“The Witches of New York”, a rave!

A few weeks ago a finished reading the amazing book “The Witches of New York”, by Amy McKay. Since them, I’ve been thinking about the characters, their lives and of course their amazing tea shop.

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The story is set in New York at the end of the 19th century and features three astonishing women. The first few pages read like portraits of the city and of the strange humans that populate it. Seemingly distinct characters end up linked and intertwined in the amazing tale that is spun by McKay. The historical cues and background create the perfect backdrop for the three main characters: Adelaide Thom, Eleanor St. Clair and Beatrice Dunn.

These three women end up sharing their lives and tragic stories in a mysterious tea shop where Adelaide reads cards (but mostly people), Eleanor prepares teas (but mostly potions), and Beatrice becomes their apprentice (but mostly their friend). Overlooking their doings is Perdu, the (magical) pet raven.

Filled with signs, plants, superstitions and fabulously strong female characters, the story sucks the reader in a turn-of-the-century universe that makes reality seem dull and boringly mundane.

I highly recommend this book because its characters are haunting, and because the book gives the reader an idea of what it meant to be an independent woman a century ago. Is it a feminist book? Sure, in the most magical and natural sense of the word. I’m patiently waiting for the author’s next book which will also feature the same witches. Expect a review this fall! If you are interested in looking at how the author writes and researches her books, I suggest checking out her website for really interesting resources.

 

Pur et Simple, a restaurant review /// Critique de resto

This week-end really was the perfect summer week-end: warmth, sun, light breeze and clear skies. My boyfriend and I took advantage of this by exploring our area, and we stumbled across the Pur et Simple restaurant right on time for brunch. Perfect!

This restaurant is an organic and vegan place which focuses on serving whole foods prepared in the most delicious ways. What’s great about this restaurant is that they have a very nice terrasse which allows you to really take advantage of the summer. The inside of the restaurant is also very cute and has shabby chic vibes, but I recommend eating outside if it’s a nice day! As it was brunch time, we ordered the breakfast crepe and the burrito.

 

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The breakfast crepe in all its glory!

The breakfast crepe was delicious! Made with an amaranth flour blend, the crepe itself was soft and wholesome. It was filled with scrambled tofu and coconut bacon and covered with a rich hollandaise-like sauce. The flavours and textures were really well-balanced and the avocado topping and salad were the perfect complement to this nourishing breakfast plate.

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Look at this beautiful burrito!

The burrito was splendid as well: homemade tortilla, slightly spicy black bean filling and a glorious cashew cream topping. This cashew cream was really delicious and brought the right amount of tanginess to the whole plate. Served with guacamole and tortilla chips, this will keep your fueled up for a long while!

We really enjoyed our meal, and we will be back for sure! The service was friendly and attentive, and the prices were reasonable. I have to say that the main dishes were fairly priced; the smoothies and desserts seemed a little bit more pricey (but the cakes looked amazing!). So, if ever you are in the Bromont area, I would strongly recommend checking this place out!


Ce week-end était le week-end d’été parfait: chaleur, soleil, légère brise et un beau ciel bleu. Mon copain et moi en avont profité pour explorer notre région un petit peu et nous sommes tombés sur le restaurant Pur et Simple juste à temps pour le brunch: parfait!

 

Photo de Pur & Simple restaurant végétalien et biologique.

Photo prise sur la page facebook du resto

 

Ce restaurant biologique et végétalien sert des plats faits d’ingrédients sains préprarés de façons toutes plus délicieuses les unes que les autres. Ce qui est bien aussi, c’est que la terrasse est vraiment agréable et qu’elle permet de profiter du beau temps. L’intérieur du restaurant est également très mignon avec des notes campagnardes, mais je recommande la terrase pour l’été! Comme c’était le temps du brunch, nous avons commandé la crêpe déjeuner et le burrito.

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The breakfast crepe in all its glory!

La crêpe déjeuner était délicieuse! Faite avec un mélange de farine comprenant l’amaranthe, la crêpe elle-même est légère et moelleuse. Elle était farcie de tofu brouillé et de bacon de noix de coco, et recouverte d’une sauce de type hollandaise. Les saveurs et les textures étaient bien équilibrées, et l’avocat et la salade ajoutaient la parfaite touche de fraicheur à ce petit déjeuner bien nourrissant.

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Look at this beautiful burrito!

Le burrito était également splendide: tortilla faite maison, des haricots noirs légèrement épicés et une généreuse portion de crême de cajou. Cette crême était vraiment délicieuse et ajoutait la touche acidulé parfaite à toute l’assiette. Servie avec de la guacamole et des chips de tortilla, cette assiette était vraiment délicieuse et vous remplira d’énergie!

