Sunday, February 23, 2014

10 things I will miss about living in le plateau-mont royal

There are so many things I’ll miss about my old neighborhood in Montreal. It has changed so much in the 6 years I lived there… going from a bit artsy and rough around the edges, but with a Starbucks (one the reasons I bought my place)… to pretty much straight up yuppy today. But I loved every moment of watching old and new float by.

If I have to narrow down a list of the things I’ll miss the most, in order to fit into a post, here they are:

1. Hangover (or still drunk) poutines just steps away.

2. Street festivals with banjo players and discount shoes. 

3. My parc (La Fontaine) with sledding and skating in the winter… wine and baguette in the summer. 

4. Sangria on patios, especially outside the original Chez Baptiste.

5. The people watching. All sorts. 

6. The ample seating at Starbucks where I probably spent the price of a small car over the years.

7. 3 take-out sushi options within 1 block: a cheap option for weeknights, a medium option for weekends, and a pricier one for special occasions. 

8. My cab stand (but not the cabbies). 

9. Being able to Bixi from outside my front door downhill to the bar. 

10. Christmas music played in the streets. 

Monday, February 10, 2014

shhhh... valentine's day map of the world

VDB is not someone who likes to get surprise presents. He much prefers to tell me (and sometimes send me a link to) exactly what he'd like as a gift each special occasion...

But this Valentine's Day I REFUSED to ask. Instead, I decided I wanted to get something we could both enjoy in our new home. First I was thinking a wine opener. Might sound lame but neither of us have a proper one despite being in our 30's and wine drinkers. But then I was perusing my favorite home blog (Domaine Home) and got bowled over by this inspiring post.

You see VDB has mentioned several times that he'd love to have a map to mark all the places we have traveled to. I always liked the idea but most maps I see aren't super classy, until this one! Meet my newly ordered Design Ahoy's Black Typography Map:

Isn't it beautiful? I love the white on black... the typography words used to form the shape of the continents, and the overall moody effect. If I hadn't been convinced at first sight I was when I read all the stellar reviews on Etsy.

I ordered it right away last night but with only 4 business days until Valentine's I didn't like my chances of receiving it in time. Just as a shot in the dark I added a comment to the seller explaining it would be a V-Day gift in case it could be shipped any speedier. To my delight Nancy, from Design Ahoy, emailed me this morning and offered to ship it express today if I paid the extra cost. I agreed and she actually had it picked up by UPS before I even confirmed the PayPal request.

I can't wait to get it and will let you know later if VDB likes it and how it looks in person and framed!

Guess the Mackage bag will have to wait a bit longer...

Saturday, February 8, 2014

bags...bags...bags... my mackage deva love affair

I have been drooling over this Mackage bag for over 6 months. SIX MONTHS.

I first saw it at the end of the summer when it was new fall season stock at Aritzia. I loved it immediately but the price ($430.00) was too much for me to justify when I knew I had to start planning a major move.

Since then, I've made fequent trips back to Aritzia (everytime a sale was announced) and the Mackage site just waiting... patiently.... (or not really) for it to go on sale. Now it has. It is part of a 20% off Valentines week sale on the Mackage website.

Down from $430 to $301.... What do you think? What should I do??

Before you judge too harhsly there are super pretty details you can't see in the pics. Mainly the zippers that are half silver (one side of zip) and half gold. Genius. Will match every accessory.

Oh the stresses of being a shopoholic.

tourist in my new town... asian inspired burritos

Asian inspired burritos in Montreal? I've never heard of such a thing... Oh wait, that's because they're not from MTL but TO, my soon-to-be new town.

That's right, I'm moving west (just not as far as some might expect) to Toronto and I was there last weekend to drop off stuff at my new place with VDB and indulge in some proper Super Bowl weekend junk food. On the menu over the course of the three days was McDonalds cheeseburgers... Ikea hotdogs... beef jerky (for the drive) and some kick a$$ burritos from a local (to Lesliville) spot, Chino Locos.

I'd ssen Chino Locos on "You've Got to Eat Here" and was pretty sure it looked close to our new pad so we entered it in the GPS after a long day of shopping and BAM. It's only 5 minutes away. This will be trouble.

I ordered the fish burrito and VDB ordered the BBQ pulled pork. I asked the guy at the cash how best to order it and he said, "With chow mein of course," so I did and spicy.

It was awesome. The fish was perfectly moist and the chow mein and black beans married perfectly with guac and sour cream. So odd. And the level of spice was just right, enough to burn my lips but not too much to overwhelm the rest of the flavors. (VDB tried mine and said the heat of the medium was more his style.)

