Duluth 2017

November14

There have been years when we have travelled to Europe in September/October. In the years that we have not, my husband gets itchy feet. He feels the need to get away in the fall even if it is for a long weekend. On Remembrance Day 2016 we “discovered” Duluth Minnesota, enjoyed ourselves so much, that we decided on an encore trip this past weekend.

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We were accompanied by our son-in-law (known in this space as the Frenchman) and our youngest daughter Boo.

Since Boo (and her brother) works in the local craft beer business, our family is very beer oriented. Along with the Frenchman’s objective of hitting up all of the trading companies, my wanting to get started on Christmas shopping and D and Boo wanting to check out as many tasting rooms and brew pubs as possible, we were in for a full weekend. What we did have consensus on, was that it was the last weekend of Restaurant Week for the Downtown Duluth Restaurants and we were determined to visit as many of these on that list too.

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We were delighted with our Air B n B, a two bedroom house perched high on Observation Hill in Duluth. We did have a tricky time finding it and accessed the home from a back lane that was not in the greatest shape. D and the Frenchman headed out for some breakfast supplies while Boo and I got ready for the evening. Once the fellas returned home we made the decision to let someone else do the driving.

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There was snow in the forecast and taking on the vertical streets was no easy fete even on bare concrete. Besides fare to downtown was only $10!

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I zoomed in on the drawbridge that is the symbol of the city from our bedroom window (hence the grid of the screen).

We started with some shopping in the Canal Park area and then scooched over for dinner at Bellisio Restaurant & Wine Bar.

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Since the majority of the weekend was to be devoted to beer, we decided to try Bellisio’s wine flights. D chose a Tuscan flight and I a Merlot one.

Last year the Downtown Restaurant offers included soup, salad and an entrée at Bellisio’s. This year it was limited to the entrée and a dessert.

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D chose the pan-fried pickerel (called walleye in Minnesota)

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and I the chicken pancetta which was lovely and light with a broth sauce.

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I had a taste of the delicious tiramisu but knew that it would put me over the top.

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We stopped first at the Hoops Brewery, but the service was lacking and no one ever greeted us or took our order so we meandered instead to the Canal Park Brewery. They had a restaurant license and the food being delivered to surrounding tables looked exceptional. There were some interesting beer tastes, particularly the IPAs which were very distinctive.

The next morning the guys walked down the hill to fetch Starbucks coffee. We could hear them when they arrived back as they were really huffing and puffing from the exertion of the vertical terrain.

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We split up to do more shopping on Saturday morning but reconvened at lunch time taking in another featured restaurant-Toasty’s. The restaurant space was kind of dark and not terribly inspiring but the food was terrific. We started with French onion soup made with one of the local beers and then moved onto cheesy BLTs.

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For dessert we enjoyed an interesting take on bread pudding.

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Bent Paddle was our afternoon destination. D had taking their beer tour the year prior. If recollected accurately, Bent Paddle was the brewery that kick started the craft beer industry in Duluth.  The rather large facility was absolutely packed on a Saturday afternoon with many tables playing board games. The number of craft breweries matched Winnipeg’s number but remember that Duluth is 1/10th the size of our fair city!

We took a breather over snacks at our Air B n B, deciding that a house instead of a hotel room was the way to go, especially at a time when you want to gather together. The living room was so comfortable and preferable to sitting on beds in a hotel.

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We had one last brewery to check out so we determined our supper destination based on walking distance to The Blacklist, as we were cabbing it again. The Black Water Lounge was dark and cozy but we thought that the servers wearing bustiers deserved a change in uniforms. The low lighting made photographs impossible. We were quite delighted with lobster bites, blue cheese stuffed shrimp and a huge filet of smoked salmon. These we complemented by signature martinis.

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The Blacklist is Duluth’s newest brewery and was also packed. Unfortunately the live band was not conducive to visiting, so we stayed long enough for another couple of flights and headed “home”. In spite of tasting some very distinctive beer, we concluded that Winnipeg’s local brews were just as fine, if not more so.

Back at the house, D watched the Phoenix vs Jets game and filled me in on the score in the morning. After another jaunt to Starbucks on foot, we completed another round of shopping.

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Since we were no longer downtown we were just looking for a spot with wholesome food. Grandma’s Saloon and Grill  on Miller Hill did the trick.

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D selected the chicken pot pie that was so huge, he requested a to go container and we finished it later in the car.

