Oh Canada!

Definitely did not intend for this to be a bit o’ a travel blog but I just had to share a few snaps from my honeymoon to the Canadian Rockies. Thanks to my in-laws, we were able to stay in a condo timeshare – a comfortable place to ourselves with a kitchenette, gorgeous mountainside view, heated garage (for our rental car, which is nice because the daytime & nighttime temperatures drop below freezing), access to barbecues (yes, we’ve barbecue’d in the snow) & of course an outdoor heated pool & hot tub (swimming in the snow? Been there, done that!).

We went on some intense hikes in the snow/ice, summitting & trekking over to see frozen waterfalls, streambeds, rivers – even learned to ski (we are both seasoned snowboarders), saw wildlife (herds of elk, white-tailed deer & even a coyote). Got a bit of the historic sights & places too like the Fairmont Château at Lake Louise in Banff, the Cave & Basin National Historic Site, we hiked up Sulphur Mountain & took the the Banff Gondola back down, hiked around Johnston’s Canyon which was a MUST see, as most of the waterfalls were frozen yet beginning to thaw and of course we spent some time in the towns of Banff, Canmore & Calgary.

stroopwafel

Pretty much every morning commenced with freshly brewed coffee (thanks to the condo kitchenette & us buying organic & Rainforest Alliance Certified coffee from Sobey’s) & a stroopwafel atop. My husband spotted stroopwafels for sale at a the Olde Tyme Candy Shoppe in Canmore, which is a quaint historic mining town situated southeast of Banff. Stroopwafels are true treats – they originate from the Netherlands and are basically a caramel-like filling sandwiched by wafer-y flat waffles; set atop a steaming mug of coffee or tea. The steam warms the filling & is thusly gooey when broken into. Pretty amazing pairing. If you haven’t had any before & if you are in the U.S., I’ve seen stroopwafels for sale at various retailers in the U.S. (i.e. World Market, Trader Joe’s, Whole Foods, etc).

IMAG2819For breakfast most mornings, thanks to my husband who is an awesome cook & I – we had over-easy eggs with either English muffins or some pancakes (made with almond milk & Bob’s Red Mill GF pancake mix, which I highly recommend – the pancakes were hearty & fluffy, I even forgot that they were gluten-free).  My husband & I picked up a lean cut of Canadian maple-cured ham to have as a savoury slices with our breakfast. At a natural foods store called Nutters, we picked up some organic maple syrup (in which we topped oatmeal & our pancakes with!). We had maybe a fourth of a cup of syrup remaining by the time it was the end of our trip & you best believe that I tucked it into our check-in luggage to take home.. The stuff is gold to me!

I just realised that I didn’t take any snaps of the currency (Google if you wish) ! There are conflicting proclamations on whether Canadian bills smell like maple syrup or not. I would have to say that the scent is faint. Not on all bills either… My husband says that he only smelled ink.. The jury is still out on that one..

IMAG2864So please keep in mind that I am trying to make this post as food-centric as possible, because if anything, most of my photos have attempted to capture the glory that is the Canadian Rockies: snow-laden evergreen boughs, frosty mountaintops, completely frozen lakes, streams & waterfalls & the the wildlife.

Pictured next to this serving of elk-topped poutine is a lovely draught pint of Sleeman’s honey brown lager from Ontario.

So pictures of food are actually on the rarer side, though I am pleased to say that we encountered quite possibly the best poutine in Banff/maybe even all of Alberta at the Elk & Oarsman Pub (nice interior as well). Thick-cut pomme-frites topped with an incredible gravy (reminiscent of au jus), cheese curds (that are totally melted) & braised elk meat. Phenomenal. We were sort of addicted, even came back the next day to get more!

IMAG2816

Here’s a fun photo of a placard inside a Canadian teashop called Davids Tea..

We trekked out to Lake Louise to check out the area. The lake was expansive & still frozen over in most places, though we missed out on ice skating there (the rink was falrly slushy, it was the beginning of spring there afterall! Instead, we decided to indulge in a lunch at the Fairmont Château. The view from the dining room was stunning & since it was the tail-end of winter, icicles were melting off the rooftops & fell off the rooftops (incredibly entertaining yet horrifying to observe!) We shared a Reuben sandwich that was comprised of corned bison meat in a Reuben sandwich along with a quaint terrine of cabbage & kale soup.