My fish burrito with pineapple soda in background.

Chino Locos has two locations, the one is Lesliville and one downtown. We'll be back often to try more and grab Mexican sodas that they also stock. Just don't be put off by the mish mash of lucky Asian charms (cat statues, etc.) with dia de la muerte figureines. I think it's charming.

Chino Locos on Urbanspoon

Monday, February 3, 2014

m.i.a... drinking wine in Malaga, Spain

Sorry I was MIA for the last two weeks… but I was in Malaga, Spain on a work trip and drank too much wine most nights to blog when I got back to the hotel.

Speaking of wine… and Spain…

I am now a true lover of Spanish red wine, or “vino tinto” as I so frequently ordered it with my porr excuse of a Spanish accent. My co-workers and I made it our mission to try out as many as we could while in Malaga and we did a damn good job. Because bottles range from 11 to 25 Euros in restaurants ordering a minimum of two each meal was totally reasonable. (Right?)

Here were a few of my favorites:
  • Protos – Ribera Duero Robles 2009 (average price $26)
  • Azpilicueta – Rioja Crianza 2010 (average price $23)
  • Venus La Universal – Montsant Dido 2011 (average price $24)

 First bottle of the trip to be scanned into my Vivino app.

Then there was also the traditional Spanish sangria and the “tinto de verana” (translation is red wine of summer) that was also consumed. The tinto is a bit too sweet for me (its table wine mixed with a sweet soda, usually Fanta) and it didn't feel quite right drinking sangria in January, so I only indulged in one glass of both on the sunny Sunday.

 My Sunday afternoon sangria with free tapas!

Before leaving, as a treat, I stopped by a little store by our hotel and bought a 2009 Reserve bottle of Tinto Pasquera, Ribera del Duero to take home. I managed to make it through a weekend without cracking it open… but we’ll see how much longer I last! I will report back once I do give it a taste.

My glass of "para llevar" wine and dinner the one night we stayed in. 

P.S. I now use the “Vivino” app on my phone to track all the wines I discover. It lets you scan a picture of the wine and then automatically stores it in your history along with the date, any notes you make, and average price/ratings. By the end of our trip I had everyone using it!

Tuesday, January 14, 2014

tourist in my own town... dinner in chinatown

Last night I was having a drink at my friend's local watering hole (St. Liz) and the topic of good Chinese came up. I had just driven through Chinatown and had wondered why we don't eat there more often since my friend B lives close by. Feeling inspired, and hungry, we decided to walk down and dine at one of his recommendations, Keung Kee Restaurant, on Rue de la Gauchetière.

Walking up and into the restaurant it already checked so many of the boxes that our group (all originally from Vancouver and convinced we know true Chinese) wanted to see:

  1. It's in an alley.
  2. It's on the second floor and the carpet covered stairs have seen better days.
  3. The tables are covered in disposable plastic table clothes.
  4. The hot tea kettle hits the table before you can even sit down.

Even though we were filled with anticipation that we were sure couldn't be met on this side of Canada, it was. Our servers were fantastic.... they cracked jokes, mocked us for our love of Vietnamese hot sauce, brought us their own freshly mixed concoctions to try, recommended new dishes, and happily boxed up our soup before our second course even came because we had clearly over-ordered.

The food though was legitimately the best part. We ordered 5 dishes and 3 appies for the four of us (did I mention we had been drinking?) and all were good... But the Spicy and Salted Shrimp, the Kung Pao Chicken (typical white people order! I know!) and the duck were my fave.

I used to think you couldn't get good Chinese in Montreal... and while this may not be quite the same as Vancouver... it's legit.

So thanks B!

Keung Kee on Urbanspoon

Sunday, January 5, 2014 new hummel hightops

I'm a sucker for shoes and here is one of my neest pairs! (Yes, just ONE of my newest pairs... there are more.)

Despite the snow and cold which will prevent me from wearing these for a few months, I just had to have a new pair of high tops for 2014 and these hummel's are perfect. They are totally classic in style and the black/grey will go with so many casual outfits. I might even try to wear them to work on a Friday with my leather leggings. That will dress them up right?

I picked them up still on sale (from 129.99 to 99.99) following "Boxing Week" at NEON on Mont Royal. The same store where I bought my Fjallraven Kanken backpack before the supermodels started wearing them. (See below it being used as a picnic basket on my roadtrip with VDB to Ottawa last Canada Day.)

More shoes to follow I'm sure!