WHOA lansi

francophile, oenophile, logophile, turophile

Category: Food (Page 1 of 3)

Dear Berkeley Bowl

I love grocery stores. I know that’s kind of an odd thing to say you love, but I really do. A truly fantastic grocery store makes me really damn happy. Before coming down to California, I was pumped to spend a couple months living near Whole Foods & Trader Joe’s. That was literally on my list of things to do in California: shop at Whole Foods. That was, until I learned about Berkeley Bowl.

Berkeley Bowl is an independent supermarket in, you guessed it, Berkeley, CA. They’re best known for their produce selection, & for good reason, it’s one the largest selections of produce I’ve ever seen in a single location. Even their organic section rivals most regular grocery stores. It’s the place to go when you’re looking for that one strange ingredient for a recipe.

Berkeley Bowl

The huge organic section

Berkeley Bowl

Berkeley Bowl

So much produce (& dang, I wish limes were this cheap at home!)

Berkeley Bowl

Berkeley Bowl

Mushrooms on mushrooms

Berkeley Bowl

There were literally too many to fit in one photo

Berkeley Bowl

Honestly though, it’s kind of the place to go for whatever your grocery needs might be. ¬†They have a huge, full-service meat & seafood counter, more varieties of dairy products than I can even attempt to sample, most of the specialty grocery items you expect to find at Whole Foods, & an amazing bulk section. I assume the bulk section is similar to what you’d find in a Bulk Barn, but smaller. Here you can stock up on spices, pastas, cereals, flours, rices, candies… That’s all I can think of off the top of my head. I like it for the spice section. I love that I can refill my existing spice containers when I run out or get a pinch of something I need for a recipe. I’m that person who filled a bag with 8 cents of red pepper flakes.

Berkeley Bowl

My favourite section, obs

Berkeley Bowl

Berkeley Bowl

Cheese Island – the happiest place

Berkeley Bowl

Bulk Spices!

Berkeley Bowl

Part of the dairy (& nut “dairy”) section

In addition to all this, they have a great full service cafe at both of their locations. I haven’t tried anything except their coffee, but it’s always busy & the food looks delicious. If you’re thinking that it comes with a Whole Foods style price tag, you’d be wrong. It’s surprisingly affordable!

With two locations in Berkeley, I often find an excuse to stop by when I’m out & about. N thinks it’s ridiculous that I enjoy spending so much time in grocery stores, but what can I say: I love food. Maybe then he’ll understand why I love it so much when he finally sees it (one of my goals is to bring him at least once before I leave), but I doubt it. He’s a “get in, get out” shopper, I’m a “compare everything, wander aimlessly” shopper. ūüėČ

I’ll end my love letter to the Berkeley Bowl here & just say, if you find yourself hungry in this funky city, stop by & grab something delicious. You won’t be disappointed.

Travel Planning: my tips & tricks

SF Mission MuralsOver the last six months, I’ve done more trip planning & created more itineraries than ever before. My most successful plan so far was my first trip down to SF to visit Nathan in May. I combined everything I knew about how we travel with what I’d learned on our previous trips to make the most amazing itinerary. As someone who loves travel planning almost as much as the travel itself, this was immensely satisfying.

This week, I’ve been working on an itinerary for our visit with Nathan’s sister & her boyfriend. They’re coming to stay with us for an extended weekend & we want to do all the things. Since planning is fresh in my mind, I thought I’d share some of my best tips, & a few of my favourite apps that make it all a bit easier.

Find the types of resources you enjoy reading. 

It’s so much easier to plan if you’re actually reading about things you enjoy. If you love art & history, maybe some of the travel guides are a great read for you. More than likely though, there’s a website or magazine that highlights your interests more specifically & can give you tips on what to see & do. √†

For me, I generally turn to food-related articles, so¬†Bon Appetit is always the first place I check. They’re starting to have a nice selection of city guides that I highly recommend checking out if you like to eat. Otherwise, The New York Times, Eater, & Anthony Bourdain¬†(he just launched a travel website, but you can also search any of his shows online) are my go-to resources for getting the ball rolling.

Create a personalized map of your favourite places

Once you’ve started research, you’re going to need somewhere to store all that data. My absolute favourite travel app is Google My Maps. I can’t recommend it enough & use it daily when I travel. I’ve been using it for a few years now, but they seem to be trying to bring more awareness to it lately, & I’ve found myself using it much more heavily this year.

Google My Maps: Bay Area

My Map for the Bay Area

Basically, it just allows you to create custom maps. You can personalize them & then share, collaborate, & take them with you anywhere. I made one for every city we visited in Europe & then shared them with our crew. You can access them from the Places menu in Google Maps, so they’re easy to locate on mobile.

I’m a pretty visual person, so I find this is a great way to start sorting through what I might want to do in a city. I can easily see what places are close together without getting bogged down by stuff I don’t care about, & build an itinerary from there. My Maps will still show things you haven’t saved, but since I personalize my icons, they don’t get in the way. In addition to visual customization, you can also add your own notes to a place once you’ve saved it to your map. This is a handy little reminder for why I added a place or for other little details, like “bring cash!” or “skip the line by getting takeout”.

Google My Maps

My notes on Powell Street Street Car

I have maps for most of the cities we’ve visited now & they come in handy any time we revisit. I love researching new restaurants & things to do, so mine are all pretty full. That can be overwhelming for a lot of people. The beauty of these maps though is you can make them as busy or as simple as you like – it’s all based on what you enjoy! Well done, Google.

Google My Maps close up

Close up of my SF Map

One more thing I should mention: these maps also seem to work with offline areas, which is great for when you may not have a ton of data to use, but still need navigation. Download the offline area for any major city & you’re set!

Flesh out an itinerary

Everyone travels differently, & I know the idea of having a plan sounds totally awful to many of you, but I tend to want to cram a lot into a small amount of time. When you only have a few days somewhere, a plan can help alleviate disappointment. At the very least, I like to make a couple dinner reservations & then look at a few other things that are nearby. Lately, I’ve been building my itineraries in Word since it’s incredibly simple, but I’ve also used Evernote, Google Keep, & my calendar for storing ideas. Anything that allows you to keep a few short notes & ideas for when that jet-lag takes hold is perfect for this.

