Happy Holidays!

I wanted to wish all of you happy holidays and all the best for 2013! I’m fortunate to be spending the holidays with my family and I hope that all of you are able to spend the holidays with those who are special to you.

I haven’t been blogging lately as I am not yet sure what direction I want to take with the blog. Not to worry – I still love to eat, but I’m not sure I want the blog to focus so much on food. If any of you have ideas of what you’d like to read, I am more than open to suggestions.

In the meantime, may Santa (or Santa Bunny in the case of Daisy bunny) be good to all of you. Wishing you health, happiness and wonderful food 🙂

Rachel & Daisy 🙂


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Linen – my new obsession

It started in Copenhagen with pillow covers and continued with a linen throw in Portland. More than just napping companions, linen has become my new fabric of choice. Don’t get me wrong – I still am in love with velvet, cashmere and cotton. I’ve decided to add linen into the texture fiesta of our Alice in Wonderland palace.

I’m excited by adding more linen bedding into the mix and seeing if it indeed gets softer with age.

Cushions courtesy of Birger et Mikkelsen Home (purchased in Copenhagen); French linen scarves from Alder & Co in Portland

Linen throw (amazing for a nap) from Alder & Co. in Portland. Monsieur Lapin courtesy of Chapters and raplapla doll courtesy of Redfish

Grey towel, striped towel and natural colour pillow cases courtesy of a new store called Pisolino in Vancouver. The green linen dish cloth is from my favourite store Orling & Wu The pink scarf is courtesy of a wonderful street vendor in Bruges named Janis Rozentals

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Portland – chocolate tour, cupcakes & brunchy goodness

Last weekend I went to Portland to live the dream of the 90s.

Okay I didn’t end up with a part time job as a barista, but I did have the chance to go to a few really excellent cafes, go on a chocolate tour and eat some tasty food. Did I also mention it was freaking hot there – try +40 celsius.

Here’s a round up of my weekend in food:

There are many cafes to try in Portland. A couple that I tried included Public Domain and Courier Coffee Roasters. Courier also serves canneles that they make inhouse 🙂 Stumptown had a huge line up when I went there, so I gave it a miss and will try to make it there on my next trip to Portland.


I only went to one cupcake place but I went there twice and decided it was a place I could definitely consider making my new home. Normally when I eat cupcakes I want to throw away the stumpage. However, Saint Cupcake makes tasty stumpage that I snorfed down. Plus they come in small sizes so you can sample a lot!


The chocolate tour is one of the many tours by Portland Walking Tours
On the tour, we had the opportunity to sample drinking chocolate, chocolate balsamic vinegar and chocolates from Moonstruck, Cacao, Leonidas and Teuscher. Luckily the walking allowed a little bit of calorie burning!




Brunchy goodness:
I had the most amazing brunch while I was on my way to Stumptown. The Francophile in me was sidetracked by Brasserie Montmartre and I naturally had to go in and stuff my pie hole. The meal started off with a complimentary croissant – plain or chocolate (duh – I chose chocolate!)

I asked my server what she recommended and she said eggs florentine. I was not disappointed. It was fantastic! Instead of using English muffins, croissants were used to hold the eggy, spinach goodness. The roasted potatoes that accompanied the dish were perfect. My only complaint is that my stomach could not hold all of it!



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Pantone – colour goodness!

The Pantone Hotel I stayed at in Brussels was full of all sorts of beautiful colours. I adore colour and often look like a box of crayons vomited on me (thanks Helene for the crayon puke line!) As a result, it’s no big shock that I loved all the colours on display at the Pantone Hotel, as well as their fantastic products. Even the sugar in the breakfast room was colourful!




The Pantone Hotel had many items available for sale, such as mugs, espresso sets and notebooks. What I most wanted was a Pantone bike, but that wouldn’t exactly fit in an overhead bin on the plane.



Back home in Vancouver, I decided a little taste of Pantone was in order and I happily scooped up a couple of mugs from one of my favourite neighbourhood stores – Homewerx


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Design goodness – all hail those awesome Danes!

