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Archive for November, 2010

Montreal pastries…

11 Nov

Montreal was one of the places I was more excited about, at least from the pastry standpoint. This is because it is like the Paris of the west. Or far west I guess, since Paris is definitely not considered part of the east. Our first stop, after a couple of wrong turns and some turnarounds, was Boulangerie Premiere Moisson, where we got two petite gateaux and some chausson au pommes.  One of the petite gateaux was raspberry, cranberry, and hibiscus. It was all glazed with a red clear glaze and garnished with a chocolate piece, a raspberry, and a cranberry. (Pictures coming soon).It had a nice light mousse, and a lovely cake layer on the bottom. The flavor was nice and light, but you knew that you were eating something with raspberry, cranberry, and hibiscus.  The second dessert was a spiky chocolate dome filled with chocolate mousse and a caramel center. The cocoa powder that had been dusted onto the outside had dried the mousse just enough to make a semi-hard shell on the outside of the dessert.  The center was a soft caramel and it all sat on top of a chocolate biscuit.  Premiere Moisson had a lovely selection of desserts, breads, and viennioserie as well as sandwiches, pates, spreads, salads, and various other edible goods.

Our next stop was Suite 88 Chocolatier, which we managed to get to after fighting through rush hour traffic in downtown Montreal. We had found this place online, and loved the look of their shop and their products and were very excited to get to go and see it. We walked in to a sleek looking white and glass interior, accented with vases filled with sunflowers and other fall-colored and themed decor. The glass cases lining the left wall showcased their chocolates and treats while the counter to the right had a gelato case and some more chocolates. We picked out an assortment of chocolates from the case, and Tara and I decided to share a Belgian waffle with gelato. Kevin tried their intense hot chocolate. The chocolates were very good (I believe we still have a few we haven’t tried yet) and the warm waffle with gelato was a delicious treat. The hot chocolate was very good, and very rich. It was nice and smooth, with no grittiness at all. Definitely worth the stop, and we highly recommend it if you are ever in Montreal.

On our way out of town yesterday we went to a couple more pastry shops. These two were located in more of a suburb of Montreal, and had a little bit of a different feel to them, more like your local pastry shop that you would go to each day for your coffee and morning treat. We got several desserts at the first, a few assorted tarts and a couple of different petite gateaux. These were eaten while driving down the highway going 65 and trying not to dump it on someone’s lap. And I only managed to stab myself in the hand once, which I was rather impressed with. At the second place we went to, we sat down and ate a bit of lunch. The server was very nice, and very patient with us, being as we know very little French and she didn’t know a lot of English. We all managed to get through ordering and ate without further incident. The quiche was fantastic, and Kevin’s soup and pasta looked fantastic as well.

All in all, our trip through Montreal, and Canada in general, was a lot of fun. We got to meet some very nice people and eat some fantastic food at the same time. I can’t wait to see what we will run across within the next couple of days as we head to New York.

 
 

From Montreal to Vermont

10 Nov

Nicole and Tara posing at Ben and Jerry's headquarters

After hitting a few more pastry shops….so fantastic….we headed to Vermont. Seriously, could Vermont be any more precious! We first stopped in Burlington to visit Lake Champlain Chocolates. Very nice shop, we sampled a few. Burlington was a very cute town. We then hit the road for Waterbury, Vermont. First we stopped at the Old Cider Mill. What a fun little tourist stop. The place smelled of fantastic baked apple goods! We shopped around, sampled the cider, and purchased several “Vermont Classics” such as maple syrup, apple butter, cider, etc. Fun spot. Then we headed to the Cabot creamery annex. They have many types of cheeses at this store, but they specialize in cheddars. Then it was on to the Ben and Jerry’s headquarters. We stopped in, and happened to arrive just in time for the final tour of the day. We got to see the facility, and how they make all the wonderful Ben and Jerry’s goodies. The tour finished with a quick sampling of the day’s flavor. Always a good treat! It was getting dark, so we headed down the highway to our hotel right on the Vermont/New Hampshire border. Tomorrow, it’s another Vermont cheese creamery then on to NYC!

Nicole having a good time in cheese country in Vermont

Tara having fun in Vermont

 
 

Ohhh Canada….

10 Nov

Sooooo Canada. What a lovely little jaunt!!! We popped in and out of Canada a couple of times yesterday. We ended up in Montreal. On our way to Montreal out in the middle of Ontario (lancaster) we saw a sign on the highway that said “Glengarry Cheese Creamery”. So of course being the cheese freaks you know we are, we took a quick detour. What a fantastic stop that was! Out in the country, surrounded by cornfields was this great creamery!We started visiting with the very friendly lady at the cheese counter. We explained our love of cheese, and she invited us upstairs where we could see production of that day’s cheese. We had a great “birdseye” view of the process. What a nice facility. Turns out the creamery has been there for a couple of years, and it was started by a woman who started her cheesemaking at home (sound familiar?) :). We had a great visit. They also sell all kinds of cheese making supplies, so I invested in some new molds for my own use. We sampled several of their cheeses….great stuff! I particularly liked the Figaro! Fantastic! We had such a nice time visiting this creamery. What a great facility and cheeses! So glad we stopped!