SF Itinerary in Word

Sample SF Itinerary in Word

In May, we crammed a crazy amount of stuff into a long weekend. Most of this was possible because of all the research I did. It was probably the most intense itinerary I’d ever created. I prefer this style to the more “we’ll see what we feel like” style we’ve gone with in the past, because I find I spend less time doing research while I’m on my trip. Instead, I get it all out of the way beforehand & if I don’t end up feeling like doing something, I don’t have to, but I don’t waste time looking up ideas for things to do on the fly.

Save it all to Dropbox

Dropbox has been around for so long, so this is nothing new. It’s a great way to access files when you’re away from your computer, or share & collaborate with others. I like to save all my travel-related files to a folder I can access when I get to my destination, & Dropbox does this seamlessly.

My travel folder contains pdfs from travel websites, google maps directions to certain places, all my itineraries, any pdf e-tickets I’ve purchased in advance, & copies of our passports & travel documents. It’s all in one easy-to-access spot (just make sure you can connect to WiFi, have data, or make it available offline!).

& that’s mostly it! That’s how I stay organized for our trips & cram in as much as I do. If you have any tips of your own, or would like to see some of my crazy travel maps, let me know in the comments. Happy planning!

 

Poutine Week 2017: Poutine Pusher

Poutine Week YYCAs official #PoutinePusher for Poutine Week YYC this year, I had¬†the opportunity to sample several poutines around the city & today, I’m going to share what how they each were. This year there are over 70 restaurants participating, so there’s a little something for everyone!

You have until Saturday to get some poutine in you for a good cause.¬†I honestly don’t think you can go wrong with any pick, & for every poutine you buy, a free meal will go to someone in need (thanks to Mealshare). It’s a true win-win. If you need some help narrowing down the list, here are my thoughts on the six poutines I tried.

Mill Street Brewpub

If I’m being honest, I picked Mill Street for what I knew of their beers. N¬†was going to be home for the weekend & we I figured¬†convince a few friends to join us for drinks at some point in the evening. It wasn’t until closer to the date that I really took a serious look at their entry: the Donair Poutine.

Mill Street Donair Poutine

Donair Poutine

If you’ve ever spent any time in the maritimes, namely Nova Scotia or New Brunswick, then you know all about Donair sauce. This sweet & savoury sauce is most often talked about as a late-night pizza topping. My experience is mostly limited to a few stumbly nights at the Wheel in Antigonish, NS. Since then, I’ve had it a few times at different spots around Calgary, but I mostly think of it as drunk eats.

Enter Mill Street’s Donair Poutine¬†with¬†house-made donair meat, crispy russet french fries with hop salt, cheese curds, house made gravy with 100th meridian beer, sweet donair sauce, topped with diced tomatoes and red onion. N & I each ordered our own. When they arrived at our table, we realized our mistake: this poutine is huge! We could have easily shared.

Mill Street Donair Poutine Mill Street Donair Poutine

A few bites in, we both agreed this poutine was a winner. The donair meat was tender & flavourful, the curds were squeaky (a huge win in my book), the donair sauce complimented the gravy, & somehow the fries held their own underneath all of that. It was a great start to a huge week.

We stuck around for a few more beers that evening, friends joined us, & we had a great time. Our server was attentive & friendly & our overall experience at Mill Street was wonderful.

Kensington Pub

The next morning we’d made plans to join Kevin from Different Alphabet Productions to shoot some video for poutine week. We headed that way for noon & grabbed a table with Danny from Whistler Brewing to wait for the rest of the crew.

The KP Yolo fries use Whistler’s Black Tusk Ale in their gravy, so of course, we had to grab one of those. Normally I wouldn’t go for a dark ale so early in the day, but the Black Tusk is smooth & easy to drink.

Kensington Pub Yolo Fries

YOLO!

Since we were hitting a couple stops that day, we ordered two Yolo fries for the table. It was the smartest decision Рthis one is not for the faint of heart. KP mixes double smoked cheddar with that Black Tusk ale to make a smoky, rich cheese gravy that tops slow cooked ham hock and crispy fries. We all agreed the side of housemade horseradish aioli was the perfect sidekick. With all that decadence, I was impressed by how well the fries held up Рa testament to truly great potatoes.

Kensington Pub Yolo Fries

As always, Kensington Pub was a real treat: the staff & owners are always welcoming, they have great beers on tap, & the poutine was fantastic.

Ship & Anchor

Our next stop before we hit the Gravy Bowl was the Ship & Anchor Pub. The ship is a staple for many Calgarians, & for good reason. It’s an institution here. That patio is packed the minute the temperatures rise above zero (ok, maybe that’s a slight exaggeration. Slight.). The chances of running into someone you know at the Ship is always high. & they could totally half ass their food & still probably be packed, but that’s the best thing about it – they don’t. (Their servers are also some of my favourites in the city.)

Ship & Anchor Poutine

Patio beers at the Ship

Last year, they sold 277 poutines to win the 2016 Poutine Week title. I didn’t get a chance to try it so I knew I had to check out their¬†Le Meaty Mediterranean Poutine this year. We lucked out with some gorgeous afternoon sun & snagged a spot on the patio. That’s how I suggest enjoying this poutine if you can swing it (come on weather!).

This was another huge poutine that I was happy to¬†be sharing with a bigger group. I think they might have been going for go big or go home cuz¬†it had a crazy number of components to it. We decided to get it with grilled sirloin (which they cooked to medium rare for us), but they’re happy to take that off if you’re vegetarian. I heard they can also make it vegan if that’s your jam. It’s nice to see more options like this during these food weeks. It’s so much more inclusive.

Ship & Anchor Poutine

Le Meaty Mediterranean Poutine with a beer

Ship & Anchor Poutine

So much going on!

In addition to the sirloin, saffron fries were topped with crumbled falafel, grilled pineapple, fresh mint, baba ganoush, sweet garlic sauce, feta, cheese curds, and gravy. The pineapple was cut deceptively similar to french fries, which threw me off on my first bite. I honestly wasn’t sure that the pineapple was even going to work here, but it ended up being one of my favourite parts of this poutine. My favourite bite included pineapple, fries, both cheeses a bit of falafel, gravy, & some mint.

