The Purple Fiddle: Thomas, West Virginia

Droves of people visit the Canaan Valley area in West Virginia area during all four seasons for scenic hiking, mountain biking, skiing, and other general outdoor pleasures. Many of these visitors also take time to explore the tiny adjacent mountain town of Davis, WV–population 600ish–with it’s single grocery store and bank, wonderful places to eat (a.k.a. Hellbenders; more on that later) and even more wonderful residents and passers-through. What many people don’t know is that if they continued on just a few more miles to the next tiny mountain town, Thomas, W.V.–population 400ish–they would stumble upon a rare gem called The Purple Fiddle Café, Brews and Stage.

My best friend’s parents (Editor’s Note: Coincidentally, I know these people. And they are fantastic. This should, perhaps, be indicative of the kinds of people here) are some of the few permanent residents of the Canaan area and so we have a summer tradition of visiting the area for long and relaxing getaways. Every summer we hike, eat, drink, and repeat on a daily basis. In our minds those few days are what we live for. The only thing that breaks our routine is The Purple Fiddle, or the peak of Thomas, W.V. night life. Despite its remote and sparse permanent population, Tucker County has a ridiculously active music scene that draws professional and nationally touring musicians from across the state and beyond.

The Purple Fiddle is a restaurant and music venue that offers more than your standard country and bluegrass fare. Rock, reggae, blues, folk–you name it, it’s been played here. It’s even a family-friendly place, so feel free to bring the rug-rats as long as you can keep them quiet. Kidding. This is a place where kids can feel free to be loud and crazy along with the adults.

Once the music starts, the atmosphere is contagious. People dance and drink and laugh and bond over the music and the small town camaraderie. There are dozens of brew choices on the menu–and you can never try just one. If you decide to retreat for some fresh air, there is an attached outdoor area stage-left though on a typical Friday or Saturday night it’s probably more crowded than the interior. Some bands draw big enough crowds that it feels like the whole town is there at once… so wear some deodorant for god’s sake.

John and Kate Bright, the extremely kind and friendly owners of The Purple Fiddle, live in the upstairs portion of the building and work hard to maintain a welcoming and entertaining environment for everyone. Along with the eclectic décor, there is a bit of a country store feel too, as they offer some local novelty items in addition to the band merchandise being sold.

The word on the street is the staff affiliated with the The Purple Fiddle may start recording and producing some of its many traveling artists so if you are already a fan keep an eye out. The Purple Fiddle is easily the heart of this artsy mountain community and every trip I take to Canaan will be punctuated with a stop at the Fiddle.

By: Megan Longfellow

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The Anti Tourist on National Geographic: Columbus’ Local Food Scene

Oh my. Oh my, oh my, oh my. We have not told you very many stories lately, have we? We have been eerily quiet over here on The Anti Tourist front. This you must know. But know this as well: our silence can be undeniably credited to our relocation. From New York City to Austin, our headquarters have traveled with us as we’ve migrated and sought a warmer winter for 2010/2011. And warmer, it is. We like it that way. Meanwhile, we’re brainstorming the makeovers for the site we have in mind and we’re making more thrift store shopping trips than Ikea ones in an effort to furnish our office space with more spirit and less cookie-cutter. In the meantime, I put together this piece for National Geographic recently on the local farm-to-table food scene in Columbus. Shockingly, Columbus has got it all over many other cities who try and fail to support each other. Amazed at the success Columbus is having with this movement, I wrote this piece.

Growing up in Marietta, Ohio, Columbus was the “big city.” My mom would force us all into the car on Saturdays and we’d head to the JCPenney outlet store on the outskirts of the town. I remember dozing off to the soothing voices of NPR storytellers on the drive to Columbus. I dozed off on the drive back home usually, too. But that was because my entire family had just binged at the nearest all-you-can-eat buffet. The freshness or origin of the food at these joints wasn’t ever really in question. We were a family of five on a budget and food was food.

As high school graduation neared, most of my peers had already chosen to stay in Columbus and attend Ohio State. I however went to New York City, in step with the “Midwestern Girl Follows Dreams” cliche, and dismissed Columbus as a slow-lane college town, cookie-cut from the same dough as every other town between New York City and Los Angeles. And of course I thought that. I was 18 and uninformed.

The unfortunate thing is that it took me the better part of a decade to blink an eye at the city of Columbus again. After a recent thorough touring of Columbus’ culinary delights, however, I now know there was plenty else to eat. Plenty.

Read the rest of the piece on the National Geographic blog. Read it, comment on it, let the folks over there know you like it when The Anti Tourist’s voice is heard.

Be back soon with content.

By: Elizabeth Seward

Hello, Hi, News, Buy Jewelry, Etc.

Hi! So, your guys in the sky in charge of this whole thing, and by guys, I mean guy and girl, me being the lady involved here, are effectively, more or less, settled into Austin, Texas now! And what a change from Brooklyn. We’re getting the office together and plan on building up The Anti Tourist team ATX style (interested in being an intern? email us at shout(at)theantitourist.com).

