Tag Archives: restaurants

boarding the plane to St. Pierre

St. Pierre & Miquelon: A Piece of France in Canada

The islands of St. Pierre & Miquelon are actually part of France, but they are tiny islands off the southern coast of Newfoundland, Canada. You can get there by plane from Halifax or St. John’s, or by ferry from Fortune.

It’s so neat to be in France but over here in North America! They speak French with French accents (not Quebecois which I can’t understand du tout), use the euro and you get a nifty stamp in your passport upon entering!

fishing boats in the harbor St. Pierre
fishing boats in the harbor St. Pierre

My dad and I spent two nights on the island of St. Pierre during our father-daughter Maritime Canadian road-trip. St. Pierre is the smaller of the two islands but is the more heavily populated, with almost 6,000 residents (mostly concentrated in the town of St. Pierre) to Miquelon’s 600 residents.

Given that in mid-July it was cold and rainy, we didn’t take the opportunity to get soaked on a ferry-ride over to Miquelon. I’m not even sure the ferry was running one day since the winds were quite high. Next time!

downtown St. Pierre
downtown St. Pierre

So we centered our time around St. Pierre and the ghost island of Ile aux Marins located in St. Pierre’s bay. Ile aux Marins’ last resident died in the 1970s I believe, however many of the island houses are well-maintained and I wouldn’t be surprised if families used them as weekend/summer houses.

In St. Pierre, we stayed at Nuits St. Pierre, owned and operated by the lovely local proprietress, Patricia who picked us up at the airport. She also owns the next door cafe, Delices de Josephine where we took our afternoon Orangina.

our hotel: Nuits Saint Pierre
our hotel: Nuits Saint Pierre
there was a tub in the bedroom!
there was a tub in the bedroom!

The B&B was warm and cozy. There are 5 well-appointed rooms with modern amenities (including adapters – good because I hadn’t even thought to bring one!), slippers, robes, free wifi and a very comfy pull out couch (dad said the bed was comfy too).

Each morning, breakfast was prepared by a friendly young lady who had moved from Montreal to work in the hotel. I had the requisite pain au chocolate an baguette with lots of butter and coffee.

Even though it was rainy and chilly for most of our stay, we wandered around town, visiting the lighthouse, the salines (colorful seaside huts where they clean and dry the day’s catch), the post office for stamps, the WWI/WWII memorial, the Musee de l’Arche with a great history exhibit, the look-out point with 360 views of the town, harbor and expansive above-ground cemetery.

The history centers mostly around fishing, although there was a great economic boom during the years of US Prohibition due to massive smuggling operations through St. Pierre. Al Capone even installed himself at the Hotel Robert (still in use) during that time.

According to one sign in the museum, there was prohibition in Canada too (who knew), but they allowed for the manufacture of alcohol so long as it was exported to a country who did not have prohibition. Well good thing St. Pierre is part of France – so convenient! So once the Canadians exported to France, the bootleggers took it from there to get it into the US.

Once Prohibition was lifted, St. Pierre’s economy collapsed, and they had to return to their fishing way of life with some added tourist income.

We ate our dinners at L’Atelier Gourmand and Le Feu de Braise. Neither were much to write home about – both solid and good – not incredibly memorable, although the scallops at Feu were tasty and fresh, and the steak au poivre at L’Atelier was up to snuff.

On our second day, the sun came out for a bit and we witnessed the end of the Halifax-St. Pierre annual regatta. The first sailboat arrived after setting out two days prior, battling some storms but finally making it safely to St. Pierre (some boats scratched out along the way). We joined in the end-of-race party tent for some snacks and people watching.

sailboat race winner of Halifax-St. Pierre regatta
sailboat race winner of Halifax-St. Pierre regatta

That evening we came across an outdoor concert near our hotel of traditional French music – old-timey feel good songs accompanied by drums and accordion.

Just as I had my fill of croissants at the local boulangerie (there are only two apparently, but we only stumbled upon one), it was time to move on to Newfoundland for the next leg of our journey!

 

 

Aspen #FoodandWine

What a wonderfully relaxing vacation visiting Aspen a few weeks ago! Every morning Mark and I did a different hike, came back to The Timbers Club where we were the only ones enjoying the sunny pool deck, and then went out to delicious dinners in Aspen or Snowmass.