Ship & Anchor Poutine

I’m not sure if this one will win everyone over, but it certainly wins points for originality. & as with most things I’ve eaten at the Ship, it was well executed. If you’re feeling a little adventurous, I say go for it!

Roosevelt

On Sunday, we headed over to Roosevelt for lunch. If you’ve never been for Sunday brunch, I’d suggest checking it out, mostly for the complimentary milkshakes. How can you go wrong if you start your brunch with a milkshake?

I’ve only been to this 17th ave spot a couple times. As more & more great spots open up in the area, it’s harder to get back to the ones you’ve already been to. When I saw that their poutine included gochujang gravy, I was sold though. Gochujang is a spicy & sweet fermented Korean red chili paste.It’s one of my favourite condiments!

Roosevelt Poutine

Roosevelt Korean Poutine

This poutine came out with crispy fries, cheese curds, Korean beef, & a fried egg. N & I are both suckers for fried eggs on pretty much anything. There’s something so satisfying about that runny egg yolk. That spicy gravy stole the show with this one. As spice lovers, neither of us could get over just how good it was. The cheese curds were squeaky like I prefer them, the fries held up to the gravy, & the beef has lots of great flavour, but the gravy is what would bring me back in.

Roosevelt Poutine

Roosevelt Poutine

Possibly my favourite gravy

Brewsters

We went to bed Sunday night thinking there was no way we could eat any more poutine this week. I was almost read to tap out until I remembered I’d scheduled Brewsters’ Tater Tot poutine for Monday’s lunch. Anyone who knows me knows my love for tater tots runs deep. I’m not ashamed to admit they’re my favourite anytime snack. I’ve been known to order them even if we’ve already eaten that day.

N & I used to hang out a Brewsters in Crowfoot pretty regularly back when we first started dating, but it had been years since I’d stepped inside their downtown location. We got its sister restaurant, Beer Revolution, fairly often, but hadn’t been to Brewsters for some reason. I was pleasantly surprised by how bright & open the restaurant was. They also have a decent sized patio out the side & parking, a rarity in the beltline.

Brewsters Cheesy Tater Tot Poutine

I was relieved to see that it was a manageable portion when our order arrived at the table. I love poutine & tater tots, but we’d seen some pretty daunting portions. Our cheesy tater tots were perfectly crispy & topped with a bacon cheese sauce, smoked gouda, bacon marmalade & Oilberta stout bbq sauce. It was rich & flavourful, & I enjoyed every bite. I honestly don’t think it’s possible to go wrong with bacon & cheese. The bbq sauce cut through some of the richness of the cheese sauce.

Brewsters Cheesy Tater Tot P

I love tater tots, cheese, & bacon

Brewsters Cheesy Tater Tot P

If the food & atmosphere weren’t enough to convince me I need to be stopping by more often,¬†their staff really did. Thanks to both our server & Trevor for being so welcoming.

Pig & Duke

I took a little break from sampling until today, when it was time to check out my last stop. A coworker & I headed over to the Pig & Duke for lunch. It was hopping! Despite it being a quick walk from my office, I’d never actually been inside. It’s much larger than you’d expect from the outside.

Pig & Duke Poutine

The swinetine featured Chipotle BBQ pulled pork, bacon, green peppercorns, curds, Pig Sauce, & a fried egg on steak cut fries with green onions. As soon as our orders arrived our conversation was basically put on hold as the only thing we could say was, this is so good. I love pulled pork, & this one was especially tender & delicious. The chipotle bbq sauce had so much flavour & every once in a while you’d get a green peppercorn surprise, which we both enjoyed. The fries were thick & crispy so they held up well to all that sauce, & there was a good mix of melty & squeaky curds to keep me satisfied.

Pig & Duke Poutine

Swinetine!

Pig & Duke Poutine

This was one of the more traditional poutines I tried this week. The pulled pork was so tender & delicious that I found myself wishing for more. The restaurant was full, but our service was still efficient & our server spent time chatting with us, while still turning over her tables quickly.

Now that I’ve waxed poetic about all of the fine poutine creations, I will say that I do not recommend consuming this much poutine in one week. It’s intense. That’s not to say I wouldn’t do it again, however. I will gladly sacrifice myself in the name of poutine anytime (wink wink, Karen). I’m so impressed by how different each one was, & how much I enjoyed each for what they were. The one thing I think most restaurants could have done better was to advertise their specific poutine a little more. I think only 2 of the 6 I went to were doing it, & I’m curious to see how this reflects in the final competition.

After a week of eating poutine, my pants are definitely fitting a little snugger, my cheese cravings are gone (I mean, until like Sunday¬†probably), & I think I’ve already carb-loaded for my half marathon in August. It’s salad week next week, right?

All kidding aside, it’s been a great week! Thank you to all the restaurants I’ve linked for hosting me, to Karen for thinking of me for poutine ambassador, & to Mealshare for providing so many meals to those in need. I can’t wait to find out who our poutine week winner is!

Poutine Week 2017: Gravy Bowl

Gravy Bowl

My favourite YYC food week of the year is here: Poutine Week! For the last 4 years, I’ve participated in this glorious week of poutine by¬†gorging myself on a variety of delectable¬†combinations of cheese curds, gravy, & fried potato. This year, I was asked to join five Calgary food aficionados as Poutine Week Ambassadors. I couldn’t say yes fast enough when the wonderful Karen approached me with this opportunity.

The¬†sale of each creative poutine provides a meal to someone in need. Mealshare has partnered with Poutine Week since 2013, giving poutine a purpose. It’s that one time of year that you can eat poutine totally guilt free. ūüėČ

N & I kicked off our 2017 Poutine Week with a weekend full of delicious poutine. The Gravy Bowl was our main event on Saturday, & I was seriously looking forward to it. Teams made up of a chef + a Calgary Stampeder + a Local Brewery compete in a live cook-off for best poutine. We had such a great time last year & lucked out that N was in town again to attend.

