Bad Choices?

Psst, hey.  Heeeeyyy, can I tell you a secret?  When I go on holidays I like to cheat.  Do you?  I bet you do.  And I bet you LOVE it too.  Sure, you feel shame afterwards and manage to return home with a great deal of self-loathing, squashing the desire to do it again.  Do you save it only for when you are away?

I tried to stop it once.  I planned and planned for it.  I was successful for one whole trip.  But then the next time I left town it happened again, and I realized I was an addict.

To chocolate.  To chips.  To ice cream.  To cheese.  To (duh duh duh) GLUTEN.

Oh, is that not what you were thinking?  I know you do it too though.

This is how it starts…

Day #1 – After Dinner.  Ok, I’m on vacation and I deserve a treat.  I can have an ice cream cone with the kids.  I mean, its only right.  This way I’ll be part of the fun, the memories we’re building with the kids.  Sure, its just a little Salted Caramel ice cream in a waffle cone.  Its fine.  We walked to the ice cream shop, so its like it practically never happened.

Day #2 – Lunch.  I can totally have a coke with my lunch.  Its ok I’m on holiday and it will just be this once.

And then…

Day #2 – Snack.  These chips look so good.  I’ll just have one.  Oooooh but they are so good, just a few more.  Well, the kids shouldn’t eat the WHOLE bag themselves.  I should help them.

Day #2 – After Dinner.  I know I had 3 glasses of wine with dinner, so I shouldn’t have dessert.  The wine is my dessert.  But its creme brulee.  And that’s gluten free so I am practically staying on plan with that (even though it is entirely comprised of dairy AND sugar).

By now, what can you do?  You are in!

Day #3 – After Dinner.  Oh, are we walking to the ice cream shop again?

Day #4 – Lunch.  If I say no bun and order a turkey burger, that’s ok right?  Then I can totally ALLOW myself 1 (or 5) of those amazing onion rings.

Day #5 – Breakfast.  TODAY I am getting back on my plan.  The egg scramble with roasted veggies is super on plan.  The spinach and coconut water smoothie was exactly what I needed.

Day #5 – After Dinner.  What?  Did we just pass the ice cream place?  Oh did you guys want to stop there again?  Alright.  Ok.  I had that spinach smoothie today, so I deserve it.

And so on and so on.

Now we’re home and I’m in detox.  Except for the leftover bag of chips from the car ride.  I mean it would be a waste to NOT finish them, right?  Owwww, my tummy hurts…

I totally can't eat just one.

I totally can’t eat just one.

Eat to the Beat

I’m getting ready to head back on the road again this weekend and all I can think about is the great food I get to eat along the way.  Not the kind on the airplane or in the airport – but that I get to go back to some of the cities where I experienced some of the greatest meals of MY LIFE.  By now, you know I’m super bossy and know-it-all-y so it’s 100% in my nature to tell you that you should eat there too.

Geezus I love to eat!

Geezus I love to eat!

10. Bogner’s – Penticton, BC – BC wine country is slowly coming into its own and the foodies are following.  Chef Darin Paterson takes the concept of the 100 mile diet to a whole new level.  In addition to his kitchen garden surrounding the restaurant’s patio, Paterson pulls local produce from his own farm just 5 minutes out of town.  The fact that my kid had a “little accident” on the patio may sway me from returning next time, but fresh garden salsa might drag me back regardless.

9.  Patria – Toronto – True Spanish tapas in the heart of Toronto.  Loud, boisterous and super sexy.  Start with the Iberico ham.  A tough find on this side of the pond.  The paella is amazing.

8. Guy Savoy – Paris – Michelin mania.  Guy Savoy is a dining experience.  I’m usually not a fan of the pretentious Michelin presentation but man is his food good.  I’ve raved about Guy Savoy before.  Dessert comes on a cart – a motherf&*king cart FULL of desserts.  The first time I went there I ate 13 different desserts (lavender marshmallows, earl grey ice cream, macarons, strawberry tart, rice pudding – UNREAL).

7. Milos – New York – Fresh seafood in midtown Manhattan.  Big energy, delicious fresh food – great combo.  Don’t miss the Milos Special – lightly battered and fried zucchini and eggplant.  Yum.  That dish always tastes like MORE.

6. Alex Sushi – Oslo – Coming from Vancouver, the Sushi capitol of the world (outside Japan of course), I am always hesitant to eat sushi in other cities.  But Alex Sushi in Oslo nailed it.  The Tempura Salad was a revelation.  Plus the minimalist Scandinavian decor is very hip and happening.

5. A Travessa – Lisbon – Set down a narrow cobbled street with families grilling sardines and lanterns and streamers crisscrossing overhead, you enter an arched doorway to a sliding glass door that is about as odd as monkey’s wedding.  Down the stairs to a cavernous, candlelit room and into the rustic (is this the Portuguese version of Shabby Chic?) courtyard to dine under the stars.  The building was a former convent founded in the 17th century!  The complimentary appetizers (scrambled eggs with mushrooms, olives) and country style bread whet the palette along with cold white port served as an apperitif.  I had the Toro steak – the owner belittled me for ordering it medium.  “Its organic blood” he said!  It was magical!

