Archives for posts with tag: food

My new year’s resolution to write (more often, more consistently, better, at all) has all but been forgotten. But February 17th is a new day and to kick things off around here with a manageable post, to dust off the key board and get back into the world of words, here are some pictures from my recent escape to Iceland and France. Enjoy!

We flew to Paris with Iceland Air, taking advantage of their free stop-over option. Just a short one because Iceland is very expensive. Surprisingly for an expensive place, many hotels and shops and random ice-cream shops in the middle of nowhere will give you free coffee. “No charge,” they’d say. And we’d be happy and warm and awake.

On our first day, the only place we felt we could afford in Reykjavik was a salad and soup buffet- unlimited food and a nice ambiance!  The rest of the time we feasted on grocery-store nibbles (not pictured).

This soup was coconut (Thai-inspired) and delicious and warmed my insides. It was so good I didn't think to take a picture until it was pretty much done.

This soup was coconut (Thai-inspired) and delicious and warmed my insides. It was so good I didn’t think to take a picture until it was pretty much done.

We had heard about some sort of famous hot dogs that are a staple of drunken Icelanders. We put all our krona together and bought a couple.

Don't tell Iceland, but these hot dogs are just as horrible as they look. Both parties got sick after eating these. Never trust weird creamy mustard crap.

Don’t tell Iceland, but these hot dogs are just as horrible as they look. Both parties got sick after eating them. Never trust weird creamy mustard crap.

Our flight to Paris was cancelled due to wind, but we managed to afford another day in Iceland by getting a hotel room and meals paid for (thanks, Iceland Air!)

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This was our official voucher for our dinner at Olsen Olsen, issued by the hotel.

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This is an Icelandic hamburger and fries meal. They have powdered ketchup if you want your fries to taste like ketchup chips.

When we got to Paris (just a day later than expected), we mostly made ourselves baguette with ham and butter, being the thrifty foodies we are. These were eaten in various cemeteries and on basilica steps.

There were exceptions to the ham and baguettes since we wanted to sample Parisian delicacies. Obviously.

We braved the line-up at a very popular “best falafel” place in Le Marais and I didn’t order falafel.

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This is a chicken shwarma as big as my hand.

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This is the chicken schwarma after I ate it (with help).

After walking off the schwarma and falafel, we stopped for your typical patisseries.

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This is a chocolate eclair. I forgot to take a picture until I was halfway done.

Moving on to dinner, Paris is the city to indulge in prix-fixe, multi-course bistro dining.

For my birthday, I was taken to such a fancy-pants establishment. Check out what I ate (all in one sitting!):

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It was such a fancy-pants place that they gave us beautiful bread and a terrine and pickles. I forgot to take a picture before we massacred it.

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Fully knowing it was going to be far too rich for an appetizer, I still ordered a shrimp risotto with squid ink. The presentation was much nicer before I was half-way through with it (pictured here).

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This was some kind of lamb. I might remember what it was more clearly if I had remembered to take a picture before I was done eating.

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Delicious chocolate and cherry dessert. Looks a mess here but was quite nice when it arrived at the table when most instagrammers photograph their food.

We had big plans of avoiding touristy things and just, you know, being in Paris. Instead, we got Nutella-banana crêpes and went up the Eiffel Tower.

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Crêpe et tour Eiffel. Looks gross. Wasn’t.

So that was a compilation of some of the food I ate. One day I will write some posts about the beauty of a frosted-over Versailles, the amazing geothermal wonders of Iceland, and all the things brought into relief when you’re used to travelling solo and then suddenly aren’t.

You wouldn’t know it from what I’m about to show you, so there are a few things you should know before scrolling through the following pictures:

1- I don’t eat burgers that often. I just happen to take pictures when I do.

2- I love to try new things and I tasted a bunch of awesome non-burger dishes in my trip around the world. The most memorable will probably be the subject of my next post (looking through my photos looking for my burger ones, I noticed I take a lot of pictures of food).

3- I know you will judge me for eating so many burgers and I will be able to defend myself with the following arguments: burgers are relatively cheap and very filling, they are easy to eat, when you’re overwhelmed by a menu they are a simple choice, burgers are delicious.

So, just because, here are some shots of me eating burgers around the world:

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Burger in fresh sourdough bread on the piers in San Francisco. With Anne-Marie.

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Still in California, trying the infamous In-N-Out Burger (that I’d never heard of until then). In Santa-Barbara with Courtney and Karel.

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Speaking of infamous- here’s the Fergburger. I mean. Just look at it. In Queenstown (New Zealand) with Yvonne.

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Made our own kangaroo burgers at the hostel in Fort Macquarie, Australia. It was pretty good. With that nice French guy from the hostel.

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Believe it or not, this is a burger from a French restaurant in Pondicherry, India. It wasn’t awesome. But look how tanned I was. With Uk and Anu.