Last years winner, Briggs Kitchen & Bar, was the host of this year’s competition. We were greeted with some bubbly as we walked in the door & immediately said hi to Poutine week organizer extraordinaire, Karen. The restaurant was already bumping, as the 8 local brewers were serving samples of the beers used in their respective poutines. Chefs were mingling as well, & we had a couple minutes to chat with Roy Oh of Anju (you may remember how excited I was last year to grab a photo with him & chat a little bit!) before the event kicked off.

Gravy Bowl

Ready for the battle to begin!

 

Gravy Bowl

Beer Tasting

Gravy Bowl

My awesome “Poutine Pusher” pin

 

The idea was that teams would present to the judges, while we sampled the same poutines family style. It was a bit of a different set up from last year. While we waited for the first couple poutines, we chatted with some of the different brewery reps. This turned out to be a bit of a mistake on our part, as most other people were eager to sample those first few poutines. By the time we got in line, we’d missed out on Brasserie‘s poutine already. Luckily, there was still enough of Anju‘s for us to sample. I’d have been really disappointed to miss both of those as they were the two I was most excited for (& with good reason as Brasserie won the whole competition).

Gravy Bowl

Anju’s korean poutine

Gravy Bowl

Gravy Bowl

My poutine date!

Gravy Bowl

Poutine Planning

After our initial mistake, we made sure to get in line early so we could sample the rest. Each team came up with something delicious & unique. I love this event for all the different approaches, from traditional creations to ones that are only loosely based around the idea of poutine. There’s something for everyone, & I think that’s the best part of this whole week.

At the end of event, N & I both agreed that Anju was our favourite of the ones we tasted. We both loved how the Korean flavours came together with the truffle in the gravy. I never would have thought to combine those flavours, but it was fantastic.

Gravy Bowl

Behind the scenes

Gravy Bowl

Dirty Bird Poutine (Last Best & Market)

Gravy Bowl

Presenting to the judges

Gravy Bowl

Adam Singleton prepping fries

Gravy Bowl

Gravy going onto Booker’s poutine

Gravy Bowl

Boeuf Bourguignon Poutine from Wurst

Gravy Bowl

Photogenic Food

Gravy Bowl

West Coast Poutine

The Beltliner Half Hitch Breakfast Poutine’s braised beef brisket also stands out to me as being fantastic, & Booker’s Turkey Poutine was phenomenal. I loved the cornbread & smoked turkey combination, as well as the fact that the cheese curds were still squeaky.

Gravy Bowl

Dan Clapson announcing the winners

Gravy Bowl

Judges & Winners

Gravy Bowl

Gravy Bowl Winners: Brasserie Kensington + Charlie Power + Dandy Brewing

Overall, there wasn’t a single bite that I didn’t enjoy. Each team really brought their A-game, & the Stampeders’ enthusiasm for the competition aspect took things to the next level. I loved the addition of local breweries this year – chatting with their reps & trying out a few new beers was a fun way to spend the day as we waited for the next poutine.

You’ve still got until Saturday to try any of the poutines included in #PoutineWeekYYC & help share a meal while you’re at it! I’ll be back later this week with a recap of the rest of my poutine adventures so you can decide what to try, or check out the Calgary Poutine website for all restaurant listings.

Happy eating, friends!

 

My Montréal

My Montreal

This time last year, we were booking a trip to Montr√©al for May. If I could have my way, I’d visit the city yearly. I love it¬†so much!

I mean, how can you really go wrong with the beautiful surroundings & amazing restaurants? There is so much information out there on what to see & do in Montreal, but here’s my take on it: my Montreal.

I spent the couple years I lived in Montr√©al exploring the city & introducing visiting friends & family to the parts I grew to love. On our visit last year, this gave us the opportunity to stick to only¬†the things I enjoy most: wandering the beautiful old streets, enjoying drinks with friends, & eating more than our weight in delicious food. (There are plenty of amazing touristy things to do in Montreal, but since I’ve done them all before & they’ve been covered many times all over the internet, this post will not feature them). So here we go – my top non-touristy things to do when I¬†visit Montr√©al.

Wander the different boroughs

Montréal is pretty compact & easy to navigate. You can walk from the west end of the downtown to the east end in about half an hour. I find this particularly advantageous after all the food I tend to eat.

Each of the surrounding boroughs have a bit of a different feel, & I think they each have their merits. I love Old Montréal for its beautiful old buildings & cobblestone streets, the Plateau has a hipster bohemian vibe (& tons of great breakfast spots), & the newly re-invented Mile-Ex neighbourhood has some of the coolest new shops, restaurants, & bars anywhere. Something new is always opening up, making for a lively & exciting city to explore!

Take some time to get lost in a few of these different neighbourhoods – it’s one of my favourite ways to get to know any new city, or reacquaint myself with a familiar one.

Plateau Montreal

Plateau apartments

Plateau Montreal Bikes

Bikes everywhere

Place des Arts Montreal

Place des Arts

Old Montreal

Old Montreal

Old Montreal

Old Montreal

Mont Royale

Mont Royale

Mont Royale

Mont Royale

Mont Royale

Mont Royale

Old Montreal

Old Montreal

Place Jacques Cartier

Place Jacques Cartier

Old Montreal buildings

Old Montreal buildings

Marie Reine du Monde

Marie Reine du Monde

Old Montreal buildings

Old Montreal buildings

McGill

McGill

McGill

Bikes at McGill

If you’re visiting in the summer, you may even stumble upon one of the many festivals taking place around town. There’s at least one thing going on every single weekend, from music festivals to parades to formula 1 insanity – there’s something for everyone at some point. & if nothing else, head toward the old port to take in the brilliant fireworks competition every Saturday in July.

Get Breakfast in the Plateau

There are so many great places to get breakfast or brunch in Montreal, but all my personal favourites are in the plateau. On our latest trip, we took advantage of the beautiful weather & headed straight from the plane to the terrace at¬†Faberg√©. I didn’t even need to look at the menu to know I’d be ordering their breakfast poutine. How can you go wrong with a bacon & egg poutine in the province that does poutine best? (You can’t – it was fantastic!)

