A Brunch In Bayfield

Black Dog Pub, Bayfield OntarioStaycation was a hugely popular term a few years ago due to the slumping markets and economy. But, to be honest, I don’t think it has gone away. Not because of money issues but because we realized that experiencing something new, relaxing, breathtaking, or thrilling didn’t have to happen far from home.

Bayfield, located about an hour from London, is a quick escape for the boy and I. Sitting on Ontario’s west coast, the charming little town has the water, the beach, friendly residents, fun shopping, and some of the most delicious casual and fancy pants food around. During the summer, we often drive up to Bayfield for brunch at The Black Dog Pub and an after meal ice cream on Main Street.Black Dog Pub patio, Bayfield Ontario     Black Dog Pub, Bayfield Ontario     Black Dog Pub, Bar, Bayfield OntarioBlack Dog Pub menu Bayfield Ontario     Black Dog Pub interior seating, Bayfield OntarioMushroom brie bruschetta, Black Dog Pub, Bayfield OntarioLunch, Black Dog Pub, Bayfield Ontario     Fruli beer, Black Dog Pub, Bayfield OntarioLittle Inn, Bayfield OntarioPatrons on cafe patio, Bayfield OntarioShop alley, Bayfield OntarioRed benchRed bench, detailRed Pump Inn, exterior, Bayfield OntarioRed Pump Inn lodging, Bayfield OntarioRetail sign, Bayfield OntarioGallery garden, Bayfield OntarioMain street, Bayfield Ontario Where the Heck Is Easy StreetJuice Bar, Bayfield OntarioArchie's shop, exterior, Bayfield Ontario"I Lake It" signRosie's Ice Cream shop, Bayfield OntarioPink Flamingo Bakery and Shop, Bayfield OntarioAlbion Hotel patio, Bayfield OntarioBed and Breakfast, Bayfield OntarioBicycle on porch, Bayfield OntarioWith the sun still high in the sky and an opportunity to explore another little town well known for its charm but never visited by us, we headed twenty minutes north to Goderich.

It was our lucky day. The square in the centre of old downtown, although devoid of the mature trees destroyed by the 2011 tornado, was now dotted with new greenery and a multitude of vintage cars. I felt transported back in time.

We wove through the colourful display of power and engineering, and popped into some of the local businesses which fill the historic buildings around the square. Music from the 50s, 60s, and 70s filled the air. I hadn’t expected to have such a unique first impression of Goderich, but it definitely guaranteed my return.Vintage car show, Goderich OntarioBlue and white vintage car, detailVintage car show, Goderich Ontario20160723_134924        20160723_134444Vintage car show, Goderich OntarioPink vintage car with orange lucite hood ornamentI highly recommend a weekend visit to both of these delightful destinations, summer or winter, rain or shine!

Sign-off

Bonjour Paris Part 2

Colonne de Juliet, Place de la Bastille, ParisJust steps from Place de la Bastille and the Colonne de Juliet commemorating the Revolution of 1830 (otherwise known as the Second Revolution or the July Revolution) sprawls a twice weekly market. Known as the Richard Lenoir or the Bastille Market, it is one of my favourite shopping destinations when I plan my culinary escapades in Paris.

Fresh and hot food vendors set up shop from 8am to 3pm every Thursday and Sunday. In a matter of hours a quiet boulevard is transformed by the colour, sounds, smells, and excitement of enthusiastic merchants, hungry shoppers, and curious tourists seeking the perfect shot of “real Paris”.

Although you can find all sorts of things at the market, from socks and batteries to kitschy Paris souvenirs, I’m here for the food and not just the fresh fruits and veg. The vendors at this market set up full refrigerated displays of artisan cheese and baked goods and gourmet meats, containers of spices, nuts, and olives, and the most beautiful flowers to grace any French home. And if all the sights make your belly grumble ready-made roasted chickens and glazed potatoes, bubbling paellas, and sweet crepes can be picked up for a quick nibble. It’s a veritable feast! Richard Lenoir Market, Bastille, ParisFresh fruit and vegetables at the Bastille market in ParisWild asparagus at the Bastille market in ParisOrganic bread at the Bastille market, ParisPalmier cookies at the Bastille Market in ParisPain au chocolat, Bastille Market in ParisFlower vendor at the Bastille market in ParisPeony close up at the Bastille Market in ParisPeony detail Bastille MarketFish monger stall at the Bastille market, ParisBasket with crabs at Paris Bastille MarketSnails for sale at the Bastille Market in ParisMaking crepes at the Bastille Market in ParisTubs of spices - Bastille Market in ParisArtisan cheese stall at the Bastille Market | ParisWhen I’m looking for something unique to bring home from Paris, nothing beats the famed French flea markets. And my favourite has to be the Marche aux Puces de St-Ouen also known as Clignancourt, a sprawling seven hectare mecca of trinkets and treasures just outside the 18th arrondissement.

