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Frenchie and the West Coast

16 Sep

How long after being back home from a lengthy and restful vacation would it be considered normal to still daydream about it?

It’s September. I’ve been back for a month. My eyes and mind are still filled with picture perfect coastal ocean views and pastel colors.

From Vancouver, BC to San Francisco, on the coast, on the road, and going through every temperature and weather combination possible.

Way too many photos to share.

Too many tips and addresses.

So here is a Top 20.

Until next time…

When in Vancouver, BC, do not miss:

  • The Granville Island Market – bright yellow tones, seafood, city views and more food you could ever taste. Special mention to the Sandbar for their oysters.
  • Random finds are usually the best – and this is what happened with exile bistro – an artisan restaurant and cocktail bar. A must try when in the city. I cannot recommend it enough.
  • Stanley Park of course! And rent a bike, it’s a fun way to go around the bay and see everything the park has to offer including the lagoons.
  • Stop and explore Yaletown – warehouses and rail yards converted into living neighborhoods. It will remind you of some of New York City’s industrial yet swanky areas.

If you already know Seattle and are continuing to explore the city:

  • The very unusual Gas Works Park and its old abandoned coal gasification plant provides great views of the city. It also helps that the park is right next to Westward for oysters and other apps overlooking the city and The Whale Wins for dinner.
  • Oddfellows Cafe+Bar for lunch, dinner, or both. Everyday if possible would be nice, thank you!
  • A ferry ride from Anacortes to the San Juan Islands Archipelago – Orcas Island, Lummi Island, Lopez Island. An experience like no other. Evergreen coniferous trees, needle foliage, cones, seafood and water as far as the eye can see. And did I mention lunch at a shellfish farm?
  • Walking in the Queen Anne area of the city and watching the sunset from Kerry Park – magical!


As I left Portland, I thought ‘can we go back soon?’

For a first time in the city and Oregon, experiencing and discovering the food, people, vibe and flavors of the area was a spectacular treat:

  • There aren’t enough bullet points for me to list all the great food places I found, were recommended and discovered along the way. Portland, OR is that kind of city. AviaryMÅURICESalt and StrawPok PokLe PigeonSE Wine Collective just to name a few.
  • Alphabet District and N.W. 23rd Ave – if you are going to visit the Pittock Mansion, make sure to stop in this area on the way back down to the city for some play time.
  • If you are nostalgic about old photo booths and want to hang out in a space like no other, the lobby at the Ace Hotel has one of those booths. Fun times ahead with a cappuccino from the coffee bar next door. Also, do not forget to check out Clyde Common next door for a cocktail and some nibbles.
  • While everyone else focuses on the Multnomah Falls, 10 minutes past the falls is the Oneonta Gorge which requires climbing, crossing treacherous obstacle courses, walking in waist-high waters and feeling extra small at the bottom of a beautiful gorge.

From Oregon to California on the coast.

Green on the left. Blue on the right.

Rock formations, rugged and ragged coastline.

Wild in Oregon.

More commercialized in California.

  • Cannon Beach, OR is a wonder not to be missed. The rocks, the view, the infinite ocean of small waves creating shimmering almost blinding white fluffy cloud-like movements.
  • Alloro Wine Bar in Bandon, OR – a gem found in a haystack by mistake. A must-go if in the area.
  • Ferndale, CA for one of the best preserved Victorian hamlet in the country. It is not a movie set, it is very real and oh-so cute.
  • Mendocino, CA and the Point Arena Lighthouse – a scenery that seems to only exist in picture-perfect postcards and travel books. And if that’s any indication, the Murder, She Wrote house is located in Mendocino even though the show supposedly to take place in Maine. It’s that kind of pretty!

Discovering and rediscovering San Francisco has been a joy in my life.

I am lucky to have one of my best friends there and had many opportunities to visit over and over.