Fabergé Breakfast Poutine

Fabergé Breakfast Poutine

Fabergé Breakfast Montreal

Patio Breakfast in the Plateau

Just around the corner is the best bagel spot in the city, Fairmount Bagels. You really never know when you might need¬†a half dozen all dressed bagels, so I recommend picking up a bag so you’re prepared whenever the mood strikes during your visit. Fairmount is strictly takeaway though so if you’re looking to sit down & have a bagel style sandwich for breakfast, their competitor¬†St-Viateur¬†has a great caf√© on Mont-Royal E.

Fairmount Bagels

Fairmount Bagels

Fairmount Bagels Fairmount Bagels

Some other notable mentions for great breakfast or brunch in the plateau¬†include, L’Avenue, Sparrow, & Beauty’s.

Enjoy some local beers

Montreal has some seriously great local beers. I’m fiercely loyal to my first love, Au Dieu du Ciel, in the plateau neighbourhood, but there are so many great places to get enjoy a drink with friends in the city.

DDC, as you’ll see many refer to this amazing craft microbrewery as, has a great little unassuming brewpub on Rue Laurier W in the plateau. It doesn’t look like much from the outside, but trust me, you won’t regret your pilgrimage to this spot. Seriously, it’s the brewpub I wish I could go to every week.

Dieu du Ciel

On our most recent trip, we spent some time at another awesome craft brewery that also doubles as a restaurant & bar – Brasserie Harricana. I could have easily spent a couple hours trying all the beers they have on tap. We were on a tour though, so we had a limited amount of time.

It’s a little bit off the beaten path, but I highly recommend you check out this spot in the Mile-Ex neighbourhood. There’s some great things happening up there, so you can likely pair it with some other stops in the area.

Brasserie Harricana

Learning about Brasserie Harricana

Harricana Beer & Cheese Pairing

Harricana Beer & Cheese Pairing

Brasserie Harricana

Brasserie Harricana

One of those such stops is the third spot I recommend for great beer: Vices & Versa. We happened on the perfect spring day for a few drinks in their patio oasis. We took advantage of their amazing beer selection to sample some of the harder to find Quebecois beers.

Vices & Versa

Patio beers!

Vices & Versa

Vices & Versa

Vices & Versa

If you don’t have time to get out to any of those options, some of my other favourites closer to downtown include Brutopia,¬†Pub BreWskey, the¬†Ste-Elisabeth, and the Saint Bock.

Pub BreWskey

Pub BreWskey

St-Sulpice

Pub Saint-Sulpice

Our crew at Pub Saint-Sulpice

Brutopia

My name may still be on the wall at Brutopia!

Check out a Market

Markets are one of my favourite things to visit when I travel, & the ones in Quebec are especially good. The Jean Talon Market in Little Italy is worth the short metro ride north. This public market is open year round, however the summer is when it really shines, with over 300 vendors filling the open-air stalls. Sample anything from fresh produce to artisanal cheeses to homemade charcuterie¬†– there’s something for everyone!

We decided to do a food tour¬†on our trip, & this was also were it started. It was one of the main reasons I wanted to do the tour, actually, as it made for a great excuse to spend some time at the market. I also really enjoyed learning more about Little Italy, Mile-Ex, and the Park-Ex neighbourhoods, since they weren’t so much on my radar when I lived there.

Jean Talon Market

Bustling Saturday at the Market

Jean Talon Market

Sampling charcuterie made in house

Jean Talon Market

Fresh seafood

Jean Talon Market

FRESH!

Jean Talon Market

Jean Talon Market

Cheese samples

Jean Talon Market

If you don’t make it up to Little Italy, Atwater Market near the Lachine Canal is also a great choice. In winter, it’s probably a bit of a better option than Jean Talon as most of it¬†is indoors. Grab a few¬†delicious products & head to the nearby parks on the canal for a picnic.

Montreal Picnic

Montreal Picnic

Picnic in the park

Eat!

Obviously, food is my favourite part of travelling anywhere, & Montreal boasts more¬†great restaurants than most cities. With so many great options, it’s tough to go wrong. A little research will go a long way, however, here are my top picks.

Garde Manger¬†is & has been my number one choice for years. Chuck Hughes is just such a cool chef, & his food speaks for itself. Seriously, he beat Bobby Flay on Iron Chef, with lobster poutine. Obviously, I highly recommend you order that. N ordered an incredible short rib that was probably the wining main dish for the two of us. They’re also known for their oysters, which make an excellent starter (the fresh horseradish & homemade mignonette take it to the next level).¬†Plan to walk back to your hotel afterwards to work off all you’ve eaten – it’s worth every bite.

Garde Manger Lobster Poutine

Cell phone photos are fantastic

Garde Manger Shortrib

Their menu changes often, but if the shortrib is on it, go for it!

Another new favourite after this trip is Au pied de Cochon. It’s number 34 on Canada’s top 100 for good reason. & with menu items described as “unapologetically glutenous”, it was right up my alley.

We went a little overboard here (I do not recommend ordering both of their signature items: foie gras poutine and duck in a can. Pick ONE!), but everything we ate was phenomenal & our server was so lovely.

Foie Gras Poutine PDC

Foie gras poutine

Anytime anyone goes to Montreal, I suggest they stop by Olive & Gourmando for lunch. This adorable (& very busy) spot in Old Montreal is my idea of the perfect lunch. If the weather is good & the wait is long, order your lunch to go & find a spot in one of the many parks in the Old Port. It’s the best of both worlds. On your way out, don’t forget to grab a pastry – you won’t regret any of them.

Olive & Gourmando

Olive & Gourmando

I’ve already featured a fair bit of poutine in this post. Probably an excessive amount if I’m being honest. I have no shame in the amount of cheese I consume when I visit, however, & no trip to Montreal is complete without at least one poutine. If you find yourself craving one in the afternoon, look no further than Patati Patata. La Banquise may have more choices than you can fathom, but I prefer the classic simplicity of this tiny spot. What they may lack in space, they more than make up for in ambiance & delicious food!

Patati Patata

Poutine with a side salad. It’s all about balance.

Patati Patata

Cheese curds of your dreams

Of course, this just barely scratches the surface of this incredible city. Even after living there for two years, there are still countless places I’d like to visit & restaurants I’d want¬†to try. If you’re planning a trip to this great city & need extra tips, leave me a comment – I’d love to offer advice!

Have you ever been to Montreal? What’s your favourite place to revisit?

