I warn you this post has very little to do with books and everything to do with spreading the word about some amazing local highlights.
My sister was visiting this weekend. We managed to cram our personal favorites of the Pioneer Valley into the 48 hours that she was here. It proved to be one of the most enjoyable weekends I've ever had, and I highly recommend this schedule to those who might be familiar with the Valley, or planning to visit. The best part? They're all independently owned/local businesses (and support other Indies as well). Here they are in the order we visited them:
Bela Vegetarian Restaurant, Northampton
- amazing all-Vegetarian food with options for wheat/gluten-free, dairy free, and Vegans The fact that both my sister and I are NOT vegetarians, but that this is still our favorite restaurant says a lot, I think. We HIGHLY recommend starting with a bowl of Miso soup, followed by the Italian tofu sausage with garlic & greens over spaghetti.
Ye Ol' Watering Hole & Beer Can Museum, Northampton
- juke box, pool, darts, townies
Green Bean Restaurant, Northampton
- all local, all the time, delicious menu, changing local art shows on the walls, always a line, go early, eat a lot - also options of all eaters, whether Carnivore or Herbivore, Vegan, wheat/gluten-free, dairy free, etc. My favorite is either the Miso soup with brown rice and tofu with two poached eggs in it (trust me, it's delicious), or two eggs scrambled with spinach & goat cheese, a side of avocado, side of bacon, and a scone with strawberry or raspberry jam.
The Montague Bookmill, Montague
- one of the best used bookstores around, it is an old mill building, located right on the river. A post on the books I purchased there will soon follow!
The Lady Killigrew Cafe, Montague
- right next to the Bookmill, I drool over their brown rice salad; sausage sandwich with cheese, apple, and mustard; and the chocolate mint cupcake
Turn It Up!, Northampton, Montague, Keene, & Brattleboro
- great place to find DVDs and music in all forms - CDs, cassettes, & records I picked up Them Crooked Vultures - highly recommend it if you like rock music. Also, Arctic Monkeys.
The Northampton Brewery, Northampton
- great beer selection, great food - Happy Birthday Marge! - try the Black Cat Stout Chocolate Cake, mmm.
Loonar Tattoo & Piercing, Hadley
- the 2nd time my sister & I have gone here - we're big fans of Liz (and Al)
Pleasant Street Video, Northampton
- incredible selection of everything - new, indie, foreign, you name it
SooRa Restaurant, Northampton
- SUSHI - need I say more?
Esselon Cafe, Hadley
- delicious food & drink in a relaxed atmosphere, with round-the-year patio dining due to heat lamps! Their daily specials are amazing - my favorite lunch/dinner is a grilled cheese sandwich on sourdough bread with tomato, avocado, & bacon and a bowl of tomato bisque soup.
To recap, that's pretty much how to eat your way through the Pioneer Valley. With some books, music, movies, a game of pool, and tattoos thrown in. Enjoy!