June!

NYCThank you to all the writers who participated in the We Said Go Travel 2015 Inspiration Writing Contest!

The 2015 Independence Travel Writing Contest Entries are being published now. The Gratitude Travel Writing Contest will open on September 11, 2015. I appreciate everyone who has read, shared and participated in all of my contests.

Thank you very much! Lisa Niver, We Said Go Travel

AND THE WINNERS ARE:

First Place Winner:  Stephen Fabes, Don’t Look Down in Bolivia

Second Place Winner: Christina Mehriary, Marine Eyes in Iraq

Third Place Winner: Sheefa Kasar, Fulwa, India

Honorable Mentions:
WSGT Writer Credly

The We Said Go Travel Team thanks everyone who shared, tweeted, promoted and participated in our Travel Writing Contests. We hope you will join in our next  Travel Writing Contest.

 

Thank you to our esteemed judges!

Richard Bangs, the father of modern adventure travel, is a pioneer in travel that makes a difference, travel with a purpose. He has spent 30 years as an explorer and communicator, and along the way led first descents of 35 rivers around the globe, he is currently producing and hosting the new PBS series, Richard Bangs: Adventure Without End

AnneLise Sorensen is a travel writer, editor, photographer, and TV/radio host who has penned – and wine-tasted – her way across four continents, reporting for multiple media outlets, including New York Magazine, MSN, Time Out, Yahoo Travel, Rough Guides, Gourmet, and Galavante. AnneLise regularly appears as a travel expert on NBC and CNN and she teaches popular travel writing classes and workshops at Mediabistro and travel events and shows.

Thank you for your participation in creating a growing global community of engaged travelers and concerned citizens.

 Other Contests, Courses and Books about Travel Writing

CONGRATULATIONS TO OUR WINNERS!

THANK YOU TO EVERYONE WHO PARTICIPATED! 


I hope you will choose to share a story in our next contest. Thank you!

 

Rabbi Woznica speaking at Stephen S Wise Temple July 17, 2015

Growing up an American Jew in Los Angeles, I was always told if you ask three Jews a question, you will get four opinions. Last Friday night, I went to shabbat services at Stephen Wise Temple. I began by reading the words below from Rabbi Joshua Knobel about Pioneers and the weekly parsha. Then, I listened to  Rabbi Woznica’s passionate sermon about the issues with the Iran Nuclear Agreement. I included information from AIPAC and the Jewish Federation about their desire for Congress to oppose the joint Comprehensive Plan of Action on Iran’s Nuclear Program, signed on July 14, 2015.

Be Brave and Form an Opinion. Take Part and “remember that while the greatest victories are not won without bravery, they are also not won without risk.” What is your opinion on the Iran Nuclear Agreement? What do you think Congress should do? Are you willing to be vulnerable and share your opinion? What risks are you willing to take?

From Rabbi Knobel about this week’s parsha:

In modern Hebrew, the word ‘halutzim’ refers to the pioneers of the Israeli state, brave souls who, in the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, ventured forth into an unknown, often dangerous land, determined to create a home for themselves, as well as their Jewish brothers and sisters worldwide.

The origins of the word ‘halutzim’ appear within this week’s Torah portion. The tribes of Reuben and Gad, enamored of the land west of the Jordan River, ask Moses’ permission to stay, rather than pursue holdings in the Land of Canaan. In exchange, they boldly offer to lead the invasion of Canaan by serving as the vanguard – the halutzim.

The gallant bravery shared between the Biblical and modern halutzim seems plainly evident, but these two groups share another characteristic, as suggested by their names’ Hebrew root – halatz. In the Bible, halatz refers to genitals (Gen 35:11), while halitzah denotes a public shaming ritual (Deut 25:9). What common thread ties these disparate ideas together?

Vulnerability.

It appears our ancestors understood that true audacity requires us to expose ourselves to peril. Only by rendering ourselves susceptible to the cost of failure can we accomplish greatness. As we seek achievements as individuals, as a congregation, and as a people, let us remember that while the greatest victories are not won without bravery, they are also not won without risk.