I also have been spending some rare free hours making jewelry. I’ve used a lot of materials from my travels across the globe, so if that interests you, if you like jewelry, if you want to think about the holiday gift-giving sooner than the day before this year, check out my store on Etsy here. You can browse the jewelry (most of which is under $20) and even order a customized apron/tote bag/pillow case set. Plenty of other goods will be in there soon.

Will of this rambling over and done with, we’ll have more posts to you soon. We aren’t done talking about some of our rad trips from summer 2010, so just hold those horses of yours. In the meantime, stay up with The Anti Tourist Facebook page for more regular updates/on the spot iPhone picture-sending, etc.

Love you all,
Elizabeth

While in Lewes, Delaware….

Lewes, Delaware (pronounced “Lew-is”), is a quiet town situated at the confluence of the Atlantic Ocean and the Delaware Bay (an area referred to as Cape Henlopen), most famously known for being the “first town in the first state.” It’s a cozy and picturesque town with mossy-roofed cottages nestled between historic buildings still baring the marks of Revolutionary War cannons and ship-filled inlets. It’s a walking town, easily navigated in a long day’s stroll, meandering through the Historic Complex of the Lewes Historical Society, a block filled with the well-maintained and original buildings of significance to Lewes’ history- schoolhouses and a (Greek Revival styled) doctor’s office and other such buildings, all so perfectly charming (and truthfully old) that it could easily serve as a 19th century movie set. There are graves at St. Peter’s Episcopal Church (founded in 1681) dating to the 1600s, a walking labyrinth, homemade ice cream at King’s Ice Cream, and an abundance of fresh seafood. Lewes is historic, beautiful, and wholesome– and sometimes that combination is a necessary escape.

Lewes is a place for relaxing. A place to rise early, embrace the morning with a cup of coffee or hot tea over an Atlantic sunrise, enjoy a traditional home-cooked breakfast, toss a blanket upon the beach at Cape Henlopen State Park for an afternoon nap, before returning to Lewes for an evening stroll and dinner in one of the town’s small yet delicious restaurants. It’s a place to retire early too. The town is quiet by 10 p.m. This is relaxing.


The Blue Water House, an artsy inn in Lewes, is a lovely establishment to spend your mornings and evenings, aside colorful paintings and sculptures, well-styled rooms (the Hemmingway Suite is simply enchanting, in an anomalously sophisticated way), cozy outdoor seating areas backdropped by vintage canoes, interesting art pieces, and comfy chaise lounges.


The amenities are simple and ever-appreciated. Buckets of beer varieties and bottles of wine are left about in the communal dining area at cocktail hour, all amidst antique furniture, a fully stocked kitchen, and windows overlooking the bay. And breakfast is served communally at the community of kitchen tables all while jolly kitchen folk whip up hams and pastries and teas and coffees and juices and pancakes and everything else that makes breakfast perfect. There are complimentary cruiser bikes as well as house umbrellas and beach towels to make days spent adventuring more convenient. There’s even a telescope on the patio. The Blue Water House is the perfect place to call home while visiting Lewes.


And for dinner? I highly recommend Half Full, an innovative pizza and wine bar in the town’s historic center. Half Full has a pretty extensive wine & beer list and seasonally creative pizzas on both the always-changing house menu and the daily specials. We had two- one baring fresh lump crab, Manchego cheese, and sweet corn and another with house-made prosciutto and asparagus. On the current fall menu, try the Fall Veggie (butternut squash creme, sauteed mushrooms, Swiss chard, Gruyere) or the Pork and Apple (roasted garlic sauce, braised pork, Gala apple, Gruyere)- both for $11. I suppose I left out that Half Full’s prices are reasonable too.

Enter The Anti Tourist Travel Photo Contest and Win The Care Package!

Interested in winning a big ol’ goodie bag from The Anti Tourist‘s most recent travels? Then enter the most recent travel photo contest on The Anti Tourist Facebook Page. All you have to do is post your favorite travel photos to the Facebook wall and then have your friends come LIKE your photos once they’re in the Contest Photo Album. The photo with the most LIKES by noon on Friday, October 8th will get shipped a box of special things from our recent travels.

Pictured above, the package includes:

Bay leaves from Grenada
Chunks of cinnamon from Grenada
Bath Salt from Grenada
Nutmeg from Grenada
Cloves from Grenada
Handmade soap from Grenada
Organic Cocoa Balls from Grenada
Pure Vanilla from Grenada
Caribbean Naturals Bug Spray from Grenada
Full nutmeg in pouch from Grenada

Ruby Port Red Wine Brownie by Mary Louise Butter from Austin, TX

“One Foot in the Gravy” cd by The Hillbilly Gypsies, from Morgantown, WV

Winona Lake, Warsaw, Indiana

Warsaw and neighboring community Winona Lake are only a couple hours from Chicago, which is a town we loved. It’s a little in the middle of nowhere, and known mainly for the research and development and manufacture of orthopedics—companies like DePuy, Zimmer, and Biomet are headquartered here. That said, there’s also a beautiful lake, a local-centric economy, farm stands and markets, and a great community feeling. There’s even a large Mexican population, which raises the palatability of the cuisine considerably.