On a vraiment apprécié notre repas, et nous retournerons à ce resto sans hésiter. Le service était amical et attentif, et les prix raisonnables. Je dois dire que les smoothies et desserts m’on semblés chers (quoique je dois dire que les gâteaux avaient l’air fabuleux!). Si jamais vous êtes dans le coin de Bromont, arrêtez-vous-y!

 

Abstract: My new Netlfix obsession\\\ Abstract: Ma nouvelle obsession Netflix

(version française plus bas)

A few days ago, Netflix launched a new show called Abstract: The Art of Design. It is taking me all my willpower not to binge watch all the episodes at once, so I thought I would share it with you in case you are wondering what to do this week.

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Abstract is made on the same model as Chef’s Table (another Netflix obsession). Each episode follows a designer and goes over how they became designers, what challenges they faced and what important events molded their careers. I find it so inspiring to see how great contemporary designers came to be so great. As each episode also covers different types of designers (graphic, shoes, scenography, architecture, and many others), it’s really interesting to see how each discipline works.

One of the things that I find to be incredibly fascinating is to see the work process of each designer. I feel like it’s a good reminder to see how much work, reflection, and trials there are before an idea comes to life.

I really recommend this show to anyone who is looking for some inspiration, hope or to learn about daily objects. I’m pretty sure anyone can learn something from this show, or at least be amazed by how different artists work. I’m certainly smitten.

(For those of you who are wondering where the recipes are, some new things are coming up really soon; I have just been a very lazy and busy cook this week!)


Il y a quelques jours, Netflix a lancé une nouvelle émission: Abstract: The Art of Design. Il m’a fallu rassembler toute ma volonté pour ne pas regarder tous les épisodes d’un coup, alors je me suis dit que je partagerais ma nouvelle obsession au cas où vous chercheriez quelque chose à voir cette semaine.

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Abstract fonctionne comme la géniale émission Netflix Chef’s Table (une autre obsession). Chaque épisode présente un designer et explique comment cette personne en est venue au design, quelles difficultés ont été surmontées et quels évènements importants ont modelé leurs carrières. Je trouve ça tellement inspirant de voir comment les designers contemporains célèbres en sont venus à être les grands designers de notre époque. Chaque épisode couvre aussi différentes disciplines de design (graphisme, chaussures, scénographie, architectures et plusieurs autres) ce qui permet aux spectateurs de voir differents aspects artistiques.

Une des choses que j’aime le plus de cette émission, et qui est vraiment fascinant, c’est de voir le processus créatif de chaque designer. Je trouve que c’est une bonne façon de se souvenir combien de travail, de temps, de réflection et d’essais sont requis avant qu’une idée ne prenne vie.

Je vous recommende vraiment Abstract, surtout si vous cherchez un peu d’inspiration ou si vous souhaitez en savoir plus sur des objets de tous les jours. Je suis certaine que vous apprendrez quelque chose ou que vous serez fascinés par le travail fabuleux de ces artistes. Je suis vraiment sous le charme!

(Pour ceux qui se demandent où sont les recettes, plusieurs arrivent: j’ai simplement été une cuisinière un peu débordée cette semaine!)

 

 

 

A Time and a Plate, my favourite podcast

A year ago, I changed my phone to a smartphone, and it made me discover the wonderful world of podcasts. I must have lived under a rock because I really wasn’t familiar with these. Basically, a podcast is a self-produced radio show. Individuals can create them and share them online. Official radio stations also share some of their shows this way, which means that you can carry your favourite shows on demand in your pocket for free. That’s great! I’ve been listening to a variety of podcasts because it makes commuting and waiting in line a lot more interesting: I learn and think about different topics, and so I don’t feel like I’m losing my time. The following podcast is my current favourite, and is perfect for anyone who loves food.

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Go check out the Kitchy Kitchen!

A few months ago, Claire Thomas from the amazing blog The Kitchy Kitchen, launched a podcast: A Time and a Plate. This podcast focusses on the history of food. Now that’s interesting! Each episode zooms in on a particular food and goes over its history and journey to where it is now.

What I love most about this podcast is that it is full with very interesting and sourced content. Claire must do a ton of research for each episode! She mentions all her sources and books that she has read in preparation for the podcast. I love this because it gives me great book recommendations. It’s so great to listen to her show because it is so informative. I learn something each time which makes me feel like I’m not losing my time, and I love that. It’s quite incredible to learn about how our relationship with certain foods have changed over time and to know where they come from. I particularly loved her podcasts on spices and noodles because it follows the Silk Road and Marco Pollo; it made these foods even more exciting.