Rabbi Woznica’s sermon from Shabbat July 17, 2015

Rabbi Woznica Assesses The Proposed Deal with Iran from Stephen Wise Temple on Vimeo.

7.17.15 – Rabbi David Woznica’s Shabbat Sermon

From AIPAC:
 The Iran Nuclear Agreement: Unacceptable Consequences

After 20 months of negotiations, Iran and the P5+1 have reached a nuclear agreement. The agreement fails to halt Iran’s nuclear quest.

Instead, it would facilitate rather than prevent Iran from obtaining a nuclear weapon and would further entrench and empower the leading state sponsor of terror.

Iran is the world’s leading state sponsor of terror and is racing toward a nuclear weapons capability. Through its proxy armies of Hezbollah in southern Lebanon and Hamas in the Gaza Strip, the Iranian regime is supporting terrorists that have carried out attacks on American troops and Israeli civilians.

Click here to read AIPAC’s press release on the proposed deal.

  1. Iran must stop its nuclear weapons program.
    American policy must unabashedly seek to prevent Iran from achieving a nuclear weapons capability. A nuclear-armed Iran is an existential threat to Israel and would arm the world’s leading sponsor of terrorism with the ultimate weapon.
  2. Iran is the leading state sponsor of terrorism. 
    Iran finances, arms and trains terrorist groups operating around the world. It is the leading sponsor of Hamas and Hezbollah, and armed insurgents that have fought U.S. troops in Iraq and Afghanistan.
  3. Stop the human rights violations.
    In the aftermath of the 2009 Iranian presidential election, which falsely awarded Mahmoud Ahmadinejad a second term, Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) quelled popular protests by arresting civil leaders, beating and killing peaceful protesters and cutting off internet and mobile access to its citizens.

An Unacceptable Deal iran

Urge Congress to Oppose the Bad Deal with Iran

From AIPAC:

AIPAC has consistently supported diplomatic efforts to end Iran’s nuclear weapons program, and we appreciate the commitment and dedication of President Obama and his administration throughout these negotiations. Unfortunately, this proposed agreement fails to halt Iran’s nuclear quest. Instead, it would facilitate rather than prevent Iran from obtaining a nuclear weapon and would further entrench and empower the leading state sponsor of terror.

We strongly believe that the alternative to this bad deal is a better deal. Congress should reject this agreement, and urge the administration to work with our allies to maintain economic pressure on Iran while offering to negotiate a better deal that will truly close off all Iranian paths to a nuclear weapon.

Congress should insist on a better deal.  Contact your members of Congress and urge them to oppose the bad deal with Iran.

Key Points

  1. The proposed deal does not ensure “anytime, anywhere” short-notice inspections;
  2. The proposed deal does not clearly condition sanctions relief on full Iranian cooperation in satisfying International Atomic Energy Agency concerns over the possible military dimensions of Tehran’s program;
  3. The proposed deal lifts sanctions as soon as the agreement commences, rather than gradually as Iran demonstrates sustained adherence to the agreement;
  4. The proposed deal lifts key restrictions in as few as eight years;
  5. The proposed deal would disconnect and store centrifuges in an easily reversible manner, but it requires no dismantlement of centrifuges or any Iranian nuclear facility.

FROM JEWISH FEDERATION by email July 21, 2015:

This summer Congress will be reviewing the Iran nuclear agreement and it is imperative that our elected officials hear our voice. Below is our statement on this matter of national security. Please contact your member of Congress today — the time is now.

The Jewish Federation of Greater Los Angeles joins with Jewish communities across the country in urging Congress to oppose the joint Comprehensive Plan of Action on Iran’s Nuclear Program, signed on July 14, 2015.