We accidentally found a perfect week to visit – the temperature was warm but not too hot, restaurants had reopened after the Off Season, and the town was still fairly quiet prior to the unofficial summer season kick-off: The Aspen Food & Wine Classic that brings chefs and foodies together for a huge, town-wide party. We were tempted to book our trip during that exciting weekend (which was this past weekend), but in the end, I’m glad we didn’t because we had zero trouble getting reservations at the some of the best restaurants, our hiking paths were quiet and there were probably more staff than guests at our residences.

Having done a bit of pre-research on the dining scene, I made a few reservations at Aspen’s heavy hitting restaurants: Chef’s Club by Food & Wine in the St. Regis Hotel (there’s also one in NYC), AJAX Tavern (the place to be seen apres-ski…although there was only one day left of skiing during our time there), and Matsuhisa (amazing sushi from chef Nobu Matsuhisa of Nobu restaurants around the world).

Not wanting to whip out my camera (aka phone) at these upscale establishments, unfortunately I don’t have any photos from these places.

Chef’s Club – A. I loved the decor: stark white with snowflake-inspired lattice across the ceiling; an open kitchen that was framed by rustic wooden beams, making it seem like you were peeking through a knot in a tree Keebler Elves style and a long row of seats facing in to the numerous chefs working within; contemporary, colorful pop art and drawings of famous chefs around the walls.

B. The food was decadent and over the top rich but beautifully executed and delicate. Mark and I split the branzino (served whole and upright like it was swimming across the plate) and the halibut. Both were buttery and delicious and the branzino was served in a sweet and spicy coconut curry broth with other seafood. The light and slightly sparkly Albarino I drank with my whipped ricotta appetizer was delightful, as was the stoney Sancerre I had with the fish.

C. Each year after the Food & Wine Classic, a new line up of chefs work at the restaurant, each creating his or her own unique dish(es). Since we arrived before the Classic, the new chefs weren’t yet installed, so the menu was made up of the “best of the best” of the prior year’s menus.

AJAX Tavern was good but standard food and nothing more to really comment on there.

Sushi at Matsuhisa was AH-mazing. I had yellowtail sashimi with jalapeno and a spicy crunchy tuna roll (that they made without mayo for me), and Mark had the miso black cod which was rich and flaky. Everything was so good. Not cheap. But delicious and the service was excellent as well.

Some other food highlights from our trip:

Sitting at the bar at the historic J-Bar in Hotel Jerome which has the original wooden lattice work behind the bar and tin ceiling tiles. After our morning hike, Mark had their famous Aspen Crud, which is a bourbon and vanilla ice cream milk shake.

J-Bar at the Jerome Hotel
J-Bar at the Jerome Hotel
J Bar
J Bar
J Bar at the Hotel Jerome
the restaurant part of J Bar

Taking the J-Bar bartender’s recommendation to go to a new cocktail bar, Hooch, where we had the bar to ourselves and the bartender mixed us all sorts of different drinks with rye and fernet (not together).

Dinner at New Belgium Ranger Station in Snowmass Village, where we had a salty pepperoni pretzel roll and New Belgium beer (the Colorado brewery that makes Fat Tire).

So I didn’t get to our Denver adventures yet…next time!

Ann Arbor Bucket List

Since I’m trying to get out and take better advantage of all that Ann Arbor and Michigan have to offer, I figured the best way to organize my adventures was to make a list.  Looooove lists.  And schedules.  And maps.  Okay, digressing.

In this post, I’m going to offer up the Michigan bucket list.  Restaurants, museums, cultural activities, outdoor adventures, etc.  I’m going to link back to any posts I may have written about these items, and check off anything that’s already been accomplished with an asterisk (*).  Please note that sometimes more than one of these items are discussed in the same post.  Going forward, as I write posts, I will reference back to the list and hopefully link accordingly and appropriately.  I see lots of linking and circular references in my future.

PLEASE OFFER SUGGESTIONS of things to do/see/eat that I can add!