Storm Mountain Lodge

We’ve been driving past this little mountain oasis, a little over an hour outside Calgary, for the last 8 years. We were always in a hurry to get to the lake, so I’d never stopped before. This summer I decided to change that¬†& pulled¬†into the little driveway at the top of that first hill¬†on highway 93. I’d heard so many great things about the food, & was wowed by the beautiful surroundings & rustic little cabins. It wasn’t hard to convince me, I wanted to spend a night at some point. When I told N about it later, we both agreed to take advantage of it in the coming months.

The opportunity presented itself not long after this discussion when I realized I had a half day on the Friday before Christmas. We decided it would be a great time to spend the night at the lodge.

The day finally arrived & we set out from Calgary after work in some pretty gross conditions. We’d been having a particularly snowy December so traffic was slow due to accidents, &¬†we arrived, in the early evening, to a perfect winter wonderland.

Our little cabin for the night

Another charming cabin on the property

We checked into our little cabin Рnumber 15 Р& got ourselves settled. Before the sun set, we decided to take Odin on a little walk & stretch our legs after the drive. It was a lovely opportunity to explore the property, & gave me ample time to slow down & take photos. I love having the opportunity to spend a little extra time focusing on photography, so I took a lot. It helps that it was truly breathtaking. I loved staying there while the lodge was under a blanket of snow, but I also hope we can visit someday on a clear day & take in those mountain views.

Our sleeping quarters

After our little walk we still had some time to kill before our 7:30 pm dinner reservation. Typically, we’d packed board games & beers, so we settled in for a couple rounds. Before long, it was time to make the 30 second trek to the main lodge.

They had requested we¬†either kennel Odin or leave him in the car while we were out for dinner – they’ve had issues with dogs clawing at the doors. It was quite cold out, so I’m glad he’s kennel trained & mostly slept while dined.

Pork Rillette

Lamb Chops

Trio of Cr√®me Br√Ľl√©e


I was really excited for dinner & it did not disappoint. We decided to¬†share a pork¬†rillette dish to start, but before that arrived they brought some delicious bread. The restaurant itself consists of maybe 15 tables, but there were two servers on that evening. Both were extremely attentive without being overbearing. I’m always a sucker for lamb, so I knew that’s what I’d be ordering for¬†a main as soon as I saw it on the menu. N went with the Bison Tenderloin. Both were fantastic, & the presentation was beautiful, as you can see in the photos above. We chose the¬†cr√®me br√Ľl√©e for dessert, another menu item I can never resist. It came as a trio. I think my favourite was the vanilla bean, but all three were delicious.

The menu at Storm Mountain is on the smaller side, which I appreciated, being rather indecisive. I find large menus intimidating. My parents had stopped for lunch earlier in the day, & highly recommend that option if you can’t stay overnight. I might try to convince N to stop again soon – that Charcuterie Board to Share has our names on it!

One perk of staying next door is you’re allowed to take your wine back to your room to enjoy. We packed ours up¬†& took the “long” route back¬†for a few extra photos of the lodge by moonlight.

Playing a new board game

N made a fire when we got back & we spent the rest of the night playing games, having a few drinks, & snuggling Odin. I think it’s safe to say he loved our little cabin just as much as we did. It was a truly incredible night, & the perfect escape from¬†our normally busy schedules & distractions. There’s just something so lovely about taking a break from it all.

We slept in a bit the next morning, took Odin for another walk around the property (he loved playing in the snow & meeting a friendly resident Burmese, Rosie), & then headed in for another fantastic meal.

the main lodge

Eggs Benedict

Our night at Storm Mountain Lodge is one of my favourites overnights to date. I know I won’t forget it any time soon, & would like to thank them for their incredible hospitality. Every aspect of our stay was wonderful – I truly can’t say enough good things about it.

If you’re looking for a rustic mountain getaway with incredible food¬†& unparalleled charm, I highly recommend looking into staying. I know we’ll have a hard time driving through without at least stopping in for a bite to eat.

A Pizza Date

Beef carpaccio pizza

I was feeling really fantastic after my September Challenge, so I decided to continue into November. N was going to be away at the beginning of the month, ¬†so we made a date to check out a new spot, Full Circle Pizza, as motivation to keep me going.¬†I’d been hearing really fantastic things about their menu, & since pizza is N’s favourite food group, he was more than game for this plan.

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I walked over & met N after work. We made it in time to benefit from their happy hour cocktails & oysters, which was an unexpected bonus. I went for a Caesar, which was basically an appetizer on its own, with an oyster, salami, a huge hunk of cheese, tomato, anchovy, & aranchini. I would totally go back for happy hour to order another one. N went with a local Calgary beer, & we set to work deciding which appies to order.

Oysters

Leslie Hardy, Shiny Sea, & Kusshi Oysters

Full Circle Menu

We decided on three types of oysters, two East Coast ones, & Kusshis from the West Coast. Full Circle is a pizza & oyster bar, so we couldn’t pass up the second half of their specialty. I think the Kusshis were my favourite, but I also really loved the two East Coast ones we tried. They take a lot of pride in bringing in fresh seafood & that was certainly apparent from their oysters. I’d been reading rave reviews about their octopus, but they were unfortunately out. I guess I’ll just have to go back sometime soon to try it myself.

Deep Fried Oysters

Deep Fried Oysters

Fried Oysters

We also decided to order the deep fried oysters. They presentation really lovely. They arrive on tucked back in their shells with a little aoili for dipping. The breading is light & crispy, & the aioli was the perfect addition.

A

N

Full Circle Pizza & Oysters

Since we went straight after work, we got a window seat right at the front. It was nice to catch the last bits of daylight after having been inside all day, but I also think it’d be fun to sit near the ovens, & watch all the pizzas go in! There’s lots of great spaces for a big group, which I think would be fun to do something (who am I kidding? I’m just a sucker for more opportunities to sample lots of the menu!).

Flaming Moe Pi

Flaming Moe Pi

Beef Carpaccio Pi

Beef Carpaccio Pi

I had waffled back & forth between the Beef Carpaccio Pi & the Reuben Pi after the Dr. Octo-Pi was off the table. In the end, I just had to try the Beef Carpaccio Pi & I have no regrets! It’s probably not something I could reproduce at home, which is usually a deciding factor for me. The flavours were so good (I really love grainy mustard). If you like carpaccio, I highly recommend it! There’s not a lot of cheese to it, but I didn’t find that took anything away.

