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One of my favorite parts of running Real Richmond with my pal, Susan Winiecki, is coming up with fun places to start off the food tours. Sometimes, because of the time constraints (and our  learned by doing more than that once) 1.5 mile limit, we start at one of the restaurants we sample at, or on the Cathedral steps for a bit of value-added grandeur, but mostly we start in local bookstores or galleries. I REALLY want people to spend their time and money in these places. If you’ve gotten sucked into the chain thing, give ’em up for Lent and try going local. You will be amazed at how much fun you can have in these joints.

GO!

For the Fan of the Food tour, we start at Black Swan Books on W. Main St. For Carytown/Museum District, it’s Chop Suey Books, and for our Shockoe Slip: Capital of Cuisine tour, it’s none other than Fountain Bookstore. For Both SIdes of Broad we often start at Quirk Gallery, which is both a huge treat and temptation. We also love to sneak in a visit to a theater or special space if we can make it happen. We’ve treated people to mini-tours of The Empire/November Theatre, The Hippodrome, Anderson Gallery, Glave/Kocen Gallery and more. And lately, we’re able to incorporate a visit to the Virginia St. Gallery on the Slip tour and have vendors there with samples for our tour-goers. Lucky us!

 

a misnomer based on my reading of it...

It wasn’t supposed to go this way, but I’ve found a really crappy way to start the new year. I started reading Home Comforts, the old Cheryl Mendelson heavy-duty how-to about everything I don’t do that I picked up for a song at Chop Suey Books pre-Christmas thinking it would at the very least give me fodder for more RHOME columns forever and ever. Maybe even make me make my bed and make my home office less frightening to the other inhabitants of my home. I paired that with plowing through Joan Didion’s Blue Nights. The result is feeling instantly and utterly inadequate, inconsiderate, possibly even inhuman (because I could barely stand Didion’s book–even accounting for her rotten situation and even though I had been moved and awed by The Year of Magical Thinking), and certainly unclean.

Nowhere to go but up this year? Perhaps that was my strategy all along.

Continuing my Twitter RVA Holiday Gift Guide from an earlier post:

Holidays#rva Gift Guide #13 Cool books and jewelry from@Va_Architecture What will those architects think of next?http://twitpic.com/7svsli

Holiday RVA Gift Guide #14 Chocolates from @GearhartsRVA@LibbieGrove See the gingerbread house, too! The sum is yum!http://twitpic.com/7t7uoa

Holiday RVA Gift Guide #15 A stay at a @HistoricRicInns Lovely B&BS that are getaways in the middle of go-to places!http://twitpic.com/7tnalt

Holiday RVA Gift Guide #16 Dreaming of a Light Christmas?Take someone to @lewisginter GardenFest of Lights MT @rvanewshttp://rvanews.com/features/gardenfest-of-lights-in-beautiful-pictures/54263

Holiday RVA Gift Guide #17 Insiders’ Guide to Richmond available at @FountainBkstore & Chop Suey Books Read it & leap!http://twitpic.com/7ulq1e

Holiday RVA Gift Guide #18 @vmfa membership so no one will have blue Christmas–Elvis will be in the bldg Dec. 24-March 18, FYI.

Holiday RVA Guide #19 Hanukkah candy: pretty sight-a better bite! Easy to buy @ For the Love of Chocolate in @Carytownhttp://twitpic.com/7vk72c

Holiday RVA Gift Guide # 20 Hatch Show Print Posters from@LibraryofVA Letterpress Love!http://www.thevirginiashop.org/search.aspx?find=Hatch

Holiday RVA Gift Guide #21 Built by Blacks. Book or pamphlet. Fascinating guide. Buy @ Black History @Va_Architecturehttp://twitpic.com/7welwr

# 22 will be sending you to Virginia Street Gallery in Shockoe Slip for goodies of food, art, and handmade cool things. It’s open 11-8 today through Christmas Eve. 

To sum up  and flesh out my RVA holiday gift guide from Twitter for the first 12 days of December:

Holiday RVA gift idea #:1 Rusty’s Cream Puffs from Aziza’s on Main St. Too big to be stocking stuffers; they’re stomach stuffers instead!

Holiday RVA Gift Guide #2 Dollop Desserts Nicole Lang’s treats will have recipients shouting whoopie!

Whoopie!