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I decided to get back to my regular eating habits and chose this chicken and wild rice salad (besides I knew that there would be kettle chips in the car for the journey home). D was able to catch the first 1/4 of the Vikings game on TV and then the rest of it on the radio in the car home. Duluth was such a distance though that we also had the time to listen to the Bomber play off game too. Calculating the tally of our favourite teams: Jets win, Vikings win and Bomber lost. Two out of three ain’t bad.

Kath’s quote: “Beer is proof that God loves us and wants us to be happy“. -Benjamin Franklin

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Love never fails.

 

 

 

 

 

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Isla Mujeres 2017 Trip Report-Day 8

November8

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Our little ray of sunshine.

This was the day we moved from Centro to our “home”-Luna d’Miel.  J1 & J2, the little girls, Daughter #1, Lori and the rest of entourage departed that morning. Our sunshine had quite the melt down when they had to leave for the ferry. 

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We waved farewell and then packed up what was left in our hotel and waited for our golf cart to be delivered. We drove to Luna d’Miel to make sure we could check in, then drove back with our stuff, and were settled by 1 pm.

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As is always the case, we felt at “home” with D in his hammock and I to the surf and the beach.

We switched from hammock to chairs and back again. Later in the afternoon, we went to Chedrui for special potato chips and ate them with rum and colas for our Happy Hour in the front roadside chairs.

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We went down to Playa Sol with what was left of the gang for the last sunset before D & D (the newly married couple) departed for Tulum.

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Sister #2 and I walked to Amar (click on link to read all about our dinner) to ensure they could accommodate all of us. The place was very well appointed and as Dyl pointed out “it had a nice vibe”. When we arrived the place was not terribly busy but by the time we ordered, every table was occupied.

I did not record in my journal what we got up to after dinner but I suspect it was what we do every evening of our stay at Luna D’Miel. We sat together by the water and listened to the crashing waves, while reflecting on another day in paradise and how we were truly blessed to experience it.

Kath’s quote: “I’m always sad to leave paradise, but I leave behind the hopes of coming again soon”. -Irina Shayk

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Love never fails.

 

 

 

 

 

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Food Bloggers Canada Conference 2017-Part Three

November8

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Our final morning started off with a nutritious breakfast of a spinach egg and red pepper patty and pretty fruit.

The morning was filled with general sessions and then Meliisa and Ethan the founders of Food Bloggers Canada took the stage. Although this may sound ridiculous to some (including my fellow food bloggers), the highlight of every conference for me is the location announcement of the next year’s conference. During Melissa and Ethan’s concluding comments, they announced that 2018’s conference would be a cross country road trip! Since the logistics are not yet work out, dates and locations will determine where and if I can travel to the conference. The good news though is that there will be a stop in Winnipeg and I am excited about helping where I can with the planning and showing off our fabulous city.

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By this time it was our final lunch sponsored by the Dairy Farmers of Canada. Satiated, I decided that it was time to get out for a walk to see Ottawa again. I had only visited once before when I was a part of a government sponsored student exchange program.

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You can likely see how struck I was by the beauty of the city.

I didn’t have a plane to catch until supper time Monday so good friend and fellow blogger Marlene and I became roomies and decided on supper. See El Camino link here.

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The next day we did even more eating, starting with Good Eats and Wilfred’s at the Chateau Laurier. in addition to more chatting and more walking around the city including By Ward Market.

The learning and networking that I get to do on these conferences is motivation enough to attend. But in truth, it is the friendships that keep me coming back year after year. Carol, Kim, Joanne and Marlene, we met because of a mutual love of food but it is simply love that bonds us now.

Kath’s quote: “There is no love sincerer than the love of food.” ― George Bernard Shaw

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Love never fails.

 

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Food Bloggers Canada Conference-Ottawa 2017, Part Two

November7

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Day Two commenced with a satisfying breakfast sponsored by Ontario apples.

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I chose yoghurt with an array of fruit and nuts and a hearty muffin. I was set for a fabulous day.

Her Royal Highness (in the Canadian Culinary world at least)-Elizabeth Baird was our key note speaker. I was captivated by her every word and fascinated by her wealth of Canadian Food History so appropriate for our conference celebrating Canada’s 150th.