The market houses approximately 3000 vendors and is actually made up of a number of smaller bazaars that wind through alleyways, streets, and covered halls, each one  with its own specialty. You can find just about anything from the useful to the banal (I’m not sure who needs a full sized stuffed zebra). Bargaining is encouraged, preferably in French, but English is spoken when necessary, especially if you look like a serious buyer. Photos are prohibited in some places but regardless I always ask permission before snapping away. “Puis-je prendre des photos, s’il vous plaît?” was my regular mantra around Paris.

Mostly though, I tend to put down my camera and remember that the flea markets are a magical wonderland, and if I look hard enough I just might find the perfect looking glass!

Alleyway at Marche aux Puces St Ouen in Paris | Clignancourt ippBrown dauschaund on the streets of ParisAntique ram's head sculpture at Clignancourt in ParisMerchandise in a stall at the Marche aux Puces St Ouen |Clignancourt in ParisCurios at the Marche aux Puces St Ouen | Clignancourt in ParisFlea market stalls at the Marche aux Puces St Ouen | Clignancourt in ParisAntique furniture at the Marche aux Puces St Ouen | Clignancourt in ParisDisplay of old keys at the Marche aux Puces St Ouen | Clignancourt in ParisDisplay tables at the Marche aux Puces St Ouen | Clignancourt in ParisVintage paper cutouts, Marche aux Puces St Ouen, Paris | ClignancourtFlea market stalls, Marche aux Puces St Ouen, Paris | Clignancourt My gorgeous friend Catherine, who joined me for a few days, walked away with a silver ladle for just a few Euros and memories worth much more.Catherine, Poa Studio owner, and her silver ladle, Marche aux Puces St Ouen, Paris | ClignancourtI hope you tune into Paris Part 3 where I finish my beautiful adventure.

Becoming a Little French

Books about Paris, France focused on fashion, food and styrle - Amost French, Parisian Chic, Paris Letters, French WomenSo I realize that I am a Polish girl living in Canada…but in my head, there are days, when I feel utterly and completely French!!! I know…shocking, right?! But I feel that I’m not alone in this grand delusion. Hundreds if not thousands of women around the world are keen to find the french girl within. We are riveted by tales of great french passions, secrets of effortless beauty, and simple orgasmic cuisine (a fresh baguette, good cheese and a bottle of wine have been known to illicit some interesting sounds out of this girl!). And we all want to experience it for ourselves.

Do you know what I blame for my personal addiction to this fantasy world? My love of reading! And I plan on taking any of you willing readers down the rabbit hole with me. Here are my top four books to feed your inner French Fille.

1. Almost French: Love and a New Life in Paris by Sarah Turnbull

I got this book a number of years ago, just after my first visit to Paris. I was smitten with the most romantic city in the world and wanted desperately to live there. Of course, that wasn’t going to become reality anytime soon. So I settled for some vicarious living through Sarah’s account of navigating life in the City of Lights (the good, the bad, and the ugly). For all the amusing horror, this is a seductive book that only intensified my dreams of returning to Paris over and over!

2. Parisian Chic a Style Guide by Ines de la Fressange

The fascination with the French sense of style is not mine alone. Many books have been written on how to achieve that almost impossibly uncontrived sense of je ne sais quois that is key to a real Frenchwoman’s look. The difference with this book is that it’s author is a true icon in the fashion world, and yet she writes this book like your best girlfriend, breaking down the secrets of french allure into easy to understand and adapt rules. And if you ever find yourself in Paris, Ines shares the best places to outfit your inner french goddess.

3. French Women for All Seasons by Mireille Guiliano

Knowing my penchant for becoming french, my sister gave me this book for one of my birthdays. I was thrilled to slip further into my francophile addiction, immersing myself into the french way of life. Mireille, best known for her debut book. French Women Don’t Get Fat, delves into the french lifestyle including cooking, shopping, entertaining and even exercising. The best part are the author’s own anecdotes of living in Paris and New York. It was a hit with me right from the start, and I go back to it time and again.

4. Paris Letters by Janice Macleod

Finally, this last book is my newest addition to a must read for any wannabe French girl. It was lent to me by a friend, and I have fallen completely under the spell of Janice’s writing…and painting. For anyone who’s ever thought of throwing it all away and running off to Paris, this is the book for you! The author also has a small Etsy Shop where she sells her beautifully penned and illustrated letters via a subscription. A beautiful and thoughtful gift idea for any travel lover on your list!

I hope you get a chance to check out these great reads. I would love to hear your recommendations for some fantastic escapist reading.

An Italian Christmas with Massimo Bruno

Massimo Bruno Toronto studio kitchenThis past Sunday the boy and I had an opportunity to indulge in a Christmas feast in Toronto, Italian style. With promises of abundant food and a gregarious group of strangers (soon to be friends) squeezed in at a communal table, we were ready for a real European dining event!