Okay, here it goes, in hopefully some particular order:

Places to Visit in the State of Michigan:

1. Upper Peninsula

*2. Sleeping Bear Dunes

3. Mackinac Island

4. Frankenmuth

*5. Grand Haven

Cultural Activities in and around Ann Arbor/Detroit:

6. Belle Isle Conservancy and Aquarium

*7. North American International Auto Show – Detroit

*8. Dexter Cider Mill

*9. University of Michigan Museum of Art

*10. Kelsey Museum of Archaeology

11. University of Michigan Museum of Natural History

*12. Concert at The Ark

*13. Movie at State Theatre

14. Movie at Michigan Theater

15. Concert at Hill Auditorium

16. Broad Art Museum (at Michigan State)

17. The Toledo (Ohio) Museum of Art

*18. Ford Presidential Library

*19. The Henry Ford (Museum)

20. Greenfield Village

Sporting Events:

*21. Detroit Lions Football

22. Detroit Tigers Baseball

23. Detroit Red Wings Hockey

*24. UMich Football

*25. UMich Wrestling

26. UMich Hockey

*27. UMich Basketball

*28. UMich Gymnastics

Outdoor Activities:

*29. Kayaking

30. Botanical Gardens

*31. Kerrytown Farmers’ Market/Artisan Market

*32. Nature Walks

Food & Drink Related:

*33. Zingerman’s (deli)

34. Zingerman’s Roadhouse (bbq)

*35. Lab (coffee and pastries)

*36. (Espresso) Bar

*37. Sweetwater’s (coffee)

*38. Sava’s

*39. Isalita

*40. Aventura

*41. Bigalora

*42. Logan

*43. Lena

*44. Vinology

45. Cafe Felix

46. Gratzi

*47. Jolly Pumpkin Cafe & Brewery

*48. Slows Bar-B-Q (Detroit)

49. Traffic Jam & Snug (Detroit)

50. Mexicantown (area of Detroit)

*51. Liberty Street Brewing (Plymouth)

*52. Cliff Bell’s (Detroit)

53. Guns and Butter (Detroit)

54. Two James Distillery (Detroit) – Can someone please weigh in on this?  This is the first Detroit distillery since prohibition (and I think currently the only) and they have a club called the Corktown 500 for which you apply (capped at 50 people), get exclusive tours and discounts, and if you are a member you can go to a weekend WHISKEY MAKING CAMP!!!!  This sounds totally up my alley of learning new skills and interesting experiences.  Problem: to join the club it is $2,000!!! Ahhhh so expensive!  Worth it?!?!?!  Anyone think yes?  Anyone want to subsidize me?  🙂

55. Eastern Market (Detroit)

*56. The Lunch Room

*57. Vellum

*58. Pacific Rim

59. Try “Detroit-style” pizza – I had no idea Detroit had its own pizza style, which is square, and according to Wikipedia: “The square shaped pizza is the result of being baked in a square pan, which is often not a pizza pan.  Rather, industrial parts trays are often used, which were originally made to hold small parts in factories.”  Crazy!  It sounds like the anti-health food, as Wiki goes on to say: “The crust of a Detroit-style pizza is noteworthy because in addition to occasionally being twice-baked, it is usually baked in a well-oiled pan to a chewy medium-well-done state that gives the bottom and edges of the crust a fried/crunchy texture.”

60. Try a Coney Island hot dog (aka Coney Dog)

Other Areas of Southeastern Michigan:

61. Corktown (Detroit)

62. Heidelberg Project (Detroit)

*63. Royal Oak – Got a “butterbeer latte” at a local coffee shop that I found on Yelp called Bean and Leaf.  It was super sweet and delicious with some toffee/butterscotch flavor, however I was confused and dismayed by the coffee sleeve that read Zingerman’s Coffee…it’s everywhere…I don’t actually feel like I’m trying something new when they have such a monopoly on the coffee/bread/sweet treat market all across Southeastern MI.

*64. Troy – To be honest, when I wrote Troy, I meant the mall.  LOL.  The Somerset Collection mall in Troy is akin to Tysons Corner in VA.  There are actually 2 malls connected by a sky bridge: one with Saks, Neiman, Burberry and other posh stores (only one salesperson even approached me in Saks because I clearly was looking more bum-like than the regular ladies who lunch set and I was even wearing jeans and not yoga pants – in other words, stepping it up!); the other mall has Nordstrom (yay for a Nordy fix) and all the other regular stores you would expect in a mall.

Misc:

65. Take a ride on the Detroit People Mover

*66. Literati Book Store

Okay, I think that’s a pretty exhaustive list at this point.  Ann Arbor friends: what am I missing?!??!