Aside from trying to eat all the pastries and junk food my body could handle, I wanted to look at a lot of the cool design in Copenhagen. I blame my genes for loving Danish design. My father found a coffee table he loved during a visit to Copenhagen in the 1960s that he wanted to ship back to Canada. Needless to say it would’ve cost a small fortune, but as luck would have it, he managed to find it later on in our hometown.

I did not end up getting any furniture but thought it would be fun to look. I also made the decision to just say no to pottery, no matter how much it screams “achetez-moi!” at me. I just assumed inanimate objects spoke to everyone…Anyway, fantastic design is everywhere, even mall bathrooms and lounge areas…




Here’s where I’d like to eat my danishes every day:


I did manage to make a couple of design-related purchases. I bent my “no pottery” rule because it had a bunny on it.





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Copenhagen – hello danishes!

After bunnies in Brussels Airport demanded I buy more chocolate, I was on my way to beautiful Copenhagen. I had been there a long time ago with my parents, so I was looking forward to spending a couple of days there with my chronologically grown up perspective (inner Rachel still dreams of ponies and unicorns….)


I decided to pass on Tivoli Gardens and instead wandered the streets of downtown Copenhagen, armed with my camera and my Jabba appetite for all things food.



The danishes……with so many names I couldn’t pronounce and so little time to try all of them….cinnamon, chocolate, pistachio…..



Those poor little ones in the bag didn’t stand a chance – and I was at that bakery twice in one day! The danishes that didn’t make me want to move into the bakery (like the pistachio one) were only a little bit dry. Otherwise, their sweet, succulent centres were sugary goodness.

The cupcake has made inroads here. Unlike most of the ones I’ve had in Vancouver (when I need a major sugar high), the one I sampled here at a beautiful bakery called Serenity Cupcakes, had a lovely, not too sweet, cream cheese frosting and raspberry in the cupcake. I’d call it a fruit salad.




Filed under Copenhagen, Home decor, Nom nom nom

In Bruges

Fortunately my trip to Bruges did not involve me hiding out with Colin Farrell at the insistence of my boss Ralph Fiennes 🙂 For those of you who have not seen the film In Bruges, I highly recommend it! I’d heard wonderful things about Bruges and it did not disappoint.

In the Brussels train station, I ran into a lovely couple who were also trying to figure out where the heck to buy tickets to Bruges. We found out where to go and I inevitably ended up crashing their romantic day together – because who wouldn’t want to hang out with a future potential super hero whose sole purpose in life seems to be the pursuit of excellent snackage 🙂

Bruges is a beautiful place to spend the day. It looks like tiny gnomes with great taste in architecture built it 🙂 Tourism seems to be a major industry here, so if you want somewhere a bit off the beaten track, probably best to choose another destination like Ghent. However, I really wanted to see Bruges and I’m very happy I went.



We came across a small market with artisans selling toys, jewelry and scarves. Of course I needed to fuel my scarf addiction 🙂 Each scarf is one of a kind, hand woven by this awesome guy and sold by his awesome wife.


We also went on a boat ride on the canals. Let’s just say safety really isn’t a concern, as the goal is to stuff as many people onto the boat as possible 🙂 Mom, there weren’t any lifejackets either – sorry for freaking you out! Anyway, despite me being someone who’d wear a helmet all the time, I lived on the edge and enjoyed my scenic tour of Bruges by boat.



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Brussels – chocolate, pastry & the odd museum for good measure!

After Dublin, I decided to head to Belgium for two reasons: first, I’d never done more than pass through Belgium and figured it was a country I should really visit, the second goes without saying – chocolate!

One of my other passions besides sugary snacks is design. On this basis, I chose the Pantone Hotel. A really huge taxi bill later (beware, taxis from the airport are not almost free), I ended up in this boutique hotel in a residential neighbourhood. Do not be too disappointed by the location, as it is not too far a walk from Louise – a major shopping street and the metro.



I think I just scratched the surface when it comes to chocolate in Brussels. I sampled chocolates from Neuhaus, Godiva (yes it tastes the same as it does here in Canada), Corne Port-Royal, Wittamar, Pierre Marcolini, Alex & Alex and probably more that I can’t remember from my intense sugar high 🙂


In addition, I found a bakery I want to live in called Paul. Sadly it didn’t seem big enough for me to fulfill my Jabba the Hutt dreams….In any event, I became addicted to Le Gourmandise – think of it as an elongated pain au chocolat with lots more chocolate…and lots of buttery goodness – nom!