The proposed agreement with Iran is not a partisan issue; it impacts the security of the United States, the stability of the Middle East, the future of the State of Israel and the safety of every Jewish family and community around the world. This Iran deal threatens the mission of our Federation as we exist to assure the continuity of the Jewish people, support a secure State of Israel, care for Jews in need here and abroad and mobilize on issues of concern.

Our Federation wants a diplomatic solution that ends Iran’s nuclear program. We recognize the efforts of the Administration to reach such an agreement. We regret and are gravely concerned that the proposed agreement allows Iran to remain a threshold nuclear state, does not allow for “anytime, anywhere” inspections of Iranian nuclear facilities, and offers immediate rather than gradual sanctions relief without requiring Iran to address the military dimensions of its nuclear program.

The proposed agreement releases Iran from arms embargos in five years and ballistic missile sanctions in eight years. Iran’s past behavior gives us reason to be concerned that these deadly weapons will be shared with terrorists including Hamas and Hezbollah and will hasten the creation of an Iranian hegemony in the Middle East.

As Americans and Jews who yearn for peace and are invested in the future of our children and grandchildren, we must voice our concerns about an agreement that will destabilize a fragile region. We encourage members of our community to raise their voices in opposition to this agreement by contacting their elected representatives to urge them to oppose this deal.

Congress has until September 18th to review the agreement. That means that by acting promptly, you can start the Jewish New Year knowing you made your voice heard when it counted.

Thank you,

Leslie E. Bider
Chairman of the Board

Jay Sanderson
President & CEO

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CONNECTIVITY MAKES ME FEEL FREE

I grew up in the American Midwest, namely Oklahoma. For four decades, I led an average life; I grew up, went to school, got my first car, fell in love, started a career. I spent twenty years working for a major telecommunications corporation as a so-called ‘cubicle dweller.’

Then everything began to change.

First, the economy changed, and my company began to cut back on its expenses. Before my colleagues and I realized it, we were dropping like the proverbial flies, seeing our positions eliminated, finding ourselves replaced by college kids who would work for a third as much money. After a year of struggling, I found other work as a teacher’s assistant at a local high school.

Then one day as I was driving home from work on the Interstate, I glanced up and realized a car was coming at me head-on.

Blackness.

After seven months in a series of four different hospitals, I went home; I was weak, unable to work or even walk; I depended on a wheelchair to get around.

Everyday life as I had once known it was utterly gone. I couldn’t go to the grocery store, the mall or other public places without assistance; travel was ridiculously cumbersome. It was months before I could ride in a car without being thrown into a panic by every approaching vehicle.

Then I discovered two places I could go without feeling as though I was different; two stations of the cross, so to speak, that brought me back to being myself.

The first was a virtual world where I was able to make an “avatar,” a digital representation of myself, a 3D, articulated personage that represented me in this “place.” Some of the other people I “met” there created fantastic creatures; robots, talking dogs, even the Flying Spaghetti Monster, but in my case, I made a representation of myself, the way I wished I was in real life; slim and muscular, with a rock star’s build and a rock star’s hair (I still manage to have the latter!), with purple eyes and the ability to fly.

The thing is, no one knew I was disabled, and I liked it that way. On the Internet, they say, no one knows you’re a dog; in my case, no one knew I was a wheelchair user, and I preferred it that way.

For nearly two years, virtual reality became my escape. Then I met someone within this world who changed my life yet again.

I had placed an ad on this virtual world’s forum site, looking for users to help me create a music video set within the world we shared. I wasn’t the first to have this idea, but I hoped to be one of the first to create a video that would “go viral,” popularizing both my music and the virtual world. (I had been playing music since the age of 11, and the ability to go out and play live was one of the things I missed the most after my accident.)

One of the people who responded was a woman that I had met before, briefly. As we talked, our chat turned into an hours-long conversation, listening to music together, and before long I was struck at her intelligence and how articulate and knowledgeable she was about so many things.

Strangely, I realized I wanted to “see” her again, in a sort of virtual dating relationship.