Cerulean Restaurant is a sushi and tapas place on Winona Lake with a quickly rotating beer selection—according to our hosts, the 6 taps were completely different two weeks ago. My pear cider was crisp and lively, similar to some Rieslings I’ve had, and my companions assured me their beers were great too—not that I would know from personal experience, since beer is packed with all kinds of gluten and I am not supposed to have that, moan, whine, moan again. In any case I had some great homemade beef jerky there as well as some incredible tapas.

The Bak Efe (just say Bay Café), also right on the lake, has great coffee and cookies which tasted like hot fudge went outside and laid in the sun. Also: blueberry scones, almond cream cheese Danish, and the best pizza this side of the Mississippi. Ok, one of the best pizzas this side of the Mississippi.

Get your ice cream next door at Kelainey’s, a very cute “shoppe” and perfect for an ice cream fix.

Eagle Creek Farm’s market has local, raw milk, local cheese, meat, and produce, and a very sweet proprietress. Stop by for an authentic, undoctored taste of rural Indiana.

On the other side of town, you cannot miss Los Gordos. Of the dozens of Mexican places in town, this was my favorite, a delicate mixture of old diner, corner tex-mex place, lounge, bar, and family restaurant.

The food is great though, with all the Mexican staples—cheesy enchiladas, cheesy burritos, cheesy fajitas, nachos with cheese, agua de horchata (or hibiscus or tamarind), Negra Modelo, more rice and beans than anyone could ever eat, ever, etc. El Gordo himself runs the place, and he’s gentleman. To be honest I don’t know if the place is named after him but whatever. This is my favorite place in town.

By: Ben Britz

“I hung out with the Yellow Deli People”: One woman’s story

The July 18th 2010 TAT story from Ben and Elizabeth about the Yellow Deli People sounded eerily familiar. I knew the name of the group before it was ever mentioned in the article: The Twelve Tribes Commonwealth of Israel. Three summers ago, I stayed with the same group for a few days in Rutland, Vermont while in the process of completing a 5-month Appalachian Trail thru-hike.  They run an adorable hostel upstairs from their business, The Back Home Again Café and Juice Bar, and offer a “work for stay” option. This means that for perhaps 1-2 hours of work (washing dishes, sweeping, peeling potatoes, whatever), we are able to have a roof over our heads and eat well without paying a dime. These deals are highly attractive to the thru-hiking community, who would do just about anything for the promise of a hot meal, a shower, and a real mattress.

From http://www.backhomeagaincafe.com

The weather during the first half of Vermont had oscillated between cold drizzle and oppressive heat, and after one of our more interesting hitchhiking experiences, my hiking partner and I arrived at the café exhausted and hungry. Upon entering, we were struck by the atmosphere of the place: intricate, hand-carved wooden beams, exposed brick, cozy lighting and with hanging plants everywhere…definitely an other-worldly Middle Earth sort of vibe, with the elfin community members happily running around with serving trays. We were greeted with warm smiles, and promptly led toward the showers (stocked with intoxicating homemade lavender and tea tree soap). The men and women were conservatively dressed, and I immediately felt self-conscious in my clingy, sweaty tank top. I knew we must’ve reeked, and yet they invited us to join their family for dinner. They were amazingly nice people, but I’ll admit I was a little unnerved by their serenity. What is their deal?

From http://www.backhomeagaincafe.com

There was a variety of reading material in the bunkrooms for our perusal: things about the homemade soap, menu choices for the café below, and…what’s this?…pamphlets about following Yahshua with all of one’s being? Ah, the light bulb went off in my head. The Twelve Tribes Community, it seems, is a branch of fundamental Christianity trying to return to as close to a traditional Jewish lifestyle as possible. This includes, but is not limited to, communal living, strict gender roles, homeschooling and labor for the children, shared finances and possessions, Hebrew names given for all community members, and universal hairstyles and clothing. After a few hours of working side-by-side, we were on a first name basis with several of the community members and our interactions felt comfortable enough to ask them some questions about their path: why the traditional, regimented dress code? Why did you join the group and how does your family feel about this? They responded patiently and smiling sweetly. They seemed acutely aware of cult-like perceptions outsiders have of the group. Whatever their reasons, they seemed really happy. I know I couldn’t handle it, but to each their own, I guess.

From http://www.backhomeagaincafe.com

Travelers take note, the people here are interesting, welcoming, and open to questions, and the food is delicious and wholesome. We were told that we should look up other community locations if we were ever in need of a place to stay. Just be prepared to volunteer in the kitchen (or wherever they need help), in addition to experiencing the magnetic pull of that peace-and-love feeling…which may creep you out a bit upon escaping the place.

By: Maribeth Latvis