The podcast is also incredibly well made with music that goes with the stories that Claire shares. The sound quality is great and her voice is perfect for story telling. This makes for a very comfortable listen where you can create pictures of stories that she shares.

Finally, each episode features an interview with a current chef, baker or food creator. I love how this part of the show ties the past with the present food trends. It’s also very interesting to see how people are reinventing classic foods.  And it adds places to go visit to my bucket list!

I really hope you’ll give this podcast a try because it really is great! Take a few minutes (or hours) to check out Claire Thomas’ amazing blog too! Let me know what your favourite podcasts are!

 

Big Magic, a book review

A long time ago, I bought Eat, Pray, Love for my mom as a birthday present. That was a complete fail because she hated it. She thought the narrator was patronizing and silly. Oh well, that book ended up on my bookshelf, and I enjoyed it. We recently watched the movie, and it was good too. So when I went to the library and spotted Big Magic by Elizabeth Gilbert, I brought it home.

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This book focusses on creativity, inspiration and on how to include creativity in our lives. Great topic! I feel like often people are drawn to do things but will find themselves excuses not to go for it and will end up regretting it or not doing anything. Well, this book is the perfect cure for this “I want to, but I won’t” state of mind. Through short, funny and personal chapters, Gilbert explores the different ways in which creativity can be part of our lives and how we can let it be part of our lives.

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I have to say, I really preferred this book to Eat, Pray, Love because it feels more honest and more relatable to me. I really love that Gilbert uses personal examples from her path as a writer because it demystifies the whole thing while also bringing creativity to an everyday level. This is the perfect push in the back for anyone who has a project in mind but feels insecure or not qualified enough to embark on the “let’s do it” boat. Very inspiring and fun to read, this is a book to keep on your bedside table and to look at when you’re feeling uninspired. As the chapters are so short and independent, I feel like you could pick the book up, read a few pages, get creative and come back to it some time after for another shot of courage and inspiration. I will definitively put this one on my “To Find” list as I need to bring this copy back to the library soon.

Anyone else read this? What did you think of it?

Terra Nova Burgers, a rave review

A few weeks ago, I stumbled upon Terra Nova burgers at my then local natural food store. The packaging of these is just so gorgeous, you just have to stop and look at it. I feel like this is sometimes lacking in the vegan world: great packaging. Everything is green and brown for some reason. Anyways, after I was done batting my eyelashes at the packaging, I realized these burgers were something completely new to me: lupine burgers? This is really interesting because the lupines I knew were beautiful flowers. I realized that lupines are all part of the legume family, but some actually produce beans. Yum! So I quickly brought some of these burgers home, and I was really excited to try them out.

Fast forward a couple of weeks. I contacted the founder  of Terra Nova and asked if I could write this review. He kindly accepted and gave me all three flavors to test out. This is how I prepared these wonderful burgers. Overall, I have to say that they are a really nice change to other vegan burgers you can find: they are gluten-free, have amazing flavors and colours, and their texture makes them very versatile.

  • Aztèque/Chipotle: Corn and Millet Flavour: terra-nova1These were the first ones that I tried out. I thought I’d go with the Mexican theme and use them in tacos. Great idea! I pan fried the burgers and crumbled them in the pan until I had nice golden flakes of goodness. I paired them with a simple tomato salsa, a cucumber salad, some greens and hot sauce. It was so much fun to eat these! The lupine crumbs were nicely toasted and had some heat to them, while also being crunchy and delicious. A completely delicious way to destroy burgers! terra-nova2

 

  • Nordique/Quinoa: Kale and Beet Flavour: terra-nova3Now, this is probably the one flavour I was crazy excited to try out simply because of the wonderful colour. I mean, who doesn’t want to have a nice bright pink burger? It’s so pretty! I kept this one really simple: some garlic sautéed mushrooms with a sweet mustard sauce in a bun. D-E-L-I-C-I-O-U-S! My boyfriend ate his and was so disappointed that there wasn’t more. The burger is nice and moist and stays together well when cooked in the pan. Of all three, I think this one is my favourite. terra-nova4

 

  • Indienne/Sweet Potato: Spices and Rice Flavour: terra-nova5Now, if you’ve been reading my blog for the last few weeks, you know that I have been waiting for my fridge to come in. We do however have a mini-freezer. So in the freezer these burgers went! When I was ready to eat them, I placed them directly in the oven. They came out nice and golden on the outside, and tender on the inside. Perfection! The Indian spices gave this a really special and wonderful flavour. We really enjoyed this one as well. I paired this with some corn salad and bread, which my boyfriend turned into a very beautiful open sandwich. Yum!terra-nova6

I’m really glad I got to test out these wonderful burgers! I know that the recipes are still being tweaked because they are not completely satisfied with the textures, but I have to say I really enjoyed them as they are now. I find them very tender and full of flavour. I also enjoy that you can transform them easily to make up different recipes depending on your mood. Of course, I’m very curious to see how they evolve and become even more amazing. If I were you, I would keep my eyes open for these pretty burgers. They are available around Montreal right now, so go try them out!