Now, I didn’t invent that concept, either. I knew that there were several couples who had met in the Virtual and seen their relationships graduate to the Real; I just never thought it would happen to me.

But there we were. After a couple of months, I had recovered enough to be able to drive a vehicle, and I traveled 800 miles to visit her. We had a long distance relationship for about a year, and then we were married in August 2007.

I still visit that virtual world from time to time, although more of my time is spent in the second of the two places; Facebook, where, similarly, no one knows I’m disabled — unless I want them to. Instead, I am known there as an author and editor, a music blogger, and an advocate for Native American rights.

And that makes me feel free to be myself.

Thank you for reading and commenting. Please enter the Independence Travel Writing competition and tell your story.

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I love to travel. Experience the culture, the people, the food…I absolutely love it. Going to Europe is on my bucket list and I can’t wait until that finally happens. Rome, Paris, Amsterdam, London…I feel like they’re waiting for me to come and discover their grandeur. People have told me that traveling changes you; that you come back a better and more knowledgeable. Some people have said they found the meaning of life, or their calling, what they’re supposed to do. I sincerely hope that happens to me, since I am sheltered. I admit it: I live in a big house, my parents can afford to send me to any college I want, and I am told to follow my dreams and do what makes me happy. I know that others are not as privileged as I am. I want to help; I want to see everything, as much as I can. But for now, I’ll settle for adventures that occur in my dreams and one other place. I have been on many vacations, but my best travel escapes happen when I don’t even have to leave my house. Thinking back, I can count hundreds of places that I have been too, all the while curled under a blanket in my bed. “How can this be?” you might ask. One word: books. I fought with Harry, Ron, and Hermione against Voldemort, I trained at Camp Half-Blood with Percy and Annabeth, I discovered Narnia with Lucy…so many wonderful times and I didn’t have to carry a suitcase! Reading has always been my escape, since a lot of people were mean to me throughout elementary and middle school. I would lose myself in a world completely different from my own and stay there for hours. Book characters are absolutely lovely. They don’t judge, they take you with them on absolutely AMAZING adventures, and they certainly don’t mind when you take a Tumblr break to post about your ships and how you can’t even. This is kind of silly, but sometimes when I read an exceptional book, I can almost pretend that I’m standing there with them. When Katniss covered Rue with flowers, or when Minny put the you-know-what in the pie for Miss Hilly. I laugh, I cry…books have such an impact on our lives and we don’t even realize it. I can’t tell you how many times I’ll finish a book, go to bed, and then dream about said book, where I’m alongside my favorite characters! I think that really shows the merit of a good book. It made such an impact on you that you can’t help but think about it even in your subconscious. Traveling through books is just as important as real life traveling. Books are an escape, for the people who are too poor to travel or too scared. Those people are out there, and while they are saving up money to travel, they need something to find solace in through the dark times. I am one of those people, and I travel through books.  

Thank you for reading and commenting. Please enter the Independence Travel Writing competition and tell your story.

Boston, Massachusetts, USA. (Photo by Scott Bridges)

Somewhere between my third oyster and my umpteenth, soaking up the summer sun on the back of a boat in the middle of Boston Harbor, I got it. Or maybe it was on the Green Monster, overlooking the game-day festivities on Yawkey Way as the Sox took batting practice. Then again, it could have been while standing in front of the historic Lenox Hotel, where two years earlier, some jackass set off a bomb during the city’s world-renowned marathon. Wherever exactly the moment happened, the fact is it happened: I caught Boston fever.

Chris Himmel is a native Bostonian with deep ties to the city and the executive V.P. of Himmel Hospitality Group; he’s also a pretty good amateur tour guide. With a phone call to a buddy in the Red Sox organization, Chris arranged a tour of the baseball cathedral that is Fenway Park. Heartaches from throughout the decades still linger like ghosts in this oldest of all baseball parks, despite having found relief in the team’s recent championships.

