berkeley birthday

In contrast to the chilly October weekend that just passed, my twin brother and I celebrated our birthday last year in sunny California. Between hiking along the coastal beaches and under sequoia canopies, and roaming the hilly street of San Francisco, we spent a night and a day with most of our family in Berkeley.On our birthday-eve (not something we typically celebrate!), we wandered through town in time to hear the tower bells on campus, and back too late for the farmer’s market. Upon having our ID checked at Jupiter, we were challenged to a birthday beer race by our server (we lost, obviously). There were birthday candles floating in our stout which was a big enough win for me. We ate pizza and then my brothers and I fell asleep while watching Harry Potter in the motel room; a great way to ring in another trip around the sun.

Before driving across the bridge to San Francisco the next day, we had a late lunch at Chez Panisse Cafe. I will attribute the same-day reservation that my parents made to being a birthday miracle.

My mum had introduced me to the name Alice Waters and her restaurant Chez Panisse many years ago. When the assigned reading for my high school French class was Marcel Pagnol’s Marius & Fanny, the connection to the character named Panisse, in my mind, was the Californian restaurant. I thought it was an exciting coincidence at the time. (It’s not a coincidence, of course.)

The significance of Alice Waters’ influence on American cuisine is expansive – extending far outside of Californian kitchens, into farms, schools, and global communities. Many more skilled writers and cooks than I have described her impact in the industry and beyond. I’ll just add that it was a real treat to sit in the sunlit café on my birthday, with some wonderful people, eating delicious, simple food that was a testament to all the good things I had heard before getting there. Another birthday candle, this time in my persimmon pudding, was icing on the (birthday) cake. I can’t wait to go back.cali bday (1)
We left with one of Alice Waters’ cookbooks, with recipes ordered by season and ingredients. It’s almost encyclopedic, and wonderful to flip through for inspiration. The recipe I’m sharing is certainly not Continue reading

40 Hours in Montreal

Aside from the childhood landmarks –the penguins at the Biodome, my grandmother’s kitchen, the mountain, a family favourite souvlaki joint– I’ve realized that I don’t know Montreal all that well. It’s still a familiar place; most of our extended family and many friends call la belle province home, but despite years of visiting I feel like I’ve only scratched the surface of the city.

With my twin and his boyfriend as our local guides, we had a jam-packed 40 hours exploring in the city. Le Plateau. Mile End. Le Vieux Port. There were some places of nostalgia, but mostly lots of new-to-me spots. We café crawled, bar hopped, and karaoked our hearts out. Continue reading

não falo português

imageimageimageWe were perhaps overly optimistic about picking up Portuguese as we explored the country. Not that it has hindered our travels in any real way — we tried to order espresso tonight and received port instead– but we’re working on it. We’ve been impressed by how many Portuguese polyglots we’ve encountered, and most people don’t seem to mind our silly Spanish/French pronunciation as we practice. From Madeira to the Douro we’ve felt very welcome.imageimage
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Dhaka, A While Ago

bangladesh1bangladeshIs it silly to blog about travels that happened ages ago? I’m going to hope not. maps(#tbt is all over my Instagram feed, does it exist in the blogosphere as well? Let’s pretend it does. Sidebar: apparently there are rules for #tbt! In case you didn’t know…)

A while ago, I went to Bangladesh. A while after that a friend asked me to guest post about that trip on her blog. It took me a while to write said post, and by then her blog was no longer. I’ve mentioned that trip here before briefly.bangladeshDSCN5247To continue my preamble: continue reading…

A Ceilidh In Edinburgh

20140421-121616.jpgMy lovely friend and hostess in Edinburgh, Sara, was invited to a ceilidh by one of her friends on Saturday evening. I had never heard of a ceilidh before and neither of us really knew what this might entail, but it seemed like a quintessentially Scottish experience that we couldn’t miss. So not quite knowing what to expect, we picked up some booze (BYOB dance events in churches are such a great idea) and walked into what ended up being one of my Edinburgh trip highlights. 20140421-122039.jpg Continue reading