I'll try not to ramble too much but you guys... it's been one whole year since With the Locals started. Excuse my language but, #@$%!!! And in honor of spending this last year exploring so many of your amazing hometowns, I want to show you mine. I live in Brooklyn but I grew up in the quirky little city of Erie, PA. For more than half the year it's one of the snowiest places in the US, and the other months, a bit of a beach town. It's full of American history, a vast diversity of people and cultures, and like any good Erie native, I promise you some of the most amazing sunsets.
If you've met me, you've heard me talk about how much I love Erie, along with all the carb filled local treats you absolutely have to eat. What's that you say, you didn't ask? Oh. But you have to try Sponge Candy! It's pretty evident now that Erie was the biggest inspiration for With the Locals.
Like a lot of people, I adore my hometown. It's far from perfect, and many are working hard to support the younger generations and their pursuits to make Erie lovable. There is a determination to establish new traditions and culture, while keeping in mind the things that people love so much about Erie.
Yeah, there is be a bit of an identity crisis, that's what you get with manic weather and when you're right in the middle of 3 major cities and another country. But really, that's part of the charm because it's probably like nowhere you've ever been.
On the 6th day God created man. On the 7th she rested. Realized she needed a snack and created Pepperoni Balls.
What is it exactly? It's pizza dough stuffed with pepperoni. I know, seems too simple. But it's so. damn. good. There are a lot of locally loved foods in Erie but I think Pepperoni Balls are the epitome. I don't know anyone who didn't grow up snacking on them.
This Pepperoni Ball is from Bill's Bakery, which I highly recommend. But you can find them at a number of spots all over Erie, bakeries, grocery stores, and pretty much any place that serves pizza. Everyone has their favorites, but all are generally the same. So you can't go wrong.
If you're feeling fancy, you can get one with cheese or sauce. Valerio's Pizza even serves a "Taco Ball" - though most people are purists. But hey, I've never met a Pepperoni Ball I didn't like.
(at Bill's Bakery)
How do I explain this kindly... there are 3 chocolate shops in Erie and most often whichever one your parents grew up on, is the one you're going to grow up on, and so on and so forth. Erieites are nothing if not loyal to their chocolate.
Is one better than the rest? Everyone will say, yes. You'll just hear 3 different answers. I grew up in a Romolo Chocolates household. Because my parents love me ;) calm down Pulakos and Stefanelli's loyalists, only kidding, both are very good alternative options.
Like any respectable chocolate shop you're going to have options, so you need a game plan.
1. Sponge Candy. Just try it, we won't shut up until you do.
2a. Skip the Chocolate Covered Strawberries and go for the Chocolate Covered Grapes. Grapes are a big deal in the area. Along Lake Erie grows the Concord Grape Belt- juice, jams, and lots of wineries.
2b. Don't skip the Chocolate Covered Strawberries. Now is not the time to be reserved.
3. Chocolate Marshmallow Cups. Because, duh.
4. And Meltaways. Either milk or dark, both are simple and amazing.
(at Romolo Chocolates)
This is a new locally loved places for me but @pointefoure hooked me from the moment I walked in. Friendly owner Emily George does an impressive job of curating her shop, stocking quality well kept one of a kind pieces. Also, attached to the shop is @Donato.Danielle's new @sorrisohairsalon. When you visit, give yourself some time, trust me you'll want it.
On top of being just an amazingly unique shop, I really admire @pointefoure's commitment to the Erie community. As I mentioned, no city is without its issues but both Emily and Danielle are amazing examples of being the change that they want to see in Erie. Being thoughtful and very hard working, they are helping to construct a healthy, functioning, and creative community.
Good job everybody, we made it to Wednesday. We deserve a drink. Plymouth is my go-to bar when I'm in town. I can only describe it as the 'hometown every bar.' Plenty of seating in and outdoors, a great selection of anything you would want to drink, good snacks, great specials, and a fun Monday treat of 'quarter drafts'... Sure to leave you feeling oh so amazing the next day, if you're not careful.
(at The Plymouth Tavern)
New York Lunch is a place that represents what a lot of people adore about Erie. During lunch my Dad told me how his father used to come here, bringing him and my uncles when they were younger. People come in because the food is crazy delicious, but there is also a comfort in its ability to grant a shared experience through generations.
I'll encourage you to go there for yourself and spark up a conversation with the sweet couple working behind the counter, owners Nina & Stephen Paliouras. They'll gladly tell you about the history, as well a 'be sure to come back soon', except they really mean it.
It's the closest you're going to get to stepping back in time. You eat on stools or booths, the walls covered in photos of Erie over the last century, the original counter hangs on the wall- signed by customers expressing their love for New York Lunch and Greek Sauce.
(at New York Lunch)
Welcome to day 6 of With the Locals pursuit to stop your heart. But this is fish and fish is healthy, right? Well, it's the healthiest thing we've got going this week so deal with it.
Perch can be found all over the world, but mostly in the Great Lakes, and especially Lake Erie. If there is ever a travel rule to follow... eat local!
Schickalay's On The Bay @schickalays is located near the entrance to Presque Isle, making it wildly convenient if your coming to or from the beach. Mostly patio seating with a wide selection of beers and good snacks, it's exactly the type of place that summer calls for. And yes, that is more Greek Sauce.
Beerocrats! The Tap House specializes in craft and import beers, they have over 20 different kinds on tap, awesome specialty pizzas, beautiful outdoor seating, and a super friendly staff. What else does one need.
(at U Pick 6 Tap House)
Rum Runners is hands down my favorite bar in Erie. Mainly for the views, it sits right on Lake Erie. If you like, you can even pull up pull up your boat or jetski... and you can just as easily fall right into the water. It's that close.
Winters in Erie are long, harsh, and anything but a joke. (Between 2017-2018 Erie recieved over 191 inches of snow). So anything outdoors in the warmer months is a requirement.
(at Rum Runners)
Did you think we would go a week without talking donuts? We would never do that to you.
The common theme with Erie favorites... simple foods done right. Unlike a lot of places, Mighty Fine isn't trying to reinvent the donut. So you're not going to find anything flavored with lavender or hibiscus... or any other plant for that matter. But you will have the very very very best classic donut. And I say opt for the dozen, Sundays are best spent in a sugar coma.
(at Mighty Fine Donuts)
And the best for last, Lake Erie. When I die, toss my ashes in that lake because there is no other place I would rather be. Aside from my family, it's what I love and miss the most. Swimming and biking on Presque Isle, the beaches, kayaking the lagoons, jet skiing in the bay, just the smell of the water. And, of course, the sunsets. There is a rumor that Lake Erie is on a list of "World's Best Sunsets." While it's only a rumor, it's clearly an easy one to believe.
There is still plenty more to do and see and yes, even eat. But for now, that's it for Erie.
Thank you to @ErieApparel for helping to make this week more fun. It's businesses like yours that remind us why we love to shop local.
And thanks to all of YOU who have followed and supported With the Locals this past year. We love hearing from you! Please continue to send us emails telling us places you would like to see featured & tagging us in your favorite local spots. To all the amazing contributors, thank you for everything! It's been a real joy getting to know you, learning more about your work and hometowns. I hope you know how inspiring you are to so many people. Thank you!
Now back to your regularly scheduled program 😘 Brianna @campwilson
(at Erie, Pennsylvania)