It allowed me to observe the city through different angles and lenses while unearthing new material for inspiration:

  • If you are looking for new views of the city or the Golden Gate Bridge, China Beach and the Ina Coolbrith Park provided new perspectives I had never seen before.
  • A bright blue restaurant front and good food? Yes, at Loló in the Mission. A view like no other on both the bay and the city with wood fired meatballs and moroccan chickpeas? Yes, at Barrel House Tavern in Sausalito.
  • Buena Vista Park and colorful Victorian houses on Haight Street.
  • Quirky Bernal Heights neighborhood


Frenchie and Montréal

4 Sep

Eclectic Montreal!

Montreal for the weekend – visiting friends and exploring.

A dream come true!

There’s something thrilling about driving through Vermont and crossing the border.

Being in another country after a 5 hour drive.

Memories of crossing the Spanish border as a kid for a day trip during summer vacations in the south of France.

Ô Canada, me voilà !

Absorbing the sights of the historic streets in Vieux-Montréal.

Vibrant and energized all at once.

A mix of European heritage and North American friendliness.

A place where le petit-déjeuner is le déjeuner, le déjeuner is le dîner, le dîner is le souper, l’épicier is le dépanneur and les publicités in mail boxes are les circulaires.

A very tight community happy to welcome you with a big québécois smile as I made my way through the funny French pitfalls, which could only result in good-hearted laughs between me and the people I’ve met along the way.

Thanks to Nadia from La Porte Rouge, I left with some addresses and an excitement hard to disguise that only she could spark off after our email exchanges.

From the Vieux-Montréal to Rosemont through Le Plateau – colorful active neighborhoods with a certain cool factor.

Going where the locals go, tasting québécois cuisine and discovering local products.

Le Marché Jean-Talon, a myriad of colors and experiences.

Or brunching at La Grand-Mère Poule with a side of québécois fèves au lard before strolling through the Mont Royal Park.

A sunny weekend to celebrate the fading summer season and to welcome September.

It wasn’t my first time in Montreal.

And I already knew I wanted to go back to Olive & Gourmando for lunch.

Locals and tourists line up outside this cosy place.

Healthy, hearty food that just won’t disappoint.

Bustling is the word here.

And enamored I am!

The city has a different rhythm that other cities in North America.

I don’t know if it’s the ambience or the joie de vivre that the montréalais exude as they wave while riding their bikes – oui, Montréal is bike haven!

What I do know is that it’s special in its own way.

What I’ve discovered from the city’s restaurants is their use of sprouts and micro greens.

Les 400 Coups as well as Tri Express featured them in their dishes.

A subtle hint making it that much more interesting in the end.

And so it is only natural that this slivered snow pea salad with cherry tomatoes include celery micro greens.

As a way to remember Montreal and the Québécois.

Pretty and colorful.

Crunchy and fantastic.

A perfect end of summer meal.

Slivered Snow Pea Salad with Cherry Tomatoes and Celery Micro Greens

for 4

1 lb (450 g) of snow peas – trimmed and thinly slivered lengthwise

1 to 1.5 cup (150 to 225 g) of cherry tomatoes – cut in half

3 radishes – thinly sliced

3-5 oz (85 to 140 g) of feta cheese – crumbled

a small handful of celery micro greens (Note: there is a difference between micro greens and sprouts)

for the vinaigrette

2 Tbsp of olive oil

1 Tbsp of lemon juice

1 teaspoon of strong French Dijon mustard

1.5 teaspoon of buckwheat honey

sea salt and pepper

In a small bowl, whisk the olive oil with the lemon juice, mustard and honey. Season with salt and pepper to taste and continue to whisk. Set aside.

In a medium bowl, toss the slivered snow peas with 3/4 of the vinaigrette.

Arrange the snow peas on a serving plate. Place the radish slices in the center. Top with the cherry tomatoes.

Finish by decorating the plate and sprinkle the feta cheese and the celery micro greens on the salad.

Drizzle the rest of the vinaigrette on top and serve.

If you prefer to serve the salad in a big bowl, place all ingredients in the bowl and toss with all of the vinaigrette.

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