Soon after was our first breakout session. I had selected the group led by Thrive 360’s Zannat Reza and Will Lamont. I knew Zannat from previous conferences and Will remembered that I had taken on the food-styling for his client (at that time) Canadian Milk Produces and their cross country cheese winners.

I couldn’t miss out on Heather Travis otherwise known as Heather in Heels and her presentation. I first worked with Heather when she made me a Canadian Beef Ambassador. I hung onto her every word.

I also had the opportunity to hear the ensights of Laura-Jane Koers of The Rawatarian.

By then it was lunch…how did that happen? Lunch was sponsored by Half Your Plate. Their eating philosophy is that you should try to fill half your plate with a variety of fruits and vegetables at every meal. Even though I find this a challenge sometimes, it was so easy at the conference.

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The zucchini spirals and fruit selection made up half my lunch consumption. I knew that I needed some protein to focus for the afternoon and sautéed shrimp and ahi tuna did the trick.

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I couldn’t ignore the date squares called matrimonial cake on the prairies.

At Canadian Food Bloggers in 2016 I toured Ontario farms with Farm and Food Care.

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I welcomed the opportunity to meet with more farmers directly. Having come from an Ag family, I have so much respect for Canadian Farmers.

Before heading out for an afternoon walk, I popped into the Cookina Popcorn Bar. I have many Cookina baking and roasting mats at home and was pleased to see that they also have cooking packs for a variety of uses including popcorn!

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At our dinner that evening we had assigned seating. I was sat with a variety of lovely folks including my old friend  from Canola Camp Mairlyn Smith and Carol Harrison.  Ironically, Carol and I go even further back then Mairlyn and we had tried and failed to connect all weekend. One of those serendipitous occasions.

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Dinner was the lovely salad above, a cleansing sorbet and a hearty salmon and potato pie.

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I intentionally saved room for dessert but how could I choose from theses masterpieces from Holland’s Cake and Shake. In the end the butter tart cake was the winner.

Our evening’s entertainment was home grown. Fellow bloggers Lindsay and Dana who recently launched their Feast Cookbook were in the house. I was impressed with their gumption to eat their way across Canada. But even better was their response to a question from the room: “What place was your biggest surprise”? With careful thought they said “Winnipeg-their culinary scene is amazing”!

Kath’s quote: “Pull up a chair. Take a taste. Come join us. Life is so endlessly delicious.” ― Ruth Reichl

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Love never fails.

 

 

 

 

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Caked with Love-Cafe and Cakery

November6

When I was first married I received a cookbook as a gift. It was entitled “Mix Butter with Love”. I am wondering if the owners of Caked with Love found inspiration in that book too. Their delightful bakery and café is a joy to be in and those were my thoughts even before I tasted their exceptionally made food.

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I ordered a regular soup of the day which on that occasion was wonton soup. The broth contained ribbons of green onion and Chinese cabbage and was delicious on its own, even before one of the silky wontons was tasted. Laced with fresh ginger and perhaps sesame oil, the soup was savoury and satisfying. It was accompanied by a garlic biscuit which was d-i-v-i-n-e! The flaky biscuit had been generously brushed with garlic butter and made the soup a full meal.

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Unfortunately I did not predict this in advance, and had also ordered a chicken salad sandwich. Flecked with cranberries, green apple and walnuts, served on toasted multi-grain bread and accompanied by a whole dill pickle, it too was a meal in itself so I slurped the soup for lunch and had the sandwich for a light supper.

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The piece de resistance was the red velvet cupcake which was selected as an afterthought. After all I was visiting a cakery; I couldn’t leave without tasting one. The delicate cake was so fresh; I predicted that it had been baked that very morning. The rosette of cream cheese icing which adorned the top was fluffy and cloud-like.  This too was consumed at a separate time, with a cup of coffee mid-afternoon.

The café is bright and cheerful and I would describe the staff in the same manner. They knew almost every one of their customers by name and made you feel welcomed and included from the very moment you walk in.

Caked with Love is located at A-1459 Corydon Ave. Eileen Manalo and Marvic Abarra are the café and cakery owners. They are open from Tuesday to Friday from 10 am until 8 pm, on Saturday from 9 until 8 and on Sunday from 1 -5 pm. They are closed for special occasions and the last Sunday of the month. Check their website in advance. Their changing menu appears on chalk boards and they are wheelchair accessible.

Kath’s quote: “Cooking is love made visible.”-Unknown author

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Love never fails.

 

 

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