Our host, Italian chef Massimo Bruno, had organized another of his popular, always sold-out Supper Club dinners. This one around the holiday theme, the fifth annual “Buon Natale” Christmas in Italy. The holiday dishes featured were many of his favourites, and the evening was dedicated to his Mama who would be celebrating Christmas back in Italy. The dinner was held at his cooking studio on King Street East where many of his Supper Clubs and cooking classes are held.

Massimo Bruno - Italian Chef in TorontoMassimo Bruno checking for his Supper Club guestsChristmas in the Massimo Bruno kitchen studioLike a great host, Massimo kept an eye out for his guests, welcoming each personally, and entertaining the rest of the room with great Italian humour, as we waited for everyone to arrive. Whether you were a Supper Club virgin or a frequent diner, you were made to feel right at home. And with a “bring your own wine” policy, the atmosphere was more than merry. Although, the boy and I didn’t bring any wine since we were driving back to London after dinner, more than a few of the guests offered to share their libations with us.

But of course, we were there for the amazing food. The warmth of the studio was only intensified by all the cooking in the open kitchen. Massimo, along with some help from his brother and friends Giovanna, and Enzo, prepared the feast in front of our eyes. And cooking for such a large group is no small task.

Enzo cooking in the kitchen studio at Massimo Bruno's Supper ClubSunday sauce at the Massimo Bruno Supper ClubAntipasti in the kitchen at Massimo Bruno Italian Supper ClubAnd we came ready for a feast!

Antipasti
Homemade focaccia
Calamari fritti (fried calamari)
Bresaola, Grana e Rucola (cured beef with arugola and parmigiano cheese)
Baccala’ frito (fried cod)
Burrata e pomodori (burrata with tomatoes and basil)
Lenticchie e Salsicce (sicilian lentils with barese sausage) 
Primi
Il Ragu della Domenica (Ziti pasta with big Sunday sauce)
Mafaldine ai Frutti di Mare (curly fettucine with seafood sauce)
Secondi
Agnello al Forno (baked lamb with shallots and white wine)
Insalata (salad)
Dolce
Flourless ricotta lemon cake
Pandore
Panettone
Espresso

Massimo Bruno Italian Supper Club - Tomato focacciaMassimo Bruno Italian Supper Club - Bresaola and arugulaBurrata plates at Massimo Bruno's Supper ClubAs soon as the food hit the table, I didn’t know what to try first. The burrata’s cheesey exterior revealed a flowing cream centre that paired perfectly with the fried tomatoes. Thin slices of bresaola were coated in a thin layer olive oil and shavings of parmigiano. Homemade barese sausages swam in tiny lentils and were the perfect start on a cold evening. Small plates of these antipasti were placed along the table and everyone passed them around for second and third helpings.

Massimo Bruno Supper Club - Italian antipastiMassimo Bruno Italian Supper Club DinnerGuests at Massimo Bruno's Buon Natale Supper ClubAfter these “small” bites, I couldn’t believe there was more food to come. The variety was amazing and the chatter around the table grew in the casual family atmosphere. I felt like I was having dinner with all my extended family and cousins back home. Massimo floated around the room chatting, taking photos, and generally ensuring that no one went hungry.

Massimo Bruno Italian Supper Club - Shrimp pastaZiti with Sunday sauce at Massimo Bruno's Supper ClubWine and photos at Massimo Bruno's Italian Supper ClubFinally the dishes were cleared and the desserts and coffee passed around. I’m positive I wasn’t the only one thinking of unbuttoning my pants or looking around for couch for an after dinner nap. The best evidence for the quality of food and dining atmosphere is a doodle filled wall full of thanks and comments from past guests.

Thank you's at Massimo Bruno's kitchen studio in TorontoThe drive to Toronto was well rewarded with the best Italian food and atmosphere I’ve found outside of Italy. If you’d like to experience it yourself, head over to Massimo’s site and discover something unforgettable.

Buon Natale a Tutti!

Weekend Edition

Italian Inpired - Cafe break in Rome - Cobblestones & CappuccinosAm I wrong to already be dreaming about summer holidays? This weather is really giving me the blues and all I can think of is soaking up some sun in the Mediterranean. I keep going back to the photos from my holiday in Rome, anticipating the next time I will smell the aroma of freshly brewed espresso sipped on a cobblestone street in the warmth of the afternoon sun. In the meantime, I hope you will enjoy my Italian inspired weekend links!

  • There is nothing more beautiful than a summer wedding, especially one in Italy. Marissa Cox shares her beautiful snaps from a friend’s wedding and makes you feel like one of the guests. Thank you for the privilege!
  • The beautiful Eva Green stars in the 2015 campaign calendar for Campari, the liquor at the heart of Italy’s most famous aperatif, the Negroni.
  • Who doesn’t want a quick and easy recipe, especially for the weekend. Silvia Colloca serves up the perfect frittata which can be served hot or cold . Buon apetito!