Holiday RVA Gift Guide #3 Chef Bundy +3 regional chefs do 5-course James Beard Foundation Dinner at Lemaire 1/14. SOLD OUT as of 12/12.

Holiday RVA gift #4 Andy Bality James River/Huguenot Bridge print. $20 at Riverside Outfitters and Once Upon A Vine/South in Stratford Hills wine/south.

Holiday RVA Gift Guide #5 Real Richmond  gift certificates. Food tour fun for all. Fairly obvious. Awfully easy. Doesn’t expire!

Holiday RVA Gift Guide #6 Steve Hedberg holiday cards of his gorgeous wintry paintings– available at TaZa in Westover Hills.

in case you forgot what snow is like

Holiday RVA Gift Guide #7 Clean up your act! Not the sexiest present, but if you hate Lexus commercials, see my previous blog post. A recycling cart to love.

Holiday RVA Gift Guide #8 Anything from Virginia St. Gallery in Shockoe Slip. Open 11-8 Thursday -Sat. Til 5 on Sun. Art, food etc. Great photos, small paintings, sweet and savory items.

Holiday RVA Gift Guide #9 Any number of cool Richmond books and ephemera at Black Swan Books on W. Main. St. I can’t say what I bought!

Holiday RVA Gift Guide #10 Handmade items, including Terrarium ornaments, at Bizarre Mkt upstairs at Chop Suey Books in Carytown.

Holiday RVA Gift Guide #11 Ben Campbell’s new book, Richmond’s Unhealed History.  Book-signing at Fountain Bookstore Dec. 21st.

Holiday RVA Gift Guide #12 Lovely and local cards of Jackson Ward scenes and spots. Available at Box Brown, 518 N. 2nd St. in Jackson Ward, right near The Hippodrome.

Richmond is real, but doesn’t quite know it. Perhaps that’s part of its charm.  I had my shot at framing the real Richmond when I wrote Insiders’ Guide to Richmond, available at BN.com or  Amazon.com and in bookstores around the country and Richmond’s fabulous local gift shops and bookstores (Fountain Bookstore, Chop Suey Books, Book People) soon:

They just had to have a statue somewhere

 I wrote the durned thing so I’m responsible for much of what’s in the 312 page book–though I had little say in the cover and little control over the maps, including the screw up on the Richmond Overview map where Chesterfield County is missing its field. Sigh. [And I just found out today, Sept. 23rd, that a local photographer, Al Wekelo, took both photos on the cover and unfortunately Globe Pequot didn’t give him photo credits. Groan.]
It could have been worse–because it was for a while.  The first I heard about the cover was that it was a cityscape–snooze–and not the river shot I had suggested, but I was just the lowly work-for-hire writer, so what could I do? Months later my editor mentioned in passing that it wasn’t a cityscape after all, but “some statue.”  Apoplexy set in immediately. This is Richmond we are talking about. Statues mean war here.  I could see all my hard work framing Richmond as a dynamic, artsy, outdoorsy, historic town gone with the wind, so to speak….

I calmed down a tad when he sent me the cover shot of the George Washington Equestrian Statue in Capitol Square, but still not happy. Ok, not Monument Ave, so that was a relief, but it read as dull and static, and I knew most people would think it was one of those Confederates on Monument Ave. and think Richmond was the same old racist place it used to be.  I pushed back hard.

After several back and forths wherein I told them they were making a big mistake, and that of course, statues are static and Richmond isn’t, I heard there was a slight chance that they might use another photo. After a nerve-wracking weekend I got the image below from my very kind editor–the Poe Museum garden. Still not the river, and I wasn’t happy that they took out “and Emancipation” in the little sticker on the front…and there was one other slight problem.

Pictures are worth a thousand words and all that, but one wrong word can be bad news. Let’s just say you should click on this and look carefully: IG_Richmond poe

You see one capital, you’ve seen ’em all? So now I can say I’ve not only changed the face of Richmond, I’ve changed its name.  What a coup. Happy to report they straightened out the city confusion after I mentioned it.

But those Connecticut Yankees weren’t done messing with me yet. Unbeknownst to me until the advance copy arrived at my door the other day, they had switched out the photo of TJ’s State Capitol for a cannon that I bet a million dollars isn’t even in Richmond. Hey, I tried.  Who knew there was this much intrigue involved in putting together a travel book? And we haven’t even gotten to the part where all the foodies will have my head for not including their favorite spots….

I’m back!

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