As if symbolically, an upper deck garden now grows, providing vegetables for the stadium’s restaurants, where once a plastic tarp occupied space. Fenway Farms is operated by Green City Growers, a local outfit dedicated to turning unused municipal space into urban farms.

Fenway Farms, a rooftop garden. (Photo by Scott Bridges)
Fenway Farms, a stadium rooftop garden operated by Green City Growers. (Photo by Scott Bridges)

Chris showcases the growers’ efforts at his award-winning restaurants. In fact, supporting local farmers is a big part of what the Himmel brand is all about. A little backstory on this guy is probably in order. Chris cut his teeth in the kitchen of Thomas Keller’s The French Laundry — to be more precise, he cut fish. He’s good with a knife, but after a couple of beers, he’ll tell you a story about how he was threatened with one (a knife, not a beer) for using another chef’s. He says he didn’t make that mistake again. These days, he prefers to run the operations and allow others to slice up their fingers. And he’s been pretty good at it, named last year to the Boston Business Journal’s “40 under 40” list.

On a gorgeous Friday morning, my host and guide introduced me to the farmers market at Copley Square. The local bounty was on full display in the midst of architectural grandeur, including the Boston Public Library, which I later toured in wide-eyed wonder. But architecture and history are merely the backdrop for my journey; I’m here to, well, taste Boston, Mass.

And tasting Boston means, to a large extent, “drinking it all in.” These folks enjoy their booze. At Bully Boy Distillery, they’re not only drinking it, they’re making it. In fact, they’re making it artisanally by hand in small batches. Chris is all about sourcing locally, even his Bourbon-style whisky.

Chris Himmel demonstrates the proper way to shuck an oyster. (Photo by Scott Bridges)
Chris Himmel demonstrates the proper way to shuck an oyster. (Photo by Scott Bridges)

So of course my man sources his foods locally. At Post 390, Chris and Chef Eric Brennan select a sustainable New England farm or fishery to celebrate in a monthly “Farm to Post” tasting series. The dinner series also features the best foragers and specialty food producers, culminating in contemporary dishes with local, seasonal ingredients. The prix fixe menu is completed with wine pairings from Beverage Director Jason Percival.

Master Sommelier Brahm Callahan, meanwhile, oversees the wine cellar at local favorite Grill 23 & Bar, which houses more than 1,700 varietals! The surf-and-turf staple, Chris tells me, has been the gold standard in town for more than 30 years, although he’s only taken the reigns in recent years. The joint is renowned for all-natural, dry-aged beef and inventive seafood presentations. While careful to retain the bar’s beloved heritage, Chris has added open-air windows that open out onto the street, providing a patio feel.

Executive Chef Tyler Hinnett's creativity is on full display at Harvest. (Photo by Scott Bridges)
Executive Chef Tyler Kinnett’s creativity is on full display at Harvest. (Photo by Scott Bridges)

Meanwhile in nearby Cambridge, Executive Chef Tyler Kinnett’s modern New England cuisine is earning praise at Harvest from Zagat and Travel + Leisure, with awards from Boston Magazine and The Improper Bostonian. The Harvard Square restaurant has been named the best “Sunday Brunch,” “Outdoor Dining” and “Guaranteed Great Meal” in town.

During my stay, I began each day with a run through Boston Common, up to the State House and back (one has to do something to burn off drinks with Chris and his pals). My run would take me through beautiful Boston Public Garden, which can be seen from Bistro du Midi, a partner property of the Himmel group. I lunched at the French-inspired restaurant and enjoyed spectacular wine pairings while taking in pastoral views of the park.

Of course, if this was all I saw of Boston — fancy restaurants and public gardens — I wouldn’t be getting the whole picture, would I? It so happens that Chris and I share a common interest in urban food movements. His is more than an interest, it’s a passion. He took me to a barbecue at the Boys & Girls Club of Boston Blue Hills Club, which although it half-sounds like a private golf club, it certainly is not.