I could have told you N was going to order the Flaming Moe weeks before we’d ever stepped foot in Full Circle. It’s spicy & meaty, & that’s totally his jam. I really enjoyed the couple slices of his I tried too. The crust on both was some of the best I’ve had in the city. This pizza is quite spicy though, so make sure you’re ready for that. We both felt that it could have done without the sriracha, which kind of surprised me. I love sriracha!

Full Circle Pizza

The best part about pizza dates? Pizza leftovers!

Overall, we really enjoyed our night out at Full Circle.¬†I’m already planning another trip back for more pizza (& hopefully some of that octopus too!).

Full Circle Pizza and Oyster Bar Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

September Challenge \\ Finale

November Project Sunrise

Home stretch! The final week is more or less over, & I think it’s been a pretty successful month for everyone. Some of the girls set some pretty lofty fundraiser & health goals, which I totally respect. Go big or go home, right?

As for me, I’m feeling pretty awesome. It’s been a pretty successful month & I’m really pleased with some of the side effects I’ve experienced from #SoberSeptember (& paleo). So pleased, in facet, that I’m thinking of continuing it a little longer. I’d like to commit to a mostly Sober October as well. I’m out of town the first two weekends, so I know they won’t be perfect, but I’d like to make a conscious effort to continue eating pretty strict paleo & staying away from alcohol. I’ll allow myself a couple cheats, but N will be away again so it seems like a good opportunity to keep working hard. We’ve decided that if it goes well, we’ll¬†go for pizza & oysters at¬†a new (to us) spot to celebrate a great fall. Seems like a fair trade off to me.

Amazing Bam Bam Shrimp from the Domestic Man blog

Amazing Bam Bam Shrimp from the Domestic Man blog

Roast Sirloin & Adair Caesar Salad, side of spiralled potatoes

Roast Sirloin & Adair Caesar Salad, side of spiralled potatoes

Cheat Breakfast: Anju KFC

Cheat Breakfast: Anju KFC

Roast chicken with veggies

Roast chicken with veggies

Vietnamese lettuce wraps by Nom Nom Paleo are a new staple in our house

Vietnamese lettuce wraps by Nom Nom Paleo are a new staple in our house

Homemade Almond Butter Chocolate Cups

Homemade Almond Butter Chocolate Cups

Braised beef with carrots & arugula

Braised beef with carrots & arugula

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Snacks with hubs: Duck Liver Mousse from Peasant Cheese (the best), homemade pickled carrots, & olives.

Snacks with hubs: Duck Liver Mousse from Peasant Cheese (the best), homemade pickled carrots, & olives.

I sometimes¬†forget just how great I feel when I eat paleo. I generally average under 8 hours of sleep per night. With morning workouts & evening commitments, I’ve been getting less sleep lately, but have way more energy. It’s my favourite side-effect. (I’m sure the extra workouts have been helping too.) I’d also normally break out at some point this month, but my skin showed no real signs of a breakout. Even my psoriasis seems to be laying low. It’s been a great reminder that I should make more of an effort to eat this way more consistently.

Bocce Handstands

Bocce Handstands

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Daily bike to work. It’s getting quiet in the cage at work.

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Spin with some lovely ladies!

Early AM

Ready for an early morning workout!

The best part of this whole month for me was joining November Project. I’m totally hooked & can see myself continuing to attend. I’m not sure if I’ll always be able to make it both Mondays & Wednesdays, but I’d love to go as often as possible. I actually don’t have to get up too much earlier than I normally would & I just pack my bag, prep my meals, & lay out my workout clothes the night before. This week I also got back in the pool, which was a humbling experience. I hope to make it out to a practice once in a while this year – it’s such a good challenge for me.

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Early morning abs

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Speech time!

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Group Hug!

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Crab walks

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Amazing sunrise after the 600s workout

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Banner for our sister city, LA.

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On the fundraising side, I’m at 60% of my goal for the month. I’ve added my $65 donation to the mix for the cheat meals & drinks. I’m pretty happy that I managed to mostly stick to my goal, aside from in Kelowna. I even went out a few times with friends without having more than the wine I was allowed, so I don’t feel like I missed out on too much this month. Thank you to everyone who donated to my campaign. If you would still like to donate, today’s the day. This it it! (We made it, ladies!!) Check out my¬†campaign page¬†for more information or to add a donation to the cause. All proceeds go to cervical cancer research at the BC Cancer Foundation.

Thank you for your support! #FuckCancer

September Challenge \\ Week Two

November Project

The second week of this challenge was, as expected, more difficult. Since we’d already booked a wine tour in Kelowna & would be attending a wedding, I opted to donate $50 to the BC Cancer Foundation in order to partake in this lovely weekend away. We ate well, drank an assortment of beautiful local wines, & danced our butts off. It was more than worth the expense.

I think this tells you everything about how much fun we had at Bobby & Karla's wedding.

I think this tells you everything about how much fun we had at Bobby & Karla’s wedding.

Getting back into the heathy living swing of things was tough, but I managed to do pretty well. I did take advantage of my daily wine allowance a couple times last week, but I also got lots of great workouts in, & managed to stay on track with my meals. Even with N in town, enjoying ice cream, pizza, & beer a couple times this week, I resisted the urge to partake. I think the “first” full week is actually the hardest part, & I’m going into this next one feeling like I’m over the hump.

lettuce wraps

My friend Zoe recommended we make the above lettuce wraps. They don’t look like much of anything, but trust me when I say, they are amazing. Make them. They’re so easy!

Biking

L & I have been really great about biking to & from work. High five, friend!

Last week was particularly busy for me, so we didn’t make a lot of super exciting recipes. I had dinner out twice too, actually: once at the Coup & once at Van Son. Both times, I managed not to cheat, which was pretty awesome. I’d never been to the Coup before, but I really enjoyed it. The entire menu is vegetarian, & I almost didn’t miss having meat in my meal. Plus, I finally got to have what felt like a real dessert after a few days of N eating ice cream in front of me.

the coup

My salad at the Coup

the coup

Coconut Lemon “Square”

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Random lunch: roasted yams, tuna salad with pickled carrots, bacon & kale chips.