Aside from slithering around, looking for more chocolate & pastry, I decided I should probably see a museum or two. I ended up at the Magritte Museum (showcasing the works of Belgian artist Rene Magritte) on a very rainy day. Wet & grumpy, I was not in a good mood when I was asked to check in my purse (especially when it seems that other people were allowed to bring in bigger bags than me). The museum is also connected to the Musees Royaux Des Beaux-Arts. I figured why not see that too 🙂

I found the museum rather confusing with its layout – but then again, I find maps are only useful to show me pretty lines & colours 🙂 If you do go, be sure to keep a hold of your ticket because museum folks will want to check to make sure you’re going to see the exhibits you actually paid to see. I passed on a Stanley Kubrick photography exhibit in favour of spending more money on snacks.


Now if you can read maps (unlike yours truly), you’ll discover a whole bunch of chocolate shops nearby. I just wandered into a sculpture garden and a church until I saw a Godiva sign and decided to walk in that direction. After being wet & grumpy, it was like pure heaven. I was just sad I couldn’t eat more!



Filed under Belgium, Nom nom nom

Dublin – Guinness and awesome crepes

Mom and I went for a tour of the Guinness Factory in Dublin. I’m not a beer fan whatsoever, but it was interesting to see what exactly goes into this dark elixir. An added bonus for beer drinkers – a free pint of Guinness and an incredible view of the city. So what did I figure out about beer (other than I still don’t like it) – well, the hops that go into beer are actually quite pretty 🙂


After the tour, we went for lunch at one of the eateries in the factory. The soup was a sodium fiesta but the bread was carbolicious goodness.


That evening, my brother & I were craving crepes from Half Moon Crepe Company again. One can get alcohol late at night, but sadly sugar cravings are harder to fill in Dublin at late hours. We ended up at the Bad Ass Cafe and consumed what can only be described as a fiesta of inadequacy. Here is an important lesson: reheating stale cake does not make it good. Putting chocolate sauce and ice cream also adds precious little to the taste experience.


Since my brother has labelled me “the food snob”, I was obligated to make up for the horror of this dessert experience. He is seriously not going to let me live this one down….but I hope a second trip to Half Moon did the trick. We ordered a crepe with Nutella & banana, served with ice cream. Banana and the hazelnut in the Nutella renders this virtually a health food – in the parallel universe where my brain usually resides 🙂 I lived off of this spiffy concoction the last time I was in Dublin and it’s nice to see that it’s still as amazing as I remembered it. Only this time I was nice and shared it.


I’d recommend crepes in Dublin. I’m sure the Guinness is good if you’re into that kind of thing 🙂 I would recommend the Leprechaun Museum but I was too cheap to go in. At 10 euros a pop, it made me wish I had a box of lucky charms to give to those punky green critters instead 🙂



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Trip to Dublin!

I’ve arrived safe & sound in Dublin for the first leg of my vacation. On my British Airways flight over the pond, I mistakenly ordered a vegan meal, rather than a vegetarian one (omnivore here figured that would likely be the tastiest of airplane meals). Surprisingly it wasn’t truly awful – chana masala, salad with sad looking tomatoes and fruit. Sorry – no photos of said meal.

Arriving in Heathrow, I was treated to a fiesta of transportation, passport checks, security checks and photographed (where I smized enough to make Tyra proud). In my highly sleep deprived state, I did what any rational human would do – shopped for chocolate. I bought Belgian chocolate from Harrods, bought a few other chocolate bars (one celebrating the Queen’s Jubilee) and some Irish chocolates that I started to shove down my sleepy pie hole.


What else could one possibly want to do at an airport besides eating chocolate…well, eating caviar of course 🙂 I resisted the salty fishy roe as I’m afraid I’m not posh enough – and I dislike fishy things. However, if you have lots of time to kill and you’re feeling extra fancy, Terminal 1 at Heathrow will meet your caviar needs 🙂



Filed under Dublin