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This chicken burger was as big as my head, was delicious, and was the only affordable non-supermarket lunch we could find in Hvar, Croatia. With David-Marc and those two cousins from BC.

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After-pub burger at Wannaburger in Edinburgh. This may or may not have been a 2-burger day. I’ll never tell. With Gerry.

You may also have noticed I only own black or blue t-shirts. But rest assured I live a varied and interesting life, whatever else these burger photos may imply.

Merry Christmas everyone!

Here in the middle of nowhere, Christmas day has come and gone without too much ceremony or heartache. See, it was 38 degrees on Christmas Eve, which makes it seem very much not at all like Christmas Eve to a Canadian. Being 40 km from the nearest town means that my surroundings are far from saturated with Christmas decorations and over-the-top shop windows. So it was surreal to wrap my head around it being December, let alone Christmas…

I worked in the morning, had a snack (mango!) and read Joyce’s Dubliners (taken from the hostel in Port Macquarie). Then it was time for Christmas lunch, which is the thing in Australia rather than a big evening meal.

Jessie-Dog relaxes on the veranda, waiting for her own Christmas lunch

Jessie-Dog relaxes on the veranda, waiting for her own Christmas lunch

Christmas lunch

John pops the bubbly

Delicious veggies

Delicious veggies

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Prawns and smoked trout and sweet corn and potatoes and beetroot.

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The alpacas, just sitting in the rain.

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Raindrops keep falling

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Foggy rain-hills

After lunch, I retreated to an empty cabin (lucky, because this place has been booked solid or a while) and watched 3 DVDs, which was a cosy and Christmassy thing to do.

I was a bit sad to be far from friends, family, tourtière and snow (though the happy emails from everyone did make my day!), but because it didn’t really feellike Christmas, it wasn’t bad at all. My Christmas two years ago, spent stuck in the Detroit airport, was far far more depressing.

And believe me- I plan on no longer dwelling on things that could be better and start celebrating something each and every day.

Today, I’ll celebrate this:

Just another galah, haging out in front of the house.

Just another galah, hanging out in front of the house.

“If you look at the ocean long enough, you’ll see dolphins,” Courtney said. Sounds like a metaphor for something. I’m not sure what yet.

I was really relieved to arrive in California. I was really happy to see my friend Ann-Marie waiting for me as my bus pulled in to Santa Rosa. Eugene and the long train had been a bit of a low day for me, so seeing a friendly face in a friendly place was welcome.

Last time we had seen each other, Ann-Marie and I were travelling alone together on the Kenyan coast after having met on a two-week Intrepid camping safari. She had warned me that camping and shitty hotels that smelled of donkey and mildew were slightly out of her comfort zone, but you would never have known it by the way she negotiated narrow streets and local internet cafes.

Now I got to hang out in her regular life. And it’s a life I could get used to, especially with her skillfully using her contacts in the wineries to get us some pretty nifty experiences.

Wine pairing at Seghesio winery. Scallops and meatballs and squid and lamb (but they had fancy names). And 5 tastes (um, glasses) of wine.

I might still be one to choose my wine according to the label’s design (under $12, obviously), but I now know what really good cabarnet tastes like (and venom and grenache and zinfandel and sauvignon and pinot). And I have learned that Sideways gave Merlot a bad name for no reason, but managed to damage the poor grape’s reputation.

Ann-Marie extracting coconut milk from a coconut in Lamu, Kenya

Getting the coconut milk ready for the coconut rice, à l’américaine.

Santa Rosa was all wine and friends and beautiful scenery (though yes, the hills were brown and sometimes black if they happened to have just gone up in flames. I’m talkin’ about you, Marin!)

We spent some time in San Francisco, despite the traffic and fog that never quite lifted.

San Francisco has very tall buildings.

We were treated by the lovely new theatre company to VIP tickets to Broadway Under the Stars, where, in the middle of a moving rendition of Memories, a shooting star crossed the sky over the stage. When I say “shooting star,” I mean a ball of fire. I mean a comet. I mean I thought it might be a special effect or a flare. But it was just a huge, close, amazing shooting star and everyone went wild.

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From Santa Rosa, I managed to take a couple of busses to Menlo Park, a hopping metropolis next to Stanford. I was just joking about it being a hopping metropolis. For instance, I saw an owl flying in the street as I walked to my friend’s apartment.

It’s unbelievable how much your time in a place reflects the personality of the people you’re staying with. My time with Myriam and Fred was yoga and windswept beaches and a slice of campus life.

From Rosa to Barbara (Santa-wise), I was suddenly surrounded by orange trees and the lullaby of cicadas. So maybe our picnic and drink on the beach turned into a warm drink sheltered in a beach-side restaurant- it was windy and cold- but we also got our day burning on the beach, avoiding crazed dogs and kids just asking for spinal injuries as they dove in the drying river.

There is something special about eating a fig stolen straight off a tree from a museum’s garden in Ojai, where they have outdoor bookshops because it never rains.

