Tag Archives: Food

Downtown from the Brickworks

2015 – Montreal, the Rideau, Stratford and more

Highlights of Our Year

In a year when I’ve been forced by a concussion (Easter Saturday; uneven pavements, a pitch into the metal door of the change room by the ice rink at Kew Gardens – not quite a hockey story) to avoid spending time at the computer, blogging has had to be largely shelved. Life has needed to be lived at a gentler pace and within tighter boundaries. At times, I’ll admit, this has felt constraining, frustrating even. But it has also been a powerful exercise in finding joy and fulfillment in small things, in the everyday; and 2015 has not been without its explorations and adventures.

Trilliums – Ontario’s Provincial Flower

Spring in Toronto is a case of ‘blink and you miss it’. This year I was able to live in intimate relationship with its unfurling, taking joy in the sunshine on my face and each new bud and bloom.


We were already committed to a trip to Montreal for Canada Day and WordCamp at the beginning of July. We spent five days enjoying wonderful food (especially at Toqué) and a necessarily gentle exploration of the old city (lovely, though we had to take refuge from a downpour in Notre Dame Basilica), Mont Royal, Le Musée des Beaux Arts, the Olympic stadium, the Botanical gardens and Biodome (Space for Life), and more. It was a little galling to be in town for the Jazz Festival and not to be able to more than cast a glance in its direction – just half an hour passing through the Place des Arts was almost more than I could cope with. Another year! One delightful discovery was ‘Dragon’s Beard Candy’ in Chinatown, a confection of sugar threads, peanuts, sesame and coconut, reputedly once made only for the emperors of China.

Photos of Montreal (Google Album) and Montreal, a Google Story


Thankfully we had already made the decision that we needed ‘cottage time’ this summer, opting for a tiny cottage right on the water at Newboro in the Rideau Lakes, about an hour north of Kingston.

Waking, watching through our bedroom window a heron on our dock; lazing in a hammock strung between trees; easing into the water to paddle amongst innumerable islands, idly observing fish and frogs, osprey and loons, cottages and cabins; a fabulous country market in a C19th schoolhouse – fresh-from-the-field corn, dripping with butter; canals, locks and mill-houses, then wild, rocky vistas; and always water to catch and transform the ever-changing light. Is it any wonder that this is more or less the area in which we hope to make our home?
Photos of our ‘Summer on the Rideau’ (Google Album)


The one post I did manage to write reflected a magical wilderness weekend at Wintergreen – a truly joyous experience. (See also Wintergreen Studios – a piece of heaven at the edge of wilderness – a Google Story for more photos!)


For Paul’s birthday, we chose theatre at Stratford (Ontario). Considered comparable with the London or Broadway stage, Stratford Festival encompasses four distinct stages  and many different styles.  We saw ‘Possible Worlds’, partially performed in a pool of water (odd but effective), an absorbing rumination on alternate dimensions and social constructs. On Sunday, after luxuriating at Elm Hurst Spa, we abandoned wet waterfall walking in favour of a cream tea!


Thanksgiving saw a glorious combination of early colour and unseasonable summer temperatures (75 F/ 24C); not wanting to travel too far, we basked in the golden glow at Toronto Zoo, which is set in rolling parkland. Focused as I was on giving thanks, I was particularly wonder-struck by the rich diversity of animal life.
Photos of Thanksgiving at Toronto Zoo (Google Album)

Gina & Paul at Toronto Zoo, Thanksgiving
Gina & Paul at Toronto Zoo, Thanksgiving


Fall continued mild, with particularly rich tones, sunny days – even a mild, dry night for Halloween! We had a fine dusting of snow in November, but, so far, December has continued balmy, though we continue in the belief that winter will come . . .

2015 has undoubtedly been challenging. But, despite this, looking back I am grateful for the riches of these and other experiences and the new gifts of insight it has brought. Roll on 2016!

(You can click on any photo on the page to see it at a larger size, and flip through all the others in the same gallery too!)


Maine Roadtrip 2014: 3 – “It must be Maine; the way life should be”

Sailing Penobscot Bay at sunset, eating appetizers and lobster bisque on Schooner Heron, which became “Sanderson’s Yacht” in the Johnny Depp film “The Rum Diary”;

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. . . looking out from Mount Battie across the magnificent sweep of the bay, dotted with islands;

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. . . floating on our backs in Megunticook Lake whilst watching the Turkey Vultures ride the thermals overhead; lazing with our books on the beach at Birch Point and at our lovely home from home, ‘Wildflower Cottage’, small but perfectly formed, set in a woodland clearing in a garden that beautifully blurs the distinction between wild and cultivated.

