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city guide

TRAVEL

Two New City Guides for Montreal

montreal city guides

montreal city guides

I want to inform me that I published two new city guides that should please foodies. I asked the help of two talented women who live in Montreal. They gladly shared with us their best spots.

+ Event Producer and Event Social Media Strategic Marie-Annick Boisvert at Event Marianik compiled a list of her favorite caterers in Montreal that you can use if you host a special event at home, a big bash or a corporate event.

+ Food blogger Mayssam Samaha at Will Travel for Food tells us where to go if you plan to spend a morning in Montreal’s Little Italy.

LIVING TRAVEL

My New City Guides

city guides :: new feature on at home with kim vallee

city guides :: new feature on at home with kim vallee

Earlier tonight, I released a feature that we worked very hard to implement. I wish to thank Chris and Jerome for their great work.

I started dreaming about city guides for At Home with Kim Vallee a while ago. I could have done it with simple posts but I wanted a more structured set up. We achieved it with an home page for the entire section, a page dedicated to each city, a page for every guide and a page for every place covered in the city guides.

You can like, tweet, share and like on Facebook any guide or a place. Naturally, you can comment. Do not be afraid to suggest your favorite places or share your opinions.

So far, I wrote 4 guides covering 3 cities. I planned to extensively cover 9 cities. They are Montreal, Toronto and Vancouver in Canada. In the States, the city guides will cover New York, Boston, San Francisco, Los Angeles, possibly Austin and another city that I has not been selected yet. Your suggestions are welcome.

I invite you to have a look at my new city guides and then, to tell me what you think about this new feature.

LIVING TRAVEL

5 Things to Do in Toronto this Weekend by Ali de Bold

ali de bold's suggestions for what to do in toronto this weekend

chick advisor ali de bold\'s suggestions for a weekend getaway in Toronto

Since I will be in Toronto this weekend to visit the IDS, I asked two popular Torontonians, which happen to my friends, for advices on what to do this weekend.

I started with Ali de Bold, co-founder of Chick Advisor. Ali answered with a fun tour of the city.

1. Start Saturday morning with Brunch at School
School Bakery & Cafe is a new hot spot in up and coming neighborhood, Liberty Village.  French Toast fans might want to try their Nirvana French Toast with strawberries, pistachos and chocolate drizzle.  After breakfast, walk it off by heading over to West Elm for design inspiration from this chic yet affordable furniture and design store or get a latte to go from Balzacs.

2. Consider a 1 hour road trip to Niagara on the Lake to indulge in the Niagara Ice Wine Festival.  Ontario Ice Wine is a Canadian specialty, and $30 gets you a pass to 6 local wineries that will treat you to complimentary ice wine samples with food pairings.

3. Head over to the historic Distillery District to indulge in a collection of great restaurants, cafes and boutiques in a cobblestone setting.  This weekend, there is a Chip & Pepper pop up shop happening at Lileo.

4. A romantic dinner at Nota Bene or molecular cocktails at Barchef are a great way to spend Saturday evening.  At Barchef, I highly recommend the Sour Sake: igori sake, cardamom cumin syrup, fresh lime, egg white, apricot bitters and coconut rum, served with a Thai basil sugar rim.  The top is a sugary crust like creme brulée and it tastes like roasted marshmallows. If you are feeling more adventurous, try the Vanilla Hickory Smoked Manhattan that is served in a cloud of smoke under a glass dome.

5. Sunday afternoon, check out the King Tut exhibition at the AGO.  Adult tickets are $32.50, or if you got a sparkling engagement ring for Christmas you might want to visit the National Bridal Show for inspiration!

By the way, I had brunch at School last year. It was awesome! I was impressed by the food and the decor. And a drink topped with creme brulée is certainly an experience that I would like to try.

Thanks a lot, Ali. Your photo collage looks great and your plan sounds great.

Chick Advisor is a women community on which the members determine the hottest trends, the best local services, and the coolest products in beauty, fashion, restaurants, shopping and wellness.

LIVING URBAN Living

City Guides and European City Life

Sometimes I like to give me little posting challenge. This time, I wanted to showcase two blogs seen with each having two posts related to city living. It seems like a good follow-up story to my previous post about PARK(ing) Day.

Haus Maus

life in hanover on haus maus

As you may know, Holly  of Decor8 writes a second blog where she talks about her new life in Hanover. In Haus Maus, she chronicles little differences like this communal bookcase. People donate the books. If you take one, you need to replace it by another book. I like this idea.