Because Outer Happiness is pretty great!

A few days ago, I contacted Outer Happiness, an Montreal-based Etsy store specialized in vegan body products like bath salts, body scrubs, masks and even candles. The products looked really cute, and the scent combinations sounded amazing! Marina, the shop owner, was kind enough to give me a few samples to try out: how exciting!

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I took advantage of the rainy week-end to pamper myself. It is so important to take a break from time to time and just take care of ourselves! The first product I tried out was the white tea and ginger revitalizing boy scrub.

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Now, I have to tell you the smell of this is INCREDIBLE! The ginger makes this scrub super energizing and fresh. Made with Himalayan and Dead Sea salts, this is a perfect body scrub as it is quite chunky. Enriched with vitamin E, avocado oil and almond oil, it is also super hydrating and soothing to the skin. It left it smooth and so soft!

After that amazing scrub, I relaxed a bit with a strawberries and champagne bath. Doesn’t this sound amazing? Well it was!

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The smell of this is wonderful: you feel like you are bathing in a giant strawberry candy! Made with Epsom salt and bicarbonate of soda, this bath salt is super detoxifying and relaxing. I felt like my muscles were unclenching one by one. It was great!

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Once out of the bath, the Argan oil left my skin soft and hydrated. Plus the strawberry smell lingered too, which was fun! I can’t wait to use this salt in my bath again! It’s so great!

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If you like pampering yourself, I really encourage you to try out Outer Happiness products because they are AMAZING! The packaging is reusable and super cute, and they really make you feel like you are using luxurious products, while not breaking your bank. These little wonders are very affordable and are also helping the world be a better place as one dollar per sale goes to Save the Children. How great? I will totally be buying some of her products in the future as I think they would make perfect gifts. Marina is super friendly so don’t hesitate to get in touch with her if you have an idea for a custom order. Make sure to go check her store out! It’s amazing! And support her amazing work by liking her Facebook page. Let me know if you try out some of her products!

L’Gros Luxe 100% Végé, a new staple?

This week-end is supposed to be one of the worst rainy week-end of the summer. What did we do to make it better? Easy: Brunch! This week, my friend Thao from La Végé d’à Côté wrote an amazing review on a new vegetarian and vegan spot in Montreal: L’Gros Luxe 100% Végé. It looked like they had really fun food, and so I was really excited when I saw that they were starting to serve brunch this week-end. Out we went!

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When we entered, I was really surprised by the cool vintage decor of this restaurant. It really has a cozy and comfortable feel. I was really excited to see the brunch menu: scrambled tofu eggs, benedict eggs, breakfast burritos, poutine and waffles… and fried chicken! Now, I had to try that out! So we ordered the waffles and fried chicken and the breakfast poutine. Our waitress was super friendly and casual. She was really nice! So we ordered, and then we waited, waited and waited. It took a while for our food to arrive, and our neighbors, who were there before us, were still waiting for theirs when we started eating.

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I have to say I was expecting a little bit more food for the price, but everything was delicious. The pear-bourbon maple syrup was really flavourful, and it is something I’d like to make again at home. The gluten-free waffles were good, but really dense. However, they were not too sweet, and so I got to enjoy the wonderful syrup with them. The real star of this plate was the vegan chicken: super crispy, perfect texture and amazing taste. It really felt like the real thing, while still being an incredible mix of soy protein and shiitake mushrooms. Delicious!

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Overall, we liked the food, but it was a bummer to have to wait so long for it to arrive. Would we go back? Well, probably if we had omni friends around because they do have fun veganized staple foods. I would maybe want to try out their evening menu which looks amazing. It’s also great that they offer vegan alternatives for most of their vegetarian dishes, and that many of them are gluten-free. It’s still great to see more and more vegetarian and vegan restaurant pop up around the city. Let me know if you went there for brunch or for diner, and what you thought of it! And don’t forget to check out La Végé d’à Côté for her review!

 

Pure Kitchen, a restaurant review

Sunday, after attending the Ottawa Veg Fest, we went to eat at Pure Kitchen. Apparently, this restaurant was launched by the Pure Yoga studios’ team. Their vegetarian menu includes many delicious vegan options, juices and smoothies. I really enjoyed their neutral decor: done all in black and white except for a very colorful wall, the space gives out a fresh and, well, pure impression.