Fairmont Lake Louise Dining View

On our last full day in Calgary – I ordered a Bloody Caesar at a pub. For those who don’t know, Bloody Caesars are essentially vodka, Clamato juice (tomato + clam juice), hot sauce, Worcestershire sauce & garnished with a salted rim &/or pickled garnish – in my case at Libertine Public House - it was an olive, banana pepper & a wedge of lemon. I didn’t realise it at the time, but apparently Bloody Caesars are considered quintessential Canadian cocktails, originating in Calgary! My husband & I agree that they are tastier & are more savory than Bloody Mary’s. When I returned to work & told my co-workers about it (most of us at my bakeshop are Bloody Mary aficionadas); some were put off by the idea of clam juice in a cocktail – but in all honesty, it just gives a lovely umami nuance to the drink & does not detract whatsoever! It’s all mental.
IMAG2939

As an endnote – this trip was incredible – if you ever consider going to the Canadian Rockies – I strongly encourage you to go!
We definitely want to go back. So many amazing memories & gorgeous sights to see.
Cheers!

Frozen waterfalls in Johnston's Canyon / Banff National Park

Frozen waterfalls in Johnston’s Canyon / Banff National Park

As much as I feel guilty about food miles, I saw these at my local Whole Foods & I could not resist. Bluefoot mushrooms (pied bleu champignons) from France. Who knows when these were picked.. but I wanted them - sauteéd in a sizzling pan of butter &/or olive oil, tossed with some gnocchi. Just wanted to share the revelry of these ethereal beauties. Happy winter-to-spring!

This is a beautiful brick of pu-erh tea (a highly oxidised & fermented black tea) that was pressed with a horse & the Chinese character for 'horse' on it to commemorate the new lunar year. I came across this while stopping in for a pot of tea at the Leaf & Kettle (a lovely tea shop here in northern San Diego) after work. Couldn't resist taking a picture. Forgive my blogging negligence! I've been really well though extremely busy! Expect more posts soon!

image

Amidst a very busy time (we’re preparing to leave for our wedding trek north!); I opted to make my work schedule so that I have my days off nearly back-to-back before slogging six consecutive days & having another day or so off in order for me & the fiancé to load up our trusty vehicle laden with wedding things to go northbound.

We’re pretty much down to the wire with our wedding preparations but what always manages to relax me/aid in churning productivity is to have some time at a coffeeshop – out & away from the apartment (don’t get me wrong, I love our apartment but to be honest, if I’m not at the bakery, I am almost always home – with the occasional venture to get groceries, etc).

As a Seattleite (in this case, the stereotype is true), you can imagine that for me, the coffeeshop standard is high. Somewhere where there is moderate-to-heavy foot traffic, a coffeeshop that preferably roasts their own beans & offers at least one delicious snack. Granted that I haven’t combed over San Diego with a fine comb – but I’ve encountered a lovely coffeeshop called the Coffee & Tea Collective and it is by far, the best coffeeshop in all of San DIego. Strong words, I know. But the coffee is fantastic, the roaster is visible behind the coffee bar. I’m a sucker for design – I really appreciate the minimalist decor & furniture. The place is also the perfect canvas for local art installations. I seldom go to C&T Collective (it’s a bit of a drive, kind of out of the way for my liking), so each visit has been a unique experience. But all-in-all, it’s a great environment filled with productivity. The din & racket of the bean grinder; the violent hissing of the frother/steamer – just brings back so many nostalgic memories (there was an espresso bar at my last job & especially, all the hours spent at various coffeeshops throughout university & afterwards in which I would be internet-ing, editing resumés, job-searching, etc) & of course, coffee dates with old friends.

I’m drinking a mug of pour-over-coffee from San Agustin, Huila, Colombia. It’s delicious, the acidity is there but palatable. A smooth coffee. The C&T Collective also serves some amazing waffles. Yes. Waffles. But just not any waffle – this is a Belgian Liège waffle. It’s not a batter that is pour onto a waffle iron, but rather, a dough (similar to brioche?) that is pressed onto the waffle iron. Yielding a flaky, layered, yet chewy & dense waffle – the outside has a bit of a caramelised sugary crust. It’s pretty amazing. A true treat for a mid-afternoon snack!

candtcollectivewaffle

Above is a random shot of my coffee + waffle & a succulent table-accent. & a peek of my trusty & steady Mac. Excuse the horrid cluttered desktop – I’m all over the place (wedding guest lists, photo folders, .mp3s, documents upon documents, recipe edits, schedule drafts, wedding menu outlines, etc!!). Apologies in advance as I can’t imagine that I’ll be posting anytime soon….!

