Monday, July 29, 2013

Top 5 Places to Visit in a Cozy Town by Erin Murphy from The Food Lovers’ Village Mysteries by Leslie Budewitz

Fourteen years ago, I couldn’t wait to leave Jewel Bay, Montana, where my family’s lived for more than a hundred years. I loved my life in Seattle, working as a grocery buyer for an international warehouse chain. But when an elderly friend left me a cat my landlord hated, and the manager of the Merc—the local foods market my mother runs in my family’s hundred-year-old former grocery—ran off to Vegas with her boyfriend the Elvis impersonator, it was time to come home.

The best part of coming home is enjoying all the places I love—some from my childhood, some new—and sharing them with visitors to Jewel Bay, like you.

Le Panier: Wendy Taylor met Max Fontaine in cooking school in Paris, and as far as I’m concerned, it’s a marriage made in heaven. They moved here a few years ago—this is Wendy’s hometown, too—and opened Chez Max, a totally yummy, totally French bistro. Now Wendy has her dream: a genuine French boulangerie and patisserie. That means bread and pastry for us all. Bon appetit!

Red’s Bar: Jewel Bay is not what people expect in a Montana town. Cutting-edge art and lip-smacking restaurants instead of cow pies and shoot-outs on dirt streets. But we have our belly-up bar, with a courtyard out back that’s perfect for the Festa di Pasta, our new festival to kick off summer. Come join us!

Dragonfly Dry Goods: Another gem that opened while I was away. Van loads of shoppers come from all over for Kathy Jensen’s yarn and fabric selection. I don’t knit or sew—that’s my sister Chiara’s department. But when I need grounding in the physical world—or the straight scoop, no gossip—I stop here. A petting zoo for yarn addicts.

The riding trails above Caldwell’s Eagle Lake Lodge & Guest Ranch: I learned to ride as a teenager, when Kim Caldwell and I became best friends. Not BFF, alas, but that’s another story. Everything looks better from the back of a horse.

And of course, the Merc. If your own shop isn’t one of your favorite places in the world, you’re in the wrong business.

Leslie Budewitz is the author of Death al Dente, first in the Food Lovers' Village Mysteries (Berkley Prime Crime, August 2013). The town of Jewel Bay, Montana—known as the Food Lovers’ Village—is obsessed with homegrown and homemade Montana fare. So when Erin Murphy takes over her family’s century-old general store, she turns it into a boutique market filled with local delicacies. But Erin’s freshly booming business might turn rotten when a former employee turns up dead…

Leslie’s first book, Books, Crooks & Counselors: How to Write Accurately About Criminal Law & Courtroom Procedure (Quill Driver Books) won the 2011 Agatha Award for Best Nonfiction. Visit her website or on Facebook
Pre-Order Death Al Dente from Amazon.

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