On another post, Holly talked about the fact that people often travel in bicycle instead of taking the car. Sure that the narrow streets of Europe make driving cumbersome, but it is more than that. I envy them.

Design*Sponge

city guides on design*sponge

In fact, the idea of this post starts when I saw the Arbour Wall picture in Brisbane earlier today. You will find 72 city guides on Design*Sponge. The pictures are from the:

If you plan a visit to one of the covered cities, they are a must to read since each guide is written by a resident.

LIVING TRAVEL

Montreal is the first city with a National Geographic Society Geotourism MapGuide

montreal geotourism mapguide

More and more tourists opt to visit an urban area for their vacation. When I visit a city, I like to eat, to shop and go at the places where the residents hang out. The MapGuide will make it easy for you the next time you come to Montreal.

Montreal appeals to Canadians and Americans because we carry an European feel within North America. It is a place where you eat well at any price range. During summer time, you can enjoy many festivals with tons of free activities on the streets. Our architecture mixes the charm of old with new.

The best local shops for fashion, gifts and home are not written on the map but you will find them in the cool neighbors highlighted on the MapGuide. Also plan a picnic on the top of Mont-Royal or on the Old-Port. The bike paths around the Canal Lachine are fun, especially during the less crowded period like weekdays.

What is about the Geotourism Concept?

In 2007, Montreal became the first urban center to sign the Geotourism Charter of National Geographic Society. This 13-principle Charter supports tourism that sustains or enhances the geographical character of a place. The Geotourism principles cover the conservation of a city’s environment, culture, aesthetics, heritage, plus the well-being of its residents and the satisfaction of the tourists.

A one-year consultation period determined the sites and places that will appear on the city map. Tourism Montreal asked Montrealers to share their favorite places in Montreal. Projects were developed with two primary schools in Montreal to ask the children what they like the best about Montreal. Three kid artworks illustrating a place on the map won the privilege to be printed on the MapGuide.

Montreal is not only the first city, so far we are still the only city in the world to have signed the Geotourism Charter of National Geographic Society.

The MapGuide is available online in English and in French. The two-sided poster version that you can carry with you will be available by the end of the week. Tourists can find them at the two Infotourism centres. Residents can will find copies at their Maison de la culture.

In Downtown : Infotouriste Centre
1255 Peel Street  – at Peel subway (metro) station
1 877 Bonjour (266-5687)
www.bonjourquebec.com

In Old Montréal : Tourist Welcome Office in Old Montréal
174 Notre-Dame Street East – at Champ-de-Mars subway (metro) station
www.tourisme-montreal.org

MORE:
+ Montreal as a geo-friendly city
+ Download the MapGuide as a pdf

LIVING TRAVEL

Jaime Haywood’s City Guide

target :: world market :: west elm

When we travel, it is best to know the places where the residents hang out. I asked Jaime of It’s A Jaime Thing to tell us about her favorites places in Chicago. She has been more than generous by sharing her number one places.

At Home with Kim Vallee (AHWKV): What are your favorite home decor shops?

Jaime: I’m a Target girl. Other favorites of mine are Crate & Barrel, Z Gallerie, West Elm, Pier 1 Imports, World Market, Pottery Barn, Restoration Hardware and Hobby Lobby.

AHWKV: What stores do you go for housewares?

Jaime: If I had a million dollars, I’d say Williams Sonoma hands down.  I used to love Marshall Fields (a historical Chicago favorite) until Macy’s bought them out. Macy’s is great too though, I can’t complain.

AHWKV: As far as you know, what are the trendiest shops right now in Chicago?

Jaime: For beauty, I’d have to say Sonia Roselli Esthetique and Asha Salon & Spa. For unique gifts, The Afternoon in Oakbrook Mall.  If you’re in Chicago looking for clothes, we have the best shopping around!  Just take a walk down the Magnificent Mile on Michigan Avenue, but be sure to wear comfy shoes. You’ll be shopping all day.  It’s pure shopping heaven! One of my favorites is Water Tower Place.

There really are too many stores to name. My favorite malls, Oakbrook Center located in Oakbrook, IL and Woodfield Mall located in Schaumburg also have some of the trendiest shopping – if that’s what you’re looking for.  They’re actually well-known tourist attractions, believe it or not!

AHWKV: What are your favorite restaurants in Chicago? It is for the food, the decor, the ambiance, the service?