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Shaker simplicity – beautiful benches and beds, first at the fabulous Farnsworth Art Museum at Rockland and then at the equally wonderful Windsor Chairmakers in Lincolnville; and the delightful discovery at the Farnsworth of American artist Andrew Wyeth, so rooted in place (a Maine summer person) and cinematic in quality.

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No trip would be complete without one or two memorable foodie moments; for Paul, the Whoopie Pie was an obvious hit! Then there were the pop-overs served with whipped butter and jam at Jordan Pond, an Acadian tradition that seems a little strange to those used to eating Yorkshire Pudding with roast beef and gravy. But the meal to remember was at Saltwater Farm, overlooking the harbour at Rockport – my Halibut with spicy borscht was exquisite.

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Definitely the way life should be!

To be continued . . .

Maine Roadtrip 2014: 2 – “Won’t you join the dance?” (The Lobster Quadrille)

“Lobster” – if you mention Maine, this seems to be the almost unanimous first response. So it was very apt to spend our first day in the pine tree state at Rockland Lobster Festival. We ate lobster rolls and chowder, saw the massive steamers where, to that point in the Festival, 13,680 lobsters had been cooked (and counting!), watched crazy people try to race across the water on a path of lobster crates, posed by the giant lobster from the procession and even bought a bauble made from reconstituted crushed lobster shells as this year’s Christmas Tree memento.

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Needless to say, this was not the last lobster we ate, though in all honesty it doesn’t rank in our all time favourite foods. But dinner at a lobster pound, Thurston’s in Bernard on Mount Desert Island, had to be done, looking over a classic working harbour as the sun dropped low over the water.

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Kayaking out of Rockland harbour, round the headland to the lighthouse and back to shore through the lobster boats at Owl’s Head was pretty awesome too – I’ve always been a bit nervous around boats that can move faster than I can when paddling; no sweat.

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And, everywhere you go, even in-land, the landscape is punctuated by the bright signatures of the buoys that stake out a lobsterman’s pots.

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(You can click on any photo to see all the photos in the post as a gallery with full titles)

To be continued . . .

Maine Roadtrip 2014: 1 – “Are we nearly there yet?”

Ontario, Quebec, Vermont, New Hampshire . . . .

Yup, Maine is a long drive from Toronto. That said, we left on Thursday evening and arrived on Saturday afternoon, so we hurried slowly the 625 miles to our destination, though I was pretty impressed to pass through four Provinces/States in one day!

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We barely glimpsed Vermont, though what we saw was lovely, but we thoroughly enjoyed our drive through New Hampshire’s White Mountains to North Conway (a ski and all-season activity resort) – despite a brush with the law! Apparently someone thought they had caught the rear of our car and phoned it in. As we felt nothing and could see no damage, we parted on good terms with the police. There was a certain comedy to it; Paul had been warned of the tendency to jump on those with Canadian plates for speeding and was being rigorously law abiding. The flashing lights in our rear-view mirror therefore resulted in some muted expletives along with that sinking feeling . . .

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I’m not normally really a pizza person, but maple-fennel sausage pizza at the Flatbread Pizza Company for supper was as entertaining as it was delicious – pure theatre!

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To be continued . . .


Death by Chocolate

Cafe Maroc cake platter
Spring rolls, burgers and chips and cake (all chocolate!) at MoRoCo


Took in the ice festival in Yorkville today and, as the ice sculptures began to drip in the thaw, indulged ourselves at MoRoCo – afternoon tea with a difference; definitely not English tea-room style.

Slightly tongue-in-cheek,  definitely camp, but in the best way, it felt distinctly decadent and definitely fun (if decidedly expensive, but we are talking Yorkville prices)! The sipping chocolate alone was ludicrously rich, and the shared platter of cakes was to die for (good thing our cholesterol and sugar levels are healthy!). The spring rolls, served hot, contained, chocolate, banana and just a hint of peanut butter in a fine pastry case, served with a caramel dip.  The ‘ketchup’ for the shortbread ‘chips’ (light as anything) was raspberry coulis.