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Spiralized cucumber salad & dilly basa

Once again I made it to November Project on Wednesday morning. Gymnastics also started back up that nigh,t & after class, I stuck around for Open Gym & did a very handstand-centric workout with our coach, Tanis. I realized halfway through that I was getting 4 hours-worth of exercise that day. Needless to say, I was pretty sore over the weekend. I had a few Beakerhead commitments that kept me active though, & we helped friends move on Saturday morning. I think I more than fulfilled my workout obligations!

NP Skyline

Not a bad view of the city after an early morning workout

November Project

Killer hill repeats

November Project

Tricep dips at sunrise

November Project

NP Crew

I managed to prepare two really nice meals, despite our hectic weekend. First was Gyudon from the Domestic Man. It’s such an easy recipe, but the flavour is awesome & it looks quite impressive. The second was Sunday brunch. Our friends were hosting us for football, but I didn’t want to inconvenience them or go hungry,¬†so we ate beforehand. I prepared my favourite pumpkin pancakes & cooked some maple beef sausages from our Grazed Right stash. We topped them with some preserved peaches from family.

Gyudon

Gyudon

Paleo Pumpkin Pancakes

Pumpkin Pancakes, Peaches, & Sausage

I kicked off this week with November Project this morning at Shaw Millennium Park. We did a workout using our phone numbers, which was pretty fun. It was a great way to start the week. I’m on track to have a great fitness week with NP Wednesday morning, gymnastics Wednesday night, spin Thursday night, & bocce on Saturday. I’m excited!

November Project

Run!

November Project

Tricep Train

More than halfway through this challenge & I’ve raised $100. Thank you so much to everyone who’s donated to my campaign. With my (possibly growing) contribution, I’m almost halfway to my donation goal!¬†(I MAY have some brunch plans coming to add, which will put me even closer! EEK!) I’ve love following along with the other ladies in this challenge – they’re all doing great & raising money for a great cause!

If you‚Äôd like to donate, or find out more, check out my¬†campaign page. Otherwise, follow along on snapchat or instagram (whoalansi for both) ‚Äď I‚Äôd love to see you at November Project, on a run, or at spin, so hit me up for a workout sometime! #FuckCancer

September Challenge \\ Week One

Sober September

We’re one week into the FFPK Healthy Living Challenge to raise money & awareness for Cervical Cancer through the BC Cancer Foundation, & it’s been a fantastic start. I’ve been eating such healthy & delicious meals, & getting lots of activity in.

I spent the long weekend in BC with my parents & we ate like kings! Their neighbour had brought over some delicious vegetables from her garden, & then we were given even more from my girlfriend’s parent’s garden too. We had fingerling potatoes, dill, mint, heirloom tomatoes, beets, kohlrabi, zucchini, black walnuts, spaghetti squash, &¬†kale. Everything was incredible! I can’t wait for my parents to plant a garden of their own out there!

heirloom tomato

heirloom tomato

fingerling potatos

fingerling potatos

For workouts, I went for a couple extra long walks with Odin, in addition to his usual 15 minute ones. I think his favourite was going down to the lake & getting a swim in, but I really loved going out to the lookout point for the first time. It’s a gorgeous walk. I had done a huge stair workout with November Project at McMahon Stadium last Wednesday to kick things off, & I went again this morning. It was PR day so I set my first one: 10 times up & down the memorial stairs in 40 minutes. I also did some running with my dad & will be adding some more bodyweight workouts this week for a little variety.¬†Gymnastics starts back up next Wednesday too & I can’t wait!

Sober September

November Project at McMahon

Sober September

Banff Hike

Sober September

Lookout Point, Columbia Lake

Sober September

Hikes with Odin

Sober September

Laische’s first day of bike commuting!

Sober September

November Project Views

I’ve been using some of my go-to recipes over this first week: chicken thighs with roasted beets, cumin spiced pork tenderloin with root vegetables, big ass salads, & egg bites (for breakfast). I’m really used to eating paleo at this point, so cutting out grains & bread isn’t something I have to wrap my mind around. I generally eat that way at home anyway, so it’s just sticking to it more closely this month.¬†My friend, Zoe, sent me a few fantastic paleo recipes that I can’t wait to try this month so I’ll try to post how those turn out. If you follow along on instagram, I post most of my food with the hashtag, #deBoerDinners.

Sober September

Paleo Pumpkin Biscuit, Eggs, Tomato, & Bacon

Sober September

Egg & Red Pepper Scramble with Pumpkin biscuit.

Cumin Pork Tenderloin

Cumin Spiced Pork Tenderloin with Root Vegetables

Kale Chips

Kale Chips

The hardest thing for me this week was abstaining from alcohol & dairy. My parents always put out an amazing appetizer spread at the lake. It usually includes cheese, & this time was no exception. Luckily, I came prepared with homemade pickled carrots & duck liver p√Ęt√©.¬†While I was still quite envious of their cheese selections, it helped to have some equally delicious options for myself. I also managed to hold myself to my allotment of wine over the weekend¬†&¬†substituted my usual patio drink with Kombucha or water. Planning ahead has always¬†been the key to success for me.

I tested myself again a little yesterday when I picked up some fudge for N as a special surprise after his knee surgery (just a scope, nothing serious!).¬†The smell of that fudge was almost enough to send me over the edge, but I didn’t indulge.

Pickled Carrots

Pickling Carrots

Pickled Carrots

This week will be a little bit different with us heading out to Kelowna for a wedding. I will be buying out on Friday for a¬†wine tour &¬†Saturday for the wedding. I’m glad to have this as an option so I can still participate in the rest of the month!

Thank you to everyone who has donated to my campaign so far! You guys are the best! I’ve raised $90 toward my $350 goal. Thank you!!! ¬†If you’d like to donate, or find out more, check out my campaign page. Otherwise, follow along on snapchat or instagram (whoalansi for both) – I’d love to see you at November Project, on a run, or at spin, so hit me up for a workout sometime! #FuckCancer

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