WHOA lansi

francophile, oenophile, logophile, turophile

Category: eat

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.

Eat Eat \ Suzette Bistro

Parlement de Bretagne

Parlement de Bretagne (2009)

I’ve written at length about my love for Lyon, but my first French love was actually for Rennes. Ten years ago, I packed my comically large suitcase for a semester abroad in a small French city in the northwest region of Brittany. At twenty, I¬†had no real clue what I was getting myself into or how the experience would change me.

Rennes (or Roazhon, if you speak Breton) felt like a small town to me, & I spent the next six months exploring every inch of it.The city is considered to be one of the most festive in France & I made every effort to take in as much of that as I could. It certainly lived up to its reputation РI can barely keep track of how many festivals & events took place during my stay.

One of the many festivals: Fest-Noz

One of the many festivals: Fest-Noz

Wandering the old streets of the beautiful historic center was by far one of my favourite pastimes during my stay. A picnic in one of the beautiful parks also isn’t a bad way to spend an afternoon, & thanks to the large student population, Rennes¬†also boasts a vibrant nightlife. There’s even a street made up only of bars.¬†Nicknamed “rue de la soif” (Street of Thirst), rue Saint-Michel is the place to be on a Thursday night during the school year.

3047_564543958427_3917138_n (1)

One of the beautiful squares

3047_564542536277_8192570_n (1)

Portes Mordelaises: the last remaining gate to Rennes from the middle ages.

3047_564542157037_3958786_n

Crêperies at St Anne

3047_564542326697_7134511_n

Parc du Thabor

DSC05106

Opéra at Christmas (2005)

DSC04444

A rare snowfall at Villejean Residences

If that wasn’t enough to make me fall in love, the local food certainly did. Brittany has many wonderful specialties including seafood, salted butter caramels, numerous pastries, cidre (hard apple cider), & half salted butter (for some reason, it’s unreal). You can find most of these at the weekly Saturday market, le¬†march√© des Lices.¬†For my favourite traditional Breton delicacy though, you’ll want to head over to¬†Cr√™perie St Anne¬†& order a galette. Breton galettes are the¬†cr√™pe’s savoury soulmate, made from buckwheat flour &¬†filled with anything from smoked meats to vegetables & cheese.

DSC03833

Le marché des Lices

DSC03828

An having a galette jambon at the market

3047_564543978387_5822301_n

Galette Compl√®te – jambon, Ňďuf, frommage.

I thought I’d have to go back to Rennes for my¬†galette cravings until Suzette Bistro opened this year. I could barely contain my excitement as I¬†walked over¬†to meet N for dinner¬†last Friday. Reminiscing about my time in Brittany, I had high hopes for our meal.

A quick look through their drink menu & I decided on the cidre brut (dry cider) – a favourite from both times I lived in France & an easy choice for me. Their selection also included a decent assortment of beer & wines. I love that the cidre was served in a traditional ceramic mug like you would get in Brittany. Things were certainly off to a good start!

DSC01522

Cidre

For my¬†main course, I chose the Compl√®te, with French ham, Gruy√®re cheese, & egg (always my favourite variety in France!). N went with the Norv√©gienne, which should come as no surprise to anyone who’s eaten with him as it features¬†smoked salmon. All galettes come with a a mixed green salad. Ours orders arrived quickly & that was the first thing I dug into. It doesn’t look like much, but this is exactly the same salad I’ve eaten in countless restaurants across France, & it is fantastic. The magic is in the perfect dressing. If that didn’t take me back to Bretagne, then my first bite of galette certainly did. It was perfect combination of ham, cheese, & egg in every bite! & the actual galette tasted exactly as I remembered. I tried¬†a couple bites of N’s, & it was delicious too. A generous serving of smoked salmon paired nicely with the creamy leeks.

DSC01526

DSC01528

Despite barely having room for dessert, I convinced N to share a Bretonne¬†cr√™pe with me. I couldn’t resist the idea of caramel beurre sal√© (can you blame me?!). I also ordered a cappuccino. It was the perfect way to cap off our meal.

DSC01532

A perfect crêpe, bigger than my face.

DSC01533

DSC01534

Suzette Bistro gets tops marks from me as authentically Breton & incredibly delicious. The prices are reasonable, the service was pleasant (you could even practice your French with some of the staff, if you wanted!), & the food was fantastic. It seems we aren’t the only fans of this new Mission addition either – the place was¬†surprisingly busy despite our early reservation.

I highly recommend you check out Suzette Bistro Рthey do weekend brunch & weekday lunch & dinner (with the exception of Mondays). Thank you to Suzette for a wonderful meal & a fantastic trip down memory lane.

Suzette Bistro Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

On Meal Planning

I love thinking about food – any & all food is fair game.¬†I take pleasure in sharing my knowledge of Calgary’s food scene & delight in the ongoing search for delicious fare.¬†You’d think this passion for eating would perhaps translate to my enjoyment of meal planning, but it truly does not. I don’t really believe anyone who tells me they love this task. Don’t get me wrong, I love thinking about new recipes & forming an unstructured plan of what we’ll eat, but I don’t enjoy sitting down to actually plan the week. I get much more enjoyment from flexible plans, but I personally don’t find them realistic for our everyday lives. For one, I hate throwing out food. It’s one of my pet peeves. Even if something I’ve made doesn’t quite turn out, I’ll usually eat it. There’s also the unfortunate fact that we need to be a little bit conscious what we’re spending. So every week, I sit down & make a meal plan.
I used to be quite diligent about this process, but lately I’ve been struggling with finding the motivation. Recipes I’ve pinned still look delicious, but I don’t always have time (or energy) for a weekday experiment. It’s just not always realistic to spend hours in the kitchen on a Tuesday night. Sometimes I just want something quick & easy, something that I already know will be delicious.
This is exactly why I’m grateful that I’ve been so organized with our meal plans. (Excuse me while I pat myself on the back for that one.) Thanks to my penchant for planning, I have a record of every single meal plan we ever made. Originally, I typed them up in word, printed them off, & stuck them on the fridge. At the end of the week, I’d put them in a binder. (How cute!)
A couple of years ago, we made the switch to online recording. We use an app called Evernote. It allows you to create lists that sync to multiple phones, making tracking, organising, & editing simple.When N picks up groceries, he checks off the items in the app as he goes so we know whether we’re missing anything.
a sample Evernote plan
I really like our system, but I still find my inspiration lacking from time to time. A few weeks ago, I was on Instagram & noticed how often I share our meals on my feed. Why not use these for inspiration?! There’s a good mix of tried & true recipes as well as some newer, exciting ones. I created a hashtag for these photos so they’re easy to find (one of the greatest features of instagram!). You can find them by searching #deBoerDinners.
Whenever I’ve used a recipe, I’ve tagged the owner or referenced it in some ways. There are some experiments & staples up there though that will not have recipes associated with them, but hopefully they all help to inspire your meal plans when you’re feeling a bit stuck. I plan to continue to add to it as we cook more too, so it will continue to grow.
Do you ever find yourself in a cooking rut? I’d love to hear about your tactics if you do! Happy Meal Planning!

Powered by WordPress & Theme by Anders Norén