Jaime: I promise you, the absolute best restaurant in the Chicagoland area is J. Alexander’s in Oakbrook, IL. They serve off of an American menu, with mouth-watering tender juicy steaks and delicious seafood, however you can also get finger foods or a yummy burger there too. The wait staff and bartenders are friendly and always remember you. They give you the best service, even if you’ve been there only once before or never before. The atmosphere has a jazzy contemporary feel with warm dimmed lighting. You can dress up or dress down – everyone is welcome. They pour an excellent drink and their pricing, compared to many “high end” restaurants, is extremely affordable. Seriously, if you go there, you’ll want to move here just so you can eat there all of the time. I know – I sound like a commercial, right? We just love it, it’s our favorite place!

Other wonderful restaurants in the Chicagoland area include Rosebud Restaurant if you like Italian food, The Oven Grinder for their fabulous Chicago pizza pie, Bob Chinn’s 34th Street Fishery in Lisle, IL., if you’re a seafood fan like me, and the famous Portillo’s for Chicago-style hot dogs, beef and Italian sausage! Oh, see now I’m getting hungry!

AHWKV: Which restaurants in Chicago serve the best brunch?

Jaime: I adore La Pinta in LaGrange, IL – it’s a great tapas place. Enjoy “High Tea” at The Four Seasons Ritz Carlton in Chicago – it’s quite lovely!

My absolute favorite place for brunch though is Omega Restaurant in Downers Grove, IL., it’s been around for years, the pricing is super affordable, they are fast, the food is always good and hot and it’s just a classic around here! My family used to take me to Omega Restaurant when I was little for Mickey Mouse pancakes. I still order them! Keep in mind, if you’re staying downtown Chicago, the suburbs are only a very short train ride away – they’re easy and they run all day!

AHWKV: Where do you go on a girl’s night out?

Jaime: Well, in my early twenties, my girlfriends and I would often dance the night away at downtown clubs or even ones in the western suburbs. If you’re visiting Chicago and love the bar and nightclub scene, the intersection of Rush & Division is where it’s at.

My favorite high-end, high-style nightclub right now is Stone Lotus. Just go to have the experience of bottle service. Once. Warning, it’s expensive! Really expensive. Maybe not for Paris Hilton, but for the average girl it’s a little insane.

I really love John Barleycorn, it is also fabulously fun; but a tad bit more down to earth and a lot more affordable. If you’re looking for something a little different, head on over to The Red Head Piano Bar located downtown – so much fun! Of course Navy Pier is great too.

If you are visiting Chicago, it’s fun but drinks are expensive. It is completely normal to expect each drink to cost between $10 to $15 in the city. Once you hit the suburbs though, it goes down a little, around $7 to $10/drink, depending on where you go. Also keep in mind that if you’re driving expects to pay a lot for parking! You’re best to walk or take a cab. We have a million cabs here, no worries – you won’t have to walk too far in those high heels!

Now that my friends and I are getting older and many of us have kids (ok I don’t have kids yet – but hopefully sooner rather than later!), girls night is usually spent at each other’s homes, with good wine and good conversation! Though occasionally we still like to dance our butts off.

AHWKV: Which restaurant do you prefer for a romantic evening?

Jaime: For a romantic evening, the best places are of course, my favorite, J. Alexander’s in Oakbrook, The Signature Room and The Signature Lounge (offer gorgeous views of the city) at the 95th and 96th floors of the John Hancock building in Chicago, IL., Wildfire Restaurant in Oakbrook, IL and Rosebud Restaurant in Chicago. There are so many, those are just a few of my personal favorites.

AHWKV: What are the best places for a family dinner, possibly with young kids?

Jaime: As I mentioned before, Omega Restaurant in Downers Grove, IL is great. Buca Di Beppo is a fun family-style Italian restaurant. You can even request to sit in the kitchen! Another fun place for kids to eat is Gino’s East, for pizza. Great pizza and a fun atmosphere. I haven’t been there in a while, but you used to be able to draw on the walls – what kid doesn’t love to draw on walls?! Too much fun! Though double check that, I suppose things could have changed since then. I also think many of the restaurants at Navy Pier are wonderful!

If you’re planning on staying in the city, there are several kid-friendly places. Your best bet is to ask your hotel concierge and they’ll be able to direct you to the best one nearest you. Chicago is a pretty friendly place, people here are usually happy to help. Just watch where you’re walking, the drivers are crazy here!

Hope that makes you want to come visit my Sweet Home Chicago! You’ll surely find tons to do here if you do. From shopping and restaurants to museums, parks, zoos and the beach, you definitely won’t be bored.

Thanks so much for your interest in my blog, It’s A Jaime Thing. I really enjoyed answering the interview questions and I feel so honored you took the time to read! Have a lovely and inspiring day. Cheers!