On to Montreal….I won’t go into to much detail, because this is the pastry chef’s realm, but I will say one thing! When we go to Paris, one of my particular favorite morning treats is Chausson au pomme which means apple slipper. It is a wonderful flaky puff pastry treat, with a fabulous apple filling. Quite simple, really, but something I love! We went into some wonderful pastry shops in Montreal, quite like the ones in Paris, and I found my favorite treat!!!! Yes, I indulged! Aw, my buddy Chausson au pomme…I have missed you!

My favorite treat! I took some time out to snap a photo! How I love the chausson au pomme

 
 

Her point of view…where we left off

09 Nov

So…..Madison, first evening. We spent some time at Fromagination, a local cheese, and specialty shop with everything you might need/desire for that special cheese experience. What a great store, and frankly, my idea of heaven. We sampled some different cheeses, and bought a few to enjoy later, and things to accompany them. What a good time. We then headed to a Nepalese restaurant….why not? It was so fantastic! Loved it! Then we topped the evening with frozen custard…fantastic cool and creamy treat!

 Wisconsin Cheese festival:

Did we have perfect timing or what? We were very stoked to realize this particular festival was going on while we were on our crazy trek. We went to the marketplace Sunday morning, and it was so great! We spoke with many cheese makers, and artisans in varying specialties. We had so much fun talking with as many as we could, and sharing our passion as well. There were some new cheeses that quickly have been put on my “favorites” list. We also found some new items we really are anxious to have in our shop! My new favorite cheeses: from Edelweiss Creamery (butterkaase) a fantastic creamy melt in your mouth fabulousness! Roelli Cheese haus (Dunbarton Blue) a wonderful cheddar/blue cheese combo. There were so many great cheeses, I don’t even know where to begin, so that was a few. So wonderful! Kevin and Nicole also enjoyed some meat snacks from Wild Hare brand beef snacks. Great stuff. We also met folks from a Wisconsin Maple Sugarhouse with some wonderful products that educated us on the different levels of maple syrup. All in all, a wonderful experience, and we are so glad we had the oppurtunity to go. 

We headed out of Wisconsin, and were on our way to the Chicago area. We met up with a great friend of ours Beth Nielsen outside Chicago. She invited us to her home, and cooked us a wonderful meal, and showed us such great hospitality. It was such a great evening! The next morning we met up with her again, and she gave us a tour of the Vanilla plant that she owns. It’s Nielsen-Massey Vanilla company. This is the only vanilla product that Coastal Mist uses, and Kevin has been insisted on it for decades. What a great place, and it smells really fantastic! She then took us to Chicago for a brief tour of a few spots in Chicago. We had a fantastic lunch at Custom House, a wonderful restaurant featuring seasonal and local ingredients. It was so good. Then Beth took us to the French Marketplace. A great marketplace filled with all sorts of great food vendors. We stopped at a great cheese counter where the cheesemongers sliced us up some great samples, and then as we walked around we discovered a wonderful crepe booth, which made us long for our crepes we’ve been able to enjoy as we walk the streets of Paris. Once again…Fantastic! We tried to go to Rick Bayless’s restaurant, but it was closed on Mondays. Oh well, guess we’ll have to come back :), we then enjoyed an afternoon nosh at Sepia. What a great day! We didn’t even care that we had to drive to Niagara falls…..We would like to thank Beth Nielsen again for her wonderful hospitality, friendship, and of course for the great product that her and her family have produced for many decades! Thank you Beth and Lily!!

Sampling from Cheesemongers at French Market in Chicago

As I said before, we then left Chicago, and headed to Niagara Falls. It’s funny the looks we get from people we speak to when we tell them where we’re from, where we’ve been, and where we are headed. We get that same skeptical “are you guys crazy” look. As witnessed last night. Like I said we left Chicago, and took turns driving through Illinois, Indiana, Michigan, Ontario Canada, Upstate New York, and back to Ontario, and on to Quebec. We pulled an all nighter and arrived in Niagara falls shortly after 4 am. Believe me, not a lot of stuff going on at Niagara falls at 4 am, and we pretty much had the whole place to ourselves. We came in on the Canadian side, and it was like it was a “Vegased” up. We drove across the border again, and found a parking lot. Surprise, surprise, no one was watching the booth at that hour, and we got in free to park. We spent a little time enjoying the falls in the dark, and marveling at it, and then headed on our way. Sorry no pictures from Niagara, as it was dark 🙂 All in all we have had wonderful weather, couldn’t ask for better!

Nicole enjoying a "belated" birthday dessert in Chicago

 
 

Driving, driving part 2

09 Nov

Left Chicago yesterday evening headed for Montreal. We did a quick stop over at Niagra falls early this morning. We have crossed the border twice and are headed for it again. This trip is a blast & the weather has been perfect! At least so far….