4. Osteria Morini – New York – I’m not sure if this meal was so memorable because it was at the end of a super crazy press day or it was close enough to Christmas that it felt extra festive, but I loved this restaurant.  Its small and cozy by NYC standards and the fare is rustic Italian which is hands down my fave.  New York has arguably the best Italian food outside of Italy to be sure, but there was something extra special and authentic about the experience at Osteria Morini.  The weathered wood tables overflowing with mouthwatering cured meats and cheeses, the meatballs, the light and airy Lambrusco wine.  Call way ahead to make a reservation and if you can get a table TAKE IT!

3. Hutong – Hong Kong – Another great meal at the end of a super long, crazy press day.  I am pretty sure the food was as good as I remember.  Located on the 28th floor of One Peking Place in Tsim Sha Tsui neighborhood of Kowloon, overlooking Victoria Harbour.  The decor a sort of Disney-ified version of old Hong Kong about as authentic as you can get in a brand new skyscraper.  The Szechuan cuisine was just spicy enough!  Delish.

2. La Petite Maison – London, UK – On a recent stay in London we were there for just two nights and had dinner here both evenings.  ITS THAT GOOD!  Incredible South of France inspired food in the heart of Mayfair.  The only problem is deciding what to eat.  The menu has so many great and delicious options.  The grilled veal chop (sorry, I know) was amazing and they serve the best french fries I have ever eaten.  (French fries are my kryptonite, so trust me on this one).

1. Tavola – Vancouver, BC – I know, I know, it seems a little contrived to pick a place in my own home town as #1, but I seriously love Tavola so much.  Back to rustic Italian, done really well.  A super simple menu and fresh sheet keeps the experience familiar but never stale.  The service is amazing with casual waitstaff often sitting at the table to explain the intricacies of the menu and winelist.  The Tonnarelli Cacio e Pepe is the simplest pasta dish (fresh handmade noodles cooked in a delicate sauce comprised of just olive oil, parmesan and pepper) is worth every calorie.  The brick chicken is light and lemony and if you’re lucky to be there when Meyer Lemons are in season, you must try the Lemon Positano for dessert.  The menu is set up for sharing so this place is best visited with a crowd so you can taste a little of everything.

I Am The Baker. Kookookachoo.

20140528-211400-76440768.jpg

It’s the annual spring carnival at Shorty #1’s school. We’re new to the school so we (this of course means I) would like to try and make a good impression by helping as much as we (I) can. So we’ve donated items for the silent auction, have volunteered for a shift in a booth and tonight made cupcakes for the bake sale.

It’s probably more accurate to say “attempted to make” as the results are somewhat lacking. I’m not 100% sure where it all went wrong. Was it because I hoped to make the cupcake baking an activity by enlisting the Shorties to help? Was it because we began the whole process at 7pm on a school night when J was out at a late business meeting so I was flying solo in the parenting department? Was it because I let les petites sample the chocolate before we started? Or was it because I tried to get fancy and try something new?

Ah yes, I created the perfect storm.

It all started ok. The batter was mixing nicely. #1 in charge if the cupcake cups going into the tray, #2 at the controls of the stand mixer. Everyone suitably satisfied with their role. But soon enough it was time to spoon the batter into the cups. #1 – the sole beneficiary of said bake sale in the household was taking the responsibility of ladling the batter. I was preoccupied with #1’s progress and completely missed #2 with the beater from the mixer in her mouth. When, I took it away she was clearly pissed. Cries of “No fair” rang out across the kitchen.

Finally the cupcakes made it into the oven. And this my friends is where the real folly took place. Personally I blame Martha Stewart, Nigella Lawson and all those other Food Network domestic goddess-types that get all fancy with things like cupcakes and make non-baking, non-culinarily inclined types like me feel pressured to try something fancy. Oh yes! Why not create a hybrid of two recipes – roasted marshmallows instead of icing! A revelation!!! These revolutionary cupcakes would be easy, charming and the hit. Until we actually tried to execute on my brilliant plan for bake sale domination.

20140528-213705-77825495.jpg

Now we are left with 18 (okay 17 – we HAD to try one) crappy looking hockey pucks of melted goo and drippy butterscotch sauce (the latter a last minute attempt at a save) and nothing remotely presentable for human consumption least of all to sell to strangers! Shorty #2’s reaction was to wipe out her mouth with a paper towel after she tried hers. Me – I’m battling a little nausea.

I think I need to accept my inner undomestic self. Baking is not my thing, least of all with 2 Shorties assisting. Next time I’ll know better and offer to do the selling instead of the baking. Or will I????