SOURCING:
1. Budget-happy rugs at Target – starts at $279.99 USD
2. Malika Silk Medallion Print Toss Pillows at World Market – price: $24.99 USD
3. manzanita candelabra + mini taper candles at West Elm – price;$99 USD

LIVING TRAVEL

Jennifer Mitchell’s City Guide of Detroit

In an interview, Jennifer Mitchell of Design Hole tells us the best shops and the places to visit in Detroit.

shine in royal oak

At Home with Kim Vallee (AHWKV): Which are your favorite home décor shops?

Jennifer: I enjoy:

  • Bureau of Urban Living: super cool, funky gifts, housewares, and décor
  • Mezzanine: the sell high-end European furniture and accessories
  • The League Shop: dishes, silver, accessories, and gifts
  • Vertu: vintage furniture and accessories
  • Shine: where to get cool and funky accessories

AHWKV: Where do you shop for housewares?

Jennifer: I like the Somerset Collection at Williams-Sonoma.

Two interesting shops are:

AHWKV: What are the fun places to visit in Detroit?

henry ford village :: detroit science center :: mezzanine

Jennifer: It costs only $8 per adult and $4 per youth (6-17) to visit the Detroit Institute of Arts. Until January 18, 2009, you will see art pieces from Monet to Dali and other Modern Masters exhibit from The Cleveland Art Museum.

The Detroit Science Museum is worth a visit. You should not miss the Leonardo Da Vinci: Man, Inventor, Genius Exhibition, that runs until January 4, 2009

The Detroit Zoo: I love zoos

The Henry Ford Village & Museum: This is an amazing place. Henry Ford bought up all these buildings and relocated them to this village. The Wright Bros bike shop and Thomas Edison’s workshop are there. My favorite part of the indoor museum is the area with kitchen appliances through the centuries.

AHWKV: Which restaurant do you prefer for a romantic evening?

Jennifer: My new pick is The Lark. This is a real jewel. It’s expensive, so it’s a special night to go there. But it’s beautiful and the food is the best. I can’t believe I didn’t put them first.

LOCATIONS:

FOOD + DRINK RESTAURANTS

Lisa Kothari’s City Guide

original starbuck :: asian art museum :: trophy cupcakes :: monsoon :: lark

Here is the part 2 of my interview with Lisa Kothari, the founder and CEO of Peppers and Pollywogs.

AHWKV: When we travel, it is best to know the places where the residents hang out. Tell us about your favorites places in SEATTLE.

Lisa: Seattle is the home of Starbucks, and the original Starbucks is located in the famous Pike Place Market; try and get there to not only stroll the market, but to see where Starbucks all began. No matter what, though, have coffee at any of the vast number of coffee shops around town. My favorites are Café Verite and Uptown Espresso; there are multiple locations around town!

Seattle is also one of the most literate cities in the US, and so definitely check out a famous bookstore in Pioneer Square, Elliot Bay Book Company. This is a great bookstore with lots of local authors passing through and speaking on their latest books.

Visit Volunteer Park for a lovely stroll, a great view of the Space Needle, and to take in the collection at the Asian Art Museum. Many locals walk their dogs here, play tennis, and just enjoy the grounds on a beautiful day!

ATWKV: What is your favorite cupcake shop in SEATTLE?

Lisa: Seattle has seen an explosion in specialty cupcake stores, and Trophy Cupcakes in Wallingford is the star! Stop in for a delightful cupcake and don’t forget the coffee! The owner was recently featured on Martha Stewart’s show during cupcake week too. Really unique flavors too!

ATHKV: Which restaurants in SEATTLE serve the best brunch?

Lisa: Monsoon in Capitol Hill is really wonderful. It is a French-Vietnamese restaurant and so it offers a colonial menu of traditional eggs and waffles, as well as wonderful tasty Dim Sum and Vietnamese menu as well. I particularly like the Daikon Cakes and Congee. Diverse menu in an atmosphere that is sophisticated and family-friendly all at once.

ATHKV: Which restaurant do you prefer for a romantic evening?

Lisa: Lark is just so lovely on Capitol Hill. Fresh produce, small dishes, lovely ambiance.and no reservations! Pick an off-night or go early!

ATHKV: What are the best places for dinner?

Lisa: In Seattle, you really can’t go wrong with the Tom Douglas group of restaurants. A local famous chef, Tom has a series of restaurants that range in different types of foods, some fancy, some casual, that utilize the fresh flavors of the northwest and deliver time and time again. I love Serious Pie for a taste of gourmet pizza.the sausage pizza is so yummy!

Places in Seattle

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