Ile d’Orleans – Quebec, Canada

Just across the bridge not far from Mont Morency Falls, lies the tiny island Ile d’Orleans. Separated into 6 districts, not large enough to be towns, the island is only 21 miles long and 5 miles wide.

Winery – Vignoble Ste Petronille

 

Inside the winery

We drove to Ste. Petronille and stopped at Vignoble Ste-Petronille. We sampled a few wines while waiting for a table at Panache Mobile. It’s like a food truck next to a large tented area. We had to wait about 45 minutes but the food was worth it. It was also Ste. Jean Baptiste holiday weekend so we knew crowds would be everywhere.

Lunch at Panache Mobile

Afterwards we drove to Chocalaterie d’Ile D’orleans for ice cream. It was packed with people so we got back in the car and drove through the other districts. St. Petronille at the southern end of the island was the most densely populated. We drove through St. Laurent and St. Jean where there were a few churches. The area is noted for its farmland and agriculture, as well as vineyards, small shops, art galleries and a handful of restaurants. It’s very much like travelling the Chemin du Roy where you get a flavor for rural Quebec.

At the northeastern end of the island, we came across St. Francois and found the satellite location of Chocalaterie d’Ile d’Orleans. Tucked in an Acadian style house, the front room had a line for ice cream. I can’t tell you how thick the chocolate was, but it was thick and good. Each bite was super rich and encompassed the soft vanilla ice cream. We could have sat indoors but instead chose the back patio. Stairs let down to the garden area flanked by art statues. The St. Lawrence was just on the other side.

Chocolaterie Ile d’Orleans

Driving through Ste Famille and St Piere, we headed back across the bridge to Quebec City. Even though the island isn’t far, it takes a bit of time because of the two lane roads. A trip to Ile d’Orleans allows you to feel far from a city, when in reality you’re only a stone’s throw from Quebec City.


Quebec City – Walking Tour of the Upper and Lower City

We started our morning by walking La Terrasse Dufferin (Dufferin Terrace) from the Chateau Frontenac to the Citadel. The board-walked area reminded me a little of 1890’s Hot Springs, Arkansas. The wide terrace, popular for summertime performances, was built in 1879 by none other than Lord Dufferin. A  funicular transports visitors to the Lower City for a small fee. At the end of the boardwalk is La Promenade des Gouverneurs (Governor’s Promenade).

Chateau Frontenac Hotel on La Terrasse Dufferin

 

La Terrasse Dufferin offers beautiful (and free) views of the Lower Town and the St. Lawrence River

We climbed (and climbed and climbed) 300 stairs to the Citadel. Since our Citadel tour was the next morning, we continued our walk around the high gate into the Plains D’Abraham. This preserved area of large grassy fields is where the battle of Quebec occurred in 1759. Today, workers were setting up the stage for the upcoming big St. Jean Baptiste Celebration.

From there we walked along Rue St. Louis and Rue des Jardins, passing by St. Andrew Presbyterian and the Ursuline Convent to the Cathedral of the Holy Trinity. Inside Holy Trinity, we learned the 1804 structure was the first Anglican cathedral built Great Britain. Although beautiful, it couldn’t compare to the intricately detailed Basilica de Notre-Dame du Quebec – our next stop.  Although the building is relatively new (built in 1923), the church itself has been on this site since 1633. Outside, we viewed the Holy Door which is only opened every 7 years. Fortunately for us, it was a Jubilee Year and thus open for the next few months.

Basilica Notre Dame de Quebec

Our walking tour continued along the northern side of the Upper City where we overlooked the waterfront factory district and walked by the shady Montmorency Park. After a quick dash into the Canadian post office for stamps, we descended the Breakneck stairs leading to the Quartier Petit Champlain. This is the heart of the Lower City with restaurants, shops and people debarking from the cruise ships.

The Breakneck Stairs lead to Quartier Petit Champlain

 

We meandered around until settling on Le Lapin Saute for lunch. We were early enough to sit outside in a garden type area. It was peaceful but we could still people watch the busy street bustling with tourists. After a delicious meal, we walked by the waterfront to the Notre Dame des Victoires Church in the Place-Royale.

Notre Dame des Victoires

 

For a $1 entrance fee, we walked into the old stone church. Built in 1688 on the site of Champlain’s fort, this is the oldest stone church in North America. The first thing catching our eye inside the cream and gold sanctuary was the wooden boat hanging from the ceiling.  We went downstairs for a presentation about Champlain’s founding the city. Afterward it was off to the Musee de la Civilisation finished by beverages at La Maison Smith – an outdoor cafe at the Palace-Royale.

