We hope you’ve been enjoying getting to know our Localeurs a bit more. Jodie & Vanessa shared some interesting tidbits about themselves and their cities last week, and this week we’re back with LA Localeur Alisha Ricardi and New York Localeur Stephanie Cain, who both have a healthy appreciation for all things local, especially good food and drinks.
Stephanie: What makes Southern California your soulmate?
Alisha: I’ve definitely got an East Coast edge to me from growing up in the Boston area, but I was built for West Coast. The beach, the mountains, and the carefree attitude — even, surprisingly, the slower walking pace just suits me. Being outdoors year-round is my ideal, and I love to travel, so it’s amazing to feel like I’m on vacation when I take a day trip to Malibu or head to San Diego for the weekend.
Stephanie knows New York, especially its wine.
Stephanie: A lot of people hate on LA. How do you respond to those sorts of comments?
Alisha: Oy. I have to respond to this a lot. Here’s how I see it: Enjoying LA is all about who you surround yourself with, because — let’s be honest — there are a lot of people in this town who are just concerned with trying to make it. I’m not a fan of “the scene” here, so I generally stay out of it. Give me a dive bar over a schmoozy Hollywood club any night and I’m a happy camper. LA has way too much greatness to offer to let anything ruin it for you.
Stephanie: What’s one secret about LA?
Alisha: I’m not sure how many secrets a metropolitan can keep, but people outside LA who know of it as a very expensive city might not realize there are so many free activities. I wrote about outdoor movies in my latest recommendations post, and I mentioned one of them that is at a great park downtown and is completely free. There are also free concerts at the Santa Monica Pier every Thursday of the summer, at which people can dance all night in front of the stage or picnic on the beach below. The Getty Center museum and Griffith Observatory are two amazing venues with spectacular views and free entry. The list goes on.
Stephanie: So you’re an actor in LA. How is your profession different than the stereotypes?
Alisha: Yep, me and everyone else in LA! Acting is actually my second job, with my full-time career being as an editor for ESPN.com. So I’ve seen acting from both the outside and inside, and I guess the biggest misconception is that actors don’t have to work very hard. Ohhhh, that is so far from true. A successful, working actor (I’m not talking about celebrities, I’m talking about the someone who make a living at acting even if they’re not well known) has to work their butt off. Acting is so much more than a craft — which needs to be worked on daily as it is — it’s also a business, which means actors have to be entrepreneurs. Marketing and networking are huge components, which is something I had no idea of until I really got serious about it. It’s a bit easier to have an agent or manager helping you out, but if you don’t have one, you’re doing all that work on your own.
Alisha: You’ve traveled all over the world as a writer covering food and fashion. How does NYC’s culinary experience compare to other places you’ve been?
Stephanie: New York is a culinary playground. You can really get anything you have a craving for, pretty much 24/7. But it’s also an amazing place for discovery. Traveling and eating really helps you understand and experience a country and culture. But New York allows you do to that down the street, and in a surprisingly authentic and creative way the majority of the time. You can experience places you’ve never even thought of, and maybe even inspire you to go there. I just read about this new restaurant Awadh, where the chef is reinvigorating Mughal cooking techniques from an obscure region of India. That’s so cool to me. I would have never even been able to find that even if I went to India. I’d be too busy at the Taj Mahal!
Alisha knows LA, from where to eat to where to check out street art.
Alisha: All sorts of random stuff could happen to someone just walking in NYC. What’s the wackiest thing you’ve ever experienced in the city?
Stephanie: Just today there was a hot pink stretch Mini Cooper limo parked outside my building! But really, one of the most surreal moments was doing yoga in Times Square at sunrise on the summer Solstice. It’s such a busy place to try to find center and balance. But when I’d twist and look up at the bright blue sky peaking through the towering skyscrapers, I really felt of the positive power and energy of the city.
Alisha: Have you always lived on the Upper East Side? Why did you choose to live there?
Stephanie: I’ve lived in the West Village too, and uptown by Columbia for grad school, but the UES feels like home. Some people call it Siberia (really 64th is not that far uptown, folks!) but I love its little oasis. Everything is clean and organized. On the weekends, it’s not a scene. Its just people in workout clothes grabbing a bagel and coffee with their dogs and heading to a farmer’s markets. Central Park is RIGHT THERE for a run around the reservoir or laying out in Sheep’s Meadow. And the window shopping on Madison doesn’t hurt either!
Alisha: What is your favorite way to spend four hours of free time?
Stephanie: This is a tough one to answer, as I might choose anything from taking a yoga class to reading food magazines to going to a wine bar to see what’s new. But I do find myself at the MoMA often. I’m a member, and it’s one of the greatest things I’ve ever spent money on. The ability to stop by and check out some incredible art for just a few minutes…really, only, can you do something like this in a great city like New York. It’s really a luxury. Also, in summer, Central Park!