Fruit in Santa Barbara.

I didn’t want to leave Santa Barbara. Mainly, it’s hard leaving amazing people and perfect fruit, but I was a bit/a lot nervous about Los Angeles. The size of it, its cars, its $18 smoothies (which I never got, in the end- spoiler?).

But turns out L.A. trusts its people. No one checked my metro ticket- I bought one and then didn’t have to do anything with it, which was confusing. It was also confusing that it was only $1.50 (a day pass for busses and the subway are $5). I found my friend’s house (thank you Google maps), but the serious lack of streetlights didn’t help. I guess it’s true that no one walks in L.A. …

It was hot, my friend worked real Hollywood hours (seriously not as glam as you’d imagine), and the sprawl of the city was insane.

View from Leah’s office.

But I saw the “Oh my god, I love Josh” fountain, and hung out across the street from this memorable liquor store:

I love Clueless.

[I am writing this from New Zealand, where the internet is inanely expensive and wifi isn’t so common. So please forgive the lack of posts/photos/sense!]

I’ve gone to look for America.

I’ve made it to California! I just calculated it and, so far, I’ve made it 6,056 km from home (not counting detours and trips back into BC). That’s 3,763 miles. That Proclaimers guy was a bit of a wuss, only walking 5oo (or 1,000) miles for the woman he loved.

From Seattle, I took BoltBus to Portland (similar to Megabus), avoiding the American Greyhound I’ve heard only sketchy things about. I don’t know- they’re fine in Canada (except when things happen that I don’t want to think about right now or ever).

The moment I got off the bus, I knew Portland was my kind of place. Even if I started my visit with a half hour uphill walk in the heat with my bag (how is it getting heavier and bigger already?), I could tell I’d love it.

Portland. Not everything has a bird on it.

I mean, even if they didn’t have any roses at all, Portland would still be awesome. It has a vibe, you know? It’s walkable (important for me since I don’t have a car and am pretty cheap so would rather not pay for busses. Wait, not exactly. It’s that I’m always a bit overwhelmed by new public transit systems and would rather walk than figure them out), it’s pretty (not everywhere, obviously. There is a quite a bit of concrete and sad parts of town), and has a tonne of nice places to look at or eat in.

But why do restaurants close insanely early in such a hip town? Some (which shall remain nameless, because come on), when the clock strikes 9:30, even have the server bring you a take-away box for your half-eaten sushi, tell you to cork the wine bottle and bring it with you as you are told, in no uncertain terms, that they are closing and you must leave.

But coolness (a healthy mix of earnest and pretentious coolness) wins this one.

Freakin’ cool buzzer at my friend’s apartment.

In cool places, people grow peppers on their balconies.

I spent a few perfect days with my friends in Portland. How lucky that an old university/theatre friend moved there a month before my arrival? That’s just enough time to know what’s hot and what’s not, but not enough time to have tried everything. Most of those things included eating.

Even though I was a boring person and ordered chocolate ice-cream, Salt & Straw lives up to its reputation and is well worth the wait in the inevitable line. The Pear with Blue Cheese was pretty good (but a little too intense for me), the Sweet Summer Corn Buttermilk Sorbet was tasty and strange (seriously sweet corn), and the citra hops and apricot was delicious. I like ice-cream and fancy-schmancy-artsy combinations of flavours.

Perfect vanilla ice-cream being dropped into espresso. And that’s how it’s done, kids.

A Canadian dog in Portland.

From Portland I took the Amtrak bus to Eugene. I’m sure Eugene is nice and fun. But not the day I was there- not for me, anyway. I only took 3 pictures: one of the hostel and two in the train station as I was leaving. That gives you an indication of the degree of my affinity for the city.

I did enjoy the Bijou cinema, housed in a church building, where I saw (for three bucks!) Beasts of the Southern Wild.

I don’t know who peed in my cornflakes that day, but I wasn’t in the mood for a place where almost every house has prayer flags and some type of installation art on their porches. I got my first twinges of homesickness, which worried me. I can’t start feeling blue so early on.

Unfortunately, the train, which had been so chilled out in Canada (or am I already being nostalgic about it?), didn’t help. While the seats were relatively comfy, I really really really wish these had had an armrest.

See, it’s a little disconcerting to be seated next to a 60-year-old surfer who drops a few too many inuendos and full-on confessions that they wrecked their sister-in-law’s computer by downloading porn. Needless to say I didn’t sleep too well- I had to watch that that hand of his didn’t cross into my side of the seats.

Bye bye, Eugene! Sorry I had to be with you on my down day. Ì’m sure things would have looked better in the morning…

So I was glad to leave and be greeted by such a friendly face as Ann-Marie’s when I made it, after an anxious 14-hour train ride and calmer 1-hour bus ride, to Santa Rosa, California.

Oh California. I’m going to see the folks I dig, I’ll even kiss a Sunset pig, California I’m coming home (of sorts).