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We started out with their Lavish, their loaded avocado. The avocado half is grilled and filled with pico de gallo (salsa), sprouts and coconut bacon bits. It was very cute and super tasty! It was also very fresh and spicy. The mix of texture was also quite fun: crunchy coconut bacon, creamy avocado and soft tomatoes. And because we wanted to keep things light, we ordered the starter poutine. Yeah, that’s an oxymoron.

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Fries, cashew cheese, bell mushrooms and gravy. Yup, that’s intense! Even though this was good, I didn’t feel like it was particularly exceptional: the fries were soft and the gravy quite salty. However, their cashew cheese was really good. It had little to do with the traditional squeaky poutine cheese, but it added a nice flavour to the mix. Even though we split this up in three parts, I must admit I was full at this point. But it didn’t end here…

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Now this was spectacular! Walnut burger, guacamole, cauliflower wings, coleslaw and greens! this was really great: tasty, textured, and slightly spicy. The fact that there was no bun was great too because this is clearly enough on it’s own. It’s also a lot more fun! This was served with a kale salad and some fries. I really liked the cauliflower wings: what a great idea! My boyfriend took the Awesome burger. The same walnut burger was served with mushrooms, coleslaw and bbq sauce.

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My friend had the Fantastic bowl which was really good! Compared to our burgers, her plate was smaller, but so full of flavours. The tofu was really well seasoned and so tender. Unlike any other bowls I had seen before, this one was served with rice noodles.

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Needless to say, after eating all this we crawled out of the restaurant, hating the idea of food. Except for my friend who was excited about ice cream..! I really like this restaurant: the food was incredible. I have to say that for a Sunday afternoon, it was really packed and noisy however. We also had a very crabby waitress, but considering the jam-packed restaurant, it was understandable. It was actually a little bit funny. Anyways, we all paid around 20$ which is pretty good. I’d probably recommend this place if you are in Ottawa. Plus, it’s right in front of MEC, so you can go browse all the fancy outdoor equipment after eating, and it might make you feel better or make you feel like you are the laziest person who has every walked the earth. On that note, let me know if you tried Pure Kitchen or what’s your favorite vegan restaurant!

Summer is coming!

With the warm weather coming back, I have but one thing on my mind: TRAVEL! Every time I hop in the car or on the bus, I feel like shouting, “To infinity and beyond!”

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However, as we don’t have any trips planned for this summer, I’m starting to think that exploring our province would be a good alternative. To help me in my quest for the perfect outing, I have selected four books. I hope they might inspire you to check out your piece of map a little this summer too!

  1. Prenez le champ! by Julie Aubé: This is a new one coming out this week. I was so intrigued by this book that I decided to go check out the book release and bought it there on Monday night. I really didn’t feel too cool with my bright orange raincoat while everyone else was cruising along with drinks in their hands, but the book is amazing! It is filled with itineraries regrouping different farms and local producers. I’m really excited to go explore Québec’s countryside, coasting from food stop farm to farm. The book in itself is also really well made with hand-drawn maps, amazing pictures and descriptions that really make you want to leave right away to go taste Mr Poncelet’s asparagus or go wine tasting on Orleans Island.
  2. Le Montréal Gourmand de Philippe Mollé, Ulysse: Philippe Mollé used to have a cooking show that I would religiously watch with my mom. Our excitement when meeting him last winter at the Salon des Métiers d’Art, where he was selling a really nice maple syrup, was just ridiculous. He was charming, and so we bought maple syrup, and I took out this book again. Filled with restaurant and café recommendations all in Montreal, this is a great companion for those week-ends when you don’t feel like going out too far. Some suggestions are even vegan!
  3. Escapades au Québec, La Presse: This is a really beautiful book filled with amazing pictures of the nicest places to visit in the province. There’s something for everyone: lovers, kids, hermits (traveling separately), beach enthusiasts, foodies and more. I wish I had enough time to visit each one of these wonderful spots!
  4. Randonnée pédestre au Québec, Ulysse: Because I will probably double in size this summer (I blame the incredible food all the other books are promoting), I want to select some hikes too. Québec has a great variety of landscapes ranging from fields to beaches, and it would be a shame not to take advantage of the great outdoors during the summer! This book is really well put together with tips, maps and difficulty levels for each hike.

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I feel like it will be impossible to choose from the amazing selection these books bring forward! I’m really excited to skim through them and to discover new favourites. Let me know if you have any recommendations, or if you have fun travel plans for the summer!