Thursday

Some lovely new music....


So rumour has it that Lana Del Rey recorded an earlier album Sirens under the name of May Jailer. Whether or not it's true, I have no clue, but I do know that I love this song, Birds of a Feather.
It has this sweet scratchy sound that is completely addictive.
Have a listen...


You can hear more from the album here.

Wednesday

*************** Three ***************


Three years ago today I made the most important decision of my life.
I wasn't at all nervous.
I knew it was right.


Three years ago today,
you made me the happiest girl in the entire world.



And every day I love you even more.
And I can't wait to spend the rest of my life with you.

oxo
Vanessa.

Monday

Lately up north... it's winter and it's spring


I have to say, it's good to be back up north.
After a month away, everything feels new and beautiful again.

And of course it helps that spring is in the air...


We took our medical students out to the bay this weekend.
It's worth seeing the ocean like this.... it's so different from what you usually think of as the seaside.



And although it was mighty icy out there, there were definite signs of new spring life shining through.



I hope you had a wonderful weekend.
oxo

Back Up North...


This weekend, we packed up the car with months worth of supplies and hit the long 1500km road to our home in the north. It has been a wonderful one month long holiday, but it's time to get back to reality.

I'm excited for the summer up north. We just bought a canoe and some fishing rods, and now we're really ready to explore this crazy northern wilderness we live in.

Tuesday

Eat Your Way Through Paris...


Since this was our third time visiting Paris, we decided to do things a little differently. 
Instead of visiting the usual sights, we decided to explore new parts of the city each day by searching out it's most famous patisseries.
That's right, we went on a pastry hop!

The best croissant in Paris - we ate it. The best madeleines - we ate those too. And who makes a better macaron, Pierre Hermé or Ladurée - we ate them both and figured it out.


The first patisserie we hit was an obvious choice: Gontan Cherrier's little shop up in Montmartre. I've read about his incredible breads all over the place. But mostly I've read about his croissants...

His croissants are special because they're made with feuilletage inversé (a type of puff pastry normally reserved for millefeuilles), and apparently this makes all the difference.
Well let me tell you, those croissants were AMAZING!


He also uses this type of pastry for his delightful kouign-amann's (a caramelized salted butter pastry from the Brittany region of France). 

But my favourite of all his marvellous pastries was this delicious fresh berry and mint tart. It was incredibly refreshing.
(oh and "just for the record", we didn't eat all of these at once, we visited the shop on more than one day)

Next up, we wandered deep into the 12th arrondissement to find the tiny bakery known as Blé Sucré, which is quite famous for it's glazed madeleines... apparently the best in Paris, according to David Lebovitz anyway (you can read his praise for Blé Sucré's madeleines here)

To be honest, I think they were the first madeleines I've ever tasted, so I have nothing to compare them to. At first glance I thought, these are it? What's all the fuss about? Then I bit into one.... and then another, and as I reached for my third I realized that I had instantly fallen in love. Sometimes the simplest things are the absolute best. Honestly I'm still day-dreaming about them.

 Fortunately, I found the recipe online... and I can't wait to try making them.

My husband loved their chocolate eclairs too (he had to get something of his own since I turned out to be pretty stingy with sharing my madeleines!)

And of course we had to try the famous Paris-Brest at La Patisserie des Rêves, where each pastry is displayed in a glass dome like expensive jewelry. 

And what trip to Paris would be complete without a visit to the oh-so-famous Ladurée?

Although there were many tempting pastries to try, we were there for one obvious reason alone... the macarons.
And of course, they were sheer perfection. My favourite was definitely the salted caramel. Holy moly those were good!

But I'd also heard a lot about Pierre Hermé's macarons... and how some claimed these were better. So we had to try those too....
They were also sheer perfection. A little more modern than ladurée, with funky flavour combinations like passion fruit and chocolate (my favourite). 

It's honestly hard to say which macarons were better, as they're both heavenly.
Ladurée is more touristy, but has those classic flavours in beautiful bright colours, and those enchanting tea rooms which I think really make the whole macaron experience. But when it comes down to taste, I have to say, we preferred Pierre Hermé. But two other online reviews I read both picked Ladurée (here and here), so clearly it's a personal choice.

So there you have it... our 3 day Parisian pastry hop! 
Just a few words to the wise....
Should you ever embark on such an indulgent culinary city tour as this, I would highly recommend making time for long walks through Paris' beautiful green parks, and a few light vegetarian salad lunches (Bob's Juice Bar and Rose Bakery in particular) to help balance out all that butter!

Monday

Falling in love with small town France


Have you ever stumbled upon a small country village so enchanting that you thought to yourself, why don't we just move here, buy an old farm house and grow a garden, live life simply, and die of old age?
That's how I felt about Noyers-sur-Serein, in the beautiful Burgundy countryside.
It was absolutely magical there.




We stayed at this incredibly charming bed & breakfast called La Vieille Tour. In a home built in the 1600s, with stone walls and fireplaces. It felt like we'd stepped back in time.


The B&B is run by a lovely Dutch artist named Margaret, who prepared a beautiful breakfast for us of fresh breads, fruit preserves and croissants from the local bakery. We sat at the kitchen table with her & her partner for around 2 hours chatting about life over cups of rich, dark coffee. 
Such is life in a small town.



We went for long walks through the cobblestone streets and into the hillside forests.




We had an amazing dinner at La Vieille Tour Restaurant (run by the B&B owner's son). If you ever should find yourself in this adorable small town, I'd highly recommend eating a meal there. We savoured in all the Bourgogne specialties like escargots and foie gras, local wine, magret de canard and the most incredible tarte au gingembre I could have ever imagined (a recipe which I am determined to crack once back home).



Needless to say, we loved it there.
: )

Friday

Alsace, Strasbourg & La Route des Vins


I can't decide if Strasbourg feels more like Germany or more like France. It's definitely a mixture of both. The half-timbered houses feel very Germanic, the choucroute is essentially German sauerkraut in French disguise.... but the melt-in-your-mouth pain chocolat (which I ate every single morning without hesitation) are indisputably French.


Strasbourg is a beautiful city, but the Alsatian countryside is even more picturesque.
We drove out along La Route des Vins through tiny medieval villages, each one more charming than the last.


It felt so good to be out in the French countryside.
We had a delicious picnic in the middle of nowhere with fresh baguette and cheeses... this is my favourite part of travelling.


 We ended our stay in the Alsace region in the adorable town of Colmar.

 Next up... Burgundy and then Paris : )

Sunday

Three Days in Amsterdam...


We absolutely loved Amsterdam. It's such a liveable city. Despite the crowds of obnoxious tourists (and this is the low season!), Amsterdam is filled with charm.

We found some incredible restaurants off the beaten path, and enjoyed getting lost in the narrow winding streets. We walked a lot! 

Of course we did a few touristy things too...

I loved eating at the tiny little cafes and patisseries. The Dutch make delicious baked goods (I think I tasted most of them).

The Saturday farmers market was a definite highlight.

I always thought Montreal was a very bike-friendly city, but it has nothing on Amsterdam. I've never seen so many bicycles in my entire life!


We stayed at a trendy little hotel called the citizenM
The rooms were small but affordable, and full of character.

The Van Gogh museum was beautiful (but didn't contain many of my favourite Van Gogh paintings), the red light district was interesting to walk through, and the tulips where as abundant as I had hoped they would be.
And that pretty much sums up our 3 days in Amsterdam.

We've rented a car and are driving through Germany to Strasbourg, France. That sounds crazy to most Europeans, because that's like driving across half the continent in one day, but to us Canadians it's just a wee road trip ; )
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