 
 

Chocolate in Madison, WI

08 Nov

so those of you that know me know my stance on chefs and their oh so frail egos… Pastry chefs & chocolatiers are just as bad for sure. As I mentioned earlier we went to one shop in the capitol square area where they didn’t even display the chocolate! No menu or discription. Shame on you to those unnamed chocolatiers! We went to some other shops to that were eehhhh! Then when at the cheese festival and met chocolatier Gail Ambrosius. we really enjoyed her chocolates! high quality, beautiful and not one cocky little bugger at her table. just a very nice chocolatier doing her thing and loving every minute of it. (getting great national recognition too). To me there is nothing better than visiting with a passionate artisan that approaches their trade with passion and humility! Gail it was a real treat to visit with you and to enjoy your fantastic chocolates! Best of luck to you!!

 
 

Madison in the Evening

07 Nov

We wandered through the capitol district. It is very beautiful and has lots of cool shops. We went by an upscale chocolate shop. I wonder why I didn’t name them? Set up like a boutique but missing a couple important components. No menu or list to choose from and no chocolates on display. Hmmm maybe they have a following but didn’t interest us in buying even after we had a sample . Next we went to fromagination. This is a great cheese shop and we highly recommend it. I am currently eating a 10 year old cheddar and Hooks original blue as i type. Both were fantastic! So for dinner we ate Nepal & Tibet cuisine. We were lacking any experience to this but hey, this is about adventure right? It was absolutely fantastic! Heavy spiced and just simply very different but we all enjoyed Chautar and their “food from the top of the world”. We finished up with frozen custard from Culvers (a regional specialty). Creamy, rich and ooh so good! Man am I glad that there is no frozen custard anywhere near me! it is way too good to resist! Well off to the Wisconsin original cheese festival.

K

 
 

Madison Wisconsin

06 Nov

Female point of view:

We made it through Oregon, Idaho, Utah, Wyoming, Nebraska, Iowa, and into Madison Wisconsin in 40 hours-non stop. Early, early, early this morning we made it here to Madison Wisconsin. We only had 1 other run in with law enforcement (just a warning for going 6 miles over the speed limit-6 miles!!!), and 1 panicked trip in the middle of Iowa at 3 am franticly looking for a gas station. Here we are safe and sound in Madison. We quickly took showers, and headed out into the crisp Wisconsin morning. Being the great cheese lovers that we are you can imagine what a joy it is to be here in Wisconsin. It’s the Mother ship calling us home. We headed to the Farmer’s Market that is around the capital square. What great looking produce, cheeses, and bakeries. We sunk our teeth into a fabulous warm Wisconsin cheese bread, fresh cheese curds, a spinach cheese empanada, and we bought a small gooseberry pie to enjoy later. We love Farmers Markets. It is so fantastic to get to talk to the local farmers, cheesemakers, and growers. It’s what it’s all about. The booths at the market with spilling over with the best looking fall squashes, apples, gourds, tomatoes, Brussel Sprout, cheese etc. Such a great display of the season’s bounty. Tomorrow we are headed to the Wisconsin Annual Cheese Festival Artisan Marketplace. We are so excited to see different cheeses, and what this area has to offer. For right now, we are headed back out into Madison (we had to come in and thaw out a bit-for Oregon coasters, we just aren’t used to this cold).

Male Point of View:                                                                                                                                 

So I got in the car at 44 years of age but I exited it at an easy 55! I DON”T DO YOGA & FEET LIKE THE CAR WAS A PERMANENT PART OF MY @$$! Yes I too was so greatfull to get here and the scenery was really awesome but that is a long run. If the next time you see me I am walking on all fours with a Mercury Maruader sticking up off my @$$ like some twisted version of a hermit crab, well you’ll know I maxed the alloweable time in my car! So off to the market. I like farmers but not so much hippies…. hmm, I wonder which there will be more of. Talk to you soon!

 
 

Driving, driving & more driving…

05 Nov

So after working 26 hours straight we set out on our cross country adventure, although 2 of us were asleep before we left Bandon. With the exeption of a couple brief encounters of consciousness Kevin had magically transported us to near the Idaho border. We stopped in New Plymouth in the middle of the night to drop off the guinea pigs at the girls house and blazed on. We were however interigated by the local law enforcement when we stopped to check the map which has been the most eventfull part of the trip so far! We can say that because the better part of this day has been spent driving through Wyoming! Seriously… Anyone made this drive before??? If not let me describe it to you; tumbleweed, tumbleweed, tumbleweed, large wind generators, funny shapped rock worth remarking and did I mention tumbleweed? Don’t get me wrong, I am sure Wyoming has lots to offer, just maybe not so much on this stretch of I 80 E. we shall keep on truckin’ to Nebraska.

 
 

Best laid plans and other happy horse shit!!!

04 Nov

So as we were preparing to leave we had a considerable amount of orders to process as you would expect but we never dreamed just how many that would end up being…

Almost 1000 desserts and about the same amount of chocolates. So we are running a tad behind…. like 31 hours. We will skip KC and I will eventually dry my BBQ longing tears but it is the right choice. So within 30 minutes we will be on the road headed for Madison, WI. Home of one of the nations largest farmers markets (Saturday) and the original Wisconsin cheese festival (Sunday). So here we go! I am told by the computer it will take 38 hours. We’ll See….

Talk to you from the road.