Last weekend, my fiancé & I trekked over to what we consider the biggest & best farmers’ market in all of San Diego: the Little Italy Mercato. They’re open year-round on Saturdays & feature 150+ vendors & have a sizeable array of local produce, poultry, meats, artisanal goods (cheeses, sausages, pastas, sauces, candles, breads, etc etc) & wares. The mercato is located in a neat area; historically it is a fishing colony of Italian ex-pats & in present-day times, located by the water & is really close to downtown San Diego. My first impression was that it vaguely reminded me of San Francisco.. though a bit more gentrified, very ‘branded’ (there is Little Italy signage on everything.. from public sidewalk tables, bicycle racks, benches & umbrellas to lamp posts) & not nearly as vertically built (or as hilly). But it’s definitely a neat part of town for sure. If you’re ever in the area on a Saturday; the Little Italy Mercato is a great place to check out.

Anyway, as we were perusing the booths with the mission of getting something delicious & meaty to put on our barbecue grill (it is summer afterall!); passing a baked goods booth, something caught my eye. As you can imagine, baked goods seldom impress me.. But what stopped me in my tracks were canelés (also spelled as cannelle or cannelés) ! It was kind of funny – they weren’t even displayed properly: they were in a covered plastic tub, tumbled in with some croissants, barely in view). But their shape & glossy dark & ambered crust was unmistakable. Also, seeing these coincided with my craving for some rustic European pastry. It was meant to be. I asked the seller how much they were for, she said $2 for one, $5 for three. Kind of steep! But worth it. I inspected them, they had a thick glossy crust, the gloss is from beeswax, which coats the canelé mold. The crust of these weren’t the most dark, but I was willing to give them a try.. but I knew I couldn’t settle for just one.. However I was $1 short of the $5 required, but luckily the seller was cool about it – I was able to leave the stand with 3 for $4! Small victories indeed. It was worth satiating my craving. My fiancé & I sat on the curb of the street by a crêpe stand & snacked on our farmers’ market spoils. We shared a crêpe, a huge organic donut peach, sipped on iced cold brew coffee & nibbled on the famed canelé. Pictured below is the last of the three canelés before I chased it down with some percolated coffee.

ImageGranted that I have yet to have had a canelé from a Bordeaux in southwestern France – the last time I tasted one was from bar ferd’nand, a cool wine bar / bottle shop & cafe in my old neighbourhood in Seattle that also serves varying snacks – sometimes baguette sandwiches, oysters on the half-shell, charcuterie, cheeses, croissants & other extraordinary baked items. I remember seeing them for the first time & going over to admire the beauties. The shopkeeper touted that they were pretty much amazing. Curiosity killed the cat – I gave it a try & I’d gone back for more. The crisp & delightfully dark crust (for those that may be put off by eating beeswax, fret not – it just enhances the texture of the crust) juxtaposed with the airy yet custardy (some have described it as “a cross between a custard & a cake”) insides were pure indulgence. Scalded milk, cold butter, rum, vanilla, eggs &  enough flour to bind it all together.

I myself have not dared to experiment with baking canelés though this link to Chez Pim seems like a decent start. The first crucial step in creating canelés is obviously to acquire the canelé molds. Though one could get the silicone variety – however according to canelé purists, that would be a mistake & considered cheating! The silicone molds do not yield the same crust texture compared to the real mccoy, which are made of copper. The copper is a great conductor of heat & is key in giving the canelé crust its unique attributes (the crisp crust, the amber-mahogany tone, the glossy beeswax finish, etc). However, copper canelé molds are muy expensivo. About $25 for a single 2″ mold! QUITE an investment that I’m not keen on making nor experimenting with right now. Therefore I’ll be content finding them on chance encounters & enjoying them then. (;

Canelés fascinate me because they are present-day derivatives (I suppose in all technicality, many pastries are) of centuries-old European baking methods. It’s almost like it’s edible history! (Forgive me for nerding out here)

Just thought to share this treat (via text & visually, so to speak). Aside from trekking into LA or even further north to San Francisco; anyone know of any notable canelés that I should sample for my ‘research’? (; Seek them out if you haven’t tried one yet!