Place-Royale is the site of Champlain’s 1608 trading post

There you have it – a complete walking tour of Old Quebec!


Krog Street Market – Atlanta, GA

Krog Street Market

Krog Street Market recently opened in the ultra hip Old Fourth Ward/Inman Park area. It’s Atlanta’s version of Vancouver’s Granville Island, albeit on a smaller scale.

Visitors can dine at the many eclectic restaurants in this upscale food court located in a new (but made to look old) warehouse. Offerings include ice cream from Jeni’s Splendid Ice Cream to Chinese fare at Gu’s Dumplings. Water – sparkling, chilled and un-chilled – is self-serve near the community tables. Other restaurants including The Luminary and Superica offer a full-scale restaurant. Along the way, you can shop retails establishments such as XOCOLATL Small Batch Chocolate and French Market Flowers.

Once you get your food, find a table and people watch. It’s fun to see people of all ages come together. From families with strollers to singles grabbing a cup of coffee before a jog, you’ll see a bit of everything here.

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Yalla and Fred’s are owned by chef Todd Ginsberg.

I’d heard that lines for the restaurants could be long with limited seating. This past weekend, we got there at 11:30 – about the time most dining establishments opened. Although I still had a bit of a line, I tried Yalla, the Middle Eastern place owned by chef Todd Ginsberg. He also owns Fred’s Meat and Bread next door. Although I haven’t tried Fred’s, they offer a bar to sit at (reminiscent of airport dining). I spotted a large pimento cheese sandwich from there that looked worthy of trying for my next visit.

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Retail shops at Krog Street Market

Back to Yalla, you order at the counter, but don’t pay until your name is called when your food is ready. It seemed to create an unnecessary queue, but the wait was only about 5 minutes so it wasn’t a big deal. I ordered the Shawarma Pita for $8. It’s a pita stuffed with chicken shawarma, hummus, baba ganoush, fried eggplant, Israeli salad and pickles and a few other things. It was delicious!

I was expecting a pita with just the shawarma and the other stuff on the side. Instead, it’s all stuffed into the pita (think Chipotle burritos), but the flavors worked together. The pickles are spicy, but are cooled by the tahini and hummus. The portion was big and plenty for me. However, you could get all their entrees in a pita, laffa (flatbread wrap) or a bowl depending on your appetite.

DH went to Grand Champions BBQ. He didn’t have a line and got the brisket sandwich which was surrounded by thick slices of white bread. The potato salad he ordered was as close to my favorite (Hickory Stick BBQ in Shreveport, La) as I’ve ever had. Afterwards we were in the mood for something sweet. At the Little Tart Bakeshop, people in front of us were ordering brunch items. We looked in the glass cases at the large pastry selection and decided on a mocha butter cookie. It was delectable and packed a lot of richness in just a few bites. The perfect ending to the meal.

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For more information, visit the website at Krog Street Market. Here, you will find links to all the establishments mentioned with menus and news. Check back often as a few more places will be opening soon over the next few months.


Christmas Cookies

One our favorite traditions is baking Christmas cookies. I’m not even going to apologize for using the word “Christmas.” When the cookies are in the shapes of angels, Christmas trees, bells and reindeer, they are not holiday cookies – they are Christmas cookies.

I have a favorite sugar cookie recipe that I use. After letting the dough chill for a couple of hours it was time to roll it out cut out fun shapes.

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Usually for convenience, we just use sprinkles which look fine after they’re baked.

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This year, I decided we’d take it a step further and decorate the cookies after baking – with frosting or icing. The few times I’ve used the frosting from the grocery store, it’s turned into one big mess. Additionally, it’s just too sweet to eat with the sugar in the actual cookie and then gobs of frosting compounded together. I saw a post on Sally’s Baking Addiction with a link to an her favorite icing recipe from All Recipes. The pictures looked so pretty, I thought we’d give the icing recipe a whirl and see what happens.

The frosting recipe took no time and I had the ingredients on hand – including the food coloring.

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It wasn’t messy and we invited our neighbor over to help decorate the cookies as well.

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The best part was the icing could be spread on the cookies thinly, preventing the sugar overload. I also liked that I could make a small amount of icing for the number of cookies we baked. In fact, they were the best homemade sugar cookies, we’ve made to date. We ran out of sprinkles early on, but everyone got creative by mixing another color on top of the first layer of icing. My favorite is the purple and pink “Dr. Seuss” Christmas tree cookie below.

 

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