This is a grittier side of the city, lacking affluence and resources. What it is not lacking is the philanthropy of concerned Bostonians like Chris, as well the Kraft family (Josh is president and CEO of the Boys & Girls Clubs of Boston and attended the grill-out). Himmel Hospitality Group partnered with the club as part of the group’s Farm-to-Change program. Green City Growers has planted gardens on-site and the children are learning how to eat and live healthy.

Steak Tartare with black truffles at Bistro du Midi. (Photo by Scott Bridges)
Steak Tartare with black truffles at Bistro du Midi. (Photo by Scott Bridges)

It’s encouraging to discover that the farm-to-table philosophy so ubiquitous on the left Coast is thriving on Northeastern shores three time zones away. And it’s nice to know that kindred spirits exist wherever you go in this great land.

One of the best things about prepping for a trip is getting all of the right gear together- clothes, luggage, and yes, tech. The worst part of a trip is when you’re in the middle of nowhere and your phone dies, or you lose your phone in the lake! Here are a few handy tech gadgets to save you mid-trip heartache:

1. RAVPower Portable Charger and Router

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Can’t stop instagramming your favorite travel moments? When you’re burning through data and battery, this compact device will save you, acting as a router and charger in one small device.

2. FRiEQ Floating Waterproof Cell Phone Case

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Who wants to store their cell phone somewhere on land while they are kayaking or paddleboarding? Bring it with you and take worry free photos, with the floatable, waterproof cell storage system from FRiEQ.

3. Trackdot Luggage Tracker

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No more lost luggage! This tracker system will track your bag, even in a sealed metal container. That will make your three-transfer travel day a little less stressful!

4. Cocoon Grid It Wrap Case for Tablet

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Keep everything in its place with this awesome tablet case. Your chargers, phone, tablet, and headphones can all stay neat and tangle-free!

5. Satechi USB Portable Humidifier

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If you are backpacking or taking a long trip, you are doubtlessly exposed to a lot of germs. If you should get sick, here is your portable life saver. This Satechi humidifier attaches to any water bottle, making your nighttime breathing easy without a lot of water-sloshing trouble!

Make travel a little easier next time and pick up these life-saver gadgets. What is your favorite piece of tech on your long trips?

Lisa Niver and kellee Set Go HarrahsI enjoyed my cruise with Harrah’s Southern California and was delighted by the tasty treats and incredible team. I am going to explore the Lazy River. Do you want to Dive in with me?

Dive at Harrah’s Resort Southern California celebrated its debut in July 2013 and the trifecta of pools includes a lazy river, main pool, Southern California’s only swim-up bar and nine hot tubs.

The lazy river winds its way through grottos and waterfalls and is nearly 400 feet in length. Cocktails, are available for guests 21+ at the swim-up bar. There are21 cabanas and 10 daybeds throughout the pool area.

VideoHarrah’s So Cal Your First Resort for Fun

Dive Saturdays: Guests can get FIT with poolside fitness classes taught by FIT Athletic. Classes are at 8:30, 9:30 and 10:30 a.m. Saturdays throughout the summer with poolside activities such as water volleyball, putt-putt, craft beerology and live music to follow.

Explore Dive Day Club on Sundays with world-renowned, live talent and a poolside Vegas-style party experience. Guests must be 21+.

1st & Dive: Guests can dive into football season at the pool and watch NFL games on 9’ x 16’ LED TV, with different games being shown in each cabana, with food and drink specials Sundays throughout the season. 

Dancing the night away @harrahssocal amazing food, music and gaming #harrahssocal do you like my new outfit?

A photo posted by Lisa Niver (@wesaidgotravel) on

Loving sunset sailing @harrahssocal what a great night out! #harrahssocal A photo posted by Lisa Niver (@wesaidgotravel) on

Thank you Captain Joel & @harrahssocal what a wonderful evening on the water #harrahssocal

A photo posted by Lisa Niver (@wesaidgotravel) on