Despite my lack of posts; in real life, I do often think of posting. In fact, on my desktop, I’ve got a folder of a cache of photos that I’ve snapped in hopes that one day I’ll actually create time to sit down & tap away at my keyboard to post a post but alas; busy days indeed. On top of my somewhat-more-than-full-time job of running a bakeshop; wedding planning/projects are being undertaken.. What was once ‘seven months till my wedding’ has quickly become ‘less than two months!!’

Image

So in light of some wedding talk; my latest wedding project that’s been completed is sending off our gorgeous letter-pressed wedding invitations to our guests.. I’m sort of a repressed stamp aficionada (although perhaps at the very least, I have a profound appreciation of postage stamps)though I suppose that I’ve never really indulged in this interest of mine till now. Here are photos of some of the neat Forever stamps that USPS has issued recently. They are reprints of vintage (1910-1920) American floral garden seed packet stamps! What I love about this collection is that it invokes summer blooms & it also coincides with my wedding colour palette perfectly (as well as look stunning on the curry envelope). I’ve always thought that getting literal wedding stamps (i.e. the ones with a silly ruffled tiered white wedding cake, wedding bells, doves, hearts, etc) was a bit cheesy; therefore these are perfect. Elegant, feminine yet not too overstated. As for the postcard stamp (for the R.S.V.P. enclosure), I decided on these precious apple 33¢ stamps. Apples? Washington state of course! I mean, even though technically apples originate from Kazakhstan & were bred along the Silk Road & other trade routes before their genetic diaspora in Europe & colonial America.. across this country to the Northwest frontier & of course the modern day mainstream gene of these commercial varieties illustrated on these stamps – what? You haven’t read The Botany of Desire: A Plant’s Eye View of the World by Michael Pollan!? Brilliant read, but I digress!

Image

I love the mixed media work of these seemingly simple stamps (it’s a combination of pen, ink, watercolours & a bit of computer manipulation) by John Burgoyne, a reknowned illustrator. It’s his first piece for the USPS. If you’ve ever picked up hardcopies of Cook’s Illustrated, these apple stamps may remind you of the backcovers….Simply because Mr. Burgoyne has done issues-upon-issues of gorgeous illustrations of plant/herb/fruit/vegetable varietals as well! I’m sure you all find it absolutely shocking that I adore food as subjects of art (; .

ImageA conservative peek at some of my hand-addressed envelopes. A labour of love!

My next major wedding planning project(s) is to finalise the cocktail hour & dining menus, beer & wine list…. (not to mention wedding favours?!) This means a lot of tastings!

I feel slightly silly about putting up a blog post documenting the progress of my herb garden but honestly, I am just so excited! Last week, I moved the herb planter outside onto the patio - these babies are happy in the full sun & I've been watering them daily - they seem to be thriving. It's definitely a therapeutic process for me, particularly after a long stressful hours, I get to look at these beauties - & doing so reminds me to take a moment to just reflect & revel in their complex yet seemingly quiet existence. & of course, I coo when I notice leaf development, excitedly showing my fiancé, haha If you are interested in growing your own herbs, I highly encourage the endeavour - especially if you have access to sunlight! Believe me, I honestly thought that I had an innate knack for killing plants - I am attesting that this is not so! (: I am greatly looking forward to harvesting these! Anybody else growing anything as we advance towards summertime?

Pizzeria Gabbiano

A topnotch WordPress.com site

Le Nomade

The Journal & Journey of a Chef

Pasteria Lucchese

Artisan Pastas, Sauces & Desserts

Jim Drohman

. photography, musings, recipes & tea

smitten kitchen

. photography, musings, recipes & tea

. photography, musings, recipes & tea

Mark Bittman

. photography, musings, recipes & tea

Sugimoto America Blog

. photography, musings, recipes & tea

. photography, musings, recipes & tea

Il Corvo Pasta

Pasta Fatta A Mano / Handmade Pasta

David Lebovitz

Just another WordPress.com site

. photography, musings, recipes & tea

. photography, musings, recipes & tea

A Plum By Any Other Name

. photography, musings, recipes & tea

Fat of the Land

. photography, musings, recipes & tea

Orangette

. photography, musings, recipes & tea

. photography, musings, recipes & tea

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.